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My Boyfriend Never Dated Within His Race Until He Met Me

A difference in perspective can be a bridge to understanding.

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Even though my boyfriend and I have only been dating for a little under the two-year mark, we've sort of developed the tradition of going to North Carolina for my mother's birthday in July. Four months after we met, her birthday came around and Gary was introduced to my family for the first time. Next year came around and we did the same thing.

This year, if Miss Rona doesn't stick around for too much longer, we'll be hitting the repeat button. I guess you can say we have a tradition flowing here. Two years ago when we went to Chapel Hill, we stayed in a hotel around the corner from my house and we were given our own studio apartment. A cute little air-conditioned Marriott-style bungalow, if you will.

One night, the vibe was great. We had just come in from a night of shooting the breeze and kicking it with my cousins, nephews, and my mother's friends from her old job. They traveled all the way down to North Carolina from New York for my mother's 61st birthday - still can't believe it. My boyfriend, my cousin and I were chilling in our Queen-sized bed and somehow the conversation took a turn and we began to talk about sex and relationships. One thing led to another and I mentioned, with complete conviction, that I will only date Black men moving forward.

At this stage in the game, I know what I want in a partner is a Black man to raise my Black children and they can be Black mixed with Black.

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Not to say that I'm racist or prejudiced against dating any other race, but that's just what I'm attracted to and where I foresee my romantic future going. I've dated Hispanic men, fooled around with a white guy during my study abroad experience in England, but I really like me some Black men.

When I said this, my boyfriend's face contorted within itself with touches of confusion and worry. "Why?" he asked me in disappointment. "I want a man who can relate to my lived experience as a Black woman," I responded. You see, my boyfriend is from Costa Rica, but he's Afro-Latino and identifies as Black. I'm Black. We're a beautiful, bold Black couple. I'm not saying that I would love him any less if he were another race, but I can say honestly that our conversations and interactions may be a bit different if he were. Sorry, not sorry. If you think back to the movie The Hate U Give starring Amandla Stenberg, her boyfriend played by KJ Apa - who is a white man - is a very woke, privileged Caucasian teenager who is well aware of his position in Amandla's character's life.

However, when he said, "I don't see race," that's where he fucked up...just a bit. "If you don't see race, then you don't see me," Amandla's character Starr replied. Little did I know, that movie would be a parallel to the conversation I would have with my boyfriend.

"I don't see race when I date," said Gary. "Well, if you don't see race, then you don't see me as a Black woman, or yourself as a Black man, for that matter," I replied. At this point in the conversation, I had forgotten that my cousin was even there on the other side of the bed. My boyfriend has had a few girlfriends, prior to myself obviously, and none of them have been Black. Considering that he lived in San Bernardino and went to a primarily white school, it makes all the sense in the world that he dated outside of his race. His last girlfriend was Filipino and every other girl prior to her was not Black either, so this is the first time he had been thrusted into a conversation like this with a romantic partner, I'm sure.

Well into my academic career at Spelman College, an all-female HBCU, and developing a close friendship with my father, a strong Black man and Morehouse College graduate, I've developed an appreciation for a strong Black man. When I have children, I want to be able to explain to my daughter the lived experience from one Black woman to another and the importance of wearing our natural hair. I want my husband to talk to my son about police brutality and demonstrate the importance of a prominent Black male figure in his life.

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As a Black man, my boyfriend does not agree with me necessarily, but that's OK.

The perspective of my relationship between my boyfriend and I when it comes to races as it pertains to romance, sex and lifestyle are kind of different because I have been vocal about my preference for Black men/men of color and he said he doesn't see color when he thinks of romance and love. While we have both experienced systemic racism, racism in the workplace and much more, it does intrigue me as to how we can have similar walks of life, but two very different views. And that's OK, too.

For anyone who may be reading this piece, don't worry - the conversation ended in peace. We agreed to disagree, and went our merry way to bed. We spent about an hour going back and forth trying to make one another understand our perspective, but the truth is, we can't. We never will, and that's fine. Even as two people in the same relationship, our views are very different when it comes to dating outside of our race. Let this be a lesson, a guide if you will, that a difference in opinions between two partners can either be a rut or a chance to create a safe space in a conversation - this is for you to decide.

When it comes to dating outside of your race, or even inside of your race, aside from the natural buzzwords, it's important to have the conversation about colorism, post traumatic slave syndrome, and old family traditions if you planned on getting married. Let's get comfortable with being uncomfortable and start the conversation.

xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at submissions@xonecole.com.

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