So you want to date a black girl? Or, depending on your race, a white girl, Asian girl, Latina girl… Dating is hard enough without stepping outside what is considered “normal” by society’s standards of what couples should look like. And, sorry to break it to you, interracial dating does not fit that standard of normal!
In today’s melting-pot society, you could easily argue (i.e. lie to yourself) that interracial dating isn’t a problem. But let us not forget that just 50 years ago interracial marriage was illegal in many states. It was only in 1967 that laws banning interracial marriage were deemed unconstitutional. Long after this ruling, interracial couples were still harassed and discriminated against. And, yes, it still happens to interracial couples today. The fact that the term “interracial dating” exists just proves that it is an issue to date outside your race.
There is no reason why you should let society’s biased views keep you from dating the man or woman of your dreams just because he/she is outside of your race. However, you should enter the relationship with eyes open to what problems and challenges you might face. If you are willing to deal with these hurdles, you might also find that there are many benefits to interracial dating too.
Race Does Make a Difference
Our society likes to promote some sort of colorblind model as a cure for racism. In its effort to show we are all equal, it has done its best to ignore the fact that we are all different.
Equality does NOT mean the same!
This can also be seen in feminism, in which some feminists are so gung-ho about proving that they can do anything a man can do (there are even devices which let women pee standing up) that they ignore significant differences like that women’s bodies are built for childbearing, hormonal differences, and body structure differences.
If you are entering into an interracial dating relationship for the first time, you might be surprised at just how different your life experiences can be (if you need tips finding a girlfriend, read this post). Two people of different races, even when they grew up in the same town, can have completely different cultures. For example, it is a reality that black men in New York are a lot more likely to be stopped by the police for a random search than white men. If you are a white woman dating an Arabic man, be prepared for the security checks at the airport.
As people of different races,
- We have different histories
- We have different cultures
- We may have different languages
- We have different accepted norms
- We have different dance traditions
- We even have different ways of doing our hair!
If you try to ignore all of these differences and say that “race doesn’t matter”, then you are setting yourself up for a big shock. However, if you can embrace these differences, then your romance can flourish. You might even learn something too by stepping outside your cultural norms. This is one of the benefits of interracial dating.
People Will Assume It is a Fetish
You’ve heard the phrases before.
Asian girl fetish.
Jungle fever (also: vanilla fever, curry fever, yellow fever, desert fever…)
Once you go black, you never go back!
When you date outside your race, people will assume it is some sort of fetish thing. Now, there is a big difference between attraction and fetish. Fetish assumes that you are turned on by certain characteristics or things, such as people with a fetish for pantyhose or scat or whatever. Yeah, there are a lot of fetishes out there!
It is a bit difficult to define the difference between a fetish and attraction. We can’t help it if we have a preference for one type of look, such as one guy being attracted to skinny women with blond hair whereas another prefers curvy women with darker tones.
How can you tell when it is a fetish and not just attraction? A fetish is purely sexual and the person will be attracted to ALL people of that race/appearance regardless of the person.
By comparison, attraction is often just the spark which initiates a romance. Real love isn’t based on attraction!
If Not a Fetish, then a Status Thing
If they don’t think your interracial relationship is based on a fetish, they might think it is a status thing, or a “come up.”
This is most seen in interracial relationships with white women and black men. As Ernest Baker points out at Gawker, it is based on years of white dominance in society.
Whites are privileged in this society and having what they have serves as validation for a lot of people. Successful minorities love to say, “You’re privileged but I’m so smart and awesome and financially secure that I have the same, if not better, house, car, and woman as you.”
Need evidence that some black men see dating a white woman as a sign of their success? Just listen to the lyrics of rap music from the likes of Kanye West, Chris Brown, We Dem Boyz, or Wiz Khalif. You will hear lyrics about “white bitches” and how successful black men will “leave your ass for a white girl.” Kanye West then went and married a white girl…
Yes, women are seen as trophies and markers of success. This is a huge problem and you need to be aware of it before you enter into an interracial dating relationship with a white woman, especially if you are black.
Love May Be Blind – But Society Isn’t
You might not have a bit of racism in you, and your reasons for dating the man/woman of your dreams has nothing to do with race at all. But don’t ever forget that racism still exists. Be prepared for the stares, stupid comments, and maybe even violence (thankfully, this doesn’t occur often anymore in Western countries).
You two will have to do your best not to let the racism of other people interfere with your relationship. The typical advice about interracial dating says to “just ignore it.” In reality, it won’t be so easy. You might have to adjust your relationship to avoid the discomfort and general displeasure of society.
Yes, it sucks to let bigots dictate your life, but it is really, really difficult not to let racism ruin your evening. For example, one interracial couple in Houston said they stopped going to country music concerts together. They just got tired of the stares and comments so decided to go on dates elsewhere.
Women Will Shun Your Girlfriend
Or, if you are the woman in the interracial relationship, the women in your boyfriend’s life will probably shun you. Of course, this isn’t always the case – but you should be prepared for it.
You remember that move Save the Last Dance? When the white protagonist in the movie starts a relationship with a black guy, the guy’s female friend responds with:
“White girls like you, creeping up, taking our men — the whole world ain’t enough, you’ve got to conquer ours too.”
Sarah James talks about this in her article for the Huffington Post. She puts the comment in the context by pointing out that there are fewer black men than white men, black men are more likely to be incarcerated, and black men are less likely to be monogamous. Other stats show that 42% of black women are unmarried – which leads you to understand why black women might feel like a white woman is “creeping up” on their men.
Once again, this is really sad as it just reinforces a society in which women are pitted against each other. This can also be a problem with men, such as you getting shunned by your girlfriend’s male friends. We stick to our “tribes” and people feel rejected or jealous when they see someone from “their tribe” dating someone who looks different.
You Will Both Be Scared to Meet Each Other’s Families
Meeting your partner’s family is always difficult. It can be downright terrifying when you two are of a different race. As liberal as your partner and community are, there is much to be said about the decades of internalized racism that his/her parents might harvest.
In this article about meeting the parents when you are in an interracial relationship, David Schiller gives some good tips, like pretending that you like all the food and refraining from mentioning race at all. Another good piece of advice is to tell your family beforehand. Even if you think your family is totally cool and not the least bit racist, it might still come as a surprise when you show up for dinner with a person from ___ race.
And remember, even if the meeting does end up being terrible, family is never a reason to stop seeing a person you love!
You will Get Stupid Questions
You are in an interracial relationship? Brace yourself for the stupid questions! Some of these questions might be well intentioned, but ignorant and painful nonetheless. Here are just some of the questions/comments you can expect to hear when dating interracially.
- Aren’t your worried your children will be bullied?
- Do you only date ___ people?
- Wouldn’t it be easier to date someone of your own race?
- What does your family think of you dating a ____ person?
- I dated a ___ person once.
- You are so brave!
- Inappropriate questions about his “member”
- What is sex like with a ____ person?
- Mixed kids are so cute!
The Stares Might Be Coming from a GOOD Place
As annoying, frustrating, and painful as getting stares can be, remember that they might not all be coming from a bad place. A story from The Root is a good example of this.
Clay told me the story of a department store employee who was obsessing over Clay’s family and its racial makeup. “He was a white guy who was 19, and he would not let it go!” Clay said. Instead of shunning the curious stranger, they talked to him, and “it turned out that he had just started dating a black woman and was excited to see [our relationship] was working. It was goofy, awkward, immature, but it came from a genuine place.” You never know. People who you think are only seeing your skin might actually be seeing themselves.
Hardships Help Your Love Grow
Sad as it is, dealing with the racist idiots in the world might actually help you grow as a couple. Couples often face hurdles or “rough spots,” such as money problems, disease, employment troubles, and so forth. If the relationship isn’t strong, then the problems can break a relationship. However, if the relationship is strong, then the hardships can actually make the couple grow closer together.
Couples in an interracial relationship face hurdles right from the get-go. If they can overcome these hurdles, they will be much more equipped for dealing with whatever life throws at them.
If the two of you can’t withstand some negative associations with interracial dating and racism, then your love probably wasn’t that strong to begin with. Or, you or your partner lack self-confidence – which is absolutely necessary for a healthy relationship (read confidence tips in our dating manual!). Again, it is pretty sad, but those racist idiots might actually help your love flourish.
Okay – it doesn’t always end this way. Recent statistics show that interracial married couples have a higher rate of divorce: 41% of interracial couples will divorce by their 10th year compared to 31% for same-race couples. The study found the biggest divorce risk in couples involving white females with non-white males compared to white/white couples. Note that interracial couples which involved white men with non-white females showed no or little difference in divorce rates. White men with black women had a substantially lower divorce risk than white/white couples!
The study researchers point out that other factors aside from race might be at work – including the lack of support from family and friends that interracial couples often experience. This just goes to show how important it is for people entering into interracial dating relationships to be aware of the hardships they might face.
In the End, Love Has Nothing to Do with Race
While it is important to be aware of the hardships you might face when dating interracially, ultimately it all comes down to the couple. You can’t help who you fall in love with, and love has nothing to do with race. If you two share the same interests, goals in life, and are committed to building a life together, then race won’t matter more than any of the many other obstacles which couples must overcome.