Essence editor, blogger and first-time author Demetria Lucas shines as a luminary among single women who tell their “been-there-done-that-bought-the-T-shirt” stories proudly. The noticeable difference separating Lucas from her peers, however, is that instead of loathing single sistahood and anxiously awaiting her knight in shining armor, she describes her fondness of being young, sassy and single in her debut A Belle in Brooklyn. Lucas plumbs the ins and outs of single life as a stylish journalist in the Big Apple in an indepth tome that delves into her voyages, inspirations and triumphs. Here, she shares a few tips with us on how to be truly happy, find yourself and relish being single in today’s society.

Find more books recommended for women this summer at Kirkus.

The days of old that boasted “love and marriage” are long gone, while being “single and ready to mingle” has become more commonplace.

A lot of people are disillusioned with marriage and especially monogamy. There are so many stories about marriages gone awry for multiple reasons, including infidelity. And the divorce rate hovering at 50 percent surely doesn’t help single folk to be in a rush to make an ultimate commitment.

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Also, the days of old when folks got married and “lived happily ever after” didn’t really exist. People stayed together—but were all of them happy? Some were. But all? No. People talk more openly now about what marriage really is, removing the fairy tale of it. At its core, it’s a lot of sacrifice, compromise and hard work to make it lasting and fulfilling. Everybody’s not rushing to take on that responsibility, and I totally get why.

What are your suggestions for single, black and unhappy women out there who just cannot find love?

To move on from the drama and the past issues. It will be near impossible to find the love they seek from a great guy as long as they’re muddled with drama and past issues. We don’t want to deal with drama and baggage from men, so why would we think they want to deal with it from us?

Get a life coach, a therapist, and/or an Iyanla Vanzant book and heal what ails you so you can be free and happy—whether you’re with someone or not. In all the thousands of men I’ve interviewed over the years, high on their list of what makes a woman a great girlfriend or potential wife is feeling at peace when she is around. You can’t create peace when you’re bogged down in baggage.

How have you been handling the comparisons to Carrie Bradshaw? 

I’ve always had a mixed reaction to it, which I note in the intro of my book. I am a huge Sex and the City fan and, admittedly, it’s quite flattering to be compared to a cultural icon who was beloved by so many and touched or reflected their lives in some way. I love that readers can relate to me like a very good girlfriend.

However, I am a very real woman, not an urban fantasy created and molded by an amazing writing team or the black version of such. I am “just” me and that’s more than enough. My book was inspired largely by what SATC left out. The franchise ran for 10 years and women of color barely glimpsed a character that looked like them and lived a life—even fictional—on par with “The Girls.”

I originally started writing my blog because I was looking for reflections of those amazing black women that I see in Brooklyn, Harlem, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Houston, Chicago, Oakland and so many other places. But I couldn’t find them done accurately. [This] is the book I always to read about black girl life—one that has ups and downs with more ups and than downs and leaves women hopeful and empowered.

Like Carrie Bradshaw, you have experienced the fear of marriage when faced with a proposal.  Do you ever see yourself breaking out in hives while trying on a bridal gown?

No. If ever I say “yes” to a proposal, it will be with someone who I am clear that I can share my life with long term. Aidan was a great guy, as great as they come. But just because a guy is “good,” doesn’t make him the right man for every woman, hence the hives at the thought of marrying him. 

What have been some of the most plaguing dating questions you’ve been asked?

“How do I change him or get him to change?” You cannot change other people unless they actually want to change. There’s no way to do it. Many have tried, all have failed. A person may transform temporarily. But they’ll go back to who they are if they are not committed to change.