January 03, 2017

How to beat bad dating habits in the big city

Group takes up discussion on starting – and keeping – healthy, romantic relationships when the norm is the opposite

Wellness
LIAV Brielle Liverman/for PhillyVoice

Featured panelists and event producers/co-producers (l to r): Kindred the Family Soul; Sofiya Ballin, The Huffington Post; Dilemma, Producer and Ashely Coleman-Thomas, Author; Kevin Carr, Author; Naledi Nyahuma, Founder NINE; Ahmadou Seck, LIAV Producer; Ryan McMillan, Relationship & Family Therapist; and Haniyyah Sharpe-Brown, Founder & Principal, On Point Communications.

In the age of Tinder, Grindr, other mobile hook-up apps, it can be a daunting task to find and maintain healthy romantic relationships. The question that many millennials are facing today is: “how do we swipe left on hook-up culture and swipe right on meaningful companionship?”

This is where #LOVEISAVERB comes into play.

Two years ago, Philadelphia native Naledi Nyahuma began to realize how difficult it was for her peers to grasp and cultivate lasting romantic partnerships. Nyahuma was living in Los Angeles when she decided to create a platform that explores the various stages of relationships. 

“It started from having a conversation with people and talking about the challenges they were having and not being able to connect with people,” said Nyahuma.

"It was more specific to the black community and we thought – let's get people in a room to have a healthy discussion on what we are all looking for in relationships.”

Last week, Nayhuma brought #LOVEISAVERB to Philadelphia’s premier soul-food restaurant, Ms. Tootsie's. The event operated as a panel discussion, hosted by The Huffington Post’s Sofiya Ballin.

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Panelists included Kevin Carr, author of What I’ve Learned About Dating; Ryan McMillian, certified marriage and family therapist; Dan "Dilemma" Thomas, music producer, and his wife, Ashley Coleman-Thomas, author of Dear Love: A Love Letter to You; and Grammy-nominated singing/songwriting duo Kindred the Family Soul.

When asked about how she went about selecting the panelists, Nyahuma said,

“We wanted to get people in the Philly community that could help us with their different perspectives, because challenges in dating may not be the same in L.A. as [they are] in Philly.”

Ballin kicked things off by introducing the panelists and briefly noting their relationship statuses. She noted that Fatin Dantzler and Aja Graydon of Kindred the Family Soul have had the “most illustrious and longstanding relationship” on the panel – with more than 18 years of marriage.

Throughout the discussion, Graydon made sure to emphasize how much work it takes to maintain the healthy relationship that she has with her partner. According to her – patience, kindness and refusing to give up on love – are what helps to solidify their union.

Nyahuma said that the willingness to compromise is one of the top tools necessary to ensure a thriving relationship.

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“It is important to have the willingness to give up yourself to someone else,” she added.

“Not necessarily [giving] up who you are or the things in your life, but being able to see the bigger picture – that you might be stronger as two, than one, and understanding that their issues are your issues and vice versa.”

Throughout the night, Ballin asked questions regarding polygamy, dating apps, and how to bounce back after trust has been lost in a relationship.


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Although no official date has been set, Nyahuma hopes to have more #LOVEISAVERB events in the city of Philadelphia.

“We would love to continue it and take it around the country,” she said.

“We feel like there is a lot of healthy discussions coming out of this, and a lot of self-reflection coming out of this, and I just love being a part of it. The fact that I can bring it to my hometown is amazing.”