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6 True Struggles of Interracial Relationships (and How to Overcome Them)

6 True Struggles of Interracial Relationships (and How to Overcome Them)
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How do you navigate the additional battles experienced with interracial relationships? What are the pitfalls you need to know about?

Being in charge of your emotions will definitely help reduce interracial tension, however, it’s best to put preventative measures in place so you don’t find yourself overreacting unnecessarily.

This article details 6 of the true struggles experienced by interracial couples and what you can do to prevent them.

How would your life change if it was easy to enjoy your choice of partner?

1. Your interracial relationship is very likely to involve two different value systems.

According to Dr. Sidney Simon (author of Values Clarification), different value systems can easily cause conflict in a relationship. If what matters most to one person doesn’t matter to the other, the relationship isn’t sustainable in the long term.

For example, Lina is an Asian woman married to an Australian named Steven. Since most Australians value a relaxed lifestyle, Lina finds it hard to understand why her husband doesn’t want to be a business owner. In Asian culture, wealth creation is more important than relaxation.

In this case, Lina’s top value is wealth creation, whereas Steven doesn’t think wealth creation is very important at all. Consequently, this interracial couple frequently experiences tension due to conflicting values.

How to overcome this struggle?

Lina and Steven would be well-advised to accept and respect their different value systems.

Lina could start her own business and allow Steven to focus his attention on whatever makes him happy. While sharing a common direction is ideal, a couple doesn’t have to connect with each other through career goals.

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In other words, interracial couples can connect with each other through their shared interests, and respect and accept their differences.

2. There can be many unhealthy assumptions between interracial partners.

When you are in an interracial relationship, it’s important not to assume that your partner likes something because of their race or ethnicity.

For instance, constantly talking about curry may make your Indian partner feel offended. Your assumption that Indian people love curry can easily appear to be a stereotype. Or dating a German and constantly bringing him (or her) beer and sausages. When your German date doesn’t drink alcohol and is a health-conscious vegetarian.

How to overcome this struggle?

Curiosity is always key. Be genuinely curious about your partner without making assumptions.

Discover your partner’s interests and view of the world so you can enjoy every interaction you have.

3. Many interracial couples shy away from hot topics like racism.

It’s a fact that racism exists in our world, but most people don’t want to talk about it. Many interracial couples think that their love for each other will make racism irrelevant.

However, racial discrimination can be a real problem when a partner’s family doesn’t accept their spouse. Many mixed ethnicity couples try to ignore or brush off disparaging remarks and awkwardness. However, this may cause communication breakdown and problems in the future.

How to overcome this struggle?

When dating and forming a relationship, communication is paramount. This is especially true in interracial dating when a partner comes from a different background. Make sure that whenever there is an issue you address it immediately.

If your partner’s family members don’t accept you or vice versa, you need to honestly discuss how you feel with your partner and validate each other’s feelings.

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If you take a resistant or defensive stance, then you will only cause more friction and tension. Challenging people’s beliefs tends to lead to arguments and heartache.

Past generations tend to be fixed in their customs and beliefs. This can make it difficult for them to view your interracial relationship through a different and more liberating lens.[1]

Look for specific teachings within your ethnicity. Sharing common beliefs with others will go a long way toward accepting your choice in partner.

4. Boundaries in your relationship may disappear.

When feeling judged as an interracial couple, couples often become closer to each other. However, this may also lead to lack of boundaries in a relationship.

A case in point is thinking because they have shared everything, they also need to check each other’s phones. This can be a recipe for disaster because individual posts and messages can easily be misunderstood and taken out of context.

Digital boundaries are of vital importance in today’s day and age.

Dr. Henry Cloud (author of Boundaries in Marriage) states that setting boundaries is often an online process in a relationship. Yes, when the two of you are fighting against people’s judgement, you are a real team. But it doesn’t mean you should have access to each other’s email Inbox, Facebook passwords, and so on.

How to overcome this struggle?

Any time you feel a compelling need to control someone else’s behavior, it indicates that you’re emotionally triggered and are out of alignment with yourself.

If there is a problem in your relationship, deal with the problem instead of checking your partner’s text messages. Many marriage counsellors claim that they have never seen a couple who solved their problems by looking at each other’s phones or social media messages.

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When you feel yourself needing to check your partner’s phone, simply ask yourself:

‘Is there an issue in my relationship now, or am I simply feeling out of sorts?’

This question will reveal what really matters – that you need to get back into balance by resolving the triggered emotion. Your best and wisest actions will always come from an internal state of calm.

5. Some interracial couples allow others’ opinions to affect their wellbeing.

Many couples care about others’ opinions, especially when these people are their friends. Unfortunately, not every friend will understand why you are dating someone from a different race. This can be hard to accept and may create a problem between you which didn’t exist previously.

Statistics show that at the end of their lives, most people don’t regret listening to others’ opinions.[2] As a matter of fact, most people only regret not listening to their own inner guidance.

Taking on board other peoples’ opinions can cause you to feel emotionally triggered, which can then affect your ability to effectively communicate with your partner.

How to overcome this struggle?

If someone judges you for choosing a partner of a different race and ethnicity, it doesn’t mean that person isn’t worth knowing. Instead of taking these comments to heart, resolve your own triggered emotions first. Remember that other people’s opinions matter much less than your own sense of wellbeing.

When someone is emotionally triggered, they may make rash or irrational comments which are completely out of character. People can become so fixated on mentally analyzing their own busy life that they lose the mental bandwidth to think before they speak.

Reset yourself into a state of calm whenever you feel triggered. This will immediately make you less influenced by other people’s opinions.

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6. Some individuals dating people from another race feel superior in their relationship.

If you are an individual who is dating someone of a different race, it doesn’t mean you dislike your own race.[3] It is more likely to mean that you’re open to finding the best qualities in a person, and don’t have preconceived ideas about race or ethnicity.

Having said that, not every interracial relationship is stable as you can’t guarantee that your new partner’s viewpoint is as healthy as your own.

Your partner might say something like, “Ha, now you can hang out with a White boy with money”. Yes, sometimes, it can be a joke with no malice intended. But if your partner’s tonality and body language indicate they’re not joking, then perhaps you should rethink your relationship compatibility.

How to overcome this struggle?

Acting out with superior comments tends to be more common in interracial dating and is generally due to other factors mentioned above, which trigger unwanted emotions. If you are the person making superior comments, you may want to ask yourself why you need to have this stance. What’s the real problem that you’re not dealing with?

Feeling superior in a relationship doesn’t make an individual racist. However, frequently making superior comments usually indicates that someone is feeling insecure and needs to deal with their own emotional triggers to come back into balance.

Final Thoughts

These 6 real struggles of interracial relationships can be challenging, although in many cases easy to eradicate. Make sure you put the right strategies in place as mentioned above, to prevent problems before they occur.

We live in a world where everyone can find true love from any race. As you focus on being the best version of yourself, you will naturally feel more confident and at ease when relating with others.

Featured photo credit: cindy baffour via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Jacqui Olliver

Psychosexual Relationship Specialist

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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