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.
We have all heard of love at first sight. But with technology taking the lead in how we interact with each other, "first sight" can mean an IG profile photo or a swipe on a dating app. Whatever your preference is with finding the one, when you get that gut feeling, everything else will fall in line. When it came to bringing together now-engaged couple, Jameila and Brooklyn, all it took was a FaceTime call. So should we say, love at first FaceTime for this modern day love story? I think it has a nice ring to it.
Even when sparks were flying between the couple, it wasn't until moving across the country was when Jameila and Brooklyn realized that their feelings for each other were real. Brooklyn mentions, "When I first saw Jameila, I remember telling a group of friends in a group chat, that in another life, I would marry Jameila and we would have four children. So when the opportunity presented itself when we both were single, I was already planning to make her my girl."
After three years of dating, Jameila and Brooklyn believe in following those gut feelings and setting intentions behind them when it comes to love. Paying attention to your partner's needs and working together to make sure you show your love in different ways is how their love story became a success after one unexpected phone call. In this installment of xoNecole's How We Met, the dancer and strategy director walk us through their beginning, their courtship, and their commitment to take on the world together.
Courtesy of Jameila Cartman
How We Met
Brooklyn: We actually met each other via FaceTime in 2013 through one of our mutual friends. I was on FaceTime with my friend and I saw Jameila walking in the background. My initial thought when I saw her was, 'Oh my God, who is that?' There was just this natural radiance of beauty that attracted me to her when I first saw her. But nothing really happened until we finally met in person in 2016, when I was moving to Atlanta.
Jameila: My friend and I were on tour for The Color Purple for two years, so it happened multiple times where my friend would call him and they would be on FaceTime together. But in 2016, we met in person at his going away party in Chicago, before he moved to Atlanta. At the time, we were both in relationships. So we just stayed friends. Then, I moved to Atlanta a year later. I actually initiated us hanging out in Atlanta via Snapchat after I moved because I didn't know a lot of people out there. I didn't see us hanging out as a way to get intimate or anything though.
Jameila: So before I say this, we both disagree on what our first date was (laughs). For me, my first date with Brooklyn was when we went to this taco spot by his place. We started to really talk about each other's history and got to know each other better. We had already been hanging out before then, but I don't consider anything before that an actual date (laughs).
Brooklyn: In Atlanta, my apartment building was on top of this sushi restaurant. I remember her coming by and we decided to go have sushi. We were chilling and talking like good friends would do. But in the back of my head, I was already planning to make her my girl (laughs).
Jameila: Let me just say, Brooklyn is a very special man (laughs). He knew that I had just gotten out of a long-term relationship and wasn't trying to jump back into another one so soon. But Brooklyn definitely was courting me and letting me know that he could be an option (laughs). He has done so many things for me even though we were not together. One thing he did for me was plan my 25th birthday party back in Chicago.
That following weekend, I had planned to visit this other guy I was talking to who lived in Missouri. Brooklyn even drove me to the airport to see the other guy, girl (laughs). When I was in Missouri, I honestly could not stop thinking about Brooklyn. The Missouri guy was actually a really great guy, so it wasn't even like that. But I just couldn't help myself with contacting Brooklyn. So that's when I knew. And literally when I got back, two days later Brooklyn and I got into a relationship.
Brooklyn: For me, the moment was a weekend I spent with her. For background, her mom stayed in Georgia, but far away from the city. With Jameila being a dancer, she would get out of dance class late sometimes. So because her mom didn't want her trying to rush home at 1 a.m., she started pushing for Jameila to spend the night at my place since I stayed in Midtown. So that one weekend with Jameila, I just noticed that being with her was different for me. I usually can be irritated with other people, but with Jameila I wasn't. I could spend hours and hours with her and it made me think, I could spend the rest of my life with this woman.
"I just noticed that being with her was different for me. I usually can be irritated with other people, but with Jameila I wasn't. I could spend hours and hours with her and it made me think, I could spend the rest of my life with this woman."
Courtesy of Jameila Cartman
Jameila: My favorite thing about Brooklyn is his attentiveness. Brooklyn is able to notice everything. I remember he would rub my legs after dance class, or he knows I'm a foodie so he is always making sure I've eaten. He is just really good at making sure he supports me any way that he can and I really appreciate that.
Brooklyn: I would go with her heart. She is legitimately a good person and it makes me think about how much of an asshole I can be at times. That's what I need. Being a Virgo, I can be better at being logical than being emotional. So she brings me back home and reminds me that we are all humans and not robots.
Brooklyn: I started plotting when I was going to propose to her when we decided to move to Los Angeles. After everything we have been through, I told myself if I am moving this woman across the country, I better make it a point in making her my wife. I proposed in December 2019 and I was putting things in motion around September/October. On my 29th birthday, I bought the engagement ring and made the arrangements for the location later on.
I started working with our good friend Dallas to set everything up. We made it seem as though she was going to dance for a concept video. And then, I would pop up out of nowhere and propose. I wanted to surprise her in a way where it spoke to how much I loved her, but because she is a dancer, we could use this piece as a way to advertise her dancing skills too.
Jameila: So for me, the day already started off weird (laughs). Even when Dallas told me about the concept beforehand, I thought it was weird too (laughs). I didn't even think it would turn into my proposal. But that morning, Dallas told me I had to get my nails done. Again, weird (laughs). So after that, we drive up to this beautiful house and we were waiting on the videographer.
While we were waiting, Dallas tells me that we only had one take to shoot the video, so we had to get the dance down right. We do the take and after we finished dancing, everyone is just standing around smiling. I'm just looking around confused and then I see Brooklyn come down the stairs. It was beautiful.
"I wanted to surprise her in a way where it spoke to how much I loved her, but because she is a dancer, we could use this piece as a way to advertise her dancing skills too."
Jameila: I would say sacrifice [has been my biggest lesson]. When it comes to love, I didn't realize how much you may have to sacrifice or compromise in a relationship. There is a lot of give and take. I think we both are pretty aligned with most things, but there have been little things we sacrificed for one another.
Brooklyn: Mine is going to be communication. I wouldn't say we argue, but we have had our disagreements. It's important that when you are trying to meet the needs of your partner and vice versa, it could all go smoothly by just having a conversation. Even if you talk about how something made you upset in the moment or something that made you feel happy. Instead of creating a narrative of your own, which I am guilty of, communicating with one another solves so many things.
Jameila: Moving away from my family was hard for me. It took a toll on our relationship where I felt I needed more time with Brooklyn since I was missing spending time with my family. We had to have a couple conversations around what was on his plate with the new job and everything, while finding that balance with spending quality time together.
Brooklyn: I would say with the pandemic and still learning how to effectively communicate with each other, last year during the holiday season was one of the toughest. But now we try to be as honest as possible when we are stressed about certain things and try to find a solution instead of making a situation bigger than it actually is.
Jameila: My top love language is quality time and physical touch. Brooklyn and I decided to be celibate until the wedding. So we came up with this thing called date wars to increase that non-physical intimacy for each other. We basically compete with each other on who can create the better date (laughs). I think adding these 'wars' was huge for me because there is so much thought and effort that goes into it. Filling in those spaces where physical touch would be nice, with more engaging moments have been the best.
Brooklyn: One of my love languages is quality time too, but it definitely has been hard. While sex is great, I care more about that emotional connection. When we decided to be celibate, we became more and more best friends. Sex can cloud that sometimes and instead of releasing how we felt sexually, we are more intentional now with talking things through. I don't think our connection would have grown stronger like it has now, if we have continued to have sex.
"When we decided to be celibate, we became more and more best friends. Sex can cloud that sometimes and instead of releasing how we felt sexually, we are more intentional now with talking things through. I don't think our connection would have grown stronger like it has now, if we have continued to have sex."
Courtesy of Jameila Cartman
Brooklyn: If you plan on taking that step into marriage, make sure that that person is your forever person. There are going to be moments where people in society are going to make you feel like you are boxed into a situation that you are honestly not sure about. Fear can actually be a good thing leading into anticipation, but having doubts is a whole other thing. There is no set time frame when you will know if this person is the one for you, but be 100 percent sure you are ready before taking that step. Do not take anyone on that roller coaster, including yourself.
Jameila: Definitely go at your own pace. It is not up to society, or your parents, or your friends as far as what's best for you in your relationship. What works for you and your partner, do not question that. Be honest with the feelings both of you have towards each other in order to focus on each other better. Other people's opinions can really cloud your judgement on things.
For more of Jameila and Brooklyn, follow them on Instagram @j_dance and @the.blackgatsby. You can also follow their love story on their YouTube channel here.
Featured image courtesy of Jameila
'K' is a multi-hyphenated free spirit from Chicago. She is a lover of stories and the people who tell them. As a writer, 9-5er, and Safe Space Curator, she values creating the life she wants and enjoying the journey along the way. You can follow her on Instagram @theletter__k_.
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Here's Why Very Few Relationships Can Actually Be 'Platonic'
Recently, while in an interview, someone asked me if I think that men and women can be just friends. I didn’t even hesitate to answer; my response was immediate, “Absolutely.” What I followed that up with is what intrigued them — “Life has taught me that not a lot of male/female dynamics are ‘platonic,’ though.” When they asked me to expound, the interview ended up taking a whole ‘nother turn.
As a writer who really pays attention to word meanings, something that can be a bit frustrating about our culture is the fact that based on whatever is popular at the time, folks will just up and change the original definitions of words to suit a particular agenda or whim — and the word “platonic” 1000 percent fits into this category. And perhaps that’s why we seem to continue to go in circles about whether or not people of the opposite sex can (and should) be friends and what that even can (and should) look like.
Let’s talk about it for a bit. Because as a word-literal type of individual, while again, I absolutely believe that men and women can be friends, at the same time, I think it’s about as rare as a red diamond to truly find yourself in a friendship that is…platonic.
It’s Time (More) Folks Knew What ‘Platonic’ LITERALLY MeansGiphy
So, let's do first things first — let's define what it literally means for something to be platonic. If you go to your favorite search engine and put something along the lines of "What does platonic mean?", the first thing that you're (probably) going to see is a ton of dictionary definitions that say something along the lines of "of, relating to, or being a relationship marked by the absence of romance or sex" (Merriam-Webster), "designating or of a relationship, or love, between a man and a woman that is purely spiritual or intellectual and without sexual activity" (Your Dictionary) and, my personal favorite, "purely spiritual; free from sensual desire, especially in a relationship between two persons of different sexes" (Dictionary). Yeah, bookmark that last one; I'll be circling back.
Keeping this in mind (and please do), where does the word "platonic" actually come from? From what I've researched, the philosopher Plato once penned something entitled "Symposium." In it, he addressed the topic of two people sharing the kind of love that is free of any type of sensual desire, one that is based on divine love alone. An author from the 1800s broke it down this way: "Platonic love meant ideal sympathy; it now means the love of a sentimental young gentleman for a woman he cannot or will not marry." A write-up on Merriam-Webster's site stated that "The term platonic was initially used to mock non-sexual relationships, as it was considered ridiculous to separate love and sex, but eventually this connotation faded away leaving us with today's notion of close friendships." Yeah, we used to live in a culture where love and sex were not separated. Hmph, that's another article for another time, though (check out "We Should Really Rethink The Term' Casual Sex'").
Anyway, as with many things (especially in our culture), the word "platonic" is kind of used in "broad strokes" these days (bromances, female friendships, etc.). However, because there continues to be this forever discussion — and oftentimes debate — about whether or not men and women can be "just friends," I'm going to tackle this topic strictly from that angle — from the place where platonic actually originated.
Yes, Men and Women Can Be Just Friends. But…Giphy
At this stage in my life, I'm pretty sure that I have more male friends than female ones. There are layers of reasons why, yet I think a huge one is because I like the balance that masculinity brings to my femininity (especially as I'm learning to embrace different aspects of my femininity, intentionally even more). And while every single one of my male friends is respectful and is a super safe space in my world on every single level that I can imagine (and have been for years now), there are probably only a couple who I would say 100 percent qualify as being…trulyplatonic.
Why would I say that? Well, I'll illustrate this point with something that one of my male friends once said to me. He's super cute. He can sing his ass off (and definitely has one of my favorite speaking voices). People see us out together often, and some have told us that they assume that we've had something going on at some point. Anyway, after hearing someone share their theory about us, I told it to him.
Me: "I told him, 'He's my brother. We would never mess around.'"
My Friend: "Correction, you are like a sister. You are not my sister, though. Under the right conditions, you could still get it."
When I shared that exchange with another male friend of mine, he basically cosigned on the sentiment: "Shellie, I have never approached you like that because I really respect you. I want to be good for you for the rest of our lives." (That reminds me: check out "Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?" when you get a chance.)
Then I went to one more guy homie and ran both statements by him: "Girl, yeah. If I didn't want to keep you in my life long-term, I would've tried to holla a long time ago!" And he and I have been friends for almost 20 years at this point. When did he get around to telling me this? Eh, maybe two years ago. LOL.
So, my takeaway from all of these "for real?!" exchanges is even though men and women can be just friends, there is a certain level of intention, self-control, and ability to see into the future (on some level) that must go into account — because, just because something more-than-friends-like may not have gone down, that doesn't mean there isn't a "dormant seed" lying around somewhere…whether it's one-sided or on both sides of the friendship dynamic.
As you can see, I just provided you with three instances where the male friends in my life; we've had nothing sexual or even physically intimate beyond a hug when we greet each other in nature — although things aren't exactly platonic if there is some sort of attraction or sexual/romantic curiosity that simply never got explored. Because again, according to Plato, a platonic relationship is free from all of that kind of…tension — or possibilities. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
And now you probably get why I entitled this article in the way that I did…right? I mean, just think about it — out of your male friendships, where is there NO sensual desire or dormant romantic interest…on your side and/or on his? If you're not sure about "his"…have you ever asked him? Or them? Because again, once I really let the definition of platonic sink in, I think maybe two guys in my life totally fit the bill.
This brings me to my next point.
Are You Platonic? Or Are You Friend-Zoning?Giphy
Now that you know that probably 70 percent of the people you know (both online and off) have been using the true meaning of platonic all the way wrong, let’s go about deeper: when it comes to your friendships with men, are they genuinely platonic or…is it more like you’re friend-zoning them?
A few years ago, I penned an article on the topic entitled, “Before You 'Friend Zone' Someone, Read This.” If you’re skimming this on your lunch break, I’ll summarize friend-zoning as knowing that a guy has so-much-more-than-platonic feelings for you, yet because you basically want to keep the benefits of the friendship or even his emotions around, you will string him along on some level.
Personally, I can’t stand friend-zoning. I think it’s selfish, with some sprinkles of manipulation and wasting someone’s time. Don’t agree? How would you feel if a guy was friend-zoning you? (Yeah…exactly.)
This all needs to go on record because, knowing that a guy wants to “take it there” with you (whether sexually or romantically), you not full-on addressing it and/or giving him just enough hope to take you out, listen to all of your stories about other men and give you the attention that you need knowing that he doesn’t have a shot in hell — that is NOT a platonic friendship and honestly, you’re not being a good friend at all. Friends protect each other’s hearts, not abuse them.
A platonic friendship means that you both have no interest in each other, and, as Plato put it, while you may have a strong and solid bond, it’s spiritual love that connects you. And what exactly does that mean? Spiritual love also deserves its own article, yet the gist would be that you recognize there is a purpose in your friendship, yet it’s about wanting what’s best for one another and even helping each other to get there.
For instance, a platonic friend of yours may know that you desire to be married one day, so he has no problem setting you up with a good guy in his life. And if things go well, he would have no problem standing up as your own best man (without feeling like he’s dying inside) because he never saw you beyond anything but a friend. A guy in the friend zone doesn’t move like this; he likes you too much to help you move on with someone else. See the difference?
Why Relationships Should Start Off As NON-PLATONIC FriendshipsGiphy
Before I end this with some tips on how to properly care for the few platonic friendships you may actually have, since the use of the word may require a bit of mental reprogramming, I do think we should also address that if you've got a good guy in your life, who right now is a friend and either you've never thought of him in that way or the topic has never come up — he's someone that you may not want to brush off.
What I mean by that is, it's one thing for there to be absolutely no interest in someone vs. never considering it before — and the reason why you might want to give it some thought is because, ask any healthy married couple who's been together for more than five years and I'll bet you my next rent check that they will say that the best relationships are birthed out of friendship (check out "Are You Sure You're Actually FRIENDS With Your Spouse?").
Yeah, just because you've filed someone in the "I see him as a good guy" category, that doesn't automatically mean that y'all's friendship is platonic. For instance, I have a male friend who is fine and I adore on many levels, yet the reason why it would never work on my end is because there are certain relational standards that I have that he does not meet. However, don't get it twisted — I've considered him because, on so many levels, we "fit." So, the mere fact that I ever seriously thought about him on that level means that we are "good friends," yet it's not exactly platonic.
I'm not free of potential sensual desire…I just choose not to act on it. Yet because I get the value of having friendship as the foundation for my own future marriage (should life play out that way), I am wise enough to know that I would've been a fool to not at least…ponder him and the possibilities.
So yeah, if there is a male friend in your life that the thought of dating or having sex with him doesn't make you want to throw up in your mouth, there's a pretty good chance that it's not a classic platonic dynamic — and you might want to consider if it could/should go to the next level — if not immediately, eventually. Because there's a pretty good chance that if you are thinking that way, he probably is as well.
Protect Your Genuine Platonic Friendship(s) At All CostsGiphy
Let me end this with how one of my platonic friendships rolls. We both think that the other is attractive, yet neither of us is attracted. We both give each other opposite-sex insights. We both have said that the mere thought of dating each other makes our noses turn up like there’s an odor in the air. And even when I try to imagine us together, my mind goes blank. I love, love, LOVE this man — oh, but it is absolutely nothing more than platonic — and he feels the same way. It’s as close to familial love without being blood relationships. It’s a rare dynamic, and that is what makes it so special. There is definitely a spiritual type of love there; no more, no less.
If you’ve got someone in your life who you feel the same way about (again, it’s got to be mutual; he must feel that way, too), you’ve got a gem of a situation going on because there is nothing like having the kind of friendship where you and a guy can hang out, exchange perspectives and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company, knowing that’s all it is and will ever be. Things will never get weird. No one’s feelings are gonna get hurt (from the whole friend-zoning thing). You don’t have to walk on eggshells. You can just be.
And that’s why I’m all for platonic friendships. And listen, if you’re blessed enough to have even one in your lifetime, be fiercely protective of it. Don’t take it for granted. Nurture it in a way that your male friend needs (because it probably won’t be the exact same as your female friendships). Y’all, platonic friendships are so bomb because, if it’s honored and protected correctly, it’s the one male friend that you can probably keep for life because even your romantic partner will not find it to be a (true) threat — hell, they honestly could probably end up becoming (some level of) friends with your platonic homie as well.
I hope that I broke this all down enough to where, when you decide to use a word to describe your opposite-sex friendships, perhaps you will pause and ask yourself, “Wait, is this a platonic friend or a good or close friend?” Because the clearer you are on the differences, the easier it will be to know how to maintain your friendship — and feel about your friend. Feel me? Cool.
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Featured image by Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images