Preserving Connection in Interracial Couples
In all relationships, and especially with interracial couples, sometimes all you have is each other. With the odds seemingly stacked against you, you must build a solid foundation to stand on. One of the most damaging characteristics in some relationships is when partners turn on each other when things get tough.
Conflicts happen in every relationship. Yours will be different because you’re struggling with yourselves and others over claiming your identity. You have to fight all of the feelings that try to tell you what you should like, who you should be, and how you should act.
Make a concerted effort to build each other up so you have armor to face any racism, misconceptions, and other forms of mistreatment from outside your relationship. When you disagree, do so with respect.
If you ever find yourselves fighting consistently over a topic, whether it’s race-related or not, seek out help from a therapist who can help you navigate complicated issues. They’ll be able to give you tools to help you communicate better so without damaging your partner.
Accepting Your Partner’s Context
Context means a lot in every day life, and specifically in interracial dating.
It opens up a new sense of clarity and meaning when we have the proper context. Have you ever walked into a situation without knowing the background? You’re woefully unprepared. Once you have context, though, you’re better equipped to manage work, relationships, and anything else.
In an interracial couple, each partner has their own context. The way they grew up, the relationship they had with their parents, what they were exposed to, and how their views on race developed all have a huge impact on who they are.
If you’re part of an interracial couple or are interested in being in one, do the work to understand your partner’s context. It will be easier for some. Think about how differently a first-generation immigrant will react to cultural and racial issues versus someone whose family has been here for generations and may only hold a loose connection to their ethnic heritage.
When you have context, you can support each other more effectively in good times and bad. You’ll be attuned to what may trigger negative emotions in your partner, so you’ll be there earlier to support them when they need it.
Embrace the Differences
There’s so much beauty in the differences we all have. So often, people try to use differences to drive people apart, though, they should bring us together. Dating someone from a different race is a great opportunity to learn, whether it’s exposure to a new culture or different attitudes.
Fight complacency by talking to your partner frequently about how they are feeling. Accentuate the positives, laugh about the misconceptions. Air it all out and build from what you find. You can both create an intimate safe zone where all questions are allowed in the spirit of learning and discovery.
Conversations about race aren’t easy, particularly when they’re with the partner you love and want an intimate connection with. Feelings can be hurt, and statements misconstrued. Keep any inherent privilege in mind when you make decisions that affect both of you. Keep communication open and honest.
If you find yourself spending too much time with one race over another, change things up a bit. If, for example, you’re an Asian man dating a white woman and each of your social circles is racially homogenous, try to get everyone together. You’ll have a terrific impact on changing more than just your perspectives.
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