“There’s been a lot of time invested here, but, that is to say, different parts of that time have been better than others,” 27-year-old Jade Parker says in the latest installment of Unbothered’s popular video and IGTV series, Dear, Black Love.
When Parker and her fiancé Daniel Smart met as teenagers, they didn’t realize that they’d be embarking on a decade-long journey that would test their relationship with each other and themselves. After connecting during a high school summer program for gifted students in 2010, the two made the decision to stay together through college (twin bed and all). The pair later realized that they had some personal self-discovery to do and separated for two years, during what Jade calls a ‘formative’ time.
“There’s a difference between high school and college ‘us’, but we were still young, immature people,” she shares of their decision to take time apart.
“I realized that I had placed so much of our identity in being in our relationship. That [two year period] was a lot of personal growth for me, a lot of therapy honestly, and a lot of hard conversations around self worth, and being okay with who I was becoming,” Daniel says candidly. Despite being the self-proclaimed “idealist” of the two, he recognized the value of their time apart, and how it ultimately helped bring them back together as a couple, stronger and more open than before.
Rekindling their romance proved to be the best thing for both Jade and Daniel. The two got engaged July 3, 2020, ten years after they met to the day – a fitting tribute to their past relationship and a commitment to the future they intend to share together.
“My favorite part of our relationship [now] is how much we laugh,” Jade says with a smile.
Settling into their adult love story, the two share the type of mutual respect that only comes with maturity, and an understanding that flows from their shared love and individual identities.
“You don’t particularly need me, but you’ve chosen me,” Daniel shares, “and that’s an important distinction to make.”
To hear more about Jade and Daniel and their refreshingly real love story, check out the video and then head over to @r29unbothered for more Black love stories.