When I was young and first looking for love, I often used to see people from different cultures together as couples and think about how exciting this could be but at the same time thinking about how difficult it could also be to meet someone from a different race or culture. The reality, I feel, is somewhere in the middle of these two views and involves recognizing diversity and differences while coming to realise that we are all members of the same group, the human race.
The concept of inter-racial relationships is one that has been celebrated in many forms of art and literature, from movies, stories and plays to countless songs in modern popular music, such as the classics Stevie Wonder’s ‘Ebony and Ivory’. In the modern world, it is more and more common to see myriad combinations of mixed couples and the fact that this has been a phenomenon for generations has lead to many kinds of mixed race people, way outside the confines of black, white and Asian, though admittedly some places seem more open and relaxed about this than others. The 2010 US consensus, for example, showed that the number of interracial and inter-ethnic married couples had grown by nearly 30 percent in 10 years. [Source: wamu.org].
It’s always been fascinating to me to see how young children playing with other kids from different racial backgrounds in a situation where they are unknown to each other actually show zero regard to such differences. This adds more weight to the idea that is in fact a very natural situation and that ultimately, as in the words of a dance music anthem, “love sees no colour.”
You may be asking what has this to do with online dating, though?
Open your mind, increase your options
If you have ever thought that a multi-cultural or interracial relationship is too scary a prospect, you may have been missing out on finding a whole range of possible true love matches. Don’t just pass these options by but take a little time to consider them carefully. If you’re skimming through a dating site and see an exotic and attractive looking person who may not be the same as you, take a little time to have a closer look at their profile information. It may well be that you actually have something in common, or at least that there is something about the person that you would like to find out more about.
Obviously the same can be said in a social situation where you meet someone face-to-face. Don’t be shy to show interest in someone who you may have previously thought of as being out of your social comfort zone; ask some questions, show some interest and see where it goes. As always, a little confidence and smile goes a long way!
Know the similarities, celebrate the differences
Finding the right balance with someone from another race or culture is often certainly not without its own set of challenges; these challenges could be related to lots of different factors that might include language, traditions, expectations, religions and even just social norms. To allay some of the discomfort of not knowing about these in the first stage of starting a relationship, it is extremely important to keep in mind that, above and beyond these factors, we are all basically the same. Everybody feels love, pain, joy and anxiety, no matter who they are. Keeping this in mind should help you feel a little more relaxed at the start of getting to know each other and remember both of you will probably be feeling the same degree of nervousness!
On the other hand, celebrate your differences and use them as a natural way to build a strong and exciting relationship. Asking someone about their own culture is certainly not disrespectful, despite some of the ultra-politically correct madness that may exist in some quarters! If your new date’s heritage includes a different language, ask them to teach you some. Showing a genuine interest can come across as very attractive in itself so relax and enjoy the moment.
Take time to do some research
So, the first stage has gone well and you have now realized that cross-cultural dating is not the nerve- shattering impossibility that you once feared it was; build on what you have already learned in preparation for your next meeting. Doing a little research has never been so easy and will help to show that you are committed to taking the relationship further. Remember, too, that asking questions is the way forward; our psychologist friend, who we turn to for relationship advice, points out that purely talking about yourself can make you come across as shallow and self-obsessed, which is particularly un-attractive in the early stages of developing your friendship.
As we have suggested, this aspect of a cross-cultural relationship can truly lead to an exciting and fulfilling understanding of your partner and can even provide more opportunities for getting to know each other than it would with someone from your own culture. The sky really is the limit here and you could think about such things as family history, food, celebrations and special occasions, traditions and places in the country that they originated from; all interesting stuff.
The sex thing
Hopefully things have gone well and a relationship is blossoming to the point that it has naturally moved on to the next level. While often the first ‘frisson’ can be a little awkward (after all, this word does mean both excitement and fear!), there should really be no more sense of nerves than the first time with any new lover regardless of your differences. The first sighting of your partner in a more intimate state of (un)dress will probably be both exciting and a major turn on but if it all proves too much and the dreaded stage fright sets in, relax and have fun getting to know each other’s bodies. Regardless of some often-quoted misconceptions about any physical differences, we are after all pretty much the same and have the same physiological make up in every race so keep this in mind if you’re having ‘a moment.’
Prepare for any hurdles or resistance
If the relationship is truly going to last long-term, as with any relationship you will be sharing your lives and doing lots of things together. While we have mentioned that cross-cultural relationships are much more common nowadays and far from being looked down on in general, it would be impossible not to mention a few negative issues that you could face. The first and perhaps most ridiculous one would be some form of hostility from members of your own cultural group in a public environment; this could take the form of unkind or insulting comments from bigoted people, though thankfully these are very rare from the feedback we receive. The best policy here is to ignore such people if you can. Remember, too, that this sort of thing is against the law in many countries if it is serious enough for you to need to report it.
A way more difficult issue is that, while you belong to a far more open-minded generation, older generations may not have been able to embrace this attitude. This can sometimes be the case with the fear-inducing group of people known as ‘in laws.’ They may find it difficult to accept your choice of partner, resulting in arguments and rifts within the family. The most heart-breaking case we heard of recently was wear the bride’s mum refused to accept her choice of bridegroom, even after a long courtship. She refused to go to the wedding which even caused a problem between her and her own husband!
While extreme cases may be less common, there is still room for tension if partners are seen as not behaving in an appropriate way culturally. Learning is the key again, here, so make sure you find out about any do’s and don’ts that are relevant to how should behave when you visit your loved ones family and especially for special occasions when you may be a little more under the spotlight than you are used to.
Think of the kids
Finally, if the relationship develops to its fruition, the subject of children is pretty likely to come up. This is something that used to sometimes be talked of in a somewhat misinformed way, along the lines of how the resulting offspring could grow up confused and not fully integrated in either of the cultures they have come from. This certainly doesn’t need to be the case. Children from a mixed heritage have an amazing opportunity to learn and develop in a fantastic way with the good fortune of being able to experience the best of both cultures and all the experiences and opportunities that this can bring. Good parenting and mutual understanding are the key to making sure this can happen.
Give it a go
We hope that some of the things we have talked about here have been helpful if you have thought about multi-cultural dating but never quite had the confidence to try it – or has even opened your mind to the idea for the first time. While modern, multi-cultural societies have untold opportunities for such kinds of meet-ups in a social setting, remember that online dating can be a great way to spread your wings in such a way without the potential awkwardness of not quite knowing how to approach this in a face-to-face environment. Either way, give it a go if it’s in your mind and don’t rule it out as a way to find a fantastic relationship. Check out our recommended page here.
Relationship expert. I like to write articles that helps people get back on the horse and start dating again. I have been writing for blogs since 2003