True Story: I’m Half of an Interracial Couple

What's it like to be half of an interracial couple? One would hope that it would be a non-issue but sadly, it's not. Click through to read one woman's story
What’s it like to be half of an interracial couple? One would hope that it would be a non-issue but sadly, it’s not. This is the story of Meghan and her boyfriend.

Tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Meghan and I’m 28 years old, I’m from Toronto, Canada and live in Ottawa now! I graduated university with a degree in criminology. I love horror movies, comic books, video games, embroidery and cross-stitch.

What’s your cultural/racial background? What’s your boyfriend’s?
I’m the classic generic white person: Born in Canada, parents born in Canada and both sides are Irish.

My boyfriend is biracial. His mother is Canadian from Quebec and his father is from mainland China. He has a degree in anthropology and is currently doing his master’s in anthropology.

How did you meet your boyfriend?
We have very different degrees and we randomly had an elective course together and as silly as it sounds, the moment I saw him my stomach sort of turned over and I knew I simply HAD to talk to him and get to know him better.

We starting dating almost right away and we had a small separation before getting back together. Now we’ve been dating for almost 5 years now.

When met your boyfriend, did you have any concerns about dating someone from a different background? Did he?
I had never dated someone who wasn’t white, but he had dated people who were from different racial and cultural backgrounds.

How did the people in your lives react to your relationship? 

My family and his family were absolutely fine with it, our happiness was what meant most to them and my family loves him and his family loves me.

I was surprised that some of my friends had issues with it. I was stunned that someone could actually object to him simply because of his race. I had a small handful of friends that had objections, some said it right out in the open, others distanced themselves, made nasty comments and were passive aggressive.

Not one of them is involved in my life now. I ended one friendship without a word after he pulled me aside and chided me on doing something that “debased my pedigree”. I have never spoken to that person since he uttered such disgusting words.

What have been the biggest challenges that you’ve encountered?
The worst part is the questions. People stare, make comments sometimes to both of us, sometimes I’ll be pulled aside or he will.

There is one part of the disapproval I still think is funny because I was so oblivious. In Chinese, one nasty thing to call white people is ‘gwai lo’. It means ‘ghost person’ and it’s an insult.

When I first heard it and realized someone was speaking about me, I was confused since I didn’t know what it meant. He translated it and before he said that it was an insult, I got really excited because I thought it was a compliment. My nickname with friends and family is “Ghost” because I’m extremely pale. When I learned it was meant to hurt my feelings, I still wasn’t too bothered because… well to me it’s still a compliment.

It’s amazing and disgusting the comments people have made to me, I actually compiled a short list. These are all serious, non-joking questions I’ve been asked about dating someone Asian:

  • The size of his penis and whether or not I am sexually satisfied. (this was MORTIFYING)
  • If we had babies, would I love them if they were “slanty-eyed” (this made me burst into tears)
  • Does he beat me? Treat me like a white guy would? Has he ever fed me a dog/cat?
  • Can he speak Chinese, Japanese, Korean? (people tend to assume that someone Asian could be anything) Can he speak English?
  • Does his family totally hate me because I’ve “dishonored” them?
  • Do I suffer from “yellow fever”?
  • Why does he “hate his own kind”?
  • Can he drive?
  • Does he know martial arts?
  • Is he ashamed of being Asian?
  • Do I like anime? Does he like anime?
  • Do my parents KNOW he’s “like that”?

And there are jokes that people like making, racist Asian faces, commenting on how ‘exotic’ he is and putting on racist accents etc.

What are the biggest benefits of dating someone from a different background?
Well, I think it’s made us a lot closer since we lean on each other more when people start being nasty. It’s made me MUCH more aware of how intolerant people are, I was very sheltered from racism because I’m white and I live in a country that is predominately white.It also made me do a serious check of people I keep in my life.

I know it may sounds harsh that I cut people out, but if they were unable to accept someone who is clearly so precious to me and is not going anywhere then there is no way I could continue a friendship.

What advice would you give to someone in a similar situation?
The best advice is to realize that you are not “fighting racism” by being with someone from another race. Understand that it really is not going to be as simple as it appears in movies or songs. And honestly, you will probably see a very nasty side to some people you may not have seen before.

Most of all be prepared for the most shocking, offensive and insipid comments.

I don’t want to make it sound like we’re both miserable, we have wonderful families and friends who love us and are simply glad to see us happy. And above all else- we fit together perfectly, we both love old Super Nintendo games, bad horror movies from the 1980’s, and our crazy cat!

Are any of you in an interracial relationship?  Any questions for Meghan?

P.S. Other relationship interviews – True Story: My boyfriend is quadriplegic and True Story: My husband used to be a woman

Photo by Caleb Ekeroth on Unsplash

27 Comments

hannah

Hey Meghan (+Sarah)
I'm in an interracial relationship too, we're both English, my parents are both white, and his are Indian (Punjabi Sikhs to be exact;) and its not always as automatically easy as same-race relationships might be (I've had both before, but he hadn't ever had a serious girlfriend before) but its really not that big a deal for us.
His father moved to the UK as a child, and his mum came here to marry him at 18. Their marriage was arranged, but they don't expect anything like that for their son. Which is lucky since marriage is looking increasingly likely for us (after dating for >5 years and now going through that typical period where all your friends + cousins etc start getting hitched). The family only really go to the Gudwara (temple) for major occasions, and they don't expect me to become Sikh; although we probably would do a temple ceremony as well as a UK-Legal wedding ceremony (no churches for me!) Mostly I think his parents just want us to get married already, actually I know so, they tell us regularly! But they're fine knowing that we live together anyway, they're just glad its nearby to them.
Apart from marriage there are a few cultural quirks when with his (very large + extended) family, the language barrier between them and me at big gatherings can leave me feeling a bit left out.
My parents like my boyfriend perfectly well, regardless of his race; my mum knew my him for two years before she died, and he gets on really well with my dad.
Dating a Person Of Colour has made me more sensitive to race issues, and there are times when I worry that our (Very hypothetical) mixed-race children could face some negative attention, but mostly just figure that we're not the only ones, it's so common these days and its not enough to stop us dating each other or whoever we want.
Generally though the subject of race doesn't define us, and we rarely get any negative comments or attention about it.

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Elizabeth.

It's really awful that you've had so many negative and racist comments! It makes me realise I am lucky – my partner is half Japanese (I am typical Australian convict stock), and we have never had anything like that happen to us. His bi-racialness has never been an issue for me or my family or friends, and it would never occur to me that his Japanese family (who I've never met, since his father passed away when J was 6) might not accept me.

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Caitie

Holy crap on a cracker. I'm honestly shocked that stuff like this continues to happen, in Canada (an allegedly tolerant, multi-cultural country), in this century. I am also from the Toronto area (grew up there, stayed roughly in the GTA for university) and the majority of my friends have been in an interracial relationship at some point in their lives. It's something that has always (seemed) to be readily accepted in my social circle and not that big of a deal, or even a deal at all. If you don't mind my asking- what part of Toronto are you from? Do you feel like the area you're from made a difference in the hate you were subjected to? Were you aware of people's attitudes before or did they only become apparent once you and your boyfriend got together?

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Anonymous

My mum's English and my dad's chinese, we live in Hong Kong and I've had no problem with racism at all. Actually, Hong Kongers like eurasians. The gweilo thing isn't always an insult, more like a slangy term really, so don't get upset! I'm actually surprised that people in Canada seem as racist as you describe – I mean we are in the 21st century.

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Hayley

Hi Meghan, thanks so much for sharing your experiences here on Yes and Yes about your interracial relationship.

My boyfriend is black (Jamaican decent) and I'm white (Irish and British decent). We've been dating for the past two years, but best friends for the past eight. I can absolutely relate with your story and how horrible people can be.

A couple months into when we officially started dating, he took me to see White Christmas in Philadelphia (close to where we both live). Before the show, he went to use the bathroom, but gave me a kiss before leaving me to wait. An older woman and her husband were sitting within hearing distance of me, and she began telling her husband how upsetting it was to see a "nice, white girl with a man like that." My boyfriend came back to me confronting this couple and telling them that my relationship wasn't upsetting, but that their intolerance and racist comments were.

He is not at all confrontational, and tried to lead me away, but I was furious. I wasn't going to leave until I got an apology, and told the woman as such. After she did so begrudgingly, I let him lead me into the show.

It amazes me the bigotry and prejudice that people hold. People are people, and if you love someone, the color of their skin or the shape of their eyes shouldn't matter.

Thank you again for sharing, Meghan.

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Courtney

I am white, and married a Hispanic (Cuban, who I originally thought was middle eastern due to his big bushy beard!). I am white, American, and living in Florida where we have lots of different Hispanics from ALL backgrounds. Husband is of Cuban descent, and we actually lived with his parents for a while. It was a huge culture shock to me, but I love my in-laws! He and I have not really run in to a lot of racism or judgement from people. There was, however one incident where we were travelling (driving from FL to Ohio), and we got stuck looking for a water pump for the car. We drove into this small town in West Virginia. I wasn't even aware that people were staring until my husband (boyfriend at the time) brought it up. It was a little scary. People really seemed "interested", and it was the first time I had seen my husband that uncomfortable. He told my mother and I that he was VERY uncomfortable, and I felt really angry that people could still be acting in such a way. I hope to never come across this kind of behavior again. Nothing happened, but we did leave the town rather quickly.

I wanted to say to Meghan that I am so sorry you had people asking you such horrible questions. It's good to know that you and your husband lean on each other when these things happen. I also see from the comments that we all have different experiences. Do you think people can harbor more bias against certain races when it comes to interracial relationships?

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Jackie

Wow. I feel the same way as Catie – shocked. I live in Florida, which does have a lot of racism, but I'm half Chinese and I've dated white and Asian guys before with no malicious racism shot at me the way Meghan's experienced. The worst I've had is in-good-humor jokes from some redneck friends of mine – I shoot the hick comments right back and everyone laughs and there's no hate involved. I'm hoping the future generation will wipe out all this nonsense since it's clearly still an issue 40 years after the civil rights movement.

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penn

I'm also shocked people feel bold enough to make those comments. Maybe it's because I grew up with biracial cousins on both sides of the family (I'm white, and I have both African American and Latina cousins), but I don't think interracial relationships are strange at all. Far more strange, to me, is the idea that one wouldn't just date who they love.

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Amber-Rose Thomas

I'm white, I live in the UK and I would never have said that I was racist, however when I was introduced to my cousins fiancée, who was black, I couldn't get over how shocked I was.

After the meeting, my Mother and I were discussing it and I remember us making comments such as "couldn't he find anyone white to marry him?" and we wondered how we would tell the rest of our friends and family that he was marrying a black woman. All of a sudden – half way through this conversation I suddenly realised how bloody rude and racist we were being.

Looking back, I just put it down to cultural ignorance, from growing up in an entirely white community. It took me a while to weed out those nasty thoughts and change my way of thinking.

I feel really sorry that this couple had such nasty things said to them – but she was quite right to cut these people out of her life. If they weren't willing to change their attitudes on this they weren't worth having in her life. It is possible to change your way of thinking – you just have to want to. There isn't any excuse for real racism in my opinion.

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Sarah Rooftops

I'm kind of shocked by the amount of racism you've both faced – I mean, I know it still happens, but I didn't realise it was on *that* scale amongst *this* generation. I feel so disappointed in people now.

Here's to a happy future for the two of you together.

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FMD

Thank you everyone for your honesty. I think that our culture is riddled with subtle (and not so subtle) prejudice, but bringing light to the areas/stories the mainstream resists looking at is what helps shatter those preconceptions. Honesty and love, ya hoo!!

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Towely

Really? This is even a thing? I guess living in Vancouver, British Columbia, which has a massive Asian population, I just never experienced this. I've dated Asian men and not one person ever blinked an eye or asked me any sort of question pertaining to race. I find this totally bizarre.

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Lauren

This story actually blew me away – I guess mainly because a few of my friends have dated someone who isn't the same race as them before and it hasn't even registered as being out of the ordinary. I actually had to think about my friends and their current partners to remember if any of them were from different racial backgrounds (and there are quite a few on reflection).

Maybe it's because I lve in Melbourne and while there ARE racist attitudes around here, it is so multi-cultural that it isn't strange to be interacting with people of all different backgrounds on a daily basis. You tend to look past the race/skin colour of people and after a while, you still notice their race but you don't NOTICE it, if that makes sense.

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Mia Helen

This was really interesting to read. I am half Chinese and half Caucasian and I have a Caucasian boyfriend. I experienced a lot of racism in junior high and high school which lead me to believe that there was something wrong with me and that guys couldn't like me because I was Asian and not white like them. Both mine and my boyfriend's families seem to have no problems with our relationship. I am also living in a part of the US where there are a lot of interracial couples so we don't seem to get a lot of funny looks. Though we have been treated poorly at a few locations I think that might be due to the fact that we look younger than we are. Thanks for sharing your story Meghan!

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mmarinaa

I think that some of those questions are not meant to be offensive. People genuinely are curious about why people are attracted to people so foreign from themselves. I was dating an Arab for awhile (I'm white) and he actually did hate his own kind, so that question wouldn't have been far off. And I've been over-educated to the point of loathing my white privilege and thus have illogical, unspoken dreams of my children not being white… I know, it's weird, but in our case, race WAS actually one of the factors of our attraction to one another.

Also, I've dated Asians and in one case the stereotype about his penis size was totally justified. I'm going to assume that the people asking these questions aren't random strangers, in which case you shouldn't take them as offensive rather than finally getting the chance to assuage their curiosity. My friends asked about the Asians' penises because they were genuinely curious and we talk about everything and stereotypes usually stem from some sort of truth, so they just wanted to know.

People are curious about the world around them and the bits that they themselves don't have experience with. It could be good to answer questions! Be proud of your partner and let them get to know about him so that they don't have to assume things!

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Anonymous

"I think that some of those questions are not meant to be offensive…People are curious about the world around them and the bits that they themselves don't have experience with. It could be good to answer questions!"
Hum, this is the 21st century, people have access to lots of information. If people are truly interested in learning about anything other than their own dominant culture, they can. If they truly want to debunk any stereotype they have towards other cultures, they can do it themselves. I don't buy this excuse of people asking offensive questions but not meaning to be offensive. They're just as self-centered, ethnocentric and self-absorbed as their questions. I am a dark-skinned African female and I'm appalled whenever I meet a so-called university-educated westerner who asks me all kind of stupid and definitely racist (in the sense of "everything outside the western/white culture is abnormal or weird") questions, I don't waste my breath dignifying those questions with an answer: I walk away. Every human being was born with a brain: use it!

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Nats

I'm white and have, completely coincidentally, only ever dated non whites. My first boyfriend of two years was Korean, and I remember being in Korea and being the only couple in which the girl was white. I know he was asked on occasion if he couldn't find a good Korean girl. His parents were really nice, though I couldn't communicate with them, but I always had the feeling that they would not have liked it if things got too serious between us.
My current boyfriend is Persian, and I've had comments about how it felt to be 'dating a terrorist.' I really feel as though interracial couples are amazing; both of my boyfriends have been from completely different cultures and this just adds another dimension you have to navigate, but I have learned so much from both of them I feel like I'm a better person for it. Thanks for your story Meghan, and good luck!

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Anonymous

I know several white girls who have married first generation Americans and while the girls' families and friends didn't take issue with the relationship, their in-laws did. A lot of them wanted their sons to marry someone within their own culture/race/ethnic group and were really worried about the affect their daughter-in-law would have on their future grandchildren.

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Anonymous

Ouch! Kudos to you for putting up with this crap!

I will say this – I am of Indian descent, and I tend to only date within my ethnic group (though for me, it is for cultural reasons rather than racial ones). But every time I see interracial couples, it makes me smile because it is a sign of the actual "melting pot" that the USA claims to be. And if you guys ever have kids – well, everyone knows that mixed race kids are the future.

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Anonymous

Wow! I don't usually comment on blogs, but Towely a few posts up put it very nicely – I can't believe that this is even a thing! I am European and we don't even look twice at mixed couples. I am half-Chinese myself and it is an absolute non-issue over here. I thought America (and Canada) where supposed to be immigration havens, melting pots and all that?

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Meghan

Hi! I'm Meghan, and I wanted to answer as much as I can.

Caitie- The majority of the racism we've both experienced isn't Toronto, it's in Ottawa. In Toronto, we've never had a problem, so we're both really homesick right now.

Anon- I know gwai lo can be teasing, but when someone is glaring at you, spitting on your feet and calling you 'gwai lo'… they don't mean it in a teasing, jovial fashion.

mmarinaa- The people asking about genital sizes are acquaintances, and they have no business asking something so racist and rude. To assume that one entire race has one type of feature is racist and wrong.

Anon- Usually it's white people that don't like seeing interracial couples, but we've been yelled at and heckled by East Asian people as well.

Personally, we both love being in Canada and I know that there are a lot of places where our relationship would be very inappropriate, so although we have our complaints, it's more good than bad.

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Anonymous

I have been in an interratial relationship for 6 years now (I'm white, my boyfriend is Chinese -his parents are from Hong Kong and he was born here) and we live in Edmonton. We have never had anyone say anything bad about our relationship (Edmonton can be kind of a redneck town sometimes). Interratial couples seem pretty common here. I feel very accepted with his family and my family is also very accepting. Sorry to hear about your bad experience in Ottawa.

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Camille

Nice read. I'm not in the same situation or anything but this was a really good read, an eye opener of sorts. Thanks for sharing this story!

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EcoGrrl

Good story but I detest use of the term "interracial". We are not different races, we are one, human race. It seems this is the core of "race" issues. I hate the term "caucasian" to generalize "white" people. I am Scottish, Irish, English, Polish, and German – meaning, I come from European ancestry. I'm not from the European "race".

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Anonymous

Whoa, I'm a southeast asian and i have european & british ancestry while my boyfriend is american. My Family doesn't like white guys and they want me to get an asian guy with same religion. Same goes with his family… they want him to get a white girl.

Reply

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