Constrained desires: The romantic partner preferences of college-educated Latinas

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Research suggests education is a strong predictor of interracial relationships yet few studies have examined the processes that inform partner preferences among the highly educated. We address romantic partner preferences via interviews with college-educated Latinas in the western United States. Among our findings, respondents stated a strong preference for dating "in" versus dating "out," even if it meant dating Latinos with less education, which we term dating "down." These preferences were shaped by limited substantive opportunities to date college-educated Latinos and a desire to find partners who shared their cultural values and experiences. The findings also point to racialized constraints Latinas experience in predominantly white spaces that limit prospects to date non-Latinos, especially whites. Examining how highly educated Latinas rationalize partner preferences helps us understand the mechanisms at play in romantic relationship formation and elucidates Latinas' agency in negotiating their idealized preferences in contexts where the pool of highly educated Latinos is small.

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