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The Daily Read: Six Learnings from Being in an Interracial Relationship

Friends, I want to share a few ridiculous truths with you all today….

I was in a very serious interracial relationship for almost five years. My ex and I began dating right before I finished high school and continued to do so until my senior year of college. Through that time, I learned some pretty frustrating (and inconveniently uncomfortable) truths about dating someone of another race. The worst part? All of these “truths” stemmed from everyone else’s perception of us, not our own.

One would think that living in the 21st century would absolve society of the idiocy, but you’d be surprised. Below are six of the truths that I’ve come to learn about dating someone outside of my own race. Take a look and see if you recognize any of them!

1. You can’t go out into public without catching at least one side eye from a stranger.

It does not matter what races are being mixed here; at least ONE stranger will give you the death stare. In the beginning, this is extremely uncomfortable. When my ex and I first started going out, he literally had to tell me to ignore the people who would give us dirty looks or else I would become Scrappy Doo. After a while, you get used to it. And after you get used to it, you start to laugh about it. Why are they staring at you? They’re just nosy and want to project their misunderstandings about love and race at you with cutting eyes. Keep walking and let them hate. Hi, hater!

2. Your friends will ask you questions/joke about your significant other in ways that make you uncomfortable.

This was one of the hardest things for me to deal with. Since I was dating a white man, my black friends would ask me questions about his, ahem, package. They would joke about having sex with a white man or make jokes about white people in general. It was very uncomfortable for me to ask my friends to calm down sometimes when I just didn’t feel like almost defending my man from stereotypes. I knew that they were not being mean-spirited in any way, they just didn’t know that it bothered me.  It’s so much easier to tell your friends up front that you have a sense of humor but to keep the Pee Wee Herman jokes to a minimum. Otherwise, things will build up and the day you finally let your feelings known may blow up to be a much bigger ordeal than you bargained for. No one wants to have a Love and Hip Hop showdown over a joke about a Johnson.

3. The double standards are doubled.

As a black woman dating a white man, I would sometimes be praised by black women and scorned by black men. The women thought I was doing well for myself because, and I quote some random girl’s unasked-for opinion, “white men will treat you so much better than n***as.” (Yes, someone actually said that to me). The men, however, would call me a sellout. I remember one occasion where I told someone I had just recently met that my boyfriend was white. He looked at me, shook his head, and said “We lost another one.” Excuse me? You lost what, exactly? I was not aware that by me dating a white man, I was drastically limiting the amount of good black women in the market.

This standard is ENTIRELY FLIPPED when it is a white woman with a black man. The woman will HATE FOR DAYS that “another good black man” was “stolen” by a white woman. The men, however, will dap up his homie when he finds out he “wifed a Becky.” I’m not a white woman, but I don’t think I would be happy about either of these situations if I were one. We can’t just accept that maybe these two are just happy to be together and keep it moving? Don’t act like you weren’t sad when Heidi and Seal divorced!

4. The older people in your family will most likely disapprove.

We like to think that our families are perfectly accepting, however, reality proves that this is not always the case, especially with the older folk. Getting crap from friends and social media is one thing, but hearing from your family cuts a little bit deeper. I don’t think I even need to go into detail here, but our grandparents grew up in a different time and a very different world. Sure, times have changed, but some people are stubborn as a mule. Your grandparents may have said some disparaging things about your significant other’s race that made you cringe. If you really want to make this relationship work, you will have to make some serious concessions. You will most likely never change your family’s opinions, but you can certainly share your point of view with them. If they love you like they should, they will at least keep their opinions to a minimum. Don’t be surprised if they are constantly complaining behind your back, though.

5. You will be questioned on your “blackness/whiteness/asian-ness” etc.

One of the worst things I’ve encountered while being in an interracial relationship was having my association with my own culture put into question. Some people believe that dating outside one’s race makes one “lesser” than someone who dates a person of the same race. I, of course, was considered a traitor or less black for dating a white man. This was especially troubling to me because I LOVE my culture. I am a proud member of the black community and my community as a whole. My love for a man who was not the same race as me did NOT diminish the love I have for my background and where I came from. I was not turning my back on my race. Hell, I find black men to be some the sexiest creatures on this planet. I just so happened to fall for someone with less melanin than myself.

6. Everyone else’s opinions will become a burden.

As much as you try to brush it off, as much as you play it off like it doesn’t bother you, everyone else’s perceptions of you will cause strain at some point. The strain will either make your relationship stronger or pull you apart. The important thing is to acknowledge that it exists and to work from there. All relationships require work and time and understanding; you can’t be ashamed to acknowledge your racial differences as something that needs attention as well. Successful couples will be upfront about the challenges they faced, no matter if it was money or racial issues.

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Sounds exhausting, right?

I’m not here to be a champion for mixed race couples or to shame those who oppose them, but to give some understanding into a topic that continues to be super controversial. At the end of the day, people are nosy and everyone has an opinion. Need an example? Turn on VH1 at any given point of the day and watch nosy people argue their opinions to each other! Live and let love, people. It’s 2014, free love, man.

I’d love to know your thoughts! Please share your opinions in the comments section below.

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