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Race and dating in Boston

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  June 7, 2010 09:15 AM

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I had such a great time on Friday at the Love Letters/Extra Bases party. Thanks to everyone who came out to play. It was great/weird/awesome meeting so many readers. I even met a few letter writers who showed up to say hello. We'll start planning another event soon.

And sorry I accidentally wore Orioles colors to the party. It was unintentional, I swear.

This one's about the crayon box.

Q: I am a young, black, college-educated professional who has lived in Boston for most of my life. I recently turned 30 and am ready to have a serious relationship with someone special, irrespective of race.

I have dated a few Caucasian and Asian men, and one person from the Middle East. Every one of these encounters ended immediately after they realized that I was expecting more than a sexual relationship (I usually ended it). However, getting to that point was only half the battle. The hardest part was the approach! I think a lot of surprisingly wonderful relationships could be had if people weren't afraid to step inside or outside of the "crayon box." There have been many instances where I'll overhear a white guy telling his friends how "hot" he thinks I am or after having way too many beers obnoxiously yell "I love Black chicks!" Not including the annoying drunk guy -- why won't non-black men approach me if there is physical interest?

And before anyone asks ... yes, I date black men. Almost all of my relationships, serious or otherwise, have been within my race. However, I've always been open to dating men outside of my race. And due to the reasons previously mentioned, have been unable to do so.

Now back to the second portion of the problem I mentioned earlier. When we get past the "approach" barrier, I then find out that these men were hoping to use me as some sexual guinea pig. I've even had one guy tell me that he has a girlfriend but has "always wondered what it would be like to sleep with a pretty black girl." Needless to say, he did not get the chance to conduct his experiment on me. My other encounters were almost as disappointing. I've really clicked with several guys. Had great phone conversations and shared mutual interest in various areas. We'd make each other laugh, talk about work, life goals, family, friends, hobbies, etc ... BUT, the conversation would always redirect back to sex. And when making plans to hang out, it always involved hooking up at one another's home. After realizing that I wanted more than to be their guilty pleasure, I would end it. I've had white male friends who I get along with great as friends. Then they would profess some secret crush they had on me over the years. They were apprehensive in pursuing a serious relationship and were more than happy to think we could be friends with benefits. There was never a problem with meeting their friends and family -- or being introduced as their good friend. Being introduced or even thought of as their girlfriend, however, was an issue.

I'm left to wonder if non-black men still hold some pre-conceived notion about the ENTIRE species of black women. It escapes me as to why black men are able to easily, quickly, and openly approach and date women outside of their race, yet it's so difficult and rare for non-black men to do the same with black women. When I go to NY, it's very common to see mixed race relationships involving black women. But, I almost never see that here in MA. Is it a geographical thing? Is Massachusetts just as conservative when it comes to dating? Why are non-black men afraid to approach black women that they are attracted to? Are we seen as nothing more than "angry black women"....or even sex-crazed video vixens waiting to fulfill some secret chocolate craving?

– Cheyenne not Shaniqua, Randolph


A: "When I go to NY, it's very common to see mixed race relationships involving black women." CNS, I see a lot of things in New York that I just don't see anywhere else. New York is pretty amazing when it comes to diversity, acceptance, and dating without boundaries. New York also has all-night public transportation and cheap cabs. It's the concrete jungle where dreams are made of. There's nothing you can't do. Compare any city to New York and you're in trouble. (That said, Go Sox!)

There will always be a lot of people who are only comfortable dating within their race, religion, or tax bracket, no matter where you live. Some of those people are very nice despite their boundaries. There will also be some real idiots out there who see dating outside of the "crayon box" as some sort of exciting science project. Luckily, those people tend to expose themselves pretty quickly by getting drunk and yelling things like, "I love black chicks!" I'm sorry that has happened to you. It's upsetting and disheartening.

There will also be people who share your goal of finding someone awesome, no matter what color they are or where they come from. They're out there. Some of those men might be scared to approach you, but that might not have anything to do with race. Some men are afraid of the approach, in general.

I'd add that a lot of your other dating issues -- especially the sex stuff -- are also pretty typical. Guys who seek friends with benefits, guys who fixate on the hookup portion of a date -- that's all typical Love Letters stuff, isn't it? I'm not saying that you're wrong about the "crayon box," but don't attribute more to race than you have to.

My advice is to keep dating, approach men who appeal to you, be clear about your intentions, and get to know people well. Someone who cares about you, understands your goals, and has earned your trust isn't going to want to use you as an experiment or a friend with benefits.

Readers? Is this a Massachusetts thing? How can she approach men outside of her "crayon box" without having to wonder whether they're taking her seriously? Is race as much of an issue as she thinks it is? Discuss.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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