In today’s world, choosing a partner can be daunting — and the internet doesn’t make it any easier. While social feeds may fill you with anxiety about who’s going to get engaged next, dating apps can cement your anxiety with images and messages that make you almost 100 percent sure the dating pool is completely rotten.
So, what happens when you finally do find the one — and they’re white?
Our society has recently opened its eyes to toxic white masculinity and non-intersectional feminism, which has left many women of color feeling more distrusting and frankly, uncomfortable, with the character of white men and women.
Yet, it would be wholly unfair and deeply inaccurate to suggest that “all white men” or “all white women” are off-limits as dating material due to a belief that their racism and/or sexism would spoil any chances of a romantic connection.
The reality is that any two people can have a strong and even powerful relationship as partners, allies, and lovers if they have ongoing, honest conversations about what it looks like to navigate the world as a woke couple.
Below are five of our suggestions for dating interracially and maintaining a sense of mutual love and respect.
Do Not Assume Anything of Your Partner
One of the four rules that people should live by, according to renowned author Don Miguel Ruiz, is “don’t make assumptions.” Many times, people of color joke that White people who have no working knowledge or connection to other races will try to align themselves by suggesting they know someone of the opposite race. The age-old, “But I have a Black friend,” or “My nanny was a Mexican woman,” quips never fail to irritate.
The reason why, though, is that they suggest White people know everything there is to know about another race because they may have once come into contact with someone non-white. We know nothing could be further from the truth — and that goes both ways.
It’s important to go into the relationship and behave as if you know nothing — because you don’t. And it’s not necessary to try to impress someone with your knowledge of their culture when you truly don’t have any. Accept what you don’t know, and you’ll be less likely to come across as offensive or opportunistic.
Create a Safe Space to Educate and Be Educated
To that end, Ruiz suggests that instead of assuming, one should simply ask more questions about things they do know understand. While this should be the foundation of any relationship, being inquisitive about your partner’s life and experiences are critical to ensuring that you can reach a level of deep understanding and eliminate all room for judgment or bias. A huge part of that involves believing your partner when they share their experience and not writing them off as being some stereotypical representation of their race.
Don’t know why you can’t just touch her hair? Ask. Unclear on why his family does that weird thing every Thanksgiving? Ask. Seek understanding first, before trying to be understood or pushing your assumed knowledge about their culture on them.
Be Honest About Your Expectations
There’s no more important thing a couple can do than to set rules and boundaries around the relationship — opening up about what is and is not unacceptable to them.
As a woman of color, it may completely unacceptable for your partner to push you in a pool after you just got your hair done — or it may be crossing a boundary for them to appropriate your culture just to fit in when they are around your family and friends.
Be explicit about what pushes the limits of what you will and won’t accept from any White person, including your partner, and hold them to those standards.
Don’t Allow External Factors to Affect Your Internal Relationship
Social media has officially infiltrated every aspect of our lives. When gone unchecked, it can wreak havoc on your self-esteem and leave you comparing your life to the lives of those you follow.
Even worse, it can cause you to question everything you know about your relationship. Seeing non-interracial couples enjoy an easy wedding planning process or joke about being #couplesgoals because of how great they look together can be maddening when you’re in an interracial relationship. And feeling like you and your partner have to live up to an expectation that you’ll have “beautiful mixed babies” and lots of money is also a damaging stereotype.
Be sure to block out all the noise about what people may say about being in a relationship with someone white. It will only push you further away from the love you deserve.
Know When To Walk Away
Love is tough, and many times, despite all the good faith efforts in the world, you are not meant to be with the person you thought was completely #bae potential. That’s okay.
Don’t feel forced to make something work simply because everyone said it wouldn’t. And, know when you’re unwilling to stay in a relationship with a white person who doesn’t respect your culture, boundaries, and expectations.
Having an ally as a partner is the most important thing, and if your partner simply cannot be that for you, it’s time to walk away.