Open to Love

A month ago, my friends and I read a Huffington Post article, written by Tiffany Onyejiaka, about the difficulties of dating at a PWI (predominantly white institution) as a straight Black woman. The article touched on the struggles of nobody wanting black women, everyone wanting black men, and the common college hookup culture in which people aren’t interested in long-term relationships.  We all felt that the article perfectly captured our experience in college so far. Here we are, surrounded by brilliant, beautiful, black women. And so many of them are single. And so few of them want to be.

Of course, romantic love should not be the measurement of a black woman’s beauty or brilliance. The single black women I know are just as amazing as the ones in relationships. But why aren’t more of the black women interested in dating actually dating? Along with all of the academic opportunities, experiences, and friendships that I am getting in college, dating was something that I would have liked to be a part of my college experience. I can’t speak for the entire population of black women on campus, but my friends feel the same way. The topic of dating seems to come up in our conversations almost daily. Despite the examples of black women on campus who are in relationships, by the end of the conversation, we’re left feeling like dating just won’t be a part of our college experience.  Why does the possibility of graduating from college without having one romantic relationship on campus feel so real?


Could it be us? Maybe our pessimistic outlook on love in college is what is causing what Onyejiaka calls our “perpetual state of singleness”. Maybe we’re not open to love—or any form of romance. But then, what does it mean to be open to love? And how do you show that you’re open to love?  There seems to be a fine line between open and desperate. If I’m open to guys that I wouldn’t normally be open to, I’m settling. If I complain about being single, then my standards are too high. And even if I can figure out what being open to love means to me, how am I supposed to let everyone else know? It’s not exactly something I can just bring up in conversation. Openness can easily be mistaken for desperation. If I’m too friendly, I’m thirsty. I try to play it cool, I seem closed off. How can I win?

It seems that there is no right way to approach dating. I could drive myself crazy trying to walk the fine line between open and desperate. I am tired of questioning who I am—my interactions with men, the way that I present myself, and my beauty. I refuse to allow my relationship status to dictate the quality of my life.

For now, my solution is to stop worrying. I’m choosing to believe that there is a reason for my “perpetual state of singleness”.  I’m choosing to believe that this is the time for me to work on myself, school, and my future. All I can do is live my life, and if love happens to come my way, I’ll be open.



Lela Owens