There are many blogs out there written by interracial couples that focus on the challenges of a culture clash in their family, or one person in the relationship adjusting to customs and the language of living in a new country.For anyone reading this thinking that this blog will be about the cultural challenges that Alena and I face as an interracial couple: I’m sorry to disappoint you. :-)This blog is and always will be an honest representation of our relationship, and the truth is, we fortunately haven’t had many challenges. Of course, our generally positive situation is just a sample of one, and I’m sure other interracial couples have different experiences, depending on what kind of racial pairing they are, where they live, whether there is a language barrier, and whether they are immigrants or are 2nd or 3rd generation.
In sharing our experience, and showing that it’s been mostly positive, we hope that it encourages singles to expand their dating circles and look to date and be in a relationship with someone based on who they are, and not reject someone based on their race. The friends that we hang out with and people we know are open minded with dating interracially, but I'm still surprised when I read about how prevalent discrimination is by race when it comes to online dating. Our Background as an Interracial Couple
Alena grew up in a small town in Northeast Pennsylvania, and her family is originally from Slovenia, a Central European country with only two million people. But she also lived in Asia for a year and appreciates Asian culture. My family is originally from China, a country with over a billion people, and I was born and raised in the diverse city of Brooklyn, NY, where I made friends with people from all backgrounds. We haven't had a language issue, as we both grew up speaking fluent English. We haven't had a culture clash, as both of our families have been in the U.S. for over four decades. We both grew up in American culture and appreciate each other’s ethnic background. We’re an American couple who share many values and interests outside of race. Fortunately, Alena and I have had overwhelmingly positive experiences and only a few negative experiences as an interracial couple.The Positives Being from Different Ethnic BackgroundsHere are some of the positives: • The food! We’ve introduced each other to new favorite foods. Alena had dim sum for the first time with me, and loves it. Alena introduced me to Potica, a nut roll from Slovenia, and I love it. Our family get togethers come with a mix of homemade ethnic dishes from both of our families, and it makes for a delicious meal.
• A chance to break stereotypes. As a rare combo of being an Asian male, White female (AMWF) couple and sharing a blog like this, we feel like we’re playing our very small part in breaking stereotypes of Asian guys not being good romantic partners or Caucasian girls not being interested in Asian guys. Every time we go somewhere or meet new people together, we make it a little less uncommon to see AMWF couples. • Children who have a chance to learn a second language at home. Kids of any background can learn a second language, but if one or both parents speak a second language, there is an opportunity for the kid to grow up bilingual and get practice speaking at home. I grew up speaking Chinese at home with my mom, and I’ll try to continue teaching our son Chinese as well.
The Only Negative We’ve Encountered Being from Different Ethnic Backgrounds
• Stares on occasion in the street. On a rare occasion, there would be some people that would give us a surprised look on the street or do a double take – perhaps because it is uncommon to see an Asian male, White female pairing, If that’s the case, let them stare and get use to it.Fortunately, these reactions don't happen often in our daily lives, as we live in the Washington, DC metro area, an area where interracial couples generally have had positive experiences. We also felt very comfortable in our travels to major American cities like New York City, San Francisco, Miami, and Philadelphia. The only city in our travels that we didn’t feel as comfortable was in Athens, Greece, where we got stares from a good number of people who saw us in the street –and even encountered some crazy guy in passing yelling at me in Greek – but it’s likely due to the fact that there were barely any interracial couples in Athens, and we just stood out amongst the crowd.
With all the websites and blogs out there that give dating and relationship advice, why would I spend hours upon hours creating yet another one? Well, I have five reasons:1. I want everyone to benefit from my dating mistakes and discoveries. Even though the name of the blog sounds more ethnic or interracial relationship focused, the information here is universal for all singles and couples, and will be relevant today and tomorrow. It was a long, difficult journey for me to find the right person. I made my mistakes and had my a-ha moments, and I want to take everything I know and pour it into one guide. If there is even one person who benefits from an idea in this blog, then that’s a win.
2. I want to help the good fellas and ladies out there in the love department. There are some dating blogs out there for guys who want to be pick up artists, and some that chronicle all the wild adventures of a girl dating in the city. I have nothing against those blogs, but this one is for the good guys and girls out there who are looking to play for keeps. This blog is for: the guy who was rejected when they were in high school because they didn’t have the fancy car or was not the jock. The girl who has tried for years to look for a good guy, but ends up meeting jerks. The guy who worked hard in school, got good grades and a decent job but didn’t have much time to date or doesn’t have a ton of experience. The single mom who is struggling to meet the right guy who will be there for her and her daughter. This is the blog I would have liked to read when I was single. 3. I want to inspire the underdogs out there. All our lives, we hear and see in pop culture that the masculine ideal is ‘tall, dark, and handsome.’ That’s what we see in Hollywood. That’s what sexy cologne advertisements in magazines show us. That’s what Taylor Swift sings in ‘Wildest Dreams.’ And being 5 foot 2 and single, that sucks. There was nothing I could do in the tall department. I was the last person you would notice in a crowded room. When I was doing online dating, there were many girls that said they wouldn’t date anyone under 5 foot 10 and filtered me out. There is a dating bias against guys who are short – just google ‘height and dating’ and you’ll get a ton of articles about this. In addition, I didn't come from money or privilege. When I was dating, I was rejected hundreds of times, and suffered through heartbreak after heartbreak. I wasn’t able to date anyone past 3 months until I met my wife, Alena. But that’s what makes this blog unique – it’s not written by a guy who was destined to succeed. If anything, the odds were against me to end up with anyone, yet alone someone as amazing as Alena. But every time I fell, I got back up and went back to the drawing board, worked to up my game, and with a bit of fate, I eventually found the right person who didn’t care about something superficial like height. And if I can do this, so can you. In the famous words of Marianne Williamson, “As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others.” I want to inspire the underdogs out there. And in talking about underdogs in love... 4. I want this blog to help break stereotypes and change the image of Asian American men. Google ‘Asian American men’ and all the articles that pop up either talk about the difficulties of Asian guys in dating or try to dispels myths about them. Research shows that Asian American men have a tougher time getting a date on OkCupid. And it’s not due to the lack of their education, income, or attractiveness. I think it partly has to do with their game (and this blog should help), and partly how they're seen in society or the lack of their visibility in romantic roles. In Hollywood, you can likely name 10 white male romantic leads. Can you name even two Asian ones? What we do see instead are Asian guys who are nerdy or who can do kung fu. And that’s not reality. And if I can’t be John Cho, Daniel Dae Kim, or Steven Yuen, I’m going to change that image online in the way I know how – through writing and speaking out. My goal is to give hope to those Asian men or anyone feeling stereotyped out there that it is possible to succeed in dating, neutralize the BS that’s out there that Asian guys lack in the love department, and normalize the uncommon interracial relationship between Asian males and White females. This is part of the reason why we named this blog Bao Meets Bagel. Do I think that this one blog will change the world? Not at all. But my hope that it will empower one Asian American guy to succeed and inspire him to do his own blog, and then another and another, until the stereotypes and images become out of date. We can’t wait for media and Hollywood to change stereotypes – we have to make our own images and channel our inner Gandhi to be the change we wish to see. I want my future son, Liam, to have better odds in dating than I had. 5. If nothing else – if just my wife reads this – it’s a nice memento to capture a special time in our lives. I want to capture these thoughts while I'm still young and when it's still fresh in my mind instead of waiting too long and being the middle aged dad giving dating advice by starting with "when I was your age...." J