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: Brenda Oakcrum | 31 | Media Research

Him: Neville Taylor | 31 | Financial Analyst

Relationship Status: Dating | 3.5 Years

Brenda and Neville met through a circle of mutual friends who all worked together at an NYC advertising agency. Over time, the two grew a relationship independent of their friend circle where they realized they had more in common than they expected.

Over time they agreed to take their friendship to the next level, even others within their circle suggested they’d make a great match. Drawn together by commonalities, especially a shared love of music, the couple agrees that the best thing about their romantic relationship is that it’s rooted in a true friendship.

What does black love mean to the black community?

Brenda: I don’t think there’s been great representation of black relationships in media. Usually the depiction you see is black men pursuing other races for love. In my immediate world I don’t see that, but that’s what I’ve seen depicted in media.

I’ve seen the older black generations as couples and also seen them go through divorce. I have two parents who stayed together so it’s a bit different for me. I’ve seen older couples who stay together and are fine. There isn’t an issue of trying to find someone of another race. But take your typical commercial for example you usually don’t see a black woman and a black man. It’s usually a black guy and a wife of another race or a black woman by herself but rarely with a significant other who’s the same race.

Neville: My friends, a lot of them do just date within their race. My parents are both black and express a lot of love that way. I agree, media wise it does sometimes feel like you don’t see too much black love between two black individuals.

How did you know you were ready to commit?

Brenda: I think I knew, it’s just a feeling that you get. The feeling is a feeling of comfort and safety and that I can be myself, he’s not going to judge me. He’s the first person I’ve dated who’s completely gotten me, gets my jokes, gets my humour, he can read me easily.

Neville: One, she makes me very comfortable. She does get all the jokes I say. Other girls I’ve dated in the past I never was friends with them first and I like that this blossomed from a friendship into a relationship. She understands me a lot more than anyone else. She’s cool with my friends and I’m able to take her around my family.

Brenda: I feel like I’m dating my best friend, I know it sounds cliche but it’s real.

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

Brenda: Social media has made people assume that your privacy is open to them. We’re in an age where information is around us at all times so you’re assuming that this person’s life is accessible to me even if I don’t know them. Because of that, people assume that they’re supposed to know what’s going on in your life. If I’m dating Neville I’m supposed to put it on my social media. We are notoriously very private people. We don’t put each other in each other’s social media at all. It’s something that even my past coworkers would say “we’re trying to find...”.

No, the minute you find him you’re just going to try to find out more about him, you’re just being nosey!

Neville: I like social media to an extent but I just don’t want people knowing my business. I also think a lot of my social media, at least related to Instagram, I try to use it more for what it was originally intended for. I think it as more of an artsy thing and not to blast out what I’m doing on a daily basis.

Brenda: Honestly, because society’s changed so much what was traditional in the past is no longer traditional. Say with my parents generation you meet someone, you’re engaged within a year and once you’re married you immediately have kids and settle down. In our day and age, that's not the case, especially living in New York because it’s the Peter Pan city you never have to grow old. It’s hard because coming from my parent’s generation they always want to give advice like “why aren’t you engaged yet?” I do get it from family members who are like, what’s your timeline?

Neville: I have two older sisters, one is 38, and she lives with her boyfriend and they don’t pressure her or anything so I think my family is different.

Blavitize your inbox! Join our daily newsletter for fresh stories and breaking news.

Chuck Marcus

Who do you look to for advice in your own relationship?

Neville: I keep a lot to myself, but when I do have issues I confide in my friends who are married because that’s the end goal. I also speak to my father or my mother a little bit.

Brenda: Same for me, I tend to look to my friends who are married or on their way to marriage and appear to have a healthy relationship. Just because people are together doesn’t mean they’re in a healthy relationship. And with those it’s those who I know will speak openly about their relationship, who aren’t hiding anything.

How do continue to build a love that lasts?

Neville: I feel like the way we connect very well, more than anyone else that I’ve known, any time we’re listening to music and vibing, we go to music shows and things like that. That’s when I'm able to recognize there’s no one else who can appreciate certain things that she appreciates, like SpongeBob jokes. 

Brenda: We tend to go out and do things in the city, live shows and art galleries. We go to these things because we’re both interested. I feel like with some couples I’ve seen it’s like I want to go to this place and you have to come with me. That’s not really a good experience in terms of bonding and love and setting a memory. We enjoy the things we go to and it sets the ground for a positive memory which then builds on the love.

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

Neville: Everlasting, I feel like it will always be there. I think what we’ve built will continue I don’t think there would be anything to change the way I feel about her. I wouldn’t do anything to affect that.

Brenda: Acceptance. Loving someone and accepting all of them, their pros, their cons, their faults, their positives, all of it. With some relationships I’ve seen people tend to run from the first sign of struggle. Like, I don’t like this particular attribute so I’m out. Sometimes it's a major thing and it’s like okay, you’re out. But relationships are hard. You’re constantly learning and growing with each other, it’s a learning experience. You have to learn to accept the entire person, not just the parts you love, but the entire person.

Blavitize your inbox! Join our daily newsletter for fresh stories and breaking news.