In 2012, 15.1 percent of new marriages were interracial. To many, interracial relationships are now almost a non-issue; just love whomever you want to love. To date outside of your race is no longer the controversial decision it once was. This doesn’t mean you won’t encounter a few obstacles along the way. Here are some things to know and consider when entering into an interracial relationship.
Interracial Dating: Opposites Attract?
Before you start dating anyone, it’s important to know what qualities you’re looking for in someone. What strengths complement your weaknesses? What character traits are absolute “musts” for you when searching for Mr. or Mrs. Right?
If you’re a subscriber to the theory that opposites attract, be aware that the more significant the differences, the greater the room for potential conflict. When dating interracially, you’re going to encounter different histories, different cultures, different traditions, attitudes and philosophies. Determine what matters most to you. Are you spiritually, intellectually or emotionally on the same page? Can you agree on gender roles? It’s easier to celebrate your differences when you have common ground in the important things.
Interracial Dating: Anticipate Objections
Dating someone outside of your race might not cause you a second of concern, but you’re likely to find someone who objects to your decision to date someone who doesn’t look like you. Don’t write off every friend or family member who raises an eyebrow in your direction; instead, anticipate objections and be prepared to respond graciously, articulately and without defensiveness.
Some old-school families will consider interracial dating a form of cultural betrayal. If this applies to one of your families, talk about this with your significant other early on, strategizing how to be reassure parents that your relationship has no intention of ignoring or abandoning heritage.
Interracial Dating: Share, Don’t Compare
One of the greatest joys of interracial dating is the opportunity to share cultural experiences with one another. Celebrate your differences and be intentional about sharing the foods, music, holidays and traditions you’ve grown up with. Talk about your childhoods and how you envision your culture playing into your future. If the relationship gets serious, how will you ensure that both backgrounds are honored?
Be sure to avoid comparisons that will leave one person’s family or culture looking less significant than the other. And don’t expect your ties to your family to be as weak or strong as your partner’s.
Be considerate as you learn about one another. Ask thoughtful questions, avoid jumping to conclusions, and be willing to have difficult conversations when cultures clash.
Interracial Dating: Prove ‘Em Wrong
Silence your critics with love. Maybe the skeptics around you haven’t seen a beautiful, healthy, thriving interracial relationship. Treat each other well — and each other’s families well — and set an example of grace as family and friends slowly warm up to you and your partner.