Relationships have a way of changing you. While some may say for the worst, due to wrongdoing of some kind or simply growing apart, others would say for the better. Having a girlfriend or boyfriend has the power to make a person come out of their shell, to become their better self and shine from the inside out. A person may change the way they interact with others, the way they dress and carry themselves.

A TikTok trend called the “black girlfriend effect” proves this theory true while also incorporating race. When searched online, the phrase garners thousands (if not more) videos of interracial couples before and after they started dating. Here’s our explanation of the Black girlfriend effect.

Having a Girlfriend Makes You a Better

Before we get into how Black women are improving and enriching the lives of their white boyfriends, let’s start with the universal girlfriend effect. Women are known to improve everything around them from their surroundings to their partners. Now this isn’t every case, but women are more inclined to nurture which goes beyond friendly and familial relationships. This quality extends to romantic relationships as well.

And those women who decide to embrace this characteristic (trope and/or stereotype), welcome the responsibility of helping their boyfriends achieve. They help them to achieve not only better images of themselves, but their goals. A good girlfriend is a gem that should be appreciated and celebrated because they have the power to change lives, if invested. 

What Is the Black Girlfriend Effect?

Add to the girlfriend status that she’s a Black girl and you have some grade-A compassion and encouragement. It’s in our nature to uplift one another as Black women and for many of our romantic relationships, this level of love and admiration is amplified. The bettering of a boyfriend is almost inevitable when they enter a relationship. TikTok has proven that this bettering is exponential amongst Black (girlfriend) and white (boyfriend) interracial relationships. Black girlfriends and wives are posting photos and videos of themselves with their white boyfriends.

The videos contain visuals from before they started dating (or got serious) and after they started dating or got serious. Befores included bare or unshaven faces, lacked jewelry and clothing that was traditional to the boyfriend’s culture or surroundings. The afters included perfectly edged hairlines, buzzcuts and glossy curls, gold chains, cultural athleisure and a strong sense of confidence. 

How Does The Black Girlfriend Effect Impact Black Women?

Almost all of the videos are celebratory, documenting growth of comfort within their relationships and the embrace of one another’s personalities and cultures. And still, somehow, there’s an underbelly of being the “cool Black girl” for having this effect on a white or non-Black partner. Cartoonist and illustrator who describes herself as a goth of color, Bianca Xunise speaks to the effect of “cool Black girls” in her article titled, “The ‘cool Black girl effect’ is actually a nightmare. Here’s why.” She gets into how boundaries are crossed and expectations are set for Black women on behalf of white and non-Black friends, neighbors and coworkers. It’s exhausting because Black women aren’t allowed to just be without adding to the environment, nurturing or improving.

And that’s not to say that the Black girlfriends having Black girlfriend effects on their non-Black boyfriends feel any particular way about their effect or that it’s trending. It is to say, however, that the nurturing and improving are gifts (in all senses of the word). They can be acknowledged and celebrated without having their hair stroked or needing to stroke the ego of anyone else. We wish the Black girls of the Black girl effect joy and success in their relationships – with themselves and otherwise.