Dec 20, 2014

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Why Latinas Are Marrying Non-Latinos

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Interracial and interethnic marriages are at an all-time high, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.  One-in-seven new U.S. marriage in 2008 was interracial or interethnic, with Latinos having the second highest rate (25.7), compared to Asians (30.8), Blacks (15.5) and White (8.9).

The study attributes the increasing trend to the growing acceptance of interracial marriages and the growing number of immigrants in this country, among other factors.

We went straight to the source and opened this conversation in the New Latina Facebook community.  We invited the community to participate in an interview for this article.  In a matter of a hours, we received numerous long, detailed emails by Latina women sharing their thoughts and experiences on marrying a non-Latino man.

In Part I of this conversation, we explore the reasons for being attracted to a non-Latino man.  Part II of this article will discuss experiences of being in an interethnic/racial relationship.

What attracted you to your husband/partner?  Did it have anything to do with his racial/ethnic background?

Similar Values, Outlook on Life & Interests

The most commonly expressed reasons for the initial attraction were based on similarities in values, outlook in life, common interests and passions, and physical appearance.

  • Similar values, common interests and passions (theater, travel internationally, music, food, learn new things)
  • Exciting and fun relationship
  • Personal qualities:  Loving, warm, gentle, kind, polite, intelligent, respectful and considerate
  • Physical looks:  Different appearance (due to mixed ethnic/racial background)
  • Not being taken for granted

“My husband and I were co-workers and friends for a while before we started dating. I decided to date him because we had similar values. He was a hard worker, responsible and we both wanted to try new things. There were things that we did not experience with our families that we wanted to do – attend the theater, travel internationally, learn new things. This made our relationship fun and exciting.”  Esther - married to a Caucasian man

“What attracted me to him was we have mind-melding, we are on the same page. We both have a similar outlook on what we want out of life, passion for living, a love for amazing food, music and travel. His confidence must be a ‘age’ thing also. Him being from Mediterranean/Europe/Middle East, a part of the world that I had negative associations with yet was curious about. I manifested him in a way!”  Michelle – in long-term relationship with Turkish boyfriend

My husband’s intelligence is what attracted me to him. He is a chemist, loves science, insects and the outdoors. We are both avid hikers.  When we go on hikes I get a lecture on topography, entomology and botany, making the long and difficult hikes fun.  I have not suffered from poison ivy or poison oak since I met him!”  Lucy — married to a Caucasian man.

I really felt attracted to his blue eyes.  They were lovely and warm. I felt like he was a gentle and kind man.”  Jeannette — married to a Welsh-Caucasian man

What immediately caught my attention about my husband was how different he looked from anyone else I’d seen until then. A hint of Asian, but without being petite or slight, he lifts weights so obviously that has a great deal to do with it. He still is very physically attractive, but his demeanor has changed drastically from when we first met to when we married and further still as time has passed and we’ve had children. I’m not sure if that’s what you meant, but I didn’t marry him for his looks. We dated for two years before marrying he was the most polite, respectful and considerate man I’d met.” Diana her husband is of Vietnamese/European/native American descent.

Other Voices in this Conversation:

A Caucasian Woman Married to a Brazilian:

Interestingly, Meredith, who’s Caucasian and married to a Brazilian dark-skin man, emphasized very similar reasons for her feeling attracted to her Brazilian husband:

” What initially attracted me to my husband was his good looks and his tanned skin. I am attracted to that which is different from what I am and what I grew up with, to that which is foreign to me. Therefore, I can say with certainty that my husband’s ethnic background did attract me physically to him.”

“I have learned so much from my husband; this must be the greatest blessing from being in a bicultural marriage. Living in my house can be like living in a foreign land. I understand the world better because I have been introduced to a new point of view, to a new way of thinking, and to unusual ways of doing things.”

“Being married to a Latino means being married to someone that comes from a different cultural background than me, that grew up speaking another language, eats rice and beans, watched TV shows as a child that I’ve never heard of, and who did not have the same opportunities in life that I have had as an American.”

 

 

A Vocal Latino Man’s Input

Rudolph, born in Guatemala but raised and educated in the U.S., felt it was important to have his thoughts and views on this subject included in this conversation.  He wrote:

“I believe one of the main reasons Latinas are marrying Gringos is just like one of your posters on face book stated:  Financial security. For some reason a lot of Latino women feel that by marrying a Gringo they will be financially secured. I tend to disagree with that. I know many Latino families who are in the labor force (construction, concrete, carpentry etc.), granted, it’s a bad economy now, but everyone is suffering, not just the middle class. A lot of Latino men in this kind of business (self employed contractors, laborers) work hard, usually 12 hr days, 6 times a week just to get that overtime. The women work just as hard, and they do become successful. It might not be in the professional field, but they’re very successful.”

“Some Latina women see most Latino men as aggressive, uneducated, improperly dressed, dirty, illiterate, alcoholics. These same women see the Gringos, dressed up, nice shoes, polo shirts, Dockers, fancy sunglasses, iPods, and so they see this as a class act, money power,  financially secured and fall for it.”

Final Thoughts

As the Latino community becomes more acculturated and our country becomes more racially/ethnically diverse, we will continue to see a trend towards interracial/ethnic marriages and relationships.

The Latino community is evolving, becoming more culturally-, economically- and educationally-diverse.  This will result in more people gravitating towards those with similar values, perspectives and interests — and,  in some cases, towards individuals and cultures that are different and new.

As evident in this conversation, this is not only the case for Latina women; many non-Latina women are engaging in interracial/ethnic relationships.  In fact, even Latino men are marrying non-Latina women at the same rate as their Latina counterpart.  One thing is for sure:  our innate tendency is to move towards where the heart feels content, excited and peaceful…

So let’s hear it. Why are Latinas marrying non-Latinos?  Your Thoughts, opinions?

Participants:

 

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Angélica Pérez-Litwin

Angélica Pérez-Litwin

Dr. Perez-Litwin is the Founder & CEO of ELLA Leadership Institute, a multi-platform professional development organization designed to advance the careers and leadership of women. She's the creative force behind the LATINAS THINK BIG™ national tour, sponsored and live-streamed by Google.

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Comments

  1. I am Asian and most of my fellow Asian female friends like me married non-Asians. For me, I grew up in the Midwest so was not exposed to many Asians. I married what I grew up with.

  2. When it comes to love…color is not an issue.

    The mixing pot environment that we live in creates an ideal arena for individuals to explore and extend beyond traditional cultural boundaries. Great post!

  3. Love it!

  4. At the risk of stirring the pot I will tell my story. I grew up in a Dominican household where it was very common to hear ” tu tienes que aclarar la raza”– translation: you need to make the race lighter. The idea that I should be attracted to a caucasian gringo was implanted from a young age. I don’t know if it was a subconscious effort to be rebellious. I’ve never been one to follow rules, so since I was a teenager I have always dated and been attracted to darker skin men. Honestly, the initial attraction to anyone you date is always physical and like I always say: you like what you like. It doesn’t matter what color package it comes in. I’m in love with my boyfriend (who is a black american man) not because I think he’s very sexy but also because we have the same values and grew up very similarly. I think at the end we’re attracted to who we’re attracted to but also, what you see and hear growing up may add a little to that.

  5. When I married a white man I don’t think I consciously thought about a mixed Mexican/Swedish marriage. As the research states, I was marrying up; he was older, more educated, had more money and he had a career while I had a job. The race/ethnic issue wasn’t a factor, or so I thought. My marrying up put me in a subordinate position and consequently the marriage failed. I believed that Mexican men would not treat me as an equal but found out that white men treated me “less than” I was worth.
    I had two beautiful children with him and now we are divorced. I have dated other white men but never with the intention of a long term commitment simply because it is too difficult to explain my culture. I am sure I will find a Mexican man out there somewhere with the right qualities for me.

  6. valeria says:

    I agree with Jose above, love is color-blind. I happily threw myself into the dating world with no self-imposed filters on color, race, background, and have great memories of the people I met from all over the globe. My search ended when I fell in love with someone with similar positive outlook on life, strong family values, and deep respect for a healthy communicative relationship… coincidentally, he is also Latino.

  7. In my opinion it could be that a lot of Latino’s are living in suburbs where there are other races and cultures. They may grow up with lots of caucasian people around and feel comfortable around them and grow up attracted to them. I know some latinas like that. I personally grew up in a big city and was exposed to all different types of people, but still find myself attracted to my latino men most of all. I do like other races but I can relate better to someone like myself, with similar upbringing, relgion, belifs and culture which most of the time are Latino men.

  8. brazilian-american says:

    i agree with everything on here. heres what ive noticed in my life:
    -ive noticed that a lot of latino and black men love women of other ethnicities. same with their female counterparts. and ive noticed so many white females going crazzzzy over men of other races. because people are interested in races other than their own-and thats beautiful. my parents are interacially married.
    -ive noticed though that i hardly see white men falling for women of other races. i think its just the white men of my age group because they have yet to become open-minded and they probably listen to their racist fathers a lot(in the town which im remembering of, a lot of while fathers tend to be prejudice.)
    -my father thinks that a lot of latinos and black and even asians like to date other races to do some sort of ‘breeding out’. and i agree to a point-ive met people who hate their own race and want to breed it out of their family. sad, and its not always the case.
    -i definately agree with the last statement the colombian man said. My mother, a latina(brazilian) tends to see white men and asian men as successful. due to stereotypes, its easy to see that image. but people, like my mom, need to wake up and realize that not everyone is the sammmmme. culture has a lot to do with behavior. like machismo within our latino community, but theres always one or more to be different.
    -my boyfriend and i are different yet the same. I am a brazilian-american(latina) or white, black, asian and, native american and amazonian ancestry. my boyfriend goes by afro-brazilian(like how we have african-american) but his mother is considered white. hes a type of mulatto. hes a bit macho, and im proud-not to the point of being a feminazi tho. he does believe tho, that women should be educated and work to pay bills just as men do, altho where he comes from, u see girls of 17 marrying young and starting a family. sometimes not finishing their education. my ass that will be me. and he gets that. he has dreams to continue his education and start a buisness and sometime soon marry me when im finished with college and have kids.

    i think its great to interacially date
    but sometimes I do think some people do it to breed out. but overall, love who your meant to love and dont let race over rule that.

  9. brazilian-american says:

    *everyone is NOT the same. i meant to say. sorry. :S

  10. I am married to a white man. He is the only white guy I ever dated and I immediately fell in love with him. It wasn’t because he wasn’t Hispanic or because I felt i could have a secure financial future. In fact, I was taught to take care of myself first. I fell in love with him because of his big heart and his honesty. It was a breath of fresh air to get honest and direct answers…Always. That is a hard trait to find regardless of your race/ethnicity.

  11. I have found that many Hispanic men are scared of me, so they never approach me. This is probably why I’m engaged to a white man.

  12. Love this topic. I was not going to marry “what I grew up with” as I saw above. I was not going to marry and stay in rural Colorado- that was never my plan. So I went far away from it, to U.C. Berkeley on a U.S. Air Force ROTC scholarship…confusing my traditional Mexican community very much. :-)
    In the trombone section of the marching band, there was a lovely, handsome Japanese young man that I ignored until our junior year when we were chosen to run the band our senior year. Dating happened and the rest is history.
    Therefore, I’d say that what was cited in the article is spot on: “Similar values, common interests and passions.” If you’re building a relationship on anything else on that list, the odds stack against you. We’ll celebrate our 20th anniversary next year. :-)
    Thanks for the awesome topic!

  13. Baldheaded Baby Boy says:

    I think men of all races are increasingly appreciating latinas’ values: physically, sensually and family-oriented,fun and being supportive of husbands even as they make their own way in the world. Honestly, a lot of black and white women have lost respect for their men so these men are looking outward to someone who has retained some traditional values but has a little fire to them for sexual attraction. also, unfortunately, as women (mostly white) advance financially and educationally they often lose their sensuality. not because they are bettering themselves or grew up that way but because their focus shifts to other things. men still value the feminine aspect of women and crave it desperately. this is why many rich men cheat with “lower class” women. latinas most closely resemble what men want today.

  14. Maria Nguyen says:

    When i met my husband 15 years ago at movies Theater, he was 21 and i was 26. He look cute, handsome Vietnamese boy. he look at me and smile, and say something in Vietnamese. I ask him do you say something about me? he reply ” yes mame” i ask so what is the matter? then he say ” nothing i just want to say you are so pretty” i stuck and i say sorry to him for i was mean to him. After that we chat for few minutes, i recognize he is a type of husband i looking for. I sat next to him In the theater, when a movies end he invite to eat dinner, after dinner he say ” it is late now and it danger for you to walk in the dark so i want to go with you your” so i say thank to him. When i enter my car i didn’t forget to ask his phone number. We went dating, but he is 5 years younger and we are difference culture and Race. His parent want him to marry Vietnamese girl, and my Parent want me to marry Chicano guy, or Latino guy. When i was 28 he got me pregnant and he was 23 year old. He told his parent they better kill him if they not let him marry me, he told them he impregnant me. At that time they allow us to marry.I live happy with my husband now, and my parent-in-law treat me like i’m their daughter. We have 4 kids, three daughters and one son. some Latino and Chicano just want to have with me but they didn’t want to marry me. I have to listen to my heart so marry Vietnamese man.

  15. ThePopulationIsTooSmall says:

    I’m a Latina who has not once dated a Latino. It’s not that I wouldn’t like to, but I need a guy who has a strong educational background (like me), knows how to be a gentleman, isn’t promiscuous, and won’t raise his hand at me. I have yet to find a Latino man who meets that criteria.

  16. I’m a Latina and my husband is south east asian.. we met and dated for 2 years and as we puts it we felt very comfortable with each other. Our moral values are the same, we respect each others cultures yet very alike, we must support each others ideals and dreams since we look forward a life together.. like any other marriage we have our days, when we lose it but . overall we’re Very stable and our ethnicity has never been an issue, and it shouldn’t be anyways.

  17. Here’s the deal – their mami, their family and the culture itself babies and coddles latin men to the point where many of them are absolutely insufferable with the sexism and machismo. FACT. It doesn’t count as much if the family raising the man is first generation hispanic-americans, but there’s definitely an issue if the parents or they themselves are from their country of origin. Sure, many latin men break free from this mentality. Many, but not enough. Latin men’s need to be on top is what has driven me away from them – and all three of my previous serious relationships have been with latins. Growing up in Miami (Hialeah particularly), there is nothing BUT latinos to enjoy. And don’t get me wrong – I love the culture. I love the food. Yes, the men are fine fine fine fine DAYUM are some of them fine. Its not about disliking my own culture and upbringing – it’s the latin mentality and attitude towards women that I absolutely despise. The worst part is that many of them don’t notice this. They may be very chivalrous, but that chivalry also comes with a ridiculous double standard.

  18. Hi I,m a product of a MexicanAmerican Man and a White AmericaWomen from the Midwest. I was Born in 1960 when interacial relations was a real no no I have known only indifference and hate My whole life and when You do Your Homework and see How Whites or all Men are You will see if not by words by actions how Whites , Blacks and others percieve You as a less then Just watch Your T.V and See the Non Mexican Perception.

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  1. […] year, we reported on the rise of intermarriage among Latina women and wrote about why Latina women were marrying non-Latinos.  This week, the Pew Research Center released a report on recent findings revealing a rise in […]

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