If I had a buck for every time someone asked me this, I wouldn’t need investments. A close second is, “Do you ever think you’ll get married again?”
I’m a relatively young, attractive, well-educated, and self-sufficient divorced mother, writer, and speaker. Many of my professional and personal contacts are as proud of me as I am of myself. When men interested in me see this, the most common question they ask is, “Why is a woman as (fill in the positive adjective here) as you single?” As if that means there must be something wrong with me, or that something is wrong with being single. There’s so many ways to answer that oft-asked question.
I hear guys saying that Black women are still single is because we’re too demanding, and want too much from them. Well if mutual respect, integrity, time and commitment too much to ask, then I guess you’re right—my standards are too high. I’m good with that. I’d rather be content and know that my values are being violated, than to continue dealing with stressful, immature situations brought on largely by another person not having his act together. Some dismiss me as just me being too picky, but as a cop-out—there’s so much more to it.
What is the fascination about why (or whether) a person is single?
Successful single Black women have been the subject of media attention lately. The April 2010 issue of Economist reported (in its article, “Sex and the Single Black Woman,”) that U.S.-born Black women ages 30-44 who were married decreased from 62 percent to 33 percent due to the high incarceration rates of Black men between 1970 and 2007. In April 2010, ABC’s Nightline recently held a panel in Atlanta entitled, “Why Can’t a Successful Black Woman Find a Man?” with a few well-known African American celebrities (although not exactly relationship experts), as a follow-up to one of their segments aired in December 2009. Even churches have summits on the issue.
Like many successful ladies out here, there’s more to me than meets the eye. A lot of men I am interested in are either not ready for a relationship, or unwilling to make that commitment, especially since they can find so many other women who don’t require one. It’s also a matter of timing, and for me, the men who claim to be ready to commit to me are not. They think they are ready for the sacrifice of exclusivity and quality time, but we both soon see how it plays out, and it doesn’t take long—it’s (mercifully) always before the three-month mark. Maybe it’s because of the “new toy” syndrome: An item looks great on the shelf, and you really want it before it becomes yours, but soon after you take it home and play with it for a little while, you’re out looking for the next new toy, and/or just not interested in it anymore.
Other issues I see over and over again with these men is that they are overcommitted, unmotivated, haven’t completely broken romantic ties with other women, haven’t conquered the baby mama drama, or are just insecure when they compare their status or progress in life to where they think they should be.
Measuring Up to Subjective Standards
You don’t know how many times I have heard some variation of, “I don’t measure up to you,” or “I can’t give you enough of what you need,” as a reason to end a casual dating relationship. I discussed the trend of very successful African American women are remaining single longer with Dr. Kisha Braithwaite Holden, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Morehouse School of Medicine. Research from Yale University indicates that highly educated Black women are twice as likely to have never been married by the age of 45 as White women with similar education. Dr. Holden postulates that Black women are making more money than men more often than not, and many men are either insecure because they haven’t stepped up to accomplish their own goals, or say that women need to turn off their boss-like leadership demeanor at home.
I was the breadwinner before and during my marriage, so I’ve been there and done that. I can look past the financial disparities if a man’s other characteristics add up. No one has to be my sugar daddy or have A-list looks (this was something on Chilli’s list (as discussed on her VH-1 reality TV show What Chilli Wants). After a mutual attraction, chemistry and compatibility, I just want a partner that will loves God and treats me right. If that’s being picky, then so be it.
I know where my mistakes lie. I know I have a pattern of giving a man more than I get from him. Either I stay nonchalant to keep my feelings in check, or I go all out and pass the “girlfriend audition” with flying colors, without requiring the same “show and prove” behavior from a man. A good platonic male friend of mine has to keep reminding me that I need to “make him work for it.” Since I don’t ask for much, guys don’t put forth much effort (at least not past 2 ½ months in). Another guy friend told me, “It means more to us if you make us work for it.” Noted.
And yes, I have some unflattering personality traits like being impatient, task-oriented and focused (I like to get stuff DONE), but I’m also very loyal and driven. I am willing to do things to go the extra mile than your average friend.
Singleness and Wholeness
Working at home, I am often alone the majority of the day, and prefer it that way. When it’s a time to be social and get together, I’m one of the most talkative, gregarious people you’ll ever see. I’ve been enjoying going to Meetups since I’ve relocated, but I don’t mind going to the movies alone or doing anything I want to do.
I am a complete person. I am whole. I have spiritually and emotionally recovered from issues IN ME that contributed to the demise of my marriage. Since then, it’s taken me some time to become content with where I am. We all experience frustration with the dating scene and every time I give the benefit of the doubt and settle for less than the best, I regret it. This year I broke off a relationship when I saw too many issues that wouldn’t improve, even though it meant that a few days later, I’d spend Valentine’s Day alone.
Being single does not mean being alone. You can be married or in a relationship and be the loneliest person on earth. I have a rich life with wonderful friendships and potential business partners. I’m being protective of myself these days, because I don’t want to let anyone come along and pull me down. Wrong influences are distractions that, if I entertain them, can delay my progress and set me back.
Why am I single? Why not? I’ve experienced both sides of the coin and I’m in no rush to commit to the wrong partner again. I’m letting God order my steps. My future is pregnant with possibilities and opportunities, and I don’t want the wrong influences aborting the birth of my next phase of life I’m going to, whatever it may be. I’m good.
I’m single. So what? There’s nothing particular special about, or wrong with being single. Can we move on now, please?