Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

The Segregation of Online Dating (and How To Fix It)

interracialStudies have shown that Americans prefer to date someone from their own race and that, when looking for a mate, this preference is stronger than almost any other. A new study, however, suggests that people may be limiting their choices to those in their own race not because they aren’t attracted to or couldn’t be interested in someone who doesn’t look like them, but because they fear they’re not attractive to other races.

Sociologist Kevin Lewis at the University of California, San Diego, examined “the interactions of 126,134 newly signed-up members of the online-dating website OKCupid over two and a half months.” He found that, while “most people very rarely strayed beyond their own ethnicity in reaching out to potential dates,” they were much more likely to respond to and even initiate contact with someone from another race once they themselves had been contacted by somebody of a different race. In fact, “these people logged 115% more interracial exchanges in the two-and-a-half-month study period than OKCupid members of a similar background and region who had not been contacted by a person from another race. One interesting thing the researchers note is that getting a message from, say, a black guy didn’t mean that that person would suddenly approach people from all other races; it just meant she or he would pay more attention to other black guys. It’s also interesting to note that as a group Asian women date outside their race more than any other group and, in fact, date white men more than they date their Asian counterparts.

Researcher Lewis explains that most online daters who don’t think to reach out to other races are practicing “pre-emptive discrimination.” They’ve been rejected or discriminated against in the past by other races, so they stick with people who look like them. This would explain why white people, who traditionally experience the least amount of racism or rejection based on their race, are the ones who approach other races the most in online dating. Lewis says “his data suggests that if someone — more likely a man, according to the data — makes the first move, and overcomes his fear of rejection, online daters realize the pool of potential partners may be wider and richer than they had previously imagined, and they tend to initiate more interracial contacts and to respond to ones that come their way more often.”

So, daters, there you go. Think outside the box. Don’t be afraid to approach people of other races. Sure, you may get rejected, but you may get rejected by people of your own race as well. Might as well fish in a bigger pool, right? You just may catch yourself a good one.

[via Time.com]

136 comments… add one
  • TECH November 7, 2013, 1:40 pm

    I find this really interesting. I have to admit, I’ve never felt attracted to people of other races. And usually I think that’s just the way I am instinctively, not because I’ve been rejected by people of other races.
    Also, I think when it comes to online dating, discrimination is just par for the course. People judge you based on pictures, based on a misspelling in your profile, based on where you went to school, etc. They take 30 seconds to read your profile and move on. Sometimes it just seems like a crap shoot.
    I think in general, people need to think outside the box, and try dating someone who is not typically their “type”. They may be surprised at what they find!

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    • KMJ November 7, 2013, 2:07 pm

      I can’t imagine actually believing that I’m not attracted to other races.
      Like, I literally can’t imagine that.

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      • Christy November 7, 2013, 2:13 pm

        Can you clarify? I’m totally not trolling, I just wonder what you mean, more specifically.

      • KMJ November 7, 2013, 2:17 pm

        Me? I mean it is hard for me to understand a person saying he/she is simply not attracted to an entire group, which includes millions of people who all look different.
        If you are fairly looking at people with an open mind, surely you will find SOME of them attractive…

      • TECH November 7, 2013, 2:26 pm

        I have found myself attracted to and in relationships with people in my own race, which I think is true for the majority of people. Does it mean I would never find myself attracted to people of other races? Absolutely not. Of course, you have to keep an open mind with every person you meet. I also said: “I think in general, people need to think outside the box, and try dating someone who is not typically their “type”. They may be surprised at what they find!”

      • KMJ November 7, 2013, 2:51 pm

        Yes, you did. Didn’t mean to jump down your throat or whatever the internet equivalent is. haha. I apologize.

        That being said, I grew up in the south and “I’m just not attracted to [insert race] people” seemed to be an easy excuse for people not to have to admit their prejudice/fear of parental disappointment. It took me a while to realize that’s what was going on.

      • rainbow November 7, 2013, 2:58 pm

        I’ve usually heard it in that context too, honestly.

    • sarolabelle November 7, 2013, 2:09 pm


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    • BriarRose November 7, 2013, 2:28 pm

      What?!? Never, ever attracted to someone of another race? I don’t even know what that’s like. I’m white and think Idris Elba is one of the hottest men I’ve ever seen. EVER. Unfortunately though I don’t have a chance with dating him, so I guess that is irrelevant to this discussion. Still got to mention him though!

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      • Friend of Beagles November 7, 2013, 2:33 pm

        Any day in which one gets to invoke the name of the absolutely divine Idris Elba is an excellent day. Nicely done, BriarRose!

      • rosie posie November 7, 2013, 3:11 pm

        Yes to this. Also, Taye Diggs was just on New Girl, yum. Shemar Moore is proof that people of different races should totally make babies together.

      • Morgan November 7, 2013, 4:39 pm


        Like, I finally agreed to watch pacific rim with my boyfriend, that’s how deep my love is.

      • jlyfsh November 7, 2013, 4:48 pm

        pacific rim was actually a really good movie! that’s all i can really add to this conversation because of lack of brain power 🙂

      • Friend of Beagles November 7, 2013, 7:32 pm

        I loved PR too! I’m wearing my Pan Pacific Defense Corps Kaiju Hunter shirt right now. And now I feel like I’ve said too much.

    • Miel November 7, 2013, 2:47 pm

      Many years ago, I said to myself “It’s strange, I’m only attracted to people that have the same ethnic background as I do.” And then the magic happened. I actually never had a crush on a white french canadian of french descent. My crushes/dates/boyfriend included guys from Chili, Brazil, Russia and Germany. Now I’m not tempting who ever is listening to my own thoughts because if I say “I’m not attracted to black men” or something else, BAM! I’ll develop a crush on a black men. And that wouldn’t be good, because my boyfriend is not black 😛

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      • katie November 7, 2013, 3:15 pm

        ok real question- do people “count” other white races, like german or russian or say, british or whatever, as being “outside their race” if they are also white?

      • bethany November 7, 2013, 3:20 pm

        I think I would only count it if you were actually from another country?? But then again, my friend is dating a white guy from France, and I don’t think anyone would say she’s in an interracial couple. Maybe multicultural?

      • Miel November 7, 2013, 3:40 pm

        That’s why I said “ethnic background” because I don’t like the concept of “race”. A “white” russian living in russia is not the same as a “white” quebec person living in quebec. I’m much more similar to a black man born and raised in quebec than a white “choose your country” man, or so I think. Because it’s really not just about skin color, it’s about culture, language, religion… I know that in the US, the issue is much more about the skin color only (so the race I guess) but back in Canada, it’s much more about “ethnic background” than actually skin color. Because no matter what your skin color is, if you speak french without an accent and play hockey in the winter, you’re considered part of “the group” much more than the British guy that just stepped out of the plane…

      • Fabelle November 7, 2013, 3:43 pm

        No, white is white. And black is black. Race is different than.. I dunno, place of origin?

        Like, I hooked up with a Swiss guy once, & I always mention the fact that he’s Swiss when I tell the story because it’s a cool detail, but I don’t consider him “outside of my race” because, duh, he’s white. haha.

      • mylaray November 7, 2013, 4:15 pm

        I think it’s confusing to me and really depends on the person. I have a friend from the Basque region of Spain and once he said something how it was different because I’m white and he’s not. Which I found interesting because I would have classified him as white. He doesn’t calm himself Latino but calls his race Spanish. In general I don’t think of European “whites” as being a different race, but call yourself whatever you want.

        Another one of my friends lives in India and calls her race Asian, which I get because she lives in Asia, but I would have just called her Indian.

      • katie November 7, 2013, 4:43 pm

        yea, thats what i mean. thats so weird to think of. how many races are there, anyway, then?

        i guess it depends on how you define “race”? or how you intertwine culture in with race in with genetics? i dunno.

    • Amber November 7, 2013, 3:38 pm

      Me too…I’m never saying never, but everyone I have been attracted to has been white.

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  • Christy November 7, 2013, 2:10 pm

    I was very particular about who I would date online, but it was never race-based. I would not (and haven’t ever, actually!) date someone who is more than two inches shorter or taller than me. Like, I went on a date with a short girl and it was an instant attraction-killer. (It’s a self-esteem thing for me. I don’t want to feel like a giant.)

    I also had weird gender-presentation rules I would hold myself too. They had to be kinda butch, but not too butch. It was a weird time in my life.

    Turns out I ended up dating someone from school anyway. But I had weirdly specific rules for online dating that I wouldn’t have had in real life. I think I’m a little more over myself, at least with everything but the height thing.

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    • Christy November 7, 2013, 2:21 pm

      Also I am 100% aware I sound like I was a total asshole. I basically was a total asshole.

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      • kerrycontrary November 7, 2013, 2:25 pm

        Nah, I think that’s just about having a physical type. But sometimes when you meet someone in person those things get run over by their awesome personality. I can’t get with short-guys, or guys who are my height. Like my boyfriend is 2 or 3 inches taller, and any shorter I couldn’t do it. I once was making out with a guy who was my height and it was like “nope! I feel like a giant! This isn’t going to work”.

  • katie November 7, 2013, 2:10 pm

    very interesting!

    i know that my preference-ish for white guys is informed by my upbringing. thats what years of old school bible thumping will do to you!

    also, the new mayor of NYC is white, and has a black wife and bi-racial children. it apparently won his campaign, the news said? its great to see that kind of family on such a large stage though- remember the freakout about that stupid cheerios commercial? so dumb…

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    • Dee November 7, 2013, 2:28 pm

      I don’t think the bi-racial family thing won him the race as much as his opponent being a total wanker did.

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      • katie November 7, 2013, 2:51 pm

        its just what they said on the news- their reasoning was that he could connect to the non-white vote, very specifically, like he apparently talked about how he was worried about his own son being “stopped and frisked” because of that new law.

        i dont know anything about him, or his opponent, as i dont live in nyc. but, i do think its good to see a biracial family on a large stage.

      • lets_be_honest November 7, 2013, 3:30 pm

        I actually really think it was as simple as his family being bi-racial, unfortunately.

      • iwannatalktosampson November 7, 2013, 3:32 pm

        LBH – go look at the original letter from todays update and go laugh at how funny we are.

      • lets_be_honest November 7, 2013, 3:41 pm

        We ARE funny!

      • Sarah November 7, 2013, 5:39 pm

        I don’t think that’s true at all. I think he had a good message that resonated with a LOT of people. He’s very anti-inequality, and NYC has the largest income gap in the entire country. He also opposes Bloomberg’s most unpopular policy: stop and frisk. Those are just two of the main reasons he won, not what his family looks like. Add to that, his opponent was an idiot who never could have won.

      • rawkmys0cks November 7, 2013, 5:47 pm

        Whoops. That was supposed to be under this username.

      • Lindsay November 7, 2013, 9:00 pm

        Well, the NYC mayoral race was more than just the general election. The real election was the Democratic primary because it’s been pretty clear that Bloomberg’s successor was going to be one of the Democrats. I’m not necessarily agreeing that the biracial thing “won him the election,” but he wasn’t just chosen as a reaction to his Republican opponent.

    • KKZ November 7, 2013, 2:52 pm

      I had no bible-thumping growing up, my household was fairly secular, but my community was VERY homogenously white. There were maybe 10 non-white students in my graduating class of about 300, and you just didn’t see interracial couples where I grew up, they were definitely an oddity.

      And as much as I typically reject the values of the community, I do think this has a notable influence on my preference for dating within my race. I’ve certainly been attracted to people from other races, but when I think about the “Could I bring them home to Mom and Dad?” litmus test, things get mighty murky.

      There’s a lot more to the dating equation than mere attraction.

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  • kerrycontrary November 7, 2013, 2:22 pm

    I actually think it’s weird that I haven’t dated someone of another race! But My high-school was like 95% white and my college was probably 70% white. What can I say, Pennsylvania is pretty white.

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    • kerrycontrary November 7, 2013, 2:29 pm

      Oh also, I know this still happens all the time, but my aunt recently told me that when she was in high-school her boyfriend broke up with her because she was italian-american. She said it used to happen all the time if their parents found out she was italian they would have to break up. Makes me sad that people are crazy like that.

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  • iwannatalktosampson November 7, 2013, 2:25 pm

    I have never online dated but I am really curious about what my own preference would be. Maybe I have a type out there that I don’t even know about. I think that’s the crazy thing about online dating – you get to sort of construct the person you want to date and then go find them. It’s so easy. I’ve only ever “dated” one guy that wasn’t 100% white – and he was half white. I call it dating because it was high school. But he was on the football team, and so dreamy. I don’t think I specifically don’t date other races because I don’t have a preference for other races, it’s just not what I’m exposed too. Prior to living in Denver I lived in probably the two whitest cities in north america. So my odds weren’t very high.

    Sometimes I wish I could date everyone. Like that my whole life I could just have maybe 20 3-year relationships so that I could get to try out all sorts of people. Maybe I would like a total nerd. Maybe I would like to date a teacher. Or a fireman. Or a fitness instructor. There’s so little time and so many fish in the sea!

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    • onedaysoon November 7, 2013, 4:38 pm

      I date online as well and I don’t think my preference would defer at all even if I met someone on the street. I’m black and I like to think I’m Equal Opportunity when it comes to dating 🙂 If someone is attractive, then they’re attractive… that simple. I’ve had white guys come onto me as well but at the end of the day, it boils down to attraction and chemistry at first. But I do prefer black guys and throughout the years I’ve occasionally dated bi-racial guys. It’s just a preference.

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  • BriarRose November 7, 2013, 2:26 pm

    The “pre-emptive discrimination” part is really interesting to me. I don’t think I’ve experienced being rejected by other races (or at least not in a hurtful way), but I also don’t think that because I haven’t, that that is why I’m open to other races. Does that make any sense? I guess I’ve just always been this way. My ex-husband (who I met in person) is half Japanese. And I recently started doing online dating again and got a message from a cute and absolutely hilarious guy from Turkey. We have a second date on Saturday!

    Side note to that though: It made me really sad that a few of my friends were semi-horrified that I was going out with a guy from Turkey. One even asked me what religion he is. Sigh.

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    • KKZ November 7, 2013, 2:58 pm

      I am 99% sure that if I brought home anyone of a Middle Eastern race or background, my parents would be VERY concerned. I don’t know how much of that concern they’d outwardly express, or to what extent, but I’ve heard them say some really shamefully nasty things about Middle Eastern people. I’m betting they could be polite upfront but would corner me for a serious talk as soon as they could. And yes, it’s sad.

      At least my friends would probably be okay with it, if not necessarily my family.

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  • XanderT November 7, 2013, 2:31 pm

    I am a white woman in my very late 40’s, divorced 8 years. I dated for the 1st 4 years after my divorce & have not dated the last 4 years. My experience with online dating was: white men 10+ years older than me were interested in me. Black men my age up to 6 years younger than me were interested in me. White men my age were not interested in me at all – period. I chose to date my age and younger! I met several men whose company I enjoyed. I wouldn’t have dated at all if I hadn’t gone outside of my race. Unfortunately, I did not find a life mate – but that had nothing to do with race.

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  • Terrie Bruce November 7, 2013, 2:39 pm

    I don’t like that because someone doesn’t date outside their race they can be assused of”pre-emptive discrimination”. I think it’s about what you’re attracted to. It also doesn’t mean that there isn’t someone that isn’t your “type” that you find attractive. I personally don’t find blonde men attractive in real life, but think Robert Redford in his heyday was the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen. I dont’ think I could be with a man that is shorter than me. I couldn’t be with a smoker. I do find men outside my race attractive even though I’ve never dated one but if I was submitting an online profile I’m sure I would select a white male with dark hair that doesn’t smoke.

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  • GatorGirl November 7, 2013, 2:40 pm

    GGuy and I have actually been talking about how race plays into relationships lately. IDK why since we’re of the same race and already married, but we like debating like everything.

    Basically our loose consensus is that it’s totally normal to say “I prefer XYZ” but that it’s probably inappropriate to say “I’d never date a person of XYZ race”. Like it’s okay to say “I prefer blondes” but it’s not okay to say “I’d never date a Hispanic person”. IDK where I’m going with that, just thought it was an interesting conversation.

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    • Banana November 7, 2013, 2:46 pm

      I think you’re on to something. I think part of it is political correctness — people are just afraid to sound racist, even if that’s not how they meant it. But I think another part of it is that the negative phrasing sounds way more exclusive. “I prefer blondes” doesn’t exclude the possibility of dating a brunette. But “I’d never date group x” is by its nature exclusionary, and it’s a much stronger statement, too. Even if it’s not about race, it tends to sound kind of negative and icky, because like so many people have mentioned, in dating it’s good to keep an open mind and be open to possibilities.

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      • GatorGirl November 7, 2013, 2:51 pm

        Yup. That was basically his rational. Also saying “I’d never date XYZ race” is just racist. It’s excluding an entire group of people based solely on their race…

        I’d never really thought about this stuff because I grew up in a pretty homogeneous area.

      • Miel November 7, 2013, 3:01 pm

        Is saying “I would never date XYZ race” racist ? I mean, I understand that it’s closed-minded because you’re saying that the physical appearance of someone will always be your number one factor while dating. But I don’t feel like it’s racist. You don’t imply that people of a certain race are different or not as good as you are, you just say that you wouldn’t feel sexually attracted to them. I can name a lot of “groups including millions of people” that I wouldn’t be attracted to, it’s just that race is a lot more touchy than “height” or “hair color”.

      • MissDre November 7, 2013, 3:06 pm

        I don’t think it’s racist, but I’m biased because I don’t date white guys. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with them, I just haven’t met a white guy I’m attracted to.

      • lets_be_honest November 7, 2013, 3:33 pm

        But you are still leaving the chance open by saying you just haven’t met one you’d be attracted to…
        If you said I refuse to ever date a white guy no matter what, that’s a different story.

      • GatorGirl November 7, 2013, 3:08 pm

        GGuy was the one really arguing that point, he studies race so he was able to articulate it better than I ever will be.

        Basically his point was, I think, that saying you won’t date XYZ race is racist because it goes deaper than appearance. Saying “I prefer blonde hair” or “I prefer olive skin tones” is basing the preference on appearance, but saying something like “I won’t date an Asian” wraps more than just their outward appearance into it. And partially because race IS so touchy.

        (It was really his argument, I’m just badly re-stating what he said.)

      • iwannatalktosampson November 7, 2013, 3:25 pm

        Okay but instead of saying “I prefer olive skin tones” what if you said “I prefer black skin tones”. Is that racist? Or since you’re not saying I don’t like (like the negative) white skin tones?

      • GatorGirl November 7, 2013, 3:28 pm

        I personally think saying “I prefer” isn’t racist because it’s not ruling out a group of people. So yeah, using the negative is what makes it racist. I think. I’m not 100% sure.

        There is definitely a difference in saying “I’m more attracted to white men” and saying “I would never date a black man”

      • lets_be_honest November 7, 2013, 3:34 pm

        Totally disagree. Imagine I said “I prefer to only work with white men.”

        I do agree with you on your last sentence though.

      • GatorGirl November 7, 2013, 3:41 pm

        Well I don’t think work and a physical attraction can be compared… Like I wouldn’t ever say “I prefer to work with blondes/people taller than me/buff bodies.” When you start talking work it’s always racist, IMO.

        “prefer” v “am attracted to”… I think you’re being nitpicky here.

      • lets_be_honest November 7, 2013, 3:44 pm

        I was just responding to your sentence which didn’t limit it to dating preference.

      • GatorGirl November 7, 2013, 3:46 pm

        Except for that we’re specifically talking about dating…

      • lets_be_honest November 7, 2013, 3:53 pm

        You’re right GG. When we are on a specific topic, we never, ever veer off and talk about things generally. Jesus. I wasn’t calling you racist. And I agreed with your point about dating. No need to be…the way you are being.

      • GatorGirl November 7, 2013, 4:10 pm

        Well I didn’t think there was a “reason” for your comment other than nitpicking. Specially since I’ve said like 45 times I’m not 110% sure about this stuff and what I feel, I’ve just had a recent conversation about it and was offering some musings.

      • lets_be_honest November 7, 2013, 4:17 pm

        The reason was just to have a discussion…because I too am not 100% sure where the line is. Not sure why that turned into you being offended. I half agreed with you!

      • SasLinna November 7, 2013, 3:57 pm

        I think any sort of explicitly racially-based preference is racist, just by definition. Invoking race as a category that matters in this way is just not right IMO. It’s another thing to express a preference for specific physical features that may be somewhat correlated to race but not uniquely so. E.g. “crooked nose” preference is alright although it may be correlated to Greek/Middle Eastern origin.

      • missliss November 7, 2013, 3:42 pm

        I get this. To name their ethnic group entails you are including their culture in it, and not just their skin/looks. It can sound racist to name a cultural group, but really it just means people are attracted to similarity (to themselves) by “nature.”

      • SasLinna November 7, 2013, 3:08 pm

        I don’t know how the statement “I would never date XYZ race” could be based on anything other than racism.
        At least coming from a member of a privileged race.

      • Miel November 7, 2013, 3:21 pm

        I think a real racist sentence would be for a parent to say “I don’t want my child to ever date someone from XYZ race” because THAT I can’t see how it would be based on anything other than racism.

        But when your talking about yourself… I mean at some point, you might know what you like and dislike in potential mate, and that may very well not be based on what you like and dislike amongst your friends/colleagues/fellow society members.

      • GatorGirl November 7, 2013, 3:09 pm

        Also, to steel what KMJ said above ” “I’m just not attracted to [insert race] people” seemed to be an easy excuse for people not to have to admit their prejudice/fear of parental disappointment.”

        There is a big difference in saying “I’m attracted to this group of features” and “I will not date someone solely because of their racial makeup”.

      • SasLinna November 7, 2013, 3:17 pm

        I agree, and I think it’s also that people of the same race can look so different that it’s not really believable that a person could not be attracted to an entire race (as far as it even makes sense to distinguish between races, since they aren’t clear categories). It’s not like having a physical type such as “broad-shouldered”.

      • GatorGirl November 7, 2013, 3:18 pm

        Exactly. Or having a college degree, or set of morals, or almost anything else- other than where their ancestors came from.

      • katie November 7, 2013, 3:20 pm

        i think it is racist -assuming its coming from a privileged group, otherwise its prejudice- because thats just literally the definition of racism. definition from google: “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race”. thats what you are doing, you are believing that all members of a specific race are un-attractive to you.

      • lets_be_honest November 7, 2013, 3:36 pm

        So its different if a black woman says she’d never date a white guy? Huh? I don’t see why it should be any different.

      • SasLinna November 7, 2013, 3:51 pm

        I think it’s different because members of oppressed/disadvantaged groups can have reason to be wary of members of groups that belong to the “oppressors”. Personally, I would have a hard time having to deal with the possibility of racist parents/family members etc. That’s something that’s much less of a problem in the reversed scenario where a member of a more privileged social group dates someone who belongs to a less privileged group. Basically, it’s about the power relations.

      • lets_be_honest November 7, 2013, 3:55 pm

        The racist families members concern is real. Good point. The rest? Idk. I can’t get behind it being acceptable for a black woman to say she’d never date a white guy (or any other example). That, too, is very racist in my opinion and by the definition katie (?) provided.

      • SasLinna November 7, 2013, 4:09 pm

        I agree that it’s prejudiced, too. What katie said.

      • lets_be_honest November 7, 2013, 4:17 pm

        haha, ok. Same here. I’m tired today 🙁

      • Morgan November 7, 2013, 5:07 pm

        It the different between prejudice (an individual bias) and racism (an institutionalized bias that ties in with societal power.)

      • katie November 7, 2013, 4:04 pm

        it is just different words. “racist” implies a power difference, with the power-ful party being racist against the power-less party. prejudice is the same thing, but with a power-less group being prejudice against others.

        basically, you can only be racist if you have the power to be. you can be prejudice, which is still bad, its just a different word explaining a slight different dynamic.

        or so ive been taught here?

      • lets_be_honest November 7, 2013, 4:06 pm


      • Morgan November 7, 2013, 5:09 pm

        Oops, Katie beat me to it. Yup, exactly wks.

      • Lindsay November 7, 2013, 9:09 pm

        I would say it’s racist because it tends to imply that every person of a certain race is going to be the sort of person you wouldn’t want to date. It’s one thing to notice that you tend to have a preference (as in, I often find Latino men really attractive, or something like that), but to rule out an entire race as unattractive or otherwise not in line with what you like seems like a huge generalization. To me, it’s like, really, out of the billions of people in that race, you don’t think that you’d ever be attracted to at least one of them? Even if you don’t think a certain type of guy is attractive, is it totally out of the question that you’d enjoy dating someone who wasn’t your No. 1 type of looks you prefer?

  • mylaray November 7, 2013, 2:42 pm

    I have never tried online dating, but if I ever did, I would think it’s easier to go on dates with people of different races (and different types of people in general). I’ve dated or been with men of most races, but I find it easier (I don’t know if that’s the right word) to be attracted to someone the same race as me. I’ve dated men the same race as me who said they would never date outside their race because they’re not attracted to other races. I found that extremely unattractive. I don’t think there is anything wrong with having a preference, but never finding another race attractive is quite bizarre to me. I can’t date someone who would feel that way.

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  • Banana November 7, 2013, 2:44 pm

    Huh. You know what’s strange? Out of five relationships I’ve had since I started dating at 17 (not counting random casual dates with lots of guys in between), three of the guys have been of a “race” other than mine. My first boyfriend was the son of Sri Lankan immigrants; my second boyfriend was the son of Turkish immigrants. My fourth boyfriend grew up in Syria. And a girl I sort-of dated in college was Mexican. I’m white, fourth generation American.

    Yet when I read this article, my first feeling was of guilt — “Oh, my life is so homogeneous!” I actually forgot my dating history had been so diverse. Because I never saw it as a diversity thing, like I got diversity points or anything. They were just people I happened to date. I don’t think I feared extra rejection from them, either…in fact, I think I often forget I’ve dated so many people of races different from mine because in so many other ways, we were similar, and I focused on the similarities. Brother #1’s boyfriend is Filipino and Brother #2’s wife is Sicilian, and that never seemed like a big deal to me, either.

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  • bethany November 7, 2013, 2:47 pm

    I’ve only ever dated outside my race once- one of my high school boyfriends. He was so hot. But anyway, like Kerry, I grew up in a mostly white area in PA, so most of my options were white. There were several non-white guys I was into in college, but never made a move, because I figured they didn’t like me. 🙁

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    • GatorGirl November 7, 2013, 2:55 pm

      My school district in PA is SUPER white. Dating outside of my race didn’t even cross my mind until college, and the first guy I semi-dated (basically hooked up with) was Hispanic. It’s crazy how white suburban PA is.

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    • othy November 7, 2013, 6:11 pm

      I grew up in Utah, went to college in PA, and moved home to Utah again. It’s hard to make friends who aren’t white, let alone date anyone non-white. I was bound to marry a (wonderful) white guy.

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  • Classic November 7, 2013, 3:02 pm

    This is interesting. I have been married to and been in serious relationships with Black, White, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian men. But one of the surprising things that happened to me in my online dating was related to race. I was contacted by a Black man whom I thought was attractive, and we quickly exchanged a few messages; his pace was unusually fast (for an older-folks dating site, anyway) and he asked for my phone number right away in the second message, which I didn’t provide. When I missed a couple of his messages and didn’t respond immediately, I came back to find not just a couple of very friendly messages from him but a subsequent couple of messages where he had decided that I was rejecting him because he was Black, and a final, mean, racist message from him. The whole thing took place in a time period of less than one hour. Dodged a bullet there, I guess.

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    • MissDre November 7, 2013, 3:04 pm

      I’ve had white guys do that to me.

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      • BriarRose November 7, 2013, 3:13 pm

        I experienced something similar, back when I was new to online dating. This was back when I replied to everyone, even if just to say “no thanks but good luck” (ah, so naive back then). A guy who lived about 2 hours away from me sent me a message, and he seemed very funny and nice, but was simply too far away for me (my parameters on my profile said as much). I replied saying he seemed great but was too far away, and was accused of being racist. Interesting.

  • Copa November 7, 2013, 3:02 pm

    I’ve only ever dated one guy who was a different race. He was Jordanian! We only dated for a few months, but for that hot second he was so attractive to me — tall with beautifully olive-y tanned skin. I think I just have certain features that I’m really attracted to that are more prevalent in some races than others, so I assume that more than race is why I’m drawn to certain people and not others even if it does SEEM like a racial thing?

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    • Fabelle November 7, 2013, 3:15 pm

      “certain features that I’m really attracted to that are more prevalent in some races than others” <–yeah, this is what it boils down to, I think? Like I got into a conversation with my friend once about attraction, & the race thing came up—& I was like, "I find Indian/Middle-Eastern types attractive", & my friend was like, "That's because they're caucasoid & have similar features to white people" (& I'd say I am predominantly attracted to white people)

      So, yes. Also I think something to consider is— like, white is the predominant race where most of us live? So if you haven't found yourself attracted to people of another race, it's probably because the chances are lower. Say there's a ratio of 5 objectively attractive people in every group of 20 people of the same race. So if there's only 5 people of a race in the room, it would be like 1 attractive person. I'm bad at math, but you get my gist. ha

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      • Fabelle November 7, 2013, 3:16 pm

        And since we’re talking (above) about people we’ve dated— I don’t think I’ve even SLEPT WITH a person of another race? How did this happen??

        edited to add: “another race” whoops, did not mean to make that faux pas. I mean “not white”.

        edited to add AGAIN: I’m saving the edits because I saw a couple people do this already, so it’s a heads up for myself & everyone else.

      • KKZ November 7, 2013, 4:54 pm

        It’s a terribly un-PC thing to say but like… I kind of don’t consider Asian races, even the darker-complected varieties, to be non-white? Intellectually of course I KNOW there’s a difference, but my sort of gut-reaction to Asian races is that they are more similar to me than other races are. And I think the first time I ever noticed myself being attracted to someone outside my own race, it was Asians that got my attention.

        I’m with you on Middle Eastern races too, though – Persian and Indian people often catch my eye. I’d be thrilled if an attractive Persian woman asked me out – and then probably faint from shock. (I am not used to people whom I find attractive, also finding me attractive.)

      • Copa November 7, 2013, 5:53 pm

        I think, even though I’ve dated white guys almost exclusively, I might actually find Middle Eastern types MOST attractive…? (I’m mulling this over as I write it, hence the uncertainty, but I think it’s true…) One of my sister’s friends, who now lives NOWHERE NEAR ME, is like the most handsome I’ve ever found anyone in my entire life & a couple years ago we got to talking on Facebook chat and were both like, “Oh, hahaha, we had crushes on each other at one point and neither of us realized!” Sad, sad day. But, he’s everything I want in a man purely in terms of physical attraction. At least from what I’ve seen. 🙂 I mean, I like his personality a lot, too, but his looks? Ohhh yeah.

  • MissDre November 7, 2013, 3:02 pm

    I’ve actually NEVER dated anyone of my own race. I’m white, and all the guys I’ve dated have been either Indian or black.

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  • 2_J November 7, 2013, 3:36 pm

    I really like this article. I am a white male, and i have had no issue dating across the board when it comes to race. What i DO have an issue with is if/when i am on a dating site, i see a pretty face, click it, and i actually READ what people have to say before making a decision to “approach” them, and i can’t tell you how much it makes me sad and angry when i see, a white girl for instance, state in her profile “NO BLACK GUYS PLEASE!” followed by, i’m not a racist, or it’s not a racist thing, it’s just my preference. That right there burns me up. It’s just my preference…..gtfohwtbs. Call it what you want but it comes down to race. Not just your preference. Open your mind world, please. I think people would be surprised how great of a mate they would find if they stopped with all the superficial bs and took a chance. Yes this includes height as well…..quit limiting yourselves.

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    • rieux November 7, 2013, 4:14 pm


      That’s shittier than just saying you’re more attracted to a certain race (although that too can still be problematic, like if it’s used to explicitly write off being attracted to someone of another race without considering them as an individual) because it’s basically like, “Don’t waste my time even sending me a message in the mistaken belief that I would deign to date a black guy.” Which is horrible. Most people on dating sites get dozens or hundreds of messages they don’t answer, but the people they specifically want to not even SEE in their inbox are black guys? Yeah, I’m sure that’s not a racist thing. [/sarcasm]

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    • SasLinna November 7, 2013, 4:23 pm

      At least then you know right away that they’re idiots.

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    • Moneypenny November 7, 2013, 6:58 pm

      I saw this too when I was doing online dating (as a woman). A lot of guys specified that they liked white or Asian women (for example). It would rub me the wrong way when I read that. Take a chance, you never know what you’ll find.

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  • missliss November 7, 2013, 3:50 pm

    Going with the idea of people dating within their race, I have been in an interracial relationship for 6+ years, and when I meet a person and they talk about their S.O., I always assume he/she is of their same race. Always. Why would I assume that even though it’s not true in my personal life? We assume the “norm” even when we are not practicing it. I think it’s kind of like assuming heterosexuality, although of course dating interracially is not an orientation, but both are not the majority.

    Also, to go on with that last thought… I’m pretty sensitive to racism or any type of discrimination, really. I was reading this article thinking it was discriminatory to claim to not be attracted to an entire race. To play devil’s advocate though, why is discriminating between sexes in the name of attraction okay but not ethnic backgrounds? Can you actually be oriented to facial features “naturally”?

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    • mylaray November 7, 2013, 4:02 pm

      This is a good point. I tend to make the same assumptions. Once when I was in an interracial relationship, and first introducing him to people in my circles, several people were surprised when they first met him because I had never mentioned he was a different race. I thought that was weird the way people reacted. Like I’m supposed to tell someone ahead of time (oh btw my boyfriend is black) but no one would expect me to say “oh btw he’s white”.

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      • missliss November 7, 2013, 4:18 pm

        Seriously, that’s exactly it. Which is the same for bringing around the first same sex relationship. People expect to get fair warning about something “different.”

        I actually think it’s fun seeing people’s reaction if I don’t mention my SO’s race (to coworkers or someone who hasn’t met him). It’s enlightening about people’s assumptions of me or relationships.

  • sarolabelle November 7, 2013, 4:27 pm

    While I can definitely appreciate and recognize good looking men of the opposite race I have never been sexually attracted to one. I’m the kind of girl who is like “oh he’s cute, but I would NOT want to kiss him”

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  • Morgan November 7, 2013, 4:58 pm

    I found this article very interesting but not that surprising I guess. I’ve been in an interracial relationship, my current boyfriend (who is also white)’s brother is in an interracial relationship, and many of my friends have dated “outside their race.” I think a large part of that comes from attending a pretty diverse college. It never felt weird to me to be in an interracial relationship on campus, but if the relationship had ever progressed to a point where he’d be meeting extended family or visiting my hometown, I think it would have been much more difficult to navigate. (My moms family is super racist, yo.) But I think I’ve found guys of lots of different racial backgrounds pretty attractive. I don’t know if that comes from going to a school with a lot of generally fit attractive people who also are different races? Like, if there are actually more than 5 blacks guys, it’s more likely to have some of them be total dreamboats? And since I’ve crushed on guys of different races in real life I’m also more likely to drool over celebrities of those races? This is all kind of stream of consciousness.

    Also, I’m typing on my phone because I haven’t been able to open dear Wendy on my computer for like a week now.

    Also I’m stressing and annoyed because my boyfriends mom is visiting (that’s not the annoying part, she’s wonderful) and plans keep changing and I just want concrete plans dammit.

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  • amad11 November 7, 2013, 5:18 pm

    So I’ve been told that my dating preferences are ‘rasict’ because I refuse to date outside my religion, which although does have people of other races is like 99% white. When I was doing online dating I basically wouldn’t respond to people that either were of a different religion or didn’t list one. When all you’re going off of is a laundry list of traits, what else are you supposed to do? For me it is a cultural values and religious ideals thing, rather than a race thing.

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    • othy November 7, 2013, 6:19 pm

      It makes zero sense to me that anyone would consider dating within a religion ‘racist’. I live in Utah, where most folks are Mormon, and most folks are white. And dating outside of the religion is frowned upon. However, there are great guys who are religious and who aren’t white, they’re just few and far between. Of course, when Mr. Othy’s cousin decided to marry a great Mormon black guy, his extended family freaked because she was marrying someone black. Ugh. (Of course, this had everything to do with them being racists assholes, nothing to do with the religion.)

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  • KKZ November 7, 2013, 5:23 pm

    So I’m going to use this space to confess how ignorant I can be, or have been, about race.

    1 – I used to be totally confused by the idea that Jews are a race. What little I was taught about Judaism growing up was almost exclusively in the context of the Holocaust. And I don’t know if I just didn’t absorb it, or if the teachers deliberately taught it this way, but my understanding was limited to just the religious identity. I truly thought the whole thing was about their religious beliefs. It wasn’t until I took an anthropology course in college and learned about Jewish ethnic groups that it clicked with me that it’s a race AND a religion.

    2 – Remember last year there was that basketball player, Jeremy Lin, who became famous practically overnight? Linsanity and whatnot? And then an ESPN writer used the phrase “a chink in the armor” when writing a story about him, and the internet exploded into outrage. And all I could think was… “Dude, that could have been me.” Because I had NO IDEA that chink was a racial slur until that story broke. I had never heard it used that way before.

    And sometimes that just makes me nervous – are there OTHER terms I don’t know about that I might accidentally use in an offensive or inappropriate context? What am I still ignorant of? Maybe life is safer under the rock where I live…

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    • Fabelle November 7, 2013, 5:30 pm

      Something I found out recently (within the past 2, 3 years-ish?) was the whole “gyp” thing— like, “I got gypped!” Gyp= gypsy. Especially confusing when people spell it like “jip” or something, & you really have no idea where the word is derived from then.

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      • lets_be_honest November 7, 2013, 5:32 pm

        Oh I learned that here!

      • Morgan November 7, 2013, 5:43 pm

        I learned that relatively late in life as well, and have been trying super hard to stop using the term since. I still slip from time to time, but I always correct myself, and have been really working on it.

      • Copa November 7, 2013, 5:46 pm

        I tried on the cutest gypsy costume for Halloween but passed on it for obvious reasons…but still, so cute!

      • KKZ November 7, 2013, 5:52 pm

        Ha, I think I learned about that in the same anthro class where I learned about Jewish ethnicities! And if I recall correctly, that’s also where I learned the similar phrase “getting Jewed.” Honestly, Jews are kind of my big blind spot. I was well into adulthood before I first started gathering hints about the stereotypes around them. In my Women’s Studies course my last quarter of college, an essay we were assigned had the abbreviation JAP with no explanation, and I had to ask my prof after class what that meant. (Jewish-American Princess, in case anyone else is as ignorant as I am!)

        I just never, ever heard this stuff growing up, and I’ve been surprised every time I’ve heard it since. Like, once while visiting with my in-laws (years and years ago, before Bear and I were married), I mentioned we’d recently visited a beautiful neighborhood of Cincinnati for the first time. And my FIL nods and says “Yes, that’s a very nice area… and a very Jewish area too.” And I’m just like WTF!!? How would you even know, what makes you say that? Or like, as a kid, I’d say to my mom “Oh yeah there’s this new kid in school, Andy Goldblum” and she’d say “That’s a very Jewish last name” and I’d be like Whoa, really? How? (But that was back when I didn’t recognize Jews as a race, just a religion, so her observation made about as much sense as saying “Oh yeah, that’s a very Presbyterian last name.”)

      • othy November 7, 2013, 6:24 pm

        I had to ask my professor the same thing about the term JAP (I thought they were talking about Japanese).

      • KKZ November 7, 2013, 6:42 pm

        That was my closest guess too, but that made no sense in the context of the essay we were assigned.

      • Fabelle November 7, 2013, 7:36 pm

        re: the “Jewish area” thing— there are actually two towns in Jersey that I would consider “Jewish areas”, like when you drive through, you will see Jewish people walking around in their suits & yamacas & the other hats & their curls (god sorry, I know there are names for these thing, but my brain power is at 0 right now—hence why I’m even responding to that little aside, rather than the host of other interesting things you & others are talking about)

        But yeah, I don’t think it’s necessary bad to be like, “This is a _______ area” (not that you said it was bad) because sometimes… it is! Like, another neighboring town is VERY Indian. Like to the point that it got a mention in a book we were reading in my Asian American Lit class.

      • katie November 7, 2013, 6:02 pm

        ….and i just learned that.

        haha wow. thanks, i guess?

      • mandalee November 7, 2013, 6:17 pm

        Yeah, I came to the gypped-gypsy thing over the summer. I had no clue it was offensive. I grew up in a town that had a store called “Gyp’s” and I distinctly remember their slogan “Come to Gyp’s..where you won’t get gypped” back in the 80s. When I had someone educate me on the topic this summer not only did I feel like an idiot, it also made me seriously wonder about that store. Were the owners a part of the gypsy culture and it was a play on words for them? Or was my town more racist/intolerant than I remembered?

      • kerrycontrary November 7, 2013, 6:21 pm

        Yeh…I had to tell my grandfather that he can’t say “you have to jew them down” (talking about getting a discount). He didn’t know. smh.

    • kerrycontrary November 7, 2013, 5:33 pm

      Aw KKZ I think it’s hard to “know” these things if you don’t grow up in a diverse area, but there’s no excuse for ignorance, especially in the era of the internet. Life is learning experience so just embrace experiences where you are exposed to new/different people.

      In terms of the jews and racial identity….some jews identify as jewish being their ethnic group, others don’t. I have a friend who gets very offended if you imply that she is somehow sephardic or middle-eastern since jews originated from what is now the middle east. To her, her ancestry comes from germany (where they probably lived for hundreds of years) and her grandparents immigrated to the US before the holocaust. So in her mind her “ancestry” is german-american and they’re jewish. She’s not JUST jewish.

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      • KKZ November 7, 2013, 6:11 pm

        You’re right, it would be more accurate for me to say that Jewish CAN BE a race or a religion, or both, depending on context. I find it fascinating from an intellectual perspective, but I’m very careful about asking questions.

      • kerrycontrary November 7, 2013, 6:20 pm

        eh I’d don’t think you’d offend many jews asking them questions. I’m sure they’d be happy to answer. There’s also a lot of people who consider themselves “culturally jewish” but aren’t involved in the religion at all.

      • KKZ November 7, 2013, 6:40 pm

        I have a couple Jewish coworkers who have been good-natured about my curiosity, but I always let them bring it up first.

        That cultural-only Jewish thing fascinates me, because it seems unique to Judaism? Like, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of someone being culturally Christian or Muslim or Hindu, but with the religion part stripped out.
        Although now that I think about it… as I said above, I was raised very secularly, but we still did something for Christmas and Easter, just devoid of the church parts of it. (Tree, presents, Santa, Bunny, but barely any mention of Jesus.) And my wedding followed the typical Christian format but there was no mention of God, Jesus or Holy Spirit, or prayer or blessing or anything, in our ceremony. Maybe that could be considered culturally Christian? I dunno, I’m just musing.

      • Moneypenny November 7, 2013, 7:18 pm

        I actually didn’t know the difference between the culture and religious aspects to Judaism until about 5 years ago. (I was raised Catholic, complete with 13 years of Catholic school, so I didn’t know too many Jewish people growing up.) I asked a guy I was dating who was Jewish and he explained it to me, no problem. It’s interesting, and pretty unique, in that you can be either, or both! My boyfriend happens to be half black and half Russian Jew.

      • Christy November 8, 2013, 12:40 am

        I’m trying to make culturally Catholic a thing, but I think people mostly say “lapsed Catholic.”

      • TheGirlinME November 8, 2013, 9:45 am

        @Christy, I may have mentioned this before, but I’ve often self-identified as “Recovering Catholic” 🙂

    • katie November 7, 2013, 6:04 pm

      ok, from fab’s comment, now i have to ask- is “chink in the armor” a racist saying too? like is chink specifically there to be racist or does it mean like a…. blemish, or a nick in armor, ie the armor is broken?

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      • Morgan November 7, 2013, 6:13 pm

        Chink in the armor just means a dent in someone’s armor. Chink in that sense is entirely separate from the slur. The headline in question tough was used in the context of an Asian basketball player, so it had that double meaning of the slur.

      • KKZ November 7, 2013, 6:13 pm

        Jinx! 😉

      • KKZ November 7, 2013, 6:13 pm

        No, it’s just the “chink” part that’s racist. In any other context, a chink in the armor means a weak spot, a vulnerability. But because that phrase was being used in reference to an Asian-American basketball player, it took on another layer of meaning.

      • mandalee November 7, 2013, 6:14 pm

        My guess would be the way they used it was racist not the saying itself? But I could be wrong too. Like it was only racist because the person they were referring to was of a race in which chink would be a slur?

      • katie November 7, 2013, 6:16 pm

        ohhh ok. god i was like, what other phrases do i not know are offensive and terrible????

      • KKZ November 7, 2013, 6:22 pm

        Right?? That’s my fear too! I need a “Common Racial Slurs for Dummies” book.

        My dad is a Cheech and Chong fan, and I remember being pretty young and overhearing him listen to one of their bits where Cheech writes a song about Mexican-Americans that was pretty darn racist, he ran it by Chong and Chong’s like “Oh yeah, I’ve got a song about that too, it goes “Beaners!! (guitar strumming) Beaners! They like to eat…beans!” And of course, to a kid, this is just absurd and hilarious and I’d repeat it to my brother and we’d fall apart laughing. I had NO IDEA what I was really saying. (And am surprised my dad didn’t correct me.) It was many, many, many years later when I learned that beaner is a slur for Mexicans.

      • othy November 7, 2013, 6:28 pm

        Here’s a start:

      • Moneypenny November 7, 2013, 7:28 pm

        Whoa! This was really interesting yet shocking. Who knew that “Hip hip hooray” originated in a racist phrase?!
        Here are more:
        I knew about “Pickaninny” from reading old novels, and “gook” and “charlie” from reading about the Vietnam War… (it’s hard to even type those out! Yikes.)
        Also I didn’t know til recently about white people being called “crackers.” At first I was thinking, well, I do like crackers… Not the same apparently!

      • mrmidtwenties November 7, 2013, 8:45 pm

        Oh man, when I was an RA back in university, I won a whole bunch of awards for doing a bulletin board about inappropriate terms, mostly racial slurs, but also misusing words like “rape.” Basically I listed the word, how people use it inappropriately and words they can use instead, and it worked out awesome because all the students ended up changing their vocabulary. Also, I constantly have to self monitor, I grew up with a lot of friends from India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, so a lot of joking and stuff I would do with those friends, I realized I couldn’t do around other people and could only do with those friends. Same with a lot of my friends now, I have a lot of Jewish friends, and the way I talk with them, is totally different than how I talk non Jewish people. Sometimes, something slips and I’m like “shit, wrong group of people”

      • misslisa November 8, 2013, 12:11 am

        I’m straying from the topic, but I gotta say: My first BF took me to see that movie (Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie) the day it hit the theatres in 1980. Not only did I not get that “Beaners” was a slur for Mexicans, I didn’t get it when Cheech sang “My Sharona” but substituted the words “my scrotum”. Because I’d never heard the word “scrotum” before! (and didn’t know it meant “nutsack”). Damn I was a naive 16-year-old from Kentucky…

    • kare November 7, 2013, 11:27 pm

      I grew up in a town that’s relatively racially diverse for a Southern town with a population under 10,000. However, there’s not a large Asian community. I watched Gran Torino and was confused because I’d never even heard the slurs used. I also learned that “Oriental” isn’t politically correct because of an episode of King of the Hill. Still trying to teach my parents that one….

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  • TaraMonster November 7, 2013, 4:44 pm

    Funny story. I met this guy out one night at a bar and we hooked up. He was really nice and we had a great time (ahem, a really great time), but I wasn’t looking for anything serious because it was too soon after my last breakup, so I kinda let the communication fade out. When I looked him up on FaceBook though, I recognized his profile picture because he’d messaged me on a dating site like a month earlier! And I live in NYC. It’s not like there are only a couple bars to go to. Lol. I never replied to anyone on the site, but I did actually look at his profile and considered replying to him. He was one of the only ones, but my heart wasn’t in it (it was still in a million pieces).

    Of all the gin joints, right? Weird.

    As far as the race thing goes, idgaf what race a guy is. The guy from the dating site is Korean, my current boyfriend is Indian, my ex of a million years is black, my first serious boyfriend is white. For me, I just want them to be kind, funny, attractive, educated, intelligent, ambitious, and adventurous… that kinda stuff.

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  • Lindsay November 7, 2013, 9:13 pm

    Beyond this, though, I don’t necessarily feel that people should be scolded for dating within their race. I think that certain racial minorities may be very valid in choosing to date someone of their race if they feel like there’s a certain culture they want to share. For example, my cousin’s wife is Costa Rican, and I’m happy she’s with us, but if she had had a preference for marrying a Latino man because she wanted to share that culture with him, then I think that’s OK. I have a black friend who says he’d prefer to date a black woman because his black identity is a huge part of him and he wants someone else who shares the same identity.

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  • kare November 7, 2013, 11:43 pm

    I’ve dated in and out of my race. I never thought it was a huge deal. My parents would care if I dated someone with a different set of values. Not religion, but values like you don’t hit women, you don’t sleep around, etc. I mean you figure that’d be standard, but in my hometown a lot of people just accept those things as “something men do”.

    One thing I think is unusual is that none of my Hispanic friends will date Hispanic men. If they get hit on by Hispanic guys, they will straight up say “Sorry, I don’t date Hispanic men”. Every one of them has said it’s because of how their fathers treated them growing up.

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