As a Western African woman who was born and raised in Africa, I was exposed to a misogynistic society early. This society encouraged men to get away with toxic behavior. Thankfully, most of the men in my family had a healthy outlook on women and relationships. Despite my fairly sheltered background, I came across a few toxic African men – both back home and in the United States. There is currently a growing impression in the dating world about African men being ideal candidates for a relationship. This is not accurate. Although there are wonderful African men out there taking care of business, a few are also less than remarkable. While men of all ethnicities and backgrounds can possess these traits, they are especially heightened in some African men because of the influence of African culture and tradition.
The Sexist, Misogynistic Hunk
While they might not always be hunks, sexist men come in all shapes and sizes. Most African men who fall into this category excuse their ideology by saying, “I am a traditional African man.” By using their African background as a footstool, they are able to excuse the inexcusable and oppressive ways that they treat women.
The Physical Abuser
In many parts of Africa, physical abuse is often swept under the rug. Many women believe that they have to stay with a man despite the abuse because of the family dynamic. Often, a man beating a woman is swept under the rug and only spoken about in faint whispers. Some African men who grow up in this type of environment often carry a faint belief that “disciplining” a woman is an option if she gets out of control. I have met quite a few men who thought this was okay.
The Mama’s Boy
The idea that a man will treat his future wife the way he treats his mother and sisters is partly true, but the same ideology can go overboard sometimes. A man who does everything his mother says and obsessively seeks her opinion about every slight decision he makes can be problematic. I once knew a gentleman whose mother was his be-all and end-all, in what would become a very unhealthy, toxic co-dependence. It is best to be wary of guys like these. A typical major red flag to look out for is if this man tries to lecture you on how to behave in his mother’s presence, as though you don’t have basic decorum. Run. Fast.
The Finessing Green Card Aficionado
Not every African immigrant man is after a green card. The good ones know that it is important to fall in love for the right reasons, but the users don’t understand the concept of love. I once knew a girl whose boyfriend hurriedly engaged and married her as a way to secure his spot in the country before his temporary work permit would expire. He did all of this under the guise of being “in love” when the writing was on the wall in reality. A gentleman also decided against dating me because I did not have a green card and then proceeded to ask my husband years later why he didn’t marry a woman who would “give him papers,” “and improve his life in America.” It is important to be vigilant in these dating streets because, for many men, certain women are a means to a greedy, self-serving end.
The “Meh” Guy
Introverts are highly intelligent, sensitive, and introspective people. However, men who hide under the guise of introversion to execute emotional abuse are dangerous. In many parts of Africa, men are raised to be stoic and closed off. What this often breeds is some African men thinking that they do not have to show the slightest emotion, appreciation or feeling for the women in their lives. It is an entirely different situation if a man is quiet yet shows you he cares. On the other hand, if there seems to be no engagement, no emotional connection, zero communication, and no gifts or anything indicative of a romantic relationship, that is a ginormous red flag. An African background is no excuse to be frigid.
The Serial Cheater
Men who serially cheat also go the “I am a traditional African man” route. If they want to be a little creative, they follow it with “polygamy is acceptable in African culture.” Sometimes, it can be quite jarring how some men drag the legacy of African culture and tradition in the mud in an attempt to give their crummy behavior a pass and present some sort of “fake wokeness” that gives their “f*** boy-ery” a moral dimension. If you are not interested in being in a polygamous relationship, as most women aren’t, it is best to drop the serial cheater like a bag of hot potatoes.
The Master Manipulator
Gaslighting. Mind Games. Deflecting.
These are all the tactics of a master manipulator. Men who engage in this behavior are exceedingly good at it and can convince you that the sky is mustard yellow when you see blue. The amazing thing is that your head will be spinning by the time they are done convincing you that you’re wrong. This will further lead you to question yourself and your mental and emotional capacity, and slowly your self-confidence will begin to chip away. Again, men from all ethnicities are capable of this, but the intense cultural and traditional background of some African men, coupled with the mass appeal that they have in the dating world, makes their bad attributes more poignant.
The Textbook Narcissist
The textbook narcissist embodies all of the attributes mentioned above with an added dose of self-serving braggadocio. This type of man is so hopelessly arrogant and selfish that he is wholly tone-deaf and oblivious to your needs nine times out of ten. He loves the sound of his voice and, therefore, talks over you and takes the opportunity to cut you down or disrespectfully challenge your views in public or private. This type of guy is often clean-cut and takes hours polishing his finely tapered beard and his leather shoes. He also doesn’t mind splurging on an expensive bottle of Tom Ford perfume here and there. The curious thing, though, is that when it comes to getting gifts for you, he has no idea what to get and frequently purchases things that are so “off-brand” for you or just cheap and tacky items from a random drug store. While not all African men are this way, As an African woman, I know firsthand that there are quite a few of these men who are infiltrating the dating world with their toxic energy, and we need to speak on it.