This world is diverse.
The international boundaries are shrinking and so are most people’s xenophobic tendencies. Come on, people are people and it is completely fascinating to be able to sit with anyone of a completely different background, isn’t it?
Everyone has their own life story to tell regardless of where one came from. I have my own list of specifics for an ideal partner, and more often than not, I like the ones with the multicultural views and have seen the world I failed to see for myself (at least for the time being). I like the idea of getting a glimpse of the unknown or unfamiliar things.
Needless to say, my relationship is an eye-opener. Of course, there are difficult times like when we miss a cultural nuance or get frustrated explaining culturally-specific things. But, overall, it is really interesting to get to see the world from a different perspective.
Here are the things I’ve learned from our interracial relationship:
1. It’s just the same as being with any other human
I mean, of course, you will surely have that experience of saying things that are inappropriate as at some point but you are with someone who feels and sees things like most normal people do. In fact, even if you were raised on the different sides of the world, you probably have many more things in common than not. Just like meeting someone from the same city, you will learn about each other’s quirks yet are still attracted to each other, or know about each other’s past but work to build something together. He or she might be a foreigner, but it’s still just another human, right?
2. Everyone is more than just their race
Damn all these stereotypes. People do not fit into a single definition. We are all individuals and it’s crazy to assume one’s motivations, desires or struggles without hearing it from them. Just like when people say oh, he is a German, he must be really strict or serious, blah, blah. And we would smile coz we know for sure I am the one that fits the frame of being strict and that he is more goofy than I am.
3. Love can’t conquer all
Growing up in different cultures meant you both have your set of beliefs, priorities, and individual dreams to fulfill. When relationships like ours would tumble, people start to ask, “Wasn’t it love that pulled them together, and isn’t it a priority after all?” I had a colleague who was in a relationship with a guy who, months after flying back to his home country, broke up with her and told her everything was just too much to bear and that he didn’t like to turn his life plans upside down. They were in love, but there were integral parts of one’s identify that must be shared in order to build a family. It can be done (and lucky are the ones who have taken the leap successfully), but for some, it’s just too much of who they are to give up.
4. There will be a whole new set of things to learn
We all have our varying traditions which is fascinating to me. I remember discussing food with my husband (then, my boyfriend) and asked him, completely curious, “What do Germans eat with all their meals if not rice? Bread? Potatoes?” Or by the time he gave me a confused look upon seeing some people eat by hand. There was also the time when we were dating on the beach and he blamed the flipflops for his feet full of sand while bursting in laughter realizing how I can walk (or run) on it flawlessly. Wouldn’t that be exciting that there is something new to learn always?
5. Self-awareness is as essential as your strong communication
This is true of any relationship but more so when there are differing communication styles. Since you both can’t magically understand each other’s life experiences, there is a need to understand where you both were coming from. Here is where explaining comes in. Talk about your first jobs, your struggles, everything! You should be aware of how different you both are to see the causes of your issues, and find out if you truly have a future with someone of a different culture. While being yourself, always be open, understanding, and respectful.
Interracial relationship, just like any other, has a lot of lessons to offer. No specific type of relationship can be rightfully labelled as “easy” but when you are with someone from a different country, the nuances of his or her culture can certainly add difficulty. For some, the obstacles will be too great to overcome.
No matter how different you are from each other, married or not, enough communication, commitment, understanding, and of course, luck can help you forge a beautiful relationship. You see, Cupid’s arrow has no bias. ❤
What about you? Are you married or in a relationship with someone outside of your culture? How was it like? What are the fun and the struggles?