Single-Minded: On Steve Harvey and Advice That We Don't Need

Enough with the self-help books telling single ladies that they need to fix themselves to get a man. We don't need fixing. And news flash: Some of us actually love being single.

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There's that word again. Settling. The word of the decade when it comes to the continued effort to suss out the reason why Alpha women refuse to couple up with a perfectly decent Beta man. It's what my best friend calls the he-has-his-shit-together-so-marry-him! philosophy that so many black women refuse to take on. As one of my married friends puts it, "That's how you end up miserable,"

I think what's newly troubling for black women--what can drive many of them from zero to cynic before you can say spinster--isn't the fact that marriage might not happen for them, but the fact that marriage is seen as the only road to happiness. That being man-less is tantamount to being manic-depressive. A good guy friend of mine recently compared the unattached women to the unemployed: "They all want a job," he explained, with a sly but totally serious smile.

This drives me nuts. I decided to poll other similarly unencumbered, young, professional black women to see if they felt the same. So I hosted a pow-wow. And guess what? They do feel the same.

"We make people feel deficient for not finding this thing that isn't guaranteed to anyone," said 28-year-old speechwriter Jessica Danielle.  Then there's Jeri Fuller, 29, a lawyer who lives in Northern Virginia and whose parents have been married for nearly three decades. As Fuller sees it, "Women are asking the wrong questions. I'm not so much interested in, 'Can I get married' as much as, 'Why should I get married?' "

Jeri says she doesn't really want to be shacked up with someone forever and ever and ever and ever, comparing the situation to her temporary obsession with Tuna Helper as an undergrad, when she had it for dinner every night for a month. Until she couldn't stand Tuna Helper.

I heard the same thought again and again at my pow-wow. None of the women I talked to felt like they don't need to smile more, stop mean mugging, lower their standards, court AARP members, date white men or doubt themselves. They are women who would describe their lives as more happy then hopeless. Never mind the bright spotlight shining on us, popular culture's most marketable it girl, the poor single black woman.  Every day, it's beaten over our heads about our allegedly dwindling prospects. But we're hardly ruined by that.

Most of the women at our little gathering believed that it will happen. The "it" here being the ever illusive title of Mrs., the one degree a woman can't earn in four years. Accepting yourself seemed to be the only advice on the table that night. Maybe you're corny, an asshole, too bossy, a little loud and perhaps bitchy. But to these women those traits are don't get in the way of the fact that they're kind, compassionate, able to cook and possibly ready for love.

"I'm ready for the narrative to move away from giving black women advice on finding a black man," says Danielle. "You can work on yourself, and love is still not guaranteed for you. Just be."

Helena Andrews is a regular contributor to The Root. Her book, Bitch Is The New Black, will be released this summer. Follow her on Twitter.

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