Give and Take in an Interracial Relationship

Woman resting her head on her man’s shoulder.
Healthy relationships have a healthy give and take between the couple. | Photo by cottonbro on Pexels

An interracial relationship can be complex and complicated. They can be even more complicated when the people in that relationship come from two different countries. They may not be the most balanced of pairings. But not all relationships are balanced.

For example, are you familiar with what a remora is?

It’s a type of fish. It’s a small one actually.

But it has a pretty sweet gig underwater. See, the remora has a habit of attaching itself to larger animals, such as sharks. Once it does manage to attach itself to a shark, it is basically set for life.

It doesn’t want for food, since it can just eat the shark’s leftovers. It’s also fairly safe, since anything that attacks the remora is also going to end up attacking the shark it’s attached to, at which point the shark can demonstrate why it’s an apex predator.

It’s the aquatic equivalent of hitting the jackpot and then using those winnings to buy a plot of land and then finding something valuable, such as rare earth minerals, under that land. If that ever happens to you, congratulations on becoming either a centimillionaire or an outright billionaire.

Of course, the remora doesn’t just go about taking and taking and taking. It also does a bit of giving. It consumes any parasites that attach itself to a shark’s back, any little pests that might wander near it. In doing so, it keeps the shark’s back clean.

That means that it isn’t a parasitic relationship. Rather, it’s a symbiotic one, because both organisms derive some benefit from it. But it’s easy to see that the ways in which the relationship benefits one more than the other, that one half of the relationship does a lot more taking than it does giving.

It doesn’t make for the most balanced of relationships. But it is a mutually beneficial one and mutual benefit is one of the biggest signs of a healthy relationship.

hands forming a heart.
International dating isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, but it can be pretty great. | Photo by Jasmine Carter on Pexels

As far as anyone can tell, you and your partner are not a shark or a remora. But there is a give and take in your relationship and that give and take can come in a lot different forms. And that give and take might not be balanced.

It’s okay for a shark and a remora to have an imbalanced, if symbiotic, relationship. Imbalance can make for perfectly healthy relationships in a lot of cases. But an imbalanced relationship in the human world doesn’t always last if it’s also romantic in nature.

Firstly, you have to look at the ways in which people compromise in their relationships. Once you’ve identified the ways in which people compromise in relationships, then you can start working towards a way to balance everything out.

Not everyone knows how to build healthy relationships, but recognizing the areas where it’s imbalanced and working to rectify that imbalance is a great place to start.

One of the most evident and most quantifiable ways in which a person gives is materially. Who earns more money? Who pays for dates? Who works longer hours?

In general, it’s impossible to balance the income of two different people, especially when they’re at different stages of their careers.

An interracial relationship where one person comes from a foreign country can be prone to have an income imbalance. A person’s chances of finding employment can be severely reduced if they don’t have the proper visa or if the educational system they attended isn’t recognized by where they are living.

A language barrier can also produce income disparities between international pairings. They may not be able to find a job even though they are qualified because they may not be fluent in the language, which can make job interviews hard to get through.

In a lot of cases, long term couples with a vastly different income do their best to pay according to their means. They’ll pool their incomes and determine a percentage that each person brings in, then pay according to that ratio.

So, if one person’s income makes up 40% of their pooled resources, they’ll pay 40% of the expenses. By doing that, the lower-earning person can feel like they are making a difference as well.

Man pouring wine.
Compromise in relationships where you need to, but make sure that it goes both ways. | Photo by Gary Barnes on Pexels

Relationships also require emotional labor, which is a more subtle form of giving and taking. Contrary to monetary contributions, it is harder to quantify who is emotionally supportive versus who is emotionally needy.

Different ways in which women and men have been socialized can affect emotional labor disparities. The more conservative society women come from, the more women they are taught to be caretakers. In those same countries, men are taught to hide their emotions and suck them up, so to speak.

It is true that full equality of emotional labor is ideal, because the emotional needs can differ widely between people. Some people also cope with stress by supporting their partner emotionally.

Regardless, a discrepancy in emotional giving and taking can be balanced by the partner with less giving being more supportive. If your partner is supposed to be your rock, then let yourself be theirs too.

When it comes to managing the household, one person’s input can be significantly greater than their partner’s. The small tasks, such as buying groceries and organizing services, may seem insignificant until they accumulate.

Child-rearing is especially problematic in this regard. Many women play an outsize role in both raising their children and managing their social lives. However, this is not always the case. Everyone’s relationship is unique.

But there can be discrepancies with regards to who tends to handle the household most. There is a potential for a partner to become passive. Because they feel like their partner has it all handled, they don’t see the point in helping out more or at all.

It can be quite a challenge to manage a household, especially if there are children involved. The responsibility of managing a household goes far beyond making sure that children are fed and watered, it also encompasses managing everyone’s social life, like sports games or dance recitals.

Sometimes, it’s the one partner who makes all the plans for the couple or the family as a whole. It’s the one that keeps track of the vacations and the big events for everyone together.

Having to juggle all these things can be tiring. One way to help manage your household better is to take a more active role. It does not mean just doing more chores at home–though that would be helpful–but to be more present and to take more initiative to keep the household in order.

In order to take more initiative in your shared social life you need to be less passive. Instead of just letting your partner plan everything and shop for suitable gifts, maybe you pick up some of the slack and make the plans or do the shopping yourself.

There’s always going to be compromises in a relationship. For most people, the idea of the perfect relationship where everyone gets everything that they want is a faraway dream. The trick is to find healthy compromise in the relationship.

Compromises are problematic not because of their presence but because of their amount. The more one person does it without reciprocity from their partner, the more it can lead to problems causing resentment, which can break up couples that could have been perfectly happy otherwise. A lack of compromise in a relationship can make it so that that relationship doesn’t last very long.

An interracial relationship can be especially prone to imbalance. So keep an eye out for such an imbalance and then make a concerted effort as a couple in order to correct those imbalances.


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