Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dating While Black: My Experience With Online Matchmaking

Well, I just jumped back into the dating market this past month and I am finding that the options are few. Although I am not looking for any serious matches…. only activity partners, since I am not in any position to delve into a serious relationship. I have not dated in almost 10 years. In fact, I will be 39 next month, and to tell you the truth, I have never really dated for any meaningful length of time. I dated one person for about 2-3 weeks (2 dates). I didn’t go on my first date until I was 29 (the last time I dated). So I have never really dated. When I tell people that my life is crap (because they ask) and that I hate how my life turned out, they have no idea what I mean. But this is just one example. 

I have always hated dating. I chalk most of my social aversion to the fact that I am pretty much an introvert (although I was much more social growing up). Common social situations that are enjoyable to most people (dating, going to social gatherings, crowded places, events) are a pain in the ass for me. I get stressed when in social situations, especially in large groups and with people who I don’t know. So that makes it hard to get out and meet people. I have adequate social skills… there is a switch that I can turn on and off…. And I can navigate through situations just fine… it’s just laborious and taxing. It’s more like a shy actors ability to get through a scene. They can do it just fine, but it takes extra work to function outside of  their normal character. It’s the same for me… I’m not at ease in those situations.

I’m using the most popular online service available…. Basically a service that takes your money. But this time, having some experience with online dating, my expectations have been lowered. I already know that I will run into the same problems that I ran into before - see the commentary entitled "White Men Only". In fact, after being online for a week or so… I am already seeing some of those problems popping up again. The two main problems before were that #1). I hated my job and basically had inadequate employment/ income. Unfortunately, that hasn’t changed. #2). To put it bluntly, I am the wrong ethnic group. Being a Black male is a permanent pain in the ass. It was a problem the last time I tried to date, and obviously that is the kind of problem that will never go away. The ideal mate across the board (all ethnic groups of women) is still a white male, successful, earning 50k or more a year. I’m in the category between 25k and 35k and I’m not considered a viable match for a lot of women from a financial standpoint (which is why I am not looking for any serious dating relationships. Instead i‘m just trying to get to know more people). Being a Black male who wants to meet women from a variety of ethnic groups… puts me into a tough category. Most non-black women want to see higher earnings/more lucrative employment. They also primarily want white males. Some will go for a guy of color… but he has to offer something that compensates (There is a penalty fee that you have to pay when you are Black and male). In other words, if he is a physician, attorney, or an executive, or has some other job that would give him an acceptable income, he can usually do just fine. On the other hand, Black women… (if I can find one that can appreciate a decent guy, who has a temperament that I can tolerate, and who matches up in terms of values and culture) often have irrational expectations when it comes to income as well. I typically have no interest in dating Black women…and exclusively date interracially… but if I wanted to go that route, there are obstacles there too.  I find them to be the most demanding/superficial (not all of course). They focus on the most shallow, non-substantive factors as deal breakers… such as… he has to be a certain height, he has to earn 50k to 75k, etc. They rarely seek anything substantive. Happiness for them is quantified in terms of money/material possessions. What they seek often seems to be something commercially manufactured.

Then of course there is the fact that from a standpoint of values, physical appearance, worldview, and mannerisms I don’t fit what they are typically looking for. They want a Rap mogul or professional athlete… a brute or thug in a $1000 suit. I have heard of the term Tupac w/ a degree or in a suit to describe what many of them are interested in. Many claim they don’t want this… but 39 years on this planet observing people has shown me otherwise. Even the 5-10% of top notch Black women seem to find favor with certain aspects of this type of Black male. The fact that I like to watch National Geographic, The Discovery Channel, like photography, and would rather listen to Jeremy Davenport, Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon or James Taylor than a Mary J. Blige album any day is probably a turn off. I’m about 96% reserved square…as in Alfonso Ribeiro or Bryant Gumble. I’m probably 4% street smart - the guy who can survive in just about any situation. Growing up in and near poverty in St. Louis in the 1970’s & 80’s taught me about survival…and how to be aware of my surroundings. But it’s that 96% that they find unattractive. Not exciting enough. So I have never been a match for Black women. We don’t typically match on any level. But if Halle Berry walked into my life, I wouldn’t turn her away. But I must be realistic.

This of course leaves me back at square one…. where I was before….where I left off a decade ago. And now a 3rd problem has cropped up -age. I am now too old to date most of the women in my desired age group (which is 24-36). Most women have a cut-off of 35. So I am past my prime years. I wasted all that time chasing that fairy tale called “The American Dream”. Just like Santa doesn’t exist… neither does the American Dream…. I just wish someone would have told me that sooner. I would have spent more time trying to live and enjoy the little time that we have on this planet instead of chasing money, career, material possessions just so that I could be viable and marketable to the opposite sex. It has all been a waste of time. I now realize that I wasted 20 years of my life on complete bullshit. Chasing absolutely nothing.

Another problem is that when I mention I don’t want a serious relationship… women run. They assume that I am a cheating husband…or I just want to get laid (not necessarily the case…. ). I simply want friends/activity partners because I don’t have the time and resources required for a relationship. Being able to market yourself as a viable man is expensive. Women have no idea. I want a better employment situation before dealing with a serious relationship. I also want the opportunity to meet more people before I settle and confine myself to one person. If they can’t have you exclusively, it usually means no dice. I would rather have a relationship develop naturally on its own from friends/dating partners. (isn’t that what women wanted at one time?). Today it seems as if they want you to be committed to them from the first date…which is ridiculous. But in order to meet someone… it looks like I will have to change that part of my dating profile. I hate being dishonest about what I’m looking for. Although I think that excuse (used by a couple of women so far) was actually just a cover for the real issue - race. Last time around I had to eventually remove my photos to increase my chances of success… (because of the race issue). I will probably do the same thing again, while leaving my ethnicity blank. There is no doubt in my mind that my photos hold me back. They certainly don’t help me. Whenever I remove my photo and leave my ethnicity unanswered… my connections mysteriously increase… and I have better correspondence.

I have recently started to come to the conclusion that meeting someone or even having a decent dating life may not be in the cards for me. The key for me will be finding decent employment (it always seems to come back to that). In the meantime, I plan to partake in fellowship at some area churches. I am looking to find a congregation to possibly join and will start attending potential churches this year. I am looking for Progressive, robust, unorthodox, innovative churches centered around service. Looking for congregations that have volunteer opportunities. I have reached an age where I have realized I have been running the wrong race….and need to start running a different one. Not really having a family bond of my own… I have to find “family” elsewhere (another revelation from this past year). So I have several reasons for seeking a church. This is something I would suggest for anyone in the same boat.

8 comments: said...

good luck with your search, but for me being agnostic and raised in a religiously fanatic southern Baptist family turned me off to religion as a child and teenager, and reject any idea that I could find a relationship there. Now as an expat living in Thailand I never have any difficulty finding a date.

Brian E. said...

I often wish I lived in another Country. Even Canada would be a step up.

The dating culture in this Country is completely phony, superficial, and overly complicated. Would rather experience more genuine connections... in a culture that is more traditional.

On Church:

Not every church is that way. I am not a big fan of churches or organized religion. Have never even joined a church. But I think there are a few good churches that could have something to offer. Being single... w/ no real family connections... I have to keep all options open to meet people. For some people... church = family when biological family is absent or lacking. So i'm going to explore that w/ an open mind.

rikyrah said...

I am the eternal optimist. I believe there's someone for everyone. So, I think your plan to work on you is good. I think you're hard on women, but, it is what it is.

Anonymous said...

Good luck brother. I have similar problems, My income falls in the low six figure range but I find that advertising that attracts the wrong type of woman but leaving it out a great deal of women don't even give me a chance.

I've actually been shot down via a dating site only to meet the same girl at a social function where she didn't recognize me and was suddenly much more friendly.

I am younger than you but I have noticed that a lot of people have a certain view of black men that is easily dispelled by spending time with the good ones like us. However getting the chance to spend time is another story...

LonelyGuy2700 said...

I am very gratified by this column, and how you articulated your struggles since it echoes a lot of my own experiences. I've posted similar observations here -

Actually, women want a man to earn more than DOUBLE the 50-75K you state - over 150K -

This is why I like that movie- Tyler Perry's Temptation. Just because you land a rich man, that doesn't mean he can't give you an STD or beat the !@#$ out of you.

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Julie Amy said...

Shawn Deny said...

It’s more like a shy actors ability to get through a scene. They can do it just fine, but it takes extra work to function outside of their normal character.
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