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?


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

Comments are moderated, please be respectful. View our policy.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

More in dating