As an African American, educated, Jesus loving, married in her 30s, female, I’d like to speak to “all the single black ladies (cue Beyonce dancers).” I realize I am no longer single and get that there’s a bit of a “veil” that comes over someone’s eyes when they are no longer living in the same reality that they once were. However, I feel passionate about those in this place and believe that the experience that black women face while dating is different and deserves some attention. In the next few blogs, I will spend some time focusing on the resiliency of black women, growing up in a Christian upbringing, and lastly on what black women can do. But first, some info on general dating trends.
As more and more jobs require individuals to have higher degrees of learning, many women are focused upon graduate school and engaging in gap years/opportunities where they can give back to their community. In one’s pursuit and ability to focus on these goals, it may cause women and men to delay in their pursuit of dating. Check out my earlier blog post Dating and Singleness Across A Lifespan for more information on how dating trends are impacted by one’s age.
In fact, Dr. Meg Jay, PhD psychologist and author of The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–And How to Make the Most of Them Now, identifies that the trend for individuals to start dating has gone up depending on where in America you live. And while some may feel that dating later in life gives one self and the other person more time to be mature, she notes that it doesn’t necessarily mean that the relationships will turn out better. How might these trends, culture, and spiritual beliefs impact African American/black women’s experience in dating? Let’s take a look….
Why Is It Different?
The Resiliency of Black Women
Black women are often portrayed as women who are strong, motivated, and leaders within their families and spheres of influence. This is due to the fact that, over the years, black men within the community has decreased due to the high number of men incarcerated in America, causing a trend of fatherlessness in the community.
Being a part of a community in which women have had to be the mother and father in families requires a level of strength, dependence and resiliency that has been not only a necessity of the black community, but also accepted amongst the black community.
The strength and leadership of black women today impacts dating in many ways, but here are three ways that I have seen:
- For women who may be dating “later in life” finding a spouse may feel limiting. It often feels like the numbers are not in their favor. Particularly, if they are looking for someone who is educated, employed, and does not have children.
- Women who have been a source of strength and dependence for others, may come across as not needing help from anyone. I spent more of my time single than married, which means that I learned how to take care of my needs on my own. In addition, as the oldest in my family, I leaned on the reputation of being responsible and a role model for others. While this way of living served me well in my earlier years of adulthood, it became somewhat of a hindrance when dating.
- Lastly, being strong, they are often told that they are “too intimidating” or unapproachable to date.
The First Step…
While my last blog will give further tips or recommendations for dating, I did want to speak to one of the first steps in dating.
Coming to the realization that I wanted to date and find a partner for life was one of the most vulnerable revelations that I named within myself. In recognizing and naming that longing, I felt that I was saying that who I was wasn’t enough. But on the contrary my friends, I’d like to offer a reframe. Being honest about your longings for intimacy and relationship is actual quite courageous. And just how making a decision to go back to school because you want to gain more knowledge or expertise in an area, being in a life long partnership is an acknowledgement that there could be more to who I am and how I am experiencing the world. So, if any of that resonates with you the 1st step I believe is getting honest with yourself about your interest in dating and relationships.
I have so much respect for women who have embraced the power that comes from their resiliency. Please know that I would count it an honor to meet with you to discuss the ways that this strength impacts your dating life. If you’d like to discuss this further, please know that counseling may be for you! Please don’t hesitate to reach out and stay tuned for blog 2 for Black women and dating.
Written by therapist Pamela Larkin
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