Struggles & Successes Of Interracial Dating
Updated January 09, 2020
Reviewer Chante’ Gamby, LCSW
We like to think we've come a long way in this country regarding accepting interracial relationships. For the most part, it is not as big of a deal as it once was. People are more accepting of interracial relationships than they were, say, 40 years ago.
However, being in an interracial relationship is still a struggle, and it can be difficult to understand such a struggle unless you experience it first-hand and on a regular basis.
Struggles Of Interracial Dating
The struggles associated with interracial dating are enough to bring even the strongest of couples down. Consider the following examples - do you see your relationship in any of these?
Nobody Believes You're A Couple
For interracial couples, public displays of affection (PDA) is almost a requirement. People simply do not see a white woman standing next to a black man and assume they are a couple - unless, of course, the couple locks lips or hold hands. And when these couples do engage in PDA, they may be subject to racist backlash like ignorant strangers yelling epithets at them or engaging in violent behavior.
In some cases, people have seen their significant others getting hit on right in front of them because the interested party did not think they were together. In other situations, when couples are seen talking to each other, it's just assumed that they are friends or coworkers, not lovers.
People Make Snide Comments About Your Partner's Race
Upon finding out her white friend's new boyfriend is black,a Girlfriend says ignorantly: "How could you date a black guy? I could never be attracted to a black guy!" Or, when meeting his best friend's new Asian girlfriend, another Guy Friend says ignorantly : "Does she speak English?" Meanwhile, she was born and raised in Michigan, and she speaks better English than he does. Sometimes, it seems that the quickest way to find out your friends are racist is to date outside of your race.
While you may be attracted to folks of other races, it is important first to address whether you would be ashamed or embarrassed to be seen with someone of a different race. You may think "To heck with what everyone else thinks. I'm going to do my own thing." However, the hits you will take from those who don't understand can be too much to bear for some couples.These couples ultimately break up because they just can't endure the abuse any longer.
Interracial dating is far from easy, but then nothing worth having in life usually is. You should pursue a relationship with someone who is interested in being with you and you are also interested in being with. However, it is also important to understand that an interracial relationship is not like other relationships. You will more than likely endure hate, criticism, and unintended racism like never before, and it is important to be aware of this before going into a relationship,so you aren't blindsided later on.
People Try To Guess Your Partner's Race
While not necessarily intentionally racist, the "Guess that Race" game that friends play upon meeting a significant other is both annoying and ignorant. There are better ways to inquire about a friend's partner's nationality other than "What is she?" Here, an angry response of "She's a human being" would be understandable.
Asking "what" someone is may be just as offensive as trying to guess. Asking "is he Mexican? Cuban? Columbian?" may be nothing more than genuine curiosity, but can ultimately be hurtful and insulting. Going down the list of how many "brown" races a person can guess before he or she finally hit the right one highlights just how ignorant that person can be insofar as not being able to tell different races apart.
It Can Be Tough On The Children
Children whose parents are dating someone of a different race may have a tough time dealing with the backlash, particularly that which is thrown at them by their peers. Kids can be cruel, especially to children who come from backgrounds that are different from their own.
Interracial couples who eventually marry and have children may need to contend with their multi-racial children having a tough time with self-identification. Children who have one black and one white parent, for example, may not know whether to identify as white or black. It may also be difficult for children to cope with being teased when one of their parents - the one who looks less like them -drops them off at school, or accompanies them to school functions.
Even rougher is when strangers may not recognize the children as being the children of their parents. People may mean well when they try to stop a man who looks nothing like his biological daughter from picking her up at the park and bringing her over to the family van, but ultimately this is both insulting and heartbreaking for both the father and his child.
Parents may have to endure questions like "Am I your daughter?" as a result of this kind of negative feedback. The child may think: if a stranger is reacting so negatively to Dad picking me up, then there must be a problem. Maybe I'm not his real daughter? After all, we do look different from each other. This can be both upsetting and infuriating for all involved, and it has the potential to steal a child's innocence even earlier than it might otherwise have vanished.
Successes Of Interracial Dating
It's true that anything worth having is worth fighting for, and the same goes for interracial relationships. At the end of the day, you have your love, and you have each other.
What's more, you have a relationship that consists of an interesting blend of different cultures. There's so much you can teach each other about your histories, ancestors, and cultural traditions. And if your relationship eventually becomes more serious, and the two of you get married and have children, you can both revel in the joys of teaching your children about their rich cultural history.
While it's easier to focus on the negative and to let the fools get you down, try to keep the following in mind when the backlash gets to be too much.
Love Is Love
Arguably the best part of an interracial relationship is just that: it's a relationship, and it's one that you share with someone whom you love and respect, and who loves and respects you right back.Perhaps you even support each other more than other couples do because you both understand how hard it is to keep an interracial relationship going strong.
You Open Your Mind To A New Perspective
There are some interesting and awesome perks to dating outside of your race. Take food, for example. A white man in a relationship with a Jamaican woman may have never eaten jerk chicken before, and now it is one of the best things he has ever tasted. Before her, he may have never even heard of jerk chicken, let alone tried it and loved it. He may even be fascinated by the way she has learned to prepare it - a cultural tradition passed on to her by her family.
Visiting your significant other's family can also be an entirely new experience. A Japanese family may, for instance, have an entirely different setup than a Chinese family, both of whom prefer to decorate in a more traditional sense. It can be utterly fascinating to learn about a painting or a piece of furniture that has significant cultural meaning - an exposure that you may never have encountered had you not dated outside of your race.
Dating outside of your race can allow you to see the world from an entirely different set of eyes. This is something that can enrich a relationship in such a unique and awe-inspiring way, and it can deepen the love you have for your partner even more.
You Are More Open To Nontraditional Relationships
People in interracial relationships tend to be more open to all kinds of relationships, not just the traditional, heterosexual ones. Homosexual and multiracial partners don't shock and awe interracial couples the way they do those who have only dated in the traditional sense. These folks understand that love is love, people are people, and that there is no "right way" to love someone.
Interracial couples may not have strong feelings on nontraditional relationships because they have already broken the mold. They are already dating in such a way that defies society's standards, and they understand and cherish what is considered to be "different" in a way that few others can. They not only accept diversity but embrace it.
Are you in an interracial relationship? Do you want to stay with your partner but find it difficult to do so in the face of racist backlash? Do you live in an area where it may be dangerous to be in an interracial relationship, but you love your partner too much to end things? Reach out to one of our licensed counselors who are here to listen and offer advice on how best to handle such a situation.