We value the opinions of our friends and family because their involvement in our lives is crucial to how we function.
Dating is already tough on its own, but the real dragon to slay is an interracial relationship.
Now this isn't to say that interracial relationships are the only “hard” type of relationship, but if you've ever been in one, you know it comes with a tad more hurdles to jump over.
Interracial relationships can seem like that simple math that you already know the answer to, but your teacher still wants you to show your work.
When I first asked for input from my family and friends, this idea of “showing my work” was in full gear.
Being a black woman dating a white man immediately drew the question of, why?
It isn't always to be rude, but because the two races are often considered complete opposites, people tend to wonder how the two of you ended up with each other, or what you could have in common.
I was just "experimenting."
The initial reaction from some friends circulated around the idea that I was “experimenting” or getting something “out of my system.” This of course wasn't the case, but again, the idea of black and white together still serves as a hard pill to swallow for people.
I should feel lucky I was the "exception."
But probably the most infuriating response to dating outside of my race was that I was seemingly an “exception,” like I was an explorer that was accepted into uncharted territory.
This kind of thinking it made it seem like I was the “chosen” black girl who should feel privileged to be able to explore this opportunity.
My SO's intentions were questioned.
On the other end, I was always hassled about whether I knew his intentions were genuine. Sounds like typical friend policing, right? Well, in this case it was a little different.
My friends were worried I was being 'fetishized.'
It wasn't so much about “intentions,” but if I knew whether I was just some fetishized option on a check list, or genuine girlfriend material. There is this lingering stereotype that black women are “exotic,” and are a conquest to say that you slept with one, and my friends were curious to know if I had done my “homework” on my partner.
Now I can't say that that was completely wrong for them to wonder about, because I had thoughts like that myself going into an interracial relationship.
Sometimes I second guessed my feelings and considered them “forbidden” when I had my super doubtful moments.
Everyone has their guard up on the situation.
One of my closest friends, also a black woman, only ever really dated outside of her own race, so a lot of the brutal honesty came from her. The sad truth? The guard is always high, but that's with any guy.
The more you consider that you're just protecting yourself from anything that you think might hurt you, the least likely you are to start segregating or ranking who is more likely to hurt you.
I mean who wants any type of segregation? Yuck!
All in all, being in an interracial relationship taught me a lot about how the world has changed, but is still rooted in old practices and outlooks.
People will always have their judgments, whether they say them to your face or not, but you always control the verdict of your life.
Regardless of what shape, shade or gender you choose as a partner, own it. The more doubt you have in your own relationship, the easier it is for people to hop into your pity boat and sink you into places you don't need to be in.
Set sail to your own journeys, and the rest will fall into place.