Posted by Dr. Grace Sidberry in Black Love Advice

Sometimes a random sequence of events offers an opportunity to gain invaluable insights.

This was my experience a few weeks ago when I was chatting with a group of single ladies in their mid-20’s and 30’s about their experiences dating.

One of the ladies spoke of her hurt and disappointment with a guy she had been dating for several weeks who just suddenly stopped calling or responding to texts. Another young woman bemoaned living in a culture of men who can’t be trusted. The general consensus was that true love is a myth and the way to reel in a guy is to bamboozle him into submission.

The conversation left me feeling a mixture of disillusionment and sadness.

As a black woman, wife, and mother I am keenly optimistic that our men and women can experience joy and fulfillment in a healthy partnership. Yes, indeed there are challenges that exist in every intimate relationship, the best way to overcome that is to work with your partner. As a psychologist who counsels couples, I am all too familiar with the pain of turbulent and broken relationships.

As I was mulling over the conversation and reflecting on my own thoughts, I happened to tune into an episode of the New Yorker Radio Hour on National Public Radio. The host was interviewing the musician Andrew Bird who had recently released an album called, “Are You Serious.”

The interview featured one of the songs from the album called, “Puma.”

The song opens with the classic strains of a violin and then breaks into a rhythmic beat with Bird singing:

“Do you see particles in the air?
Nobody notices, nobody cares, oh
Don’t try to tell her she’s less feline than human
‘Cause it gives rise to the rumor she’s a girl and not a puma
And that light that shines is not a pearl, it’s just a tumor.”

As the interview unfolds we discover that Bird penned the songs in this album during a time of great challenge in his life.

He and his wife had recently welcomed their first child, and then she was suddenly diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She went through surgery and radiation treatment.

The chorus of the song tells the story of what it was like when she was receiving treatment.

“She was radioactive for seven days
How I wanted to be holding her anyways
But the doctors, they told me to stay away
Due to flying neutrinos and the gamma rays, oh.”

It struck me that this was not just a story about a very difficult time for Bird and his wife; it is also a story about true love.

True love is so much more complex than a staged Instagram picture of a couple gazing into each other’s eyes.

True love is choosing to walk down the path of life with someone you have grown to respect, trust and love.

True love is when a couple chooses to struggle together through the tough times. It is a journey that requires ongoing learning and growing. The learning and growing may seem like a slow process, but a mindset of patience and determination strengthens the chances of a successful outcome.

Deeply loving someone has always been about sacrifice. 

In the song, Puma speaks of the yearning that Bird felt wanting to reach out to hug and comfort his wife even though he knew to do this would place his own health at risk. Such is true love; feeling so closely bonded to another that the desire to give of yourself overshadows every other concern.

True love is about having the courage to be vulnerable and to take risks in your quest to find the right person for you. It is committing to do all you can to forge that relationship once you’ve found the right person.

But… As with most good things in life, it can take a while to discover the treasure of true love.

Exercising patience and choosing to be optimistic are essential qualities that help you as you wait.

To those single ladies who are discouraged, disappointed, or hurt, take heart. True love is attainable, keep striving for it.

Dr. Grace Sidberry is a licensed psychologist and relationship expert. She provides training for individuals and couples to nurture healthy relationships. To learn more about how to build a great relationship, sign up for her free 30 Day Challenge at