Love In NYC: Khiana & Jon

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. Our five-part series, “Love in NYC,” explores the good, the bad, and the ugly of dating in the city of dreams, all through the lens of three couples and two single New Yorkers.

To be young, free, and in love in New York City is an aspiration for many. For Khiana Lowe and Jonathan Richetts, it’s a reality. In a city that breaks people down as much as it builds them up, how do two people sustain and nourish this thing called “love?” Khiana and Jonathan take us through the genesis of their relationship and get honest on the true meaning of partnership.

Maria Mora: How did you meet?

Jonathan Richetts: I went shopping with my cousins at KITH where she used to work. I saw her and thought, oh OK. She’s cute. She’s fine. My friend who works there, Kadeem, was like, “yo what’s up?” I was like, “yo, who’s that?” “Khi? I’m gonna tell her right now,” he replied. “Tell her what?” I replied. I just wanted to know who that was. I felt mad defensive. I just wanted to see what’s up. She seemed cool. He was like, “Ayo, my boy wants to talk to you.” I’m like, “Wrong sign bro,’ it’s not like that.” I just thought she was cute and cool. So I was like, “Hey, what’s up? I’m Jon.”

What did she say?

JR: She said, “hey, what’s up?” That was it, really. I didn’t want the intro to be misleading; that’s why I was so defensive about it. I thought, aw man, she’s just gonna see me as the many dudes that come and do the same thing.

Khiana Lowe: It was funny ’cause Kadeem came up to me and was like, “yo, my boy tryna take you out.” I was like, “Kadeem, who are you talking about?” I don’t see anyone around me right now.” It was funny because as soon as his friend said that, I turn around he goes “hi! I’m Jon. I think you’re really pretty.” I think you (Jon) said you were intimidated to talk to me, meanwhile I was like, “hi!”

What was the follow up to that?

JR: Me sending her a picture of a spider.

KL: I realized he was really cool and different from our first conversation because he wasn’t trying too hard. It wasn’t like I’m trying to spit game at you. It felt like he was genuinely interested in getting to know me as a person, which was pretty cool.

It could be difficult to find love if that’s your only intention.

Jonathan Richetts

Prior to getting into a relationship, did you think finding love in the city was impossible?

JR: It could be difficult to find love if that’s your only intention.

KL: I remember specifically at that time, I was very intentional about not dating. I think love happens when you’re not looking for it. That’s how I knew I really liked Jon, because I really wasn’t looking for a relationship. I wasn’t looking to talk to anyone. I’m talking to him because I genuinely think he’s cool.

Love happens when you’re not looking for it.

Khiana Lowe

I feel like when people are looking, you end up settling. You’re compromising things … compromising signs … This isn’t right, there’s something wrong here, but it’s what I want so I’m gonna keep trying; meanwhile everything is telling you that that’s not it.  

Why were you both not looking?

KL: I’ve never been the type to be like, “I want to be in a relationship. I want to date someone or talk to someone.” If it happens, it happens. I like hanging out by myself. I’m really grateful for the strong friendships in my life because I don’t feel lonely.

NYC is known for being fast-paced, among other things. Does the hustle and bustle aspect challenge your relationship in any way?

JR: Everything serves a purpose. It’s definitely affected a lot because there’s been many times where she’s not available and I’m available. I want to see her and our schedules don’t match up or we want to see each other so bad and we can only hang out for this long, so then I’m upset at her because I want to see her longer. The benefit of that comes from our perspectives. We evaluate that timing and stress are the problem, and then ask ourselves: How do we work on it? How do we communicate where we understand and not combine the stress from our work lives to our personal lives?

Photography by Stacy-Ann Ellis.

What has helped in terms of finding a balance or compromising?

KL: Number one has definitely been communication. For me, it’s like I really want to see you. I can deal with not seeing you as long as you communicate what’s on your schedule. We can’t hang out now, but let’s make plans for the future. As long as there’s some type of communication, and not “we can’t hang out” and then being left in the dark.

She serves a purpose of happiness in my life.

Jonathan Richetts

What is your favorite part about having a significant other while living in a major metropolitan area?

JR: My favorite part is to know that she’s there. She serves a purpose of happiness in my life.

When there’s so much going on, and I want to take a break, I can take a break with her and not feel that I have to. My schedule doesn’t feel as crazy as it does when I’m with her. I’m here, I’m myself, I’m 100%, no shame, no judgment. With her, I’m in my safe space.

KL: It’s nice to have that place of comfort and knowing that you have someone that always has your back, that’s always there for you, and just gets it. You can bounce ideas off each other, talk about when you’re feeling overwhelmed and when there’s stuff going on. You can always explore the city together.

Photography by Stacy-Ann Ellis.

In what ways has NYC nurtured your relationship?

KL: I think NY, specifically, applies some really interesting challenges. The way we both navigate the city, maintain or develop a new understanding of work, social life, passion projects, relationships, etc. NYC really pushes you to figure out what your priorities are because there’s so much going on all the time. Everything in New York City blends together. With that, we end up sharing a lot of aspects in our relationships I wouldn’t have expected before.

JR: I like that you brought up priorities because that can also backfire on a relationship. Because you want to see someone so bad, you adjust your priorities. You reprioritize responsibilities or things you don’t want to be responsible for, like I really want to see you, so I’m going to try to postpone this for tomorrow. And then, when you’re hanging out with that person and [it ends up] not being the best date, you’re like, I could’ve been doing this instead. You blame that person because you adjusted your priorities. Meanwhile, they could’ve been OK with hanging out another time, if you would’ve communicated that. We attack that a lot.

KL: It really comes down to communication.

What’s your advice for single, dating New Yorkers?

KL: My biggest advice is chill. Whether you’re in a relationship or trying to find one, you’re always gonna think it’s way more deeper than what it is. You’re taking away from the experience if you don’t chill.

JR: Love yourself first.

Update 05.01.19: Shortly after publishing, ILY was informed that Khiana Lowe and Jonathan Richetts are no longer together.