Black women turn to online dating for love
With each swing of the restaurant door, Marcia Lane leaned forward and squinted to see whether she recognized her online date, JayMan45. He described himself as average-looking, but lots of fun. Lane appreciated his modesty and was excited to meet him.
After waiting 10 minutes, there was a soft tap on her shoulder. She turned around and nearly gasped for air from shock, but managed to conjure up an uncomfortable half-smile instead. JayMan45 was about also 15 pounds heavier and 20 years older than his profile picture on match.com. He also was balding.
Lane endured the awkward silences and forced laughter for about an hour and a half, but decided to skip dessert because of an “upset stomach.” She received two phone calls from JayMan45 after their meeting, but she never answered.
“It was your stereotypical online nightmare,” said Lane, 30, of Brooklyn.
Lane is part of a growing phenomenon among single black women —online dating. According to a recent study by ABC news, about 42 percent of black women never have been married — that’s double the percentage of white women yet to be hitched. So black women are turning to the Internet to find love.
Popular black dating Web sites BlackSingles.com and BlackPeopleMeet.com each could not confirm the number of profiles for black women, but both reported an increase in women looking for their soul mates.
Lane, who has been dating online for more than four years, said she is searching for companionship online because of the “combination of (her) busy schedule and (her) passionate desire to find love.” She had profiles on match.com, eHarmony, Craigslist and is currently listed on CatholicSingles.com, but hasn’t had much luck.
Philadelphia Daily News columnist Jenice Armstrong found true love on match.com, the most popular online dating site with a reported 6 million first dates and 12 marriage proposals per day.
Armstrong put her profile on match.com as a story idea. After a couple of meaningless dates, she left the site, but decided to rejoin a few years later after several empty marriage proposals.
Within a month of returning to match.com, she received a message from Cameron Turner. He seemed to fit her criteria of a guy who could “teach a child to read one day and go scuba diving the next.”
“He just stood out,” Armstrong said. “I knew. I just knew. I mean, who goes online, puts up a profile and finds the perfect guy? We are coming up on five years now, and I still gush when I see him.”
He proposed in front of the statue of David while they were on an Italian vacation less than a year later. Armstrong and her husband were living in different states when they met online. She lived in Philadelphia and he lived in New Jersey. She believes Internet dating is the only place they would ever have been able to get together.
“My husband does not go out to nightclubs or parties,” Armstrong said. “He’s the kind of guy who goes home and cuts his grass. I never would have met him otherwise.”
Although there are plenty of stories like Armstrong’s, online dating is still a stigma to some in the black community.
Rose-Marie Clementine, 38, of the Lower East Side, is a single mother of two and is searching for love. Although she has been single for 12 years, she won’t try online dating.
“If we can overcome slavery, Katrina and Haiti, I think black women can figure out a way to get married,” Clementine said.
But Armstrong believes that many black women are not utilizing online dating because “there is a significant percentage of the black community that is not computer literate, and they just don’t understand.
According to a survey conducted by the Journal of Urban Health in 2005, only 47 percent of blacks in America owned a computer, and about 60 percent were women.
Armstrong says there are a decent amount of black men online, but a scarce few with impressive levels of education.
“There were lots of good-looking guys,” Armstrong said. “But too many with bad grammar and bad spelling.”
Only about 30 percent of black men graduate from college; that number is double for black women. But some black women still refuse to date outside their race.
Amiya Little, 27, is currently listed on BlackSingles.com. She is determined to find a black man and has turned to online dating for help.
“I want to marry a black man,” said Little, of Brooklyn. “If I can’t find one here in New York, then maybe I can find one across the world online. New York isn’t the only place in the world to find a good black man. I am sure he’s out there somewhere, and I will find him eventually.”
BlackSingles.com has profiles of more than 5,000 black women and claims to be one of the most successful black dating Web sites.
“I don’t have actual numbers, but I receive dozens of success stories every day,” said Tasha, a support representative from BlackSingles.com who was unwilling to give her last name. “It really is the best part of my job.”
Armstrong thinks, if nothing else, online dating allows singles to meet people they otherwise wouldn’t have met, even if they don’t form an intimate relationship.
“People can be very judgmental,” Armstrong said. “They act like online dating is stooping so low. I see them as the same people who won’t buy anything online, but you get more options when you shop online and at the mall.”