Despite growing acceptance, interracial relationship problems have been a concern for interracial couples throughout history. Still today, interracial dating can be very difficult in certain societies. Although racism has become less prevalent generally speaking, it’s still very much present. Even people who claim to be supportive of interracial marriages may have difficulty welcoming a foreigner into their actual family — while they may accept a person of a different race as their neighbor or co-worker, having grandchildren with different skin color from theirs is a totally different story.
There are many interracial dating challenges that couples have to face. Feeling like outsiders, having different traditions, culture, and habits… all this and more can threaten the couple’s happiness.
Below, Minuca Elena is on assignment, reaching out to 80 couples’ therapists and dating experts to address three most burning questions facing interracial couples. Here is the interracial expert advice she sourced:
Question 1: What is your best advice for couples that have interracial dating problems adjusting to each other’s culture, traditions, and religion?
Question 2: How do you overcome interracial dating challenges?
Question 3: What’s the best thing to do when your relatives don’t agree with interracial dating when your companion is from another ethnicity?
Minuca received amazing answers. In this expert roundup, find interracial relationship advice and solutions to the most difficult problems still facing interracial couples today.
What is your best advice for couples that have interracial dating problems adjusting with each other’s culture, traditions, and religion?
Alisia Antoinette – Bonjour Amour Matchmaking
I am an African American woman married to a Hispanic man. We’ve been married for almost 35 years (our anniversary is in March). We raised two beautiful adult daughters. They’re both happily married.
Everyone wants understanding and respect for their culture and traditions no matter what race they are.
Here is some of my best advice for couples having interracial relationship problems adjusting to each other’s culture, traditions, and religion:
- #1 COMMUNICATE
- Educate your companion on your culture and traditions, especially on things that are meaningful to you and your family.
- Research each other’s history and traditions. Try to learn as much as you can to gain understanding.
- If another language is spoken, learn the language or at least some basic phrases such as ‘hello’, ‘how are you’, ‘nice to meet you’, etc.
- Hair – Educate your partner about it. Everyone’s hair no matter the race requires care – but people are especially fascinated by black hair.
- Food is big in all cultures. Explain the food culture to your companion. For example, I didn’t know that tamales are a big deal for my husband and his family around the holidays, and he didn’t have a clue about gumbo!
- Kids – Give them a sense of identity by explaining both cultures to them and make sure they are involved in both cultures. Prepare them for the way society is going to view them. Society is not going to stop asking: “what are you” with a sincere curiosity to learn. They need to have a strong sense of who they are, and that strong sense of self comes from home.
- Understand that not everyone will be open-minded to interracial relationships. That’s their problem, not yours. Still, treat everyone with respect and kindness.
- Religion – I honestly can’t speak on that topic because my husband and I have the same religion. I do know that being unequally yoked can cause great division. Hopefully, the couple can find a common ground for a compromise.
Rori Sassoon – Platinum Poire
This is where compromise and communication come into play. Each companion needs to first communicate all of the things that are important to them in their culture, traditions, and religion, and why.
Give your partner an outline of what ideal relationships would look like in regards to sharing and creating a safe space for each other’s culture.
One person shouldn’t make their culture seem better than their companion. There needs to be a lot of respect within relationships. When you have children you need to have this set.
You should not surround yourself with people who are prejudicial. However, as a team, you should communicate about this so that you are on the same page.
Remember that wounds of the words are worse than physical wounds. Never hit below the belt.
Sheri Heller – Sheri Therapist
As a psychotherapist and interfaith minister in private practice in NYC, I encounter interracial couples seeking to have their interracial dating questions answered in relation to navigating through cultural and spiritual differences.
The most pressing concerns relate to the raising of children. Essentially, there needs to be a willingness within the couple’s relationship to find common ground and to expand one’s consciousness to be inclusive of traditions that are outside one’s personal context.
Travel and immersion in rituals, food, and spiritual services outside of one’s familiar perspective assists with this intention.
Logistically, determining what one wishes to generationally pass on to potential offspring needs to be assessed. If there is room for a merger of traditions and cultures than a diverse approach, then it should be considered.
However, if one is adamantly polarized in their ethnic and cultural framework, this could be a dealbreaker necessitating a parting of ways.
I am a licensed Clinical Psychologist clearing trauma, embodying healing and creating transformative experiences in my private practice of multi-racial and multi-cultural populations. I am also a mother and a wife in a multi-racial family.
I am a Jewish-American, born in New Jersey and raised in South Florida in a nuclear, traditional middle-class economical family. I have one brother.
My husband is a Christian-Hispanic (Venezuelan and Dominican) born in the Dominican Republic, raised in DR and NY in lower socioeconomics by his grandmother.
He was one of nine children in a combined familiar household. My husband joined the military to serve the U.S. government at the age of 17. At age 17, I went to Johnson City, TN on a college tennis scholarship. I am fair skinned and petite with light hair. He is dark-toned and tall with a strong, masculine stature.
We met online. I had not dated interracially prior, but I never saw his color and he never saw mine. We just met. We fell in love. We have two beautiful, mocha-skinned babies who are a perfect combination of us both. Our children are 3 and 5 and they only see people (not color).
Others see our differences, but they are also saddened from their own differences. It is their sense that is skewed. Not mine. And their short-sightedness is their challenge.
I have received comments like, “wouldn’t it be hard on kids to raise them interracially? What will others think? And why make it more difficult in this difficult world than it already is?” These are comments from unhappy people – sad people uncomfortable in their interracial skin.
Whether you are purple, green, or from different cultures, values and communication are key to any relationships. Having similar core values is the foundation and base of relationships. From there you can build.
Communication does not discriminate! Communication is critical. It is how you will find a compromise and discuss similarities and differences. Use direct questions, make eye contact, and respect your differences as you respect similarities. Ask questions even if you think they are silly.
Let your partner know how much you want to understand about them. Talk to them as you want them to talk and treat you. It is okay to share different perspectives.
Identify what their priorities are and areas of importance in their family traditions. Try different things out. Understand that adjustment and integration are liquid as relationships and life grow and develop.
Be flexible! My husband and my perspectives shifted values as we had kids. So we shifted together. Our views as momma and papa bear of the world cultivated and broadened as we became protective of our cubs. Areas of importance have become clearer.
Our one rule is: no matter our differences, we speak to the kids from a united front. We don’t have to tell them we agree on everything. But we have to tell them together when we disagree.
At the end of the day, it is about the bond and connection you and your partner develop that creates the perspective of the world of how you both receive the world.
When you are both aligned, you are a stronger force. If you see prejudice, you will receive prejudice. If you see similarities, you will receive acceptance. That is how to make an interracial relationship work!
Historically in the U.S., there have been interracial dating challenges for couples looking for acceptance in society from others and their families.
However, many interracial couples don’t allow those negative perceptions to dictate who they fall in love with. On the other hand, some couples may have difficulties with adjusting to cultural differences and each other’s cultural heritage.
Below are a few suggestions for navigating the issues faced during interracial relationships, both interracial dating and interracial marriage challenges:
- Have open conversations about relationship expectations. Despite ethnic or cultural differences, many partners have similar interracial relationship goals in terms of commitment, finances, and sharing responsibilities.
However, it is important to determine what works best for your relationships while integrating your cultural values. For example, if one partner is responsible for child-rearing or managing finances, you should decide as a couple if those expectations are agreed upon.
Individuals may not always adhere to their cultural values in a rigid way so you should not assume that your partner values certain things. Unless you have an open dialogue.
- Religious differences are probably the most difficult challenges in relationships. You should decide as a couple if you will continue to practice your faith or convert to your partner’s religion.
One way to handle this is to be supportive of each other’s decision to practice the religion that is consistent with their ethnic or cultural background. You can decide to attend services separately or visit each other’s church on occasions. That helps with displaying compromises.
When kids are involved, this can be more tricky. Couples may have to decide to allow the child to determine what religion they want to practice as they become older to prevent difficulties among parents.
Relationships can be challenging with two different people coming together from different backgrounds and circumstances. Additionally, interracial dating experiences differ greatly from same-sex relations and can come with their own set of challenges.
Some people in interracial relationships will find themselves struggling with some of the traditions or cultural aspects of their partner as they delve deeper into relationships.
- It is important to ask questions. Do not assume or go to Google for an answer. If you aren’t sure of something about your partner’s background, be transparent about what you think and ask them to tell you so you can learn more about it.
- Be mindful of how society affects your thought pattern. We get so many signals from society, and it can tend to happen unconsciously. Being self-aware of this is so important. If relationships are solid, you should feel comfortable enough to ask about your partner’s background and traditions.
If you are struggling with having these conversations with your partner, you may want to ask yourself about how comfortable you are in the relationship in general.
- If you want to continue growing and building, and these issues are coming up, be intentional on setting aside time weekly or bi-weekly to touch base and have authentic conversations that will allow you to come to a compromise and get on the same page.
Amy Schoen – Motivated to Marry
The first step is to seek to understand and be open to learning about their culture and traditions. When we come from a place of curiosity, we learn and will make our companion feel that we care.
The second step is to participate in their traditions and attend their place of worship if they so desire. The family will appreciate this effort.
The problem is not everyone can seamless feel comfortable with a culture very diverse from one another. It’s like visiting another country. And you may stand out as being different. Much depends on how comfortable you are with being your partner’s race.
It’s usually not the individuals in the couple that have issues. Many times it’s the interactions with the soulmates family and friends. They may not be as open minded and accepting.
I have seen many successful couples who have overcome interracial dating problems. Today it’s more common, especially in Metropolitan areas and with a more educated population.
Katie Ziskind – Wisdom Within Counseling
It can be challenging to adjust to an entirely new culture when you’re dating someone who is of another race. In one sense, opposites attract. However, if too much change happens too quickly, it can break apart two people that would have otherwise been a perfect match.
Take bits and pieces slowly. Be gentle with yourself and with your soulmate. As you introduce your companion to your culture, know that it takes children 15 times to try new food to even think about liking it. Be compassionate with your soul mate and be OK if they don’t like one of your favorite foods.
In time, they may grow to enjoy it just like you do. Your new partner may need extra support meeting relatives of a different culture.
Discuss topics ahead of time and be open about conversations. Different cultures have different normals around gender, sex, marriage, children, finances, working, and rules and expectations.
Some cultures don’t drink alcohol where other cultures have alcohol every night with dinner. Know that what is normal for you may not be normal for your companion, so there will be an adjustment phase.
I think the most important thing to remember when dating someone of a different race or culture is to approach differences with curiosity instead of judgment. It is so important for couples to ask each other questions instead of making assumptions based off of cultural or religious stereotypes.
It can be difficult to understand a culture or religion that seems foreign to you. In healthy relationships, couples will explore their cultures together, sharing in traditions and checking in with their partner to make sure he/she is comfortable.
I recommend that couples have an honest conversation about what their cultural or religious identity means to them as individuals. Although our cultures and upbringing have no doubt impacted on us tremendously, we are all individuals with our own tastes, beliefs, and preferences.
Mark Borg Jr – Irrelationship
The most important ingredient, skill, and resource for all couples is communication.
Being an interracial couple, however, brings the imperative nature of communication into stark relief and can, at its best, provide an opportunity to address a huge communication problem that couples who think and believe they share common culture, race, religion, etc. often totally miss: True intimacy, getting to know a companion, requires that we use communication to dispel our assumptions about our partner.
Too often, when we think and believe we are similar, we deny and dismiss the subtleties of how culture (values, morals, practices, etc.) are actually transmitted to us through our unique and individual families.
This creates a sense of mutual denial where the assumption of similarity can later prove to be a roadblock to genuine communication, development of empathy, and willingness to be truly intimate.
It can ironically get in the way of learning to accept who our companion really is. Cultural assumptions of similarity allow couples to avoid these essential elements of communication in ways that being in interracial relationships–and this couples psychologist is also in an interracial marriage–make much more difficult to sustain.
Therefore, I hope that along with the difficulties that interracial couples face, I believe that there are also assets that they possess that can be used productively to create a deeper sense of emotional connection.
Race is not often the major challenge for people who are unequally yoke based on culture, faith or tradition. While society has it’s own ideologies on interracial relationships, getting to know each other is always a process.
In most relationships communication, being committed and willingness to compromise is vital. Is the couple committed to the relationship and open enough to understanding each other’s upbringing as a unit?
As a believer, being of same faith does not always transcend into harmonious spiritual relationships. I have dated outside of my race and found in some instances that I have had more similarities than differences based on shared experiences like educational background, various level of interests and open-mindedness. The greater challenges typically come from the families who may differ in thought.
When couples begin to unite, new traditions are normally formed because two people will bring their own traditions to the table.
For instance, instead of spending all holiday with family, it may become important to rotate the holidays or bring everyone together at one person’s home. If there are cultural dietary differences, everyone bringing a shared dish can be a kind gesture.
The world we inhabit is rich with many races, ethnicities, religions, cultures, and traditions. But nevertheless, many folks still have preconceived notions and stereotypical opinions about other cultures and races – maybe even some of your own family members. These preconceptions and beliefs can lead to challenging effects on our relationships when we don’t feel loved, accepted and held in our relationship choices.
Love is love!
It’s wonderful to find that special someone we have chemistry with, with whom we mesh – someone who truly understands us and loves us for who we are and yet, when it comes time to introduce our new loves to family, it isn’t always easy, especially if they’re from another race or ethnicity, or practice religious or cultural traditions that you aren’t familiar with. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering what all those little plates at Passover are for while his mother stares you down, you’ll know what I’m talking about!
Talk to your family first.
If your family is conservative and traditional in its cultural ways, it helps to prepare them with a conversation and without expectations that you will convince them right away. If they’re very religious or have never had much contact with a person of another race, they may take a while to warm up to them.
Perhaps your parents expect you to date or marry someone inside their ethnic or religious community. This may often be the case, especially, with older family members who are unfamiliar with interracial relationships. Remember that as adults, we are all capable of making our own choices in life. Go in together.
Prepare with your date beforehand.
If you are really getting serious, sharing family traditions and values with your new love can go a long way when it’s time to meet your family. You and your new girlfriend or boyfriend should take the time beforehand to cover some important bases:
- talk about appropriate dress for family gatherings (maybe it isn’t an appropriate time to wear that little black holiday dress) and pack appropriately for family activities
- discuss what level of affection is okay to show publicly and where you’ll sleep if you stay over.
- go over how introductions happen, and how meals, prayers, and ceremonies are conducted (and, yes, what all those little plates at Passover represent!).
Going in with education and sincerity can show even the toughest and most traditional family members that you both care. It’s a big sign of respect that grandma will most likely honor. She might even, eventually, give you both her blessing!
Julia Bendis – Match By Julia
When dating outside of your race, culture or religion it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with their culture. I always encourage my couples to do their own research and learn about their new boyfriend or girlfriend’s faith, culture, and traditions.
If there are interracial dating problems accepting or adjusting to the differences, my advice is to always communicate with your companion. As cliché as that sounds, it will not go away until the two of you discuss the differences and any issues that may arise from it. There’s a reason why you met and why you’re dating each other, clearly you like each other (if not love already), you have things in common and in general enjoy each other enough to have formed a relationship.
Even in couples with the same religion, culture, and ethnicity, there are issues. No relationships are perfect and it takes both of you learning about each other, your differences and accepting one another.
The beauty of interracial relationships are that you accept each other exactly the way that they are – the different traditions and all. So you have to remember that when difficulties arise, to learn from them instead of backing away.
If you truly want to make relationships work, there is no other way but to communicate, learn about each other and accept it. If there are things that you just can’t compromise on or can’t accept, communicate that to your partner and you may just agree that he/she will have to do certain things on their own.
I have seen many couples that are in interfaith marriages and they don’t always agree on it. So they decided that they’ll do their own thing during the holidays or special occasions and the other person doesn’t have to go with them (i.e. going to services at a Church or Temple).
There are many couples that are of different races and religions that simply don’t practice. This is the best scenario of all. Yes, it is possible for a couple to accept their differences when it comes to religion and continue to practice separately.
However, on their respective religious holidays when they want to enjoy celebrating meals and festivities together, many couples experience a sense of loneliness, divisiveness, and a wedge between the couple. This can be the beginning of problems with interracial marriage.
It is not so clear-cut to be able to simply tell couples that it’s not always important to have religion in common.
The reason is that no one is clairvoyant and no one can predict what unexpected tragedies, traumas, and events life may bring. These unexpected curveballs can catapult someone deeper into their religion, sometimes even fanatically.
Once this happens, the equilibrium in the couple and relationship is tipped and no one knows how it will affect the couple and their children. Religion is potentially a very delicate and crucial issue in the marital relationship.
Parents with different religions can enrich their children’s life experience with exposure and celebration of both cultures, religious practices, and customs. The situation that creates a wedge between couples is that in which each one has (or develops after marriage) strong orthodox beliefs and practices.
I have treated many families in which after having children, or after suffering a life trauma, one parent becomes fanatically involved in their religion. This can tip the equilibrium in marital relationships and cause deep confusion in the children about their individual identities.
Kryss Shane – This Is Kryss
It’s super common for individuals to love each other but to be completely unsure of how to love the other’s families and the other’s traditions. Rather than battling or always fearing a battle about these sensitive topics, each member of the couple should take some time to think about what matters most.
Is it spending one specific holiday with your family even if you are not together for that holiday? Is it keeping religious worship in your weekly schedule even if you attend without your companion? In addition, what is most important to do with your partner?
When each person has made this list, compare them. Often you’ll find that both of these are doable so no one has to feel as if they’ve lost out.
Plus, knowing what is most important to your partner helps to better decide whether that is worth arguing about or whether you can simply see your participation as one of the ways you show your partner that you love them.
Then make your plan together and agree to present to both families as a united front and agree not to vent to your own family about the other in order to preserve the relationship between your relatives and your partner.
When people in my life are judgmental, whether clients or family, I try to be compassionate.
What shaped them? How did they form their beliefs? It is not always easy, but that brings me peace and helps me to help them. Arguing never works!
Being curious is a consistently good stance to take. Ask how they are feeling. Ask what they are thinking. Ask what they are curious about. Try to avoid being defensive, no matter how right you are.
Consider living by the mantra that we can be right or we can be relational.
Jameson Mercier – Mercier Wellness & Consulting
Our culture is a big part of our identity. It is important to remember that your partner’s culture is part of his/her makeup. It is part of the reason you love them. Be curious and open to experiencing their culture without judgement.
On the flip side, be open to answering questions and not being offended, because chances are your companion is probably trying to understand.
When merging traditions, you must remember that choosing one tradition does not mean you are throwing out the other. This is particularly important during the holidays.
Consider creating a system where you alternate between both traditions or select the ones you want to keep. The best way to approach this is with the idea that you are creating new traditions.
Like politics, religion can be a touchy subject. Even when two people are of the same religion, it does not guarantee that they observe it the same. However, if democrats and republicans can have lasting relationships, there is hope for interracial couples.
At the core of all religion is love. If we focus on that simple fact, then the differences become less relevant.
In addition to that, if couples focus on the similarities, they may find they have more in common than they thought.
Kim Leatherdale – Creating Rewarding Relationships
Every couple that gets together has to navigate the merging of two cultures, even if they are outwardly from the same one. Families and subsets within groups are very different, so it is important to know how to respect and learn about both. This is part of what I help new couples understand during premarital coaching and troubled couples come to understand how their two “cultures” have contributed to the mess they are in.
Add into the mix of merging two people a pair of truly disparate cultures and the difficulty is greatly magnified.
In both cases, it is important for the couple to be open with each other in multiple ways to avoid interracial relationship problems occurring.
- Be able to look at your own culture as if you are looking at it from the outside and explain it. Being open to look at how you grew up and seeing it somewhat objectively will help you explain it to your partner. It may also help you understand why you are having trouble with things you see as a normal part of life.
- Be open about your struggles with the differences. If you hide that you don’t know something, or that it makes you uncomfortable, you run the risk of being resented. You also run the risk of being embarrassed by a mistake around the tradition.
- Be open to asking and answering questions (never assume you know.) Do not get defensive if your partner asks you to explain a tradition or cultural expectation. View it as their willingness to get to know you more fully. Ask questions in a curious manner without judgment.
- Be respectful. Even if the tradition or religion makes no sense to you, it is the choice of your partner to follow it. Be respectful of that choice and your partner.
Be flexible and open to learning. When you are part of an interracial couple, many basic assumptions about relationships will be different from what you expect.
Especially early on. Until you have the lay of the land, assume the best about your partner when things are unfamiliar. Rather than jumping to negative conclusions such as believing that the other person did something on purpose which upset you, approach the situation with openness and curiosity.
What she or he just did may be a sign of respect or love which may get lost in translation.
Be hospitable. Act as if you were welcome guests in one another’s cultures. Before you get to know each other fully as individuals, as part of the process, you will become acclimated to one another’s culture and customs. It will help to ease the tensions and reduce the risk of conflict if you err on the side of diplomacy. You are strangers in a strange land.
Be skeptical. While second-guessing oneself and others is generally seen as a problem, in this case a level of healthy doubt will help keep you from thinking you know what you are doing, knowing what the other person means, and knowing what is going on — when you really do not.
We can easily fool ourselves and one another by filling in ambiguity and gaps in communication with familiar ideas and concepts. This can go on a long time, leading to misunderstanding and the need to go back and fix mistakes.
Proceed with cautious optimism and you’ll be more likely to get it right the first time around, reducing the risk of inadvertent injury and negative interracial dating experiences.
Wyatt Fisher – Christian Crush
- Seek to understand.A first step is to seek to really understand your companion’s culture and traditions. What are their values? How do they see the world? How do they approach situations and why? The more you understand how they think, the more you’ll understand their perspective.
- Humility.Remember your way is not the way. Elevate your companion’s cultural customs to the level of yours. Both deserve respect.
- Ask.Ask your companion how they would like for you to improve respect for your differences and what that would look like.
- Compromise.Last, discuss with your companion what your culture should look like as a couple. Which elements of both of your cultures would you like to incorporate into the relationship and why? If your relatives don’t agree with interracial dating although your companion is from another ethnicity you should:
- Count your costs. The first step is recognizing this will most likely cause a lot of strife between you and your family and be sure you feel relationships are worth the strife.
- Meet with your family alone. The next step is to meet with your family without your companion to confront their discrimination and how it makes you and your partner feel.
- Comfort your companion. Third, be sure to empathize with how your family’s reaction makes your companion feel. Also, be sure they feel you are siding with them and defending them at every turn.
- Defer to your companion. If your companion continues to not be treated with respect, defer to how often they feel comfortable visiting your family, if at all.
Jennifer Hayes – South Carolina Matchmakers
My company has matched plenty of interracial couples who are happily married and continue making relationships and marriages work all of the time. However, in my experience, dealing with interracial couples, everything starts off the same as any other couple.
People believe wholeheartedly that their commitment and love for one another will surpass any issues that might arise because of their differences.
Although, it’s great to have an optimistic outlook going into the relationship. They should also be prepared when it comes to dealing with any interracial dating challenges adjusting with each other’s culture, traditions, and religion.
Understanding that the love is what united them but sometimes the differences is what could create tension within their relationship and potentially divide them. My advice is to balance each other’s cultures through understanding and communication.
Learn to really listen and understand they both have an equal impact on their relationship. Walk into each conversation or experience with an open mind, knowing that differences create space for growth and expansion, while their love is leading the way.
It is in those situations, they will learn to appreciate their differences and create the space for a meaningful connection. I am happy to say that I am a by-product of an interracial marriage that has lasted almost 50 years and what my parents showed me through their relationship is it’s all about how you choose to show up in relationships when those differences arise with your significant other.
I learned early on that the biggest thing of value was their differences and the love and commitment they had for each other.
It is imperative for the health of the relationship that you show interest in your partner’s culture. All relationships, in general, are about learning about your partner and becoming aware of many different aspects of their being. This is a great opportunity for both of you to avoid interracial dating problems and to grow and strengthen the relationship as you learn together about each other’s culture.
Being curious about your partner’s traditions and integrating some of them into your life together is a gift to your partner from you.
Martin Lucas – Getlaid.today
Participate in your partner’s traditional and religious activities as an observer. It will help you build a strong bond and show that you accept and respect your partner’s choices even if they are different from yours.
Learn to compromise, if you have some fundamental cultural differences. The only way to save romantic relationships is to find a middle ground. Compromise to find a solution that is acceptable by you and your partner.
Many people are uncomfortable talking about race and cultural differences. So it’s normal to feel awkward around discussing these things. Be open and authentically curious about each other’s background.
Be patient & compassionate – if your boyfriend or girlfriend has had little experience with someone of your background they may be ignorant but that doesn’t always mean it’s malicious.
Communicate, communicate, communicate – many things are worked out by having effective communication and practicing active listening.
Do your own research on your boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s culture – read books, blog posts, go to cultural events to learn (this also shows genuine interest to your partner). It could also be wise to consult with a relationship coach or therapist to explore these issues in a safe environment
Iman Iskander – Culture Of Care
If you’re already in a relationship and you find your partner’s culture, traditions, and religions get in the way of your love, then without a doubt you will need to establish excellent communication skills to resolve your differences. My advice is to learn the difference between the Solvable and Unsolvable problems and use a set structured communication process to discuss each.
Your first step is to identify whether your problem is solvable or unsolvable. A solvable problem has the following features:
- It relates to a task or an action.
- It can be ticked off on a list.
- There are several options for how it can be solved and a middle ground is possible. A solvable problem requires good communication and listening skills followed by negotiation.
An unsolvable problem has the following features:
- Is related to a value system.
- It points to a life direction and cannot be ticked off on a list
- It’s embedded in a person’s psyche and view of the world. The unsolvable problem will continue to come up again and again in relationships. It may masquerade as a task or thing but underneath the obvious, there is a value system, like religion, view of family, view of the world, or an orientation to life etc.
This unsolvable requires you both to shift your attitude and your goal when you speak about it. You’ll need to find a way to live together with this difference and to accept that it will always be a difference between you.
For an unsolvable problem ask yourself: “How can I learn to learn to live with this difference?” and “What steps can I take to show acceptance of my companion without agreeing with their view?”
The most important thing to remember is that your companion will not change and that you will need to find a way to live together harmoniously without damaging your relationship. This requires an attitude of acceptance.
Talal Alsaleem – The Infidelity Counseling Center
- Have an honest discussion about concerns and boundaries
The essential ingredient for all healthy relationships is honest and effective communication. When couples decide to establish a romantic relationship,they need to remember that they are making the choice to merge the lives of two individuals with varied life experiences and worldviews.
This happens to be true for all couples, even the ones who are members of the same cultural and racial groups.
The only difference here is that the variation of personal experiences and worldviews can be exaggerated if the couple happens to be from different racial and cultural backgrounds.
It’s very important for couples to talk about about these differences early on during relationships. These conversations should cover the differences in the worldviews shaped by the different life experiences and to what extent those worldviews affect each other’s behavior and expectations in the relationship.
These types of conversations allow couples the opportunity to identify boundaries and parameters as well as an outlet for exchanging new ideas that could potentially enrich and expands each other’s worldviews.
- Embrace the concept of cultural competency and how it’s different from indoctrination
Our cultural and racial identity is more than the clothes we wear,the religion we practice, and the type of food we eat. Cultural identity is the set of beliefs that shape our day-to-day interactions with our immediate environment and the people in it. In a way, our cultural identity becomes the primary language that we use to interact with others.
So, when you have a couple who has different racial and cultural identities, you have a relationship between people who metaphorically speak two different languages. What do you do to achieve harmony in relationships? Do you enforce the use of a primary language?
Or, do you advocate for a bilingual approach?I always guide my couples to adopt a bilingual approach. This approach allows couples to maintain their independence and individuality while having cultural fluency that can help them communicate and work effectively with their companions.
Sometimes couples confuse the difference between cultural competency and cultural indoctrination.The former means fluency in a different language that can help you understand and communicate with your companion. The latter means being forced to abandon your language to adopt the language of the dominant companion.
- Avoid the stereotyping trap
One of the main ways we process data is through organizing and categorizing information into distinct groups. This way of processing data has many benefits,but also can have many drawbacks, such as making wrong assumptions. The way this plays out in couples with different backgrounds is through wrong stereotyping.
Couples need to remember that just because their companion is a member of a specific cultural and racial group does not mean that he or she will have the same exact beliefs and worldviews of everyone else within that same group.
Afterall, despite the general beliefs and patterns of behavior we adopt because of membership in a particular racial or cultural group, we are also impacted by the microculture of our family of origin and the experiences we are exposed to in our immediate home environment.
- Take the time to examine your personal bias and its impact on the relationship
Whether we like it or not, we all have some bias for and against certain groups or belief systems. These biases can be caused by direct positive and/or negative experiences or can be passed down to us through the indirect experiences of others who happen to influence our upbringing and social development.
Biases work like a cognitive filter that we use to interpret the behaviors of the people we interact with. This filter dictates whether we interpret those behaviors correctly. The result of those interpretations guide the way we choose to behave with the person we have a bias for or against.
Having a bias against your loved one’s cultural and racial identity sets the stage for failure. This is because such biases will cause you to unfairly interpret and judge your loved one’s behaviors.
For example, if your partner is struggling with completing their chores, or fulfilling their obligation within the relationship, you have two options to address this issue.
One, take the time to talk about the difficulties and obstacles that are contributing to these problem to facilitate finding solutions for it.
Two, attribute what you observe as a typical behavior of your companion based on an incorrect negative stereotype that you have about his or her cultural and racial identity.
Elayne Savage – Queen Of Rejection
For 35 years I have primarily been seeing couples in my private practice. Style differences in the form cultural differences are challenging in many relationships. Messages are passed down from generation to generation, often non-verbally.
After all, each person grew up in a different family with different ways of doing things and we too often believe “My way is the best way.”
Here are a few of the style differences that receive focus in couples sessions: cultural ways of connecting, ways of coping with stress, privacy needs, comfortable closeness and distance, celebrations and gift-giving. As you can imagine, gift-giving is a particularly hot topic.
The list can number in the dozens and has been one of the most popular focuses of I have been able to offer couples. Our work is to find ways to embrace rather than feel threatened by cultural style differences. Too often we need to make someone ‘wrong’ and ‘bad.’
These negative, toxic feelings lead to hurt feelings, taking things personally, anger and resentment which get in the way of connection and intimacy.
Christopher L. Smith – Seeking Shalom
I would let the couple know that what they are going through is normal and while being an interracial couple may amplify things that adjusting to what the other person brings into the relationship is something that many couples have to go through.
Once they realize that, the next step is to work out how they feel about their own culture, traditions, and religion and the relationship – what can be their own expressions without their loved one being involved, what do they need their loved one to respect and be somewhat involved with and what do they need their loved one to be an active participant in with full belief about?
Honestly talking about your needs and desires while also carefully listening to what your companion is able to give you can help you find ways forward or realize that loving each other may mean that you have to go separate ways in order to allow each of you to maintain integrity.
It is possible that your needs relative to the culture, traditions, and religion each of you bring into the relationship cannot coexist, for example if one of you comes from a background where it is important for the whole family to be together in church on New Year’s Eve in a Watch Night Service where you are quiet, reflective and in prayer to bring in the new year (which is common among certain African American Protestant traditions) and your companion places a strong importance of partying and celebrating with your loved ones to welcome in the New Year (which is common in other ethnic traditions).
These two are exclusive of each other and relate to a particular time period and require your partner to participate with you. On the other hand, there can be situations where there are significant differences but you each have an openness to the other person’s stance and a blended approach can be assumed.
There was a couple that I worked with that was able to find ways to draw on their different religious traditions and weave them together into a single service that they both felt comfortable with and which met the needs each one identified.
In this case, one partner’s religious background was Jewish and the other partner practices a mixture of Roman Catholicism and Wiccan.
Even diverse aspects can be integrated and engaged in across backgrounds.
Shlomo Slatkin – The Marriage Restoration Project
My best advice for adjusting is to be able to have open and honest conversations about any concerns. No two people are alike and a relationship is about experiencing the otherness of your partner. This is further accentuated with cultural differences.
The ability to travel to the “world” of the other and appreciate their “otherness” is the key to all successful relationships.
Couples that learn the Imago Dialogue can learn how to make that journey by “mirroring” back or repeating what the other says without interjecting their own opinion, validating their loved one by letting them know they make sense and empathize with them by imagining what emotions they may be experiencing. This will help the other feel that there is a real caring relationship.
How to overcome the challenges of an interracial relationship?
Jessica O’Reilly – Sex with Dr. Jess
There is no such thing and it’s offensive to claim that you are color-blind, as it erases the experiences of those who do not share the same privileges — privilege and oppression vary according to a range of factors including race, culture, skin color (colorism), size, appearance, ability, income and perceived sexual orientation and gender.
Talk about race and your own experiences and don’t make generalizations about other races based on your very limited (and biased) experience.
Acknowledge racial biases in dating.
Research suggests that although many folks state that they’re supportive of interracial dating, brain scan research shows even young people (university students) may experience disgust in response to photos of interracial couples. This negative reaction is indicative of just one of the interracial dating challenges faced by many mixed race couples.
Research out of the University of Nebraska indicates that the insula (where the brain registers disgust) is highly active when research participants view photos of interracial couples, but doesn’t engage when they view photos of same-race couples.
Research also suggests that racial biases exist with even bi-racial daters showing a preference for white boyfriends or girlfriends. This racial hierarchy affects the way you feel about yourself as well as the way you approach potential and new partners.
Talking about your interracial dating experiences in reference to your ethic and racial identity and being willing to listen to and validate your partner’s experiences is important.
Don’t make assumptions.
You might think that you understand your Chinese partner’s family values, but with over a billion Chinese people in the world, it’s unlikely that you can generalize with accuracy or attribute a value to culture or race alone.
Instead, ask your loved one about their personal and family values so that you can learn from their individual experience — their race and ethnic background may play a role in shaping these values, but they’re the experts in their own experience, so listen, learn and show respect for new information.
(They are not responsible for educating you, of course, so respect their boundaries and look for other ways to learn about their culture as well.)
Don’t claim superiority for being “willing” to date people from different backgrounds. I see this often from white people. You are not more “woke” because you date or have sex with people of different races. You can be racist and uphold racist systems of oppression even if your companion is a POC.
If you want to dismantle systems of oppression or be more “woke”, do the work to learn on your own, recognize your privilege, make space for others to succeed and speak, stand up when you see racial oppression from members of your own community (e.g. your family) and respect that each person’s needs are unique.
This leads us to the next point..
Acknowledge your privilege.
Your experience is not the same as your companion’s and that’s okay. You don’t have to apologize for your privilege (the apology is really about alleviating your own guilt – not making others feel better), but you can look for ways to extend the benefits of your privilege to those who haven’t had the same opportunities.
Enjoy all that you can from your partner’s culture (with reverence)! You have the benefit of learning about other customs and histories and so does your partner. Talk about how you can pick and choose the best of both worlds and remember that “best” is subjective. This is an ongoing conversation — not a one-shot deal and will ensure interracial dating problems are largely avoided.
Sonya Schwartz – Her Aspiration
Four main factors define the success – and ultimately helps overcome the challenges – of an interracial relationship. These are acceptance, understanding, accommodation, and communication.
The first step is to accept your differences. You will have different cultural backgrounds, which often come with prejudices. You’ll have to overcome them and embrace, or at least accept, your partner’s culture if you want to have a happy relationship. From spiritual views and practices to food, those involved in an interracial relationship have to keep an open mind and accept their loved one’s culture and perspectives.
It is equally important to understand each other. You don’t have to agree with your partner’s culture, nor like everything about it. But you owe it to your partner to study their culture and understand it before judging.
You must also give up stereotypes and accommodate your partner into your life. If the relationship seems promising, also learn how to accommodate your partner’s immediate family and friends into your life, and learn how to deal with their rejection.
In the end, communication is perhaps the most important step in overcoming the challenges of an interracial relationship. Talk to each other, share your views even if they are different, speak about your fears or concerns. The goal is to become comfortable with each other, as this is the only way to deal with a society that is often reticent to interracial relationships.
Kira Nurieli – Harmony Strategies Group
Interracial dating can be particularly tricky. In my mediation and conflict-coaching practice, I see many situations where culture and language shapes a miscommunication or misperception, and these culture and language barriers can be especially sensitive when parties are in intimate relationships.
I myself am married to a man of middle-eastern descent, and we often have radically different views, based on our different styles of upbringing.
Sometimes, it feels like extra work to be married to someone so different, but it also helps enrich my life with new flavors, traditions, and ideas.
Three key points can help ease the relationship dynamics:
- Remember that all couples have breakdowns and misunderstandings. Don’t be quick to blame race or ethnicity on the reason you don’t see eye-to-eye. When disagreements flare, carve out time to better understand each other as individuals, rather than blaming divergent backgrounds.
This also allows each party to consider how to grow and change beyond cultural norms, to create a new system that works uniquely for the two of you, together.
- Take time to define your interracial relationship goals, habits, and dreams together. Find out how you can complement and help each other create the life you’re looking for. Just as in a business context, diversity fuels innovation.
By sharing your visions, you may see new and fascinating opportunities that you could not achieve with someone of the same background.
In my situation, my life is filled with different languages, conversations, and ethnic foods than I would have embraced on my own. This fuels excitement, fascination, and creativity for both myself and my spouse.
- Don’t be bashful to look for help. There’s no medal for going it alone – if you feel your relationship could use some assistance, then reach out and find someone to help!
There are many mediators, conflict coaches, and therapists who can help shed light on the triggers and complicating issues you are facing.
They can also help with extended-family dynamics as well if there is any pushback or lack of understanding from parents, in-laws or others.
Aki Jamal Durham – Grace Wellness Center
Many of us are overtly and intentionally connected with our racial makeup and how it is defined. Some would even identify it as the foundation or core of who they are. Others, not so much.
Regardless of whether or not it is top of mind for us, it typically shapes our worldview and not only plays a significant role in how we see and experience the world at large but also how the world perceives us.
With that being said, let me offer this interracial dating advice to those experiencing the challenges of an interracial relationship from the mind of a faith-based relationship educator and counselor.
Put your race and that of your significant other in proper perspective. How does one do so? I have a couple of thoughts.
Consider the idea of irreducible complexity.
It is a term that, when researched, will likely lead you to articles that evoke questions and answers regarding biology, evolution, creationism, and intelligent design.
In other words, it is a sticking point that the faith-based community and scientific community tend to debate. Without taking a side on the argument, I’d like to offer a definition of it as it pertains to you and me as people.
The theory of irreducible complexity posits that there is not a single small or seemingly insignificant thing about us that we could change without experiencing a transformation in who we are as a whole.
Our experiences. Our physical appearance. What school(s) we attended. The nickname we were given. The people who came in and out of our lives. Television shows we watched.
These and countless other personal attributes and influences have all played a role in the entirety of who we uniquely are.
And, believe it or not, there is no measuring or predicting how we might be different if we altered any one of those aspects of our lived experiences. This, of course, includes our race and that of those we’ve had any measure of contact with.
Race matters. However, your race is merely one facet of who you and they are.
How much emphasis and importance you give it is up to you but be careful not to fall on either extreme of assuming it means nothing and can therefore be ignored (“I don’t see color/race. I only see people”) or making it mean everything and limiting how you present yourself or experience the other person (“I can only be seen or see someone in a certain way because of race/color”).
Neither of these perspectives is healthy. EVERY interracial dating situation and encounter requires us to get to know someone and develop greater levels of intimacy. What can be fun, but also challenging.
EVERY couple will have hiccups and trials to overcome once they’ve entered into a committed relationship. Also challenging. Each set of challenges are ignited and exacerbated by the things that make us dissimilar.
Racial differences have been mishandled by humanity for centuries. Don’t let that taint how you handle it in your personal life. Value the entire person you are getting to know and maybe hoping to love in order to avoid interracial relationship problems.
Sylvia Smith – Marriage
- Don’t let frustration get the best of you and your relationship
There are always going to be people out there who won’t necessarily agree with your interest’s set of beliefs, hair color, skin color, and so on and so forth. So, don’t take a personal jab at them for not being on the same page.
Don’t seek approval and don’t seek interracial relationship advice from these people. Just agree to disagree, and make things better for both you and your relationship by saving yourself from unnecessary grief.
- Speak up with class, without being a loose cannon
Speak up for what you believe and stand up for your loved one with a smile. It is okay if you feel outraged, courtesy those judgmental eyes and the looks of disgust while you are out with him/her in public.
However, tread cautiously and draw a fine line between standing up for your partner and scaring the living daylights out of people, who don’t understand your relationship dynamics.
- Don’t let race be the defining reason for connection of your relationship
Different upbringings, diverse religious beliefs, political viewpoints, healthcare preferences, are all minor factors of your romantic union.
Unlike some people, the race is not a deal breaker for you when it comes to relationships, but don’t parade it around too much. Don’t allow race to be the defining factor for who you are as a couple.
Dr. Zofia Czajkowska – Find Your Harmony
I’m a psychologist in private practice in Montreal. From my experience seeing interracial couples, as well as individuals in such relationships (or still considering them) the best approach is to ask yourself what do you want to drive your life: your own desire or fear of disapproval by others?
People at the end of life don’t typically regret not listening to their relatives more, but they often report regrets over not listening to their own hearts, having the courage to be themselves.
Be truthful to yourself about whom you want to date and why. Ask yourself whether there is a part of you that perhaps wonders if your relatives’ concerns are also your own.
Do you worry about what will people think and say of you? Are you concerned about raising children together? Why? What exactly is it bothering you?
Be honest with yourself. Talk to your best friend or a therapist to really understand your motivations – why are you even wondering about race or ethnicity as a potential issue? Is it to please your relatives? Avoid conflict? Is it to protect yourself from being self-conscious or shy in the future and if so, why?
Talk to your potential companion about your thoughts and feelings and ask the same questions you may have, e.g., how would we raise our kids?
How would we solve problems when we’re faced with racism as a couple? How would we settle disputes when cultural differences arise?
Ibinye Osibodu – The Zinnia Practice
- Judgment from family members
Many interracial couples have to deal with the silent whispers or the not so silent judgement that spews out of their loved one’s mouths.
This is especially difficult when they are the first to date outside of their race. They are constantly reminded that they are doing something wrong or different.
If the relationship ever hits a rocky patch, family members attribute their troubles to the racial difference. This creates a sense of isolation and a false sense that their interracial dating experiences are negative.
It’s important to realize that no one can change their family members.. They can either choose to be inclusive or divisive. Do not constantly remind your loved one that you are not accepted by his or her family. Band together, love one another and choose to be a united front.
If this doesn’t happen, those family members will successfully tear you apart. Discuss the hurt you feel if you are not accepted by your partner’s family. And for the person whose family isn’t accepting, validate what your partner is feeling. Do not simply brush it off.
- Shying away from hot button topics.
We all know that racism exists, however many interracial couples shy away from talking about it. They assume that love will make it all better. So when they watch difficult movies together or simply watch the news, they both pretend like it doesn’t exist.
Although it might seem easier to shy away from racism, dialogue creates a greater sense of unity and understanding. It tends to be a lot more difficult from the partner who is from the majority race.
The solution is to create an avenue to sit down and talk openly about the reality that they both face. This shouldn’t be used as a guilt session, rather the goal is create mutual understanding and empathy.
Varsha Mathur – Knowing Luxe
- The Outside World
You won’t please everyone. Discuss with each other how to deal with harassment, what makes each of you uncomfortable and how to keep a united front when others do not respect you to avoid interracial dating opinions of others affecting your relationship.
- Perception and Assumptions
You may have stereotypes and assumptions about each other that can cause problems. It is ok to call your companion out when you notice them. Remember to be positive, encouraging and respectful. If something requires compromise, take it on as a team.
- Everything other than Love
Getting caught up in defending your relationship may blind you from the stuff that will matter most in the long run. Figure out if you are compatible. Do you have similar interests? Are your financial and lifestyle goals the same? Do you feel respected and are you appreciative of your partner? Take the time to focus on love.
Others will be racist and you may be too. This may be new to you. Have your calm and self-respecting answers to racist comments ready for any type of situation.
Similarly, if you say something that is racist, apologize and learn what is appropriate. Adjust your own thoughts, be respectful of others and have the guts to stand up or change.
- Identity Confusion
Sharing cultures may bring you pride but learning something new may make you feel lost. Ease into the new identity you are creating as a family or couple and don’t expect it to be easy right away. New traditions and old ones can strengthen your relationship. Discuss boundaries and needs together.
One of the biggest challenges of overcoming interracial relationships is in the merger of different cultures. Striving to understand and respect the differences in culture, upbringing, and values will help to keep conflict and misunderstandings down.
Beyond that choosing to work to overcome the challenges of the interracial relationship together. Sounds cliche’ but there’s not a lot that a couple cannot overcome when they come together and use the storms and challenges of life.
The determination and strength of two people together is remarkable in what its capable of.
Issues that create interracial dating challenges are commonly issues of outside ignorance, and cultural considerations and when a couple, any couple, stubbornly decides they’re going to make their love last, they do.
Amie Leadingham – Amie the Dating Coach
I know this was a challenge I experienced in my own journey with interracial dating. I noticed how different cultures can be very harsh with judging interracial dating.
Being an Asian American woman that is married to a Caucasian man, I’ve personally been sneered at by some Asian men for marrying outside my ethnicity.
My way to overcome this issue is to understand that ignorance comes in all forms and most importantly, not to take on other people’s judgments as my own. I recommend the singles I work with to do the same.
At the end of the day, this is our one life to live. Our goal is to make choices that bring us happiness and joy, not live for others.
Marlena Cole – Love Me Right
- Internal Priorities.
Instead of being preoccupied with external factors focus on what needs mastering or fixing in your heart and mind.
When you have unattended sensitive areas of self-doubt, low self-worth, and past hurts others opinions, and disapproval of your decisions magnifies those painful feelings. Seeking to address your internal priorities will give you greater confidence in your choices.
- Honor Your Vision
Vision is the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom.
Within that vision is your mission and purpose having a vision and purpose for the relationship will allow you to overcome any external opposition because you are clear on what you want and are working towards in the relationship.
- Expose Yourself
Exposing yourself is probably the last thing you want to do during difficult times. However, when you reveal your values, passions, regrets, doubts, fears, and dreams you become authentic, powerful, and real.
When you know that you have presented your true self to those that matter the most, you began to see your vulnerabilities as a personal asset which will allow you to overcome any barriers.
- Release Judgment
Judging others is a draining and destructive behavior. While you may feel the sting of other’s judgment of your relationship you, in turn, making them right or wrong, good or bad about the things they say and feel about your relationship puts you at a lower level with them. Instead, take the high road and don’t judge their judgment.
Travis McNulty – McNulty Counseling & Wellness
Find a support group of couples who have experienced similar disapproval. In fact, the majority of relationships out there have experienced some sort of disapproval from a close-friend, family member, or even a whole group of people. Ask others how they overcame their disapproval.
Cut the toxicity out of your life! Identify who is causing you the most interracial dating problems for being in an interracial relationship and have an open and honest discussion with them. Cut out the people you can live without. It’s 2019, they can like it or leave it.
If these are family members who don’t approve of it I’d encourage you to have the same conversation where you sit them down and say, “You can either support me and be in my life or we need to take some space because you’re disapproval isn’t healthy for me anymore.” Life is too short for you not to receive the happiness you deserve because of someone not liking relationships that you’re in.
Be open and talk to your significant other about struggles you’re facing as an individual in a an interracial relationship. Chances are you are both feeling a similar way and you’ll need to rely on each other for that support.
Find a supportive and open community if you’re thinking of staying together long term. Let’s face it, there is still a ton of hate and people who live in the stone age so if there’s a bunch of confederate flags hanging from the flagpoles it may be a time to consider a change in environment.
There are plenty of progressive cities that are open and accepting to all relationships. St. Petersburg, FL is one of them!
Oluchi Osuagwu – Woman Scope
- If you want to be able to keep your interracial relationship, you shouldn’t take racism personally. In all relationships, couples sometimes have issues. When such issues arise, don’t bring racism into the issue.
- Don’t stay silent. Speak up. In every relationship, communication matters a lot. You must speak up. Tell your partner what your problem is and you both should trash out the issue peacefully.
In addition, never let the race issue define your relationships. If you both love each other and understand each other, then there is no problem. Race shouldn’t be a problem.
What people might say shouldn’t bother you at all. Let your love for each other define your relationship.
- For your interracial relationships to work, like I said earlier, you must love and understand each other and always communicate with each other.
Tammy Shaklee – H4M
For years, I have interviewed singles about their “ideal” soul mate, and most folks are very clear about what they prefer, and who they are usually attracted to, especially when it comes to attraction for same-sex couples.
I have had gay men and lesbian women say, “I don’t want to feel like I’m kissing my brother (or sister). I’m blonde, and I would feel weird kissing a blonde.” Matchmakers often refer to preferences as mirroring or opposites.
When a single prefers to only date their race, that’s mirroring. When you don’t want to date your same skin color even, that’s opposites.
One internationally traveled and savvy single said to me, “I am attracted to the United Nations. No boring white guys for me please.” And I think it’s beautiful. The point is, I have learned from these singles that they not only embrace our differences but seek them out.
Overcoming the interracial dating challenges of is one of tenacity for some. It’s a simple as that. In a relationship, it’s important to be present. Face, embrace, and enjoy each day and the uniqueness it brings.
Even with challenges of cultural or social shaming, stay focused on you and your loved one. Are the two of you present, paying attention to each other’s happiness and satisfaction? Can you together overcome outside influences?
And when it’s just the two of you in private, are you happy? Are you content, satisfied, and do you still enjoy just the two of you being together? Have you asked each other lately, “Are you happy?”
Taking one day at a time is important in all relationships, and none come without overcoming some obstacles. Discuss, communicate, share your feelings kindly, and determine what works best for you.
When it comes to holidays, and family milestones, like a new baby, or an elder’s death, care enough for your loved one to research, read, and then ask questions.
Be appropriately respectful of the differences in cultures, traditions, and extended family member’s feelings and beliefs. Then the two of you go home, prepare together a loving traditional comfort food to share over a nice quiet dinner table. Just the two of you and be thankful to have found each other.
Interracial relationships, like any relationships, have unique strengths and challenges and are situated in a context that may or may not be supportive for the couple. There are also many other intersectional identity experiences that may also be relevant to the experiences of the couple.
For example a heterosexual, married white middle class able bodied man married to a second generation Japanese American woman may have very different challenges than a Black trans-man married to a bi-racial (vietnamese/Mexican) woman who identifies as poly that are not related only to personal differences or contextual difference but to the larger racialized (and gendered and hetrosexist and classist etc,.) Society we live in.
Further, where these people live, work, socialize and how their families feel about the relationships can have a big impact.
In short, it is complex and an interracial relationship is not one unified singular experience. A few things, however are helpful.
Interracial couples do better when there is a genuine appreciation for differences and an awareness that not all of us experience the same types of systemic racism and biases and that these are hurtful and substantive.
Couples also fare better when they are flexible and inclusive with traditions, holidays, language and culture etc,. Sometimes couples therapy can help people develop respectful and productive ways to be in such a couple.
And sometimes the couple needs to learn to be a unified front to families and society and may need support with standing up for their relationships or against bias.
Claudia Cox – Text Weapon
Almost every relationship faces daily stress. It takes aligned expectations, good communication, and a willingness to compromise, from both members of the couple, in order to allow a healthy relationship to survive and flourish.
For interracial couples, these interracial relationship challenges can sometimes be magnified and there can be additional challenges placed on the couple, such as prejudgments and lack of acceptance.
To overcome these hurdles, the couple needs to openly communicate with one another and not take anything for granted. Have a code word that you can say or text to your partner if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, such as “us”. When you use the code word, it means that something is bothering you and that you need to talk about it.
For some couples, one of the biggest challenges is getting your loved one’s family to like and accept you. Before meeting your significant other’s family, ask questions about them and try to understand their family dynamics before coming on too strong.
Don’t change who you are to please them, just accept the fact that their family may function differently than yours. Ask questions, listen, and show that you are interested in learning about them and their culture.
If you feel like a conversation or gathering is going sour, use your code word and have a private moment with your partner to learn how to better navigate the situation. Be open to your partner’s family’s differences and they will most likely be open to yours.
The most important thing to remember for any couple, and especially interracial couples, is to communicate with each other as best you can as issues arise. This will not always happen perfectly, but if you have a companion that can listen to your experience and support you through the feelings that experience brings up then your relationship can get stronger over time.
Each person has a different set of sensitivities and triggers when it comes to race and it’s impossible to fully know what someone else’s are. The only thing you can do is try to learn over time what they are, for yourself and your companion, and talk through the tough feelings when new triggers come up.
It’s almost never as clear as “that person said an overtly racist thing and now I’m upset”. Usually, slights or comments are taken one way by one companion and another way by the other.
A good thing to remember is that our lived experience influences how we respond (or don’t respond) to the world. That means that no one is necessarily wrong in how they respond to racism or questionable comments from friends, family or even strangers.
That being said, it requires deep conversations to get to the bottom of why your companion might be hurt by the actions or words of others if you don’t immediately feel the same way.
Communication really is key to understanding and supporting your loved one.
Ashley and Marcus Kusi – Our Peaceful Family
Communication is the biggest thing that couples can do, to help navigate the challenges that are unique to being in an interracial/intercultural relationship.
Talk about the interracial dating problems you face, together as a couple and individually, with your loved one so that you are on the same page about how you are both being affected. Have an open mind and try to see things through your partner’s viewpoint.
The next step is to educate. Learn about each other’s culture, so you can communicate and understand each other better. Learn what you can about privilege, macroaggressions, and prejudice so that you can avoid hurting those you love.
Informing yourself can help equip you to become better at finding ways to compassionately educate your families, friends, and those closest to you.
Unfortunately, racism is still alive and well in this world, and the majority don’t even know or are willing to acknowledge that they have prejudice. The key is to try and not let this impact your relationship.
Setting boundaries with well-meaning family and friends, or even cutting some people off who disapprove of your relationship entirely, may be necessary.
Mariah Freya – Beducated
Never let race define your entire relationship. Yes, of course, race is and will be part of your bond forever. But it shouldn’t be the glue that holds your relationship together – or break it for that matter.
Always keep in mind why you and your companion were attracted to each other in the first place. Perhaps you are both passionate about the outdoors, or maybe you both have the same views on healthcare.
Whatever values you and your companion share, the key to longevity is to realize your relationship and your love goes beyond race.
Remember that some people will never understand why you have chosen each other. Let their opinions go.
At the end of the day, it’s you and your loved one snuggling up on the couch together – nobody else matters.
- Have open discussions about race.
Ask one another questions like, “Is this your first interracial dating experience? How do you think our relationship will impact your children, family, and friends?”
- Don’t ignore the influence of ethnicity on your relationship.
While interracial couples experience similar problems as other couples, it is important to consider the role your individual ethnic cultures may play in how you approach/solve those problems.
- Be careful about unintentional racism within relationships.
This is an important tip because partners often assume that being in an interracial relationship erases biases about their own or other cultures. As such, interracial couples often avoid these topics and feel hurt when they learn information about one another that is contrary to their assumptions.
- Set boundaries
Research shows that although general attitudes have improved towards interracial relationships, it also shows that many people do not welcome them in their own families.
Consequently, lots of couples are estranged from their family or have to endure mistreatment at family gatherings. Developing boundaries with loved ones help to protect relationships and send the message of unity to others.
David Klow – Skylight Counseling Center
Being informed about how one’s race and ethnicity shape people’s experience can go a long way toward building a more conscious and empathic relationship. Knowing what it is like for a person of color to experience prejudice, racism and discrimination is important for white people in general, and especially so in an interracial relationship.
This can build deeper empathy and also open possibilities for white people to be allies for their companion. Speaking up and taking action against bigotry and racism can help overall, but it also helps with challenges that can show up in an interracial relationship.
It allows the person of color to know that they are less alone in their experience and that their loved one is there with them as a support. If that support person is white and is working to better understand the privilege that comes with their whiteness, then it opens up possibilities for a more connected and conscious relationship.
Overall, if the couple can better relate to one another’s inner experiences in life then it can deepen their bond and connection. This sort of empathic bond can help couples in many ways in overcoming challenges that they might face.
Uma Alexandra Beepat – Lotus Wellness Center
In addition to being a dating coach, I am also in an interracial relationship! I am West Indian and my guy is Caucasian. It has been a roller coaster ride, especially in these politically charged times.
The difficulty is we will never TRULY understand each other’s point of view from the color perspective as we have different backgrounds and did not have to face the challenges we each went through.
BUT to overcome this, we developed compassion for each other and did not try to one up each other on our stories and our pain.
He will never know what it is like to be a colored woman in this country and how certain opportunities were never presented to me because of my name and race.
I will never know the pain he feels as a white man for being despised for atrocities he never did or know how to do.
The differences are there but the similarities are that we both have a backstory related to race and from that perspective, we can understand and love each other.
My long term boyfriend before my husband was a man of color and we lived together for a decade. He was a corporate executive so most times he was the only man of color in the room. He was Bajan so when we traveled to his family I was the only white person in the room.
For whatever reason, it didn’t touch us – we didn’t feel out of place – but what was interesting to watch was everyone else’s reactions to our relationship and minority status. They would approach us with statements like “you’re black or you’re white or how does it feel to be the only black/white person in the room”.
We decided to find the humor in these moments and laugh about the expressions on their face or our fantasy reply to their blatant racism. We flipped it so it became an opportunity for connection instead of division.
There was one time when we were traveling in the Florida Keys that really got under my skin. We were at an upscale resort by the pool doing what couples do: holding hands on the chaises and kissing by the pool when a concerned mother came over and announced that “you can’t do that – finger pointed at us touching – in front of my children”.
Her children were throwing a football in the pool. No one was happy but we tolerated it because they’re kids on vacation. It took us off guard and we simply laid back on our chaises. As I watched her return to her chair triumphant, I started to get angry.
I grabbed my boyfriend’s hand and we walked past her stopping in front of her chair and kissing before leaving the pool. There was no way she was going to shame us. He husband laughed under his breath.
Our coping skill was to hold our heads high and laugh at their ignorance. It was us against the world….always.
Sebastian Harris – Global Seducer
When it comes to interracial relationships, the biggest challenge is the environment. You might have broken free of stereotypes for a very long time. But you can’t expect other people to see the world how you see it.
A lot of my coaching clients are in interracial relationships. They are open-minded. Unfortunately, some of the people they encounter on a daily basis are not that open-minded.
One popular question I get asked is this: “Sebastian, will people judge me and stare at me when I’m in an interracial relationship?” I wish I could answer this question with no. But I can’t. Yes, people will stare at you, they will make jokes, and they will talk behind you back.
Of course, there are people who are extremely encouraging. You will smile whenever you encounter such a person. You have to learn to not cry when you encounter the opposite.
What if it happens? What if somebody judges you or your loved one? What if you can’t overhear a joke that’s anything but funny?
Communication is the answer. It doesn’t help to fight it. You can’t fight thousands of people with narrow minds. They are trapped with their narrow minds. You can, however, talk about this issue with your companion and discuss ways that help you to deal with this situation.
The more you communicate, the less you will care about the opinions of others and the more likely you’ll be able to reduce the likelihood of interracial dating problems occurring.
Interracial relationships have similar and yet unique challenges in the face of prejudice, racism, tokenism, and other forms of social intolerance.
Although more people are aware that race isn’t “real” (it is a non-scientific construct created through imperialism and colonialism), couples should not pretend that race doesn’t matter.
While you may not use racial sameness or difference as part of your interracial dating criteria, we do live in a world that oppresses and stratifies folks on the basis of identity. Statements like “I don’t see colour” actually limit your opportunities to learn about your partner’s experience around race and come to understand them more deeply.
Instead, get curious! Avoid essentializing their behaviour or assuming that you know their experiences because of things you know about their racial background.
Regardless of loving someone of a different race, you absolutely can have internalized racist or prejudicial attitudes. Curiosity with the intent to learn and grow helps you better navigate otherwise difficult moments, like when your companion says you may have done something hurtful or insensitive.
It will not only allow you to grow closer but also create a strong foundation of trust that will allow your relationships to stand strong in the face of external challenges.
Lesli Doares – Foundations Coaching
The more differences there are in the backgrounds of a couple, the more challenges they could face. It is not just the usual challenges all couples face in this area, but there are potentially some external ones as well.
The differences in culture and family/social acceptance can also be problematic. The best way to overcome these interracial dating challenges is through honest communication.
Being open and curious about each other’s life experiences and perceptions is the place to start. The more different they are, the more important it is to remain curious and accepting.
Dating outside of your racial group can open you up to judgment and criticism from those who want to maintain the status quo. This is fear-based behavior but can make the usual complications of building a relationship greater.
The basis for dealing with outside disapproval is coming together as a team which means you have to be able to have each other’s backs. Creating a solid, respectful foundation is the only way to do this successfully.
All relationships have to have a way of dealing with personal differences. Some relationships also have to deal with the disapproval of those closest to them but, for interracial couples, it can also be complete strangers weighing in.
The more pressures, the more difficult it can be for the relationship to survive. How each partner deals with stress and conflict matters. If these aren’t handled in healthy, productive ways, the relationship will suffer.
To overcome the challenges of interracial relationships means to be aware and respectful of your loved one and their family culture and beliefs.
As long as this does not conflict with your own ethical, morals and value system adjustments can often be made to co-exist with interrelational differences.
Much of the conflict is born when children arrive and the values they are taught by parents.
Chris Manak – Manic Workshops
I honestly believe that you simply need to decide that your life with your companion, is much more important than the opinion of others. It’s that simple.
It’s 2018, so for the most part, you’re not actually going to have too many issues from other people (which I believe has historically been the primary challenge to people in interracial relationships).
At least in Melbourne, where I’m from, there are many Australian men happily dating Asian women (and vice-versa), and all I usually see is one brief mention of it to the friends and family when they are meeting them, and then that’s the end of the subject.
So try to not create problems where there is none, nor stress yourself to the point of ending something that’s great, because of the opinion of other people.
Danny McCoy – Mature Dating Site
When two people of different races, find each other attractive enough, to be going out with each other, more than half the racial, battle is won. As in any relationship, there will be a lot of problems.
Not all the problems will be because they are of different races, so the first thing to be away of is to be able to spot regular relationship challenges, and separate it from challenges that arise because of they are of different race.
When a relationship challenge is identified at a racial issue, then it is important to get together and devise a plan to overcome the challenge. As in almost any relationship, good communication is always key to overcoming problems.
In interracial relationships, sometimes a problem can stem from prejudiced family or friend of one o
f the couple. When a serious challenge like this occurs, one may have to reduce contact with that family or friend. To make one’s partner feel secure.
What’s the best thing to do when your relatives don’t agree with interracial dating although your partner is from another ethnicity?
The best thing to do when you are dealing with relatives that do not agree with interracial dating although your partner is a different ethnicity is to try and have a constructive conversation with them about it. They may never agree with it, but it is something that should be discussed.
After canvassing interracial dating opinions via a discussion, creating boundaries with those relatives will be a very important step too.
For example, it may be that they will never approve and you may need to either explain to them that you will not be comfortable around them if they discuss it when you are with them, or also may have to be that because they can not accept your relationship you not may spend as much time with them.
Communication and boundary setting is very important in this situation.
Brooke Williams – Better Way Counseling & Coaching
The truth here is that in an interracial couple, you have to learn to set boundaries fairly early about who you are going to allow to guide your relationship.
People from the outside are always going to have opinions on everything that you do – parenting choices, career choices, judgments about where you live and how you spend your money. If you let other people guide your life and relationships – whose life are you living, anyway?
Present a united front to those that disagree with interracial relationships and set boundaries to keep your emotional responses in check.
People can change over time, but you don’t have to sacrifice your well being to be the ones to change them. Just enjoy your relationship and be a model of healthy couples.
Your relatives will either see you and have their minds changed from what they see – or they won’t. But your relationship doesn’t have to take on that burden.
Dr. Carissa Coulston – The Eternity Rose
If you’re in a loving relationship, it’s only natural you want to share your joy with your loved ones. However, if your family doesn’t agree with interracial dating, here are some tips to help you maximize your chances of gaining their acceptance.
If you’re in a loving relationship, it’s only natural you want to share your joy with your loved ones.
However, if your family doesn’t agree with interracial dating, here are some tips to help you maximize your chances of gaining their acceptance.
Communicate effectively with your family
Of course, you could always avoid the problem of telling your relations about your partner by simply carrying on interracial dating in secret. However, this is never going to be an effective long-term solution.
Once you know your relationships are serious, it’s always wise to open the channels of communication. Initially approach your family on your own, without your partner.
Remain calm and collected at all times. Don’t forget that whilst you have been thinking about this moment for a while, it’s only the first time your family have heard about it. Their emotions are likely to run high, but you must keep yours down and low. Be prepared to hear some unkind comments, and even raised voices. This way you won’t be caught off-guard by any unpleasant surprises.
Explain how much your partner means to you and that you are at the point of committing to them long-term. Help your family understand that you will always love and respect them, but your happiness is also important.
Try to find out why they feel the way they do, especially if there are any irrational fears they have.
Do some research on your partner’s ethnic background and present the key points that may help your family understand more about this person – especially if you can dispel any unfavorable myths or beliefs they might have about your partner’s ethnicity.
Take the time
Be prepared that your first discussion with your family may not end with their approval. Or indeed, it may not end well at all. But this does not mean you should give up hope.
You need to give your family the time they need to think about the situation. When (or if) the time is right, you can introduce your partner to your family.
Staying strong is important. Your relations must know they cannot choose your partner for you, and you will continue the relationship in any event.
In most cases, family members eventually come around to the idea once they realize that their loved one is happy.
Shelley Sommerfeldt – Loving Roots Project
As we know from our current political and social climate, racism is alive and well in this country and unfortunately, this is also true amongst family members and relatives. The viewpoints of others and difficulties that interracial couples face are very challenging.
Here are some examples of the reasons behind many interracial marriage challenges and some tips to handle the situation:
Reasons Behind Challenges:
– People may hold preconceived notions about one person due to their beliefs, views, and stereotypes about entire races and cultures.
– People have a hard time with change and something being “different” or what is different for them.
– People often believe that they know what’s best for another person and this is very common in families.
– Much of racism is due to ignorance, lack of knowledge, misunderstanding, and fear.
– Try to have a constructive conversation. Sit down with your family and discuss their concerns and answer questions. Remember that much racism is due to ignorance so try educating first.
– Put a face and name to their beliefs. Give them a person to see, meet, get to know and have a relationship with. This will give them less opportunity to continue misinformation or overgeneralizing an entire race onto one person.
– Set strong boundaries. If you’ve done the above and your family is still not accepting and they are criticizing, judgmental or being racist, set limits. Explain that these things will not be acceptable or tolerated by you.
– Relationships are challenging as is so if you’re finding that your family is not supportive, then create a healthier and more positive support group. Surround yourself by people who uplift you and are helpful for your relationship.
– Nurture your relationship. Try not to let others’ viewpoints have a negative impact on your relationship or let it come in between the two of you. Stay on the same side as your companion, work together through your challenges, and keep your communication high.
Sometimes your perfect match comes in an unexpected package–perhaps he’s short, chubby, not wealthy, and OMG a different race. It’s crucial to attract an ideal companion that treats you with love and respect, who’s generous with compliments and goes out of his way to make you happy.
What if he’s of another race and your family does not approve? How do you deal with your family? You don’t. Life is too short, and your happiness is your responsibility. Why would you pass up a wonderful person in your life just because your family would not approve over his/her race?
Hopefully, you’ve chosen someone with a lot to offer. Ultimately when your family sees how happy this person makes you feel they’ll come around.
As a matchmaker and science-based relationships expert who also happens to be in an interracial relationship, my advice is: Have frank discussions with your companion to ensure that you’re of the same mindset when it comes to your core values. Give your family time to get used to the idea and hopefully someday they’ll come around to accepting the person that makes you happy.
Who knows after a while your family may even realize that they have a lot more in common with your companion than they think, for starters they all love you.
Leela Grace – Waves Tantra
If your family members reject your loved one for any reason, it can put a lot of emotional stress on even the best relationships. But if the rejection is based on nothing but race, it can be even more challenging and hurtful for everybody involved.
If you find yourself in just such a situation, what’s most important is that you stay calm and true to your feelings, true to your heart.
Share with your family members how much this person means to you and let them know all the lovable and redeeming qualities that you appreciate in him or her.
Try not to react to harsh criticism and judgment based on race. Instead, just stay in your heart and be vulnerable and honest about your feelings.
If you go into a reactive or defensive mode (however understandable) chances are that you will end up in a fight or harsh argument with your relatives about your interracial relationship and that will only create more distance between you and your viewpoints.
You may also want to give it some time. If your family loves you and sees you happy they will come around eventually.
Rachel Yellin – Yes To Birth
Before you talk to your family about your interracial relationships, it’s important to consider WHY they are concerned. Is your family simply racist against your loved one’s ethnicity? Or, are there legitimate concerns over why an interracial relationship could pose more challenges than a same-race relationship.
The truth is, people are unique, and whereas there may be some generalizations about certain ethnicities or religions, you have to look at the individual. Before you speak to your family, you need to get clear on what the issues could be, and how will you handle those issues.
Think of your family as giving you a blessing in disguise. They are highlighting the potential problems that could come up, and you have a chance to get clearer, and get closer to your partner through deep discussions around the topic.
Your family may also have a concern that brings up something that you and your partner haven’t discussed, that would ultimately be a “deal breaker”. It’s good to discover more about who you are an what you want/need BEFORE talking to family.
Curiosity and empathy are key when there is a difference of opinion around interracial matters. Many times people have strong opinions based on fear, ignorance or a personal situation that occurred in their lives that impacted them negatively.
Try and have a conversation with the family member that is having a strong reaction from the perspective that they might need to talk about it.
The more you are able to ask questions and empathize with their feelings the more that they may feel heard and you might have compassion for their boundaries or fears. This might allow for them to feel more disarmed and potentially capable of doing the same for you.
The other thing to think about is having a conversation about the difference between independence and codependency in your relationship with your family members. Codependency in a relationship is the unconscious belief that you must change your behavior and desires in order to be accepted and or loved.
Codependents will give up their own needs in service to be approved of at their own expense, but most likely will express that frustration passive-aggressively or through felt resentment.
Independence is having different opinions while still being connected. It is based on owning your own Truth while still being compassionate. You can talk to your family members and explain to them that you are still a loving member of the family but that you have different opinions about the person that you are choosing.
If they choose to not accept you as an independent member of the family then you might need to ask yourself what is more important to you: loyalty to your family or your own freedom to be authentic and independent.
Lastly, if you are deciding that both are important then having a conversation about a “middle road” could occur, where your family and/or companion will say what is the minimum that they are able to stretch their boundaries and judgements.
For example, stretching can mean the family or companion to be willing to spend 2 hours on holidays together only or agreeing to not discuss the partners or family members outside of particular times or at couples therapy.
With a situation like this there has to be some give and take by everyone involved, otherwise it may be something to reconsider.
Anya Laeta – SF Sex Coaching
Think about all the things you value and appreciate about your companion and help your relatives to see why you chose to be with them.
It is not easy but try to empathize with their views on interracial dating and relationships while holding your ground and setting clear boundaries about your choices.
The more confident and comfortable you feel about whom you date, the more likely your family will accept your choice. At the end of the day, remember “You cannot live a great life without disappointing some people.”
Casey Lee – Rooted Hearts Counseling
Not having the support of your family can be extremely difficult especially in regards to someone you that is very precious to you whom you dearly love. Below are a few ways to respond when your family does not support interracial dating and your companion is from another ethnicity.
- Determine if your companion is worth staying with even if your family disagrees with you being with them. Your family may make negative comments or mistreat your companion in front of, or behind their back. Stand up for them if you chose to be with them.
If your family mistreats them in words or deeds, tell your family that it is not okay for them to mistreat them or their ethnicity in general, even if your partner is not present.
They can be deeply wounded if you don’t stand up and protect them. They can feel betrayed and doubt their love and importance to you. This can erode the trust of your relationship.
- Ask your family questions about what concerns them in regards to interracial dating. People often discriminate because of fears they have.
Those fears may come from media, their upbringing, or negative experiences they had that is then generalized to a whole ethnic group. Most of the time those fears are clothed in anger and hostility. It is easy to react to the anger and hostility in defensiveness.
Listen to their fears that underlie their disagreement. Validate and empathize how scared they may feel rather than defending, withdrawing, or fighting back.
- Look for something that your family member and your companion have in common. There may be things that they both feel are important to them that can bridge their differences. Hopefully they can see that they have more similarities than differences.
Allen Wagner – A Los Angeles Therapist
A key component of the resistance couple’s encounter is related to the parent’s perception that there is a loss of the families value in some way.
While sometimes it is specific racism, for many parents, it is feeling overwhelmed and fearful that their family culture will be missing in the next generation, just get absorbed.
It is so important for couples to be aligned, but also to respect the values and core hurts that extended family members may feel and not overly simplify the lack of blessing or positive feelings right away. Interracial dating problems do not only stem from the couple themselves.
It is generally about the loss of traditions and heritage, and this can be reaffirmed to parents through respect of where they came from as well.
When a child can value where they came from and reinforce that in no way, does this relationship impact that, many families can become more accepting.
The best thing to do in any conflict is to understand where the other persons hurt and where the pain lies.
This usually comes out aggressively, unfortunately, but ultimately there is pain and fear that they will lose their child. This can be rectified through assertive communication.
If relatives don’t support your interracial dating, it means they are racist. Because they are your relatives, you probably don’t want to break ties with them, but you will have to do some consciousness-raising.
The best way to do this is by ignoring the feelings and concerns. The only interracial dating opinions that matter are yours and your partners. The more you can ignore irrational fears, prejudices and viruses, the more space you create for people to get to know your partner. You will be bringing your partner to family events, family occasions, and other gatherings and slowly, overtime they will become colorblind just as you are.
However, whenever you partner with someone from a different background, you will encounter differences in the relationship. Without the support of relatives to find each other through these differences, it’s much harder.
It creates mental conflict, because you don’t want to feel aligned with disapproving relatives If you yourself feel disapproving toward your spouse – which is inevitable. It’s important to know this, because the better you can anticipate the challenges of negotiating differences, the easier navigating those differences will be.
Communication is so important when it comes to Interracial relationships. Being open about our feelings regarding culture, family rituals, religion, and public opinion is vitally important.
On the other hand not being judgmental regarding those vulnerable and transparent feelings is the key. If people feel judged more than likely they will shut down. Recap every week for an hour about what went right and the things that you can improve.
In addition talk about what both of you can implement in your relationship from both backgrounds.
Lastly make it a point to stay open minded and share weekly or monthly each others traditions. Ask the Tough Questions: Here are some suggestions.
Traditions and Rituals. My fiancé and I come from very different cultures. How will we respect one another traditions and rituals? I am attending my partner’s family function, and they expect me to taste dishes from their culture, but the food looks and smells unpleasant. How do I respectfully decline?
Communication. My partner’s family members or friends want to know if the stereotypes about my race are true. They ask you question after question, as if you represent an entire race. How do I respond?
My partner’s friends tell jokes that are stereotypical in nature. They notice my displeased expression and respond, “We know you’re not that way. No offense.” How do I expect my partner to respond to his or her friends?
My partner and I go out with friends who are of my partner’s race. They begin talking about issues regarding their race and make me feel isolated from the conversation either by remarking that I wouldn’t understand or by speaking in their native language. How will I react? How will I expect my partner to react?
Public Opinion. How will I respond if my family chooses not to attend my wedding because of my partner’s race? How will I handle people consistently doing a double take, even ten years into my marriage? How has the public received my choice to be with someone of a different race? What would I say to someone who stated that it’s an abomination for someone to date/marry outside his or her own race?
Children. What three key values will we teach our biracial children to help them confront racism? If my partner and I speak different languages, will our children be fluent in both languages? Love note: In today’s climate, knowing two languages is a plus! What would I say to someone who feels it is selfish and unfair for interracial couples to have children because of the disadvantages that biracial children face?
The best thing to do with relatives who don’t agree with interracial dating is simply not to take it personal.
People often take it as a personal attack when their relatives don’t support their relationship with someone from another ethnicity. You have to remember this is a belief system and not a vendetta against you.
With that said, you can’t expect this belief system, that may have been in place for decades, to instantly change because of your partner choice. It just doesn’t work like that and it’s not realistic to think you have the power to instantly change a person’s beliefs. It saves a lot of hurt when you accept that.
Another mistake is interpreting this lack of support as your relatives loving you any less. They love you and believe it or not, they often thinking they’re protecting you by discouraging you from an interracial relationship.
Despite the comments and the looks, stand your ground and try best not to let their non-supportive energy chip away at your relationships’ foundation.
I have seen couples get stronger through resisting their relatives beliefs and I have also seen relationships crumble under all the negativity. If this is a person you want to be with, the fight will be worth it and interracial relationship problems will be largely avoided.
Jacqui Olliver – End The Problem
Know that everyone is entitled to their opinion and you need to respect people’s opinions even if you don’t agree with them, especially when they are relatives who are close to you.
Past generations tend to be fixed in their customs and beliefs and can find it difficult to view your situation through a different and more liberating lens.
If you take a resistant stance then you will only cause more friction and tension. Challenging their beliefs will only lead to arguments and heartache and may even cause a divide that cannot be crossed.
To get your relatives on side with you, sell them on the emotion of why you have chosen this person. Find specific teachings within your ethnicity which are relevant to why you have chosen this person and show the correlation between your relative’s beliefs and how you believe your relationship can work.
The most important thing in relationships, regardless of race, ethnicity or religion is to honor and respect each other and to treat each other well.
Tell your relatives that you respect their beliefs, however, you have found the love of your life and you intend to honor and respect this person for the rest of your life.
Interracial dating, if you haven’t done it before, can be an adventure and a challenge. Race can be complicated because it includes a mix of cultural, regional, religious and traditional ethnic dynamics; and two people of the “same race” can have vastly different histories and attitudes a black man raised in American southern states can have vastly different attitudes from one raised in the Caribbean or Europe.
The differences between Asian cultures and Western cultures can be quite profound, and each person feels that what he or she experienced in the family setting in childhood is “normal”. So it’s very easy to get locked in a battle about who’s right, and who’s wrong.
Meeting each other’s families is bound to feel awkward, at first. It’s not only race; it’s culture: While the couple may enjoy each other’s differences, their families can be very uncomfortable with each other.
Blended families and ethnic groups mean that couples must learn to honor different traditions, lifestyles and preferences when they date get to know each other or and meet each other’s families. Blending and fusing of culture can go on for years, as your relationship develops and your family grows Family:
Especially in rainbow relationships, you need to know about his family, how it operates and how they’ll deal with interracial relationships. When you encounter differences, don’t take them personally and get upset. This will end communication.
To keep the lines of communication open, be as accepting as you can, and uncritical. Ask interested questions, such as “What was dinner time like?” or “What were your parents’ jobs?” You can be sympathetic if he had a rough childhood, but be careful.
He may be a good guy, but the only response he learned to stress and pressure might have been violence, fighting or shutting down. If that’s the case, be prepared to gently train him, or to get couples counseling before things go south. If a parent reacts badly to a racial difference, be patient.
If your Dad reacts badly, perhaps he’s taking this personally; as if your choice of a person from a different race is a slight to him. Remember your parents love you, and will probably come around.
Just keep calmly repeating, like a broken record: “Mom and Dad, I love this man (woman), and he (she) loves me. We are happy. I love you, too, and I hope you can be happy for me. I’ll be very sad on my wedding day if you’re not there.” Don’t push, don’t argue. You don’t want to make it harder for your parents to be accepting.
Just keep going with your wedding plans, involve whichever parent is willing, and make it possible for the other parent to change his or her mind and join you, even at the last minute. Have a plan B for if someone is not there (someone else to give you away, or make a toast).
Have faith and trust that your parent will get over his issue when he or she sees his objections are not going to stop you.
- If the dating couple can understand that their family members are operating out of love and concern, that’s a good place to begin. They love you and have your best interest at heart.
When they criticize or complain, what they’re really saying is “I love you and I’m concerned about your happiness and well-being.” A good way to respond is: “Thank you for sharing your concerns. I know how much you love me. That means the world to me.”
It’s best not to argue or try to get them to change their minds – just thank them for their love and concern.
No point fighting about it – they’re not going to change their minds (at least not right now) and arguing will just make things worse.
- When relatives criticize your love interest, you might ask them if they’re speaking from personal experience. Perhaps this is a road they have walked themselves in the past – or know of others who have – and they’re trying to save you some headaches and heartache.
Ask them to explain why they feel the way they do about interracial relationships and see what they have to say. You might get some helpful insights into where they’re coming from and why they feel the way they do.
- Above all, LISTEN. One of my favorite mottos is: “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” But you have to listen to the feedback to get the “nutritional” value. Don’t get defensive. Don’t argue.
Ask your family member to tell you more. Thank them for sharing their opinions, perceptions, and experiences. You might learn something important about them … AND they might just have a point of view worth considering.
Jake Idoko – Very Naughty
Being a man of African origin, married to and English woman for more than a decade. Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that, what people of different races have in common, is much more than what separates them.
There will be superficial challenges, such as one partner doing things this way, because that is how it’s done in his/her culture. And the other partner doing it that way, as done in his/her culture.
When situations like that arise, which it will frequently in the early years. When such gaps appears in an interracial relationship, the best way to bridge the gap is to create your own unique solution to the issue.
Other more serious, more fundamental issues may arise, for example contentious issues such as circumcising your son. This are more potentially testing issues.
The best way to avoid interracial dating problems is to discuss it, and find a solution that the two partners can live with.
Raffi Bilek – Baltimore Therapy Center
I’m a couples counselor and I’m also in an interracial relationship myself! If your relatives aren’t happy about your partner being from a different racial or ethnic group, the best thing you can do is to hear them out.
Let them share their concerns with you, whether they seem reasonable to you or not. Only if you show that you are invested in understanding your relatives will they be willing to invest in understanding you as well.
At the end of the day, you may never get your family on board with your relationship.
It is a painful situation to be sure, and something worth working on – perhaps in the context of family therapy – but ultimately just as they cannot change your mind, you cannot change theirs. Part of the work you may have to do here is simply accepting that.
It can be incredibly difficult when your family does not approve of the person you are dating. It can be even more touchy when the reason they do not approve is based on the issue of race.
Many cultures still place a high value on only dating within your particular race. With each ongoing generation, it seems that individuals have more exposure outside of their culture and this opens up the opportunity for interracial dating.
I would recommend that individuals in these situations explore what it is that makes their family uncomfortable.
Are they worried about how children will be raised, or about how holidays and family traditions will be honored? Discussing with family how you will continue to hold on to the values they taught you can help elevate some of this uncertainty.
Furthermore, having an honest conversation with your family about what is important to you in a life partner, and how the person you are dating fits those needs, even if they are of a different race.
Toni Coleman – Consum-mate
Ideally, you would be able to sit down and have a frank conversation with your family, explaining that this person you are seeing matters to you and that intend to move forward in the relationship. You would let them know that what they feel matters, but that you need them to respect your choices and this person.
If the family is hostile, unmoving, refusing to meet the person, etc.—you will have to make a decision. If you want to continue with the relationship, you need to make it clear to your family that if you are pushed to make a choice, you will choose to continue this relationship and see where it goes.
Again, let them know this is hurtful to you and not what you want, but that it is the way it will be. If they say they are open to meeting them and getting to know them, proceed slowly and with respect for their feelings of discomfort.
Often people reject or fear what they don’t know, and familiarity could change their perceptions and feelings about your relationships/partners.
Let them know the positives about the person you are dating, and why you are choosing to date them. Then, give them time to voice their concerns and actively listen while they talk. They can have their own opinions, but you get to choose who you date regardless of how your family feels about it.
Know that because of your family’s negative views regarding interracial dating, your relationship will probably be difficult and strained, especially around the holidays.
What happens if only you are invited to events, but not your significant other? Do you skip these family functions all together to spend time with your partner? Do you pick and choose what activities you go to with them? Do you attend these functions as you usually do and not address “the elephant in the room?”
Only you can answer these hard questions for yourself, and these tough questions often lead to tough conversations with your significant other as well.
Often the hardest part of your family not liking the person you are dating is that you’re hoping they will change their mind and they’re hoping you’ll change your mind.
This means that you’re often coming from two very different places, and your conversations can become very polarized. What’s most important is that you stay true to who you are and what you believe in, regardless of the opinions of others and how they feel about your partner and interracial dating.
Dan Rykers –World Dating Guides
Interracial relationship problems are still prevalent and interracial dating is still tricky today but at least the situation is much better than it was fifty years ago.
People are becoming more open-minded which is great, but some people will still have relatives who think in old-fashioned ways.
In truth, this might be one of the harder situations for a person to go through. If you love someone of another race and your family openly disapproves then it could leave to lots of awkward times for years to come.
But at the end of the day, you just have to do what makes you happy and not worry what anyone else thinks about it, even your loved ones. In a best-case scenario, you chose the right person to be with and your relatives will grow to see this over time and will change their tune.
Unfortunately, people who still judge others by the color of their skin are often very ignorant, and people like that aren’t always willing to change their beliefs. If so just do what you need to do to get through the family events as painlessly as possible.
You can’t choose your family, but you can choose the person who you spend the rest of your life with and you can’t let anyone else make that decision for you.
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