Sunday, 25 August 2013

Interracial Dating: follow your heart, not social expectations

Interracial dating has many positive aspects. You get to know people from another race and possibly culture and they can introduce you to a whole new universe of ideas, beliefs, traditions, smells, tastes, places... The list is endless really. White women dating black men for the first time often find themselves being surprised by all the extra bonuses of getting out of their comfort zone and dating outside their race. The same happens the other way around as well. And this is why more and more people stop hesitating and try out interracial dating.

If you want to date black men or white women though, you need to be prepared about the reactions of your social environment. People some times find it hard to accept that you prefer someone from another race to be your partner. This can be due to racism, due to fear of the unknown or due to the simple fact that they wish you would pick them. The social pressure can be huge for some people, which leads them to abandon their dreams of interracial dating before they even start. Following we will see some ways to help you follow your heart instead of succumbing to the social pressure.

The first step to any good and fruitful discussion is to listen to one another. It is possible that the person you are talking with won't do much listening. So it is your task to listen to them and find out why they are so upset about your decision to date outside your race. If you try to reply to every little sentence or insult they throw on the table, it will end up being a fight, not a discussion.

Think before you talk. If you have just announced to your parents that you want to date white women and they are freaking out about it, listen what they have to say and do not reply immediately. Think about their worries and concerns first. Do they really complain just about their skin color or do they see other qualities in her personality that bother them? When people make comments that make no sense mixed with valid comments, often the last ones lose their value. It takes practice to be able to evaluate your family's comments before disregarding all of them as racist. Here is a small example “She is white, you don't match!” is not a valid, useful comment. But “I don't like that she is drinking so much” or “I did not like the way she talked to us” might be valid comments that you should think about. So ask people to give you some time to reflect on what they said and promise to come back to them. This shows that you value their opinion and also allows you to consider their observations, whether you like them or not.

If you have done the listening and thinking and you are sure that you want to date outside your race, it is time to make that clear to your friends and family. Start out by mentioning any of their comments that you found useful. You can, for example say that “Mom, I think you are right that our future children might be bullied at school BUT this is why we all need to fight racism together”. This way you show your family that you really listened to what they said and have thought of solutions or ways to deal with the challenges.

Be clear
Be clear that no matter what your social environment thinks, this is your life, you only have one and you are planning to live it the way you want. Make it clear that you understand where their concerns are coming from and that you are willing to help them if they want to educate themselves. Do not however let them believe that this is some kind of phase that you will grow out of. Your family and friends need to understand that if you choose to date black men (or white women) it is is your own business, since you are not harming anyone or doing anything illegal.

Don't make it personal
No matter how disappointed you are by the criticism that you are getting, do not argue on a personal level. Yes, your aunt might have gotten a bad divorce while married with someone from her race, but using that as an argument is both mean and immature. Relationships might or might not work out, despite of race. They are hard work, no matter what place on Earth your partner comes from.

Focus on the positive side
Instead of insisting that your family and friends are wrong in wanting you to date inside your race, be positive and explain why you want to date outside of it. If there is a specific person that you are dating, explain how they make you feel, why you like them, how you think that they can make you happy. Positive words are much more powerful than negative. Replace “You are wrong, because...” with “I feel I would be happier, because...”.

Keep in mind that if it is your boss who is giving you a hard time because of your interracial relationship, you can deal with them on a legal basis. Discrimination based on sex, race and disabilities is illegal. If you live in a country where such laws do not exist, then you can keep your personal life private and keep fighting against racism after your office hours.

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