Contrary to popular belief, being in an interracial relationship is not too different from being in any other relationship. We argue about the same silly things, and have the same kinds of fights.
I’ve been with my Chinese boyfriend for almost 3 years now. There’s a lot I’ve learnt about his race, and he of mine. There are however some struggles that we face being an Indian-Chinese couple in Singapore.
Like every relationship, interracial relationships have their good and bad; ours are just a little more specific.
This is something almost every interracial couple deals with. For an interracial couple to be stared at by individuals in public is not unheard of. My boyfriend and I aren’t really prone to participating in public displays of affection, or as most call it, PDA, but on the rare occasions that we do, we would be lucky to get by without getting at least one stare on the public train.
Public acceptance, however, doesn’t just come with not getting stares anymore. If only I had a dollar for all the times someone reacted with the tone of surprise as I tell them that my boyfriend is Chinese. It’s like I’ve said the most absurd thing in the world. It’s very much similar to getting glares in public. It makes me question how well the public accepts interracial couples.
Even in today’s day and age, it’s bizarre to see how many Singaporeans are surprised seeing two people from a different race in a relationship.
This is a big one. For most people, disapproval from parents can be a deal-breaker. You would be surprised at how many parents today are STILL prohibitive about who their children should date. Couples don’t usually take the next step without their parents’ approval in a family-oriented culture like Singapore’s.
Take my parents for example – their ‘ideal boy’ for me should’ve been an Indian Hindu. That clearly didn’t work out well for them. In all seriousness though, if your parents approve of the person you love, you don’t know how lucky you are.
Understanding another’s culture takes effort. I was lucky that my boyfriend had an understanding or was at least aware of the Indian culture, having a ton of Indian friends himself. There are, however, a lot of Singaporeans that tend to not be as aware of other cultures – especially that of the minorities.
However, I wouldn’t say that my boyfriend knew everything about my culture, or that I knew everything about his. In an interracial relationship, a lot of time and effort needs to be put into listening to the other talk about their traditions, rituals or even their food. And through the course of time, these cultural ‘differences’ are what bring you closer to your partner.
BEYOND THE STRUGGLES
While there may be struggles to being in an interracial relationship, there are tonnes of positives as well. When you learn about another race, you look at life from a different perspective. My boyfriend never understood what it felt to be a minority in Singapore until we were together.
I know it might be hard for someone not in an interracial relationship to realise this, but we’re honestly not that different. And in a society where interracial couples are growing in numbers, I can only hope that the acceptance of the public towards us sees a growth as well.