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Friday, March 9, 2012

Building Successful Black Relationships

Relationships, regardless of age, class or race, are not easy. African-American relationships are the same and sometimes even more complicated. All relationships include matters of trust, respect, communication and expectations. We all wonder, "Is this someone I can put my trust in and give my heart to without it getting broken?" What are they looking for? Could he really be Mr. Right, or should I just settle for Mr. Right Now? Can I trust her with my life or is she just fronting? These might be problems that relationships of all races face but they are compounded by certain stereotypes encountered by African-Americans of both genders.
For African-American women, preconceived notions about men begin long before the first date. They even affect the very willingness to look very hard for a soul-mate simply because of the fear of failure. Black women have heard the reports that all the good men are in jail, gay, or looking for white girls. This is simply not the case. Admittedly, the dating pool may be somewhat smaller comparatively, but it is still there and, in general, most Black men would prefer an African-American woman when it comes to settling down.
The other notion is that they will be forced to marry down. To this, there is a kernel of truth. African-American women are more likely to attend college than men, almost 2 to 1. This means to marry there is a good chance that the man might not have a degree. That however, should not be the deciding factor. There are plenty of good, hard-working men that were never able to go to college. It does not mean that they are abusive, on drugs, or in a gang. It does not mean that they are not good men. Would you rather marry a rich philanderer or a poor man who brings home the bacon and is a great father to the kids?
Of course, African-American women can have their negative aspects just like African-American men. Indeed, they can sometimes walk into a relationship with notions of their own that are just as damaging. Some people think of African-American women as gold diggers just looking to marry money. Here again, there are those who fit this description but this is another example of generalization. A good scenario would be for the woman would be if her man-made enough money to make sure the family has its needs covered. It is not always a matter of greed, but they do have a more acute level of need for making sure they are secure. They instinctively realize that in the long-term, children may be involved and they would like to raise them without constantly living under the shadow of debt. The bottom line is not about money per se, but security.
People of all colors and cultures walk into relationships with certain preconceived ideas based on past experiences. These ideas can sometimes prove to be the overbearingly heavy, excess baggage that eventually sinks the new relation-ship. Granted, it is important to learn from previous mistakes. But in order to give the new relationship a chance, why not look at the person themselves. Decide what you really want and look for those characteristics in potential a mate. As both parties walk into a new dating with an open mind, you give each other a much better chance for relationship success.
Dr. Chris Jackson is an author and relationship specialist who speaks at universities, churches and marriage conferences through the country. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife Coreen, and their three sons. He is the author of the Zondervan published, The Black Christian Singles Guide to Dating & Sexuality and creator of The Couple's Game. He has been referenced in Ebony Magazine, Essence Magazine, Gospel Today Magazine among other publications. He may be reached at 615.876.4084 x15 or online at

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