VelvetLips Guest Blogger: Where is the Love?!
Today's guest blogger is Valerie Payne, owner of Live & Love, LLC. And she's searching for the love she knows is out there...

It's not always the sexy musings of Marla on VelvetLips, sometimes there are other playful people featured in her blog. Today's guest blogger is Valerie Payne, owner of Live & Love, LLC. And she's searching for the love she knows is out there...


Love DOES live here...


I cried at work last week. I work for a news company, so it’s not uncommon for me to shed a few tears every now and then when I come across a really touching story. But this time it was a different type of cry. I’ll get back to this in a bit, though...

After my tear-fest, a friend and I attended an event called: “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore: The REAL effects of social change and mental health on our relationships.” The event’s title made me laugh. I thought it was incredibly negative. Love DOES live here. I’m not sure where it is, but it’s around, right?!


Some sobering stats


However, as the discussion unfolded, I found that the subject at hand wasn't a laughing matter. The hosts presented sobering statistics about the state of relationships today. Here’s what really stood out to me:

- People aren’t getting married like they used to. In 1960, a little over two-thirds (68%) of all 20-somethings were married. In 2008, just 26% were hitched, according to the Pew Research Center.

- About 50% of Millennials (aged 18-34) say marriage is “unnecessary.”

-  In 1970, more than 60% of African Americans were married. In 2008, that number dropped to a measly 28%.

- People are getting married at an older age. For instance, in 1950, black and white women were equally likely to be married by the time they were 20. Fast forward to 2010: the average age a black woman gets married is 30; the average age for a white woman is 26.

The numbers don’t lie! The prospect of marriage seems pretty bleak if you are like me: black, over the age of 25, not in a relationship. However, I’m a firm believer that there are things we can do to change the direction relationships are headed. Here are some things that I’ve started to focus more on:


COMMUNICATE


I can’t stress how important communication is in any type of relationship. We need to TALK to each other. And texting, Facebook chat, and direct messaging each other on Twitter does NOT count. I am speaking about face-to-face, honest and open interaction with one another. And if it can’t be done face-to-face, we need to make the effort to call and talk. Speaker and author Enitan Bareola says it best: “We're connected to devices that connect us closer to people, but we're more disconnected than ever… Avoid texting, skyping & emailing and just show up and be present. It's rare. Actions speak louder than SMS.”


BE OPEN


Keep an open mind about people and experiences. Consistently try new things and make an effort to meet people. I’m a really social person, so I decided to give speed-dating a try. I saw a really cute guy at the grocery store, so I decided to strike up a conversation with him. I wouldn’t have normally done that, but, hey, something new, right? You never know how far a simple ‘hello’ could go. Also, be open to who you are willing to date. Many of us have an ideal type of person we want to be with. Don’t let your idea of a “perfect person” prohibit you from getting to know someone who might not come in the package you wanted or expected.


STAY POSITIVE


The facts and figures listed above can be very depressing, but I believe we have the ability to change course. We can’t keep feeding into the hype that the state of relationships is bad. Instead, let’s focus on positive and productive actions we can do to cultivate good relationships. Those actions include communication, being open & having a positive mindset. I’m reading the book “The Secret.” The book refers to the Law of Attraction, which is “we attract whatever we think about, good or bad.” I encourage you to think positive and still hope and believe you will find a mate.


Good tears


Earlier, I mentioned crying at work. Here’s why: During my shift, my friends called me to let me know they were engaged! These amazing friends of mine, millennials, black, and totally in love decided to take their relationship to the next level. I cried because I was incredibly happy for them. I cried because I was excited about the journey they were about to take with each other. And a little bit of me cried, too, because they gave me hope. In my heart of hearts, I believe love still lives here. And I hope I will find it.




Valerie Payne is the owner of Live & Love, LLC. The name "Live & Love" was inspired by Valerie's late mother who told her to "live and love." In March 2014, Valerie decided to launch a business that would allow her to focus on topics she was passionate about at events she hosted. She embraced her purpose to help, inform and inspire others to “live & love” as well. Live & Love events focus on health, fitness, relationships and self-improvement.

Marla Stewart

Marla Renee Stewart, MA is a professional sex, intimacy and relationship coach and sex educator. Not only is she a lecturer at Clayton State University, she is also the co-founder of the Sex Down South Conference and the Sexual Liberation Collective. Gaining her reputation for being "The Sex Architect", she created Velvet Lips to empower people of all ages to embrace, educate and enjoy their sexuality and their sexual lives. She has studied human sexuality for more than 16 years at San Francisco State University and Georgia State University, respectively, and has expert knowledge in a wide variety of subjects. She has published academic articles and continues to do sexuality research. She has conducted workshops at conferences, not-for-profit and private organizations, as well as universities in the Atlanta area. She has been featured on many radio shows, documentaries, books, magazines and has been invited to speak at Universities around the country. She also sits on the board for the Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition and SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!
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