This piece is part of a 28-day series celebrating modern black love among millennials. It was created by Chuck Marcus and Michelle Nance, exclusively distributed by Blavity.
Him: Matthew | 29 | Frontend Developer
Her: Aylin | 28 | Frontend Developer
Relationship Status: Dating, 3.5 Years
Aylin and Matthew share a special love with several points of commonality, which include similar career paths and a shared alma mater. But what keeps them grounded is the time they take out to indulge in shared interests. These two keep their love alive by taking moments to unplug and get lost together.
Q: What does black love mean to the black community?
Aylin: Love, respect and strength amongst our people.
Matthew: Visually, it promotes togetherness and strength for our current and future generations.
Q: Do you think there’s sufficient/significant representation of black love in media? Are you encouraged or discouraged by those you see in real life or in media?
Aylin: In the media, no, but I love that it is highly represented in my core group and FAMU (Florida A&M University) circle. I think we are spoiled seeing the beauty in black love, coming from an HBCU, but it’s not reality when it comes to our community. We have to start somewhere, so I am happy I see it first hand. But I hope projects like this become more mainstream to show that [type of] love in the media. It saddens me how we portray the complete opposite in music nowadays. What happened to R&B?
Matthew: No, but who can trust the media? The 24-hour news cycle is built to portray the biggest news, circumstantially highlighting more of the negatives than the positives.
Additionally, I believe the best representatives of black love prevent or avoid media attention. I’m neither encouraged or discouraged by what I see, it is all face value at the end of the day. I have no idea what goes on behind closed doors.
Q: What’s the hardest part about being in a millennial relationship?
Aylin: Life being fast-paced because of technology and taken over by social media. The best parts of the relationship are the times we slow down and do things for us: travel, bike, hike, deep conversations, life planning, bookstore dates. People feel the need to validate and solidify their relationships by posting online and making it “real.” Matt and I don’t post much. One, because we value cohesive photography, but we don’t think of it as a place to validate anything. We make sure we invest time into each other, not online, and it’s not even intentional.
Q: Previous generations had clear and specific gender roles. How do you two define each other’s roles in your relationship, if at all?
Aylin: We don’t have set roles. It all depends on our time and what we like to do, and we trade off. I like to cook, but if I do, he cleans. Matt actually made vegan curry tonight. We take turns with cleaning the home as well.
Matt: There are no defined roles in our relationship, we share all responsibilities. We do our best to consistently communicate and support each other when and where it’s needed.
Q: Do you feel pressured by your family to be with someone who looks like you?
Aylin: Nope. My mother is Turkish and Muslim and my dad is African-American and Catholic. No real shock with whoever we bring home.
Matt: Nope. All that matters to my family is that the other person loves me.
Q: Are there any individual relationship struggles that you had to overcome?
Aylin: For me, patience. Growing up in the military, moving every 10 to 24 months, made it easy to adapt and create new relationships, but the quickness of life made it hard to practice patience. This was one thing Matt taught me and was patient with me on.
Matt: Specifically, when it comes to disagreements, understanding that everything isn’t always black and white and that grey is okay. Lin taught me that it isn’t always, "I’m right and you’re wrong." At times, actually most of the time, it is about hearing the other person out and empathizing with how they feel.
Q: What is it about having a black significant other that impacts you the most?
Aylin: For me, love is love. Coming from interracial parents, the biggest thing for me is making sure my significant other accepts me for who I am. Also, our friendship for almost six years prior to dating was our foundation. He could have been any race or religion, but I’m grateful for a strong black man!
Matt: Simply put, the ability to directly empathize with what it feels like to be black in the world.