Relationships are never simple. There are many unknowns and uncertainties in the realm of dating. The struggles of dating are limitless. For people of color, there is a whole new added level of rules to abide by. Race stretches across every aspect of life and dating is no exception.
Research the site when online dating…
Websites such as Blacksingles.com and Blackpeoplemeet.com can be excellent ways to meet people from the comfort of your own home. Many successful relationships can come from online dating. During the pandemic, it is safe and convenient to meet someone virtually but it always helps to do your homework. One of the main reasons people don’t find success on dating websites is because they never research the apps they're using. There are many sources out there that review dating apps and the various options you can choose from.
“One can learn the male to female ratio, average income and educational level, racial makeup, ease of use, and a variety of other information. Most people spend more time researching vacation destinations or comparing features on new cars than they do on tools to help them find their soulmate,” said Kevin Darné, author of My Cat Won't Bark! (A Relationship Epiphany) Online Dating Avoid The Catfish!: How To Date Online Successfully and Pump Your Brakes! How To Stop Having Bad First Dates. He met his wife several years ago on BlackPeopleMeet.com. He found it very beneficial to put in the work to learn more about the app he used to increase the odds of his success.
When online dating, it is helpful to figure out what you want in someone else before you put yourself out there and jump into a relationship. Self-reflection is key. What aspects and traits matter to you? Does socioeconomic status matter? Do race and education matter? Figure out your type and preferences before engaging with someone online. Decide what you are looking for before immediately swiping left or right on someone.
Practice self-love before entering a relationship…
As a Black woman, it is very difficult to build yourself up in a society that is constantly tearing you down. Black women are constantly told they need to be fixed: their hair, the way they talk, and how they carry themselves, their skin—they are never enough the way they are. You have to work that much harder to counteract all the hate you receive with self-acceptance.
Itzel Hayward, a Radical Self-Love Coach, associates her dating success based on her level of self-love and self-compassion. She cannot stress enough the importance of distinguishing the difference between your self-esteem and enjoyment of life and whether you’re in a relationship or not. Do not give your power away. “Focus on loving you and loving your life. Then when you're dating, you're not looking for someone to make your life wonderful—you're looking for someone to add to the complete life you already have,” said Hayward.
As a Black woman, Hayward knows the additional struggles that come with dating and the desire for validation from a relationship, since most aspects of society tell Black women that they are less than. “Black women have to face the challenges of racism in all spheres of life.... and that includes dating. From implicit bias, to stereotypes, to standards of beauty based on proximity to whiteness; these challenges extend to the dating world for Black women,” said Hayward. Black women have to have very thick skin when it comes to dating. Often in life, Black women are written off before even given a chance to get to know them. They have to work that much harder to get people to open up to them and dismiss the racial stereotypes when they look at them.
Hayward makes it her mission to encourage her clients to cultivate self-love. This helps eliminate the idea that a relationship is the answer to seeing themselves as loveable and worthy. No one should look for validation in a relationship. Use the time you are single to find yourself and embrace every aspect of yourself before embarking in a relationship with someone else.
Don't let race be a deterring factor when dating...
As an interracial couple, Kenneth Underhill and his wife Laneè, have had a lot of experience with the criticism of dating. Kenneth first pursued Lannè over 10 years ago through Facebook. He virtually chased her for almost a year, through corny pickup lines, until one day he finally found the right words and said, "How does a pasty, white boy win your heart?"
Since Kenneth is white and his wife Lanné is black, they’ve had to deal with social disapproval and societal pressures, on top of the already stressful phase of getting to know one another. Lanné grew up believing that she needed to marry a good, strong Black man. From a young age, she was taught the idea that she needed to date within her own race, but felt like she could never be herself with the Black men she previously dated. They always had something negative to say about her hairstyle or her body and they never contributed to any of the bills.
When Lanné met Kenneth, she felt like she could finally be herself for the first time in her life. She felt comfortable wearing her natural hair in public, basking in every curve of her body and curl in the mane. Dating Kenneth was a freeing moment in her life.
The couple advises other Black people in the dating scene to be open-minded because you always find love in the most unexpected places. “People focus on race so much in the U.S. and miss out on true happiness because they are letting society control them. Per my wife, Black men absolutely terrorized her growing up but she dated them because society said she needed to find that ‘good Black man,’” said Kenneth.
They recommend that everyone who is dating and looking for love to take a step back and evaluate the importance of the qualities they are looking for in a mate. “From my experience dating other Black women in the past, many Black women are sold on this idea of a ‘magical unicorn Black man’ that will be high-quality, so they ignore their perfect soulmate that might be White, Asian, Latino, etc. in the hope they will find this magical unicorn. Basically, they waste all of their good years chasing after dusty men just because of their race and then wonder why they are still single, possibly with children, and miserable in their life,” said Kenneth. The qualities Laneé looked for in a man was that he needed to be a good provider and she needed to feel protected. She wanted someone with no drama, that is comfortable in being a real man that stands up for his woman, and that is exactly what she found when she met Kenneth.
They urge people to look beyond the hate, because you'll realize that you will get a lot more love from the world when finding true happiness. The couple has faced a lot of negativity from relatives, police, and the general public. Because of Laneé’s choice to date and then marry a White man, she has been called things like "negro bed wench" in the past, typically from Black men or from Black women that are dating Black men.
The couple definitely has their share of looks from others, but not all are necessarily bad. “I remember I was picking up my wife from work and it started raining. I took off my jacket and held it over her head as we walked to the car. Meanwhile, this other Black woman who always made fun of my wife for dating a white guy was stuck outside of her boyfriend's car, in the rain, while he took his time unlocking the door for her. The next day, she approached my wife and told her she was going to start dating white guys,” said Kenneth.
Relationships are hard. That's a fact; no matter what race you are. Self-awareness and an open mind will make every decision when dating that much easier. Dating is the perfect time to figure what you want and what you deserve.
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