Black love is a phrase commonly used within the Black community — often inspiring those of us who place value on family, children, or just the simplicity of having a partner who admires and supports us.
For those of us between the ages of 20 and 35, traditional goals and principles set in our grandparents’ haven’t vanished, but have been reformed by societal changes prevalent in the modern day.
What have our experiences in the world, as it is today, taught us about love and commitment? We asked a small group of Black men and women to share their views.
“In my family, marriage is what they expect,” Reggie Guy, a 23-year-old native Washingtonian, told WI Bridge as he dissected the Black gender wars that unfold on social media — including the proclamations across several platforms that Black men do not marry Black women.
“I like older women. I can’t get into women my age because they don’t want [men] my age. I find it more so that young Black women don’t want young Black men,” said Guy. “It’s not the other way around because young Black men love Black women. It’s the women that want something different. They want the white boy, or they want the Latino boy. They want something different. They want the boy from Africa. They don’t want the boy from Benning Road or whatever else,” Guy told the Bridge.
Although a strong supporter of marriage and monogamy. Guy said he believes relationships should function along what is comfortable for both parties. Another millennial by the name of Yvette Tiya shared similar sentiments, saying that previous relationships made her a better partner.
“My romantic experiences have definitely shaped how I view love. I’ve only been in one serious relationship and it taught me exactly what I want and exactly what I don’t want,” Tiya shared with the Bridge. “My past experiences, whether casual or serious, have definitely made me more sympathetic, critical and open.”
Research from multiple sources shows that Americans are waiting longer to get married. Unlike previous generations, millennials have a digital world of dating with several levels of interactions.
Jazz Crosky, 25. said she has found her place of peace through self-reflection, feeling contently indifferent when considering the prospect of marriage, “I do believe in the concept of marriage since I guess it seems to work for people. However, I don’t think it’s for everyone.”
“People go into it with this idea it’s some idyllic, perfect thing, when in reality it’s literal hard work and effort. I have always been more of a believer in the fact that someone can be your partner and you can make a commitment to them, without getting the government involved,” Crosky added.
Emory B., a 31-year-old Washingtonian, said he experienced a stroke of bad luck at the end of a 10-year relationship when his breakup played out publicly because of a bitter ex’s spiteful actions.
“I’d rather just be single. I don’t want to deal with unnecessary heartaches or drama,” he said. “I had to really look into myself, to find out where I was at with myself. Was I happy with myself? Because at the end of the day, self comes first, and I had to think about this. Am I happy with myself, or am I happy with him?”
The lesson of self-value rings louder for others like Dumile Beatrice.
“I’ve learnt that you have to value yourself. And when you value yourself, the person you are with or intimate with will continue to respect you,” the 30-year-old native Washingtonian said.
For Gbenga Fakilede, 29, previous relationships helped make his vision clearer when he found his soon-to-be wife.
“They kind of showed me what I didn’t want. They weren’t reciprocal, they were very one-sided relationships,” said Fakilede, who’s newly engaged after a six-year relationship.
Fakilede said the development of his relationship slowly loosened his grip on social media, while helping him focus on his reality in real, and healthy, terms.
“My views on social media changed once I got into a serious relationship,” he told The Bridge. “I started following less people that were single, bitter, and jaded by relationships, and finding more people who believe in marriage and love.”
Differences in romantic outcomes seemingly prove as a testament that people uniquely digest experiences.
“All relationships will shape you in a positive way,” Guy said. “It’s YOU that determines what hurts or bothers you. You determine what baggage you take onto the plane. I’ve only had one real relationship, and that has taught me a lot. I think a lot of girls my age don’t want to be in a relationship.”