Dating Outside Your Culture, Race, or Religion….They say opposites attract, but being in a mixed relationship isn’t always easy. In fact, although according to the US Census Bureau interracial and interfaith marriage rates are soaring, these relationships are also statistically more likely to fail. If it seems to you that your partner comes from another world entirely, though, there’s no need to freak out. Your relationship can be successful, as long as you follow some helpful tips.
This, of course, goes without saying. Respect is important in any relationship, whether mixed or not. However, respect can become an even bigger issue in an interracial or interfaith relationship. You have to understand that your partner might be sensitive to certain things. For example, if your boyfriend keeps Kosher, try to respect that decision (that is, don’t make him pork for lunch).
People like to talk about themselves. They also like to talk about where they come from. So, if he or she is telling you a story about his or her childhood, especially if it’s a story that somehow connects to his or her culture, race, or religion, don’t be dismissive. Ask questions. Show him or her that you want to know more. Jim Keen, author of Inside Intermarriage: A Christian Partner’s Perspective on Raising a Jewish Family, says that you should always be open to learning for the relationship to work out.
Understand You Are Different
Even if you feel that your values and interests align, there will be many differences between you and your partner. This is normal in any relationship but might seem more pronounced in a mixed couple. That’s okay, though. The important thing is to face such differences, says Psychology Today, rather than avoid them. Discuss your differing viewpoints — calmly and with respect — and accept the other’s opinion. In the end, you might even celebrate these differences. The world would be a pretty boring place if we were all alike.
Leave Prejudice Behind
Even the most open-minded person can fall victim to prejudice. When you interact with your partner, try to see him or her as an individual, rather than as a culture, race, or religion. For example, if your partner is African American, refrain from calling things that he or she does are “ghetto.” After all, you probably wouldn’t say that if your partner belonged to the same race as you do.
Think About the Future
This is especially important for interfaith relationships. If you want to get married, who will officiate the ceremony? How will the children be raised? These are all questions to think about and to discuss openly and honestly. Leave plenty of room for compromise. A good way to start the conversation, according to Psychology Today, is to explain to your partner how your culture or religion does things, and listen carefully as your partner does the same.
Surround Yourselves With Love
Your families might not be supportive of your relationship. According to the National Social Science Association, it’s not only common for mixed couples to face prejudice from their families, but that said prejudice can be harmful to their relationship. If this is the case for you, make sure to surround yourselves with friends that understand and believe in your love. A strong support network is important to the success of any relationship.
Know That You’ll Both Make Mistakes
Don’t assume that you’ll understand everything the other person has gone through. For example, if your partner has experienced racism or discrimination, you might not be able to relate — and he or she might not want you to. Or, you might accidentally say something that is offensive to him or her. When this happens, both of you need to take a deep breath, cool off, and discuss the matter respectfully. In the end, you’ll learn from your mistakes.
Are you Dating Outside Your Culture, Race, or Religion? We would love to hear from you…