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This month, Super Bowl and the NBA All-Star Games bring out the babes and the ballers. Many women attend these events in hopes of landing a baller – an athlete or a heavyweight money-maker. But is the goal to have a weekend hook-up or to land a love that can last a lifetime?

As we examine the “finding good love” dilemma for sistas, one of the topics that come up is settling or dating down. I’ve engaged in numerous conversations that go a little something like this: “I need a baller, someone who’s already extremely successful in his field. And at this point in my life (30’s and above), I don’t have time for the man with potential.” Or “I know what the statistics say, but I shouldn’t have to settle for less than what I want. If I’m a professional woman, I should be able to date someone of the same caliber as me, right?”

Check out my candid interview with Sheree Whitfield from

“The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” as she’s battling with this very dilemma. LISTEN HERE:

Note: More of our interview is on the stream.

Well, as a woman in a similar boat, my answer is right and wrong, and here are my reasons.

At the end of the day, what a real grown woman wants is a good man to make her feel loved, adored, protected and excited, but we cannot afford to limit ourselves to a box of how that gift may manifest itself. Simply put, it’s counterproductive. You may not like this, but maybe we should consider the possibility that our expectations are a little delusional, unrealistic and unnecessary. If any one of those is true, it’s not a matter of dating down, but quite simply a change in perspective. Is it possible that what you’ve viewed as a downgrade could turn out to be an upgrade?

As black women have gained more education and status, have we forgotten what really counts? Have we become discriminatory and elitist? To the sisters who say they want a man who can handle his own in corporate America, I say, I understand – me too – but corporate America doesn’t care about you or your family, and corporate America won’t hold you at night and wipe your tears away.

What is a good man anyway?

Ladies, the measure of a black man’s success is not what he does to earn a living, but what he does to FULFILL YOUR living. Real measures of a black man’s success used to be faith, integrity and commitment to family and community. Don’t get it twisted: Just because a guy is not in a white-collar job doesn’t mean he’s not intelligent, cultured and socially acceptable. Since the numbers are stacked against us, perhaps we need to change our game; not compromise, but re-examine how we view our men and our choices. It’s been said that doing the same things and expecting a different result is considered insanity.

Now, if your romance is about finance, consider checking out the men you might never give the time of day: The mailman, the barber or construction worker … see if he can bring it home like a good brother should. He may not be a millionaire, but if he has good credit, that can go a long way. I believe that times of crisis (like now) prompt us to check our fronts and frivolity and focus instead on the fundamental things that count. Perhaps if we do that, we’ll havea better chance of finding our soul mate in a good black man. Could he be in front of your face?

The truth is men – and especially successful men – have plenty of options when it comes to women as it is. And the more successful he is, that also means the less time he may have for you. On the other hand, the man with the 9 to 5 job may have more of a routine; he may have more of an emphasis on family and time to spend with you. These are not hard-set rules, but simply a perspective for consideration. What do you want most: Someone who spends most of their time working, on top of being chased by plenty of women? Or the guy who’s life is a little more predictable, but you’re the highlight of his life?

I’m just saying – things are looking up for the average Joe. And Joe may be the one who brings you joy beyond measure.

Deya “Direct” Smith, along with being a producer on the Tom Joyner Morning Show and host of Girlfriend FM on the stream, is a motivational speaker, actress and activist. She can be reached at

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