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Dear Demetria:

How does a mid- to late-30s lady who goes out a lot, enjoys life with no kids but wants to be married with kids very soon deal with the judgments that no man will marry her if she's like this? —Anonymous

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Ugh. I hate the messages our culture sends to single women about what will make them “marriageable.” Not only are those messages mostly archaic, but they’re also wrong.

There’s no one type of woman who gets married. There are women who go out all the time, and they get married. And they continue to go out after they are married. (Marriage is not house arrest.) Women who sit home doing whatever they do in the house also get married. But if what it took to get married was staying home and not enjoying life, then every woman sitting in her house and complaining would have a ring and a husband. We both know that this is not the case.

Women who are quiet and easygoing get married. So do women who are loud and opinionated. A good friend, a proudly loud woman, was on CNN once defending her position in a raised voice, and a man watching at home heard her on the TV in another room, came around the corner and tracked her down. They got married sometime later. Their kid has to be about 5 now.

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While we’re at it, I need to point out that women of all sizes get married, too. Some men are attracted to small women, some men are attracted to curvy women, some men are attracted to so-called plus-size women. Some men think they’re only attracted to one shape of a woman, then see another shape that does it for them, and just like that, they’re attracted to something else. There’s no one-size wedding dress that every bride has to fit into.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, you need to know that “they” said the same thing about me and all my married friends. We were mostly 30 or pushing it, dating, no relationship, and living it up from club to club, coast to coast and continent to continent. And we all heard, “No man will marry you if … ” It never seemed to dawn on those folks that women who go out a lot and enjoy life would be absolutely miserable pretending to be something they are not just to call someone “husband.”

The goal of marriage should not be contorting yourself to meet someone else’s expectations and be someone you aren’t or denying yourself the moral things you enjoy in order to find a spouse. (I say “moral” because you do have to deny yourself some things in marriage—like, you know, sex with other people, unless that’s an arrangement you have.) The goal should be to find someone who complements your life and loves you for who you are. You’re supposed to find a person who actually enjoys and appreciates you, not the person “they” think you have to stifle yourself to become.

You’re not doing anything, like shooting heroin or robbing banks, that would give most people great pause. You’re enjoying life, being social and going out. And for a single woman who wants to marry someday, that’s exactly what you should be doing. Make sure when you’re out and enjoying life that you’re being friendly and meeting people by smiling at attractive men, striking up conversations and making sure men who seem interested know how to stay in touch.

As for the people in your life who have a problem with that? Stop telling them where you’re going and what you’re doing. Share those details with someone who supports you living a full life and encourages you to actually live your single life instead of waiting for your life to start when—not if—you go from Ms. to Mrs.

Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. She is also a blogger at SeeSomeWorld.com, where she covers pop culture and travel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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Previously in Ask Demetria: “I Want to Travel Solo for My Birthday, but My Boyfriend Wants to Tag Along