General Question

Glow's avatar

Do you think interracial relationships will provide a couple with many difficulties?

Asked by Glow (1366points) February 5th, 2009

Will the fact that both partners come from such radically different parts of the world provide many difficulties for the two, leaving them unable to remain together or will such difficulties only strengthen the relationship?

Btw, im talking about two completely different ethnicities that come from different cultures. Not something like a black man and a white woman. Both are still grown as Americans… unless the man is truly from Africa or the girl is truly from Europe.

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49 Answers

d_a_carlson's avatar

The racial background has nothing to do with the sucess or failure of a relationship. The fact that you are asking the question dooms the relationship before it even starts.

elijah's avatar

All relationships have problems. Different cultures bring more to a relationship, you never know where your relationship is headed until you give it a shot. Attraction brings people together, and a relationship takes work. These two people might have more pressure from the people around them, since a lot of people still aren’t open to “mixing” cultures and races.

cyndyh's avatar

I think it depends on the people themselves. How ready are they to face anything together? How tied to the traditions they grew up with are either of the people involved? It can work wonderfully if the people are really ready for being a couple and working together. You can’t assume a lot, and you have to talk about everything.

TaoSan's avatar

I dated a beautiful Jamaican woman for a while, no problems there.

My side (the yellowish pale white one :) was drooling and envious, her side was all “yo, yu issa cool mon! Right oon!”

She went back to Jamaica though, thought people here are too stressed out, self-important, and “rat-racy”.

However, despite her working on a PhD, I noticed people talking to her like she was stupid because of the “yo mon” accent, that was kinda annoying.

GAMBIT's avatar

Love is blind. If the couple are strong in their relationship race is not a factor. If people around them have a problem it could bring the couple closer together.

Emdean1's avatar

After my mother and my father divorced I grew up with her marring two African American men. They didn’t have to many problems in society i think the problem lies with eachothers family members and how they react to the relationship. I have bi-racial brothers and sisters and being the oldest of them all i had to watch them get ridiculed and taunted in school and the neighborhood from both Black and White adults and Children. I also got made fun of having them in my family. Now this was 15 + years ago. I think in todays world things are pretty good as far as any interracial relationship. People are more open, i think.

Glow's avatar

@d_a_carlson – it can provide to be a factor in the stability or instability of the relationship, but it isnt always the deciding factor as to why a relationship ended (or grew). No particular relationship is in question here.

marinelife's avatar

It is the same as it is for successful couples from the same culture. The couple has to share the same core values, love each other, and be committed to making a relationship work. They also have to discuss all aspects such as their respective families, religion, etc., in advance and in depth.

If a man marries a woman from America with the expectation that she will be happy to give up her home and career and live in seclusion, things are likely to rocky unless she has agreed to that.

The opposite is true as well. Where we come from is usually a big part of who we are.

Shared expectations and communication are the keys.

Jeruba's avatar

There are some things that the couple will never truly understand about one another because of their different backgrounds. But that will be true of any two people from sharply different backgrounds. And people do not have to understand everything about one another to get along. (I like it better when they don’t.)

Not only race but religion and ethnicity can be a profound gap. But I’m enough of a romantic to believe that no gap is too great for those whose love is strong enough.

Societally (at least in the U.S.), any difficulty because of a racial difference will be nothing compared to what it would have been a couple of generations ago. Now I would think the biggest problems, if any, would stem from the attitudes of the immediate family toward accepting a member of another race, religion, or ethnicity. Some of us are totally cool with it, and some just aren’t.

cyndyh's avatar

Hey, I married a man who grew up in Australia, and it worked out fine for me. Sometimes there’s a language barrier though. :^>

asmonet's avatar

Americans are grown?

cyndyh's avatar

What? Can you explain that one, asmonet?

wundayatta's avatar

Inter-cultural relationships present a different set of problems. I think people tend to underestimate the impact of coming from different socio-economic backgrounds. We all have different, built-in assumptions about how things should be, and we may not even be aware that these different assumptions are causing us problems.

With different cultures, there are going to be many more radically varying assumptions about how the partners in a couple should behave. On the extreme side, there are examples of American women marrying Saudi men. They get over there, and are confined to women’s quarters, and have no rights. They have children, and then they want to go home, and they can’t bring the children with them, unless the husband says so.

So it is good to be aware that these things will crop up, and there will be many unsuspected differences you will need to work through. As Marina says: good communication is essential. Recognizing expectations in advance is very important. Families may have problems, mostly because they probably think your relationship will have problems due to the factors we’ve been discussing.

So, yes. There will be many difficulties. But it can be worth it.

asmonet's avatar

Read the original post again. :)

“Both are still grown as Americans”

cyndyh's avatar

@asmonet: Ah, ok. Sorry. I gotcha now. :^>

qualitycontrol's avatar

I am currently in an interracial relationship and we have been together for almost 7 months now. I was born in Germany but have lived in the US my whole life so this is my culture. She is from Guatemala. We have huge cultural differences but we make it work. In the beginning it was very difficult because we come from such different parts of the world. We had an even harder time with communication because she doesn’t speak English but I know enough Spanish to converse. This led to many fights, disagreements, arguments and emotional “spats”.
Even though we have many differences, some of them actually help. For example she told me she dislikes men from Guatemala because they are too macho and controlling. Being an American guy I know that just doesn’t fly and was always taught to respect women. Likewise, it was nice for me to meet someone who wasn’t concerned with what kind of car I drive or what I do for work but more interested in who I am.
I think it’s important in a relationship to look past these differences though and just concentrate on the person within. It is very difficult but if you really are into the person you’ll accept all of them, including they’re culture. If you can work through I think it will make the relationship stronger.

Grisson's avatar

@asmonet Ayep! And they grow ‘em big out in Texas!

Darwin's avatar

In our marriage race has made very little difference. Different attitudes about various cultural aspects have not really been a problem because we are both open-minded and willing to let the other person “do it their way” (except when it comes to putting together a water bed, which is a long story to be told some other time).

Our biggest problem actually has been his family’s attitudes about adoption. Although his parents considered our children to be their grandchildren, we found out when attending a family wedding that no one else in the family considers the kids to be “grandchildren.” That actually angered him more than it did me, and he has cut himself off from much of his family as a consequence.

So, in my view it depends a great deal on how much basic beliefs about morality are similar as well as how willing each partner is to learn from the other as well as let the other be themselves and enjoy them for it.

Glow's avatar

@asmonet they are grown culturally, as Americans ):

So much sarcasm from people these days…

Oh btw, thanks to every one for your interesting answers( who gave them)!

rooeytoo's avatar

I was grown American, as it has been said, lived there for 54 years then moved to Australia 10 years ago to be with my Aussie partner. As was mentioned above, there is a language barrier, we all speak english but it is definitely a different brand. There are also cultural differences, some of which I find difficult. My partner spent a fair bit of time in the USA because of his work so he has a lot of Amercian habits. If he were a typical Aussie bloke, I don’t know if I could stand him! IN GENERAL, males here seem to be a lot more chauvinistic which would be very problematic for me. So I agree with the responses that say it depends on the individuals and how much one or the other or both are willing to bend.

Darwin's avatar

I dated a very nice guy who was born and raised in Japan while I was in college. He really was very sweet and I still remember how he worried about me when I came down with a cold and how he came over to my place to fix me a nutritious Japanese breakfast to help me get well. However, he was a boy and he was raised in a culture where boys’ needs ALWAYS come before those of girls. There were little things that were mildly irritating at the time but I could see they could become major roadblocks eventually, so I basically found him a different girl friend, one who had grown up with a similar world view.

An example of a little thing was when I went into the bathroom to wash my face I would get a wash cloth nice and warm and soapy and be just about to use it when he would walk in and simply take it out of my hand and use it himself. He had absolutely no idea that I hadn’t prepared it for him. It was how he and his sisters were raised.

@rooeytoo – I had family that moved to Australia for a job transfer, and I heard the same thing from them. Male chauvinism is still built into Australian society to a greater degree than it is in US society. It is still a lovely country but not quite what American women are used to.

aprilsimnel's avatar

The only problem I’ve had was one guy’s father thought I didn’t come from a wealthy-enough background. So he said. I’m not sure I buy that, even today.

Jack79's avatar

ok so basically you are talking about inter-cultural relationships, not really interracial. Here, there are a variety of factors to consider:
1) religion (assuming it is important for at least one of them)
2) whether we are talking about a long-term relationship (perhaps leading to marriage) in which case a whole lot of other factors come into play, such as:
a. whether the families get along
b. customs and food
c. everyday routines, habits etc
d. a bunch of other things I forgot
3) language, if different
4) “home” if different, assuming one would want to live there

Generally, couples should agree on the things that are important to them, and at least find some compromise in everything else. It’s ok if a Chinese marries a German, as long as they agree on some basic things. But can you imagine a German who hates rice and a Chinese who cooks it everyday? Or a beef-loving German marrying a devout Hindu for that matter? Or me marrying one of the local catholic zealots here in Poland?

So it all boils down to what is really vital and what you can work on, as with every relationship. But there is usually more to work on if you are from completely different backgrounds.

jamzzy's avatar

as a 17 year old latin american kid dating white girls…not really. all the girls i dated seemed to be so interested in my culture

Nimis's avatar

@jamzzy Yes, but you only date outside of your culture.
That has its own set of issues. Related, but different.

jamzzy's avatar

@Nimis true true, i love the white girls.

Glow's avatar

@Jack79 – All of that is exactly what i was talking about! Those kind of cultural differences that would definitely prove to be a challenge between such radically different cultures such as German and Chinese. Religion may or may not play a factor, depending on how seriously each one takes their beliefs (because most religions require you to marry and date inside the religion, so by dating some one outside, youve already shown that you dont believe too much in the religion).

But, as everyone else has said, it does indeed depend on the individual and what his/her thinking style is and how willing they are to try new things and compromise.

Quite interesting reading the experiences of others though.

wundayatta's avatar

I believe that the intercultural model serves equally well in inter-racial relationships. Even those of the American Black/White sort. Within the issues of culture, are also issues of class. Middle class, black or white, is different from other classes. They have grown up in different circumstances with different expectations. When one person expects to graduate from college, no question, and the other thinks college is an incredible feat, and they can not afford it, anyway, there will be expectational clashes.

In black and white relationships, there are a lot of myths at play. Black male sexuality. White female status. Black coolness and hipness (keepin it real… just keepin it real). White wealth and power. These may all be true to some extent, but they are also lies to some extent.

The big thing that people freak out about most, of course, is racism. How will that affect the couple, or their kids? In that, I believe that American society is coming along. There are communities now that don’t even think about these things.

Anyway, some couples will have the skills necessry to navigate these shark-infested waters, and other couples will break up, like a sailing ship foundering on the shoals in a storm. No one should underestimate the difficulties, but no one should also underestimate the ability of their relationship to overcome those difficulties.

Mizuki's avatar

We are Asian and American couple….Nothing to make headlines about. One good thing, he does not understand Japanese and cannot understand my family and they cannot understand him—they get along GREAT!

Darwin's avatar

@Mizuki – I speak very little Japanese either, and my husband’s family (most of them) speak both fluent English and Japanese (a few speak only Japanese). Unfortunately I do know the word “gaijin” followed by dead silence when I walk into the room.

Not to worry – my husband loves me as did his parents when they were alive, mostly because my husband loves me (my FIL loved to watch me eat squid with chopsticks for some reason). The rest of the bunch can do as they wish in their own houses. Since they never visit ours, that gives them a lot of freedom.

Jack79's avatar

I always assumed Mizuki was a man.

Anyway, most of my girlfriends have been of a different nationality than me. But it was never an issue (I guess it would be like a black American dating a white American or something like that). There have only been minor language difficulties, as they all spoke at least some English, even when I did not speak their language. The most extreme case was a Lebanese (but Christian) gf I had when I was 21. Her parents were very strict and we had to always hide. There was to be no sex before marriage, but we did it anyway, which was a big deal. And she wanted me to pay for her to be sown back when we broke up.

My ex wife strongly believes in “the evil eye”, ie that someone who makes a compliment is actually cursing you. So the “evil eye theory” would be the explanation for everything that went wrong, from a cold (for which she’d get herself uncursed rather than take some medicine) to marital problems (for which she’d blame the eye-cursing neighbours rather than try and solve them with me). When our daughter needed an operation, I went to the hospital and she went to the church. That sort of thing can be pretty annoying after a while.

cyndyh's avatar

@rooeytoo and @Darwin : On chauvinism, I think a lot of that has something to do with age. Even though my husband was raised in Australia he is both younger (I think) than the men you’re talking about and he was raised by educated American parents. He tells me that if we were to ever live there instead of here that I’d probably have more trouble with the difference in the level of anti-intellectualism than I would the difference in the level of sexism in the culture.

One of the biggest differences between us being raised in different cultures that I’ve noticed has more to do with music. It’s more one of “how can you not know that song?” or “Everyone had that album, and you’ve never even heard of that band?” We’ve spent a lot of time educating each other. :^>

rooeytoo's avatar

@cyndyh I personally have not found that to be true at all. I have met many creative and intelligent people here. Even the smaller towns all have museums which is so different from USA. Last night we had a young woman for dinner who is very well educated and well traveled, just returned from building homes for the poor in Cambodia, her job here includes tutoring indigenous students and she is not unique in my experience.

I stick to my original observation that as a woman, it is the sexism that bothers me. My partner is not nearly as aware of the sexism as I, so maybe it is a male thing to turn a blind eye to it! You have to be a female to experience it.

cyndyh's avatar

@rooeytoo: Maybe it’s more pervasive there than he saw. That could definitely be true. But I’ve experienced a lot of it in the US, too.

I find the anti-intellectualism in the states varies a lot depending on where you are and who you’re around regularly, too. It has little to do with how intelligent people are and more to do with an attitude toward education and its value.

I hear what you’re saying, though.

DariaCano's avatar

As long as they want to make it work then it will.Their backgrounds shouldn’t have anything to do with them being together.As long as they want to be together,that’s all that matters.

desiree333's avatar

being a different race should not affect your relationship, doubting your relationship based soley on your race has already doomed it before it starts.

rooeytoo's avatar

I have to say one more thing and this is based on my own personal experience and may or may not be what others would experience. Being from different cultures does make a relationship more difficult. It is all well and good to say that love will conquer all, but that is a pretty romanticized theory. Day to day living where expectations of each others behavior are totally alien to what actually occurs can definitely have a deleterious effect on a relationship no matter how much love there was initially. I do not think love conquers all, at least not on a long term basis. But my success rate in relationships has not been all that good even when we were both from the same culture, so maybe it is just me!!!

wundayatta's avatar

@rooeytoo: I’ve heard the same thing from other intercultural couples. I don’t think it’s just you. Which is not to say that there isn’t a component that is you that makes you struggle in that kind of relationship.

scamp's avatar

@Grisson If they grow ‘em in Texas, they must be big uns!!

ubersiren's avatar

Is that still an issue? I haven’t encountered so much as a remark about interracial couples for years. I tend to think it’s so commonplace now that they should expect problems.

aprilsimnel's avatar

@ubersiren – I know a lot of black and white women who are ROYALLY PISSED OFF that “their” men are dating Asian women and not them. I’ve had to call them on it and ask why it it their business who anyone dates, if we’re all supposed to be Americans? And this is in NYC. There are plenty of people here who feel that who other people of their same background date has a direct bearing on their own lives.

I don’t see it that way, so I don’t care who anyone goes out with. Are they treating each other with respect and caring? Are they getting along? Can they be open to learning from each other? Then what’s it to anyone else?

ubersiren's avatar

Wow… we I didn’t realize there were still so many people who were race possessive. That’s sad. We should probably get over that soon. Besides, everyone wants to know what it’s like to be with an Asian woman. I’m a happily married woman and I’d like to know what it’s like!

aprilsimnel's avatar

Asian guys are just as pissed from the other side, but none of these people will consider dating the others.. :/

Of course, if anyone feels exoticized or fetishized by their partner because of race or ethnicity, then they should call shenanigans and free themselves toute suite, but otherwise, eh. Whatever.

Darwin's avatar

I married my husband because I liked him and he was the right guy for me. The fact that he is a member of the human race is a good thing. The fact that his ancestors came from a different continent entirely than any of mine and that he looks very different than I do doesn’t matter at all.

And I really don’t want to know what it’s like to be with an Asian woman, or any woman actually.

jackfright's avatar

@aprilsimnel i’d disagree there. Are you an asian guy?

i’m an asian guy. most of my closest mates are white guys, and i’ve never once been pissed at the fact. i suspect it largely depends on how early on you experience it. my white guy friends didn’t have a problem with my girlfriends either. looking back, i imagine you could attribute it to ignorance. when you’re 14, it doesn’t occur to you that you’re in an “interracial” relationship, and that it wasn’t the norm. race awareness came to me much later on in life.

interestingly, the stereotypes still exist, and they’re still just as strong. it is ‘normal’ for a black male and white female, it is ‘normal’ for a white male and asian female. i find that if you’re in reversed combination, the responses you get can be quite different.

when i went out with my ex (to a pub for example), i cant tell you how many times white guys have come up to us and hit on her infront of me. it’s important to note, that none of them were trying to be rude. one guy brought 2 drinks with him, 1 for her and 1 for himself. he said “hello” to me, and proceeded to hit on her. when she told him i was her boyfriend, he gave me his drink and apologized. i think sometimes, the rarer combinations just dont occur to people.

and i agree with the other posters who point out that success of the relationship has more to do with differing culture and religion than race. i’ve been in relationships with middle eastern girls that made differences between our cultures especially obvious and at times challenging to address.

the last important factor in deciding how and if an interracial relationship could be difficult is the social environment you’re in. does your family accept it? are you in a community thats exposed to multiple cultures? if it’s yes to both, it’s really not an issue, but if they aren’t, it could make things… “interesting”.

aprilsimnel's avatar

@jackfright – I should have qualified my statement with the words “a lot,” instead of implying “all” by not using those words. But there are a lot of American men of East Asian descent, in the blogosphere and on dating forums, who seem to be pretty upset that the Asian women they want aren’t dating them. Maybe they are confusing not wanting to date them with not dating Asian men at all.

Just like every woman is not upset at who “their” men are dating, of course there are men who aren’t concerned with whom women that share their background are going out with. You sound like you’re doing OK. More power to you.

I’m a mixed-race woman, by the way.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Our immediate family is from the US. My brother is married to a lady from Colombia (that’s South America, not South Carolina). Yes, there are some cultural differences, but they seem to have a very happy marriage. To their advantage though, they are in their 50’s, well-adjusted, and live in DC where inter-racial/cultural differences are more accepted.

My niece married a young man who is Korean and live in a relatively small town in Virginia. They appear to be a perfect match.. I think his parents had some concerns in the beginning, but that may be due to the first time they met her. They all went out to dinner, and upon returning to their home, my niece promptly threw up in their shoes at the house entrance.

peridot's avatar

I agree with many people here that cultural differences can make or break a union between two humans.

Conversely, two members of the same ethnicity are guaranteed an effortless happily-ever-after. </sarcasm>

100 or so years ago, it was the Italians and the Irish being racially tense at each other. Does that trip anyone’s radar today? Where we’re at now is just a step along the continuum.

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