Dating is quite tricky, especially for heterosexual black women. With the prevailing stereotypes of the “angry black woman,” many of us don’t like to be too forward or ask too many questions out of fear that they may seem pushy and turn a man off. As a 26-year-old black woman, I too am guilty of this. In the past, when I dated, I infrequently asked the tough questions. Sadly, that can lead to heartbreaks and plenty of time wasted. In truth, like all other women, we deserve the most compatible partners who can withstand honesty about our expectations.
So, instead of shying away from being open with those expectations, it’s always best to confront the subjects that must be broached in order to establish a healthy, committed and honest relationship. Do yourself a favor and ask potential partners these 18 questions to figure out if he may possibly be “the one.”
1. What are the strengths/weaknesses of your personality type? Not even sure what your personality type is? Take a Myers-Briggs Personality Type Assessment. Not only will you glean many insights about yourself and your own personality, but it can help you consider whether or not you and your potential partner are a good match. Personality compatibility is far more important than many think.
2. What kind of relationship do you seek? Sometimes individuals are emotionally and mentally ready for committed relationships. Oftentimes, they are not. When it comes to men, they will infrequently lie about what they are looking for, if you dare to ask. Be sure to do so!
3. What do you think about the #blacklivesmatter movement? This especially applies to dates with non-black men. If he doesn’t support efforts to demand more accountability for police, despite widespread images of black men, women and children being murdered where no one is held accountable — BYE!
4. Do you have a problem with natural hair, permed hair, weaves, braids or any other black hairstyle? Some black men are quick to criticize women for their hairstyle choices, while simultaneously holding women to Eurocentric beauty standards. This simply cannot fly. A black man can appreciate the beauty of black women’s personal presentation choices and self-expression.
5. Have you ever been arrested? According to the NAACP, 1 in 6 Black men have and it is projected that if trends continue, 1 in 3 black men will likely spend time in prison during their lifetime. Depending on what kind of a record a man has, he may be barred from social services and many types of work opportunities. This is not to say that a woman should never date a man with an arrest record– we know that the justice system unfairly targets and incarcerates black men — however, we should be aware of such records and press for answers as to what comes next.
6. Have you ever used the terms “bed wench,” “female,” “thot,” “hoe,” “bitch” to describe a woman? Yes? Bye!
7. What does “manhood” and “womanhood” mean to you? A man with very rigid ideas of masculinity or femininity best be able to live up to those ideas, or he’ll likely take it out on you or become depressed/despondent when his ability to “provide” is challenged (as it often is for black men in this society). This does not mean that there is anything inherently wrong with ascribing to certain concepts of masculinity or femininity, but in a society that constantly strips black people from access to those “ideals”, it can become troublesome if that is all one’s sense of identity is built on.
8. Would you have a problem running a household/taking care of kids while a woman worked? Many Black men have been or will be unemployed at some point in their lives. What is he going to do while not working? Sit around the house watching football all day, while you run about cleaning, cooking, taking care of kids and working? The best partner is willing to share all responsibilities.
9. Have you ever been around a “happily married” couple? Humans are social creatures and sadly we tend to recreate both the functional and dysfunctional relationships of our past. A man who has seen successful, committed partnerships may not only aspire to having one for himself, but will likely also have the tools to allow him to do so after years of watching others navigate the dangerous terrain of marriage. This, however, does not mean that a man who has never witnessed a healthy relationship cannot build one for himself. But he should certainly know that he has to put in the work to properly arm himself with the tools to do so!
10. Have you ever cheated on a partner? Commitment is a two-way street. While it is true that anyone can slip-up for varying reasons, how a person handled past infidelity (Did they fess up about it? Take responsibility for it? Or just continue to lie) will tell you whether or not they are a mature and trustworthy individual who is worthy of your trust. A man who has never cheated, likely will not do so in the future. A man with a history of infidelity will likely continue to behave in the same way.
11. What do you think about feminism? Does he blame feminism for the woes of the black community? Or not understand that black women have their own brand of feminism, separate from white feminism? If so, this dude may not be the kind of guy who can empower you.
12. Have you made every woman you’ve ever been with come? If he says yes, don’t leave immediately– enjoy your meal or activity. But definitely cross this ego-driven, unrealistic, immature man off of your list of potentials. Any man who believes he has the magic stick probably is in desperate needs of far too many sex tutorials.
13. Are you gay? This question has nothing to do with being a homophobe, so don’t let the fear of coming off as one make you shy away from asking. Gay men choose the closet for a variety of reasons– social pressure to be heterosexual and even have a family, the pervasive destructiveness of heteronormativity, etc– and at the end of the day, developing a relationship for a man who is not sexually attracted to or interested in woman will work to the detriment of the both of you. Don’t let a man use you to hide away his own sexuality.
14. Seriously though, are you gay? The first time you ask, he is going to try to brush it off as a joke (even if he is gay). This does not mean you should allow a light-hearted response to suffice. Not if you don’t want to end up like How Stella Got Her Groove Back author Terry McMillan, who found out her husband Jonathan Plummer was gay after parading him around and looking all in love. Always let it be known that the question does not stem from a place of judgement, but a place of concern for the emotional and psychological well-being of yourself and a potential partner.
15. How frequently do you watch porn? A 2013 study, researchers at Brigham Young University and the University of Missouri found that men’s use of porn was associated with lower sexual satisfaction for both men and women in heterosexual relationships. Various other studies have come to similar conclusions. However, these same studies found that women viewing porn actually improved sexual quality for both men and women.
16. Have you ever used the terms #teamlightskin or #teamdarkskin or called a woman ugly because of her skin shade? Colorism is serious and rampant. Left unchecked, it can ruin the self-esteem of future offspring who can come in any skin shade. A man who hasn’t faced the serious ramifications of colorism may reinforce it in his own household.
17. What lifestyle do you aspire to? We do not all value the same things. Some strive to be successful millionaires. Others put family first and seek basic comfort. One man may pride himself on recently manicuring his front lawn, another on establishing a food business. There is no such thing as a “wrong” aspiration. However, it is important that we seek partners with whom we share like-minded goals. Know what kind of life you see for yourself and find a man with a similar vision.
18. Do you have kids? If yes, what kind of role do you play in their lives? For some women, they prefer not to date men with children, which is fine– personal preferences are ok. But for those among us who do not mind dating daddies, it is still important that we decipher what kind of father a man is to his children? Does he provide financially and emotionally? A man who is not willing to do so for children he already has, is less likely to do so for the children he may have in the future.
Have more questions to add to the list? Please leave them in the comments section!