I don't know about y'all, but I love having girl talk. Me and my girls can kiki about life, sip our wine, and hype each other up about what's coming up next in our lives. However, something that I love a tiny bit more than girl talk, is having guy talk. Don't kill me y'all but I just think it is so refreshing and important to get a guy's perspective on love/relationships. It also keeps me in check sometimes when I am overthinking a situation. In fact, I was talking to one of my guy friends a few weeks ago about the topic of black love.
We talked about the dynamic of black men and women and what may be the best way to show up for black women and vice versa. His thoughts were that it is challenging for him to show up for black women, if there are high expectations on how a black man should be. He also explained that while black men know how to be in relationships, the idea of how a relationship should be has been warped into so many different things. While I can understand my friend's point of view on this, I couldn't help but think about how I prioritize love in my daily life and if asked the question, "How would I want my future partner to show up for me?"
Recently, I had a great "guy talk" with actor Tristen J. Winger. Tristen is someone who knows exactly how he likes to show up for black women. Tristen J. Winger, 35, plays the character Vince on the BET+'s Bigger series.
Courtesy of Carlos Nunez
Executive produced by Will Packer, Bigger is a comedy series that takes a deeper look at the stagnant lives of Layne Roberts and her circle of friends as they strive for something bigger and better in all aspects of life. While chatting with Tristen, who plays he was able to give me the truth about his thoughts on black love.
He is a true advocate for uplifting and supporting black women in all spaces and is a believer in keeping the idea of black love in a positive light. Here's what the star had to say.
xoNecole: Do you feel that your character Vince on the series 'Bigger' relates to who you are in real life?
Tristen J. Winger: I believe he does in many ways. Especially, when we find out more about Vince in the second season. Being pushed to pursue one career, but having a passion to be a creative resonates with me. I graduated from high school early and I went to college for Mechanical Engineering. I really love science. My mom would put me in science camps when I was younger and I really enjoyed it.
However, the creative side of me overpowered that. Throughout high school, I was in Performance Arts and I played music. So, when I got to college I was introduced to this music software by a good friend of mine. I was excited that I was able to make music and not do math all day in my other courses (laughs). I knew my mom wanted me to go down this one path, but I chose to follow my passion in being a creative.
xoNecole: Because you relate to Vince's journey in following his passion in music, what advice do you have for other people who want to follow their passion instead of what is expected of them?
Tristen: Always go with your gut. Every time. At the end of the day, we are living this life for us. That's not to say to forget about everyone else. But ultimately, we are the ones who have to live with our decisions. So make decisions that make you happy in the end. Instead of living with regret or having the "what if" in the back of your mind.
xoNecole: What has your professional acting career taught you about dating/romantic relationships?
Tristen: I will say that since acting is about listening and reading between the lines, you have to do the same thing in romantic relationships. You can't just listen to the other person to respond. You have to listen to understand where the other person is coming from and learn from them. We can live this life on our own if we choose to, but if we choose to live a life with a partner, there must be understanding and togetherness.
"We can live this life on our own if we choose to, but if we choose to live a life with a partner, there must be understanding and togetherness."
Courtesy of Carlos Nunez
xoNecole: In today's society, do you feel that there is a misconception between black men and black women when it comes to the #relationshipgoals?
Tristen: Looking at social media really confuses me sometimes (laughs). Like why are y'all complaining about $100 dinner dates? (Laughs) That should not be the basis of a relationship. It does seem like nowadays black men and black women are at odds when it comes to relationships. But every day I still see examples of beautiful relationships. I know what black love looks like and while social media may make it seem like it is difficult to achieve true black love, I am not going to believe it.
xoNecole: What do you think are the two key things for a successful relationship?
Tristen: I think empathy but more so, being able to support one another. If you and your partner are a team, the goal should be to win together. In order to win, we have to challenge each other too. You can have a lot of moments that are comfortable and full of ease. But the question is, how are we going to take each other to the next level? So being supportive is key.
"If you and your partner are a team, the goal should be to win together. In order to win, we have to challenge each other too."
xoNecole: You show that you are a huge advocate for black women on social media, how do you like to show up and support black women in romantic relationships?
Tristen: It honestly looks different for different women. Showing up could literally mean showing up and supporting her. Showing up can look like giving gifts or writing poetry. Showing up could even look like listening to her as she vents. You have to find out what her love language is. All of the languages mean something, but each one has a different weight to them.
xoNecole: I am so glad you touched on love languages, because you are absolutely right! So, inquiring minds would like to know.. What is your love language?
Tristen: My top love language is words of affirmation. I think that comes from my childhood. Recognition feels good to me. I remember when I was in elementary school, I would always get perfect attendance awards. Or when I would get A's on my spelling test, it was the recognition from the teacher's that I sought out for. There are times even now, where I wonder if I am doing a good job. So in dating, those words of affirmation are important to me.
Courtesy of Carlos Nunez
xoNecole: Do you think self-care is important in a relationship? If so, how do you practice self-care for yourself?
Tristen: There are times where I just want to be alone. I don't have to be doing anything specific. I just need that time to myself. I won't and shouldn't feel bad for wanting to spend time with myself (laughs). I am willing to do whatever it takes to recenter myself and ground myself, whether I am in a relationship or not. We give so much to the world, so we have to remember to give back to ourselves.
xoNecole: What is an important lesson you have learned from previous relationships that you will apply in your next relationship?
Tristen: An important lesson for me is how to show up for myself while I am in a relationship. Being raised by a single mom, I used to pour everything I had into my relationships. With doing that, I ended up forgetting what Tristen wanted. So now, I will always speak up for myself in how I like my partner to show up for me.
xoNecole: What are some relationship green flags that you look for when it comes to dating?
Tristen: The first thing that comes to mind is a sense of humor. I love to laugh. If a woman can quote Back to the Future or The Nutty Professor line by line, I'm sold (laughs). I also like a woman who is adventurous and likes music too. Someone who isn't judgemental and is a free-spirit [and] open-minded. These are all great qualities I look for.
xoNecole: If you could curate a love playlist for your future partner, what would be the top 3 songs and why?
Tristen: The first song would be "Can We Talk" by Tevin Campbell. The next song would be "Take It From Here" by Justin Timberlake, produced by The Neptunes. The third song would be "At Your Best" by The Isley Brothers. For "At Your Best," it sounds like he is talking to someone specifically. So when you are creating a playlist for someone, you need that specificity. So I chose all these songs because when I hear the words and I listen to the music, I feel all of it.
I remember in Justin's "Take It From Here" he says, "I wanna be your lake or your bay. And any problems that you have, I want to wash them away." I just want to wash away your problems girl! (Laughs) I just want to wash them away (smiles).
For more of Tristen, follow him on Instagram.
Featured image by Carlos Nunez