Love, Advice

Am I wrong to be attracted to guys of different races?

I'm really, really hoping I'm not racist in my love life.


Gulnaz, known affectionately as Gulu, is The Tempest’s newest advice columnist. We get a lot of bang for our buck with her: in each response, Gulu pulls in the unique perspectives from her close friends, sisters and mother to give the feel of brunch with your best gals (and, occasionally, your mom). Here’s her first column.

Hey, Gulu,

I recently realized that my soulmate could be from anywhere, and I’ve started noticing guys of different backgrounds standing out — white guys, Japanese, Pakistani. I’m not totally sure, though, if I should pursue relationships this way. Am I wrong to be attracted to men based on their ethnicity?


Really, Really Hoping She’s Not Racist in Love


Hey, Not Racist!

I took this question to the people I go to with most of my own questions: my sisters Arshia, Sana, and Soha, as well as my mother. I’m going to preface this answer with an important disclaimer from a recent law school graduate (proud of you, Arsh!).

Arshia, 27, almost-lawyer: We wouldn’t be answering this question if it came from a white dude asking if his fetish for Asian women was okay.

Gulu, 29: That said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being attracted to people of different races and ethnicities. I’m not personally convinced in such a thing as a soulmate, but it is possible to connect with someone with a different heritage than yourself — I’m married to a man of a different ethnicity and it’s never been an issue. That’s the simple answer.

You have a problem, though, if you’re attracted to men because of their race.

Arshia: It’s okay to think people from other ethnicities are hot, but that’s not a specific reason to date someone. So as long as you’re not exoticizing men of different ethnicities, it’s okay.

You have a problem if you’re attracted to men because of their race. Click To Tweet

Sana, 25, science nerd: I’m going to repeat an important point here, and this one is for the dude with a thing for Asian women who is angrily reading this: race or ethnicity is not a specific reason to date someone. Likewise, race or ethnicity is not a specific reason not to date someone. You cannot be attracted to “Mexican men” or not be attracted to “Mexican men.” That would be racist, and, like racism always is, inaccurate. Mexican men look all sorts of ways and Mexican men behave all sorts of ways.

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Gulu: So you’re scoping out your options, and let’s say a white, blonde, blue-eyed man stands out to you. It’s okay that you find these features attractive, you just have to remember that, 1) we live in a society where we’re often conditioned to like these specific features at the expense of others, 2) that these features indicate nothing about this guy’s personality or relationship potential, and 3) you’re not attracted to him because he’s white, but rather because these often-occurring-in-people-who-appear-white features are put together quite nicely on this specific man.

Sana: You’re fine as long as you’re open to whomever, rather than ‘oh, I’ll only date white guys’ or something.

Gulu: Now, for An Aunty Opinion on this, roughly translated from Hindi:

Mom: Generally, I agree with — there’s nothing wrong with getting to know (Gulu: not dating, because obviously) or marrying someone of any background, so long as you have shared values. But, if your parents are uncomfortable with you marrying outside of your own ethnicity, you don’t want to do anything that makes them upset.

Gulu: So I don’t really agree, because your parents aren’t the ones marrying this person. But I’m guess I also get where that sentiment comes from. We do have to acknowledge that from many parents’ experiences as immigrants or who are otherwise marginalized, it’s difficult sometimes to see your children make choices that lead them away from the culture they were raised with.

It’s hard to see your kids make choices that remove them from the culture you raised them in. Click To Tweet

I’m not sure if your parents are part of the issue here, but it is possible that maintaining a cultural or ethnic identity is important to you after you get married. Speaking from personal experience here, I don’t see my marriage to a non-Indian as taking me away from my culture. In fact, I think it makes me more strongly identify with my background, and reflect deeply about what about my parents’ culture I’d like to maintain and pass on to my children someday. If you were raised in a way that suggested you should look for partners from among your own community, I’d recommend discussing it with your family.

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Soha, won’t-share-her-age (Gulu: <eyeroll emoji>), attorney: It doesn’t matter if you end up with someone who others are uncomfortable with. You do you. Forget the haters.

Gulu: Words to live by.

Gulnaz Saiyed

Gulnaz Saiyed

Gulnaz (Gulu, to her family and friends) is a writer and doctoral student at Northwestern University, where she designs curriculum and researches youth civic media and transformative, culturally sustaining pedagogies. She is also an American-Muslim-Desi, on the taller end of short, a critical Potterhead, an unadventurous foodie, a Kentuckian, a reluctant Chicagoan, a sugar addict, a once-quilter, and would-like-to-be ceramicist. She also tweets a lot about the show Empire.

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