Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Blurred lines

When you’re a single twentysomething and most of your friends start slowly but surely moving towards long-term relationships/marriage/babies, it’s all but impossible to not think about your own relationship status and what your future holds. A lot of people get married in their twenties and just make it look so darn natural. And it really is quite natural for a lot of people, but I think I might be an exception. Now more than ever I am considering this reality. I think about this stage of life which Erikson refers to as Intimacy vs. Isolation. Share your life with someone else or do your own thing flying solo. Which side of that vs. do I want to be on? And how do I negotiate that with my identity formation that continues to happen as a transracial adoptee?

I was in Barnes & Noble the other day and got caught up in this book by American actress Diane Farr called Kissing Outside the Lines which is all about interracial relationships. Farr, a white woman, married Chung Seung Yong, a Korean man. She talks about the struggles they have experienced and also interviews other interracial couples. I was skeptical when I realized an actress was the author, but it’s actually a fascinating read. Maybe what was most refreshing about it was someone tackling the issue of race head-on and making it clear how much race truly still matters, despite the colorblind perspective trying to take over. Isn’t it ironic how some people can preach equal treatment for everyone, but then flip out when one of their own crosses those color lines to find love?

To be honest, now I’m just confused. As a transracial adoptee, those color lines get blurred. For all the progress I’ve made trying to learn more about my Korean heritage and connect with other Asians, I still find myself most often drawn to white suburbanite guys. Given my upbringing, those guys are more familiar to me than guys of my own ethnicity. Even though me being with a white guy would represent an interracial relationship, culturally, I might still have more in common with him. We might not necessarily have the same kind of barriers other interracial couples might have because I grew up so whitewashed. I just have to watch out that I don’t pick someone trying to fulfill an Asian fetish. I know who I am (well, for the most part), but you can’t control how everyone sees you and I know there are men out there who see Asian women as exotic little mail-order brides. I think I’ve been fortunate to avoid such men thus far. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t have a vigilant eye out.

It seems like no matter whom I choose to be with, there may be some kind of cultural misunderstanding, at least initially. It all comes down to people looking at my Asian face and forming expectations based on that. One man might look at me and think subservient China doll. Another might look at me and think we share a cultural upbringing when we don’t. I do think about the possibility of marrying into an Asian family, a Korean family, even. If I never reunite with my birth family, marriage might be my only chance to experience what it’s like being part of a Korean family. My own family has already expressed how happy they’d be if I married an Asian guy which I find..kind of weird. I don’t think they fully realize how significant that union would be. If they’re using me as their standard for what other Asians are like (which I think some of them are), they will be in for a surprise! I am the only Asian in my family. There are no other Asians through adoption, marriage or otherwise. Maybe it would be nice to not be the only one, but there are still other challenges that would come with that. What if I fell in love with a Korean guy and then his family did not accept me as Korean enough? I don’t even need to be put into that situation to know it would be devastating.

At this point in time, I admit I am taking the path of least resistance. For me, to pursue a relationship with a Korean guy raised in a Korean family is maybe the scariest possibility of all. It means risking another rejection. So, I’m not doing that. Not that I’ve had the opportunity to recently anyways. Instead, I’ve started seeing a guy with dirty blonde hair and green eyes. He has rather beautiful eyes. They’re nothing like mine. Will I go my whole life never being with a Korean guy? Does it matter in the end? I really don’t know anymore. At the end of the day, I just want to find someone who sees me as enough. Someone whom I don’t have to worry about being white enough for or Asian enough for. I’m still so young with so much left to learn about relationships. I hope I’m brave enough to fight for love no matter what color it comes in.


  1. I enjoyed this post. As always, you seem to have a healthy perspective on relationships. Congrats on the new boyfriend! :)

  2. Thank you! But no congrats necessary as we're not exclusive! Let's just say I am still exploring my options. :)