Mix and Match: Dating Outside your Culture

Dating: we all do it – or attempt to do it at some point in our lives. Some of us are good at it and some of us need a little help.

Dating: we all do it – or attempt to do it at some point in our lives. Some of us are good at it and some of us need a little help. With matchmaking sites such as eHarmony and Lavalife, not to mention matchmaking relatives like moms and aunts, dating can either be a wonderful experience or a pain in the butt.

In a city as multicultural as ours various ethnic groups must coexist, work, live, and love together. According to an often cited UNESCO document, Toronto is the World’s most multicultural city.

The City of Toronto’s website indicates that there are over 140 languages and dialects spoken in the city and over 50% of the city’s residents were born outside of Canada. Interracial or intercultural dating and marriage seem inevitable. And yet it can still be a sticky subject in some families.

TC took some questions to young Tamil Canadians between the ages of 18 and 35. We wanted their opinion on interracial dating and how their romantic relationships with members of other ethnic communities were received by their family and friends in general.

Almost everyone surveyed shared that they had grown up in an extremely multicultural community or school. Most expressed that they are currently or have in the past dated outside the community, and for the most part their families have been supportive. At the same time, most acknowledged some of the challenges that interracial dating may cause.

Suba, an 18 year old university student shared that though she has dated outside the Tamil community there are sometimes challenges and difficulties that must be overcome. “They may have a different religion, they may not understand all the celebrations and traditions, they won't understand Tamil and may feel left out at social gatherings,” she said.

Sara, a young professional mother, who has been married to her partner of another ethnic community for seven years also shared her experiences. Initially because of her family’s protective “Tamil” nature she had to keep her relationship a secret. It was hard for her partner to understand this because he was free to talk about his relationship in his family.

Like many others surveyed by TC, Sara noted how wonderful it is to experience both cultures intimately on a daily basis. She did, however, note that after their son was born there were subtle differences in how she and her husband handled parenting, differences she accounts to their diverse cultural upbringings.

Overall, most of the people we interviewed looked at interracial or intercultural dating in a positive light. Most highlighted the fact that it allows people from diverse backgrounds to learn about other cultures, foods, experiences, and build communication across difference. Though parents and family elders may find it difficult to deal with these changes, they seem to adapt quickly and learn to love their new family members.

As young Tamil Canadians date and marry outside of the community families are forced to acknowledge and build bridges across differences. But we may still have our “aunties” and “ammas” trying to get their way. Suba shared with TC that though her family would not necessarily disapprove of her dating and marrying outside the community, she is “constantly reminded of the benefits of a Tamil partner and told I should definitely aim to marry one!”

— Naomi Prabhakar

*Names have been changed to provide anonymity *Image courtesy of CBS

Interracial and intercultural relationships have made some lighthearted appearances in Kollywood. Check out this hilarious clip from Goa:

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