illustration of a woman of colour on a date with a white man. Yellow background, woman with brown skin and curly hair, pink shirt and a drink in her hand. The man is dark blue and wears a dark blue shirt
Illustration: Djanlissa Pringels

I’m a Woman of Colour Who Mostly Hooks Up With White Men – Is That Bad?

“I’m in my mid-20s and this is quite bizarre for me. Back in school, I used to be invisible to guys like them.”

This article originally appeared on VICE Netherlands.

Ask VICE is a series where readers ask VICE to solve their problems, from dealing with unrequited love to handling annoying flatmates. Today, we’re hoping to help a POC reader who doesn’t understand why she can only flirt with white guys.



I’ve been in an open relationship for a long time. My boyfriend and I are both people of colour. He is totally my type – I really fall for guys like him. But since I’ve been able to date other men, I’ve noticed that I keep making certain choices. I wonder where that comes from, and whether I should worry about it.

When I go out, I often end up with guys who aren’t actually my type at all: white with blonde hair and blue eyes. I also often get attention from them, which makes it nice for me to flirt back. Sometimes, I only have to say a few words to someone to notice that they’re in with a chance. 

This kind of attraction is purely sexual and superficial for me. If I try to flirt with a man who’s my type, I feel very insecure. I clam up and don't know what to say. But with those blonde guys, it's very easy.

I’m in my mid-20s and this is quite bizarre for me. Back in school, I used to be invisible to guys like them, let alone be someone they wanted to date. Growing up in a predominantly white environment, outside the big cities, I always felt I wasn't pretty enough, that I couldn't compete with white beauty standards.


It's not necessarily a bad thing that I occasionally spend a night with a white man, but I wonder where this comes from. Why do I only hook up with white guys, and not with the men I actually find attractive? And why can’t I flirt with men I feel genuinely attracted to? 



Hi A.,

Researchers believe that you develop your own identity during your teenage years. Puberty can have a big impact on how you see yourself, and therefore who you’re attracted to. But it doesn’t mean you don’t continue to grow after that. A lot of things keep influencing who you are as a person, such as the people you date, your friends, the environment you evolve in, your education and your work. 

You’re now at the stage of life where many people learn about what they find attractive and what they want from a partner, so it’s not surprising that you’re discovering you can also fall for different types of men. Still, there’s no harm in questioning this new attraction, especially because your question is also about beauty standards and your attraction to a type of man you used to feel insecure about.

Fariba Rhmaty is a transcultural psychotherapist and co-founder of the Dutch centre Transculturele Therapie (Transcultural Therapy). The practice approaches therapy from a social and cross-cultural perspective, taking into account the patients’ gender, religion, spirituality and sexuality. According to Rhmaty, your question contains several layers relating to your own feelings, but also to the society we live in. By understanding where your new flirting behaviour comes from, you might also be able to understand the insecurities you felt when you were at school. 


What did you learn at home about what it means to be a person of colour? Have you ever felt unsafe or discriminated against as a child? How did your family deal with discrimination? Did you think of yourself as beautiful as a child? These questions could help you understand how you learned to look at yourself. 

Rhmaty says issues of confidence and belonging usually start in the family. If you have a parent of colour, it’s likely that you were made to feel different twice: by the outside world and by your own parents, who also probably felt like they never fit in. “Indeed, chances are that your parents also experienced discrimination,” she says. “As a person of colour, you carry with you a piece of trans-generational trauma, whether it’s unconscious or not.” The extent of these traumas depends on your family history.

This can also affect your love life. You write in your letter that you only fall in love with boys of colour, which is quite normal, says Rhmaty. “Discrimination creates a sense of insecurity, because you’re made aware time and again that you’re not enough,” she explains. “Chances are, you feel safer with people who look like you.” This isn’t a bad thing, BTW!

Rhmaty thinks your new sexual preferences might be a sign that you are stepping out of your comfort zone and opening up to types of people you previously perceived as unsafe – “and you’re finding that you are appreciated. That's actually really nice”, she adds.


You wonder why you’re not falling for the men you flirt with. There could be several reasons for this. How does this flirtatiousness start? What are your expectations? Do you feel completely safe around white men today?

“The feeling of insecurity can sometimes also create attraction," Rhmaty explains. “Flirting then becomes very exciting. You seek the boundaries of your comfort zone, look for affirmation and enjoy the attention you get, especially if you didn't get it in high school.” And yes, that can be completely separate from your need to connect with someone.

The fact that you get nervous around men who are your type is also understandable. After all, those are the guys you can see a future with, so the stakes are much higher.

According to Rhmaty, this development is part of growing up and stepping out of your bubble, especially if you grew up in a predominantly white environment and then went to study or work in a bigger city. When you’re confronted with the fact that there are actually many people with different cultural backgrounds in your country and that you’re not an exception, that can boost your self-confidence. You find out that what made you different in your village can actually be attractive.

That said, Rhmaty emphasises that not every person of colour goes through the same process. The experience of love is different for everyone. And the kind of people you fall for don’t necessarily have to be linked to trauma or a sense of insecurity.

Try not to worry about all of this. Rhmaty recommends speaking to a therapist only if you find yourself being very insecure, unhappy or anxious. As long as you’re honest about your intentions when you flirt and don't break too many hearts, it’s healthy to test out your new confidence in dating. Just try to get to know the world and yourself a little better, and enjoy the journey.