That Time A Man Said I Was Too White To Date
I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum. From a very early age I was given the freedom of expression that a lot of girls aren’t afforded in Nigeria. I climbed, I grappled. I was the girl who fought boys and chose the woodworking class over Home Economics. My father always bought two of the same comic book because reading comic books are an equal opportunity sport for all children. If there’s one thing I’m grateful for, it’s being brought up in a family where individual exploration, no matter how off the beaten path, was championed as the cornerstone of personal growth.
As you can imagine, this young girl grew up to be quite the fireball of an adult who is always willing to try new things and experiences. One of my favorite writers once dropped this sage gem, “Spend money on experiences and not things,” and once I heard that I never looked back. This sense of adventure and wonder unfortunately doesn’t bode well for my dating life, however. Apparently, according to men I’ve dated, I “act white.” And while I needn’t get into why this statement is problematic and riddled with self-hate, I’ll explain how this “acting white” conclusion was sprung upon me for context.
I recently dated a gentleman, a friend of one of my best mates. I decided to give the dating apps a break and try to meet people in real life to switch things up and he was great, for the most part. He was Nigerian, like me, and seemed progressive yet still traditional which I really loved. That is until it came time for us to do things that went outside the realm of dinner and a movie. I once suggested kayaking, and that was met with with the excuse that “Black people don’t kayak.” Another time I suggested we take a day trip to the cloisters in New York City to explore the architecture and even that was met with ragged hesitation. I obliged here and there with activities he wanted to partake in (which would often mean a lounge or, as he put it, “places where Black people congregate.”) But things progressively became more and more difficult as time went on and I had to cut things off.
Unfortunately, this was not a one-off experience, but sadly an upsetting trend in my dating life: Men of color who shy away from activities off the beaten path. While I do recognize the need to thrive and see people who look like you in spaces you fill, it says a lot about your level of exposure if you’re unwilling to do something new ever. Especially just because you won’t find another of your hue — except, of course, the person who invited you and who you’re interested in, i.e. me.
I’m the woman who enjoys comic books and attends ComiCONN semi-religiously. I will take solo adventures to neighboring cities and meet new people. I’m the outgoing prototype that men say they want. Yet, because of my difference in interests, I get labeled as “white” and, ergo, a bit “special” to date. I will never understand the correlation between exposure and adventure and the perception of whiteness, particularly in a time when everyone is proclaiming to want access to spaces from which we were once prohibited. Maybe this is a sign to diversify my dating portfolio. Can anyone point me in the direction of #adventurebae?