Is Dating Different for Black Women?

by Alisha Tillery

The microscope is still on the landscape of black women’s romantic relationships, but at least the zoom function isn’t on. Since national media broke the false news that we’re desperate, unwanted, and destined to be eternally single a few years ago, we’ve taken matters into our own hands, broadening our horizons when it comes to men and even giving in to our own outlandish standards we’ve set for them.

In all the talk about securing a commitment from a man, marrying him and birthing his babies, we have yet to begin at the starting point: dating. A friend initiated a fiery debate about dating recently, insisting that black women shouldn’t date more than one man at one time. She lessens her chances of commitment because no man is going to deal with a woman who’s spending time with other men, especially if she’s sleeping with him. When I gave my rebuttal that dating doesn’t equate to sex, he shot back that “perception is reality.” Oh.

Before you reach through your computer screen to strangle the messenger, let’s address the most important issue first. What is dating exactly?

It seems that everyone acts (and feels) according to their own contrived definition. Some believe that dating involves outings together specifically for the purpose of getting to know each other. To others, it means two people have sex on a consistent basis. When a person says they used to “date” someone, what do they really mean? The old faithful, Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, defines dating as going out with someone in whom one is romantically or sexually interested.” Wikipedia calls it a “form of courtship, and may include any social activity undertaken by, typically, two persons with the aim of each assessing the other’s suitability as a partner in an intimate relationship or as a spouse. …”

Aha! The latter definition implies that you assess suitability before you engage in an intimate relationship. Apparently, some of us have had the game all wrong.

Assuming we all do actually date according to that definition, why can’t black women go out with a number of guys at one time without judgment? It’s perfectly normal for our white counterparts to go out with a different guy daily until they find the one they like the most, and they aren’t shunned. In fact, they’re encouraged to do so.

Jessica Massa, author of The Gaggle, says women should get a “gaggle of men” to figure out what and who we want. Her website, which is being praised by mainstream media and critics, defines a gaggle as “the select group of guys in your life – many of whom you are not explicitly romantically involved with – who play different roles, fulfill different needs, and help you to figure out who you are, what you want, and what kind of relationship you ultimately desire.” There’s the Ex-Boyfriend Who Is Still Around (we all have one, right?), the Boyfriend Prospect, the Accessory and so on.

Whether you agree with the “gaggle” idea or not, the fact that it’s now a mainstream school of thought suggests that dating several men is acceptable, especially for white women.

Thinking about my friend’s views on women dating multiple men, I wonder a few things. Would we be seen as whores if we were to date even a 1/3 of the “gaggle”? Are we black women expected to limit ourselves in dating for fear that we won’t be accepted by a prospective suitor, forced to “put all of our eggs in one basket”? That’s absurd and unfair, and yes, I’m well aware of the infamous double standard between men and women. To add insult to injury though, there seems to be an unspoken double standard between black women and white women imposed by black men. I think Jay summed it up best when he asked, “Can I live?”

Regardless of perception or judgment, many of us are doing it already. For those who prefer to date a gaggle of men, it’s probably good advice to be up front with your dates and even discuss what each of you define as dating to save hurt feelings and egos. Dating should be fun (so they say). And if he doesn’t like your approach, you could simply not give a damn and keep it moving. Life is about choices, right?

Do you think there’s a double standard between black and white women in dating?

  • Yvette

    Ridiculous. Women of all races should date as many men as they want.

  • Ask_ME

    NO dating is not different for black women. People with their own agenda (i.e., faux black relationship experts) would like to make it different, but the truth is it’s not different.

    Black women should date as many men as they want. I personally would suggest tasting different races of men while you’re playing the field. Unless you’ve agreed to exclusively date someone you don’t owe anyone, or any group, exclusive access to you.

  • Ms. Information

    Yes, dating IS different………a great number of black men are incarcerated, unemployed, underemployed so a “gaggle” of men may be difficult to come by…and there are not millions of other races of men lined up to date black women mostly because the bull that the media has put out about us…dating will always be different for us…I wouldn’t give up though, I still believe that despite all of the negativity, there are still men who love and want black women.

  • Job

    No quality man is willing to be part of any woman’s “gaggle.” This is ridiculous. A guy’s #1 fear is being put in the “friend zone.” No man will waste time on a woman who wants to “date” other men. That’s not how life works. The author should listen to what her male friend is telling her. But as usual the truth is ignored because its not what she wants to hear. She would rather take dumb dating advice from a dumb white woman.

  • Ange B

    The one thing I agree with is that you should define what dating is with your potential. If they think its one thing and you think it’s another that could be a problem. Communication!

  • Kema

    So you’re saying quality men meet a nice girl and forsake all others. GTFOH! The problem is too many times women let the opposing team (men) write their playbook. Men date more than one until they decide they want to commit to someone they consider special. I think that game plan works for everyone.

  • K. Michel

    “To add insult to injury though, there seems to be an unspoken double standard between black women and white women imposed by black men.”

    Are you saying that African-American men would accept being a part of a White woman’s “gaggle” but not a Black woman’s “gaggle”?

  • Lorri

    If men can have a harem of women while dating, women can and should have a gaggle. Until you sit down and discuss and commit to a relationship, date and spend time with who you want. But I luvvvvvvv this point..”Aha! The latter definition implies that you assess suitability before you engage in an intimate relationship. Apparently, some of us have had the game all wrong.” Dating and sexing someone are TWO different things. But we change the definition to fit what we want from the other person. A man says, I’m sleeping with her……NOT dating. Women…..we go out, talk on the phone, and have sex, so we are dating…….NOPE. Still having sex but not in a relationship.

  • Neke Neke

    Depends on how you see things. If sex is involved, I’d venture to say that the black man would be more than happy to be apart of both “gaggles”.
    but based off of your typical black male ego, I’d have to agree with the writer, black men can’t fathom the thought of being an “option not a priority” for a black woman….. whereas with the white woman, I think he wouldn’t mind (sometimes I think he wouldn’t even think a white woman would do such a thing) .

  • __A

    Thank you Kema. These men lower the bar for themselves and raise it for us and say this is how life is. Do it!

    I mean look at the relationship articles that have been on this site this week. They’ve been about excusing cheating men and saying that a moral man should be enough even if he isn’t a good partner.

    Men are gaggling it up. White women are gaggling it up, and you know what? White women are getting married too! I guess a gaggle helps. The only problem with the idea of black women gaggling is coming from men.

    It’s because men think all dating must lead to sex, so yeah one guy in the gaggle will be chosen to be the boyfriend. The rest of them will be cut loose with probably no sex. This is why men are against women dating multiple men. It lowers their chances of getting sex! Lol.

    Look. Dating multiple men raises a woman’s odds of finding what she is looking for. It lowers each man’s chance of getting sex from that woman. Now what are you going to do? Are you going to raise your odds or listen to a man’s advice that is meant to benefit him?

    I’m serious about this lowering the bar for themselves and raising it for you. That’s why women need to be smart. Men are looking out for themselves when they give relationship advice. It’s why they don’t like gaggles. It’s why they make up this 3rd date rule thing. It’s why they hate the 90 day rule. It’s why they consider dating multiple men bad. It’s why they consider the things women do to protect themselves manipulative. It’s because they’re manipulating you to raise their odds.

  • Job

    Typical. Women upset that men don’t do what they want them too. News flash: Men do what they want, not what women want. Men do not want to be part of any woman’s gaggle. Men also shop around before committing to a woman they want. You can wish it to be different, but wishing won’t change anything. Stop committing to men that haven’t committed to you. That’s the real solution. Otherwise you will end up being used and left a single mom or worse.

  • beks

    Hmmmm, many of the woman i know date multiple men until they commit to one. Some of them are sleeping with many men and some of them (me) only sleep with the one they decide to commit to. I think that all these positions are fine and should be judgement free zones – they can self-define and find a partner who accepts these definitions. Even the scary woman who has slept around (cue scary music) has found a great (black man)partner….
    The authors friends may find themselves in a very confined space of self-definition/expression if they conform to the patriarchal unbalance of only dating one while he is free to date many. I liked the myopic “perception is reality” comment…I intent to use that manipulative comment ASAP!! LOL

    And what about our Lesbian and Bisexual sisters? What’s it like for them??

  • beks

    my friend is currently dating (and sleeping with) a quality man (attractive, educated, nice) and she is dating other people and he is not and they are open about it. You don’t know what every man everywhere is doing – you are projecting your own perceptions and experiences onto a group of people…I have experienced differently….

  • Orange Starr Happy Hunting

    I got a better one Job, how bout stop sexing men that aren’t committed to you and only you.
    Then you can date, sexless, all you want in order to come across that one, if that is your method.

  • Dawn

    So why exactly are anyone women telling men how many other men they’re dating? You’re not in a relationship with them, so you don’t owe them an explanation. When I was single, I tried to date as many men as possible to learn what I liked and didn’t like in men. I remember even going on two first dates in one day: one over lunch and one over dinner.

    Because I wasn’t in a relationship with any of them, I didn’t owe them an explanation. But when I did meet and get serious with my current beau, I let any other guys still hanging around know that I had met someone that I wanted to focus all my energy on, and asked them to not contact me again.

    Going out with as many guys as possible on first dates or multiple dates does help increase your odds of finding the one. I’ve gone on 5+ dates with one guy, only to then realize he wasn’t the one. You know how long the entire process of finding the one would’ve taken if I was dating one at a time?

  • Job

    @OSHH Now this I can agree with!

  • __A

    @Job – Why are you talking about single moms? Typical tell woman that she will be a single mom and lonely if she doesn’t jump on board with my wisdom comment.

    A lot of women aren’t okay with men dating multiple women. You know how a lot of men do it? They don’t tell the women that they’re dating that they’re also dating other women. You know how white women date multiple men? They probably don’t tell the men that they’re dating other men. So….unless you’re stalking a woman or live in a small town, you will probably not know when women are dating other men.

    Men shop around. Good for them. In 2012, there are women that do so as well.

  • Job

    I love how women know exactly what men think. Sorry but we don’t think like you do.

  • __A

    That is what people are talking about when they say have a gaggle of men. You’re not going to be having sex with each one of them.

  • Job

    @Dawn This is a smart comment! Going on several first dates is not the same as having a foolish “gaggle.” The whole “gaggle” concept is just an attempt by bitter women to use men in retaliation for the way some women have been used by men. There is nothing wrong with meeting a bunch of different guys. But a SERIOUS guy wants to know relatively soon if you are wasting his time. Having a gaggle will run off any SERIOUS men. Dawn you are the smartest person here.

  • gmarie

    funny, I was given the “gaggle” advice by a man once.

  • Job

    @A How’s the modern 2012 wisdom working for ya? Women are angrier than ever and OOW births at an all time high. All I do is hear whining about how terrible relationships are and how much men suck and won’t commit. My mother laughs at you “modern, liberated women.” And yes she is educated with a masters degree, but shes smart enough to see the foolishness in this type of thinking. She’s been married for 35+ years.

    My advice: Stop trying to be like men. You can’t beat us at our own game, not that it should be a competition anyways.

  • Neke Neke

    @ Job

    Well, how do you think ?

  • gmarie

    but that’s the long as said woman is being safe and responsible, no one should have an issue with the number of men a she chooses to date/sex, just date, or just sex. I think this is a bit of what the writer was trying to get at. A woman can have a gaggle of men that she does nothing but lunch with but it will be presumed she is being physical with ALL of them. And she is being judged and made to feel less than for doing so.

    whether she is or isn’t should not be of any of our concern tbh. My only concern is 1. that she is doing it because she wants to (not because she feels pressured to in order to hold their attention.) and 2. that she is enjoying herself. because sex can be enjoyable and there is no sense in giving it up and not being satisfied.

  • Dawn

    Thank you! The article mixes two different ideas: one of the “Gaggle” and another of “dating multiple men at once.” Yes, how a “Gaggle” is laid out above, it’s a horrible concept. Keeping an ex around or someone who’s just an accessory may be a good idea when you’re in your early 20′s and are just looking for fun, but, other than that, it’s a horrible idea. And a guy with a “gaggle” would send me running for the hills. I wouldn’t want to continue to see a “potential” if he had an ex hanging around plus a bunch of others. Can you say “red flag?”

    Dating multiple men while looking for the one = smart, good and fun. Having a “gaggle” for men or women = not smart, risky and “red flag to run.”

  • lol

    please tell your mother that the generation of men she married into is/was faaaaaaaaaar better than the 1 we have to deal with, so even if we were not “modern, liberated women” we would still suffer.

  • Stephen

    Is having a “gaggle” of men a black woman’s version of the white hook-up culture?

  • Chillyroad

    And the myth that a host of black men are incarcerated underemployed or unemployed isn’t a media creation either? So the media (white and male) is only lying about black women?

  • __A

    Job, stop repeating stuff you read off some MRA site. I’m not angry or bitter at all. I’m young. I have no oow babies by some loser man. Life is good, and I have no desire to go back to the 1950s way of doing things.

    These are standard insults thrown out by men like you. Oh feminism sucks. Women try to do what men do but they can’t be men blah, blah, blah.

    I’m very aware of the fact that men and women are different. I’m very aware of the fact that many women can’t go around having sex with multiple men and come out okay. I’m very aware of the fact that there are double standards when it comes to men and women and sex and dating.

    That doesn’t change this gaggle advice. You agreed with Dawn below. You agreed with Orange Star, and that is all I was saying in my comments that women dating multiple men not having sex with multiple men is perfectly fine in 2012. You’ve gone into “attack woman about feminism and it’s a man’s world” mode and you’re not even making any sense.

    You think women are trying to have a gaggle to be like men. Get real. Any woman with common sense is not trying to be like a man. Having a gaggle of men or dating multiple men is honestly about improving your odds of finding the right guy to go into a committed relationship with. Let me repeat that. The average woman is not some radical feminist that has pen!s envy and is trying to date multiple men to say “Look. We can do it too.” The average woman who dates multiple men is not sleeping with every one of these men either. You are confusing how many men like to date multiple women and also have sex with them and harems with gaggles. This is not what we are talking about. Most women don’t want a harem of men. We are talking about going on a couple of dates with multiple men and having more choices to choose a boyfriend from.

    White and Asian women do all these things and don’t have babies oow and get married, so I don’t think feminism or new dating ideas are the reason that black women are having problems in the dating area.

    Also, most modern women are not radical feminists. We don’t go through life trying to do what men do or compete with men. This is about better dating options. When I decide I want to have a career and get educated, it’s not because I’m thinking of saying “Haha men we can do it too and better.” It’s because I want to be financially secure and having a career is fulfilling. Now how many women do you honestly know that go about their lives trying to do what men do because they’re such feminists that want to prove that gender and sex don’t make anything different? I’m willing to bet none.

  • Martin

    They don’t understand how quickly and how much sex white girls are actually having. First night hookups are not uncommon and it’s a 2 at most 3 date max before sex.

  • Chillyroad

    And when asked be honest about it. If there is nothing inherently wrong with the idea don’t front like the Virgin Mary when the subject comes up.

  • Chillyroad

    The issue is honesty. Have your gaggle. He can have his harem. The problem? Your gaggle bothers him more than his harem will bother you. In fact you may find it attractive if he is popular with the ladies. Also for those who say it is no ones business… Fine. If his harem includes a man, it ain’t your business.

  • Not Your Friend

    Queen of Newcastle, SHUT UP!

  • Arabellamichaela

    The “myths,” by the way are in no small part the fault of black men. They perpetuate and give support to the myths everytime a prominent one chooses an ABB (anything but black) woman.
    I say we, black women, end this unconditional support for black men. I know it’s complicated because we have black male relatives we love ( but even they date/marry ABBs– lol!).
    I am divorced and do get lots of black male dates (I am lighter complexioned which is of CRUCIAL importance to them– very sad).
    They really do need to be taught a lesson. Black women need to collectively decide to reject them. If black men showed collective preference and love for us, this stereotype would end.
    I love us sistahs. As is clear from the tone of this comment, I’m just sick of this issue, this contempt for black women as a group, when it is undeserved racist slander, that our own brainwashed men largely cause.

  • GirlSixx

    “So why exactly are anyone women telling men how many other men they’re dating/”

    LOL.. Exxacctlyyyy!! I am over here scratching my head saying to myself “Where they do that At?!!” my momma didn’t raise no fool, she always told me “Never let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” so when it comes to a situation like this… I always assume — Unless we had “The Talk” (commitment/exclusivity) that I am just one of the eggs in his basket anyways, no need to divulge other information, we’re just dating NOT exclusive

  • Martin

    The problem with black women is it almost always still ends with the same result. The young black woman picking the best looking, most fun, slightly unavailable, mysterious guy who is not going to marry her.

    Attractive, physically fit, friendly and even mean YOUNG black women have always had a different guy trying to take them out three or four times a week the minute it was known that they were single or broken up with an ex. Weird thing is you see a large majority of them in their 30′s and 40′s walking around never married baby mamas talking about they’re seriously looking for a husband. “scratches head.”

  • Chillyroad

    @not your friend

    Your comment rates a 9 on my D.L. Hugley Bitch-O-Meter.

  • Ms. Information

    Go to a jail, see for yourself.

  • Ms. Information

    I think we do perpetrate a lot of this, I agree…there is self hate amongst us at an all time high..

  • Val


    You obviously have an agenda. The vast majority of Black men date and marry Black women. To say or imply anything else is just dishonest. If you hate Black men, then just say so, at least be honest about your hate rather than trying to convince the world that all Black men are evil and hate Black women.

    Now, go back to your BWE blog and quit bring your hate here.

  • Furious Styles

    Agree. This is all just a way to make sure you commit to whoever you REALLY want. Women are under more pressure to commit to anybody rather than get someone they are compatible with. That can cloud your judgment. I also appreciate that your communication is clear so that there is no need to just “disappear” without rhyme or reason. Run and tell your sistren to do the same.
    Anyway, if I’m getting to know a woman, I will just assume that she has someone else in the picture until the subject is discussed, so I date others until we both agree out loud to each other that it’s “me and you until the wheels fall off”.
    “Going out with as many guys as possible on first dates or multiple dates does help increase your odds of finding the one.” It’s just common sense. Women need to stop shaming each other for using common sense. None of you will be getting a “good girl” prize in the mail for putting your eggs in one basket.

  • alldawg

    Most of those men have no problem getting a BW when they get out. Especially at one of those get out of jail parties, also in comparison there are a lot of BW in jail and prison also, so its not as one sided as it seems to be.

    The focus on the men in jail as if that is where all the good men are is very telling about a woman’s dating habits. The more gaggle one has the more risk that comes along with that.

    Can a women date as many men or women as she wants, yes. Can people have a certain perception about it, yes. In each can we are free to act and think as we will.

    But as a man, I think having sex with a women who has sex with multiple men, is like her bringing me a pair of underwear that multiple men hand on and telling me to put it on…

  • Job

    You can’t talk any sense into them. Dawn is the only smart poster I’ve seen. So many other women here taking advice from an arrogant, inexperienced 29-year old unmarried white woman. Maybe they would have more success if they listened to successfully married people. So many women want to change how men think and act. That doesn’t work.

    And for people who can’t read, there is clearly a difference between the stupid gaggle concept and saying yes to dates from multiple suitors before entering a relationship. Actually it would be foolish not to say yes unless you’re in a relationship. Don’t commit to any guy who hasn’t committed to you first. This will save you a lot of trouble.

  • LocsandJoy

    I date a couple guys at once and when I find one that I can be with and not think “What if I meet someone else” I will settle down and just date him but until then.. but I’m only 21 so I guess I have that luxury right now. Right now I’m playing the field and it’s fun.

  • ArabellaMichaela

    If a girl wants a commitment and the guy has not given it, of course she should date other people. This is a no brainer.
    Furthermore, if someone is unwilling to commit, you can bet that person is seeing other people anyway, or is keeping their options open.

  • Job

    The poster “_A” figured out exactly how we think. This is what she wrote.

    “It’s because men think all dating must lead to sex, so yeah one guy in the gaggle will be chosen to be the boyfriend. The rest of them will be cut loose with probably no sex. This is why men are against women dating multiple men. It lowers their chances of getting sex! Lol.”

    No man wants to be an option. Once a man sees he’s an option he usually leaves and finds someone else. This is how MEN think, not just black men or white men. That’s why the gaggle concept has never worked in the past and won’t work now. The funny thing is that the poster _A describes exactly why the concept won’t work but then believes women should still try it. ILLOGICAL!

    Men aren’t the ones here whining and complaining that men today aren’t #$%^; it’s women. The dating rules actually used to be more in your favor. We used to have to actually ask you out on proper dates and wait to have sex. That’s why I don’t care about women complaining about the OOW rate and loser men. You control your own lives. I’m just here trying to help you out.

  • The Other Jess

    I’m sorry, but that has got to be the fugliest man Clutch has ever placed in an article. Whew! He is hard on the eyes! I’m sorry, not trying to be offensive, but I couldn’t help myself, I justhad to say it after being shocked with that picture.

  • Yvette

    @Chillyroad – There’s a difference between dating several men and having sex with all of them. But yes, I agree that one should be honest if they’re dating multiple people.

  • Z

    Men confident in themselves don’t fear competition from other men. Weaker, less confident men fear being put in the friend zone.

    Men give women HORRIBLE dating advice. It’s better for women to listen to other, preferably married, women.

  • Z

    “She lessens her chances of commitment because no man is going to deal with a woman who’s spending time with other men, especially if she’s sleeping with him. When I gave my rebuttal that dating doesn’t equate to sex, he shot back that “perception is reality.” Oh.”

    1.) If you’re not sleeping with him, his perception will be that you aren’t sleeping with the others either.
    2.) How does he know that you’re seeing other people did you tell him? If so, why? Don’t put all of your cards on the table.

    Do you think he’s not seeing other people as well? You should assume that he is. You’re a free agent until you have a commitment. None of this is anything new.

  • Z

    _A and Kema are exactly right! Think about it ladies, why are BM all over a woman’s interest online magazine giving you dating advice??? Seriously, ask yourself why.

  • Yvette

    I’d do him.

  • Chillyroad

    @mrs disinformation

    Instead of going to the jails perhaps I should go to the CDC website. There I can read about black women with HIV, Herpes and who are obese. If we take those black women out of the dating pool, do the numbers even out?

    Seriously don’t say nasty things about black men but get made when the same is said of black women.

    The comments at Clutch have really gone to the dogs. Not so long ago we used to inform, inspire, and laugh. Now it’s just hate all day.

  • Blessed

    I find most women do not understand you can date w/o sex. Everytime I mention that I prefer to date and Im looking for a serious relationship my female friends(who happen to be black women) will say, “well I can’t sleep with a whole bunch of different.” Duh? I can’t either, just because you date someone doesn’t mean you have to have sex with them. Dating to me is hanging out getting to know each other, women and men need to stop thinking they have to sleep with every person they date.

  • Blessed

    CORRECTION- find most women do not understand you can date w/o sex. Everytime I mention that I prefer to date and Im not looking for a serious relationship my female friends(who happen to be black women) will say, “well I can’t sleep with a whole bunch of different men.” Duh? I can’t either, just because you date someone doesn’t mean you have to have sex with them. Dating to me is hanging out getting to know each other, women and men need to stop thinking they have to sleep with every person they date.

  • Job

    Typical female hypocrite. Whine that men never listen to women, yet you tell women not to listen to men.That is illogical.

  • Not Your Friend

    You started barking a long time ago, Queen of Newcastle!

  • Z

    I haven’t ever said that so, I’m not the hypocrite you’re speaking of. I’d venture to say that it’s probably better for men to seek advice about relationships from other men for similar reasons- women can’t relate to a man’s experience. But anyway, please take your obvious bitterness toward women elsewhere.

  • __A

    “No man wants to be an option. Once a man sees he’s an option he usually leaves and finds someone else. This is how MEN think, not just black men or white men. That’s why the gaggle concept has never worked in the past and won’t work now. The funny thing is that the poster _A describes exactly why the concept won’t work but then believes women should still try it. ILLOGICAL!”

    Umm. Mr. Job, do you tell the multiple women that you date that you are dating other women? I think women who go on dates with multiple men are probably not telling these other men what she’s doing. This means that you will never know. It means that you never know that you are just an option. If you don’t get what I’m saying, let me break it all the way down for you.


    You’ve probably dated women who were dating other men and just never knew. This whole argument is stupid. You’ve agreed with people on this comment board. You typed yourself that it is okay for women to accept dates from men if they’re not committed. What the heck do you think I’m talking about? A woman having multiple boyfriends? That is not what I’m talking about and you know it. As I told you, you are trying to say that women are trying to have a harem of men that she is emotionally involved with. This is not what we are talking about.

    Use your superior man brain and stop agreeing with me and then thinking that you’re disagreeing. This oow stuff you keep bringing up has nothing to do with dating multiple men. It has to do with some women not using good birth control and getting pregnant by men that they’re not married to.

    Dating multiple men doesn’t work. Says who? You. There are plenty of women who’ve accepted dates from multiple men, found one she preferred, and then entered a relationship with him. As a matter of fact, many traditional women (maybe even your mama) were approached by multiple suitors.

    Male-male competition female choice has been around for a long time.

    So in short, dating multiple men works because many women will not tell the men that she is dating about each other. So men will not know that they are only an option. See?

  • Monique

    It will save a lot of trouble especially because most men lie and cheat as well as date and have sex with other women… And even when committed. Do your own thing ladies. Whatever feels right to you whether you are dating a gaggle… Or screwing them.

  • binks

    Thank you Dawn! When you are single and dating you are suppose to have multiple prospects on your radar so you know who to eliminate from your pool. When dating you are essentially a free agent so why are you showing your hand and shooting yourself in the foot exposing yourself. As long as you are not making false promises to these men it is none of their business of the others you date. Dating is not different but clearly people don’t know the “rules” of dating.

  • Apple

    Everything is different for a black woman. Dating , living, careers, beauty , philosophies …tons of books and films on how different against everyone else it is in almost everything we do

  • Apple

    “the best looking, most fun, slightly unavailable, mysterious guy” are you serious ? Fine give us ugly boring obvious guys . Is that you?

  • Kema


  • Pema

    Before I got married I always dated (not sexed – dating does not equal sex) multiple men. There is no point in being serious or committed to a man who is not serious or committed to you. Dating more than one man at a time keeps you from focusing too hard on someone who is not focusing you. It also keeps you from being too available. I feel like some women give away too much time, energy, and emotion too soon. As for full-disclosure, why in the world would someone who you are not in a committed relationship with have to be told that you are seeing other people? Doesn’t that go without saying (since you’re not committed)?

    Once you meet the right one he’ll definitely stand out from the crowd.

  • JJ

    This article and some of the comments illuminated some things for me, thank you. I grew up with two married parents. That may have something to do with why I’ve always taken a monogamous viewpoint to dating — even if it’s a guy I just met a few weeks before I just stop looking and accepting numbers. Stupid. I will stop doing that and date who I please unless and until one of them expresses a serious interest in a commitment and I feel the same way. Thank you again!

  • ASK_ME

    Yep that probably is him. The men that visit this site suffer from some serious penis envy. They stay trying to tell black women who/what we SHOULD find attractive.

  • Middle Ground


    Why does it have to be one extreme or the other?

  • Alisha

    Thanks for reading! :)

  • IAMSHE (@0oIAMSHEo0)

    I totally and completely agree with this. At the end of the day, I want options. It helps me to weigh out the differences between all the men I date (not have sex with; literally court). If one gives me a icky feeling that the others aren’t giving then I politely excuse myself from seeing him again. Dating plurally also helps me keep my own headspace and consider how I am behaving in relation to others i.e. am I consistently attracting the kind of man I don’t want, etc.

    Men date only give their exclusivity when they are ready. Please don’t be foolish enough to believe that a man is only seeing you ESPECIALLY when there are no labels in place and/or he and you have not EXPLICITLY stated that you are in an exclusive dating relationship.

    Quoted for Truth: “Unless you’ve agreed to exclusively date someone you don’t owe anyone, or any group, exclusive access to you.”

  • Luci

    It’s all about whether or not you make men THINK that you’re sleeping around.

    I got my gaggle on when I was single, but because I was cute, well-dressed, poised and capable of speaking The King’s English, men assumed that I was a “good girl.” On the flip side, I knew some women who hadn’t had sex in ages, but because they were loud and dressed like a RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant, men assumed they were promiscuous.

    Dating is a lot like a job interview: half the battle is looking the part.

  • IAMSHE (@0oIAMSHEo0)

    I date who is on my level. I’m employed, childless, never incarcerated, unmarried and financially stable. I am all those things and when I look around for men who are all those things they tend not to be (that’s not to say they never are) black.

    It makes more sense to date who is compatible than to date someone based on the color of their skin. In this way I never have a problem finding a guy to date (court).

  • Carmen

    I’m a Euro-African woman. I’ve spent time in the US, and had a hard time getting the american dating culture. In France (as in other european and african countries I know), men or women are more or less expected to date exclusively. Dating somebody else (even in the early stages of a relationship) is totally seen as cheating. People don’t feel the need to assess the personality of a suitor. You just try to figure out what the relationship is about, love and/or sex and try to make it work as long as you want.

  • ChillyRoad


    Complete straw man. No one said to date anyone base on colour. Date who you want, just dont drag others through the mud. If you cant manage that, than perhaps you arent as together as you think you are.

  • Avril

    Thank you!! My recently divorced (white) friend has so many problems dating men, so I told her about the gaggle (or the roster as I explained it). She said to me, “How did you sleep with that many men!?” I replied, “Quite easily, I didn’t!” Get to know someone before you sleep with them. Not a crazy concept but it’s foreign to some women nowadays.

  • MayDarling

    I used to be one of these serial monogamist chicks. Then the last one was so yuck, I said forget it. I decided to date like a man. I went on a date almost every night. Hell, there were a couple of days I had a lunch date and a dinner date. DATING, the way normal people do it, does not imply that one is having sex with all of them. It is what it is – a *date*. How do you expect to meet people if you don’t, you know, MEET people. Plural. That’s how I met my now husband – dating. It’s fun ladies. Give it a whirl.

  • cb


  • cb

    look, women don’t need to tell men all their secrets; just date, have fun and keep your mouth

  • kara

    One of the biggest problems with black women is that they put all of the cards on the table. Do what you are going to and do it quietly. You dont need to have an onlight debate about whether or not you can Stop worrying about white girls! It does not matter if we are judged differently….


    To all the men commenting on this post, to MK Ultra women thoughts about dating and the horrible pathetic attempts, that women seem whorish. to date more than 1 man at a time… Please go get your lube, porn, and vice gripper make love to your dry dyck. I’m pretty sure to those guys who commented have balls bluer than 50 crips. I have a feeling you’re so ugly ya face can scramble ovaries. Now, back to the subject at hand.. black women are always subjected to limit ourselves in every aspect of life. To build up some of these black men confidence. Some love seeing us at the level of shit, pity, desperation, and weakness. I think more and more black women are getting tired the Willie lynch noose that is killing our internal love. Fyck what these black men and everyone else think. If they have a problem with it tell them to go lick a bloody maxi pad. We are now living in an age of spiritual, mental, physical progression and stagnation should not be acceptable in life. Keep building with positive entities my sistas and don’t limit yourself to what a black men thinks what a black woman should do.

  • Logic over Libido

    The gaggle works if you only date seriously guys who are willing to marry you. It’s simple. Separate the gaggle into two groups. Those that are willing to make a commitment to you and those that aren’t. Logic and commonsense has to trump emotions and libido.

  • Bam


  • Z

    Moreover, having a gaggle will make it easier to separate those who are serious from those who aren’t.

  • Gell0h0h

    I just love this comment posted by a Clutch commenter from about a year ago. I’m not sure if the person is still on here but I copied and saved their comment lol. I believe the article was about dating in general, – not nessarily about it being different for African American women and here is what they said:

    “The key is dating. Folks seemed to have forgotten that if nobody’s given them their letterman’s jacket, so to speak, they ain’t “going steady.” When I was single, I dated. I’d flat out tell a dude that I had a date on Friday and could fit him in on Saturday. I refused to treat “talkin’ to somebody” like we were already lovers and mutually exclusive.
    I couldn’t believe how a tradition that is so old-fashioned looked radical to my girlfriends.
    “Giiirl…you messin’ with all those men?”“Um, no, dearheart. I’m dating.”
    When things seemed to veer into the hot and heavy, he’s the one territory, I’d STOP dating other people and, get this, tell them why. “I’m interested in someone else.”
    Call me crazy, but I was never lonely, never looking shook, and never forced to do that Tuesday morning quarterbacking about why some man didn’t want me. NEXT. That’s how THAT works.”

    Whoever you are,

    Thanks. :)

  • Humanista

    This! This is so important! Even some guys will look at me crazy if when I tell them that us seeing each other =/= sex. I’ve noticed that while many men are still tangled up in the good girl/loose chick complex, lots of these same men are still reeeallly blown away–and put off–by the idea of a women not sleeping w/ everyone (or anyone) she’s dating!


    Holy Crap! You must anugly looking yourself. No wonder you have a dry pussy


    *An ugly looking woman yourself…

  • thebrownangel

    I think the problem is that black women are always trying to follow the standards set by white women. News Flash! White women are not the authority on relationships of any kind. Do you think it’s black men who created the porn industry, smut magazines, and sex exploitation vacations to third world countries, etc.? In other words, their men are running around like wild animals, they just don’t put them on blast to the world. They’re good actresses… They have to play the role because other woman (like black women) have been trained to look up to them…Point blank, get the head out of the white womans behind and things will change. Until then, it will be nothing but frustration and heartache…

    I’m not racist either, I’m jus’ calling it like I see it.

  • yumm

    Thankyou! To second your point, yes I am MUCH MUCH more interested in hearing how the woman married to my definition of a “good catch” got hers – than asking a “good catch” how to find a fellow one, because in honesty i doubt he truly knows.

    That is what would be nice to see on clutch actually married women – sharing their dating stories and successes. Re-affirming or busting myths with their empirical life evidence.

  • ArabellaMichaela


    I am calling it as I see it, as a black woman. You may see it through a different set of lenses. a Hispanic or white woman would not see it the way I see it
    FYI, I neither have the time nor the inclination to blog. As a busy lawyer, I barely have time to read Clutch. Also, have no idea what your acronym BWE means.
    And as for hating black men, I was raised by a black dad, married a black husband (also a lawyer), have a black brother, black nephews and cousins. I love them.
    That said, I also know that black men in the greater society, have bought into the brain wash that black women are angry, mean, unattractive, ec., and that white/whiter is better.
    This is a fact. Clutch, being a magazine for black women, is an appropriate forum to discuss these things.
    I suspect I know what your issue is. Frankly, I don’t really care. You are entitled to your perspective.
    But dont be a hater of other commenters you don’t even know, simply because you disagree with them.


    Is Dating Different for Black Women?

    It can be, especially in a more cosmopolite setting where some brothers men tend to date women of other ethnicities/races. Really, this dating game is a numbers game, and that can be difficult for AA/Black women. I must admit, I personally am part of the problem. Kinda.

    I really wish dating weren’t different for AA women, that way we brothers wouldn’t have to justify dating out.

  • Learning English

    Thanks to this article I learned a new word, GAGGLE. Never heard of it before. It makes me giggle, kinda like google. LOL. Sorry to bother you guys, English is not my first language.

    Anyway, I think it’s ok to date multiple men before you decide who you’re going to pick. Men do that all the time. So ladies, more power to you on that GAGGLE thing.

  • Pseudonym

    I have a number of friends who talk to a number of guys at once until one of them shows himself to be “boyfriend-worthy,” finds her “girlfriend-worthy” (“at the same damn time!”) and they decide to make their thing exclusive and official. And no one considers them whore or anything like that.

    I have something my friend calls “mate fixation” b/c I can’t like more than one person at a time. When I’m interested in a man, I fixate on him and can’t seem to share that attention with anyone else (It’s half gift, half curse.). If I’m “gaggling,” it’s more like fielding a bunch of dudes I don’t like or want to date, but am trying let them down easy b/c they’re nice and my being nice is backfiring b/c they keep calling me.

  • Pseudonym


    When I read that, I immediately thought of the “Twilight” phenomenon. Not gonna lie- he may have a point with that one. Just take the “black woman” slant off of it and put “young woman who hasn’t had to put up with enough bs yet.”

  • YeahRight2011

    When black women bring up their black husbands, dads, cousins, etc I always laugh a bit, 2 reasons:

    You’re experience isn’t accessible enough to prove that the affection these men in your life have for you would be spread to the general black female demographic. Who knows what type of man your father was before your mother. Even during/after your mother. Same goes for your cousins and nephews who aren’t romantically available to you anyway. Are you willing to share your husband? It always odd to read a “testimonial” for something that you aren’t in a position to recommend-which is what you’re during when you bring them up even if it isn’t said out right.

    The other thing is the lack of familial reference used by black men. They don’t use their mothers, nieces, and sisters to prove a sustained selection of virtuous black women. Probably because it would look silly for a man to use his relatives and a wife he isn’t going to share to market black women to his peers. He isn’t going to do it to quite descending opinions about black women either.

    Aside: You want to smack her hand for having an unflattering perception of black men but you seem to be tolerant enough with black men’s negative perceptions of black women, at least enough to pull the “brainwash” card. We live in proximity to unlimited information including anything we need to balance negative perceptions-That is a fact.

    God I hope your tax attorney.

  • christinasade

    nigga F yo momma!!….golly, why do black dudes think we supposed to be like their mammy??

  • Alisha M.Gray (@ZenMamaPolitic)

    @ZenMamaPolitic Another Bright ‘Alisha’. I like it. I like it..

    But Seriously, within this conversation we cannot forget the ‘numbers’, as stated above. We need to ‘keep this real’, and remember that there are over 70% of Black women who are single mothers; while the numbers of eligible men are also severely lessened for various reasons. One great example of this is unfortunately being reflected in how ‘older men’ are now forming predatory associations with Single Black women; because they seem more vulnerable. Yuck.

    In other words; where in the world are we supposed to find men to form this so-called, ‘gaggle’? The truth is… the ‘Gaggle’ becomes ‘dumbed down’ by insecure Patriarchal men; that just want the mimicked stability of white homogeniality, regardless of if that is really what makes S. Black women/mothers happy. And, we all know that Black relationships are not a Steve Harvey simple-minded version of reality. So..I agree that we have to begin to think differently about relationships.For instance; Sociologically. it is well known that ‘Black folk’ date differently anyway~’in groups’.

    So maybe…moving forward we can develop more successful relationships based upon a ‘culmination’ of all these factors. Let’s Hope.

  • ArabellaMichaela

    @ YeahRight2011

    What??? Your comment is incomprehensible. This is not what I said.
    You are definitely entitled to your opinion.
    However, if you are trying to “justify” some black men’s problem with black women “as a group,” don’t waste your time. It is not logically or rationally justifiable. It is clearly a brainwash and maybe worse, subliminal self-hatred. This is Psychology 101.
    Hopefully, it will change in the future.
    BTW, this is not a unique phenomenon. If you know any American social history, there used to be a time when American Jewish men preferred non-Jewish women and bad-mouthed Jewish women. It was called the “shiksa fantasy–blond hair, blue eyess worship.” But as Jewish men gained success and respect in America “as a group,” all of a sudden, they started liking their own Jewish women because they started liking themselves. Same thing.

  • Orange Starr Happy Hunting

    Excellent point! The heart want who it wants, regardless, even if you can gaggling a million dudes.

  • leonard smalls

    Preach brother.

    I would also like to add that a beautiful Colored woman NEVER has a problem finding and keeping a moneyed Colored man (read highly educated and making 6-figures or more). The operative word here is “beautiful”, which, unfortunately, is not a title that one can hand out easily.

    Want to be able to “gaggle”? Then review the following modifiable blueprint:

    - get your $#!t together;
    - step up your shoe and bag game;
    - bring something more to the table besides sex;
    - step up your hair game (hell, think about getting rid of the weave); and
    - smile (it make you look even more beautiful).

    Please note the following:

    - I do not hate Colored women or women for that matter. However, I do shy away from the “unwashed masses” that are uneducated, unclassy, and unfeminine; and
    - the above is only a blueprint, feel free to modify as needed.

    Carry on.

  • leonard smalls

    My time is NOT free! If we are just “dating” without sex then we need to go DUTCH until we figure things out.

    However, and this may be luck, but I have yet to open my wallet to a woman that I was not having sex with.

    If we are friends, cool, let’s be friends; unfortunately, I have enough “friends”.

  • Woro208

    Having a gaggle of men sounds like a great idea, but it is hard to put into practice. Many of the black men I’ve come across just want to play around and hookup. They aren’t going to continue to date me, or even talk to me if I’m not going to have sex with them.
    Also, where does one go to find a gaggle of men? It’s hard to even find one good black man, who’s datable, let alone a gaggle of them. I’m in law school, and at the school I attend there’s plenty of eligible, smart, and beautiful black women, but there’s a limited amount of black men. This was the same situation when I was an undergraduate student at a different school. This situation leaves me and many of classmates with not even one black man to date.

  • R

    why dont you try dating outside your race? Theres no reason not to try another race, if they are up to your standards, you find them attractive and vice versa

  • Woro208

    I would love to date outside the race. I definitely don’t discriminate and I am attracted to men of all races. The problem is, men of other races don’t show interest in me. They’ll be my friend, but they won’t date me. And the times that white men have shown interest in me, they were just looking for sex.

  • blackphilo

    While black women increasingly support “dating outside” in word, black men with options are more often putting it into action–only to be accused of betraying black women. This doesn’t seem like the most consistent or prudent stance for black women to take, especially since non-black men generally aren’t checking for them.

    That said, there aren’t too many black men who aren’t interested in going out with fit, attractive, intelligent black women. The problem is, such women already have quite a few “suitors” and tend not to come across as all that interested or receptive. But black men with options don’t really have the inclination, time, or need to take a path of much resistance to prove their worthiness for the opportunity to go on dates.

    In short, instead of largely irrelevant threats to date outside (since they likely either lack much opportunity or are already doing it), black women could simply take more initiative in reaching out to the kind of black men whom they deem worthy. We know this doesn’t usually happen–and all the rationales aren’t making things better.

  • Do better

    OMG this is so me! I only like one guy at a time. Even if I know other guys who aren’t bad people, the one winner will just stick out so much in my mind and I won’t feel like going through the effort for the ones who don’t measure up.

  • Shane, GPHR

    What about the great number of overweight, obese, on welfare, or bastard child breeding black women ??? A “gaggle of BM may be unavailable, but a “gaggle of black women are also unavailable. Just like you can cross out certain types of men, Men cross out certain types of women. Welcome to the real world. Just as you view many men in a negative light, many men view you in a negative light, and it as nothing to do with the media.

  • Shane, GPHR

    In all fairness black women do a lot to reinforce the stereotypes about them. You can’t blame black women for talking about what they see in real life. These stereotypes wouldn’t carry any weight if many Americans didn’t actually witness a large amount of BW that actually fit them.

    Your image STARTS WITH YOU !

  • Shane, GPHR

    Women can date as many men as they want, you are free to do what you want, it’s your lives. On that same token, you must also be aware that we men have our own standards and that many men will disregard you if they do not approve of your dating habits or whatever lifestyle you may lead.

    Their is no double standard, women set their standards and men set theirs. Men and women are wired differently, so while you may want to do things that men do, many men may be turned off by that and that’s just something women have to accept.

  • Shane, GPHR

    Perhaps it’s because black women are different. When you act differently from other women, typically you will provoke a different reaction than those women.

    I typically hear black women proclaim how different they are from other women in America, well if that’s true then you must accept what comes with that.

  • Shane, GPHR

    Once you figure out that a man isn’t going to commit to you, why even continue with him ???

    I think that’s a major problem black women have is that they continue with men who aren’t serious, then they often have OOW children with said men, which in turn disqualifies them in the eyes most of the men who are looking for commitment.

  • Shane, GPHR

    We don’t have to justify “dating out”, we just do it. It’s not a crime. We like who we like. Men generally like women we are physically attracted to and are compatible with, ethnicity be damned.

    Any dude that feels he needs to justify it to BW is a fool.

  • CeeCee

    Good article. I like the term “gaggle”! Many of my girlfriends and myself included, are dating multiple men at a time. One of my friends from NY told me how it works and ever since then, I have been dating like crazy. So, far, I have narrowed my dating pool down to three guys. I rotate them throughout the week and they each know that I am dating someone else. This is how women should date, its not about sex, but about getting to know the individual.There was someone who said that men have a “harem” of women, which is so true! I live next door to a fire fighter who looks like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, he is just as attractive as him too, and he sees multiple women. I am glad that more black women are starting to broaden their horizons. Date as many men as you want and of whatever race. Life is way to short to just date one guy.

  • blackphilo

    Maybe this shorter, revised version will get a better reception:

    Black men who have options aren’t inclined to compete for the privilege of going on speculative dates. Black women who aren’t satisfied with their dating lives could take more initiative in reaching out to the kind of men, black or not, whom they deem worthy prospects. There are no guarantees in dating, for either side.

  • Shane, GPHR

    Why would anyone feel the need to justify their life or choice of mate to strangers just because they share a similar complexion ?

    a : to prove or show to be just, right, or reasonable
    b (1) : to show to have had a sufficient legal reason (2) : to qualify (oneself) as a surety by taking oath to the ownership of sufficient property.

  • Keke

    I just had a similar conversation with a guy I know. We are both in college and Jerrelle was complaining about why black women are so difficult while white and Indian girls are easier to date and more lax about having sex in a relationship. I get that BW can be a little to reserved in some regards but I had to explain to him that apprehension comes from the double standards that Black guys have for white and black women. White girls in their eyes are allowed to be more sexually adventurous but subconsciously black women are not and are considered slutty if they make the same actions. Period. I also had to point out the fact that saying white girls are easier is not a compliment. Its just like separating women into Marilyns and Jackies.

    The difference is that white girls are not penalized by black guys thinking they are “easier”. They are doing their thing. Actually some black guys don’t respect white girls for being sexually aggressive but because they get something out of it they give them a pass. I know of another guy who became increasingly verbally abusive and eventually punched his white girlfriend because she was being to ‘flirtatious’ with other guys. She wasn’t she was just being her friendly self something that he liked out her until she wasn’t conservative enough.

    He tried to argue that while this may be the case why wont black girls let that go for him because he would appreciate black girls who were more chilled. I had to point it out that the fact he made the statement in the first place means that he is one of those black guys that thinks like that. And even if he didn’t thinkg like that something that black girls have to be careful: if I live the way I want to live will I be penalized for it.

    The whole conversation pissed me off because underlying it is how some Black guys want to have their cake and eat it too. You want to sleep with black women but then want to look down on those that give you want you want.

    What was striking about that conversation was how black women are the problem. Maybe some of the girls he approached were uptight but it didn’t occur to him that maybe he is choosing the wrong girls or that they just weren’t into him. No they were just being uptight. I told him to do us a favor and date white women and leave black women like us alone.( I wouldn’t wish on any woman this guy white black or any race)

    This guy in particular also has a chip on his shoulder and is always trying to beef himself up though. I asked him about the girlfriend he claimed to have and he told me nothing about her just how she was into him but he didn’t want to be committed. And that there was another black girl that was into him but it is just fun for him. I don’t think he has dated/ hooked up with a White girl or any girl for that matter but talks smack to impress.

    To clarify not all black guys do think like this but as a collective group it is there in their subconscious. Just like most white guys don’t look as white girls as a fetish but as a group it might be there. It’s just something we have to navigate more because of the politics of
    race. We need to stress less about this and live. More black women’s need to be open to dating outside of their race instead of holding on to the idea of holding down the race.. This contributes to why black guys have different standards for black women because they hold the power cards. Black guys can date any race but are the first to be threatened by black girl dating a white guy. It’s nonsense. Time to change the game.

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  • kyme’

    that’s how you no these women on here are lying, tell me where in the world are these black men that will continue to date me with no rump getting put out, men these days wont call you 3 times without a somewhat hint you are putting out, dont believe these white,blk,asian.mexican or any other race when they say they just dating these 3, 4 or 12 men, no! men dont date women they aint pouncing

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