A cultural disconnect and debates: Online dating as a young Black woman in the UK
It can be quite frustrating at times
Dating as a young person can be difficult, whether it’s dealing with catfishes or getting ghosted, there is a lot to deal with. When it comes to online dating as a young Black woman, there are added pressures and worries that can affect how much enjoyment one gets from it. Ruth recently moved to London following the Covid-19 pandemic and after being in relationships from the ages of 17 to 22, she decided to put herself out there and “do the modern dating thing” and made the decision to download dating apps.
Ruth currently uses Bumble and found it much easier to meet people than in person but although it’s been a smooth ride at times, there are some instances she has found difficult being a young Black woman online dating. One factor Ruth has found difficult that many young people can attest to is the lack of communication. Ruth spoke with The Tab and said the key issue when it comes to online dating is communication. She said: “When things aren’t going well, they just don’t want to talk about it. They get offended and take it personally.”
Although finding online dating accessible and easy, Ruth has found issues speaking with others not within the same culture as her when it comes to her natural hair. “There are things that in my culture that you grow up around the same people, so things that don’t need to be discussed and are just naturally understood,” Ruth said. A question kept arising surrounding Ruth’s natural hair which frustrated her because she knew if she dated someone within her culture, “they wouldn’t have to ask me that question”.
However after a while, Ruth decided to use it as an opportunity to educate others on race. She said: “There is such a disconnect. The questions were questions you shouldn’t have to ask. Whether I chose to wear my natural hair or chose to wear extensions, it’s my own choice and it kind of feels very strange. That is one of the many issues when it comes to interracial dating. Just that general cultural disconnect.”
A debate that often takes place on social media is that of those who have a particular preference of race when it comes to dating. Ruth told The Tab: “For me personally, it’s a double edged sword because everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Your preference is yours. I’ve met people who date specific races for certain reasons whether it’s from traumatic experiences or religious reasons. But when your preference comes from a strong prejudice that’s where it becomes problematic. There is someone for everyone at the end of the day.”
Speaking on Black History Month, Ruth shared she feels as though people only focus on the culture for one month and during the rest of the year it’s as though Black people do not exist. “Obviously it’s going to take a lot more to make it a systematic change. We need to stop doing this whole impulsive, short snippet thing. This is history that literally shaped who we are today and it needs to stop being treated like a token.”
Being on a Black woman in the online dating world has been fun for Ruth but she has found that due to the rise in use of social media back in lockdown, “it’s put a lot of the issues that I face as a Black person at the forefront of news and although it makes it easier to discuss in the sense that it’s in current news it makes it hard because people don’t know how to discuss it.” Ruth has found herself in heated discussion mostly due to “the cultural disconnect”.
She said: “They’re talking about issues but they don’t know it affects me personally. That’s where I find the disconnect in dating personally. Now you’re able to put cultural interests on Bumble, I feel like because I’m able to screen it especially. They’ve gone the extra step to put it on their profile so at least they’re aware and awareness is key.”