Black love is a loaded phrase. We see the hashtag on social media constantly. We have our own beliefs about what love between Black couples looks like, and perhaps even have our own experiences related to Black love. Contemporary philosopher, theorist, and writer bell hooks says in All About Love: New Visions that "[t]he word ‘love’ is most often defined as a noun, yet...we would all love better if we used it as a verb.” I’m really interested in hearing about how real-life Black couples that I’m blessed to know would describe love as they practice it, and as they have experienced it, with their partner.
What is your personal definition of love?
Iicky: My personal definition of love is when you see the person you are with in everything you do.
CiCi: My personal definition of love is when you completely love, meaning loving the good and the bad accepting and loving the whole person you are with.
Tamon: A desire to put the needs of another before your own.
Karla: Love is an irrational state of being. Love does not make sense and because it doesn’t make sense, love is having the patience to deal with all the crazy, the fire and coolness that comes with it.
Demetrius: Love is commitment to now and the future. The act of accepting, embracing and uplifting that which you love even when it bares no benefit to you. Love is selfless and it provides room for you to shed your insecurities and be protected under its umbrella. Love is trusting and feeds on faith. It is a bond that extends any distance and effortlessly moves through time without abandonment. It is an organic, physical attraction to share yourself with someone. Love is an energy that defies the selfish nature of man and urges you to give of yourself everything you have because somehow love has made someone else more important to you than your own self. A cruel child that does not allow you to turn away when loving is not convenient. It’s the one constant that if attended to, will always keep us humble and human. Love is what makes it alright to be fragile. Love makes it alright to be honest. Love is everything.
Eden: Love is when the mind, body, and spirits of two people are aligned and filled with light.
Adrian Octavius Walker: Love is being motivated to be the best version of yourself and being able to express it with those around you and most important your partner. It’s unconditional and makes you feel good inside and out. Love has more than one meaning, communication, passion, patience, reflection guidance, and trust. Love is forever an experience that has no ending.
What has your partner taught you about love?
Iicky: Love is the most powerful thing in the world. Love has been the very thing that has given us the strength to go through our hardest times.
CiCi: My husband has taught me that love is patient
Tamon: My partner has taught me that love can be present at all times.
Karla: I’ve learned how to let go of thinking. He has taught me to slow down and be present in each moment.
Demetrius: It’s the physical act of showing and doing the things necessary to provide care and commitment to that which you claim you love.
Eden: He has taught me to be honest, authentic, and not afraid to be vulnerable. I never had this in any past romantic relationship and I am grateful to have a partner to teach me how important this was. After always being a confident person, he helped me add an element of bravery.
What do you love most about your partner?
Iicky: I love the little things like her facial expressions, the way she lights up when she sees me, and how she pulls her hair slightly to the side.
CiCi: I love how he knows I have had a bad day and when I need a hug.
Tamon: Her selflessness.
Karla: I love his integrity towards life and compassion for others.
Demetrius: Her unselfishness and her reckless commitment to loyalty.
Eden: His ability to love everyone and show them they are worthy of it.
What do you love most about yourself?
Iicky: I love to bring laughter to others.
CiCi: I love bringing out the best out in people in everything I do.
Karla: My open mindedness.
Demetrius: I’m cool as a muhfucka.
Eden: I love that I’ve always been so self-aware that it seeps over into all of my relationships as inspiration.
Who has taught you the most about how to love?
Iicky: “Muda”. She took me in as her own child and taught me that love goes beyond blood, race, or where you’re from.
CiCi: My relationship with Christ is continually giving me new revelation on the meaning of love.
Tamon: My mother and my father. Their bond is inseparable, their relationship real.
Karla: I’ve learned how to love indirectly by observing older couples.
Eden: My gram has taught me and my family the value of self-love and self-respect. After you’re aware of how important this is, you will be ready to love others and be loved.
How has your personal wellness journey informed your understanding of love?
Tamon: Love that is good for your soul will always find its way to the surface. It can't be hidden, and it’s immediate.
Karla: Teaching and practicing yoga has taught me so much about this thing called love. You must own up to your responsibilities and learn to be patient with your outcomes. I must quiet my mind and understand what is going on. Sometimes I can be wild and spontaneous. Yoga requires me to slow down and ensure the safety of those that I teach. I have to apply that to love because if I am too spontaneous without considering my partner, our situation could be toxic.
The journey is not a sprint, it’s a marathon without a finish line. Yoga and love are one in the same. You must breathe, you must stay attentive and when you feel fatigue remember to ask for help. Be honest with yourself by listening and attending to your intuition. You have to put in the work. I make sure that my partner is happy and give him the love he deserves. In the same breath, I have to attend to myself and make sure that I don’t lose myself in the process. It is definitely a balancing act.
Demetrius: I don't know that I've yet stopped to take a personal wellness journey. Life however teaches me everyday that I must be patient. I must learn to understand and I must exercise empathy, especially as it pertains to love. That love is not about creating something out of your partner but nurturing them so that they may grow into what they are supposed to be. To use compassion and understanding as tools and to never stop trying to improve MY approach to being in love. To have exchanges that are intimate and sex that is heartfelt, and to always put her first. Our trials have been overcome and our opportunity to grow is abundant; and what I am learning is that I have to be as conscious as I can at doing my best rendition of love and leading by example. There are an infinite assortment of lessons to be learned because life never stops changing and love has to grow...forever.
Eden: Around the same time I fell in love with Joel, I realized how important symbiotic relationships were. If I build the muscles around my bones, they will protect me from getting hurt in the future. If I spend time loving and supporting joel, especially when he needs it most, he will be that support for me. I give what I want to receive and continue to nurture areas that are weak so that I can become my strongest self for my partner and I.