Korean-American Teenage Boy Worries His GF Only Dates Him Because She Likes K-Pop, and The Internet Chimes In
K-Pop can be addictive!
Redditor u/kid_colby has a unique romantic issue. He thinks his girlfriend may have an ulterior motive to their love story. And he's not sure if it's a problem or not. He wrote... Am I(17M) being fetishized by my girlfriend(17F)...
So we are both in high school and we met through her being a friend of my cousin and we both liked K-pop started talking about that the fact that i speak a semi fluent Korean (because my mom sometimes speaks Korean) came up and the next day she asked me out in Korean and said yes; i thought it was cute. so now we have been dating for 4 months (keep in my mind I am nowhere near looking as good as a K-pop star. I don't have any sugary or anything like that) and she always says about how much I look like this idol or this idol and whenever she compliments me it's always comparing me to one of her guys in a group that she likes. I honestly think I'm being fetishized what do you think.
You're not the only one!
I'm a black guy from a pretty exclusively white community. I'm VERY familiar with that weird uncertainty that you're feeling. I've found it really is best to trust your guy and, above all else, be direct. Just call her out when she says something that you're interpreting as problematic, and then see what she has to say. If she says you look like someone, say "I definitely don't see it, why do you think we look alike?" If she says she loves Korean guys, ask "ALL Korean guys? Every single one? What are you saying?" Most effective of all, just straight up ask her if she likes you or if she likes the fact that you're Korean, and be prepared to elaborate why and how she makes you feel that way.
Calling her out is uncomfortable, but, if you're too uncertain to otherwise just break up with her, it might be worth it. That said, 9.5 times out of 10, I have found that when someone bring up my race or a race-specific comparison (like saying I look like black or mixed-race celebrities I realllllllllly don't actually look like), then my gut about them was right and they're more into their weird, fetishized "idea" of me than the actual, imperfect, but very real me.
I'm not either of the people you posed this question to, but I understand the point of view.
It doesn't feel good to have yourself basically erased, especially when it comes from someone you care about. Fetishizing basically means that the person is not interested in you as a person, but whatever group you represent to them. It could be any group.
Who likes vanilla?
I'm a white guy and when I was using online dating sites I was bombarded by black girls who always seemed to start every message off about how they are into white boys. It was weird. Who the hell talks like that?
We are not the same person!
I think "why do you think we all look alike" is definitely the wrong way to approach that. It's a leading question that instantly puts someone on the defense rather than giving them an honest opportunity to explain themselves. I also doubt a 17-year-old girl is going to be able to recognize and respond to leading question in any way that won't cause conflict.
It would be better to ask "why do I look similar to them" or "why do you think we look alike?" Finding out the truth doesn't require creating conflict.
Use your words...
She's most likely a koreaboo and is dating you because you can fulfill her fantasy. I feel like every K-pop fan goes through this phase in their life. It's so cringe and she will regret it one day. Does she ever speak to you in Korean or do aegyo?
She may love ALL of you...
It might depend on how she is doing it, if it is just something about you she particularly likes, then that would be fine, but if it seems like it is all she likes about you, or if she likes this fact about you above who you are as a person, then that might be worrying.
How do you feel about her?
Do you feel like you have a sincere connection otherwise? Does she seem interested in your life and feelings? Does she comment on qualities of yours that go deeper than your race? You say that K-pop is an interest you share, is it possible that her actual intention in talking about it or in making these comparisons is not to assimilate you into it, but to use it to connect with or flatter you?
K-pop can be a romance killer!
I like K-pop and when I was 17 I went on a language learning app to learn Korean and I ended up meeting my ex who was Korean (i'm white). I never compared him to idols and I wasn't exclusively looking for a Korean boyfriend either, and still am not now. From what you said it sounds like yeah, she is fetishizing you. If she doesn't like you for you and only likes you cuz she thinks you look like ____ from ____ K-pop group I'd be upset :/
Be the fetish?
To me, it in fact sounds like she is fetishizing you.
OP, do not be with someone who wants to be with you because of your specific race and who compares you to idols instead of complimenting your individuality. You're young so you might not always see the signs of fetishizing but the things you listed are very valid.
If you are personally okay with this then continue but do not enable her to continue to fetishize, there is a point where it needs to be stopped and controlled.
My BF is Chinese and I like K-pop myself so I can relate to you on some parts.
She seems a bit off...
Hey, mixed girl here. Usually your gut feeling is right when it comes to being fetishized. My ex was definitely into me because I looked Asian (I'm a lightskinned Latina so... no?!) and another few guys dated me because they wanted a feisty Latina with my body shape.
My fiance loves the way I look and learned how to cook better Colombian food than I can. He loves learning about my culture and is trying to learn some Spanish. He definitely didn't start dating me because of my ethnicity, but even before we dated he asked about my upbringing, etc.
There's a way to be interested in your interracial SO without being a creep, and I think your GF is a creep.
Racism is an insidious, and unfortunately prevalent, force in all of our daily lives. Maybe we're on the receiving end of it, being treated differently and losing opportunities because of others' preconceived notions.
Or maybe we're on the other side of things. Even those who aren't actively racist or discriminatory still have to process the world through the filters of the things they've been told about people who are different.