CULTURAL INFLUENCES ON DATING: The Resilience of Black Women
Dating trends have changed overtime. More recently, there has been a shift from dating in your 20s to dating later in life. While this has impacted many, I’d like to continue the discussion of how it may impact black women. In my last blog, I focused on the resiliency of black women. Today I’d like to focus on how their spiritual context can influence their dating experience.
Black Christian Women
Many black women have grown up in a spiritual context. For the purposes of this blog, I’ll focus primarily on the experiences in a Christian church context, though I know the spiritual experience of our community varies. For those who are Christian, the teachings around “waiting for your Boaz” and not “settling” are prevalent. Christians in general are taught live in the world, but not be influenced by the culture of the world. So how does this impact the way black women date?
- Black women are taught to “wait” for their prince charming to come. While I fully believe, and know women who have met their partner who appeared at their front door, more true than not, women have to go out in order to surround themselves with potential individuals to date.
- I agree, with this approach that we as women should not “date down,” “settle,” or ignore our “deal breaker” characteristics, for the first parking spot we find. The feeling of scarcity can make us rush or settle for partnerships that we would otherwise not have made.
- In addition, many of us struggle with feelings of insecurity that may cause us to feel that we are unworthy of dating a quality person. The longer it took for me to date, the more often the feeling that I was doing something wrong or that there was something wrong about my views on dating and marriage that were keeping me from finding a spouse. Our insecurities could also stem from years of being “othered” and portrayals of those who are beautiful in society often do not match our skin tone, hair styles, weight and body shape. How many of us look to our differences or “weaknesses” when we see that other people have what we want? Sometimes saying that we are not supposed to be influenced by the culture, but set apart is devastating when the world seems to have it all.
- This last point I share with a great deal of empathy and compassion, especially in light of the #metoo movement, the documentary Surviving R. Kelly, and general awareness that women have experienced abuse from their partners. Feelings of powerlessness, fear, and oppression may be a part of what you are experiencing. For different reasons, individuals may not feel able to get away from those who have caused them harm. If this is you, please know you are not alone. If you are in a relationship in which you are being hurt, here are a few resources:
- 1-800-656-4673 Sexual assault hotline
- 1800-799-7233 National Domestic Violence Hotline
How To Stay (Spiritually) Faithful In Relationship
So the question is, how does one stay true to their spiritual beliefs while still acknowledging our longings, frustrations, and desires for intimacy with another person? My next blog will go into more practical steps, but I did want to offer just a few now:
- Surround yourself with other women who are like minded in their beliefs and desires for intimacy in marriage
- Using mindfulness techniques; notice your feelings without judgement and offer compassion to yourself
- Meet with spiritual mentors and read devotionals that can remind you of God’s kindness and advocacy for you
Lastly, for those who would like to discuss this further, counseling may be right for you. Call today for a free consultation.
Written by therapist Pamela Larkin