When you meet your perfect match – ‘the one’ – people say you will know it instinctively.
When we, Shehwar and Maria, were introduced by a mutual friend four years ago, our connection was undeniable. Instantly, we clicked on a deep level because, to us, love is colourblind.
Some found this surprising because Maria grew up as an only child in Romania, in a town 60km away from the capital, Bucharest, while Shehwar was born and raised in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in a Muslim family with three siblings.
We have each lived in London for over five years and call the city our home. It’s where we plan to stay but we both love to travel, to try delicious foods from around the globe and learn about different traditions.
As far as we’re concerned, being in an interracial couple only adds to our relationship; it brings two cultures together and means every day is fascinating, lively and exciting.
Despite us both feeling convinced we had fallen for our soulmate – from our very first date walking along the Southbank in 2017 – some of our friends were convinced that our romance would not last and told us (separately) outright.
Maria’s friends warned her to be careful because of Shehwar’s Islamic faith, which she was shocked about at the time, while Shehwar’s friends believed a ‘white girl would not stick around’ long term, which he laughed off at the time.
Thankfully, we both dealt with these attitudes by showing them – our friends are all educated, well-travelled adults, by the way – how wrong they were.
Once they actually met us as a couple, they quickly realised their mistake in leaping to conclusions and fearing ‘the unknown’.
But we know that it happens time and again the world over. Way too many people are desperately looking for a relationship yet they would never swipe right on a dating app just because the person isn’t from their own race or culture.
Or some people’s interracial relationships do not work out because their families wouldn’t accept it and that makes us feel very sad.
We are both very fortunate to have great families that welcomed our relationship from the very beginning and we think it is important that people realise that it is perfectly possible to have a great relationship and be happy with someone from a completely different background.
So, to demonstrate this, we turned to social media and started sharing vlogs of our everyday life – plus Maria’s journey in learning Bangla – in July 2020.
We share videos of us travelling, going to restaurants and reviewing our experiences, our day-to-day life in the lockdown and short, funny videos that others can relate to. For example, the video of Maria trying to wear a Saree has been viewed 7.9million times on our Facebook page.
The Romanian/Bangladeshi tongue twisters challenge gave an insight into how we are progressing with learning each other’s language in a light-hearted manner.
To our delight, we quickly started receiving many messages from young adults who were in love asking for tips to try and convince their family to approve of their relationship.
Since the disapproval from parents was likely to be from the fear of the unknown, our message to them was very simple: we advised them to highlight any similarities and point out all the good qualities of their partner and then introduce them to the family. You would be surprised how simple yet effective this is!
We know it’s creating an impact as we regularly get stopped on the streets and receive gratitude for helping strangers with their interracial relationships. We specifically remember Aziz and Becky, an interracial Bangladeshi-British couple who bumped into us in Covent Garden and mentioned that they had been dating for over two years but Aziz did not have the courage to break the news to his family about his ‘white girlfriend’.
But, after his mother became a fan of our videos, he then took upon the opportunity to introduce Becky to his family – now his entire family is extremely fond of her. Little stories such as these fills our heart with joy.
We particularly love receiving messages from ‘old school’ parents who openly admit that they had no idea people from other races could be so compatible and that our videos changed their minds.
We have been lucky enough not to receive any negative reactions from strangers other than the occasional curious stare; London being so multicultural helps.
When we visited Bangladesh – a few people stopped Maria for a photograph with them, this was before we even started making videos. She felt like a film star particularly in Old Dhaka – she’s fair-skinned and it’s an unusual sight there.
We got married in January 2020 in Dhaka and in true traditional Bangladeshi style we had a week-long celebration with hundreds of guests, princess-like dresses and jewellery.
Many of Maria’s family commented that it was like something out of a movie but everyone absolutely loved it.
In fact, we discovered that our cultures are very similar; both in Bangladesh and Romania we take a lot of pride in being great hosts and in feeding our guests flavourful dishes (sometimes force-feeding!). Both cultures are very warm and family-oriented.
The exciting thing about an interracial relationship is that there’s always something new to learn about each other; we want to inspire people to be open-minded and accepting towards others and look beyond ethnicity and more towards good values.
Society simply does not talk about this often enough so stereotypes perpetuate. We hope to break these, one vlog at a time, and prove that your true love could be anyone, from any race and any background.
All it takes is open communication, having mutual respect and love, which is not limited by or restricted to any race or religion.
Our advice to anyone dating is to swipe right, go on that zoom date or that walk by the river.
Don’t let other people’s opinions concern you or stop you from finding your path to happiness – you only get one life, enjoy all it has to offer, no matter what the colour of your skin is.
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