Interracial Dating - Are You Ready?
So you think you are up for something a little different? A little beyond your usual experience? Maybe you have spent the whole of your dating life playing it safe and dating strictly within the confines of your own race or ethnicity, and you’re looking to broaden your horizons. Maybe you’re seeking a new and exciting thrill, or are looking to rebel against social norms.
Newsflash: If you’re interested in dating outside your ethnicity for any of those reasons, you probably shouldn’t. Love either happens or it doesn’t. Love is (or at least it should be) color blind. It is not something you can wake up one day and say to yourself, “Hey! I think this week, I’ll be attracted to Indian men or women!” Or, “Hey! I think I’ll start being attracted to Chinese men/women as of today!”
Deep down, you already know this. In your heart of hearts, you understand that if you approach the subject of interracial dating from the perspective of “deciding to give it a try,” then your efforts are almost doomed to fail. How could they not? You’re not approaching the idea with genuine romance in mind, but rather, more of a scientific experiment. The problem with that approach is that it forces you (by definition) to keep a certain, almost clinical distance and detachment from whomever you decide to date. Do that, and you’ll never truly give the other person the chance they deserve. You may be able to fool your partner for a while, but sooner or later, they’re going to pick up on it, and your “experiment” is going to end in disappointment and heartache.
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On the other hand, if your mind is as open as your heart, and you find yourself genuinely searching for and hoping to meet a caring, loving man or woman with a big heart and a ton of things in common with you, but enough differences to keep things interesting, and that person just happens to be of a different ethnicity, then you’re in the right frame of mind. If the right person happens along, regardless of the color of their skin or where they’re from, you’ll be open to the possibilities, and happily recognise them when they appear.
It takes an above average level of maturity to truly embrace the idea. To let your heart lead you wherever it may, but if that describes you, then you’ll find that being more open than many of your peers, friends, and family members gives you a greatly increased chance of finding the happiness you’re looking for. How could it not? After all, you’ve just greatly expanded the potential size of your dating pool!
By The Numbers
The statistics are surprising. A slight majority (53%) of people say that their overriding interest is love and finding a partner they’re truly compatible with, and that race and ethnicity aren’t factors at all when considering who to date. That is a heartening statistic, and one that has grown slowly but steadily over the past several decades. Depending on how old you are, you may remember a time when it was outright dangerous to even consider dating someone from a different ethnic background. It is becoming increasingly clear that those days are behind us, and that is a very good thing. On the other hand, it is pretty clear that there are still significant numbers of people in the world who are sceptical. Fully 35% say that while interracial or mixed children aren’t a deal breaker, they would not consider dating someone of a different ethnicity. More than one in three, so unless you have an extremely small circle of friends, it is all but certain that you know someone who falls into that category. What you may not know is that fully 25% of people surveyed said that their parents would disown them if they dated someone outside their race! That might seem shocking in this day and age, but that’s the reality and the world we live in.
It is important to understand that these numbers were taken from a global survey. There are parts of the world where people take a significantly dimmer view of dating outside your race or ethnicity. If you live in the United States, for instance, you’ll find relatively easy acceptance of your choice in the major cities, but pretty much any and everywhere else, you’re likely to sometimes face stares, hurtful comments, and stereotypes. In other parts of the world, it is even worse, so it is important to be mindful of prevailing attitudes where you actually live.
This is not to say that you should be in the habit of allowing popular sentiment to dictate your personal actions or influence your decisions, especially where your love life is concerned – it is simply a reality check. You need to be mindful of the potential challenges you and your partner will face. We’ll talk about those challenges next.
(Potentially) Dangerous Waters Ahead!
If you do find yourself drawn to someone of a different ethnicity, be prepared to face challenges on a number of fronts. Some of them will surprise you, but at least by reading about them beforehand, you’ll go into it with eyes wide open, and be prepared when the special challenges begin appearing. We’ll take a look at them in no particular order:
Just understand that it is not meant to be hurtful to either you or your partner. They’re your friends, after all. They’re just trying to understand where you’re coming from. Be honest with them, but don’t be afraid to stand your ground if they start straying into territory that makes you or your partner uncomfortable. Remember, it is on YOU to take a stand with your friends!
His/Her Friends – Your partner’s friends are just as likely to give the two of you grief, although just as with your friends, much of it is likely to be good-natured and born mostly of curiosity. Even so, all the same things apply here that apply where your friends are concerned. It falls to your partner to rein them in and put a foot down if they take things too far. The good news is that where your friends are concerned, these kinds of questions and comments will probably be short-lived.
The very last thing either of you need is to be blind-sided by an unexpected ambush. Remember, you can choose the person you’re in a relationship with, but you can’t choose his or her family, and they come with the territory. Like it or not, they’re part of the package. The important thing is that you need to be on the same page, and fully aware of how each of your respective families feel.
Note that if certain family members from either side are hostile, it is not the end of the world. Mostly, this will be a function of how close you and your partner are to your family. If there’s a comfortable distance (either physical or emotional), then the flak from the family side of things will be easier to ignore or let roll off your back. If you or your partner come from a close-knit family, that, of course, can make things more difficult, but at the end of the day, family generally comes around, or at the very least finds a way to accept your new love interest. After all, what your family members really want is for you to find happiness. When you do, it may take a while, but they’ll come around in the end.
When these questions come up, the best thing you can do is to dodge and evade the question, but do so politely and in a good-natured way. Remember, it is just good form not to kiss and tell. You wouldn’t want your partner giving his friends all the juicy details, so you should refrain doing so yourself. Besides, if you keep the details to yourself, it will drive your friends mad with curiosity, and that’s part of the delicious fun!
As you know all too well, when you start dating someone new, even if you’re from the same cultural background, there’s a bit of a learning curve. Figuring out your new partner’s ticks, quirks, likes, and dislikes can be a pretty complicated task in its own right, but when you factor in learning the ins and outs of a whole new culture, things can get exponentially complicated.
Believe it or not though, if handled correctly, this can have an upside, too. It gives both you and your partner an opportunity to be a kind of “cultural ambassador.” You can show each other the ropes. Turn it into a kind of game! The simplest way to get started is to take turns picking a place for dinner that shows off your or your partner’s culture. Let your partner order for you, or at least make recommendations. That way, over time, you both get exposure to a wider range of food you may never even have thought to try. You can do the same thing with music, concerts, movies, television programs, websites, and more. What a great way to get closer to your new partner by sharing your cultural experiences and embracing his or hers.
Guilt – This one’s a bit trickier. Over the course of your relationship with your ethnic partner, you’re bound to draw the attention of one or more potential suitors from your own ethnic background. When that happens, the most common line of approach these guys (or gals) will use is the guilt thing. You can do better than the partner you’re with. They’ll play to ethnic stereotypes, and try to make you feel bad about the person you’ve given your heart to.
The simple truth of the matter is this: Anyone who would resort to such tactics simply isn’t worth your time or attention. The best way to handle them is calmly, but resolutely. The worst way to handle them is to get your partner involved. Just shut them down and move on. Simple, and no-hassle.
This can actually be one of the toughest challenges you’ll face. Depending on where you live, you may find yourself feeling almost under siege, every time the two of you go out together in public. The unfortunate reality is that some people don’t especially care that the two of you are in love. They can’t look beyond their own prejudices and narrow-minded thinking.
Although you definitely shouldn’t allow the opinions of others to dictate your actions (or your love life), the fact is that sometimes, and in some places, you’re going to face a lot of pressure. Some people can take it, and others will find it too much to bear. The important thing here is communication. If you know that you’re going to be under pressure and intense scrutiny every time you walk out the door, you’ve got to make absolutely certain that you have each other’s backs, and it is a fight you’re willing to make together. Who knows? You two might be the couple that finally starts changing minds in the insular community you live in. How amazing would that be?
Anger – This is another one that can be somewhat tricky, and is significantly harder to deal with than simple sideways stares. Your friends and family are relatively easy to get in your corner. After all, if your friends are really your friends, they’ll support you through thick or thin. A true friend will be primarily concerned with your happiness. As long as you’re genuinely happy, they’ll get behind it, even if they don’t agree with the particulars in the beginning. Your family is the same way. At the end of the day, they love you and just want you to be happy, and that’s what will ultimately win them over, even if they have some prejudicial struggles to overcome.
What is orders of magnitude more difficult to deal with is the anger of a total stranger. Some people just can’t get past their own biases and prejudices, and when they see someone of their ethnicity “with” someone of some other (ANY other), it rankles them. They can’t help themselves, and are compelled to speak out about it.
That “speaking out” can take a number of different forms. In the worst case, you and your date will find yourself confronted by someone spouting hateful slurs and shouting. In other cases it may be more along the lines of comments to other people the stranger is with, spoken just loudly enough for you to hear. Whatever form it ultimately takes, your natural, instinctive response will be to lash out with equal or greater fury. It can be hard to repress that urge, but whenever possible, you should. After all, if you stoop to their level, you wind up giving them a kind of victory. It is better by far to show everyone who bears witness to the incident that you’re the better, stronger, and more dignified person. Sometimes that’s easier said than done though, and let’s be honest – barbs can hurt, even when hurled at you by a stranger.
After reading a sampling of the potential pitfalls, you may be asking yourself if it is worth it. It is true, there are lots of potential challenges, but ask yourself this: How much is your happiness worth? How much is your heart worth? It is absolutely worth it!
How To Maximize Your Chances Of Success
We don’t really have a lot of control over who we fall for. Over who we wind up having feelings for. Maybe the love of your life will be someone of a similar ethnic background, and maybe not. If not, you’re in for an interesting, and wonder-filled experience, but as mentioned, you’re also in for more than a few challenges and obstacles to overcome. Here’s a quick guide to making them look a lot more like mole hills than mountains.
Open-mindedness also hearkens back to the point we made at the very beginning of this piece. Before you get into a mixed ethnic relationship, ask yourself if you’re considering it for the right reasons. It is not something you can force. If you’re just doing it to experiment, or because you’re bored with your current dating pool and are looking to try something a little “different,” you’re doing a disservice to the person you ultimately date.
How would you feel if you found out that you were someone’s dating or social experiment? Not very good, right? Remember, we’re talking about matters of the heart here. There are real feelings involved, and you’ve got to always be mindful and respectful of that. We may not have much control over who we fall for, but one thing we can definitely do is make sure that whatever romantic connections we make, we do it for the right reasons. Genuine reasons.
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