I’ve Heard It All Before: Four Phrases I’m Tired of Hearing as a Single Black Woman

By: Shaunese Johnson

“Don’t you want to settle down?” “It seems like you have been single forever!” These are just a few of the statements I’ve, heard as a single black woman. Chances are, if you are single then you have also heard these things said as well.

As a college senior I find myself constantly reflecting on my lack of romantic relationships. I’m one of the few girls (well at least I feel like it) who has yet to be in any type of relationship at the age of 21. Even though I’m still young the constant thoughts of “Am I deemed to be single forever,” or “Will I just be another statistic,” constantly run through my head.

Nonetheless, I’m proud of my accomplishments thus far even if I have a long way to go. Having a loving family and friends definitely helps, but sometimes we just want to silence these people especially when it comes time to them asking us about our relationship status.

At every cookout, family gathering, and outing with friends I always face the same question: “Have you found that special man/woman?” “No! I have not, so please don’t ask about my non-existent love life anymore,” is what I really want to scream. Here are just a few of the sayings that I hear all the time that sound more like broken records than noteworthy advice:

1. “Maybe if you changed your hair/clothes/personality/interest you would be noticed more.”

I literally have just started to fall in love with myself through all the stereotypes and hate that we black women deal with for everything from our physical features to our personality. I just started to embrace my dark skin, my nappy hair, my lankiness, and my awkward introverted personality. The last thing I need is to change in order to get male attention.

Now don’t get me wrong, change can be a beautiful and liberating thing, if it’s done with the right intentions. However, what ever happened to being accepted for who you are? That’s the problem! As women I feel we are constantly giving. We give our emotions, we give our soul, and we give our love, in hopes of having the “perfect” relationship. God forbid something happens and we break up what do we have left? Nothing! We have to keep in mind we are enough. As long as we value ourselves as human beings, the only person that can complete us is simply ourselves.

2. “You’re already (insert age here). Aren’t you ready to settle down?”

To answer the question, Yes! I would love to be in a genuine, healthy, relationship, with the love of my life. I blame those sappy love stories, songs, and movies for these idealistic thoughts and dreams. I pictured myself meeting someone in college and possibly marrying them in the future once I established myself.

I often wonder if this will happen but why does my age have to define where I should be in my life? If you’re 17 without a license you’re “behind,” if you’re 21 without a degree you’re “hopeless,” if you’re in your mid 20’s and single you’re a “lost cause,” and if you’re 30 without kids you haven’t contributed to society.

I once saw a quote that stated “People who are 30 and older shouldn’t still be trying to find themselves.” I thought to myself “What the hell is wrong with that?” Self-discovery can happen at any age whether you’re single or in a relationship. Keep in mind not every woman who is single wants a relationship. Maybe she just got over a bitter break-up, a divorce,is celibate, or maybe she’s even asexual. Stop deeming us single woman as “hopeless” as if there is something wrong with us! We are women who are overcoming our obstacles, in the midst of trying to find love on our own time.

3. “Your standards are too high.”

Here’s the thing about standards. Everybody has them to a certain extent. What I don’t understand is why having certain standards is such an issue in the 21st century. It’s almost as if standards contradict our own judgement. We are taught to keep our standards high and to “never settle” yet we become “prudes” or “stuck up” when we state our standards.

Maybe you want the typical “tall, dark and handsome” or a man who’s conscious, or maybe a man who’s ambitious. Maybe you’re lucky to have all three. When I think of standards I often think of a women’s belief, and why should she has to change in order to fit the typical definition of a “man?” Every woman has their perspective of what a “real man” is and therefore we shouldn’t be ashamed of what type of man we choose to be with. I’m a true believer in building a foundation with the partner of your dreams.

As a woman it’s also important to establish a healthy relationship with yourself and learn who you are as well by asking yourself questions like “Is this person contributing to my growth” or “Is this person working on themselves as well?” The better you know yourself, the more you start to appreciate what you have as well as realizing what you deserve.

4. “Don’t you want/miss sex?”

In my case, you can’t miss something you never had, but nothing is touchier than a question about a person’s sex life and/or their sexuality. When you’re out with friends the topic can come up, and the truth is that you shouldn’t feel pressured to answer. If you’re having sex, that’s fine. If you aren’t that’s perfectly fine too, just because it seems like everybody is doing it doesn’t mean you have to as well. The topic and pressure to have sex in today’s society has literally made people forget about intimacy.

When I get asked this question (being that i’ve never had sex) I look at it as I’m human. Of course one day I hope to share my sacred energy with my significant other. What I crave the most is intimacy. Being single, you can go days, months, and even years without being touched, held, kissed, cuddled, etc. You see people who have been in relationships take it for granted, because they have adapted to their partner’s touch. I believe we underestimate the power of intimacy rather it be physical touch or mental stimulation. Keep in mind that as human’s sex is a part of nature, but it doesn’t mean everybody is having (or even wants) to be sexual. I look at it as their choice, their actions, and their body.

Being the “single friend”, I love seeing people fall in love regardless of their sexuality, gender, race, etc. Seeing this happen gives me a slight bit of hope that maybe I won’t be single forever. Even though our family/friends try to help sometimes, hearing the things mentioned above gets old. We are already aware of our singleness and we don’t need to be constantly reminded of our status. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I appreciate the advice, but it’s nice to just give us our space and let us breathe.

Maybe we’re still finding ourselves, or maybe we choose to be single. No we are not “hopeless” women who constantly dwell on being single. Instead of focusing on our status do us a favor and focus on who we are as a person. At the end of the day we are normal women who shouldn’t be defined by our relationship status, but rather by  who we are as a whole.

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