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.”
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?
- Esther Armendariz Ludlow, San Jose, CA, a family and relationship coach. Connect with her at Real Families Coaching.
- Lucy at My Journey Through IndieWood and at Indie Film Love
- Meredith Sarmento, at Meredith in Brasilia
- Michelle Olivera, Founder of Supa Sista Latina
- Jeannette Hunt
- Diana (requested use of first name only)
- Rudolph Gonzales