Ask Lisa Advice: The Multiracial Girlfriend Who Can’t See Past Race
Today I counsel a young Mixed Race Woman who struggles to see past race when she learns her new crush is White instead of a fellow Multiracial.
This is weird. I am a Mixed woman—Black and White—in my twenties and I have been flirting hard with a new guy at work. At first he seemed perfect: cute, funny, into me and best of all, he looks kind of like me. After years of trying to explain my identity to White guys (mostly) and the occasional monoracial Black guy, I was so excited to meet another Biracial guy and not have to explain anything. We never discussed our races or backgrounds, but everything felt so easy and natural.
Then I learned from a mutual friend that he isn’t Mixed at all. He is Italian American and just happens to be kind of dark with curly hair (my exact curl!). I feel so betrayed. Not that he lied to me or tried to deceive me or anything, but damn. Just when I thought I was going to find my kindred spirit, this happens. The worst part is that I don’t want to be less into someone because of his race, but I can’t help it. Of all people, I should not feel this way! Why can’t I see past his race? I just wasn’t looking for another White boyfriend.
He can’t understand why I’m suddenly cool around him and cutting short our flirting. I just can’t see him the same way. I really like him a lot, but I was ready for something different instead of just another wWte boyfriend!
Am I being a hypocrite? Or just overreacting?
Let me get this straight. You met a great guy at work and he’s fun, cute and flirty and everything feels natural and awesome. And this is a problem because …?
Since you are Multiracial yourself, since you have dated White guys and Black guys, interracial dating is not new for you. Why is it so hard to see past race this time?
I can understand your surprise, but betrayal seems like a very strong feeling. I think something is going on that you left out of your letter. You mentioned that, prior to this, you’ve dated mostly White guys and the occasional monoracial Black guy. Is a desire to break your pattern making it hard to see past race? Ask yourself if this desire comes from within yourself or from others.
Many Multiracial people experience pressure from family or peers to ally themselves with one race over another—especially when it comes to dating choices. Have friends and family called you out for being drawn to White guys? Are you influenced by their inability to see past race? I can’t help wondering if you are viewing your attraction to this guy through the lens of someone else’s judgment.
You did say you were looking forward to a relationship where you didn’t have to explain your Multiracial identity, which is understandable. But, until you found out your new crush was White, you could be yourself around him: specifically that “everything felt so natural.” This sounds like the kind of guy with whom you’d be able to discuss important things. Like your heritage. If you decide to give him a chance, I would encourage you to talk about your background and get him talking about his Italian roots as well. Then he won’t be just another White boyfriend—any more than you’re just another Multiracial girl. Maybe you can be kindred spirits after all.
Now, it is possible that when you get to know him, you might discover a side that you don’t like. Perhaps there have been White guys in your past who objectified or fetishized you because of your Mixed background. Maybe you’re afraid this new guy might be the same. But letting new people into your life is always a bit of a risk. Does it really make sense to reject him because of his race?
At some point, you may indeed have an opportunity to date a guy who is your exact racial mix, but until then, I urge you to have fun and enjoy this guy as long as he appreciates you for all of who you are. In interracial dating—in all dating—it’s important to see past race and view one another as three-dimensional individuals first and foremost. If he is as special as you believed until recently, I believe you’ll find a way able to see past race—which is only one piece of who we are—and discover what this relationship can be.