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Attraction across races
June 3, 2005 8:13 AM   Subscribe

Are you attracted to people of races different from your own?

I pose this question not to be inflammatory, but because it's one of those semi-taboo questions that I think might not always be answered honestly or seriously, and I think AskMeFi is one of the better places to pose it.

I'm ethnically Asian, and I'm attracted to white women, for the most part. Now, there could be endless debates as to why that is, but suffice to say I grew up in North America in a mostly white enclave. The problem for me is that I find it very difficult, compared to my white friends, to attract women that I'm actually attracted to -- this issue was brought home when I lived in Asia for a while and discovered that local women found me quite attractive but I didn't usually feel likewise. The same goes for my most recent foray into online personals, where my white friends have garnered a great deal more interest than me. Now, perhaps it's some aspect of my attitude that is causing this, but it seems like it is a factor. An average-looking white man I feel will garner more interest than an equivalently average-looking Asian male in this society. My cousin, also raised in North America, has bumped into similar problems, where women have actually said, "I don't Asians" to his face.

So, in this seemingly increasingly multi-cultural world, is this a natural "prejudice" that still remains in you? If you have particular tastes in this area, are they related to physical factors (look of eyes, skin color) or is it a cultural issue? Do you feel you have a fetishistic interest in other races, if you do find other races attractive? If you aren't attracted to other races, why not? Is this something I just have to accept, since attraction is tied to so many subconscious and irrational factors?
posted by Big Fat Tycoon to Society & Culture (85 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
well, last time the "race" word was mentioned here, i screwed up pretty badly. but yes, i find women that come from different cultures or "look different" attractive (in fact, i only ever dated one english woman, and she was, frankly, an uptight pain in the arse).

since i'm now in a long term relationship (with a chilean), i guess i shouldn't care about how prejudices affect me, but it's noticeable here that while being a gringo make people stare (which bugs me), many women seem to like it (which is not unpleasant). also, some american women seem to have some weird fetish for an english accent, but that distrubs me more than anything.
posted by andrew cooke at 8:25 AM on June 3, 2005


i have no doubt that racial bias was ingrained into my early 80's childhood. ive found that i can open closed doors in my mind by 'trying' to find a group of people attractive, like older women for example. it works!
posted by GleepGlop at 8:26 AM on June 3, 2005


I'm a Korean woman, and I date exclusively non-asian men. I grew up in a ethnically mixed environment, but I think my preference for non-asian men is that I enjoy contrast. I like to date non asian tall guys who are very different both in personality and appearance from me.
posted by mrs.pants at 8:26 AM on June 3, 2005


Although I have only dated white guys (I'm a white gal), I have to say that I find men of different races attractive and would definitely date one given the opportunity. Since I'm in a stable relationship this is unlikely to happen anytime soon but you never know!
posted by LunaticFringe at 8:33 AM on June 3, 2005


I'm a caucasian male. I've dated or asked out people of just about every race at some point. I don't have any particular racial preference as far as attraction goes, which is not to say that I don't have my own particular biases. It's just that my biases cross racial lines and that a caucasian, an asian and an african person I'm attracted to may all resemble each other to some degree.
posted by ursus_comiter at 8:34 AM on June 3, 2005


I think the short answer is that people generally gravitate towards people who are most like themselves as a result of myriad sociosensitization reasons. I have a beard and lots of girls don't like beards - just one of those personal hurdles that get in the way. I like women of any race though. You'll break through some time.
posted by peacay at 8:39 AM on June 3, 2005


I am here to reassure you that at least one caucasian American woman finds asian guys attractive (though I am very attached to my non-asian fiance, he is unusual in many ways).

To help you in your quest, I'll tell you some of my other interests, in case there are others like me: acting, singing, gardening, a bit of programming, some visual art expression. Traveling (someday). Maybe you need to look for adventurous types.

I don't know why you're finding such hidebound women. Maybe you're looking in the wrong places?

One thing that has occurred to me is that some women might worry about cultural differences. I've heard rumours that in some cultures (I don't necessarily believe this, but if I've heard it, others might have) women are basically expected to serve men -- it's just an assumption. Also, that many Asian cultures assume that American/white women are morally looser than women from their own culture, so a man from that culture might date an American woman but never consider her seriously as a mate (or maybe a person).

Yeah, depending on what part of Asia you hail from (it might help if you specified - Iran? Japan? Malaysia? India?), there could be all kinds of worries about what you believe.

I wonder if you're running into fears of this kind of thing. If so, I'm not sure how you'd get past it.

But don't worry about taste too much - I'm sure there are women out there who think Asian guys are hot :)
posted by amtho at 8:46 AM on June 3, 2005


White girl here, dated one Asian man and made eyes at hundreds more... without getting anywhere, even to a flirt stage. I've often guessed that there's some cultural difference getting in the way: maybe the Asian guys aren't noticing the looks I give them the way other guys would? Or they're not returning the looks in a way that I can recognize as a connection? It's always been mysterious to me, because I've heard anecdotally that Asian guys feel that fewer girls are attracted to them, and for years there I was saying, "Pick me!" and couldn't get a bite.
posted by xo at 8:52 AM on June 3, 2005


I'm a white chick, and I find some people of other races attractive, but perhaps not as high a percentage as I find attractive amongst white people. I don't prefer another race over white people - something that tends to give off creepy fetish vibes, even if its neither creepy nor fetishistic - but I don't prefer white people to the exclusion of all others, either.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:59 AM on June 3, 2005


This fetish word set me off once before. Stav too. 2002 MeFi thread link.
posted by planetkyoto at 9:27 AM on June 3, 2005


hmmm. ok, i'll bite. you (jacquilynne) seem to think it's ok to prefer white people (with some kind of disclaimer that this isn't exclusive), but a creepy fetish not to. or have i misunderstood?

isn't this the kind of prejudice that the big fat tycoon was referring to? i imagine there are as many reasons as there are individual people that explain why some people prefer one thing and one another, and i'm not for a minute saying we should prefer everything equally. but i'm left wondering at those vibes of yours.
posted by andrew cooke at 9:44 AM on June 3, 2005


I am very happily in an interracial union. I happen to be attracted to people who are different than myself. I like contrast. It makes life more interesting. It seems to me that a lot of people want to date/marry someone who is exactly like themselves, in appearance and beliefs. I don't understand the intrigue. Perhaps a bit of narcissism?
posted by crapulent at 9:50 AM on June 3, 2005


I'm a white guy, and I've always been attracted to women with dark hair and skin. My current girlfriend is black, and I've dated women from all races at one time or another. I have no idea why, but on a physical level I find that very attractive.

I think what jacquilynne is saying is that it seems fetishy to prefer just one race over all others, and even more fetishy if its a race other than your own. I think the same thing is true for guys who only date blondes-- they are not connecting with an actual person, but with their image of that category of person.

One of the best girlfriends I ever had was a very fair skinned blonde-- if I had been locked into dating only one type of person I would have missed out on something very special. Tycoon, maybe you'd have better luck looking for that type of connection rather than a particular "type."
posted by InfidelZombie at 10:00 AM on June 3, 2005 [1 favorite]


I'm an Asian male who - without any identified preferences as far as I know - found a wife who was white. We know two couples quite well with the same mix. It's not as common as the converse, but it's not rare, either.

Sure, there may be presumptions and misunderstandings at play - frankly, my wife had to essentially hit me over the head to get me to pick up on her 'signals' (our first several dates, she asked me out... and I didn't even think they were dates). But if the women you meet are discounting you for the wrong reasons, an argument could be made to say that those women might not be the best place to start, anyway.

Your environment counts for a lot, of course. I was born and raised in Hawaii. I'd wager interracial and intercultural marriages are probably the norm here, not the exception. If I'd met my wife where she was from - Central Florida - things probably would've turned out different.

Good luck, man. Think about who you are, not what others might think. Those that are looking at the person and not the packaging find you eventually.
posted by pzarquon at 10:02 AM on June 3, 2005


Another white chick checking in - I grew up in rural Iowa...racial diversity wasn't a strong point in my high school or college. After college, I moved to Japan for a year, and about four months into my stay, I realised that I was fawning all over the cute Japanese guys. I've been back in the states for almost two years now, and that attraction is still with me. I'm also much more likely to be attracted to other races now, as well.
posted by ArsncHeart at 10:02 AM on June 3, 2005


crapulent writes "Perhaps a bit of narcissism?"
I don't know that you should put that construct on it as a generalization with such a derogatoy overtone. It's a natural thing for the majority no matter which race they come from. Your cavalier lifestyle is scary to many people and not necessarily because they are cloistered or racist or closedminded. There's many factors at work such as family expectations, socializing growing up, peer pressure, media influences and life expectations in which a possibly smoother time will be had if they join up with one of their 'own kind'. But society is sloooooowly changing.
posted by peacay at 10:03 AM on June 3, 2005


i have mostly dated women of other races - hispanic, african-american, asian. and my partner, who i am very happily married to, is korean. but my choice was/is due to a very particularly selfish reason (i am attracted to pretty women no matter what their skin tone, but partner choice is a bit more involved): i love spicy ethnic food, and since we each take turns doing the cooking, figured it'd be a good idea for my kitchenmate to be able to handle my special dietary preferences. this was just one variable, but an important one. politics, food, taste in art and literature, cooking ability, etc ... all important.
posted by luriete at 10:03 AM on June 3, 2005


Boring-looking blank-piece-of-paper white boy here. I particularly like the answers that mrs.pants and crapulent gave, particularly the word they had in common: contrast. I've often been asked what my "type" was as far as attraction to the opposite sex, and I've always said "different". I'm not necessarily more attracted to short vs tall or blonde vs brunette or caucasian vs asian, but I find myself drawn to folks who aren't just like me (and also just aren't like everybody else; no Barbie dolls wanted). "Contrast"...I like that. Thanks for providing me with a good word to use!

FWIW, I've dated folks from several different racial and ethnic backgrounds. My deepest and longest relationship was with a Korean girl who had a completely different background than mine. It was the most wonderful relationship I've ever had with somebody.

What it all comes down to is, we're all just folks, and some folks like different things. Love who you like, and pay no heed to the close-minded people who try and put you down (like the abhorrent "I don't date Asians" person described in the original question.)

Enjoy what you enjoy!!
posted by NewGear at 10:11 AM on June 3, 2005


Obviously, all those elements factor in, peacay. I'm just wondering if there isn't also a bit of subconscious narcissism going on. A great deal of the young people I know are not confined or concerned with family expectations or social pressures. They are aware of other cultures in as much as what is presented to them in the media, yet they are not truly interested in learning about other cultures and certainly are not interested in the rigors of an interracial relationship.
posted by crapulent at 10:25 AM on June 3, 2005


i am attracted to pretty women no matter what their skin tone,

That pretty much sums it up, if they're cute race is unimportant. I've dated black women, asian women and white women and while certainly their ethnic features often contributed to their attractiveness, it wasn't part and parcel of it. I suppose we all have our lingering prejudices, but the nice thing about the libido is that it dosen't lie about what it wants. I remember that I used to think that Asian Indian women weren't attractive, until I met some that I was attracted to.
posted by jonmc at 10:30 AM on June 3, 2005


I am attracted to pretty women no matter what their skin tone

I agree. A hot gal is a hot gal. One of the hottest women I know is half Indian ("From India") and half African, and I am neither. Another hot gal I spend time with is Native American ("Indian"), and I am not that, either.

I do know a gal (white) who says she could never see herself with someone of a different race... I was flabbergasted when I heard that ("Doesn't she know we're all members of The Human Race?") but if that's her personal preference, that's her personal preference.

I'm with NewGear, difference is good. That's how you learn about the world. Imagine the world if every single person did every single thing exactly the same way...
*shudder*
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 10:33 AM on June 3, 2005


My boyfriend is about as blond and blue-eyed as they come, but I've always been as attracted to Asian, African-American, just-plain-African, etc guys as I am to white guys. My best friend in high school, though, was shocked to find out I was madly in love with a man from Ghana. She thought it was disgusting. I told her to fuck off.

I have noticed, however, that it seems like more white guys date asian girls than white girls date asian guys. I don't know why this is - I always had crushes on asian guys in high school.

I agree with NewGear.
posted by muddgirl at 10:36 AM on June 3, 2005


I'm a white male. My habits of attraction are based more on the specifics of features, usually facial features, more so than the generalities of race. I've found the features I'm attracted to more often in caucasian women, but I have been attracted to non-caucasians enough times to know it's not an exclusive attraction.
posted by ElfWord at 10:53 AM on June 3, 2005


I sorta have a 'type', and I don't really understand where it comes from. It's as though the attraction is hard-wired in my brain.

Whatever the reason, I find I'm often attracted to mixed-race women... It doesn't even seem to matter what races are mixed. I'd guess it's the dark hair + light brown skin combo.
posted by Eamon at 10:55 AM on June 3, 2005


In real life, I'm attracted to all kinds of women. In porn, only white girls. Go figure.
posted by dong_resin at 11:01 AM on June 3, 2005


i have a feeling you're not getting any opinions from the silent majority here. my thoughts: i think attraction has a lot to do with ideals that soak in as we grow up. it's not surprising that you're attracted to white women (social ideal in north america). and for the same reason it's very likely that white women will be more attracted to white men (again social ideal in north america).

that doesn't mean all is lost. look at this thread to see that there are mixed couples out there (so go for what you're attracted to). and in the times it doesn't work out for you, remember it isn't personal (and ALSO isn't any different than you not being attracted to Asian women).
posted by mirileh at 11:06 AM on June 3, 2005 [1 favorite]


I find men from all races attractive, the characteristics I'm most attracted to in a man aren't physical. However, if I assume someone won't be attracted to me I won't make an effort and I guess I tend to cross off Asian men. Writing it down now that sounds really stupid, I'm not even sure where that comes from. Because I'm tall, maybe? That's what I get for not examining my assumptions.

A friend of mine, who is white, invented the acronym HAD (for "hot asian dude") and it's been commonly used amongst my friends for the past ten years. If none of us are dating Asian men, it's not for a lack of interest.
posted by cali at 11:07 AM on June 3, 2005


I'm a white woman married to a white man, but I've dated hrrmmm.... black, korean, japanese and indian dudes. But until recently, being a reasonably non-outgoing sort of person, I tended to wait to be hit on. Meaning that mainly I dated white guys and black guys. I don't know why, but the asian guys I dated were ones that I pursued.
posted by gaspode at 11:11 AM on June 3, 2005


Mirileh, what I find interesting about the concept of "social ideal in north america" is that nowadays it's no longer just North America. When I was living in Asia, in the country I was living in, white people weren't well-integrated, but they were seen as a hightly attractive group. I'm assuming this is the case in other continents, too. I'm not sure why that is, but it's kind of depressing.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 11:16 AM on June 3, 2005


I'm Eurasian (but can almost pass for white) and for me cute is cute whatever race. Having said that, I've spent most of my life in parts of the UK where almost everyone is unambiguously white and English, and I do feel an extra level of comfort around other people who are slightly or more-than-slightly different. About half the people I've dated have been non-white which is a lot higher than chance given where I've lived.
posted by teleskiving at 11:24 AM on June 3, 2005


Another point that I wanted to clarify is this concept of the "Hot Asian Dude' that cali brought up. It wasn't totally clear in my original post, but I find that the "Hot Asian Dude" usually tends to be some variation on a guy who would probably just be a "Hot Dude" in general, a Takeshi Kaneshiro or Andy Lau. But I feel that there's more leeway given for "hotness" if someone's from your own race i.e. a white girl describing a guy as average who is from her own race, that to by all accounts is a pretty average looking guy, but who, perhaps by not being attuned to the physical traits of another race, finds an average guy from another race "ugly". Hope that clarified and didn't just obfuscate my point even more.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 11:25 AM on June 3, 2005


I love asian women, white women, latin women, black women, skinny women, fat women.. Whatever, as long as it's a woman. Pretty is pretty. The only real preference I have is that she be smart and sexy.
posted by eas98 at 11:30 AM on June 3, 2005


I've dated white and black women, been quite attracted to (but never actually dated) Latin and Asian women. I know guys who'd never date outside their race and I just think, wow, it must be nice to be SOOOOO attractive to women that you can afford to write half of 'em off.
posted by kindall at 11:35 AM on June 3, 2005


Big Fat Tycoon, by the same token are you only interested in the most attractive of white women?
posted by cali at 11:37 AM on June 3, 2005


I'm a white male and find that skin tone and body shape take a back seat to intellectual capacity. I certainly enjoy looking at beautiful women, but if her mind is not equally interesting, the relationship won't last.

I grew up in North America in a mostly white enclave. [...] this issue was brought home when I lived in Asia for a while and discovered that local women found me quite attractive but I didn't usually feel likewise.

Is it possible that your issue is mental and not physical? You grew up as a minority, and probably had to work hard to accomplish anything. You may have internalized the struggle of life and are less interested in girls that are easily attracted to you.

Another possibility is that the issue is subcultural. I have found that asian women are more likely to tolerate and even enjoy geeky* guys, while geek-friendly white women are somewhat more rare.

*I'm assuming that most people posting to MeFi are fairly geeky.
posted by b1tr0t at 11:37 AM on June 3, 2005


I love asian women, white women, latin women, black women, skinny women, fat women..

even women who climb on rocks.
posted by jonmc at 11:41 AM on June 3, 2005


...and hop on socks!

I love men, with no qualifiers. Well, some, but they don't have to do with common prejudices. I won't sleep with any man who has more hair products than hair in his bathroom.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:44 AM on June 3, 2005


cali, not at all. The few white women I've dated were attractive to me, most certainly, but I'm sure they wouldn't be considered particularly hot to a wide spectrum of people.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 11:47 AM on June 3, 2005


In terms of pure attraction, race does not matter to me. Hot is Hot. But my track record with serious relationships is more narrow. I tend to date twins or jewish girls (sometimes both), but not for any particular reason that I know about consciously.

Overall though, smart and funny win the race...
posted by schyler523 at 11:53 AM on June 3, 2005


I am a white mutt, and while I find other races outrageously attractive, my boyfriends have always been not only white, but like something out of the Hitler youth: light hair, blue eyes, fair skin, etc. It's very strange to me because despite finding all sorts of people hot hot hot, many of my partners have been eerily similar. I blame a subconscious oedipal complex.
posted by arielmeadow at 11:55 AM on June 3, 2005


Here's a twist I have on the phenomenon as an Indian male: People of different races date -- but it's a strange mix. Here are some observations I've seen in the Northeast corridor of the good ol USA:

1. If an Asian guy dates a non-Asian girl -- it tends to be someone who is less attractive than he could get if he was dating an Asian girl.

2. If an white guy dates an Asian girl -- he's almost always "attractiveness class jumping" -- it tends to be someone much hotter than he could get if he stayed white. (Here, some resentment on my part could be creeping up.)

3. In a much more controversial one -- a friend of mine maintains that if an Indian guy dates a non-Indian girl -- it tends to be a women less educated than him. I strongly disagree -- I think successful couplings in a post-contraception/sexually liberated world almost always have to some type of intellectual well mixing. And, also, education level is a poor indicator for how intellectual you really are. But, it's out there.

4. You see a lot more mixed race couples outside the Northeast. That could just be a numbers thing since Indians and Asians have more numbers of mates to choose from outside of here. But, I know much of my family who lives outside big cities or in rural areas (where you get your fair share of Indian doctor/motel owning families) -- such cousins have a MUCH EASIER time dating white/black/or Asian people than I ever did. And, I grew up in the South -- where, strangely, I actually had an easier time getting white girls to like me.


5. I've also noticed a phenomenon, among Indian kids at least, who date/fool-around white and then marry Indian.

So -- there you have it. I'm sorry if I offended people by some generalizations -- but they were really just observations. I for one, am a romantic who believes that love conquers all. I really need that to keep going in life since I get depressed by all the crap in the world. For me, if two people are honest and really love each other and are in a relationship for that -- that's that. It's just when race creeps into the picture so many more questions also do.

But, yes, personally, I always hesitate when it comes to asking out a white girl because I'm afraid they just are not ones who date Indians or people of other races. I was simply never able to ask out a year long crush from college for that very reason. :( It's always easier to get a sign -- something which I think another poster accurately commented that Asian guys have a more difficult time interpreting having been raised (at least for me) in a household where my parents marriage was absolutely, completely arranged (they met the week before -- but, hey, are still together after three decades!).
posted by narebuc at 11:55 AM on June 3, 2005


Wow. There are so many issues here I don't know what to say. I am a white woman. I actually do find Asian men attractive, and have had relationships with them. I find men of other races attractive too, but the rest of my boyfriends have been white, just on account of where I grew up and such.

I don't know. There are of course lots of cultural issues, and some women may decide dating is stressful enough on its own without worrying whether they'll ever be really accepted by a minority family/community. Of course, this is sort of insurance-adjuster's logic: it screws over innocent people and doesn't even always work. I grew up with certain kids who were only Asian in DNA. It's also hard to spot a Catholic, and that's a mess if you're not (there's only one way to survive: remember, you're not a Protestant, you're an atheist).
posted by dagnyscott at 12:00 PM on June 3, 2005


I'm Asian (raised in a white family) and date mostly white men, probably because of cultural similarities. Then again, I was married to a (mostly) black Jamaican for 8 years (we were cultural polar opposites). I never dated an Asian man but I think the main reason is because I don't meet many.

To me, hot is hot.
posted by superkim at 12:02 PM on June 3, 2005


I once noticed that I was attracted to very few women who were of a race other than my own. I started getting down on myself think maybe I did have some deep down racist feelings. Finally, it came to me, I'm not attracted to very many women of my own race either. I'm not a racist, I'm a lookist! Probably not a good thing that it made me feel a lot better.
posted by Carbolic at 12:10 PM on June 3, 2005


i like chicks with short hair, but i've dated ones with long hair.
posted by fishfucker at 12:15 PM on June 3, 2005


i think there's a fair amount of avoiding the issues here. a lot of people are saying "hot is hot" or "i'll sleep with anything", yet people clearly find some things more attractive than others. i'd be somewhat surprised if things like appearance and cultural differences didn't influence that, as well as stereotypes and availability.

so what do the people who are saying "hot is hot" mean? that hotness is based on something other than skin colour? probably. something other than height? that seems less likely. hair and eye colour? build? those things tend to correlate with particular cultural/racial groups. so do how people interact, talk, flirt. even where they hang out.

so i guess what i'm getting at is that people that say they are not influenced by race/culture simply haven't thought about it to any degree, and are simply jumping onto some kind of "hey, i'm cool and multi-cultural" bandwagon.
posted by andrew cooke at 12:16 PM on June 3, 2005 [1 favorite]


i'm an asian guy who loves white women and i've been wondering lately whether or not it's harder for us to get dates than your average white guy (it has been for me). it was nice to see this post.

the Bitter Asian Men site is indeed a bit extreme with it's bitterness and has some outright bullshit, but it does bring up some valid points i think on western media's effect on the asian male image and how we're typically viewed as by women as a result of our stereotypes.

i highly suggest david yoo's new book Girls for Breakfast. "It's his hilarious take on adolescent Asian American male lust/angst/paranoia, sort of in the tradition of Judy Blume and Nick Hornby. It's everything you'd expect from a novel about your average, girl-crazy (horny) Korean American kid in suburban Connecticut."

i read it last week, and even though it's aimed at the younger crowd, i found it very entertaining and identified with the character a lot.
posted by lotsofno at 12:22 PM on June 3, 2005


I really believe that our tastes are shaped by our environment. I'm black and spent a lot of my formative years in Wisconsin (where I developed hopeless crushes on white girls), I lived for a while in Mexico (ditto with hispanic women) and I've taught in S. Korea (same, only with Asians).
I think that, besides social pressures, the reason that most people date within their race is because they tend to interact primarily with people of their own race. I think sociologists would back me up here. Hispanics and Asians have much higher intermarriage rates than whites or blacks, they also have a much lower degree of residential segregation. QED


Yeah, yeah. Correlation =/= causality. Whatever.
posted by Octaviuz at 12:25 PM on June 3, 2005 [1 favorite]


I agree with a lot of people here when they say "hot is hot", but I've realized that I have my own internal cutoffs for what hot is. For instance, I noticed that (as an east asian male) while people watching at my university campus, it would break down something like this:

I would find around 3 out of 10 of the east asian females walking by attractive.
The numbers would be closer to 2 out of 10 for south asian females and caucasian females.
It would in general be less than 1 out of 10 races not mentioned above.

Note that this is based on pure physical attractiveness, since I'm just watching them walk by. I think this is because the features that I find most immediately attractive (pale to the point of translucent skin, large eyes, dark hair) are found most often in east asians.

Outside the realm of the physical, I find that my ears will perk up for anything with a foreign accent. In general, I find I'm more attracted to foreigners than I am my fellow Americans. I guess that's where my love of contrasts comes in.
posted by C^3 at 12:25 PM on June 3, 2005


There have been many times when I have been unable to resist a man not otherwise a hunky sort because of his force of presence, intelligence, wit, sense of humor, unique appreciation of me, etc.

Someone mentioned that libido was a great indicator of attraction. I would proffer that while that may be the case initially, initial libido has less to do with lasting sexual attraction than your hormones would give you to believe at first blush. So, while "type" may open the door, it takes a lot more than that to shut it from the other side. That old chestnut about the largest sexual organ being the brain? God's truth.

Also, I'm quite interested in the recurring thought that Asian men may not realize when they're being flirted with. That may be an angle worth pursuing.
posted by wordswinker at 12:26 PM on June 3, 2005


some American women seem to have some weird fetish for an English accent, but that disturbs me more than anything.

I don't know if it's universal or not, but I find women with British accents very sexy. A British accent would push a girl from a '7' to a '9' IMO.

So Big Fat Tycoon: start speaking in a British accent and watch your luck skyrocket!

I'm half white and half black. People from different races look different, and attraction is based on looks, so obviously people who look different are going to have different levels of attractiveness, for different people.

Since I don't even really have a race, I can definitely say I'm attracted to people of other races. I find East Asian and Indian chicks pretty hot myself.
posted by delmoi at 12:55 PM on June 3, 2005


I don't know if it's universal or not, but I find women with British accents very sexy.

Accents in general are sexy, even "yoo betcha," upper midwest ones. It gives someone an extra touch of character somehow, which is always hot.
posted by jonmc at 1:00 PM on June 3, 2005 [1 favorite]


East Asian people of both sexes tend to be slimmer. A lot slimmer actually. And currently slimness is considered very attractive for women, and not so much for men.

That said, Big Fat Tycoon, I think you will find that many women of different races will find you attractive either because you are Asian or just because you are you. I have always found East Asian eyes very attractive, just like I think West African faces are attractive. But it's hard for anyone to meet anyone. My roommate is hot - completely drop dead gorgeous. She didn't meet anyone for over a year before finally being set up with someone (who turned out to be really cool) over the internet.

Interestingly, what a lot of people have observed is that multi-racial tend to be the most attractive. I wonder if there is something to bringing together aspects of many races which brings out the best in human appearance.

(on preview - yeah, accents are totally sexy. Especially Northern English.)
posted by jb at 1:11 PM on June 3, 2005


some American women seem to have some weird fetish for an English accent, but that disturbs me more than anything.

I completely agree with this on both counts: I've been in several situations - I'm British in CA - where I've had this realization; "hey - you only want me for my accent!"

I should add though that whilst this does disturb me, I'm completely cool with it ;-)
posted by forallmankind at 1:17 PM on June 3, 2005


ive found that i can open closed doors in my mind by 'trying' to find a group of people attractive

This is kind of how I feel (white girl), except for the word "group" (at this point in my life it seems silly to me to be attracted to a group of people rather than an individual). Because I've been dating the same (white) guy since I was 17, all of the dating I've done in my life was in high school so take this with a grain of salt.

Back when I was dating, though, I did have what I will call an involuntary preference for white guys, a specific genre of white guys even. All of the guys I had crushes on in my pre-teen and teen years looked like the white guys I'd seen on TV or in movies. You could say that I started off with "blinders" on to those who didn't fit this all-American profile. Sometime before I met my current boyfriend, this profile became less appealing to me and I started looking at a broader range of guys. While this took a conscious effort, it wasn't a very big effort. It's likely that I will always have those blinders on to some degree, but on the whole my style of checking guys out has become infinitely more egalitarian. : D Even though my current boyfriend is as white as I am, he is a good six years older than me and thus does not fit the profile I had in mind when I was younger (he's better).

And to more directly address your question, I have on numerous occasions found Asian men attractive.
posted by Crushinator at 1:24 PM on June 3, 2005


Mediterranean females. Oh yes!
posted by kenchie at 1:54 PM on June 3, 2005


Caucasian female here that has dated many different races. Currently in a relationship with a caucasian male, who is also from the same religious background. Seriously, I think you might be looking in the wrong places.
posted by 6:1 at 1:55 PM on June 3, 2005


Are you attracted to people of races different from your own?

almost exclusively
posted by mdpc98 at 2:50 PM on June 3, 2005


From an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense to be attracted to folks who are most different from you. It would definitely lessen the chance of inbreeding.
posted by CrazyJoel at 2:57 PM on June 3, 2005


White girl here. I haven't dated anyone from another race, but I have found men of all races attractive. Hot men are hot men, no matter what race they are.

I grew up in a pretty diverse suburb of Chicago. Interracial dating was extremely common in my high school.
posted by SisterHavana at 3:02 PM on June 3, 2005


It's interesting to me that there are a lot of people with some inter-racial dating experience, but end up marrying or being in a long-term relationship with someone of their own race. narebuc pointed that out with regard to Indian kids "fooling around" and then marrying Indian, but I just spoke to a friend of mine and she admitted, from the opposite side of the table, that she didn't want to get involved with Jewish men because of the feeling that they weren't seriously interested in her as a mate (as amtho pointed out).

I wonder how big a factor this plays? I had never seriously thought that the white women I've approached would think that I was only interested in "fooling around" with them.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 3:10 PM on June 3, 2005


Attractive is a very relative and adaptive thing. Two examples from my life. (I am a white guy)

1) I spent a few months in Japan a few years ago. The first two weeks I didn't find that there were many woman that I felt attracted to. After two weeks my mind rewired itself and all of a sudden I found myself looking at the locals with a great new appreciation.

2) I spent a little time in the male ridden part of silicon valley. After a week of not seeing almost any women, I went to an Applebee's type place with some friends. That female waitress looked like the most beautiful person ever to me in those few moments that she took our order.

My conclusion is that what I find attractive is very related to where I am at psychologically. Now, how do we consciously do these rewires to be maximally attracted to the person who is best for us?
posted by blueyellow at 3:11 PM on June 3, 2005


In general, no.
posted by madajb at 3:15 PM on June 3, 2005


I've dated women of various races, though mostly my own; sometimes been nervous approaching those not of my own. When I've been going out with someone for a while (even a little while), I find that I often start feeling especially attracted to those things about them that are considered (correctly or not) race-based, whatever the race may be: skin color, hair, eating habits (correctly or not), etc., in addition to things like height, debating style, voice, etc.
My advice on getting what you want, though: (1) consider moving to an area, or hanging out in places or with people, where interracial dating occurs more often; and (2) have an attached white female friend who's done online dating (not just a male friend's girlfriend; someone who is your friend) change your online personal and take new pictures for it. I just took a female friend's nerve.com ad that had been up for 2 years, to which she'd gotten no responses, messed around with it, put up decent pictures, and she's averaging at least 3 men contacting her each week.
posted by mistersix at 3:33 PM on June 3, 2005


Interestingly, what a lot of people have observed is that multi-racial tend to be the most attractive.

Yes, yes we are. Lines forming before delmoi & I now. No pushing.

To answer the question, I tend to prefer white boys. I would guess its because (a) I grew up with white people, and am so culturally white that I am called an Oreo with astonishing frequency; (b) I like the contrast pale skin makes against my brown; (c) I am an unashamed height-ist; (d) I really like red hair.

A key part of (a) is that it means white guys hit on me "correctly." With two exceptions, the black guys who have asked me out have done the whole macho "hey baby" thing and that is gross. (I went on dates with the two exceptions.) Then again, a lot of white guys do that too, but maybe I have just been hit on by more white guys because my social circle is always mostly white with a few mixed race kids. Another possibility is that I am more attractive to nonwhite (mostly black and Hispanic) men. So the white guys who hit on me aren't the dick types because those are more interested in the skinny blonde ideal, which is not me.

So I wouldn't avoid dating someone because of his race. I might not want to have kids with a blonde because of the whole green hair thing though.
posted by dame at 3:36 PM on June 3, 2005


As far as human genetic enchancement goes (woohoo, a semi-scientific opinion), Darwin would definitely tell us that it would make sense for our brains to be wired to be attracted to people who look different than ourselves. The idea being that race-mixing normally results in healthier offspring (over a very, very, very long term, say, oh, I dunno, a millenia?), and that a monoculture results in sickness.
posted by shepd at 4:04 PM on June 3, 2005


"Are you attracted to people of races different from your own?"

Oh HELL yes. I've found women of just about every ethnicity attractive, although I will unabashedly admit that there are ethnicities among which -- chiefly for culturally-driven behavior reasons more than mere looks -- I am less likely to find someone who catches my eye. Some of those ethnicities are among those I self-identify as.

In the other direction: I'm ethnically mixed, and it's my opinion that I look somewhat less Asian/PI (and somewhat more white) than I actually am by way of heritage. A huge majority of the women who have made known to me any interest or attraction have been white.
posted by majick at 4:08 PM on June 3, 2005


hmmm. ok, i'll bite. you (jacquilynne) seem to think it's ok to prefer white people (with some kind of disclaimer that this isn't exclusive), but a creepy fetish not to. or have i misunderstood?

You've misunderstood.

People who exlcusively prefer people of a specific race that isn't their own seem to be perceived as creepy or fetishizing. My brother has dated a number of women of Asian origin, and I can't tell you the number of people who, if I'm talking about his various girlfriends will tell me he must have some kind of Asian fetish. People who only date one race that happens to be their own aren't really seen the same way - parochial and limited, perhaps, but not creepy. I suspect this has as much to do with historical reasons as anything else, but also because a general preference for 'same' just seems more normal than a highly specific preference amongst all the possible 'others'.

And as for the preference thing, if you took a ratio of the number of men a day I see, and the number of men a day I think 'he's cute' about, I'd say the ratio is higher for white guys than it is for Asian guys than it is for black guys than it is for fill in other races here. Part of that is probably cultural acclimatization, part of it is a preference for slightly geeky looking men. I think it's just harder for black guys to pull off the flourescent server room glow.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:26 PM on June 3, 2005


Darwin would definitely tell us that it would make sense for our brains to be wired to be attracted to people who look different than ourselves.
Part of that whole evolution thang is adapting to the environment, right? We could just as easily guess Darwin would tell us we'd look for someone who looks like everyone else in the environment we're in, because reality tells us that those are the people who are doing best and whose offspring will succeed.
Just playing Devil's Advocate Shitty as it sounds, I guess that is how it works (though not as it should) sometimes.
posted by mistersix at 4:30 PM on June 3, 2005


I'm definitely attracted to people of races other than my (white, Brit) own, and I guess I always have been, although as far as I can tell it's not any more or less than the attraction I have to white folks. I'm picky about a million things (height, size etc etc etc) before I really even register someone's race. I remember various partners' different skin colours being kind of a novelty way back when, but once that inevitably wore off I think I dated/slept with a pretty even spread. Although now I come to think of it, at the time I was mostly dating drag queens, so if one race had more of a tendency to wear wigs and heels, they were totally the favourite.
posted by terpsichoria at 4:45 PM on June 3, 2005


ok, sorry (i thought you were saying you thought it was creepy, rather than reporting others; and i guess consistently choosing a single culture that is not common within your own culture is unusual anyway).

on the evolution thing - i suspect it's more complicated than you might guess. selection is for genes, not healthy people, and being attracted to someone you resemble might increase the likelihood that a gene responsible for the similarity (and the attraction) would propagate - perhaps sufficiently to make losses from a lack of genetic diversity unimportant. this is obvious if you take it to extremes - people with physical disformities are generally considered unattractive, despite being living evidence of unusual genes (if the cause is genetic, which it will be in some cases).

on the other hand, i believe there are results that show that we have evolved not to find near relatives attractive. but iirc that's down to pheromones, rather than appearance. which makes sense because, i guess, it could be much more specific (appearance is a pretty poor guide to relationships).
posted by andrew cooke at 4:51 PM on June 3, 2005


Caucasian male. It took me some time to finally listen to my inner ogler to accept that I tend to be highly attracted to a particular set of features: dark hair, nice smile, olive skin, curves. That can come in a package that might be Caucasian, Asian, Latina, Indian, Native American, Inuit, Middle Eastern. It was a real pain growing up in a culture that expected me to idolize skinny blondes. Concensus hot isn't always hot for me.
Now this is strictly appearence. Other ingredients that work for me are brains, charisma, and playfulness. A full house there will more than override phyical cues. Fortunately, I was able to meet someone who pretty much hit all of those ingredients.
What's scary, and at the risk of thread jack, is her brother-in-law who, while physically very different from me, is a near identical match in personality and interests, and both of us joke about it too.
posted by plinth at 5:43 PM on June 3, 2005


I'm a white gal dating a fairly culturally different from me white guy but I've dated guys from a few other races. For me, I'm so picky about only dating guys who are whip-smart, nice to animals and have some sort of social justice consciousness that I basically don't care what they look like as long as they don't fall into any of my serious "no" categories which have more to do with confidence and charisma [must not be self-conscious, if balding. must know how to dress himself well enough to take to a wedding. must be able to talk to other people in social situations. &c.] and much less on looks.

As far as Asian guys go, generally, I had to grow up some before I was attracted to nerdy science types which was a good segment of the Korean/Chinese/Japanese/Indian guys I went to high school with [small sample in rural MA] so it may have been that I used to be one of those "I don't date Asian guys" girls, but no longer! Also, since I have seen Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and that HothotHOT picture of Anil Dash in the NYTimes, I have Indian men on the brain.
posted by jessamyn at 6:03 PM on June 3, 2005


Are you attracted to people of races different from your own?

Yes.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:36 PM on June 3, 2005


crapulent writes "They are aware of other cultures in as much as what is presented to them in the media, yet they are not truly interested in learning about other cultures and certainly are not interested in the rigors of an interracial relationship."
Well I guess we might be playing with semantics in that I wouldn't describe this behaviour or tendency if you will, as narcissistic per se. Ignorant, lazy, closeminded - yes. I find it to be a stifling and blinkered mentality as do you. My last girlfriend was Vietnamese but it was in Vietnam so I was already soaking up the 'differentness' and was enthusiastic about the culture before we met. I guess a lot of people see it as work. *shrug* Their loss. And even though I can find girls of any race attractive, I don't particularly hone in on someone because of it. An intelligent woman has plenty enough wonder/quirks/difficulties/depths/sides to fathom/plumb/behold such that racial difference, to me anyway, is a secondary (but nonetheless important) factor.
posted by peacay at 6:46 PM on June 3, 2005


just struck me, thinking about how having a partner from a different culture makes all the usual relationship problems even harder (on average, i believe), that maybe people tend to marry people from their own culture even if they date outside just because those same-culture relationships are more likely to be successful (being easier).

i doubt it's the main reason, but it might help bias things.
posted by andrew cooke at 8:00 PM on June 3, 2005


Are you attracted to people of races different from your own?

Count me in as another white girl who says "yes!"

I am biased in a way. I'm biased towards the tall, witty, quietly funny, intelligent type. (Now I'm married to a 6'7" guy...so obviously that was pretty attractive to me.) Either a square, clean shaven jaw or any kind of jaw with a beard. I like confident, very kind guys. No pick-up lines and I'm not a fan of overeagerness. Accents are a huge plus. And they have to like my dog. Race unimportant.

However, back when I was single, my crushes on guys of other races were unrequited. I'm not sure if they weren't attracted to me or just didn't pick up on my signals. We always seemed to dance around each other but nothing ever came of things. Once, I had an enormous magnetic attraction to a fascinating, intelligent Indian man who seemed to be attracted to me...but our age difference was a bit extreme. That was the closest I ever came to actually dating someone from another race, but it wasn't for a lack of trying. :) Some of the sexiest actors, in my opinion? Rodrigo Santoro, Winston Chao, Chow Yun Fat, Naveen Andrews (with beard), Kal Pen--all sexy.

Seriously, don't give up. Dating is just one of those experiences where you do get shot down a lot. That's just part of it. And if an attractive white girl makes lots of conversation about her interests and seems intrigued by what you're interested in? Please take a chance and ask her if she'd like to go to that restaurant/see that movie/hear that band/try that sport sometime. Without requiring that it be a"date", necessarily.
posted by jeanmari at 8:14 PM on June 3, 2005


Are you attracted to people of races different from your own?

Sure. I'm a white guy who has mostly dated white girls, but when I was living an environment with mostly asians, I mostly dated asians. There's hotness all around.

The only thing that puts me off are girls who remind me of my sister.
posted by mosch at 12:33 AM on June 4, 2005


I happened across something on Momus' livejournal that is relevant to the discussion, regarding people whose sexual attraction is specifically to Japanese people -- some of it tongue-in-cheek. At least, I hope the term "nipposexual" is a joke. But he addresses some of the same questions and ideas discussed in here.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 5:53 AM on June 4, 2005


According to , What Makes You Click: An Empirical Analysis of Online Dating [pdf], people tend to prefer to date people of their own race. See section 5.3 in particular.
posted by gd779 at 6:15 AM on June 4, 2005


gd779, thanks for that link. Pretty interesting to read this:

It is evident that both members who declare a preference for their own ethnicity, and those who do not, discriminate against users who belong to different ethnic groups. However, the discrimination size is more pronounced for members of the former group, i.e. these users act consistent with their stated preferences. There is strong evidence, however, that also members of the latter group have ethnic preferences, which is in contradiction to their statement that ethnicity doesn't matter" to them.

since it reflects very much what others have noted in this thread, i.e. that a lot of people pay lip service to not discriminating, but in practice end up gravitating, for whatever reason, to people of the same race and/or culture. Not to say that everyone's doing that, but I feel, like andrew cooke pointed out, that there's sometimes a glossing over of their attitudes about racial preference because of how progressive sounding it sounds to say "hot is hot" or "I'll date anyone of any race". I suppose actual real life evidence is the only real answer to this question.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 9:17 AM on June 4, 2005


Yes, members of other 'races' may be attractive. I'm a gay American. My partner is Belgian. He's blond and blue. Blond hair, I've learned, dazzles me. It flashes the light into my eyes and I am smitten! He's also tall (plus!) and very very smart (plus!) and sweet (plus!) geeky (plus!) socially conscious (plus!). We click in so many ways, I'm blown away. Oh, he's also 16 years my junior.

That being said, my first partner was white, but Brooklyn Italian. I'm a midwestern WASP. Oy, did we have some difficulties! We survived the difficulties, had a fabulous 5th year, then he died.

But this is about 'attractiveness'. I confess, I seldom find black men attractive. I even feel guilty about that, because I know some of this is about my own prejudice. An ugly thing that doesn't affect me outside of sexual attraction issues (which has improved).

The plus side, though. Weeee! Weirdly, I find Asian Indian men often especially attractive, sometimes to the point I've been quite blown away. More experience with Native Americans, or their south-of-the-border equivalents. HOT!!!

Its interesting, because there are some class issues involved, whether its 'socioeconomic' class, or education/intelligence. I can get hot for a white guy from lots of backgrounds. With non-white, I'm less forgiving. But in truth, that's more about how they behave towards me than anything else.

I've dated latinos a number of times, and saw a Philippino for awhile. Never dated an Asian Indian, but then, I've never met one I knew was gay, either. Now I'm very happily hitched, so that's purely academic anyway.

Funny enough, if I was straight, I am quite certain I would pursue African American women with serious intent. They are the toughest, strongest people, as a group, I've ever known. If I was going to make kids, I'd want someone like that for their mother. Healthy earthiness combined with both warmth and ferocity! At least, that's what I've tended to see.
posted by Goofyy at 11:19 AM on June 4, 2005


I've been following this thread since it started with interest, and thinking hard about my own experience. I'm white, and have almost only dated white guys (though have gone out on a few dates with Asian guys, and dated a Latino guy seriously for quite awhile). It's certainly true that I have found men of other races attractive, but usually they've been musicians or actors (e.g., Ben Harper, Tony Leung) who I count among my general running list of Celebs I Have Crushes On.

Part of it, for me, seems to really come from where I grew up and went to school -- and more specifically, where I found myself socially/culturally within those contexts. Everywhere I went to school, from kindergarten to grad school, was mostly white -- definitely not 100%, but I'd guesstimate roughly about 85% on average. So the "pool" of guys I had crushes on (and, later, went on dates with) starting as a kid was mostly white to begin with. That pool was made almost exclusively white by the nature of one of my most important badges of identity and "belonging" -- namely, music. With a handful of exceptions, everyone else I knew in junior high, high school, and college who listened to the same music was white (which isn't to imply we listened exclusively to "white" music -- we listened to a lot of hiphop, acid jazz, soul, and ska, too).

The other angle of being into music is the crush factor. Not to sound too much like a goofy fangirl, but the fact is the musician crushes I had starting at an early age probably sealed my "type" for me. Seriously: Paul Weller, Neil Finn, David Bowie, Bono, Joe Strummer, Elvis Costello, David Byrne, Richard Butler, Adam Ant (yes! I admit it!), Ian McCulloch, Billy Bragg, et. al. all played their own *ahem* special role in my burgeoning sexuality. And while you'd never mix any of them up in a lineup, the fact is they're all a pretty similar general type -- slender white guys with strong facial features (though not necessarily handsome in a conventional sense), most of them with dark hair, and some of them with glasses. And who are most of the men I have been involved with? Slender white guys with strong facial features, dark hair, and glasses. There have been variations on the theme (so-and-so was blond; so-and-so was a little heavy; so-and-so hardly ever wore his glasses), but basically, that's my type. Blame it on new wave, I guess.
posted by scody at 12:01 PM on June 4, 2005


I just spoke to a friend of mine and she admitted, from the opposite side of the table, that she didn't want to get involved with Jewish men because of the feeling that they weren't seriously interested in her as a mate.

That is probably apt on her part, but ironic to me since, as a Jewish guy, I rarely have any interest in Jewish girls. But then, I'm not looking for 'a mate' either.
posted by bingo at 12:04 PM on June 4, 2005


I "pass" for white. (which, considering how Texans were reacting to middle eastern folks, is probably a good thing). I'm genetically Anglo(Dutch/British) and Lebanese. My father is a big, blonde, Nord looking guy. (My step dad is also very white).

In thinking on it, I don't think I've ever dated a blonde. My taste runs towards the Romanesque/Gypsy thing. Tall, dark, brooding eyes, poetic temperament. (And yet, I happily married a short, hairy, blue-eyed charmer.)

Which just goes to show ya, if you depend on "lookism" (ye gods I hate that term), then you're missing everything but the packaging. And that's a right shame.
posted by dejah420 at 6:51 PM on June 5, 2005


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