Relationships » The Trials of An Independent Black Woman

The Trials of An Independent Black Woman

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She has a college degree. Maybe she has two. Her job is professional, and her salary is way above the career-field average. She's healthy, spiritual, super talented, responsible, articulate, a whiz in the kitchen, and sexy as hell. If that's not enough, she's got plenty of money and all the material things she wants. (Unless she's a shoe-freak, then she never has too many of those!)

But strangely enough, she's also single.

Being unmarried and unattached is a common predicament among young Black women. The reason it is categorized as such, is because most women prefer to be in meaningful, healthy relationships. It's not a requirement to survive, but moreso a desire to share love with a significant other.

To understand why being independent is a dilemma for women, and a puzzle for men - read on.

How It Started
Due to the absence of biological fathers, or other male influence in their lives, Black women have been tasked with supporting themselves and sometimes their children, while working jobs, attending school, and maintaining a household. As a direct result of this male disconnect, mothers instinctively raise their daughters to survive on their own. Even when the father, or another father-figure was in the home, Black girls were encouraged to do for themselves and never be placed in a position where they had to depend on a man.

This ideology is only one piece of a dual problem in the single Black community. The other part deals with the perceptions Black men have of the independent woman. We'll get into that later.

For the independent Black woman to understand why it is often difficult to find decent men, she must first observe the reasons why male perceptions of independent women are skewed, and also take note of the roles both women and society play in shaping those perceptions.

Are Men That Intimidated?
You believe they are. It is a strong, distinct feeling possessed by many men, and the underlying behavioral characteristics are not all black and white.

Since men are socially reared to be leaders and "fixers", it is difficult for them to relate to independent women. Men are taught to be rescuers - to find the answers and solve problems. To a man, the independent woman doesn't appear to have any needs or problems, and her self-assurance wouldn't allow her to seek help even if it was required.

Some men identify this as competition, or excessive eagerness. The male psyche often associates these conditions with the independent woman, who seemingly has a desire to take over traditional male roles by being her own provider, fixer, and problem solver. In essence, "If she can do it all herself, she must not need a man."

Men Need To Be Needed
Probably one of the most significant statements women can learn about men. This comment revisits the traditional socialization of males, where it is common for men to feel more comfortable when called upon to perform familiar tasks and play familiar roles. When a woman is able to do those tasks and play those roles herself, a man may feel like an outsider looking in.

This concept is often misunderstood since most men find excessively needy women, a turn-off. There is a rhythmic balance between appreciating a man for the things he can do, and occasionally calling upon him to do them - as opposed to requiring him to constantly cater to a woman's every need. The problems arise when women require nothing, but men naturally expect to give something.

High Expectations
Most independent, successful Black women have high expectations when seeking men, and rightfully so. A lot of energy is required and expended when striving for goals, and women wish to have someone who is equally yoked financially, professionally, and spiritually. This is not only fair, but expected - since most women will not tolerate supporting a man who hasn't matured, or one who is slow in bringing his share to the table.

The detachment between men and women with this concept, arises when a man may not feel strong enough, or accomplished enough, to compete. Being cultured to take on leadership roles, to be in control, and to provide for family - men often feel uncomfortable when their counterparts command higher salaries, or can adequately provide for themselves without help.

This doesn't mean that a woman should refrain from pursuing lofty goals in order to find and keep a man. Part of the balancing act is finding a strong male companion whose maturity and character allows him to accept the woman as an inspiration - instead of seeing her as a threat.

Fixing It
We wish there was a quick-fix, but unfortunately there isn't.

For men, it is crucial to understand that a woman who is highly independent, seemingly needing nothing, actually desires and needs a lot. She doesn't need money, a vehicle, or someone to mow the grass (although she probably wouldn't mind if you volunteered every now and then) - but wishes to have those things she cannot provide for herself - love, respect, adoration, kindness, and companionship.

For women, it is very important to understand and appreciate the natural instincts of men. These human characteristics have been ingrained in men since the days of cave men, who were burdened with hunting, braving the harsh elements, and providing for family. Not only was cave-guy expected to do it, but he enjoyed doing it. Taking care of his family gave a sense of accomplishment, which is one of the greatest achievements a man can experience.

All of this cave talk may sound simplistic, but its significance makes up the core reasons why men have problems accepting powerful women.

Bringing It All Together
In the grand scheme of things, the problems experienced by the independent Black woman lies within the sociological division of work and labor. Men want to be providers, but many women have already provided for themselves. Men seek to supply the answers, while some women have already solved the problems.

The key here - is balance. Both Black men and women must learn to adapt to life's changing roles for both genders. When women are shouting out the fact that they are "independent women", they are essentially telling men, "I don't need anyone in my life to be happy." -- which doesn't translate to, "I wish to be alone."

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