Thought Catalog
March 14, 2017

7 Things You Only Experience When You Are In An Interracial Relationship

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What is the issue?
jrharris3

1. People won’t automatically assume you’re together.

One thing that I’ve come to realize is how “strange” it is to other people that you may be with someone that doesn’t quite look like yourself. I’ve only ever been in interracial relationships, so for me it’s been normalized, but I realize how offensive that can be. People don’t usually mean to be rude, they assume your significant other is a friend (or in some strange cases, an adopted sibling. I don’t know. It’s happened to me before.) Either way, the first assumption I’ve seemed to notice is that people don’t assume you are together because it simply doesn’t fit their schema.

2. You get asked questions/get comments other couples wouldn’t get asked.

It starts with the average questions, “Where did you meet?” or “How do you know each other?” and then out of the blue you get a question/comment like “So what do you think your kids are going to look like?” “So… is so and so actually (insert dumb racial stereotype here)?” and you’ve suddenly lost all of my respect and I’m probably not going to talk to you because you’re being insensitive and MOST LIKELY, it’s also none of your business. Don’t ask me or my partner something you wouldn’t appreciate being asked.

3. You will get stares.

I’ve learned to tune these out, but I’ve been eyeballed while holding hands with my beau a few times (along with a few glares.) It doesn’t happen a whole lot, since I’m fortunate enough to live in the north east. However it doesn’t mean I haven’t caught people staring before. It tends to be people of the older generation, like in their late 40s through 60s but I’ve learned that it really doesn’t matter if they approve or not, because they won’t be invited to my wedding anyway.

4. You worry about how your S/O’s parents/family/friends will react.

I was lucky enough that my s/o’s relatives and friends to be incredibly forward thinking and gracious. I’ve always been the POC in my relationships; I’ve been fortunate that all of my interactions with family and friends have been well received. However this is not always the case. You might come across family’s that are so-so with you just because it may be new to them, and you may find that family’s will reject you entirely. At that point you need to ask yourself what it is that you need most from the relationship. If it’s the family’s approval, then you’ll have to figure out something to do about that. If not then don’t let it bother you. Prejudice is ignorance, and it isn’t your fault that you were born wearing the skin you wear.

5. Your relationship will be fetishized.

As a woman of color, I’ve been able to weed out the people that like me as a “fetish” but it can be problematic. The second you fetishize someone; you are treating them as an object. It’s okay to have preference, everyone does, but it shouldn’t determine whether or not you’ll date someone. The other issue with fetishism also comes when other people fetishize the relationship, and develop an almost creepy fascination of it. Generally, in my case my relationships arise from shared interest. It’s not because I was looking for someone outside of my race or of a certain race.

6. People assume I hate myself.

No, just no. I and many other POC in interracial relationships are plenty comfortable in their own skin. For some reason though, it is assumed that I have some level of self-hatred. If I’m going to hate myself it’s not going to have anything to do with my race; I wouldn’t “rectify” my feelings by dating someone that is Caucasian. There are a lot of reasons why people are attracted to other people. If a black person or POC dates someone outside of their race, their “blackness” (or otherwise) — and how they feel about it — should not be the first thing that comes into question.

7. It’s a learning experience.

No matter how similar you are to your partner, there is always something to learn. You can be on the same plane of education, social class, wealth, life circumstance, but you will always have something to learn. Your background and upbringing, no matter who you date will always be different and worth learning from. You will be able to share new experiences with each other and you can present a new perspective of things that maybe your partner never would’ve thought of. And that in itself is a gift.

If you are in an interracial relationship, always remember to be validating, loving, and open, as with any relationship.

With that mindset, you will be able to overcome the obstacles that may wear on you.

Be strong and be aware. Interracial relationships can reveal how differences continue to make certain people uncomfortable.

It’s good to be open with your partner about these things and work together past them. TC mark

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