Single Ladies Get Really Real

70 percent of Black women have never been married.

Gather six single heterosexual women in a room together, and it won’t be two minutes before somebody’s talking about men. In order to get the female perspective on the state of dating and relationships, that’s what EBONY did. And in Atlanta, no less, where it’s not uncommon to walk into a restaurant or bar on any evening and find an endless sea of ladies-night outings.

The reports on the state of unmarried Black women are at an all-time high, with a slew of outlets noting that 70 percent of them have never tied the knot. But it’s not just Black women, according to Ebony.com relationship expert Sil Lai Abrams, who points to an overall decline in the marriage rate and referencing the 2011 Pew Research Study that showed 51 percent of American women are unmarried.

So if you’re a single woman in a city such as Atlanta, what do you do to hook up with an eligible and available prospect? We asked this and other questions of Cecilia Bailey, 43, a financial business coach from Chicago; Tracy Nicole, 37, an author/writer and Atlanta native; Kia Smith, 30, a social media coordinator from Gadsden, Ala.; Krystal Gambrell, 27, a speech-language pathologist from Atlanta; Alisa Benjamin, 40, an interior designer from Portland, Ore.; and Erin Harper, 32, a Ph.D. candidate/writer from Atlanta. What was immediately apparent is how technology has drastically changed the way men and women meet and get to know each other:

On technology and dating:

Cecilia: Dating is a little different because of technology. You can just go at a super, superfast speed. It’s not like when you were 20 years old and you had to wait for the phone to ring and you built up to something.

Alisa: They don’t have the old-fashioned—for lack of a better term—work ethic toward dating. Because so much technology is out there, people skip vital communication steps.

Erin: I’ve met people and told them my name and what school I went to, and when I get home, I have Facebook messages from them. Technology can be good, but it can also be kind of crazy.

Tracy: I purposely don’t give my full name for that reason. I prefer someone take the time to get to know me rather than to go home and google me.

On spotting red flags:

Tracy: [Ending my last relationship], I went by that rule of thumb I learned from Oprah, which was, when people show you who they are, believe them. I think the mistake a lot of women make is trying to get men to be someone they’re not and hoping [for change]. And [men] give [us] signs.

Erin: Those red flags come early.

Tracy: Especially when you pray for God to show them to you. And you have to be ready to see them. I find that the relationship a man has with his mother, an ex or the mother of his children speaks volumes about how he interacts and deals with relationships, period.

On “diva dudes”:

Alisa: In Atlanta, there’s a whole different breed of men. It seems as if they feel entitled, so they act accordingly. But it’s not because they’re all bad. It’s because there are some women who let certain behaviors slide.

Kia: We call them “diva dudes.” On paper, they are all good: educated, handsome, employed. But they have this arrogance that they’re the prize; that they can do whatever they want and you will still be there.

On the numbers:

Erin: When you look at the top U.S. cities, the ratios are real. African-American men are really not there because of things such as mass incarceration and homicide. They have lots of choices, which I think is where the entitlement comes in a lot of times.

Cecilia: The numbers are false. When you think about the 12-to-1, 8-to-1 or whatever it is, you have to factor in the [women] men just don’t like. This guy told me, “You’ve got to take out the ones who have five kids; the ones who don’t have a car.”

Tracy: It’s quantity but not quality, which is why the numbers are not accurate.

Alisa: There are people out there who don’t have character—and I’m talking about women—who these guys are encountering, who can’t bring to the table what I can. And I can’t be skewed by what the media are saying about numbers because the right guy is out there for me. And I think a lot of women buy into that. I don’t think it’s as much of a numbers game as you think.

On the digital hookup:

Krystal: I did [online dating] for six months, and it was successful. I had to change my standard of dating. I was dating to meet somebody for the long term, which ultimately is the goal. But I had to stop putting on so much pressure. It’s OK if we date 10 times and we