Love Isn't Blind, It's Just Near Sighted

ophelia_dating.jpg

Last week a good friend posed a question to me, "Do you only date white men?" It took a minute for me to reply, it was a question that has floated around me since I was able to sneak out of the house in high school. My dating record included both Asian and Caucasian men. There wasn't a preference for one over the either, although early on I did follow party lines; my first boyfriend and my ex-husband were both Chinese. Since my divorce, I have dated Caucasian men exclusively; something that begs for a round of talk therapy.

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Here in the US (as in Canada where I grew up) it is encouraged for immigrants to assimilate. Does that assimilation also dictate who we should love? Does that mean we should look across the table into the face of who we think we should be? Or do we fall in love with the person that most resonates with who we really are?

To find out how other people felt about interracial dating, and to see if people were navigating the same decisions I was; I posed this question on Facebook:

Question: Why do Asians predominately date Caucasians? I received responses from both sexes. The responses also veered to the same issues facing other ethnic groups. (Only the first initial is used and M signifies Male and F signifies Female)

You have opened up a gigantic can of cultural worms. I mostly dated nonasian guys in the past because my feministic Western personality was anti-compatible with ALL the Chinese guys that my parents and your sister try to set me up with. Only liberal, free thinking, and self-sufficient men such as my husband were brave and smart enough to know how to manage being around me without worrying about their masculinity or their ego. - A. (F)

Growing up mostly with the Samoan culture, especially with a grandfather so deeply rooted in Samoan politics (my papa Euga Ville is one of the chiefs of our village Salelologa, Western Samoa and also a lawyer in many of the small courts) It was considered a step down to marry another Samoan. I was always encouraged growing up to marry a white man. My mom would argue that it was pure aesthetics, "your kids will come out white". Ironically here union with my dad (who is Yugoslavian and as white as they come) didn't produce a porcelain child. They got me, a beautiful brown bag of goodies! More then that it was thought to be more of a political move. Samoans were not as educated during the time of my grandpa, nor did they have many opportunities for class growth unless they were fortunate like my granddad to inherit land or have an education. - P. (F)

Dating my own kind feels like dating my cousin. I am simply attracted to someone who doesn't look like me.Besides, Japanese guys never really ask me out. I am not a typical Japanese girl...maybe that is why. Poor haole men can't figure out that I am not a typical Japanese...therefore they actually ask me out. - A. (F)

I am olive-skinned Mexican and my husband very white Mexican. when my father-in-law walked into my hospital room to see my first born he exclaimed, "Ay que bueno, salio blanca" [oh good, she came out white]. I think it also had a lot to do w/economics because I could not see myself w/a white man--they were the other because I was so isolated from them. as I matured and my economics changed it became less of an issue. w/my daughter it is non- existent. - S.(F)

I dated a blondie who had a serious Asian fetish in high school-- used to call me "an ornamental oriental" and although it gave me the heebyjeebies, I didn't fully 'get it' until my late teens early twenties. came across some rice daddies - the dudes who major in Asian studies, hang out with Asians exclusively, and call themselves "eggs" (white on the outside yellow on the inside). I dated a couple of traditional-ish Korean American guys before meeting and ultimately marrying my 6th generation barely Chinese yell-oh boy. Never was into white boys....! - V. (F)

Well... I actually dated mostly Asian guys before I got married. I frankly never preferred either way. For me, it is actually about finding my soul mate, and it really didn't matter what race this guy happens to be. In my case, my soul mate happens to be a Caucasian guy. I would've married him no matter what race he is. - C. (F)

This topic came up when I had a talk with one of my friends. Her first bf was an Australian then a French, Italian and now it seems she's with a European-American. And I asked her why, she said that she just like how they're "appealing", meaning as in big body build and then Europeans have more square faces which she said she likes better. :P Well, that was her first reason, and then her second was she felt that the western influence has been widely spread out and that her idealism towards eastern cultures just somehow doesn't fit for her. ~but i think marriage is a different point. Being engaged then married to someone that you'll have to spend the rest of your days with; that is commitment and its the heart that is put on the test no matter what the ethnicity is. - E. (M)

Both my sisters-in-law are Asian, but I think they just fell for my sweet brothers, and my brothers adore their wives. My roommate in college was an exchange student from Japan and she was amazed at how well the men here treated women--little things like men opening the door for her seemed to make an impression (and she married another exchange student and is happily (I hope) living with him in Germany to this day). - E. (F)

I realize your topic is Asian/white dating... but you asked, "is it easier for women to date outside their ethnic groups then men? or the other way around?" Not sure about anyone other than myself... It was easier for me to consider dating white men because I grew up in a middle class mostly white neighborhood. I actually prefer to date white men and have done so exclusively for nearly 30 years as I have more common in terms of interests, activities, etc. The tough part is finding white men who are willing to date African-American women a) for the right reasons (i.e. because they actually like the person), b) tough for some to deal with the familiar/societal issues, c) when we don't all look like Halle Berry ... probably somewhat similar to the children of immigrants who become Americanized.... My father grew up in Harlem but got out. Wanted something better for his kids... education, opportunities, etc. And dating outside the race sometimes comes along with exposure to other cultures. - D. (F)

I'd love to help shed some light on different types of unions in any way I can, as well as provide a little gay perspective in a straight world. Dating Emily has been difficult when it comes to the Chinese side of her family-they are very traditional, and when her grandmother found out about us, she proceeded to end all communication with Emily on the basis that she was going to hell. Her mother has also had trouble with this, blaming Emily for "picking a difficult lifestyle", a common misconception considering sexual orientation is not a choice. Her mother's reaction is especially interesting considering prior to Emily's coming out she had lots of gay friends and had absolutely no problem with it (but I suppose it was because they weren't her own flesh and blood). So yes, the culture has made it difficult. As for interracial marriage, I personally believe that a lot of difficulties in Emily's mother's marriage have arisen from cultural differences as she married a Spanish-American man. Em's dad is much more accepting of our relationship than her mom. When it comes to Em's personal preferences, she prefers to stick to her Hispanic side and dates almost exclusively Hispanic women as she relates to the culture more. Before coming out she was treated better by her grandparents because of her 'white' looks whereas he sister and mother look more Chinese. But now the tables have turned as she is somewhat shunned by her family for her homosexuality. - M. (F)

I don't make a point to only date white women. Or asian women. apparently, I love blondes. but I'm not one to say I have a specific type of woman I date. At some point in my dating career, most probably early, I did want to experience as many different women of all races as possible, but, I never had a "thing" for one particular type be it asian or white. I do find it interesting when people lean towards only dating a certain race.
For some reason, I find it disturbing when white men say they only date Asians, probably because of the stigma or stereotype attached, i.e. looking to date a "docile, sub-servient" type of Asian woman. it also may be because having witnessed some pretty awful Australian men dating Filipinas in manila that had me pretty disturbed.
In the past, I have taken it as a challenge, when a woman tells me: "I don't date Asians." which of course, my standard answer to that is: "well, I'm not Asian, I'm Euroasian." [which is true.]
Growing up I always found it interesting that a lot of my Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese friends dated exclusively amongst their races. - R. (M)

Admittedly, Asian guys lack a certain degree of passion, compassion, fun, "excitement," especially during the younger ages. Or at least that's the general perception. I could easily accept the notion that there is a distinct difference between men and women in adjusting to Western culture. I grew up in Taiwan until age 8, enough time to have Chinese culture imprinted into my mind. Coming to the U.S. felt extremely alien at first, and were it not for my parents encouraging me to take the tougher road of assimilating at the same time maintaining a certain degree of "Chinese-ness" (through language, learning about history and culture, etc.), I would have grown up and become an "American-Chinese" (a term I do not identify with by the way--I see myself simply as American). I can see Chinese parents (don't want to broadbrush all Asians in this respect) cutting their girls more slack when it come to teaching them about holding on to traditions in a foreign land. - C. (M)

I think it's strange that we hold it against people if they only date a certain type of person. I'd think that Asian women would be pleased by men of other ethnicities who adored Asian beauty. Sometimes men just love certain types of women. It can't be explained. And it isn't just a "fever" that's going to go away anytime soon. It can be a lifelong LUV! I know that for me, I have a "type" within each ethnic group that I'm attracted to. I'm attracted to Latina, Caucasian, African-American, and Asian women, but only a certain type of each one. I think men, once they are attracted to and decide to date someone, are much more willing to accept the woman for who she is, while women, even when they choose a guy, are still trying to "change" him, make him "better," meaning, more like the kind of man they imagined themselves with (or really wanted), much to both of their misery and heartache. Women would be much happier, once they picked a man, to stay focused on what they LIKE about him, instead of what they DON'T LIKE about him. Women should also always date laterally or "UP," but never "down." Women who date "down" are only setting themselves up for disaster. - V. (M)

Whoever we are attracted to initially sexy body beautiful face, Inuit, African, Italian. rich witty talented there is always SEX. Then there's the stuff we are also attracted to, the broken part, calls to broken part of us. we live in such a consumer culture we consume each other as if we were products on a supermarket shelf. So we regard the surface as extremely important denying the layers of 'stuff' that calls to us that some enchanted evening when we see that stranger across a crowded room. Maybe that is the way it is supposed to be. Maybe that is natures way of having us hook up in as many random pairings as possible in order to create new and different versions of ourselves? I personally am not brand loyal, in my products or my people - B. (F)

I've only dated non-Asian women. I don't have a type or preference that I'm conscious of but I can't deny that acculturation and assimilation issues have had a strong influence through my tastes and interests in life, not only women. I seem to gain notice from women of Irish and/or Italian descent and lately, a string of redheads. Don't know why, but it keeps happening.

After my marriage ended and before I started dating again, I had a poignant conversation with my mother about her experience with my choices that added another dimension to my understanding of being a well-acculturated Korean immigrant. Living in between, so to speak...- K. (M)

My last boyfriend was Korean. He had been married to a Hispanic girl previously, and a White woman before that. His girlfriend after me was White. In his case, he kinda needed someone to be the "mom" (a big reason I am not still with him), and he did not find Asian women who were willing to do that. I think a lot of White American women have become used to overfunctioning in relationships and end up with men of all races who aren't really grown up. - H. (F)

My requirement--smart with a great sense of humor (nice eyes and smile definite bonus!). What I think is REALLY great is that we can date and marry whomever we want (well, almost on the marry). What a wonderful luxury to be able to fall in love with the right person for you. We are very lucky in so many ways. - E. (F)

I have never dated an Asian woman. I think being the youngest of 6 and being "raised" by my (mean) Asian sister discouraged me to like Asian women growing up. In fact, I was around a lot of Asian girls throughout my school years and they were "really mean" or "too smart" for me to handle. Also Asian families are so big that you don not want to get involved with any of the relatives. I think one jaded-from-the-war Asian dad is enough. So I dated outside of the race to find peace there. Deep down inside, I still like a dark hair, fair skin girl. I'm more opened now than ever to date any ethnicity but to see me date an Asian girl like right now - D. (M)

I'd date you if only i had to kneel - J. (M)

I like to have all the dark meat to myself. - D. (F)

Wouldn't it be nice to just get rid of all references to race/ethnicity altogether? - C. (F)

In conclusion, from this non-scientific survey I see that love is colorblind, it truly is about finding the one that kisses you with their eyes closed and their heart open.

Ophelia Chong A true multi-tasker: illustrator, designer, teacher, networker and writer of short blasts of pent up hot air, writes about Los Angeles every Thursday at 10 a.m. on KCET's SoCal UpDaily blog.

Image: Ophelia Chong / XO in your Dreams

About the Author

A true multi-tasker: illustrator, designer, teacher, networker and writer of short blasts of pent up hot air.
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