(Photo: Atria Publishing)
Demetria Lucas, the relationship editor for Essence magazine is fly, fashionable and knows how to make her own money. She has an award-winning blog and has served as an editor for numerous years. But now, through stories about her own life, Lucas is sharing dating advice first hand—from the perspective of a single, successful, working Black woman. Her new book, A Belle in Brooklyn, out Tuesday, mirrors her dating experiences from age 23 until she turns 30.
Although this 31-year-old values women’s independence, she also stresses that a college degree doesn’t necessarily make you a better candidate when trying to find a man.
A typical college graduate earns roughly $650,000 more than a typical high school graduate over the course of a 40-year career, according to the Pew Research Center, but Lucas finds, as witnessed through her chronicles, that college degrees are a non-factor in a man’s decision to date someone.
“A lot of women have made the mistake of thinking that the things we look for in men—degrees and salary, which are ultimately security—are the same things that men look for in us. That’s not true," she tells BET.com. “Is she nurturing? Is she supportive? Can he depend on her? Is she reliable? Those are the things men look for.”
According to Lucas, if someone didn’t go to Harvard, but she’s a hair dresser, a potential mate is fine with that. If she works at the post office, he’s fine with that. “Putting your degrees first, as in ‘I have this degree and I have this job and I make this amount of money’—it’s a non-factor to a guy who is not a gold-digger."
When Lucas first started writing her blog in 2007, Sex and City was her favorite show. It always irked her, however, that there was no African-American character who was “fly and fabulous and had a great job and great friends” on television.
“When you saw Black women who were single, you saw Pam from Martin, you saw Regine from Living Single, and a few other characters who were so hungry, so needy, so desperate,” she says. “There was no story being told about the life that I was living, about the women that I knew; the women that I saw when I went on vacation; when I went to Atlanta, Philly, L.A. Those stories weren’t being told.”
It’s wonderful to be that high-power woman and make your money and have your career, but if you’re also interested in finding the person of your dreams, Lucas suggests the following:
1) Go Out and Say Hello
You don’t necessarily have to go to bars or clubs, but run your errands and pay attention to who is around you. Say hello if you see someone who looks interesting, attractive and is someone who you think that you might want to get to know better.
“It’s not hitting on him, it’s not making the first move, it’s not being too aggressive; it’s being the same way you would at any networking event when you’re trying to meet people,” Lucas says. “There is nothing more frustrating than going out and seeing a guy and you’re like, ‘Oh, I wish I would have said something' and then he’s gone."
2) Express Who You Are, Not What You Do
When getting to know people, a job is what you do, not necessarily who you are—so talk about who you are, Lucas advises. “To talk about, oh I do this, and I do that, and I have all these responsibilities, it’s interesting, it really is, but, leading with that is not going to gain you any points."
3) Be Yourself
Lucas says that so often we hear advice to do this, or be that, to be feminine or ask him 50 million questions about himself. “Eventually what happens is that you do all these things to be someone else, and he really likes that person. Then you realize you get tired of putting up a front and go back to being the person that you really are, and he questions, ‘What happened to that girl?’ And you were never that girl. “
Whether you get married, or it’s a boyfriend, or just a friend, Lucas believes that there is someone for everyone.
There is such a thing as Mr. Right. “He’s out there and he will like you as you are,” not for what you make.