Wading Through the Water: On Blk Dating at a PWI

By Ashley Thomas

It is no coincidence that my first act of involvement on campus was acting in  Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who’ve Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. Come graduation night 2016, I may not be the only virgin in the crowd (or a virgin at all), but of my friends I may certainly be the only single lady. My college dating experience can best be described in the words of Shange, “the season was dry!” But having to waunder through the Blk male desert comprised of 2 percent Blk people, not all my nights have been deserted. I have encountered a few Lawrence’s of my labia in the process.

Year 1:  I went on three dates. Once with a guy who was one year ahead of me and fairly well known. We made out. He slept over. I slept over. My friends and I made a pact not to have sex our freshman year and we (almost all) didn’t. So him and I Netflix’d and chilled (forreal) until we realized that it wasn’t leading anywhere. The other dates I went on were back home in Harlem with a former Starbuck barista I meet when I was 15. As 20-something year old male the extent our intimacy couldn’t go any farther than free Frappacinos with extra whip cream. Once I was legal we  realized there was little we actually had in common, it was a fling as temporary as my winter break. The summer swung by. My love life was a blur.

Year 2:  This was the most liberating year for me. I had cut off my ex who I had still been entertaining since high school (not the barista). I didn’t get out much, but the one night I decided to go to a party I met a guy who had recently graduated from UW. I had seen him around campus but I never imagined that it would lead to a casual hook-up for an entire semester. It was fun. We cooked together. We watched movies and he slept over. A lot. We went on a real date once to see if the relationship would fly but it we quickly realized that we communicated better on weekends. At night. Then spring semester, I got more involved on campus and we fell off. I went home that summer dissolving any chances of truly continuing whatever “it” was.

I also reconnected with another guy back home. It wasn’t meant to be a summer fling but I was 2 ½ hours of a plane ride too far for an actual relationship. I understood. Distance is hard. And I could never dare to ask someone to commit to something they were not 100% committed to.

But of all my journeys, the highlight would have to be mustering up the courage to ask a guy on campus out. He was three years ahead of me and I had a crush on him since freshman year. It took two dates for me to tell him that I wasn’t just trying to get to know him. I used the words “pursuing you romantically” for him to realize that this young lady in front of him was actually spitting game. (And I got game ya’ll.) He let me down real easy. We laughed. We ate. We even moved to the bar area to continue drinking. Then I went home and cried because I was so embarrassed with myself.

Year 3: I had a less eventful journey. I hooked-up with a guy who I had been feeling for about a year on campus but I knew he wasn’t truly over his girlfriend. And I was right. The last date I went on was with a graduate student I met on campus at one of the events Black people on campus frequently gather at. The date was great. He paid.  We walked the long way home and then he never called again. I don’t have a real thought about the experience even still to this day.

Year 4: As a senior, I’ve accepted that I’ll be single for my entire collegiate career and I’m happy with that. I’ve learned college is the time to experiment. To have sex, to cry, to be in love. to date, to be celibate, to laugh, to be by yourself,—to do whatever it is YOU want to do. Admittedly it’s hard having your best friends in love and you spending your Friday nights watching New Girl and rap battles. And that’s ok too. There are some more men who didn’t make the list but you get the point. Maybe my next partner is at an HBCU, maybe he’s in jail because of systematic oppression, maybe he’s in Harlem milly rocking until I graduate, or he could be somewhere staring into the eyes of his girlfriend thinking that she the one not knowing I’m about to change his life. Either way, he’s not here and I’ve grown to be okay with that.


Ashley Thomas is great at frying fried chicken and as an artist intends to write openly and frankly about her life. She is one grad school letter away from getting Harlem tattoed on her wrist. For date inquiries, please prepare by reading her favorite blog,

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