Earlier this week I wrote an article explaining why I prefer to date men my own age. Some readers felt that my problem is not dating older men, it’s dating “wack” men. How dare any black woman be so picky in this climate! Apparently, if you have standards in your old, black, and nappy position, you are flawed!
I’ve dated the men I’ve dated not because there are so many corny men out there (although I do have a special talent for finding them) or so few men period, but because I made the choice to date them; while those of you who are married were dating your future husbands, I was dating guys who weren’t right for me and I kind of knew it. I have dating horror stories because I lowered my standards to irresponsible depths, and I know that I’m not the only one.
The truth is, I have a major case of “Shoe Shopping Syndrome.” Even though I wear a size 9, I sometimes buy a size 8.5 because they’re one of the last pairs and too cute to leave behind. I shimmy into them, try them out for a few nights, and come home with aching feet, only to decide that I will never ever force a fit again.
For me, dating is like that. I can tell myself that I won’t date men of a certain age, of a certain height or weight, or at a certain income level, but I do. As much as I sound like Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City, my situation is not unique or fictional. The pressure to “make do,” when it comes to dating as a black woman, is pervasive and harmful.
Like many women, the real reason I don’t have a husband is that–like a flat stomach or a shiny new car–I have never put that much energy into getting one. It does seem like other people just magically meet “the one” and fulfill this Cinderella-style notion of romance, but forcing a fit with a clear non-match is no antidote. Here lies the difference between “being picky” and “going with your gut.”
I’m looking for someone just as great – and as lame – as I am. Idris Elba? Meh. Boris Kodjoe? Nice to look at. Give me a completely average, slightly ashy-elbowed dude a little bit late on his rent any day. I’ll accept that the pool of available men is smaller than the pool of available women, and that’s a legitimate challenge. But the same has been true about the number of slots at the college I attended and the number of candidates for my last job. I set my mind to getting those and succeeded, and when you put “love at first sight,” aside, common sense says I could also set my mind to scrounging up an eligible bachelor. But this is love – we just do what feels right and what makes sense. That’s what feels good.
Most of us are neither among the cutest nor among the ugliest. We wear deodorant. We brush our teeth. Most of us can crack a good joke and are loved by dozens of people. For most of us, marriage is not so serious that we’d give up on everything we believe in for ourselves and others just to have a man. And we do have realistic standards.
I’ll admit that my BMI and credit score are getting closer and closer to each other, but who’s perfect? No one. Married ladies: Can you admit that while your spouse is great he certainly isn’t perfect? Single ladies: worst case scenario, maybe your personality is unbearable and I am hideous, but there have to be a few guys out there just as undesirable as we are, right? Aren’t there far shoddier women than you or I who have found just as shoddy men to share their lives with, and doesn’t logic say that you and I should be able to find the same? We probably have to fight against rougher numbers, but if it’s going to happen it should be on reasonable terms. If not, at least we know we made the right choices.
Self-improvement and open-mindedness are great and always priorities, but these have nothing to do with population statistics. If you’re in the prime of your life and single, the issue is probably not with you and certainly nothing to make you accept less than what someone who happens to be of a different gender or race would accept. If there’s a certain type of guy who doesn’t make you excited about a future with him, he’s not worth trying to build a future with.
Can you force a fit for five years? Ten years? Twenty? Exactly. Keep your standards.