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?

120 Comments

  1. 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”?

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    • 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) .

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

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    • Neke Neke

      @ Job

      Well, how do you think ?

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    • 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.

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    • “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.

      IT’S A SECRET!

      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?

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  2. 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.

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    • 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.

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    • 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.

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  3. 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??

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  4. 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?

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    • @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.

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    • “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

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    • 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.

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    • 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.

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  5. gmarie

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

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