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racial diversity


Interracial and intercultural couples share the biggest things they had to get used to

Love unites people across cultures, creating some unexpected but valuable learning experiences.

Interracial relationships can have unexpected learning opportunities.

Humanity in general has come a long way when it comes to interracial relationships. It used to be that interracial marriage was deemed wrong and even illegal in some U.S. states, but with the world continually shrinking due to transportation and technology advances, we increasingly see more interracial and intercultural relationships more often.

But the broad social embrace of cross-cultural love doesn’t mean it’s challenge-free. Norms, expectations and traditions can vary widely between people from different backgrounds, and sometimes those differences can create some surprising—and sometimes hilarious—misunderstandings. Interracial and intercultural relationships come with some specific challenges, but navigating those challenges successfully can help build unity and understanding between individuals, families and ultimately society.

A Reddit user asked, “Interracial couples of Reddit, what was the biggest difference you had to get used to?” and people shared stories that celebrate the unexpected elements of their partners' racial and cultural realities that they learned to adjust to.

The dishwasher that isn't used to wash dishes

“The dishwasher being used as a drying rack and not to actually wash dishes.”Lucky_Extent8765

“Dude wtf Latina girlfriend just dropped this bomb on me.

‘We don’t trust machines like that’

‘Ok but you just put our clothes in the washing machine and started it though…’”Worldly_Collection27

“Had a Latina friend who I was ‘talking to’ but never actually ended up dating, had her, her friend, and a couple of others over for dinner and her and her friend offered to help with the dishes, they ended up hand washing everything and drying it in the dishwasher. I told them the dishwasher works fine and they were like ‘we don't do that in South American families.’ "– Particular_Fan_3645

The intricacies of hair care

“I’m a white dude married to a black woman. I had no idea about the whole culture of hair upkeep for black women. How much it costs. How much time it takes. How much it’s a connection point for her and other women.

Interestingly, what was a bigger adjustment had nothing to do with race. I’m an only child and she is one of five so obviously the family dynamics are quite different.

Next month we will be married for 24 years so I guess it’s all good.”loudnate0701

“When I met my wife she had short straight hair and had been relaxing/straightening it pretty much her whole life. 6 years ago she decided she wanted to go natural and started to grow it out. She started getting it braided professionally and whenever she’d get new braids I’d basically have an entire weekend day to myself, it would take 8-10 hours. But eventually she wanted to do natural locs and wanted to do them herself. It was a challenge for a while but now her natural hair is down to her shoulders & locked. She washes her hair every 2-3 weeks and when she decides to do that it’s literally a 6 hour process between washing, re-twisting & drying.

But yeah, the time spent when she was getting it braided and the money spent on different products/bonnets was wild to me lol.”Zealousideal-Life868

“My story is how this could've gone awry:

We went on our first date and hit it way off. She had kind of a shorter bob thing going, relaxed/straightened. Super cute. Anyway, I ask her for a second date and she tells me she has a hair appointment that day. I go okay well, so how about after...if it's at noon, surely we can have dinner?

Long story short, I was butthurt thinking she was blowing me off with a cheap excuse because I was entirely unaware of getting her hair done means PTO at work. She, on the other hand, naturally never considered I wouldn't really know about that and was baffled and annoyed when I wrote her a slightly sulky "well it's fine I just thought we...bla bla" message.

We somehow ended up landing on mutual ground and after about a two hour conversation explaining the colossal undertaking that is getting braids laterI felt like a straight jackass 😅.

We're still together and happy and I've named her head scarf Toni.”NosferatuCalled

The social expectations at family gatherings

"An ex was Latina, and while there really weren't any "social" things that were new getting used to her family dynamic took some adjusting because they were very close and involved in each other's lives so it was normal for the weekends inevitable BBQ to be something I was expected to be present for if she was going, because otherwise 16+ people would grill her about me not coming." blahbabooey

"Yes! My husband is Dominican and I’m white and his family NEEDS me at every function, no matter what. Or when his mom calls, I can always hear her asking if I’m close by. And my husband is kinda like that too, he doesn’t wanna do anything without me and I’m more okay with being solo and staying home once in awhile."Both_Dust_8383

"Have ever tried refusing food? Or that one shot of tequila being passed around? How about that “one more dance”? Have you ever forgotten to say good bye to everyone individually at least twice before leaving? Cause it sounds like you’re me lol. Married 20 years to my wife though. It never changes."JnyBlkLabel

"I didn’t eat at my husband's grandma's house once (in the Dominican Republic) cuz there was no ac, it was summer, and I had just broken a rib 5 days before our trip. I was in bad pain and sooooooo hot, I could not eat!!! But did it break abuelas heart??? Absolutely. It was tough."Both_Dust_8383

When no means yes and you're supposed to keep asking

"I was born and raised in the Netherlands (I'm half Italian half Indonesian but did not grow up with those cultures at home except a little). My girlfriend is Persian.

In the Netherlands, or at least in my experience, when people say no to something, then they mean no. While apparently for persians it's seen as polite to decline at least the first offer, often also the second even if you actually really want.

So for example, If she would offer me a cookie and i'd say no, She would ask another 3 times before letting it go, which was cute but also annoying. Meanwhile when i offer her a cookie and she says no. I just quit asking and then she gets a little mad that i didn't ask her a couple of times more.

It's not like the biggest difference or anything but it's a cute, and in the beginning, a very confusing difference."LokMatrona

"Haha, we have the same thing in Ireland - if you’re offered food, drink, etc, you’re expected to say no the first couple of times. My mother in law thought her English nieces and nephews were ‘a bit forward’ because if she’s offer them a cup of tea they’d say ‘Yes please, that would be lovely.’" MichaSound

"My wife is Persian and I’m English. The craziest thing she told me is if you’re a guest in your host’s house and you compliment some object in their house, the rules of hospitality require them to offer it to you. So you may say, 'Wow I love that mirror!' and they will say 'Please, have it!' You will of course refuse, but they will vehemently insist that you take it. This back-and-forth can go on for some time (despite the ironic truth that you absolutely do not want to take it, and they absolutely do not want to give it to you)." th1sishappening

Learning about one another's popular culture

"My partner is from California, I'm from Singapore. I think the biggest difference is popular culture --- everything from your childhood tv shows, the iconic music of your teens, even your education system, is going to be different. You cannot expect your partner to know what Mr. Rogers is/have watched XYZ cartoon. All assumptions have to be thrown out of the window.

I think it's a good thing tbh, you start from zero. It makes you completely aware of how vast the world around you is, and I keep learning new things everyday. Just yesterday I learned that in California, there's a mascot called Smokey Bear that taught kids about forest fires. In turn, I told her about Singa the Courtesy Lion, which is a mascot to teach people courtesy/good manners. We had an entire discussion about mascots and teaching populations, and it was so fascinating. This happens so much that sometimes we can't stop talking to each other lol"kafetheresu

"Bit of that with my wife. She was born in China but moved to Canada from age 9 to 19, then back to China again. So there's some overlap for that middle period, but that early childhood stuff is very different. Was fun though when she met my brother's girlfriend from Ukraine and they bonded over having both watched the same old Soviet cartoons as kids."Cinquedea19

"I’m from Texas and my wife is from Nigeria. We also have this dynamic!! It’s pretty beautiful to learn about a whole other culture/way of life. One challenge is our families are across the world from each other."PositionLogical2342