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What is your experience with interracial love?

Whether we’ve stayed single in quarantine or made it through with our favorite person, we approach Valentine’s Day this year with a new perspective on what it means to love someone. In this issue, we highlight interracial relationships in the Asian community. What parts of ourselves do we hold onto firmly? What parts do we lose? How do people from different racial experiences come to understand each other? So much can be said about the beauties and excitement of knowing, caring, and ultimately loving someone else. Just watch Bridgerton...

“Love is the absence of judgment.”

––– The Dalai Lama

“I’m in love with defying stereotypes to the point that I worry I lose myself.”

I refuse to date East Asian men or white men for fear of becoming a trope. The tired image of the East Asian woman who only dates within her race or, arguably worse, the East Asian woman who falls for white supremacy.

This extends to platonic relationships, too. Fall semester, I’m invited to join a study group for a college math class, and, when I join the Zoom, every student on the call is East Asian. We compare answers for half an hour. After that first call, I never joined again.

I’m not sure if I’m more embarrassed to be seen in a group of solely East Asian people or if I’m more embarrassed by the shame I feel when surrounded by my own heritage.

––– Ingrid, Chinese, 20

San Francisco, CA

“I mean those small talks are OK, but when it comes to some things you only have the words in your mother language.”

The biggest gap is not culture, it’s language. I’ve dated people who only speak French or English, neither of which is my native language. But knowing just basic vocabulary has allowed me to enter romantic relationships. I’ve learned that the first obstacle to overcome is how to fall in love when you don’t actually understand the other person that well. It takes me time to find the words and get over the social anxiety.

For me, the process of understanding goes like this: after a lot of practice, the first time I try to grasp their words and am frustrated. The second time it’s better and I decipher faster. When I am on my phone trying to explain something by Google or photo, my partner looks so uncomfortable. I am the one who should be sweating. Language gaps can be frustrating so patience, on both ends, is pivotal. Still, I’ve been finding it fun to learn new words and to enjoy the small joys when my man explains things in his language, in his special way.

––– Alisa, Chinese, 25

Lyon, France

“My parents aren’t the type of people to set limits on who I date and don’t date, but I don’t think they expected me to date someone who wasn’t close to Asian. And neither did I.”

My current boyfriend is my first boyfriend who’s non-Asian. He’s half Polish and half Austrian — very far from the types I used to be obsessed with. But he’s also the first guy to have met my whole family and be accepted wholeheartedly by them. My parents aren’t the type of people to set limits on who I date and don’t date, but I don’t think they expected me to date someone who wasn’t close to Asian. And neither did I.

The first time he came to my house and talked to my relatives in Japan was weird. Everything was new to him. The TV in the background was Japanese. Unlike his parents, who I could converse with easily, he had trouble understanding my parents’ Japanese accents. But he still tried and through me, he was able to say “hello” and “how are you doing.” My grandma was overjoyed to meet my special person — I don’t think I’ve seen her happier. All she was saying was “可愛い子だね〜!会ってみたい!”

––– Anonymous, Japanese-American, 21

Providence, RI


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