Interracial Relationships: A guide

How to be a good partner to a person of color

Kiara Jackson

More stories from Kiara Jackson

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“Overall, interracial relationships are hard. But, they are not impossible. So remember to communicate, correct problematic behavior, and most of all, love each other.”

Let me start by saying that love is not enough to make a relationship last, especially not an interracial relationship.

Relationships are hard enough as is, but when you add the interracial aspect to them, it becomes a lot harder. 

So let’s talk about it.  

For this article, I will be specifically talking about interracial relationships which contain a white person and a person of color. I will discuss why these relationships are so hard and how they can become easier. 

Why are interracial relationships so hard?

First of all, it’s important to note that Interracial couples can love each other just as much as any other couple. They can be just as attracted to one another, and have just as much respect for each other. 

What makes an interracial relationship so different is the fact that the person of color in the relationship will have lived experiences that the white person in the relationship can never and will never be able to understand. 

Because of this, interracial relationships require a significant amount of communication, active listening, asking questions and understanding, even more so than the average relationship. 

The white person in the relationship will be accustomed to going through life with specific privileges that the POC in the relationship did not have had, while the POC will have gone through life with oppressions that the white person will have never experienced. 

In interracial relationships, the white person in the relationship will often encounter secondhand racism due to their proximity to the POC. This means that the white person will become a target for hate comments due to them being with a person of color, and this can put a strain on the relationship.

The final thing that makes interracial relationships so hard is the lack of shared experiences.  For the person of color in the relationship, it can feel extremely isolating and mentally exhausting to have to explain their experiences and why they feel a certain way due to their experiences.

Examples.

Some examples of these  hardships can be:

  • The POC and white person disagreeing about racial topics.
  • The white person becoming a target for hateful language from family, friends, and strangers such as “race trader” or “n-word lover.”
  • The white person being unable to understand an experience of the POC in the relationship. 
  • The white person feeling like they can’t do anything to help when the POC is faced with hate crimes or hateful language.
  • Cultural differences in families, language barriers, priorities and picking up on cultural differences.
  • The white person not understanding certain boundaries made by the person of color due to their experiences, such as the black woman in the relationship not being comfortable with the white person’s family touching her hair.
  • The white person inadvertently saying something that can be interpreted as offensive by the POC in the relationship.

How to help improve an interracial relationship.

  1.  Communicate and communicate again. 

It is important that both the white person and the POC discuss boundaries, experiences and feelings. Discussing discomfort or frustration can be hard in general, but in an interracial relationship it is more than neccessary.

         2. Discuss cultural differences. 

Before meeting each other’s families it is imperative to discuss cultural differences, customs and values. You should discuss language barriers, code-switching, ways to understand and respect each other’s culture and ways to interact with these opposing cultures.

  1. Correct friends and family.

Oftentimes, when a POC begins dating a white person, the white person’s family is pretty uneducated on proper languages to use and boundaries the POC may set.

This can result in, the white person’s family can say some pretty problematic things, and it is important that the white person work to correct their own family instead of expecting the POC to do so. 

  1. Understand and Listen.

It can be really hard for a POC to date a white person, solely for the fact that the white person can never understand their experiences. Because of this, it is imperative that the POC listen, learn, ask questions, and do their own research. Remember it’s not a POC’s job to educate white people.

  1. Try each other’s interests.

Cultural differences can cause a large gap in interests and similarities for some interracial couples. Because of this it is helpful to try new things and appreciate each other’s interests, with a smile.  

Overall, interracial relationships are hard. But, they are not impossible. So remember to communicate, correct problematic behavior and most of all, love each other. 

Jackson can be reached at [email protected]