Interracial Dating & the Potential Clash of Cultures

By Nina Lei

Did you know that mixed race children are less likely than non-mixed race children to have diseases that are caused by recessive genes from their parents? I’m not saying to go out and purposely procreate with someone of a different race just to have babies with smaller chances of having these types of diseases, but it’s good to know for couples who are in interracial relationships.

But talking about having babies may be a step too far ahead for some (or many) interracial couples. In the past, “interracial couples” usually referred to black and white partners. As our country becomes more diverse and more attention is given to people of different ethnic backgrounds, there’s a greater need to address people of all races and ethnicities, not only those who are black or white. In particular, immigrants as well as individuals who were born in the U.S. but have parents who were born in a different country face issues in interracial dating that are uncommon to other relationships.

One of the largest issues is clashes between cultures – specifically, the cultures of the countries from which individuals or their parents originated. We may live in the melting pot of the U.S., but in many countries, marrying or even dating outside of one’s race or ethnicity is considered unacceptable. Even if the individuals in interracial relationships are able to look past the racial or ethnic differences between themselves and their partners, a part of them may still feel bound to the rules and values of their cultures as well as to parents who may be adamantly against breaking cultural norms.

You might be reading this and thinking, who cares what anyone else besides those in the relationship think? We have the freedom to choose our partners – partners that we can love no matter who they are or where they’re from. While this might be technically true (in general), it might be more of a romantic fantasy than reality for many interracial couples. Individuals in interracial relationships may not literally be forced to be with people who they do not love, but the notion of being able to easily ignore and dismiss a person’s cultural norms is incredibly unrealistic. Our cultural backgrounds are an important part of who we all are.

Couples therapy can be extremely beneficial for interracial couples who are dealing with these types of cultural issues. Contact me at to explore ways to reconcile feelings for your partner and obligations to your culture.

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