Racial Preference, Dating, and Relationships

black-woman-white-manWhen it comes to race and dating, I have always emphatically stated that I do not have a preference. I could not have one even if I tried — I love men, in all their forms. The only preference I seem to have is for taller men (6 ft 2 in/188 cm or taller), but even so, most of the men I’ve dated have been shorter than that. Yet I am asked from time to time if I have a preference, usually in the form of a question such as “So, you’re into white men?” or “Why don’t you like black men?” I sometimes wonder myself if my relationship has changed my preferences, i.e. created a preference.

Since I’ve been in my current relationship I’ve realized I notice white men more. If I enter a room and there are (attractive) men of all ethnicities, I will tend to look first at the white men, then everyone else. This has not always been the case, and I believe it has to do with my relationship and the familiarity of it. Since I’m in a relationship with a white man, I’ve become more accustomed to the looks of white men, so I notice a good-looking white man before I notice an attractive black man, Asian man, or mixed Hispanic man. I’ve always believed this is where preference starts — familiarity, whether through environment, media, or other outlets.

Still, I would not say I have a preference, at least not in the way that most people seem to refer to preference — an attraction to certain type(s) to the near exclusion of others. I am still attracted to other men, and I don’t think white men are inherently more attractive, I just notice them before others. When others claim to have a “preference” I am wary because it usually does not mean that they actually prefer a certain type of individual, but that they are pretty much only interested in those types. Which makes their attractions not preferences, but requirements.

Do you have a racial preference? What do you think of racial preferences, in general?

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30 thoughts on “Racial Preference, Dating, and Relationships

  1. Ya’ll might have to change those numbers if the US Census has anything to do with it.

    In California, our huge Latino population creates a lot of situations where Hispanics are being forced to mark White, and THEN Hispanic, leading to inflated numbers of White people in our state that is becoming predominantly Hispanic/Latino. Hell, even Latinos and Hispanics have a hard time defining their race since they’re coming from it — culturally, politically, whatever — from a completely different racial system which is Spanish/Portuguese in origin.

    Some good articles I know of on the subject:

    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1975883,00.html

    http://www.c3.ucla.edu/newsstand/community/going-beyond-black-and-white-hispanics-choose-other/

    But back to the topic at hand… I think I can vibe with the ideas that familiarity breeds preference, but I also think that a lot of times people become highly attracted to people that are the complete opposite of them, or appear “exotic”. It depends on how you were raised and what you find attractive, which is just hard to pin down.

    I know Jasmin can’t get over Michael Ealy, and I’ve still got a soft spot for Natalie Portman, so for us even though our relationship is inter-racial, our preferences (or at least our celebrity preferences) are still a bit more ambiguous. For me I know it depends a lot on style, and that makes race mostly unimportant.

  2. Zek, I agree with you on the “exotic” aspect. That does seem to be the case with some people. I think some of what see as preferences are inborn, but a good deal of it — maybe around 60-70 percent, is due to societal influences. And I don’t believe they are static.

    Michael Ealy is… okay. 🙂

    Natalie Portman is pretty.

    What do you mean by “style”?

  3. Hey, what’s wrong with my guy on the side? 😛

    I go back and forth with him–when I first saw him in Barbershop I was loving guys with braids, then he kind of fell off, and now I’m back into him again. Not for the reasons many people cite though (the eyes and such)–I like his…jawline! 🙂

    Oh, don’t get him started on his Israeli princess. 🙄

  4. By style I mean dress, humor, interests, activities, stuff like that. So while race can play a part since in SF it seems like each race congregates around different styles (hyphy, hipster, etc), I don’t think it makes up a significant part of what I find — or don’t find — attractive.

  5. Back to the topic:

    I prefer taller men too, though I’m 5’3” so taller is relative. 🙂

    Guys I like tend to have the jawline in common, I notice, but it’s hard to think of other traits. I think it will be interesting to note how guys I notice (like you mentioned) changes when I’m no longer in such a homogeneous environment.

  6. Jasmin, there’s nothing wrong with Michael Ealy. He isn’t bad-looking, he’s just not someone I would be interested in based on looks alone. To me, his looks are very average.

    Zek, okay, I assumed you meant dress. So, true, race can play a part in that. I think it’s very different in the major metropolitan areas like the Bay, NYC, Chicago, etc., because so many people across racial lines are into the same things. Whereas in smaller or more rural places there are clearer divisions in style that tend to cluster around perceived race.

  7. I don’t know if I have a racial preference. As you (probably) know, only white people live where I live, but these whites are not the “WASP” whites. In fact, I’ve never met a person of another race, and I only met a few people who are not of Balkan ethnicites.

    So, my only “experience” with this is media (celebrities). We all know celebrities are not the perfect subjects to judge racial preference since most of them are good looking, can afford great clothes/stylists and what not. But I did notice (even when I was a teenager) that I pay a lot of attention to men who are not white. I didn’t pay more attention on them than white celebrities (it was about the same), but I was alone in this: my friends didn’t seem to notice black or Asian men, even if those were really handsome. With Hispanic men is different: we consider them whites here, so girls liking Hispanic men was never seen as being attracted to non-white men.

    As for my preferences, I do have them and they seem to favor certain phenotypes. I don’t feel good about this. I seem to like tall men with deep voices and beautiful hair. I am not into pale skin or blue eyes (I never understood the hype – they can be really pretty and make a man gorgeous, but there’s something irresistible about beautiful dark eyes). On the other hand, I never said no to a guy just because he’s short (though, curiously, short guys were never interested in me), had pale skin or blue eyes.

    Actually, I was somewhat surprised when I realized my husband is actually really light skinned; he can just tan pretty quickly and his hair is really dark and thick.

  8. Mira, interesting. True, celebrities are not the best simply because they’re not reflective of the general population. But I think you can get a semi-good idea from them.

    I think when I was younger I might have noticed black men more, because my first boyfriend was black and maybe 60-70 percent of my boyfriends then were also black. So it might have to do with who I’m around more.

    I don’t think you would consider men like Sammy Sosa to be white, would you? How about George Lopez? Just trying to get an idea of where white ends in terms of Hispanics, in your country.

  9. About Hispanic people: sorry for not making this clear. The way people “judge” someone’s race is completely based on THEIR views, and not the person’s culture or its context. So just like you can be black and Austrian, you can be black/white/Asian/etc and Mexican, Brazilian, etc.

    So, if a person “looks black” (Sammy Sosa) they will think of him as black. If a person “looks Native American” (George Lopez)* they will think of him as Native American.

    * I have no idea if he is Native American- but I do know people here would think he looks like one (note that nobody here ever met a Native American).

    Similarly, if a person looks white, he or she will be seen as white. But, white to us is not the same as white by American standards. People like Salma Hayek, Adriana Lima, Freddy Rodriguez, Osvaldo Rios, Penelope Cruz & Javier Bardem* are seen as white as Cillian Murphy, Dolph Lundgren or Woody Allen.

    *I know these two are Europeans but somewhat share the phenotype with people mentioned before.

    PS- People that are seen as “mixed” are yet another story. Whether a person is really mixed has nothing to do with it.

  10. Mira,

    “If a person “looks Native American” (George Lopez)* they will think of him as Native American…* I have no idea if he is Native American- but I do know people here would think he looks like one”

    He is mostly European in ancestry, though he does have a sizeable amount of Native American ancestry. According to his autosomal test [last video] he is ~55 percent European, 32 percent Native American, 9 percent East Asian, and 4 percent African in origin.

    Still, you all just One-Dropped him into Native Americanness! 😛

    “(note that nobody here ever met a Native American).”

    That was funny for some reason.

    Many people in the U.S. have also never met a “full-blooded” Native American. AJ has met tons of them, though, since they tend to be more common in the northern parts of North America.

  11. Sorry if what I wrote was disrespectful (well, it sure does look disrespectful). It’s not the way I see things, but the way race is seen in my culture. For some reason, even people who never met people of different race(s) have a clear idea what certain races (should) look like. It is not a good way to look at these things (especially since race is not a biological fact), but people are so under influence of their “cultural glasses” and are unable to perceive things differently.

    All in all, Salma Hayek-Freddy Rodriguez type of Hispanic people are not seen as being of different race any more than people from Italy, Greece or Spain ( = all white), so nobody sees attraction to them as a racial preference.

    I can, however, speak for myself and say this phenotype might be closest to “my type”, though many black and Asian men fit my preference too. Maybe you could say it’s closest to dark whites/light non-whites* phenotype.

    *It’s not necessarily about skin colour, but the combination between familiar features and the “exotic” ones.

  12. Mira, it wasn’t disrespectful at all! The U.S. is not the whole world and it’s interesting to know how others view race/ethnicity.

    I believe most of those celebrities you mentioned are viewed as white in your country are of predominant European (Spanish) descent. (Salma Hayek’s father is of Lebanese descent.) Except I’m not sure about Freddy Rodriguez and Osvaldo Rios — they are from Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans are a good mix of Native/Euro/African, some having more of the one than the others.

    So, essentially, Serbia/the Balkans has no “Hispanic” category?

    Can you give some examples of non-white celebrities that fit into your “light non-white” preference?

  13. So, essentially, Serbia/the Balkans has no “Hispanic” category?

    Not in a sense of race, no. Something close to “Hispanic” exists as a category, but it’s the same as, say, “Scandinavian”. It’s not really about the race.

    Can you give some examples of non-white celebrities that fit into your “light non-white” preference?

    Hmmm… Let me see (note that “light” is not really about skin colour/shade, but the way (facial) features make a nice combination between what’s familiar and what’s “exotic” to me. (Also note that I find some of these guys attractive because I’m a fan of their work… it happens with me).

    Bob Marley
    Slash
    Michael Spears
    James Blake (when he had hair)
    Piolo Pascual
    Lenny Kravitz (when I’m in the mood :P)

    … and a bunch of Hispanic actors whose names I can’t remember (those that play in telenovelas <- not my cup of tea, so I just take a notice but don't actually watch any of it.

    (Not sure if Johnny Depp belongs here… He's more of "darker white" than "light non-white", I think).

  14. Wow – this post is so accurate to my life too. I’m black and I have no preference, and I don’t think I ever have. However, when I was in my last LTR with a black man, i did tend to only notice black guys when out and about. Then we broke up and I started dating white and asian guys. Lo and behold I now notice white, asian and black guys when I go out. It was as if part of my vision came back to me.

  15. Hey niarchive.

    It’s funny like that isn’t it? Not only do you notice (or not) guy by race, but you also may notice guys who look similar to a guy you’re in a relationship with.

  16. Ok, I think I finally realized why I’m attracted to black and Asian men I’m attracted to. Their eyes. I don’t want to go overboard with ethnic stereotypes, but I just like dark eyes on a man, the darker the better. Many black guys fit this. So do Asian guys.

    But it doesn’t mean white guys can’t have dark/black eyes. Many of them do. (Insert armchair psychology here) My father did. I don’t know how, but his eyes were almost black. Weird much? Huh, I know. But maybe this influenced my preferences?

    In short, there are white guys with very dark eyes, like Johnny Depp (if you can count him as white), and that Irish actor I’m not going to name.

    So I don’t think it’s a racial preference. Riiight?

  17. Well I do love men in general and look at all attractive men regardless of race. However, if all the guys in my vacinity are hot (and havent heard them speak or observed other things about them since those things obviously have an effect on who will get my attention), dark haired white men will get my eyes on them first and light skin black men second. Although at this point im not quite as interested in dating black men as I use to be (though that could change, I never say never afterall never thought growing up that Id ever be dating white men) so even if I physically will notice a lighter black man before a blonde white guy, Id probably take a chance on the blonde first. So I definitely think I have a preferance at least at this point in my life because I cant say everyone has equal chance with me. If you give me 3 guys all different looks but all equally hot, have the type of personality I like and I have chemistry with all, brown-darked haired tall white guy is my first pick so that to me is a preferance.

  18. Mira,

    “it doesn’t mean white guys can’t have dark/black eyes…My father did. I don’t know how, but his eyes were almost black…maybe this influenced my preferences?”

    Probably. I mean, your father has a strong influence on you, understandably.

    The only really strong preference I have, as mentioned in the post, is for tall and slim men. Let me not forget the slim part, because that’s very important. A tall guy who is too muscular or big will not get my attention. But a tall, slim guy will have me staring until it makes him uncomfortable. Lol.

    “So I don’t think it’s a racial preference. Riiight?”

    No, it’s eye discrimination. 😀

    Just kidding, I don’t think you’re too bad. You do like some lighter-eyed men.

  19. Jess,

    “if all the guys in my vacinity are hot (and havent heard them speak or observed other things about them since those things obviously have an effect on who will get my attention), dark haired white men will get my eyes on them first and light skin black men second.”

    Hmmm. Interesting. I didn’t know you were a dark-haired white guy lover. There are a few of you all around here…

    With a group of men who are all physically attractive to me (this is rare!), I’ll notice the tall, slim ones first, and the ones with long features (face , nose, and limbs; lips are negotiable). I don’t care about hair color at all, but if I think about it, most guys I notice have light to medium brown hair.

    “So I definitely think I have a preferance at least at this point in my life because I cant say everyone has equal chance with me.”

    Yes, it sounds like you do have a preference. Though I’m not sure KG fits it…

  20. I’ll notice the tall, slim ones first, and the ones with long features (face, nose, and limbs;

    This tends to be true for me too and would take a tall thin blonde over a shorter stockier yet good looking dark haired white guy but If I could describe my absolute ideal it would be tall, thin, with dark hair (eyes are negotiable, think light eyes can be really beautiful and they do pop but like mira said somethin about dark eyes are just gorgeous) Orlando Bloom’s body isnt exactly my preferance but that face, eyes (like pools of chocolate) and hair I am so drawn to.

  21. Probably. I mean, your father has a strong influence on you, understandably.

    Yes, though in this case I don’t know if it was him or my mother. I don’t remember his eyes consciously (but subconsciously I do). It’s my mother who always pointed out how hot dark eyed men are and that she couldn’t understand the blue eye hype. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating… She said it maybe a couple of times. But I guess I remembered and followed it for some reason, because I do really, really like dark eyes on a man. The whole thing is basically a clear proof you can influence your preferences. They aren’t as natural as one would think.

    he only really strong preference I have, as mentioned in the post, is for tall and slim men. Let me not forget the slim part, because that’s very important. A tall guy who is too muscular or big will not get my attention. But a tall, slim guy will have me staring until it makes him uncomfortable. Lol.

    True. Tall and slim is not the same as tall and muscular. Completely two different body types and all. It’s like, with a tall slim guy, it’s mostly about him being tall; with a tall muscular guy, it’s all about him being muscular.

    No, it’s eye discrimination. 😀

    I know. And don’t get me on the hair discrimination… That one is even stronger. I’m evil. 😦

    Just kidding, I don’t think you’re too bad. You do like some lighter-eyed men.

    Oh yes, by all means. I am too shy to look people in the eye anyway so while I do pay attention to eyes, the hair colour isn’t crucial. I just don’t think blue eyes are automatically sexier. I’ve seen plenty of ordinary looking blue eyes, or even the not so pretty ones. They can make you look weird, like Rob Lowe. Or they can make you look good, like Eddie Vedder. Or they can make you look unique, like Cillian Murphy. It all depends.

    I think I have a preference for dark white men and Hispanic men.

  22. Jess,

    Orlando Bloom does not a thing for me, though I can see his appeal.

    The celeb with the closest to my ideal body type would be Matthew Gray Gubler. <– Yum.

    Mira,

    “The whole thing is basically a clear proof you can influence your preferences. They aren’t as natural as one would think.”

    I would say most preferences are influenced by outside factors, whatever those are. A few are naturally-occurring, like my magnetic attraction to tall, slim men. 🙂

    Most racial preferences are probably not innate because it’s highly unlikely that someone would have a natural preference for straight hair, light skin, thin features (and/or whatever else they associate with white people) all at one time. I have a preference for high-bridged noses and long faces which are more common on white men, but I don’t have any hair, lips, or skin preferences.

    “I’ve seen plenty of ordinary looking blue eyes, or even the not so pretty ones. They can make you look weird, like Rob Lowe. Or they can make you look good, like Eddie Vedder. Or they can make you look unique, like Cillian Murphy. It all depends.”

    I don’t notice most people’s eye colors, unless they are blue. But I think it’s a certain kind of blue; Rob’s I would definitely notice, but Eddie’s I wouldn’t. Cillian’s eyes are in the middle, but sometimes they are very striking.

    “I think I have a preference for dark white men and Hispanic men.”

    I don’t find myself attracted to these types very often, although it happens. Adam Brody has dark hair and I think he’s one of the most gorgeous men to ever grace the earth.

  23. I think Matthew Gray Gubler is adorable, he’s a guy I could see myself dating. Adam Brody is pure beauty. We agree there Alee.

    As for Hispanic men, when I was primarily attracted to black men, I liked hispanic men alot more than I do now. Im attracted to white men that have dark hair and are tan but not hispanic tan (or at least the first image that comes to our mind when we think of hispanic) yet a black man with that same color, I will find attractive. Funny how that works. I guess its certain features I like better with certain skin tones than others or at least drawn to it faster. I do like Adam Rodriguez though (although is jaw bothers me at times).

  24. Blue eyes, I agree it does depend on the exact color of blue, eye shape as well. I dont like all blue eyes. Out of Celebrities, my fave blue eyes are Chris Pine’s. His really pop.

    On a completely unrelated note, I think him and Zoe Saldana would make a really cute couple and they were both single now.

    I love this pic of Adam. He is gorgeous http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrities/adam-brody

  25. Jess,

    “I think Matthew Gray Gubler is adorable, he’s a guy I could see myself dating.”

    Isn’t he? I ❤ Matthew Gray Gubler. Totally geeky, totally loveable.

    Gratuitous Matthew pic.

    “Adam Brody is pure beauty. We agree there Alee.”

    Seriously, when I see him on screen sometimes, I’m like, “Is this real?”

    “Im attracted to white men that have dark hair and are tan but not hispanic tan (or at least the first image that comes to our mind when we think of hispanic) yet a black man with that same color, I will find attractive.”

    I agree; it’s weird. I can’t think of many (non-white, non-black) Hispanic men I’m strongly attracted to… Except one Dominican guy from my hometown (he was very tall and slim).

    I don’t know what it is: it can’t be the dark hair or eyes because I’m attracted to black men who also have dark hair and eyes.
    Or was attracted to them, because I can’t say I notice black men too often nowadays. None of them look remotely like KG, and unless a guy shares some sort of features with KG, the likelihood that I’ll notice him decreases exponentially. 🙂

  26. unless a guy shares some sort of features with KG, the likelihood that I’ll notice him decreases exponentially.

    LOL! Your cute

  27. Alee,

    I don’t notice most people’s eye colors, unless they are blue. But I think it’s a certain kind of blue; Rob’s I would definitely notice, but Eddie’s I wouldn’t. Cillian’s eyes are in the middle, but sometimes they are very striking.

    I sometimes notice the eye colour, and sometimes I don’t.

    You would notice Eddie’s eyes if you were a Pearl Jam fan: he does that strange eye-roll every time he sings, especially when he’s pissed off by what he’s singing. It was especially noticeable in the early days.

    And his eyes are very beautiful, imo. I can’t seem to find the right photo, though. They don’t focus on his eyes as much as they focus on actors’ eyes.

    I don’t find myself attracted to these types very often, although it happens. Adam Brody has dark hair and I think he’s one of the most gorgeous men to ever grace the earth.

    Adam Brody is a hot man, but that’s not what I had in mind when I said “darker white”. There’s nothing dark about him; he’s average, like guys I see on the street all the time. That is not what I consider darker white.

  28. Jess,

    “LOL! Your cute”

    Heh, it’s true!

    KG is my dream guy (physically, and otherwise)… For a long time, I used to have dreams of this guy and I together and the guy was just super perfect for me: tall, slim, stylish, long limbs, beautiful long face with immaculate bone structure.

    Then one day in 2010 I walked to the bus stop to head to lunch and there he was! I was like, “OMG, what, what?” I was so confused as to how he made it out of my dreams. I was completely hypnotized and didn’t take my eyes off of him for one second; even when the bus came, I walked behind him and sat near him so I could keep staring. So I followed him off the bus and tapped him on the shoulder, and you all know the rest. 🙂

    I love everything about him and I’m so thankful for him. I used to wonder why I moved down here, and now I know: to meet him. (He’s definitely the only reason I stayed here.) If I ever lose him, I’m going to be lost, for real. I’ll never forgive myself.

    …But I’ll stop there before I get way off-topic. I’m talking like he isn’t ~5 min. away. Hah.

  29. Mira,

    ‘Adam Brody is a hot man, but that’s not what I had in mind when I said “darker white”.’

    Oh, I know. We’ve discussed this before. 🙂

    I just mentioned Adam because he’s one of the few white guys who has dark hair that I’m really attracted to.

    @Jess,

    This is my favorite pic of Adam.

  30. Adam isnt darker white skin color wise but his hair is pretty dark. I think thats what she meant since she said she normally likes lighter-medium brown hair. If a white person is really dark, I dont register them as white in my mind. Like some Sicilians for instance. I tend to not see them as white exactly. Its probably for two reasons. One is because most of the white people that im around and I see day to day are pale to medium skin toned and also because of the term white. White is white and that word is engrained in your mind more so than caucasian so when white people are alot darker than the color white, I dont see them as white in the same way. Probably the same reason why alot of white people (regardless of the one drop rule, just from my experience) tend to see lighter balck people almost always as mixed or “less black” than others. Ive heard them say “well he’s black but he’s not that black, not as black as so and so” for instance.

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