I strongly believe in the concept that you cannot control who you fall in love with. When you have a genuine attraction to someone, you just have this feeling and just know that the connection is meant to be.
When I speak about falling in love, however, there is a concept that I feel isn’t explained. As a child when your parents speak about their love, or falling in love in general, they come with telling you details of how they met. It’s meant to tell you that you can be in love and be with someone that you feel that spark with.
My parents met the traditional Indian way, through an arranged marriage. They met each other for the first time with family, and afterwards got married and have been together for close to 30+ years. When they spoke of their marriage, they talked about culture and traditions- the ceremony that took place, the families involved, and overall beauty of their love story was something I envied.
But I didn’t realize my outcome would be different. As a child, I had long believed my love story would follow a similar path to my parents. I would find a charming and handsome Indian man and have a beautiful traditional wedding and live a happy married life. The difference was, there was no Indian man. I was finding myself attracted to men outside my race, and it didn’t register to me that it would be a concern.
As long as I was happy, and we as a couple were successful, I figured my parents would have no issues with my dating anyone outside my race. But I was wrong. I found anxiety dating anyone that wasn’t Indian. Although I was quickly accepted by my partner’s family, I was met with a different outcome. And to be sure I was honoring my parent’s wishes, I tried to date Indian men. They were never successful.
I was nervous. What would my parents think if I told them I was dating outside the Indian community? Was my attraction outside my race normal? Or was I rebelling? What would my extended family think? How would this affect my culture?
There was so much anxiety around my first boyfriend who was black. He was cultured in many ways, but of course it was obvious he was not an Indian man. He was tattooed, and had his ears pierced, which was clearly the icing on the cake. But I was attracted to him, and he made me happy, and I was in love. I was torn between disappointing my parents and pursuing a man whom I loved and thought I could live with for the rest of my life.
What I have noticed is that this is a common thinking process for a lot of mixed couples. More so when one of the individuals comes from a strict culture. I can mainly speak for my own background, as my parents would generally like to see me settled with an Indian man. Those in similar situations there is some advice I can give, along with help for families to adjust to change.
As a parent, guardian, or just family member you want to see your people be happy. You want to encourage them to have the best job, the best education, the best life. So obviously when you find yourself disagreeing with a decision that your daughter, son, or whomever makes, it can be hard to stay quiet. You may want to provide your own opinion, fashioned as advice, and be able to dictate the overall outcome.
In my case my parents were heavily against me dating someone of a different race. Considering my partner was also of African American descent, they were only familiar with stereotypes or what they knew based on movies and entertainment. Overall, the initial thought was biased and it’s wrong to think that way. However, being in my parent’s shoes I am sure I may have thought the same way. Being arranged to marry and only knowing about relationships with one person gives them only so much to work with.
However, understand in a world that is changing very fast, the only way to keep up is to adjust with the change. If your son or daughter chooses to be with someone outside their race, instead of dismissing their voice or partner, choose to listen. I will not say it is an easy discussion, however the only way to make the change and be more involved is to listen. Ask questions.
It may be difficult but understand being judged without knowing someone is a horrible feeling. As much respect your child gives you, respect your child and who they choose to be in a relationship with. If they are young, more likely than not, they will date for a while, and it may not be a permanent thing. And if they are young and introduce you to their partner, it means they value your opinion and are trying to tell you that this person makes them happy. If they are older, at this point it is their decision who they choose to date and be around. As a parent/family member, be there for them and even if you don’t support them just be there for them.
Now for the ones in a situation of wanting to introduce their partner, or maybe just dating outside their race. As I have said before, you cannot control who you are attracted to. Take the relationship slow if it is your first time dating outside your race and ask questions to your partner. It will help put your mind at ease if you decide to introduce them if you know how to support your partner and their background.
Additionally, if you are sure about the relationship, and confident in all that it is, understand that it will be okay. It will work out. Be patient with your parents, be patient with your partner, and most importantly be patient with yourself. It can be difficult but understand if your partner is supportive and is willing to work with you and your parents, it will be fine.
Interracial dating has gotten more common as cultures are starting to a mix. It is beautiful and everyone deserves the chance to love no matter where they come from. Be patient and understand at the end of the day who you choose to be with can only be decided by you.