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Monday, May 31, 2010

I hate dating and other single, educated black girl woes


I hate dating. I mean I really hate it. When I hear of girlfriends talk about the thrill of getting all dressed up for a date with a stranger from Match.com, or as I watch a couple of the chronically single bachelors I know chase the "newness" and excitement of different women, I generally think, "What a waste of time".

You see, I have a wonderful circle of riends, community, and an amazingly fun family. I'm really busy, often being away from home 14-15 hours a day with work, community and board meetings, and social obligations; it seems to be a waste of time to spend a few hours with someone who could potentially annoy or bore me when I could share precious free time laughing to tears with a group of close friends.

Probably more consequential is the way that attraction works for me. Attraction has never been in biceps or glutes, and in retrospect, I've never been attracted to someone with whom I hadn't first spent considerable "disinterested/unromantic" time. Attracton has always happened in the context of life--through watching how a man treats his mom, how he speaks with wisdom in a community or church meeting, his kindness toward children, his uncanny logic and humor. In the last 15 years, I have been attracted to less than a handful of men. Hmm.

I have been nearly consumed by the question of love over the last 4 years--all forms of it (phileo, agape, eros). How do you know when you're experiencing it? giving it? There seems to be a lot of confusion about it, and I'm no expert, but I am intrigued. As an educated, professional, single, African American woman, according to statistics, there is signficiant probability that I may be relegated to never experience it. 45% of black women in America have never been married, compared to 23% of their white counterparts. Black women outnumber black men in higher education 2:1 (http://www.cnn.com/) Stack on top of these dismal stats, prison rates for Black men, HIV, the Down Low phenomenon, and it's looking rough for a sistah. So, these stats, in part, perhaps affirm "WHY I'm still single". It helps absolve me of complete culpability for my singleness, not withstanding my aversion to casual dating and REFUSAL to "man shop" at churches and conferences and fundraisers across the country.

I must admit that I've never been the girl who just wanted to be married and have kids, so clearly, I have not dedicated time to purusing that. I also, however, am not asexual and really like men and would like one of my own. So what's a "love bunny" like me supposed to do? With statistics stacked against my favor, an aversion to dating, and the little free time spent within a maxed out, and somewhat incestuous, social circle, things look grim. I've come to believe, after much deliberation, that while love may be a miracle, getting out and meeting people is not. Social dynamics in our post industrial country have changed a lot; my parents were childhood sweethearts and grew up 3 houses from one another. Their hearts weren't lured by the temptations of the "what ifs" that easy travel and cyber connection bring. People paired up with those who were easily accessible through family, church, and the good ole' block. Now as more of us go to college, travel to other countries, move away from our families, that simplistic pairing has gotten astronomically more challenging.

So, I'm trying something new--a social experiment--to see what options are really looking like for educated black women in the city. "SEX IN THE CITY" DOESN'T REPRESENT A LOT OF US. Those crazy ladies... Of course, as a science teacher, I've come up with a somewhat experimental design to test the love climate for me and women like me. As in most design, there will be some controlled variables, some uncontrolled variables. The idea is to go on 30 dates over 30 days--one a day. The goal is quite simple: to have fun and to see what options are really available when a woman is "open" and involves her friends and family to help make connections that are more meaningful than internet dating or cold connections at random parties, grocery stores, clubs, and events.

This is where you come in dear reader/friend. If you know a single, cool, interesting man who would be willing to go on a date that can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours, and who would be willing to lightheartedly take part in my social experiment, please send me his contact info after running the idea by him. He can't expect a study stipend, nor can he take this too seriously and be offended that he's just one of 30 days.

I'll be sharing notes, reflections, and experiences in my blog, so please check in!