Dating Interracially While Natural

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“Why are you walking so fast, babe? It’s just rain.”

“Oh, just hush & come on!”

“Is this a black girl hair thing?”

Yes. Yes, it was. There have been many times in my life, mostly as I’m fleeing from water & mostly with people who call me “babe,” when and for whom I’ve been called upon to clarify whether something is a black girl hair thing.

Interracial dating, you see, isn’t my novelty so much as my norm. There’s been only just enough of an assortment over the years to distract me from the very obvious truth of my very obvious “type.” It wasn’t until a roommate once pointed out that a rebound bore a striking resemblance to my previous beau that it at last occurred to me nearly every serious boyfriend I’ve had since the age of majority could be hauled in under the same all-points bulletin. Early to Mid-Thirties. Tall. Lean. Shaved Head. White Male.

And while there are there are a litany of hot buttons on which people will expound when confronting the intersection of dating & race, for me, the Rubicon of the black girl-white boy relationship has always been as simple as broaching the subject of my hair. From the one-month wonders to the loves of my life, when it comes to dating, I’ve frequently had to contend with white boys’ unfamiliarity, appreciation, frustration, and fascination with my ‘do. It’s a love-hate relationship that I have with the relationship the men I like and love have with my hair. Say that ten times fast.

There are always those early first few sleepovers during which I’ll forgo wrapping my hair at bedtime so that I might achieve the ludicrous goal of looking pretty in my sleep.  I neatly splay the scarf over the pillow, only to have it balled up somewhere under the sheets by dawn, & discreetly reposition it in time for morning pillow talk. Soon enough, they’d get around to noticing this little dance, inquiring after its purpose, & listening rapt to my explanation regarding the varying moisture retentions of cotton & silk.

“I’m actually supposed to wrap my hair with it,” I say. “It gets damaged when I don’t.”  My tone is inevitably half sheepish confession and half accusation, as though I acknowledge the silliness but have chosen to lay its partial responsibility at his feet.

“Oh,” he’d shrug in reply. “Then why didn’t you?”

Other thresholds will come, and other questions with them. Why can’t he run his fingers through it while we cuddle? Why don’t I ever want to make love in the shower? I would hear them all as though he were impugning me for denying him life’s myriad sensual pleasures by way of my high maintenance.

I felt it wise, at times, to judge men by their judgment of my hair. It’s not exactly a bad yardstick either. There were those who did wield it as a weapon to wound. The sound of a paddle brush stroking through weft hair was of a particular annoyance to one unfortunately long-lasting partner, a fact he was fond of spitting forth in his surlier moments. But the most part, they were, at worst, entirely less concerned than I gave them credit for and, at best, the most reliable source of encouragement for which I could ever ask.

There was a distinctly, devilishly awestruck “wow” elicited from a former flame on first sight of my newly natural hair that let me know, in no uncertain terms, I had made the right choice. And long before I began my transition, long after I’d all-but-forgotten it was even there, it was my beaus who’d express their desire to see my natural hair. “Why don’t you wear it like that? I bet it’s beautiful,” they’d say, & still I’d find a way to get defensive or to tell them they were in the wrong.

Why did their simple curiosity put me so on edge? Why did I react as though there were four hundred years of history in our bedroom when it was really two lovers learning about one another minds & bodies. What could be sweeter?

I found the more confident I felt in my own skin, less intrusive those questions felt. The comfort level I need to attend to is not theirs, but my own. They’re already my biggest fans.

Kischa Ford is a writer in New York.

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  • Dimples12553

    I guess I am the opposite. I actually let my man wash and comb my hair. He is actually very gentle with it, more gentle than I am when it comes to doing my own hair. I guess it is because he does not want to hurt me. He likes to put my hair in huge sections so that he can oil it with the sheacoconut butter mix that I made for my hair. He has been doing it for some time now.

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  • Kelsie91

    This article is dumb and sad LOL.

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    • GoldenAura

      care to elaborate?

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  • Ynl

    My husband is Black & loves my natural hair. I’ve known him since age 11 so he’s seen my hair & me in every state. He mostly disliked my relaxed hair but he didn’t put emphasis on my hair styles, textures or hair rituals in the course of our daily life. I’ve been approached by men of other ethnicities but never dated &I believe when they’re attracted to us our hair is the last thing they care about. Men will be men no matter what& I think those who believe that Black men treat women worse have been involved with the wrong men or have very little experience being in relationships. As women we have hangups over hair, looks, weight &lots of other nonsense that we should let go off. Love who you love& enjoy your life, and let your man play in that hair if he wants to

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  • mercedesweems

    my other half is scot/irish and indian and he loves my natural hair. he thinks its fascinating to watch me do it and likes to touch it after i have finished styling which of course im not always a fan of but i cant stand to see that hurt look he gets i love him for loving me through the transitioning i had and the journey to loving my curls. and yes it is a learning curve bc u have to explain what they dont understand it makes for interesting conversation and helps them to understand you just a bit more. he knows how much my hair means to me and refuses to let me even think about cutting it. he loves it bc it makes me stand out at work and in public. he once told me that ever since i went natural im more proud about the way i hold myself is stronger and its like im walking on air when i have my hair out and about. i love him for it. and honestly it really shouldnt matter what color they are as long as they love you and treat you well power to you. yes it is a different playing field bc it is a culture clash but if you love each other it works. we have made it work for 5 years and still going strong.

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  • TWA4now

    Sometimes other races appreciate us and our hair more than we do. Some of the most hurtful and rude comments have come from my own black race. at the dentist, this Caucasian intern was genuinely curious about my ahir since the last time 6 months ago) had had straight hair and on this day I was wearing a wash and go. She had all types of questions and I smile and answered them all. Finally, she said, “I wish my hair did that” and that made all the questioning worth while. Have a HHJ!

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  • alt-K

    I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to shower with my hubby for fear of ruining my hair…maybe it’s just me, but I’d just not worry about the hair. You can do it [the hair] later :) Jus sayin.

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  • Alia

    this is literally the story of my dating life! I’m also into white guys and from high school on when I had my first real interracial relationship, I spent so many times trying to disguise my high maintenance in regards to my hair.

    I can recount I had relaxed hair until a year ago when I went natural though in the past, I remember sleepovers where I wouldn’t wrap my hair up because I was embarrassed and wanted to look pretty asleep or cuddled up.

    I was a big advocate in letting one of my ex-dudes run his hands through my hair because he was gentle but later down the line it became a problem with another ex-beau that loved to get hot and heavy and needles to say, every time we hooked up I would ruin my hair and sweat out my perm.

    I still haven’t come to terms with this issue as it relates to me dating white guys but I feel the stigma less now that I’m natural because I find it releasing to be open about why I have to do what I have to do with my hair. Great article.

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  • http://www.frauwyler.blogspot.com frauwyler

    The problem is rarely with the guys- my husband is really fascinated by my own/natural hair, he doesn’t really like weaves. For a long time I found myself trying to justify wanting/needing a weave and then I realised just how stupid my reasons were…since then I have made a decision to love my own hair, knots and all!
    http://www.frauwyler.blogspot.com

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  • Yoshi

    I’m really lucky to be dating a guy who loooves playing with my natural hair. Personally I think I look best wearing a lace front but my boyfriend who’s white prefers my real hair/texture. I do refrain from tying it up at night because i want to look pretty when I”m sleeping and he loves playing with it when we’re in bed. Need to be more disciplined with that! As someone who’s newly natural, I’m really glad he loves my fro so much, it makes me appreciate the unique qualities of my natural hair more than I normally would.

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  • Adrian

    Poor thing. Doesn’t she realize the entire point of BEING natural is so you can experience sex in the shower, wonderful rain w/o running like a banshee, and your man playing in your curls. This sounds like a woman who has a perm/relaxer.

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  • lightskinblackgirl

    I have personally never dated a white guy, so this is just experience cessation I’ve had that had nothing to do with us being together. My problem with white men and women and my natural is that they want to touch it, ask is all this your hair, and talk about like your hair is defying whatever preconceived notion they have about it.if you like white men more power to you and thank you for more options of black men. If your mate loves your hair, but in arguments spouts out negativity towards it he doesn’t really love he is tolerating it for the sake of your relationship, but would prefer if you were perfect. As far as black men not loving your natural hair, it is all up to the man, because usually they have seen their sister’s, momma’s auntie’s and cousin’s hair change week to week and day to day. If he can’t understand you loving your hair it’s because he is looking for a specific picture in his head, and he wants perfection. It has nothing to do with your hair it is him

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  • Tiffani

    Hmm I’ve never missed the chance to kiss in the rain or have sex in the shower. Even when my hair was relaxed it’s just hair. I don’t think that has anything to do with being black or white but just how seriously you take your hair. I have 3C hair that is quite nappy, as in tangled. And I let my boyfriend play with all the time. He is NEVER permitted to run his fingers through it bc that’ll be a disaster but I let him pull my individual curls and “pat” my hair.

    My friends with weaves will jump right in the pool if we’re having fun. You can always redo your hair.

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  • Macintouch

    My fiancé loves my hair texture, its secrets and he even helps me with it when i need extra hands. Hair has never been a problem in our ‘interracial’ relationship.
    But it’s soooo true that so many Black men can be very judmental about natural style but there are the less aware of the subject.

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