I’ve always been an optimist when it comes to love. And now that I recently got engaged, relationships are something that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. My friends would probably say that before I met my fiancée, Alana, my love life was similar to that of my character, Denise, in Master of None. They’d say I’d dated a lot of girls like @nipplesandtoes23, who Denise brings home in the Thanksgiving episode that I wrote for Season 2. I don’t know if I’d go that far, but I did mix it up, and rightfully so.
Really, I was always sort of waiting for that one person to come along. I knew my life was going to be a crazy one, and even when I was single as fuck, I wanted someone who could keep the peace, especially at home. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t date a lot of different kinds of people to find it. Now, with everyone using apps, dating has become more like shopping, which might sound like a good thing, but it can be really problematic. Before the first date, it’s impossible not to dive into Google and prejudge someone without ever knowing what that person is really like. You don’t get the chance to have that instant chemistry.
To me, dating should be more like going to a restaurant you’ve never been to. You start fresh—sight unseen—and then make your decision from there. Some of us are looking for a partner we think can elevate us, and other times we date people who aren’t on our level at all. Things seem to work best, though, when you seek out somebody who’s equally yoked, in a similar place in life as you.
And that’s sort of how it happened for me. I first met Alana in a meeting because she works in entertainment too, just on the executive side. There were no sparks flying at first, but we kept up after work, and she eventually asked me to grab a drink. Alana was straight at the time, so I assumed it was just a work thing, but she says she had her eye on me. I couldn’t believe how quickly we vibed on that first date. And we’ve been hanging out ever since.
It took me only about four days to tell her I loved her. Sounds crazy, and probably cliché, I know, but I’m a decisive person with love, with writing, with everything. And I truly believe you have to trust your gut and say, “You know what, I’m right. This feels good.” Soulmates come in many forms, so the biggest thing I’ve learned is that you can’t be afraid to try things out. If you’re a woman, your match doesn’t necessarily have to come in a male package. It could be a woman, a trans person, anybody, really. I know that sounds super gay of me, but my happiness is a direct product of it. I’m grateful every day that Alana said, “Why not a woman?” If she hadn’t been open-minded, our love story would’ve never happened.
Once you’re lucky enough to find love, you’ve got to learn to put your partner first. It makes me laugh when people get into a relationship and expect to do everything they’ve always done when they were single. Relationships aren’t an accessory or something that you need to squeeze into your life—you have to move things around for your relationship if you really want it to last.
In mine, for instance, I’m a big homebody. Alana is not. It seems small, but it was a real challenge that we had to work through. We had to get on each other’s wavelength and figure out how to exist in a way that made sense for both of us. But that’s what true romance is. It’s just two people challenging each other and loving each other as they try to figure out this thing called life.
—As told to Jennifer Ferrise, by Lena Waithe
For more stories like this, check out the March issue of InStyle, available on newsstands and for digital download now.