Growing up, I never really looked at colors of people in a relationship sense. I knew that my parents were black and that most shows I watched such as “Martin”, “Family Matters” and “The Cosby Show” were all black couples and families. However, as I started to develop crushes, they weren’t always black. I always seemed to date within and outside of my race. I looked at attraction and love as just that, and something very personal to me. By the time I reached my twenties, I knew I desired a black family, dated for that and achieved that. After 5 years of marriage, we divorced. Exploring the dating pool and how people date today as opposed to almost eight years ago when I was dating, is very different and presented new dynamics.

I often heard many of my single friends vent about how there aren’t many eligible men who are ready for what they want or just doesn’t meet their standards. I was always a person who believed, “there’s someone for everyone”. Although I’m in a noncommittal space currently, I’ve even had a difficult time finding someone who understood the space I was in and was willing to navigate with me in the same way. I’ve even recently joined dating apps to see what they were like as an experiment and found that the men are there are—creeps to say the least. I mean it is pure comedy. Here are some major differences that I’ve witnessed or heard my sisterfriends express.

dating while black

Educational Differences

With more and more women pursuing higher education, there aren’t as many men doing the same. We end up being faced with the fact that our education driving our next steps and careers can create an unintentional obstacle when it comes to relating to someone when building a new connection. Women are often expected to juggle their dating life with their education and career as well. While for men, it is more common and understood when that’s all they want to focus on. Not dating or building meaningful connections.

Career Aspirations

Black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in America. Not only are we pursuing careers that fulfill us, we are creating this. The leadership and alpha female characteristics that are often presented can create an intimidating dynamic in dating and relationships. There’s an undertone that’s created of “I don’t need a man” and while that may be true, not the narrative a woman is going for.

Intent and Direction

Women in their late twenties and early thirties are seeking something with a bit more substance, even in casual dating. You may want the connections to be real, expectations to be clear and know what you have. No one wants to play the guessing game or assume anything because we know what they say when you assume. However, many have trouble having conversations of intent upfront because you don’t want to seem too aggressive or anxious to label. Having a general understanding is important, even in casual situations to know you’re on the same page. Those are the easiest conversations to have when people are afraid of reactions and responses.

Do I think these are all unique to black people? No. However, they are common themes when it comes to building meaning connections and relationships as black people. It can be complex but here are some healthy ways you can navigate these dynamics.

dating while black

Stay Open Minded

Don’t enter situations with your mind made up about where it will go or how it will end. Allow yourself to freely see where it goes.

Explore Outside of Your Comfort Zone

We can often get caught up in our “lists” of must haves and miss out on a good connection because of it. Try to explore outside of your comfort zone and don’t judge a book by its cover.

Try Unconventional Ways of Dating

With so many apps such as Tender, Facebook Dating and more, there are a few different ways you can meet new people. Even if the digital meeting isn’t your thing, find local speed dating events to try for fun or even going to a place you don’t usually frequent.

Manifest What You Want

It’s important to manifest what you want and leave the rest. Don’t entertain someone out of boredom or feeling a bit lonely. If you know for certain it won’t work or you’re not interested, don’t waste their time or yours. Instead share with the universe exactly what you’re looking for and watch it come to you in different ways.

This is definitely not meant to generalize black men or women. It is an interesting dynamic that a lot of us face when dating today. We are often faced with either dating completely outside of our comfort zone or feeling as if we’re settling. What have your experiences been like?