The worst thing someone can do when dating a person of another race (or even the same race) is assume that they’re all one cohesive group without their own political outlooks, their own social justice standpoints, their own sexual appetite, their own love languages, their own hang-ups and their own passions.
If you’re looking for all the answers to dating a black man or dating a black woman, you’re looking in the wrong place. Walk in a room to meet 50 black women and 50 black men, and expect 100 different personalities. Some may have similar experiences or have gone through common -isms, but they’re still individuals.
Chances are high that those of similar hues already know this, so the post below will be directed at online daters who are interested in dating a black woman or black man for the first time. Whether this is your first interracial relationship altogether or your first one with someone who is African-American, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Dating a Black Man or Dating a Black Woman – Tips & Advice
Getting Past the ‘Exotic’ Attraction to Black Women
If you’ve read the wording on White Men Black Women to describe black women, please do everything except that. Nothing says, “I have a fetish” quite like immediately equating black women as having an “exotic appearance,” deciding they are “traditionally kind” and “are usually very sexual.” Now is it possible to meet an African-American woman (or a woman of African descent from another country) who does have “strikingly, excitingly, or mysteriously different or unusual” looks? Yes. Merriam Webster confirms the definition. The problem is that what some people feel is “exotic” is usually just another way of saying “not European.” Wide nose and hips, plump lips, thicker hair texture and/or exterior of hands that don’t match the palms? Check, check, check and more checks.
But that doesn’t make her “exotic.” It just means she doesn’t look like the white women some non-black men are used to. And black women come in all sizes, shapes and complexions. Ava DuVernay and Viola Davis are both black women, just as much as Regina Hall, Robin Thede and Michelle Obama. Picture all five: None of them look alike. While it’s problematic in itself to date a black woman for looking “exotic” to you, it also bypasses that there are so many different looks for a black woman anyway.
The same goes for sexuality and kindness. Some black women are sweet as peaches; others are boss ladies and straight shooters. Some black women are cheering on Megan Thee Stallion’s and Cardi B.’s “WAP” while others can be prudish. What needs to be emphasized more often than not is each black woman’s personality is not created because she’s black.
She has her own idiosyncrasies and she’s a black woman. When trying to get to know her, don’t try to dismiss her race (or say something awkward like you “don’t see color”). But dating her requires knowing more than her race.
Fighting Off Stereotypes Before Dating Black Men
In a report from American Psychological Association (via Vox), participants who were shown images of men that they believe were black were generally seen as larger and more threatening than a white person of the same size. But just as black women come in all shapes and sizes, so do black men.
Think of it this way: CNN host W. Kamau Bell is approximately 400 pounds and about 6’4. Meanwhile Mike Tyson is 5’10 and approximately 240 pounds. Now who would you be more likely to be afraid of in a fight? It’s not that friendly-neighbor-next-door Bell couldn’t give you a run for your money, but people know the reputation of Iron Mike far more—even though he’s smaller.
So just as black men don’t have a certain look and are definitely not all tough or intimidating—an extremely sensitive topic that too often gets them racially profiled and treated with far more aggressive behavior—they also have widely different beliefs, depending on the subject.
Be careful of believing dating a black man will automatically get you an instant bodyguard. While women often want to feel “protected,” there’s a fine line between looking for someone who makes you feel safe and then just assuming physical attributes automatically create this person.
Tips for Dating Black Men and Women
So now that you hopefully understand that there are layers to black men and women, what do you need to know about dating them? Just as you would do with any other demographic, you need to know that particular person. If you have never had friends who were of African descent, this may be a whole new world for you. The worst thing you can possibly do in this new situation is try to compare it to what you’ve seen on television. Mentally erase every show you’ve watched on BET, TV One, The CW and so on. Avoid asking awkward (and stereotypical) cultural questions when meeting this new person’s family and/or friends. You’re better off being silent, and letting your date or significant other show you the ropes.
But why, you ask? Why not share what you think you know about black people before dating someone black for the first time? Because odds are that it’s too often generalized and could be off its mark. The Hollywood Reporter confirms that just 4.8 percent of TV writers are black. So more often than not, too many people who have never been exposed to black people altogether—and definitely never dated them—have an idea of what it’s like to date black people that was not created nor narrated by black people. This is how annoying stereotypes are so often perpetuated. The easiest way to unlearn all you think you know about this group is by patiently listening and learning in real-life examples.
If you read the post above and are disappointed to find no magical answers for what it’s like to date black people, congratulations! Welcome to the dating world. Just as you wouldn’t know all about the random non-black person in an online dating profile, the same rules apply for black people, too. Similar hobbies, living in a multicultural society, and being exposed to more of a diverse education or workplace may improve your chances of a broader dating market and having a more informed opinion. But once you date someone new, just make sure that you spend as much time enjoying each other’s similarities as you do learning each other’s differences.