A few years ago a female friend asked me the one question feared by most upwardly mobile men.

She leaned in, looked up at me and tapped me emphatically on the forehead as if knocking on a door she wanted pried open: “Peter why can’t you black men take ownership of your women?” she scolded. “I’m sick of ya’ll never trying to seal the deal.”

This gorgeous soul met her fair share of Romeos who left her heart-broken in their wake. As an unmarried part of that crème de la crème collective, she directed her contempt towards me, another accomplished brother absent from the altar.

I gave it thought then answered sheepishly:

“Half us don’t have ownership of ourselves so how do you expect us to be accountable for anyone else.”

Hidden behind my résumé, she couldn’t see the uneasiness with which I wore success, the fickleness of black achievement and the constant state of urgency it bore.

Her own crisis stemmed from the harsh numbers that show only 26 percent of black women being hitched, the lowest of any group, according to a study by the National Center of Marriage and Research. In fact, the study showed the median age of all women to wed is at 27, the highest it’s ever been.

We can mix in a number of factors, like living in the Industrial Age where more of us are prolonging saying “I Do” for “I Want” to the dwindling of happily-ever-after.

I’ve witnessed the sheer desperation at which my friend and so many other black women describe their search for the all elusive “good black man.”

So why are men like myself and so many other brothers at the top of the food chain hesitant?

Yes, just like our female counterparts we need security to feel complete, but we’re fighting it within ourselves.

For as long as I can remember I was taught to be a provider, that if I can’t put a roof over a woman’s head don’t even bother.

As black men, however successful, we are in a constant state of maintaining what we have, knowing that our tumble can be triggered by the slightest jolt.The fact that we’re only one traffic stop away from being laid out on the pavement only reinforces our fears and paranoia.

I myself have had to work 10 times as hard for any seat as my non-black peers. My female friend would argue that she too suffered that same struggle, but she’ll never understand the pressures that come with being a man.

Understandably, the fall-out of all this has been a generation of women now taught to “Think Like A Man.”

Sadly, this only furthers the divide between black men and women, both on opposite ends refusing to meet in the middle.

It’s as if successful black men have become lab rats to be probed and experimented upon by much too zealous single women.

Are we on the DL? Do we not date black women? Is he too weak to endure me?

Stop it.

This just leads to resentment from myself and my peers.

Black love doesn’t need any more seminars or studies, just a good dose of patience and understanding.

My word of advice to my friend and other females on the mission to finding Mr. Right?

Think like a woman and ease our fears.