Are Cross-cultural Connections On The Rise?

With cross-cultural connections on the rise, why not expand your list of dating possibilities?

By Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

andoori chicken, sushi, quesadillas and escoveitch fish may pop up on your local trendy restaurant menu, but these tasty international dishes don't just represent the latest in haute cuisine. They also signify America's expanding global awareness and the subsequent melding of diverse cultures. It was just a matter of time until the cross-cultural exchange would turn to dating and marriage.

“I never considered dating a white guy,” says Reyna, a soft-spoken Mexican beauty. “I just stuck
Gone are the days when homogeneous, one-faith couples were the norm.
to Latin men, but there were no Latinos at my new job. I'm at my job more than any place else and never have time to meet new people. So when Brian asked me out, I thought, why not?”

Why not indeed
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there has been a significant rise in interracial and cross-cultural couples over the last thirty years. About five percent of all married couples are interracial, and as societal and cultural barriers dissolve, more people feel free to date outside of their own cultural or ethnic group.

“Why should I limit my options?” asks Caroline of her decision to date African-American men. A sassy brunette of Scottish ancestry, she feels that only dating men from one group will narrow her chances of finding Mr.Right.

“Who knows what my soulmate looks like? I'm not going to turn him away just because he might look a little different than I do.”

But looks aren't the only concern involved. Social and economic status, lifestyle and spiritual beliefs are all crucial factors in any dating situation, not just cross-cultural.

“I had a hard time convincing my parents that I wouldn't be influenced by my Jewish girlfriend's
They thought I would wind up converting.
beliefs,” admits Ted, who's Fillipino and from a devout Catholic family. “They thought I would wind up converting, but I never even discuss religion with her. It's too touchy.”

Touchy subject or not, more people are choosing to expand their dating horizons beyond what their parents or grandparents once considered acceptable. Not only has cultural exchange grown but so have expectations of what couples and families should look like.

Gone are the days when homogeneous, one-faith couples were the norm. Same-sex couples, interfaith couples as well as interracial and cross-cultural pairings are now commonplace. The resulting tolerance and acceptance encourages more people to give it a try.

Love knows no bounds
In the end, it's an individual's choice whether to date people from other cultures or ethnic groups, and it appears that increasing numbers are taking the leap.

The Association of Multi-Ethnic Americans was formed in 1988 to promote awareness and support of the growing number of people who claim more than one ethnic background. They lobbied the U.S. Census to stop forcing respondents to choose only one racial or ethnic category. For the first time in history, the 2000 census allowed people to choose as many categories as they liked to describe themselves.

Much like the globe-trotting restaurant trend, American society is realizing that variety is indeed the spice of life.

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a freelance writer who contributes to Happen magazine.
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