I Date Outside My Race Because My Race Won’t Date Me

As some of my friends have noticed, none of my last few girlfriends were Asian. My usual response is, “why, am I supposed to have an Asian fetish?”

Okay, okay, I know what they’re implying: I’m Asian. And Asians are supposed to like other Asians. Right?

Sure. And eat rice. And love math. And know just how much starch to add to your laundry…..

Point being, my last few girlfriends have been of the noticeably non-Asian variety, which has led to my unceremonious branding with the “twinkie” label. (In case you aren’t hip on your urban speak, a twinkie is an Asian who acts white—that is, yellow on the outside, but white on the inside.)

Whether or not I really am made up of a gooey white cream center and can now be found in heart-wrenching deep-fried form at the county fair, the truth is that I rarely meet Asian women who are interested in me. For years now, I’ve wondered if all is not harmonious in the land of Rice Rocketry. For years now, I’ve suspected that a disproportionate number of Asian women here in San Diego only want to date non-Asian men.

Well, I finally decided to verify my suspicions by turning to the ultimate refuse… er, refuge of superficiality: Match.com.

On Match, not only can people list their own ethnicity, they can also list every ethnicity they’re willing to date. So, I ran a search for women between the ages of 21 and 40, who list themselves as Asian, and who reside within 50 miles of my zip code. Of these women, I wanted to see what percentages 1) specifically include Asian as one of their preferences, and 2) specifically exclude Asian as one of their preferences.

My query returned the profiles of 687 Asian women. Well, this was turning out to be a daunting task. So I enlisted the help of a programmer friend, Joe, who wrote a piece of computer code to scour these profiles and collect the data.

Not only did Joe’s code fail miserably at collecting the data, it proceeded to send “winks” on my behalf to 18 of these women. (On the plus side, two winked back, and one was pretty cute. So, Joe, you’re forgiven.)

Eventually, I did manage to collect the data for 396 women. Here are the results:

169 list no preference
116 include Asian as a preference
111 exclude Asian as a preference

Basically, nearly 30% of the Asian women in San Diego who are on Match.com openly refuse to date Asian men.

I suspect the actual percentage is even higher. No doubt, some of the women who don’t specify preference also refuse to date Asians, but won’t admit it publicly. In technical terms then, I think the results can be summed up as follows:

Dude, this is some major suckage.

So what’s the deal then? Why this pattern? I have a few guesses:

Traditional Asian cultures can be notoriously xenophobic. As such, a second-generation Asian-American with traditionally-minded parents will probably have to shoulder a ton of pressure to marry an Asian. I wonder if some Asian women date outside their race as a way to rebel against their parents.

More cynically, though, I suspect another reason:

Status.

I believe that many Asian women (as with many minority women, in general) feel a sense that they are raising their social status by dating white men. This status issue isn’t alleviated at all by the stereotype of the Asian male as the symbol of non-virility and sexual ineptitude.

No matter the reason, the statistics leave me with a dearth of potential dates. If Match.com is any reflection of the general population of San Diego, one out of every three Asian women I meet here—if not more—has already excluded me from her dating pool. Yikes.

I mean, I’d understand if I’d done something stupid to get myself banned from the pool (like, you know, getting drunk on the first date and peeing off the diving board). But, these women aren’t even letting me in their pool in the first place.

I’m the Asian kid standing outside, rattling the gate in envy as I watch all the other kids slipping and sliding around and having a splashing grand time.

And all I can do is sit here and seethe while I do my calculus homework.

This is why my last few girlfriends haven’t been Asian. And this is why I started dating mostly non-Asian women. In a way, it’s my “eff you” to the Asian women here in San Diego:

“You’re Asian, but you won’t date an Asian guy? Eff you. Two can play that game.”

Is it jaded and bitter of me?

Perhaps.

Do two wrongs make a right?

Perhaps. (Hey, don’t you make me invoke my math superpowers and remind you that a double-negative does indeed make a positive. Math, that’s where I’m a Viking.)

The bottom line is… it’s reality.

I’m not opposed to dating an Asian woman. (I know my mom, for one, would be eternally grateful.) I’ll date any ethnicity. But I’m not going to waste my time pursuing a segment of the population that has already ruled me out.

So, if my last few girlfriends weren’t Asian… oh well. They were wonderful, meaningful relationships, and I never felt that I was missing out on anything. My race doesn’t want to date me, but I’ve learned to adapt and be okay with that.

Then again, another side of me wonders if the true reason I don’t date Asian women is because I’ve been subconsciously traumatized by Star Wars:

Because, by dating outside my race, I’ll never accidentally make out with my long-lost twin sister.

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By day, I'm a marriage and family therapist. By night, I am a relationships and comedy writer, which can be redundant or an oxymoron, depending on your perspective. I'm the creator of Social Savvy Sage, a coaching service that focuses on developing social skills. I am also the creator of Musings, the blog you're reading right now. You can find me on Twitter. (I am not the creator of Twitter.)

114 comments

  • Great post! Lovin’ that you inadvertently virtually-winked at 18 women at once!!! GO Dennis GO!!
    I’m feeling like I must be totally in the dark with the whole race/culture issues thing!! I never imagined that Asians might stereotype or discriminate against other Asians..but then, I’m blonde and thus, unlike you, math was never my forte’ either…Nondeterministic algorithms just confound me! Now, the randomized variety do make tidbits of sense to me…but I digress…

    The real quesstion afire in my mind is I have a size 8.5 foot (OMG…yes I really do!) and I typically wear OPI’s “I’m not really a waitress” Red nail polish on my toes..umm..are there any known discriminations for those things I might be unaware of too? I’m just no math wizard…and you are my guru….so I really need clued in on these things;-p

    • I really feel people should just stick with their own race. The problem with interracial dating is that your ethnicity is built for your race and dating someone outside your race is not only frowned upon, but biologically dangerous. And besides, interracial kids look too dang weird looking.

  • DX3, it’s good to know I still have a chance 😉

  • I loved this piece. My most eventful, fruitful, toxic, amazing relationship, I’ve ever had was with my White boyfriend. I’ve never had a Black boyfriend. I don’t know why I haven’t dated any Black guys. It just never crossed my mind. And I’ve dated everyone Middle Eastern, Asian, Spanish… I think my parents would love it if I dated a Dominican guy – but chances are, that’s never going to happen. The Dominican community is way to small here. And most of them are older – and they’re children are younger.

  • Dennis you just need to post a picture of you with your shirt of and those who have excluded you will think twice. The dude works out. 🙂

  • First off, I like the article, but you knew that already, Dennis. Although I think in general who you date in terms of ethnicity and culture, if you’re going off the theory that people date other people they have things in common with and are comfortable around, depends more on where and how you grew up, which is probably why you’ve dated primarily white chicks (I assume white only because while I know you pretty well, I don’t know your entire dating history).

    And I second what Meg says. Is that creepy? Too bad.

  • I concur w/ you two ladies…and I’ve never even seen him w/o his shirt..don’t even have to … Dennis is HOT! 🙂

  • Aww, thanks, everyone. But, see, you all kind of prove my point:

    All the lovin’ is coming from the white ladies! :-p

    @KP: As long as you’re not like four feet tall, I think you’re still proportionally just fine. 😉 Then again, some people find hobbits kinda sexy….

    @Allison: You make a good point about dating people you have things in common with. I’ve attempted to date (translation: I’ve been set up by my mom with) a few FOBish Asian women (FOB = “fresh off the boat” = recent immigrant). Invariably, I have nothing in common with them. At best, they don’t get my dry sense of humor and stare at me blankly when I try to crack jokes. At worst, we can’t even freaking understand each other. So, realistically, the only Asian women I tend to be attracted to are the Americanized ones… many of whom just happen to be the ones who like white guys. So, that’s kinda my quandary when it comes to dating Asian women.

  • This is funny to me because I have never given a white guy a chance. I prefer asian guys- maybe it’s an LA vs. SD thing. Sorry but while I think the whole research aspect of the match.com is interesting, it also seems as though you are attempting to write-off Asian women. Almost like an excuse. Rebellions and Status? I think that’s almost laughable. We’re in an age where dating a white guy doesn’t automatically get you “status”. 😛

    Maybe it is a clash of personalities, maybe a slew of other reasons. I agree it’s difficult to date a fob because of the culture gap, but, maybe 🙂 you were showing off or too busy writing them off because your “mama chose ’em for you”. You shouldn’t completely think all asian girls hate you and would never date you- lol. Give a girl a chance why don’t you? Maybe a few rotten apples got in your way and now you wear blinders… we’re all just ppl here. One and the same.

  • @j3ntan:

    No, you’re totally right. I admit that I’ve swung a little bit too far in the “other” direction and now tend NOT to approach Asian women as much as I would if I were truly colorblind. I’m working on it, though! That’s part of the reason I wrote this piece. Think of it as a catharsis, if you will. 😉

    Still, in my defense, it wasn’t just “a few” rotten apples. In the 14 years I’ve been in San Diego now, I feel like it’s happened often enough to make me want to throw up my arms and say, “eff it, what’s the point?!?” By the way, I’m not just talking about me approaching an Asian girl and getting shot down. I’m talking about me meeting Asian girls, becoming friends with them, and then hearing them announce–proudly, I might add–that they prefer to date white guys. I mean, whether or not *I* had any interest in them, I always took that as a slap in the face.

    As for the FOBs… I did give them a chance! I really did. But, when I have a hard time understanding their English, and they have a hard time understanding my fast-paced voice… well, then it’s kinda hard to establish any kind of rapport.

    Thanks for the comment, though. 🙂

  • KaPau! :

    I concur w/ you two ladies…and I’ve never even seen him w/o his shirt..don’t even have to … Dennis is HOT! :-)

    Okay, KP, since you extended everyone the favor on your blog, this is for you:

    Check out my profile pics on my Facebook. 😉

  • Oh my….did I help prove your point??? OOOOOOH….I hate when I do that!! I take it all back..except the “hot” part..;-P

  • Ha, no worries. Helping someone prove a point doesn’t make you any more “categorizable.” 😉

  • …that was totally intended as a passive agressive inner-rant post I extended to everyone… I’m just too “nice” to out n out rant…but I’m learning..hehe:-)
    ..off to stalk ur FB pics now!

  • Ummmm… I don’t think it’s considered stalking when you were invited to check them out. I mean, unless, you know, you’re into the whole role-playing thing. In which case… oh, look, I think I’m going to go change my shirt… while I’m standing right here in my room… next to the window… with the lights on…. :-p

  • Funny, I have an Asian friend who prefers Asian men. Maybe I should just hook you two up. Then we’ll see what the truth is! haha

  • If that’s a challenge, Jasmine… I like it!

    Or maybe it’s your secret insidious plan to get me to drive up there to check out Late Night Leftovers…. 😉

  • Dennis, I love this new piece.Thoroughly entertaining. As your really good friend who has mutually determined with you for reasons I will not disclose publicly, that we will ALWAYS be “just friends”, I have to say I love you! And I don’t mean that in a stalkerish, pining away for you, IN love kind of way, just that you are a great person and I appreciate your friendship. I think we singlehandedly proved that men and women really can be “just friends” and I love you for that. I don’t know if the fact that I am NOT Asian proves or disproves anything, however…but of course I had to add my 2 cents. On that note, I will keep my eyes peeled for a cute Asian or non-Asian girl for you. And by the way, it works the other way too…all the white guys want the Asian women, so it limits that demographic of the dating pool for me!

  • Being half Asian (but looking fully Asian to the untrained eye) saw me being treated in the same way. Not by one, but by both races I am. Well, to be fair it’s not like there was a huge Peruvian population in the places I grew up at. The treatment was 50/50 on dating/not dating between both ethnicities. When I was growing up this was kind of a source of pain for me because it always left me feeling an outcast. I got over it pretty fast when I realized that there were plenty of other fish in the sea who were interested in me. It was nice while it lasted.

  • Great writing, Dennis! I have mused about the suckage of being an Asian guy in these situations. AA identity stuff has always been intriguing.

    A great number of my Asian American women friends have wound up with White men. While the Rebellion and Status reasons are true, here are some other possible factors…

    Thanks to the media, ideals of male handsomeness and masculinity are rarely embodied by Asian men. Our generation of course, grew up with Asian men portrayed as scrawny, geeky, awkward, unmasculine. Of course AA women know better than to believe media stereotypes, but in the subconscious – there might be that association. Maybe Daniel Dae Kim can change things for the next generation of AA men.

    Many of us Asian Americans are second generation. AA women grew up with first generation parents with traditional values and thus – their moms were subservient to their dads. As little girls we watch this growing up, and then compare and contrast with white friends’ parents where there was probably more equality in the household. For little Asian boys, watching their mom do most (all?) of the household chores, not question dad’s demands, watch their dad rule the house – well, nothing sucks about being male there. He’d be happy to wind up marrying an AA woman. AA girls however, when grown up, *might* unknowingly want to avoid that situation by finding a man most unlike their father – which is most easily achieved by finding a white guy who is unlikely to have traditional expectations of them. Of course, many Asian American guys are totally westernized in terms of home gender roles (I married one). These are generalizations here.

    I photograph babies in San Francisco. If ever there is a White/Asian couple, of course the mother is Asian and the father is White. However, there are also piles of all Asian couples, and intermixing within Asian ethnicities. (Indian-Chinese, Indian-Korean, Korean-Chinese, Chinese-Japanese). I think that there are so many more Asian Americans in the Bay Area that a 2nd+ generation Asian American woman has a full spectrum of non-traditional AA men types to choose from; far more than San Diego. Women like choices. If a social group consists of one or two AA guys and ten white guys, well there’s not enough of an AA man choice for an AA woman. The other advantage of the Bay Area being packed with AAs, from FOB to 4th generation, is that there’s plenty of evidence that many AA men are not Asian-traditional. Perhaps this opens an AA women’s mind up to dating AA men.

    Maybe you ought to move up here?

  • @Sara:

    Hehe… interesting way of keeping things vague there. Incidentally, I’ve *already* hooked you up once, so I believe you owe me one at this point. :-p

    @Steve:

    Oh, don’t you worry there. I *never* once mistook you for a “purebred.” 😉

    @Jen:

    (By the way, I’m assuming this is the Jen Z I know who’s a photographer?) That’s a really good point you make. I never considered the household inequality that Asian American kids might grow up with. It’s funny. My parents are Taiwanese immigrants (as I am, actually, since we came here when I was five), but my mom pretty much ran the house. Good for her, huh? Anyway, I *never* experienced the male-dominated household that you speak of, so it didn’t occur to me that some second-generation Asian American women might be subconsciously trying to “escape” this.

    At the same time, I think some white men are attracted to Asian women because of the stereotype that they’re “demure.” Ironic then, huh?

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