Interracial relationships may be more common than ever. But just because they’ve become an increasingly familiar dynamic doesn’t mean they’re widely accepted in Singapore.
Halima binte Mohamed Yahuff, 26, and Muhammad Faris Bin Rusli, 28, have grown used to being judged for dating someone outside of their own race in the two years they’ve been together.
“We get plenty of weird looks when we go out for meals or hold hands on the train. While people here have warmed up to the Indian guy–Chinese girl combination, they still aren’t used to
seeing an Indian girl with a Malay guy,” says Halima.
However, the disapproval from strangers wasn’t the toughest part of their relationship—at least not till recently. For a long time, they also didn’t have the full support of both their families.
“Faris’ mom struggled with the concept of having an Indian daughter-in-law initially. She’d ask him things like, ‘What is the wedding going to be like?’, ‘What are the traditions we have to comply with?’ and ‘What are the expectations the in-laws are going to have of us?'”
“My dad was also strongly against having a Malay son-in-law as he felt that the cultural differences would be tough on me in the long run.”
It didn’t help that Faris was her first boyfriend. In fact, up till today, Halima still adheres to a 10pm curfew though her father now approves of Faris—the latter took a year to prove that he can take care of her despite their differences in culture and upbringing.
The couple got engaged earlier this month and will wed in June. They plan on playing up the interracial element for their wedding.
“We’ll be having Malay and Indian cuisines on the menu and mixing up the song list to cater to both sides of the family. Also, while we’ll be in matching colours for our solemnisation, I’ll be dressed as an Indian bride while Faris will wear the traditional Baju Melayu,” says Halima. They also plan on holding a white-top-blue-jeans reception in the evening to celebrate their marriage as modern millennials.
In an interracial relationship and struggling to overcome the challenges that come with it? The lovebirds have some advice.
“Don’t doubt yourself,” says Faris. “People may look at you different because you’re not of the same race as your partner but don’t let it stop you from cherishing, respecting and prioritising them. At the end of the day, if they have the qualities of the person you want to spend forever with, work together and things will work out.”
They also emphasise the importance of having a strong foundation in the relationship.
“The way you guys compromise and communicate is far more important than anything else. Once you guys know that you want to be with each other, it isn’t about the difference in race anymore. It’s a journey to getting to know each other better.”