ManLove. Eternal and pure. Obtained by some, elusive to others. But who knew a desperate poetic soul existed in the heart of the single black man, sitting along amongst the 15 or so of his pet cats and collection of knitting needles wondering where-oh-where is a woman to make my sandwiches?

According to a new poll out by NPR, this is the reality, not the common narrative of the lonely, beleaguered black woman, but of black men who want a commitment more than their female counterparts.

What’s up with that?

So says the poll:

Just one-third (34%) of these young-to-middle-aged singles say they are currently seeking a long-term committed romantic relationship, while just one in ten (10%) say they are already in one. Men are more likely to say they are looking for a committed relationship (43%) than are women (25%). Nearly all of those seeking such a relationship want to get married someday (98%).

Commitment. Isn’t that a dirty word?

So somewhere, out there, beneath the pale moonlight wanders 43 percent of black men between the ages of 18 and 49 (!) posting MSW ads on Craigslist from their iPhones while wondering why Cupid won’t hit him with his arrow.

CALL ME A NON-BELIEVER … but I think there’s more to this than meets the eye.

First of all, 18 to 49 is a really large swath of people. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know a lot of people near 50 who can relate to someone barely out of high school, let alone share their dating aspirations. Heck, most 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and older can’t relate to the lovelorn elder teens of this world. So, I find this measure much, much too broad. What did men 18 to 24 say versus what men 25 to 30 said versus what men 31 and up said? Because I find it hard to believe they’re all up wondering where they can find “true love.”

Second, define “commitment.” Commitment does not necessarily equal “marriage,” which is what I know many of my friends, including myself, say they eventually want. Sure, I have no doubt that there are a-many man who thinks life would be easier if the rent could be split, if sex was easy and plentiful, if sandwiches were made and always abundant while still having that escape clause because nobody has any papers on each other.

Third, not a shocker that some women aren’t looking for commitment if they’ve been in this dating environment for longer than five minutes and live in a major, metropolitan area on either coast. Or even if they’re in the wilds of the Midwest or South. The economy is bad. It’s every man, woman and infant for themselves. Love might be on the backburner whether you’re in school, advancing in your career or just trying to make this rent. Sometimes you just don’t have time and you have no desire to make time for dating.

Still though, NPR says only 25 percent out of 18-49 of black women are looking for a “committed relationship?” Again, define commitment. Is it shacking up? Is it marriage? Is it serial monogamy? I need more details! And I’ve read the survey. It’s full of some interesting factoids – from how many African Americans are positive about their own individual futures, are worried about health care and about half feel good about their finances while the other half is scratchin’ and survivin’. But I wanted more details, or at least for the poll to have asked much more pointed questions. Myself and others said as much when we were on Michel Martin’s show, “Tell Me More” on NPR, discussing the poll. You can listen here, but we had more questions than the poll had answers.

It’s not that I don’t believe there are a lot of black men looking for love. I’m pretty sure there are plenty since all my homegirls from high school, back in St. Louis, are pretty much married with children and I’m the one, the one who moved away and travels from pillar to post, is still single. But even I, a Midwestern gal, was married for all of five minutes in my 20s. I’m not who more alarmist surveys scream about when they make every black woman sound desperate. But this does touch on the reality that when people say 40, 50, 60, 100 percent of black women between the ages of 16 and 90 have never been married (or whatever hoary, alarmist stat is available), they forget that an equal number of black men have also never been hitched. Yet there is no lament for them. No stigma. No long whine and pine. No series of exposes in the Washington Post or New York Times or Time Magazine or Essence or Ebony. There are no shocking headlines about brothers, desperately searching for their “Michelle” as they fashion themselves the next “Barack.”

THERE’S NONE OF THAT. So, despite me finding the poll somewhat suspicious, I appreciate it for being a counter-narrative to one that has been beaten into the ground.

According to NPR, black men want love but can’t find it. Won’t you, oh you, footloose and fancy free black woman, stop your running around and give a poor, cat-owning brother a chance before his sperm goes bad? WON’T YOU?


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  • Youwishyoucouldbeme

    After reading this article and the comments (but not all), here’s my conclusion. I actually think the poll is “accurate,” meaning, I believe most Black men, regardless of socioeconomics or educational attainment would say “yes” they want to be married or “yes” they want to be in a committed relationship when asked. Thus, the poll is accurate, because it simply asked a group of diverse men (age-diversity) if they wanted to be married and/or in a long-term committed relationship. However, anyone can say “yes” when asked about a poll. The reality is that what I say for a survey and how I live my life may not be parallel, and herein lies the problem. I believe that in most men’s minds, they do want to be married, even the players. However, wanting to be married may be 5, 10, or some unknown amount of years from now. Or, it may be “when I meet the right woman,” which may never happen if a particular guy is extremely picky about the women he dates. Or, if a guy has major relationship baggage (bad relationships, daddy issues, mommy issues, OOW children, has been a groupie magnet, and now wants substance over superficial, etc). The point is that most of us do want to be married or in committed relationships. The problem is that we aren’t always willing to actively seek the things we want. Then since we don’t think we “find it,” we just go on living the way we always have.

  • WhatIThink

    I think most people period want a stable long term relationship, but not many know how to maintain one.

    But overall the myth of all black men being dogs and players is a myth, even though a lot of them are of course. However, that goes both ways for both sexes and all ethnic groups. The biggest problem for black folks is that they haven’t developed a constructive system of social interaction where “good” black men and “good” black women can get together and formed stable relationships. That is the fundamental function of the society and institutions which is to promote healthy interaction and relationships. Case in point, what institutions in other societies are engines for meaningful relationships? HInt: the workplace is one of the top 5. And what is the top 5 list for black folks? Obviously the environment and circumstances plays a big role in how relationships are formed, meaning the club and church ain’t it.

  • ALM

    NPR, where are these men? Chile…..

    • bob

      there are no blacks in chile (other than recent immigrants)