School is officially back in session around the country. And like a true nerd, I got a head start by going back to school this summer. After creating a relationships workshop just for college students, I got to explore the HBCU dating scene for Ebony magazine's September issue.
And I tell you, in my nostalgia for the yard and campus events I had minimized the dating game that had gotten even more complicated.
The "Beware, Single Black Women" headlines that have dominated the last few years have already made their impact on young women just starting their dating lives. Coeds are dealing with the simultaneous pressure that casual sex and not titles are the norm, yet their quest for a partner should have started yesterday.
Men have their concerns as well. Living in a dorm nicknamed "The Ebony Sex Palace," my friend saw friends enjoying casual sex and decided to give it a try. His first hook-up partner ended up pregnant with twins months later, and told the entire campus he was the father. He was unable to join a fraternity after being a shoo-in and was summoned to court for a paternity test. He witnessed his School Daze quickly become Maury.
Women shared they had been told to scout a husband while in college by family, mentors, high school teachers and more. One HBCU sociology professor even told her class that if the ladies didn't find a husband in college then they wouldn't get married, and she was just "stating the facts." The inflammatory remark led to male and female students hosting a five-hour dialogue on Black relationships.
The fact is the majority of Black women do get married, and college is the beginning -- not the end -- of our dating lives.
One Spelman professor and graduate shared how she and many of her classmates in the 90s dated seriously in college, something she doesn't see her students doing.
Students chimed in on the campus dating scene from summer trips around the world including Brazil and Germany. Their journeys to self-exploration is a great reminder that the biggest step you can take to finding love, is falling in love with yourself first.
The real fact is most Black women (58 percent) do marry, many to men they didn't date in college. American women are also marrying later, at 26 on average, up from 20 in the 1960s. I admit I took dating too seriously in college, only going out with guys I could see myself marrying. After graduating I was more relaxed, self-assured and smiling and men showed more interest. Ironically, though my man of two years whom I've discussed marriage with, also went to Howard, we met at a rooftop party in Brooklyn -- not on the yard. He loves my Southern cooking, my confidence -- and the fact that he won't be dapping a line of my hook-ups at homecoming.
Share your college dating experiences below!
Follow Charreah K. Jackson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Charreah