Not a Martian

September 18, 2008

It's not like you're dating Marvin


Over at Monica Mingo’s blog, Tiffany in Houston expressed a trepidation about dating white, followed by a statement that she would like to communicate with someone who knew  how it felt and got over it.

I will admit that it does seem odd to me to be so nervous about dating a white man that it would stop you from actually doing it.  It just seems silly.

But I have issues and hangups that I know would seem ridiculous to people who don’t have them.  And saying “oh it over it, already!” may not be terribly effective.

This conversation was taking place in one of those chat-box thingies so I couldn’t be verbose.  But I can type as much as I please (and have time for) over here.

My first bit of advice:  Like Kenya’s dad in Something New said, “The boy’s not a Martian, he’s just white!”  In other words, don’t make it a bigger deal than it has to be.  Yes, he’s white, and that’s different.  But you aren’t talking about dating an alien and in most cases, you’re not even talking about dating a man from another country. 

You will have some differences which may or may not be attributable to ethnicity, but you most likely will share generational as well as cultural similarities, simply from growing up in the same country.  That being said, you are dating someone from a different sub-cultural group.  Any intercultural relationship benefits from clear communication and a willingness to consider a viewpoint other than your own.  (Actually every relationship MUST have this but an “interracial” relationship adds another dimension.)

When I was about to marry my husband, my father told me to remember that we were from different cultures.  “Not just race,” he said. “Remember that there is also the culture of the family.”  That was helpful advice.  Don’t assume that the way you do things is a default that he should know and accommodate, or vice versa.

When we were newly wed and organizing our apartment, my husband came to me one day and said, “Foreverloyal, I need this shirt ironed.”  I told him that the ironing board and iron were hanging up in the hall closet.  He was asking me to iron the shirt, and assumed that I would be handling all ironing duty, because that’s what his mom did growing up.  I assumed he was simply asking for the location of the ironing board, because in my house my dad ironed his own clothing. 

I think he thought I was being sarcastic, but we cleared it up quickly.  We’ve come to an arrangement that works.  I do all the ironing but he does a fair amount of cooking.  Works for me, neither one of our dads cooked.

I didn’t mean to go into this long digression, afterall the subject was dating and not marriage, but you get my point.

I would say treat anyone with the respect and openmindedness that you would hope to receive, and that would set you up for success.  And remember, the man’s not a martian.  He’s just white.


5 Responses to “Not a Martian”

  1. Felicity Says:

    I think sometimes we as black women are so worried about what other people think, if we relax, take a deep breathe and see him as a man first who happens to be white. We may get somewhere.

  2. noriko Says:

    Hello Foreverloyal,

    Thank you for leaving comments at my husband’s blog “norikostale”.

    It is so nice to hear that you take your husband “just white”. Not more, not less. It shows your love for who he is as a person – not color.

    But I also understand your father’s comment – not just color but culture.

    My husband and I enjoy the cultural differences every single days. Of course, there are days those differences annoy me a lot – well depending on my mood. But that’s what comes with the package, right?

    For any interracial marriages, you just have to have emotional rooms to enjoy the cultural differences.

    Take care and lots of love,


  3. foreverloyal Says:

    Thanks for visiting Noriko. Your husbands blog is very cool.

  4. midori Says:

    Foreverloyal, this is very thoughtful and I wish other people on the chat could have read this. Btw, I like your blog. I actually looked at it in the past but never commented but I’m starting to ‘de-lurk’. lol

  5. norikostale Says:

    Hi: Nice post. I like the tone of it – with time, let’s take the charge out of the subject of inter-racial anything.

    Yes, there are cultural differences, but for those who are so inclined, cultural differences are life-enriching. As my wife (Noriko) pointed out, in a bad mood such differences can be trying, but at the same time, we entertain each other with our differences on a daily basis.

    I will grant you that there may be generally less of a charge regarding a white marrying an Asian than a black marrying a white; I don’t know that I can fully relate to what that feels like. But regarding what other people think, seems to me that they’re basically just tripping.

    Historically, it was perhaps more common for whites to admonish each other for considering marrying blacks. Now it seems that that has flipped, that blacks have to fear that other blacks will admonish them for marrying whites.

    Both seem to be knee-jerks, unfortunate responses that are historical remanants of our mutual cultural history. In that sense I wouldn’t want to romanticize inter-racial marriage (though it sure has worked for me, and perhaps I HAVE romanticized it at my site! : ) ) but I would want to encouage people of all races to feel free to marry whom they want, rather than to be swayed by uninformed, emotional responses from “their peers!” : )

    Again, nicely written post. To me, the matter-of-fact tone of it represents the mindset that is the solution – for all races – that will unfold with time. Jim

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