Stop Ridiculing Black Women for Being Single

by Inda Lauryn

If we were to believe anything we hear and see in the media, then we would believe that no one wants to be with black women, not even black men. If we were to believe another myth the media perpetuates, then we would believe that single black women are a pretty desperate lot. Understandably, black women (single or not) are more than tired and frustrated with being given the short end of the stick when it comes to our perceived desirability and this unnecessary dissection of our relationships.

The fact of the matter is: many black women are indeed single. We are single at various ages, class statuses, sexual orientations, and other factors. Furthermore, many of us are happy being single. Some of us are actively seeking relationships while some of us are taking the time to get ourselves to the places we feel we need to be before we consider bringing another person into our lives. We all have our different reasons for being single, whether through design or circumstance.

This does not mean that we do not at times become frustrated with being alone. Being alone can be difficult at times, especially during the holidays when everyone makes plans to be around the people they love without the demands of work and other responsibilities cutting into that time. This is also the time when our loved ones begin to ask the usual questions (“Why are you single? Are you dating anyone? Isn’t it time for you to settle down?”), make us wonder how we can possibly be happily single. It can make us even more reluctant to admit that sometimes loneliness does creep into our lives and makes being single a little tough.

Interestingly, part of this reluctance to admit that we get lonely comes from the Strong Black WomanTM stereotype that tells us black women should be strong enough to handle it. Some of us have had to embrace this stereotype to get through life, especially when we navigate unsafe spaces such as the workplace and school. We put the needs of others before our own with “quiet dignity” and provide the backbone of these spaces. However, some of us have also taken this myth of the Strong Black WomanTM to heart when it comes to our personal relationships and ridicule any black woman who gets frustrated when she isn’t in a relationship, or when expresses her discontent for not being in one.

And why would we not get frustrated? Everything and everyone around us tells us that we are worth less when we are solo, especially if we do not have a man (which is doubly problematic in its heteronormative view of relationships). But as soon as we express any frustration with not having a partner, then we are ridiculed as “desperate” as if simply saying, “I’d like to be with someone,” indicates some type of psychosis.

Having to hear coupled friends and family make comments such as “I don’t know how you do it,” further compounds this frustration. Whether intended or not, such statements only serve to ask single black women, “What’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you worth being loved?” Yet if a black woman were to respond to this suggestion with anything other than quiet grace and utter happiness in her single state, she becomes “desperate” and unworthy of the Strong Black WomanTM title bestowed upon her.

Being single is complicated. Some of us enjoy our space. We enjoy the time we get to ourselves and not having to consider what a partner wants to do with every single decision we make. However, there are times when it would be nice to have someone to vent to after a long and trying day, someone who knows that you need a shoulder to cry on when life as a black woman gets to be too much. And yes, some single black women would like partners to help raise children or help take care of other family members because it is easier to do with support. This is where the frustrations come to play.

But since we rely so much on the Strong Black WomanTM myth, we take this need to have someone take care of us and hold us sometimes as weakness. We don’t allow black women this “weakness” for even a moment. Even more confusing, we are expected to carry on alone and search for a “good man,” while appearing not to do so. We are not allowed to tell anyone that not having a partner can feel quite lonely at times.

Black women should never be ridiculed for their relationship statuses. A single black woman may want love in her life as well as the support and companionship that comes with it, and should not be shamed for that desire. When we say we are happy one day, we mean it. When we mention we want a relationship the next, we mean this as well. Not wanting to always be alone is a human response to life.

And, contrary to what we have always been told, black women are indeed human. As humans, we are allowed to express our emotions—even the frustration that sometimes comes with being single.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Inda Lauryn has previously been published in Blackberry, A Magazine, Interfictions, The Toast, and Callaloo, as well as had her work featured on blogs such as Black Girl Nerds, Bitch Flicks, and AfroPunk. She is currently working on a novel and countless other unfinished writing projects and occasionally blogs at Corner Store Press.

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