Interracial relationships pose health risks?

Posted by Sidney, 27 Sep 14

People in supportive relationships are more likely to be healthier as opposed to those in hostile relationships. This is according to a recent study conducted by University of Georgia sociology researchers dubbed “A Dyadic Analysis of Relationships and Health: Does Couple-Level Context Condition Partner Effects?”

Data on young individuals was collected which addressed factors like relationship status (married/cohabiting versus dating) and race (intra-racial versus interracial couples) with the main focus on African-Americans.

Ashley Barr, recent graduate student at UGA and lead author of the study said:

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"We wanted to examine how romantic partners affected one another’s health differently in dating and coresidential relationships. For instance, given that marital and cohabiting partners share a home and perhaps spend more time together, they may be more interdependent than dating partners, meaning that supportive partners may be more beneficial and hostile partners more harmful in coresidential versus dating relationships."

And just as expected, couples in hostile relationships reported worse health physically, mentally and emotionally. And if a couple in the hostile relationship are married and living together, the risks are even much higher because of the fact that they are together all the time. The risks assessed included blood pressure, intensified heart rate and chronic inflammation.

The opposite was true for couples in supportive relationships despite racial composition. They tended to be much healthier.

But here is the shocker:

“… partners in interracial relationships reported worse health than those in monoracial relationships and, importantly, these findings were not attributable to the quality of interracial relationships.” Apparently even interracial couples in satisfying relationships still reported worse health than those in intra-racial ones.

Much as the study into correlation between health and interracial couples is ongoing, Barr thinks it has something to do with microagressions that interracial couples may experience on a day-to-day basis like: "running into an old friend or even a stranger and that person being surprised by your romantic partner because they're of a different race than you, or having the status of your children questioned because they are of a different race."

Much as some of these things appear harmless, they add up on a daily basis and in most cases they end up affecting people's health adversely by enhancing stress.

Ayomide Olugbenga, a senior communications major from Nigeria, thinks cultural differences is what contributes to interracial couples 'unhealthiness' saying:

“We all try to be equal, but there’s a slight difference,” Olugbenga said.

“Just love cannot make up for that difference. Being Nigerian, I get along with many Americans, but ultimately when it comes down to it if I want to talk about cultural issues that I am having, I can’t really talk to my American friends because they don’t understand. They can listen, and they can say what they think is best, but they can’t really give me what I need. I feel like stuff like that would probably happen in interracial relationships.”

Thomas Elliott, a graduate public administration major from Valdosta, believes, the racial composition of a couple isn’t important. What promotes good health is support. And lack of support can lead to feelings of unworthiness which lead to depression. He believes every person needs the human connection. And in relationships, couples “must show affection, help their partner when needed, show appreciation to each other and … not be physically or verbally abusive” in order to feel that human connection.

Barr thinks interracial couples should be treated with caution because according to the results of the study, external forces seem to be the main cause.

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