This Is Why You’re Single: “I Can’t Date Someone Outside My Culture – They Won’t Understand Me!”

You know that strange sixth sense you get when you can feel all the eyes in a room watching you? Like a giant spider peering into your soul, the room grows silent and all you can hear are a thousand eyeballs moving as you think to yourself, “goddamn, what the HELL are you all looking at?!” I knew I was the only Filipino in that Vietnamese restaurant, but damn, did I look that out of place? Then I realized something: they weren’t looking at me – they were looking at my girlfriend…

My Black girlfriend.

But I’ll get back to that story in just a minute…

One of the laziest excuses I hear from people uninterested in interracial relationships is their need to satisfy their culture. “How can I date a non-Indian man? What about my culture? How will he like my food?” “But, I’m a Black woman! There are things that only a Black man can understand about being Black and I need that in my Black life! How the hell can an Asian man understand what I’ve been through?!” “Aye dios mio! Yo soy Mexicana! Esta chino? PORQUE, NO!”

I get it. I really do. You value your heritage and your connection with your culture is so tight not even a TSA agent with a latex glove and a bottle of Astroglide can get through. You know your religion and interests are important so you feel like dating someone of the same background will be easy. A stress free relationship where you don’t have to explain why you do the things you do to a person who, in your mind, simply cannot understand “your people.”

“OMG like how can I date a guy who won’t understand my passion for corny Bollywood films? I AM NOT WATCHING IT WITH SUBTITLES!!”

But you’re wrong.

Since when have ANY of your damn relationships been easy? Most of the shittiest relationships I’ve been with were Asian women themselves who I shared the exact same culture and heritage with. The problem with the culture argument is that it assumes all relationship problems exist for culture reasons when truthfully, it’s almost always a personal issue.

Many moons ago I dated a Filipino girl who had a Filipino mom, Japanese dad, she ate rice and liked listening to R&B slow jams – basically your standard Asian girl. Unfortunately, she cheated on me and my 14 year old self was overly jealous. It was an epically disastrous relationship equivalent to Satan shitting on the Hindenburg just as it fell from the sky. But guess what? All of those reasons had nothing to do with our culture, it had everything to do with her infidelity and my insecurity.

“It’s OVER, Tyler! I don’t care if you slept with my grandmother! How could you NOT like the Red Sox and Mayonnaise as much as I do?!”

Now ask yourself this: does the success of a relationship truly hinge on whether or not your boyfriend likes Salsa dancing? Will your relationship crumble if he doesn’t know how to properly roll a Pierogi and shop for deli meats for your Russian family? Is he less of a man because he can’t fully understand the struggles of being a Black woman in modern society? Will you care for and love him less because he can’t speak your native language?


“I’m sorry, ridiculously chiseled and immaculately styled Asian Man that is making me hot and heavy, I can’t date a man that hasn’t even attended a single Barmitzvah! GO AWAY, COMMIE!”

Believe it or not, culture can be taught. We as humans can learn to adopt and learn to understand and learn how to cook the way your grandmother does. Those are things you can teach a man. But honesty, loyalty, a sense of humor, a taste for an unexpected road trip or a passion for corny scary movies? THAT is something you cannot teach. Those are the beliefs that make your relationship great. Those are the true values that erect the foundation for a healthy love that lasts. If you can find those key qualities in a man and he just so happens to be Asian, or Black, or Sri Lankan, why not go for it? Why let that ONE thing get in the way of an amazing relationship?

When I sat in that Vietnamese restaurant earlier today, with all eyes on my girlfriend as she masterfully rolled and ate Banh Xeo with all the veggies and fish sauce intact, I completely forgot that she was Black. All I cared about was, damn, my baby got skills. She may not look Asian or have experienced life as an Asian, but she’s willing to understand my life and my interests while also teaching me hers. Because at the end of the day I didn’t choose her for her culture or heritage, I chose her for her heart, her mind, and our shared love affair for trying something new.

Culture does not define you – you define it.


29 thoughts on “This Is Why You’re Single: “I Can’t Date Someone Outside My Culture – They Won’t Understand Me!”

  1. This was brilliant. Especially the part with the salsa dancing and so on, FUTILITIES in the grand schemes of things. Not to mention that if we’re gonna use culture as an excuse, a british black woman may have more in common with a british asian man than with a spanish black guy. But nobody is going to think about cultural differences when looking at a “same race” couple.

    People need to realize that if “same race” was the magic formula for harmony, then all “same race” couples would live happily ever after and 85% of families – whose vast majority is “same race” – wouldn’t be dysfunctional. Human beings are HUMAN BEINGS. Also, assuming that you will be rejected by a family of a different culture for looking different (which is a common excuse too), when tons of women and men get rejected by in-laws of THEIR OWN CULTURE, is ludicrous. The idea that people can “naturally understand each other”, just because they have skin color and a few features in common is a myth. Case in point, most black folks around me can’t understand some of my interests and have not lived most of my experiences, just like I have not lived most of theirs.

    Just say you don’t have the GUTS to get out of your comfort zone, because you’re a little too close-minded about “race”, instead of using culture or “race” as an excuse. For all the black women or asian men who feel misunderstood by their own, you would THINK by now that they would get that ethnicity doesn’t make their own magically understand them.

  2. P.S. : When I say FUTILITIES, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter, but that, as you stated that can be taught. Those are not things that make or break relationships because they can be taught and the person can grow and adapt.

  3. Spot-ON–“Culture can be taught”–culture can ONLY be taught. It’s not genetic. One of the most amazing aspects of the intercultural relationship I’m in is that each and every day we both learn something new and amazing–about each other and the different places that we have each called home. It’s as exciting as it is humbling (I’m white, my boyfriend is Chines–we live in Beijing). When we first started dated, he often said, “We can’t be serious because you’re not Chinese and you don’t understand our culture.” Now, as the restaurant goes quiet when we walk in, he puts his hand on my back and says, “Let’s show them that we have more in common than we have different, and that we can laugh in any language.”

  4. I did the contrary: I’m white and I CHOSE to date a Korean guy because dating a white guy just didn’t do it for me.
    And no, I don’t bash my own culture. I don’t want to be an asian girl and I’m fine with being white.
    The thing is that I’ve always been interested in other cultures. How they live, eat, think. I love Arab, Chinese, Korean and Hindi music.
    I love to eat food from different parts of the world because it feels so different and awesome.
    The last relationship I had with a white guy was doomed since the beginning. The relationship itself was not fulfilling, we did not connect at all on many points. We didn’t have anything in common. I was open minded and wanted to eat at various restaurants while he only wanted to eat burgers and pizzas. Eating Korean or Indian food was “totally disgusting” even if he never tried it once.
    He was laughing at me when I was listening to music other than English music. Trying to “speak” Chinese like Alexandra Wallace.
    He was the typical white jerk that laughs at every culture except his own.
    After we broke up, I felt so free. I didn’t have to hide my music CDs anymore, I could watch Korean dramas or Bollywood movies freely. Finally! I was able to go to many restaurants and cook many meals of different cultures!
    For myself, the Korean culture was more interesting. The language is easy to learn, the food is awesome and I love watching Korean movies/dramas. So eventually, I met a Korean guy and we started dating. We were culturally different, but we had sooooooo many things in common. Our basic thinking and core values are exactly the same. We complete each other’s sentences and say the same things at the same time. Sometimes, we don’t even need words to understand each other. Just looking at each other is enough!
    It feels like we are one person. A mix of me and him.
    I cook Korean food better than any other food. He is now a big fan of ice hockey! We didn’t force this on each other.
    We love to spend time together and we are genuinely interested in what the other person likes.
    So three years after our first date, we are married and I’m pregnant!
    For me, dating outside my culture was the best thing that ever happened in my life!

  5. Oh, how I miss your writing! I’m always delighted whenever I see one of your articles pop up on my Reader.

    So many people, especially women, need to read this or at least open themselves up to the many possibilities dating outside of their culture/ethnicity could bring instead of expecting for Mr. Right to show up in the same wrapping their used to getting.

  6. Reblogged this on Skinny Girl in a Curvy World and commented:
    It seems now more than ever people are becoming more acceptable to the idea of dating outside of their race. Personally, I think dating someone who doesn’t share the same racial background can be exciting whilst learning about each other’s differences–it positions you to discover something new about that person’s culture. I’ve found, though, that while cultural differences do exist, several commonalities are often present.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong about wanting to only date someone from the same race just as there is nothing wrong with wanting to date outside of one’s race; people like what they like. But for the skeptic who can’t score a date because they are still waiting for the that special someone who shares the same culture, I challenge you to reconsider your preferences.

    Check out this article by one of my favorite bloggers.


  7. Haha, I remember a bunch of times when me and my previous boyfriend (he was White and I’m Black) and I would go anywhere; a restaurant, store, snow cone stand, anywhere, and would get these weird stares.
    We’ve actually had people make eye contact with each of us and shake their heads in disagreement/disappointment. One man was staring so hard he couldn’t get into his car until we left, lol. It was awkward.

  8. There might be a few things you’re missing out on if you date someone with a different cultural background (e.g. my Chinese husband and I don’t go to the movies in Austria because he doesn’t speak German), but there are so many other things that will enrich your life, like a variety of cooking styles you can use at home, music you would never have heard of if you hadn’t met your other half, children’s stories or mythology that is just completely different from what you were growing up, … For me, the pros certainly outnumber the cons.

  9. Man! that was awesome! not only because I can totally relate to everything in post (my husband is black. i’m half filipina/white) but because it totally reminded me why I started blogging to begin with–the writing. I need to put a little more though and creativity in my posts! thanks for the inspiration and sharing your story about you and your black girlfriend 😉

  10. It’s not the cultural differences. You’re right. The type of people that seek out and are willing to try an interracial relationship are generally very open and easy to learn people. If there’s problems, it’s generally a personality/values difference in the people. Personally for me, my husband is Korean and I’m white. I’m a very feminine, submissive, traditional woman naturally. My husband is attracted to that. Yes, we are from two different cultures but that was the easy part, learning the culture. After 4 years together, I’m pretty very Korean. I can cook the foods, communicate in the language, understand the expectation differences, etc,.My personality compliments his, despite the race/culture difference.

  11. Finally I had found an asian brother who can set the things clear for me…
    Im latina and from a very early age I had a particular attraction to the asian culture and regarding to guys i always had a certain weakness for those guys from south pacific. Now i look back and realized that most of the guys i have been with fit in this type…curious…2 years ago i got a scholarship to study culinary in Indonesia (my other passion besides travelling) Then i was not completely conscious about the changes this would bring to my life even i was a bit scared because i saw many sings around that i felt it was a kind of calling … I packed my stuff and accepted the challenge..everything there was somehow so familiar for me and the people very closed like relatives that made me feel home…strange..I felt peace and happiness although being solo, some guys looked really cute and nice but i did not understand why i wasnt more attracted…but on the less expected day i found him or i must say i heared him…i heard this voice somewhere before and when i turned to look …OMG there he was, the kind of guy i always prayed for, (in that moment i looked up at the sky and say thanks God) What to say it was love at first sight, although our different cultures (balinese-venezuelan) we just clicked inmediately and everything was so smooth as silk… and i felt very comfortable with him from the very first moment and those signs i was looking around confirmed the fact that finally i have found my soulmate in an unexpected day and place 20.000 kms from my country. Another fact that impressed me a lot is that he is almost 30 and is still single when everyone there get marry very soon, i guess we were meant to be…we had a very intense relationship that lasted only 3 months although we were happier than never in our lives his mother did not approved our relationship and now is encouraging him to settle with a wife from their culture. I came back to my country heartbroken we kept contact for a while but i decided to let it go because i still have strong feelings for him and for me it is like a burden, I must say even we are apart now, i will never regret to have found him, he was the best boyfriend i ever had, caring, hardworker, kind, respectful and with a golden heart…i had to struggle a lot with bad relationships and wondering if true love gonna ever come to me someday and in my 33 years of life, I should admit i got the happiness of a lifetime in the 3 unforgettable months i spent with him that made the wait worthy…
    (While still being in Indonesia i met a fortune teller she read my hand and she told seriously to me: Do you know that your soulmate is not western? Your soulmate is here…I laughed out loud..but inside i got frozen..who knows? I am making my plans to move on but i swear from now i wont quit in my quest of a new asian mate, they are rare but precious)… 😉
    Hugs and happiness for all the interracial couples who have succeded
    the fight isnt over….

  12. You are truly amazing! Thank you for your beautiful writing! Culture is such a great thing to add to a relationship because it means the focus is not on what you always have in common but what you can learn together. It has been so much fun learning about my boyfriend’s interests and culture as a Korean, and I look forward to understanding him more every day, and he loves learning from me as well. People might stare, but they are looking at a real relationship built on respect, love, and curiosity. I think another thing that’s cool about international love is that both of us come from families who weren’t exposed to foreigners, but because of us, they get to learn as well, and it strips away prejudice and they spread it to those they meet!

  13. Great post! Relationships doesn’t just work because you are from the same culture, maybe these folks just finds it easy to make it work but what about those who have gone through divorces, annulments and break ups? They have their personality differences. People around them are the ones making it complicated because they THINK they won’t adapt/or should not adapt to your practices. – Ritter Standley

  14. Pingback: Common Problems in Interracial Relationships and Marriages | The Ripple Effect of Anti-Miscegenation Laws

  15. I just discovered you blog through a reposting of you Facebook post about the defacing of the “Black Lives Matter” mural. I want to comment on so much of your writing (mostly to say, “Fuck yeah!”) but as my first comment, I would just like to praise this sentence:

    “It was an epically disastrous relationship equivalent to Satan shitting on the Hindenburg just as it fell from the sky.”

    I know there are so many other important things you write, but I just appreciate this ingenious comparison so much. Fuck yeah.

  16. Right on. And very sweet. Your girlfriend’s a lucky girl.

    I did feel a need to mention… Umm.. So your teenage girlfriend cheated on you at the ripe old age of 14???? Damn. Most people haven’t even had a first kiss at that age. I’m just curious about how exactly a 14 year old cheats. I’m assuming you guys were not(?) having sex…
    Sooooooooo glad I don’t have kids. F*ck that teenage pregnancy sh*t show.

    Anyhow… I guess I now sound like the moral police. 😛

  17. I disagree, everyone’s experience is going to be a little different. I have been in serious relationships who were raised in ‘my culture’- they were Americans, and with men who were raised by foreigners. By far, the easiest and most fulfilling relationships were with the men who were also Americans, just like me. Every relationship will have it’s flaws and stresses, but it adds so much more stress and contention when you are dating someone raised outside of your culture. You’re more likely to see things from the same perspective, have similar life goals, similar opinions about what is appropriate behavior, dress, language, etc. Not to mention, relationships with the family of your non-same-culture boyfriend can be very, very tense- adding an incredible amount of strain to the relationship. In my experience, I prefer Amerian men because it makes everything-everything- so much more simple and stress free.
    Also, a romantic relationship experienced at 14 years old is a really bad example to use, adult relationships tend to be more complex than childhood romances- at least, that is my experience.

  18. thank you for this lovely piece. I agree, even relationships with someone of the same race and ethnic background can turn out badly but people are too quick to point to those differences when the couple have different cultures or races. Please keep writing, I enjoy reading

  19. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Hmm yup! Maybe you need to “reevaluate” just what you’re looking for……#Awesomeness comes in all packages …..just saying 🙂 #AMBW

  20. Pingback: This Is Why You’re Single: “I Can’t Date Someone Outside My Culture – They Won’t Understand Me!” | Best Free Links For Downloads

  21. Thank you for this! Anytime I go somewhere in the local Asian community”with my husband…. the stares are INSANE! But we get stares wherever we go. {Shurgs} We never sought out to be in a “AMBW” relationship but we are happy.

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