January 16, 2023

Modern Dating as a Black Man

In this episode of The Beyond Dating podcast, host Steph speaks with Brian about his journey to self-discovery and authenticity in dating. Brian shares that he has not had any specific role models in the past that have influenced his dating style, as he realized that it is impossible to truly know another person's relationship. Instead, he has focused on self-discovery and setting a vision for himself at different ages in the future.

Brian also delves into his idea of a modern relationship, which is about recognizing that love has many faces and our expectations of ourselves do not have to conform to societal norms. He encourages listeners to provide themselves with the freedom to be in love with more than one person, to have different types of love (romantic and platonic), and to not feel pressured to conform to society's expectations.

He also highlights that with access to people and cultures all over the world, we now have the freedom to look inward and find what truly drives us in relationships, and match that with what the world offers. Overall, this episode encourages listeners to break free from societal expectations and embrace self-discovery and authenticity in their dating lives.

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[00:13:35] Steph: So do you have any. Like role models for, or that you've seen in the past that have influenced the way you date now? Cuz I know you've been on the self-discovery journal journey to be like more authentic.

But I mean, do you have somebody that you've looked up to in the past?

[00:13:57] Brian: I think it's [00:14:00] hard because I think the answer is actually no. Mm-hmm. , I think if I, if I did, um, you know, I sort of. Kind of grew up in a non-traditional family, and I, um, spent a lot of my younger years maybe looking for a role model, looking for people to identify, looking for the, you know, the optimal, looking to identify like the optimal relationship, the optimal marriage, the optimal partnership.

And what I realize is, one, you never truly know another. Person, but another person's relationship. And so you don't, you can only see what you see from the outside. And that's not the true, the, not the full story. It might be somewhat true, but not the full story. And so I never really developed like the prototype of what I was looking for in terms of like, Hey, I'm trying to emulate what this person's doing.

And you know, maybe it meant that it took a little bit longer to get to this point of self-discovery. But what [00:15:00] it did is it sort of meant. that my influences were myself and my experiences. And that was very powerful because I wasn't trying to, I wasn't trying to live up to anything. I wasn't, there wasn't this like, you know, unmet expectations cuz really my prototype was just a vision of myself.

And so my role model is myself at. Age 50 myself at age 60, myself at age 70. And what I then try and do is sort of backwards plan into, well, this is who I want to be as a person at age 50, age, age 60 when I'm older. And what does it look like to sort of build towards that?

[00:20:48] Steph: So what is a modern relationship to you then?

[00:20:54] Brian: I think that's, I think it's exactly that. It's this recognition that [00:21:00] love has many faces, that love doesn't necessarily need to come from one place, and that our expectations of ourselves, Don't need to conform to like this, you know, the caricatures that we've defined when we were like children. And that may mean like the providing yourself the freedom to be in love with more than one person.

That may mean providing yourself the freedom to have, uh, you know, romantic love and platonic love and not necessarily. One person to provide everything that may mean allowing you the freedom yourself, the freedom to not want to be in love at this moment. And I think cuz it's, it's like this idea of modern relationships.

It's, it's, I don't know that's necessarily [00:22:00] modern. I think it's just a deconstruction of, um, a conservative viewpoint on relationships that probably was developed over like the last. 300, 500 years. But I think a lot of what we think of as modern relationships is really hearkening back to the base level of hu humans as like an animal, like how we are.

Mm-hmm. . It's the idea that we don't necessarily need to force fit our relationships to society because society as we existed has, is actually an evolving character and society looks different now than it looked, uh, millennia ago and even two millennials ago. , but recognizing that we have, at least now we have the, the freedom to really look inward at what we really want at, like what really drives us.

And then to match that with kind of what, like with what the, [00:23:00] to match it with what the world gives us. But also like to really think about, let me take a step back actually. now more than ever, we have like access to people and like cultures all over the world. And like we can, if you're like really into pizza, you can find like a thousand people who love pizza and form a a pizza podcast and have like everyone listen to pizza, right?

Like it's like, and if I, like we used to live in societies where I had to find love within the, like my village. And that was it. Like that was my choice. I was gonna live in my village, I was gonna die in my village. And that was where I would. And that was very constricting. Now we can find love across the world and like nurture that love and like make it like a real thing.

And so modern relationships is recognizing the abundance of like access that we have. And so with that, we actually should allot ourselves more freedom to find what we really want and to define what we really want. Not within the constraints of like, I have to live in this village and I have to marry someone of my.

but really [00:24:00] I am this person. I have self-actualized and I know that there is some energy out there. There's some person who will vibe with this energy, and even if they don't live next door to me, they may live in my city or they may live in my state, or they might live in, I don't know, in Mexico, but I can send 'em a message on Instagram and we vibe and that's it.

And so I think that's really what modern love is for me, at least. , like recognizing that the constraints that we had around needing to define ourselves within our soci like society has changed because our society is no longer the village. It's the world. And that means like the diversity of relationships, the diversity of, uh, of people, and the diversity of just of ourselves can be met and like received in a different way than it was before.

[00:26:58] Steph: And so then how do you apply all. [00:27:00] To like being a black man, you know, like what would you share with, you know, your son or the younger generation or people coming up or anybody who is ex like dating as black men. Cause that's a very unique

[00:27:14] Brian: experience. Yeah. No, and it's a good question and, and I actually, so it's funny, I think I.

Learned very early what dating as a black man can be. And like some of the, some of the like trip wires that I didn't recognize, like my first relationship, I mean, you can barely call it a relationship, but it was like a middle, like a middle school romance. But you know, it was like we were, you know, I was a boyfriend, you were the girlfriend, you know, like we did the thing.

Um, but my first relationship ended because, um, the girl's father was uncomfortable with her dating a black. or black boy I guess at that point. And it was like, I didn't even [00:28:00] recognize that I was showing up in a relationship as a black person. I was just showing up in the relationship as myself. Um, but it really made me reflect on one that this like first it was like really hard cuz I was just like, I was like the first relationship.

I was like, didn't really know how to know, sort of navigate that. Um, but also, , it really formed this idea around, there are certain aspects of who I am that I, you can't sort of fake, you can't like skirt around. Um, like I can, you know, I can pretend to be like, you know, more artistic than I really am, but I can't pretend to not be black.

Like I'm, I am who I am, I am who I show up as. And there's also a history. Culture of ethnicity, that is how I will show up in the world. And so it's not just even the phenotype of being black, but it's the culture of like, I am West African. I like grew up as a child of immigrants. [00:29:00] I, um, grew up of like in a very working class family.

Like these are elements of that like kind of gets subsumed into being a black man. And as a result, when I show up in a relat. . I actually, I actually prefer if like very early on in dating, we just have the conversation of about like what it is, what is it like to be dating as a black person? What is it like to even, not even dating, what is it like to exist in the world as a black person or as me as a black person?

What is my experience? And I think what it does is it, one, it lifts this love the veil of like, look, we all operate in the world with, we all have our own traumas, our own histories, and, and. , but it allows the, the conversation and the relationship to immediately hit a depth that is necessary. And it does it early on so that if for some reason I recognize that the person just can't hit that depth or just like doesn't have the, um, [00:30:00] you know, very, very rarely would someone not be able to have the conversation.

But like some people just are worried about having the conversation or like scared to broach the topic or like they might be interested in, in like me as a person, but they don't want to. , they don't even want to put that on the table. Right. Um, and I actually think it's a disservice to dating if you don't put it on the table.

Mm-hmm. . It's the same way. It's a disservice to dating if you're not talking about how I exist as a man in dating. Like, it's, it's really important to say, Hey, like, I'm a black man. I'm a black man in America. I am a black man dating in America. What does that look like? How do I exist in the world? How do, what are the traumas that that brings up for.

and how does that affect the way that I show up? And when I ask those questions and I have those conversations in dating, um, I think it creates a much more powerful interaction and also creates a much more sustainable interaction. Um, cuz no matter how, no matter how [00:31:00] comfortable and like, you know, confident I am in any situation.

There will be stuff that happens in the world that like truly affects me on it, like at at my core. And it affects me at my core because I'm a black man. And in those moments when those things happen and we, you know, we see these on tv, they happen, you know, on a way to regular basis. I will be showing up that day or that week or that month or that year in a way where that is what's going on for me.

And if I can't express that and trust that you understand, or at least have created space for me to show up in that. It's really hard to date, and so that's why like having those conversations about what is it like to be a black man dating and having them early on is I, I think very important to me.

Mm-hmm. ,

[00:31:41] Steph: do you have any tips on, you know, like when to have this conversation? Like did you do it on the third date? Did you do it on the first date and then, you know, like how to even start that conversation with your partner.

[00:31:53] Brian: Yeah, I think[00:32:00]

I would say. Look, it depends on like, I guess what your first date is, but I, I see no reason not to have deep conversations. Like as I have deep conversations, like meeting someone at a party for like, the first 10 minutes, and I'm like, how are, how are you doing? Oh, your days is like, you know, something's going on for you.

Like, let's go into it. Like I'm, I'm a little bit, I'm, I wouldn't say I'm a full empath, but I, I like to create space for people to just tell me like, what's going on for them. And so my recommendation is that it happens, you know, for a second date. not like that. It's force fed as like, Hey, I want to, by the way, I just like, before we keep going, I wanna mention like, by the way, I'm black and should we, we should talk about it.

Like, no, it's like in the natural discourse of interacting, I will talk about like, you know, whether it's race issues or blackness or just like my upbringing, and in that is this idea of being a black male. Um, and so my recommendation is obviously when you're comfortable, but. , [00:33:00] like just bring it up as soon as the conversation hits that point and have, and then have the conversation in a real way.

Um, there's, I think it's a disservice to not try and be as true as you can in dating as early as possible because you end up kind of doing this dance. You know, like, again, trying to show up in a way that you're not, or that's not true to yourself. And like almost playing this idealized version of like what a first date should be, or like idealized version of like what early dating should look like.

Um, but like some of the best dates, some of the best, uh, relationships, some of the best partnerships I've had were super real from the get go. And that's what attracted me to the, to being there, to being like, to like deepening the relationship with someone is like, I didn't feel like I had to hold back immediately or try to.

like if, if I was having a bad day that day and it was even, it was my first day and I'm like, yeah, like this was going on for me and just being hon honest, like it's not like that means that I am this [00:34:00] person, like I am a, you know, it just means this is what's true for me in this moment and I wanna be able to express it and feel comfortable that the person that I'm on a date with and who may potentially be romantically interested.

can create space for that. Cause that's what I want out of a romantic partner.

[00:34:16] Steph: Mm-hmm. . So then when you're looking for a romantic partner, what is your ideal relationship style?

[00:34:23] Brian: I think it evolves, actually. I think I, I think I've gone through this. I think we all have, but I've gone through this journey of I want the.

I want two kids, a wife white picket fence. I'm like, no. I like wanna be like an eternal BA bachelor and just like, kind of like do my best impression of Leonard Leonardo DiCaprio. And then, um, I think my ideal relationship style I is like madly, deeply in love with no need for definition [00:35:00] and no need for expect.

but like a true comfort in like knowing that you're at home, like you're at home in that space, in that space with some a person. I think every other aspect of it, whether it's defining like, um, are we exclusive, are we not, are we dating other people? Are we dating other people together? Are we like, um, all of that I think kind of can evolve with time and as you like, you know, they're, that can all evolve as you as a couple evolve.

But I think for me, , it's still this idea of finding a person that I want to go really deep with and evolving together, and I'm open to the way that evolution happens. I'm open to the, the way that, um, like attraction exists and I, how I, and I understand that attraction evolves. I, I, you know, I don't necessarily believe, well, not that I don't believe, I.

I have [00:36:00] a credible doubt about the sustainability of a single, like, I guess, single monogamous, exclusive relationship over a hundred years. Like I picked a hundred as a, a arbitrary timeline, but like I just, I think in order to get like that sustained relationship, , it takes a lot of self-work, combined work, collective work, like co-evolution.

That's just so hard to do that it became like, and I knew this at a very pretty early age. I was like, that just seems really hard to do. And part of it's like my parents, you know, my parents were split up as a, when I was a kid. Um, and actually my parents were split up and got back together when I was an adult.

So like, it actually is like my view of like what love can look like and how it can sustain itself, it like is very. From, uh, from seeing their example. Um, and what I recognize is like, I don't care as much. Like some of the best [00:37:00] relationships are, like the strongest relationships I've seen weren't so focused on the definition, but we're just focused on how they show up for one another.

And that's kind of my ideal is labels aside, how are we showing up for each other and like every day waking up and want and committing to growing together? And. Everything else, I think kind of falls to the wayside compared to that. That's

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