Do white people feel they have to walk on eggshells in interracial relationships?

Posted by Ria, 15 Mar 11

interracial relationships fearI am sure most us can confess to having had to tread carefully in our conversations and behavior when it comes to our romantic relationships. It surprises me how naturally it comes. But much as we all do it sometimes, I assume it is more pronounced for people who are interracial relationships.

In a recent interview on Cincinnati radio show, J.C. Davies, author of the interracial relationship book “I Got the Fever: Love, What’s Race Gotta Do with It?” said a lot of white people she interviewed confessed to being "afraid" of dating interracially… Not afraid of what people might say about them, but “afraid they might say or do the wrong thing.”

It’s hard to bring up race when you are white. Most of my white friends have admitted to feeling like they are in the wrong whenever they make a comment that touches on race. The thing is, words like “white supremacy”, “stereotypes”, “racist” have for a long time been conversation killers. And this is why whites are assumed to be the most politically correct race. This could be the reason why those interviewees tend to feel they are not supposed to talk about certain stuff especially in their interracial relationships… the reason they might feel the pressure to carry themselves in a particular manner when in the presence of family of their interracial love.

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We have seen toes being stepped on…feelings getting hurt whenever questions like "Do [race] people do this", "Is doing this [race] enough"? arise. It’s like anything that touches on race automatically spirals into some unproductive arguments. But does this mean some topics should automatically be taboo when it concerns interracial relationships .... especially with whites?

For any relationship to thrive, couples need to feel comfortable enough to ask or talk about anything. I think it’s important for anyone in an interracial relationship to do the best they can to know and appreciate the culture of their mate instead of automatically assuming that some topics are taboo based on stereotypes that exist within our society because of the racism that existed so many years ago. And the appreciation of other cultures can only start with feeling free to ask any question as opposed to tiptoeing around topics.

Davies says: “When people feel like they have to walk on eggshells around their mate or his family, that relationship is likely to be short lived.” That I totally agree with. However, there is something she said on the issue that felt like she was implying that the non-white spouses are to blame for this “fear”. Having dated black men, Asian men, Hispanic men and now, a Jewish man, she says she is “under attack a lot of the times solely because” she is white. She adds: “So I implore you: don’t pick on whitey. Encourage your white significant other to express his or her opinion and use humor to defuse any racial tensions.”

Does this mean other races are to blame for this "fear" of speech and action? Do non-white people also feel the need to tiptoe around every conversation or everything they do in their interracial relationships?

12 responses to "Do white people feel they have to walk on eggshells in interracial relationships?"

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  1.   PapaJerry60 says:
    Posted: 13 Jun 11

    It would be interesting to say that the opinions of others is not a factor, but I'd be lying. I've been married twice, and widowed twice, to Black women, my personal choice, and looking for a third time around. Interracial dating and marriage has moved over a period of time from taboo to a sort of gray area. We come under close scrutiny far too often. There are too many haters out there for my taste just looking for an excuse to hate, both Black and White. This puts you under a microscope, where people look at your strengths and your shortcomings. A Black woman is neither desperate nor cheap for seeking out the company of a White man. The fact is too much is said about private matters. Sharing a culture is not a problem, compatibility is an issue that outtrumps all other matters. It takes a lot of careful, and sometimes painful, consideration. I know me, and I am not afraid of others opinions.

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  2.   chrisdb40 says:
    Posted: 19 Apr 11

    OK now to answer the question here....WELL I never have...I walk proud when I am next to a black female...I could care less what people think and what they say....ACTUALLY Ive never had a problem as of yet and dought I ever will...LET me tell you a secret....When a nice looking interracial couple walks into a restrauant....(for instance) trust me all the white men are wishing they were with that black woman and all the white ladies are wishing they were with that black man....ALOT of fantasy happen that way....I am sure you get my point here.... Chris Brown

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  3.   chrisdb40 says:
    Posted: 19 Apr 11

    I am a white man that at a early age new I was only attracted to a black female....Now I am 46 now and when I was in high school ...interracial dating wasnt looked on good at all where I am from (texas) but I still new what I was attracted too....well right after high school and first time I went to Austin to a night club ...WELL let me tell you ... I met a young woman that night, that we spent the night together and WOW that was it....YOU know the phrase ""once you go black you never go back""" well that was written for me .... cause in my case >>>ITSSSSSSSS SO TRUE>>>> Chris Brown

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  4.   1moretry03 says:
    Posted: 10 Apr 11

    I like what Ren said. I have lots of white friends and they are always asking me about stuff like my hair and just things that black people do or say. It does get annoying because as a black person I know what they do with their hair so why is it so difficult to understand about my hair...they just don't get it. The hair thing is just an example but it is a major topic for white people (particularly white women). I think interracial dating/marriage is great and a persons preference and I do not have a problem with it because I have dated white, and hispanic men. However it gets to the point where they just don't understand that it is a major difference between blacks and whites on every level and people especially white people just don't get it, understand it, nor what to except it. I am not saying that whites should stick with whites and blacks should stick with blacks etc, just making the point that there are cultural differences and it is what it is! And when you are dating outside your race in particulary black and white dating....white guys always say the weirdest and stupidist things and they just don't get the black experience no matter how "down" they are(are think they are) and it just becomes uncomfortable....I don't care how many black friends you have or the fact that you have grown up with black people.....a white person can never know what it is truly like to be black and live in this world and some of the questions that white people ask should not be asked....who cares about our hair....STOP asking! lol.....

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  5.   CremeU says:
    Posted: 26 Mar 11

    I think everyone walks on eggshells in their relationships - especially where relatives are concerned. And I think Davies is wrong for blaming other races for it. I mean, if you feel the need to do it for the sake of the relationship don't say you are doing it because you don't want to touch some racial nerve. Coz why then, are you in an interracial relationship that makes you uncomfortable in the first place?

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  6.   CremeU says:
    Posted: 26 Mar 11

    I think everyone walks on eggshells in their relationships - especially where relatives are concerned. And I think Davies is wrong for blaming other races for it. I mean, if you feel the need to do it for the sake of the relationship dont say you are doing it because you dont want to touch some racial nerve. I think

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  7.   Mychal67 says:
    Posted: 22 Mar 11

    I believe that may be of concern in a relationship only when the parties are unsure of, or uncomfortable in who they are. Race is a beautiful part of each individual, and should be celebrated and respected IN and OUT of a relationship. It should be accepted and explored as a unifying component of a relationship and/or friendship. It only becomes negative, divisive and a defense mechanism when ones insecurities have not been internally addressed and put to rest. Why should race ever be viewed as something to be negotiated, or to be danced around? It should be met head on with honest dialogue, with respect and sincerity and a genuine desire to discover the differences that may arise due to race. As for me, I am not exclusively looking for a inter-racial relationship.I just happen to have a preference for African American women. I feel a great respect for ALL races, and celebrate all the ethnicities of this world. For example....Although I am white, I celebrate Black History Month as fervently and with passion as it is an American experience, and is not limited to only African Americans. I seek to explore all the differences race may bring, as it builds within me awareness, understanding and the growth to see the beauty that is within us all...regardless of, or perhaps because of our individual race. Race is not a divider but is potentially the greatest uniter for us all

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  8.   justsaying says:
    Posted: 20 Mar 11

    Yes I do think so, and I think it would be the white man more than the woman walking on eggshells in the relationship. I'm not white, but basing on what I've seen.

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  9.   justsaying says:
    Posted: 20 Mar 11

    Yes I do, and I feel it would be the man who is walking on eggshells more than the woman in the relationship.

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  10. Posted: 20 Mar 11

    I don't feel I need the need to walk on eggshells dating bi racially, I am proud of who ever I date. I have two bi racial children and have always been proud of them. There are ignorant people everywhere but they do not pay my bills, they do not do anything for my happiness. I am a proud woman and have no insecurities about the one I date. I would dare anyone to say anything to me. If anyone is ashame of dating who they are supposed to love then its their insecurities, and it is not love. So be proud and show all when your in love or even just dating getting to know someone, don't let the ignorance of people take away your joy.

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  11.   Ren says:
    Posted: 18 Mar 11

    Very interesting topic. Just my observations/experiences below: I'm a black person whose experience has been limited with white people to friendship. When I signed up for this site a few years ago, I was open to dating all races, and still basically am. But after experiences with whites on a friend and "I'm interested" level, as well as just thinking and observations, personally, I am not sure I will ever date a person who is not of color. Some of the issues raised in this post relate to why. Now, I will say upfront that, as alluded to in the post, feeling comfortable and being successful at having discussions about race are at least partially about the two people involved, regardless of anything else. But my experience has been that regardless of the white person, there is always a lot of explaining that has to go on from the black person to the white person about black people, the black experience, differences between whites and blacks that most white people have no clue exist, etc. And some of this would happen with Latinos and Asians, as well, but I feel more likely to find a Latino or Asian who is less...shocked??...about the fact that we're so different because they know they have their own cultural differences from everyone (white Americans have a tendency to assume everyone is like them and, if not, something is wrong with those people who aren't). I feel like they're also less inclined to insist that "race doesn't matter" and we're all ultimately the same. Some are also more familiar with "black culture" or can at least relate in some way when we're talking about being black. Now, I have white friends who do feel comfortable expressing themselves and asking questions with me, but the two issues for me are 1) it gets annoying being with someone you have to explain so much to and they still sometimes treat what you're saying as ridiculous/something you shouldn't care about or they're in disbelief, and 2) I worry that I talk about race too much and they're not interested...because I think (and have seen that) dealing with race takes a toll on white people and they quickly tire of/get angry about the discussions/experiences whereas, as a black person, I'm used to it because I have no choice. So, I have found myself shying away from situations where I know I'd have to explain something to a white friend or just otherwise talking about race because I feel like they don't want to hear it. Race is too big a part of my life for me to operate like this in a relationship, and this is why I'm saying...feeling like this with white friends, I don't think I could work like this in a relationship with a white person. As mentioned in the post, you have to be in a relationship with someone you feel like you can talk with freely about things. As far as "attacking whitey"...my experience there is it's really easy for white people to feel attacked in racial discussions, whether it's happening or not, because the average white person is already racially defensive/insecure (which I think the common worry about "saying the wrong thing" demonstrates). I've had nightmare-ish experiences with really racially sensitive/defensive white people in terms of discussions and friendships blown up and such, and it is another reason why I really hesitate to date a white person. Frankly...a lot of the time, white people feeling attacked is quite a bit about their own racial insecurity, not about the person with whom they're speaking.

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  12. Posted: 16 Mar 11

    The short answer is: "No." The long answer is: The issue isn't the subject of race or the race of the person speaking. If you are truly in an intimate relationship with another person, then no subject is off limits. It has more to do with tact, timing, and delivery. If you lack self-awareness and come off as rude, invasive, insensitive or inconsiderate, no matter what color you are or what the topic is, you're likely to get fussed out (in some cases cussed out) and rightly so. Many time people take issue with the tactics of messenger, not the message.

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