Yesterday on The Crunk Feminist Collective, I stumbled across a blog post, “She Got A Big Ego?: Thoughts on Dating with a Doctorate.” The writer talked about a guy she was seeing who accused her of throwing her degree in his face.
“Most Black women with PhDs will know exactly how egregious an accusation that is,” she wrote. “Especially since we are hypersensitive and overly vigilant about making sure to never ‘throw our degrees’ in the face of less accomplished potential boos.”
More often than not the conversation about women who dare to Date While Educated is a complaint about independent women. But instead of getting the love that Ne-Yo once sang of, they get a lot of, well, hate. If you go by the as seen on Nightline or in Tyler Perry films philosophy, it’s because women with a degree (or two, or three) talk incessantly about how they can do it all, buy it all, and spend it all without a man, which is a huge turn-off to the opposite sex.
The stereotype, of course, doesn’t fit the reality. The truth of a woman dating while degreed, whether it’s a BA, MS, or PhD, is too often women trying to avoid mentioning their education in an effort to tip-toe around their (potential) mate’s fragile ego.
“Many a conversation [with a potential date] has ended abruptly after we get to the education/career section of the exchange,” says Amira S. who just earned her J.D. “There are a lot of assumptions made about me on account of piece of paper and a couple letters [after my name], including that I don’t have time for a man. It’s weird and disheartening.”
Simone A., 31, who earned two Master’s degrees and is currently pursuing a PhD (all from Ivy League universities) can relate. “I often feel like I am walking on egg shells when telling potential suitors that I am a PhD candidate,” she says.
Recently, she lied, telling a suitor she was working on her second Master’s instead of a Doctorate. “He replied that I was wasting my time and I needed a ‘real man’ to show me how to live, which should begin by immediately starting a family.” (Simone’s responded by telling him he had “the emotional equivalent of a dildo.”)
After some women get into a relationship, their education can become an issue down the line. Anna C., also a PhD candidate (she already has a Master’s), was dumped by a boyfriend who was intimidated by her potential for success. “He said he would be holding me back because I was doing “big things” career-wise,” she recalls. “I barely talked about my schoolwork, projects, or anything school related when I was with him because I didn’t want him to feel bad.”
I get Anna’s logic — I mean, she wanted to be in a relationship. But the idea of minimizing, or worse, ignoring, your accomplishments and what you value to assuage an insecure man is frankly, ridiculous.
Author and spiritual activist Marianne Williamson said it best — “Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.”
Demetria L. Lucas is the Relationships Editor at ESSENCE and the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. She has recently been nominated for an African American Literary Award. Vote for her now on literaryawardshow.com