by John Santana
Years ago, dating outside your culture was often met with raised eyebrows. However, in recent years, there has been a shift in attitudes toward interracial dating. This change can be attributed to increased globalization and travel, which has brought people of different cultures into closer contact with each other. People are now more likely to encounter potential romantic partners from different backgrounds and are now more open to the idea of dating someone who doesn’t share their cultural background.
In a Pew Research Center survey, 85% of millennials have said that they can accept interracial marriage. But though the general public can be more accepting of interracial dating, there are certain things you have to remember if you’re thinking of taking the plunge.
Keep an Open Mind
Although everyone is free to date anyone they please, that doesn’t automatically equate to open-mindedness. Before you start interracial dating, you need to be more understanding than ever. The first thing to know about interracial dating is to have an open mind to new ideas and cultures.
Don’t make assumptions or stereotypes based on race.
“So, since you’re *race*, you must be *insert something culturally offensive here.* This statement alone is a surefire way to kick you out of the interracial dating game. Not only is it subtle prejudice, but also it is blatantly racist. Even stereotyping one based on appearance can be an offensive act, even if it wasn’t your intention to.
Be willing to learn about your partner’s culture and background.
There’s so much to learn about dating, and a whole lot more when dating across racial lines. Do your own research about where your partner came from, so you can have an idea of what’s acceptable or disrespectful in their culture. But if it’s your first time meeting together, being genuinely curious and open-minded can already go a long way.
Have honest conversations about race and cultural differences.
Eventually, you may learn things that can surprise you that can be totally normal in their culture. There will also be instances wherein you’ll strongly disagree with each other. But when you have honest conversations about your respective cultures, it’s a process of discovery where there will be more things to know about interracial dating.
Understand that Race is Part of Identity
For you, race might just be another factor in dating but for most people, it is central to their identity. Their perception of self may be different from yours, so make sure to be understanding of their social identity.
Acknowledge and respect your partner’s racial identity.
Supporting and respecting your partner’s identity is a massive factor in building a healthy relationship. It may start with things like respecting boundaries or supporting their passion.
Be willing to listen and learn about their experiences as a person of that race.
We all have lived experiences–whether good or traumatic. By listening to your partner empathetically and without judgment, you are creating a safe space for them to emotionally connect with and trust you.
Don’t ignore or dismiss the impact of race on your relationship.
Belonging to a certain race is part of one’s social identity. And whether you like it or not, it can affect how you build relationships with them. That’s why it is crucial to examine your biases, communicate your thoughts clearly, and always try to understand the differences in your cultures.
Stay Respectful of Each Other’s Culture
It may be likely that you have more differences than similarities with your partner. It isn’t wrong, nor should it affect your relationship. Interracial dating is a good way to make room for new beliefs and practices between the both of you.
Participating in and learning from each other’s cultures
Learning from each other’s culture shouldn’t just be a boring, one-on-one Q&A portion of what it’s like to be in interracial dating. There are many fun ways to learn from each other, like traveling together! Immerse yourself in your partner’s culture to get to know them better.
Being aware of cultural differences that may impact the relationship
It is inevitable that at one point in your relationship, there may be instances that you’ll disagree with each other. It doesn’t always have to end in an argument. Strengthen your relationship by managing expectations and finding a common ground.
Respecting each other’s traditions and beliefs
Being in an interracial relationship comes with knowing that there will be times when it can be hard to reach a compromise. We all have our own beliefs and while one may not necessarily be correct and the other wrong, respect goes a long way. Make sure to set clear boundaries and be more understanding to get through the differences.
Recognize that You May Face Challenges
All relationships can get complicated, and it’s no secret that interracial dating can be more challenging. Know what you’re up against and discuss cultural differences early on to avoid these problems.
Prejudice and discrimination from others
It can’t be helped that many people will have opinions about you and your partner. Interracial dating may be unfamiliar territory to both of your circles, and external societal judgment may affect you and your partner. Don’t let other people dictate or cloud your judgment– your relationship should only be between the two of you.
Biases and prejudices within yourself
You may think you’ve accepted your partner wholeheartedly but in reality, you may still have hidden, unresolved biases within yourself. This is why communication is key–express your feelings, be self-aware, and think before you speak.
How to address and overcome these challenges together
From prejudice to family disapproval, cultural differences, and other external factors, you’re bound to have issues in your interracial relationship no matter how you try to avoid them. The only way to overcome challenges is to know how to communicate with your partner effectively.
Expanding Your Dating Horizon
Interracial dating is like navigating unfamiliar territory, but it’s not as bad as it seems. In fact, there are so many new experiences that can stem from this type of dating. It’s a great way to discover a whole new world of experiences with your partner. With an open mind, clear communication, and mutual respect for each other, interracial dating can bloom into a fun, successful relationship, one where you can get to learn and grow together despite differences.
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