Why we can’t seem to connect with one another

Alanna* and Michael* met through a social media site as many people do nowadays. Michael initially reached out to Alanna because she had beautiful profile pictures, yet seemed down to earth, hard-working, intelligent and fun. The total package! Although Michael made the first move get to know her, he was a little intimidated going in. She seemed to have it all and he wondered if she was going to be stuck-up, high maintenance or just all-around crazy. Stranger things had happened. They started getting to know each other bit by bit through texting and phone calls. They found out that they had quite a bit in common and even had mutual friends. They were already connected! It was all good. They finally went on a date and it went well. They really hit it off. They were both divorced and had children. They seemed like a good match. They went on a couple more dates and eventually, they slept together. It was incredible and they both felt it. That’s when things came to a screeching halt.

Like any woman, Alanna was left feeling confused and hurt. Their conversations now consisted of him trying to figure out “when you coming over?” There was no more talk of goals, dreams, relationships or fun things to do together. Michael only seemed interested in one thing.

But Alanna remembered the initial conversations that she had with Michael. He was an intelligent, compassionate, sophisticated man who said he was looking for a relationship. Could it be that all he really wanted was sex? At their age? Did he really say all of those things just to get her into bed? Not necessarily.

Here are a few facts:

  • Black people have still not fully recovered from the recession
  • Black people are less likely to get married and when they do, they are 12% more likely to divorce than Whites
  • 1 in 3 Black men have been to jail
  • Black women earn more than twice as many college degrees as Black men

You may ask what all this has to do with dating. And this is certainly not a denigration of the Black male, but it definitely does speak to is an indefinable struggle to make it and connect with each other in a system that has been designed for Black people, particularly Black men to fail. All of that institutional racism is right there on that date with you. It might as well pull up a 3rd chair.

With Michael and Alanna, he was clear about his feelings for her. She was incredible and he knew it. He did want a relationship. He really could see himself with her; having fun, growing together and enjoying life. But, when they slept together and connected in that way, he knew. He knew he was in too deep. Now they had connected on every level and he could feel his heart getting involved. He also knew that he was paying child support to 3 different women. He knew he was working 2 jobs and driving Uber just to make ends meet. He knew his divorce wasn’t finalized and if his estranged wife found out he was in a new relationship, she could make things harder on him.

He knew when he looked in Alanna’s eyes that she deserved it all. He remembered his parents in the 70’s. His father adored his mother and treated her like the queen that she was. He wanted to do that with someone…have that with someone. He simply couldn’t at this time. He felt that he could not give Alanna the treatment that she deserved and was probably accustomed to. He knew that while he wanted to do so much for her, the fact remained that he could barely take care of himself and his children.  Knowing these things made him resentful and withdrawn. He knew his limitations and was not willing to put himself in a vulnerable position by sharing any of these realities with Alanna. He had done that with a woman once before and it hadn’t worked.

So, his dealings with Alanna changed dramatically. He wanted her, knew he deserved to be with her and could make her happy, but he had to resolve so much other stuff in his life before that could become a reality. Besides, would a woman like her really accept all that he had going on? He didn’t think so.

So, while Alanna wondered what was going on with Michael and just chalked it up to his being shallow and single-minded; Michael actually had a hell of a lot of things going on in his mind. But, because sincere, authentic communication is a dying art no matter what color you are, Michael and Alanna simply drifted apart and on to the next. When they did talk, Alanna noticed that Michael seemed short with her. The praise and admiration he once given her had been replaced with sarcastic little digs that seem designed to tear her down. She wondered if he even liked her at all.

This is a common phenomenon with all people, not just men. If you’re not where you want to be in your life or where you thought you’d be, it can cause you to feel insecure, bitter and defensive. When there is something or someone that you want and really don’t believe you can have; on a psychological level, you have to convince yourself that that “thing” is not worth having in the first place. Hence, the dating situation with Black people today. At the core, most Black men want Black women and vice versa, but we all have so many of our defenses up; it’s almost impossible to see the forest for the trees.

How do we fix this? We have to be willing to be vulnerable. We have to be honest with ourselves and each other and tell the truth, no matter what happens. We’ve got to fight for each other and remember the Kings and Queens that we truly are. We have to put each other first and go back to believing that Black is Beautiful and that there is nothing as Sublime and Exquisite as Black Love.

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