If the past 6 months has taught me anything, it’s that the British public can not get their heads around an international relationship. So, just what is it like to be in a mixed nationality couple?
Whenever me and my boyfriend, Iñigo, go out, we get the joy of experiencing a little oddity most couples don’t encounter. When I approach a sales desk, or talk to waiting staff, it’s business as usual, though as soon as Iñigo opens his mouth they very quickly do a double take. It’s almost as if we can see the cogs going in their brain when they hear his Spanish accent, which originally I would interpret as;
“Good lord, a foreigner!”
But, as our relationship continued I realised that I would also receive the same expression if he had been the first to talk. It’s almost as if the general British public are quite comfortable with encountering non-British people in their day to day lives, but once you throw them in a relationship with a Brit their brains go into overdrive;
“What?! Only one of them is British! Does. Not. Compute.”
Fortunately we’re yet to encounter anyone particularly outspoken in their ignorance, but the initial look of surprise and confusion is pretty undeniable. I’m not entirely sure why the general British public find it difficult to wrap their heads around a mixed nationality relationship, particularly when Latin men are largely fetishised. Having worked in a pub, Iñigo has had his fair share of women swooning over him while he pulled pints and I’m no stranger to people making slightly inappropriate comments when they find out I am dating him.
Before I met Iñigo, I don’t think I would ever have pictured myself with someone who isn’t British. This is certainly not from any reluctance to get to know someone from another country, more to do with me never really expecting to encounter anyone in the extremely non-diverse area I live in. Though I was aware of this idea of the sexy Spanish man, it’s definitely never been on my checklist for finding the perfect partner.
Maybe some women would think it’s a waste, me being with Iñigo while being indifferent to his Spanishness, but my attraction to him is built on much more than a potential EU passport and a tired stereotype. I became attracted to Iñigo like I imagine most people become attracted to each other- he made me laugh and feel at ease while, admittedly, being quite easy on the eye. I like to think that makes me considerably less shallow than the men and women who claim they have a real thing for [insert nationality] people, probably without ever having met one IRL.
I think there’s an automatic assumption from many people that our relationship is a lot different to an average Brit’s. I would be lying if I said there were no differences, but fundamentally we’re just two people in a relationship and I’m sure the British public would be surprised at how ‘ normal’ we are.
Being from two different countries, with slightly different cultures has made life interesting in the best of ways but, my friends, that’s a story for another day.