top of page

How “90 Day Fiancé” Helps Me Live My Own Love Story

When I bought a house and fell in love — in that order — I was dropped into a love story with an unfamiliar script.

Our honeymoon phase was in full swing when my partner introduced me to the reality show, “90 Day Fiancé.” I was surprised I hadn’t seen it before, given my long-standing obsession with shows like “Love is Blind” and “Marriage at First Sight.” I was soon enthralled with the TLC sleeper hit as I realized how much my own globetrotting resembled the show. I can find a relatable moment in almost any episode, from the occasional culture clash to the inconvenient, expensive bureaucratic hurdles.

Sometimes when I peek behind the meddling producers and the painful-looking cheek filler (lookin’ at you, Sarper and Shekinah!), I catch myself probing for morsels of truth behind the calculated chaos. How does one properly time an international move, for example? How do we identify our own self-created obstacles?

My partner Z, a proud Jamaican, didn’t leave the island until about 14 years old, bound for New York City, just a few exits away from where I was reared by my Queens-born mother and Haitian immigrant father. Dad was more of a proud expatriate of the so-called “Third World, choosing not to return to his homeland for decades.

It’s a sharp contrast to my partner, who never lost their love and longing for the salted breeze and lyrical dialects of home, and who always intended a triumphant return. Z wondered if they could ever be with someone who didn’t also love Jamaica. Struggling with insecurity, Z soured on the notion of long-distance love, eventually becoming staunchly opposed to the endeavor.

“I always thought I’d end up with another Jamaican because I knew I wanted to at least split my time here,” Z told me on FaceTime. “And then I met you.”

I, on the other hand, enjoy my solitude as much as I do travel, and like a classic story arc on “90 Day Fiancé,” there was a catch. By the time we’d swiped right, Z was ready to repatriate, and I had just become an unlikely first-time homeowner in Atlanta.

There is a “90 Day” spinoff called “The Other Way,” where the couples skip the K-1 visa process and settle outside the U.S. It best reflects our story, since our plan is for me to ultimately pack up and follow them to Jamaica. But there are some serious affairs to get in order first, like deciding when—and if—to sell my house. This is a huge deal and can’t really be undone, but at least it can happen at our own pace.

One way Z and I diverge from the show is that we’re in no rush to get married. A big part of me is grateful there’s no pressure to plan a wedding and an international move, but I’d prefer Jamaica to recognize same-sex marriage. When I share my big news with people, I am commonly asked if Z and I can exist safely there as a lesbian couple. Not that the U.S. hasn’t introduced an unprecedented volume of anti-LGBTQ legislation, each time someone singles out Jamaicans for being inhospitable, new American hate crimes and legislative bathroom bills pile up.

We all know the big cultural script: fall in love, get married, make a home, put babies in it. It’s one that “90 Day Fiancé” absolutely works to emphasize. But while these milestones are relevant, what seems to be changing (on TV, and in the real world) is a willingness to switch up the order of events, if it suits us to do so. If you’ve seen the show, you’ve seen all the brides with baby bumps, and the grandparents who couldn’t care less when the baby is coming.

When Jordan and Everton from “Love in Paradise,” another spinoff, went in on property together before they were even remotely serious, it provided the juicy tension between bending and breaking adult life’s “rules.” Life is short, so why not invent your own order? Two years ago, I purposefully defied the order by buying a country cottage too small to comfortably share with a partner. I figured if I ever wanted to live with someone, I’d keep the bungalow and move. But when Z and I realized we wanted to plan a future, I started to worry that maybe that familiar order was tried and true for a reason.

But these days, I don’t think that way. House or no house, nothing is promised to us. While it helps to be so in love and certain about each other, there will always be unknowns and anxieties about the path ahead. We know love alone doesn’t keep the lights on. For us, it helps to keep our focus on the future we’re building together, trusting the timing, and holding each other up on the way.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page