Single, Black, Female, and Human

Last week everyone was talking about the latest Nightline debate on the overpopulation crisis of single black women. I don’t question that it’s a serious issue. But I don’t think it’s appropriate for everyone to be privy to the problem. Frankly, it’s our problem and none of anyone else’s business. If I end up still single at 50, I don’t need everyone assuming I’m miserable (which I would be) or making guesses about which mistakes I must have made to end up that way. I imagine myself in a restaurant, over-hearing a conversation at another table as I eat alone: “I remember seeing a news special about women like her 20 years ago. Tragic stories about black women who can’t even find love with their own men. Too bad she must’ve fallen on the wrong side of the debate.” To which the other person would respond, “what was the wrong side of the debate?” “The black woman’s side, of course. We decided back then that black women were doing something wrong.”

It’s no secret that I’m black. It’s also no secret that I’m single. And though debatable, I comfortably place myself in the category of successful. So I feel qualified to contribute to this dialogue. But what if we made it less of a debate and more of a reality show, allowing people to see the real story. But not like a “What Chili Wants” or “For the Love of Ray J” VH1 type of show. I’m thinking more like the Animal Planet or Discovery Channel type of show. Let’s get down to the most basic animal instincts that influence the choices of single, young-ish black people. And then there’s no debate, just scientific fact.

“Coming up on this episode of ‘Single, Black, Female and Human’ we follow a subject on a date with a male of similar age – how will she manage the stress of learning that he has 3 baby humans with 3 different adult females, a behavior and lifestyle choice rarely seen among other races of humans? And later in this episode, we’ll see this subject join a pack of black females, all without mates, observing as they commiserate, seemingly creating a collective sorrow which amounts to pain much greater than any individual human could feel on her own. It’s an uphill battle for the single black female, join us as we accompany her on her tireless effort to break a cycle of loneliness.” And the theme song starts to play. Probably something like Al Green’s “I’m So Tired of Being Alone.”

A tragic story at best. But it would entertain those on the outside of the problem (read: people with mates) and put an end to the debate about what we’re doing wrong in our efforts to find a quality partner, letting the harsh circumstances speak for themselves.

Although a nature show about single black women is a ridiculous idea, the scientific perspective would at least have some more credibility than a narcissistic man who thinks he represents all men, and has therefore known every black woman and the ways in which we approach relationships incorrectly (ahem, Steve Harvey). And maybe we’d actually hear something new, or even helpful. I’m up for taking advice. To be honest, I watch those debates, I read Steve Harvey’s book (I was one of the email bootleg readers), I watch every Oprah episode that pertains to single women and relationships, and I will entertain a conversation with anyone who thinks they can offer some wisdom. Shoot, I got through the first round of auditions for Tough Love on VH1. But very rarely do these self-proclaimed relationship prophets provide me with one bit of new information. I know that I’m supposed to be myself and assert my independence. And I know I shouldn’t be too assertive, avoiding the severe risk of bruising, or worse, questioning his masculinity. I know I’m not supposed to pay on the first date; but that it would be rude not to at least offer. I know I have to give the short, fat, balding, and/or blue collar guys a chance, avoiding judgment based on appearance, employment or (lack of) income. And I shouldn’t have a paycheck much larger than his – but if I do, I definitely need to be super humble about it. Oh, and I should like what he likes and make myself available. But I should have my own interests and give him enough space to do whatever he does during his alone time. And I know the right guy is out there, and it’s only a matter of time (and chance) that I meet him – or someone vaguely similar to him. Yeah, all of that’s great and all. But none of it matters when you’re getting to know a real life person, rather than a statistic. You’re either with someone you want to be with, and wants to be with you, or you’re not. I think it comes down to the dynamic between two people and the various ways their individual dysfunctions interact or conflict with each other. So I’d rather watch and learn from those animal instincts rather than two people who have been coached and advised to the point of stupidity.

None of this particularly matters to me at the moment. I’m on a dating hiatus. I’d probably be on a hiatus even if I didn’t want to be, considering I haven’t exactly had to reject anyone recently. But it’s a calming state of mind that takes me out of the game, leaving one less thing to constantly worry about (I can’t fail if I’m not trying). That’s just for temporary sanity’s sake. I should be ready for another go at it in a month or two. In the meantime, I’ll keep listening to the various words of wisdom out there and save up the best tips for when I’m ready to over-think my next relationship. And perhaps you’ll see me on the Animal Planet when this show idea catches on.

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