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Blast Los Angeles Bureau

When I first met my current boyfriend, I didn't know what he looked like for four months, and because we were on a first-name basis only, I had no idea what ethnicity he was. I had found a posting on a bulletin board from someone looking for a pen pal, and the ad was so interesting that I wrote to him. We hit it off immediately.

We sent e-mail back and forth almost every day on all subjects. After a while, we decided to meet for a movie and hang out. Now we've been an item for two-and-a-half years, and I'd like to think that it'll last a long, long time.

Darin is a white man, and I am an Asian woman. Prior to meeting him, my long-term boyfriends have been Asian, and I'm not with them because things didn't work out one way or the other.

Interracial relationships seem to bring out the worst in people. I have heard accusations -- none of which were ever said directly to me, in true cowardly fashion -- running the gamut from my presumed prejudice against Asian men to the fact that no Asian man would want me anyway because I'm too independent.

The quick, defensive answer would be to say that I'm bigger than all this racial prejudice and that it shouldn't matter whom I date as long as there's love and respect in the relationship -- synergy, not symbiosis. I'm not the one with the problem, I could say. You are. Get over it.

Or I can dig deeper and explain why I'm attracted to Darin and why I love him.

He is a smart guy. He's cute. He has ethics and morals. He has a great, if warped, sense of humor. He can watch a movie once and tell you every single plot point and detail a decade later. He doesn't expect me to cook dinner every night. He would punch someone who's harassing me, even if I didn't ask for his help. He has a mean streak but in the end would go to the wire for a friend.

I don't love him because he's white. That's as bad as loving someone who has a sweet car or a high-paying job or curly hair or blue eyes. I don't date people for such shallow purposes.

On the same token, I don't hate Asian men or being Asian. In fact, I'm quite proud of my ethnicity and have no interest in hiding it. I agree that Asian men aren't given a fair shake in this country and that damaging stereotypes continue to exist. If Darin were an Asian man, I'd still date him. Or if he were Latino, black or anything else. Strength and confidence are not race exclusive; neither are stupidity and insecurity.

But that doesn't mean that I should be limited to dating only Asians. I don't feel guilt over the fact that one more Asian guy is single because I'm with a white guy. I have no obligation to be politically correct in my love life. I'm not apologizing for my decision, and I won't feel sorry for whiners.

I don't buy the whole "different cultures" argument either -- the cultural differences are so divisive that it becomes a problem, or the relationship has fetishistic overtones. For all my Asian-ness, I was still raised in the good ol' USA, and we all have a thing or two in common at the end of the day. Yet, learning about different cultures is enriching as well. Darin knows about Chinese New Year and likes dim sum, and I finally learned what "pull my finger" means, although I still don't know why it's so damned funny. Must be a boy thing.

Anyone who's seen us together can assure you that there's no weird connection between us. He certainly is not going out with me because he is interested in all things Asian or looking for a "traditional" woman. I wouldn't be with him if he were.

While I can't speak for every woman in this interracial scenario, I can say that love is hard to come by. It seems silly to reject someone just because he's not the "right" ethnicity. I can understand not wanting to date a lazy ass or someone abusive or an inconsiderate boor. However, to love someone because of his or her skin color or cultural background doesn't make sense. It's the quality of the soul that matters in the end.