...when love feels like freedom
Relationships come to us with many different forms and provide us with many different experiences. Some push us to grow, others teach us to trust and then there are the ones that show us exactly what we don’t need in life. For Brianna, the relationship she continues to nurture with her partner Whitney has given her the greatest gifts of love she could ask for–freedom and genuine support.
We too easily assume that what comes with a partnership is not only unwavering support but the ability to provide you with the space you need to retain your individuality and sense of self. However, history and broken relationships have shown us that, that assumption is not always true. Some have a hard time understanding the concept of togetherness while also having time apart. And others struggle with providing support without judgment or jealously.
Through constant communication and conscious effort from both sides to provide their partner with exactly what they need, Brianna and Whitney have manifested a perfect, but unconventional relationship. One that allows them to explore the depths of their selves, while also building a deeper connection with one another. A connection that sometimes has to be retained continents apart.
Watch parts of LBH’s conversation of love with Brianna and Whitney above or read it in full below:
How did you all meet? And how long have you all been together?
Brianna: We grew up in the same city and we've always known of each other. But we met in 2017 at the black theater festival in Winston. I was downtown kind of by myself and I saw her. Then I was like, “oh, she's here, she's home,” because I knew she was playing overseas, and so I slid in her dm on Twitter. [After that] We met in the street or whatever, and then she kind of chilled with me the same night and that was just kind of all she wrote. We’ve been together for a little over two and a half years now.
In what ways has your relationship grown over the years? Have there been any easy or hard lessons you all have had to learn along the way?
Whitney: I think for me, las far as like the hard lessons go, I learned how to grow up and be more mature as far as relationships go. Before I met Bri, the relationships that were in were very childish relationships where you're first getting into being like yourself in the lesbian world or whatever like that. Being with Bree is my most mature relationship that I've been in and I had to do a lot of growing up.
Brianna: I would definitely say that initially when we first met neither one of us were like looking for anything super serious. When I met for her that same summer, she was leaving to go to Spain, like a couple of months later. So, we just kind of like was like, well, I'll see you when I see you kind of thing. And then we just ended up talking every day while she was gone and it just kind of escalated from there. [The] one thing that has definitely grown a lot in our relationship would be our communication. She communicates like no other partner that I have [ever had].
"The womxn that she is, I didn't realize that's what I needed until I got with her. It was like a big revelation, like, this is exactly what I've been needing and what I've been wanting. And it's home for me."
Whitney, what was it about Brianna that first caught your interest? And what was it about her that kept it?
Whitney: What initially caught my interest was how bold she was. We knew that we were at the same place at the black theater festival and she just straight slid in my dms. It was her boldness, I really liked that. That was very attractive to me. She knew what she wanted and she went after it. And then how she kept my interest? When I first met Bri, she was someone that I had never met before. When it comes to her vibe, she vibrated at a whole different frequency than anything that I was used to. You know what I mean? It was just the instant connection instead of attraction. Also, her beauty, she's gorgeous.
Brianna, in what ways has Whitney loved you that past partners have not?
Brianna: One of the biggest things about Whit that I really love is that she allows me to be myself [and] live in my truth. She allows me a love [and] a level of freedom that I feel I've never like really had with a partner in the past. She's always on board with me, no matter what it is. If I say I want to do this and I'm going to start next week, she's like, alright, let's do it. And she supports me 100%, no matter what. And the biggest thing is really the level of freedom that I feel I have in this relationship, just to be true to myself and stay true to myself, even if it's like things that don't necessarily include her. I think that's another thing, because I
feel like it's super hard in relationships to be honest with yourself about the things that you want in life, and be able to communicate those things to your partner. It’s hard for a partner to accept things if it doesn't include them and that's definitely something that she has mastered. She's always on board with me, no matter what it looks like.
Do you guys feel like you built a friendship before your relationship or did you build a relationship before your friendship?
Brianna: It was definitely the friendship first. We [started off] just hanging out, chilling, getting to know each other and then one day we woke up and was like, “let's be together. Let's be together for real.”
Whitney: Yeah, we really just spent so much time with each other. We vibe with each other. We would go on random, spontaneous outings. I wouldn't call them dates after, we started going on dates after we decided that we wanted to be with each other, but yeah, we were really good friends first. And I feel like that's so important when you're in a relationship with someone, to establish that good friendship first.
I understand that Whitney is a professional basketball player who spends the majority of the year overseas. How do you all handle that distance?
Whitney: It's hard, at times.
Brianna: It's difficult. When we met, we pretty much spent our whole first year apart, more than we were together. So, it was different and I think that's another reason we weren't super thinking about, you know, being super serious with one another. But we make it work. We communicate really well, even with the time differences, we always figure it out.
Whitney: Communication is key with the long-distance relationship, as long distance as it is. It's not a regular long distance. So, we have to communicate effectively so [that] we are always on the same page. Being far away it makes you feel like you are really far away, so you have to do certain things to keep things spicy.
Brianna: One thing that we do is we always plan for me to go and be wherever she is for at least two weeks. We're always planning. We always make sure we have something to look forward to with each other when she's gone.
Whitney: She’s usually been everywhere I've been since we've been together, so that's a good experience for us to have to be out of the country with each other. She gets to see what I'm doing and how I'm living. And then like we just communicate, that's really the key.
"If the communication isn't there, it'll never work. If the trust isn't there, it's never going work. You guys have to trust each other."
Do you think that distance and not having that physical aspects of your relationship made
you guys closer?
Brianna: For sure. We had to communicate. That's all we had. All we had was talking on the phone or FaceTime or to text. We didn't have that in person experience often. All we had was to get to know each other on a mental, emotional, spiritual level. And I really think that first year is really what reeled us into one another. It was the first year that really made us decide we can do this. We can really do this together.
How do you guys spend quality time with one another when Brianna is not overseas with you?
Brianna: Lots of FaceTime dates. Like, I'll say, “hey, I found this new movie on Netflix. Let's plan to watch it together.” And [then we will] press play at the same time, have wine and relax together. FaceTime is really the best way that we keep it intimate and make sure we get our time in with one another.
And when thinking of your future as a couple, have you all ever considered Brianna traveling overseas with you, Whitney? Or even relocating internationally full-time?
Whitney: Yeah, we actually talk about that often. I think people don't realize how hard that is and how many different details go into literally moving your whole life overseas– but it can be done. Brianna is a really big part of my life, so that's something we do talk about often. [But] she has a full-time job right now that she's thriving in. So, she has to think about those things. [Though] I would love for her to live with me overseas. It's just a matter of figuring out the details and deciding [to do it].
Any advice you all would give other couples who are long distance?
Brianna: If the communication isn't there, it'll never work. If the trust isn't there, it's never going work. You guys have to trust each other. You got to find ways to give your partner that sense of security that you would have if you have your partner in person with you every day.
Whitney: Also, to keep things spicy. It seems like is it hard to figure out, but kind of [just] go with your intuition and do random things. Like, if I'm at a cool restaurant or something, I’ll call Bri and bring her into my setting [with me]. You really got to know your partner. Know what your partner needs [and] understand your partner's love languages. Even though it’s long distance, you just got to put in some effort.
Brianna: Yeah. The effort has to be there.
"And then one day we woke up and was like, “let's be together. Let's be together for real.”"
If you all had to define your relationship, how would you?
Brianna: But very loving, very nurturing. We have a good time, but very unconventional. I think being in this relationship with Whitney after being in serious relationships in the past, my idea of long-term partnership has changed so much because our dynamic is so different. To be honest, I didn't necessarily know if I'd be able to handle this dynamic, and then when we started taking one another seriously, as time goes by, you just figure it out. [And] learned that when you love someone it's just really about deciding and making those decisions and just figuring it out as you go.
Whitney: We make it work. In any relationship, there’s kinks that you got to figure out you know. We're are both caps, so we really connect, but the things that we like disconnect on are so kind of huge. Those are the things that we have to kind of figure out, but like it's very minuscule. We really like are one in the same. So, I think that that has allowed our relationship to really flourish.
Okay, last question, what does being loved by her feel like?
Brianna: I'll say that being loved by her, it’s like freedom. I'm not going to get emotional. Definitely very free. Just to feel taken care of in the way she takes care of me and the way that she cares about me, I'm so sorry. Oh, my God, yeah. Just freedom is really what it feels like. I've never liked being with someone who loves me so much and cares about me so much that she is genuinely onboard with whatever makes me happy even if it does not include her. And I've never known that's what I needed until I was with her.
Whitney: Being loved by her feels like exactly where I'm supposed to be. There's really no elaborate answer to that. It feels like home. She's my best friend, my confidant, my lover, my everything in one. [And] that's really the best relationship that you can have and that's exactly what I get in her, and I really am blessed to have it. I enjoy it. The womxn that she is, I didn't realize that's what I needed until I got with her. It was like a big revelation, like, this is exactly what I've been needing and what I've been wanting. And it's home for me. (Looks at Bri ) I really love you a lot.
Written by: Kee Simone, LBH Editor-in-Chief (@thebaddiegalore)