It’s time we put to rest one of the most stubbornly persistent myths in the black community. I call it “The Myth of the Lonely Black Queen”. Smart, successful, attractive black women are not lonely—they’re just unnecessarily picky. Even worse, this selectivity is far too often based on a foundation of arbitrariness and contradiction.
Lots of upwardly mobile black women will tell you that they don’t need a relationship to complete them; that they’re not desperate for a man. But desperation is exactly the picture that so many women paint when they describe their supposed inability to find a mate. How many times have you heard the cliché that all the “good” black men are either taken, gay, in prison, or (horror of horrors) with white women? I mean, Tyler Perry is now the richest transvestite in the world because he mastered the art of transmutating this “woe is me” attitude into ticket sales. The problem is that this desperation is about as real as a conversation in a strip club—it’s a convenient lie that many black women tell themselves so that they can avoid focusing on the real reason that they’re single: They’ve got plenty of options. Or at least they think they do.
I recently had a little back and forth on Facebook with a wonderful woman who was hit on by the owner of a restaurant that she frequents. As he took her money at the register, without looking up, he calmly asked her for her name. She readily replied with the answer. He then rapidly fired off a second question in the same unassuming tone: “Phone number?” She almost answered him without even processing what was happening. The man’s quirky flirting style definitely had an impact. After all, she used her Facebook status message to tell her friends all about how “cute” it was. But guess what? He didn’t get the digits.
Why not? She says it was because “it’s become second nature” to say no to a guy who knows nothing about her other than how she looks. Elaborating, she went on to explain, “I turn people down left and right for no other reason than it’s what I do,” and that she needs a “screening process” like a “referral system.” Really? That’s the kind of behavior I’d expect from someone who feels that she has more suitors than she could possibly know what to do with, and not at all like someone who’s cautious, yet aware of her precarious situation in the dating pool and therefore fully open to romantic possibilities. I understand that that particular woman may not self-identify as being unable to find a good black man, but that modus operandi is all too common for many of those who do.
I can certainly draw on personal experience to put flesh on those bones. My friends have heard the story about the woman who decided against a second date with me because I gave her $10 on a $15 cab ride…even though the meter was at $7 when I got out. There was also the woman that cut things off because I canceled a date with her. I told her that I was exhausted, but she assumed that the real reason that I backed out was that I was double-booked. (Of course, I only found out why she gave me the scissor treatment much later—she never even bothered to tell me her doubts at the time.) And then there was the lady with whom I shared so much chemistry that our first date lasted for four days. She eventually returned to her last boyfriend. I could go on, but I’d rather not look like more of a loser. The point is not that these women did anything wrong. The point is that, in economic terms, this is exactly the behavior that we’d expect from consumers with relatively unconstrained options, but not from those facing a supply shortage.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Jenée Desmond-Harris’ recent article lays out the sobering facts confronting black women looking for a black man. (Check it out here if you’ve been under a rock.) It is unquestionably harder for you out there in the world of romance than it is for Bob, Amber, or even Tyrone. Consequently, this is no time to be Little Ms. Picky. I’m not saying that you’ve gotta go bottom feeding. But if a brother is attractive and approaches you like he’s got some damn home training, don’t refuse his invitation to dance when just 30 seconds earlier you and your girls were poppin’ it so hard you almost blew your back out!
Bob Marley said, “In the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty.” A lot of females are yelling loudly to anyone who’ll listen that they’re practically dying of cottonmouth. Ladies, recognize and realize that although it may not be raining men, there’s plenty to drink. Most of it ain’t Bling H2O, but it probably ain’t bathwater either.
Post Script: Ms. Desmond-Harris did a superb job of addressing this phenomenon from the inside, but I still felt like a man’s perspective was warranted. Plus, I’d already started writing this frackin’ thing before I read her article.