Dating African Men and Women vs African American Men and Women

African culture and African American culture are highly distinctive, unique, and all share their own manners. There are approximately 3000 different tribes in Africa. As far as African Americans, because many of us derive from enslaved Africans and the mix of some indigenous people, it has left us with a diverse multitude of backgrounds. Now, if we take this and blend it with the part of the United States we live in, it speaks to how we grew up.

For example, Southern states like Mississippi and Tennessee are known for their “southern hospitality.” So, you can imagine the differences we all possess in the Black culture. Love is a universal language indeed, however we all speak it differently. Are there too many cultural differences that make dating another African American versus another African person just a little bit harder? I say all this to say, despite these differences, do they make a difference when it comes to love?

Of course they do.

The way a person was brought up and raised to believe has an impact on the way they interact with individuals, especially those of the opposite sex. It also doesn’t help when we already have preconceived notions of each other, thanks mostly to the media.

“The media has the power to create depictions of people and situations that are interpretations of the real-world. These images carry with them messages that sometimes modify or exaggerate reality and therefore, create beliefs that can have a tremendous impact on people’s perceptions of the world and those in it.” (Punynanunt-Carter, 2008)

African American men and women definitely have their opinions of Africans and vice versa. But do these opinions negatively or positively affect the dating process; or both? In my experience in dating, I found that upbringing mixed with media stereotypes have shined an ugly light on both of our cultures. I met a man from Ghana and he was very eager to find someone to marry. To him, African American women were smart, beautiful and for the most part, rich. Between social media, cable television, and movies, I had mixed feelings. People that had posted about African men and sent pictures made African men look like sexy, exotic men that loved and were devoted to their women.

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Then there were different ideas that they could date and marry multiple women and the women better not dare take more than one man. I was also told to be careful with African men because they may just try to use you to get into America and might even leave you for a white woman. (This was actually told to me). All they care about is money and getting their citizenship by any means. So of course, why would a woman take this type of man seriously or even give him a chance?

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In my experience, from the several African men I have encountered in the dating scene, they used the word love to express that they really like you. At first, I didn’t understand because in America, we use the word love when we are serious about someone. It naturally turned me off until I noticed several men did the same thing. I had to explain to them that in America, we don’t say that unless we are in love with you and asked them to please not say that to me. I understood it wasn’t meant to be disrespectful or to make me uncomfortable, they were simply telling me how they felt, however, I felt like I should let them know for future reference.

I also experienced the bluntness. I actually had one guy tell me that I put on weight when he saw a picture of me. I was shocked because I knew for a fact I hadn’t and if anything I lost weight since I had seen him in person. That wasn’t his first time saying whatever was on his mind, nor was it the first time I had spoken with men from Ghana, South Africa and Tanzania that just said whatever they felt, no matter if it sounded rude or not. I understand there are American men that do the same, but most of them keep things like “you gained weight” to themselves. Especially Black men, it’s like an unspoken respect and also refraining from getting slapped across the face.

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Knowledge of the various customs surrounding romance can become especially important where there is the potential to cause offense because you haven’t appreciated the subtle nuances between what is considered acceptable in one country might not be in another.

The only way to really respect our African and African American brothers and sisters while dating is to simply respect that things are different. Take it one day at a time and get to know the other person like any other date. Don’t fight the person if they don’t understand your way, communicate effectively, and let the natural attraction set its natural course. I decided if I do end up dating someone from Africa again, that I would do my part in understanding their culture and how they do things; even outside of the romance sector. For example, I read that, in Ghana, you never hand anything to a prospective partner using your left hand – this will be seen as a supreme insult. In Kenya, particularly in Swahili culture, singles don’t do much in the way of interaction at all – until they marry.

I have also heard some stories where some Africans may feel they are better than African Americans. Bringing home an African American man or woman to meet the parents may not be one of the best choices to an African family. I am sure not every family is this way, but if this is the case, it’s very unfortunate. It is important for you to have this conversation with your partner so you know what you are in store for.

Despite our differences, I do believe there are a lot of cultural similarities that we have in common. Group inclusion; it takes a village to raise a child, knowing that family is important, and having big family parties and get togethers. We are kinesthetic learners, which makes us out to be great athletes, cooks, engineers, construction workers, and so much more.

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Africans have literally taught the Western world everything from how to be well groomed to Mathematics.

There is something rich about both Africans and African Americans, despite the differences. I think it’s important to appreciate, embrace and learn the differences between the two, but realize that these differences don’t have to separate us. Love is Love, but Black Love is a beautiful, healing, magical thing.

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