As society becomes more accepting of racial and ethnic diversity, dating trends shift to reflect this growth. Interracial couples are prominent on social media and account for some of the most popular YouTube channels and Instagram accounts. Interracial dating has somehow become a social media trend.
According to the United States Census Bureau, interracial or interethnic married households increased by 7.4% to 10.2% from 2000-2016.
Society often views these pairings as an aesthetic, with no concern for the social implications of the dynamic. However, interracial relationships come with added responsibilities. One of those obligations is making a mutual effort to understand your partner’s experiences and how their life differs from your own.
While it is imperative all interracial couples grasp their partner’s experience, studies suggest social differences between white and nonwhite partners have the most severe impact on a relationship.
In 2007, the University of North Texas conducted a study that explored the impact of interracial relationships on white partners. Results concluded interracial marriages between Black people and majority group members face higher social sanctions than other interracial pairings.
This study speaks to experiences I have had in the past. Although cultural integration is always helpful for partners of a different race, there is a level of understanding that already exists between me and other minorities when pursuing a relationship. Healthy communication between white and nonwhite partners requires even more effort.
As a Black woman, I struggle to understand why and how someone would pursue me with no intentions to understand my experience. My race dictates society’s perception of me.
I have to approach new interactions aware that I have been attributed an attitude until I prove otherwise. I enter certain spaces knowing I am automatically designated as the least intelligent person in the room until I prove everyone wrong.
I am so conditioned by these experiences I often forget about the culture shock that accompanies dating me.
Interracial dating is often eye-opening in this way. I do not realize how numb I have become to these things until someone of a different race is shocked by the way I am treated. Alternatively, nonminorities are often unaware of this experience until they form a close relationship with someone who lives it on a daily basis.
I am not asking prospective partners to be experts on race and racial injustice. However, my relationships require a mutual effort toward understanding our contrasting perspectives.