What It’s Really Like to Be in an Interracial Relationship

As a nation, we've come an incredibly long way towards becoming a more post-racial and diversified society. Relationships in college and beyond haven't been any less affected by the acceptance and tolerance that accompanies a more progressive society.

When it comes to dating, colors have been mixed and matched in every way possible, but it's not always easy to date someone of another color.

I've had firsthand experience navigating the complexities of being in an interracial relationship. As an Indian Muslim girl dating a Mexican Catholic guy, trust me when I say I often run into obstacles in my relationship because of our differing cultural backgrounds.

Being in an interracial relationship is a balancing act. It's not always perfect, but it possesses a beauty within it that makes the relationship all the more worthwhile. Each obstacle an interracial couple might have to face also contains an element of pure magic.  

Here's what it's really like to date someone of a different race.

1. You face language barriers...

English is usually the dominant language of communication in most relationships, especially if you and your S.O. both understand and speak the language, but the way the language barrier has affected me has been when I'm speaking with my S.O.'s immediate and extended family.

There have been multiple very awkward attempts by me to communicate a line of broken Spanish to my S.O.'s mother, and he's had his fair share of very uncomfortable attempts to pronounce difficult Hindi words.

2. ...but you learn to translate each other in a different way.

It's a humbling experience to be able to share a favorite phrase or line of a poem in a different language through your own interpretive translation and, in an interracial relationship, there are nearly unlimited opportunities to share songs, quotes and other important elements of your culture with each other. It’s a new way to understand yourself and understand your S.O. a little bit better.

Source: Unsplash

3. You have to water down some of your culture...

Culture, religion, and ethnicity are complicated and so are some of the traditions and customs that accompany them. When I'm trying to explain a particular holiday or a significant religious figure to anyone not from my background, I often have to simplify and reduce elements to make it more palatable.

In an interracial relationship, this is going to happen. A lot. It's much easier to give the short version of what the holiday Eid is than go on and on about the religious significance. And at times, it may feel like you're doing a disservice to your culture.

"My boyfriend is white and I'm Indian, so I've gotten to expose him to a different culture, which has been great," says fourth year Cognitive Science major, Anjali Wignarajah. "But it's not as easy as being in a relationship with someone who already understands your culture. My parents have always been concerned about this and their disapproval puts an added strain on our relationship. I’m constantly caught between what I want and what they want."

4. ...but you get to experience a two new cultures.

What you gain from dating someone from another culture is the ability to experience a whole new one: their culture. I've been able to enjoy foods, festivals, parties and traditions that I wouldn't have otherwise gotten to experience with someone I care about and his family.

In explaining my own culture to my S.O., I'm better able to understand how my culture has shaped me and who I am. It's like reliving my own culture through someone else's eyes.

Source: Pexels

Interracial relationships have to face a lot of tricky obstacles. Throw in social expectations from family and differences in upbringing, and you've got yourself a pretty difficult battle.

However, from my experience, the benefits of fusing our two cultures together wind up being far more important to me than the downsides. I've gotten to experience a new perspective, expand my cultural knowledge and share parts of myself in an entirely new way.

When you mix colors, you bring out the best hues of both and end up with something new and beautiful, and that shade is priceless.

Cover image source: Pexels, Sebastian Voortman