Numbers of articles, books, television specials, and the like have been produced to tell you why Black women are single. (Check out “The crisis facing black women.”). Recently the blogosphere has been flooded with claims that the Black Church is keeping Black women single. Let’s be real. The lady who blamed the Black Church isn’t a church going Christian, so how did she decide that it was the church’s fault? And how does that explain all the non-Christian, non-church goers, non-religious Black women who are single?
What about the ones who can name more designers than disciples, can quote more Lil Wayne lyrics than scriptures, and have attended more parties than bible studies? Right, it doesn’t. It doesn’t even explain the churchgoing ones who are single.
Before that there was an article referencing Michelle Obama and how she lowered her standards to get her Barack. (What Single Women Can Learn from Michelle Obama, The Root June 8, 2009.) If snagging a man who is at least six feet tall, attractive, never married, no children, and a card carrying member of Harvard Law School’s Alumnae Association is a lowering of standards, then many, many women would like to have those low standards.
Let us not forget the Steve Harvey, “Act like a Lady, Think Like a Man” best-selling book. According to Mr. Harvey, (Who has had how many successful marriages?) a woman needs to know how to be a keeper fish. Did that even make sense to you when you read it? If it did, that is why you are single.
So now you know in order to get a man you have to: 1. Cut down on attending religious services; 2. have expectations that leave you open to a six foot tall, Harvard educated, attorney with a winning smile; and 3. know how to keep your “cookie” ready to get snagged by a fisherman.
In all honesty, none of that explains why black women are single. Nor do they ever get to the core of why Black women being single is a problem. Aren’t studies and articles supposed to have an intended purpose? Or are we just supposed to know that black women are single and leave it there?
With that being said, shall we get to the real reasons why some black women are single? These are things that most black women would never admit to in mixed company. Why? Because most of our time is spent defending who we are from all the harsh criticisms we receive on a daily basis.
THE LOW DOWN AND DIRTY TRUTH
- Relationships are not appealing.
Have you heard the words people use to describe relationships? “Sacrifice”, “hard work”, “submission”, “it’s not just you anymore”, “other people rely on you”, “you have to put the other person first, and your needs second”, “you should wait until you’re really ready to be in a relationship”.
“Coupled up” friends rarely tell single friends about the joys of relationships. They tend to share the complaints most of the time. Whereas the idea of “relationships” brings warm feelings, the perceived reality is the pits. We’ve had to fight, put in hard work, and spill blood, sweat and tears over every thing we’ve accomplished in life, can we catch a break on the relationship end?
- Our “lists” are geared more towards exclusion than inclusion, and grow with each coming year.
Ask a single thirty something lady if she has a “list”, and the majority will say yes! The list may not be written, but it is definitely memorized to the letter. She will defend “the list” to the bitter end. “The list” is like a security blanket, it keeps all the boogie men out.
Sadly the list can sometimes be nothing more than our insecurities jotted down in the most positive-negative manner we can conjure up. So the list works to shield us from bad people, while it also works to keep out good relationships.
- We all want the same man.
Ask a single sista to describe her ideal man. Typically he’s tall and he has “swagger” or a tad bit of “street” in him. He isn’t “square” or nerdy. He’s our version of an Adonis. Check out “the list” and he’s in there for most single women. Which may explain the man-sharing epidemic that Fantasia is currently making more famous than her Caucasian predecessors (e.g., Marilyn Monroe, Julia Roberts, Elizabeth Taylor, Angelina Jolie, Leanne Rhimes, Tori Spelling…).
- We fear rejection.
This should come as no surprise. Black women, like most human beings, have a fear of rejection. It may be heightened due to all of the negative messages that society puts out about black women on any given day. From music, to news reports, to studies that basically tell the world how horrible we are, it is tough to overcome.
In meeting potential mates, there is a fear in the back of our minds that they believe we fit all of those stereotypes and will not want us. Or if they do want us, it is because they feel we fit those stereotypes that can be exploited.
- Men expect us to require little from them, while they require a lot from us.
If you expect a man to pay for a date or help you out in some way, you’re a golddigger. If you expect a man to meet you on the same academic or professional level, you’re uppity. If you expect a man to call, keep his commitments, be with only you, you’re needy. (For some reason, women of other ethnic groups do not get these labels. They are applauded for “marrying well”, when they choose men who meet similar criteria.)
Then, you are expected to be a “Proverbs 31” type of woman. You should support a man’s every whim, dream and desire. You should know how to cook, clean, bring home the bacon, slaughter a pig to get the bacon, and ask him how he wants his bacon. You should be well rounded, worldly, motherly and sexually free. You should speak when spoken to and learn how to shut up. You should let a man be a man. You should be thick and fit at the same time.
- Generational curses.
We have a disturbing history in this nation. Our ancestors weren’t allowed to marry. However when the ban was lifted, Black people married in droves. “In 1963 when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, more than 70 percent of all Black families were headed by married couples. In 2002 that number was 48 percent” (The Shocking State of Black marriage). What happened to cause this? There are many answers to this question. But the hard issue is what damage it has done to the viability of lasting relationships in the Black community.
The same article goes on to say, “The percentage of Black women who are married declined from 62 percent to 31 percent between 1950 and 2002.” So if you’ve never witnessed a successful relationship, what examples do we follow? How do we break the curse with no roadmap? “THE good news is that the Black marriage rate seems to be on the upswing–from 46.1 percent in 1996 to 47.9 percent in 2001–after a 40-year downward spiral” (article).
- Our hearts have been broken.
Yes, we’ve had love and lost it. And it hurts like crazy. Healing from a broken heart takes time. It is exhausting and we’re tired. We just need time to heal. We want to be vulnerable when everyone wants us to be strong. We are used to having to deal with the pain on our own. So that’s what we do. Being coddled and placed on a pedestal for protection is not something most Black women are used to.
Our original heart break started with our fathers. Maybe we had strained relationships or no relationships at all. You know, those “daddy issues”. What we need is understanding, not dismissal. All we hear is “get over it.” Or “you have too much baggage.”
- We choose to love the wrong men.
It is not that we cannot find love. We’ve had love. Men desire us. It just always seems that the wrong men desire us and we desire the wrong men. Why is it that the one you want doesn’t act right, but the one you could care less about behaves how you want?
So yes, we have given our love to the wrong man. But we have not taken the time to figure out why he is wrong. Many women who are single now, have had the opportunity to be married and/or in good relationships. We’ve chosen to depart from those because the guy didn’t provide that “spark” or “hot” connection about which we fantasize.
- We believe everything about relationships can be found in a book, movie, or something another person has said.
Sometimes too much information, too many opinions, and a myriad of advice can be overkill. When we stop actually living and continuously over analyze situations, it prevents us from actually experiencing good relationships. If every thing is questioned or steeped in fancy, we will have a hard time having the real thing.
Life cannot be pared down to a single book or movie. We have to realize that no one person can answer what will happen in your specific relationship. You have to actually experience it. Guards down, heart open.
- We pay too much attention to the type of man and too little is paid to the type of relationship.
Do you know what you want in a relationship? Do you have a list for that? What role do you anticipate playing in a relationship, and how does a good one play out? Many of us don’t know, because our energy is placed in finding the person to be with.
Often we focus on the type of person, because we feel that if we get that exact type, he will automatically create the type of relationship we want. Ha! Sure it may alleviate some anxieties if he meets your parameters, but you still have to work at the relationship. Relationships require maintenance and prioritizing. No matter how much we want them to be, relationships are not automatically perfect. So your friends are not lying.
Well now that you know some reasons that Black women are single, what do you do with this information? Why does it matter? There are benefits to solid relationships. The benefits are both health centered and family centered. If you ask most single women, they really do want to be in healthy relationships.
Having the weight of the world on your shoulders and doing it solo is difficult. It creates turmoil within homes and builds bitterness. For those who want relationships, healthy connections are most important. Children do better in life when they have healthy home lives. Healthy children add to a healthier society.
What’s your take on it? Why are so many Black women single?