Black Girls Being in Relationships: An Interview with Daddy Ramazani
My boyfriend, Daddy Saleh Ramazani, and I share many nights exchanging ideas, feelings, and theories about life, love, and happiness. Although we tend to have these conversations in private, I recently decided to sit down with him to engage in yet another conversation about relationships, but this time it was on the record. My boyfriend spoke candidly about sex, long distance romances, communication skills, and the importance of self-love in lieu of nurturing toxic relationships.
Here's a bit of backstory on my boyfriend: Daddy Saleh Ramazani was born in Egypt, grew up in Ireland, and spent his teenage years in Atlanta, Georgia, before moving to NYC to attend NYU. His background most definitely gives him a unique perspective on life, which also includes his perspective on dating and relationships as a black man. So whether you’re in a relationship, dating, or single, there are some great takeaways for all the different relationship statuses out there.
Akili King: What's the most important thing to understand when you get into a new relationship?
Daddy Ramazani: What pace you both are moving at. With us, we have very similar personalities but we also have areas where we differ. We both like spontaneity. But at the same time, you prefer planning more, and knowing what you're getting yourself into… which is normal. I'm just crazy [laughs]. Being on the same page is a way to make both parties feel comfortable. I remember when we got into a relationship, I wanted to tell everyone and you wanted to mainly tell people you were close to first and then let others know. That leads to knowing how much the both of you rely on each other to make decisions together. It's an important thing. [Making sure you're both on the same page] is a big part of moving forward. It's important to also know what you both want out of a relationship because there's people out there who get into relationships just because; and others want complete honesty, companionship and trust. Values are also one of the more important things to have. There's a chance that a relationship you get into at this point in life could be the last one you get into, depending on how serious you are. If you are trying to build something, it's important to know what your partner values. Especially if you plan to live together or share a life with someone else. You never wanna feel like, "aw, shit! we got this far and we never thought about any of this…"
What would you say is the biggest misconception about relationships? I feel as though many people glamorize relationships and don't realize that they are actually a lot of work.
It's not just a breeze. It’s like raising a kid. It's not like you pop a baby out and then it goes off on its own and knows everything. You gotta listen to each other, and you have to separate yourself when you're listening to your partner. Sometimes you might tell me something that you don't appreciate that I did. But a lot of times i won't fully understand at first and I'll take it personally and feel hurt, as opposed to understanding that someone is just opening up to me not to hurt me, but to just let me know what they're feeling. So, really, listening to each other's feelings is something that a lot of people really don’t think about. People usually listen to someone else to just respond instead of to actually understand. I'm not perfect, so I'm still working on that. Everyone says communication is key to a relationship. But I don't think people really understand it to the fullest. People don't really know how to communicate naturally, it's something you have to learn and work on over the time, whether it's from past relationships or not. It's work on both sides. It's a labor of love.
What would you say is the hardest thing for you to let go of/learn in a relationship?
That's hard. Communication is one. To just talk about everything. And the fear of hurting your partner by just being 100% open with my emotions. I think I'm learning that I can't do everything on my own. Whether it's my emotions, or just everyday life, big or small. I'm the kind of person that’s always been like, 'everything is fine, it's cool.' But then you get to a point where you do that for so long and you feel empty or pain sometimes because you realize you have all these things you have to let out, explore and unpack and understand about yourself. By trying to figure everything out on my own, I'll only get my perspective. As opposed to having someone else walk through things with me and offer a different view. But I think another big thing I had to learn was patience. Patience for someone else's feelings. There are times where maybe I know something before you do, or I'm in a position that you're not in at the moment. And for me, I'll be there and I'll be like, 'just get here already!' But I had to realize that I can't do that. Sometimes the other person already knows what they have to do to get where they wanna be but they need to go through their own process and emotions. It's all about not taking things personally when the other person is upset or going through something difficult.
What is your dating activity advice?
It's so easy to fall into routine in a relationship or to just get comfortable and not do new things together. Sometimes you stop doing the things you enjoyed together in the beginning. But there are small things you can do together like trying a new restaurant, going to a concert. It comes down to doing things that bring you together. Even your exciting and fun times that are your get aways from everything else, should still be bringing you together. For us, we like art; whether we see a movie at Metrograph, or go to a museum like the Native American museum, they are activities that are taking us out of our relationship. For example, for me, going to that museum is cool to see you learn more about yourself and also for me to learn more about your culture. And it’s free! [laughs]. I think even outside of New York, how we were talking about going to a drive-in theatre! It's about getting creative and finding things that you and your partner like, but finding ways to experience it in a new way. We like going to movies, so going to a drive in theatre allows us to experience what we enjoy in a new way. It's a cool thing you don't get to experience everyday. Keeping it fresh and exciting but still the same in some ways.
Are there things about sex that you've learned that you feel like you didn't realize before?
Yeah, I think guys need to pay attention to whether or not they’re even making their girl have an orgasm. Before this relationship, I would always think "oh I came, so the girl automatically did too." I think our relationship was one where we kind of talked a lot about our past experiences and you would tell me your past struggles, so from there, it kind of made me think more about the fact that there's something more that needs to be done in general. It's important to really try to be in tune with your partner’s body. With girls, they moan. Guys are quiet. If a girl is moaning usually guys think that they’re automatically doing their job. But I learned that once you actually make a girl cum, you realize you've actually been doing something wrong all along before that. You just know [laughs]. It's a special thing.
What advice can you give to couples that are really busy?
Talk to each other about how you feel about your schedules as well as the time that you're spending together. From there, discuss how you want to spend your time together. For example, we decided sunday is our day to try something new together, or even speak french together. when you do spend time together, try your best to disconnect from other things. If you can't, let your partner know ahead of time that you have something going on. I think if the other person knows ahead of time, then maybe it can make things easier and they can be more understanding. One big thing is just to make the most of your time together. If your time is limited, even one hour can feel like a whole day if you use it wisely.
You've been in a long distance relationship. What is some advice you can offer to those in long distance relationships?
Long distance relationships are like any relationships; the relationship is not going to survive without communication. If you're not being open, it's kind of hard for it to last. Obviously you need to plan times to meet up because it's hard when everything is all digital. The human touch and connection are important. Not even just sex, seeing each other and doing things with each other is really important to a relationship. Also just being honest with each other. I don't think you should be in a long distance relationship if you're not ready for that sacrifice. There can be temptations and also the possibility of growing apart since you're in different places. And you have to be ready for those possibilities. It all, for me, just comes down to communication!
Do you have a preference in race when you date?
No. I've dated all different races. I remember in highschool, I dated one white girl. I grew up around a lot of white people and around a lot of international people. I don't really believe in preferences though. There's people who have shame in their own race. and I'm not like that. It's really just a matter of connection. I don't believe that the person I'm with has to have the same culture and background as me, but they do have to have an interest in learning about something new.
There are many black women out there who feel under appreciated by their fellow black men. What is some advice that you can give to those women out there?
One, something is wrong with the guys you're interested in. If that's how they feel, then you just have to remember how you feel about yourself. It's kind of hard to understand and feel like your own race doesn't appreciate you. But the most important thing is to love yourself first, and be an example for other women and people to love themselves, and through that you'll find the right people and men that will appreciate you. And then you gon' have some kids and you're gonna raise them to appreciate and love black women and all races, and they're gonna eradicate all those other guy [laughs]. But yeah, the only thing you can do really is love yourself and you can try to educate other guys, but in the end, you need to just lead with your own life…. give out love and hopefully you'll inspire others to do the same.