Communication Issues in African American Relationships
Many studies have been conducted on Africans Americans and their interactions in intimate relationships. More so, research has been conducted in order to find reasons behind relationship failures and persisting problems in relationships among African Americans. While the exact causes as to why there are relationship issues or why relationships may fail are inconclusive, research as provided insight on some factors that could contribute. Psychologist and author of the University of Georgia, Dr. Veronica Duncan is one of the many researchers who have provided a perspective on relationship issues among African Americans. Duncan (1998) concluded in her research that one of the most prevalent problems in African American relationships is lack of communication.
In Duncan’s book (1998), Towards Achieving Maât: Communication Patterns in African American, European American and Interracial Relationships, she states that African American males and females are living in a European mindset.
“When they were in Africa, there was a much greater balance and harmony between males and females, and in many ways they complemented each other and each received accolades in certain areas. The problem arose when we developed a culture in which there were dominating, controlling men and independent and assertive woman. Early on, African American males and females were set in opposition to each other (Duncan, 1998).”
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The acceptance of a European standard had led African Americans toward the issue of vulnerability because they have strayed away from working together (Duncan, 1998).
In other words, because of the fear of vulnerability, there is lack of expression in intimate relationships. This failure to communicate effectively is the source of many problems. Dr. Philip Williams (1998), professor of psychology at the University of Georgia, reviewed Duncan’s book and piggyback’s on to say that the real issue is that African American males have a fear of vulnerability that causes them to be extremely on guard of opening themselves to hurt or danger, especially in romantic relationships. He says that more communication means more intimacy and a more effective relationship.
In the relationship, men fight more with self-disclosure (Williams, 1998).
Women may face the same issue but have an easier time opening up then men. Once a woman feels that she has opened up and her partner has and is not, issues arise. The woman feels she is not trusted, and may even question her place in her partner’s life. It was found that because African American men are less comfortable with self-disclosure, they did not view it very positively (Duncan, 1998).
The issue may be a concern that doing so could create a desire by their female companion for a deeper relationship (Duncan, 1998).
This is something they may not be ready for. Duncan (1998) concludes that communication is a central component of a successful relationship. In order for relationships to improve, levels of communication need to improve.
Duncan, Veronica. (1998).
Towards Achieving Maât: Communication Patterns in African American, European American and Interracial Relationships. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.