Over 66 percent of Black women are single, and almost 40 percent have never been married, as highlighted by the most recent census data.
While some Black women embrace the single life with no immediate plans to resume dating, others look at all their accomplishments at work, realizing that the heavy burden jobs place on Black women doesn’t leave much time or energy for romance. Many have to scale back on their work commitments to make time for romantic relationships.
Black women are opening up about the role their career-choices play in their love story.
Take Marin Heiskell, a senior manager at Deloitte in Chicago, for example. Marin is accomplished with three degrees from Ivy-League schools and a bright career ahead of her. She has a demanding job that she enjoys. Her consulting role requires 40-45 hours a week of client work plus an additional 15 hours per week participating in panel discussions and supporting research and recruitment. There is also a lot of travel with her role, and although travel has died down since COVID, and she can make more time for the people she loves, it wasn’t always the case.
“I’d be on the first flight out Monday morning, come back late Thursday night or even Friday morning, and then spend the weekend resting, recovering, doing laundry and repacking.”
Marin found that some men didn’t understand the nature of her job or why she was required to travel so often, which became a barrier to sustaining relationships.
“I think they are saying it from a place of both insecurity and just not being exposed to a lot of different types of careers. As a Black woman who works in consulting, I feel like people know the demands of a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer or a banker but question the demands of my job.”
Dating expert M3rry works with smart, successful, busy Black women, guiding them through dating. She says she often hears that men are intimidated by successful Black women.
“If you are a woman that likes to live well and likes the luxuries of life, and he can’t provide it for you, then he is intimidated by you because you can provide it for yourself.”
Marin’s had to vet prospective partners differently and change her mindset. “In the past, I’ve said to myself: ‘I’m not married, and I don’t have any kids, then there’s no excuse for me not to be at XYZ level. And so, I gun really hard, kind of forgetting I’m cutting off my nose to spite my face.”
Dating coach, Anwar sees this scenario play out often with his clients. He believes that many Black women are programmed by their parents to focus on security and to make sure they can take care of themselves, which translates to education, jobs and money. Romance often gets pushed to the side to ensure survival, which equates to putting most of their time and energy into having a successful career.
“No, your job isn’t in the way because you have a boyfriend already, your career. And you are giving this career emotional, mental and spiritual space.”
M3rry agrees. She acknowledges Black women have the pressure of success that may not be placed on other races of women. According to her, what’s really keeping them single is their lack of priorities, non-congruency and failure to include other races in their dating search.
“Does it matter if he’s Black? Does it matter that he looks a certain way? Or do you want to be taken care of? Sometimes what my clients say they want doesn’t match up to the men they are describing.”
Anwar believes that, even if the right guy presents himself, if Black women don’t have career boundaries or a level of vulnerability, starting and maintaining a successful romantic relationship will be challenging.
“If you are not vulnerable, it’s going to be really difficult for you to deeply connect with the man because it’s your vulnerability that is going to inspire his.”
He also says that many Black women have to learn how to date because it’s not something taught by most Black parents.
Fila Antwine, a relationship coach, also teaches her clients how to date. “Black women are not taught how to be partners, and we are not prepared for partnership.” She says that at a very young age, Black women are taught to protect themselves from men and to disconnect to achieve their goals.
“We are taught how to survive without men the first half of our lives.”
Fila says career success and accomplishments become a source of pride and self-worth, but that narrative has to change to have their desired partnerships. She says that Black women are taught to be self-reliant and independent when real partnership comes from collaboration and being open to connecting with others.
“Black women have to dismantle all of the things they’ve built for themselves and figure out who they are and what they want.” She says for many, there isn’t any time to waste.
“The time is now. There is no f*cking clock.”