The Challenges of Dating as a Black Single in America

Single black women and men alike face obstacles while dating here in America. The goal of this discussion is to shed light on some of those challenges, so that singles on the dating scene can operate with a better informed perspective. The challenges discussed below have been organized by gender to make them easier to digest. 

black man stressed out from dating

Perceived Shortage of Good Black Men

News headlines regularly highlight the accomplishments of black women. Black women are earning degrees at a higher rate than any other female racial demographic in the country. Black women are starting businesses at a higher rate than any other demographic in America. Black women are the primary buyers of new homes within the black community. In short, black women are killing it. While black men are making their own strides in the realms of education and financial security and the creation of wealth, there is a perception among some black women singles that there are not enough good black men to go around. 

The prison industrial complex has resulted in many black men being imprisoned since the 1980s. This has created a large number of broken homes and a perception that black men impregnate black women, and then leave them to raise children alone. The fact that many black men remain incarcerated, simply means that there are fewer black men available for black women to date. 

Also, the fact is, while black men have their own accomplishments to tout, they are not achieving career and financial milestones at the same rates as black women. Many black women are raised to believe that black men should be breadwinners, or at least contribute 50/50 financially to the household. Black women singles sometimes find difficulty in locating a partner who is their equal as it relates to career and financial status, because black women are reaching education and wealth-generating milestones in large numbers.

Fetishization

Fetishization can be described as a sexual interest in a person as if they are an object, according to Cambridge Dictionary. For some black women who are open to dating outside their race, the issue of fetishization is an unwelcome reality. Single black women are seeking partners who desire to date them for who they are and what they bring to the table in terms of career and financial success, rather than to fulfill a fantasy that has been created about them, largely as a result of how black women are depicted in the media.

During slavery, slave masters viewed black women as mere property, and felt they had unfettered access to black women’s bodies. Over time, music videos and films have served to objectify black women, and, as a result, have fed the fantasies of men from all walks of life. Unfortunately, this objectification has led to some men viewing black women as sexual beings created to fulfill their sexual desires. So, fetishization is an issue black women singles have to deal with as they navigate the dating pool.

Unfair Stereotypes

“Black men ain’t . . . .”  I’ve heard it, and, more than likely, so have you. Some single black men are forced to grapple with the unfair stereotype that black men mistreat and abuse their partners. The belief that black men do not make good mates, creates a barrier that black men have to overcome, through no fault of their own, from the outset.  

The truth is, many single black men would make excellent partners, but their opportunities to demonstrate that are eroded by the past experiences of black women who have been hurt.  Single black men are often tasked with knocking down negative beliefs–as soon as a first date–that they had no hand in erecting.

The Cornball Label

Black men professionals and those perceived as successful by societal standards, often talk about how they are labeled as corny, particularly by black women. Instead of being applauded for their hard work, discipline, determination and perseverance, they are considered unworthy of a chance by single black women. 

The cornball label is likely a byproduct of societal images of black men that portray them as violent, criminals and lazy. Some black women have internalized those images and are only attracted to men who fulfill those negative stereotypes. As a result, black men singles who’s lifestyles and accomplishments are a far cry from those images, are left out in the cold.

Lack of Social Settings

Black singles (men and women, alike) sometimes lament that there is a lack of social settings readily available to them that will allow them to meet potential partners. This can be particularly true for black singles who live outside of major cities, where there is a lack of diversity. Even for those who reside in large metropolises, the impact social media and the internet has had on how we socialize with one another cannot be overstated. 

For example, malls across the country are dying because many Americans now prefer to shop online. Malls used to be an ideal place for people to meet and gather–including singles hoping to meet a potential mate.  I remember walking through Lenox Mall in Atlanta, GA in the early 2000s. Many women visiting the mall were dressed to the nine, some of whom likely had an understanding that they could potentially cross paths with a potential partner. I recently visited Lenox Mall, and while there was still some foot traffic, the way people carried themselves was simply not the same. Most ladies were dressed very casually. During my recent visit to Phipps Plaza–a high-end mall in Atlanta, GA, designed to attract ballers–the mall was nearly empty. This demonstrates that malls are no longer the gathering place they once were, and do not serve as an ideal place to meet a potential mate. 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have been accustomed to remaining at home, isolated on a Friday night, rather than taking a walk down to their neighborhood restaurant, and having a drink at the bar. Remaining at home during the weekends obviously decreases the opportunities black singles have to meet a potential partner.

The foregoing discussion highlights just some of the numerous challenges faced by black singles in America. Hopefully, this summary can help to inform the perspective of black singles as they navigate through their own challenges on the dating scene.

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Author: Monet L. Duke

Monet L. Duke is an attorney and entrepreneur. She began her career at a large law firm in her hometown of Louisville, KY. She then moved into the financial services industry, and spent 9 years working as an in-house compliance officer, consultant, and regulator. While employed full-time, Monet launched Urbanly Chic, a trendy women’s clothing and accessories brand. She eventually opened a pop-up storefront at a suburban Chicago mall, and decided to leave her corporate job.