5 Traits Found in a Healthy Interracial Marriage

It’s been over 50 years since interracial marriage was legalized in the United States. Since this momentous day, interracial marriage has become more and more common. As more couples enter relationships with differing cultural backgrounds, racial backgrounds, or faith backgrounds, it becomes more and more evident that intercultural relationships require a certain skill set and dedication to make things work.

Due to the obstacles that many interracial couples have to overcome in order to have a healthy, happy relationship, the individuals in these relationships often have specific traits that help make things work in their relationship. When entering a new relationship with someone from a differing background, looking for these traits early on can help determine if the person you are committing yourself to will be able to address your unique relationship needs.

Key Traits

interracial couple laughing at their wedding; hannahmaiselphotography.com

Openness

This is probably the most obvious trait, but also the most underrated. Finding a partner that is open to dating outside their race is important, but it goes deeper than that. It is not uncommon to find someone who is open to dating outside their “comfort zone” as long as the other person is relatively similar to them. Being open to dating someone of a different race, only if they have the same interests, hobbies, and tastes as you isn’t really being open. One has to be open to more than just looking different than their partner. Openness in interracial relationships is so important because there are going to be MANY differences between two partners, and being open to trying new things and embracing those differences is a pivotal part of making a marriage last.

Communication

Now this is an important trait in any relationship, but it becomes especially important when two people may have different views of the world around them. Being able to communicate our thoughts, feelings, and influences on our behaviors can create room for understanding from our partner. Because their may be a missing component of similarity with a certain situation, being able to communicate how you experience something differently, and being open to that conversation is incredibly important.

Empathy

That brings me to the idea of empathy in an interracial marriage’s communication. Empathy is often times lumped together with sympathy, but these are very different things. Brene Brown does a wonderful job of explaining these differences, so I’ll spare you my rendition. After watching that wonderfully illustrated video, think about how empathy may be an integral part of an interracial relationship. Because two individuals may have varying perspectives or experiences of the world due to their different backgrounds, there will be lots of opportunities for one to practice empathy with their partner. Being able to put yourself in the other’s shoes and sit with them in their emotion is an integral part of connecting even when we don’t experience something in the same way.

Assertiveness

If you are unfamiliar with the idea of assertiveness, it is being “disposed to or characterized by bold or confident statements and behavior“. Assertiveness is important to interracial relationships because there is an increased likelihood of experiencing backlash for the relationship. Whether it is family that disapproves, friends that question your compatibility, or strangers passing judgment on the street…you and your partner may need to stand up for yourselves, your relationship, and your beliefs. Being assertive in these tense situations can create the opportunity for connection. When your partner feels you are on the same team, willing to stand up for them, and acting in the relationship’s best interest (not others’) you are setting a tone of togetherness.

Flexibility

Last, but certainly not least is flexibility. When different ideas, beliefs, values, or traditions present themselves in an interracial relationship it requires a good bit of flexibility to make things work. Being able to improvise in a tricky situation, break normal traditions to create new ones, or practice something new to bond with your partner, all these opportunities will need some flexibility. If one is inflexible or rigid in how they do things or how they view things, it will become impossible for them to connect with their partner in a way that forms a deeper attachment.

Finding someone who possesses these traits or is open to practicing these attributes, is the first step to creating a health bond with someone from another culture. As interracial marriages become more common, there will be limitless opportunities to learn about new cultures, practice new beliefs, and create a new normal for your life and relationship. Become more connected to your partner by showing interest and care in their unique experiences, and continue believing that love has no bounds.

peace, love, happiness, Lee
5 traits of a healthy interracial relationship, interracial couple sitting with their child in front of moving boxes

Cheaters: Why They Do It & How to Prevent It

So you are in a “committed” relationship (or so you thought), but you have a nagging feeling that something isn’t right. Something is wrong. You start to dig for clues as to what is possibly going on, and slowly (but surely) drive yourself crazy wondering, “are they cheating??” Well I bet there is another question you haven’t asked yourself…”have I been meeting my partner’s needs?” Yep. I bet you haven’t taken a second to think “why would my partner cheat?”

I wonder why you haven’t asked this question because there is only one reason why people cheat. Yes, one. Here’s the big, top secret reason…their needs are not being met.

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That’s it. Every person needs certain things to be fulfilled. These things could be love, sex, passion, compassion, security, generosity, time, affection, and an assortment of other things. More often than not people wind up in a relationship where their partner cannot satisfy ALL of their needs. Now this is the point where you are probably thinking, “well if your needs aren’t being met, just break up with the person!” Relationships aren’t that simple. Imagine this…

If our emotional needs looked more like our physical needs such as food, water, & shelter, how would things pan out? Imagine you were in a relationship where your partner is providing 2 out of 3 (water & shelter), but they were starving you. No food. You have dropped hints that you are hungry, maybe even straight up asked for food, but were denied 90% of the time. Then you come across someone who is offering up a feast on a silver platter. What are you going to do?

A. Go home to your water & shelter and continue starving?

B. Leave your whole life behind with only a guarantee of food (none of the water or shelter)?

C. Or are you going to try and sneak enough food to meet your needs, then go home to a reliable source of water and shelter?

Let’s be honest with ourselves, the last choice makes the most sense. Now putting this back into the emotional sense…when you partner with someone because they meet most of your needs, there is a risk that the needs that aren’t being met will be met somewhere else. The other option is to learn to live without that additional need, but that is often easier said than done.

Now, you may be wondering “how do I prevent cheating from happening in my relationship?” Great question. Before I answer, I must remind you that relationships are SELFLESS acts. That means at any given point in a relationship you should be trying to meet the needs of your partner, while effectively communicating your needs as well.

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The best way to prevent cheating is by utilizing the time you spend as a single person figuring out how you can meet your own needs. This allows you the time and energy when you enter a relationship to focus on how you can meet your partners needs. Because again, relationships are not about you! They are about having a mutual understanding that you will support one another. If you can figure out your own needs, then you will want to be with someone who has done the same, and neither of you will be looking for a partner to complete them. Because you are a WHOLE person. No one can “complete” you.

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Here’s the trickier part. If you are already in a relationship and feel your needs aren’t being met, then you have to learn what it is you need, and teach yourself/partner how to meet that need. You cannot just say “I need your attention more.” You have to educate your partner on how they can give you more attention. Give them the who/what/when/where/why/how you learned in grade school. For example, if your need is sexual intimacy:

Who needs to be meeting this need? Obviously it takes two to tango, so your partner needs to be involved in meeting this need.

What is the need EXACTLY? Be clear. Is this need about actual sex, or is this need about general physical touch? Does foreplay meet this need? Would you like to kiss & hug more often? This is not just a single sentence answer. Go into detail.

When is the appropriate time to meet this need? Everyone has a preference, but also when is it feasible to meet this need? Maybe kids are in the house so babysitters have to be arranged. Or maybe this is a need that needs to be met more than just once a month. When would you ideally like to meet this need? Be open to some compromise in the process.

Where is the appropriate place to meet this need? The bedroom, a hotel, the shower? Hey, whatever floats your boat.

Why is this need important to you? This may be the most important question. This is where you help your partner and teach your partner the reason behind the need. Maybe you feel like there is a general lack of intimacy, or maybe you feel insecure about how you look and want to feel desired by your partner. Again, not a place for a one sentence answer. Be descriptive.

How can your partner support this need? Explain what role you would like them to play in supporting this need. If they can initiate sex more often or if they can provide compliments that make you feel sexy. Whatever it is, help your partner figure out how they can be supportive.

No matter what your need is, utilize these questions to effectively communicate to your partner how you two can work as a team to meet each others’ needs. A relationship is about support and giving. Taking preventative steps to care for your partner can help reduce the likelihood of having to take drastic measures to put a relationship back together. And at the end of the day if you are finding it difficult to have these conversations, make a therapy appointment! Therapy is a great place to learn how to communicate effectively and efficiently.

sign off

“Situationships”: 5 Ways to have Healthy Relationships in College

With the so called “cuffing season” upon us, what are your #RelationshipGoals for the season? Are you looking for something physical and nothing more? Are you looking for someone to bring home to family events, so you stop getting asked why you’re single? Or are you looking for someone to call “bae” through Valentine’s Day, but say “bye” by summer?

Whatever you are looking for, there are healthy and not so healthy ways of interacting with potential partners. Let’s go over some of those crucial skills with 5 ways to have healthy relationships in college…

adult book book series college
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Be Real with Yourself

The first step to any relationship is being real with yourself. What do you really want to get out of this interaction? Why are you looking for what you’re looking for? Be real…

Is it because your friends are saying you need to get out there? Is it because your hormones are raging? Is it because you are stressed and see a relationship as a way of seeking support? Is it because you can’t stand being single? What about being single do you hate so much? Is it society’s rules and expectations about partnering up? There are about a dozen more questions I could ask, but you get the idea. Ask yourself the hard questions, and recognize your intentions with seeking a new partner.

Be Open & Honest about What You Want

Once you look at yourself and decide why you are getting suited up for “cuffing season”, the next step is deciding what you actually want. No judgment, some people don’t want to be in a serious, committed relationship. That’s okay. As long as you KNOW that for sure, and don’t decide 3 months into a “situationship” that you want something more. Sorry to inform you, but you will be disappointed.

If you know WHY you want a certain type of relationship, this may be helpful information to share with a potential partner, so as they do not expect you to change your mind down the road. And on the other side of things…when someone tells you exactly what they want do not expect anything more or less of EXACTLY what they said! Do not project your dreams and desires onto a person that does not hold the same values.

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Set Up Boundaries

When deciding what type of relationship you want with whomever, make sure there are boundaries that you are both aware of before getting involved. If you want something casual, but don’t want to share this casual relationship with anyone else that is something to express. If you want to be free to explore all your options, that should be clear as well. It only makes things awkward when you go out and see your “situationship” having a situation with someone else. So be upfront, and don’t get involved with someone who doesn’t match your idea of a successful relationship.

Be Respectful of Others’ Mind, Body, and Soul

When you involve yourself with somebody else, you are involving yourself with ALL PARTS of that body. Whether you want something physical, emotional, or spiritual, you will get all 3 in any relationship. Everyone has their baggage and although they may not intend to unload it on you, it can be laid out on the table verbally and/or non-verbally. Be respectful of what someone is bringing to the table and be sure to discuss whether you are willing to take it all or none. There is no in between.

Reminder as well…being a part of someone’s body means being a part of EVERY body they have come in contact with…if you get my drift. This is a risk that you must come to terms with before choosing to expose yourself figuratively and literally. Wrap it up!

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Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!

Lesson of the day is…communicate! If you listen to your own needs, and communicate those desires to the person you choose to have relations with, you will have a much easier time navigating your relationships. Practicing your communication skills (negotiating boundaries, expressing likes & dislikes, asking questions, etc.) will help you in all aspects of your life. College is a time to gain knowledge. Use this time to learn about yourself and you won’t regret that degree!

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P.S. If you are interested in individual therapy during those college years, request an appointment at a reduced fee, here!