Last week a reader wrote in asking about my experiences with interracial dating. I’m chopping this up into three pieces and Part Two is the private aspect of interracial dating.
Race isn’t a big deal to me, if I am attracted to a guy, I’ll give him a chance. At the same time I also try not to be ignorant to the fact that race a big deal to other people. As I mentioned in Interracial Dating (Part One) my experience is that you both have to be each others advocates and protectors. You have to advocate and protect each other and yourselves as a couple because outside opinions from the public will come out and it wont always be pretty.
For me, the private work that makes interracial relationships work is constantly having conversations about things the other person will never 100% understand.
Lets take things out of the context of race for a second: Can you imagine trying to sit down and explain to your boyfriend what its like to be a woman? I mean, we’re raised and conditioned based on our gender, so its second nature to us, right? We just accept the ups and downs that life throws to a woman and we navigate accordingly, but could we actually articulate to a man exactly what its like? Sure, we could offer a few stories and share our feelings with men, but I don’t think a man would walk away truly “getting it”. (and we sure can’t understand what it like being a guy which we spend so much time and money on books trying to understand the opposite sex!)
A big part of advocating for each other comes from learning and communicating about what its like to be who you are. Obviously this is easier said than done. From privilege to prejudice, race has an undeniable effect on our lives. The more we work to understand even a tiny bit of what our partner experiences, the easier it is to be that public champion for each other when things get awkward (or downright rude) as I mentioned last week. These types of conversations can be intense, but they can also be beautiful and build intimacy. Again, this is one of the reasons that I feel like interracial couples have a chance to build a really strong connection. But these types of discussions aren’t limited to interracial relationships.
Right now, I’d say I’m dating inter-culturally because I am Nigerian and Robert is Jamaican. Yes, we’re both black and in many ways were brought up the same way, but… in some ways our backgrounds are very different. There are things about Jamaican culture that I don’t sit well with me and as Robert and I move forward conversations are required. Do we get it right in one sitting? No. But we talk about it and work to gain understanding.
In the end, diversity in your love life can be an awesome thing as long as you communicate and don’t shy away from hard conversations… you just might learn something.
How do YOU deal with diverse relationships (race, ethnicity, religion, etc)? Are there any specific questions/conversations that help you gain understanding?
P.S. My next FREE event is coming up on 10/27 “Cardio & Curvy Conversations” is going to be a great time, with my favorite trainer from New York Sports Club. Register here!