Love comes in all shapes, sizes and colors. And, sometimes, in relationships with differing colors –ethnicities, questions and concerns about race can cause friction in relationships that are, otherwise, perfectly smooth. As a person that has been involved in a number of interracial relationships, it’s important to know that your differentiating backgrounds can be a factor, despite an abundance of love or care. Boundaries need to be set and restrictions need to be made. So, if you don’t like your white boyfriend asking you about your hair texture/extensions, or you think it might offend your Chinese boyfriend that you do an impression of the woman who mans the grill at the corner Chinese restaurant, then these rules may apply.
DON’T eroticize your partner’s race/ethnicity/nationality: Statements such as “I love Mexican hair” and “Black skin is so sexy” may seem complimentary, but it can be offensive to some. The simple fact is: when you compliment someone’s race, you aren’t praising that person, so the generalized flattery is simply lazy. Keep your admiration individualized.
DON’T believe the stereotypes: It’s easy to get caught up with stereotypes, especially when your life experiences have kept you divided from people of other racial backgrounds. But, believing inflated stereotypes is the first step to relationship downfall. Not all black men have large penises, and not all Asian men have small ones. It’s important to recognize that in terms of physicality and personality, people are not limited to certain attributes or attitudes. So, don’t be surprised when your mild-mannered white boyfriend turns out to be rowdy.
DON’T assume that your partner won’t understand: Statements like, “It’s a black thing” may be a simple offhand comment, but to your Indian boyfriend, the statement seems insensitive and exclusive. And, it is. Suffice it to say, some experiences as a black woman can’t be shared but that doesn’t abolish the fact that an understanding partner, no matter what race, will take the time to understand your experiences, so they can better understand you.
DON’T believe in color blindness: To say that you don’t “believe” in seeing another person’s color is unrealistic. To be blind to someone’s color, cages you. It makes you as blind to differences, as it does to similarities. Learning new things about a person and their culture is one of the greatest things about interracial dating.
DO recognize that some people will disapprove: Everyone won’t want to see interracial coupling, including your loved ones, that’s the reality. Even though that may be true, don’t let this be a reason not to introduce your partner to your friends and family. And, don’t let other people ruin your relationship. Fearing that your partner won’t be accepted shouldn’t hinder or spoil your relationship.
DO set boundaries: Sensitive subjects can sink a relationship when approached without caution. If your significant other turns you off with race-oriented jokes, or you’re the singular defense when he/she is accused of racism, then you might want to have a small discussion about what you find appropriate. This applies to any relationship/friendship, actually.
DO discuss racial politics: Don’t avoid racial politics, just approach them with care. If you have a certain stance on the role of African Americans in politics, and your lover has a counter position, don’t attack or respond with defense, simply dive with care. No matter the topic, be sure to tread lightly and give one another enough time to properly pose your arguments. Heated debates can be good for relationships, but not if you/your partner thinks that you’re rude or a bigot.
DO protect and support your partner: In the case that you or your partner are not in the position to share your relationship with your families because they are not accepting, or you find yourself in a situation where you or your partner are under fire because of your race, protect one another. Never sit idly by and let your lover feel like they are in the relationship alone. That’s the quickest way to end up alone.
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