Researchers often assume that close interracial relationships, especially intermarriage, simultaneously reflect and cause a weakening of racial and ethnic boundaries and inequality between groups. In fact, interracial marriage is often used as a measure of social distance. We question those assumptions, noting the salient boundaries and durable inequalities that remain despite decades of increases in interracial relationships. We begin with historical examples, showing how, for much of US history, there was no expectation that interracial sexual encounters would reduce racial inequality or weaken boundaries. Incorporating critical race theory and intersectional perspectives, we describe how the impact of interracial intimate relationships is both gendered and classed. We argue that research on contemporary intimate interracial relationships (friendships, dating, and marriage) explains why such relationships may have little impact on attitudes, inequality, and the rigidity of boundaries and call for future research to consider dynamics within the family as well.