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Lessons Learned from Dating in Ghana As An Expat

Dating in Ghana is something many expats look forward to when planning their time in the country. 

The inviting culture, never-ending approaches from people, and general excitement of being abroad make it a great place to expand one’s comfort zone and try new things in the dating world.

Living abroad in Ghana in my early twenties while completing my Master’s degree in Accra was an experience of a lifetime for many reasons, mainly because it was the first time I ever actively dated. 

Before living in Ghana I had never been on a date!

Dating in Accra came with its ups, downs, and many lessons that I will share in this blog post so you have an idea of the things you might experience while dating and things you can keep in mind on your own journey. 

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed are of my own accord. The experiences discussed in this blog post may not reflect and are not an indicator of what you may experience. 

Furthermore, the generalizations made in this blog post are based on my personal experience and do not and are not meant to reflect the entire Ghanaian population. Please remember that my POV is that of a foreigner, so the way I perceive aspects of the culture may not necessarily be the reality. 

I was also only dating men during my time in the country, so this blog post will focus on my experience with men. And just because you see a picture of me with a man in this post does not mean that I necessarily dated them 🙂

Okay, had to to get that out of the way.

Now let’s get to the good stuff!

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1. Not every Ghanaian is trying to date you to obtain legal paperwork

This is a common misconception regarding dating abroad in general, but this narrative is especially present in African countries. 

As soon as you mention that you are dating in Ghana, you will be met with many opinions and jokes about people wanting green cards/legal paperwork from you. 

While this is something that does happen worldwide, I strongly encourage not allowing that narrative to cloud and pre-judge your interactions with Ghanaians you’re interested in getting romantically involved with. 

The love scam stories are out there and are very real, but as long as you are aware of those and not naive, you will be fine. 

I have always found it to be widely disrespectful that people automatically assume that Ghanaians are seeking entry into one’s home country or trying to scam them. 

The reality is that many Ghanaians are well-traveled, educated, and have the means to enter your home country if they want to on their way through their channels.

That is not everyone’s story, but class division in Ghana is extremely visible, so you will likely know who has the means to do so and who does not.

Of course, this will all vary based on your personal experience, so I recommend approaching dating in Ghana with an open mind and heart as you navigate these complexities.

Christina Jane with her photographer
Tony was my amazing photographer and not a prospect but he always gave me the inside tea on how he perceived dating in Ghana from his lens which was always interesting!

2. The dating culture is very “in your face” at all times 

During my early months in Ghana, I quickly realized how much Ghanaians love the concept of marriage and even having a partner. 

Many people see marriage as a life goal and believe that if you don’t get married during your lifetime, especially by a certain age, you are missing out, or your life is simply incomplete, and you have not taken advantage of all that life has to offer.

I have many friends in Ghana who are very successful, yet their family members always ask them when they plan to marry and don’t see their lives as being complete or fulfilling. 

Any time I was walking around with one of my male friends, especially in markets, merchants would automatically assume that I was their wife before a friend.

This was hilarious to me, but it just goes to show how much of an emphasis is placed on partnership and marriage in the culture.

Christina Jane at the market
If you visit Ghana and don’t have a story about having a little boo did you go to Ghana?!

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Dating in Ghana is also always a hot topic that seems to come up when you are an expat. 

You are likely to constantly receive advances in Ghana, and that can become overwhelming at some point.

I’d be walking down the street in my bonnet and sweatpants, and men would literally pull their car to the side of the street to get my number and shower me with compliments. 

Very flattering but overwhelming because I was really just trying to get from Point A to Point B most of the time. 

From your Uber drivers to the friends you will make, you will find that people are very interested in hearing about the advances you have received and your overall experience with dating in the country, so there is really no escaping the conversation!

3. Navigating the different social classes in Ghana can be challenging and insightful 

I dated within a range of various social classes in Ghana, and man, the stories I have.

I’d be going around town in a tro tro with one guy, having lunch at a local chop bar, and getting picked up in an Audi by the next one for dinner at one of Accra’s top restaurants. 

I lived in Accra for two years, and the classism and social disparities that are present every day are very evident at all times.

You are constantly reminded how different people live based on their circumstances, family background, what neighborhood they may live in, etc. 

As I dated men in different social classes, I began to see how different their values, beliefs, expectations, and behaviors were. The men I experienced who came from lower social classes may have treated me like a queen, but money was always an issue that became a hot topic and was realistically not sustainable for a potential relationship. 

On the other hand, some men would spend money freely, so that wasn’t an issue, but they come from a high-class background where they are used to getting whatever they want because of their family name, money, etc. 

That’s when I would deal with not-so-great treatment and men who expected me to jump whenever they said jump. It was a constant power struggle. 

When I first started dating in Ghana, I was the girl who would pull out her wallet when the bill came out.

One, I was just always used to doing things for myself, and two, I never wanted to look like I was dating just for money. 

I was also the girl who thought that going 50-50 was okay, paying the bill sometimes was fine, and that money did not have to be a barrier in potential relationships if I didn’t want it to be. 

As time went on, I killed these habit and thoughts because, growing up in a low-income household myself, I have had a front-row seat to the issues financial problems can cause in relationships. This is a reality I had to face with myself. Money matters in relationships more than I was ever willing to admit.

It will always be a topic of discussion, a barrier to doing things, whether that be trips or a nice night out, etc. Missing out on experiences to cater to the ego of my future partner is not something I want for the life I desire.

Money is not everything, but it matters a lot more than I originally understood when dating in Ghana.

4. Ghanaian men are generally so respectful 

As a Black American expat, one aspect of dating abroad in Ghana that I loved was how respectful Ghanaian men were. 

Coming from the U.S., Black women are among the most disrespected, even by our men, so it was such a refreshing experience to be celebrated and praised for existing in even your most natural state. 

I found the men in Ghana to be respectful, more open with their feelings, and easy to talk to, which, coming from Florida, was a foreign but enjoyable experience for me.

Watch my short video on 3 Things I Loved About Dating in GH here!

5. I experienced clingy and possessive behavior

While the men are very respectful, I did deal with a lot of clingy and possessive behavior while dating in Ghana, which was also very new to me.

 At some point, it did become a bit overbearing. I was questioned about who I was with, if other men would be at certain places I wanted to go, being called 20x/day. I learned very quickly that these behaviors were not what I wanted. 

I am someone who always has a list of things to do daily and is involved in several things. This means my time can be limited, or I have a schedule I follow day-to-day. My days start early, and they usually end late. 

I can check in throughout the day via text and even do phone calls, but I like to focus on what I am doing during the day, then maybe plan meetups, trips, long weekends, etc., with my partners and do long phone calls at the end of the day.

There has to be a healthy balance in this for me as well because I also don’t want to feel ignored and vice-versa. 

Dating in Ghana taught me that one thing that is important to me is having a partner who has their own schedule as well. Whether that schedule is going to school, a 9-5 job, or running a business, it has to be something they do that preoccupies their time.

That doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be common or traditional, but I never want to be the highlight of someone’s entire life, and that is how I felt in a lot of the situations I found myself in. It seemed to go beyond that initial excitement phase. 

The positive in this is that I learned how to communicate my wants and needs better when dating and set firm boundaries.

Christina Jane and her friend in Nzulezu
Dating has also given me some of my closest friends in this life. What a beautiful thing it is when things don’t work out, but you can still keep those who have gotten to know you very well.

6. Gender norms are strongly upheld and can impact what is expected of you 

Coming from the U.S., dealing with a lot of the traditional aspects and gender norms in Ghana was difficult for me. 

I was 21 – 23 years old when I lived in Ghana and at the peak of standing firm in who I was, continuing to be independent, and doing my own thing as a young woman. 

In Ghana, I feel like men can have very big egos, lean into traditional male roles, like to lead and take charge, make all the decisions, etc. 

For example, on the continent, in general, it is common for men to be the breadwinners and take care of their families. When I was dating, I often made more money, and it was not usually taken well, although it didn’t matter to me. 

In those situations, I learned just how many men associate their self-worth with how much money they make, which caused various other issues. 

Being placed in that dynamic showed me that I don’t fit into the traditional role women are expected to in terms of serving a man, cooking, etc.

Not that I can’t or won’t do those things, but the way it’s expected sometimes to see if you are worth dating is a turn-off for me.

A Mimosa
I am not interested in upholding the gender norms that are expected of women in various societies.

7. The cultural differences do matter and will come up eventually 

As an American, I dealt with a lot of cultural differences and clashes with my potential partners. 

No matter how open-minded you both are, the reality is that you were likely born and raised in a completely different social, economic, and political environment that has shaped your viewpoints and values over time. The same is true for your potential Ghanaian partner. 

Part of navigating those different social classes is meeting Ghanaians who have maybe only studied in American schools, have lived or visited Western countries, etc., so they will understand you better but are still unable to understand why you think the way you do on certain topics. 

This will require you to learn as much as you can about the culture, ask questions, dig deep, and aim to understand why Ghanaians think the way they do about certain things and what beliefs you have taken from your home country. 

It will be important to determine what you might be willing to compromise on and what non-negotiable values or actions are for you.

8. Have fun with dating in Ghana

Finally, have fun and let loose with dating while you are in Ghana. Be smart and aware of your surroundings and any red flags that come your way, but also don’t take yourself too seriously. 

Take this opportunity as a time to learn more about yourself more than anything. What is meant to be will be. Trust that the right person meant to come your way will, and don’t try to force things too much. 

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Christina Jane in front of the Independence Square
The experience of dating in Ghana was one I will forever cherish and recommend to future and current expats!

I’m thankful for my experience dating abroad because it set the tone for me in my young 20s to understand what being treated properly looks like and allowed me to learn more about my wants and needs moving forward. 

I got to explore dating in a different environment, which allowed me to be a lot more carefree and have a lot of fun. 

I would love to hear about your experience dating abroad in general, any hesitations you have about dating abroad, or any questions in the comments below!

13 Responses

  1. This was a great read, I could relate ! I traveled to Ghana for detty December 2022. I had the time of my life. I never had so many men approach me ever I felt like a walking goddess lol. I’m also Caribbean so I was hesitant to actually take any man seriously because of the green card thing. Ive kept in touch with one guy were friends, however I know he wants it to be more, which isn’t realistic and I don’t see him that way. Anyway I’ll be in Ghana in a few weeks .

    1. Thank you! And yes being Haitian it’s always been a thing that is ingrained in us and there can be so many layers to that idea but like I said, you’ll know who is trying to use you for that 95% of the time.

      Go ahead girl! Have fun for me in Ghana 😂💓

  2. Firstly, thank you! Your article on things to do in Ghana earlier this year was super useful. I found this piece fun rather instructive. In my experience and that of several close friends, I think you may have skipped too lightly over the income disparity. I believe it colours everything.
    Middle and upper class Ghanaians put a lot of weight on structural social status (who are your parents, where you went to school) but that happens in most places.
    But tbh I found that less of a real problem than the income disparity between expats and the average local man, especially in Accra.
    – Picking up the bill gets old very fast.
    – Being limited in where you can go/ what you can do because your partner can’t afford it.
    – Pocket watching is annoying and resentments will build up on both sides.
    – Worst of all, I’ve found some Ghanaian men are not embarrassed about asking to borrow money. The first time it happened I was aghast. Now when it happens, I just pretend to play it off lightly.
    You can be hanging with someone, having a great time (Ghanaians are terrific company, top conversationalists!!) but suddenly you’re being asked for money for fuel or for favours. It sours things.
    Moreover, something which has happened to friends, if things get very serious with a Ghanaian partner then you can find yourself having adopted (and supporting!!) a whole extra family, The expectations and entitlement are so stressful.
    You must have the self esteem and courage to say “no” and mean it and be strong enough to walk away if necessary.

    1. Hi Sophie-Anne,

      Love that you have made use of the Ghana content!

      I definitely only covered a very tiny portion of the issue so I really love the insight your comment provides. It further highlights the point of how much money does matter.
      I have also experienced everything you’ve mentioned above and THEN SOME lol!
      As someone who was dating for the first time, I didnt know what was normal and what wasn’t at the time. Then to add to that, the layer of dating within a different culture.
      I didn’t know if certain things were cultural or just part of dating in general.

      All in all, it was an amazing time and I’m thankful for the lessons.
      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts with me love 🙂

  3. I needed this article so badly – thanks Christina!

    As an African woman from Cameroon, most, if not all of these points are valid for Cameroonian men from my ethnic group. We’re usually having to swallow things up and consider them as normal, so it’s good to see you give words to a lot of things we struggle with just off of two (three?) years in Ghana. A slight difference for my ethnic group too is that women are silent breadwinners (it’s a farming community), but men still get to be in charge of everything!

    Your article might also be the inspiration I need to finally write about my own experience travelling to Seattle for environmental work (EarthCorps) in 2022 crossing to 2023. Even after 8 months of being back home I still don’t have words to describe a lot of the things I experienced. It was a naturally a mix of good and bad is the whole idea, but it was a lot of things happening at once, and I do know I left feeling that I needed to be even more prepared than I thought I was to experience the US – it definitely is a complex place to navigate on the daily, especially as a Black African woman.

    Thank you for your optimism and insight, those came through for me as well!

    1. Hi Vanessa,

      Yes, I definitely find that these conversations are not had in an open manner.

      Thank you for sharing your experience! I’ve heard that there are many similarities across the different African nations and it’s great that you shared such great insight with your Cameroonian background. And yes to sharing your stories. I’d love to hear what you found interesting about the U.S. coming from the continent!

  4. Interesting article! I’ve been living in Ghana for a few months now and would love to get back into dating. Can you share some places you would go to meet classy, sophisticated men? What is your approach? I’ve also dated local guys and done the chop bar dates, but now, I’m looking for more of the elevated experiences I tend to have in the U.S. Thanks for the insight! 🙂

    1. I met a lot of men at cafes since that’s where I was usually during the day working! I’ve never really gone out of my way to meet a certain kind of man and have met men from so many different classes. But based on what I’ve seen from other women in Ghana they usually frequent areas around Cantonments, Airport City, the more upscale lounges, bars and restaurants, etc!

  5. I was researching and gathering for a Ghana-centred fiction piece I am writing when I found your blog. It is most certainly insightful and provided me with a direction to explore the story. Thank you!

    On a personal note, I did not know how to feel, or rather, I felt different things. I am an African woman from Nigeria. Like you, I struggled with accepting how much of a relationship’s success is dependent on money. I believe money is beneficial, but I did not think we should wrap our entire relevance and affection for one another around it. It messed up a relationship I had with a Nigerian man. I was earning next to nothing, and nothing I did or said was sufficient to convince the man that I wasn’t a leech out for his money. I genuinely loved him and never asked or bothered about his monthly take-home or overall net worth. The experience has made me recoil from romantic relationships, even though my finances are better now.

    It would seem that in Nigeria (based on my experience and observations), the men want you to have your own money (a lot of it, I dare say) and, somehow, have as much control over you. It is more like a money-power tussle and a draining one at that. I have yet to understand it, and as a coping mechanism, I convince myself that my preference for a man is out there somewhere. Reading your article tonight, I felt a need to “put myself out there” and really let myself date and meet new people.

    [The parents are already asking for a husband…]🫠😅

    1. Hi Tana,

      Glad you found this post! Pleaseeee email me and share your fiction piece once it’s done. I love reading Ghana-centered fiction pieces since I have likely been to the places they mention in the readings, making it 10x more enjoyable!

      As for your experience win Nigeria, wow! I’ve actually never heard that perspective before. It seems like most of the men I’ve met from the nation don’t mind being the provider and don’t look to the woman to have it all. Then again, you being born and raised in Nigeria is probably a big factor. Very interesting, thank you for sharing that with me 🙂

      And if it makes you feel better I really don’t put myself out there much, Ghana was just so free and open that the dating came to me LOL!

  6. I have been talking to a man raised in Ghana. He is charming, romantic ,caring but assertive. His accomplishments and thoughts are over the top. Can be argorgant and thinks he knows it all at times.
    I hadn’t dated in 15 years before I started talking to him. I missed my alone time and wanted to stop talking. I was overwhelmed but interested in knowing more about him. We have been talking since May
    of 2023. Had a few face times. But he wants to come visit but I’ve come up several excuses for him not to. I’m overwhelmed, anxious and hesitant about him coming here.He currently lives in Seattle. He is very assertive and demanding. He has stated several times he wants to take relationship to another level. I want it to go slower. He wants to move here to start dating. Perhaps after a couple of visits, I will agree for him to move here. According to his culture dating is a short period. He definitely wants me to be his wife. The relationship is too good to be true. I need more time with him before I will consider engagement or marriage
    I have asked certain questions or acted in ways to test how he handle suitations. He has answered questions affirmative. He has acted as he said he would. Even though he has done all the above I don’t fully trust him.
    One test he has failed more than one time. How he deals with money is a red flag. Loves to spend like there is no tomorrow. He want me to accept how he manages money. If we are going to be engaged trust and money will have to be the issues needing to addressed.

    1. Hi Veronica,

      Thank you for being so open! I am definitely big on trusting your gut and intuition. There’s a reason why those red flags are being waived repeatedly for you, lean into them!

      Wishing you the best,
      Christina

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Christina Jane Travel Writer

About The Blogger

I’m Christina, a travel writer and blogger from Fort Myers, Florida.

Being Christina Jane is my way of inviting you to join me on my travel ventures by sharing the knowledge gained from my adventures and experiences— both good and bad.

This travel blog is filled with helpful travel tips, information, and is a recollection of the lessons I’ve learned and experiences I’ve had while traveling.

My goal is to curate a space that interconnects my love for travel and transparency and I hope you will join me on that journey. 

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Also, opinions and posts expressed on this blog are of my own accord. 

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