Before we go any further, I feel it’s my duty to tell you that I date both inside and outside of my race. If I remember correctly, I’ve actually had an equal amount of black and white partners. However, since moving to New York two and a half years ago, the men I attract mostly happen to be white. I suspect it has to do with the neighborhood I live in, the dating apps I use, and the industry I work in. These men are typically very socially aware and would probably describe themselves as liberal, feminist, and woke. They’re swirl men. They’ve all had a black ex-girlfriend or have a famous black crush. They’re someone you’d invite to the cookout, they have black friends, and they consume black culture immensely but carefully. 

While dating outside my race has opened my eyes to different cultures and new experiences, it has also come with a lot of fetishizing and expectations of my character. When dating a swirl man, I have to ask myself, has he dated outside his race before? Has he dated a black woman before? Does he only date black women? Does he surround himself with black peers or find himself in predominantly black spaces? What am I to him — an experiment or someone who he is genuinely interested in harvesting a relationship with? It’s a lot to consider, but my time with white men, some more swirltastic than others, has taught me to run in case of any of the following.

1. The guy whose exes all happen to be black women

At first glance, this guy might actually seem pretty cool. You’re his type. You’re his only type. So why would any problems arise? Well, a person who isn’t interested in women of his own race, whether it’s physically or emotionally, probably views himself as the exception among people who look like him. He loves to positively compare you to women of his race and make you feel like your features, your character, your whatever is better than theirs. You don’t want a guy who has to put down his own race in order to uplift you.

2. The guy who always wants you to twerk (or do other predominantly black culture things) for him 

Oh god, where do I even begin? This dude has seen twerking in music videos and just loves the taste of soul food. He asks you to cornrow his hair for fun without thinking that perhaps you never learned to cornrow. While I’m a great twerker, I’m a terrible chef, and assuming that I can do these things just because I’m black is weird. When my swirl exes asked me to twerk for them, my first thought was, this is something I’m good at, but upon second thought, I wondered how they would possibly know that. If I sound like I’m overreacting, just think, when’s the last time you heard a white guy ask his white girlfriend to waltz for him? Don’t get me wrong, twerking is a dance that black women typically dominate at, if I do say so myself, but it’s hardly a universal quality or something to be assumed about us.

3. The guy who is obsessed with natural hair

It’s super important that your swirl guy appreciates your hair no matter its curl pattern or texture. But some guys take it too far. I personally like to wear my hair straight. It’s easier to manage, and it doesn’t cause a distraction. However, when I’m traveling, I usually wear my hair curly, because I’m less worried about how people view me and not in a rush to fix my hair. I’ve been with guys who pressured me to wear my hair curly because “natural hair is better” or “it’s healthier when you don’t put heat on it.” Keep in mind, this is coming from guys who cannot relate to my hair texture at all but suddenly have the best suggestions for it. Thank you for sharing, but just because you think it looks better doesn’t mean you’ll be the one dealing with it in the morning before work. 

4. The guy who constantly wants to discuss the oppression of black people

I dated a guy who would always tag me when he saw news articles about black people being discriminated against, shot, unfairly sentenced, etc. I get that you’re woke, but you also have the privilege to talk about issues affecting black people without being traumatized by them. Being mindful and aware doesn’t mean looking for every chance to show that you’re educated about the issues black people face, and I don’t need a constant reminder that people in my community are suffering. A lot of the time the content is triggering and I can’t even digest it in a public setting, so why bombard me with reminders?

5. The guy who praises your features because he doesn’t have them 

This is where the thin line between preference and fetish is drawn. I think it’s totally fine and normal to be attracted to those with certain physical attributes. I totally have a type: dark hair, slim figure, noticeable sleep deprivation. Basically, Timothée Chalamet plus a few pounds and what my friends and I like to refer to as Bushwick boys. But I’m not out here telling these men that I wish I had their soft brown curls or wispy frame. That would be incredibly weird. Swirl guys love to tell me they wish their lips were as full as mine or that they could tan like me. Still weird.