Dr. Love, I am a 42 year old African-American woman and I recently met a man of Italian American Heritage. I am attracted to him and he seems interested in me as well. Here’s the problem: My friends have told me that most of the Italian men they have met have been only interested in Black women for sex, not a relationship. I have since noticed that he does not seem to have a very high opinion of Black men. I have not ascertained if this is how he feels about all’ Black men or just those involved in criminal activity. Other than a few dates, I have not allowed our relationship to progress any further until these issues are resolved. I can’t imagine he would be honest if I asked him directly. I am not interested in having casual sex. It would be very hurtful to be intimate with this man only to discover that what my friends said were true. I could, of course, move and and try to forget about him, but what if my suspicions are unfounded? I would hate to have prejudged him only on rumor and suspicion.
You’ve heard the saying that all generalizations are false. If we go down the road of cultural stereotyping, then we would say that Italian men are gigolos who aren’t capable of sexual faithfulness. This is surely true of some Italian men, but there are certainly other Italian men who are faithful, devoted lovers and boyfriends. As an African-American woman I am sure you have been subjected to countless stereotypes and prejudicial statements about your race. The time has come to treat people as individuals, not members of a particular race, religion or culture. If I were in your place, I wouldn’t assume that this guy was out to use me unless and until I started getting vibes to that effect. Until such time, give him the benefit of the doubt, as you would give any other man. Since you seem to be a prudent woman, I am sure that you will be waiting a while before becoming sexually intimate. During this discovery phase, you should talk to him a lot about what he wants in life and in love, how he feels about casual sex and so on. You are clearly very smart and intuitive and you will know in very little time the stuff that this man is made of. Let me know what happens.