Interracial Relationships: Navigating The Diversity Dilemma

Written by Harini Natarajan

The coming together of two people from different races speaks volumes about the beauty of human relationships. Interracial relationships can be alluring as they enlighten a person about the nuances of their partner’s culture. However, they don’t come without their share of hiccups. Here’s an attempt to shed light on the struggles people might face in such relationships, and how they can overcome the obstacles to keep going stronger. Read on!

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 got to be ready for while stepping into this potpourri of cultures.

Things To Know About Interracial Relationships

  •  Acknowledging And Accepting Differences
Acknowledging And Accepting Differences

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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 pressurize 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 pulling 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.

  •  Ignoring External Forces
 Ignoring External Forces

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Social pressure builds tension and conflicts between couples, 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 reigns of your relationship in 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 always enrich the bond and strengthen mutual admiration and trust.

Acceptance, communication, 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
Understanding Racism

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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 brush with racism is important. At the end of the day, advocacy and allyship are the love language of interracial couples.
  •  The 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.

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 are usually 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, here are a few reasons interracial relationships don’t usually end in happily ever afters:

  •  Different Beliefs: We all represent 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.
  •  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.

In A Nutshell

Struggles are inevitable in any relationship. However, they increase manifold for an interracial couple. Hence, it requires more trust, understanding, patience, acceptance, and communication on their part to work out the relationship.

Being sensitive to your partner’s struggle with racism and understanding their values and ideology can help your relationship stand the test of time. Addressing the privileges and cultural baggage openly can allow you to look at things in a new light, increasing the chances of forging a stronger, long-lasting relationship.

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As Chief Editor, Harini sets the tone and editorial direction for StyleCraze to deliver engaging, interesting, and authentic content revolving around women's health, wellness, and beauty. She has over 14 years of experience in content writing and editing for online media. She specializes in the areas of Beauty, Lifestyle, and Health & Wellness and is proficient in Medical Sciences (Biology, Human Anatomy and Physiology, and Biochemistry). Her background in Biomedical Engineering helps her decode and interpret the finer nuances of scientific research for her team. Harini is a certified bibliophile and a closet poet. She also loves dancing and traveling to offbeat destinations.