The bliss of romantic relationships comes from personalities working together in harmony. Attaining that feeling of comfort, understanding and requited companionship is what many people search for. However, in my experience as a cisgender, heterosexual, Black man, it’s a little harder to find that with somebody of a different race.
My experience is by no means a “one size fits all” for relationships. Each couple is different, but there are common themes that I’ve seen spread across interracial couples.
One obstacle that interracial couples have to overcome is their differences in experience. The Black experience is vastly different than the white experience; we should know that. But, what happens when you have to incorporate that new experience into your own? It’s more than knowing you still can’t say racial slurs even though you’re in a relationship with a Black person.
When you’re in a relationship with someone, you get to know them for who they really are, what they’ve been through and how that molded their personhood. You’re sharing a piece of yourself in exchange for a piece of someone you care for.
For a lot of Black people, we’ve gone through some things that white people couldn’t imagine happening to them. Someone entering a relationship with a Black person has to be ready for the trauma they’ve dealt with on a daily basis in a country that has deemed us a commodity since its conception.
We’re human beings, and we deserve the same love and affection as anybody else would. Therefore, our identity-shaping experiences should not be discounted. I know it’s easy to say that the past should stay in the past, but America’s past is the reason I’m even writing this. It’s also important to note that race-related issues still happen today, making it even more difficult to leave the past behind us.
As small as it seems, these issues happen more than you’d think. In a past relationship, my white girlfriend at the time told me to stop being worried about meeting new white people. This took me by surprise because I thought she was telling me I had no right to be scared. Personally, I’ve met people who suddenly become uncomfortable when I come around, so my hesitation isn’t unwarranted. I’ve also met people who will put on a friendly face just to make racially insensitive remarks behind my back, so yes, it’s hard for me to give the benefit of the doubt. She was slightly agitated that I constantly let my past dictate who I put my guard up with. However, she had never gone through the pain of being isolated because of the color of her skin.
After discussing the situation, we came to terms that we have backgrounds that make us the way we are. It’s not that she was being racist or insensitive to me; she just wasn’t used to having that constant warning bell ringing in the back of her mind. For both parties of a relationship, these conversations are important, so make sure your significant other understands this crucial part of your being.
These are the discussions that have to happen, and that’s why interracial relationships are harder. They’re not impossible, but without the extra work to understand and accept a significant other’s generational trauma, these pairings are doomed to fail.
Being the product of an interracial relationship, I know they can work and be full of love. Relationships require people to click, to essentially be on the same page. Race can make it hard to find that page because most times, people of color aren’t even in the same book.