Sunday, 25 August 2013

Overcoming difficulties: the added challenges of interracial dating

Love is love and race, color or culture should have nothing to do with it. Unfortunately that is not how things are, as any woman who decided to date black men (or man who decided to date white women) can assure you. Interracial relationships can be full of pleasant surprises and excitement, but they do come with some added challenges. Often, these challenges have to do with social pressure. But other times they come from within the couple. Accepting that not all days will be perfect, when it comes to interracial dating, can help you prepare yourself and discuss with your date or partner how you can overcome possible obstacles.

Challenge: Your family does not approve interracial dating in general.

Solution: Try to talk with your family and find out why they object you going out with people from outside your race. Are they influenced by the negative stereotypes? Are they afraid that you will forget your own cultural background? Are they just plain racist? (I am sorry, but these people are also out there). Based on what it is that bothers them, try to comfort them and explain to them why their fears are not based on rational reasoning. Sometimes people are just scared of the unknown while others they are just stuck with their opinion and won't change it. If your family belongs to the second category, you need to realize that this is your life and in order to live it the way you want, you might disappoint some people. And that is OK.

Challenge: Your family does not like the specific person that you are dating.

Solution: If you believe that this is just because of his/her race, confront your parents about it. Do not be aggressive, but illustrate how your date is different from the negative stereotypes. You can even try and describe your partner to your parent, without mentioning his/her skin color. It could be something like this: “He works at.... He loves his parents, has a younger sister and likes sports. He grew up in.... and he studied in...He treats me in a great way, loves me and makes me feel secure”. All parents love to hear that their child is in such a relationship. You can then mention his cultural background and honestly reply to any questions regarding it. If your parents have concerns unrelated to race, do hear their comments and reflect on them.

Challenge: You are afraid on how your friends/colleagues will react.
Solution: If your friends are judgmental of your interracial partner, then maybe you should consider finding more open-minded friends instead. On the other hand, they might be worried just because of all the challenges that you will have to face, in which case you need to show them that you have thought this through and are willing to work on your relationship. When it comes to colleagues, first of all, they do not need to know about your private life. Secondly, if you get verbally harassed for your decision to dateblack men/white women, you can ask your boss to step in and explain the no discrimination policy of the company.

Challenge: Your partner is worried about how their family will accept you

Solution: When white women and black men start a relationship, both parties feel the social pressure. Even if your family is open and accepting, your partner might be worried that his/her family won't react in the same way. Often, they won't even feel comfortable to express this worry to you, but if you are a bit observant, you will understand that something is bothering them. Offer to discuss with your partner how they want you to handle a first meeting with their family. Ask about things they like and things they hate. This way, if they are black and religious and you are white and atheist, you can avoid religion-related discussions and make sure you don't add insult to injury. You can also choose to be vague about things that you know could cause a conflict. By asking your partner how you can help their family accept you, you show how much you care and it is going to be really appreciated.

Challenge: You and your partner have communication issues

Solution: Having a different cultural background means that one person might take some things for granted, while the other not. Your partner might feel that it is just fine for his family to come and go into your house without calling first. You might feel that it is OK to go out with your girlfriends without letting him know. He might feel that you should both attend church, even if you are not religious. You might feel that he needs to do some of the cooking, even if he never did it at home. Issues become even more complex, when it comes to raising kids together. The only solution to this challenge is to talk. Talk about every little thing that bothers you and find a way to compromise. Make sure that you both feel you are working equally hard for the balance of your relationship. And do not forget to thank the other person, when they propose new ways to solve your differences.

As long as you and your partner share core values and are willing to work out minor or bigger challenges, you can do it. The only tools you need are understanding, patience and communication. And forgiveness as well, since no one is perfect. You can make it work, if you want it!

1 comment:

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