Issues in interracial relationships: Culture

We all hear and read about issues in interracial relationships: culture and we mostly agree with some of the concerns raised. However, I want to point out that even when you date within the same race there are going to be issues. I come from a family of four (4) and have two (2) half sisters.  But my point is that, even though my siblings and i share the same mother/father, we are all very different in personality and character from another. We were all raised the same however we have different personalities and likes. If siblings can be so different from one another, then why are we so shocked that the people we fall in love with are so different from us?

I was raised on two different cultures; one of them being very strong (Nigerian culture) and the other not as strong (Austrian culture).  Then I moved to the United States in my early twenties and had to adapt to the American culture. I am extremely grateful to have been exposed to all three cultures, however, it also makes me a very unique individual.

When I was still dating within my race, I had issues with a lot of the men I dated, because they either thought I was being too ‘white’ or too ‘Bougie’ (pronounced boo’-she). While in fact, I was being myself they kept forgetting my background and upbringing.

But this is one of the issues that interracial couples find themselves in. One of them is from a cultural background that is very strong , while the other isn’t. Reaching a compromise isn’t always easy as neither of them wants to give up a piece of themselves. 

My upbringing was also very strict, religious and I was raised with a list of things that were allowed and things that weren’t allowed within our religion. This can be a bit upsetting and annoying to someone who was brought up on a neutral religion and/or culture.

My father would have had a heart attack if he ever saw me drink alcohol or eat pork. I think it would kill him if I ever told him I engaged in oral sex. But these are some of the things that were forbidden in our religion/culture growing up. Can you imagine dating a man who grew up liberated and telling him: “oh, i don’t drink. I can’t eat bacon. I hope you’re not expecting to kiss me on the first date, etc.”

The more rules you grow up on, the less freedom you have and the more people run from you because they just don’t understand. I was brought up to acknowledge an ‘uncircumcised’ man as sacrilege. Now take all of these rules/regulations and package them up and try to date outside of your race/culture…you’ll find very few men who’ll stick around. If he loves you, he’ll try to hang in there for a while, but don’t count on him being there for too long.

Here’s an interesting story I found online written by Audrey Lai on Squidoo:

Cultural Problem With Interracial Relationships

When Both Come From Different Backgrounds sometimes, we do like to think that love will conquer all. After all, people say that love is blind, so what is the big deal with skin color?

Let me tell you this story concerning a friend of mine. She is a South East Asian lady who dated a Caucasian man. They met through work when he came to her country for a project. Love blossomed and she took the big step to move to his home country and live with him.

A very romantic love story except that reality crept in not long after. They both found it hard to adapt to each other’s culture and faith. He drinks but she doesn’t for religious reasons. She can’t stand the sight of alcohol in their home while he has to find his way to the bar to enjoy a couple of beers.

She lives with the guilt of co-habitating without marriage coming from a traditional Asian background, while he doesn’t. He thinks it’s trivial. Right now, they are still together after a couple of years but totally unsure of the future direction of the relationship.

From this story, it is clear that differences in culture, religion and norms make it extremely hard for interracial relationships to succeed. We might think that they are insignificant but each little difference adds up to make an interracial relationship struggle to find a common ground.

However, it is possible to try to meet in the middle. Just because you were raised a certain way does not mean it was the best way. I am not questioning your upbringing. Remember, I too come from a strong culture(s) and have been able to adapt a bit. Only because there is no freedom in being rigid. There will always be things I will never compromise but when you sit to think about some of the rules you grew up on, you’ll find that some of them don’t actually apply in today’s world. Some of these rules have been passed down from hundreds of years/generations.

Who says, a land-phone with the rotary dial is the only way to make a phone call? I’m glad for the inventor of cellphones. I can’t imagine life now if we all had to wait till we got home to call and check up on our loved ones.  But this is the same with some of the rules we were raised on. Some of them don’t apply in this day and age.

As much as no one can tell you what to give up and what not, it has to be a personal decision that has been thought through properly. Yes, there will be issues related to culture when you first meet, because neither of you has had much exposure to the other’s culture, but you can both try to find a middle ground for the sake of your love.

If you are able to get past this, then you’ll have a beautiful platform ready for your children. Who says your children can’t be raised on several cultures? Finding a balance as with anything else is key.

Wishing you good luck.


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