A Gentleman's Guide





Its that time of year again. In just a few short days almost all of your social media timelines are going to be flooded with pictures and hashtags that, at their very least, remind you of how single you are. There are those who are single within reason. They either lack the desire to be in a committed relationship or have better things to do than to devote their time and energy into anything that’s not going into their bank accounts. And that is okay... However, there will be others who, either after or while scrolling through the Instagram posts of those who have found their love, will find themselves revisting the hardships of dating while black and gay.

Dating within this community can be a challenge, but if it's something you’re really interested in doing then you’ll do it. And it’s really as simple as that. Dating in 2019 can be similar to sifting through endless mounds of garbage, and if you’re lucky you’ll find something that’s salvageable at its best and recyclable at its very least. This doesn’t mean that you have to settle as much as it means that you’ll have to search through the sex monsters, the men who say that they want one thing while really wanting another, and those whose expectations are as unrealistic as a Corey Booker presidential victory-- because that’s not going to be a thing that actually happens in real life.

If you’re like the rest of us, you’ve used your friends as an outlet to vent your frustrations. Chances are these friends, to no fault of their own have indirectly blamed you for the reason you can’t find a Beaux who meets your qualifications. While their intentions are inherently pure in telling you to alter, change or lower your standards, they’re setting you up because your standards are your standards for a reason. And, as challenging as dating can be, a lot of times it doesn’t have anything to do with the pool of Beauxs you have to choose from as much as it does your attitude.


There’s not a soul among us who hasn’t, in some form or another, experienced hurt in a past relationship. Not. A. Single. One. Such, we find it easier to hold on to those past experiences to prevent ourselves from reliving them. We may have forgiven Roger for cheating on us, but we damn sure won’t forget it. We’ve moved on past the physical altercations we used to have with Alex, but we’re determined to never go down that road again because prison is not something we want to experience.  We do our best to navigate the playing field while doing everything we can to avoid revisiting the path of relationships past.


There’s a thin line between being cautious and bitter. Not wanting to end up in the same situation you were in before is cautious, but holding an emotional grudge against every potential Beaux you might encounter is not only the ghetto but qualifies you as being bitter. It happens, trust us, we know, but when it comes to matters of the heart we have to move like time- forward and never backward.

Moving forward means that you leave the hurt and betrayal behind you. Of course, this is a process, but it needs to be completed before you entertain the thought of getting back out there. Progressing from past hurt isn’t something that can be done in a passive manner. You have to create separation from both your former Beaux and all of the negative things you felt (and probably still feel) during the course of the relationship and work on rediscovering who you were before the relationship and focusing on falling in love with that person. Yeah, we know that last part sounds cliche, and hell, it is, but if you do it right it can be fulfilling. Falling in love with the Beaux you were before your last relationships means that you get the chance to get back in the gym, to travel more, spend more time with your friends and to get lost in a bookstore for once.


Bitterness can creep up on you faster than a call from the clinic after a trip to Atlanta for MLK. You’ve got to do your best to remain vigilant because it’s not really a good look and presents itself as an inability to forgive yourself and others, a belief that dating doesn’t, can’t or won’t get any better than it already is, and in overgeneralizing. Someone, somewhere once said that forgiveness isn’t for them, it's for you. We’re not sure who we should credit with saying that but we are sure that it's true. Holding your pee is one thing, but holding onto a grudge against you or someone who’s done you wrong is an entirely different story. Let that shit go. As monolithic as we’d like to make dating, it’s not. Are there Beauxs who will share similar qualities and traits of others you’ve dealt with in the past? Yes. Does this mean that all of these Beauxs share these same qualities? No. Nobody’s going to hold it against you if you dismiss someone at the first sight of a red flag, because that’s exercising caution. However, you don’t want to go in with a half-cocked bullshit detector. Dating certainly gets better, it just takes time and a willingness to explore avenues you might not have considered going down.


This brings us to our next point. We don’t care how high you set your standards, as long as you can offer the same things you’re looking for, there’s no problem. The problem that many face is that they have unrealistic expectations, and they attempt to date beyond their capacity to provide. For example, it is unfathomable to understand why someone who can’t host, is on public transportation and has no job should expect to pull someone with his own place, with his own car, and a good job with health insurance, a 401(k) and a guaranteed monthly bonus. As silly as it sounds there are people out there who date beyond their ranges, and they almost always find themselves confused as to why they’re asking for too much. Don’t be that Beaux.

Changing your attitude towards dating doesn’t mean that you have to change your standards, but it may require you to change your approach. Doing so will allow you the opportunity to decide whether or not you’re emotionally available, something that can only be determined after you’ve gotten over the last relationship you were in. Changing your attitude will give you the opportunity for you to change your approach, which will keep you from jumping to so many damn conclusions about people if part of your current approach is instant suspicion. And lastly, your standards are valid as long as they are within reason. So before you fall victim to the belief that your standards are too high, give yourself some time to reexamine them and make whatever adjustments that you see fit. Just promise us you won’t lower them because that’s not going to be a good look.

Being black and gay is one thing (well, it’s actually two things, but...), but being black gay and bitter is just plain bad. Remember that you deserve the best, and being bitter is not the way to get it. We’ve all experienced and suffered through some pretty shitty relationships, and hopefully, the lessons we’ve learned from those instances serve to propel us forward and not to hold us back. So before you allow yourself to be jaded while scrolling through your Instagram feeds on Valentine's day, remember that nobody likes a bitter betty. Your time for love will come when and if it's supposed to. That time will most likely occur on a random Thursday afternoon while you’re aimlessly meandering through the aisles of your local Duane Reade, unshaven, in sweats and a dirty shirt, but it will come. Our hope is that when your time does come that your black heart is open, and not down.

Jeremy Carter