There is much talk in media about the single black woman syndrome, like it is a disease that is contracted. I have SBWS! It’s almost as bad as the herpes commercials. Everyone is chiming in about why black women are struggling to find Mr. Right, and the mockery of reality television is simply stated “a hot mess.” I will not join in on the band wagon of lumping all black women’s situation into a blob of nothing. Just like all women, black women face a variety of situations that affect their dating life. Moreover, the truth is that not every woman is waiting on a ring. Whatever your culture and where ever you are in the relationship realm, these two strategies should help obtain what you want. You must know who you are and know who you are dealing with. Sounds cliché, but it is true.

Know who you are

Focus on You: Sometimes we spend too much time worrying about an addition to self instead of focusing on self. It is a hard lesson, but you cannot love anyone else if you do not love yourself. If you choose not to spend time on getting to know you, all the time you spend on getting to know someone else is wasted. I say this because once you do find out who you are, that person may no longer match. More dangerously, this choice may hinder you from ever finding your true self, and you may find yourself caught up in everyone else’s definition of you. Make the wise choice to love and spend time on knowing you. Remember this is not a quick fix and does not happen in one “ah ha” moment. It should be a lifelong lesson.

Be self aware: There is no reason to learn a lesson if you do not use the information. If you discover that you are sarcastic 80% of the time, be aware of how that affects you and the people around you. This is true about any character trait, moral standard, like, dislike, strength, talent, weakness, etc.

Know what you want, need, and the difference between the two: I know it sounds like a personal ad: “6’3, bald, athletic, with a high paying job. Must like long walks in the park, be supportive, have a good sense of humor, love to talk, and love God!” We often joke about this, but it is true. You don’t need to take your list on a clipboard to every date, but you must know what you want physically, financially, socially, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. After you make that list, think about what you need. Needs are things that fulfill your spirit. It’s like food, it is essential to your well-being. For example, “I need someone who will communicate and work with me to solve a conflict.” Wants and needs are both important, but different. Needs are a fact and unchangeable. Again like food, you need it to survive. However, wants are preferences. Wants are subject to flexibility and change as necessary. Don’t get stuck on the fact that you want someone who is 6’3 and think that is a need.

Know what you can and cannot tolerate: If you were allergic to peanuts (and there was no Benadryl around), would you eat it? It the same with personality traits and behaviors. If you know yourself well, you will know what you can tolerate. I love to debate, but I totally dislike a man who loves to debate. It gets under my skin. We would make great friends, but in a relationship, it would be disastrous. If you want to try the peanuts for the fun of it, that’s a chance you are taking. However, the safer option is to opt for some fruit instead.

Know who you are dealing with

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Distinguish between Right and Right Now: People come in and out of your life. However, everyone is not meant to be in it for the long haul. Don’t be mistaken. Right Now is very tricky. He or she often looks like they could be Right, but you always have to maintain a discerning eye. How did you and this person begin dating and what were the parameters set? Are you just playing? Is the relationship serious? Are you on the same page in terms of what you want from each other? Are we growing together or are we on individual paths? By answering these questions honestly, you will be able to determine if the relationship is just for a season.

Dealing with WHO you are dealing with: If you meet a sanitation worker, do not be mad when the man comes home smelling stinky. If you are dating a make-up artist, don’t start complaining that she wears too much make-up. It is illogical. We often make the mistake of trying to make the person we are with the person we want them to be. The better option is being with the person who is what you need them to be (or is at least willing to grow in a positive way). Note: You cannot change anyone. If you cannot accept the person for who s/he is, don’t get into the situation. Wouldn’t you want someone who accepts you for you?

Be Flexible: Learn from your past, but don’t make it your present. If your last boyfriend cheated, don’t hold the grudge that all men are cheaters. If you last girlfriend liked to argue, don’t make the case that all women want to do is fight. It is unhealthy for a new relationship. Take each new relationship at face value, and allow the person to establish their own worth in your life. Also don’t make the mistake that all people operate the same way. You must be flexible. If cooking dinner worked as something special in the last relationship, don’t be disappointed if that doesn’t really matter to the new guy or gal. Maybe the new gal would like fast food and the new guy sees playing the Wii with you as more special. If you become stagnant in your relationships, growth will halt.

Be honest with yourself: Don’t act like a lion can be a pet dog. You may want to see a lion at the zoo for entertainment, but don’t bring it home. Do I need to say anything more?

Communicate: Talk. Talk some more. Communication is the foundation for any relationship. Once you have a strong foundation, you can move onto construct the rest of the house. If the foundation is shaky, see if you can fix it. If you can’t make it solid, find a new plot of land before building a house. Do not build a relationship on shaky principals and expect it not to falter. Again, this is illogical thinking.

Prioritize what is important: What is more important? Is it the wedding? Or is it the marriage? Let’s use pop culture as our example. Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries spent an exorbitant amount of money on an elaborate wedding which ended in divorce not even a year later (72 DAYS TO BE SPECIFIC). Where should have the focus been? On putting on the show that everything is beautiful? Or on building a life that is beautiful? In any relationship, stay focused on the true goal of that relationship.

So what is the moral of the story?

“Knowledge is power,

Know you, know who you are with

Build strong foundations.”

Ps – If you are waiting on that ring, remember: if he likes it, he’ll put a ring on it! Don’t wait! Be confident in your choice and allow it to manifest naturally!

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Signing off,

Nadine G.