While multicultural dating is nothing new, many people in interracial relationships still face unique and disappointing challenges.
Here are some of the thought-provoking responses:
1. "I'm white, and my boyfriend is Mexican. His family was super accepting of me and welcomed me with open arms. The only challenge was the language barrier with some family members who don’t speak English. I’ve been learning Spanish and can speak it decently now. On the other hand, my family was not so accepting at first."
"I got a lot of racist remarks from the men in my family. I just put them in their place and continued being happy in my relationship. I just don’t really care what they think or say about us."
2. "I am Korean-American, and my partner is white. His family was very accepting when we were engaged and early in our marriage. I'm adopted and didn't start exploring my Asian identity until a few years ago. That's when sh*t kind of hit the fan with the in-laws. I changed my name on Facebook when I started to embrace my Korean given name, and my MIL thought I was disowning their family name. When I was vocal about the rise in anti-Asian hate/violence, my MIL accused me of making my husband feel ashamed of the color of his skin. She also lectured me about all the 'Karen racism' she is facing. My FIL used the phrase 'China Virus.' Both have demanded actual examples (proof) of racism and micro-aggressions that I have experienced."
"I found an Asian-American therapist who really helped me understand and set firm boundaries with my in-laws after all that (they were not happy about it). I don't necessarily have regrets about my relationship, but I wish I had leaned into my instincts more back when my husband and I were dating/engaged instead of brushing off comments and 'jokes.' Remember, when people show you who they are, believe them. I have a very surface-level relationship now with my MIL and FIL. I refuse to let them into my life anymore than that because they have already dismissed and invalidated the core of my being.
My husband is 100% on my side, and he is the one who handles his family when issues do come up. He's taken steps to better understand my life experiences and perspective and has found his own therapist (who is also Asian-American) to help him through different situations. I couldn't ask for a better partner."
3. "I’m mixed (Latina/Asian/white), and my boyfriend is white. He was plenty aware of racism as a general concept when we met, but he didn’t really think about the day-to-day stuff before I told him about my experiences. A lot of the racism I experience takes form in micro-aggressions and ignorant comments rather than blatant bigotry, and some of it is so insidious that he didn’t notice it until I pointed it out. One of the hardest things for me is when something weird or upsetting happens to me in a majorly white space, and I have to walk away from the situation unsure of whether my race was a factor, which came up when I first met his family, and they were slow to warm to me for no obvious reason."
"My boyfriend never would have thought of that before because he’s never had to factor those concerns into his everyday life, but now it’s something he considers when I have uncomfortable encounters. I’m used to being treated differently by other people (of all races) because of my mixed status, so it didn’t surprise me when people were weird about us dating, but it was very new to my boyfriend. Funnily enough, most of the judgement we get when we’re in public together is from other people of color. We get a lot of judgy/surprised looks when we hold hands, and once, he even got yelled at by a group of Latino guys just for being with me."
4. "Race hasn't affected us at all in a serious way. My kids mostly look like me (Asian), which is funny because when he goes out with them alone (he's white) and people hear them say 'dad,' they sometimes get funny looks of surprise. When our son was in kindergarten and my husband went to get him, the teachers wouldn't let him near our son when he announced he was there to pick him up. They made our son point out daddy from far away haha. My husband was like, 'I'm not going to pick him up anymore; they thought I was some kind of child abductor!'"
5. "I'm a Canadian white woman with a Black man who immigrated from Africa, and it’s going well. But we have to talk about racial issues, or it would be like denying his experience. We very openly talk about racism, systemic racism, and colonialism. Our families have had no issues at all. We both try to be open and share our cultures. I learn about his country, tribe, language, etc. He lives in my cultural context and is open to it. We have to communicate a LOT because there can be misunderstandings based on each other’s references and vocabulary differences. We also have to talk about our expectations since he was used to his exes assuming men are providers while I'm looking for an equal partner, and I pay for my things."
"We are both PhD students at the moment, and all of his friends have a wife/GF with a bit less education than them and a more traditional division of labor while we are in an intersectional feminist dynamic with shared responsibilities. They often tease him about being with a 'white feminist,' but he seems okay with it. I sometimes feel like I got into a time machine when we visit his friends and the men are watching TV while women are in the kitchen, but I openly talk about it. My friends never had issues, but some acquaintances do say some problematic sh*t, and I have to set them straight: 'Is he with you for immigration purposes?' 'Oh, is he BLACK BLACK?' 'Oh, you’re gonna have SUPER CUTE BABIES.'"
6. "I’m white, and my spouse is an immigrant from Hong Kong. There are always struggles when you are a 'minority' (I use quotation marks because Chinese people are by no means an actual minority in the global sense). In terms of our relationship, we are both very lucky that our parents are all open-minded and accepting. I love my in-laws, and I know my parents love my spouse. We are very fortunate that way, given the horror stories I have heard. In general, we don’t experience a lot of explicit racism, though we have had some bad experiences, particularly traveling abroad."
7. "My experiences were mostly meh. While they were nice personality-wise, it would often get annoying how they would say fetishizing things without realizing it. I know they meant no harm, but it was just gross, always turned me off, and eventually lead to me just ending it. I don't like to be around that kind of thing...The moment a guy says anything about 'chocolate/caramel' or 'swirling,' I just feel repulsed and want out on the spot."
8. "I'm white, and my husband is Hispanic/Native American. The biggest thing we've had – not necessarily affecting our relationship but just starting a conversation – is my family. They are very honest, and when they have a question, they ask but tend to lack tact. So they've asked my husband some racist questions on accident, and I've had to be like, 'I know that's not what you meant, but this is what that sounded like... Can we think of a better way to go about this, please?'"
"I also explained to them that my husband is not their designated brown person to answer all of their questions, and he is definitely not the spokesperson for all Mexicans about anything, just his own opinions. For some reason, that was a really difficult concept for them to grasp."
9. "We get plenty of looks (I’m Black, he’s white with freckles and red hair) and the occasional ignorant comment, but no overt hostility. However, I tend to avoid places where I think that might be more likely. Both our families are accepting and affectionate. We talk a lot about race and discrimination. He was aware of some of the challenges minorities faced before we met, but he’s become a lot more informed since we met, and he actively seeks out books to learn more. He’s also learned a lot about Black haircare."
10. "My boyfriend (Indian) and I (white) have been together for two years and plan to get married when we can. One thing I wasn’t expecting was how much being in a interracial relationship would affect almost everything. Our relationship is 100% worth it, but I would say 9/10 of our 'fights' are based on some miscommunication from our different cultures, religions, languages, or classes. Once we cool down and talk about it, it’s always some kind of misunderstanding. This is also my first relationship, so I was probably optimistically ignorant about love, LOL. But even now, I’m still a little surprised each time we can pinpoint a complication due to some difference."
"That said, I hope I’m clear in that love is worth it, and being with someone so different is such a beautiful thing. I just want to express (especially to those who might be new to love like I was) that it’s definitely not a blissful utopia, where 'differences don’t matter' – they don’t matter, but they’re there.
As for everyone else, it’s been okay so far, but I think that’s because I was expecting worse. People stare, of course. My mom made an insensitive joke early on, but I shut that down. My biggest concern now is religion. My parents are both Christian pastors, so they’ve been okay for the most part, but I feel like once our wedding is close, or once we have kids, that’s when the trouble will start."
11. "I’ve had to become more patient with him when explaining how and why things are racist. Also, that racism isn’t over and is very much a thing I experience in my everyday life. He’s European, and his old mindset is pretty much the norm over there. It’s bizarre, but I needed to realize him being white, surrounded by a bunch of other white people, and only having white friends really skewed his perspective. He’s also had to understand that racism makes me mad. I’m not going to 'discuss it calmly.' I’m going to huff and puff and fight for my opinions to be heard."
"He’s also had to understand that he and his white friends aren’t automatically in the clear because they’re liberals. Yes, you can still be racist, even accidentally. No, I’m not going to give you a free pass to say offensive things. We always work these bumps out though, and over the years, he’s become much more knowledgeable and well-rounded. Other than that, our families are completely accepting, and people in public treat us well. Overall, few problems."
12. "We honestly haven’t faced any challenges yet. My only concern was how my partner would feel having children who didn’t really look like him. For example, in the Latin/Black community there’re SO many different shades of color within one family. Having members of different tones and shades is very normal for us, whereas his Caucasian family has really one or two tones of peach. I know throwing a potential child in there who could be very much Black if my genes are strong would be a possibility. So I always worried what him and his family would think of that."
"We had open discussions about it, and he said it wouldn’t bother him at all and doesn’t foresee it being a problem to his extended family either. My mom and dad love my boyfriend. And my boyfriend's parents are very fond of me. It’s been a very good experience overall. I do live in a very diverse city so that probably helps, too!"
13. "I'm white, but my boyfriend is mixed race. He's half white and half Moroccan. His father and most of his father's extended family are from Morocco, and some still live there. It doesn't really get in the way much, but his father is very quiet. It's harder for me to warm up to him because he's just very different socially/culturally. On the other hand, my extended family are all white Republicans. I am the black sheep of the family, and I detest bringing my boyfriend over for holidays."
"I can tell they're all walking on eggshells trying not to say something insensitive and/or ignorantly racist. It's not THAT hard for them, but the current political climate hasn't made it any easier."
14. "I’m Mexican, and my partner is Native American but not very involved in his culture. I worry a lot about him not knowing Spanish. He tries but not as much as I’d like. We recently got married, and I would really like to change my name to my mom's last name, and he’s interested in changing his to match. We had a talk about how as a brown man with a very common Latino last name, it could affect his employment opportunities, and he was still onboard."
"His parents sometimes make innocuous but annoying comments. His aunt and uncle make inappropriate comments, then apologize when his siblings point out I’m one of the Mexicans they are talking about."