5 Tips to Handle Disapproval of Your Interracial Relationship

Use this guide to survive the haters

Close-up of two hands connected on the beach
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If you're in an interracial relationship, you may be crazy about your partner but dismayed that others disapprove. So, what’s the best way to handle the objections? Communication and boundary-setting are key. Above all else, take the steps necessary to protect your relationship in the face of ongoing negativity.

Don’t Assume the Worst

For your own mental health, assume that most people have good intentions.

If you notice eyes on you and your significant other as you walk down the street, don’t automatically think it’s because the passersby disapprove of your interracial union. Perhaps people are staring because they consider you a particularly attractive couple. Perhaps people are staring because they applaud you for being in a mixed relationship or because they belong to a mixed couple themselves. It’s quite common for members of interracial couples to notice similar couples.

Of course, there are times when strangers on the street are openly hostile. Their eyes really do fill with hate at the sight of interracial couples. So, what should you do when you’re on the receiving end of their glares? Nothing. Just look away and keep going about your business, even if the stranger actually shouts out an insult. Getting into a confrontation is unlikely to do much good. Moreover, your choice of mate is absolutely no one’s concern but yours.

The best thing you can do is not give the haters any of your time.

Don’t Spring Your Relationship on Loved Ones

No one knows your family and friends like you do. If they’re open-minded liberal types or have had an interracial relationship or two themselves, they’re unlikely to make a fuss upon meeting your new partner.

If, in contrast, they’re socially conservative and have no friends of a different race, let alone dated anyone of mixed race, you might want to sit them down and let them know that you’re now a part of a mixed couple.

You might frown upon this idea if you think of yourself as color-blind, but giving your loved ones advance notice that you’re in an interracial relationship will spare you and your partner from an awkward first encounter with your friends and family. Without advance notice, your mother might grow visibly flustered, or your best friends might ask if they can speak to you in the next room to grill you about your relationship.

Are you prepared to have these kinds of awkward encounters? And how will you react if your partner's feelings are hurt because of your loved ones’ behavior? To avoid drama and pain, tell your loved ones about your interracial relationship in advance. It’s the kindest move to make for all involved, including yourself.

Dialogue With Disapproving Family and Friends

Say you tell your friends and family that you’re now part of an interracial couple. They react by telling you that your children will have it hard in life or that the Bible forbids interracial coupling.

Rather than angrily labeling them ignorant racists and dismissing them, try to address your family’s concerns. Point out that mixed-race kids who are raised in loving homes and allowed to embrace all sides of their heritage don’t fare any worse than other children. Let them know that interracial couples such as Moses and his Ethiopian wife even appear in the Bible.

Read up on interracial relationships and the common misconceptions that surround them to put to rest the concerns your loved ones have about your new union. If you shut off communication with your loved ones, it’s unlikely that their misconceptions will be corrected or that they will become more accepting of your relationship.

Set Boundaries

Are your friends and family trying to force you to end your interracial relationship? Perhaps they keep trying to set you up with people who share your racial background.

Perhaps they pretend as if your significant other doesn’t exist or go out of their way to make your mate uncomfortable. If you’re experiencing any of these scenarios, it’s time to set some boundaries with your meddling loved ones. 

Let them know that you’re an adult capable of choosing an appropriate mate. If they don’t find your mate appropriate, that’s their problem. They have no right to undermine the decisions you’ve made. Furthermore, it’s hurtful for them to disrespect someone you care about, especially if they’re only doing so because of race.

Which ground rules you set with your loved ones are up to you. The important thing is to follow through on them. If you tell your mother that you won’t attend family functions unless she also invites your significant other, stick to your word. If your mother sees that you’re not going to let up, she’ll decide to either include your mate in family functions or risk losing you.

Protect Your Partner

Does your partner really need to hear every hurtful remark your racist relatives have made? Not in the slightest. Shield your partner from hurtful comments. This isn’t only to spare the feelings of your significant other. If your friends and family ever do come around, your partner can forgive them and move forward free of resentment. 

Of course, if your family disapproves of your relationship, you’ll have to let your partner know, but you can do so without going into excruciating detail about race. Yes, your partner may have already experienced racism and the pain of being stereotyped, but that doesn’t mean he or she no longer find bigotry unsettling.

No one should grow accustomed to racial prejudice.

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Nittle, Nadra Kareem. "5 Tips to Handle Disapproval of Your Interracial Relationship." ThoughtCo, Feb. 27, 2018, thoughtco.com/handling-disapproval-of-your-interracial-relationship-2834743. Nittle, Nadra Kareem. (2018, February 27). 5 Tips to Handle Disapproval of Your Interracial Relationship. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/handling-disapproval-of-your-interracial-relationship-2834743 Nittle, Nadra Kareem. "5 Tips to Handle Disapproval of Your Interracial Relationship." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/handling-disapproval-of-your-interracial-relationship-2834743 (accessed April 20, 2018).