In 2011, author and relationship expert Tracy McMillan created quite the viral shakeup with her Huffington Post blog, Why You’re Not Married. McMillan dared to get very real with women about taking responsbility for themselves – urging them to really look in the mirror when it came to why they weren’t achieving their relationship goals. I absolutely loved it!
McMillan is appearing on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, May 4, on OWN at 11 a.m. ET/PT, to talk soulmates, love and marriage — and I got the chance to chat with her about some of my favorite subjects, dating and matters of the heart! I found her to be really thoughtful, insightful and inspiring.
eH: Did you have a sense of the reaction you would get when you wrote the article, Why You’re Not Married?
Tracy McMillan: No, not really, there was a part of me that knew I was saying something that needed to be said. I was aware that some people weren’t going to like hearing it. I never imagined the level of response.
eH: It’s so interesting that by being totally real and authentic, you got that sort of response…
TM: I think that is the big takeaway — it really is a metaphor for dating as well. You really want to be your truest self, because that is the person who is going to show up sooner or later in the relationship. If you don’t bring that person forward, the relationship isn’t going to work. The lesson is to be authentic right from the very beginning. This doesn’t mean you behave unkindly, or that you dump emotional stuff on the other person on the first date – this means you just be your most honest, authentic self, and that’s hard for people to do, because we all want to be liked.
I think relationships help discover who you are, which is why every relationship, whether it “works out” or not, really works out! They are all useful. They are all sacred, and they are all exactly where we need to be at any given moment in time. Usually there is one big lesson to learn, and when you learn that, you can move on to the next chapter. Not until we really embrace and accept the lessons that go along with a given relationship do we really get to move on. You may switch partners, but you’ll still be having the same issues.
eH: Yes, everywhere you go, there you are. So how do we really look into ourselves?
TM: It’s each person’s relationship to themselves that determines how long the suffering lasts! We all get to decide when we are ready to say, “Ok, that’s enough. I’m ready to move on, and in order to move on I’m going to really have to look at myself because I’m the common denominator in all of my relationships.” When you get tired of doing the same old thing over and over, you decide – I won’t try harder, I will try different.
eH: I have a friend who recently broke up with a guy, and then all of her friends came out of the wordwork and told her how they knew he was the wrong one for her. She asked me why they didn’t tell her that earlier! Do you think we should tell our friends if we see them in a relationship that isn’t working?
TM: Yes, definitely. I think one of the reasons my article went viral was because I was saying the things that all of your friends know! When you ask yourself, why am I not in a relationship, you can bet that all the people who are closest to you have a theory. They know why and they’re afraid to tell you because the natural instinct is to get mad when someone tells you something you don’t want to hear. Yes, its ok to say it. I think you can say it one time with all of the love in your heart, like, look, I think this is what’s going on with you … if your friend isn’t ready to hear it, that’s ok. You don’t go into the dark to grab somebody out of the dark; you stand in the light until they come out and see you standing there.
eH: That’s so true. Do you think there’s truth to the theory that women complicate their relationships and just need to be more accepting of men?
TM: I wouldn’t say women like to complicate things, I would say women work from more of an emotional truth. You have to look at a person, any person, including yourself, and learn to love them as is. People may change, but they may not. Somebody said to me – the only thing you can think of changing in a man is his outfit, but anything else is off limits. I don’t know if I agree with that, but it’s basically a way of saying that there’s nothing you are going to change about another person, people don’t really change. You might become a better Golden Retriever, but you aren’t going to become a German Shepherd – you can just become a better Golden Retriever, a better version of what you already are.
eH: Yes. I also hear this alot, “If he would just see this about me, or see how great I am, or that I’m the woman for him, then it would work out…”
TM: I always feel like God works through a person’s eyes. If they don’t see something about you, it’s because they aren’t your person. You can trust that if someone does not see you, then it’s because they aren’t your man or your woman. If you start looking at it from that standpoint you can let go and let God. I came to a place in my own development where I would no longer walk into a party and look around for who I thought was cute. I don’t need to pick out whoever – I just need to be a light and see who sees it.
eH: What advice would you give to someone still looking, still single and frustrated?
TM: I wonder if you really need to find someone, or do you just need to be ready to be found? I think there’s a shift internally where you are just willing, when you come into the space where you believe it will happen, even when you can’t see it, like when you are in a set of circumstances where it looks like there are no good men. You have to choose, and believe, that there is one person for you. When you choose instead to believe that there’s “no good men,” and be in that limitation – that will be true for you.
eH: The other comment I hear often is, “Dating is so hard.”
TM: That is an intention … and why are you putting that out there? It is done unto you as you believe. So it’s like, “What am I choosing to believe?” This is true in every area of life. If you can’t seem to believe that it’s possible, then there is probably a trauma there that needs to be worked out. I have had to work through a lot of trauma in order to be able to stay open to being in love. It’s about opening your heart more, to give more love and receive more love.
eH: What would you say to the person who has been deeply hurt or betrayed and is having a hard time opening up his/her heart again?
TM: That is probably some of the most important work a person will do. I think one of the ways you have to see it is you aren’t just doing this to bring a partner into your life. If you are walking around with a closed heart, the higher power, God, or whatever you believe, cannot work through you the same way it can work through you with an open heart.
Don’t do the work so you can have a partner, do the work so you can be fully alive on this planet. Take the beginning steps so you are in a place where light and love is happening, and as you do that I promise you a relationship will happen. It doesn’t start with the relationship, the relationship in many respects is the result of the loving relationship you are having with yourself and with spirit. If your love life doesn’t look the way you want it to look, you have to start wanting to look within.
See a preview of Tracy’s talk with Oprah about why you don’t have the relationship you want. Tune in Sunday, May 4, at 11 a.m. ET/PT on OWN for their full conversation!