Being in a relationship is tough work. However, being in a pre-marital interracial relationship as a Pakistani woman is just…I mean, you are basically signing up to answer intrusive, strange, and usually racist questions from strangers for the rest of your life.
I am a Pakistani woman in her 20’s and my partner is an Arab.
I wouldn’t change anything about it, but being in a long-term interracial relationship is often a more confusing and emotionally exhausting situation than you’d expect. People always have an opinion or a prediction about how lasting my relationship will be, how ‘real’ (?) it is, and what our hypothetical future kids will look like…It’s all too much. Anyway, here’s what I have learnt about being in an interracial relationship as a Pakistani woman.
This is not normal for everyone.
I live in Dubai and every third person in the room is from a different race or ethnicity. So, it’s pretty common to come across interracial relationships. But not every place in the world is as diverse as Dubai so when I step out – or step back in Pakistan, for instance, the concept of my relationship is still fairly “unique” to a lot of people.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with that but at some point, you just have to accept that people are going to always look at you and your partner as an “interracial relationship” and not just, well, a relationship. The most you can do is just answer their questions and hope that, at some point, they start seeing both of you for the people you are and the races we represent.
There is a lot of judgment, and it’s not going away.
There will always be that one person in a room who has a strong opinion on which is the ‘superior’ culture and will let the other one know how lucky we are to “end up” with our partner. Or ask us grossly stereotypical questions – and genuinely too – about our partner’s culture.
“Arabs bohat saari shaadiyan kartay hain” is my favourite.
Family gatherings will never be easy and that’s just something we need to accept.
To say we come from completely different cultural backgrounds and upbringing is a bit of an understatement. To expect our parents to always be politically correct with the things they say about the other party’s culture is just hopeless romanticism.
But that’s okay. His parents are going to ask me weird questions about Pakistan. My parents are going to ask him weird questions about being an Arab. The only perk is that no set of parents is 100% comfortable in English – the only mode of communication acceptable – so there is just so much they can convey before the language barrier gets to them.
We just gotta smile through it and laugh at the irony of never feeling more comfortable yet uncomfortable in a room full of people you love.
Language is so much more important than I had ever thought it to be.
I never really thought about it before but I have recently come to the realization that I ‘think’ in English. My partner ‘thinks’ in Arabic. It can be slightly conflicting when your partner and you have been raised to ‘think’ in a different language because there will be times you don’t completely understand each other’s thought processes or moral values.
But, hey, that is a problem for everyone in a relationship – not just two people in a relationship who think in different languages. Either way, making an effort to learn a language for another person is a fun challenge and a great way to bring two people together.
People are really really really interested in what your kids will look like.
EVERYONE (who isn’t a racist) has to point out that interracial kids are “like, really adorable”. And that we should start procreating asap.
There are things about each other that we will never understand, and that’s fine.
To some degree, we are all products of our upbringing. The food we eat, the sports we like, and the issues we consider important are largely influenced by how we were raised. This is also, of course, applicable to ALL couples but it’s just a lot more magnified when the people involved are from different cultures.
He is never going to understand my emotions during a Pakistan/India cricket match. I am never going to understand why the traditional music he listens to has to be so damn loud and not melodious at all.
We are currently arguing over a kahaani our grandmothers told us growing up. You know, the one about the mouse who helps a lion who has a thorn stuck in his paw and the lion helps him at a later point in life? He says it was a mouse and a wolf in the story he heard growing up. I respectfully think that’s dumb and lions make for better stories.
The only thing that really matters is how you feel about each other.
The random coordinates of the world you were born on, the language you grew up speaking, the kahaanian you grew up listening to – all of that is just the extra fluff on a person. We are the choices we make in life, the way we choose to think, and the person we aspire to become.
Being in this mesh of an interracial relationship has taught me a lot. It’s a process, but what matters is that we’re happy. And once you learn to tackle “log kya kaheinge” it all makes for some pretty great jokes.
Let me know if any of you are in a similar boat too!
Cover image via dailydot.com