The Hunger Games: Numbers Don’t Lie

“May the odds ever be in your favor.” Doesn’t dating often feel like the Hunger Games? Ladies we are all representing our different districts (#squadgoals) and fighting to the death just to hopefully make it to the capitol, the capitol being the chapel (oh don’t act like you don’t shout, #teamring amongst your friends). Let’s be honest it seems like competing in the Hunger Games might be easier than dating, and papercuts make me cry.

 

Katniss had better odds in the Hunger Games, than some black women do in dating.

 

For the Ladies

Educated women, and especially Black women have heard and maybe even seen within their own female dominated families that there just aren’t enough men. I am sure we can list all the reasons in unison; jail (although this topic requires its own post), homosexuality, lack of education/employment, early death, preference for other ethnicities, and…..my personal favorite “fuckboy syndrome” which is just a really nice way of saying “sir, you encompass all the things that make me stress eat and stunt my hair growth; you lie, cheat, and overall confuse me with your multiple personalities.” Dependent on your ethnicity these will impact you differently.

Psychologist, Jon Birger shared in his article in Vanity Fair that “This surplus of women is not just ‘perceived’ but very, very real,” he explores this issue further in DATE-ONOMICS: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game; he makes the argument that this is a result of the increased number of women graduating from college (we tend to date/marry based on similar backgrounds, i.e. education, income, religion etc.) The Department of Education further predicts that by 2023, 47% more women than men will graduate from college (I know women are saying “WTF I can’t be smart and have a bf!?” #stayinschool,maybenot).

This issue has been further exasperated in the Black community, with women making up 65% of the community that holds at least a Bachelor’s degree (please note: the low rate for Black men attending college is also attributed to a systematic plot, this topic however deserves its own post). This leaves a lot of us feeling there just aren’t enough eligible bachelors (assuming we continue the pattern of selecting our mate based on similar backgrounds). Listen, education plays a huge role in the people you are exposed to, I know it sounds superficial, but this is the reality #sorrynotsorry. Education is often correlated with income which often determines the places you hangout, dine, live, shop, travel etc… thus with unmatched levels of education how likely are you to cross paths with someone who opted for a trade rather than a white collar job (yes you can be amongst the formally educated crowd without a formal education, but you get my point, I am speaking in majority terms)?

Allow me to throw salt on this situation (“to throw salt”, translates to adding more BS to an already terrible situation), it is often toted that Black women don’t/can’t get married (hearing this instantly ages me 10 years, currently I feel 1,340 years old). But “wayment” (read: wait a minute) let me put your (our) minds at ease, listen to me and listen to me deeply. According to the U.S. Census Bureau the number of Black women getting married is actually on the rise (so chillax, your time will come). Additionally, 90% of Black men have and will marry Black women (I know the media will try and make us believe our brothas don’t want us…that’s just not true…they love you Queen). The gag here is that we are simply getting married later in life (my mom was married with kids by the time she was my age, thanks for that mom). The U.S. Census further states that only 13% of Black women had not been married by age 55 (okay this can happen for me in the next 27 years -___-), also recognize that some women just don’t want to get married (what I will say if it doesn’t happen).

Now I know regardless of the optimistic spin I just tried to put on this, marriage that late in life still makes me say “FML” and “when should I freeze my eggs” (oh, too far? so we are going to act like it’s just me that’s panicking). These sentiments are amplified with each holiday as your (our) timelines are filled with “I said YES” posts and all of a sudden it feels like everyone is married except for you (even though it was only 5 people out of your 2,000 friends, we are slightly dramatic). After you swear off social media because you can’t take it anymore, your friends and family chime in with, “Oh, God has someone so special in store for you, just wait” and you sit there with the “where he at doe,” face counting how many years you have until you will likely get married and realize you can’t count that high without using your fingers and toes (lbs).

This reality puts the few men that check our generic boxes of education, employment, no criminal background, and no baby mama drama, (don’t you dare ask that he be over 5’9”) in an optimal position that makes him look just like B-Rock (that’s short for Obama). Chill, I am not saying some men don’t bring more to the table, however I am confirming this is the sad threshold that exists.

Now here you are girlfriend (Bad & Boujee), you are likely naturally attractive (no, you don’t look like an IG model (whatever that is) but again NATURALLY attractive), you have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree (one that’s not from one of those schools with commercials), you likely cook well enough to make vegan food taste like soul food, you’ve practiced making a sprite can disappear in your mouth (but with an actual sprite can, because you’re not too trashy), you hit the gym 3x a week and you take pole dancing classes 2x a week (for the benefit of future bae), you love the Lordt and your family, you’re financially secure, and in your spare time you are learning another language and helping disadvantaged youth (cause you’re naturally nurturing and supportive).

This all begs the question, with all of this, what the hell else could a man want? Honey, it is my firm belief that they want it all and for it to appear effortless while you ask for little in return (read: most think they can attract Beyonce and Michelle Obama and would be baffled if these ladies weren’t willing to fight for them). So here we are ladies fighting hard for our districts, your district versus mine, and only one of us can be left standing (insert eye of the tiger song). The truth is we have no idea what they really want, you are doing all of the things that YOU would want. I am not suggesting this is wrong or right but recognize you are checking your own boxes not his.

Now here is how the war games tend to play out. Her man sends you sext messages, you respond and entertain, maybe not at the same level but you never hold him accountable and flat out say “stop disrespecting your gf.” He slides thru the DMs with his emoji heart eyes and eggplant pics, you entertain even though you just saw him post his WCW pic of his gf. Let’s not forget the precious time you spend trolling timelines only to compare yourself and facetime your friends about his gf “oh, girl she is so not cuter than you (as if that is our only measure).” Am I being too real now, feeling too familiar? Ha, don’t trip we have all been conditioned but there’s still time to “do better.”

Being completely honest I can’t blame these men. I am not saying they should behave the way that they often do, but I can see the temptation especially when there is always a woman willing to disrespect another woman and entertain these types of shenanigans. I mean can you honestly say if the tables were turned you wouldn’t take full advantage of a dozen equally amazing men competing over you, willing to do whatever and accept minimal effort just to make it to the capitol? Ha, I’d probably be ruthless too. Now let’s not get ahead of ourselves some men are great (probably the one you’re ignoring like an idiot), supportive, honest, considerate, and all of those amazing things but many just aren’t (refer to your ex bf for examples), and in part it’s because they don’t have to be, because as a collective we (women) don’t demonstrate that those are our standards. We tolerate and accept so much BS in hopes that he will eventually be better, until we completely exhaust ourselves from all that we give (because we are naturally selfless creatures) and are left simply going through the motions to reserve the title of #bae #wcw #datenightwithbae. We eventually leave that relationship broken and damaged only to enter the next one already exhausted eventually earning the “she’s crazy” title. After 10 years of dating and relationships we ALL come with baggage (men and women) take the time to heal before jumping into the next relationship, I promise time will not run out too soon.

I don’t know about you, but “dis tew much” for me. I can’t be magical #BlackGirlMagic and hate on the next woman, all while someone is draining me of all my positive energy. I refuse to be a tribute in these hunger games (somebody hand me the poisonous berries). Dating is difficult for all young women, why destroy one another in the process? Trying to understand these men is consuming enough. If you are both Black and female the struggle is undoubtedly tiring AF as our strength and resilience is often taken for granted and forgotten (insert the hater’s eye roll) trying to navigate this world as a young Black woman takes its own kind of grind, and personally I don’t need anything else negative on my plate (wooosaaaahhhh).

It is my hope that we as women begin to understand our own value, see the value in each other, and express that openly and sincerely (read: stop saying that girl doesn’t have any edges or she looks fat because you can’t find another flaw). Take the time to heal your wounds from relationships past, feel your life with positivity, and then open yourself up to possibility. Life is hard enough so hold each other accountable for lifting one another up. Stop settling for the BS because you are afraid to be alone (easier said than done trust me I know, I will share stories of the BS I’ve accepted). Expand your horizons about what/who you think you want and ultimately be willing to create your own happiness instead of relying on men to validate that you have reason to be happy. Remember happiness is a choice. Gentlemen, be kind and gentle, support the ladies, that’s your role. Honesty and communication are key. Recognize that you too have flaws and that she has likely already noticed them, and has chosen to love you anyway; be grateful for that.  Appreciate her dedication and loyalty to you without taking advantage, be her safe space. Dating and relationships are already hard enough, respect one another, be kind to one another. 

Random Black Guy’s Perspective

We’ve all heard the refrain from black women ” There are no good black men.” or are all “The good ones are taken.” If I had a dollar for every time I heard this I would be able to free myself from Sallie Mae. While you’ll often hear that one person try to refute the scarcity of “good” black men. The stats say otherwise:

Black Men are outnumbers by black women in every age group except “Under 18”.

 

As of 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau there are 21.5 million black males in the U.S ( there are 23.3 million black females), accounting for ~48% of the black population. However, as you go between age groups the % of black males as a percentage of all blacks in the U.S. declines more quickly than all males as a % of the total population. In layman’s terms it means black men die quicker than everybody else, you can draw your own conclusions from that.  These numbers alone have many guys scheming hard like President Snow.

 

Scheming on the ladies like…

 

Employment

 CoCo already talked about education, Only 67% of black men ages 16-64 were in the labor force as of 2013 compared to 80% of all men. Of the 37% of black men working “full-time” year round the median income was $37,290, compared to $48,099 for the total male population.

 

I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure $37K / year isn’t going to get you an out of state bae- trip you can post on IG, maybe y’all can go camping at the state park? This will most likely leave most relationships between a black woman who earns more than her partner, in an interesting predicament, but that’s another story for another day. I know someone is reading this and saying “But money isn’t everything!”. You might want to google what is the #1 cause of divorce. Hint, it ain’t  fighting over whats for dinner.

 

Relationships

Contrary to popular belief black men are more likely to get married than black women, they’re just not as tied to marrying black women as black women are tied to marrying black men. There are 364,000 more married black men than black women in America as of 2013.

 

That being said it would appear that black men seem to have a wider set of options or are more likely to date outside of their race. The reason for that is a can of worms, I’m not ready to open.

I’ve long been a proponent for black women dating outside their race,  if nothing else it will help give them a broader sense of what is out there.

                                 Black women overwhelmingly marry black men.

 

This isn’t an attempt to paint a picture of doom and gloom, and I’m sure if you’re on this blog these stats aren’t even surprising but what does it all mean?

  • Does it mean that if you’re tied to marrying a black man your chances of being married grow smaller as you age?
  • That black men have no incentive to get married or settle down because the numbers are in their favor?
  • You should be more open to dating outside of your race?

I think those are all valid questions that can result in spirited and helpful debate but I’m going to focus on why some good guys ( and I don’t even claim to be one) are hesitant to commit. Truth be told a lot of guys once they hit 30 are ready to settle down, ripping and running gets old, and if you’re trying to save dating 4-5 girls at a time can be financially catastrophic. Apparently, women have gotten hip to “Netflix and Chill”. However, often times, the goods or qualities most women are offering isn’t necessarily what attracts a man.

Listen Linda, just because,

  • You have a ton of degrees doesn’t mean you’re wifey.
  • You work out and your measurements are 36-22-36 doesn’t mean you’re wifey
  • You got 4 passport stamps doesn’t mean you’re wifey.
  • You’re good in bed doesn’t mean you’re wifey.
  • You got your own house, no debt, and a foreign doesn’t mean you’re wifey.
  • You go to church every Sunday, sing in the choir, and do children’s ministry doesn’t mean your wifey.

And in case you haven’t noticed for every black woman who has these qualities there are like 5 more who do as well and look better than you.  Not to be harsh but it is true. Most dudes don’t care about degrees, I think I might be the only dude I know who could see  Beyonce “super-liked” me on tinder, notice she didn’t graduate from college and swipe left. It ain’t right but that’s the game. Also, if I hear one more sister say something like “Hoes is Winning”, I will literally turn into one of the dread head dudes waiting in the lobby, that Chance the Rapper talked about. What exactly are they winning? Are the dudes they are “winning” even prizes or pariahs ( many women have terrible taste in men, but that’s another story for another day)?

Note: This is not to say that there are not a lot of terrible guys but thats a whole different topic, which I will address later 

My Perspective: I live this perspective every day. The odds generally are in my favor, I have all my teeth, in shape, got a good job, financially independent, and no children (in this country). I could literally go on two dates every night but yet I find myself just as frustrated as many of my female counterparts. The in-balance of educated  / gainfully employed black men  compared to women has caused a cultural shift in what normal / healthy relationships are. In my experience, while black men have to step up there are a lot of black women walking around with significant baggage, that may be preventing them from entering successful relationships.

Black women give a lot of excuses as to why they can’t find a man. I think the Top 5 are:

  1. There are no good men.
  2. Men can’t handle an educated woman.
  3. Men have too many options so they don’t need to settle down.
  4. There are no good men.
  5. I don’t want to “settle”.

Some of these are legit but some of them make me chuckle when I consider the audience. Many of the loudest complainers of no good men, would best be served to look inwards ( this applies to everyone actually). Finding a relationship is a lot like trying to buy a car,  if you’re selling a white car and the buyer wants a blue car, maybe you need to repaint or find a buyer who is looking for what you are selling. That being said I think quite a few black women who are single fall into the categories below, if some of this stings, I hope it causes some self reflection and growth.

Career Keisha

The most common lament of these types is “Guys don’t wan’t an educated woman, or a woman more successful than they are!” I can’t speak for most guys but Lord knows if my wife made more money than me and I could be a stay at home dad, wear birkenstocks, drive a lexus RX -350, and go to midday yoga and book clubs, I would be turn in my security badge  today and milly-rock out of the office. However, many men don’t value an educated woman, it’s just not as high on most men’s priority list.

I think this group is the most common I’ve encountered in my dating history. I mean there are 47.4 million women with degrees in the USA, black women are like ~11% of that figure. Having a degree(s) doesn’t make you that special in most major American cities.  They will tell you all about their degrees and  how difficult their job is ( very common in DC) and how successful they are but outside of that they’re generally boring. Most times their hobbies are brunch, some netflix series, SoulCycle (God I hate that thing), or something mundane. Not that there is nothing wrong with all that but its not any different from the 500+ profiles most guys swipe right on every day. Their dating app profile will most likely have them in their graduation grown (where they also mention in their profile they are college educated) a professional shot, maybe a couple of pictures with their friends at a club or a concert, and some picture of them in Dubai, Paris, London, or some beach in the Caribbean. Once you peel back that layer you realize most are insecure or seeking validation, but hey who isn’t insecure? Insecure isn’t a problem it’s when you try to ignore your insecurities, and fill the holes with degrees and career accomplishments and you fail to identify what makes you unique and become comfortable with that.

Paper Pamela

On paper they seem dope, they check a lot of boxes but paper burns when you put it to the heat. They’re accomplished, have outside hobbies and interests, and  often you wonder “Why are they single?” This is the type of girl you’ll swipe right on Tinder/Bumble/ Soul Swipe and after 2-3 dates you realize she’s about as deep as your bathtub.  The issue is that they never really found themselves, if you ask about their hobbies it’s more about trying to keep busy, or as a way to meet more people. They’re still super insecure and haven’t really learned to accept their flaws or embrace their uniqueness. For example, you will ask her what the best part of her trip to Africa was and she says some wack stuff like the safari, a woman with some depth would be like she went to the market learned how to barter, got some cool non tourist merchandise and learned how to make something. Basically if 95% of your travel pics are selfies, you may need to re-evaluate your life and correct course.  As a guy, after a while you realize a lot of these girl are great on paper, you don’t wife-up Paper.

Traumatized Trisha

I’m going to try and tread lightly here, because people go through things and life is unfair and I don’t want to come off as inconsiderate (SideNote: I think more black people should get therapy, many of us are battling demons that we could slay if we admit that we need help.) These type of women are normally a subset of the above two but I wanted to give them their own space.  These women fall into two categories.

Agitator: She is the type to have some long list of demands on her tinder profile most likely coinciding with her last ten traumatic dating experiences. Like anybody asked her to date “Aint Squat AJ” or “Philandering Phil”. Taking no responsibility for her cycle of bad choices. She is always angry talking about how black men are useless, and black men don’t commit, and she throws a pity party that would make Mardi Gras look small in comparison. They are the living breathing angry black woman stereotype. This type of chick can’t be helped but luckily they are easy to read.  Guys  with more game might be able to crack her hard shell but most times it ain’t worth it, If you see her on Soul Swipe, nah just swipe left bro.

Perpetrator: Unlike the Agitator these women generally handle their traumatic experiences inwardly. They may seem normal at first,  but are a storm of confused emotions on the inside. They perpetrate happiness but deep down they’re covering up a lot of disappointment. This is dangerous, because they cant address those issues if they don’t admit they have them first. These women are generally great individuals but have suffered some traumatic experience (sexual assault, domestic violence, traumatic relationships, etc, Shirley Ceasar Voice “You Name it!”.) At one time they were Career Keisha’s but in the process of pursuing their career they lost track of who they were or never developed strong relationship skills. They wake up at 30+ and have no idea what they want out of life or a relationship and have the added pressure of a ticking clock. Once they realize that a career doesn’t equal happiness then they become a “Paper Pamela’s”. As time passes on the insecurities of not being married or failed relationships start to take hold, and they struggle with processing those disappointments You have to be very careful with these types as a guy because you will end up being their therapist. My advice is if she seem perfect on paper, take it slow if you like her, refer to a therapist if you’re not really digging her, or you can save yourself the trouble and swipe left.

 

Summary

Black men are at an advantage, but it’s not like we’re picking from perfect women. By the time most guys hit 30 the amount of baggage most women carry makes having healthy relationships very difficult unless both people are mature enough to realize they are imperfect people, emphasize communication, and are committed to personal growth.  That’s not to say that men don’t have their own baggage, but it wouldn’t be genuine if you keep blaming dating struggles on a “numbers” game when you’re not taking any reflection to figure out what you’re attracting and the choices you’re making in and out of a relationship.   Taking a moment to be honest and thoughtful may result in better outcomes and maybe the odds will shift in your favor.