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

  • Yep, this is JenZ from hockey/Birch/photography etc. I do think the gender roles are more equal in Chinese/Taiwanese and SE Asian households; traditional Korean and Japanese homes seem more male dominated. And indeed, ironic that Asian women are perceived as demure – perhaps this stereotype arises more so from Asian women rather than Asian American women, but I think most non-Asian people aren’t aware of this difference.

  • Wow, this is some serious online dating anthropology- statistics and percentages and everything! I’m inspired to step up my game 🙂

  • Thanks, Kat. And I had to collect that data manually, too, no thanks to my friend, Joe. *grumble grumble grumble*

    Thanks for stopping by! As I mentioned to KaPau… online daters unite! 🙂

  • This is really interesting, and I haven’t ever really thought about it (I guess I live in a weird bubble). It’s interesting how race can really play a part in who you date and ultimately end up with – even in our post-racial culture (now that Obama is president, don’t ya know? Clearly being sarcastic). Everyone will probably deny it, but we all have our preferences (whatever the reason) and sometimes you refuse to open your eyes to the unexpected or to something you’ve already written off as not wanting. I appreciate this post (and really enjoy your writing style), because it has opened my eyes a bit more to my own prejudices. For example, I haven’t set racial preferences on my online dating profile, but I hardly ever reply to someone outside of my race (and have NEVER actively reached out to someone outside my race). And the funny thing is, I really don’t know why that is. Time to change that, I think… or at least try.

  • Thanks for the comment, Catherine. That’s awesome that you’re willing to be honest with yourself about your own preferences. But, from my perspective, what you’ve done–or haven’t done, rather–isn’t anything out of the ordinary.

    To me, it actually makes perfect sense when people prefer to date within their race. I think it’s natural to want to be with someone who has a similar background and upbringing, and who else would likely have a similar background and upbringing than someone of the same race? To me, there’s nothing prejudiced about that at all.

    What I find odd is people who specifically date *outside* their race. That, in my opinion, is indicative of some other underlying issues….

    Oh, and…. Thanks! I like your blog, too. 😉

  • You make a good point. And when so many women end up choosing partners simliar to their fathers (for better or for worse!), they are likely going to gravitate to their own race. I think while the way I feel (or really the way I’ve acted, I don’t even know if it’s the way I feel necessarily, it’s just been my default) is probably pretty normal/standard, it still bugs me. I truly haven’t ever given anyone outside of my race a chance. I dated one guy from El Salvador in high school and that’s it. And even thinking that reminds me of someone saying that they aren’t racist because they have a black gardener or something like that! LOL. You’ve given me several things to think about tonight … so thanks!

  • That’s okay. We minority types don’t want to date a crazy bipolar white chick like you, anyway. :-p

    I’ve actually had quite the heated discussions with people over this very topic. I’ve never been one to throw the “racism” term around, and I believe, in today’s culture of political correctness, people are way too quick to brand someone a racist.

    To me, racism is when you harbor irrational prejudices against another race. Romantic preference is an entirely different matter. We have to feel attracted to someone we’re with. Well, our notions of attractiveness derive from our upbringing and what we were exposed to as children. Therefore, we can’t be expected to be able to feel attracted to someone whose physical features we have not been socially molded to find attractive. And, to me, there’s nothing racist about that.

    I harbor no ill will or prejudices against, say, the pygmy people of New Guinea. However, I can’t ever see myself being physically attracted to a pygmy woman, let alone wanting to date one. Does that make me racist? I hope not.

    Point being, I think it’s awesome that you want to keep an open mind about dating outside your race. But, honestly, I don’t think it’s anything you really need to be bothered by.

    See, I’m actually defending you here. 🙂

  • You make really good points here. I totally agree that we can’t be “expected to feel attracted to someone whose physical features we have not been socially molded to find attractive.” But, I think that if we recognize in ourselves that we have these prejudices or feelings within ourselves, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to try to challenge these feelings and give someone different a chance. I would think it would be a good thing to be actively aware of our preferences, and maybe encourage ourselves to open our eyes (and our horizons) a bit more every once in awhile. And that’s what I hope I can do. If you are aware of your own prejudices, why not try and challenge them? I’m not saying challenge them for sport – like saying I’m definitely going to hit on a black guy this weekend! ie, a token – I mean challenge them so that you can possibly give someone a chance that you may not have otherwise, and maybe even find a connection. Just a thought.

    But, I do wanna say thanks for defending me. 🙂

    Fun talking with ya!!

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

    I now have a blog crush on you!

  • @Crystal: Aww, thanks. You just like the Star Wars references, dontcha? 😉

    @Catherine: Hey, far be it for me to discourage someone from dating outside their race! Props to you. But… no, don’t go and hit on a black guy this weekend.

    Pick an Asian dude. 😉

  • It’s not just the Star Wars reference, it’s the way you handle the reference. Besides, I’m a sucker for movie quotes.

  • CrystalSpins :

    It’s not just the Star Wars reference, it’s the way you handle the reference. Besides, I’m a sucker for movie quotes.

    Well, in that case….

    I see your blog is as big as mine. Now, let’s see how well you… handle it. 😉

  • Great post Dennis, and outta curiosity I had to go check the FB pics, and… DAMN! Better looking than the last white boy I dated.

    I honestly don’t see what the big deal is about dating outside your race, I don’t fully exclude any race/color/ethnicity from my dating pool. Yes, I have preferences about looks, I like dark hair, dark eyes, but that leaves every race open for me, and I don’t exclude someone with blonde hair and blue eyes either. Looks mean very little when it comes to chemistry with someone. We all have absolute deal breakers that we just can’t live with in that department which would have us never give someone a chance, but at least for me, those are much smaller than my personality deal breakers.

    I have a male friend I grew up with, who exclusively only wanted to date Asian women, specifically Chinese women, he liked the ones that were pretty and mean to him, and used him for his earning potential. He eventually married one and then divorced him and tried to take him to the cleaners. He says he knew that a large percentage of Asian women liked white men because of status potential. They don’t care that he’s fat, bald, and not attractive, they marry for money, and he marries for looks, so it works out for his kind. Well, in the end, he realizes it doesn’t work out, but it took him 10 years to realize this. But he also acknowledges that he is attracted mostly to Asian women. He can’t help what he’s attracted to. I also have a friend who loves Japanese women, has had 2 Japanese wives, the last one just died of cancer a few months ago. He absolutely loves the Japanese culture. I have a friend who loves Black men, and a cousin who shares the same preference. To each his own right?

    That being said, I think when it comes down to it, it’s about what we are attracted to, and it’s not something we can control, or just switch on and off, so if you don’t have a preference for Asian women of what ever country of origin, don’t let anyone tell you that you should.

  • Hey, thanks, V! I agree, you can’t control whom you have a preference for or against.

    It’s just that, with these Asian women… I wonder what’s the cause of their preference against Asian males. Some of the folks on here have offered up some good insights, but I think it comes down to stereotypes. The stereotypical Asian American male isn’t exactly the embodiment of masculinity and sex appeal, ya know?

    So, thank you again for the compliments! 😉

  • Dennis Hong :
    I think it comes down to stereotypes. The stereotypical Asian American male isn’t exactly the embodiment of masculinity and sex appeal, ya know?
    <

    Really? You don’t think Asian men embody masculinity? Maybe I’m extremely different or something, but I find Asian men extremely masculine, and sexy! I really like that some tv shows are now casting more sexy Asian men too. Like Jin on Lost… let me just insert a huge *drool* here!

    I can’t say what’s wrong with these girls that they eliminate a whole group of men, I’m not in their heads, but if they don’t think you are sexy, sounds like a personal problem of theirs that you shouldn’t be too concerned about. Just my 2 cents.

  • 🙂 Seems *all* we female bloggers are drooling on our keyboards over Dennis…I’m just a bout to throw down w/ Crystal’s Dennis-crush..I look over here and DAYUMMMMMM…I can’t beat em off fast enough….arghhhhhh..hehe 😉
    …but…we’re all white chicks and thus, are merely proving his whole point again and again 🙂

  • @Vendetta: Well, I think so. It’s Hollywood that doesn’t. Although, our image does seem to be getting better….

    @KP: Aww, thanks. But see, the white women like me, dagnabit! It’s the Asian chicks that don’t. 😉

  • Just found the blog and as an AA woman in San Diego (dating a white guy), I thought I’d chime in. Dennis, in an earlier comment you said, “I think it’s natural to want to be with someone who has a similar background and upbringing” – which I agree with, but then you asked, “who else would likely have a similar background and upbringing than someone of the same race?” – which I think gets complicated for Asian AMERICANS, which are hugely diverse in terms of national origin and immigrant status. As a fourth-generation Japanese-American, I have definitely felt that I have more in common with white guys than first or second-generation Asians, and other than a common experience facing certain stereotypes, I don’t feel like I have much in common with non-Japanese Asians just because they are Asian. If I meet a third- or fourth-generation Chinese guy, we are likely to have more in common because we both grew up in California than because we are both Asian (and I’ve never met a third-generation, let along fourth, AA outside of California). What exactly is it about being Asian, per se, that makes you think your background and upbringing will be similar to mine?

    But I’ll also admit that part of my preference for non-Asians is an appearance thing – shallow as it may seem, I’ve always preferred dating tall guys (the shortest guy I’ve dated was 5’10”). Don’t know if that’s a social construction or what…

  • Hey Jenn,

    Thanks for the comment. And thanks for being open to a discussion about this, instead of getting all bent out of shape like some people have. 🙂

    You’re absolutely right. You’re probably going to have a lot more in common with a white guy than a first-gen Asian. So… no, not every Asian woman who dates a white guy is automatically evil. I would never speak in such absolutists.

    For the record, I have no problem with interracial dating. (Obviously, I don’t, since my last few girlfriends haven’t been Asian.) If you meet someone who isn’t of your race, and you find that you have tons in common with this person, and you happen to fall in love… awesome! That’s how love should be, right?

    What I do have a problem with is someone who unequivocally rules out a certain subset of the population based on their skin color. To these people, it’s not a matter of common background. In fact, a good chunk of the people they rule out will have common backgrounds with them. I know you’re mostly defending yourself here, and that’s totally fine. But, come on, you can’t possibly believe that every Asian woman in San Diego who only dates white guys is a fourth-generation+ Asian American looking for someone with a common background, can you? For these women, their preference is a matter of… I don’t know. Hence, this blog post.

    In any case, in the comment you referenced, notice that I said “would likely have a similar background.” Do you not agree that a random Asian woman will likely have a more similar background with an Asian guy than a white guy? You may be an exception, and that’s fine. But you’re also committing a logical fallacy by assuming that I think my background and upbringing will automatically be similar to yours.

    And, dude, there are tall Asian guys, too! Okay, I’m not one of them, but… there are. 😉

    By the way, you’re not the only woman who prefers tall guys. In fact, surveys have shown that height is the number one condition that women find most important! It’s a preference that can be blamed on natural selection….

  • I -died- laughing when I read the part about knowing just how much starch to add. You know what, those results from Match.com make me kind of sad, we shouldn’t be biased towards someone based on race because in the end we are all just going to end up Beige anyways. Beige. No white, black, asian, brown, ginger… just beige. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDl8unyFE0c

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