The Complexity of Interracial Relationships

Just how complex depends on the trifecta of race, culture, and ethnicity

Miguel Machado
LEVEL
Published in
7 min readDec 8, 2020

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Photo: Sara Monika/Getty Images

Almost six years ago, on an unseasonably warm day in March, I first met my partner.

She was an editor for our college literary magazine, and we’d decided to meet up at a coffee shop to work on a piece I submitted. Walking into The Bean near Union Square, I had no idea who I was looking for beyond an email and a name. Sarah sat at a corner table; the sun poured through the glass facade behind her. She waved me over, and we spent the next two hours discussing all manner of things. Chekhov’s gun, Marxism, the allure of ’90s New York.

Our first official date would be much the same.

Walking beneath the marble arch of Washington Square — the buildings rising around us like some great urban sierra — our similarities seemed infinite. We were both writers, both New York City kids, and shared a similar lack of religion and love of the arts. These traits solidified our bond despite the lack of shared ethnicity. Sarah is Korean American, and I am Puerto Rican. But on that day, we were just two youngins vibing in the park.

Our friends love our story. I guess they think it embodies a romantic ideal that many so desperately want to believe — that love is the great unifier. And maybe it can be: Almost six years later, Sarah and I are still just vibing. But it has required tremendous work from both of us. Even though our union is based on a million other things besides race, we’re still affected by it.

Sarah is Korean American and I am Puerto Rican, but on that day we were just two youngins vibing in the park.

Worlds apart

Relationships are hard enough. But being part of an interracial couple adds an extra layer of complexity, as two lives from separate cultural foundations intertwine. How they do that depends on the trifecta of race, culture, and ethnicity.

From a heritage perspective, our foundations are worlds apart. She is a first-generation Korean American; I’m a third-generation Puerto Rican, Afro-Indigenous at that. Her parents have been together since the…

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Miguel Machado
LEVEL
Writer for

Miguel is based out of Puerto Rico. When not on an adventure you can find him typing away. https://miguelanthonymachado.wixsite.com/wordsbymiguel