What dating a non-Asian taught me about myself

A few months ago I wrote a blogpost on why I’ll never use dating apps again. (There was even a video made of it). I’ll have you know that I haven’t used a dating app in months/ever since because like I mentioned in the post…I really do believe that you meet the right people when you’re just doing your thing, becoming your best self. I don’t know about you but I meet more quality people offline/in real life than I could/did on any dating app.

That being said, yes… I met someone. IN REAL LIFE and not through an app. It happened when I least expected it. It happened when I didn’t even want anything (I liked being single). Though it has only been a few months now, he’s helped me to grow so much in a short amount of time. I just haven’t been the same since we’ve met. I guess you can even say that this person has changed my life and continues to do so.

PLOT TWIST: He’s not Asian.

 This is usually not and should not be a big deal except that it IS because I grew up in a very Jewish/Caucasian community. My race was that much more obvious and a big part of my identity. My first crushes in first grade were blonde and played baseball. I’ve been to more than a dozen bar/bat mitzvahs. I grew up telling my mom I didn’t want to learn Korean (even though it was my first language) because everyone spoke English.  Then I spent most of high school making Asian friends, “reconnecting with my roots” and then my college years dating Asian guys exclusively.

I’ve always believed that being in a relationship- sharing yourself and your life with someone is a very deep and personal way of getting to know yourself and how you present yourself to the world. I like to think I know a lot about myself but sure enough, being in a relationship with someone who isn’t Asian has forced me to explore things I otherwise wouldn’t have thought about:

  1. Self imposed limitations are very real. When I first met him, the thought that I could even be anything more than just a professional acquaintance or friend didn’t cross my mind. It wasn’t within my realm of possibility. Because I never dated someone who wasn’t Asian before, part of me just assumed that I wasn’t attractive to anyone who didn’t look like me. When we went on our first date, it had been the first time in years that I had hung out with someone non- Asian outside of a work context let alone in a romantic context. Whenever we hung out and I spoke my mind, I was strangely self-conscious and questioned if I was being “too much.” I caught myself comparing who I was to the many stereotypes that society has on Asians. Being with him has slowly erased whatever limitations and self conscious beliefs I had and helped me to equalize myself to any other human being.
  2. Real love is acceptance, patience, openness. Real love goes beyond skin color. When you love someone, you don’t love them for what they look like. Yes, physical attraction is so necessary in a relationship but it shouldn’t be what your relationship is built on. When I told him that this was completely new to me, he said “I respect your thoughts and I’m up for the challenge.” When I realized he liked me for me and not because I’m Asian I almost had a breakdown. Really. I actually had a mini one. It was an identity crisis and existential crisis rolled into one. I questioned if I was going against my family’s legacy and expectation to marry someone Asian. I questioned maybe I wasn’t that Asian to begin with anyway. I questioned if there was something wrong with me… If I had wasted my life trying to be more/less Asian and for what reasons. Real love is between two people who have accepted who they are- flaws and all- but approach each other with grace and respect. At the end of the day you have to be happy with the person you are with, beyond their culture and their family.
  3. If you really care about something, you conquer fears to get closer to it. When I met him I seriously thought it was an “industry drinks”/work hangout. I dismissed the idea of considering him as a romantic interest. He wasn’t my “usual type,” and completely caught me off guard and part of me was freaked out by this. Over time I was confused by how well we got along and how much I cared for him as a human being. How amazing his personality was. How decent of a guy he was. I decided he was worth it and shoved my own expectations and preconceived notions to the side to explore this and to get to know him more. Even though it scared me (and it still does) for him to become such an important part of my life, the safety and comfort I feel with him overshadows my fear. I could’ve been in denial about my feelings but instead I dove right into my intuition and heart. No regrets on this.
  4. How much do you care what people think? It would be a lie for me to say that I haven’t gotten some weird looks from people while being with him… because I have, and it’s never happened to me before. When we go out to eat in Koreatown, when we go out to the grocery store, when we’re putting money in the parking meter, when we’re taking a walk…. it’s either because we look good together or because it looks a bit strange. I used to care a lot about what people think until I realized it’s really none of my business what other people think because at the end of the day I know this is good for me and what I want. I don’t need anyone else’s permission for who I choose to love in my life.
  5. Finding love (no matter what the circumstance) is possible if you choose it to be. After dating someone whom I referred to as the Rare Specimen, I didn’t think I would meet another unicorn especially in less than a year. The Rare Specimen really set the standard for what kind of relationship I wanted moving forward and I knew it would be difficult to find in the state of what modern dating is today. (A blogpost on what it means to be a Rare Specimen here). My list of what an amazing and fulfilling relationship looked like was specific because I took the time to define what it meant to be a good significant other and how that person would fit into my life. I didn’t think I’d come across it for another year or two, but I believed deep down that I would. When I met my current Rare Specimen I was shocked because he embodied everything I had asked for, just didn’t look the way I imagined him to. Here he was, proof that finding love again was possible. Him not looking the way I had expected questioned me to think about what I really value and believe in. Was I just saying empty words and willing to pass up an incredible person? No, of course not. So here we are.
  6. I appreciate being Asian so much. I might’ve taken this for granted growing up and perhaps I can only speak for myself but I love the little things that I consider to be very normal. I’m not afraid to eat anything. I love and can make food that has different textures, colors and tastes (even smells). I have stories to tell with two different perspectives. I have a natural proclivity to languages and other cultures. I essentially am a mix of two cultures (if not more). Being Asian makes me that much more interesting and adds a dash of automatic culture to my life.
  7. Love is love. People are people. I might be able to relate more to someone who is Asian, but being with someone who isn’t has helped me to see people truly as equal individuals and emotions as a universal language. I find myself comparing myself to others and others with others less.
  8. How I deal with unplanned things and a changing environment.  I’m a planner and I like to know what I’m getting myself into. With him a lot of it is new simply because he’s not Asian like I am. His friend group. My friend group. He’s from the east coast but he’s from the south, which is new to me. I’ve had to exercise my growth mindset to full effect here and allow him to show and tell me how he does things instead of relying on what I’m used to as a standard. When I’m just at a loss of words or things to do, this is where he and I are completely open and vulnerable with each other. We take honesty to a whole ‘nother level.
  9. I can’t control everything but I can control how I react and how I perceive. I can’t help the fact that I fell for someone who isn’t Asian but I can control how we learn and grow together and if I’m even open to that in the first place. I can’t control the fact that he’s the first non-Asian I’m dating but I can control how I might/might not compare him to my past relationships. I can’t control how he feels about me but I can control how I feel about myself around him and how I treat him. Do what you can in your control, be good to each other, be honest and let everything else run its course.
  10. Acknowledging differences and appreciating others for their uniqueness is a desirable trait. I’ve realized some people get really uncomfortable around others with differing backgrounds, perspectives and physical looks. It’s an indicator/form of fear of the unknown. That being said, I’ve learned that I love diversity and what I can learn from people of different walks of life. I think its a beautiful thing when an unlikely friendship or relationship blossoms because of tolerance and respect. Being open minded and curious about others and where they come from/what they know is not only endearing, it’s what brings us together.

Now, I’m not saying go find a non Asian to date to go learn about yourself. I’m not saying I know everything. I don’t know what the future has in store for me and him. What I do know is that it’s important to be open minded, to trust your gut, and to allow yourself to grow with the people who step into your life for a reason.

He’s become one of the most important people in my life, helped me to value myself more and helped me to solidify what I value in business and in life.

For that I’m forever grateful.

Looking forward to what the future holds.

x

AndreaM Signature

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steve
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steve

Kudos to you. My wife is Korean. I met her in Charleston S.C,. in 1980. Her sister had brought her to the US to help out with new baby. We were married in 1983 and had our fist daughter in 1984. Second in 1987. We now help raise our 3 grand children. The ethnic makeup of our grandkids is immaterial. Factoid: Our 2.5 year old grandson is Korean-Thai-German-English-Mexican. Yes, our daughter’s husband is half Thai and half Mexican and is just a great guy. But, you know what, we are truly all American. We instilled in our daughters to strive… Read more »

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Why can’t I cut and paste pics to your site? Something to give very serious thought to: The last words of Steve Jobs – I have come to the pinnacle of success in business. In the eyes of others, my life has been the symbol of success. However, apart from work, I have little joy. Finally, my wealth is simply a fact to which I am accustomed. At this time, lying on the hospital bed and remembering all my life, I realize that all the accolades and riches of which I was once so proud, have become insignificant with my… Read more »

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