Vallina, 45, jokingly calls herself a cougar. She met her husband, Kelly, 41, on interracialdatingcentral.com.
They probably wouldn’t have met if Kelly hadn’t noticed a photo of a very pretty woman on a motorcycle and decided to reach out. “I told her it was the motorcycle shot that drew me to her so I wouldn’t seem so shallow,” Kelly says. “When we were communicating, Vallina’s responses were well thought out and she is well educated. Combine this with her natural beauty and calm demeanor, the attraction was very strong for me.”
Vallina was 42 at the time and set her filters to search for men aged 44-54, so his profile never would’ve popped up on her computer screen. Something about Kelly’s respectful approach caught her attention.
“It was very polite and chivalrous of Kelly to ask if he could correspond with me, even though he was only 38, almost 39 years old,” Vallina says. “How could I refuse such an honest and adorable request?”
Vallina had never dated interracially but admits she’d always been attracted to white guys since her youth. She says that “pressure from peers and family steered her elsewhere.” Kelly’s honesty and desire to put her at ease while she got to know him drew her in. “He showed real-time pictures and even gave me his home address to check him out! His attention to me and sincerity also got me – the fact that he had traveled the world, visiting over 46 countries, his extreme hobbies, and humility just won me over.”
In time, emails turned into real-time chats, which turned into carefully-timed phone calls (due to an 8.5 hour time zone difference between the Middle East, where Kelly was working, and the east coast, where Vallina lived).
“We made it work by having quality video chatting and telephoning time,” Vallina says. “Not the ‘Ooo baby I love you and you love me’ kinda talk. But the real nitty-gritty type of communications: our likes and dislikes, quirks, challenges, goals, strengths and weaknesses. We both were married before, so it was necessary to get all of us out in the open to see if we were compatible because marriage was the only option we both were seeking.”
After 3 1/2 months of communication, they had their first in-person meeting.
Kelly was returning from the Middle East and made a pit-stop on the east coast to spend time with Vallina before returning to his home in the Midwest. Vallina calls their first, in-person meeting “Vallina-styled”: “Almost running him over, spitting cappuccino into his face, talking his ears off after he was on the plane for almost 20 hours from the Middle East, and just…yes. I was totally nervous. I hadn’t been on a real date in almost 8 years at that time.“
That first meeting was a blur for Kelly because of the fog of jetlag. Plus, he was dealing with the disappointment of a job loss. The trip was more than worth it, though. “Spending our first Thanksgiving together in uncertain times gave me a sense of self-worth that was completely inspired by Vallina,” he says.
Over the past 2 ½ years (with the last 1 ½ of those spent as a married couple), they’ve learned that they have a lot in common – everything from a love for travel and learning about world cultures to gardening to farming to motorcycles to outdoor activities like camping, swimming and scuba diving. They also share more than a few deeply-held values: “Religion, a sense of family, and due to the fact that we have both had a previously bad marriage, we have a better understanding of what is required to compromise and make a marriage successful,” Kelly says.
They’ve learned to appreciate their cultural differences as well. For Kelly, one of the most enlightening cultural aspects he’s learned about is Vallina’s hair. “In one of my previous interracial relationships, she was very paranoid about her hair/weave: can’t get it wet, don’t touch, and such. That was definitely educational. With Vallina, she cared about her hair but wasn’t afraid to get into the water.” Probably important stuff, since he’s a scuba divemaster.
Vallina loves Kelly’s long, mid-back length blonde hair, but their difference in upbringing and his taste in music stand out as points of appreciation. “I was brought up to read the Bible and go to church weekly and by him growing up on the farm, the Bible study groups and church came to them. He loves heavy metal, rap, and R&B, and I love gospel and jazz. (Why does he have Bone Thugs-N-Harmony on his Zune, ok? It tripped me out!). When he gets his guitar and breaks out with Jimi Hendricks or AC/DC, we applaud him because we love him and that’s what he loves. On the flip side, he loves me and allows me to worship the Lord by only having spiritual stuff on. It’s a win-win.”
When asked about words of wisdom they’d like to share, here’s what they had to say:
Kelly: When it comes to having a successful relationship, people must have the ability to listen to one another and be willing to compromise on issues. There are times when both people cannot be completely happy with the situation; however, talking out issues and not going to bed angry are probably the most important aspects of a happy marriage.
Do not allow peer and social pressure prevent you from being with the person that makes you happy. In my case, it took me many years to overcome the tragedy of my first serious interracial relationship. Some people are not capable of accepting that the times are changing. I gladly embrace the change our society has made. There is more room for improvement. Together, we can help further these social changes and create a better future for the next generation.
Vallina: Don’t put an age or color barrier when you are looking for love. I had been divorced for over 8 years with my children and thought love wouldn’t find me, or would find me after the kids were grown and left the coop. It was only after I decided to open my mind to true love and I prayed for a man to love me for me and would let me love him – no matter the color – was when Kelly found me (username WillHeFindMe).
Ladies, if you open your mind to accept a man to love you, no matter the color, the right man WILL find you and your life will never be the same.
Hope you both enjoy that honeymoon cruise to the Caribbean in the fall, Kelly and Vallina! All the best to you in the years to come!