On Being Mary Jane and the intimacies of single black women

I love the idea of Being Mary Jane, but I’m annoyed, too.

There are about 4 million viewers of the show. BET is boasting that it’s the #1 show on Tuesday nights — surprise! — among my demographic: All the single black ladies. If you haven’t been watching because you’re not one of the 55 percent of African-American  unmarried women in America, #BeingMaryJane trends globally on Twitter during every new episode.

Like a lot of scripted (and unscripted) dramas featuring single black women, while the show’s creators point out that Mary Jane doesn’t represent all of the single women mentioned above, there’s such a dearth of single black female characters on television whose love lives are a significant part of their narratives that it’s refreshing to see a show offer that.

I really miss the other one, Olivia Pope. Pope, played by Kerry Washington, is the lead in Scandal. The ABC hit show is based on a real-life problem solver inside the Beltway. Her power and stylishness is what makes Pope iconic, but her Achilles heel is the small problem of the fact that she’s in love with the very married President of the United States and his dreamy compadre. (Please read: Is Olivia Pope the New Sally Hemings? for a little insight into why this seems a little far-fetched and hard to digest for black women.)

Anyway, ‘Scandal’ isn’t back until late February. I figured I’d check out Being Mary Jane to fill in the big gaping void.

I don’t think it’s working.

So, both characters offer uncommon and refreshingly humane portraits of unmarried black women who are generally stereotyped as martyrs or hood rats and very rarely viewed as anything in between. Good on you, television, for trying to give us life.  Enuma Okoro writes at the Atlantic, “Comparing Being Mary Jane to Scandal obscures one of the great strengths of Gabrielle Union’s new series: the relatability of its protagonist. Part of the brilliance behind Brock Akil’s work is that she uses a black lead character and a primarily black cast to appeal to women of all races.”

Does this about sum it up?

It’s a good effort. Better than good. I’m not optimistic about a wildly diverse audience for the show, though.

I watched the movie before the premiere earlier this month because I was intrigued by all the trailers showing Gabrielle Union submerging in a sea/bathtub littered with quotes on Post-Its, which I am fond of writing inspirational quotes on myself. The movie was good. For Gabrielle Union, who hasn’t had roles with the most, um…gravitas…in the past, it’s fantastic.

In the movie, we first meet Mary Jane baking at two in the morning. We rarely view black women doing domestic work for personal comfort in popular culture (looking at you, The Help), so as unlikely as it might be, it’s still nice to see. Her drunk boo, Andre (the excessively fine Omari Hardwick) arrives unexpectedly and cajoles her convincingly enough that she sweeps all her single lady things under her bed, empty wine glass and all.

She discovers Andre is married when she steps on his wedding ring accidentally. She responds by assaulting him with a steady stream of garden hose water. I don’t know if I squealed from pain watching this or glee? I couldn’t imagine this ending well in real life, I guess, so maybe it was a mixture of both.

Things with her family and at work are not any less messy. Mary Jane’s mother calls her all the time to vent, usually when MJ is at work. This is reminiscent of Whitney Houston’s character in Waiting to Exhale in almost every way, but in MJ’s case, the whole family follows suit. Her older brother seems to show up in every scene asking for money. Her little brother flips signs and sells weed for cash. Her niece is pregnant. She tries to get some retail therapy by buying incredibly expensive and fugly shoes, only to run into Andre and his wife, whom she later confronts at the pet store.

Yes, that’s what I wrote. Mary Jane goes to the pet store where Andre’s wife is buying kitty litter for her bereft friend and corners her. Since the one unmarried black woman everyone on the planet knows is Oprah, it’s not surprising that her name comes up. Andre’s wife immediately recognizes MJ from TV and tells her that she’s brought her so much comfort, especially after the talk show queen’s show went off the air. Mary Jane responds by saying, “Did you know I’m sleeping with your husband?”

Oh. Is *that* how that works?

Fast forward to MJ having an emotional night — she was baking a cake for her niece’s baby shower and had a nervous breakdown over a cute baby commercial. She has successfully delivered a story about women stealing sperm in what she calls the “rapey Africa story.” Mary Jane proceeds to steal and store the sperm of David, an ex that she has been labeled “Never Answer” in her iPhone.

Look, if she can’t bother to change the man’s name in her phone or actually meet him for dinner right after she said she would, does she really care enough about him to keep his sperm in a baking soda box in her freezer?

Proof there is a God.

At a party at her house where there are strippers (just because) when everyone is drunkenly confessing their dirt, she busts out the frozen sperm she stole instead of confessing that she’s been doing it with a married man. When she texts him later in what must have been the thirstiest string of texts in modern television, he doesn’t answer because after having an explicit conversation with his wife about why they’re divorcing — along the lines of: “No one likes to put a dick in their mouth first thing in the morning” — these two end up having make up sex.

Anyway, it’s nice that Mary Jane leans away from the Tyler Perry-model of shrill, psychotic and materialistic black women with standards that are too high and unrealistic, but she’s not that far away from that archetype. When she’s working, for instance, and tells David “Never Answer” she can’t go out, she calls him back two hours later to see if he can come over now that she’s finished working. She has a nonsensical hissy fit when she learns that he’s headed out on a date with someone else and she lies to him about Andre.

It’s the desperation that irritates me. That in every other area of a black woman character’s life she is together and in control and measured, but when it comes to intimacy, romance and love, she loses will power and totally becomes undone. [For a better and fuller explanation of popular culture narratives about single black women and how they are damaging in real life, I recommend Ralph Richard Banks’ book, Is Marriage for White People? I wrote a review of it here. You can buy it here.]

At least with Pope, we see her make an effort to date a man who is available, she just backslides (like all the way back through history) regularly. With Mary Jane, we continue to see the message that black women are content to be sloppy seconds no matter how successful we are — because our loneliness is so deep and broad that it makes us morally corrupt and reckless like nothing else.

On one hand, this resonates. On the other, I don’t watch TV for a mirror or a reminder as much as for fantasy and inspiration. So to see Mary Jane as eviscerating and judgmental with everyone but herself is painful, even if it’s glossy and there’s lots of eye candy.

I might just wait for Scandal to come back on. Have you been watching Being Mary Jane? What do you think?

Fascinating stories about singles from 2013

I really meant to post this list a little earlier but I moved across country, celebrated that and the holidays with friends and family and as my birthday approaches, a big ‘ol snowstorm has arrived. You guys are my Internet-equivalent of a #winterboo, so I thought I’d say a merry/happy belated Goodbye-to-All-That, 2013 with this mini-list.

Anne Lamott on her year at Match.com: “You could say that my year on Match was not successful, since I’m still single, have been reduced to recycling my Starbucks companions, and am pleased with ‘pleasant.’ To have gone out so many times took almost everything I had, and then I didn’t even meet the right man. You start to wonder if there’s something wrong with you. Nah.”

One of the best reported and most illuminating stories was written by the founders of Onely.org at the Atlantic on the high costs of being single.

I just watched this wonderful video Op-Ed from The New York Times via Upworthy (h/t Natalie Tindall).

If you love videos, this sweet one I first saw at Love, InshAllah is great.

It’s also almost the anniversary of the publication of my ebook, Single & Happy. I had a feeling eventually someone would ask me about the white lady legs on the cover, but I thought I was just being neurotic and should let it go. Then, I wrote this.

And this commenter (as commenters sometimes will) wrote the question that I had been waiting a year for:

On the book cover the photographed legs look like those of a white woman? Why would you do that? Black woman are so beautiful!!

Yes. We are. We are so beautiful!

And whenever we write something that connects what happens to us to broader womanhood or humanity, it is categorized on the African American shelf or in the ethnic studies category. Nothing wrong with that. But I wanted to reach single people generally. Even so, I, too, winced a little when I got the design back and wondered who would ask me about the white lady legs (my brother said it just the way I thought it months ago.) I hoped that the main point of the book — which is only partly about race and a rhetorical, sustained assault on single black women from a particular era (that thankfully seems to have slowed) but mostly about fighting a stigma that impacts women of all races — wouldn’t get missed by picking a pair of legs that looked just like mine. It is my story, too, but it’s also the story of a lot of single men and women.

At least that’s what I was trying for. I might not have been successful. But 2014 is a new year. I’m working on some other books. I’ll keep you posted. Happy New Year!

Is Loneliness Lethal?

Hey, if you’re not depressed enough about being single, just remember that loneliness can kill you. You’re welcome:

Psychobiologists can now show that loneliness sends misleading hormonal signals, rejiggers the molecules on genes that govern behavior, and wrenches a slew of other systems out of whack. They have proved that long-lasting loneliness not only makes you sick; it can kill you. Emotional isolation is ranked as high a risk factor for mortality as smoking. A partial list of the physical diseases thought to be caused or exacerbated by loneliness would include Alzheimer’s, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and even cancer—tumors can metastasize faster in lonely people.

I used to get lonely a lot, but over the years, I’ve been really amazed at the great, wide community out there that wraps me up in loving support,  even when I try to push people away (consciously or without thinking about it until after they’ve gone.)

The great thing about being single is that you get to decide how you respond to external pressure to be in a relationship, to raise a kid on your own or with a partner that nobody approves of or likes, or even just get a pet and make that the center of your world. (Shout out to Cleo, who turns 12 this year.) Anyway, I was reading this book, No Kidding: Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood, a few months ago. Most of the writers, like Margaret Cho, are comedians.  They say a lot of what I’ve written about before when complaining about the ways that coupled people and some uncoupled ones expect that any person presenting as a woman in the world explain their childlessness. Motherhood is still considered a prerequisite for performing real womanhood and women are not treated as such without a lot of drama if they don’t express ongoing maternal yearnings, desire or commitment.

Back when I was working in an office again, a co-worker who has a grown son noticed the cover. She mentioned a couple of other stories about single women, presumably like me, who are much older. One of them had a hellion of a kid even though she didn’t actually want to have any kids because 1) it was what women did in her day and 2) She was thinking about who would take care of her when she got old. I should have left my co-worker’s office. But she was actually standing in my cubicle, I think, which is why I didn’t interrupt the flow of conversation.

As much as I love other people’s kids — and truly, I do — I think having a child with the expectation that said kid will grow up and make sure to escort you to the best assisted living facility when you can longer fend for yourself is not a good enough reason to get preggers. Also, I don’t think merging with another soul in the expectation that you can care for one another into your later years is a good idea, either. We should like each other enough to want to make sure we both survive. That isn’t a given. And it is very, very hard for me to imagine that kind of long-term tolerance. Or maybe it’s that the joy of it, the possibility of the joy of it, keeps me from being lonely.

But I mention all of this to say that loneliness is killer for me as a single woman because at the heart of any panic I ever feel about being single is the belief that I might die lonely. While I’m being maudlin, notice that I didn’t say I would die alone — we all will — or that I would die of a broken heart (that’s my early aspiring romance novelist peeking her head out to say what up.)

Loneliness, after all, is the want of intimacy. Single is not synonymous with loneliness, we know. The faces of the lonely look a little like…well, my people, except loneliness research puts me on the winning side of things, I suppose:

Who are the lonely? They’re the outsiders: not just the elderly, but also the poor, the bullied, the different. Surveys confirm that people who feel discriminated against are more likely to feel lonely than those who don’t, even when they don’t fall into the categories above. Women are lonelier than men (though unmarried men are lonelier than unmarried women). African Americans are lonelier than whites (though single African American women are less lonely than Hispanic and white women). The less educated are lonelier than the better educated. The unemployed and the retired are lonelier than the employed.

Being connected is work. It is as much work, if not more, than being in a relationship. It feels like asserting yourself on the world in order to create a legacy that is not about being sad because you’re not 1/2 of a couple but instead about transforming your relationship to the world (or worlds) that you operate in. It makes me sleepy and sometimes cranky and moody, but the flip side is a reward. It takes loneliness away.

I was all about showing up for my boxing instructor, for instance, one Saturday, but I was tired and felt like flaking almost from the minute we stepped inside a glass-blowing studio (yes!) where she was giving free instruction. A little girl changed my whole attitude, though. She was just full of energy, her parents beaming, her brother off hanging out with the dog and eating something cold that I craved. She picked me as her partner to practice throwing punches, and I was so proud, even though she almost punched me in the face. For weeks afterward, I would run into her mother, and she would tell me about how this little girl who doesn’t know me, loved boxing with me. Weeks turned into months. Now me and her mom are good buddies.

It was great to be able to show up for her daughter without expectation and to make a connection that took me out of thinking about the future, or worrying about who will care for me when I’m old, if I get to be an old lady. Part of making sure I stay around long enough for that to even be a problem comes down to connecting in the moment, as much as I can, as much intimacy as I can stand. The question of how much intimacy one can stand (or, actually, I can stand) is probably a longer discussion.

Singles in the News: What if you die alone? What is singlism? Single black men want commitment more than black women?

I was surprised by this one: So Single Black Men Want Commitment. Really?

We recently found that single black men were much more likely to say they were looking for a long-term relationship (43 percent) compared to single black women (25 percent).

Those numbers come from our ‘ views of their lives and communities (the poll was conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health). Our findings about the dating lives of single folks — that is, respondents 18-49, widowed, divorced, or never married — have sparked the most conversation so far.

And the gender skew has elicited straight-out side-eyes.

Right. Fans of this blog know that I have written a lot about the odd politics of interracial dating for black women and the overabundance of stories about how women’s achievement (black women’s achievement, in particular) is keeping the number of women who are single high. “Maybe the truth really is that lots of black men really do want to get boo’ed up while lots of black women are ambivalent,” my friend Gene wrote.

Well, maybe. I’m dating again. We’ll see how it goes. I have a good feeling about it! So, something more positive than ambivalent, for me, at least.

That reminds me of this article I read and am still processing, “Life Without Sex“:

Are you single, married, engaged, “it’s complicated”? Are you straight, gay, a lesbian? All of these categories suggest sexual activity, which somehow reassures us. You are doing something.

But I don’t think that’s our true life and rhythm. We are not machines. Nothing is so tidy about our sex lives. We are very alone in how we dream. We are not making love as easily as we boast we are. And when we are making love, it is not always enjoyable.

Here are some other articles I liked about the single life (and a couple about introverts because…those are my people):

Who benefits from modern-day monogamy?

Ridding the stigma of being single

Living Single, Dying Alone: Our (Un)Social Network at theHotness

10 Myths About Introverts 

How to Live with Introverts (A Helpful Chart)

On Single Parents and Respect

The season of parental celebrations is coming.

After a crazy March, I glanced up from my car to see that Mother’s Day was coming.

I wrote last year about my first season without parents and what it felt like to be without my Mom and my Dad for the first time. My loved ones told me that anniversaries would be hard and oddly enough, that helped. The twinge I get now isn’t really about what I’m missing — it was before, when they were alive. Now I feel something more like…love. Respect. Honor.

I stay out of discussions about single mothers and parents. I actively chose not to be a single teenage parent, which I write about in Get Out of My Crotch. This is not because I felt ashamed, per se, of growing up the way I did and mistaking sex for love or a way to feel worthy, but because I watched how hard my mother’s life was as a single parent, and I knew that I wasn’t up for the task.

There was also the fear, of course, of being a statistic. This is both the artist in me, the creative, who wants to be fully seen and acknowledged as unique and the black woman intellectual in me, who understands that what and who I am on the outside is always judged first as the total of what I am on the inside — even if it is incomplete or flat-out wrong.

But underneath the fear of being a statistic, which I am as a single, professional woman anyway, is the desire to belong to a community. To be single, parent or no, is often to be cast aside and cast away, the stubborn avatar of independence, failure to launch by failure to merge, somehow. And for women, this failure is always depicted as our own problem, our defect.

My Mom, some time in the 1970s. Working it.

My Mom, some time in the 1970s. Working it.

If you’re a single mother, especially if you’re not white, this shaming can be relentless and unceasing. Even though it makes perfect economic sense that fewer women are getting married because there are diminishing returns for many of us on that front.

My friend, the lovely writer and Beyond Baby Mamas founder Stacia L. Brown, wrote recently at The Atlantic about how unwed mothers feel about being unwed, noting that when statistics come out about single mothers, people tend to talk around them instead of to them about their feelings.

As the child of a single mother, I remember this acutely. No one ever asked my mother about her feelings. If they had, they’d have found nuances that didn’t match their disrespectful portraits: she had internalized enough heart breaks that she hid her deepest self, even from me. She was a registered Republican in New York State (!) during the Reagan era, even while we were in the cross hairs of Reagan’s draconian policies related to the poor.

What I wish I had known then, when I was internalizing messages that I was a part of a larger social problem because I had a single mother who worked and went to school all the time, trying to be better, was that pretty much everyone grows up in one form of dysfunction or another. Steven Spielberg spoke powerfully about this on 60 Minutes, memoirist Mary Karr writes extensively about this in The Liar’s Club, which I just finished, and the list goes on. Pathology is not just a single black woman’s thing.

Except, when people start talking about women who are mothers who aren’t married, they are inferring that these are unfit women. They don’t respect them. They suggest that it is somehow, defying reason, the easiest thing in the world to raise a child alone, when in fact, it appears to be the hardest job on the planet.

Consternation over our parenting of our children, it has to be said, is a coded way (in the same way that arguments about single black women is) of saying that without “proper course-correcting” we don’t have the instincts God gave us to be good women, caregivers or anything else without the help of the state, the government, smart people and, basically, men. Jim Rigby, an eloquent pastor,  writing about the death of Chinua Achebe, notes that we are all victims of the narrative of the American Empire:

It is not our fault that we were born in a vast and brutal military empire, but it is our responsibility to do what we can to lessen the violence of empire against our sisters and brothers of the earth. It begins when we can recognize their humanity. We may not have the answer on how to undo the violence of empire but, at the very least, we can get our minds and hearts free.

We are all always just doing the best that we can. My deep affection and longing for my mother, in spite of our history together, is entrenched in honor. I honor her for what she had to give, even when it wasn’t exactly all that I needed, or even close.

It’s very rare that someone is just mailing it in when it comes to their children, in particular, I’ve noticed. Even my own mother, who was divorced by the time she had me, had a lot of flaws, but all things considered, I turned out pretty great, albeit with a few bruises and existential identity issues.

How is it possible that the world keeps spinning and children somehow magically grow up to unwed mothers without being maladjusted soul-sucking malcontents?

Well, single parents are incredibly resourceful human beings — the children they love and adore require that. What my mother, the most resourceful person I ever met in the pre-Internet era and since, didn’t know how to give me she found someone who could. The village raised me, even in places completely unfriendly, if not downright hostile, to kids, like New York City. This was a coalition of friends, relatives and mentors. A multiracial cast of people who provided much more to me than my biological father would ever be able to offer me.

Beyond that, what I find fascinating about discussions about single mothers, particularly those who aren’t necessarily highly educated or high earners, is that few writers and reporters interrogate their own assumptions about “the right way” to raise children, whether they have them or not. In Daring Greatly, another book I just finished, by Brene Brown, she writes that one of the most harmful things parents can do is judge other parents for how they raise their children.

It seems to me that the last thing single mothers and single fathers (the latter of which are almost entirely invisible in any debate — do they not exist?) need is hand wringing over the economic ramifications of their personal choices or the insinuation, essentially, that the rest of us have to pay for what we also insinuate are their careless mistakes. I was made intentionally, loved with a greater intensity than most kids can ever hope for and while I could have had more stability, and life would have been different with a father in the home, there’s no telling if it would have been better. Conjecture that promises a narrative that isn’t true isn’t an answer, and it doesn’t change the course of personal lives.

Singles in the News: Getting Branded, Online Dating (also) sucks for Men and the problem with Leaning In

“Maybe a woman has a child without being married; maybe a woman gets married, has children, and then divorces; maybe a woman marries and Mother Nature cheats her out of motherhood.  But all of these women got on  base: only the single, never married, childless woman is like the batter who just never hit the ball or got on base – no marriage, strike one; no relationship, strike two; no kids: strike three.  She’s out – outcast from the community of ‘The Family.'” — Diane Torre, The Scarlet Letter S, at Psychology Today.

“Single women – with and without kids – have special challenges in their work lives that most married women do not. They have no spousal salary as a back-up plan. In some ways, they need greater opportunities and protections, but they get fewer. If, for example, a married woman becomes ill and her spouse has a job covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, that spouse can take time off under the Act to care for her. No peer in the life of a single woman (such as a close friend or a sibling) can take time to care for her.” — Dr. Bella DePaulo, Is the Lean-In Conversation Going to Leave Out Single Women? at her Single at Heart blog

“I tell all my single guy friends to watch out for online dating. It is a sad, soul-crushing place where good guys go to die a slow death by way of ignored messages and empty inboxes. You will peruse profiles and find a few women who aren’t posing in a bathroom with their stomachs exposed. You will look for things in common in their profile (they like Scrabble too!). You will send them a note, carefully crafted to show interest and attention to detail. The first seven will not respond. The next one will, but she spells “you” as “u” and you will let the conversation stall.” — Why Online Dating Sucks for Men at AlterNet (reposted from Role Reboot)

Singles in the News: Online dating is ruining our lives and…Are we all sluts now?

The Atlantic makes my life seem hard, but it’s all math and not personal.

“While us men have been taking a browbeating for the past several decades, things are looking up! Those of us who have “made it” have our pick of the litter.” — a commenter on the article, The Worst Cities for College-Educated Women Trying to Find a Decent Date.

Runner up for my favorite comment: “So non college educated men are indecent?”

*Paging Olivia Pope*

“Ashley Madison—the website bearing the tagline “Life is Short. Have an Affair”—has released its ranking of the top 10 US cities for cheaters. It drew its conclusions from its own subscriber base, looking at which cities had the most registered users and, based on its population, the highest per capita membership. The, er, winner? Washington, DC, is king when it comes to would-be adulterers, with some 37,943 registered users and the highest per capita stats—and 30 new subscribers per day, reports the Post.” — The Best City for Cheaters is…Washington, D.C.

There are two Texas cities on this list, but thankfully, Austin is not in the top 10.

But 93% of us would marry for love.

“What are the advantages of marriage? According to the public, it is easier for a married person than a single person to raise a family (77% say so). But in other realms of life asked about in the 2010 Pew Research survey, most people do not think either married or single people have an easier time of it. In fact, about half or more think there is no difference between being married or single in the ease of having a fulfilling sex life, being financially secure, finding happiness, getting ahead in a career or having social status.” – Love and Marriage, Pew Social & Demographic Trends 

In other words, there is no rest for the weary.

So many choices nobody dates in real life anymore.

“The positive aspects of online dating are clear: the Internet makes it easier for single people to meet other single people with whom they might be compatible, raising the bar for what they consider a good relationship. But what if online dating makes it too easy to meet someone new? What if it raises the bar for a good relationship too high? What if the prospect of finding an ever-more-compatible mate with the click of a mouse means a future of relationship instability, in which we keep chasing the elusive rabbit around the dating track?” A Million First Dates: How online romance is threatening monogamy, by Dan Slater at the Atlantic

You have read some of my thoughts on my own personal disaster with online dating. I think it’s important to mention here, as I have elsewhere, that online dating for black women sucks the hardest and is the biggest waste of time. There is research to back up my personal claims: UC Berkeley found that black women had the hardest time finding a mate online, since men essentially exclude black women from their choices, regardless of their race. OKCupid changed my life with their data showing that black women are often ignored, basically, in online dating.

I mention these links, facts and statistics mostly to point out that I have never found it “too easy” to meet someone new. And I think most women would agree with me. I know a dozen black women who would also agree with me. But as Ta-Nehisi Coates writes, black people who want to date online aren’t necessarily going to OKCupid anyway — it’s just us interracial inclined women, apparently.

Anyway, I think that there’s some truth in this article, and I’m curious about Dan Slater’s book. I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

“Have I been using that word (slut) wrong this whole time?”

“Not that I’m a prude, I’ve got enough Cinemax-quality bedtime stories to keep me warm well into my dotage, but is there really no difference between being a self-aware woman making healthy sexual decisions on her own terms and being a big slutty slut?” – So We’re All Sluts Now? by my dear After Plumcake

I can’t even find the best smarty pants thing to say about her post, because it’s fantastic.

Singles in the News: China’s New Bachelor Class, online coparenting dating and loving Valentine’s Day when you’re single

And…Happy New Year, btw!

“These young males are known as “bare branches,” trees without leaves, involuntary bachelors demographically destined to a life without a wife or child. An estimated 40 to 50 million bare branches are scattered around the nation, and according to Quanbao Jiang and Jesús Sánchez-Barricarte, authors of the article “Bride Price in China: The Obstacle to ‘Bare Branches’ Seeking Marriage,” they tend to be concentrated in rural or poverty-stricken areas…Now, an estimated 12 to 15 percent of Chinese men — a population nearly the size of Texas — will be unable to find a mate within the next seven years.” – China’s New Bachelor Class, via The Atlantic

Online dating for single parents who want to co-parent…

“While some people have chosen to be a single parent, many more people look at scheduling and the financial pressures and the lack of an emotional partner and decide that single parenting is too daunting and wouldn’t be good for them or the child,” said Darren Spedale, 38, the founder of Family by Design, a free parenting partnership site officially introduced in early January. “If you can share the support and the ups and downs with someone, it makes it a much more interesting parenting option.” – New York Times, Seeking to Reproduce Without a Romantic Partnership

I will not do the dance that looks like someone is dancing with me. (You KNOW the one.)

“What happens this time of year is just a manifestation of all the couple-focused things that happen year-round. Single women are left out of the narrative of romantic love, discarded like half-eaten chocolate. But we don’t have to leave ourselves out of the story, and we don’t have to internalize any of the bull that suggests that we are less than worthy just because we’re not in relationships – either because it’s not time yet, or we’re not ready, or the ones we hope to find and love one day are not yet ready for us. It is always possible to write another story, another romantic narrative, one about loving yourself deeply and truly and in a way that only you can.” – My guest post at the Indie Chicks, Learning to Love Valentine’s Day When You’re Single.

(The party is Valentine’s Day night — see you after the weekend! https://www.facebook.com/events/475502379153522/)

Singles in the News: When dating is like The Hunger Games, good teeth and the Manhattan Myth

Can I haz a mate who writes good?

“Among the “must haves,” women want respect and men want someone in whom to trust and confide; both rate a sense of humor as key qualities for a partner. When judging a potential date, both men and women rate teeth at the top, followed by grammar. The online survey of 5,481 individuals was conducted by MarketTools Inc. for the Dallas-based dating website Match.com.” – USAToday covers a survey looking at what singles want. (Check out the infographics…funny women win!)

Live anywhere else and you lose:

“Television would have us believe that, in order to lead independent and successful lives, we must live in New York City.” — Bitch Magazine’s blog, “TV’s Manhattan Myth: Do Single Women Have to Live in New York to be Successful?

Dating in your thirties is just like The Hunger Games, Amirite?!

“It’s not like I don’t ever date. But as you get older, there are longer spells in between dates. My perception—and that of my many thirtysomething, unattached girlfriends—is there’s a run on single men our age.” — from an essay in TimeOut Chicago. May the odds be ever in your favor, honey.

We’re good. You saw him first. Excelsior.

Singles in the News: Baby Mamas, Bachelors in politics and Single woman writers

Finally. Publishing in January 2013.

On Sale until Feb. 14.

Bella DePaulo, Queen of Singles, called my book, “A story of single life you haven’t heard before.” And Ezra, one of my most thoughtful commenters, posted a review on Goodreads saying that my stories of single life were “a better, maturer different.” I hope that you’ll get a copy for half off between now and Valentine’s Day. You can buy the book here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/270861 and to get $2.50 off, use the coupon code GM36A.

Did I mention there’s a party? There’s a Singles Party to celebrate the publication of the book. Feb. 14th. You can pay what you like at the door, but if you can pay in advance on Eventbrite: I’ll send you a copy of the book: http://singlespartyaustin2013.eventbrite.com/

So, now that I’ve said that, I’ve noticed as Bella DePaulo has noted (can you tell I’m a fan?) there’s been more positive coverage of singles in recent years. “Increasingly,” she wrote in a Psychology Today post, “Singles are getting some love and some respect!” It’s true. It also means I can’t always keep up with all the love singles get in individual posts. But I love digests, so I thought I’d start one.

OK, this isn’t exactly a love note to singles, but: “A gay president in a committed relationship will still be more comfortable for many people than someone who stays single.” That was the kicker quote in a story at The Root about bachelors (Cory Booker, haaay!)  who might be running for president in 2016.

From the “Amen, sister” files: “If you are a single woman writer, you live a unique, complicated reality. You may desire companionship, but you also desire to write. These are sometimes conflicting needs.” – Deonna Kelli on the challenges of being a single woman writer at Love InshAllah.

I go back and forth on whether or not we should write what we know. I know secondhand some of the challenges related to being a single parent, because I was raised by one. But I wrote about the All My Babies’ Mamas drama for the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. Basically: Most media we see portrays black mothers as single stereotypical ones, even when they’re not. Which is just weird. It was a joy to talk to other smart black women for the piece, including one of my favorites, Stacia L. Brown at Beyond Baby Mamas.

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