Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. James M. Croteau

Second Advisor

Dr. Mary Z. Anderson

Third Advisor

Dr. Donna Talbot


Interacial relationships, Intercultural relationships, refugee farnilies, Southeast Asian Americans, second generation, White European Americans


Scholars and mental health professionals whose work involves interracial romantic partnerships (IRPs) have a responsibility to be sensitive to the racial, ethnic, and psychological diversity that characterizes these relationships. Although a growing body of research exists about IRPs, no study to date has explored how being a second generation U.S.-born Southeast Asia American (SEAA) impacts individuals’ experiences in IRPs with White European Americans (WEAs). The present study employed qualitative, phenomenological methods to explore how second generation SEAAs make meaning of their personal and relational experiences in IRPs with WEAs. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with 11 participants.

Data were analyzed using MAXQDA. Seven themes emerged: Reactions about racial and/or cultural identity, Cultural negotiation and management in the IRP, Having a refugee family background directly impacts the IRP, Understanding of partners’ experience of the IRP, Experiences of microaggressive and prejudiced responses toward the IRP, Experiences of how social intimates perceive the IRP, Participants’ messages to second generation SEAAs and to the general public regarding culture and IRPs. These findings highlight the dynamic interplay of influence that occurs between contextual factors (such as reflection on family refugee history, location in racial and ethnic identity development, and experiences of perceived racism) and IRPs. This interplay is illustrated in the presentation of a composite case narrative, which is followed by discussion of the ways in which the study’s findings support, deviate from, and extend existing scholarship on Asian American identidy development, IRP development, lived experience of IRP, microaggression and prejudice, and bicultural identity. Implications for practice, a critique of the study, directions for future research, and participant reflections are also addressed.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access