Dear Researcher,

My fiance and I are an interracial couple and although we are very happy and our family approves of our relationship, there are many in society who don’t. I have been reading a lot about lack of relationship satisfaction and commitment in interracial couples compared to intraracial couples. Is this true?

Thanks,

Beth

 

Hey Beth!

I am glad to hear that you are in a happy relationship where your family approves! While yes, interracial relationships and marriages have been looked down upon in society, and thus face more challenges that intraracial there is little evidence to show that being from two differences races can actually cause a lower quality relationship.

According to Troy & Lewis-Smith who conducted research regarding the differences between inter- and intraracial couples and their commitment, conflict patterns, satisfaction, relationship efficacy, and attachment style (2006). Despite hypothesizing that societal disapproval and pressures could cause lower commitment, satisfaction, and efficacy in interracial relationships and instead higher conflict patterns, this was not proven true. Across the two studies they actually found no difference in many of these categories between interracial and intraracial couples. In fact, in the first study they found significantly higher satisfaction in interracial couples! (2006).

Interestingly this idea of higher satisfaction for interracial couples was also found in Lehmiller & Agnew’s study the effect of being in a marginalized relationship on influences of commitment (satisfaction, investment, and quality of alternatives) (2005). In their results they found no overall difference among the two groups in terms of overall commitment but found that marginalized couples did have lower investments compared to non marginalized couples but this was made up for with higher satisfaction. According to the investment model of interdependence theory those three qualities (satisfaction, investment, and quality of alternatives) influence commitment levels and each one can vary, thus affecting overall commitment. In this study despite the influential factors, commitment levels did not change. An according to the theory, commitment then predicts relationship longevity. So, according to the study commitment levels are the same thus longevity of interracial vs. intraracial couples does not differ either.

 

Overall, I think you and your fiance have nothing to worry about! You clearly have committed to each other and have the support of your families. Research does not indicate any significant differences in commitment and longevity amongst interracial couples.

 

Sincerely,

Katelyn

 

References:

Lehmiller, J.J., & Agnew, C.R. (2006). Marginalized relationships: The impact of social disapproval on romantic relationship commitment. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 40-51 (e)

Troy, A. B., Lewis-Smith, J., & Laurenceau, J. (2006). Interracial and intraracial romantic relationships: The search for differences in satisfaction, conflict, and attachment style. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 23(1), 65-80. doi:10.1177/0265407506060178

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