“African men are not romantic.” This statement has been one of the biggest criticism of men in africa who are either single or in a relationship by African women.

As a Nigerian, the Nigerian man has not been spared of this criticism, often times, over the years, I would hear ladies, most especially the single ladies exclaim that “Nigerian men are not romantic” or “Are too stiff when it comes to loving their partner.”

Although not a complete absolute, these criticisms have a good grounds of truth, as I have hardly heard any man tell his partner even the simplest romantic statement “I Love you”, I dare say that African ladies themselves do not make matters any easier as they are equally as stiff as the men when it comes to being romantic, I mean most can’t even accept or receive simple romantic gestures.

This reminds me of a joke a comedian once told about the famous ‘Oh Jerry‘ telecoms advert. In that advert a guy calls his sleeping girlfriend in the morning, tells her to get up and peep out the window cause he wanted to give her a gift, the lady proceeds to open the window blinds and what she saw was the beautiful morning rising sun, she exclaims with joy and blushes and then calls her boyfriend’s name in a romantic way, the comedian joked that that scene is not possible in Nigeria because instead of the lady being happy, a Nigerian lady he said would rather be angry at why her boyfriend woke her up so early just to see the rising sun but that instead would love to see her account credited. Although this was a joke, I believe there is certainly some truths in it.

Anyway since we men, are the ones not being romantic, here in my opinion are the 2 main reasons as to why that may be. But before I state and explain these reasons, what does it mean to be romantic?

Well by the definition of the google dictionary, it is simply to be characterized by the expressions of love. This could mean showing your love for someone by your actions. For couples these expressions or actions could include holding hands with your partner, hugging, buying gifts, public display of affection e.t.c

It would seem to me that these expressions are more common in western countries, mostly in north America and European countries. Maybe being romantic has to do with a country’s development. The more developed a country is, the more loving and romantic its people are and the less developed countries have less loving and romantic people. Or should I say romance means a different thing to them. Why would I care about a bouquet of flower when my account balance is in need of a CPR. This point stated above brings me to my first reason why African men may not be romantic

The Socio-economic/Socio-political Landscape of Africa

Lets face it, living in Africa at the moment is not really a pleasant situation, where its “survival of the fittest” most times, where unemployment is on a high and those who have jobs receive little income. This leaves the average African man frustrated, angry and negative about a lot of things. And because of the way things are, the typical African man is more focused on making ends meet than on any other thing and so the best expression of love or romantic gesture he can give is to provide and take care of his family or loved ones and that’s it any other form of romantic gesture is not important.

He sees the best form and expression of his love as his ability to provide and protect for his family. We know being romantic comes with a huge need for thoughtfulness, but a man who is preoccupied by the drive to give his family the best in a harsh economic climate is thinking more in that direction.

As much as this is not an excuse, it is a valid point to consider. Why do you think our dad’s way of saying they love us or they are sorry is by saying, “Come and check if this shoe is your size”, when they could have out rightly say “I am sorry for that thing I did”.

– The “African” Culture and Religion

Perhaps one of the romantic gestures affected by this are the ‘mushy’, public display of affection kind of romantic gestures; kissing, holding hands, chivalrous actions… Many consider it inappropriate and indecent to display loving affections in public.

Don’t know if this is more of culture or more of religion, but it is rare to see African, more specifically, Nigerian couples hold hands, kiss or even hug each other in public. Anyway I think it depends on what level of relationship the 2 parties involved have. For example it is considered inappropriate and indecent for dating/courting couples to kiss or hug in public, you have to be married to show this level of affection, to now even consider doing it in public compared to countries like the united states where you do not have to be married to display such affection.

It seems to me that the general culture of African countries seems to be that of a conservative nature when it comes to expressions of love as compared to the more liberal nature of western countries.

Although I think Africans are begin to gradually embrace more of western culture when it affects the show of romance also, ladies can now appreciate a random gift of a bouquet of flower and a box of chocolate if that’s her thing and guys aren’t shy anymore to plot an elaborate and public marriage proposal.

(Like in this very hilarious video where he traveled across the ocean to throw a surprise proposal on her birthday The Most Emotional Proposal You’ve Ever Watched (You’ll Cry and Laugh)

Here are my few tips to African men on how to up their romantic gesture game;

1. Romance is thoughtfulness

Many men think if they replicate a romantic scene from a movie, a book or an advert then they will win a point with their lady, many on trying this have learnt that romantic gestures aren’t like a template you can copy and paste. As people are different, so is peoples idea of romance. So your most important job is to find out what your partner considers a romantic gesture. It could be as simple as helping out with the dishes or a candle dinner at home and not a trip to a fancy restaurant.

Many men think if they replicate a romantic scene from a movie or a book then they will win a point with their lady, many on trying this have learnt that romantic gestures aren't like a template you can copy and paste. Click To Tweet

Pay attention to how they comment about romantic gestures around them. Listen to what they often complain about or ask for your help for. A lady who complains about a funny sound in her car and you send an auto mechanic to her workplace to check it out might consider that more romantic and thoughtful than a box of chocolate later that night when she had spent the evening at a mechanic shop.

Pay attention to how they comment about romantic gestures around them. Listen to what they often complain about or ask for your help for. Click To Tweet

2. Be Innovative

There is no formula to romantic gestures, so be open to be innovative and try new stuff. And when you find what your partner likes, don’t make it the only thing you do. People get bored of routines, so be open to try new things, to risk some things.

There is no formula to romantic gestures, so be open to be innovative and try new stuff. And when you find what your partner likes, don't bore them with it. Click To Tweet

I believe anyone will like a bit of something new and innovative from time to time. It might even be doing the same thing in a different way. Take for instance, of your partner really enjoyed an evening out at a restaurant, go to different restaurant and not just the same one every time.

3. It Doesn’t Have to Be Elaborate

Many often think of romantic gestures as an elaborate adventure. Hiring a fighter jet to write her name in the sky, that’s beautiful, but more beautiful are the little and everyday gestures. Breakfast in bed, listening to her rant, changing her night wear, sincere complements, a thoughtful text message in the middle of the day, a letter, a new phone jacket…

Many often think of romantic gestures as an elaborate adventure, but more beautiful are the little and everyday gestures. Click To Tweet

4. Recreate her Awesome Past Memories.

One cheat can be recreating the amazing memories from her past; childhood days, school days she often speak about.

If you pay attention to her enough, I am sure she would have mentioned some unforgettable good experiences she has had. Try to recreate those memories. Maybe not exactly as they happened, but something similar.

For instance, she visited a zoological gardens so many years back and she had a really good time and she always talk about it, then it will be good for you to plan another trip to a zoo, because it is more likely she will love it.

5. It Doesn’t Always have to be a surprise/Ask Her What She wants

lady wearing ring

We fancy surprises a lot, but romantic gestures all don’t have to be surprises alone. You can ask your partner what they like, what they want, what they term romantic and then do it. It won’t make the gesture any less romantic because they saw it coming.

You can ask your partner what they like, what they want, what they term romantic and then do it. It won't make the gesture any less romantic because they saw it coming. Click To Tweet

6. Be Present

I can’t loud this point enough. Oftentimes all your partner wants is just for you to be present. Be there in that moment. Whether she is telling you about her day or doing the dishes, or you are both seeing a movie, be present. Give her your full attention in that moment. Drop your phone, leave the video game or the TV, don’t make her feel she is competing for your attention with your other guys or something else.

When you are present, you will do things more naturally that matters to her and she finds thoughtful and romantic. A listening ear and an undivided attention is worth more to some ladies than a new dress or fancy dinner.

A listening ear and an undivided attention is worth more to some ladies than a new dress or a fancy dinner. Be present. Give her your full attention. Drop your phone, leave the video game. Click To Tweet

In conclusion it may not be that African men are not romantic but they show love in a different way that the african women don’t seem to notice, just saying. So, have a conversation about it. African men, don’t let us be like our fathers who weren’t willing to learn or try. ‘I am not just romantic’ is self-deceit. We all can learn.

Please share your thoughts on this.

Written by Oshone Oshiogwemoh and Oludapo Tolulope

Related article – Is Planned Romantic Gesture Less Romantic Than Spontaneous Gestures

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