People often ask me why it is that I primarily date men of different races than myself. I’ve thought about the answer many times. My usual response is that I am more attracted to people who have traveled different paths in life then myself. I enjoy the contrast, both in life experience and in skin tone.
I have been like this for as long as I remember. Searching for people who could teach me something. As a young girl in preppy Connecticut I definitely fit in. My blonde bob, Esprit bag, plaid skirt, Benetton shirt and penny loafers fit the mold. It was an ideal upbringing, the type of life you would see in sitcom. But I was uniquely curious about what else was out there. As I got older this desire became more prominent. I had a desire to travel, meet new people, and experience the energy of cities instead of my safe suburb.
I have a bit of gypsy in me. As a child we lived in multiple states, our most significant move came when I was 14 and about to start high school. We left sheltered Connecticut and moved to California. The two environments were vastly different, but I really embraced the change. This excitement for change and has followed me into my adult life. I love adventure and I’ve never been scared of leaving a comfortable place. In fact I feel most creative when I am in uncomfortable positions. It sparks something inside of me and pushes me. Now that I am older I can look back and see that there were many times when I purposely put myself in challenging positions in search of that push.
I think I can say the same about the interracial relationships I have been in. All of my long-term relationships in my 20s and 30s have been with black or mixed black men. These relationships have challenged me, as all partnerships do. But I think interracial relationships have a set of unique challenges. I’ve never dated anyone who I met and thought, “wow our lives are so similar”, “our parents would be best friends”, “your family reminds me so much of my own” – none of that, quite the opposite in fact.
There are uncomfortable moments being a mixed couple. Whether it is disapproving comments and looks or moments where you wonder if you are just too different to make something work.
I also think for me there is something deeper that is behind my desire for difference. And I think some people might feel uncomfortable with this statement, but I feel like I am contributing to making the world a better place by choosing to partner with men of a different race than myself. I know that might sound kind of strange. It sounds a little strange to me even. But I think growing up in a sea of sameness has pushed me to create a world for myself that is the opposite of that. Not in a bad way, because I loved my friends and the childhood I had. But it sparked a deep passion inside of me for creating a community for myself that was diverse- a Swirl Nation.
This of course goes beyond men and into female friendships as well. I have a great group of women in my life who are very diverse ethnically and personality-wise. I learn so much from everyone I am connected with and I can say there are times it is not completely comfortable. But I remember my ex-boyfriend Mike would tell me that as soon as a relationship gets “too comfortable” it is doomed and I have to say I agree with him 100%.
Many might disagree with my perspective. I have witnessed many people who find it much safer to stay in one place, partner with people very similar to themselves, and surround themselves with friends who look and talk like they do. My hope is that someday they recognize the sea of sameness they are living in and feel the urge to step out into uncharted territory. I recently read a stat that 75% of white Americans ONLY have other white people in their social networks, similarly 65% percent of black and 46% of Hispanic Americans also have homogeneous social networks.
This is a big problem. It shouldn’t surprise us that we are so divided as a nation when the majority of people do not have any close relationships with people of another race. Clearly this is a big opportunity for people to embrace difference and diversity.
Those of us with mixed families are certainly leading the way and are in the position to share our stories on blogs like Swirl Nation and on other platforms and hopefully inspire. I will continue to live life looking for new paths to travel and finding amazing people along the way to accompany me on my colorful journey.