Dating While Black: What Are The Red Flags We Should Watch Out For?

Photo: courtesy of Joy Ofodu.
It’s mid-October, which means it’s officially cuffing season. The singles are low-key reviewing candidates to share gourmet hot chocolate and ride out the cold, snowy months. But you can’t just lock it down with some random cutie. Future partners must be vetted. On this episode of Go Off, Sis, the podcast from Refinery29's Unbothered, the crew goes “deeper than a Drake interlude” to share dating gems and decode mixed messages. Co-host Chelsea Sanders asks: “What are our deal breakers? And what does a healthy cuffing season look like? How can we normalize those green flags as Black women — when we’re often only handed red ones?”
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Joy Ofodu, celebrated voiceover artist, storyteller, and digital content creator, joins the conversation to admit to rewriting the rules. “I used to lean into the butterflies when I started intentional dating. I was like, ‘If you feel it for him and it’s in your heart and soul, just got for it. Just jump,’” Ofodu says. “What type of fairy tale bullshit was I on?”
These days, Ofodu says she checks the flags before deciding to cut someone off. “The first red flag is nothing that compromises my emotional, physical, and psychological safety. It’s a super-clear checklist for each new person,” Ofodu says. “If I don’t feel safe in each of those areas, I’m out.”
Co-host Stephanie Long wholeheartedly co-signs, sharing that she's been in two previous relationships that were abusive. “My emotions weren’t cared for," she says. "I need to know the person is in a place to process their emotions in healthy manner. If you don’t have the capacity to support yourself emotionally, how are you going to support me emotionally?”
To hear the hosts chat more about self-reflection, dating other races, and who’s allowed to kiss them on the forehead, listen to the full episode, below.
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