February 20, 2019


Identity Development

In the last two blogs, we’ve spent some time talking about dating for black women as a Resilient Group and from a Spiritual Lens.  Today I’d like to “wrap it up” [for now 🙂 ] with a list of tips and words of encouragement for my sistas!

What can Black Women Do?

  • Don’t stop pursuing your dreams and aspirations!  Any women who is on a mission to achieve, is competent, and has a sense of who they are and what they care about is attractive.  Keep doing and being you!
  • In addition to pursuing your dream and aspirations, be yourself and share your values from the beginning. If you are interested in being with someone long term who shares your same spiritual beliefs, tell them that spiritual beliefs matters to you earlier on before intimacy and commitment.  
  • Be kind to yourself.  Know that the mixture of emotions from frustrations, longing for intimacy, and periods of contentment in your singleness are ok.  Truly for me, no two days felt the same in this regard. Most of my singleness was felt with some discontent. If this sounds like you, Be kind to yourself.
  • Practice being more interdependent. Ask a friend to help you with something that you would normally take care of on your own.
  • Speak up. If the messages in your spiritual community regarding singleness come across as hurtful or confusing, take a risk and be honest about how these messages affect you.   For example, I often heard that being single was a gift to the community because it meant I could be “all in” on following God’s calling.  To which I often wondered, isn’t this also true for those who are married?
  • Consider ways that you can pursue the “benefits of marriage” now.  For example, if getting married and having children is something that you long for,  maybe exploring adoption on your own, babysitting your friends kiddos, or volunteering/mentoring youth could meet that need. I’m not saying that getting married automatically means you have to have kids, this is just an example 🙂
  • Pay attention to your relationship with others and practice new ways of being with those you trust.  For example, if when meeting with friends they often say, “Man I feel like I’ve talked too much,” it’s likely because you have not shared anything with them.  Consider identifying one topic that you are willing to talk about that will let others into your inner world.
  • Reach out for support.  If you struggle with insecurity and low self-esteem, ask your girlfriend’s what some of your strengths are.  Repeat positive “I am” statements. Watch movies, documentaries, or read books that show women who are empowered.
  • Listen to podcasts that talk about the strength of black women.  I’m currently listening to: The Truth’s Table and Therapy for Black Girls.
  • Read books on dating.  Here are a few that have been helpful to me:  How to Get a Date Worth Keeping by Henry Cloud and The Rules by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider.  I loved Dr. Cloud’s book as it was very practical on ways to up your dating potential by: increasing the number of people you come in contact with, having interactions that could lead to a date, and having an ability to follow through with a future date.  His book helped me consider ways to be proactive while thinking through my beliefs on waiting. The Rules was a great book for reading the “signs” of someone’s level of interest.  For example, if someone you are dating does nothing for your birthday than truth be told, they are just not that into you. This is especially freeing to realize earlier on in an effort to care for your heart and not waste your time.  
  • Attend conferences on dating.  While my knee jerk reaction to this kind of thing was to roll my eyes, I found those types of conferences more palatable attending with another friend.  In addition, even if you’re hopes for finding a special someone aren’t great, there’s usually a nugget of truth that helps you practice getting to know someone.  Also, with the joys of technology, many conferences are streamed online. You could gather a group of friends to watch the conference together.
  • Use online dating services. I’ve heard mixed reviews on that front, but I think it’s still worth the time and effort to try it out!  Going on dates can be a good way to have new experiences, and learn more about yourself.
  • Let others know that you are looking to date.  Searching for your partner has similarities to looking for a job.  When I was single, many folks knew that I wanted to be in a relationship.
  • Keep your heart boundaries.  When starting to engage with someone, does your commitment level in the relationship match the level of intimacy and trust you have?  For instance, if the person you’re interested in has shared that they are seeing other people, you should slow down on your more commitment oriented thoughts. Sometimes our like of someone is so strong or our desire to be married is heightened that we place a greater sense of commitment in the relationship than there actually is.  If this feels like you, I encourage you to keep your heart boundaries until your commitment level becomes a bit clearer.
  • Look at your calendar.  If the holidays are especially triggering to feelings of loneliness, I recommend telling someone else and maybe planning ahead to volunteer to offer care/concern to others.

Most Importantly: Hope

Last but not least, Do not give up hope.  While I cannot promise that your desire to be married will come true, I can say that focusing on the “odds” that are stacked against you, will leave you bitter, fearful, and jealous of those who have what you want. Choose hopefulness, meaning and purpose.

For any of these suggestions that you’d like to dive into further, please pursue counseling. Counseling can be a space to grow your self knowledge in order to “live your best life” and to be your “most authentic “self. Meeting with someone to discuss your longings and desires takes initiative, courage, and strength. It would be an honor to walk with you.

Written by therapist Pamela Larkin


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