March 5, 2020

Interracial and Cross-Cultural Relationships


Once shunned in human history, interracial/cross cultural dating now seems to be the way of the future. We even have a holiday to celebrate interracial love called Loving Day. Loving Day is an annual celebration held on June 12, the anniversary of the 1967 United States Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia which struck down all anti-interracial breeding laws remaining in sixteen U.S. states (Wikipedia). As someone who is in an interracial marriage, I am so grateful for the Loving’s pursuit of love, intimacy and connection with one another.

Why We Don’t Date Inter-racially or Cross-Culturally

I recently had an opportunity to speak to a few colleagues who are interested in finding their significant other, and would really like to date someone of their own race. If that is you, please know I honor what influences your desire to date within your race. You may be wanting to honor your parents/family by marrying someone who has similar cultural experiences than you. Perhaps you are looking for someone who speaks your language to connect with your Opa. Maybe those of a similar race/ethnicity are the folks that are in proximity of where you live, work, or have community. Or perhaps you may be afraid to date someone outside of your race because you are worried your partner may not understand enough of how your racial/ethnic identity influences your sense of self and belonging.

There’s Beauty in Dating of the Same Race/Culture

Maybe you are wanting to date within your community to emphasize the goodness that committed love/intimacy can have on the whole racial or cultural community. For instance, “black love,” a phrase I often think of when I see my parents or the Obama’s is beautiful! It’s beautiful to see couples that have had long term commitments to each other. This is particularly poignant in the black community where there’s a history of men who are unfaithful/have mistresses on the side or for other reasons, and are unable to be present in the marriage. It’s why podcasts like The Love Hour are so popular within the black community (that and KevinOnStage is just so funny)! All of these are wonderful and thoughtful reasons to date within your community.

Dating Challenge

However, if you are driven more out of fear of belonging or feeling understood by someone of a different race, I want to let you in on something that I’ve learned in my own marriage: because we are two different people with different family/life experiences, there will always be moments for misunderstanding. Here is why I would encourage you to give love a chance, even if it’s someone who looks different than you.

  • Sometimes it is the observations of someone outside of your community, that can notice and encourage the strengths that you bring to the table from your racial/cultural backgrounds.
  • Hearing from my husband about the beauty that he sees in my racial skin has been SOOO affirming and has helped me work through childhood wounds of not feeling pretty as a black girl
  • Interracial or cross-cultural relationships reflect a more global world and our future communities
  • You get to discover other hobbies, interests, activities, traditions or experiences that may not have participated in before or haven’t been invited to
  • The person you date may have a fundamentally different experience of life that impacts how you do family, manage your time, and live out your values
  • The point of view of your significant other can help you to understand the community that they are a part of better. You now have an “insider scoop”
  • Other’s perspective of you can be impacted. You may be given the benefit of the doubt that at least at face value, you are a “safe person” even if you look different. This is particularly helpful in spaces where things could be racially charged
  • Lastly, interracial babies are beautiful (I actually think all babies are beautiful :)!!

If you’d like to talk more about the gifts and struggles of interracial/cross cultural dating brings, please know that I’d be happy to connect with you.

Written by therapist Pamela Larkin

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