Mandy Stadtmiller’s memoir Unwifeable kicks off with her arrival in New York at the age of 30 to begin a job as a reporter at the New York Post, where she eventually becomes their star dating columnist.
She ended up writing about much more than her love life. She hooks up with a gigolo and dates various celebrities. (Yes, she spills secrets.) Her struggles with addiction and eating are also themes throughout the book, and while in the throes of it, she determines she is “unwifeable.” As it turns out, Stadtmiller does lead us to a happy ending, landing in a fulfilling marriage with the love of her life.
So, how did she go from Unwifeable to happily married? Personal Space talks to the author about her journey.
Personal Space: When and how did the term "Unwifeable" pop into your brain?
Mandy Stadtmiller: “I’ve always been fascinated by how men talk about women when no one is around, and so many refer to either the kind of girl you want to ‘wife up’ or someone who you want to ‘hit and quit it.’ Snoop Dogg in particular once lambasted Kim Kardashian by saying of her first husband, ‘You shouldn't have tried to wife the bitch, man; she's not that type of ho.’ I asked myself, is that my problem with relationships? Am I just ‘not that kind of ho?’ Am I actually unwifeable? I Googled the term and saw it used sparingly although ‘undateable’ was far more common in the zeitgeist.”
PS: Did you ever think that one day that the dark experiences you had would lead to an incredible future?
MS: “Above all else, I really try to be all about resilience. So even when I was on the verge of self-destruction, I think there was always some light mixed in with the dark, where I was trying to find my way out of chaos into something more authentic and real. And my true nature and spirit — wanting to live a life of adventure and risk and fearlessness — just needed the right outlet. Sex, drugs and self-immolation were the twisting of good impulses — to break out of my shell — expressed in destructive activities because I was too afraid to look deeper at my underlying issues.”
PS: I love the way you describe your parents in the book. You're so honest but still careful not to hurt their feelings. What was their reaction to the stories you tell in it? (Stadtmiller tells uncomfortable stories of growing up and manages to give details of her parents true personalities while remaining incredibly kind to them.)
MS: “They loved it, although it was a process to be sure. Writing about my parents was one of the most healing parts of the book, for sure, and from what I've gathered from reader feedback, one of the most resonant themes of Unwifeable for many people. It's so wild how we all wrestle with our own highly personalized (and very specific to our own life journey) versions of the family shame narrative. I did try to be careful not to hurt my parents, but we had some surreal conversations to negotiate what I would and wouldn't include. In the end, I think it brought us a lot closer.”
PS: Do you think/know you're wifeable now?
MS: “I do. And I think I always was, which is the most wild part of self-discovery, just realizing how easily we can flip the script on deeply ingrained stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. That's the theory behind the site I just started to kind of extend that moral of the book. It's called Un-Yourself. Essentially, what story are you committing to right now that might not be true or could be reinterpreted into something tremendous and filled with potential? Because think about it. There's, ‘Ugh, unbelievable.’ And then there's, ‘OMG, unbelievable!’ We can always choose to reframe what we think are the most doom and gloom parts of our personal story. There is a true sense of possibility, always.”
Here is a smiling Mandy with her husband, comedian Pat Dixon.
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