I recently read an article in a magazine about the expectations and desires of young Black/African American women on romantic relationships and getting married. Within the article was statistical information from a variety of sources and researchers alluding to the overall desire of more than 50% of the women surveyed for getting married despite the issues they seem to believe are present among the “pool” of available Black men. Some of the issues included: 1. Gender differences in communication styles, 2. The seemingly inability to be monogamous, 3. Social values on gender equality, 4. Social & family pressures towards women to marry, 5. Black men on the DL, and finally….the one that I found most interesting…6. The influence of social media, and its effects on communication between men and women, and how this further hurts the pre-existant challenges associated with the communication styles between genders.
Within the article, was further explanation of how social media and text language, as well as dating website profile misperceptions, twitter and facebook posts, relationship and status updates, and a host of other challenges to overcome. To me, the most interesting challenge discussed were the differences between how men and women communicate and how this leads to communication breakdowns, misunderstandings, and misconceptions about everything from the actual relationship status, to clearly defining what each person in the relationship wants and needs. I believe that what was stated regarding men believing that they can have meaningful conversations and truly “get to know and be known” by women of interests through text messaging, IM, BBS, and other forms of instant messaging as the sole or majority of the communication. Women on the other hand, prefer to communicate less via messaging and more face-to-face and if they have to, over the phone and via video chats for long distances. It would seem to me (although I may be totally biased) that the best way to truly ensure that one is understood and understands the other, is to openly communicate and ask questions regardless of the mode…I do believe that having the opportunity to observe and experience someone in person and in certain surroundings and environments does have a greater influence on one’s perception…simply put, it is more difficult to truly understand and get to know someone if you do not spend any time with them, but if you clarify statements when asked, ask questions when clarification is needed, and are honest with others about yourself, it is not completely impossible.
Call it the romantic in me, but I do think you can date “long distance” and online, or whatever…and still have an actual “relationship”….but it is going to take a vast amount of mutual understanding, expectations, desires. Both people will have to be on the same page, and when doubts and misunderstandings arise, bring them up and settle them in a timely manner.
In the latter part of the article several scenarios and personal stories of dating and relationship disasters were cited by various women who also believe that misunderstandings behind social media and messaging either ruined or significantly hurt their relationships…yet in the end, 71% of the single Black Women surveyed stated that they do still want to get married, except unlike 20 years ago, when the average age women wanted to get married was 25…it is now 30 with 35 being the second average age…so it seems that Black women have not given up, they are just willing to wait longer to find the right person and the right relationship in order to avoid “situationships”.