Swirling Caution: Closet Racists in Interracial Relationships

Salt and PepperYou think you’re smart, right?  You know all the signs of a jerk or a sicko, and you’re watchful when you meet this guy.  He passes all of your filters successfully, and seems like a real prize…until a month or later in the relationship.  Suddenly, red flags start popping up everywhere, and you wonder how you missed that this guy was crazy.

You didn’t miss any signs.  He is not necessarily a narcissist or borderline.  He doesn’t behave this way in all relationships, and does feel empathy, albeit selectively.  Especially if he gave actual sincere, thoughtful answers to the “narcissist kryptonite” questions, he is not ill.  The guy is a “normal” upstanding good citizen.  It’s just that you are “foreign”.  Your boyfriend is expressing an anomic response to you because you are outside his normal circle of empathy.

Anomic behavior happens when a person encounters and may attempt to interact with someone who one perceives as an outsider.  The person behaves in a way that is unusually heartless or deviant compared to their normal ways because they either don’t know what to do, have a pre programmed default, or because they believe there will be no accountability for their actions.  It was described most clearly by Takie Sugiyama Lebra in Japanese Patterns of Behavior, but it is not a phenomenon unique to the Japanese.

What is important to understand is that all people of all cultures, all ethnicities, and all walks of life do this.  It may cause problems that may or may not be solvable.  It is not necessarily the person’s fault that their initial responses are anomic, but they should be held accountable for harmful behavior nonetheless.  Some things are a matter of basic human respect.  However, if your partner comes from a culture wherein people are raised in denial or dishonesty, or if they have been taught that certain people are more or less valuable based on accidents of birth rather than individual conduct, unless they are a very independent thinker, you won’t be the one to change their mind.

If you are considering a relationship with someone of a different culture, you should bear these things in mind.  You will be on the receiving end of some anomic responses, and you will be guilty of some yourself.  Whether or not your relationship survives depends on both of your ability to overcome this and see each other as whole persons and not just icons representing your peoples or a subsection of your peoples.

It will be helpful for you to understand that racism is not some weird cultural deviation.  It is quite normal.  Though children are not born with it, this develops along the way of their learning appropriate and inappropriate behavior, how to relate to people peacefully, and who to avoid due to “stranger danger”.  It would be nice if things were otherwise, but so long as there are different ethnicities, there will be racism.  Even if we were all mixed beige people, those in different classes or adapted to different regions would still have different customs, views, and regard others unlike themselves as strangers or outsiders.  So denial of differences or denial of the behavioral manifestations of differences doesn’t help anyone.

A closeted or subconscious racist could have had a great relationship history before, but behave like a narcissist towards you because of over entitlement and belief in stereotypes about people from your culture.  Someone could expect a European woman to be more promiscuous and down with all sorts of kink just because she’s “white”, or expect an Asian woman to be submissive by default, or expect an African woman to accept verbal and physical abuse and degradation because of rap videos and movies in which we suffer in silence.

If you intend to date outside your culture, read up on narcissistic and borderline personality disorders.  “Nice guys” who are very well behaved and follow the rules with women of their own culture often show their darker side to women of different cultures because we are outside of their normal experience.  Remember the immortal words of the Marquise de Sade, “Every man wants to be a tyrant when he fornicates…”

Sometimes guys who think they are good aren’t really good guys.  They’re just very well contained and fearful of reprisal.  If they date someone within their ethnicity, they know the consequences of screwing up.  Their reputation will be damaged among their own people, and there may even be physical consequences, such as being easily found and beat up by relatives, or professional consequences if she is connected to his boss.  Harming a woman outside their ethnicity has unseen or unknown consequences, and some guys convince themselves that there are none at all.

I, of course, have no problem with interethnic relationships, so long as people go into them with their eyes open.  Have your eyes open both about human nature and about your potential mates’ culture specifically.  You want to be very sure this person thinks critically, not just about culture, but about themselves.  Their sense of honor must be so that they would not break it just because someone is from a different culture.  If they treat you in any way less than they would treat women of their own culture, confront them about it.  If they don’t take responsibility for it, get out before it gets worse.

Now, let’s talk about you, the woman in this situation.  Check yourself.  Are your relationship problems because of his anomie or yours?  Did you go into the relationship expecting or demanding different things from your man because he is from a certain culture?  Are these things based on truths about his culture and how men within it are generally raised, or are they based on ideas and rumors you got from a different source?  Are you sure that you understand crucial cultural differences?

Now the big question…What will happen if something goes wrong?

Many women from ethnicities that are considered higher class than the men they date or marry enjoy the benefits of being with someone who is considered more masculine, more practical, and more romantic than her male peers.  Everything is fine until she gets angry, and then all the nasty stuff that was hiding under the surface comes out.  She will use the power of her privilege (institutional or illusory cronie-ism based) against him when push comes to shove.  A woman of perceived lower class may turn “damsel in distress” and use popular sympathy for the plight of her people against a man of perceived higher class.

Then there is an increasing trend of anomic behavior by women against men regardless of ethnicity.  Men of more pro male cultures will suffer the most from this, but where manhood has been villainized, all men are vulnerable.

If there is any situation in which you could imagine turning on your man, making false claims against him just for pissing you off, or as a way of getting rid of him, or for simply not living up to your exoticized expectations, you should not be in any relationship, much less an interracial one.  So give this some thought.  The rainbow ideal may be a nice one, but the reality on Earth is not always nice.

Before you consider dating out, look within.

About Mamasan

I'm a multifaith spiritual counselor with lots of experience assisting people with improving their relationships. Feel free to comment on the site or contact me if you have an issue you'd rather discuss privately.

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