Interracial relationships are a wonderful testament to the beauty and power of love! Understanding and embracing social and cultural differences between two individuals can be tricky. Since such unions were considered illegal until fairly recently, there is still some stigma in society when people from different races marry or commit to each other. Keep reading to understand the struggles these couples face and how they can overcome them!
In This Article
What Are Interracial Relationships?
An interracial relationship refers to the union of two individuals from different races. For example, a person of color having a relationship with a white person, or an individual of Asian descent marrying a person with Caucasian roots.
Miscegenation — marriage or cohabitation by persons of different races — was considered illegal in many countries over decades, and is still banned in a few. Such bans sprout from the ideology of preserving and expanding one’s race and culture. And even though the world has progressed drastically, interracial relationships are still rare and not readily accepted in society.
Let alone the world, as two completely different individuals — with different upbringing, values, and thoughts — it takes a lot of acceptance, understanding, empathy, and communication to work things out. Here’s all you need to be ready for while stepping into this potpourri of cultures.
Things To Know About Interracial Relationships
- Acknowledging And Accepting Differences
Although differences are readily visible in such relationships, couples should cherish and cultivate the bond that brought them together. There must be an acceptance of each other’s disparate personalities. Differences don’t have to be a point of friction, they can instead help you grow and be multifaceted. Here are a few ways to tackle differences in an interracial relationship:
- Consider them a learning opportunity. Educate yourself and make conscious efforts to embrace your partner’s culture, upbringing, customs, and traditions. It can help circumvent conflicts and problems that may arise in the future.
- Love and respect go hand in hand in every relationship. So, it is essential to honor and value your partner’s diversity. It will make them feel secure, trusted, and valued in the relationship.
- Patience is a virtue when trying to adapt. Allow yourself and your partner the space and time to adjust to each other’s culture. Don’t impose your culture on your partner or pressure them to conform with your belief system.
While acceptance is important, it is equally necessary to speak your mind and keep the channel of communication open.
- Getting Through To Your Partner
For interracial couples, one of the biggest hurdles might be communicating through cultural differences, language barriers, and varied perspectives. Lack of a common language may also stunt communication severely. When partners don’t speak the same native tongue, expressing emotions, conveying information, clarifying misunderstandings, and misunderstood humor could be stressful. Here are a few ways to overcome the barrier:
- Encourage and learn each other’s native language to build your vocabulary and chemistry.
- Communication is more than words. Rather than limiting it to a verbal and written conversation, convey ideas and viewpoints through actions.
- Handle liberal, sensitive, and conservative conversations thoughtfully.
These strategies strengthen your bond further, helping you navigate your way through social prejudices and discriminations.
- Ignoring External Forces
Social pressure builds tension and conflicts between couples, which can eventually leading to splitsville. To tackle this, incorporate the following into your relationship:
- Acceptance of love between the couple holds more importance than others accepting it. The best alliance between you and your partner is one where any outside opinion, words, or actions aren’t allowed to enter the circle of your relationship. External distractions deviate you from your purpose and important things. So, keeping them at the door is the best option.
- Don’t give the reins of your relationship to the hands of friends, family, society, etc. Both partners should know what is best for their relationship, as it becomes easier to work forward from there.
However, just like everything else in life, relationships, too, see their ups and downs. When the going gets tough, it becomes important to remember the worth of your relationship and find a midway point.
- Making A Compromise
Humans are individualistic, and differences in opinion are natural. But vast unresolved differences can leave permanent gaps in a relationship. So, teamwork, consistency, efforts, acceptance, and, most importantly, compromises go a long way in making a relationship work. While it is often mistaken as a sacrifice, compromising is a healthy way of balancing the needs of both partners. A healthy compromise will nearly always enrich the bond and strengthen mutual admiration and trust.
Acceptance, communication, equality, and belief in each other are cornerstones of all relationships. However, they are all the more important for interracial couples, as racism is a deep-rooted evil in our society that needs utmost sensitivity. Here’s how you can approach the subject.
- Understanding Racism
Having conversations about racism with your partner should not be brushed off. On the contrary, a talk on race can benefit your relationship in many ways:
- It helps give insight into your partner’s life.
- It corrects any biases you may harbour.
- It gives your partner a space to be vulnerable and open.
- It prevents you from making any disrespectful or inappropriate remarks concerning your partner’s race.
- Understanding each other’s identity, background, and what they stand for is a sign of compatibility.
- Knowing about your partner’s upbringing and brushes with racism and microaggressions is important. At the end of the day, advocacy and allyship are the love language of interracial couples.
- Race is a part of a person’s identity; it is not their whole identity. So, it would be better if you separate your partner from their race and see them for the perspectives and thoughts they hold.
Alicia and Joshua share a few thoughts of being in an interracial relationship. The couple have been together for over 6 years and are happily married. They also shared a few challenges that they had to face in their relationship and how they stood together against an online attack. Joshua added, “Even though the video talks about the negative parts of the relationship struggle, a vast majority of how people view our relationship is positive. Most people say you guys are going to have such cute babies.” Alicia also voiced her concern and said, “We wanted to talk about the dark side of it because we want people to know that even though it is 2023, and you may think that racism is dead, it still is a very common thing that people are experiencing (i).”
However, having done all the above-mentioned work may still not guarantee success in your interracial relationship as the differences in culture, lifestyle, and ideologies may be too stark. Read on to know about how such a relationship might collapse.
Why Do Interracial Relationships Fail?
Compared to intraracial relationships, interracial relationships have to deal with many hardships and pressure to last. Ranging from racism to societal acceptance to multiculturalism, here are a few reasons interracial relationships don’t usually end in happily ever afters:
- Different Beliefs: We all hold a set of beliefs, thoughts, and perspectives, and people with similar beliefs tend to stay together for longer as a whole pool of conflicts is neutralized by default. In an interracial relationship, a couple is bound to separate if their belief system or fundamental values don’t align.
- Societal Backlash: Interracial couples face the brunt of being disowned by their family, society, and even friends. This negativity around their relationship puts the couple under stress, leading to disagreements and conflicts. Due to such circumstances, some couples call it quits even before making an effort to find a mutually benefitting solution to the situation. Still others work doubly hard to rise above the slings and arrows that they will most likely be subjected to, and are successful.
- Inability To Understand: In some cases, the end of an interracial relationship comes with the partners’ inability to understand and validate each other’s struggles. Consider a situation where someone shares their struggle with prejudice with their partner, who is so far removed from these issues that they can’t fathom the hardships.
- Lifestyle: Sometimes, the lifestyle choices of one partner might not match with their significant other. The idea of compromising may make them feel that they are being stripped of their identity. For instance, drinking is forbidden in some cultures, while in others, it is completely normal. Also, some cultures follow conservative clothing, while other cultures don’t have any defined norms for dressing up. It is often impossible to bridge these vast gulfs if both of them lack tolerance.
Infographic: 6 Tips To Maintain An Interracial Relationship
Being in an interracial relationship comes with its own set of problems because of racial bias and cultural influences. We have listed six tips to help you overcome these troubles and maintain a healthy,beautiful relationship. Scroll to the infographic below to read through them.
The key to a successful interracial relationship is to accept the differences in your personalities, cultures, and languages and use them as an opportunity to learn and adapt to the change. Make efforts to minimize communication gaps by learning each other’s languages. Never succumb to social pressure as it may dent your bond, and never let anyone control your relationship. Do whatever is best for your relationship. Also, be sensitive to your partner’s hardships with racism and understand their ideology and values to reduce friction or disappointments in the relationship and enable it to stand the test of time.
Frequently Asked Questions
What percent of relationships are interracial?
In the United States, about 16% of all newly-married couples were interracial or interethnic (1).
Do interracial marriages last longer?
Possibly not. Researchers found that interracial marriages are less stable than same-race/ethnicity marriages. However, the findings did not provide definitive proof that interracial marriage is connected with an increased likelihood of marital breakup (2).
Are interracial babies healthier?
No. According to research, biracial babies do not tend to be healthier than monoracial babies (3).
- Love has no boundaries, and interracial relationships are one such example.
- Such relationships can be rewarding as the couple can help each other widen their perspectives and connect over cultural and other differences.
- Interracial couples often face social stigma, negativity, and judgment.
- However, ignoring the external forces, empathizing, and supporting each other can help strengthen the bond.
Interracial relationships are the new normal. Explore how couples are navigating love, marriage, and dating in a diverse world with this insightful video.
Personal Experience: Source
i. The dark side of being in an interracial relationship
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- Marital Dissolution Among Interracial Couples
- The health of biracial children in two-parent families in the United States