Dating, Situationships and Relationships In The Digital Era of Black Love
On Friday’s (Feb. 17) episode of “REVOLT Black News Weekly,” the many forms of Black love were explored through the lenses of casual encounters and committed partnerships. Global news anchor Mara S. Campo hosted the episode “Black love matters,” which prompted a powerful discussion surrounding the current state of all things relationships and hookups.
She was joined by Michelle Hope, a professional sexologist, educator, and activist with more than 15 years of experience giving lectures and training all across the country. Through her work for underserved urban communities, she’s gained a nuanced understanding of the far-reaching effects that sexual orientation and its implications can have on one’s life. Certified relationship coach Asia Elaine, author Stephen Speaks, and sex therapist MoAndra Johnson also chimed in to chat about topics such as online dating, niche communities growing thanks to the internet, and more.
Campo cut straight to the point in the episode, talking about the historic drop in marriage rates and the reasons why so many people are saying no to unification. “Over the last 50 years, we’ve seen a huge decline in marriages. People are hooking up, being in relationships, finding long-term love, but not necessarily feeling like marriage, or maybe monogamy, is what they want,” Hope stated. In the United States, there were six marriages for every 1,000 persons in the population in 2021, according to Statista’s data. This is a significant decline from 1990 when there were 9.8 marriages for every 1,000 people.
“Historically, women were looked at as chattel, as property. A marriage signified the passing of property from a father to the suitor. That’s why we saw, and still see, a dowry. You’re paying for the bride,” Hope pointed out. Throughout history, marriage was primarily seen as a financial union with feelings of affection and companionship coming last, if at all. In present day, women make up about half of the workforce and earn high wages, but still less than their male counterparts. “I think that women are much more liberated, and I don’t think people see the necessity for it. Marriage fails at such high rates and it costs a lot,” she added.
As highlighted in this episode, luckily, there are alternatives to old-fashion marriages. Common law marriage, domestic partnerships, and cohabitation agreements are only a few of the many valid substitutes. There are pros and cons to each alternative, as they deliver only some of the benefits that matrimony traditionally has. According to Hope, “There’s all kinds of situationships that we’re seeing, but we’re seeing a lot of long-term partnerships. Some of whom may help cohabitate, some of whom may be together for a very long time and just not live with each other, and we’re seeing a really high intake of ethical non-monogamous relationships.”
Later in the conversation, Campo gave social worker Alicia Bunyan-Sampson the table to introduce the “monogamish” lifestyle, or relationships that are “romantically monogamous, but they agree upon sexual relationships with other people.” Solo polyamory, in which one person is open to dating or participating in several meaningful relationships without having a primary partner, was also one of the various forms of love she discussed. “These are people who have little or no desire to be traditionally interdependent,” said Bunyan-Sampson, who specified that these individuals very much want and still have fulfilling relationships. Elsewhere, she gave us Monogamy 101 for terms like “vees,” “polyfidelity,” and several more.
Next up, polygamous YouTuber and lifestyle blogger Passion Jonez and her partners took the stage to discuss their triad. While men are often the ones to accept more wives in polygamous unions, Jones and her husband, Black Native, have flipped the roles. “I want us all together. We’re all in the same bed, same home, and the same room. I could not see myself going from room to room because it just felt like a separation for me. I can’t, personally,” she shared regarding her relationship.
With the proliferation of dating apps, the world now has access to a seemingly unlimited pool of partners. Although this should potentially facilitate faster interactions, it has the unintended consequence of making some more selective. “For some individuals, I think it helps them understand that they don’t have to settle,” Speaks noted. “It can turn negative because some people are never satisfied, always looking for that next best thing, and can’t appreciate what’s in front of them.” Despite the fact that a person’s current romantic partnership may be ideal, other opportunities may present themselves if they keep their eyes peeled. Furthermore, if they are continually hoping for something better, they may never find it.
Bringing “REVOLT Black News Weekly” to a close, celebrities and influencers shared tips on how they maintain their relationships. Musician Jessica Betts opened up about her marriage to Niecy Nash and stated, “Loving out loud was something that I even [struggled with]. We always try to keep what we love dear to us. We don’t want to put it out there, and my wife was like, ‘I love you and I’m not hiding it for no one.’” Among couples like Steph and Ayesha Curry, LeBron and Savannah James, and even Barack and Michelle Obama, Black love has ultimately come a long way as far as public representation goes.
Meanwhile, “The Breakfast Club” co-host DJ Envy got real about his wife teaching him how to overcome his insecurities. “When I finally met this beautiful, intelligent, smart woman, I didn’t want anybody else to see her. I was scared that somebody would take her away from me,” he admitted. Poverty, a lack of education, hypersexuality, and the accompanying overstimulation all contribute to the beliefs that men have about how they should act in social situations. Young boys, in particular, tend to model their behavior after that of their dads’ and other male role models. According to Envy, “I didn’t want her to go out without me there. I didn’t want her to hang out with her friends, so I did what most men do… ‘Oh, your friends are h**s. You can’t hang out with them. You can’t wear that.’ I was trying to be her father instead of her loving friend.”
Watch a quick clip from this week’s special installment up top. Plus, be sure to catch new episodes of “REVOLT Black News Weekly” on the REVOLT app.