This article originally appeared on levelman.com
Earlier this month, a couple set the internet ablaze by sharing a love story that began in a Popeyes parking lot.
It started as a wedding announcement in the New York Times. Yet while the courtship ended in matrimony, many could not get over the details of how the two found their way to the altar.
A 44-year-old man named Stevenson asked Sharhea, 34, if they could meet one afternoon during the early months of the plague. They connected via Hinge; Stevenson was the first man from the app that Sharhea felt worthy of an in-person date. I’ve been near my homegirls who use that app—after a few glances of the available straight men and how they behaved, I immediately understood why this was a big deal for Sharhea.
However, it seems he had blown her off twice already. In anticipation of a third strike, she issued an ultimatum that resulted in a meeting at a Popeyes parking lot in Boston, home of Bobby Brown, New Kids on the Block, and—let folks tell it—racism and delicious seafood. She explained herself: “I just cut him short and said, If you are calling to cancel again, then don’t ever call again.”
They met up and apparently Stevenson went and got himself some KFC. I haven’t had KFC since probably the original Destiny’s Child days, but I recall their tenders and mashed potatoes being cool. He could’ve bought her that along with some wings in case she was hungry. But evidently, Sharhea was fine with it.
After making a connection, she was sure marriage was in the cards for them and told him as much after they became exclusive. She informed him he would need to move in within six months of them dating. He did so. They got engaged in less than a year. The groom had his friend buy the engagement ring, though he was said to have reimbursed him “quickly.”
Stevenson and Sharhea now live together in a home they both built.
Of course, when you share details of your life—especially stories as specific as this, in the New York damn Times—strangers are going to chime in. Which is why their love tale produced countless posts, threads, and write ups.
Some folks took issue with the fact that there were plenty of signs that Stevenson might not be up to par for her. Ultimately, if she’s happy and got the wedding announcement she wanted, I wish them all the success in the world. (Although I do wonder if he has learned to think of her when ordering chicken?)
Why do people generally feel so compelled to share so many details about their relationships—successful and otherwise—when they sound so embarrassing?
As, uh, novel, a love story as the Popeyes pair above is, weeks later, I came across a viral story from video model Ayisha Diaz that sounds like she’s positing Stockholm syndrome as being shot by Cupid.
Next to a picture of her partner grabbing her ass—which I won’t deny can be romantic—she writes a post on Instagram detailing how a stolen passport brought them closer. “Best thing that happened was getting stuck with you for weeks in Mexico after you hid my passport and acted like I lost it lol,” she wrote.
She described it as “a ghetto version of the movie 365 days this day,” with heart-adorned emojis to follow.
If that is not sweet enough for you, Ayisha explains: “While you kept me in Mexico hostage I got see the man without jewelry, no cars, no money, no gifts just you in Jesus sandals, Shorts and personality.”
Understandably, a lot of people noted how insane this sounds because after all, it was a birthday caption. Ayisha noticed. And she responded: “So crazy how people are trying to turn our little love beginning to something crazy.”
She is so lucky that she doesn’t live in Fulton County because if rap lyrics can be used against people, certainly IG captions should, too.
I am single and don’t like telling people details about my dating life in this way so I understand my advice may come across as biased. But I do suffer from secondhand embarrassment, and people like this are giving me the blues.
As much as I support celebrations of love, they shouldn’t involve stinginess or probably crimes. And in the case of unrequited love, some people need to learn when to shut up. Yes, it’s Murder, and I’m thinking of Irv Gotti.
The founder of Murder Inc. Records has been rightfully blasted for talking about his 20-year-old relationship with Ashanti. Gotti, stuck in the wrong mindset, didn’t see anything wrong with bashing his former artist, who he met in her late teens and pursued as a 30-year-old married man with kids. All of this, just because her feelings apparently weren’t as lasting as his own.
Audiences saw infidelity differently and criticized him, but Irv has not seen the error of his ways.
Responding to a fan question online, Gotti wrote: “Please believe. It’s gonna be NO COMMENT from here on end. But I felt like at least trying to make y’all understand. Moving forward. it will be limited interviews and about of [sic] no comments. I tell the truth cause I want the people to know the real. But honestly. Y’all don’t give a fuck about the truth.”
I don’t find any of these situations to be the same. There is a big difference between someone who stands up Hinge dates and is stingy with fried chicken, a man who kidnaps his girl in a foreign country, and a creep who abuses his power among other jackass behavior. But in each situation, there is the shared trait of presenting some bullshit as romantic and a story worthy to be shared.
My only plea is that you look at each of these examples, wish them well (and in select cases, counseling) and do not repeat their mistakes.
Respectfully, stories some people find inspiring others might find creepy and weird.
Good luck to us all.
Michael Arceneaux is the New York Times bestselling author of I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé, I Don’t Want To Die Poor, and the forthcoming I Finally Bought Some Jordan’s.