Roots and Routes: A Canada-Based Nigerian Man Talks About Dating in Diaspora

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Dating in Diaspora
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Cross-cultural relationships are a topic often discussed by Africans in the diaspora. In the second episode of “Roots and Routes,” Chinedu, a Canada-based Nigerian man, shares his views about cross-cultural dating.

Talking about his dating life, Chinedu maintained that while it’s not bad to explore love with people from other cultures and continents, he has so far restricted himself to romantic relationships with Nigerians or other Africans.

"In my dating experience. I've not gone on a Christopher Columbus-esque exploration of the different flavors of ethnicities in this melting pot called Canada. I've mostly restricted myself to Nigerians and other Africans."

Exploring the Differences in Nigerian and Canadian Dating Ecosystems

Chinedu explained that the dating ecosystem of Canada is different from what is obtainable in Nigeria and probably Africa.

He pointed out that, unlike in Nigeria, where men are often the primary earners, dating in Canada is mostly a level playing field where both partners contribute, if not equally, to the relationship.

Chinedu noted, "Unlike the half-arsed way of dating back home, you have to put in the work."

Chinedu also cited the fact that Canadian women are assertive in declaring their love interest to a man, unlike in Nigeria, where women still draw the line at being vocal about what they want or making the first move.

"Ironically," Chinedu observed, "we often admire and celebrate other cultures where women are more assertive, yet we fail to embrace this trait in our community."

The reason for this, however, is not far-fetched; it is often seen as weird for a woman to declare her love interest first in the Nigerian landscape.

This is due to the widespread belief that it is the responsibility of men to initiate love talks. There have been numerous instances where women who have made an effort to do so have received mocking comments from their supposed love interests.

Chinedu believes it is time to challenge these limiting beliefs and encourage a more confident approach to dating.

Chinedu explained that while he did explore cross-cultural dating, he realized that it wasn’t for him.

While this is not out of bias or family pressure, he emphasized his decision to stick to what he knows because of different cultural expectations in Western and African dating.

According to him,"cross-cultural dating is a lot of work because you need to ponder about the language, food, cultural context of respect, acceptance (by either party's families), and, down the line, the issue of racial and cultural identity that the kids will face (where applicable)."
He noted that "as Africans, we have strong cultural and familial values. Things follow a specific pattern from dating, living together, getting married, etc." 

Which is different from what is obtainable in the West.

However, Chinedu shared that the patriarchal notion of dating found in Nigerian society is not prevalent in Canada.

"Life here pushes our application of the traditional gender roles to its limits; you have no choice but to try to tweak things," he said.

While Nigerian men want to exert authority and institutionalize their pride by taking care of all the bills and household needs, trying that in Canada might probably lead to the man’s early death.

He noted that "things are much more collaborative in Canada, and everyone puts aside gender roles to chip in and keep the family afloat."

When it comes to navigating the challenges of cross-cultural dating, Chinedu offers valuable advice that can help make the journey smoother.

He noted that one crucial aspect to consider is compromise. This is because disagreements are bound to occur in cross-cultural relationships due to differing viewpoints shaped by diverse upbringings and personal experiences.

Chinedu maintained that finding a middle ground without compromising your principles is key. He noted that it is important to stand firm on aspects of your culture that you’re passionate about.

Additionally, cultural sensitivity is another vital factor to keep in mind.

"Be mindful of potential cultural minefields that may come from pre-conceived perceptions and assumptions, leading to offending others with your words or actions."

Moreover, fostering mutual respect is paramount. Different cultures express respect in various ways, which may differ from your own cultural norms.

In his words, "accepting that people can only respect you the best way they know how to would go a long way in avoiding sticky situations."
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Advice to African Men in Their First Cross-Cultural Relationship

Chinedu maintains that African men in cross-cultural relationships should be proud and uphold their African identity.

He advised that "while immersing yourself into your new environment and way of living is good, be mindful not to lose your cultural values and identity in your quest to be accepted."

Also, very important is open-mindedness. He advised that they do away with the possible misconceptions they might have about other cultures and embrace diversity.

Chinedu maintained that striking a balance between traditional and modern ways of life is crucial.

"Be flexible and open-minded about trying new things purely for the learning opportunity it presents," he said.

He encouraged them to learn from their experiences but, however, maintained caution not to form a sweeping opinion about a culture based on personal experience with a few because, when the heat is on, it is so easy to generalize.

To ensure that they stay connected to their roots, he encouraged finding a community of people with shared cultural values and backgrounds.

Roots and Routes: Nigerian Dad Talks Parenting Life in Canada

In the first episode of Roots and Routes, a recently relocated Nigerian dad shares his experience with life in Canada, his parenting style in a foreign land, and navigating his new-found community as a migrant while maintaining his cultural identity.

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