A structural change is happening on the social front. Big multinationals are spreading their wings and more and more countries were coming under their folds. People are more mobile than ever and the world started shrinking into a global village. An increasing number of people are being exposed to other cultures via television, internet and global travel. The natural fallout of this phenomenon is the rise of interracial relationships.
While all relationships are interracial relationships so some degree or other, in that both parties have completely different ancestry but come together to build a new unit. However, for the purpose of this article, we refer the term “interracial relationships” in a broader sense where the couple not only differ in their physical traits, but also where the two parties have fundamentally different cultural, social or ethnic background and in many cases, the couple may also have been brought up in different countries altogether.
To a lesser extent, some of the points here may also apply to situations where the two parties, share different cultural or social background or religious beliefs (interfaith relationships), but may have domiciled in another country for some time, yet may not have completely adopted or adjusted to the local culture yet.
Interracial relationships – A brief history
Historically, relations between peoples, races, cultures, and nations have always been complex. Evidence of interracial relationships go back even before the arrival of European settlers to the Americas where Indigenous people would marry outside of their clan. For centuries, such alliances were common to the elite of the elite – noble blood making alliances with other kingdoms.
For years, people in neighboring geographies have engaged in mutually beneficial trade, borrowing cultural practices, and social encounters. Over time, as travel over longer distances became easier, similar phenomenon emerged for even larger distances. As people travel to other countries for holiday or study, or migrate to live and work in foreign countries, the visitors meet and often marry locals.
Coupled with the the advent of new technologies and dating apps that enable finding partners and instant communication across the globe, interracial relationships are expected to rise more than ever before.
How popular are interracial relationships really?
A new Pew Research report indicates 15% of all new marriages “were between spouses of a different race or ethnicity than each other.” While this particular research was focused on the US, there is data that indicates a similar trend emerging in several other parts of the world:
- In Japan, 5% of marriages in 2008-09 included a foreign spouse.
- In South Korea, more than 10% of marriages included a foreigner in 2010. That is just under 3x jump up from 3.5% in 2000.
- In Germany, 13.7% of all marriages in 2010, involved a foreign spouse, up from 11.3% in 1990
- In Bradford, UK, 30% of all children born are born to foreign mothers
- In France, 16% of all marriages in 1996 involved a foreign spouse and according to a 1999 Census, 38% males and 34% females married immigrants
- Nearly half the marriages in Switzerland, involve a foreign spouse
- In Australia, of the 120,118 marriages recorded in 2009, About 42% involved at least one partner who was not Australian-born
As you can see, interracial relationships and marriages are fast becoming the world’s biggest social trends and are becoming more commonplace by the day.
Love across the divide – Everything you need to know
The pleasure of dating a beautiful person who comes from a different culture or race and background can be thrilling. Add to it the excitement of knowing a person who is totally different from you and yet seems so familiar. It’s romantic, we know, but can you actually develop a long lasting relationship when the other person speaks a different language or has had a completely different cultural upbringing? How do you handle conflicts over fundamental beliefs? How do handle misunderstandings arising because of the the language barrier?
At thisDating we come across questions like these on a daily basis. So here is the complete lowdown on interracial relationships that you need to read today.
What makes dating someone from another culture or race so special?
It’s the experience. Yes, interracial affairs bring with them a whole set of different experiences that make people enjoy them so much. From language to food, from customs to thinking, there is a whole world to be learned, explored and adapted.
The fun of learning a new language
You can take this up as a challenge or a fun activity. Most people spend the first few days in learning common expressions like ‘hello”, ‘Thank you”, “good morning” and “Good night”. You would gladly learn whatever your partner says and try to use them at appropriate places. Sometimes it may get embarrassing but overall you would enjoy the experience and want to learn more.
Imagine the smile on your partner’s face when you would say ‘I love you” in his or her mother tongue? It would be a memory that both of you would cherish for life. There are people who learn the new language so well that they can converse in it fully. Actually, this is a good thing if you want to impress your date and their parents too.
One reason you should make an earnest attempt to learn your partners language is that, there is a huge potential of getting into arguments arising out of misunderstandings due to the language differences. As it happens, sometimes things translate badly from one language to another. You’re therefore advised to make allowances and not jump to conclusions whenever you partner says something you don’t agree with – quiet often, their choice of words could simply be because of a limited vocabulary of a foreign language.
Talking about culture
Everyone has a curiosity about people from other countries. Like you may be interested to know why Japanese drink tea in a particular way, your partner may also be curious about your culture. A interracial relationship presents the rare opportunity to talk, learn and feel different cultures and be more empathetic towards each other. Don’t lose this opportunity. Moreover, when you encourage each other to share your own culture, you also find more things to talk about and this strengthens the bond.
Once again, do keep in mind that the same cultural differences that attracted the couple to each other, could also cause confusion between the couple or even the family. Differences between customs, ideologies, mannerisms, etc could lead to confusion. Take time to learn about your partners culture, especially when meeting the in-laws, you wouldn’t want to come out rude or insensitive.
Trying new cuisine
I know, most foodies wait for this. Tasting new cuisine is their hobby and they always look for authentic restaurants where they can try a particular dish. However, if you have a dating partner from another country, rest assured you would get plenty of opportunities to try new dishes. In fact, you will be able to try and experience authentic and lesser known dishes that would titillate your taste buds.
Celebrate different occasions
Someone said that having a partner from another country only means that you get to enjoy more holidays. True, isn’t it? This could be fun too as you can enjoy the party and get to know the customs and traditions.
Traveling to new places
This would be also on the card. You can travel to each other’s country and see, feel and do new things. Be it adventure sports, cultural tourism or wildlife safaris, do whatever excites you.
Discussion on religion
This can be a learning process. Whether you are religious or not, you can always share the details about your own religion and learn about your partner’s. Its quiet possible you may have conflicting ideologies with your partner. Its also quiet plausible that a discussion along the lines of “who’s going to convert to what” may be up the cards in the near future. Irrespective of your personal views and beliefs, its important to be sensitive and considerate of your partners views and beliefs.
How to make your interracial relationship more enjoyable
There are several things you can do to make your interracial relationship more fulfilling. Here are some of the steps you can take.
Understand and accept
You always have to remember that both of you come from totally different backgrounds and the way you have been brought up has shaped your mind and value system. There is no single formula to make your relationship work. You have to work out how to make your partner feel special and fight back the differences. Always remember to respect each other’s views.
Be honest always
This is also very important. You should be honest in everything you say and do. Even if you disagree or cannot accept anything, be honest about it. Never keep anything be it feelings or needs hidden from your partner. If you cannot resolve any issue, simply laugh over it. Remember that laughter is the only way to deal with life when you face obstacles.
Flexibility is the key
We all have certain ideas and values. Our belief systems are quite strong too. However, unless we are flexible to accept other’s views we have to lead an isolated life. To make a cross-country relationship work, you have to be flexible to redefine or change your belief systems. If you are not ready to adjust or balance, you cannot make the relationship survive. Compromise, adjustment, and flexibility are the key components behind the success of such relationships.
No, not only in the life of your partner but with the community or the society as a whole. By networking with people from the same background, joining social groups or volunteering for social causes would help you to achieve a better understanding of the culture. You would make genuine friends, increase your network and understand your date better. All these would contribute to creating a strong and fulfilling relationship.
When it comes to interracial dating, most people harbor negative feelings because of the innumerable cases of cheating that are reported in the media. If you are really interested in creating long lasting relationships with a person from a foreign country, be trustworthy. Keep your word so that you earn respect for yourself. Keep in mind that only mutual trust and respect can make your relationship work.
Keep your mind open
This is a must as often we judge people based on stereotypes. The sad thing is we do this unknowingly. So, you need to keep your mind open to avoid stereotypes. Try to know a person with an open mind. Never judge anyone’s behavior but only try to understand and accept.
Embrace your differences
Would it be nice if your partner always thought like you or felt like you? Life would be so boring no? So, embrace your differences. The way Italians love to spend their free time is entirely different from how Australians do it. These differences add variety to your relationship. So, embrace and celebrate these differences and make life more colorful.
Always keep some “me time”
No matter how much you are into your foreign partner, always keep your “me-time” for yourself. Spend it with your friends, or pursue a hobby or simply relax. This is essential for the relationship to prosper. Giving space to each other is important to let love to grow.
Push the envelope
Make excitement a part of your relationship. Each day, do something memorable, something funny, and something that you would love to remember. Did you ever plan to learn a new dance form? Do it now with your partner. Did you want to go for mountaineering or bungee jumping? Go for it now. Push the envelope every day and see how you enjoy the relationship and also come closer to your partner.
What issues and problems can your expect in interracial relationships?
Don’t expect a bed of roses from life. Conflicts a a part of every relationship. However, cultural relations may present a different set of challenges compared to a “regular” or same culture relationships. It is advisable to gain some knowledge about the issues that may rock your boat. Preparing how to handle them even before they arrive is a good thing. We’ve listed some of the recurring issues faced by couples in a interracial relationship below:
- Differences in religions and political views
- Loss of identity
- Gender stereotypes
- Parenting styles
- Citizenship to two or more countries
- Lifestyle and Cultural differences
- Language differences
- Differences in diet
- Third culture kids, etc
We will delve into these is more details in a future article. As challenging as it may seem, mutual trust, love, and sharing can help couples from different cultural backgrounds to tide over these issues. Being open about your mental crisis and supporting each other to get to the root of the feelings and seeing things from a positive angle should be encouraged. A counselor can help you in this regard.
We need no language to laugh
interracial relationships can be hard. It can be hurtful, and it takes a whole lot of give and take to make it work. However, its not an impossible task – millions of couples have shown it can and does work. All it takes is some effort and an open mind to do things the “other way”. Use humor to dissipate stress and tension and love your partner more to make the relationship stronger. If you are able to overcome these issues, you will learn so much and have such a rich life.
International dating is not only thrilling, its also extremely satisfying and enriching. Your foreign partner can give you love, care, happiness, and everything you desire from life. Today we have become citizens of a global village where people from different countries come together to make living an enriching experience.
Interracial relationships come with their fair share of challenges but if you are patient enough you can deal with them and discover the beauty of having someone by your side who understands you completely and fills your life with pleasure and hope.
What is your idea about interracial relationships? Do you think it would work for you? How would you tackle its challenges? Please share your ideas so that we can have an interesting conversation.