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Find True Happiness By Focusing on What Matters Most…Love

April 19, 2012

There has been much discussion about black women being single.  These discussions have ranged from  academic discussions that revolve around black men’s incarceration rates and high-school drop-out rates to more light-hearted pop-culture guidance on how to snag a man. But what is glaringly absent from these discussions is the topic of love.  How do we conceive of love and what are we looking for in a loving partnership?  No one seems to be answering that question.

Please see Loveessence’s take on this issue as posted on Black Love and Marriage on August 16, 2011.

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It seems as if the media is trying to tell us that an educated black women has a better chance of being struck by lightening while cashing-in a winning lottery ticket than finding a mate.   “An Interracial Fix for Black Marriage”, “Why Can’t a Successful BlackWoman Find a Man?”, “Black Women See Fewer Black Men at the Altar” and “MarriageEludes High-Achieving Black Women” are just some of the headlines that have assaulted black women’s optimism recently. But there seems to be one obviously missing topic in the discussions that have ensued: love.  Where are the discussions about love in the blackcommunity? Where are the discussions about how black women should look for love or how black women should define love? 

Some black women’s empowerment blogs urge black women to date white men in particular and non-black men generally because of the lack of “good black men”.  These blogs cite black men’s high rates of incarceration, low rates of college education andblack men’s culture of entitlement.  These arguments have gained new strength from academia in light of Professor Richard Bank’s book “Is Marriage for White People?” which discusses the bleak statistics with respect to black men. Further, the book posits that if more black women opened themselves to the possibility of marrying non-blackmen they might find themselves in better relationships while lessening the high blackwomen to black men ratio that depresses African-American marriage rates.  Again, where is the in-depth discussion about how black women or how people generally search for and define love?

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It is because of the lack of a genuine discussion about love that these “date interracially” arguments ring as hollow to me now as they did four years ago when I was single andsearching for a husband.  As an individual black woman looking for a marriage partner I did not care about prison and educational statistics, nor did I care about sacrificing my own preferences for the sake African-American marriage rates.  I cared about fulfilling my personal dream of finding the love of my life.  Sadly, for many of my dating years I thought that I could find love by holding tightly to long lists about what I wanted in a spouse.  I thought about his height, his race, his skin-tone, his ethnicity, his religion, his profession, and his income.  Many of my girlfriends embarked on similar approaches.  We all laughed hysterically at the “Black Marriage Negotiations” video that went viral, because to a certain extent, we were staring at an animated version of our former selves. Back then, our long lists of what we wanted in men rivaled the lists of our fancy degreesand other accolades.

But most of us are married now and the journey that we took to love consisted of ripping up our lists and focusing on the kind, and quality of the love that we wanted in our lives.  I personally sought inspiration from greats like Iyanla Vanzant, Deepak Chopra, and  Wayne Dyer who challenged me to ask myself “what kind of love do I want?”.   Instead of obsessing over height, race, ethnicity, skin-tone, degrees, and salaries my friends and I began meditating on a kind of love that consisted of genuine friendship, passionate love-making, intelligent conversations, mutual support and or shared spirituality.  For some of us, this new journey led us to wonderful white, Asian, or other non-black men.  For most of us it led us to great black men (great black men are out there) who we had somehow overlooked when we had been focusing on checking off boxes. But for all of us, it led to an enriching marital and family life that we would not trade for the anything.

Our evolved approach enabled us to build marriages that are based on fulfilling lovevisions, and those love visions help us adapt to ever-changing gender roles.  

When our husbands think of the type of love that they want they think of the fact that we nurture and support them and not about the fact that we are not home at 5:00pm each day to make dinner and clean the house.  Additionally, we think of our husbands as the most important adults in our lives because of the emotional comfort that they give us and not because our husbands are the breadwinners.  A renewed focus on the kind of quality oflove that we want is what is needed in this country, as evidenced by ever-climbing divorce rates. But it is especially needed in the black community due to the crisis with respect to black marriage and the drastic changes in gender roles among black men andwomen.  

I would encourage black women to re-focus on the quality of the love that they want andnot the race, skin-tone, height, salary, and other demographic characteristics of potential mates.  Also, it would be great if the mainstream media would engage in similarly productive discussions about love in the black community instead of re-producing depressing articles that leave black women asking “what about love?”.  


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