I often get a lot of questions about interracial dating and why it’s so hard, confusing, and awkward. Below are two questions asked!
“Are you able to talk about the difficulties that arise when a Black woman wants to date outside her race, how difficult it can be for guys outside her ethnicity to understand flirtatious cues when they come from a Black woman?”
“What are your personal feelings on Black people dating white people? I ask because I’ve seen some media expressing frustration that people who aren’t Black (primarily white people) are ‘stealing’ partners for other Black people (or something like that).”
Since these topics are along the same lines I figured I would combine them into a massive post all about interracial dating. Both questions asked about how dating outside of my race was in my own experience and so that’s what I’ll be focusing on for the duration of this article. Your results may vary.
The two questions boil down to three different ideas:
- What are my personal feelings when Black people date white people?
- What problems may arise when a Black woman tries to hit on someone outside of her race?
- Why is there such hate about interracial dating?
What are my personal feelings when Black people date white people?
Honestly, I don’t care. I honestly don’t care what adults do as long as it’s consensual and it doesn’t actually bother me none. That being said I’m also a person who dates interracially. Because of my sexuality and my struggles to differentiate between physical characteristics, I tend not to pay too much attention to what a person looks like, assuming I’m attracted to them. Additionally, I generally get more physically attracted to a person as time goes on. So the whiteness or the Blackness or every whatever race doesn’t really matter to me very much. As of this moment because of me not really dating until college, which were mostly white partners, and then moving to Denver which is also mostly white, I have had not had much access to non-white partners. It’s different I assume.
Honestly, it’s probably a lot harder. There are a lot of issues and confusion you have to work through to date interracially. This is on top of the normal confusion with dating. The longer it goes the more complicated it gets as families get involved, traditions, and in general, cultures clash. At the same time though if the couple is interested in making that work it’s definitely not impossible.
What problems may arise when a Black woman tries to hit on someone outside of her race?
I’ll be blunt- they never believe you’re hitting on them. The amount of times that people have told me in casual conversation that they don’t believe Black people would ever be interested in them is unfortunately high. Even worse, it happens when I am interested in said person. Then there’s the awkward argument about the fact that they can be interested and maybe you should consider it. They then start to tell you about how awkward they feel and how they assume that no Black woman would be interested and the geeky, pale, quiet white guy. And so begins the most awkward courting process ever.
Since most white men don’t believe that Black women can be interested in interracial dating, they never notice or understand that you’re hitting on them, to begin with. Often that means that the man who outright hits on you also fetishizes you, say they notice but don’t date Black women, or they are the man, who’s been overlooked for a while for various reasons, and now are looking to you as one of their limited options. It can be downright discouraging. Black women are ranked lowest along with Asian men in terms of people’s interest in dating them.
I wish I could say it had to do with personality but it really doesn’t seem to. My white friends complain about getting hit on all the time, most can easily pick up and drop people they want to date with ease. Particularly with interracial dating I just don’t have that option. But I’m getting a bit off-topic. Say you meet a man who actually seems interested, that’s a huge step, but now we have a problem.
White men are used to pursuing their interest in a casual way by slowly increasing the intimacy level. Black women are used to being more forward and teasing. Not only are Black women willing to state their interest more readily than some other cultures, but they expect the same from the person they’re interested in. We have one passive person and one active person in terms of Interest. Additionally having the opposite reaction having someone pursue you when are used to things being passive or vice versa typically ruins any chemistry that may be present.
You can read more about that here.
Over the years I’ve gotten reasonably comfortable with pursuing the person I’m interested in, and I find myself frustrated particularly with white men, around knowing what is a date and what is not. If I don’t know you and I asked you out to dinner, I’m not being friendly! we don’t really know each other and I suggest we get drinks, I’m probably also not being just friendly. If we started talking a lot (which in Black Culture generally means you are “talking”- ain’t nobody got time to waste on something that’s not going anywhere) and then you make it clear that you’re interested in someone else or at least not interested in me and we stop talking it’s probably because I was interested in you.
The miscommunication is often two-fold. Partly white men assume that no Black woman is interested in interracial dating and so of course they must just be being friendly. Then if the woman makes that interest clear, any interest that was there disappears.
The directness of Black women is often seen as too much. Or even worse for fear of offending them, they are relegated to positions of being seen as a non-sexual person. A person with no interest whom you can never compliment, chat within a romantic manner, or generally hit on. It can be rather hurtful. It feels as though something is wrong with you. That if only you were white, that person would look at you differently than they do. The Black women that do well are almost always mixed, lighter skin, soft curls or straight hair, thinner, and generally fit the rest of the mold of what white men are looking for in their white women. This is pretty regular unless the man was raised in a different culture than how he looks.
Then there is the interracial date it’s self
If by some miracle you do end up on what is actually a date, things continue to be complicated. The cultures work on different timelines and have different expectations. Black culture tends to be a bit more traditionalist. In some ways, it moves slower but also allows for each relationship to blossom into its own. For instance who pays? In general, if I’m on a date with a man I expect him to pay. Not because I can’t pay or not because I don’t even want to, but it’s a part of the courting process. If I pay, it means that it’s definitely a date, and I really enjoyed it. It’s a way to show my independence but also my interest. White men find it weirdly emasculating.
Another weird spot can be touching people. I don’t touch people I’m not in to. If I touch you or allow you to touch me that is generally a sign of approval. Says the dates are going well, there is an area in Black culture that exists that is not a thing in white culture. It tends to… cause some confusion. In Black culture, there is a time between friends and dating officially. That time is called talking.
Sometimes it means you are exclusive and sometimes it does not, but it is something that is agreed upon between the two of you once you’ve established that you’re both interested. During this time you court each other, may do physical things with each other and generally are comfortable letting people in your life know that you are in some type of relationship with this person. Assuming all goes well, you will most likely be exclusively dating at some point. This may sound like friends with benefits but it’s not.
It’s a time to get to know each other and see if you are compatible long-term. This is before anyone gets too invested either way. It’s particularly important for interracial couples to see if these differences can be overcome. White men do not know of this and so don’t use it. So often it’s easy to be under the impression that you are talking to a person, often because you have openly flirted with them, invited them out to dinner, and have tried to make your interest clear, and they think you’re just being friendly. Essentially Black women trying to date white men is just ripe with problems. With some tenacity, some patience, and a lot of mistakes dating a white man is possible. Surprisingly. But, if you have access the people of your own ethnicity and culture it will probably be significantly easier.
Why is there such hate about interracial dating?
In some people’s minds, because our families were ripped apart, our men sold and now jailed, we should be focused on continuing our race and not dating our oppressors. This pressure is on both men and women to find people of their own race to be interested in. Because many of our Black men are in jail, some of the community feel that they should be looking for a Black woman to date as the options are limited. When Black men date interracially it can sometimes feel like a slap in the face. Particularly those men who get mean about it, and make comments on why they would never date a Black woman.
It’s seen as disrespectful and selling out for what is easier. White women in a lot of ways are all the things that Black women are not; and some men, instead of rising to the occasion and the strength of Black women choose to pursue more submissive women. Additionally, since Black women are at the lowest point statistically for people wanting to date them, many feel that the least the men could do in their life is respect them and their beauty and give them a chance.
On the other hand, there is a rare outcome. A Black woman with a white man. Within the culture, it is seen as selling out for many of the same reasons. With our history of white men raping Black women, it is seen as particularly…. uncouth. For some, it feels like a slap in the face for all the struggles our ancestors went through. Additionally, Black men question why a Black woman would want to be with a white man over a Black man. Then, there is a patriarchal and racist aspect to dating white men that confuses Black women. So in the minds of some people, the only woman who would date a white man is a submissive person. It can be seen as though you are degrading yourself and not living to your full potential.
Essentially because of history and our current prison system, we have a strange mix of Black people trying to date and feeling that anyone who gives up on dating a Black person has given up on our culture and heritage. This issue gets complicated by the fact that Black women are the least desired and the most educated in our country at the moment. Meaning they often have to settle for men who don’t meet their standards because the men that do, date women outside the race.
Yay. interracial dating!
Editors Note: This post was originally published March 2018 and has been updated for clarity.