Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
Tracy McMillan, a writer I really respect, posted an article on the Huffington Post this week that alleges to explain why you’re not married. She suggests that if you want to be married, there are six reasons why you might not be: you’re a bitch, you’re shallow, you’re a slut, you’re a liar, you’re selfish, you’re not good enough.
To me, this article is just a string in a long line of self-help books/mantras/seminars that women buy into because they’re convinced that something is wrong with them. These advice hucksters have no empirical evidence to back up their claims and the sad thing to me is that woman buy into it. I could probably come up with six good reasons why McMillan’s three marriages have failed but it wouldn’t make it true.
I’m going to break down her six reasons why women aren’t married and tell her why picking six adjectives does not a foolproof theory make.
1. You’re a Bitch
McMillan alleges that men don’t want to marry bitches. She’s right that men don’t want to marry someone angry. But how can you blame them? I don’t want to be around people who are angry. Life is fun and exciting and there’s so much of it out there and I can’t stand being around someone who’s negative all the time. So yeah, if you’re angry all the time, you have issues but you also probably know this already. Her allegation that there’s this entire cohort of women out there who are perpetually angry at men is completely antiquated. Modern feminists have shortened their skirts, pulled out their heels, and unabashedly inject botox – the short haired tough women of the 80’s don’t really exist in younger generations. So who are all these angry women?
The other problem with her theory is that she’s right that there are some women who are mean to their boyfriends. I do see it sometimes – women who are nagging their boyfriends or constantly criticizing them. But these women usually have no problem finding men with low self esteem to marry them – just look at all the bitchy wives out there.
2. You’re Shallow.
First of all, welcome to America – we’re all shallow! Name one girlfriend you have who doesn’t wear make-up, or one man who doesn’t care about the size of his, uhm, well bank account for one. Look at your closet and ask yourself what you splurged on that you couldn’t afford. I don’t care what size you are, how old you are, or how anti-establishment you think you are, almost all of us are shallow to some degree. I’m not proud of it or recommending it, but it’s a fact of life. Stop pretending you’re not and that that is the reason you got a bunch of men to propose to you.
Now that doesn’t mean I’m encouraging women to seek out men based on purely shallow means. I’m just saying, if you’re not in the least bit sexually attracted to the man, are you just supposed to ignore that? I agree just wanting to marry someone who is rich is shallow and not going to get you anywhere, but very few women who really want to get married are being held up by this. Most women are probably just looking for someone who is willing to work hard and wants the same things out of life. Wanting this is not an impediment to their happiness.
3. You’re a Slut
I agree casual sex is not going to put you on a path to marriage but I strongly disagree with the notion that casual sex is going to prevent you from getting there. Casual sex with someone you think is marriage material might complicate things. But just having had casual sex in general, has very little bearing on your ability to find a mate.
4. You’re a Liar
Alright, this one is tough because it sometimes can be true. If you’re in what essentially amounts to a relationship, as in sleeping with someone regularly and yet not in a committed relationship and continually telling the guy you don’t want to get married, yeah I’d recommend you stop lying. So I guess I agree with her to some extent that this might divert a woman from getting married.
However, the point is not to hook a man into becoming a husband by putting out positive feelings. The point is why close yourself off to any experience be repeatedly saying you don’t want something. Who knows what life might offer? Instead of concentrating on what you don’t want, focus on what you have and decide if that’s what you want right now.
5. You’re Selfish
Yes, I’m selfish. So are you. We all are and most people only realize that life is not about us when we have children. But nobody can force themselves to feel the awesome power of becoming a parent just because they want to get married. Nor is this necessarily attractive. Selfish people are in committed relationships everywhere. If you need some examples, I could offer you a very long list.
6. You’re Not Good Enough
If you think you’re not good enough, you don’t need a husband. You just need some therapy. Who knows if this is the reason you’re not in a relationship or not. Who cares? You have issues. Too many for anyone else to psychoanlayze.
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February 14, 2011 | 7:36 pm
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
I have a complicated relationship with Valentine’s Day. When I was growing up, I lived in a predominately Jewish area and it seemed like just another peripheral holiday I didn’t celebrate, like Easter. I loved the candy that came along with these holidays, but aside from that, they didn’t really impact my life. In college, where hooking-up-consistently was about as committed as one could get, Valentine’s Day was another excuse to use our fake IDs on a weekday. Then it became the day a relationship started and so for a few years it had extra meaning and sanctimony. When we broke up, I dreaded Valentine’s Day more than I dreaded stepping on a scale my first year of college. But the day finally came and to ignore my heartache, that year I went with some friends to Lucent L’Amour which is an art/music festival-of-sorts put on by the Los Angeles Burning Man affiliates and I had a great time. PS – if you ever need to get your mind off something, I assure you there is no better way than to do something connected with Burning Man.
But now a few years later, I’ve settled into appreciating the Day for what it is – a cheesy highly manufactured greeting card driven holiday that just also happens to be a great excuse to say I love you. No matter what, I’m still a big believer in love and any excuse to let it hang on your sleeve is a good one.
A year ago tonight, Valentine’s Day was on a Saturday night and wanting to live up the salad days of my youth, I insisted on a raucous night out on the town. With two of my closest girlfriends, I went out and a hit up a few spots before ending up at The Roger Room. We joined some men at a booth where one of my friends, Martinique, met a boy who is now her current boyfriend. We all went back there this Saturday night to commemorate the occasion. A year ago, Martinique and I were commiserating about how miserable dating in LA can be because men have too many choices; this time I was sitting across from a deliriously happy couple. Her life has completely changed and I couldn’t be happier for her. But of course, I couldn’t help but notice the juxtaposition of our lives as I saw across from her. Have I made dating progress in the past year? Or have I just wasted a lot of time because after another year of dating, I’m in the exact same place I was last year, literally?
If you date and don’t end up in a relationship, have you just squandered precious time and energy?
Of course, in some ways, it would appear that I am in the exact same place I was a year ago. But when you factor in life outside of dating, this year has been full of so many good changes, it would be hard to recount. And of course, all those amazing career advancements, and emotional maturations, and memories made with family and friends over the last year have greatly informed my character and so I couldn’t possibly be in the same place. But then I think of all the time spent over the last year going out with creeps or talking on the phone or checking my phone for texts. What does it all amount to? That time was time away from things I love, and of course when you’re in love and looking back on that, you can easily say it was well worth it to get to where you are. But when you’re in between relationships, it’s hard to see what the point of it all is. So, I’m spending today, trying to remind myself that I have in deed learned quite a bit in Cupid’s arena this year and perhaps you have too.
For all the lovers out there, one of my favorite love poems by e.e.cummings for you:
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
For everyone else, I offer Ten Things I Have Learned in the Last Year From Dating
1. Check, double check, and triple check before hitting send on your iPhone when you are texting the words Devon asked Beth out! What a hussy! to your other friend Lacey and not directly to Beth.
2. Do not reply to flirty double entendre filled texts from your married boss because his wife will read his texts.
3. No matter how many times after dinner he assures you that he’s just inviting you to his house for coffee and doesn’t want to move too fast, he will try to take off your clothes.
4. Some professional Minnesota Twins players are dumb. So dumb that regardless of how cute he is, you can’t ignore his being dumb.
5. Cowards who go running back to the midget girl they dated before you will blame his relationship problems with her on you, so that she will bark expletives like a puppy being tripped on, as soon as she sees you above her.
6. What happens at Coachella stays at Coachella.
7. Some men will believe you when you tell them you want to have four children and name them after different pastas, such as Fusilli, Papperdelle, Cellentani, Gemelli.
8. When the man tries to pay for dinner with a coupon, you will need to leave your purse underneath the table to pretend to go back and get it to fix the tip.
9. You cannot be friends with exs because friends don’t hate each other or sleep with each other.
10. It’s ok to make an exception and make-out with someone younger than you when he has an Olympic Medal in snowboarding.
Proof that it is not all for naught I guess. Here’s to hoping I learn even more on my journey this year. Happy Valentine’s Day!
February 14, 2011 | 3:03 pm
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
A little something to cheer up any of those with broken hearts out there made by some very talented friends of mine about a Princess and the Prince of Persia. Ah, to be a Gyllenhaalic..
February 10, 2011 | 6:25 pm
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
In light of the recent news story regarding former Congressman Christopher Lee, I wanted to offer some help to a man who looks pretty down on his luck right now.
1. Don’t Show Your Best Assets Too Soon
Those guns are great, but if they really are your best feature, which I think is probably safe to assume, don’t show them right off the bat for free. Taunt her with them: tell her about them and make her ask to see them. Or get her to give you a photo first.
2. When sending pictures of yourself to anyone you want to woo, never use the pic you take of yourself in the mirror
There is no better way to tip off someone to your vanity driven megalomania than a picture taken in your own home by yourself of you staring in the mirror. If you’re attractive, you have plenty of photos other people have taken of you. Even if you think it’s not as good a photo, there’s no bigger turn off than finding out a man is more image-conscious than you are.
3. If You’re Famous and You’re Cheating, Use a Fake Email Address
Really, this one seems so obvious but I guess it has to be said. Now, I’m certainly not endorsing cheating, but for the sake of your son who is now probably destined to a life in celebrity rehab centers, if you’re in the public eye and doing something bad, use a fake name. At least try to at first! After you exchange a few emails, meet up for a coffee, and then if you decide to trust her, give her your real name. But not just to any girl posting on Craigslist. It’s very easy to get another gmail or hotmail or even aol email account and use that one for all cheating purposes. At least make it seem like you put in the requisite amount of effort.
4. Don’t Resign Because of One Topless Photo
There are countless people who have been in your shoes, actually usually a lot worse and their careers have gone on just fine. This isn’t resignation worthy. If there’s a lot more to the story, then I can’t wait to find out. But so far, your discretions seem so benign, I don’t understand why you gave up so soon and I feel like you could use some better career advice as well. Think Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, Rob Lowe. There’s nothing wrong with showing a little skin in today’s day and age and no one wants to date someone unemployed.
5. Don’t Lie About Your Age
It just makes you seem like you’re a liar. Be honest about being in your forties. Fortunately for you, there are plenty of twenty year-olds who will still date you. Girls find you distinguished. Better to be upfront about it, then risk being a liar which girls hate.
6. Back Off Your Pro-Life Stance
I know this doesn’t necessarily have to be related, but look, if you’re going to be the kind of Congressman who wants to hook up via the internet, I’d just stop presenting myself as a hard core family values guy who has a right to scrutinize other people’s sexual lives. A little back peddling right now, wouldn’t hurt.
7. Change Political Parties
Compared to a guy who cheated on his wife while she was being treated for cancer and fathered a child with his pseudo-videographer, you look down right quaint. Plus the Dems are so afraid of offending anyone, they’d probably take you with open arms to prove they’re not prejudiced against cheaters.
8. Admit When You Get Caught
Didn’t we learn anything from Nixon? It’s always the cover-up that makes it worse. Having your press agent release a statement that the only time you were on Craigslist was to sell furniture and then a day later, to release an apology for your Craigslist dating emails just makes you a laughing stock. Don’t try to worm out of it if she finds out. Be a man. Own up to your mistakes. Girls love contrition.
9. Stop Using LOL
I don’t know why this bugs me so much, but the thought of my Congressman flirting with a girl on his Blackberry by saying LOL is just really offensive to me. Until your campaign slogan is B 2gether or some such acronym, cut out the LOLs!
10. Try Eharmony
I hear they do the matching for you so you can skip over all the boring back and forth and there’s much less risk of ending up on Gawker.
I know it’s tough out there, but you just gotta keep believing there’s a girl out there for you. Happy Hunting Congressman!
February 10, 2011 | 5:23 pm
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
I’ve been debating whether or not to tell you all this. But I guess since I’ve already exposed more intimate details of my personal life than I care to remember, there’s no point in holding back now.
I’m not a big football fan. I come from an ilk where Superbowl days were spent in museums pondering why the theater doesn’t attract stadiums filled with sixty thousand people. But I do enjoy any excuse for day-drinking and my roommate, Anita, is from Wisconsin, so party for the Superbowl we did! During halftime, my roommate and I planned to change venues to make an appearance at a second location which meant we had to get from one end of Santa Monica to the other before the third quarter started.
After the first half of the game, driving to the second destination was no longer a responsible option; Anita and I wandered outside trying to figure out the best mode of transportation. A young bearded homeless man in a big overcoat, holding a brown cardboard sign, asked us for change. We walked right past him, the standard response from many Santa Monica residents who regularly offer up our beaches as homes when suddenly on impulse from where I know not, I shouted to him I’ll give you five dollars if you can beat us to Montana. Montana Street was at least a mile away and my friend and I had about a twenty feet start, when he yelled back really? I looked back over my shoulder shouted “really!” and took off, running as fast as I could, and Anita followed suit. With enough alcohol in my system to make me believe I could run forever, we were running hard through the streets of Santa Monica as he chased behind us.
Anita kept shouting, he’s coming! He’s right behind us and and eventually I could hear his footsteps as he neared us. Yes, I had a moment of self-doubt when I wondered whether I was exploiting the homeless for motives which weren’t quite clear to me, but he didn’t have to take me up on my offer. Besides, this guy could seriously run. We shrieked and yelled and eventually, within a few streets of our destination, we succumbed to the cramps the sudden boozy sprint had caused and the homeless men sped past us, with his back-pack bouncing wildly from his shoulders. He had won.
We gave him five bucks. He seemed very appreciative. I was sort of sad to see him walk away. (Side note - to anyone who thinks homeless people are lazy, how wrong you are. These people want to work. You should have seen this guy – he was fast and not just homeless fast.)
In any case, I tell you this because what really shocks me about the whole thing is the lack of interest all the denizens of Santa Monica had in what was unfolding behind their eyes. You’d think that two yuppie hipster girls running down the streets being followed by an indigent panhandler, screaming he’s right behind us would have alarmed some of the passers-by. But no! No one asked if we were ok or tried to intervene. People just watched the scene unfold. So be careful out there. Don’t get caught in the streets alone because next time the person doing the chasing might not be a man whom you’ve paid to follow you.
February 9, 2011 | 12:15 pm
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
So this past weekend, I had one of those long girly dinners where you go out to eat, drink wine till you’re giggling obnoxiously, and talk about men. The topic turned to what happens to us when we as the girl in a relationship are the ones who get rejected, as in turned down for sex. The stereotype is that men always want it and women never do, but we all shared stories about times in a relationship when we were the ones left awake as he went to sleep.
It seems men are more practiced at getting turned down for sex. They don’t seem to take it as personally. Perhaps men expect to be turned every once in awhile - maybe society reinforces the idea that there are plenty of good reasons women might not want sex such as emotional disconnectivity, hormonal fluctuations, menstruation, not to mention the underlying presumption that men are wired physiologically to want sex at a higher frequency than women.
But women don’t usually think about reasons men might not want sex. We generally assume they all want it, all the time. All this is it say, that when a woman is turned down for sex, we’re very shocked, can’t understand why and take it very personally. We’re not used to it and are completely unprepared when it does happen. And thus, on those rare occasions when it occurs, we blame ourselves.
As we went around the table at dinner, it seemed there were very legitimate reasons why such an event had occurred in a relationship. He had drank so much he was on the verge of passing out, he had been up for two days straight traveling and just wanted to sleep, he was too high to perform, he thought it was too early in the relationship. These are legitimate reasons not to have sex and if a woman on rare occasion said as much to her boyfriend, I doubt he’d take it as a reflection of his own self worth. But when it happens to a woman, it’s rejecting. You start asking what’s wrong with me? Am I over-sexed? Am I slut? You feel dirty and like there was something unsavory about you even asking for it. You feel that the problem is yours for asking for sex in the first place.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Clearly the vestiges of our puritanical society remain and we still attribute some element of shame to a woman who wants sex too much, too often, or with too many people. The problem is, it’s no longer men who are reinforcing these stereotypes, women are perpetuating it all themselves. When my girlfriends and I were talking, not one of us could offer up an example of a man actually saying you’re oversexed, or why can’t you control your libido or some such variation that would imply that the problem was with the woman for asking. The men were offering up excuses for themselves because the reasons for turning us down resided solely with them and yet, we still felt we were impure for having asked.
The other problem with this self-imposed guilt is that it really isn’t fair to men. We make them creatures without feelings who should want sex all the time regardless of their feelings. When a man has a legitimate reason for not wanting sex, the woman should respect that just as we expect them to respect our decision to decline when the situation is reversed. Men aren’t walking libidos and to be so reductive does exactly to them what we don’t want done to us. So with Valentine’s Day coming up, girls ask away. And feel no shame, whether the answer is yes or no. Women have long demanded the sexual freedoms that men enjoy. Now that we are able to ask for sex the way men do, we must accept that this means that every once in a while, we’re going to get turned down the way men do.
February 8, 2011 | 7:29 pm
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
I went on a great date recently. I was someone’s guest for a fundraising gala and had a really fun time. I get a lot of emails from people who say that I only concentrate on what men do wrong. Much to my dismay, I realized perhaps this true but it is not a good representation of my opinion of men at all - the bad ones are just funnier and easier to write about. But in any case, I thought I’d tell you about someone who did everything right instead.
Of course, it should go without saying that he was a gentleman at all times. He didn’t pressure me to get a third drink when I declined at the after-hours celebration nor did he balk when I started the evening with Scotch. He never checked his phone in front of me – not once during the whole evening and it was a long night (Dinner started at 6 and we went out after the fundraiser was over!)! He never put his hands on me in a too familiar way but he politely offered his arm when my platform heels graced the steps outside the hotel. He even filled a card out to donate (generously – yes I peeked when he wasn’t there) and was discreet enough to close the card and not flaunt his donation in front of me. When the evening came to an end, he asked very firmly for my phone number. He didn’t hang around, muttering, awkwardly trying to work up the courage to say something. He knew he wanted it and asked – or at least he acted like that. He was even respectful during the long presentation that is de rigeur for such events. He was attentive and never got drunk. All in all a great time.
However, I’m pretty sure I’ll never see him again. Maybe I’m crazy or setting myself up for failure, but I can’t help but believe that when I meet him, I’ll just know, and this wasn’t it. I know I’m not being rational or fair, but something in me still wants to believe that the universe and fate is involved with whom I fall in love with. In this day and age is that as crazy as saying I believe in magic?
When I was seventeen, I was an intern in a Congressman’s office and I worked for a great guy, Jay, who was in his thirties and sweet and attractive. Everyone was always talking about how he was the ideal all around good-guy and gossiping about the string of toothsome girls he had dated over the years. And no, this is not an affair-with-an-intern story. Anyway, so Jay had been dating the latest girl for over a year and she seemed to be the favorite for attaining long term status. She was very pretty and and I could tell he liked her a lot; eventually I felt close enough to ask him if he was going to marry her. He told me he was waiting for a sign...something from God or a higher being that revealed to him that she was the one. I felt so bad for the girl. How long was she supposed to wait in a relationship for some voodoo sign to reveal itself? And if it never came, what then? Miss out on the possibly best thing that ever happened to him?
Eventually, I went off to college, and lost track of Jay and I still don’t know what happened to him. But I think about him often. How did it work out for him? Did a giant flock of seagulls fly over his house one morning and lead him to a billboard with a picture of a ring on it? Or did she get sick of waiting and break up with him and leave him to become bachelor now in his forties wondering if he’ll ever have kids.
I don’t think I’m waiting for a sign. But I know I’m waiting for something big – something that rocks my world – some sort of dare I say otherworldly love. But the scary thing about that is I’ve been in love before. And both times I thought the earth was shaking under me. And they both would have resulted in disasters if I had stayed in the relationship. So how can I ever trust myself? How will I know when I’m in love with the right person?
I like to think Jay did see the sign after all and got married to that girl. And maybe it wasn’t a sign from God. Maybe it was just something that anyone else would have overlooked but he told himself was a sign because he knew deep inside she was the one - like a heart made out of cheerios appearing in his cereal when he’s eating breakfast. I’m perfectly content to think that what I’m waiting for is something I’ll have to trick myself into believing. It’s easier than accepting that there was nothing meant to be at all. I just hope I’m able to recognize it when I see it. I guess I’ll just have to stay alert during breakfast from now on…
February 1, 2011 | 11:00 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
I hate having to reject someone I’ve already rejected. Rejecting someone is so uncomfortable already. Whether or not you’re trying to gently let down someone you actually care about or you’re telling this weirdo to his face, that every time he leans in closer, your skin involuntarily shudders, it’s not fun.
So when you think you’ve already done the job once, there’s nothing more irritating then having to do it a second time. Maybe you’ll want to blame me for the lame excuse I gave him, the first time. But if he understood it well enough to stay away the first time, why does he randomly text or call to ask again a few months later. The answer is still no. If it’s not, I’ll call you. I know I said I was too busy last month to get together, and this is a different month, but in addition to seeing I was too busy, I added that I would get in touch with you when things ease up. And guess what? I haven’t gotten in touch with you for a reason. Why are you back asking how I am? And that after my non-response did you really need to inquire as to how I was celebrating Martin Luther King Day?
There was this one guy I met at a First Fridays on Abbot Kinney who was just the worst – he literally tried to argue me into saying yes to a date. He thought because he was Jewish and I was Jewish we had some special connection. His breath reeked, and he had food on his shirt, and he was a close talker - he was so offensively creepy that every time he brought his face closer, he made my spine tingle. My girlfriends and I had just ordered a bottle of wine. He asked if he could join us and I gave the most reluctant I guess so I could. His socially-challenged questions were immediately off putting and we gave one word questions hoping he’d leave. He didn’t. He helped himself to a glass of our wine. HE DIDN’T OFFER TO PAY! And then he followed us out as we left trying to ask more questions.
During this time he had asked for my number and I had acquiesced and gave it to him – just out of pure desperation that he might leave us alone if I did. We finally shook him by saying we were going to a private party where strangers weren’t allowed. Anyway, this is all to say that when I returned his voicemail by texting him to say I was too busy to get together in the foreseeable future, I thought that would be the end of it. Wrong!
He called again, left messages, texted almost daily. There was no civility left in me. After saying no three different ways, I stopped responding. He continued to call – from different numbers which was a clear attempt to trick me into answering. Anyway, after weeks of this harassment, he finally stopped contacting me. I erased his do not answer number from my phone and forgot about it.
Then about a month later, he called and unfortunately I didn’t recognize the number and I answered. Although he recited his name for me twice, I had forgotten about him and had no idea whom it was, so I carried on a brief conversation until I could finally place him.
I immediately realized who he was when he informed me he was calling to invite me to some black tie Holocaust Fundraising Gala (how fun!). I was in the car on my way to a concert so I was really distracted, caught off guard, and without a surefire excuse on the ready. I was racking my brain, but nothing came out but the lamest excuse in everyone’s excuse repertoire – too busy.
No I can’t go with you to this gala cause I’m busy but thank you for offering to buy me a dress (and assuming I would need you to buy me one).
Well, what about next weekend then? Or during the week?
No, things won’t ease up for me for a long long time. Actually, things will probably never ease up for me.
I can come to you for coffee? Or breakfast? Oh, do you have Skype?
Look, I’m not interested in you. I don’t ever want to talk to you again!
I cringed as I said it. I felt bad for him, but I didn’t regret it. I should have just said, I’m seeing someone instead, but I guess he had harassed me to the point of forgetting my manners. He was shocked. Truly shocked and said something like well it’s your loss.
Yes! I said. Yes it is, my loss! He finally gets it, I think to myself. No. He tells me it’s not possible for me to be uninterested in him, because I don’t know anything about him yet. He is sure that if I give him one date, I will see how much we have in common. He tells me he felt a special connection with me.
NO! No you didn’t, I tell him. He goes on, explaining that I’ll be missing out on possibly the best thing to ever happen to me. And then he goes further than anyone should ever go. He says I would be denying what God wanted for us. He says people like me will end up alone.
I’m ok with that, I tell him.
This is your loss, he repeats and finally hangs up the phone. The experience was so unnerving, I find myself going over what he just said to me - his threat that I will end up alone.
But if not being alone means ending up with someone like him, I can’t tell you how good alone is looking.