Dating 101: Dealing With the Race Factor

Arnold Chao, Yahoo! Personals, June 5, 2009

A recent study on racial preferences of online daters provides some interesting findings. Based on profile-searching criteria set by singles using Yahoo! Personals, the UCI case study reveals that gender plays an important role in interracial preferences: “Asian American men are the least preferred mate for Caucasian women” Asian American men are the least preferred mate for Caucasian women, and African American women bear the brunt of discrimination from Caucasian men. UCI researchers say that “the stereotypical images of masculinity and femininity shape dating choices” and are a contributing factor.

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For those of you involved with a date–or mate–of a different race, check out these obstacles of interracial dating and ways to overcome them.

Dating Obstacle #1. The Traditionalists

I’ve encountered several people who possess strong opinions about interracial dating: A South African told me that people should date within their own race; my Korean American friend found it inconceivable to betroth a white woman; some Asian guys I’ve met told me they loathe competing with white guys to woo Asian bachelorettes.

Yes, the resistance against interracial dating persists, even in the diverse San Francisco Bay Area where I live. {snip}

How do you cope?

Surround yourself with pals who tolerate diversity. {snip} The acceptance you receive from a circle of friends strips away your sensitivity to snide comments that oppose your open dating preferences.

Dating Obstacle #2. The Stereotypes From Mass Media

Can you blame the TV producers and advertisers for playing it safe by catering to the majority? After all, they measure what appeals to a mass audience and go with what we’re familiar with. It’s no mystery that stereotyping the population is much easier than representing eclectic subgroups within our population. {snip}

How do you cope?

Recognizing the biased reality of the media business in itself resolves much of the adverse impact of broadcasted stereotypes. Avoid “keeping up with the Joneses” and don’t think you have to date like all the idealized couples the generic media fodder has fed you. Boil your beliefs down to what really matters to you, and you’ll become stereotype-resistant.

Dating Obstacle #3. The Offensive Family Member

It happens: You’ll attend a family gathering where your estranged uncle shows that he may not be as culturally enlightened as the rest of your family. The off-color jokes spew out of his mouth. He snickers. You’re in shock. Your significant other is in shock. {snip}

How do you cope?

Realize that there may always be a family member, or friend, who has trouble thinking before uttering insensitive opinions or bluntly racist remarks. Prepare for these confrontations. Let that person know if you think his/her comments are offensive, and choose honest yet eloquent ways to respond. {snip}

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Dating Obstacle #4. The Gazers

I know. It gets old. Not everybody is used to seeing an interracial couple. People will stare at you. They may even display a frown or a furrowed brow.

How do you cope?

Ignore the natural response of attempting to read their minds. Who knows what they’re thinking when they stare: {snip}

{snip} These public encounters add flavor to the otherwise bland experiences of their lives. You’re simply desensitizing them to the notion of colorblind dating. Sooner or later, they won’t look twice . . . because they’ve seen it before.

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