Before dating someone, there is a lot of thought that goes into that decision. After all, every relationship is full of potentials: potential break-ups, potential dates, potential memories, potential engagements, potential families, potential tears, potential laughs. And, if you are blessed enough, there’s a potential happily-ever-after.
No two people are alike, which is why relationships in themselves are hard. Adding another layer of dissimilarity, then, may make things even more difficult.
I recently conducted a survey trying to find out a bit more about one of those extra possible layers. There were 103 participants, and I asked them all the same question:
Would you rather date someone who belongs to a similar ethnicity as yours or someone who is from a different ethnicity?
Before sharing the results (and voting for yourself), you should understand the definition of ethnicity. According to CliffsNotes:
Ethnicity is shared cultural practices, perspectives, and distinctions that set apart one group of people from another.
It is important to note that ethnicity is not the same thing as race. While race deals with the physical characteristics of a person, ethnicity has to do with their cultural traditions.
Take your time to vote too!
Though I was not expecting any particular answer, I was still surprised by the results. Out of 103 people, 57.3 percent said that they would rather date someone of similar ethnicity while 42.7 percent said the opposite. This means that, if having to choose, the majority (59 individuals, to be precise) would choose to be with someone who has similar customs and perspectives.
What I found more interesting, however, was the reasoning behind their answers. Those who wanted to date within their own ethnicity speculated that the differences between cultures would cause profuse misunderstandings. In a way, many were afraid of the possible cultural shock. It seems easier to be with someone who has common values as it avoids the need for compromise.
“Sometimes being different causes drifts between individuals, ”one participant wrote.
There was a pattern, however, that stood out the most. On the one hand, it seemed like those who chose to date someone of a similar ethnicity were thinking of long-term plans when they made their decision. On the other hand, those who picked someone of a different ethnic background made their choice based on the “now.”
For the latter, they thought it would be amusing to learn about different cultures, try different foods, or even pick up another language. Though all great things, these responses reflect the fun of the moment. Contrastingly, the first group worried about the cultural disagreements that may arise once the relationship developed into something bigger.
Different cultures have different customs and values. Things that may seem insignificant, like where to go for holidays or what to eat at home, can cause disagreements. Other things, however, such as the right way to discipline children or handle money, has the potential to completely destroy a relationship.
There was no right or wrong answer to this survey. However, I was bothered by people’s unwillingness to compromise. Even as I thought of my own answer, I realized that I also have some set perspectives that I do not want to change.
Now, don’t get me wrong. We all have fundamental values and beliefs that should not, under any circumstances, be compromised. But ethnicity should complement one another, not challenge each other’s distinctions.
Why is it that many of us believe that, in the long run, cultural differences cannot work ? Why is it so hard for us to see a future with someone who was not raised in the same way? I think this is a lesson for me and everyone else.
Relationships may come with potentials, but which potential wins should depend on the individuals, not on the factors surrounding them.