- Gender and Relationships
Interracial Relationships - The Common Problems
The Rise Of Interracial Relationships
According to the 2008 United States Census, statistics on interracial relationships show that they make up nearly 4% of all marriages in that year compared to the minuscule 0.7% back in 1970*. As the world becomes smaller and people become less apprehensive in mixing with other races, interracial relationships will naturally increase.
However, although it is good to see that people are taking the initiative to blur the racial lines when it comes to choosing a mate, interracial relationships do come with their own set of problems. Personally, I have come across two people who got involved in problematic interracial relationships and let me relate their stories below. But first, let's talk about the increasing number of interracial relationships between black women and white men.
* Source: Wikipedia
BW/WM Interracial Relationships
When Racism Rears Its Ugly Head
Interestingly, the of number of marriages between white women and black men are much higher than black women and white men (354,000 vs 196,000 in 2009)*. However, this disparity is gradually declining as it was much worse 3 decades ago.
While the increasing number of bw/wm couples does indicate wider acceptance of such pairings, negative perceptions and talk is still a problem. We have all heard of black females being labelled as gold diggers when they are with white men. We have also heard of close family and friends being shocked when told who would be coming to dinner.
In short, bm/wm interracial relationships do bring forth the issue of racism and discrimination. This is also true in many other interracial pairings with only the degree of severity being varied. Snide remarks from outsiders and the public may easily be ignored but when family pressure mounts and racism exists among our own family members, that is when real problems will creep into the relationship.
* Source: Wikipedia
Asian Interracial Relationship With Parental Objection
When Families Come Into The Picture
For many of us, we may think marrying outside our own race is not a big deal. But for the older generation, they may not be as accommodating.
I have a Chinese male friend who once dated an Indian woman. Because they were living in the city away from the man's parents, they were able to see each other without much problems. This went on for about two years or so when the woman began pestering him to tell his parents.
While the woman's parents were open-minded enough to accept their daughter's choice of partner, the man was hesitant to let his own parents know of the relationship because of their very conservative views. He was sure that they would strongly object to him marrying an Indian woman and being a filial son, he found it hard to disappoint his parents.
As for the woman, she felt insecure that her man is not prepared to let his family know of her existence. As she kept up the pressure on her man to let his parents know of their relationship, it became a constant source of arguments.
Knowing that he would be sandwiched between his partner and parents, my friend eventually broke off the relationship.
Consequences Of Interracial Relationships
The Choice Between Family And Partner
When I asked my friend if he regretted his decision after he ended the relationship and was still hurting, he told me that he did not. He went on further to say that if parental objection exists in an interracial relationship, it can only work if you are prepared to sacrifice family ties to be with your beloved. This he was not prepared to do and that was why he preferred to let the relationship go.
While this may sound overly dramatic to some of us, I have also heard of cases of people being disowned by their parents for marrying outside their own race. No doubt, in many cases parents will eventually come to accept their child's choice of mate but this is normally after great upheavals and arguments that strain ties.
At the end of the day, whether you want to take the risk of strained relations with your own parents to be with someone of a different race basically rests on your own ability to live with the potential guilt of hurting them and the prospect of being estranged from them.
Cultural Problem With Interracial Relationships
When Both Come From Different Backgrounds
Sometimes, we do like to think that love will conquer all. After all, people say that love is blind, so what is the big deal with skin color?
Let me tell you this story concerning a friend of mine. She is a Southeast Asian lady who dated a Caucasian man. They met through work when he came to her country for a project. Love blossomed and she took the big step to move to his home country and live with him.
A very romantic love story except that reality crept in not long after. They both found it hard to adapt to each other's culture and faith. He drinks but she doesn't for religious reasons. She can't stand the sight of alcohol in their home while he has to find his way to the bar to enjoy a couple of beers.
She lives with the guilt of co-habitating without marriage coming from a traditional Asian background, while he doesn't. He thinks it's trivial. Right now, they are still together after a couple of years but totally unsure of the future direction of the relationship.
From this story, it is clear that differences in culture, religion and norms make it doubly hard for interracial relationships to succeed. We might think that they are insignificant but each little difference adds up to make an interracial relationship struggles to find a common ground.
Can Interracial Relationships Work?
Some people will argue that interracial relationships do not work because there are many things going against you - prejudice, cultural and religious differences as well as family and societal pressure. But there are also many interracial couples who have managed to make things work.
So, do you think interracial relationships can work out in the long run?
Interracial Relationships Require The Right Attitude
The Need To Be Open-Minded
Of course, I have also seen interracial relationships that work quite well just like any other same-race couple. For those who can make it succeed, open-mindedness seems to be one contributing factor.
Both partners make it a point not to force his or her beliefs and values onto the other, no matter the upbringing and culture. Instead there is acceptance and understanding of each other's cultural practices and eccentricities. This also gives room to both people to be who they are rather than forcing each other to change into something they are not.
One interracial couple that I know have this say when I asked them about their marriage - focus on the similarities, not the differences. They too faced numerous problems early on in their marriage but they took the time to learn more about each other's cultures and blend them to create their unique mix.
Obviously, one other consideration on interracial relationships is to learn and discuss potential differences early on so that an understanding can be reached. Otherwise, to find that you are not prepared to compromise on certain issues, such as religion, later on will only cause much heartbreak.
Can YOUR Interracial Relationship Work?
How To Tell...
If you want your interracial relationship to work, you have to bridge the gap by communicating. You need to discuss the difficult topics closest to your heart and open up to each other to find out if you will be able to accept and overcome the differences.
But what are the issues that matter? What specific questions should you ask to see if your interracial relationship could last? Below are examples of issues that must be addressed from the start to avoid conflicts down the road:
- Morals, conviction and beliefs
- Religion and spiritual matters
- Friends and family
Interracial Relationship Can Work But...
You Need To Tackle The Issues That Matter To You Head On And Keep An Open Mind!