Are you dating someone of a different race? Have you considered some challenges that might come with interracial dating? Get advice from an expert on the different pros and cons you might find in an interracial relationship, including family, friend and, even, stranger responses.
Deborrah Cooper, also known as Ms. Heartbeat, writes advice columns for AskHeartBeat.com. She holds a B.A. in Mass Communication and has written the book Sucka Free Love. Deborrah has studied love and dating for over 15 years and has appeared in numerous media outlets and is a frequent guest on 106.1 FM KMEL in San Francisco.
Interview with Deborrah Cooper about the Pros and Cons of Interracial Dating
What are some of the advantages or joys of dating someone from a different race?
There are no particular advantages to choosing a partner of a different race just to experience a new joy per se that I can think of offhand. Our joy in our relationships, ANY relationship, must come from the surprise and delight of finding someone we have a spiritual, mental and emotional connection to. Look for compatibility and a good fit. Choosing someone to love and someone to care about you should be your first priority, not race.
What are some challenges that interracial couples deal with that couples of the same race don't have?
Enduring the unkind words of disapproving family, friends, and society (including those at work) may be too much for a new couple to bear. These people will question your motivation for pursuing a mixed-race relationship.
Though attraction is certainly a personal issue of taste, I caution readers to stop and think about your choice and why you are making it. Are you ashamed or embarrassed or in any way attempting to deny parts of yourself by dating interracially? Have you subscribed to negative stereotypes about your own race?
A couple embarking on an interracial partnership must prepare themselves for curious stares and racist comments you have never before experienced. Many couples fold under the pressure.
Do you have any tips or advice to help couples overcome these challenges?
If you are not a strong person - mentally and emotionally - then interracial dating is best avoided. Those of you that feel insecure and need the approval of others to be okay about your choices will find an interracial relationship to be a source of great stress and confusion.
If you decide to go ahead and take the leap, do all you can to keep the lines of communication open. Make it a habit to listen to your partner without judging or comparing him or her to previous partners of some other race. Your mate may experience things that you never have due to his or her language/accent, ethnicity or race. Loving them will mean you do all you can to understand that not everyone has had the experiences, privileges or even the problems that you have!
What should you do if your parents or family does not approve of your decision to date someone of another race?
I think that would depend strictly upon your age, maturity level, and level of independence. A minor child or a student dependent upon parents for financial support would not have the same freedom of choice as an adult child out on his or her own. If your family has reservations about your mate, don't assume to know why, ask them! Get clear on their precise reasons for feeling that this person isn't right for you. Their reasons may have nothing to do with race, but you won't know that for certain until you sit down and have a mature discussion.
Share with them what you see, feel, and love about your partner. Should it turn out that their complaints are related strictly to your partner's race, it's time for you to stand strong for your convictions. Don't back down. Do all within your power to encourage an honest discussion on race, racial stereotypes, family and love.
Are people generally open to marrying someone of another race?
To date the AskHeartBeat.Com Interracial Relationships Survey has logged more than 9,100 responses and been used in dozens of student research reports on the subject all over the world.
The vast majority (58 percent) of respondents said that they wanted a loving partner and that ethnicity was not at all a consideration in their choice. However, 34 percent report that their families made it a point to communicate that they would tolerate their child having friends of other races, but not romantic partners. More than 25 percent of the respondents stated that their parents threatened to disown them if they ever dated outside of their race!
Sometimes the belief systems our family members have about other races are not revealed to us until we bring home someone that doesn't look the way they expected. Many young people are shocked to find out that their parents, who always spoke of love and of everyone being the same under the skin, are actually selectively racist. I can't tell you how many advice request letters I've received over the past ten years from dismayed young people dealing with this very issue.
These survey results, coupled with the discussions I've had with men and women of various ethnicities on this subject, would cause me to say that statistically, the answer to this question is "no."
Apparently, many people are certainly open to DATING someone of another race, but still draw the line when it came to marriage and children for whatever reason they have.
What is your overall opinion of interracial dating? Do the potential rewards outweigh the challenges?
I'd have to say that only the strongest people, the most determined to open their mind and spirit to someone very, very different should even attempt interracial dating. There are many challenges you may face and have to overcome - culinary tastes, religious beliefs, customs and cultural differences just to name a few.In closing, I see love as a wonderful gift. Finding someone to love, someone you mesh with, and someone that makes your heart sing and brings peace of mind is the stuff of poetry. We should never deny ourselves that experience or allow others to intimidate us into making a choice that leaves us without the person that makes us happy. Life is too short to miss the joy of love for even one day! Don't be afraid to open yourself up to new experiences. Love is where ever you find it.
Before starting a relationship with someone from a different race, carefully consider the pros and cons of interracial dating. Be aware of the challenges you'll face, but also know, as our expert says, that love can be found anywhere and with anyone.
LoveToKnow Dating would like to thank Deborrah Cooper for taking the time to do this interview.