Today’s society is all about being accepted and welcomed by peers and friends. Relationships are of similar stature. Just about every girl or guy hopes that their families and friends will accept and love their significant other just as much as they do. However, in some cases, family, friends, or even society tends to frown upon sights that are “different” from the norm.
About a year ago I started dating, my now current boyfriend Kevin. From the moment we started dating, passersby on the street would tend to stare at the two of us holding hands or kissing in public. They did not stare because we were causing a scene, but because he is African American and I am a white Caucasian female. The first couple of months were very difficult for me due to the fact that I was not used to all the attention that came with dating someone of a different ethnicity. Looks of disgust and gazing stares appeared to be everywhere I looked. In the early months of our relationship, I often thought to myself, if society frowns so much upon interracial dating, then maybe I should not be in this relationship. Furthermore, I come from a very traditional Italian family, where everyone is in each other’s business and relationships, and where no one strays from what is considered to be “normal.” Therefore, when my family first met Kevin, I received split second looks of shock and awe, as well as a few comments referring to the fact that our family does not par-take in interracial dating. For a while, I let how society felt about interracial dating influence how I felt about Kevin and our relationship. As time progressed, I had hoped that these feelings would become absent from my heart and mind, unfortunately the looks from the population and longing for acceptance left me with two options: stay in the relationship and overcome my need for social acceptance or end the relationship. At this point in our relationship, I began to see that it did not matter how those around me saw my relationship, it only mattered that I valued it. From that moment on, I stopped looking around to see what others thought of me and began to enjoy a new part of my life. As time passed, my family began to accept that my happiness was all that mattered, as I was happy, they were happy for me.
When it comes to matters of the heart, nothing but love and care for one another should matter. Yet, acceptance of a boyfriend or girlfriend by family, friends, and society will often dictate one’s decision on whether or not to commit to a relationship. Society needs to accept those that are different and willing to test the boundaries, rather than shunning them from society. Otherwise, we would live in a time where everyone is the same. I now know that being accepted can have multiple meanings, but the only meaning that really matters is how you accept yourself and those in your life.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.