6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting an Interracial Relationship

By: Ashley Simone Johnson –

Relationships are more than a physical and emotional attraction. In order to strengthen the connection with your partner, you must know where they come from, how they treat people, and which sacrifices they’re willing to make for you. When you meet people who come from a similar background and upbringing, you have a better understanding of who they are and their beliefs. But what happens when you step outside of your comfort zone? For some people, dating a person of another race is an unknown, yet intriguing territory if you feel the spark. But, there are a few things you should be mindful of.  As a black woman, I decided to share the six questions I’d ask myself before getting into another interracial relationship and asked my friends to share their experiences dating men of other races.

 1.  Do they understand their privilege?

Being the fairly liberal feminist that I am, I would have never expected to date two white Republicans in this lifetime, but somehow it happened. Of course, I became more aware of their political views the further into both relationships I got. Their views were quite subtle, yet just significant enough to create some conflict. If there is anything you want in a relationship it is full understanding and support from your significant other, but what happens when your significant other supports someone, such as a political leader, that you don’t, better yet, CAN’T?

Of course, my exes would assure me that they did not agree with everything their Republican candidate pushed for, or that they only agreed with the economic policies and not the social ones (because obviously if you agreed with the social ones THEN you’re a monster).

While I know that nothing is black and white and no one may support a candidate 100 percent, it did hurt that they would even consider supporting any man whose policies ultimately do not support me as a black woman.

It is tough times like these when conversations about white privilege are necessary for helping your partner understand fully gender disparities and the struggles that minority groups endure.

2. Does their family accept me?

While my ex-boyfriend’s Jewish mother was very welcoming and accepting, I have never met his father or his grandmother. It was almost like they never knew about me. They were not necessarily racist, but I knew they had their own opinions on interracial dating and their ideal relationship certainly did not look like the one I had with my ex.

My friend Weng Cheong also expressed feeling tension with her family and her black ex-boyfriend of four years. She grew up in a culture where no one was exposed to African American culture and her parents didn’t know anyone black. The Thai native met her African American boyfriend in high school when she moved to America and has always been protective of him and the relationship when it came to her parents.

“Just because my parents might feel uncomfortable with it doesn’t mean I’m gonna jump through hoops and hurdles just to make my family a little more comfortable,” she says.

3. Are their friends racially considerate?

Friends may like your significant other and welcome them to group outings, but liking someone and being racially aware are two different things.

Ellie Coggins has been dating her white boyfriend Erik for about a year and a half now, but when they just started dating, his guy friends would jokingly make remarks about her being Asian. “Oh, where’d you find the little Asian?” his friends would say, suggesting that Erik had found Coggins at a Chinese massage parlor.

“It’s a joke about the happy ending massages. I wish this stuff was made up, but I think that’s where the Asian fetish comes from and I think that’s why some guys are super interested in dating an Asian,” Coggins says.

And this leads us to my next question:

4. Am I being fetishized?

I was the first black women who both of my ex-boyfriends had ever been with so I knew they did not have a particular “type.” But this is not the case for all women. Today, Asian women are perhaps the most fetishized, next to black women and Latina women.

When Coggins casually dated white men in the past, she would constantly be asked, “Is your pu**y sideways?” This question is not only invasive for a first date but completely objectifies women and suggests that all Asian women have tight vaginas.

When Coggins started dating a guy named Erik, she found out that his friends had also been asking Angus this very same sexual question about her.

“I’m pretty open about being Asian. Erik and I joke about it a little, but it’s different when it’s a total stranger or it’s someone outside of the relationship,” Coggins says. “I’m fine with it being an open dialogue when it’s with family and friends when it’s done respectfully, but when I heard that was coming from his friends, that made me mad.”

5. Can I overcome religious differences?

While I personally do not consider myself to be very religious, I was raised Christian and still do celebrate the obligatory Christmas holiday. My ex partly practiced Christianity too since his father was Christian, but since he lived with his mother, he primarily identified as Jewish.

Up until meeting my ex, I had no idea what a Mezuzah was, or what any other Jewish holidays were beside Hanukkah and Yom Kippur. But, nonetheless, I learned more about the religion and learned about special Hebrew sayings — I even embraced them at times.

6. Is this relationship right for me?

Of course, any relationship takes work, regardless of differences in race or culture. But if it does take too much work to deal with any of the things mentioned above, then the relationship probably isn’t right for you.