Is Race Just A “State Of Mind” In Online Dating?

During the 2008 US Census, most Americans said they approved of racial or ethnic intermarriage. At least six of every 10 people checked “it would be fine.” But data gathered from online dating sites illustrates a different story between what people believe and how they behave.

“According to a new UC Berkeley study of one million online daters, cyberspace is just as segregated as the real world. When it comes to dating online, whites prefer whites, research reveals. More than 80 percent of whites — even the 48 percent of males and 28 percent of females who said they were indifferent to race — sent messages to whites and just three percent contacted blacks.”

Read the article here, and please share your comments below.

 

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Sarah

    When I read “whites prefer whites” I mentally added “or Asians” (white men –> Asian women).  I can’t tell you how many white men’s profiles I’ve seen listing a preference for Asian women!
     
    As a white woman I’ve gotten a lot of attention from black men.  Honestly?  I hate to say this, but I’ll be honest.  I prefer lighter skin, the same way so many men prefer lighter hair (blondes).  ONLY when it comes to dating.  I have NO PROBLEM being friends and colleagues with black men (or women); I simply prefer certain physical characteristics just like most people do.  Some people like slim or tall; I like fair.
     
    It’s not so much about race, frankly.  I could be attracted to a lighter-skinned man who isn’t white.  Or less attracted to a very tan white guy.
     
    At times I’ve wished I didn’t have this preference since it would open up so many more dating options!  Black men really do like me!  :)  And I like them… if only I could be attracted too!

  2. 2
    Jadafisk

    Well, when they say they’re fine with it, they may mean – and the study confirms this - that they’re fine with *other people* doing it. It doesn’t mean that they think that race shouldn’t be a consideration for themselves, and there’s nothing inconsistent about that, really. Social disapproval is but one of the many reasons why it doesn’t happen a lot. Intersecting class stratifications, residential segregation, socialization (mores as well as cultivation of attraction to certain sets of physical and personal qualities), correlations between political and religious beliefs, all of these play a part. Also, studies have shown that there are differing levels of comfort re: different types of interracial pairings… it’s not uncommon for someone to be totally fine with the idea of say, blacks and Latinos dating or whites and Asians, but less approving of, say, blacks and whites or Asians and Latinos. There can also be differences in approval based on the gender of the people involved. If people feel fine about most IR pairings, they may “round up” and say they approve.

  3. 3
    The InBetweener

    I think race is important only to those who MAKE IT important. I happen to be of a mixed race (American Indian/Puerto-Rican/African American) and I’ve dated people of other races also. Like the article states, sometimes it’s the parents that might forbid/look down or shun inter-racial dating/marriages – that could effect a persons opportunities when it comes to “finding the one on-line” or in face to face situations.
    A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was personally in a two (2) year relationship with someone of a different race and they felt they would be “disowned” had their father found out they were dating/seeing someone that was african-american (mixed or not). The eye opener was had they been dating any other race, it would have been fine. As far as I’m concerned NONE of my family members could EVER fix their mouths to convince me on who to date – ESPECIALLY as an adult.

    Unfortunately, a lot of people misconstrue “race” for “culture” when I see them as two (2) TOTALLY different factors when it comes to dating.
    There might be culture differences within different races but the article rarely touched on culture difference vs. race.
    With online dating, it seems as if it’s a preference to date outside your race, you ALMOST always have to sign up with a site dedicated to inter-racial dating. Otherwise, nine (9) times out of ten (10), humans will “go with what they know” so to speak.

  4. 4
    Sayanta

    I know a lot of people are going to think I’m hypersensitive (I’m anticipating a comment from Karl LOL), and I realize it isn’t “logical” but when I see a man that’s marked certain races in his preference list, I just click to the next profile. Even if he’s included my race in it- a lot of time the men (who seem very liberal and cultured otherwise) write ‘everything but black’ basically in their profile. Even though I’m not black, I just find this cruel. So- I basically just contact or reply to men who’ve written no preference.

    It’s funny- I notice on Match that there are a lot of ‘no preference’ men- but Chemistry is very ‘stay within my race.’ Of course, this doesn’t mean the Match men would actually date anyone outside of their race- hell, maybe they just don’t want to seem racist in their profile.

    This isn’t limited to men of course. I actually have white girfriends who’ll say to me, of all people, that they hate it when men of color ask them out or show interest. Of course, you all are probably asking why I’m friends with women like this. Good question- I’m wondering the same thing…

  5. 5
    Sayanta

    By the way- I don’t have any particular racial preference when it comes to dating (otherwise the above would make me a hypocrite LOL), but I’m curious…
    I notice white men are very willing to date Asian women (meaning EAST Asian, not women from India or Sri Lanka), but not women of other races. Why is this? I’m very curious, considering Asian cultures are similar to South Asian, African, and Latin cultures with the emphasis on family, tradition, etc. A friend once said it’s purely based on skin tone and nothing else.
    Another friend suggested something too X-rated for me to write on here…

  6. 6
    SS

    Funny, I often got e-mails from white men who listed every race but African-American/black in their profiles.
     
    While I didn’t feel a need to respond to every man who contacted me, I would specifically ask these men why they wrote me when they stated in their profile that they were interested in every race of woman BUT black, and yet, they wrote me, a black woman.
     
    Usually I got no response back.  Which was fine — I didn’t expect one and likely wouldn’t want to pursue communication if they had, but I thought I should call them out on it.
     
    I think what happens is that whites have a perception of what a black woman, an Asian woman, a Hispanic woman, etc., is supposed to look like, act like, etc., and based on those perceptions, include races or exclude races accordingly.
     
    But since we’ve also established that a lot of men simply don’t read profiles and look at pictures, if they happen to see a picture of a woman who they find attractive, but happens to be from the “undesired race,” they’ll write anyway — likely forgetting that their profile, clear as day, is glaring in the fact that it shows that this man is not interested in women of that particular race.
     
    All that being said, I eventually married a white man I met through other methods. While I believe what was stated in the study, I also put more general stock into the idea that people don’t always know what they want UNTIL they meet that person — and he or she happens to be from that ethnicity/race/cultural group that they never imagined themselves considering.

  7. 7
    Christine

    As an Asian woman I can vouch for what Sarah said, and say that I have gotten a lot of attention from white men on dating sites.  It’s hit or miss.  Sometimes it’s from nice white men who are genuinely interested in who I am as a person, with race having nothing to do with it.  Other times, I’ve gotten some disgusting messages from white men with stereotypical ideas about Asian women being submissive sex objects who will “love you long time”.  I’ve gotten used to it by now and try not to let some ignorant fools get to me (once I reported it to match when it crossed the line).  I really wish that the world was different and that race didn’t matter at all, but have yet to see any study coming to that conclusion.  Unfortunately online dating isn’t somehow immune from all the inequities of the world. 

    However, I still try to work within the medium as best I can.  I’ve personally seen enough success stories (like my own sister) to think that online dating can work for minorities too.

  8. 8
    Christine

    In response to SS, I’ve seen some studies where they believe that men don’t list African American women in their “preferences” because of stereotypes that they are allegedly domineering and difficult. I hate to say that and don’t think that’s true but, that stereotype does exist.  Just as I’ve run into men who think the opposite of Asians–that they will be submissive and eager to please.  I think it might have something to do with those “Madame Butterfly” or “Miss Saigon” stereotypes–where the self-sacrificing, submissive Asian woman is some geisha/courtesan for the white man. 

    I think I know the X-rated thing Sayanta is referring to, about why some white men are willing to date Asians, but it’s too crude to put here!  It’s incredibly stupid but sadly, I’ve run into guys who believe that. 

  9. 9
    Jadafisk

    “A lot of time the men (who seem very liberal and cultured otherwise) write everything but black in their profile”

    This is actually why I’ve never dated a white guy… because I live in the South, the subset of men that I’m solely interested in (liberal, “cultured”, educated, largely secular, childless, same age range, roughly equal attractiveness level), when white, refuses to date blacks - they tend to strongly prefer the company of Asians when dating interracially, if they date interracially at all - and the few white guys who show interest in me have more in common with my racial group’s stereotypical demographic profile than with me as an individual member of that racial group that deviates from said profile somewhat, so I just don’t bother. I ended up mostly dating guys from the groups that I have the strongest physical preference for, who coincidentally are also extremely likely to meet my other criteria as well - East Asian and Indian men. My problem, if and when I choose to care, is finding someone who’ll stay in it for the long haul with a black person. 

    As studies have shown, because of the fear of alienating potential mates from acceptable racial groups, many people lie or use preposterous work-arounds (if a person has found 99% of the people in a particular racial group unappealing, they can say that they’d be theoretically willing to date that 1% or people from that group that they haven’t had the opportunity to see before, instead of just describing themselves as functionally unwilling) to obscure their racial preferences and just practice them behind closed doors, which is even more disadvantageous to the people who are targeted for rejection.

    Sayanta, white men are also extremely willing to date and marry Latinas. White/Latino is now the most common IR pairing involving whites. It’s got to do with a combination of beauty standards, socioeconomic status (both real and percieved), and religious background. Asian women are exceedingly good matches for one of the types of white men that’s more willing to date interracially. They’re educated, coastal, slender, often atheist/agnostic… they’re often assimilated into “mainstream” culture, raised in neighborhoods and taught in schools right alongside whites, so there’s lots of common ground and copious opportunities. Also, the American beauty standard for women has become slightly more “ethnic” than in days past… not enough to include the very dark/full-featured among us, but enough to see dark hair/eyes, high cheekbones, tanned skin and full lips as pluses or neutral qualities instead of detractions.

  10. 10
    Germaine Beuviere

    As a “Black” woman, I prefer Asian men. However, it’s really hard to interact with them despite there supposedly being an increase between the two. I do get looks from other men even if I’ve specified who I am looking for. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a little aggressive (okay, I’m a lot aggressive LOL) or what. I just wished there would be more interacting. Race shouldn’t be an issue. If you’re secure in who you are then it shouldn’t matter.

  11. 11
    Steve

    Sayanta post #5 wrote
    Another friend suggested something too X-rated for me to write on here…
     
     
    Eh?  You can’t just pique the readership’s curiosity and drop the issue :).

  12. 12
    Steve

    Sayanta in #4 wrote
    but when I see a man that’s marked certain races in his preference list, I just click to the next profile. Even if he’s included my race in it- a lot of time the men (who seem very liberal and cultured otherwise) write ‘everything but black’ basically in their profile. Even though I’m not black, I just find this cruel.
     
    I have seen the same thing with women’s profiles.  It makes we wonder about the judgment of the author.     It is easy enough to simply not to reply to such contacts, but instead they have something that makes them look mean or obtuse on their profile.
     
     

  13. 13
    Lance

    Interesting article and great topic. When I do searches on match, I limit my searches to white women, with the occasional sprinkling of Asians and Hispanics. I’ve verbalized many times that I’m not attracted to Asian women even if they’re off the charts hot, which is ironic in a terrible way because I’m partly Asian. There’s something going on there at a core level that I’d like change.
     
    If a black woman asked me out on a date, I’d certainly go and put my best foot forward. IMO, lack of experience is a big factor, because it reduces my comfort level and allows any lingering prejudices to affect my actions. A sticking point for sure, and now that we’re discussing it I’d like to eliminate it.
     
    It would be easier to try dating across racial lines if you met someone in person because then you focus on their personality and conversation vs. simply looking at skin color and facial geometry in pics. A huge drawback to online dating, for sure.
     

  14. 14
    Sayanta

    Some really great responses here- I wish I could discuss what every poster has said, but time limits me.

    Jada- to your last paragraph in #9- the Asian women being “Atheist/Agnostic”- I never thought of that. I actually didn’t even know that. With us South Asians, life tends to revolve strongly around religion (for a lot, though not everyone).

    yeah- now that I’m comparing online dating in my thirties to my 20s, I’m noticing an interesting pattern. In my twenties, I rarely got e-mails from men of my own culture (Indian). Most of them were from white men.

    Now, at 32, I don’t get any e-mails from white men, or men of other races, but only men of my race. I haven’t changed too much in my core values and appearance in only a few years, so the only thing I can think of is this:

    In my twenties, those guys were trying to just satisfy curiousity (or fetish)? Now, when, presumably, men are looking to settle down, they’re only looking at women their own race (or East Asian).

    Oh, to SS-

    That’s awesome that you called those guys on their bs. Good for you! :-)

  15. 15
    Karl R

    The article said:
    “More than 80 percent of whites — even the 48 percent of males and 28 percent of females who said they were indifferent to race — sent messages to whites”

    If I believe (correctly or incorrectly) that I will get the most responses from white women, then it becomes a rational decision to focus my efforts on those women. A lot of that belief is based upon what I think the women I contact will prefer.

    If I meet a woman in real life, I have a way to guage her interest in me. If it’s online, then it’s just a gamble. And the odds are lower if I contact someone who isn’t white.

    Men gravitate toward what they like -and- toward where they think they’ll have the most success. (People don’t like constant rejection, so they tend to avoid large numbers of low-probability dating situations.) Therefore, I’m not sure that peoples actions are purely based upon racial bias. It seems likely that they’re partly based upon an expectation of encountering racial bias in other people.

    The InBetweener said: (#3)
    “Unfortunately, a lot of people misconstrue ‘race’ for ‘culture’ when I see them as two (2) TOTALLY different factors when it comes to dating.”

    Yes and no. Your race doesn’t determine your culture. But there’s often a strong correlation between race and culture.

    For example, in college I met a student who’d been orphaned or abandoned as an infant/toddler during the Vietnam War. She’d been adopted by an American family and been raised around the U.S. Her culture was white/middle class/army brat.

    But the majority of Vietnamese in this city either grew up in Vietnam, or they were raised in a Vietnamese neighborhood where all the adults had been raised in Vietnam. If I meet a Vietnamese woman in those neigborhoods, we probably won’t be culturally similar.

    In most cases, people will get along better when there is cultural similarity (there’s one fewer source of potential misunderstandings).

    If I meet someone in real life, I can take an educated guess as to whether there are cultural similarities/differences. (Based on the person’s name, accent and speech patterns.) On-line, those clues are a lot less apparent.

    Jadafisk said: (#9)
    “many people lie or use preposterous work-arounds (if a person has found 99% of the people in a particular racial group unappealing, they can say that they’d be theoretically willing to date that 1% or people from that group that they haven’t had the opportunity to see before, instead of just describing themselves as functionally unwilling) to obscure their racial preferences and just practice them behind closed doors,”

    In the time I spent on Match.com, I don’t believe I ever contacted a black or hispanic woman. Nor do I believe I ever added a black or hispanic woman to my favorites. Due to some cultural differences, I don’t think it’s a stretch for me to say that I’d rapidly rule out 99% of the black and hispanic women.

    However, I have dated black and hispanic women whom I met in real life. I found them attractive, and I found them sufficiently similar for my own comfort.

    99% of the time, I will quickly exclude a black or hispanic woman as a potential date. But 1% of the single black/hispanic women in this city is still a 5-digit number. That’s a lot of women. And I’m not going to rule out that many women because the odds of compatability are low.

    Does my “1%” attitude make me “functionally unwilling” to date blacks and hispanics?

    Jadafisk said: (#9)
    “Asian women [...] they’re often assimilated into ”mainstream” culture, raised in neighborhoods and taught in schools right alongside whites, so there’s lots of common ground”

    While I generally find these women physically attractive and sufficiently similar to me, I have never dated a Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Vietnamese woman. (Due to lack of mutual interest.)

    I’m not sure a person’s past dating record is an accurate reflection of their preferences and attitudes (though it does provide some insight).

  16. 16
    Sayanta

    EMK- I’m so sorry for the double post- I promise it’s the last time I’ll do it. But thanks for bringing this topic up. It’s actually been on my mind lately, and it’s great to discuss this with others.

  17. 17
    SS

    @Christine: That could be, but I also think it’s more appearance-related than anything. I’ve done a lot of interracial dating, and when I would ask some of the non-black men about the outside negative perception of African-American women, I rarely heard them mention attitude. It was more about looks that they didn’t consider to be attractive and perceived cultural differences (a supposed “ghetto” mentality). I also think that while Asian women are definitely perceived as submissive by most groups of men, white women are not perceived that way by white MEN. In fact, most white men that I know laugh at the idea that white women are supposed to be more submissive or easier to get along with in a general sense. The only men that seem to have this perception are minority men.
     
    @Sayanta… it was pretty fun to do. I’m sure what happened was that they saw my picture and said, “Ooh, she’s cute,” and decided to write me. A dating coach/matchmaker I know (who is white) said she would meet white men who would say that they weren’t interested in dating certain groups of women (likely black), but when they happened to see a picture of a cute black woman in the book, they would say they’d like to go out with her. The matchmaker would say, “Wait, I thought you weren’t interested in black women?” and the man would answer, “But she’s hot though!”
     
    I just think the best thing to do — regardless of your preference — is not list one at all, and then decide to write to/write back to those people that you find attractive (physically and otherwise). If they happen to be all white, so be it, but at least you don’t get yourself caught up in a trap when you’re contacting someone and that person notes your exclusionary selections!
     
    Despite all this, I think the internet CAN be an excellent way for interracial relationships to begin. I interact with many black women who are involved with or married to non-black men, and a large number of them met their partners on the Internet. In a way, the Internet provides both groups greater access to people they likely wouldn’t have met in real life… some black women might get a reasonable amount of non-black men contacting them online, but none in real life, so online dating can be a plus in that sense.
     
    It’s a minus though when you often get to see racial preferences displayed right in front of your eyes. I honestly have no problem with whites preferring whites, blacks preferring blacks, etc., but when it’s clear that people are preferring everything BUT black, that is telling me that we’re still in a society where certain interracial pairings are much less acceptable than others.
     
    So I take a lot of the “Americans are more receptive to interracial marriage” statements with a grain of salt. Are we better than we were 30-40 years ago? Absolutely. But if one asked specifically about certain interracial pairings, I think that answers would be very telling.
     

  18. 18
    Sayanta

    Karl #15, first paragraph-

    Hmmm- I don’t know about that. If I make the first step to write toward someone who’s white, Latino, or black (I’ve approached all three online), it’s obvious that fear of rejection shouldn’t be a factor. Yet, I rarely get responses from men outside my race anymore, when I did in my twenties.

    Before someone recommends getting dating site coaching (not that I’m knocking that, EMK :-)) I usually get responses to the e-mails I send to Indian men. For those of you who’ve read my posts- I don’t really fit the ‘classic’ stereotype of a traditional Indian woman. So considering all this, there must be something deeper than a fear of rejection factor going on here.

  19. 19
    SS

    @Sayanta — I meant to mention something about Indian men… actually, I might have said something about this before in a thread a long long time ago.
     
    When I started dating online, I got a LOT of contact from Indian men. The same happened when I did Speed Dating or went to a bar/club/party… even at my favorite local Indian food spot, the waiter asked me out.
     
    I went on one date with some of these guys, but it never went past that. The waiter invited me up to his place to “watch TV” after the date, and I declined. Some of the other guys would call me to ask if I wanted to go out to a club that night (and they would call around 9 p.m. or so), and then with one guy who I met while at a club, the next time he called me was when he was drunk and it was 1:30 a.m.  On a Wednesday.
     
    Long story short — especially seeing the low numbers of interracial marriage with Indians in America — I came to the conclusion that I was “just for fun.” That might have been the same if I was a white woman as well, but it just seemed so odd how many initial contacts (in real life and online) I got from Indian men compared to white/Hispanic/other Asian men…
     
    Meanwhile, I only know of one or two Indian man-black woman married couples out there… I eventually stopped responding to the Indian men who’d contact me because I had the sense that they were still in their “play around with non-Indian women” phase, and then when they hit that magical age, they would settle down and marry an Indian woman that they didn’t meet at the bar or club or at Speed Dating or on the Internet, unless it was Shaadi.com… and that’s a whole different scenario.
     
    Any thoughts?

  20. 20
    detha

    I am in the UK and can say that interracial dating is not much of an issue here, like it appears to be in the US. I think the history in the US has alot to do with it; possibly because of slavery.

    Just my humble opinion.

  21. 21
    Sayanta

    SS-

    hey- I’m sorry to hear that- I wouldn’t be surprised if you had a less than stellar opinion on Indian men because of that! Well, it’s hard to really pass any kind of judgment without knowing you, the kind of men who asked you out, or being in the circumstances that you described. It sounds like you’ve sized up the situation pretty accurately, though.

    I think we women of color def have a tougher battle to face in the dating world. Face it- men want white women (regardless of whether they’re white themselves) to take home to their families. The rest of us tend to be a ‘curiosity.’ So, it’s harder not to get jaded or stick with the dating scene enough to meet someone.

    But I digress- you sound pretty intelligent, SS, so I would say just next time anything like this happens, look carefully at the man’s eyes. Everything he really wants is right there- I can tell whether a man wants to satisfy a fetish or really want to get to know me just by prolonged eye contact. Is the gaze intent, honest, warm? Or sleazy, or veiled. If reddened by alcohol use, forget it!  A lot of time, it’s hard not to get carried away by a man’s smile, body language, or words- but if you ignore that (easier said than done) and really just focus on his eyes, you’ll have all the info you need to make an educated decision. May sound weird, but, it’s worked for me.

    Even in online pics, I think this is a useful method. You don’t even know how many crazy-eyed men are on Match.

  22. 22
    A-L

    Enjoying the posts here.  Like SS‘s #6, the everything but black posters drove me crazy (including when they wrote to me, as I’m half black).  Never called them on it though. 

    As far as Karl‘s #15, a couple of things.  First of all, saying that you’re only willing to date 1% of the population is probably construed as rather narrow-minded.  But in Karl’s case, most of his numbers are probably in the single digits in terms of how many women he’d be interested in dating.  (I may be wrong, though, so please correct me if that’s the case Karl.)

    But as far as the culture/race thing, I have to disagree.  I can tell from reading most profiles online whether someone is likely to be culturally similar enough to me for there to be a match.  (Usually it has to do with the ability to string coherent sentences together that are about more than clubbing, drinking, etc, and nothing is said about “hitting it.”)  The speech patterns that you use to tell in real-life whether someone is a likely match is also what you get when reading a profile. 

    SS & Sayanta: I think you’re both right that as guys get serious about finding someone to marry that’s when they start to stick to their own races, whereas before they may have been willing to play around with someone while they were playing the field.

    And lastly, I had stopped reading after the soy sauce on tamales thing, thinking that what was below was an ad.  But I was looking back at the article and found these statistics from the Pew Research Center. 

    14.6% of new marriages are interracial

    Of those interracial marriages:
    11% are between blacks & whites
    41% are between Hispanics & whites
    14% are between Asians & whites

    But hey, at least my marriage will count toward the increasing numbers of intteracial relationships!

  23. 23
    Sayanta

    A-L-

    Great to have your input. Hope you’re enjoying married life. :-)

    It’s funny about the whole race on Match thing- I think a couple of people mentioned it before- but the whole sticking to your own race thing seems to be something that happens specifically more on dating sites. EG, when I go out (and there happen to be single, young men in my activity, which is rare LOL), men of all races ask me out or show interest. The SAME thing happens on certain professionals websites that I’m on (eg, a guy will send me an e-mail after there’s been a random group chat on some kind of a forum).

    Yet, dating sites are a different story. Of course, it could just be my profile, but again, that doesn’t explain why only men of my race are writing me (if my profile was that bad, I wouldn’t be getting any responses at all :-))

  24. 24
    SS

    Thanks for the tips Sayanta.  :)  I don’t think I did anything wrong at the time, but I realized that I needed to just stick to my general rule of not giving out my number to men at clubs (regardless of race)… even if they seemed perfectly nice and normal at the club, the “perception” of being a “club girl” made them act a particular way toward me.
     
    (And I know that someone will probably chime in that they met their boyfriend/fiance/husband at a club, but I’m not talking about exceptions here!  :))
     
    Luckily, I am married now (and yes, interracially — which is why this topic is very interesting to me), so I don’t have to worry about what might have been in those particular Indian guys’ heads at the time. Your post just made me think about the fact that I got a LOT of initial interest from Indian men when I was dating (probably second to black men) and how it seemed unusual to me seeing that I rarely saw many black female-Indian male relationships… when you mentioned that you suddenly started getting interest from Indian men online, it made me wonder if this was an example of those guys getting serious and returning to Indian women for marriage, while they “played around” in their younger days with white or black women.
     
    I am glad I stuck with it (being open to dating interracially). For all of those who let you know that you are NOT their preference, you can eventually find the gem (of whatever race) who thinks you’re the most beautiful thing in the world!
     
    @A-L: Yes, I do have to wonder about “cultural values,” and how people are making that distinction. I don’t know about Karl’s specific situation (Karl, did you say you were atheist? I can’t remember), but if Karl is atheist, I can see how there would be a problem with many black and Hispanic women because most women in those groups are religious, and often very much so.
     
    If religion isn’t the issue, then I would have to wonder more what supposed cultural clashes are going to take place. This reminds me of when my husband told his father that he was dating a black woman, and his father said that he supported whatever relationship he was in, but that he should be aware of “cultural differences” that might occur in the relationship.
     
    Now let me say that my father-in-law has been nothing but accepting of me and very sweet. He’s just old and rural.
     
    With that out of the way, my question was, what makes him assume that there are “cultural issues” that could be a problem? He didn’t even know me… just knew that I was black and born and raised in a large city. Otherwise, like my husband, we come from two parent homes, grew up in the Midwest, have undergraduate and graduate degrees, love to travel and did so in college, like reading, love history, are both rather patriotic and like sports.
     
    Where’s the cultural clash there? We sound pretty similar! Or is the real deal that the assumption about black men and women (before one meets said people) is that they all possess a sort of lower-class “ghetto culture” and THAT’S where the clash comes in?
     
    If my husband had told his father that he was dating an Asian woman, say, second-generation, would the issue of “cultural issues” come up? Probably not… in fact, I hear white men talking about trying to learn Mandarin (for example) to impress the girl’s parents! Suddenly, “cultural issues” aren’t that important, because most Asians are seen as possessing positive cultural values, while blacks (and Hispanics to some extent) are not.
     
    I don’t think anyone can know if there is going to be a clash of cultural values or not simply by looking at a picture and seeing the person’s race. Now if there are statements made in the profile that indicate a cultural clash and you happen to notice this with the majority of black, white, Asian, Hispanic profiles you read, that’s one thing… but if a woman or man of a certain race is simply eating lunch in a restaurant and you know nothing about them, the assumption that there aren’t shared cultural values is very premature.
     

  25. 25
    A-L

    RE: SS‘s #24

    I think Karl was talking about people who were either immigrants or are 1st generation Americans but have maintained culturally isolationistic.  I think immigration issues do bring in a lot of cultural issues, perhaps even moreso for women who date immigrants than for men who date immigrants.  (In many other cultures of the world the women are treated as second class citizens, so a male immigrant from those countries also holds to those same beliefs which can cause serious issues in romantic relationships in the U.S.)

    But as far as the cultural clash goes with black people go, I think a lot of it is the perceived “ghetto” culture fear going on.  Unfortunately, in many parts of the U.S. the nonghetto black culture is not very visible, and to some people The Cosby Show was make believe and they don’t think that people like that actually exist.

    But that’s why I would always read someone’s profile, because as you said, a picture won’t tell you that cultural stuff.

  26. 26
    lost

    good question. actually i have been considering to ask Evan relationship problems related to race.
    i am an Asian woman and also the first generation immigration. i had never thought of dating a white guy until i was so attracted to a white guy. Sadly found that he is only interested to have sextual relationship. I want more than that. that is why i am here. i want to know more about white man.:)
    even so i cannot imagine i can live under one roof with a white guy long term. too  different culture and customs.
    some white guys are attracted to asian women for sex only. i even started to wonder whehter subconsciously they still consider asian second class or inferior. i feel i also got language problems.
    whatever, maybe easier to go back to the man with the same race.
     

  27. 27
    Sayanta

    Lost-

    Just a thought- maybe you should question yourself on why a white man is so important to you. Why not someone Latino, or African, for example?

    BTW- I really like what you ladies have mentioned about race and culture being intertwined. I had to rethink what I said about men’s automatic dismissal regarding race.

    There are women who (and I don’t mean this as a derogatory way to Caucasians) but for lack of a better term, have ‘whitened.’ Nikki Haley comes to mind. For those of you who don’t know, she’s the new, and first Indian-American, governor of S. Carolina.

    She’s absolutely beautiful. But, she could ‘pass’ as white, as you can see. Her name has no Indian flavor left (she’s shortened it), and from what I understand and have read about her, she’s pretty much kissed Indian culture g’bye.

    Her husband is a white dude, probably as vanilla as you can get. I don’t see women like her ever having a problem finding men of any race (who prefer white women) to date.

    But once a little ethnic ‘flava’ such as culture, etc. starts coming in, then you’ve got a problem.

    That said, I realize there’s a major flaw in my theory- plenty of American males are more than willing to date and marry women from East Asian countries, where obviously, the whole culture clash takes place. Again, that could be because, in that particular case, any possible stereotype overtakes (and wins) other considerations.

  28. 28
    Karl R

    SS said: (#24)
    “if Karl is atheist, I can see how there would be a problem with many black and Hispanic women because most women in those groups are religious, and often very much so.”

    I’m a theologically liberal Christian (simple explanation: I view much of the bible as meaningful allegory, not literal fact).

    So if a woman’s profile says, “Jesus is the most important thing in my life,” or “I’m looking for a God-fearing man,” or anything similar, we’ll probably have a big schism involving religious views.

    SS said: (#24)
    “Now if there are statements made in the profile that indicate a cultural clash and you happen to notice this with the majority of black, white, Asian, Hispanic profiles you read, that’s one thing…”

    I always read people’s profiles. I wouldn’t make guesses about a person’s culture just based upon race.

    For another example, a lot of black women say they are looking for an ambitious man and/or describe themselves as being ambitious. That’s not who I am. I am happy with where I am in life, and I’m more interested in enjoying my life than in trying to gain more status or income. I’d rather pour my spare time and energy into hobbies that I’m passionate about, rather than into my career.

    I’d rather not be married to someone who feels I should be more ambitious. I feel that I’ve been sufficiently successful with my more laid-back approach to life.

    Those statements pop up quite frequently in the profiles of intelligent, educated black women. I don’t see that as being a bad thing, but it’s not who I am.

    I do not come from a close-knit family. A lot of Hispanics (and other cultures which were previously mentioned) believe in very strong familial ties. If you’re close to your family, that’s fine. If you expect me to be the same way, we’re going to have some problems.

    Pictures can sometimes be informative. To a certain extent, we choose how we appear, and those choices can be informative. But those clues are at least as likely to apply to personality traits as cultural values.

    Sayanta said: (#21)
    “Face it- men want white women”

    We’re all shaped by our experiences. I know a lot of styles of dance, including salsa. One time (after several months of Salsa classes) I went to a popular club where there’s a lot of salsa dancing. I noticed that the Hispanic men danced with whomever they wanted (regardless of race). The Hispanic women treated the non-Hispanic men as persona non grata.

    It was particularly noticeable when I asked women whom I knew from the studio for a  dance. They already knew me. They knew that I was a better-than-average dancer. They knew that I was interested in a dance, not a date. And they were happy to dance with me at the studio. But they were suddenly uncomfortable when we were outside our normal environment.

    My best guess was that they were worried about experiencing some form of social censure from within their own community if they were socializing with non-Hispanic men … even though the men experienced no such censure when they chased non-Hispanic women.

    From my Indian coworkers I have gathered that there is some pressure from their families to marry within their culture (since India is multicultural, that sometimes rules out many other Indians as well). When I was dating an Indian woman, I was concerned with what her family’s reaction would be … until I found out that she was 1/2 Indian and 1/2 Filipino (her appearance and name were Indian, so I’d assumed she was Indian). Obviously her family had no issues with this.

    And everyone is aware that some non-whites marry whites as a form of social climbing. If that’s a woman’s goal, then I’m not interested in her.

    Whether someone is avoiding me because I’m white, or whether they’re seeking me out because I’m white, it makes dating harder.

  29. 29
    SS

    Thanks for your answers Karl.
     
    What I find interesting about your experiences is the fact that many of the black women I know in real life (or even online) don’t often end up with that ambitious guy that they’re seeking… in fact, it seems that the average professional black woman is often encouraged to not aim so high and give the nice janitor/bus driver/sanitation worker a chance.
     
    And many do… only to find themselves often being resented by those same men… so they either just deal with it or end up saying that they will simply stick with men of the same professional/educational background to avoid that clash. So it’s interesting to see that those women you encountered frequently used the term “ambitious” in their online profiles — my hunch is that they might not be necessarily all that focused on finding a man of status and with success (although some probably are), but it’s a counterreaction to the types of men they’re probably meeting in real life. They really want to weed out the loser guys who aren’t doing anything with their career and have little to no education, so mentioning the word “ambitious” is probably their way of saying they want someone who has a decent work ethic.
     
    I do agree with you 100% on the religion thing though. Like you, I consider myself as a liberal Christian, and it has frequently been a struggle for me to have conversations with other black women in general because a evangelical religious slant somehow ALWAYS ends up entering the conversation. I could be talking about how my husband and I want to buy a home and how we’re wondering about interest rates and if we should wait until we sell my old house, etc., and inevitably, a black female friend will say that we should do our research and “take it to God in prayer” and we might just get the house we want.
     
    While that’s a nice sentiment, it would also be nice to have a talk about SOMETHING without the recommendation of “prayer” and “Jesus” entering the conversation, you know?
     
    Regarding the Hispanic women that would not dance with you… I agree that censure from Hispanic men probably was the issue. Many black women experience the same problem. And the hypocrisy, of course, is that men from those groups do date whatever race of woman they want, but don’t like it when the women in their group do the same thing.
     

  30. 30
    Sherell

    I leave my preferences open to all races and see who responds.  As a black woman I get 65% black and 35% white.  There have been a few white men responding that have excluded blacks from their preference.  When I mention very nicely that it appears I am not what they looking for, many go and change their preference.  Lol!   I think when they read my profile and see my pictures they are interested.  There is some hesitation but many guys from large diverse urban areas have enough experience and exposure to realize not to believe stereotypes.   I could only date someone, whatever race that has a diverse experience. I am so global Lol!!    I respect people who have a certain physical attraction.  I struggle with pale skin.  Lol!!!  A tan helps

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