i’ve never met helena andrews, and i most likely never will.
but, after reading “successful, black, and lonely” and watching the corresponding video, i can say that i’ve known, dated, slept with, talked to, discussed, consoled, admonished, sympathized with, and theorized about her my entire adult life.
i also know that her washington post profile will probably spawn a nation-wide discussion about the perpetually single successful black female of the saks fifth serengeti, and that ms andrews and her upcoming memoir (“bitch is the new black”) will be dissected, debated, and dichotomized more times than drake’s appeal.
admittedly, i don’t know exactly why ms. andrews herself is single. her lonely lot could be due to anything from bad choices, bad luck, and bad timing to haughtiness, hopelessness, and halitosis. but, i’ve known enough of her doppelgangers to have a pretty good idea of a few things she might be able to do (or stop doing) to improve her fortune:
i know suggesting that someone change themselves to better their romantic circumstances isn’t the most politically correct thing to say, but i can’t continue to ignore the pink and green elephant with the “she’s (the helena doppelgangers) probably just not attractive enough to the men she’s most attracted to” sticker on his ass that always seems to show up when having this discussion. mind you, this isn’t suggesting that she’s (or any other helena doppelganger) unattractive or undesirable, just maybe not attractive or desirable enough to the type of guys she fancies.
having stringent standards is fine. you can’t tell another person what they should or shouldn’t be attracted to. but if the sticker on the elephant’s ass is true, you’re left with two options
a) wait and hope that one of those men will lower his standards and take a flyer on you
b) find out what kind of women those men are most attracted to and do your best to mimic them (basically do everything lil kim has done since 1996)
2. realize that our grass isn’t that much greener
a latent underlying theme in the successful but single young black woman discussion is that black men with similar “qualifications” have a much, much easier time navigating the dating and relationship game. since the ratio (and nature) is in our favor, we can apparently pick, choose, and discard indiscriminately while black women are passive subjects to our random whims.
while the numbers definitely do favor us, the only ones able to truly take advantage of this imbalance are those in the top 5 to 10% (who’d get what they wanted regardless of the ratio) or those trying to run through and rack up as many different women as possible. for the rest of us, the process of finding an available, attractive, and compatible mate can be just as baffling, confusing, frustrating, disheartening, and even occasionally depressing.
basically, this sh*t is hard as hell for all of us.
mind you, i’m not bringing this up to have a “your woes aren’t as bad as mine” battle with black women. but, knowing that your issue isn’t quite as unique as you think it is does wonders when trying to keep a positive outlook and limit the blame-gaming.
3. date out
to all the sistas who are deeply ambivalent about stepping out and trying “something old”, its really not that serious. if you’re lucky you’ll be on earth for approximately 80 years, and I’d hate for you to spend a good portion of that time sacrificing your own happiness for some romanticized technicolor racial loyalty.
and don’t worry, you can bring him to the barbecue too. we’ll even make him a plate.
4. pay close attention to her
to expound: everybody has at least a couple women in their sphere of influence who are either happily married or seemingly never without multiple desirable suitors. sometimes these women aren’t nearly as attractive on paper as others in their group, but they somehow stay somewhat unaffected by the dating and mating issues plaguing their peers.
instead of clowning them for “losing their identity” and always choosing d*cks over chicks, pay attention to what they’re doing and how the hell they’re consistently able to produce “better” results i mean, if you wanted to be a millionaire you’d probably try to emulate other millionaires, right? how is this any different?
5. remember that you’re not entitled to sh*t
this is an especially hard concept to grasp (for women and men) because we’ve all been schooled that life is by and large an incentive laden meritocracy. if you work hard for four years, you’re (rightly) entitled to degree. if you do your job excessively well, you’re (rightly) entitled to a raise and (maybe) a promotion.
romance, on the other hand, doesn’t work that way. we’re all entitled to and deserving of a modicum of fairness and respect, but no one is entitled to be in a great relationship. its not supposed to happen. if it does? fine. if not, oh well. sh*t happens, and you’re probably not going to be getting any romantic entitlement refund checks in the mail
i know this sounds a bit discouraging, but realizing that you’re not entitled to romantic happiness has a funny way of fighting off the type of faulty (and self-defeating) mindset that could led to you saying something like this…
…and wondering why you’re having dating difficulty.
it always amuses me when women move to ultra-competitive, ultra-cutthroat, ultra superficial, and ultra cold-hearted cities and then are shocked when the dating game there is just as ultra-competitive, ultra-cutthroat, ultra-superficial, and ultra cold-hearted. not everyone is built to live in atlanta or new york or l.a. or d.c., and there’s nothing wrong with admitting that to yourself.
“It’s crazy to me how many women have trouble finding a decent boyfriend, yet they’ll stay in the same city for 10 years. If you were fishing in one section of a river every day, and you never caught anything, would you keep returning to the exact same spot, or would you try your luck somewhere else?”
7. learn the difference between wanting to be in a relationship and being in love with the idea of being in a relationship
when talking to helena doppelgangers about their relationship difficulties, you usually get the sense that they want the perks of a serious coupling (a warm bed, a ring, a date to the company christmas party, an answer to the “why aren’t you dating?” question they’re asked every time their mom calls) but aren’t willing to make the sacrifices needed to get there. so, even if they happen to meet their prince idris, they wouldn’t be ready for it at all.
plus, relationship minded men (and women) have a tendency to be attracted and drawn to who’s actually down instead of who’s just looking for a suitable mate so they can finally cross it off of their to-do lists
usually this is where i’d end the entry with some snarky summary or concluding series of questions, but i have to say that reading and writing about helena andrews has produced a bit more ambivalence than i anticipated, and i’m not sure exactly how to wrap this up.
maybe my ambivalence is just me reaching the point of “why successful black women are single” discussion fatigue. maybe she reminds me of too many of my friends to just be cool with offering the type of unaffected didactic advice/criticism/snark i’m used to, or maybe the fact that i didn’t even acknowledge the possibly of a 10,000 pound “she’s single because we (black men) need to step our games up” elephant standing in the room says more than this 1,300 word entry.
i do know that if “bitch is the new black“, “bitching about bitchy black women” is definitely the new crack, and i think its time for us to find a way to kick this addiction.