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Why Is Your ‘Ethnic’ Boyfriend Hiding You in His Closet?

June 17, 2010

True love vs. Family pressure

Due to the popular response and insights in our last discussion about dating and marring ‘ethnic’ men–Asian, Middle-Eastern, Latino, (this one’s for you Tracy) Irish, and others.  I was elated to see all the BB&W readers share their good experiences and happy endings.  You also gave Janice and me a lot to consider for the book.  And it’s a good thing too, because my experience with the two ethnic men I dated didn’t work out so well.

My high school crush was Mexican; I loved that boy’s dirty draws!  Later in my early twenties I dated someone from Chile who would have EATEN my dirty draws, but…meh…I wasn’t that in to him.  The two things these guys had in common was, both of their mothers HATED me.  And no matter how chirpy and friendly I was, I got the cold shoulder, side eye and heard a lot of Spanish words I never learned in high school classes.  My memory is a little rusty, but I could have sworn I heard, “Saquen a ese negro de puta de mi casa!” Not sure what they said, but I remember the tone a bit uncivil.  I asked the Chilean boy about it and he told me she said, “Welcome to my house, girl of the black race!”  Not sure I believed him…

Ironically, I felt more resistance from both these minority families than I ever felt from my husband’s.  That’s because black or white, we are both Americans raised within an individualistic culture, says, Faizal Sahukhan, Ph.D., a psychologist who specializes in multicultural relationships and the author of Dating the Ethnic Man: Strategies for Success.

Ethnic men are often raised with a more collectivistic mind frame.  “In his culture, marriage is not between two individual who tell others of their intentions, it is a delicate process of asking parents, elders and religious leaders for permission to [ultimately] marry,” says Dr. Sahukhan. (con’t below photo)

So if your ethnic man hides you under his bed or locks you up in the closet when his folks stop by, it might be best not to automatically assume that he’s ashamed of you.  Often, it is more complicated than that.

So before you accuse your man of treating you like a down-low honey, take a listen to a portion of my interview with Dr. Sahukahn (pronounced SAW HO CAN) regarding this issue.

I have to say, Dr. Faizal (pronounced FAY ZIL) breaks it down quite astutely with a lot of good points.  To hear the audio Faizal Sahukhan_ethnic man.

Interculturally married veterans, feel free to chime in with your opinion and/or advice for all the single ladies lurking in here who are dating ethnic men!

DISCLAIMER: Dr. Sahukhan, who lives and works in Vancouver, Canada, wrote this book with white women in mind.  So if you buy the book and see “caucasian,” just cross it out (in your mind at least) because the information provided about the mindset and culture of ethnic men still rings true for all Western women.

About Dr. Faizal:

In private practice as a Registered Counsellor and Clinical Sexologist since 1997, Dr Faizal is also a faculty member at Capilano University. He writes a monthly advice column (Dear Faizal) published in Canadian Immigrant magazine, hosts a radio advice show (Love Across Cultures) on Link, CBC Radio Canada International, is a media consultant (for print, radio and television) on multicultural relationship issues, and is the National Communications Director for the Canadian Professional Counsellors Association.  Visit him online at www.multiculturalromance.com.

Dr. Faizal

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32 Comments leave one →
  1. June 17, 2010 9:08 pm

    okay.. I will be the first… now I am going to tell you all something.. and before anyone judges… i want you to read the entire post…My now husband .. didnt even tell his parents he had a girlfriend, or was living with me for a year. Yes.. we dated and lived together for a year.. before he even told them he had a girlfriend.. and then after he told them.. all the family memebers one by one started showing up at our apartment, uninvited, regularly to .. look at me… Now i want to first say that i was feeling a little upset with the fact that he didnt tell his family about me.. I thought … hey are you ashamed of me or what? Then I realized after many heated discussions about his parents and family.. that.. In china.. the hardest part about being in a relationship is the parents. Even for Chinese people marrying Chinese people.. the parent thing is hard.. if your parents say they do not like the girl or boy.. they will tell you .. you cannot marry them… in our mind this doesnt really matter you go on with your life with out them.. but in china it is different. Since, children are totally dependant on their parents until they get married… you can not survive if your parents disown you. They supply you with everything.. education, house, car.. and even a job.. thru their friends.. so here the parents play a major role in your life and you have to listen to them.. because you are indebted to them really for the rest of your life.

    So my husband .. had to break the news to his family that not only was he dating and going to marry, an american.. it was a black american that was 14 years older than him, with grown kids… this was a lot to share..to a chinese family… and difficult… but I am very lucky that my husband is very strong and loves me very much.. because there is no way.. he could go thru the hell his parents put him thru without my support.. and love and his strength. I realized that with my complaining on one side.. and the pressure from his parents on the other… would cause him to just break down… so instead of pushing him.. I supported him…and let him handle the parent situation at his own pace and speed… and once I did that… he was better able to hand it.. and speed up the process… Now.. his parents have figured out that I am not going anywhere.. and I love him to death and take care of him… it also helps to assure them.. that ..just because he married a foreigner doesnt mean they will not be taken care of when they are old. Since that is their main concern. I assure them.. that they will be taken care of .. and that I will not take him away from them…him being their only son… and now they realize that I am good for him.. and for them… and they accept me.. with open arms… but.. it took time and patience. So, my best advice is to be patient… let him hand it… and you support him because if you are loving and supportive.. it makes you look like the good guy… and his parents are the bad guy.. see.. it is all apart of the master plan…

  2. randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
    June 17, 2010 9:17 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I think patience is key, just like the doc said on the audio. You can’t push this.

  3. Tiffany permalink
    June 17, 2010 9:36 pm

    On Christelyn’s relationships-
    Caucasians have dominated just about every ethnic group, breeding self-hatred in all of them. So with latinos, there is also the colorism issue and pinching of the nose so that it doesn’t spread. So a lot of latinos definitely don’t want to see their child with a black person. I’ve had plenty of discussions about this, specifically how Dominicans feel they are better than Haitians, even though they’re right next to each other, and of the same blood.

    • randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
      June 17, 2010 9:45 pm

      This is so sad. SMH

    • Janice Rhoshalle permalink
      June 19, 2010 5:21 pm

      This is interesting. I’ll see how it plays out for me. I’ve just been asked out by not one, but two Latino men that I’ve gotten to know over the past few months. Maybe these will service for more fodder for the book…or not.

  4. Browncow permalink
    June 18, 2010 7:13 am

    Well in my experience when dating ethnic men, as a black woman or any woman of African descent, you have to deal with the colorism issues that white women don’t really have to deal with that much. I’ve had several Indian men interested in me and with our personalities we meshed very well and would have been very happy together if it had not been for the parents wanting their sons to marry a “fair” woman. They even told me that their parents told them not to bring home dark skinned girls at all even if they were of their own ethnicity. So that is a serious problem to be faced, not just the cultural ones. This is just my experience, but it is eventually accepted when the woman is white, but it takes a whole lot for a black woman to be accepted. I know that there are some really awesome ethnic families out there who are accepting and loving to any good woman who will come into their son’s life, but you have to dodge the bullets too and there are so many of them out there. It’s sad really. My first boyfriend told me point blank that I would never meet his family in the beginning of the relationship. I didn’t want him after that, but his persistence broke me down. If I could do it all over again, I would have stuck to my guns and gone for the hot Italian guy whose father I did meet at our college freshman orientation and he loved me to death. Oh well. Hindsight is 20/20.

    I’m not writing this to discourage women from going for ethnic men, I just want to say that it’s a tricky road to go on. I haven’t had any of these problems with white men at all so that’s where I decided I should put my romantic attentions.

    • randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
      June 18, 2010 8:43 am

      Ah, the insidious pestilence of colorism. It’s so ironic to me on so many levels that white men would be more accepting of our “darkness” than our fellow darker-skinned comrades.

      • Browncow permalink
        June 18, 2010 8:50 am

        That was the shocker for me when I was dating. I thought that because we were both PoC that there would be a common bond and I wouldn’t have as many problems as I would if the guy were white. I was so wrong. My issue has been with Asian guys (in the USA, just need to clear that up) mostly, though I never dated a Latino guy. I had opportunities, yes, but the guy always came off as wanting just sex from me so it was a complete turn off. The colorism issue is such a problem with PoC.

      • June 18, 2010 9:01 am

        actually from my experiences.. the ABC’s (american born chinese) tend to be a little more concerned with color.. than the Chinese in China… In China.. we are just Americans.. all lumped together.. they see.. Michelle Obama, and the summer olympic games and all the black women on there.. and are honestly impressed and interested.. the chinese in america.. have been corrupted by the media… so I can understand .. what Browncow is saying.. but not all.. there are still some free thinking Asian men out there…

      • beautifulbrown permalink
        June 18, 2010 4:14 pm

        well here in the Caribbean racist is a big problem however classism and colourism is. i am a dark skin black women and dark skin guys do not regularly approach me its normally light skin black men that goes for women of my skin colour. it takes someone outside of our race to see the beauty in dark skin. and the funny thing is that an individual out there is gonna discriminate against you because of your skin colour but might be nice to the child you gibe birth too because he/she as a much lighter skin

    • ink permalink
      June 18, 2010 11:45 am

      Browncow, why are you still seeing/sleeping with these men that are basically saying they only want you for sex. Saying you will never meet their parents means nothing will ever come of a relationship. So, why do you continue to sleep with them? WOW!

      • Browncow permalink
        June 18, 2010 1:01 pm

        Actually, that was a very long time ago. I was 18 at the time and this was my first boyfriend. I’ve only actually had 2 sexual partners in my life before getting married (both were Asian) and have been married for close to 5 years. I figured that at 18 I would have this relationship and then move on, but I became attached. The second fellow I was engaged to and we were very strict about not indulging too much in sexual activities. My husband and I waited until we were married. So the other guys, I just liked and they liked me, we went out, but NOTHING sexual happened between us at all. So that is my history. I’m not ashamed of it at all since I was practically virginal by the time I got married by today’s standards. Not many women can say the same…

  5. Elaine permalink
    June 18, 2010 8:00 am

    It’s interesting because I had more issues with dating white men than I have had with dating non-black minorities. I guess that’s why I’m drawn to the non-black minorities instead. The white men I was interested in (and they seemed interested in me) have either said directly or indirectly that they would not take me home to mom. There were even some that stated flat out to me they would never consider dating interracially. After those experiences, I never really been too interested in dating white men. What I do like about dating non-minority men (especially Latinos), is that I can discuss issues such as racism and they truly understand being from another minority group. I don’t ever feel that think that it’s “all in my mind” and that I’m “exaggerating” like I would get from some white people. Yes, there are different forms of racism even within minority groups, but I’ve never had the same issues with non-minorities as I’ve had with the majority. I do live in the South, which is probably why I’ve had such experiences. I just wanted to put my experiences out there.

    Just for an example: I remember when I was dating a guy (from Mexico) who decided that we shouldn’t see each anymore since I went to work in Spain for a bit (long story). His whole family knew and met me, so when his mom ask about me, he told her the whole story of what happened between us. She stuck up for me and told him that the way he did me was totally wrong. He actually apologized to me because he claimed he didn’t realized what he did until his mom pointed it out. Even until this day, the family still asks about me, even though we broke up a while ago. It’s funny to me because I actually get more “love” from the guys’ family than from the guys themselves lol.

    • Browncow permalink
      June 18, 2010 8:46 am

      See, there you go. It all depends on the individual and their experiences. I’ve had bad experiences with dating non-white men, but Elaine, you’ve had some pretty good experiences. Maybe it all just depends on the region of the country or something, I don’t know. So you can’t go by two different individual experiences. You’ve got to do what’s best for you and as always, check the guy out, whether he is white, Latino, Asian, Middle Eastern, European, etc… You’ll get some red flags if there is something wrong. I told my cousin who is still in the dating game that if you give a guy enough rope, if there’s something wrong with him, he’ll hang himself. So this is a lesson to me as well that nothing is set in stone, and that in dating one must take each man on an individual basis and not lump everyone in a group together based on assumptions and one bad experience. That’s my two cents for now…

  6. randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
    June 18, 2010 8:48 am

    Thanks for contributing, Elaine. I do believe the region in which you live–the South–plays a huge role in the WM pressure to date interracially. I believe that minorities in these regions can share common ground more readily because they are often marginalized and clumped into the same bread basket.

  7. Marie permalink
    June 18, 2010 12:49 pm

    LMAO @ your ex’s translation of what his mother said! I can’t believe you aren’t getting many comments on the other page; I guess people are scared! Or maybe you’re making them think about things they would rather ignore (TBC thing, dating out as a viable option…), but I love your writing style, and I’m glad I followed your blog to this site!

    • randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
      June 18, 2010 1:15 pm

      *winks* I was wondering when someone would get that! Welcome!

    • randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
      June 18, 2010 1:23 pm

      In regards to the TBC article, I think you might be looking at Part II. Part I got 69 comments and counting!

      • Marie permalink
        June 18, 2010 4:05 pm

        Wow! I was raised in the burbs in a blended and mixed family so TBC wasn’t really part of my life. In my 20’s I dated a guy whose father was a minister (and who also had 2 kids with his ex-wife and at least 3 others OOW; guess who he wanted to be baby mama #4!) at a TBC. I went to one service, mainly because he wanted me to meet his parents. I didn’t have much opportunity to observe how many of the women were single, but I definitely felt the visit in my wallet; they passed the plate 3 or 4 times, and I felt obligated, being a guest of the family and all. That definitely was wrong, IMO.

  8. A.C. permalink
    June 18, 2010 8:09 pm

    Hello All. As was previously mentioned, in the Caribbean the colourism and cross-cultural issues can be problematic. I’ve seen and experienced it. I once dated someone who was half chinese, half East Indian as well as a couple of East Indian guys and due to my blackness and other stupid immature reasons. I’ve also known women who were abandoned by Latino males because of this same issue. Our country is VERY close in proximity to Venezuela, so the Trinidadian males, ESPECIALLY the East Indian males would chase the Venezuelan females who come here to study English. Furthermore, the Venezuelan males (were) are known for having affairs with black girls and abandoning them. ( As for the quote written in Spanish in the original post, that was actually said to someone close to me…and it’s DEFINITELY not a welcoming!) According to Browncow, itt is quite ironic that the inter-ethnic dating thing can be difficult especially as we may have so much in common. It’s sad really… oh well, I guess it all boils down to individual attitudes, perceptions and ideologies. Take care.

    • randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
      June 18, 2010 8:17 pm

      Thanks A.C.! I knew someone who knew some Spanish would come up here and point that out. A.C. let me ask you–a previous poster said that Jamaica doesn’t have problems of colorism…do you know about this, and is this indeed true?

  9. A.C. permalink
    June 18, 2010 8:13 pm

    I’m sorry, a sentence was not made clear, I shall now correct it:

    “I once dated someone who was half chinese, half East Indian as well as a couple of East Indian guys and due to my blackness and other stupid immature reasons, it didn’t work out. Most of the time it was because of their perceptions of women and beauty. On realising their behavioural patterns, I decided to become more wary of them.”

  10. A.C. permalink
    June 18, 2010 8:45 pm

    Hello Random. I am not sure about Jamaica as I am from Trinidad and Tobago. But from speaking to several Jamaicans, there is the problem of colourism among the elites. Normally there would be, as here in Trinidad there is that problem. The Syrian-Lebanese, East Indian and Chinese populations of this country generally tend to marry their own kind. Depending on the part of Trinidad and Tobago, the upbringing and socialization pattern, the person may “stray from the fold”. This also happens among the middle to upper middle class sections of society. Now due to our similar historical backgrounds, many Caribbean territories tend to follow the same direction. Sometimes they have the freedom or do TAKE the freedom to choose; sometimes, the “brown paper bag test” applies; sometimes there is the strict adherence to parental/ familial/ societal wishes. There are however MANY interracial and intercultural couples here. Again, it all boils down to individual choice. One more thing, the Spanish quote translates as “get that nigger ho out my house”. One more other thing: The colourism thing is even worse in South America, especially Brasil. How do I know? I’m 1/2 Venezuelan, remember? I’ve grown up observing the society. Also I know about Brasil due to some Brasilians I had to interact with in my teaching career. It really IS Ironic that people with similar histories and cultures should feel so “opposed” to each other. Stay well!

  11. Sharon permalink
    June 18, 2010 9:47 pm

    lifebehindthewall :
    okay.. I will be the first… now I am going to tell you all something.. and before anyone judges… i want you to read the entire post…My now husband .. didnt even tell his parents he had a girlfriend, or was living with me for a year. Yes.. we dated and lived together for a year.. before he even told them he had a girlfriend.. and then after he told them.. all the family memebers one by one started showing up at our apartment, uninvited, regularly to .. look at me… Now i want to first say that i was feeling a little upset with the fact that he didnt tell his family about me.. I thought … hey are you ashamed of me or what? Then I realized after many heated discussions about his parents and family.. that.. In china.. the hardest part about being in a relationship is the parents. Even for Chinese people marrying Chinese people.. the parent thing is hard.. if your parents say they do not like the girl or boy.. they will tell you .. you cannot marry them… in our mind this doesnt really matter you go on with your life with out them.. but in china it is different. Since, children are totally dependant on their parents until they get married… you can not survive if your parents disown you. They supply you with everything.. education, house, car.. and even a job.. thru their friends.. so here the parents play a major role in your life and you have to listen to them.. because you are indebted to them really for the rest of your life.
    So my husband .. had to break the news to his family that not only was he dating and going to marry, an american.. it was a black american that was 14 years older than him, with grown kids… this was a lot to share..to a chinese family… and difficult… but I am very lucky that my husband is very strong and loves me very much.. because there is no way.. he could go thru the hell his parents put him thru without my support.. and love and his strength. I realized that with my complaining on one side.. and the pressure from his parents on the other… would cause him to just break down… so instead of pushing him.. I supported him…and let him handle the parent situation at his own pace and speed… and once I did that… he was better able to hand it.. and speed up the process… Now.. his parents have figured out that I am not going anywhere.. and I love him to death and take care of him… it also helps to assure them.. that ..just because he married a foreigner doesnt mean they will not be taken care of when they are old. Since that is their main concern. I assure them.. that they will be taken care of .. and that I will not take him away from them…him being their only son… and now they realize that I am good for him.. and for them… and they accept me.. with open arms… but.. it took time and patience. So, my best advice is to be patient… let him hand it… and you support him because if you are loving and supportive.. it makes you look like the good guy… and his parents are the bad guy.. see.. it is all apart of the master plan…

    Lifebehindthewall, sorry you had to go through that initial resistance and rough times.
    Glad things are much better now!

  12. Sharon permalink
    June 18, 2010 9:55 pm

    beautifulbrown :
    well here in the Caribbean racist is a big problem however classism and colourism is. i am a dark skin black women and dark skin guys do not regularly approach me its normally light skin black men that goes for women of my skin colour. it takes someone outside of our race to see the beauty in dark skin. and the funny thing is that an individual out there is gonna discriminate against you because of your skin colour but might be nice to the child you gibe birth too because he/she as a much lighter skin

    I am from the Caribbean as well and I see where there is seperation of class..well when I was younger.
    I have not lived there in many many many years

  13. Marie permalink
    June 18, 2010 10:48 pm

    Sharon :

    beautifulbrown :well here in the Caribbean racist is a big problem however classism and colourism is. i am a dark skin black women and dark skin guys do not regularly approach me its normally light skin black men that goes for women of my skin colour. it takes someone outside of our race to see the beauty in dark skin. and the funny thing is that an individual out there is gonna discriminate against you because of your skin colour but might be nice to the child you gibe birth too because he/she as a much lighter skin

    I am from the Caribbean as well and I see where there is seperation of class..well when I was younger.I have not lived there in many many many years

    My family is from the Caribbean, but I was born on the East Coast. Back there, I was mainly around my father’s family, who were darker, while my mother’s family lived/still lives in Canada. Most of the people in my mother’s family look white, and there are quite a few of them who would like to pretend that they are nothing but white. Some even seemed uncomfortable to introduce my sister and me as relatives…It’s always amazed me that everyone seems to go with everyone when they’re ready to get their freak on, but heaven forbid some of these folks get caught out with someone who’s darker than them in a real relationship. Just plumb dumb if you ask me!

  14. Sharon permalink
    June 20, 2010 10:18 am

    Hi Marie!
    What Island is your parents from?

    • Marie permalink
      June 21, 2010 10:58 am

      Sorry, Sharon, I just saw this! Anyway, Dad’s from Barbados and Mom’s from St. Vincent. Ironically (their islands being so close), they never met until their parents moved them to Connecticut!

  15. Sharon permalink
    June 21, 2010 6:14 pm

    Marie :
    Sorry, Sharon, I just saw this! Anyway, Dad’s from Barbados and Mom’s from St. Vincent. Ironically (their islands being so close), they never met until their parents moved them to Connecticut!

    Oh nice Marie, have you ever been to visit either of the islands?

    • Marie permalink
      June 22, 2010 4:26 pm

      I’ve been to Barbados once, as a teen. I look forward to visiting St. Vincent one day…

  16. Sharon permalink
    June 22, 2010 7:11 pm

    Marie :
    I’ve been to Barbados once, as a teen. I look forward to visiting St. Vincent one day…

    Not sure if I mentioned it to you already but I am from Barbados, never been to St.Vincent though.

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