Coping with Interracial and Intercultural Relationships Doesn’t Have to Be Hard


Coping with Interracial and Intercultural Relationships Doesn't Have to Be Hard

You’ve fallen in love with your Prince Charming and you’re ready to sail off into a romantic sunset. Or, more realistically, a life full of love, happiness and wonderful experiences. But when you’re in an interracial and / or intercultural relationship, you face specific challenges and struggles.

You might say that every couple has challenges to overcome. But it’s important to recognize that there are issues typically associated with interracial and intercultural relationships. And once you can identify them, you can not only cope with them, but learn to create a loving and balanced partnership because of them.

You are Both Different and Equal

It’s important to remember that everyone is equal. No matter how many terrible racial and social problems arise throughout the world, it’s important to hold this standard high: everyone is equal.

Now, that doesn’t mean that everyone is the same. Race and culture are common ways to unite people, so you can easily imagine how people from different cultures and races can feel as though they’re worlds apart from one another.

There are a variety of customs that are driven by different values and mindsets. However, different doesn’t mean better or worse. It just means different. And if you can always remember that differences don’t imply superiority or inferiority, you’re already off to a good start.

It’s Okay to Be Proud and Open at The Same Time

Some people mistakenly believe that if you date someone from a different race or culture, it means that you’re ashamed of your identify. People may also think that you want to advance your social position by partnering up with someone from a different race or culture.

Unfortunately, this is a very judgmental attitude, and by making this assumption, you fail to realize that some couples don’t fall in love with each other because of race and / or culture. They fall in love with a person, and who that person is goes much deeper than his or her race or culture.

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What’s more, you can fall in love with another person without falling out of love with your own identity. In building a life together with your partner, you don’t have to lose your original identity, or stop identifying with it. In short, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing with intercultural and interracial couples.

How to Harmonize Different Traditions and Mindsets

In theory, it all sounds pretty easy: Remember that we’re all equal. Then, be open, proud and accepting. But in practice, it’s not easy to just start living a life together when you both come from very different places – not just geographically!

For example, an American who’s used to eating dinner at six in the evening will have to adjust to Spanish meal times, where dinner is served at 10 o’clock in some places (at the earliest!).

A person of color, who was raised in the UK, will likely have to overcome cultural differences if he or she pairs up with a person of color from the United States. They may share the same race, but their values and customs may be completely different.

So, how are you supposed to cope with cultural and racial differences without censoring some of these difference, elevating others, or losing your identity?

Here are some fail-proof tips you can implement in your mixed relationship:

  1. Communicate and Then, Communicate Some More

Communication is the key to every successful relationship. What do interracial and intercultural couples need to communicate? It’s important that both individuals feel safe and able to express what they like and dislike about the each other’s culture.

You don’t have to like everything about your person’s background, and it’s healthy to express this in a way that’s both respectful and considerate. Just don’t mock or denigrate different customs or mindsets.

These are things that have taken root in the culture over a long period of time and are now accepted as common and normal. To attack or mock them is to undermine what makes cultures different in the first place.

  1. Be Open to Learn

Depending on the cultures and / or races involved in your relationship, you may feel as if you already know all there is to know about your partner. But it’s important to realize that some of your knowledge may be based on generalizations and stereotypes.

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That’s why it’s very important to always cultivate curiosity and be open to different customs, beliefs and values. Remind yourself that you might be wrong sometimes, and that there’s always more to learn about someone and his culture.

  1. Go Beneath Culture and Race

Because culture and racial identify runs so deep and defines who you are, it’s easy to get caught up in these aspects of your relationship. But try to go deeper than your race and culture. Instead, take time to identify the common values, goals and interests that you and your partner share.

These are the things that brought you together in the first place, and these can help you navigate different backgrounds while still honoring what’s most important to both of you. Do you and your partner value open-mindedness, optimism, honesty, or fitness? You can make space for these values even if you’re backgrounds are different.

Do you value religion or spiritualism, socialism, capitalism or environmentalism? These are only some of the things people value. By identifying your mutual values and interests, you can forge a strong relationship, and your differing cultures take second place.

  1. Work to Create Balance

If you and your partner met and live in the same city, it might be easier to mesh your diverse backgrounds together. However, if one person needs to move to another city or country, it’s very possible that he or she will have to let go of certain customs and adapt new ones in order to integrate into the new culture.

It’s important to remember that you don’t do this because the other customs are better. Perhaps they are only more appropriate in that context. It all depends on where you live and the dynamic of your community.

How to Help Your Family and Friends Cope with Your Interracial or Intercultural Relationship

Just because you’ve decided to compromise and create balance with your partner, that doesn’t mean your families are prepared to do the same. Families can be very welcoming or very hostile. And sometimes negative behavior is simply the result of ignorance and close-mindedness.

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Here are some simple ways to break the ice and kindly introduce different customs and beliefs:

  • For your next cultural or national holiday, invite your family and friends to celebrate with you, and give them an opportunity to take part in your customs.
  • When your partner’s family or friends are celebrating an event according to their tradition, offer to bring your own cultural dish to share.
  • Be tolerant of the customs and traditions of family and friends. This will help them feel less threatened about yours.
  • Don’t expect people to change for you and your partner. It’s okay to set boundaries and limit time spent together. This way, you prevent unnecessary conflict.

Being in an interracial or intercultural relationship takes patience, understanding and open-mindedness. When you and your partner strive to cultivate these qualities, you inspire your family, friends and society to do the same.

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