Words by Maria Mora. Photography by Stacy-Ann Ellis.
Finding love in New York City, whether it’s the thought or the quest itself, can be a challenge. In our five-part series, “Love in NYC,” three couples and two single New Yorkers share the good, the bad, and the ugly of dating in the city of dreams.
Couples that grind together shine together. Audience development manager and social media consultant Christina Dunn and visual artist and founder of F.O.F.O. Art-Gear Errol Gordon understand that by showing up and being truly present, they are supporting each other in the best way. The couple of three years took the time to discuss the pressures New York City can place on a relationship and how they make happiness a priority to keep their love alive.
Maria Mora: How did you two meet?
Errol Gordon: I went to visit my friend who attended the University at Buffalo. I went up there right after a breakup. I wasn’t going to go, but my friend insisted. We were at this picnic/BBQ thing and I see this girl who had this huge pitbull. The ego in me was like, if she could handle this pitbull, she could handle me.
Christina Dunn: I was walking the dog and then Errol stops me. I was like, who is this guy? There wasn’t a person that I didn’t know at my campus, especially a black person.
She wasn’t afraid to be herself and tell me what she thought. That made me more excited to get to know her.”Errol Gordon
EG: She asked my friend, “who is this guy?” I was all over his Snapchat and she’s like, “who the hell is he?” My friend tells me, “yo, she’s looking for you. he’s interested in you.” I got excited. We find out she’s going to be at a similar event as before. I go there. My friend is saying hi to a lot of people. I go up to her and say hi again and I ask what she’s doing that afternoon. She says, “we’re doing a get-together, game night.” So I asked, “do you mind if I come?” I asked what does she drink and her friend said, “Henny.” I noticed that her reaction changed. I found out that Henny is not her drink of choice, Jack Daniels was and it was my favorite drink too. She wasn’t afraid to be herself and tell me what she thought. That made me more excited to get to know her.
Chris wasn’t on the same wave as other girls. She even stood out among her friends. That small detail set her apart.
We had something in common no matter how small it may seem now. There was so much outside noise at the time and we were going through our own individual relationship problems. That was the first thing we shared. We were in very different places in our lives at the time, but we meshed in the little time we had to get to know each other. Then we were consistent.
I was looking for a woman with an opinion and had a different take on things. That night, she wasn’t afraid to express that she was different. I love that and still do.
CD: Since that night, we’ve been friends. We started talking afterwards and now we’ve been together for three years.
Prior to getting into a relationship, did you think finding love in the city was impossible?
CD: I didn’t think finding love in the city was impossible because I developed relationships with people from here. While I was in college, my idea of a love story that’d work was only with people “back home.” I thought it was possible due to the accessibility I had to people in NYC and the option to do so many things. I may have been naive in my thinking because I’ve seen a lot of people say the complete opposite, but I couldn’t have imagined dating anywhere else prior to finding this relationship.
NYC is known for being fast-paced, amongst other things. Does the hustle and bustle aspect challenge your relationship?
EG: For sure. Literally, it’s about getting on the same time frame as each other. Making sure that we prioritize properly, down to work, for example. We gotta be able to adjust to each other’s work schedules and be flexible with our time together so it can work. I tell people constantly, “if I don’t make it to this meeting or to this thing with my girlfriend…” I treat it as if it’s life or death. Jokingly but very seriously as well because I’m aware how things can get in terms of scheduling and it’s very important that we show each other that kind of time.
CD: The most important thing for us is time. Living in the city, it can feel like you don’t have any time. Everything is moving fast and we try our best to schedule time–relationship time–like putting our phones down. For someone who’s constantly working on their phone, that’s a struggle for me. I can’t put my phone down sometimes because I’m actually doing work. We do a good job at time management, and I often think about our expenses. If we lived outside of NY, it’d be a different kind of relationship. All of these little things that we have to pay for and put our energy into affects our relationship. There’s pressure from the city, like staying on top of your career game while maintaining your sanity, which we have to really think about considering our lifestyles; him being super creative and not having a conventional lifestyle, opposed to me where I go to work from 9-5 and have side projects.
What’s your favorite part about having a significant other in a major metropolitan area?
CD: The food. One of the things we connect on are cultural events. Living in a city that has so many different cultures and us finding restaurants and events happening keeps our relationship going. Finding different things to do.
It can be challenging because we both have to push each other to keep doing what we’re doing without projecting our frustrations or insecurities.”Christina Dunn
EG: All the art, culture, and music related events. This is very important for me because that’s what we connect on the most and we have the most to talk about afterwards. Going to all of these restaurants and staycations.
CD: I recommend staycations to people everywhere. Do a staycation in a different borough and find an event happening in that borough. Before we had jobs in the city, those were things we put money aside for. It feels good to do something with your partner in the city, especially if you can’t afford to travel out of state or country.
You have to ask your partner, do you want to see my journey? What does it mean to be there with me?“Errol Gordon
In what ways does NYC continue to nurture your relationship?
CD: I truly believe it’s one of the greatest cities in the world. If you can live here, you can live anywhere. If you can sustain a relationship here, you can sustain a relationship anywhere. There are so many pressures in the city. From money to social, it’s amazing if you have someone that you can go home to and have a conversation with. NYC really tests you and it tests your relationship. There’s so many good people here, as well as broken people. There are a lot of people in relationships, but some those relationships aren’t healthy. People get together, but tear each other apart. It can be challenging because we both have to push each other to keep doing what we’re doing without projecting our frustrations or insecurities.
There’s this current pressure in the city for creatives to sustain themselves not just financially, but mentally as well. Finding someone who’s willing to go on that ride with you, as a creative, is hard. You need to know exactly what you want. You need to know your core values.
Be as present as possible. Present doesn’t mean just being there in person, it means alleviating yourself to be completely responsive and emotionally available.”Errol Gordon
EG: Or at least understand that where you are right now, you’re gonna go up and down on your journey. You have to ask your partner, do you want to see my journey? What does it mean to be there with me?
Any advice for New Yorkers currently single and dating?
EG: Be as loving as possible. Be as present as possible. Present doesn’t mean just being there in person, it means alleviating yourself to be completely responsive and emotionally available.