I don’t think I’m an expert on relationships by any means. I’ve made stupid mistakes—I’ve been hurt, I’ve hurt others—all the typical ups and downs of romantic interactions.

But for this article, I want to talk about one really important lesson I’ve learned—a lesson that many people never learn.

I believe that writing someone off (romantically) because of the color of their skin is a terrible mistake. So many people I know do this.

Examples of real quotes: “I could never be attracted to a black guy.” “What’s up with Indian girls?”  “Hispanic guys are just too…I don’t know.”  “I just think I couldn’t date a girl who wasn’t white.” It’s often followed with a swift, “But I’m not racist.” Please rest assured—I’m not accusing everyone who hasn’t dated someone of a different race of being a racist. But I do think if someone is only attracted to their own race, they should reevaluate their own feelings and why they feel them, because like it or not, they have racial prejudice—which technically makes them racist in some form.

Take me, for example. I’ve dated jocks and geeks, tall guys and short guys, smart guys and not-so-smart guys. But, like all of us, I have prejudices that have been shaped by the media, by the town I grew up in, by the schools I attended and by all of my experiences.

I thought I would never date an Asian guy. The image I had of the Asian man—the one presented overwhelmingly (and, I would argue, exclusively) by the media—is that of a sexless geek, completely outside of American culture. He is desperately unathletic, frigid and unromantic and has a small penis. Not exactly complimentary stuff, right?

Well, you can guess what happened next. I promptly fell in love with an Asian man.It took falling in love for me to realize what a terrible fool I was. To think that my prejudice could have prevented me from such joy is genuinely heart-breaking.

Of course, this bias wouldn’t have been conscious; biases rarely are. But the unconscious bias, the idea that Asian men don’t qualify as possible mates, was there. Luckily, I didn’t fall for a race—I fell for a person.

Now, I embrace the fact that my boyfriend is Asian. Everything about him that is different from me, whether it’s the shape of his eyes, the thickness of his hair, or the fact that he has trouble with “th” sounds, I find it all so interesting and sweet and—gasp—attractive, even?

In short, I’ve realized that his being Asian has a lot to do with who he is, so to remove that would remove his true self.

The media and society in general have awful stereotypes for each race and gender; none are safe.

In ruling out entire races, millions of people get excluded from being a potential romantic partner simply because of a prejudiced notion perpetuated by a society that seeks to grossly oversimplify entire races of people. And why?

We all know what a struggle it is to find someone who truly gets us, who loves us for who we are. Why would we want to limit our pool of options because of something like race?

Isn’t it time we all woke up and realized this? Race is important and does mean something important, so I’m not advocating for a “post-racial colorblindness” by any means. I simply think that it’s detrimental to refuse to consider someone due to their race.

So maybe this article won’t inspire you to expand your dating pool.  But I hope it will at the very least help to promote healthy self-reflection of some kind. When you love someone of a different color, it is my belief that you help repair the pain of racism, even if by just a little bit.