While interracial love celebrates what is best in human connection, affection, and openness, it is no secret that it can pose more difficult challenges that may not be experienced by couples of the same race and culture. Even if we don’t delve into the spate of racial violence across America, the cultural — and, sometimes, language — divide alone in interracial relationships can cause a lot of misunderstandings and heartache among couples whose differences extend beyond their skin color.
As individuals, our uniqueness already separates us from the next person, and the inherent dissimilarities we have with our partner can be tough to manage in a relationship. This is further amplified in interracial dating as racial and cultural differences necessitate a deeper understanding of where the other is coming from, especially if one or the other belongs to a marginalized group. Aside from language and culture, there’s history, society, and psychology to come to terms with.
But while it may seem like interracial dating can be hard to navigate, it is entirely possible to make it work — just like any relationship built on communication and understanding. Here are several tips about interracial relationships that can help.
Put Your Partner’s Happiness Before the Happiness of Others
It is an unfortunate fact that people may feel some aversion toward what is unfamiliar. In the primordial, tribal sense, those belonging to one tribe are expected to connect, bond, and mingle with those from the same tribe. To have a relationship with a so-called outsider exposes one to unwarranted judgment and ostracism. Though it would be nice to say that we’ve finally outgrown such outdated mindsets, the reality is that we’re far from realizing this despite some progress made in recent years.
Therefore, you must always put your partner’s happiness over and above the opinions of others. It’s inevitable that some will view your relationship as something unacceptable. Though they may be entitled to their own opinions, remember that you and your partner are entitled to your own happiness. At the end of the day, you are having a relationship with one another, not the people who disagree with your love.
Always Meet Halfway
As mentioned, there are numerous differences between two people from different races and cultures. However, what makes a relationship work is the effort both parties exert to bridge the gap between these differences. Both of you need to meet each other halfway. Learn your partner’s culture, get to know the history of their people and their birthplace, and learn about their cuisine. At the same time, you can also share your culture with them. By meeting halfway, you can have a better understanding of why you and your partner react in a certain way or what certain actions can mean. This way, you minimize misunderstandings and foster more open communication, which leads us to our next point.
Learn Their Language
If your partner has another language, learn it. There’s so much you can discern from learning a language other than yours as the depth and intensity of some words cannot be easily translated into other languages. Additionally, some idioms your partner uses will let you have an insight into what they truly feel. Learning your partner’s native language not only equips you with better communication skills, but it also lets your partner know that you’re willing to listen to them and are welcoming them to express their feelings in a way that feels natural.
Empathy Goes a Long Way
Further to communication, being able to better empathize with your partner is another benefit of learning their language. This can be extremely crucial if your partner has lived in another country with another language their whole life. They may have a hard time articulating what they want to say, or they may have a hard time understanding what you’re trying to say, both of which can lead to miscommunication and a seeming lack of empathy. By putting yourself in your partner’s shoes, you can support them during trying times, if not understand what they may be going through, especially if they are being marginalized for their race.
Accept Your Differences and Work With Them
Differences abound, but it doesn’t mean you can’t work through them. Acceptance is what makes these differences easier to manage. Often, the temptation among couples is that the dominant personality may unwittingly assert their ideal upon their partner. Don’t try to get your partner to conform to your culture or belief system. Instead, accept your differences and come to a compromise. For instance, discuss which traditions you’d like to keep or which holidays you’d like to celebrate.
Remember That You’re a Team
Sometimes, the gap between you and your partner can be so wide that it’s easy to forget you’re on the same team. Fights and arguments become frequent; frustrations become bigger than they ought to be. All these happen because of a lack of empathy and understanding. Here’s where it is beneficial that you and your partner learn about each other’s culture as it can point to solutions and deepen your understanding of each other. The pressures accompanying an interracial relationship are real but remembering that you’re together in this can allow you both to power through both internal and external obstacles.
Seek Outside Support When Needed
For many, interracial love can foster a feeling of being against the whole world. Though there are inevitably people who will outright reject or disapprove of your relationship, there are also those who will willingly give you and your partner their support and counsel. Seek out these people and ask them for help if needed. You will be surprised at what you may discover.
Interracial relationships can be complex, but like any other relationship, what makes them work is the effort that both partners exert to know and understand each other despite their differences. Love comes in many colors, shades, and gradations — and that’s exactly what makes it a beautiful experience.