5 Reasons why You Should not Move in Together And 5 Reasons Why You Should!

Image by candysdirt.com

Image by candysdirt.com

I met a beautiful young lady just the other day who told me that she and her girlfriend moved in together after only dating two weeks! By the time we spoke, they had lived together six months and she seemed very happy. And lucky. Some of us are not so lucky. I’ve been there, done that and thought I’d share some tips so you can avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made:

1. It’s time. After dating for a year or two, moving in together seems like the next step. After all, most people are not interested in dating indefinitely. But, are you simply moving in together because it is the next step or are you moving in together because you want to create a life together? If you’re not interested in building a life together, you’ll be little more than roommates and unfortunately that doesn’t make for a lasting living situation.

2. Financially makes sense. Some people move in together to save money and that is extremely practical and unromantic. It may seem much more pleasurable to share bills with your honey than with Jerome but your honey can cause problems that Jerome cannot! And when you fight, there’s no escaping each other. If you’re having a tough time making ends meet, get a roommate or two, and when the roommate gets on your nerves, spend the night at your honey’s house or when your honey annoys the crap out of you, you have your own space to go to.

3. Laziness. Let’s face it, it’s very unlikely that your perfect someone is going to literally be the girl next door. Sometimes she is an hour away or even in a different time zone. It can be exhausting driving or flying to visit her. But I never recommend you move in with someone because you’re tired of the travel. If you’re tired of commuting to each other, put away the moving boxes and plan a special long weekend to recuperate.

4. You spend every night together anyway. This is probably the best-sounding reason to move in together. But I still recommend against moving if that is your sole motivation. Spending every night together is not the same as running a household together. Spending copious amounts of time together having fun is no substitute for facing the realities of life together.

5. It’s temporary. Stuff happens. That’s a fact. So when one of you loses your job, it may seem like your honey is the best person to bunk with until you get back on your feet. Think again and see point number 2 above. Had you talked about moving in together before she lost her job, moving in together now would be fine. No one wants to feel like a back-up plan. In this case, since it’s going to be temporary, don’t put any pressure on the relationship by expecting or offering to prematurely share space.

5 Reasons why You Should Move in Together

So you two have determined that you’re not moving in together for any of the above reasons. If you’ve addressed any of the issues below, it may be time for you to move in together:

1. You share similar long-term goals. You two have talked about your long-term goals and moving in together is not just a temporary, money-saving situation. You are moving in together because you plan to build a family, own a home, etc. All in all, you’re planning to be together and be there for each other.

2. You share the same values. This one is a doozey. Should you not share the same values, moving in together will definitely reveal that. Living together can show you so much more than several carefully orchestrated dates where being on your best behavior ever could.

3. You’ve discussed the what-ifs. Have you talked and agreed what would happen if one of you lost a job, needed to relocate or have family demands? For those of us who are a bit older, we could be the primary caregiver for an aging parent. How will your honey support you during this time? Or if you are a parent, what role does your girlfriend play in the child’s life?

4. You’ve gone to see a counselor. Even if it is just for a couple of sessions, seeing a counselor can be very helpful. The right counselor can help you navigate some hot-button issues and give you some great tools for managing conflict.

5. Accept that there will be problems. Whatever patterns you engage in now to resolve conflict while living separately will serve as a template for how you will fight once you move in together. Some things may change, but know that some things never will and be okay with the latter. By now we all know that life is not conflict-free, and if we can accept that our partners, wives or girlfriends are not perfect and neither are we, the better prepared we will be to share a life together.

Army Brats Meet in Middle School, Fall in Love Seven Years Later

Vanessa & Jasmine 2

I came across Vanessa and Jasmine’s story on the American Military Partner Association. The two, who met in middle school and met up again seven years later,  were married on January 17, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Both are Army brats who have lived in many different places. Vanessa is a patient care coordinator at a local dermatology in Fayetteville, N.C., and Jasmine is an Army Staff Sergeant, Geospatial Engineer (12Y).

READ MORE ABOUT THEIR STORY HERE. 

 

 

Family is Who You Choose Them to Be

 

Lia and Ashell, who live in Pennsylvania, have been together for five years.

Lia and Ashell, who live in Pennsylvania, have been together for five years.

 

Indiana natives Lia and Ashell, both 26, met in college in 2009. They officially got together about three years ago then moved to Baltimore for school. They now reside in York, Pa. When they first moved to Baltimore, they got an apartment together to save money and were soon faced with the daily realities of maintaining their relationship. Below they share how they managed to keep their love strong over the years:

Black Lesbian Love Lab (BL3): How did you two meet?

Ashell: We worked together in Indiana [at a retail store]. I was training Lia.

Lia: But she didn’t like me. When we first met, she thought I was somebody else.

Ashell: I did not like her at all. At the time I was with a guy who cheated on me, and she looked just like the girl he cheated with. I soon realize she wasn’t [that] person.

BL3: Was this your first relationship with a woman?

Ashell: She was my first relationship with a woman. I started liking girls in high school, but I never acted on it. I came from a Christian background, but in college I started noticing the attraction more and that’s when I met Lia.

Lia: Before Ashell I had been with one other woman. But I didn’t really [have to] convince her to date me. She actually came on to me! I didn’t really know what to think. I could tell she was flirting with me, but didn’t think she was serious. Because she had been in a relationship with a guy, I figured she wasn’t really interested in me like that. I tried to keep it like cool and not force anything.

Ashell: Yeah, I pursued her heavily. Lia was not interested at all (both laugh). She’s really quiet so I kinda had to force her to talk. We were the only two black people at work and said, “Come on you have to talk to me.” I gave her my number for “work purposes.” The first time she contacted me it was about work. She texted me and we just kept talking and we went from that to crushing on each other and then started having girls’ nights out.

BL3: What is the secret to why your relationship has lasted this long?

Lia: We’ve been through a lot to get to where we are now. It’s definitely not easy. We continue to work at our relationship and learn from each other.

Ashell: When you first fall in love, you don’t really see each other for who you are. You only see the good side. We clashed a lot, but never broke up. It took a lot of patience and learning who each other are.

Lia: We learned to work together. I feel like I saw potential in our relationship and what could be. When we first got together, we were happy all the time and once we started living together and seeing each other for who we are, there were some ups and downs.

Ashell: I held on knowing that this is the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. In my head, we were already married and I didn’t believe in divorce.

BL3: What was one of the challenges you dealt with?

Ashell: I came out through the church first but feel like I came out twice, because I was out but partner wasn’t. As soon as I realized I was with her, I started telling people, but she wasn’t ready. So trying to be respectful of [her] was a struggle even though it would have been easier to do together. It’s a different process for everybody.

BL3: What other tools did you two use to work on your relationship?

Lia: We went to counseling together and separately. I think that helped both of us become aware of ourselves. And then after awhile, we just kind of got it.

Part 2: The StudSlayer Slams Notion of the “Confused” Gender Queer, Dispels the Myth of the “Touch Me Not” Dom

KaiBrownPt2

Kai Brown uses her StudSlayer Tumblr page to challenge our ideas of how things “should” be. Photo by Ashlee Nikole.

In part 1 of my conversation with Kai Brown aka the StudSlayer, the self-professed “king of stud 4 stud (s4s),” we talked about what some in our community would consider her “taboo” relationship with a similarly masculine woman. As we continued the conversation about everything from gender politics to why she participated in a porn flick, it’s clear to see she is unafraid of shattering taboos. Read more below:

Black Lesbian Love Lab (BL3): With prominent news stories about Laverne Cox, Janet Mock and even Jay Kelley (R. Kelley’s child), gender has pretty much taken over the headlines lately. What do you think is missing from the conversation?

Kai: I think COMPASSION and HUMANITY are missing from the general conversation. We are so caught up in the mechanics and biology of gender that we forget no matter what, they are human beings with feelings and desires and needs. The general public doesn’t see Trans people as human but as a medical anomaly and we need to focus back on the human element. I’m tired of the focus being on genitals and sexual proclivities.

BL3: So, who you think is missing from the conversation? How can we make the conversation on gender more inclusive?

Kai: There are MANY capable trans men of color whose voices are NOT heard on the mainstream media platform such as Dr. Kortney Zeigler, Kye Allums, Kai Greene to name a FEW. When trans men are being discussed it’s always Chaz Bono or Buck Angel—white faces. I’ve yet to see any of those brown men on Piers Morgan, Katie Couric or Anderson Cooper’s shows and that needs to change.

BL3: In one story about Jay Kelley (R. Kelly’s child) coming out as transgender, the writer suggests this may be due to his “confusing” family life.

Kai: Jay Kelly is being mentioned ONLY because of his infamous dad, who by the way isn’t even in Jay’s life so I don’t even know why he’s relevant. Jay’s mother, the parent who totally supports him doesn’t even get mentioned, but “chestering” ass R. Kelly is all in the mix. I find it disturbing that the black community is ok with R. Kelly pissing on and molesting teenage girls, but not accepting of and supportive of Jay’s transition.

BL3:What would you say to those who believe gender queers are confused?

Kai: Trans and gender queer people are no more confused than any other person getting to know themselves. Because we don’t understand and mainly don’t want to understand, we vilify them and make them out to be the “confused” ones. Who knows more about you than you? If someone says, “THIS IS WHO I AM,” we need to shut the entire fuck up and not only accept it but respect it.

Do You Like The Woman Sleeping Next to You?

Do you like your partner? Yes, I know that you love her. Do you know how I know that? I see your cute, lovey-dovey pictures plastered all over Facebook and Instagram; you seem to be joined at the hip and you can’t seem to pry yourself away from her face. And who can blame you? But I’m actually curious to know how many of you really like your partner. No, I didn’t ask if you liked how she looks or how she throws down in bed. I want to know if you genuinely like her as a friend.

Photo: createloveforwomen.blogspot.com

Is it even possible to love someone you don’t even like? And I’m not just talking about you both doing things that irk the heck out of each other occasionally. I’m talking about not having a baseline of respect and admiration—or in therapist-speak “contempt”—without those your relationship is destined to fail. I have been contemplating this question for a very long time, and I believe you can love someone you don’t like, but this is not necessarily a good thing.

The Chemistry Trap

In recent years, I’ve been on a dating spree. (I was a late bloomer, and I think I’m just overcompensating for not coming out sooner.) And I’m slightly ashamed to say this, but I’ve dated women I did not necessarily like for longer than I should have. Why? Well, more than likely we had near instantaneous chemistry, which caused me to ignore some red flags. Confession, I’m one of those women who gets emotionally attached way too quickly.

I don’t necessarily have this problem when forming platonic friendships. When pursuing a platonic relationship, if I don’t like Person A, I will not make any efforts to rationalize, convince myself otherwise, or make excuses for why I should continue the friendship. That’s just a fact. But for some damn reason, I can’t seem to do this with my romantic attachments and a couple of times I’ve ended up thinking, “If I hadn’t tripped and fallen face first in your V, I would not even be friends with you.”

Any way, the necessity of liking my partner was repeatedly highlighted in several of my own romantic relationships. In one relationship, my partner and I were both quirky and nerdy and had a kindred connection. We enjoyed each other’s company, made each other laugh, talked about any and everything and had incredible chemistry. When that relationship ended, it was a devastating loss for me. I had lost my best friend. But, the friendship alone had not been enough to keep that relationship from imploding.

On the flipside, I had some incredible chemistry with another woman who insisted that we take our time to get to know each other. She was so serious about not letting the physical cloud our reasoning, she wouldn’t even let me use the word “date” when describing our connection. She even asked me point blank if I liked her or just the way she looked. I could not answer her honestly. Although we had many things in common, there were some important values that we did not share. Had we gone ahead and gotten prematurely physical, I may have tried to minimize those very important values and end up annoyed at finding myself in a relationship with someone I did not understand or particularly like.

Although I haven’t dated all that much this summer, I’ve already had some revelations and have matured a bit. I recently met up with a cute, masculine of center intellectual (that’s my type by the way) with whom I felt a physical connection, but I didn’t like her (she was an elitist snob), so she’s out of the picture. Phew! I didn’t need a second date to figure that one out!

What Happy Couples Say

Some of the happy couples I’ve interviewed, not only seem to love each other, but like each other. One woman said her wife was her favorite person and that she was excited to see her at the end of the day. Another said, she liked her wife not just as a lover, but as a citizen.

When I posed the ‘do you like your partner’ question on Facebook, one of my wiser friends said, “I happen to like my partner … We started out as friends and have always cultivated a friendship between us as well as the romance and partnership. We often tell each other (randomly) ‘I like you’ as much, if not more than, ‘I love you.’”

Another said, “I would not be with a woman who I didn’t like and respect.”

Now, I’m no dating expert, but I do have a suggestion. Quick, pull out your phone and jot down 10 things you like about your partner. Better yet, instead of reaching over to caress her sexually the next time you see each other, tell her the things you like about her. While going to therapy with a former partner, our therapist made us start and end each session by asking us to tell each other something we liked about each other. Since she tended to be very critical, I was surprised and delighted to hear my partner say all the things she liked about me. I even recommend doing this kind of inventory before you decide to take your relationship to the next level. None of us are perfect but friendship truly should be the foundation of a strong relationship. I believe it paves the way for us to fully accept, love and like our partners despite these flaws.

We Want to Tell Your Story!

Here at BlackLesbianLoveLab.com, we want to highlight and celebrate the full spectrum of black queer women in or seeking relationships! This means we would love the privilege of telling your stories. As we build this site, we are presently looking for stories in the following category:

Dating While … Tell us your dating stories in the context of something unique about yourself. What is it like for you to date while: butch, femme, older, unemployed, polyamorous, disabled, single parenting, out of town/long distance, white/different race, BBW, a non-driver, the list is endless! Send us an email at editor@blacklesbianlovelab.com.

And we are always looking for stories in these areas:

*Your love stories

* Your stories of how your family came together

 

Photo by Zanele Moholi

Couple Featured in The New Black Film, Talk About Love and Equality

The Burk family includes Candus, Marquise, Leia and Irene.

The Burk family includes Candus, Marquise, Leia and Irene.

I was at a friend’s engagement party when they first caught my eye. I enjoyed watching them because it was clear that they absolutely adored each other and relished each other’s company. They laughed and talked to each other and held hands and kissed like teenagers. But they were not teenagers. Newlyweds Leia and Irene Burks married last year, nearly two years after they first met through Match.com. Both women, who work in law enforcement (Irene for Prince George’s County, Maryland and Leia for the federal government), were interviewed in the documentary, The New Black. The film, which premiered on PBS’ Independent Lens on Sunday, June 15, explores the fight for marriage equality in African-American churches and communities all across the country. Below we talk with the Burks, who reside in Bowie, Md., about the film and how they became a family:

Black Lesbian Love Lab (BL3): Why did you two agree to participate in the documentary?  

Irene: We agreed to do the documentary because it was an extension of my work as an activist for marriage equality. A few years ago, I don’t remember where or who, someone asked if I would be interested in sharing my story of being a military veteran and a police officer, a servant to my country and my county, and how marriage inequities made me feel. Next thing I know, I am speaking before Maryland [lawmakers], attending briefings at the White House and working on a national project with the Department of Justice for the sake of equality in general. Leia and I are well respected at work, admired by our friends and supported by our families—something that many LGBT folks don’t have, particularly black LGBT folks. We are able to be public and open and by this point, news media had contacted us asking us to show the “gay family” side of [the freedom to marry question] on the [Maryland] ballot, and we have kids who were thrilled at the thought of being in a movie.

BL3: Have you seen the documentary? What do you think about it? 

Irene: We have seen the documentary (see trailer below) and it airs this Sunday at 10 p.m. on PBS so we will see it again! We think filmmaker, Yoruba Richen, did a fantastic job showing both sides of this black and gay topic. There was no bias or leaning more towards one way or the other but the viewer certainly can see at the end who/what was defeated and rightfully so.

BL3: The film addresses the black church’s resistance to marriage equality. How has religion played a role in the way you see your sexuality? Are you both religious?

Irene: Leia and I have talked about religion and share much the same views of believing in a higher entity. Neither of us questioned our sexuality because of religion and it was never an issue of concern for either of us. We don’t attend church, but Leia has mentioned going to an affirming church but I’m still on the fence about that being a recovering Catholic.

Part 1: Why The StudSlayer Stopped Sneaking Around With the Bois

Kai Brown is known online as the StudSlayer.  Photo by Ashlee Nikole

Kai Brown is known online as the StudSlayer. Photo by Ashlee Nikole

Editor’s note: The headline on this article has been updated to better reflect the entirety of our conversation.

Kai Brown aka the StudSlayer, the self-professed “king of stud 4 stud” caught my eye when I stumbled upon her Studslayer Tumblr page. I immediately found the pictures she posted of herself with her long-term partner “Slang” intriguing. Both women sport short haircuts and wear men’s clothing. I was so used to seeing butch/femme or femme/femme couples that their rare pairing piqued my interest. Below is part 1 of our conversation, which focuses on her relationship and why she brought to light her love for the bois:

Black Lesbian Love Lab (BL3): You consider yourself a stud. Please let us inside of your head. What is it about yourself that makes you a stud? Have you always identified as a stud?

Kai: The term ‘stud’ is a down south moniker for a masculine woman, and I am a masculine woman. For me it’s not just about wearing men’s clothes, its an attitude, a way of thinking and a lifestyle. I often [think] my environment as much as biology … produced the person I am. I was raised in a family that’s predominately male. ALL my career choices have been male-dominated careers so men is mostly who I’ve surrounded myself with [in] my adult life. I have always identified as a stud as far as presentation but ‘queer’ more accurately describes my mentality and sexuality.

BL3: There have always been people who wonder why lesbians date women who have a more masculine presentation. What would you say to people whose minds are blown by the idea of two studs in a romantic relationship?

Kai: Two studs dating has been going on since the beginning of time IN THE WHITE COMMUNITY! That’s nothing new. You see images all the time of white butch women together and no one bats an eye at that. The only problem with [stud for stud] s4s is in the black lesbian community. Our culture is very insistent on gender roles and those roles are reinforced through our music, the black church/religion and good ol’ patriarchy. So seeing two, butch, black women is often compared to gay men. Automatically our masculinity and identity is challenged and mocked. One of us HAS to be ‘the woman’ or the more submissive person. It’s very frustrating. Why can’t we just be two women who happen to be masculine presenting [who] are in love?

BL3: Why and when did you start dating studs?

Kai: I’ve been dating studs since I was a kid playing basketball in [the Amateur Athletic Union]. That circuit was my breeding ground for dealing with other masculine women. What better way to fool around than under the guise of basketball? But peer and community pressure forced me to conform and I dated femmes in the open and snuck around with my bois. As I got older, I just got tired of sneaking and more importantly I was tired of denying my sexual desires. All too often the femmes I dated were forcing gender roles on me. I was always the one who had to take out the trash, lift heavy items, do all the work in the bedroom while I got nothing. If I mentioned I wanted to receive sexual pleasure from my femme, I was shamed and teased and told ‘studs don’t do that’ or ‘studs are not supposed to want to be touched.’ WHAT?? After too many encounters like that, I decided I was going to date bois full time AND be open and proud about it!

BL3: So Slang was not your first stud girlfriend? How was that received by your family and in the community? How did you handle the feedback?

Kai: Slang was not the first but she is certainly the BEST! LOL. Our families (hers mainly) looked at us funny for a moment, but it’s never been a big issue. My family already knew how I rolled so they didn’t care either. Now the community—Washington, D.C.—is definitely steeped in gender roles so when we ‘came out’ as a couple, we got a lot of looks and questions ESPECIALLY during PRIDE events. But it’s been six years and everyone knows us so it’s not an issue anymore.

“We are not a Novelty Anymore,” Says Fashion Guru

Audrey Smaltz and Gail Marquis

We first met Audrey Smaltz, an olympic champion and and Gail Marquis, a former model and fashion editor, in 2011 when they appeared in the documentary film, “The Devotion Project.” After 12 years together, the couple got married on November 11, 2011. “The day was perfect!” Audrey said when talking about their wedding day in the film. “When you finally got out of the car and walked across Central Park West, Oh my God, you were so gorgeous in that yellow jacket!”

Today, in celebration of the first anniversary of the Supreme Court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), MSNBC shared an interview with the couple. Audrey said that she has noticed a general shift in attitude after DOMA was struck down. “We’re not a novelty anymore,” she said. Gail agreed, “Someone that you know is gay and you like them and it’s alright! Big deal!” READ THE FULL INTERVIEW ON MSNBC.

Dating Diaries: The Entitled Femme

“I like to be taken care of,” she said in response to my question asking her what her type was.

I was confused. Did she mean monetarily? Cause I was not the type who paid other people’s rent or for their weekly weave maintenance just for the pleasure of fucking them. Some Doms and men may consider this normal, but not this chica. This was the main reason I did not usually date femmes. But that night, when this particular femme walked by me looking cute, sweet and with a body that would not quit, my aggressive femme side came out to play. I’m a tits-and-ass kinda gal, but the catering expectation was generally a turn off. That night, for some reason or other, was different.

“I like to be catered to. I like what I want when I want it,” she responded in answer to my furrowed brow.

I grinned and said, “So do I! Maybe we can cater to each other.”

She gave me a very skeptical look. She didn’t seem interested in or willing to try on this alien concept for size. And who could blame her? We were both used to dating Doms, so taking a dip into the femme-femme wading pool was as fraught with as much danger as a non-swimmer jumping into the deep end of the pool. For about 10 years, I’ve been blinded to my sense of entitlement/privilege as a femme. No one, except for my recent ex, has ever really called me on it. She called me spoiled and she was probably right.

Catering, Pleasing & Spoiling
I’ve never really thought much about it. Eons ago when I dated men, I thought it only natural that he fall in line with societal dictates that said in many ways that men were supposed to pursue and submit to women’s desires. I’m speaking along the lines of the “happy wife, happy life” mantra, not the “women are property and have no desires/interests outside the home” myth. So, when I started dating and being attracted to more dominant women who presented as femmes, I naturally expected to be “catered to,” pleased and spoiled.

And I continued to date more dominant women who seem to get the unspoken message that part of the butch-femme dynamic involved pampering and pleasing her. For some femmes that means providing for her financially. For others it may mean taking on more traditional male roles in and outside of bed. For me that meant I expected to get my way pretty much all the time while my butch partner worked herself into a lather trying to please me. This often meant that she was the one who made attempts/plans to see me, brought me tokens of affection, drove us everywhere as I was nervous about driving in Washington, D.C., and she was always the one to come with flowers, chocolate and an apology after any fights. And I felt perfectly entitled to being treated like a princess of sorts. (Even so I was an egalitarian femme when it came to money. I never expected my butch to pay my way for anything. We were both adults with jobs and I was fine with us taking turns treating each other.)

I’ve come a long way and still have far to go. There’s a phrase floating around the web and it says, “We’re both the girl. That’s the point!” I love it as it is a reality check for us femmes. It reminds me that being in a relationship with a woman, or really any relationship at all, is not all about me.

We both have needs, feelings and desires and mine are no more important than hers simply because I sometimes wear heels and lipstick.

One of the things my butch ex rightfully accused me of was being uncommunicative at times. Femmes are supposed to be chatty and emotional, right? Just because my butch partner literally wore the pants did not mean she had no feelings. She actually cried more than I did. There were times when I told her that dating her was like dating a man because she could be so oblivious and she didn’t find it cute. Rather she found the words hurtful and did not appreciate the gender stereotype. I also learned from her that of there is something about your partner that is frustrating or confusing, instead of making noxious gender assumptions, it may be best to simply have a conversation.

As for the femme that helped bring my femme privilege into sharper focus, we still talk occasionally. We are not what each other are looking for, but she is a smart, kind, attractive, financially independent woman and we enjoy each other’s company from time to time.

 

Do you date femmes or identify as a femme? What do you love about us? Was this article way off base?  Tell me what you think by commenting below!