Tracy McMillian’s book, Why You’re Not Married…Yet: The Straight Talk You Need to Get the Relationship You Deserve already opened my eyes wide, clear open. I first discovered this book while spotting a Huffington Post article in the women’s section. Huffington Post women posted the article “Tracy McMillian On Why You Don’t Have the Relationship You Want,” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/30/tracy-mcmillan-super-soul-sunday-oprah_n_5244051.html) is where I become very interested in reading the book. I purchased the e-book through my Kindle app and started reading right away. McMillian’s Chapter 1, “You’re a Bitch Or, How Anger and Fear Are Keeping You Single,” resonated with me although I am in a relationship. The highlight recaps:
McMillian starts the chapter a three questions which are:
1. Do people walk on eggshells around you—and you kind of like it?
2. Does the idea that you should be nice to a man make you angry?
3. Have past boyfriends felt that you were defensive or hard to get close to? (2) .
McMillian pretty much defines what the majority of men want from women:
“The deal is this: most men just want to marry someone who is nice to them. Nice includes sex, laughing, and occasionally—but not to the point of oppression or anything—cooking a meal, folding the laundry, or doing something else he’s too lazy to do for himself. Just because you love him. That’s what nice is” (3).
McMillian goes on to define what a bitch and what being nice is. Pretty much, a person (in her book she in particular talks about women being bitches…and uses herself as an example) who is a bitch gives off negative energy…and wanting to feel superior all the time in a relationship:
“What makes you a bitch is that you’re mad at a guy for even wanting that stuff [McMillan means being a bitch about a guy wanting you be nice in above comments]. Being a bitch is about feeling superior to men (and the women who want them), rolling your eyes without even knowing you’re doing it, and having a lot of tension around your mouth all the time. It’s about radiating something that makes people feel just a little scared of you. And not only do you not care, but if you get really, really honest you would have to admit that you like it. Just a little. That’s being a bitch.
Bitch is less a personality characteristic than it is an energy. There’s nothing wrong with it per se. We all have an inner bitch, and she is a powerful ally who protects us and keeps us from being exploited. But most of the time in relationships, as in life, you gotta keep your gun in your purse. Which is to say, there is a time and a place for your bitch—in a tough business negotiation, say, or when being threatened, but not on a dinner date. And not just it’s Thursday” (4).
McMillan goes on to say that single bitches that attract the men they want. McMillan also delves into her first marriage; she married in her twenties. She talks about how she was a bitch in her relationship:
- She was controlling.
- She was manipulative
- She was judgmental.
- She was spiteful.
Then, she talks about why her friend Leanne is not married. It is because she is a bitch. She undermines conversations with guys who are interested in her. She also believes she is superior and dominant…that’s another reason why McMillan believes that Leanne cannot make a connection with a compatible single guy. What really pique my interests is the observations about what most men want:
“I’m saying that inside every man is a very simple creature who just wants to enjoy a woman, not do battle with her” (11). “But perhaps no single thing is going to cause a man to reject you the way bitchness will. This is hard for many women to hear. They really want to make it about the man being insecure or misogynistic” (11). “The are other men though—reasonable, good men—who see a bitchy woman and feel compassion. They can clearly understand that the bitchness is coming from a place of hurt, yet they know they don’t have the power to heal that hurt. So they don’t even try. Because no matter how great a girl could be, no wants to spend all his time, day in and day out, in the line of fire” (12).
Now, McMillan gives a solution to these observations that has strike my interest, and her solution is: “You’re going to have to be nice.” McMillan expresses what being “nice” and “sweet” are (which I think nice and sweet are synonyms….however, I find there are difference between those synonyms as well):
“So, what is nice? First, let me tell you what nice is not. It’s not being right most or all of the time, arguing about things a lot, having a really hard edge in your voice, focusing more on what a man doesn’t have than on what he does have, or thinking men are picket fence delivery devices meant to give you children, support you, or complete some picture you have of your life. Nice is soft, fun, kind, and ahem, penetrable. Guys need to be able their thing into you. If you’re too tough, they can’t do that. A girl can be hot, sexy, powerful, smart, dynamic, and interesting, but if she’s not sweet, most (not all, most) guys will not really want to marry her. He might be into the sex, dig your sharp wit, respect your job, and think you’re a badass, but unless you add sweetness to the mix, those are just exciting destinations” (12-13). *************************************************************
Let’s talk about me…and why this strikes a huge chord for me. Why I’ve found the right piece of puzzle to fit in the far corner of that puzzle…and why it has dawned on me I tried to fit another piece I thought was similar, but it was only similar…and a similar puzzle piece will not work because it is not a perfect fit. First, let’s talk about my single days. I don’t know if my pattern behavior fit the bitch pattern or model as McMillan describes.
Yet, what I do know is that the guys I attracted were not into commitment. I believe it was because at the time…they weren’t interested in the kind of girl I was. I don’t know if my independent stance scared them away. I don’t know if they did thought I was too nice to hurt…and I wasn’t just that type of girl that they were into. Or just maybe I was not a match or compatible because they sense I did hold them at a distance and would not let them in. Or maybe they just wasn’t ready for a commitment…and they did not want to commit to me. Whatever the case, I can’t say if I’ve demonstrated the bitch model that McMillan proposes in my single years. But…
I can tell you that I’ve exhibit this bitch energy to my boyfriend of nine years coming up. Shamefully, I have to admit that I’ve been a bitch to him. This is where it dawned on me….because a lot of insights that McMillan writes are reflective truth to my own relationship. If you ask me, did I treat those guys I chased after better than Rupert…I would say that at the beginning of the courtship, I treated those guys and Rupert very nice. I was nice. I was nice to Rupert for a very long time until my anxiety issues arose and engulf me. That’s when the alert went off that I really could not handle a relationship. Looking back at it, I don’t think I was mature enough to handle a relationship. I was semi-comfortable with who I was, but I didn’t entirely love who I was. Since I didn’t, I treated myself still badly…and sadly, in the process, I treated Rupert badly, too. Somehow, that nice Sophia became a bitch Sophia. I know what McMillan is talking about. It is one thing to be a bad ass bitch. To be your own boss. To be confident and know that people can’t run over you. That you are okay with not being friends with everyone. And the people who do like you, they like you because you like yourself…and they love you because you love yourself….flaws and all. But the type of bitch McMillan is talking about is someone who is like this all the time. Maybe you aren’t like this all the time with other people. Sometimes, you are like this with one person. I am not a bitch to everyone while I was acting like a bitch to Rupert. If anything, I’ve been nice to everyone except him over the years. However, there have been times when I’ve been nice to him, and he hasn’t believed me; it is because he got used to the Sophia who bitches him out, who criticizes him…and who really hasn’t quite love him well. And looking back, when I was acting like a bitch, I was at my worse. I was severely depressed. Very happy in my misery. I was not happy with myself, and to really accurately describe it, I had reverted back to those old days when I was extremely depressed as a teenager. Sure, I wasn’t as bad. I was a fraction of being that sad, depressed teenager…but now, I was a fraction of an angry and depressed teenager. I wasn’t too happy when I wasn’t too happy…I got really angry, really pissy, close to a rage. It wasn’t healthy at all. I wasn’t happy, and I became unhappier when I just sulked and was like whoa as me.
For the first time, I made myself very disabled. People who suffer disabilities…they don’t act disable because they won’t let that cripple them. That disability is not a disability to them. It is just a part of the character…what makes you become disable is that you don’t try at all to be happy. You don’t try to build happiness. I got stuck because I made decisions that made me stuck. I can admit. I can take responsibility that it’s my fault. I decided to become a bitch because that anger felt good in a very unhealthy way. I am a shame to admit it…I am, but I must admit because I have to take responsibility for it. I emotionally mutilated myself because I had failed myself. All my dreams became piped dreams. I stored them away not making them into realities. And the one person, who isn’t perfect…and who is flawed, but HE IS HUMAN, TOO, I passively aggressively blamed him sometimes. But I had to learn that it is not his fault for the decisions I made. It is not my fault for what I choose when I was younger believing that I would be okay in the future. McMillan talks about forgiveness. You know what? I had to learn how to forgive myself. I had to learn how to forgive Rupert as well. He is not perfect. He hasn’t always treated me well as well. Before I got my full time job, the last several years were very stressful. He pretty much was carrying all the weight…financially. And for those of you who try to come up with some fairy tale excuse, well, Sophia, he should have waited until it turned out right and have been a more supportive partner…
Well, you know what, there were times I did not let him be a supportive partner. I shut him out. I thought it was easier. I decide to become shortsighted…and act like a bitch because I thought it was easier than letting him in. Letting him love me. To be honest, I didn’t love myself. Can you imagine being someone who is carrying 80% of the financial weight in your relationship? You are always stressing about how we are going to pay the bills? Do you know how I felt? I felt miserable. I wasn’t contributing enough. All couples are different, people. Some couples can make it on being poor and being happy because they have a spiritual wealth. However, Rupert and I…we started to become a couple when we were younger…and had high, ideal expectations on where we should be. When they didn’t pan out, we got a bit beat down by life. It does not excuse how we’ve treated each other, but it makes me understand why some times were very difficult than others. Sure, we play well with others. We are very nice to other people. We like being around other people. Yet, when you become a couple, you are living together. You are letting everything hang out. When one is weak, the strong one picks up the other’s slack. Yet, you have to also realize that when one is strong for a very long time and the other one is weak for a very long time is stresses the relationship.
As a feminist, one of my core equal qualities I am big on is that each person in the relationship has to have something of his or her own. My friends…have no idea who I felt like I was dying in the inside. And maybe some of them will never understand. All of my friends, including Rupert, had full time jobs. Some of them may have despised their jobs; nevertheless, they had jobs. They had money coming in…and working for their bread. To me, that interprets independence. It might not for them for them because they became immune to their jobs. For me, I was quite thirsty for that. Now, because I have that, I have did a complete 180 degrees. I am back to myself. What being unemployed taught me is that…work for me is the learning tool. For me, work drives the force in me to succeed. It makes me feel needed. I don’t even think a kid could do it for me if I wanted kids. For me, I was hard wired to work. I love working because it is service to me. I am serving people. And I get paid for it. It helps my self-esteem greatly. Once I started working, I started acting less like a bitch as well. No, Rupert and I still have a lot of issues to work through, yet we are trying harder. We are communicating better, too. I believe it is because we are on an equal playing field. YET, the piece of puzzle that I found that fits perfectly with the others concerning all of this…is to be nice. Looking back on it, I’ve gotten used to thinking being nice means being a weak ass woman. Letting folks run all over you. If they think you are a nice woman, people will just use you as their wiping mat. But reading McMillan’s take on it makes me realize…it is OKAY to be nice. You need to be nice to your partner. Or how else you are supposed to get along. Even as a feminist, I understand what she means by being nice. I love when she writes this: “Being nice is not demeaning. It’s what makes the effing world go around! And it’s especially what makes a marriage work. It’s called the Golden Rule, and as far as I’m concerned, it trumps everything” (13).
As a common sense feminist, women out there, especially you other feminists, I am chiming in that it is okay to be nice when you need to be nice. You need to treat your partner nice. If your partner asks for a hug, give it to them even though you may not like hugs. If your partner asks for a certain dish to be made for dinner, even though you don’t want it, make it. If your partner asks you to do the dishes one night even though you are tired, try to get up some energy and do it. It is okay to be nice.
Sometimes, you aren’t going to be nice. But when you aren’t nice all the time…when you are confrontational, argue about everything, and being mean for the sake of being mean spirited, you aren’t being nice. You are being a bitch. As for me, I know I need to work on all of that advice I said above. I am not waived from it. I am sure that there are folks out there who think I am nice and sweet. It is all good. I am that. I’ve been that to them. But the person who counts the most in my life, I haven’t been nice to. It doesn’t feel nice to not to be nice to him. And looking back on it, I am shame of my actions, but I also forgive my actions. Forgiveness is about moving forward and doing better for yourself. So, as McMillan summarizes at the end of this chapter:
*You’re a bitch.
*Bitchness is really anger and defensiveness.
*Learn to forgive
*Get a new story
What McMillan means by a new story is forging a new belief system. Yes, usually, you act like a bitch because other folks have did you wrong in the past. But I realized that I had to learn to forgive and reconcile the past. I am still learning. I don’t know everything, but I need and want to know everything. And that’s called open mindedness. I will be learning to navigate the waters for the rest of my life. So, I am a bitch or am I a nice girl? Well, I’ve been both at the same time. It depends on when you catch me. But as they always say, you can catch more bees with honey. And let me say, from experience, I’ve definitely gotten more bees with that technique. I want to also say for those feminists out there…being nice doesn’t make you weak. It makes you HUMAN. Trust me, most people who are good, they want to be treated nice deep down inside. Sometimes, we aren’t nice because we don’t want to be vulnerable. Being nice with all your other positive behaviors…makes you better person. I know. When I am nice to people, the better of version of me shines through.
Thanks for reading,