I'll never forget the concerned look that a friend of mine gave me when my girlfriend struck up a very casual conversation with a black guy who happened to be standing next to us in a bar one night.
It was as if my friend felt I couldn't compete with the mutual blackness this man and my partner shared, and that everything else paled (excuse the pun) in comparison.
So when I tell you that I was in a relationship with a woman and money was a huge factor in our dynamic, I can understand if you assume that I was more interested in what was in her purse than what was in her head or heart.
While I have to admit that I have my fair share of character flaws (vanity and arrogance coupled with spurts of crippling self-doubt -- I'm a writer, remember), I’m not quite that shallow.
When I took my partner to England for the first time last year, an uncle reproached me for not "warning" him that she was black.
Even more strange, my English friends kept mistakenly calling my partner by my black ex-girlfriend's name. These are the types who will openly shake their heads and turn up their noses.
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I've even felt the judgments from many of my closest white friends.
I sometimes wonder how many people are scared of the idea of cross-racial dating or relationships by all of this nonsense - all the assumptions, stereotypes and judgments that they would have to deal with from other people. Many friends tell my partner and I that we are so lucky to have each other and to love each other like we do.
But how many people in South Africa, and elsewhere no doubt, are dramatically reducing the pool from which they might be able to draw someone they really love, just by their inability to consider being with someone who happens to have a different skin color?
Even as a guy, I've been counseled with that golden nugget of wisdom on more occasions than I can count. typically an end that wasn't achieved until it was found in a slightly shabbier store, on sale.
Growing up in a solidly middle-class family, money wasn't ever a pressing issue. I knew anyone urging me on to life as a kept man at best or a gold digger at worst wasn't totally serious -- but they also weren't totally joking.