Our world continues to be a blend of cultures and backgrounds that are growing closer and closer. As a result, what may have been extremely rare 40 years ago is becoming very commonplace today in terms of interracial relationships. Even more so, due to the fact that travel is so much easier now, these relationships literally include people from different countries, language and background versus just demographics.
For folks wanting to mutually start an interracial relationship, it literally is the bridging of cultures when it involves two people from very distinct background, i.e. generation zero in their contact. Fortunately, the bond is very possible and in fact an very fun, unique adventure. A couple just has to be ready for lots of changes, big and small. Here are some of the more likely things to expect along the way:
- Understand early, often and regularly – Starting a relationship with a person from another country and background is literally a discipline in managing culture clash. That may sound like a negative term, but even small behaviors, assumptions and practices will be entirely new or different for the opposite person, depending how new one culture is to another. Even those who have been in a country for a while before a relationship will still have subtle changes to adjust to. So a boatload of patience and open-mindedness is a must.
- Do some geography and history work – If you find yourself starting a relationship with a person from another region or country, it can help immensely to take some time to learn about that person’s culture. That means doing some reading, learning and research. Fortunately most of the information can be found for free on the Internet. So find a quiet space, curl up with a tablet, and do some homework. Context is critical in understand how a person thinks and communicates and its a basic rule anthropologists follow when they get ready to work overseas.
- Religion matters – Just about everyone has some form of religion in their background, even if they are not a strict follower themselves. It’s good to know how these abstract ideas affect a person’s background and thinking. Differences in religious outlooks can be a big issue of tension down the road, especially in how to raise children. So while you’re not planning to get married in the first month of a relationship, it is a good idea to understand fundamental beliefs early on, just in case.
- Learn a language – Language has never stopped relationships from starting, but communicating with a combination of broken words and hand signs does make conversations interesting. Learning another language can definitely make a new interracial relationship easier, and it’s a great skill to have in general. So start learning if you’re serious about a new bond.
- Watch out for family – The same issues occur in interracial/international families as domestic ones, and relatives can meddlers from any country. Understand, be open and friendly, but protect each other as well. Judgmental relatives with culture added on has been the cause of more than one relationships going sour.
International relationships are quite possible, but folks who are serious about them are well served in doing some homework and sincere learning. After all, you’re relationship is literally combining two different worlds. Even professional diplomats get frustrated once in a while.