While you are certain you have found the man or woman of your dreams, sometimes your friends are not so sure. When the primary root of their concern is the race of your significant other you may find yourself confused, hurt or angry, particularly if this tension is a new one for you.

Try the following tips to navigate this sometimes rocky territory. Approached with intelligence and care, your friends’ doubts can be resolved for the benefit of all the important people in your life.

1. Prepare Your Friends

Even if you enjoy making a splash or stirring up a little controversy with your crowd, be very aware that sharing your new love requires care for his or her feelings as well as an awareness of the potential reaction of your friends. If interracial dating is new in your circle, talk with a few close friends before the reveal and be honest about your significant other’s racial background. Even if it is common to date diversely among your group, let a couple of key folks know so there is no awkwardness at the first meeting, particularly if this is your first interracial relationship.

2. Assume The Best

If your friends are doubters, explore their worries one on one to find out what forms the basis of their concerns. You may find they are less focused on the race of your boyfriend or girlfriend than how that person is treating you. If race does seem to matter independent of actions, challenge them to see how well you and your significant other relate to each other and how special this person is to you.

3. Explain The Attraction

Give your skeptical friends a chance to see your sweetheart through your eyes. Talk about the interests you share with this guy or gal that make you “click.” Expand on the needs this person meets for you and the commitment you are building because of similar goals and interests. Dwell less on the intimacies you enjoy, as you really shouldn’t tell secrets, regardless of the race of your sweetie, but more about how happy you are when you are with your love.

4. Demand Respect

Regardless of how much either your friends or your love interest mean to you, insist that they treat each other with respect. This goes for times they are together with you or when you are alone with one or the other. If the tone of the conversation turns dismissive or even hateful toward your loved one, firmly change the subject or refuse to continue the dialogue.

5. Give It Time

Be patient. If your friends are worth your investment in them over the years they will come around to an understanding and an embracing of your interracial relationship. Gauge their acceptance from time to time to see if this isn’t true. In rare cases you may need to let a friendship go if your romantic relationship is a deal breaker for your friend, but only after you are frank and open and give everyone the space to grow into acceptance, even liking.