How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
Take one look at Skylar Marshai's Instagram feed and you'll see all of her loves meeting in the most exquisite symphony of visual pleasure. Chances are, you're captivated by her aesthetic, her knack for storytelling, and her luxurious travel excursions around the world. What you'll also notice is the man behind the lens, her beau Temi.
As a creative duo and an embodiment of Black love, Skylar and Temi have effortlessly racked up miles as they've made their way across the globe, creating memories in Hawaii, Morocco, Barbados, Italy, and Mexico to name a few. For the couple, travel has acted like a love language and a cornerstone of their relationship. In just a year, Skylar and Temi have managed to give so much of the world to each other, undoubtedly an ode to the one-of-a-kind love they've found. But don't get it twisted, Skylar worked hard for her love story.
Courtesy of Skylar Marshai
Just two years ago, Skylar was featured in a conversation with content creator Bobo Matjila. In the video interview, the two chatted about Skylar's impressive trajectory from fashion student to entrepreneur as the designer behind the lingerie brand As You Are Intimates. After broaching the subject of her love life, the then 21-year-old shared, "It would be nice to see what this Skylar looks like in a relationship because I know I shed off the immaturities of my 18-year-old self. There's still certain things about me that I know I need to tweak but I can't do that unless I'm in a relationship, going back and forth, sharing parts of myself and being faced with them."
Little did she know, she'd soon meet the love of her life, a love her time alone had prepared for. When Temi met Skylar, it was through DMs and at the time, there were several states separating them. What bridged the distance was their instant virtual connection. While Skylar was unsure if a relationship was what she wanted, Temi was steadfast in his pursuit, knowing that there was something special about her. What would solidify their union and quiet any doubt was their official first date a month later. The rest of which is history and they've got the passport stamps to prove it.
In this installment of xoNecole's How We Met, the social media strategist and the technical account manager walk us through their beginning, their courtship, and their boundless commitment to one another.
How They Met
Temi: I was out at dinner with some of my fraternity brothers catching up and talking about what we wanted in our futures. I was scrolling through Instagram and Skylar popped up in a linen two piece fit and a high pony. I automatically felt an energy just looking at her photos. I knew I had to dive into her DMs and at least talk to her so that's what I did.
Skylar: Every time I get this question, I hear, "It goes down in the DMs it goes...down," playing in the back of my head, which is, essentially, where it all started. Temi slid in my DMs September 2018 and who woulda thought? But I fell. I just didn't know it yet. He slid, I fell, here we are.
Temi: My first impression of her didn't really come with any words. They were all feelings that I was still trying to figure out. Here I was seriously trying to pursue a woman I'd never met before, who lived over 800 miles away. I didn't know much about her at the time either. I only knew that her friends had all gone to California to celebrate one of their birthdays and I thought that was pretty dope that they'd go above and beyond for one another like that. I could tell from the few [Instagram] stories that were on her page that she had the type of aura where it seemed as if the sun rose when she woke up and set when she decided the day was done. A contagious energy that warmed those around her.
Skylar: I said, "Who is this fine Black man in my requests?!" (Laughs) I hardly got DMs from guys, so it was refreshing and exciting. I did the casual IG profile stalk, you know the one where you scroll all the way back and see what's going on. It was a light impression, though, as there's only so much you can get through Instagram and I also peeped he wasn't in NYC so I didn't think too much into it. My previous relationship had been long-distance and I wasn't rushing to be in another. I just knew I wanted to flirt back and so I did.
"I could tell from the few stories that were on her page that she had the type of aura where it seemed as if the sun rose when she woke up and set when she decided the day was done. A contagious energy that warmed those around her."
Temi: I was instantly attracted to Skylar and everything that came with her. It was weird because I felt like I found love for the first time with her. You know that high school first love that'll have you laying on the couch upside down, feet towards the ceiling talking about your favorite music genres at 5:30 am love. Everything just flowed so naturally, there was no forcing it and as time went on I think that only made me fall even deeper.
Skylar: I was attracted to him instantly, hence me allowing the DM slide to take place to begin with. (Laughs) But I will say that it took some time for me to get out of my own way and allow him in. I wasn't looking for a relationship, nor was I ready for one, but you don't plan these things. They kind of seek you out and you've gotta love yourself enough to let them.
Temi: Our first date was also our first time meeting each other. We had been talking for about a month and a half at this point, so I flew up to New York to spend some time with her. Around this time we understood that just because you can gel with someone virtually doesn't mean that things will be the same in person, so we were fully prepared to just stay friends if the vibes weren't the same in person. Our first date was really one calm weekend. We spent our first weekend together walking around the SoHo District of New York. I remember we stopped to eat at Digg In and just sat on some stairs outside of a building and talked about anything and everything until day turned to dusk. The date was natural. It was different. I was used to going out for nice dinners or excursions for first dates, but this was a nice outing with a good friend, and I think that's what I valued most about it. Everything we did felt like I was just hanging out with someone I'd known my entire life.
Skylar: Our first date was actually when we met! I got the side eyes from my girls (who were otherwise quite supportive), and I was hella nervous but I felt more secure in that Temi and I had such a great bond already. I'm also not one to encourage lavish dates to start, there's too much pressure and he had come to visit me so I kind of planned the weekend out. We spent our first real date in SoHo, aimlessly wandering the streets doing the whole 20 questions thing. I think we'd talked so much about ourselves prior to the date that it ended up being more about how we felt in the presence of one another. I always ask myself when dating, "How does this person make me feel? How do I feel when I'm with this person?" If it's healthy, positive, natural, it's something I pursue. And in this case, it absolutely was.
Making It Official
Temi: The courtship was interesting. With me still living in DC at the time we would mostly text all day and fall asleep with each other on FaceTime at night. We'd alternate going back and forth between taking buses/flights to see each other. Around this time, I'd sold all of my DJ equipment and was beginning to express my creative side in photography. I'd purchased my first camera and came home one day to a package at my door. She'd bought me a really good off-camera light and I really appreciated it. Not that she'd gotten me a gift but that we weren't even official, and she was investing in my creative advancement. When it came to finally making things official, she was the one who actually asked me out.
Skylar: He courted me, to START. But I'd like to think I was the catalyst in allowing things to really progress, primarily because of how stubborn I was to let him push things along. Once we moved out of my DMs and broke the ice with our first FaceTime conversation, we were basically inseparable–or as inseparable as two people in a long-distance flirtationship could be. Eventually he came to visit me and we had to have a very mature conversation about what would happen if we met and it didn't hit the same in person. But it did, and we decided there was no rush. He had decided long before I did that he wanted to be with me, that I was his. The thing is, because he was so confident in it, he didn't pressure me to be ready. He waited until I was ready and we went from there.
"We decided there was no rush. He had decided long before I did that he wanted to be with me, that I was his. The thing is, because he was so confident in it, he didn't pressure me to be ready. He waited until I was ready and we went from there."
Temi: I knew I wanted to commit to a relationship with Skylar when I realized that we weren't in one sometime in mid-November. Everything between us was so natural and fluid that it felt like we were already together and had been for quite some time. During our first date in New York, she had told me that she wasn't ready for anything super serious and I wasn't going to try to pressure her into something she wasn't ready for so we just enjoyed each other whenever we could. She had traveled down to DC to be my date for a company holiday party and before we left, she asked me if I wanted to be her boyfriend, real girlboss (laughs). The rest is history.
Skylar: I honestly think he committed to me very early in our relationship. He made it very clear he had no intention of being with anyone else and that when I was ready we could make it exclusive. I, on the other hand, decided to commit once I realized that I had subconsciously cut ties to my dating life, when I realized I was already moving as if he was mine and I was his. I was saying one thing and doing another. I swore I was going to take it slow, not rush, continue to date until I felt confident in us. I think that stemmed from rushing in too quickly in past relationships, not knowing who it really was that I was falling for. I've found this slow, creeping love to be much more satisfying. And even still, I was already his long before I made that decision.
"I've found this slow, creeping love to be much more satisfying. And even still, I was already his long before I made that decision."
The “L” Word
Temi: I knew it was love when days where we would talk less felt a bit more dull or less sunny if that makes sense. She brought a new type of light into my life that quite frankly I couldn't get enough of. At some point while we were dating we started to have conversations about pain, baggage, and regrets. It's one thing to love all the good that a person might have, it's another to love them through all of their faults and blemishes. I remember how I felt after we'd have these conversations—the same. I still wanted to hold her, kiss her, and protect her from the world. That's when I knew it was love.
Skylar: Temi actually told me he loved me first, and I was SHOOK. The second he told me, he immediately followed up by saying that he wasn't saying it to hear it back. He was saying it so I knew he did. By that point, he had learned me well enough to know that I couldn't be rushed into anything. I respected him for being so gentle with such a stubborn individual. Days later, I took a bus to spend some time with him in DC and as we were leaving our hotel room and walking down the hall, I remember looking at him and just loving him. I was overwhelmed by my adoration for his kindness, his empathy to my feelings, his intelligence, and tons of other qualities about him. I swear it was God, I've only had that feeling twice before. I stopped him right there in the hallway and said, "Hey, I love you," and he said, "I know that girl!"
The Sweetest Thing
Temi: My favorite thing about Skylar is that she doesn't finish all of her food. Literally (laughs). When we go out to eat, I know that I'll have a nice little second portion of food waiting for me when I'm done eating every time. My five love pillars are God, Family, Skylar, Food, and Food so there you go. The fact that she leaves me a little something on the side, a little Razzle Dazzle if you will, really melts my heart.
Skylar: Easily his selflessness when it comes to me. I've found myself moving over so often in my past relationships with no return being made on my account, where in this one room is made for me. From day one, he's created space in our relationship for me in the same way that I do him. He grants me grace, forgiveness, where others have not. And he does it so easily! Honestly, he doesn't think twice about hearing me out, talking things through, admitting his wrongs. When your partner moves in such a way, it makes it hard to not want to do the same for them. It's funny because I'm being deep here and he'll probably say his favorite thing about me is that I don't finish my food or that I'm always cold (he's always warm) When I say we balance each other I mean it).
"I've found myself moving over so often in my past relationships with no return being made on my account, where in this one room is made for me. From day one, he's created space in our relationship for me in the same way that I do him. He grants me grace, forgiveness, where others have not."
Temi: It probably sounds cliche but 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast…." really is a staple for what we've learned through loving each other. We've decided to pour our all into one another and put our blinders on in our love life the same way we do our professional life. We've learned not to compare but uplift. Not to brag, but to teach, not to hold grudges or blow up on one another but instead take a step back and process our feelings before coming back to communicate. Through our love, we've learned how to love life itself and the people we hold dear.
Skylar: I think love allows room for understanding. We've put so much work into communication and grace. One time when Temi and I were arguing, I mentioned how something he did was of such an inconvenience to me. He asked me, "But if it doesn't hurt you, and if it helps me, why can't I be your exception?" And damn, I felt that. I was complaining about something so small in the grand scheme of our love, something that was only an inconvenience to me because it was against my preference, not my morals or values. He's helped me love him better and thus love better. If I'm going to make exceptions for anyone (healthy exceptions), it'll be for those I love.
"He's helped me love him better and thus love better. If I'm going to make exceptions for anyone (healthy exceptions), it'll be for those I love."
Temi: I had to learn how to understand her as a feminist. Personally I'm the type of person that doesn't care what someone studies, practices, or believes as long as it does not harm another person. With Skylar I had to unlearn that way of thinking because it put an energy of complacency in the air. Instead of sitting on the sidelines cheering, I needed to actively use my privilege to support my girlfriend in her goals, dreams, and visions: of promoting a world where women have control over their own bodies, are caretakers on their own, make the same wages as their male counterparts (as they should have been), etc etc.
Skylar:Whew! I've had some work done on ME. My entire idea of a healthy relationship was so skewed that a lot of this process has been about my unlearning of toxic traits that we're sometimes unaware of in relationships because they seem so subtle. For instance, rather than being problem-focused, I'm now solution-based within Temi and I's relationship, as we've encouraged each other to get to the root of a thing rather than solely call it out (although that's step one). I've learned to define Temi by who he is rather than by what he does. This helps me easily brush off small mishaps or misunderstandings. He is not the sum of his mistakes. I've also had to really get it together as Temi is a man of action where I am one of big pictures and planning ahead, and while it's beautiful, it can easily be lost. I've learned to respect the present.
"To be Black, in a relationship, and traveling the world is a blessing. To share that travel and love with the world is an honor. One of my biggest boxes to tick is being able to love my partner in different spaces, travel has only further affirmed our love and the flexibility that exists in it."
Temi: It feels absolutely amazing to see the world with Skylar. Each time we travel, I feel like we learn something new about one another that we hadn't known before. Travel allows us to grow closer in unique ways. My favorite place so far has been Tulum, Mexico. It was our first 'real' trip with each other. We had gone to Puerto Rico prior just as a tester because it's one thing to travel with someone you love. It's another thing to travel with someone you love and actually enjoy the trip. Everyone differs so we just wanted to make sure that we didn't differ too much.
Once we figured that we loved being out of the States with one another, we decided to start off with Tulum because it was a place that Skylar had always wanted to visit. It's my favorite trip because it really kicked off the life that we live now. Appreciating each other in different spaces, with the love growing rather than burning out. It warms your heart in a way that can only be described as love.
Skylar: To be Black, in a relationship, and traveling the world is a blessing. To share that travel and love with the world is an honor. One of my biggest boxes to tick is being able to love my partner in different spaces, travel has only further affirmed our love and the flexibility that exists in it.
My favorite place to travel so far has been Marrakech. It was one of our last-minute trips and also one of the most beautiful we've been on. It was my first time stepping onto African soil, and we felt so seen. Many of the places we've traveled have gotten us all kinds of stares, as we're usually the only Black people around. Morocco was rich with culture and warmth, we kept talking about how easily everything fell into place. It was surreal to experience and capture, and even more special to do it with him. I always think, "Wow, there's no one else in the world I'd rather be here with."
For more of Skylar and Temi, follow them on Instagram here and here.
Featured image via Skylar Marshai/Instagram
Originally published on February 26, 2019