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Exploring Partner Scarcity: Highly Educated Black Women and Dating Compromise



Research examining negative outcomes (e.g., condom use) among Black women traditionally focuses on those from lower educational backgrounds. There is a void in the literature surrounding negative outcomes for highly educated Black women.


The current study uses a modified version of the theory of scarcity framework and mixed methods. These methods provide an in-depth examination of 22 highly educated Black women’s (earning or have earned degrees over a bachelor’s degree) engagement in behaviors that lead to negative outcomes (e.g., partner sharing). Participants were recruited in the summer of 2016 until spring of 2017.


Three broad themes were uncovered: (a) perceptions of partner availability, (b) compromising behaviors, and (c) negative outcomes influenced by both. Factors perceived to influence limited partner availability included (1) the number of equally educated and financial stable Black men, (2) interracial dating trends, and (3) regional preferences for women of other races. Negative outcomes occurred most often among women who compromised their personal values in their relationships. Findings are consistent with current literature that suggest that Black women, despite educational attainment, perceive low partner availability.


A common concern of Black women is that Black males’ desires for women of other racial groups is a contributing factor to their limited pool of available partners.

Social Policy Implications

It is important to understand the influence of perceived partner availability on highly educated Black women’s intimate relationship decision-making and create interventions that help them engage in conversations surrounding condom use and partner sharing in their romantic relationships.

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The authors would like to thank undergraduate Research Assistants Tesha Davila, Rumana Rahimi, Katherine Hernandez, Alexander Rafi Yasmeen Nadreen, and Tesha Davilmar for their work on this project.

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Correspondence to Brittany Boyd.

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Boyd, B., Stephens, D.P., Eaton, A. et al. Exploring Partner Scarcity: Highly Educated Black Women and Dating Compromise. Sex Res Soc Policy 18, 702–714 (2021).

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  • Black women
  • Scarcity
  • Educational status
  • Heterosexuality
  • Compromise