As a dating and relationship coach, one of the top questions I hear from single women is… “where are all the good men at?!?”  This is especially so true for Black women seeking to date and marry Black men. Well, let me make this real for you my sister…your question is warranted.

Researchers have been digging at this very topic for years, studying trends in Black marriage, etc. and as a doctoral student, I am waist deep in this research.  In doing so, I am finding out some very interesting things that can shed some light on your dating life (or the lack thereof).

For that dreary woman who seems to only meet men who are lower than her ideal, or feel that she doesn’t have a fair share of available men to date, let alone marry, I am here to tell you.  You aren’t crazy.  There is a shortage of “marriageable” black men and here’s why:

Black men incarceration rates:

Currently, there are 2.2 million people who are incarcerated in the United States.  40% of them are African Americans.  Why is this such a large number, it doesn’t seem like the majority.  I am glad you asked.  Overall, the African-American population in the US is only about 17% according to the 2005 US Census data. So statistically if the incarcerated population were to represent the entire population, then you would only have 17% African Americans in jail.  So to have 40% is a huge disproportion in numbers.

Blog Post - Black Men - Jail

Besides, even when released, ex-felons are not as appealing as potential spouses.  Statistics have shown that formerly incarcerated men do not do well economically (and sisters, we know that one of the most qualifying characteristics for a potential spouse is whether or not he has a job and gainfully employed).  Can I get an amen?  So in short, incarcerated men, and ex-felons are often removed from our dating pool of marriageable men.

Interracial Marriage

Interracial marriage is at an all-time high, not just for the black men and their non-black spouses, but for all races.  Some theorists suggest that in a few decades, we will all be mixed, a melting pot of races if we continue with this rate of interracial marriage.

So if interracial marriage is on the rise for everyone,  then what’s the problem?  That’s it, that’s the problem, not everyone is doing it.  Out of every ethnicity and gender combination, Black women are the least reluctant group to date and/or marry outside of their race, in addition to being the lowest ethnicity and gender to expect to marry.  This can be seen as a double negative for our black women.

Blog Post - Black Men - Interracial

I get it, black women want to date black men.  Period.  Trust me I understand, I was that woman. This requirement is so much to the point where Black women are proven to rather date/marry “down than out”.  That means, they will settle for a man with lower socioeconomic status (education and income) than to marry someone outside their race, with equal or higher socioeconomic status.

Meanwhile, our brothers are falling in line with everyone else.  Black men are 2-3 times MORE likely to marry someone of a difference race than black women (consistent with other races). 1 out of 5 middle-class black men will marry inter-racially as compared to only 1 out of 10 black women.  See the problem?  I hate to say this…but at this rate, you may need to add “being down with the swirl” to your goals for 2017.  I’m just saying.

Black Women are Winning in both Education and Income

“I want a man who has a degree, makes at least 6 figures…” followed by 15 other requirements in a mate. However, reality is, black women earn 2x more bachelor’s degrees than black men.  At the graduate level, 2 black women earn degrees to every 1 black man. Postgraduate degrees, 2 to 1.  As far as wages are concerned, although black men still make more money, the wage gap is much smaller than just a decade ago.  Currently, Black women earn 95% of what black men earn.  For example, if the average income of black middle-class men were $100,000, then Black women would earn $95,000.  So for all the boss chicks out there, just know that education rates are decreasing for our men, and salary may not be as important as before. Consider this when you are making that list of must-haves.

Blog Post - Black Men - Education

So let’s put it all in perspective: the normal Black male to Black female ratio is about 7 men to every 10 women.  Taking into account the three factors above, the “marriageable market” is reduced down to 4 men to every 10 women.

Before you completely write me off as the bearer of bad news, let me close with this:

  • No, you aren’t crazy
  • Yes, there is statistically a shortage of our black men (who we consider suitable for marriage)
  • But guess what… you only need ONE! There’s hope!

Research Source:  Ralph Richard Banks, Is Marriage for White People? How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone, New York: Dutton, 2011.