Black love is in a crisis and we don’t need scholars or research to tell us this (although plenty of studies validating this statement exist). ABC News, the Washington Post, the New York Times, hell, pretty much every news outlet that exists has reported on the relationship challenges our community is currently facing. But we don’t need research or reporters to tell us this. By simply looking around at our families, at work or church we can see what’s happening. We’re living in a culture that routinely sacrifices love on the altar of materialism. And err’one knows that there are more single Black people today than married.
While I understand that marriage is not the de facto destination of choice for everyone, I know plenty of single folks who truly desire a committed relationship but can’t seem to find the right person. There are a myriad of external forces in a person’s life that can make successful long-term coupling a challenge. And while the macro or external causes are important to know, in my experience its changing the micro reasons, or that which is within, that often produces the best outcomes. Look, I’m not saying that our circumstances don’t play a role in our ability or inability to couple up with an appropriate mate. Owning a home-based business, suffering from chronic illness, traveling 70% of the year, or working on an oil rig in the middle of the Pacific Ocean will limit your dating options. But even “home-based business owners suffering from chronic illness who travel 70% of the year whose spouse works on an oil rig” can have partners. I’m just sayin’.
More often than not, it’s not our external circumstances that keep us single (or worse, unhappily paired up) but our internal makeup and outlook on relationships. Society loves to tell us to fake it til’ we make it. That may work in business or social climbing, but it’s an impossibility to pull off in our intimate relationships.
Here’s the thing: we can’t outrun the truth of who we are. Eventually our ability or inability to successfully navigate a healthy relationship will reveal itself given enough time with a person. If our act isn’t together (or at the very least we’re working hard to get it together), we’ve got a slim to none chance of attracting and keeping a healthy partner in your life. Opposites may initially attract but they ultimately repel. The right woman isn’t going to get you clean from alcohol and drugs. The right man won’t get you to stop pathologically lying. The right “situation” won’t make a person stop cheating.
Newsflash: there is no such thing as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny. And there is no Relationship Fairy Godfather or Godmother waiting to gift broken souls with a kind, giving, honest, and loving partner whose sole mission is to rescue us from ourselves. Sure there are people who will help us through a tough time when we’ve fallen down. But a truly healthy person will only stay in a relationship with another healthy person or someone committed to getting healthy. The only type of “healthy” person who stays with an abusive, or addicted, or chronically unemployed person is a person who is someone who enjoys being viewed as a “martyr”.
The bottom line is that if we want to have a good partner then we must first be a good partner. There are no absolutes in life, but I know this for sure: when we do the work to become a kind, giving, honest, and loving partner, we’ll attract the same in kind. So if you’ve been putting off getting sober, pursuing a career, cleaning up your credit or paying down your debt – STOP putting it off.
As a final note, it goes without saying that if we’re only putting on an act of being “good” that’s not going to cut it. We don’t push ourselves to grow and evolve into more loving and conscious people because we want a nice mate or other positive goodies from the universe. We do better and become better because we know it’s the fulfillment of who we are intended to be.
Sil Lai Abrams is a writer, inspirational speaker, anti-domestic violence activist, Ebony.com’s relationship expert, and author of No More Drama. You can follow her on Twitter: @sil_lai and connect with her on Facebook. Want her advice? Email SilLai@ebony.com to have your love questions answered in a future column!