Despair in a conservative State
I have been living in Wisconsin for the past 7 years. I am single, no children, educated, independent, with a healthy self-esteem. While I was living on the east coast I found it quite easy to make friends and date men in my social class and of my race. Since I've been living in Wisconsin I have found that I am a minority in many ways. I am an African American (1) woman (2) who is college educated (3) in a white-collar position (4) who is fully acculturated (5). The majority of African Americans in Wisconsin do not fit into categories 2-4. It is well known that we choose our friends and mates from those who share the most commonalities. Here in Wisconsin I have dated White men predominantly, as a result of this fact. My commonalities lie mostly with the white population here. It is not with regret either, as I have found that men are men and race does not matter, at least until its time to get serious.
As Wisconsin is such a Conservative place I seem to be caught between a rock and a hard place. I don't meet black men because they are not in my vicinity, nor do they share my interests. I meet White men who wish to date me casually but not take it seriously because "white-collar White men marrying Black women of any social status in the state of Wisconsin is UNHEARD OF". Let me say this, I make emphasis to 'white collar' because it matters---not because I'm a snob. For example: when I first moved back here I dated blue collar workers, who were uneducated, hung out in corner bars, knew nothing of politics and did not wish to, could not and would not participate in intellectual conversation, who avoided certain areas of town, and who were jealous of my possessions, goals and ambition in general. My despair has made me wish to move out of the state next year if my love life does not improve.
What can I do? I am truly at a loss. Seven years is too long to be lonely. If I need to make a personal (internal) change, what can I change without compromising my beliefs, dreams and goals?
Seven years is too long to be lonely, indeed. From what you describe, it doesn't sound to me as if there are any personal, internal changes that you can or should make to help the situation. It sounds like you have given life in Wisconsin a fair shot in the past seven years, and have been open-minded enough to try dating men of different races and socioeconomic classes. The only possible exception to this would be if you have a fear of intimacy, and your fear has led you to place yourself in an environment in which the chances of becoming involved in a serious relationship are slim because of the racial and social barriers which exist. You need to examine this possibility for yourself and decide if there is merit to it. If so, then therapy would be the right avenue to address and resolve your fears. If not, then you need to pursue other solutions.
You mention not wanting to compromise your beliefs, dreams, and goals. What are those beliefs, dreams, and goals? Is it realistic to expect that you can accomplish them in Wisconsin? Would it be easier to accomplish them elsewhere? You are in an excellent position to answer those questions since you have actually experienced living in both Wisconsin and the east coast and are not merely speculating that things might be different if you were to live elsewhere.
You found it easier to make friends and to date when you lived on the east coast, so it sounds as if you were happier when living there . . . is this correct? What was the reason for the move to Wisconsin? Are those reasons still sufficient reason for living there? You mention your frustrations with dating, but not whether you have made good friends and formed a satisfying social and emotional network apart from dating. Are there any positive aspects to your life in Wisconsin that make you want to stay there? Were there things that were negative on the east coast that make you hesitant about moving back? You need to consider all of these things as you go about forming your plans.
It is reasonable to spend some time soul searching about where you are in your life now and what you want to have happen in your life from this point forward. It is also reasonable to make whatever changes you need to make to bring about the things that you want in your life.
Although you don't come right out and say it, I sense that you might feel as if you had failed in some way if you were to come to the conclusion that Wisconsin is simply not the right environment for you to live in at this time. It seems in the background information part of your question that are trying to justify your position, that you are trying to say in some way "Hey, it's not me, I really have tried, but this is not an easy place to be an educated professional black woman." I believe you! Would you feel as if you were admitting defeat in some way if you were to move? Perhaps because you were unable to transcend some of the racial/social barriers? Do you feel you have something to prove - to yourself, to society at large, or to any significant people in your life? You certainly don't have to justify your decisions to anyone but yourself, but it will help you to move forward if you are clear with yourself about your motivations for staying or for moving, for wanting things to work out or for concluding that you have given it a good faith effort and it's time to move on. (And remember the old adage that "the definition of insanity is when you keep doing the same thing and expecting different results"!)
What about the practicalities of a move? What would your job prospects be? Do you still have friends and connections on the east coast to return to? Would you want to consider a new location altogether?
This is a good time for you to spend some time thinking about all of these questions as you decide where to go from here. You may find that a counselor would be an objective person with whom you could discuss your ideas and thoughts, particularly if there is no one in your personal life with whom you feel comfortable discussing these issues. Good luck, Nendra. I hope that what you really want and the path to achieving it will soon become clear to you.
Susan Maroto, LCSW
This question has been answered by Susan Maroto. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker working out of Mount Laurel, New Jersey. She uses an eclectic approach to holistic healing, mind-body relationships, life transitions, depression, and anxiety.For more information visit: http://www.therapywithsusan.com/