For many people, the concept of interracial relationships is still very foreign (pun intended). The most common types of representation we see are in popular media. However, there is a lot more to interracial relationships than is presented in these already limited instances. Case and point, the recent issues faced by ex-Prince Harry and Megan Markle have sparked a great deal of debate about race in the UK. Seeing blatant discrimination in the supposedly higher rungs of society is enough for anyone to question, “what century are we in right now?”.
Such issues tend to create an image of interracial relationships that tends to flit between ideas of brave martyrs battling against the status quo to a couple of cultural aliens trying and failing to communicate. As is often the case, the truth is somewhere in the middle. So instead of guesswork, let us look into some ground realities about interracial relationships.
What You Should Know About Interracial Relationships
Now you might be thinking to yourself, “Is this really that relevant?”, “Do people actually care that much about race?” and the answer is, yes…undeniably, yes. Think back to yourself; when was the last time you saw any interracial couples in media or in real life where the very nature of their relationship wasn’t something they had to explain or justify to someone?
The times are certainly changing, but the clock seems to be a bit on the slow side with this issue. As much as people might like to pretend race isn’t an issue, racial differences have never been bridged by pretending there isn’t a gap. Engaging head-first with our differences can result in amazing revelations about yourselves and your partners.
Related Reading: When You Have Different Religious Beliefs In A Relationship
What Does Interracial Mean?
Here comes the big one. In a world of constantly swirling tags and titles, what does an interracial couple mean exactly? The easy answer is a relationship between two people who come from different races. You might think this term is fairly self-explanatory, but the idea of race often gets merged with that of ethnicity or even nationality. However, the distinction does exist, folks. Two people might be of the same culture but they might experience it completely differently because of their race.
The challenges and opportunities of interfaith relationships can be markedly different from that of interracial couples. However, they can also overlap if both partners are not just from different religions but also different races. These reasons are why it is important to have a clear understanding of what interracial means for both parties. This does not mean that the two do not overlap because often they do; however, having a clear idea of this difference puts you in a better position to understand your partner and communicate with them effectively.
Interracial Relationship Facts
Even though it may seem as though interracial relationships have been legal for a long time, historically, it has been fairly recent. Because of this, there are several things we still do not know about interracial couples. So here are some interracial relationship facts to help you develop an understanding of the basics.
1. When was interracial marriage legalized?
Interracial marriages have been legalized in the US since 1967 when anti-miscegenation laws were deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. However, remnants of such policies persisted, with the final of such laws being repealed in Alabama in the year 2000.
2. Do Interracial marriages have a higher divorce rate?
While there are several variances, there is a slightly higher rate of divorce among interracial couples. This may be due to interpersonal issues, but it is widely seen as a reaction to external pressures and stress. Sometimes love is not enough to keep a couple together, and for many interracial couples, this reality hits too close to home.
3. Have interracial marriages increased?
Studies have shown that interracial marriage rates have increased greatly over the years. Starting in 1980, the share of intermarried newlyweds had about doubled to 7%. However, by 2015 the number had risen to a soaring 17%.
4. Who has the most interracial marriages?
Amongst nearly all races, there was a higher tendency for people with some level of college education to have an interracial marriage.
Related Reading: How To Have A Non-Religious Wedding – Some Awesome Tips!
What Are Some Interracial Relationship Problems?
This is a bit of a broad category because so much of this is dependent on personal experience. Generally, when we think of the problems faced by mixed-race couples, we think of society and of people’s judgment. While it certainly can be challenging to deal with societal judgment and the occasional unkind glance, internal thoughts and doubts can often be more challenging to deal with in the long run.
There are plenty of preconceptions that we all hold that are put into perspective when you are living and loving someone of a different race than you. Let’s look at some of the major obstacles that interracial couples have to deal with.
1. People are going to talk
Being in a mixed-race couple will always be a learning experience, and it can be a beautiful one; however, the outside world can often make this journey a rocky one. People from different racial experiences may experience discrimination, and there are still plenty of people that would wag their fingers at the idea of an interracial relationship. This is why you must question your perception of events and try to see situations through your partner’s eyes.
People are always going to talk, but that shouldn’t be reason enough to let go of a good thing. Take the angry words and unkind behavior for what they are: ignorance. People are afraid of what they don’t understand. If you have the energy to help them understand, then kudos; otherwise, just brush them off like dirt on your shoes.
2. Meeting the parents
While we all hope that meeting your significant other’s parents would go smoothly, there are certainly enough examples to know that racial differences can be a bit hard to swallow for older generations. It has not been long since interracial relationships have been considered acceptable, and many members of the previous generations haven’t caught up to this idea.
There are sure to be a few misunderstandings and maybe disapproving looks, but this is an unavoidable part of the package. Showing that you understand their perspective and that you are committed to making the relationship work will eventually thaw even the coldest shoulder. And of course, you get payback when your partner has to go through the same process with your parents.
3. Lack of information
Perhaps the most important part of being in an interracial relationship is to educate yourself on the racial differences between you and your partner. As humans, we have plenty of commonalities between us; however, that doesn’t mean we are all the same. Many people are afraid of saying the wrong thing or being insensitive, but rather than living in fear, it is more beneficial to channel that energy into learning what makes you different.
As we have mentioned, these differences can only be overcome through introspection and improved communication with your partner to help you understand why these differences exist and how you can contribute to making your partner’s life easier. It may be challenging at first; no one likes their worldview questioned, but through this process, you are sure to get closer to your partner and establish a deeper bond.
4. Raising children
In the midst of a whirlwind romance, you rarely have time to think of the future. Children might not seem to be on the horizon right now but you can’t deny that they are an unavoidable possibility to consider. If you have ever read Trevor Noah’s bestselling book, Born a Crime, you will be reminded that it was not long ago that having mixed-race children was considered a crime. While it has certainly become legal and has less of a stigma than before, with, according to a Pew Research study, one-in-seven U.S. infants being multiracial or multiethnic in 2015, this does not mean that the process of raising mixed-race children has become easy.
Mixed-race children often have difficulty in identifying with either race because they can feel like they don’t belong. They might look different and have an upbringing that is a mix of influences. In short, it can be like a more complicated Hannah Montana; it’s the best of both worlds but also can be the worst at times. Rather than trying to fit into a vague perception of acceptability, it is important for them to know that at all times, they are 100% both races, and they don’t have to try to be either.
Related Reading: How We Solved Interfaith Marriage Problems
5. Picking a side
The issue with being with someone from a different background than you is, at times, you might feel pressured into picking a side. There will always be problems that come up when dealing with differences, and this becomes even more apparent in romantic relationships.
It may be due to a small argument or a misunderstanding between mutual friends but suddenly, you feel like you have to side. Even though you want to avoid it, it can begin to feel like a race-related matter. Then any choice can feel like a betrayal to your loved one. In such instances, it is important to deescalate the situation and clarify what the issue is. Even if you disagree with your partner, find a way to do so while showing them that you aren’t against them.
Try to remove race-related rhetoric from the conversation unless it is essential so that they understand what the core message is being conveyed. In an interracial relationship, it can be easy to feel alienated, which is why you must try doubly hard to ensure that they feel seen and heard. As long as both partners’ emotional needs are met in the relationship, all other issues can be worked through.
It is undeniable that there are some extra challenges when it comes to interracial love, but there is more to being a mixed-race couple than just struggle. Every relationship can pose new challenges, but they can just as easily be learning experiences that enrich your life. In fact, overcoming these challenges only helps to make your relationship stronger.
There are so many things that we take for granted about our perception of the world. Dating someone who challenges that perception and broadens your horizons makes you grow as a person. So don’t be afraid to take that leap; you never know how your life could change for the better.
While this is a highly subjective issue, generally, interracial relationships do come with unique challenges that you will have to learn to deal with. However, there is no relationship without any difficulties. The course of love never did run smooth, and what are a few additional bumps in the road if the route is beautiful?
Intercultural relationships are always going to entail a clash of worlds. Each person comes from a different upbringing and cultural values. Sometimes they might align, and sometimes they might be polar opposites. It is up to each couple to examine these cultural differences and communicate their perspective to come to a common understanding.
According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Centre, “General interracial couples had a 41% chance of separation or divorce, compared with a 31% chance among couples who married within their race.” Having said that, there is a degree of variation to this number, dependent on the combinations of race and gender.