So both of today’s questions involve interracial dating, a subject that couldn’t POSSIBLY go wrong if and when I accidentally say something stupid!
Now this is going to be a loaded topic, so I’m warning folks in advance: be cool in the comments. Or else.
And if I happen to shove my foot in my mouth, I apologize in advance.
So let’s go:
Dear Dr Nerdlove,
My e-mail is about race.
Just to get it out of the way…I’m a black guy
I grew up in a household where love was colorblind and race shouldn’t be a deciding factor in whether you love someone. I’m proud that my parents taught me that. I realize that not everyone grew up the way I did and were taught that people of different races are bad in one way or another.
I live in New York, specifically Long Island—from what I can tell a very liberal place. I’ve started online-dating and joined both OKCupid and Match.com. Through the countless female profiles I’ve read, I’ve noticed that some women prefer to date within their race. I’ve been taught that this is ok, it’s preference. But now, I’m starting to wonder why it is “ok”? There is a part of me that thinks that when someone puts that on their profile they’re inherently racist. I know it’s a bold statement, but it’s the way I feel. Now I understand, some people may not be serious about that or they think it might interfere with their relationship with their parents if the parents aren’t comfortable with it. But why isn’t it viewed as at least slightly racist, if not weird, if you don’t want to date people outside your race?
I know this a loaded question. But I’m hoping the great doctor can share his insight on this matter.
Can’t Think Of A Cool Name
Funny thing about dating: it’s not a democracy. Much like how we don’t get to insist that women aren’t allowed to screen guys on online dating sites, we don’t get a say in what other people find attractive. If you’re a skinny emo dude and the woman whose dating profile you’re checking out says she prefers big burly biker types… well, you’re shit out of luck. Go find someone who wants what you have. Some folks find Idris Elba to be sex on legs, others prefer Michael Fassbender. That’s how it goes. The genitals want what the genitals want.
To be perfectly frank, some of it may not be about attraction. Nobody’s denying that there may be a racial – or even xenophobic - tinge to it: some folks will just straight up prefer certain groups – ethnic, religious or cultural – over others for any number of reasons beyond the aesthetic. They may prefer the shared values within their group, which is why some Christians prefer to date other Christians. They may feel a duty to their culture, as many Orthodox Jews do. They may have had a bad experience with someone who was X and this has put them off dating people who are X, preferring to date people who are Y or Z instead because it doesn’t have the same emotional stigma.
Some may prefer not dating outside their race because they feel that they couldn’t – or simply don’t want to – handle the societal baggage that can come with interracial dating, even in large, liberal enclaves. Others may feel as though the people who are interested in them are fetishizing them because of their race rather than seeing them as a person – witness the number of men with “yellow fever” who prefer to date Asian women because of perceived stereotypes about “Asian” culture.
Can it be that they’re just straight-up racists? Sure, it’s entirely possible; there are racists out there on dating sites, same as anywhere else. Hell, one of these days, I’ll have to talk about my accidental date with the white supremacist from Plenty Of Fish. But you can’t just dictate what or whom people are and aren’t allowed to be attracted to – even if it’s through social pressure by saying that people who don’t want to date X are anti-X-ists.
We’re not mind-readers and barring other clues (posing in front of a swastika, Aryan nation slogans in her profile, ironic Hitler mustache tattoo, her “Most Private Thing I’ll Admit To” involves being part of a breeding program to create a master race) sometimes you just have to assume that they like what they like.
So I’m an asian geek having trouble finding a girl. I pretty much grew up in Canada and I have a pretty multicultural circle of friends so, I don’t want to limit my dating pool to just my race. The problem is, varying from “I just don’t see you that way” to straight and blunt “I’m not into asian guys,” girls seem to have their types and they can cripple you immensely. Maybe it’s a personality problem, maybe not but doc, I don’t know if this is a familiar subject but can you school me about interracial relationships and where a good spot would be where I can have better luck?
Secret Asian Man
It can be tough sometimes. Like I told Can’t Think of A Cool Name, some folks have a type they’re into and types they’re not into. Sometimes you don’t really know whether you fit their type until you just straight up ask ‘em out.
It all depends on what you’re looking for and how you’re going about finding and approaching these women. If you’re just going to bars and taking the shotgun approach – going up to any women that you find attractive and starting a conversation – yeah, you might have some issues. You’re more likely to run into people who are into a limited rage of types and are looking for that type and that type only. Sometimes you can tweak their interest – be the exception if you will – but that can take effort you may not want to invest and experience you may not have.
First, a caveat: if you’re a minority interested in interracial dating, you’re going to have better luck in larger, more multicultural cities. A larger population means a larger pool of single people to choose from in general, and the more cosmopolitan the population, the more likely you are to find people open to interracial dating.
There are dating websites that specialize in interracial dating – hell, there’re dating websites that specialize in just about any variable you can think of – so you might want to check those out. Also, the larger city you live in, the greater the odds that there will be social meet-and-greets specifically for interracial dating. These are some options you might want to explore.
Some of the best advice I have comes from my friend Travis, who has more experience in these matters: In general, if you want to maximize your chances of meeting someone who’d be interested in interracial dating… well, it’s more or less the same thing you’d do if you’re interested in meeting more people in general: go out and find groups that share your interests, ones with a multiethnic makeup. Get to know folks there, let them get to know you and how awesome you are and make some friends.When you meet someone who interests you, chat ‘em up. Pour on the charm. Flirt a little. Same as you would anybody else you were interested in.
Sometimes you’re going to get rejected… but this is going to happen regardless of whether you’re looking for an interracial relationship or not. Sometimes it may be because she’s not attracted to Asian dudes, sometimes it may be because she’s not into you as a person, sometimes it may be because she’s just not into dating anyone right now. Risking rejection is part of the price of dating, full stop. You just have to keep soldiering on.
A word of warning: I mentioned dudes with “yellow fever” in my response to Can’t Think Of A Cool Name’s letter, but there are women who fetishize race as well. Anyone interested in interracial dating runs the risk of encountering people – male and female – who are interested in interracial dating because they’ve fetishized the race of the people they’re attracted to.
At first, it can be appealing: after all, you’re not just a person, you’re also a piece of meat and sometimes it can be fun to let yourself be used. But people who fetishize race aren’t interested in you as a person, they’re interested in what they think you represent… they’re not into you so much as a collection of stereotypes that resemble you. Men are less likely to encounter this than women, but it does happen. Ultimately, you want to date someone who loves you for you, not the idea of what you are “supposed” to be… because the moment they realize you’re a person and not this being they wish you were, they’re off to the next appealing bundle of pre-conceived notions
Do you have any advice or insight for the letter writers? Let them know in the comments section.