Interracial dating involves getting to know and understand someone else’s culture. It requires developing specific sensitivities and may present challenges when one individual doesn’t fully understand the other’s point of view. Here are some tips you can learn from interracial dating.
Interracial dating has become increasingly common, with over 17% of newlyweds in their 30s married to someone outside of their race in 2017.
Since approximately 40% of the U.S. population is non-white, it’s challenging to move through life by only dating someone outside of your race. This fact is the reason why it’s imperative to educate yourself.
In recent years, race has become a hot topic, especially with the increasing number of violent crimes against those who are non-white. Americans have differing opinions, and everyone feels compelled to speak those viewpoints.
Whether or not you disagree is not the issue. The point is to show non-judgmental respect for someone else’s point of view. This is where problems arise, so it’s imperative to be sensitive to a situation you may or may not understand, especially if you’re dating someone of a different race.
1. Understand and Own Your Privilege
Suppose you identify racially with a group that places you in a privileged position in your relationship. In that case, it’s helpful to understand and accept that privilege and how it may dictate your daily interactions, especially with your partner.
For example, suppose you are white, dating someone of a different ethnicity, or looking to date outside of your race. In that case, your daily interactions with others may differ, so don’t assume your partner will experience the same situations.
Please don’t say, “People aren’t racist anymore.” That just means that they aren’t racist toward you. Even if you don’t have family and friends who make snide racial comments like others, it doesn’t mean your partner doesn’t experience judgment outside your inner circle.
So, stop telling them that racism no longer exists because all you’re doing is invalidating their experience. Racism may not exist in your privileged world, but that’s not the case for everyone, including your non-white partner.
An excellent place to start understanding is by educating yourself by reading some of the widely available resources.
2. Their Family May Have a Problem with the Relationship
Many families understand that love is love, regardless of race or nationality, and that an interracial dating couple can be happy and healthy as one between those of the same race.
Sadly, other families are more “traditional” in their views and may see a partner outside of their race as an immediate threat to their culture. Some say that if non-POCs (People of Color) ever want to see what racism is like, then date a non-white person, and you will find out quickly.
Even if, growing up, your family didn’t exhibit any racist tendencies, that doesn’t mean they don’t have them. It’s just that you never witnessed them. This sentiment also goes for your partner. They may prefer their child to date within the same race. So, you, too, may experience some racial side-eyeing.
Ask your partner if there’s something you should know or prepare yourself for before meeting their parents. This is an excellent question to ask in any relationship, especially an interracial dating relationship.
3. Understand and Empathize with Your Partner’s Struggles
We touched upon it with the previous tip, but let’s dig deeper. If you’re dating outside of your race, it can be helpful to do a little reading and research about the battles faced by your partner’s racial group and how best to handle them.
It’s best to do this independently rather than looking toward your partner to explain every detail to you. Taking the initiative demonstrates you empathize with your partner’s situation and want to learn more about them.
What kinds of discrimination do they face? Are there any statements, actions, or terms that may be misconstrued as disrespectful toward them?
We often say or laugh at something racially insensitive without meaning to be malicious. But ignorance isn’t an excuse. When you take the time to educate yourself properly, you won’t have to deal with awkward instances like this. So be proactive. A little research can eliminate situations such as this.
4. Understand It’s Not Your Job to Educate Your Significant Other
If you are a minority and dating a white person, know your boundaries regarding what you will and won’t educate your partner about. Let them know what they need to figure out on their own.
Educating someone about race is like teaching anything else; you can tell them all of your knowledge, but they will only truly get it once they experience it for themselves.
For instance, as a minority, you can remind your partner that racism still exists. However, until they witness someone crossing the street as you walk by or giving you the side eye for no reason other than you’re non-white, they won’t genuinely get it.
Also, as a non-white person, it can get extremely tiring to repeatedly explain to others why it’s hurtful to use a particular word or language or hold certain stances toward minorities.
Learn to set boundaries and stand up for yourself if they treat you like a teacher. While you appreciate their inquisitive nature to do the right thing, it shouldn’t have to come at the price of you filling them in on every little thing about your culture. You’re human like everyone else, so you deserve a partner, not a student.
5. Stop Making Their Race a Big Deal
While it’s essential to be sensitive to the racial identity of the person you’re dating, this should not be the main focus you notice about them or talk about.
The person you’re dating doesn’t want to constantly hear how you’ve never dated black women or how much you love Asian food. Eventually, they’ll feel like you’re only dating them as a novelty and not as a person.
Everyone is an individual, so no one wants to feel like their partner views them as the national representative of a whole race.
Even though you’re not from the same background as your significant other, you will still likely have plenty in common, which can make race seem like an insignificant factor in your connection.
6. Strive to Clear up Any Misunderstandings Before You Get Upset
Your partner can say something that may have a particular meaning in their culture, and you could view it to mean something else and become offended.
There may be a cultural misunderstanding or even a communication breakdown. When your partner says or does something you view as offensive, take a breath and then work to understand the meaning. Please don’t get upset thinking they’re showing you a lack of consideration and respect because they aren’t.
Even though there are plenty of pros to using online dating apps, there are also some cons. Offending people intentionally or unintentionally happens quite often with online dating.
A person may seek out an online non-white dating site to search for a potential match. They may comment, thinking they’re relating to the match when they are actually insulting them.
As the non-white match, it’s okay to correct them without getting angry. However, if it continues to happen, as the non-white match, you may want to reconsider whether or not you’d like to continue the conversation with this person.
7. Have an Open Mind to New Ways of Thinking
Your significant other’s religious beliefs or life philosophy will likely differ from yours. Even if you disagree with their viewpoint, you can still learn from it.
However, instead of arguing about whose point of view is correct, discuss your respective positions on the topic and see it as an opportunity to learn and understand how other people think outside of your inner circle. Doing so allows you to alter your views and, at the very least, respect theirs.
8. Take an Interest in Your Partner’s Culture
One of the most exciting things about interracial dating is when your partner brings forth knowledge of a culture that’s new to you. Their background is likely important to them, so they bring movies, food, music, and other cultural goodies to which they can introduce you, and you can learn about them and vice versa.
Expressing an interest in their culture will expose you to exciting new things that can enrich your life.
9. Understand and Relate to Your Significant Other’s Values
No one has the same values, regardless of race. For some, their racial identities and religion shape those values.
Knowing and relating to your partner’s values helps you understand how to treat them to increase their happiness. For example, if their family is important, make it a priority to get to know (and get along with) them.
Tips to Remember if You’re White and Dating Someone of Color
You’re Not Always the Go-to Race in a Conversation
It’s important to be willing to take a step back and see when your whiteness is invasive. Just as a woman dating a man doesn’t know all about what men go through, a white person doesn’t understand everything a person of color deals with.
Learn to step back and listen to their point of view instead of suggesting something on a topic you don’t fully understand from a non-white point of view.
Be Ready to Talk about Race
Race is always the big, gray elephant in the room, so prepare yourself to discuss it frequently. However, it’s important to note that your relationship is not strictly your race, and you have other interests, so while it is one aspect, it’s not the complete relationship.
Speak up When Your Inner Circle Says or Does Something Racist
You may love your family and friends dearly, but it gets tiring to regularly explain that they shouldn’t call Asians “Orientals” or Latinx people “Spanish.” Or, you may have to explain that your partner celebrates Kwanzaa, not Christmas.
Your family and friend don’t necessarily mean to be racist, but that’s not how a person of color can view it. They may even see themselves as socially conscious, but sometimes you have to ask yourself if they know what that term means. This is why speaking up is essential when you notice your family’s derogatory comments.
There’s no need to be confrontational. Instead, let them know that they misspoke and that what they said is hurtful to another race. If they need evidence of what you’re referring to, send them an online article or video to help them see their mistake.
Own Up to the Racist Things You Say
If you sit there and say you’ve never said or thought anything racist, you’re lying. Even unintentionally, we’ve said things that we thought were harmless.
For example, on a popular television forum, one panelist made a comment suggesting all Hispanics were service workers. She knew this wasn’t true, but she made the derogatory comment nonetheless.
If you say something you didn’t realize was racist, don’t deny it. That’s like telling your partner they shouldn’t be offended by your comment, and you can never tell another person how they should feel.
Instead, own up to it and apologize. If you need further clarification on why your comment was considered racist, ask your partner. They’ll be more than happy to break it down for you. Just be sure that next time, you’ll do better.
10. Always Defend Your Partner
When your significant other faces discrimination, speak up for them and tell the offender that what they’ve said or done is not cool.
Unfortunately, someone who has said something racist can find it easier to listen to someone white than to a minority. It’s not right, but sadly, that’s how it is.
Also, your non-white partner may be highly upset, and understandably so. This is your opportunity to step up as calmly as possible in the heated moment and stand up for your partner. Doing so demonstrates empathy and solidarity, and your partner will appreciate it.
11. Communicate With Your Significant Other
There is always more to learn in an interracial dating relationship, so becoming educated and aware is essential. One of the most important things you can do is to ask your partner the best method to support them. After all, they are the best person to tell you what they expect from you and the relationship.
Don’t always rely on books or social media to tell you what’s best to do in your relationship. Communicate with your partner so they can let you know their needs.
Dating can be challenging, but interracial dating has extra challenges. But instead of focusing on the difficulties, concentrate on all the positives it brings, like learning another culture.
Open communication is best to eliminate saying or doing something that offends your partner. Enjoy the relationship because, despite increasing numbers, few take advantage of this fantastic opportunity to get to know someone outside of their race.