Last week we looked at some of the top mistakes that are made when dating a person of a different race or ethnicity. We’ve got five more for you this week.
6. You gloss over “minor” incidents and transgressions.
Not only does the outside world often present a challenge, but as a human being, you might slip up or innocently say something racially insensitive. Most interracial couples are able to cope with strangers’ stares and forgive their partners’ little learning stumbles, but it’s important to address anything that is bothering you. Even the “little” things.
If you’re capable of shrugging it off, that can seem like the more tempting option, but race is so linked to identity that the resentment potentially building in your partner will be more toxic.
The good news is that your discomfort in addressing slip-ups or issues is probably a good thing–true racists and generally awful people don’t usually feel hesitation or remorse. It’s natural to not want to talk about it. Push through.
7. You’re fine if it’s casual, but you’d never settle down.
In any coupling, it’s important to make sure you’re on the same page with regard to expectations, but with differing races, it’s crucial. There’s nothing wrong with keeping things casual if that’s what you both want, but it’s pretty awful to date someone who thinks they’re building a future with you when you secretly have the mentality that “[X people] are fine to date, but you’d never marry one.”
If you’re “curious,” then read a book, watch a movie, or visit a museum. If you want to genuinely share an experience with someone of a different race, go for it.
8. You’re in it for the cute kids.
Just as there’s an unfortunate glut of websites and social media dedicated to fetish-y and superficial celebration of interracial coupledom,there’s a pervasive notion that “mixed” or biracial babies are aesthetically superior.
There are people who set out to have biracial babies; some because they think they’re the cutest, some out of a misguided notion that they’re helping society become less racially divided, and some out of ingrained self-loathing and a desire to water down or alter genetic features of their race.
Specifically seeking to procreate with someone of a different race to make the “cutest babies” is just plain ugly.
9. You won’t budge in certain areas.
Refusing to eat your partner’s culturally specific foods, insisting with disdain that they only ever speak English even if it’s not their 1st language and they like to speak their native tongue with family and friends, mocking their speech or making “jokes” at their expense, making them discard all traces of their ethnicity…
These are all things that could go on in perpetuity, even in a serious, long-term relationship. If there’s some part of you that will never be OK with some part of their race or ethnicity, or you’re in it for the wrong reasons,you will cause harm.
10. You’re in denial of any of the above.
I know that some of these things might sound horrible and far from anything you’d do, but you don’t have to be a hardcore racist to have a difficult relationship with race. If you grew up, as so many of us have, with conflicting messages of individual progress and systemic oppression, it’s hard not to.
You may not be a member of a hate group, but you just might harbor ideas that are problematic enough to get in the way of a successful relationship. “Innocent” ignorance and casual racism cannot go unchecked.
The good news is that you can learn. And UN-learn. And make progress with a loving partner. Then you can truly enjoy each other, as two members of the human race.