The fact of the matter is, that for some of us, the man we choose to date or marry won’t match the picture of ‘Prince Charming’ we had in our heads. Though a necessary realization of our wants, as well as our needs, our “requirements” tend to keep us from getting exactly what we want from a relationship.
What exactly are those requirements you ask? Well, they differ from woman to woman, but typically include things such as education level, job status, financial ranking, asset acquirement, or simply the basics of wanting someone who is loyal, honest, funny, etc.
Maybe the reason is due to the fact that Black women have been told time and time again, that we are “unmarriageable” or that Black women outnumber men not just in the boardroom, but also on the campuses of colleges and universities, is the reason Black women typically have to “date down” for men who don’t meet these requirements. Are we simply settling because our options are limited, and quite frankly we’d rather take what we can get?
And that’s partly because the facts don’t lie: Just 49% of college-educated Black women marry a well-educated man (i.e., with at least some post-secondary education), compared to 84% of college-educated white women, according to an analysis of PSID data by Yale sociologist Vida Maralani.
But can we honestly lead a happy life if we’re with someone who doesn’t meet these requirements? Some may realize in as short as a month, and others after years that the person we are with just simply doesn’t measure up to what we deserve, or even truly want.
There’s almost a triple dimension of issues [Black women] have to deal with,” said Kris Marsh, an associate professor of sociology and demography at the University of Maryland told The Atlantic. “One, they have a low, and I quote this, ‘out-marriage’ rate. And two, if they do marry a Black man, they’re more likely to marry someone less educated than themselves. And the other thing that’s interesting is that [Black women] “… are much more likely to not marry at all.”
And the onus of these factors is not on black women. Time and time again we are bombarded by negative and oftentimes distorted images and facts of how black women are the largest single population in America, we’re too independent, or not “submissive” enough. We see these images so often that when we see our brothers jumping at the chance to be with us, we look past the fact that they aren’t want we need, but simply what we want in the moment so that we don’t have to deal with the reality of singleness.
What can black women do? According to Dr. Keisha Downey, marriage therapist and expert on VH1’s Couples Therapy, this will depend on if the woman actually perceives this as a problem. “Often times this is conditioned early on and can be difficult to break free from,” she says. “With the help of understanding ‘self’, understanding what expectations or requirements are wanted and important in order to have a healthy functioning relationship, and seeking to truly understand the men they date…this can help to reveal and prevent dysfunctional relationships and help to find men that do meet our (a woman’s) requirements.”
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