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.

Her: Eyme “Xy” Santos | 32 | Singer and Songwriter

Him: Lamont Howard | 27 | Freelance Visual Artist & Stylist

Relationship Status: Dating

Creating together is the pulse of Eyme and Lamont’s love. The two met in Miami on the arts scene when a friend of Eyme dropped her a hint that there was someone in the city who designs similarly to her style. So, she checked him out and they first met at a party called Sundaze. Eyme immediately knew he was special because he was the first guy in Miami who smelled good.

A month after sparking her senses, Eyme asked Lamont to be her creative director on a project she was working on after spending so much time working closely the two began to grown feelings for one another that went beyond the boundaries of business.

As partners they pushed one another to grow in their craft, him training her in photography and her bringing him on board gigs. Through two and a half years of dating the couple has vowed to continue to help each other get to their best level of work so that they could represent for people of color and their culture individually and as a couple.

Q: What is the hardest part about being a millennial in a relationship in today’s climate?

Eyme: I think it’s the fast paced environment, there’s so much going on you can forget about the personal part of the relationship. With communication, which sometimes with millennials I think can be hard, we may not always take everything seriously. For us, we, like any other couple, fight and get back together and do what we have to do to work and have a future. The hardest part is wanting that instant gratification and the social media aspect of keeping up with everything.

Lamont: There’s this generational battle with baby boomers, having to fight what they put as tradition. Millennials are like the rebels. A lot of our parents see our trends and they’re like, oh I would never, while also not realizing that most of those trends ran through their generation as well. Even how we go about getting married isn’t as traditional. How we go about doing things is always a challenge because we butt heads with our folks a lot. That generation is resistant to the change and the breath of fresh air that we are bringing.

Q: How did you know that you were ready to commit to each other?

Eyme: We both won a Remy Martin contest, which is funny, but very differently. He first won their contest and that’s kind of when we decided to make it official. We came here to New York, they flew us in. We just felt like we just had each other’s back and there’s no one else who could understand one another. With me wanting to be a singer and with him being a creative director in the fashion world, it takes a certain person to be with that type of person --- to understand why you always have to stay up late, why you can’t always be together, why you need your time apart to focus on an idea. So we promised each other we’d always have each other's back. If you’re hungry, I got you, and if I’m, hungry you got me. From that moment we started traveling a lot and seeing forreal we really meant what we said. On trips going half and half, one month I might be carrying it and the next month he will. We’ve been in situations that have really solidified that we’re meant to be because I think some people would have walked away, in the hard times.

Lamont: I had already seen how her family was, her background, I did my own digging, even past traumas I investigated. If I’m gonna commit I have to make sure everything is right. Her family is cool, and how she behaves, she’s such a strong woman. She also supported me and never doubted my intuition or anything that I felt. The big thing was the family, her family embraced me.

Eyme: That Dominican food had him like, yeah.

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Q: What does black love mean to the black community?

Eyme: My perspective is that it means self-love, wanting to uplift our men and women. It’s understanding our roots, knowing where I’m from. I’m Dominican and Haitian. It’s empowering our queens in our community; Lamont does that for me. Since I’ve been with him I feel super elevated as a woman. Even amongst situations that I’ve been in when people have tried to downplay my strength as a woman, he’s always had my back. I see it in the way other black men do, like my father with my mother. He allows her to be a queen.

Lamont: I think that black love is strength. Enduring so much in society with hatred and the past traumas and the people’s perspective of us in the public lens, all of those things we have put on us with the statistics, through media. When you’re in a relationship you always worry about your significant other going about their day, those are the things you have to deal with when you’re in black love. But it’s also about making sure that person is protected and strong.

Q: Who do you look to for advice on your relationship?

Eyme: Since we moved to New York we were fortunate enough to work closely with Sharifa Murdock who is a black woman entrepreneur in the city doing amazing things. We met her because he did a job with her and I was onboard as his assistant for the trip. From the moment we connected with her she’s been somebody we go to when we have issues. We talk to her about everything: entrepreneurship, family, down to when is the right time to have a baby with what we’re doing. She understands the main parts of what we should be focusing on.

My mom, also, they had us when they were young, my mom was 19. So that was hard, two people of color together in a new place. She always speaks to us about communication. Our mentor helps us more to understand what to do with our entrepreneurship because we always work together and she has that same situation with her husband.

Lamont: I would say my grandparents, my grandmother passed away in 2004, but my granddad is still alive and they were together for 50 years. I came up with my grandmother, so that relationship showed me that black love is strong and it’s possible to be with someone for a lifetime. Unfortunately, my grandmother died from cancer but my grandfather still has her in his heart. That relationship is something I will forever look up to.

If you could describe love in one word, what would it be and why?

Eyme: Understanding. We’re all different, we all come with our tramas, our past, and things we want to work on, the things we don’t show people. Especially when you’re in a relationship and you live together you start to see all of these things out of a person. Understanding is the number one key because without it you can be very judgemental and walk away from the best thing of your life.

Lamont: I think union, because there’s this intertwining of different backgrounds into one life that streamlines into a different generation. These two people from different walks of life coming together to create a new generation of people, that’s just powerful to me.

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