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Interethnic Romantic Relationships: Enacting Affiliative Ethnic Identities


  • This article was edited by Ralph LaRossa.

Department of Sociology, University of British Columbia, 6303 NW Marine Dr., Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1, Canada (


Through in-depth interviews with respondents who were in interethnic relationships (N = 28), the authors extended and refined a new approach to mate selection based on affiliative ethnic identities (T. Jimenez, 2010). Rather than assimilation and a breakdown of ethnic group boundaries, they found that people pursued interethnic relationships because of the ethnic differences they include. These relationships gave them access to an affiliate ethnic or multicultural identity. This perspective does not challenge but rather complements existing theories of mate selection, including the role of opportunity structures, exchange of benefits, and growing acceptance of or freedom to pursue interethnic relationships. Ethnic differences can remain central as people meet, fall in love, and marry across these differences.