Openish Thread: Should Asians "Marry Out?"

June 8, 2010

Since Victoria opened the can of worms with her post yesterday on dropping outmarriage rates among Asian Americans, I thought I'd take the temperature yet again:

Should Asians be marrying outside of the race? How about outside of their ethnicities?

And yes, let's go there: are Asian American women ignoring perfectly serviceable Asian American men in favor of white men? Are Asian American men too conservative, or unwilling to broaden their dating horizons? Do white men who marry Asian women all have icky stereotypes in mind? Are Asian men the new trophy boyfriends (or just the old ones)? Is outmarriage better if it's to other people of color rather than whites, or does that make it worse? Is everybody too busy pointing the finger? Are we all just fetishists?

Some food for thought: Here's Hyphen's 2005 Sex Survey, with some innnnteresting info on how sexy Asians actually use race in the bedroom.

You know you have an opinion! It's not like this doesn't pop up at least twice a year, every year. So let's make this a clean fight, people:

No name calling, no insults, no cursing, no excessive passion, no straw men. Please speak from your own experience; no stereotyping! And no racism whatsoever will be tolerated.

Have at it!




I'm filipina and my husband is white.  I didn't really ever think about us being an interracial marriage (except once when I thought it would get us on the Amazing Race) until all these news articles popped up about interracial marriages on the rise.  I love my husband... not because he's white and not because he's not asian... but because I love him as a person.  I'm not saying that race doesn't matter in general, but for us, we're more about individuals with common interests. 

That said, sometimes we do have issues in which we don't understand where the other is coming from - because our backgrounds are different.  It's a learning experience, though, as we try to understand why we feel a certain way about some things.  We dated for five years and when we visit my small southern hometown, people still look at us funny for holding hands. 

My husband is completely loved by my family (sometimes I think my filipino parents love him more than me since he's more Catholic).  He loves filipino food and can't get enough of eating my mom's food.  I love that he's open to learning about my culture and really understanding how it is a part of me, but not the only part.

I married a White guy I met in college.  We fell in love, moved in together, then got married, and neither his Irish Catholic nor my Chinese American family blinked about it--any of it.

I'm torn about the issue of "marrying out."  On the one hand, why should my marrying anyone automatically be put in light of who I didn't marry?  Why should there always be the question: did you marry Chinese or Other; and, if Other, why not Chinese!?  Am I seriously obligated to explain my spouse in these terms?  I married my husband instead of every other man on earth--not just instead of every Chinese American man.  Why do we demand that interracial relationships be explained to each partner's families, communities, and everyone else who's gawking?  I don't owe the Chinese American community an apology or an explanation.

Here's the other part, in which I swallow hard and go there: I grew up in a predominantly Asian American and immigrant city near LA.  Yes, this is a generalization: the Asian American boys I dated had Hard Ass Asian parents (like my own) who treated me like a future-servant-daughter-in-law (this is me, my own personal experience with a dozen or so boyfriends--I know this isn't every Asian Am guy).  These BFs' parents never told their sons to be generous or chivalrous; they told their sons to demand what they deserved from a woman--helping their mothers cook and run errands (after 3 weeks of dating!), and letting the boys do whatever they wanted without complaining.  Then, in college I dated amazing Asian American guys with awesome parents, but I fell in love and married who I did.  But, now it feels impossible to say this without sounding like I chose a White Guy as some sort of backlash against my early experiences.

Not to say that I don't understand my marriage and kids' identities won't be a little fraught by race issues.  Just the other day the husband and I argued about our kids--I think we need to prepare to talk to them about being biracial; and yes, I do think it's possible they will encounter some negativity about being "half" or not fitting in to rigid categories.  Husband thinks that because the culture of our families' homes is pretty streamline--we're both second/third generation Americans--that our kids won't think about their race as an issue.  I think, hello! how can it not be an issue?  Can you PLEASE start a thread, or point me to one, about raising biracial kids?  I really need to have this conversation with people.


That's a great suggestion, M! Keep an eye out: I think we have next week's openish thread.

I'm an Asian guy in his early 40s.   I can't help it, I seem to only date white women, insofar as medium to long term relations go.

I think many people (including myself) are impressionable to media images and succumb to the media ideal of what is depicted as being 'good'.   This may or may not apply to both Asian guys and gals, but I believe this is why I seem to be drawn to white women.

And yes, there is fetishish side to it, not sure why.

As far as I can tell, most Asian guys tend to be physically smaller than most white guys, perhaps that is why Asian women can be attracted to white guys. 

I'm decent to normal sized at 195 lbs, 5"11", so i believe that may help as far as being able to be taller than a 5'7", 5'8" white woman in heels.   Shrug.

As another hapa out there, it is difficult not to be aware of people dating outside of their race.  I for one am a proud Asian American man and don't really think of myself as white.  With that said, I feel I can relate more to Asian Americans and by dating women who share a similar racial background, my relationships can be stronger.  I have dated a wonderful Vietnamese American woman for over four years.  We know all about race and relationships, but we never have trouble with people when it comes to our race and ethnicity.  We're a couple that looks like we make sense, I suppose.  My parents never had a problem with who I decided to date and hers like me as I am.  We look forward to having kids who are further mixed. 

There are still boundaries within the Asian American community.  By dating people with different Asian ethnicities, we can bridge more of the gaps.  In terms of white/Asian couples, they aren't going to stop anytime soon and people should spend less time worrying about the numbers.      

First, thank you for being brave in asking the question. My homepage is for a site that is dedicated to the continuation of Asian Men with Black Women. Please visit and if asked, Sheree Monay sent you.

Second, M, your response is perfect! I don't know why it's expected of someone to explain their choice when it's completely personal. You are right on the money in stating you didn't pick a white guy over an asian one; you fell in love with a guy who happened to be white. I'm all for it.

My first boyfriend was second generation Korean and we were in Cali; I fell hard for him. We were together for 3-4 weeks before he told me he could never take me to his neighborhood. I asked why; he states he couldn't let anyone see he was with a black woman as his parents may flip. Needless to say, my heart sank and a week later, I called it off. There just wasn't a point to it anymore. I still date Asian men; one experience won't change my view point. I've gotten alot of responses to take away virginity's (which is very cute!) and some who are interested in black women but dont know how to approach them. I tell them the same thing over and over: smile, be confident and say what you want. NEVER use the word exotic and dont' assume we all like hip hop or know about the latest tyler perry movie. Just like I won't assume you know jujitsu, speak ____ fluently or live with all 47 of your closest family members. I will assume you can cook since that's what we BOTH know how to do considering the bulk of our upbringing reside's in the kitchen (You with acutal food, US with getting our hair done & then food!).

I'm so glad to have stumbled upon your clever site and will be directing the members of BWAMU (the name of the site to my homepage) to visit here and hope you visit (and join!) us soon!

God Bless!

Sheree Monay

Sheree, I find it a little problematic that in one sentence you're militating against stereotypes:

NEVER use the word exotic and dont' assume we all like hip hop or know about the latest tyler perry movie. Just like I won't assume you know jujitsu, speak ____ fluently or live with all 47 of your closest family members.

and in the next, you're spouting stereotypes:

I will assume you can cook since that's what we BOTH know how to do considering the bulk of our upbringing reside's in the kitchen (You with acutal food, US with getting our hair done & then food!

I'm also uncomfortable with a website that actively promotes a specific racial pairing. There's a big difference between on the one hand creating a community of black female/Asian male couples that already exist, and on the other actively trying to pair up black women with Asian men. The former is good community-building. The latter is social engineering. Actively trying to create certain racial formulae is problematic whether you're trying to mix up the world, or trying to keep the world racially "pure."

And you also hit one of my pet peeves: no one just "happens to be white." No one "happens" to be anything. People are what they are because their parents chose to have them, to keep them, to give them up for adoption, whatever. People are of the culture they spring from because their families chose to raise them that way. If you walk into a Walmart and are the millionth customer, that "just happened." If you plan your beach wedding months in advance and it rains the day of, that "just happened." But it takes a white, black, Asian, or mixed village 9 months to create, and 18 years to raise a child; no person "just happens."

Likewise, no one just happens to fall in love. Relationships are chosen, partners are chosen. It may not feel like a choice, but it is a psychological, emotional choice, often made at a very deep, subconscious level. You and M are right that no one has the right to demand an accounting of your relationship from you. But if you choose to engage in a debate about outmarriage (as you both have done) then you can't complain about people wanting to examine this choice that people make.

Claire: "You and M are right that no one has the right to demand an accounting of your relationship from you.  But if you choose to engage in a debate about outmarriage (as you both have done) then you can't complain about people wanting to examine this choice that people make."

First, speaking about my own marriage is not "engaging in a debate" about interracial marrigae.  There's no debate here; there's no right/wrong or any other position to take on it.  I don't deny that many things you listed in your original post sadly still exist--exoticization; stereotyping; trophy mentality.  I'd be happy to debate the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to any of those issues, but I got into this conversation because I am tired of my choice of spouse being examined as a curiosity.

Second, I bristle at the term "outmarriage," which places people either in or out of their partner's race--a bad false choice that seems to come from the view that marrying someone of your own race is the normal, natural thing to do, and anything that deviates must be "examined."  (I'm sure gay couples across America would LOVE for us to stop "examining" their "choice," too.)  I imagine that if anyone said my husband married outside the White race, we would all be up in arms about the smack of racist archaic notions of miscegenation--aren't we just falling into that same discourse with the term "outmarriage?"  Another thought: Had I married a Chinese man, whose culture and language and upbringing differed vastly from mine, shouldn't that be considered more of an "outmarriage?"  Sadly, people would probably have looked at that couple and seen "normal."

The fact that we talk so much about interracial marriage points to our own discomfort and how bound we are to racial categories and the lie that race = culture.  Some people still look at me and just need to say the two Mandarin words they know, or think it's ok to ask me, "where are you from--no really, where are you from?"  They look at me and don't see an American.  They see my face and don't see an American.  They look at me and my husband and don't see two Americans with strikingly similar backgrounds, families, languages, and cultures.  I chose to marry someone I have all these things in common with, and I chose to ignore the one superficial and artificial difference between us.

You know, talking about race is a good thing, something I wish we all did more and more openly, and which I appreciate about this forum.  Perhaps, then, talking about interracial marriage is an inevitable part of that conversation.  I just wish we could do it without making interracial marriage sound like an oddity. 

Claire, you and I are two different people with 2 different viewpoints; we may never agree and I can accept that. First, my speaking of the stereotype about cooking: it’s my understanding not all stereotypes are negative. Cooking is a skill and I have no problems in believing based on our culture as Asian and Black, we inherited this skill without choice. I’m not suggesting we can each open a restaurant and sell to a full house but I am suggesting we know how to cook because it’s rich in each of our heritage. The comment about hair still rings true in my home and it’s not something I am ashamed of; we’re just doing our hair.

Second, the users of the site are aware of the site being viewed as a science experiment gone haywire. Upon viewing for the first time, I can see why it was concluded that the site appears to be “social engineering”. However, I would recommend you spend more time on the site to see what’s in the mindset of the individuals there. It may be uncomfortable to hear but some Black Women ARE specifically looking for Asian Men and Asian Men specifically for Black Women.

That is NOT everyone on the site.

Many are curious as to why they’ve never dated someone Asian, taking the time to look at themselves and reflect. Others have been in relationships, mistreated for their choices and are looking for others like themselves. This particular site encourages relations of Black Women with Asian Men; at no point does it discourage relationships with all other races/nationalities. There is also a separate site “Beyond Skin Deep” that is open for all.

We speak openly with each other to the point that it hurts. We don’t hurt on purpose; we hurt in search for truth. Asian Men tell us what it’s like to be them; we tell them what it’s like to be us. We are a community that is trying to learn from each other and not become separated. I look at websites like Hyphen to learn; that’s it. I’m not interested because it’s Asian; I’m interested because you have something to say. You state you don’t like “happens”; you prefer “are”. Your explanation refers to upbringing; I made no such comment about his upbringing. When I said “Happens to be white”, it’s a reflection of the viewer who may see a couple like this for the first time. I don’t care who you date; if I’ve never seen the pairing and it catches my eye, I’ll start thinking about it. Again, it may make one uncomfortable but if that’s the mindset of the individual, let it be. People have to learn and we have to give each other time to learn.

Finally, I’m not complaining about other’s wanting to examine interracial dating; curiosity can be very strong for a newbie. It’s important to ask questions and put yourself on the spot. But I think the line is crossed when you are asked to explain your choice as if you’ve disowned your race (as M so delicately put it) and you are now seen as a black sheep as MANY of the Asian men I’ve spoken with are viewed.

Thank you for your previous response! I hope to hear from you soon!

M Said: "Some people still look at me and just need to say the two Mandarin words they know, or think it's ok to ask me, "where are you from--no really, where are you from?"  They look at me and don't see an American.  They see my face and don't see an American"

Well said M. I've done that before and at first, didn't understand why is was a problem. Please keep in mind, I was under 25.

Just a suggestion for some Asian Americans...

* Do some research regarding white privilege and power. The more the better. A Ethnic Studies 101 class is a good start. While researching, you might notice a pattern where ultimately white heterosexual males benefit immensely like you wouldn't believe. You might also notice that fighting for equality will make you a prisoner of hope.

* Once you have some grasp of step 1, express some critical discourse regarding how racism and colonization has created a pathologically distortive effect on AsianAmerican sexual relations/pyschosexual dynamics.

* For those already engaged in white/Asian romances, please refrain from the "Love is Colorblind" mantra, because, as expressed by someone else, that excuse "... do not challenge people's ideas, they participate in silencing the voices of other folks who have had race impact them in negatively in these areas (i.e. 'I don't date Asian guys'), and they add no value to the conversation." I know, if all things were equal, love IS colorblind.

* Once you have some understanding, which also includes self-respect and compassion, go on with your bad-ass de-colonized self and make sweet sweet love to whoever and whenever.

* Btw, dig the Hyphen sex survey. But remember, for all the males, if you're planning to use a penis enlarger cream, wear gloves, or your hand will get big too.


My aunt once told me that I should date someone Chinese because that would make my father happy. I explained to her that my issue with most Chinese guys is that they often smell like my dad and my brother.

I'm currently married to a Swede and I guess at some point in my life, I did say that I like blondes with blue eyes. But really, if my husband remains the same person but instead was Chinese and didn't smell like my dad or my brother, I'd still marry him. To be honest, in my mind, the way that my husband and I are an interracial couple is because I'm Canadian and he's Swedish. 

I would also like to point out that I've never had much luck in meeting Asian guys that were into the same things as I am. Most Asians I've met think I'm strange, especially with my tattoos and metal music loving ways.

i would like to offer my experience:

i am an asian american 20 something female and grew up all over the US. i wanted to be white when i was little - this is very obvious to me now. i wanted to have blonde hair and blue eyes and not surprisingly, i also wanted to date the popular white boys in my predominately white classes. i didn't realize all this until i went to a predominately white prestigious university and started taking dating seriously... to white males. after a few short experiences, and one long term boyfriend, i realized that i had 'converted' a lot of my partners into liking asian women (by this i mean they started dating asian women right after me, and some even admitted that i had gotten them to take an interest in asians). this was disturbing to me. in time though, i admitted that the fetish was two-sided - i purposely sought out white males as well, but to me, it was never balanced. something was always off about the relationship and i usually ended up feeling like i was missing something. i know i'm speaking abstractly but i really cannot describe those feelings of insecurity and powerlessness associated with growing up as an 'inferior' race in america, and manifested in a relationship with a white male. 

anyway, my point is that i am currently actively seeking out asian american men to date instead of white men as none of those relationships were healthy and there were enough common themes among them all for me to try to get out of the pattern. 

i have explained my feelings to my asian american female friends and a lot of them understand how i feel. 

People should be free to date or be with whoever they want.  Ideally they would be out of love and mutual respect for each other (and each other's backgrounds and cultures). The issue are those relationships born out of racist or close-minded thinking, which may involve self-loathing or "White worship" from the spouse who is a minority. Some examples of close-minded thinking:

- A White person who negatively generalizes Whites of opposite gender, to justify his/her dating "preference".

- An Asian or Asian American who negatively generalizes Asians of opposite gender, to justify her/his dating "preference".

- Asian fetish

- White worship.


I think the title is pretty silly.  The title itself alludes to an attitude (that I'm not sure even predominantly exists among the community) that outmarrying is considered a bad thing among Asians or Asian Americans.  From the statistics, showing that Asian Americans by far outmarry the most of anybody in Western societies, I would argue that in some aspects Asian Americans are the most progressive of anybody in terms of interracial marriage.  Not too long ago when Whites were "outmarrying" at a fraction of the rate Asian Americans do, minorities were getting lynched and murdered for marrying White.  In comparison, I think the behaviors by Asians and Asian Americans toward interracial marriages have been very open-minded and tolerant.

I don't think of myself as being a white male because both my parents are immigrants from Palestine and I was raised in that culture. That being said: I benefit from White Privelage and people assume I'm Greek or Italian or just the random white down the road. I fully admit that I find many Asian women attractive(Near East to Far East).This could be some type of fetish but I am hoping that I can rationalize it a bit. I really have very little in common with "White America" (let me generalize just this once) and often found myself becoming friends with people from similar situations. Dating someone with these commonalities just made sense. Similar cultural backgrounds, similar physical characteristics et cetera. This isn't always the case, but its easier to find common ground with other 1st and 2nd generation Americans that those farther removed. I'd like to think that my choice in partner has always been about the individual themselves than some distorted expectation based on race. This is just me, I could be way off base with the larger norms and fetishes that our society has.

I'm a white, blonde, blue-eyed Silicon Valley industry businessperson. I've been dating a Japanese-American man for several months. Increasingly, when I'm in public in Palo Alto and SF, I'm aware that there are so very few Asian-American man- [extreme] white woman couples. Once I became aware of this, it took me three weeks of paying attention to see another couple like us.

I acknowledge that there are privileges associated with looking like me, but I had no idea just how much it was the case that women who look like me are obssessed with tall and white. I'm totally bored with both of those things. Not taking Asian American men seriously as prospective romantic partners simply must be attributed in part to mass media indoctrination- or racism. I don't know what else to blame it on.

i know a guy, half asian, his dad is white and mom is asian. his mom bashing on asian guys all the time, when he was little that didn't affect him much, but after he started middle school, he became almost 100% asian looking, and people started to refer him as asian. he started to feel bad about himself cause he always remembered what his mom said about asian guys, and started to have trouble with girls as well. some asian girls bash on him and other asian guys all the time, just like his mom did before.he ended up hating on his mom and never talked to her after he moved out.
I'm an American-born Chinese. When I was growing up in Stockton decades ago, I grew up in a part of town with few asians. What I knew of asians were the media stereotypes. It wasn't a good stereotype. When I got to college, and got to know more asians, it totally changed my view, and I valued my asian identify. In graduate school, I met my wife-to-be who was from Hong Kong. She totally changed my view of people from Hong Kong. Previously, I thought of Hong Kong as a place with poor, less-educated people. When she took me to Hong Kong, I found Hong Kong to be a exciting, cosmopolitan city that runs 24/7. While I'm very westernized, I'm happy I married someone from Hong Kong. It's a more comfortable life for me not having to think about racial identify within the family.