Updated: Jun 2
Dating as a young Black person is a weird space to navigate. It’s the intersection of trying to figure out the ropes of life, while also still working to grow and heal from our traumas, and trying to build relationships, companionships, and/or partnerships. We want to know what it means to be in intimate relationships with other people. We want to feel loved, seen, and heard. Because the goal is to have #Blacklove, right?
I’m by no means a love expert. I come from generations of “broken homes.” I have divorced parents and I went from a single-mom household turned blended family. I was an only child raised in the house with my mom, stepdad, and granny and a tribe of others. My biological dad is local but does his own thing. I was shown deep love, despite any circumstances or traumas, and still, am. I was taught to love my Black skin, and I’ve learned that going home “to my roots” is always necessary when I need to ground myself and recenter. I never really felt I stood out when it came to people being attracted to me. I had a few relationships in high school, one which followed me halfway through college until I finally decided to walk away. I’m currently dating and still trying to work through how to balance self-work and relationship work. All that to say, despite how complex our stories are, it’s those moments of reflection that reveal to us just how we are shaped and moved by them.
Most of all, understand that you are capable of love and can love and be loved.
Dating is scary though, it’s like a seemingly never-ending game of trial and error. Like that one episode of Black Mirror, where all the dates had expiration dates until they meet “the one.” You may like some things from one person, but hate other things about them. You may have been in a super unhealthy relationship, but survived. Maybe you’re just getting out of a relationship, and want to “do you” for a while. Maybe you don’t want a relationship at all or have never been in one. All of these are ok and valid.
Being young, Black and dating is complex. I wanted to discuss dating on a small scale and to hear others’ experiences with it. I put up a poll on my instagram, and here are some of the many responses. For many, dating has been “A joke,” “Hard af,” and even described as “a test with no quizlet.” Young black women, have been told our attitudes suck, are often not protected, and for many, skin tone, weight, and/or disability is a determining factor. They’ve also shared that “Dating Black men who turn out to be ignorant to mental health, racism, etc. is very draining.” Who can relate? LGBT+ people have described not knowing if people are interested in them, for them or to "experiment" (on an actual person, like....). They've shared feelings of being unsafe in certain spaces, a lot of which are amongst our own people. 😒 Black men have detailed experiences of toxicity, periods of adjustment, and lack of value for honesty, loyalty, or commitment.
As a whole, young Black people want love. It's not often that we can express our deep desire for love, despite the naturalness of it because hello... human nature. Having a dialogue on this has allowed for community to be built. It promotes healthy and honest conversations about just what the hell "dating" even is or looks like. “I am so messed up by watching my parents. Idk what a relationship looks like.” While some shared that even though they are attracted to other Black folks, that "the dating pool for Black professionals when you’re not in a huge city is slim to none." Others said that while they've had some ups and downs that they've enjoyed some of it and many shared that they had learned a lot along the way. I know that's right.
On the quest for #Blacklove, make sure to establish healthy dating habits. Get Tested, often. Date your damn self: “Dating, while young and Black, a lesson I've learned and tool for growth is to date yourself for a while before I found my person.” Find out what you like, dislike, what your body likes/dislikes, what your triggers are, how do you cope, and on and on. Really get to know yourself. Find out your #lovelanguage, take this quiz. Also, therapy. We all need it, as a collective. Stand up for people and make space for all identities to express their love, especially our LGBT+ friends, cousins, peers. Have open communication. Be as transparent as you feel is safe/comfortable. Don't project your trauma on others. You can discuss it and heal through it. "Personally I've dealt with a lot of unaddressed mental health issues." Defy your family’s “tradition." Unpack and get to the root of generational trauma, and regularly practice healthier relationship habits/skills.
To those who have given up on love, I say, Trust life a little bit." - Dr. Maya Angelou
You are more than enough.
You're Black and Beautiful as hell.
You are capable of giving and receiving love.
With lots and lots of Black Love✊🏿,