Dating is one of the rights of passage I relished in growing up as a young girl, I always envisioned the act of dating itself more than necessarily what my partner was going to look like. I wanted the cute pictures to post in a locker at school, someone to hold hands with in the hall, and to go through every rite of passage with (well almost every one since I was saving myself for marriage). My crushes which were wide and varied ranged from mixed people like myself (my first boyfriend was Black/Korean) to boys of other cultures and races. I never grew up feeling limited to what my future boyfriend could be (outside of the fact my father had a no dating rule that was enforced to the harshest extent. However; like all teenagers I found my way around it.)
My mother is a Mexican woman with olive skin and light brown eyes (seemingly white unless you hear her speak Spanish) and my father is black. I grew up being the bi-product of an interracial household even if my extended family and friends didn’t necessarily reflect that in their own families. I never felt pressured to date a certain race or limited to what that specific person could offer me. My parents had their preferences, ideas and even thoughts expressed on certain cultures given their own life experiences, but I wasn’t raised to be fearful of dating someone outside my race. You may be thinking you’re mixed so you basically had 2 options for dating in the racial gene pool, but you’d be surprised to know my first serious relationship (as serious as high schoolers can be) was with a blue eyed half British/ half Puerto Rican young man.
As I graduated and continued on through college my relationship palette transformed from Nicaraguan, Honduran, Mexican, and most recently Black with my partners who varied in education, personality and “type.” I’ve always found that personally as an odd question to respond to when people ask me what my “type,” is because I realize as I get older I don’t have one. Some people have strict wants/needs physically in a partner, and even though I’d love to be with my current celeb crush (Michael B. Jordan) he’s not the model for how I choose the guys I date. At the same time, I do have a profound respect for women who know exactly what they want in their partner from height measurements to eye color. There’s a certain sense of security that comes from knowing exactly what you want in a partner versus me who sees dating as a buffet, “I’ll just try a bit of everything and see what I like.” You could think maybe this is a waste of time and effort on my hand, but it has been an interesting process thus far really deciding what qualities I desire in a man, but I can tell you with the upmost certainty a specific culture/race isn’t it.
Interracial dating has taught me so much and I’m very thankful to have gotten the chance to experience it so heavy handed when I was a teenager. Dating someone outside of both my respective races taught me understanding and tolerance for other people’s cultures on an intimate level. I still remember the first time I had Puerto Rican food cooked by my high school sweetheart’s father. I can recall meeting his lovely British mother and listening to her accent that gave me a small glimpse of her life in England. My game changer who was Nicaraguan wore a beautiful gold necklace that had a charm of his country on it. He would tell me stories about his family in New York and how his culture influenced his love of dancing and music. In college, my Honduran boyfriend explained the uniqueness of his name and familial upbringing in Honduras when he was younger. A chance connection in Greek life showed me not every Hispanic is raised traditionally with Catholicism or in a Spanish speaking household.
Even though back then I wasn’t as confident in my own identity, I did try to educate my partner’s on my mixed experience and what that was like growing up. I exchanged Spanish with those who spoke it and was fascinated to learn different dialects and phrases separate from my own. I kept my mind and heart open to alternate upbringings in different countries and the politics of getting citizenship or even a visa to see extended family overseas. I advocate for dating outside of your cultural norms and questioning what your physically attracted and why. I understand and respect we all grow up differently and our love interests can be reflective of that. It’s a very common understanding I’ve known that some people like “to date what they know or grew up with,” and how influential that came be subconsciously when choosing a date. I challenge to date outside the norm, open your mind up to crossing boundaries that you yourself might have in place or that were created as a result of your upbringing. The world is such a big place with beautiful people to limit yourself in love.