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EBONY Attitudes

What Men Want: African-American Men on Love, Dating and Marriage

Let’s get what African-American men REALLY want out of the way

In the “What Women Want”-part of our EBONY/QuestionPro study, African-American Women on Love, Dating and Marriage, we took a deep dive into Black women’s current attitudes on love, dating, marriage and other issues.

But what about the guys? Could we expect the tropes of simplicity and predictability with regard to African-American males and the same subjects? Again, the results were surprising and complex. Welcome to 2019.

The study was a joint EBONY/QuestionPro research initiative conducted in February with approximately 700 subjects. Nearly 300 African-American males, whose numbers were spread evenly across educational and financial demographics, participated in the survey. Fifty-four percent of respondents have never been married, 31 percent are currently married and the remainder are either divorced, widowed or separated.

 Here is the current relationship status of unmarried Black men respondents:

·      Not looking right now: 27 percent

·      Looking but not dating: 23 percent

·      In a committed relationship but living apart:  20 percent     

·      Living with someone:18 percent

·      Dating but not exclusively: 11 percent

Let’s get what men REALLY want out of the way

Are Black men “always up for it” as the perennial trope seems to suggest?  Data from the study indicates Black men are multidimensional and thoughtful as it relates to when it’s appropriate to first have sex when dating.

Here is the breakdown (and we’ve added female responses for a comparison):

1.     No hard, fast rule: 42 percent (47 percent for women)

2.     Two or three dates: 21 percent (3 percent for women)

3.     Once it’s known relationship will be exclusive: 14 percent (31 percent for women)

4.     First date: 9 percent (fewer than 1 percent for women)

5.     Not until marriage: 8 percent (16 percent for women)

Black women are more conservative than Black men, certainly, but men are far from cavalier when it comes to first having sex in dating relationships.

But can the brothers commit?

More than half of Black men (52 percent) surveyed want to marry their current partners, 38 percent indicate not being sure and only 11 percent say they have no interest. This tells us African-American males aren’t nonchalant or wasting time in their dating explorations. (Fiftypercent have no problem dating without a serious commitment; surprisingly, this figure is actually lower than the one for Black women, which is 60 percent).

Further evidencing that Black men are not averse to commitment, 47 percent state they have been with their current partners for five years or more, and only 11 percent say they haven’t made it past the six-month honeymoon. What’s more, 61 percent of respondents claim their sex lives with their current partners is without issues, while 65 percent say cheating is absent in their relationships.

Where do Black men go to find partners?

Parallel to our research on women, physical networking is still tops when it comes to meeting potential mates. Twenty-two percent of Black men see friends as the primary way, and online dating comes in second at 17 percent.

After friends and the internet, here is where Black men find someone to date:

1.     Social club: 12 percent

2.     Work: 12 percent

3.     Bars: 11 percent

4.     Family introduction: 8 percent

5.     School: 5 percent

Here is the breakdown on where they actually met their current partners or spouses:

1.     Through friends: 23 percent

2.     Online dating service: 20 percent

3.     At work: 15 percent

4.     At school: 12 percent

5.     Family introduction: 5 percent

6.     Church, mosque or other place of worship: 5 percent

7.     Social club: 5 percent

8.     At a bar: 4 percent

The study also found single Black men are hopeful as far as finding companions: 86 percent say they are optimistic about being in a relationship; 56 percent are confident they will one day marry. Only 11 percent of participants state they are not optimistic about finding a companion, but 15 percent believe they will never be married.  By comparison, 26 percent of Black female respondents are not optimistic about landing Mr. Right.

So do African-American males even want to get married? Apparently, they do:  50 percent agree/strongly agree that marriage is important, whereas only 16 percent disagree/strongly disagree that marriage is important.

Interracial dating

Getting back to tropes, there is a famous (or infamous) one that Black men secretly want to cross the racial divide with regard to matrimony possibilities. In our last article, we mentioned Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever as a representation of the interracial dating challenges for both men and women. When it comes to Black men, though, the results are closer to the 2002 film Undercover Brother, wherein the protagonist, played by Eddie Griffin, becomes a hero to his colleagues (including the paranoid David Chappelle character) for being in a relationship with a White woman.

When it comes to being open to marrying a Caucasian, 50 percent agree/strongly agree,18 percent disagree/strongly disagree and 29 percent are neutral. As for marrying Asians, 46 percent agree/strongly agree; only 8 percent disagree/strongly disagree;and one-third, 33 percent, are neutral.Fifty percent of Black men agree/strongly agree with marrying a Hispanic, 18 percent disagree/strongly disagree and 31 percent are neutral.

The crossing-the-racial-divide trope is dope, it seems, and Black men better keep this under their hats or many may end up sleeping on the couch or isolated with the boys at a bar. The numbers shift in the men’s responses about attraction to lighter-skinned individuals ; only 26 percent of respondents state they agree/strongly agree, 36 percent disagree/strongly disagree and 34 percent are neutral.

About LGBTQ relationships

How do men feel about LGBTQ issues? Ninety percent of study respondents state they are straight, and 16 percent of those claim they have ever been attracted to another man. Eleven percent say they have experienced a sexual encounter with another man, and 15 percent agree/strongly agree that a man can have a homosexual encounter and not be classified as gay; 65 percent disagree/strongly disagree that a man can remain straight after one homosexual encounter.

Sixteen percent state they discovered during a relationship their partner was a lesbian, transgender or bisexual.

When it comes to same-sex marriage, here is what African-American males say about it being legal:

1.     No: 34 percent

2.     Yes: 31 percent

3.     Don’t care: 20 percent

4.     Not sure/Other: 15 percent

Do Black men believe a gay person can become straight? Forty-three percent agree/strongly agree this is the case, 30 percent disagree/strongly disagree. When it comes to trans people having a choice, 51 percent agree/strongly agree, and 25 percent disagree/strongly disagree.

It should be noted that, as with the study on Black women, the lower the income, the more conservative the attitude of African-American men. Millennials generally are far more liberal in their views of LGBTQ relationships. Overall, however, 51 percent of Black men say if celebs were to come out as gay or bisexual, their opinions of those stars would remain unchanged.

What does this data tell us? It seems there is hope in all these tropes, even as times and Black men’s societal views evolve. Perhaps in time, Black love will come to fully embody the LOVE described in Scripture: A Title: African-American Men on Love, Dating and Marriage

Rudly Raphael is the president of research and insight for QuestionPro. He has more than 15 years of experience in the market research industry, implementing primary and secondary research for a number of high-profile clients. He’s a frequent blogger and has published a number of articles on various topics. 

What is EBONY Attitudes?

Periodically, EBONY hosts online surveys to measure attitudes about contemporary topics affecting African-Americans. After you sign up, we will send you invitations to participate in our surveys as well as survey results. Each survey will take fewer than 10 minutes to complete. Sign up now.

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