Water is wet, the sky is blue, Fox News is wrong and marriage rates are down while divorce rates are up. Facing these stats, what are our chances of having a healthy committed relationship?  Actually, quite good…in spite of evidence that often says otherwise.

Our men may have a hard time articulating it, or even at times do things that actively work against it, but believe that they want love and to be loved in return just as much as we do…often times more.  Thanks to the drama filled relationships we see play out across the television (shows that we all claim not to watch), I’ve seen that men have an enhanced appreciation for a good woman and commitment.

“Come on Sil Lai, where are your facts? What is your proof? You are just saying this!”

According to the American Community Survey of 2000-2009, it’s true.  Their research found that while 43 percent of Black women have never been married compared to 20 percent of White women aged 18 or older, 75% of Black women aged 35 and older have been married.

Granted, the educational disparity between Black men and women, high incarceration rates, and the lack of supply (The 2000 U.S. Census counted 1.8 million less African American men than women) are all contributing factors to the “Black Female Thunderbolt Phenomenon” (the belief that Sisters are more likely to get struck by lightning than to marry).  It’s a fact that there are less eligible Black men than there are eligible women.  But in spite of this, love for modern men often includes a committed relationship.  Of course, it goes without saying that there are some men (and women) who either don’t want a committed relationship or they’re simply incapable of having one, but that’s another article.  With so many available women, some men may delay marrying or making some other form of relationship commitment.  But delay is the operative word.

Historically Black women have derived their value by what they do for others. Many of us will put our families, our communities, and our man’s needs before our own.  It’s sad but true:  many women have been conditioned to try and earn a man’s love.  We get dolled up in Victoria’s Secret, or take cooking and pole dancing classes in an effort to please our men. But men don’t commit to a woman because of her red bottoms, superior sexual gymnastics skills or being able to make a mac-n-cheese that will knock your socks off.

Contrary to what many of us are led to believe, the true path to our men is not the stomach or several inches below, but rather his heart. A man doesn’t commit because you turn him out sexually.  He doesn’t commit because you fill his stomach.  A man decides to commit to a woman not because of what you DO for him, but because of the entirety of your being.

Intelligent, worldly and financially stable men know that the world is their oyster. They will play the field like any other demographic, but believe it or not this is the group that is the most likely to marry.  So what type of woman is a man more likely to make a commitment?

For one, men love women who love themselves.  Not in a narcissistic way, but in an “I know my value and you better too” kind of way.  Of course, loving yourself doesn’t guarantee that your man will make a commitment.  But not loving yourself will ensure that the man in your life will continue to give you less than you deserve.

Men also love smart women. This doesn’t mean you need to understand the law of comparative advantage. But you do need to understand the law of cause and effect.

Men love, no NEED loyalty.  This by far is the most repeated quality I’ve heard men say.  A man wants a woman who loves him for who he is, not what he can do for her.  He wants to know that your presence is not contingent upon the size of his bank account or other external factors.

Men also love strong women.  Not strong in an “I don’t need a man” or “I will bust your tail” way. But in an in independent, think for yourself, and know how to get things done kind of way.

And finally, men love a woman who knows her worth.  A woman who knows her worth knows that a man has to add value to her life in order him to be in it.  It’s not enough to proclaim yourself a queen.  You’ve got to walk the walk.  Men love women who value themselves.  Think about it: why would someone make cherishing you a priority if you don’t even cherish yourself?

If you find that you’re consistently ending up in relationships with men who won’t make a commitment, it may be time to take a look at how you view men, relationships and yourself.  There is a saying, “As it is above, so it is below. As it is within, so it is without.” Our thoughts largely shape our reality, and if you buy into the belief that men don’t want to commit, you’re not only perpetuating a false stereotype, but you’re also increasing the probability that you won’t ever get a commitment.

The bottom line is this:  If you want a loving committed relationship, start by making a commitment to loving yourself first.  And remember, a man doesn’t commit to a woman because of what she does.  He commits to her because of who she is.

Sil Lai Abrams is EBONY.com’s Relationship Expert and the author of No More Drama: 9 Simple Steps to Transforming a Breakdown into a Breakthrough and a board member of the National Domestic Violence Hotline.  Follow her on Twitter: @sil_lai and connect with her on Facebook. Want Sil Lai’s advice? Email [email protected] to have your love questions answered in a future column!