Race relations are a hot topic in today’s society, and there are a lot of conversations about how to support racial groups you don’t belong to.
While learning how to be an ally is great, it’s worth revisiting these concepts in the context of sexual and romantic relationships because they are a bit different than dealing with a coworker or acquaintance.
Australia has some ugly racial scars, so whether you are on your third interracial relationship or are just starting out, here are a few things to remember when dating someone of a different racial background.
1. Talking About Race is Essential
This is a no brainer. The same way gender is a part of a woman’s everyday life, race is a part of every non-white person’s daily experience. It changes the way they are perceived by others, the art they create and the work they do in general.
It’s okay to be uncomfortable if you happen to be a white Australian, but it is important to be aware of how race plays out in Australia and shapes everyone lives.
2. Familial Relationships May Be Unfamiliar to You
Whatever your background, your race and culture play a big role in how your family structure works. Don’t assume that everyone’s family works the same as yours just because you are both Australian and talk the same or have similar education backgrounds.
It may be inappropriate for your partner to bring you home to meet their parents. It may even be inappropriate to talk to their parents about your dating life in any way. Maybe there is a process they have to go through to explain why they’re with someone of a different race.
Talk about family stuff in the beginning instead of assuming you know how it will all play out. That way, you both have a clear understanding of what you’re about to get into.
3. Question Your Frustration
You’re not required to stay with anyone if you feel you needs or values are taking a backseat to your partner’s. However, it is important to ask yourself why things that you consider “difficult” or “different” frustrate, anger or irritate you.
Because are your needs and values really being compromised? Or are you seeing yourself as the default in the relationship and punishing your significant other for deviating from what you consider the norm?
4. Speak Up When People Close to You Say Racist Things
We all love our families desperately, but constantly explaining why Oriental is not an ok term will get exhausting for anyone.
Regardless of their intent, your family and friends are going to say some messed up things. It’s your job to say something, as a partner and as a fellow human being who’d want someone to defend them.
Generally transforming a mistake into a teachable moment is more effective than complaining something is racist, but do what works best for your individual relationships.
The Point Is…
Dating is hard and being responsible for how your views and actions affect someone is hard too. It gets harder when race is involved.
You know what’s harder? Being with someone who doesn’t care to understand who you are as a person. By working to ensure your eyes and ears are open, your interracial relationship will blossom.