When it comes to relationships, 51-year-old Darcy compares herself to McDonald's: "Fast, cheap, easy, and hot," she quips.
"My first engagement was in 1975," she says. "I was 20 years old. And it was about a week and he said, 'Will you marry me?' and I thought I don't want to hurt his feelings! It took me a couple of weeks, but I was able to get out of it.
"A year later, I got engaged again. He told me he wanted to marry me pretty much right away, but I'm 21 years old. I want to experience life, and I thought, he wants to do the same thing to me the first guy did, turn me into June Cleaver! And I said yes, thinking I would wiggle out of it later.
"My third engagement, the one that got away, he asked me to marry him after six weeks. I do remember saying, 'Can I think about it?' and he said, 'Absolutely not. You are going to marry me or I'm never going to see you again.' I was engaged to him for seven years. He finally asked me point blank if we were going to get married. I said no. He left for the weekend and came back with a gal whom he married, and he's been with her ever since.
"My fourth engagement was at the age of 38. It lasted about three years. I was older than him and not the same religion. His mother said, 'Oh, I don't think so. No, no, no.' And she wanted me chopped up, dead, buried in toxic waste dumps across the globe.
"Fiancé number five happened when I was 44.
"I was 49 when I got engaged for the sixth time. He asked me within 10 minutes. I was actually still engaged to number five at the time. My sister started calling me Anna Nicole [Smith] because he was 76 and he had a lot of wealth. I thought, you know, I can't do this. We broke it off completely, I thought, but he was watching me and had people following me, and we ended up getting engaged again. He found out before the ceremony that his kids took everything. 'You know something, Darcy? They took everything I own. Do you have money to pay the preacher?' The marriage ended because I felt betrayed, deceived. I call it my 10-minute marriage.
"I don't know what's wrong with me, but there has to be something because here I am, single. I hope Dr. Phil will be able to say, 'Darcy, This is your problem. This is how you can work it out.' And I really want him to point me in the direction of Mr. Right."
Dr. Phil asks Darcy, "Have you ever said no?"
She considers the question and then smiles broadly. "No," she says. "Men have porcelain-fragile egos, and you just can't hurt their feelings. Now, I said, 'Let me think about it,' to number three."
"Well, it's interesting that you say that," says Dr. Phil. "What about number five when you were engaged to number six? If you're so interested in his feelings, then what about number five's feelings? He asked you 10 minutes after you met him. You can't buy a car in 10 minutes."
"Isn't that something?" Darcy laughs. "Dr. Phil, I don't know. That's why I'm here."
"Yeah, I'm wondering why I'm here," Dr. Phil quips. "No, do you understand the inconsistency of that? You're telling me, 'I do this because I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings.' Well, how about being engaged time, after time, after time again and then not marrying them? Don't you think that hurts their feelings? Because they might actually plan on getting married. You don't, but they probably do. They give you rings and stuff, which you keep."
"But you know what? I have offered them back, except the one I got on my birthday. It was a gift. It was a birthday present," says Darcy. Turning to the audience, she adds, "Now, that's legal. If it's on your birthday, that's legal. But you know ... " she issues a long sigh.
As Dr. Phil lets her finish, a wide grin spreads across his face. "You like attention, don't you?" he says.
"Actually, I'm very shy," she says, laughing in spite of herself.
Dr. Phil says, "No, you like attention because you're real chatty, and you've been engaged seven times, and you're playing to the audience here. You like attention."
"Oh, I know some of them," says Darcy, gesturing to the audience.
"Yeah, I assume you've been engaged to three or four of them," says Dr. Phil, drawing another laugh from Darcy. "You've been here a couple hours, I figure you've bagged a few while you were here." With less levity, he says, "You seem really bright. I mean, seriously. You seem bright and articulate and capable but yet you don't seem to learn in a patterned situation."
"I never thought of it as a pattern," says Darcy. "I just thought it was not hurting their feelings, because I did some of my best dating while I was engaged."
Dr. Phil asks for some clarification. "With the person you were engaged with?"
"No," says Darcy.
"With somebody else?" says Dr. Phil. "So, you'd be engaged to one and then you'd do really good dating with somebody else?"
"Well, I knew I wasn't going to marry them," she says.
"Let's see if there's a common denominator here," says Dr. Phil. "In a pattern, you often have common denominators." Counting on seven fingers, he says, "Seven engagements, you've been in all seven of them. OK, so that's one common denominator, right. OK, second, in most of them, you had no intention of marrying them when you said yes, correct?"
"Correct," Darcy confirms.
Dr. Phil continues, "Third common denominator: While you were engaged to them, you were already plowing the next field, because you said, 'I do some of my best dating when I'm engaged.' OK, and that is repeated. So, you're always there, you say yes when you mean no, and you're already cultivating the next relationship while you're in this one. That seems to me to be a pattern."
As the idea sinks in with Darcy, she exclaims, "Wow."
"'Wow. Gee, when you put it that way,'" Dr. Phil echoes. "Look, here's the bottom line: You've spent all these years being engaged to seven guys that you had no intention of marrying. What if you had said, 'No, my happiness is at least as important as theirs, so I'm not going to waste time in these dead-end relationships.' Maybe that would have led you to finding somebody that you really did care about."
"I did not know how to do that at the time. I really, I really didn't," says Darcy.
"OK. Try this. Let me see if you can say this. 'I'm really flattered that you asked, but I'm just not in the same place right now.' Can you say that?" asks Dr. Phil. "'So, I'm going to have to say no.'"
Slowly, and with care to articulate every word, Darcy repeats the phrase. She then asks, "Will it hurt their feelings?"
"Oh, I'm sure if they really care about you, I'm sure they'll be disappointed for a while." Dr. Phil replies. "But you know what? I hate to tell you this, but I honest to God really do think they'd get over you. I know, you're probably this wonderful charismatic, warm, loving person and all, but I really do think they'd get over you."
"I do too," Darcy agrees.