education and relationships

In the Caribbean, the stereotype of the strong, independent woman is that she ‘don’t need no man’. Many females happily flaunt their independence and freedom, reminding us of it with every meme post, facebook status, instaquote or retweet. Then there are those who feign membership to the group only to flip the script once they find Mr. Right.

As always we are left asking one of life’s eternally unanswered questions.

                        What do women really want?

What must a man do to woo such a strong and independent woman? Lastly, how important is education in this equation? As education is often cited as a major factor leading to one’s success and independence, let’s examine the role of education in relationships to better understand the matter at hand.

independent black woman

In March 2018, The World Bank posted an article on their website entitled ‘The Time Is Now for Gender Equality in the Caribbean’ which presented the following highlights:

  •  In Latin America and the Caribbean, the participation of women in the labor force rose by 33 percent between 1990 and 2014.
  • Latin America and the Caribbean has the second-highest rate of female entrepreneurship in the world: 40 percent of firms have female participation in ownership.
  • Over the last 30 years, more women than men get an education in many countries, and female enrollment in education in the Caribbean has steadily improved to reach 94 percent. Girls also tend to outperform boys in standardized tests.

education and relationships

These statistics reinforce the change in women’s level of education and consequently their way of thinking. The importance of education in relationships from a woman’s perspective can fall into two groups.

  1. Women who will not settle for a man who is less educated
  2. Those who are more flexible regarding a potential partner’s level of education.

Speaking to various females, demonstrated that while some females didn’t mind a guy who wasn’t as successful academically, some preferred a guy on their intellectual level or higher.

Using a scale of 1-10 to rate the importance of a man’s level of education 1 being not important and 10 being very important, “Sam” (whose real name I will not use) didn’t think twice about her rating of ‘10’. Her potential partner must possess the same level of education as herself or higher, two main reasons being the ability to have deep, intellectual conversations as well as the benefit of transferring said knowledge to her future children.

In her experience, men who are not as academically inclined can’t relate as well during various conversations, which takes away from what she described as ‘the mental connection’ that she longs for when dating. While she may be willing to reconsider for a guy who has an unrivaled sense of humour and unwavering loyalty, that remains a big maybe.

For some, this may seem a bit harsh, but as we say in Trinidad, ‘every bread has its cheese’.  (* cue Christina Aguilera ‘What A Girl Wants’* )

education and relationships

On the other hand, “Lisa’s” (another friend who I will not name) rating on the importance of a guy’s level of education was ‘6’ and she doesn’t deem it imperative that her suitor’s level of education is equal or higher than hers. She takes a more holistic approach and is willing to date a guy who is knowledgeable, self-educated, has a passion for learning new things, can join any conversation and who is also honest, romantic and faithful. She has stated that at times, men who consider themselves as ‘smarter’ attempt to use it to their advantage; this translates into being cocky which is a major turn-off. She joked,

“if we liming, drinking beers, no need to use words that going to tie up your tongue and no need having to prove yourself so much (rolls eyes).”

After interviewing a number of men and learning that education was not a major factor for the majority of those interviewed, “Sam” suspected that it could be due to the fact that men don’t mind ‘marrying down’ as they love superiority while “Lisa” suggested that a woman’s insecurities may lead her to seek someone whose level of education is higher as a way to secure her future.

However, when interviewed, the main qualities that the majority of men highlighted which trumped a girl’s level of education included:

  • a great sense of humour
  • can carry a conversation
  • is fun
  • understanding
  • ambitious
  • adventurous
  • and of course, not being too clingy and not giving in to jealousy (no room for “Petty Bettys).

While this was not meant to be an in-depth study, it does go to show that oftentimes you can learn a lot about relationships among your own circle of friends and during those treasured lunchtime conversations. How do you think education impacts your choices in relationships?