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Finding Common Ground in Dating & Relationships

Alright ladies, here we go. To be honest, I’m not even sure where to start. This is not only a sensitive topic, but a topic that hits close to home for a lot of Black women, including myself. I’m referring to the recent influx of media reports on the plight of the single Black woman (SBW). From Nightline to The New York Times, mainstream media has been shining a spotlight on us for months, with their underlying messages sparking a heated debated within the community. They would have you believe that if you’re a single Black woman, particularly a “successful” single Black woman, looking for a single Black man, then girl, your pickings are slim. Dating for the single Black woman is an “uphill battle,” and you’re given “an uneven playing field.”

And if you’re thinking about marrying a Black man, then think again because your prospects are even more dire. They would also have you believe that you are not as desired as women of other ethnicities. The pool of eligible Black brothers is dwindling, and even worse, the brothers don’t want you, so you better have a back up plan that includes exploring men of other races. If you don’t believe me, check out these recent headlines taken from Essence Magazine’s Single Black Women under Attack: A Timeline:

Jun 3, 2010: NYT article: SBW are seeing less marriageable Black men

Mar 5, 2010: “An uneven playing field for Black women” declares NYT

Apr 21,2010: Nightline “Face-off” pits SBW against Black Men

The cynic in me wondered why the sudden interest in the love lives of SBW? I immediately thought that perhaps the Obamas were the catalyst. With the inauguration of America’s first African-American President, we suddenly had a strong, loving Black family on the world’s stage. Many people of African decent were, and continue to be inspired by the Obamas. In doing what we can to bring this ideal to fruition, many of us know that we’re experiencing a crisis in our community, specifically the breakdown of the Black family. And the core of this breakdown is the strained relationship between Black men and women.

Consider a few of the stats: 46% of single Black women were unmarried and have little prospect of getting married, compared to 23% of White women. (Source – Essence Magazine)

More than 1 in 5 Black men who wed (22 percent) married a non-Black woman in 2008. This compares with about 9 percent of Black women, and represents a significant increase for Black men — from 15.7 percent in 2000 and 7.9 percent in 1980. (Source – NYT)

Rather than dwell on the negative, I’d rather turn this into a positive, so let’s bump the stats for a moment and look at how this topic may generate some much needed dialogue between the sexes. Besides, these stats are only an approximation and based on the US Census figures.

Although though these articles/stats draw from the African-American experience, I think it’s important draw from our own experiences as African-Canadians. After all, our numbers are growing (783,795 as of the Stats Canada 2006). And just so you know, here’s a brief snapshot of my experience: I’m a 34 year old African-Canadian woman, with a 15 year old son, newly engaged (less than a month) after being with my fiance for 3 years. Prior to this, I was single for 7 years. I spent 2 of these years online dating, which is where I met my fiancé. So rest easy ladies, I can relate. I’ve been in the friend zone, I’ve been stood up & cheated on. I’ve been through it all. Trust.

Call me naive but I just don’t think connecting should really be this hard. Think about the time we live in. Everything we could ever want is pretty much at our fingertips. So why does love seem so elusive? It’s obvious that the digital age has little to do with how well we connect. Online dating, and digital media is only the springboard. Too many of us rely on it to do the legwork for us. We must remember that it’s up to us to demand and make an effort for one on one quality time. A relationship relying solely on technology will only go so far.

What The Sisters Say:  Recently while in Cuba I met 4 intelligent, beautiful ladies from Toronto. All down to earth. All respectable. They all had jobs and weren’t materialistic. None of them consumed with chasing outrageous fantasies, the glitz or glamour, or their 15 minutes of fame on Facebook or Twitter. Just a lovely bunch of “round the way girls.” All single, wondering, “What ever happened to the do right men?” Is it possible to go to the restroom at club without a man grabbing their arm to get their attention? Where are the gentlemen who remember when courting was an art.

What The Brothers Say: Contrary to popular belief the brothers love you. They truly do, but they’re frustrated too. They understand your struggle and want to build a future with you. They just wish you’d look beyond the materialistic and see their “potential.” They wish you were more approachable, and wonder, “Why don’t you smile more?”  Flirt more.  Love them for the good men they are. And when you have them, appreciate them. Lately they’ve been feeling rejected are trying not to lose faith.

Common Ground: Let’s face it, the nuclear family of all races has been eroding since the start of the me generation in the 80s. And in the Black community, a lot of our young people have not been provided with the best examples of stability. This in turn, determines how we view relationships, especially marriage.

While it’s true that the advances of technology have done more harm than good, in how we connect, it’s up to us to step up and remember what matters. Single Black women and men need each other. We need to be good to each other and quit the blame game. We are partners not adversaries. We need more communication, and not just among our girls and our boys, but between our men and women. We need to lift each other up, give each other a chance and remember how to be friends again.

June 2010

By Nadine Mauricette