By now you’ve seen a “relationship goal” meme on every single social media platform from Twitter to Facebook. Even I’ve fallen into the “This could be us, but you’re playing” wormhole.

To say social media hasn’t sculpted (even a tiny bit) the way we think our relationships should or shouldn’t look like on the outside, would be a lie. There was a time in my dating history where I would wonder if my man didn’t validate me as his #WCW, did he even like me at all. Seeking validation and attention from others about my personal relationship was something that I craved— I was young don’t judge me. Now that I’ve grown out of that phase, I’ve been taking time to explore my self worth and learn the ways I need to be loved.

I spoke to educator and member of the Debonaire Douchebags collective, Jelani Brooks about society’s somewhat skewed outlook on love, connecting over the internet, and more.

Read the latest installment of Dating in NYC below:

What expectations do you have going into a first date?

I just want her to be open and comfortable. It’s always hard going into dates where the other party has some chip on their shoulder or acts as if you have to pass some level in a video game to unlock a certain level of conversation. If we both chose to go, there needs to be some level of vulnerability.

Do you feel pressured or the nagging responsibility from women to ensure that a date goes well?

Nah, because to me it’s about if we both had a great time and that looks different for a lot of people. So if she didn’t have a good time and I did, hopefully she’s down for another. Sometimes, she has a great time and I don’t. It kinda just is what it is.

Describe your best dating experience or ideal date:

My first date with my now girlfriend was actually the first time we met. She was my twitter crush for three years. We had a lot in common. She was funny, talented, and a big Kanye fan. It’s weird, but I really felt connected to her. As if I always knew that she would be in my life some way whether we just be friends or more. We were really cool on the timeline and she did a painting for me. I was completely enamored by her. She messaged me on my bday just to check in on me and I took it from there.

Our first date was her friend’s wedding. We got a hotel for the first night there and hit it off genuinely quick. The wedding was the next day and we had an amazing time. It felt like we were the only ones there. We spent that entire July 4th weekend together and enjoying each other’s company. From then, I knew I wanted to be with her.

Describe your worst date:

Me and this girl went  to a bar/restaurant after work. It was kind of poor planning on my behalf. We went to this place and basically sat in multiple periods of awkward silence. I realized I just went because I thought she was attractive and interesting but in person she was only pretty. Nothing to offer conversationally.

Has your past dating experience made your more or less inclined to keep trying?

It doesn’t really have an effect. You go into dating knowing that there are ups and downs, highs and lows, and good and bad. So it’s asinine when people think if they just stop dating, it’ll go away. But at the same time, they’ll long for a serious relationship. I know it’s hard out here, but you’re not gonna get anywhere with that mentality shaping your lens on dating.

Do you feel as if it’s “a man’s job” to make the first move?

I think we’re too old for this whole concept especially when women yell about gender roles often. I’m inclined to make the first move because I’m used to it. Most women are inclined to wait to be approached. If you want to approach me, I’m not going to think you’re a “hoe” or want to just fuck or something. I think the “He’s going to judge me” mental framing inhibits women.

Do you feel intimidated when women “shoot their shot” at you?

No, I’m a grown man. Shoot on, shooter.

What are some ways women should approach men when attempting to make the first move?

The same way a man does. Be confident, compliment, and let him know you’re interested.

Does your profession affect the type of women you date?

Nah, I just don’t like to shit where I eat. I only dated one girl from work and it was after she left the company.

How do you balance work life and dating?

I was a store manager who worked long hours quite often—especially holiday season. I’ve always worked long hours and also have a million things going on, on the side. I say that to say: You just do it if you care about the person or care about building with someone. Everything else is really just an excuse. Find ways to incorporate them into your life in all facets.

What do you think is lacking when it comes to dating in NYC?

There’s a superficial layer on top that takes too long to peel off. Everyone is looking for some “Instagrammable” relationship, competing with the next couple or just dating with no end result in sight. People don’t seem to just want to get to know a person regardless of the world around them. Everyone comes with a huge chip on their shoulder, tons of baggage and can’t seem to let it go. We all have it, but it’s how you work and live with it.

Do you think that social media has affected the way we date now?

We have these memes and Facebook screenshots of “He or she was with me when I wasn’t shit. I cheated/beat her/ I’m crazy and I go through his phone and I’m spoiled” and people think that’s what love is. It’s poisonous to people forming what love is to them because the imagery is bombarded in their minds.

If their was one thing you could change about the dating scene, what would it be and why?

I want to change people’s idea of what love and self worth are. The image and idea of love is reduced to what you put up with while dating someone rather than how y’all build each other up. It’s more “who can withstand being tore down more with the bigger smile on their face.” That’s not love and that’s not knowing your self worth. People have to know the proper vision of what it is they’re looking for. Instead of looking for someone who is engaging, they’re looking for someone to put them on IG. Instead of looking for someone to build your character, they’re looking for someone to be a headache.

As the prophet Aubrey Drake Graham said, “Know yourself, know your worth.”


One of those "I like MF DOOM" type girls trying to figure out life in her 20's.