Swirl Dating Meaning – All You Need To Know About “Swirling”

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swirl dating meaning

When you hear the term “swirl dating,” do you immediately think of a relationship? Or do you think of a swirl of colors? Well, you’re sort of right on both occasions.

Swirl dating refers to interracial dating. While the phrase started as referring mainly to black and white partners, today it is used to reference any interracial relationship.

What does swirl mean in slang?

You may have heard things like “swirl,” “swirling,” or “being down with the swirl” referenced in popular culture. Those are just different variations of the phrase swirl dating. In other words, being open to dating outside of your race, ethnicity, or nationality. 

What is a swirl couple?

Interracial couple in the middle of a park
Interracial couple in the middle of a park.

Swirl couples are relationships between two individuals who are from different races. These types of relationships are becoming increasingly popular among younger generations, especially millennials. Swirl couples tend to be more open-minded and accepting of other cultures and lifestyles.

It’s important to remember that these relationships aren’t always easy. There are many challenges that swirl couples face, including communication issues, financial difficulties, and cultural differences. However, if both partners are willing to work through these obstacles together, they can create a lasting relationship.

What does it mean to be down with the swirl?

In swirl relationships, both parties tend to be open-minded and accepting of differences. The goal is to create a healthy environment for both members of the relationship. In fact, swirl couples are often able to overcome many of the challenges that come along with being part of an interracial relationship.

To be considered down with the swirl, you must be willing to accept differences and embrace diversity, whether you are the one in the relationship or a third party looking in.

Two hands symbolizing swirl couple
Two hands symbolizing swirl couple.

Here are three ways to become down with the swirl:

  1. Accepting Differences – Being down with the swirl means accepting differences. For example, if you’re white and your partner is black, you might notice that he or she has a different cultural background. However, you shouldn’t let this stop you from loving him or her. Instead, try to understand his or her culture and learn about it.
  2. Embracing Diversity – Being down with the swirly means embracing diversity. When you’re down with the swirl, it doesn’t matter whether your partner is black, white, Asian, Hispanic, etc. You still love him or her just the same.
  3. Understanding Each Other – Being down with the swirling means having a mutual understanding of each other. You have to know who your partner really is and why he or she acts the way he or she does.

The historical context of swirl dating

While the slang ‘swirl dating’ is a relatively new phrase, the actual concept has existed for a long time. Interracial relationships have always been in existence. Throughout the years, based on countries’ laws or political movements, many have had to fight for their right to ‘swirl.’

One of the most public interracial relationships in the United States is that of the Lovings. Richard and Mildred Loving were awoken by police shortly after marrying in 1958. Their relationship was considered illegal by the state of Virginia. 

The Lovings were given the choice of going to jail or leaving the state. They fled the state; however, they didn’t forget the traumatic incident. 

Unwilling to accept that their love was not recognized legally, the Lovings took to the courts. Eventually, on June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court ruled in their favor. The ruling officially declared interracial marriage legal in all US states. 

Loving Day is now celebrated throughout the United States. It’s a day to commemorate that momentous ruling, as well as shine a light on the racial injustices that continue within the country and globally. 

Swirl dating in a global society

It’s no coincidence that the term swirl dating has emerged. Our world is more connected than ever before. More and more people are open to dating outside of their race, ethnicity, nationality, and culture. The numbers don’t lie. 

The statistics on interracial marriages show just how more and more people are letting love, not race be the deciding factor in relationships. In 1967, only 3% of US couples were of different races or ethnicities, i.e., “swirled.” In 2015 that percentage went up to 17%.

Happy newly wed couple inside a bridal car
Happy newly wed couple inside a bridal car.

With technological advances and more remote working opportunities, swirl dating is no longer a novelty. Global society is more interlaced than ever before, which means our dating pool has grown enormously. Dating outside of your culture is becoming the new normal. And thank goodness for that. 

The best way to grow as a global society is through open communication and sharing knowledge and experiences with one another. Dating is a huge part of that. Sparks fly,  love happens, and we all learn from one another. Sounds like a win all around. 

Fetishizing: a swirl dating DON’T 

The term swirling can become a controversial phrase when the act of it becomes fetishized. Being open to dating someone from a different race, ethnicity, or culture is one thing, but seeking out a partner from a specific race or ethnicity is just another form of racism.

I’m sure you’ve heard someone say, “I only date (fill in the race here).” Or even, “I’d never be with (fill in the race here).” I cringe when I hear such ignorant statements made about such trivial dating qualifiers. Labels are a dangerous thing and they often limit us in our own experiences and in our views of others. 

I’ve had partners from different countries, cultures, and ethnicities. Being able to learn about your partner’s culture is a beautiful thing, just as is learning about who they are as a person. Our culture contributes a great part to who we are, and sharing that with another is a gift.

An interracial couple smiles as they gaze out the window.
An interracial couple smiles as they gaze out the window.

Living abroad, I’ve also had the experience of being constantly fetishized as a foreigner. Dating is fun and can be a great way to learn about a different culture, but being stereotyped as something based only upon your appearance is a hurtful thing. Having men see me as my nationality only, interchangeable with another woman from my same country, is extremely insulting and degrading. 

When dating, we all want to be seen, loved, and respected for who we are. This goes far beyond our nationality or the color of our skin. While those factors have certainly contributed to our life experiences, we are all much more than that. 

Saying you will only date a certain race, ethnicity, or nationality is extremely offensive. At the end of the day, we’re all just humans. We’ve lived different experiences, but we all feel. And in the grand scheme of things, we all want love. Keep that in mind when dating anyone.  

Dating goes deeper than skin color

You should date someone based on who they are and how they make you feel. Cultural differences can be an issue in romantic relationships; it’s important to talk them out. Race plays a huge role in our experiences in this world. Ideally, racism wouldn’t exist, but society just isn’t there yet. 

If you’re dating someone from another race, and you feel like they’re saying hurtful comments, hiding you from friends and family, or treating you like a fetish and not a person, end that relationship right now. 

It’s important to be sensitive and open to understanding your partner and their experiences. They will be different from your own, which is part of the beauty. Go into your relationships with an open mind and heart, and you’re bound to have fruitful dating encounters. 

Different skin color making heart out of hands
Different skin color making heart out of hands.

Be open to swirl dating

Debating whether or not to swirl date doesn’t seem like it should even be a question. While dating outside of your culture will come with its own unique set of challenges, dating, in general, can be challenging. 

Every individual’s lived experiences are different, which means they’ve gained knowledge often different from your own. Dating means getting to know and sharing with someone else. Talk out the differences.


Without a doubt, racial injustice is prevalent in today’s society. Our skin colors automatically affect the way we are perceived. Assumptions are often made in an instant. That’s a huge problem!

We need to see each other for who we are and not how we look. So, absolutely be open to dating someone outside of your culture as much as being open to dating someone in your own culture. 

Just be open to the differences that a partner can bring you, and you’ll be sure to have a more fulfilling dating life.  

Photo of author


Over the years, Stephanie has had her fair share of dating experiences. While some turned out great, others weren't so great. She believes that relationships are meant to be fun, exciting, and full of laughter. She wants to help men and women become confident, attractive, and successful in their romantic relationships.