Category Archives: Afua’s Guest Blog
I spent some time with a close guy friend a couple weeks ago while stateside, and a
slightly inebriated trip down relationship/situationship lane concluded with some chilling realizations and some good insights for me going forward. I thought it was time to start turning wounds into wisdom, so here goes.
The conversation began with the acknowledgement that ‘yes, there are always signs when something’s not going to work out, but we choose to ignore them- While for men, ignoring usually involves a fight between both “heads”, a woman’s fight is usually between her head and her heart. So given this fight, how does one pick up that you’re not ‘his wifey’ in order not to waste your time? Good q. For the remainder of this piece, I’ll try to recount John’s** side of the conversation in italics slash give my thoughts and list out six key findings in bold. Although these are personalized to me, they are general takeaways for everyone on how to know before you know.
In no particular order:
1. How many times did I tell you to let this one go? And not just me, how many people told you to let this one go? You put it down, you pick it up. You walk away, then turn right back around and RUN back. You let it half way heal, then with one little itch and you’re picking at it. >>> When your guy friends cry foul, it’s a problem. I know I’ve talked about this before, but I’ll reiterate it because it’s such a good test. Maybe even before ‘your man’ admits it to you or to himself, sometimes your guy friends can pick up on actions or inactions and let you know what’s really up with a guy. Listen to your guy friends when they tell you to keep it moving, especially when it’s multiple friends and said repeatedly. It’s not an exact science, but this is definitely better than listening to your girlfriends who tend to rationalize actions with you..
2. Not one? single one of his
close friends, period, knew of the existence of his and your situation. And that is all on you, boo. As a relationship blogger, you really should know better. >>> I really should. I mean, I have a blog post that even discussed this… so no excuses on this one. Let me just copy/paste what I already ‘know’: His Family and Friends not knowing about you is a problem. If you’re ‘together’ and every one of your close friends and family knows about him, but none of his close friends or family knows about your existence/relationship, it’s time to reconsider the situation. If you drop hints of loving to meet his family/friends and he evades or shuts down the conversation, it’s time to consider why. And this includes the lot of ‘I don’t tell people about my personal business’ folks. Yes, some men don’t like to gossip about who they’re fooling around with, but when he’s serious about you, he’ll want the important people in his life to know about you. And for you to know them.
3. And on that note… the ex never left the picture, so you better go take several seats, little girl. If it takes any man 6 months to break up with a chick, don’t think for a second that thing is going to die
easily >>> When the ex never leaves the picture, it’s a problem. So you did your research once the two of you started talking… Who was before, how serious was it, is she outta the picture? But it’s not always about the past, you need to also consider the present. Even if others have opinions about what their situation was/is, even if he said ‘she wasn’t wifey’…trust your gut. If things don’t feel right on more than one occasion, maybe it’s for a reason. And things not feeling right can manifest in various forms: 1. They’re still really good friends (a little too good) 2. She’s someone who never let go: Checking in… ‘Hows your mama & ‘em doing?… Did your pops receive the Christmas present I sent him’ Etc.*side-eye* 3. His friends never understood why he broke up with her, and continue to believe she’s the best match for him (See #2 again) 4. The general public/ his friends and acquaintances still associate him with her in a romantic sense… Everyone pause for a moment: I actually had a conversation once with someone who referred to the person I was currently talking to as ‘oh, you mean so-and-so’s ex’… Errr yup, that’s exactly who I was referring to… *side-eye*. For this one, John was stressing that perhaps I never lost him because I never had him to lose. That perhaps he was never the one, because he was always someone else’s one. If she’s got the best friends and family on lock, you’ll always be fighting an uphill battle; just don’t be surprised if in 2, 3, 4 years even they’re back together near engaged *shrug*.
3.5. Not to belabor the point, but you took too long to decide what you wanted and then to tell him, and in general there will be less encroachment on territory if it is clearly marked. One reason someone can come back so easily into a man’s life, is when he’s not locked down. You have a window of opportunity to lock it down with a guy, once that’s gone, you can’t really do much after that. >>> When it takes too long to get commitment, it’s a problem. If you want something, decide quickly and take it. If you get hurt in the process, at least you can say you tried… But don’t allow a situation to float in the milky way undefined. One of the most eye opening lessons I’ve learned in the last year is the power of a decisive woman in a relationship. And this is all from the mouths of men too: ‘Women sometimes underestimate their influence over men (especially educated black women). A woman can have the power to make decisions for ‘us’, because sometimes we don’t know what we want or what’s best for us, and we need a woman to make a case/decision that ‘hey, we’re doing this’.’ What I’ve seen over the past year living in Ghana is that the purposeful/intentional/aggressive women be killing the game- and the laissez-faire, well…they’re not. And intentional here is not thirsty or manipulative, it’s just being straight with what you want.
4. Your values/ religion did not align, and no one backed down. Love compromises, so if yall weren’t willing to come to an understanding on this then there’s not too much you could do there >>> I know this is a dicey one. In our favorite guest post on White Women, the author called foul play on African men brought up by traditional/Christian mothers who wanted to deviate from that with their own significant others. However, to that all I can say is: It’s. Allowed. God forbid men don’t want to marry their mothers, even if they think the world of them. You’re allowed to adore your mama and not want to date/marry ‘her’ per se, or allow ‘her’ to raise your kids in the world we live in now. And I find this true for a lot of African men who’ve grown up/ spent a considerable amount of time abroad. It’s the same thing really as marrying outside your race/culture. And I am fully aware that opposites attract and there are successful inter-faith and no-faith/faith couples, however if the two of you don’t see each others values/religions as assets (or at the very least not liabilities) to the other’s character, then its a red flag. And this is more than tolerance, it’s respect and a willingness to live with the consequences of that persons values/religion… Including (if you’re to get married) how you raise your kids.
5. Count for me how many times in 3 years, you TRULY felt this boy was going H.A.M for you, as in putting in serious time and energy to make the relationship work.
1, 2, 3 times? Maybe a handful?
Actually that’s okay, you don’t have to answer.
>>> He likes you
a little less than you like him. It’s the time tested rule passed down from Grandmama that we all heard growing up: You want a man who likes you a little more than you like him. For obvious reasons… or maybe not so obvious, so I’ll explicitly say it… Men like to chase and women like to be chased. It’s like the circle of life or something *shrug*. If you as the woman are driving things, if you’re the one trying to manipulate situations to see him, speak to him scheming to make it work, it’s prob not supposed to work. If he shows unwavering commitment to his friends and family, and for you it doesn’t quite seem like he’s putting in as much dedication to show you how he feels… sooner or later, the truth always surfaces. And I’m not advocating for playing games here either… I do think women should make their feelings known, but after that if he’s not reciprocating on a similar level then keep it moving… And I realize there’s a delicate balancing act one has to do between this and #3.5.
6. WTF. Even as a man, I WAS confused of this guy’s actions. He’s in, he’s out, he’s up, he’s down. >>> Indecision is a decision. And I’ve already talked about this …. twice. Don’t necessarily equate leaving and returning as a sign that he wants to be with you… Because although he comes back, he still leaves again. If he can’t make a permanent decision about you, and it’s been more than 12 months…keep it moving – words from a man, not me. And I can’t give enough stress to #1, if your guy friends cry foul… well, you know the rest.
- – -
Well, that’s the list I
uncovered can remember with John. Perhaps he was a little hard on me, but I needed to hear it and I think many women need to as well. What’s worse than being in love with someone who doesn’t love you back, is wasting time on being with someone who truly doesn’t want to be with you, so use the 6 tests above… I think they can save you a lot some of the head heartache. The guy may like you (even care for you deeply), but the key here is that he’s not into you enough to stay permanently… Enough to tell his fam/friends about you… Enough to pass the smell test with objective guy friends. I think more than this being a therapeutic post for me, I also don’t want anyone to ever spend too much time on a one-sided love, or ever have to hear a guy say to you after three years, ‘you know, you don’t exactly fit in with my whole life situation’… *shrug* It happens.
**Name changed obvi
Yesterday, I participated in a small google hangout as part of the BBC’s 100 Women series. It was short and sweet, only a couple bloggers ended up being able to join, so the conversation wasn’t as full, but it was some fun times. Also, just wanted to clarify the presenter called me an expert – I’m not. And I didn’t start Bandeka.com, I was only a part of the leadership team. Enjoy! And for more on the 100 Women Series visit HERE!
Pls stop been friends with my husband if u want to live long.**
- – -
A few weeks ago an ex reached out to me- not unusual because he reaches out from time to time, so I didn’t think much of it. His infrequent bursts of communication usually involve 1. Some random way of getting a hold of my # (I’ve been in and out of Ghana for the past few years and my numbers have changed), 2. Him reaching out to me 2x a week or so for a short span of time to discuss world politics, Ghana politics and the economy, and how he plans to take over the world. 3. Him disappearing as quickly as he appeared.
Rinse, and repeat. In a year give or take.
This time around we had a few conversations and exchanges of text messages in the span of three weeks. Now this ex is married. And let’s park here for a moment. He’s been married for almost a year and a half now. And he is married to what I can politely say is a ‘basic chick’… What does this mean? This means she hasn’t traveled much or at all, hasn’t gone to university, she’s quiet, (very) young- there’s about ten years between the two of them, and she’s the seemingly shy and submissive type. If you think this is pure stereotyping, you’re right. But this gives context to the blog. I’ve never met her, but this is my impression from things people have said (people being him, and members of his family and mine). In any case, in my last song and dance routine with him I toed the line carefully, trying not to text back or pick up every time he called (for obvious reasons), however he is an
friend acquaintance and mildly entertaining so yes we held a few superficial conversations about life, Ghana, and the pursuit of political dominance (his, not mine). Let me insert here, because I’ve touched on being ‘the other woman’ and ‘the ex’ in this space before, that my philosophy isn’t that one can’t be friends with someone of the opposite sex after you’re married, but that you need to be careful and you can’t have a best friend of the opposite sex after marriage. But I digress. A few mornings ago, I woke up to the afore-quoted text, from a number I didn’t recognize. I will save you all the hoopla I went through in the 30 minutes that ensued after waking up to this text, but it did include a highly annoyed call to my ex’s brother (there was no need for any more communication trails between the ex’s phone and mine), and a ranting session to Amma… standard. What I will offer now is some things to consider for Mrs. Current Wife and other women like her:
Nobody I don’t want your man. Because this text was sent at the crack of dawn, my assumption is that you snuck into his phone read a couple text messages that you didn’t like and your head started spinning, fine. But if you took some time to read the txt messages carefully you would have seen the platonic nature of our relationship, at the very least from my end. – Not every single lady having a conversation with a married man wants to jump their bones.
2. Hun, you received your ultimate result, because the BARELY existent friendship I had with your husband will for all intents and purposes be NON existent going forward, but it has nothing to do with your asinine threat, rather it is because continued engagement with women like you and their partners on matters such as this is beneath me. If you believe I am the biggest threat to your newlywed status, I do wish your marriage a very big good luck. – Sometimes women feel threatened because they know how they acted prior to marriage, and they believe all single women are of the same bred. We’re not.
3. Grow up. To stoop so low as to hide behind a text and threaten my life, makes me feel so sorry for you. If you want to grow up a little, try having a conversation with your husband if you suspect infidelity, and IF there is need to speak to another woman about overstepping boundaries, try a conversation where you show your face (or own up to who you are) and speak to me as a mature adult. – There are cases, I’m sure, when men believe certain behavior is appropriate when it’s not, or they get off course and need their woman to steer them back, however This. Is. An. Internal. Affair. Clean up your own house before you come threatening someone else’s.
These are just the top three things I wanted to say. I know Amma is itching to chime in on this though… Read her response HERE
** text was written verbatim (see below- yes, this is the picture of the actual text)
Lastly, Amma I’m not ignoring your last blog/letter. I’m going on public record now that I will respond to it
My uncle, who is a marriage counselor, frequents this blog from time to time, and after reading my take on logistics and love, he took me aside and said, ‘Afua, I think you need to believe in love again.’ I don’t know what happened, and I don’t need to, but you need to start rebuilding your faith in love again.’
Although I don’t think I’m jaded on love, perhaps my blog(s) come across a lil more ‘matter-of-fact’ than ‘hopeless romantic’. And I think in my quest to be pragmatic in life, I’m less able to, as Amma says, ‘suspend reality’, so perhaps my uncle does have some-what of a point. In any case, he recently gave me a book (A Match Made in Heaven- Inspirational Love Stories) in order to encourage me to believe again that love always finds a way, that people can meet in the most miraculous ways, that your future spouse can have the guts to wait for you & not settle for whatever comes along (because of age/ time/ family pressures), that if its meant to be its meant to be, and that age and time are no match for the power of love, and all that other good stuff. So I’ve started reading the book – each chapter a new story of how a couple met and fell in love (sometimes in the most miraculous way… or even more touchingly, in the most simplistic way).
For those of you who can’t get your hands on a book like this and also need to jump start your belief in love again, I want do share a short clip with you (it’s ten minutes of your life…just watch it). I was already in tears half way through. I guess you can say I’ve begun drinking the kool-aid… a little.
When I got to Ghana a couple months ago, within weeks I had a couple frank conversations with two highly educated persons in my life regarding their definition of dating. This isn’t a rare occurrence, however the stark differences between their definitions AND mine have led me to write this post. I’ll let yall help me tease this out, but essentially I’m wondering whether these differences are a case of semantics or whether fundamental differences in dating styles play a determining factor in the success of a relationship. I’m leaning towards the latter, but let’s see how I feel after writing this.
So here’s (my take on) each person’s stance:
Life must have order/structure, and that goes for relationships too. At the point of dating, you should have thoroughly vetted this person through the friendship & talking stage, therefore at the stage of dating there must be exclusivity. Dating exclusively is not necessarily a committed relationship leading to marriage, ie. I could be dating you exclusively and not necessarily want to marry you, but you (and you only) are my girl for right now. Dating also means we’re intimate. During the friend/ talking stage, we could have been intimate or not.
As much as humanly possible the
candidate person I’m dating must be thoroughly vetted and if we’re not compatible for a certain percentage of compatibility points, it’s a no go. Compatibility points A, B, and C are automatic deal breakers. Comprehensive vetting can take upwards of 5 years. The ultimate goal here is to minimize the number of potential points of contention during the stage of marriage Control.
Ms. Think Like a Man
I used to do the conventional dating of one person at a time, but along the way the experience became emotionally draining (serial monogamy with
headheartache in the end). After taking note of numerous dating blogs, books, radio shows, how men date, I came to the conclusion that I needed to switch up my approach: do not put all your eggs in one basket.
Always have a rotation of guys that you’re dating: it’s a numbers game. Dating should be light and not exclusive. Dating is going out/ talking on the phone- No Intimacy (not even kissing). When it comes to kissing and anything else, discussions should take place first. Before you start kissing, you should have gone on multiple dates. Most men will bore you and not even make it to date 3 or 4… You should be at date 4 before you start kissing.
Once you’ve figured out who you really like then you start laying people aside, and inevitably start spending your time with your ultimate boo. This approach cuts down on time and foolery. When you’ve always got folks in the wings, you won’t be caught up in folks’ nonsense and become emotionally invested in people that haven’t earned a spot on the team. Haters reveal themselves pretty early, and folks that just want to get in your pants rarely make it past date 2 or 3. Intimacy obviously comes after you begin seeing one person and the two of you have had a conversation about exclusivity. This dating strategy is more objective since you get to balance your time, diversify your options and explore more of yourself. This strategy is also good since guys are dating more than one girl at a time as well. For more information on this, see
one of the articles I consulted Here.
Ms. In Between
To me, the bedrock of a relationship is friendship. Ideally, I would love to develop a deep friendship with a guy and follow his promptings for more (than friendship). The friendship/ getting to know you stage is (decently) lengthy, genuine and runs deep. At this stage in life, dating doesn’t need to be too long before we know that there could be a path to marriage (because the foundation has already been set). Obviously, there must be mutual attraction (you don’t date all your friends), and there must be compatibility on goals/vision of what you want to do with your lives. Dating is essentially a committed relationship with some direction (yes, life happens & things can end up not working out, but at least there’s a path to the relationship and we’re not walking around aimlessly). Intimacy comes when a path has been agreed upon.
The jump from friendship to a committed relationship isn’t the grande canyon, thus the actual dating period doesn’t need to be too long. Beauty fades. People get fat. The feeling of love fades. Sex
can will become monotonous at some point. People get annoyed with one another. Folks rise and fall in status and economic standing. Common interests, political leanings change. But what’s your foundation? When you figure that out, everything else can be worked on… Everything else is fluid.
- – -
So considering these three definitions, could Ms Think Like a Man (Ms TLM) successfully date Mr Logical (Mr L)? Or could Ms In Between (Ms IB)? Do semantics get in the way of love or are our definitions of dating, love, relationships just labels?
Lemme see if I can tease out my thoughts on this now…
For some aspects of love, it is just semantics, ie. Mr L and Ms TLM in the beginning stages have similar approaches, just that Mr L would call Ms TLM, his friend, and Ms TLM would say she was dating him. Either way, they would have the mutual understanding that they are in the getting to know each other phase, and that they are not exclusive. Cool? Cool.
However, imagine Ms TLM is dating a MR. IB. Ms TLM has a roster of dudes and a rotation of potentials, but Mr IB is probably not on that rotation because he is just a friend. The two of them hang out, but it’s not like Ms TLM is checking for him like that. However, Mr. IB begins catching feelings… so what happens when he wants to jump to exclusivity, but Ms TLM has moved some members of her squad to her starting lineup?
A little awkward.
Or what if Ms IB and Mr L have passed the talking/friendship stage, however their definitions of when intimacy comes into the picture differ? Mr L needs intimacy as part of the
vetting dating process, and Ms IB wants to know that there could be a path before she’s intimate.
I’ve been toiling over this blog for a few weeks now, and I believe my conclusion is that definitions do matter in as much as you make them matter. We all have stated yes’s and no’s and do’s and don’ts, but do we really stick to them, esp when we meet someone we really think is worth bending our definitions for? I believe people can change their definitions: I’m sure if Ms TLM also realized that she had deep feeling for Mr IB, she would be willing to drop her starting 5, right? Or at least I would hope…
And if she didn’t, then maybe he wasn’t the one (to move her enough to change her definition), right?
Like I said, I’m not done thinking this through… But, I wanna hear from you… And Amma.***
I might even ask our real live Ms TLM to guest post for us (since she seems to be the one that throws a wrench into the various scenarios)
***When you think through this topic, note that I am not arguing about the soundness of each person’s dating style, but rather exploring whether different dating styles impede lasting relationships, which may otherwise be successful outside of clashing dating styles.
. . .
I’m pleased to announce that in the matter of my exhaustive search for an apt, save a boyfriend, I have found myself a humble abode, and have successfully moved in. *Let’s all have a moment of silence*.
Side note: For those that don’t know me personally… I took a slight detour out of the country for work for a few months. Not important. But what is important is that during this time, my room was
snatched given up to another person, not as awesome as me… so technically Amma and I aren’t roommates anymore…physically, but in spirit we will always be.
But I digress.
Since moving into my apt, I’ve had to get my house in order- sorting out my Internet, dstv cable, my cleaner, getting roommates, doing some touches to the apt, and other seemingly menial tasks. Now that I am in what I would consider a ‘semi-stable’ state of life, one of the things I have vowed to start doing on a regular basis is cook.
I’m not sure if I should be announcing this to the world, but I don’t enjoy cooking (like others do). It’s not a deep hatred of sorts, more-so just something that’s not high on my list of pleasurable activities in life (watching the food network, high. eating, high. actual cooking, not so high). Living a lot on the road, in temporary situations, in hotels, on my company’s tab…these things don’t lend well to me being my own personal chef, and in the last little while, I haven’t had to do much of it. In times past when I was in a situation where I was established in an apt, it wasn’t any more economical for me to cook for a party of one, particularly when you add in the opportunity cost of doing other things with my time. So thats the context in which we find ourselves for this blog.
The funny thing is that some folks, even those close to me, equate enjoyment with ability… So a month ago, an old roommate of mine took the liberty of forcing a dinner party of six on me…one in which I would host & cook. With this
invitation badgering, it became evident that folks were hoping some sort of failure would occur to confirm preconceived notions: ‘But afua, can you actually cook?’ ‘You know you can’t use your house help for the dinner.’ Saa?*** Hmmm k. Well, it’s a good thing I’m up for a challenge, especially when I know the truth about myself, and that people would be put to shame.
And. put. to. shame. they. were.
I am happy to report that, I threw down… hard. Cooking a three-course delectable dinner -don’t play me. ‘Wow afua, this is really good.’ *side-eye* ‘Is it, really? I’m glad you like it.’ I
won’t will toot my own horn, because I had folks chowing down on food that they don’t even like, don’t play me. Or Amma, I dey lie? Like I like to say, don’t come for me… You will get stepped to, hard. Thank you.
Now that the air has been cleared and corrections made to folks’ asinine assumptions, I must ask: does my stock go up because I can recollect how my mother told me that this spice and that spice go better together, or because I can follow a recipe? Am I not the same woman as I was prior to you tasting my food? Am I any more or less ‘wifeable’ because of my culinary skills? …Well, you have to provide food for your family, folks say. It’s even biblical (Proverbs 31). *le sigh* Yes, this actually came out from my friend’s mouth. Well, I can’t argue with you on the bible, but what I know is that I’m not any less of a woman or any less of ‘wifey’ material before I cooked for you. I feel like folks need to relax on this cooking thing. I think people get caught up on things that naturally take their place- clearly I will
have to cook for my family, and for those women who don’t know how to cook, they will just have to figure it out- you’re gonna HAVE to learn at some point or find someone to do it for you. I guess it would be different if I couldn’t cook, but my issue is one of desire *le sigh*.
I met a friend of a friend who flat out told me (with amazing pride) that she doesn’t cook (she has a husband and two kids)… And she’s Ghanaian AND HE’S (born and bred) GHANAIAN. *Gasp* ‘Nope, I don’t cook… But what does that have to do with me providing food for my family?’ Good question, I guess. Is she any less of a woman because she has someone cooking dinner for her family, something that is tres common in this part of the world, might I add. You gotta find what works for you AND your spouse. If he’s cool with it, what be the problem? In Africa, it is easier to hire domestic help… So if women aren’t physically doing the cleaning or cooking, BUT it’s getting done (and they’re overseeing it- which isn’t a small task in itself) then what be the issue
, Lydia? Why do men, and other women for that matter, equate your ability (and desire) to cook as a super plus plus on the wifey material scale. It’s quite primitive, no? Now that we’re in an era where women work equally as long and hard as men, why is there still an expectation that the woman be the house cook and maid?
So if you’re not the traditional woman in the household, what do you bring to the table? Another good question. Firstly, can I say this: why do people act like African women who don’t cook don’t get married (have you ever met a woman never married say, “I wish I had learned cooking because thats what created my singleness.” Let me throw a caveat in here, I am talking about singling out the ACT of cooking, and not cooking as a representation of something bigger, ie. taking care of your husband, family, home). Secondly, to answer the question: there are a lot of things one can bring to the table apart from cooking, including: support for your man, peace of mind ( you’re a good cook, but you’re a nag 24/7…what’s the good in that?)…lets continue, your sex game is on point (both in frequency and performance), you’re honest with your man, you’re charming and have good morals/ ethics, lets see… You’re faithful, you’re confident in yourself, attentive, compassionate, you handle your business (and ‘take care of the home’), you stick up for your man, you’re respectful, and have respect for yourself, you’re a good mother, you’re caring, considerate, your vision is aligned with his … Or, these things don’t matter??
Yes, there is something to serving/ taking care of your man, no doubt… but tell me how a man would deny a woman with the qualities above if she didn’t cook or didn’t like to cook… OR is this a stigma thing with friends and extended family??? You know folks always say women are the ones who have unrealistic expectations of men, but this is one aspect of wifey that both men and other women perhaps need to rethink… I mean what are the ACTUAL necessities to a happy home. Or perhaps I’m rambling nonsense… And need to advertise myself to the world with the following hashtag: #icanACTUALLYcook
I’ll end with a little sermon I was listening to on the radio the other day. The gentleman speaking was discussing why he believes his marriage has been successful for 34yrs. He simply said, ‘I place no conditions on my wife.’
He went on: Love is the decision to commit and to meet the needs of someone else without any expectations. If there’s certain expectations, there will be disappointment (because we are human). Disappointment leads to divisions in the home, which often leads to divorce.
He used the example of waking up that very morning and going to iron his own shirt… I place no expectation on my wife to do it for me. And doing so means I am appreciative every time she irons for me… Every time she cooks.
I do believe this is the most convoluted post I’ve done since My Trip to Pluto. Lydia, it’s not your fault, clearly I have issues
when folks come after my wifeability and my ability to be a good mother. I still love you.
But on the real, certain conditions do destroy a relationship, and we need to challenge what it means to be a wife. Wifey doesn’t equal being a specific mold. Because as soon as you can’t meet the expectations… what happens to the love?
***This is a Ghanaian expression in twi for the phrase: ‘is that so?’. In my case here, sarcastically.
- – - -
Tell em’ why you mad, Afua!
I mean you mad, right?? Hahaha…
The thing is, I do not think that it was ever a sum zero game. I do not think that the point of bringing up cooking was to say you would make a terrible wife in its absence. I think that you are right, in the game of ‘ would you rather’, any man would rather an understanding, loving, supportive, sex-kitten over one who can just cook. But it’s never that kind of dichotomy is it? The truth of the matter is that the debate around being able to cook is more about what ‘cooking’ represents than the actual act.
As you admitted, your job had you jumping around the world and working RI-DI-CU-LOUS hours… at that rate, if you were married with that job, when would you have had any time to do things like ‘cater to your man, be supportive, etc. etc. etc.’— you would never be around. The amount of time, effort and emotional investment it takes to make a satisfactory meal that you can be proud to serve is equal to so many of the other attributes you listed— especially coming from a woman who is herself fully immersed in career and other extracurriculars. But this goes for both men and women really. Why do you think folks get all kinds of excited when they find out a guy can cook— #noBobbyFlay
Furthermore (perhaps unfairly so), women not being able to cook having the desire to cook has been associated with other things like:
- not wanting kids
- not wanting to raise kids without a nanny present 24/7
- not spending time out of the office
- being an egotistical, maniacal, OCD’ish crazy
- Oprah Winfrey
I think more than the Bible and all others, it’s really about what not cooking/ desiring to cook could potentially mean for your character and your ‘maternal instinct’. It’s definitely not fair— and somewhat of an erroneous causal relationship, but it’s so engrained in the social fabric of ‘Africanness’ and ‘Womanhood’ that it seems it would take an apocalypse to reverse the trend (good thing I plan on riding the Jesus train out of here… so I won’t have to find out myself)…
But there is hope yet… as you rightly pointed out. You. Can. Cook.
And even if you married a man that never required it of you… you would probably do it at some point anyway because on some level you have slurped the misogynist koolaid recognize what it means to cook and how intimate it is for both your husband and your kids. Not to mention how many cool points you get from the in- laws.
Cooking is one of those things that’s like… a nice back massage… or a serenade after work… or a surprise vacation to Turks and Caicos for your birthday weekend. It’s just icing on a cake… and who just eats icing??
So in defense of our silent roomie… and still somehow in agreement with you: not being able to cook does not de-wifey you, but being able to cook can upgrade your already existing wifey status.
Let’s continue from where I left off HERE. There are a few things I’ve picked up from my former heart breaking ways, and I thought I would share:
1. Do not be fooled by the act, men are emotional too.
Although it manifests itself differently (and perhaps less frequently), men are also emotional- and I would dare say that when they’re emotional, the intensity can be much more than women. In my former life, I used the phrase, ‘he’s a man, he’ll be alright/ he’ll get over it’ a little too much… But the truth is he might not get over it (for a while). And just because he may not discuss it anymore, doesn’t mean he’s gotten over it. Men don’t have a memory like women in terms of breath, but they have memory in terms of depth (for the things they want to remember). So when you’re treating him anyhow and thinking it doesn’t matter, think again…
2. Break it off quick and as painless as possible when you’re not feeling it anymore.
Dragging something out that you know won’t work is bad for all parties. This is usually where I get into trouble. Leading a man on inadvertently, even if you’ve had a conversation to end it, creates mixed messages. This includes, but is not limited to: continuing to text/whatsapp/call (or respond), and continuing to see him. Actions speak louder than words and
human brings men just need a little attention to rev back up… especially if its physical/sexual attention. We women have an almost unfair advantage because of our autonomy (and the effect it has on men) so we shouldn’t use it irresponsibly. Sometimes you need to be the strong-willed one for the both of you.
3. No matter how small social circles can be,
stay away run with all fear and trembling from people within close networks.
Don’t do friends or extended family. I find that men are sensitive about this stuff way more than women are… I think it’s something to do with their territorial instincts. The thing is their feelings won’t manifest in the same way (see #1), but one day it might just blow up in your face. As difficult as this can be in African cities where the number of eligible 20- and 30- somethings is minuscule and everyone knows everyone, just try to play in different sandboxes as much as possible.
4. There are some unforgiveables, such as family.
*Le sigh*. I think I wrote about this from the woman’s perspective once, but on the flip side know your man and what his no-go areas are. That childhood memory you are not to mention, or that estranged relationship you should never bring up, just don’t. If a man trusts you enough to open up and share something with you and you use it against him, best believe there will be consequences to your actions. I’ve seen men go back to women who cheated on them while cutting off with the quickness and with no warning a girl who spoke (in their minds) negatively about their mama’s, plain and simple. So just don’t do it (see #1 again).
5. And, speaking of cheating. There will ALWAYS be a double standard applied when it comes to cheating.
There are no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it, a woman cheating will always be a bigger deal than a man cheating. Women, please advise yourselves: loyalty and commitment are
just as more important to some men.
6. And along those lines, exclusivity does not have to be explicitly stated for some men (see territorial piece again).
“Well I didn’t know this was exclusive, we’re just hanging out, right…?” You can see why
folks I get in trouble here.
7. Ladies is pimps too, period.
I don’t need to elaborate.
Not all the things I’ve picked up on the way are applicable to me, I’ll say. And to redeem myself a little from my earlier admissions: though I am a little more calculated and a little less emotional than most females, I have been in love before. Despite what some
exes people believe, I am not a robot. When I do fall for someone, I become more estrogen-esque. I’m working on things though, because I know men people need attention and affirmation. And even though men complain about women nagging, there’s a healthy level of neediness that they desire from their women. I remember sharing an office with a guy at work for one day, and at one point during the day, his fiancée called him 5x in the span of an hr- FIVE. TIMES. I couldn’t believe it. And what I couldn’t believe more was the fact that he picked up every single time and seemed to enjoy it… well maybe not the 5th time. But my point is he probably would rather be complaining of her neediness than her not needing him at all. So I am committing myself to begin making more sacrifices for love, even if that means not seeing movies by myself
I will keep you all posted, hey one day you might read about me having my first public display of affection moment in a mall or something (you can’t see me, but my muscles actually just tensed up as I wrote that) lol
Amma, thoughts? Anything I’ve left out that you’ve noticed over the last year?? And flow charts are not necessary in this response. Thanks.
Those that know me have come to the conclusion that in my semi-distant past, I would have been characterized as a heart breaker. It never started out intentional, however for some reason the track record kept growing. Ironically, I’ve always been scared that men would ping me as a ‘career woman who thinks she doesn’t need a man’, but I’m seeing the reverse to be true… to a fault. I think that guys, for some reason, have more traditional expectations of female behavior from me, however once folks get into the situation they get a number of shocks. Here are a few:
1.) It’s hard for me to share my feelings… It’ll be a while till I open up to you. Along those lines, I don’t say things like: ‘I miss you’ ‘I need you’ and ‘I love you’ by heart. This can be problematic with Ghanaian men, because they have this thing of telling you
when every time they miss you (and then asking you if you miss them)… errrm surre? *side-eye*. It takes a lot for me to tell you how I feel about you. A lot.
2.) I’ll be honest with you sometimes forgetting to take your feelings into account – isn’t it better u know the truth anyways… *shrug*
3.) To me, monogamy occurs after a conversation. So if that conversation hasn’t occurred, don’t be shocked if you’re not treated as ‘My boo’.
4.) Sometimes I can be selfish, and not even realize it… But it’s not because I’m meaning to, or wanting to hurt you, it’s because I genuinely am used to being by myself and doing things how and when I want to. And no shade here, just being real. I had a guy once get upset with me because I went to see a movie alone… like without him. Like..God forbid..
5.) I rarely show those kind of quote unquote girlie clinginess characteristics (and when I say rarely, I mean. like. never.)… It’s just not in my nature. I don’t even have to talk to you everyday. Just as long as I know you’re mine and I’m yours, I’m good. Likewise, PDA… it’s very minimal for me. And when you’re not with me, interrogative questions of who you with, what are you doing, why are you hanging out with that person, why are you friends with that person, etc are not my modus operandi. Asking for things: buy me this, buy me that, do this for me…no. Even if you’re mine, you could very well be the last person I ask for help from because I hate inconveniencing people (we already know I have a problem asking for help. I’m working on it)
6.) If you start drifting away, I don’t plead/beg/chase/fight/cry for you to come back… Actually I usually just assist you along by halting communication with you. *shrug*
7.) No man has ever seen me cry.
In general, looking at traditional female behavior in relationships, I come across rather indifferent/cold borderline heartless. I think I take that whole “guard your heart” thing a little too far. I am working on some of these character
flaws traits… But I am a really sweet person down inside, I promise.
So I got a couple reads recently from people who don’t know me in this capacity. I won’t say the people were spot on, but I was shocked at their takes on me. And let me say this before I continue: I do not swear (like this) and the only reason this is being quoted verbatim is because it would lose a lot of character if i didn’t… parental advisory is advised:
You look like you don’t give a f*&!, like you’re the type of girl who doesn’t get f*%!ed, you do the f*cking…
Then to our new friend a few weeks ago. When asked to describe me and Amma after only knowing us for 20mins, he said of me:
You look like you’re too confident for your own good, you probably break hearts left and right, and don’t even blink.
Ouch. I hadn’t even said but two sentences to the guy at that point.
Am I that transparent??
To bring it closer to home, one of my best guy friends once asked me, ‘why are you like a man?’ *shrug* idk maybe it’s a product of moving around a lot, I responded… it’s easier to cut off people/let people go…
Whatever the reason is, perception is reality right… even if I don’t believe these three reads are entirely accurate… I shall come clean and say I used to have a problem of breaking hearts (self-awareness is the first step). However, I am, with the support of loved ones like Amma, recognizing my areas of improvement & moving away from such a lifestyle. In any case, there are a few things I’ve picked up from my former practices, and I thought I would share, starting with number 1:
SIKE… this post is long enough already, tune-in in a coupla days for my lessons learned.
Part 2 of Lessons from a Former Heart Breaker can be found HERE.
First off, I want to give a shout out to all those who listened to Amma and I on Yfm 107.9 last Tuesday. We had an absolute blast with Ms. Agnes and DJ Snoop, and we hope to grace their presence with more ramblings soon!
- – -
Although I planned to write this blog some time in the
near future (like many a blogs I have in my mental pipeline), Amma and I had a peculiar encounter on Saturday, which has hastened the writing of this. On Saturday, the two of us and another friend were approached by a gentleman in an eating establishment in Accra. Strangely, the way this man approached us wasn’t creepy, so we obliged his request to join us and 4hours later we all walked away with a new friend and stories and laughs for days. Everyone pause for a moment though: this is not a normal occurrence… we usually don’t talk to strangers In any case, at some point during our discussion we got on the subject of relocating for your significant other and our new friend had a lot to say about this: his marriage had fallen apart due to this very issue. In a nutshell, what had happened was that he had been married to an African-American woman in the US, and had an agreement prior to their marriage that the two of them would spend five years in the US and then move to Ghana for at least the next five years after that. However, the lady reneged on her part of the deal and just couldn’t bring herself to move to Ghana. What, you may ask, changed her mind? It’s quite ironic actually, because the lady ended up becoming closer to her family throughout the beginning of their marriage BECAUSE of her husband, and after doing so couldn’t bring herself to move to a strange land far away from them. Throughout the beginning of their marriage she saw how her husband had a strong connection to his family back in Ghana and would do a lot for them, and once he encouraged her to become closer to her family in the US… it kind of backfired on him.
I’m not sure how this topic keeps creeping up on me, but I’ve had at least 5 conversations around spousal relocation in the last couple of weeks (hence the mental note to write about it). Although these conversations will be sprinkled throughout this piece, I had to lead off with this one, because it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The way our new friend described how much he loved his wife, but that there was just no way to get around the relocation issue, was really telling. I mean we
pressed grilled him on all the possible ways he could have made it work, but he assured us that all options were explored. **Side note: location is not a deal breaker for everyone**, but for him it was. This man is also an Ashanti man, and if you know anything about Ghanaian culture, the Ashanti’s are the most ride or die, family-oriented people of all Ghanaians. I totally understand where he was coming from, because for me, this is one of the factors into my move back to Ghana ‘so early’ into my career. Because I am now at the age where the man I marry will most likely be already established wherever he lives, I didn’t want a situation where I fell in love outside, and I had to deal with choosing between being with my man abroad vs living longterm in Ghana. A family member of mine is going through something similar to this right now, and it’s sad to watch because I know her heart is in Ghana. Her situation is more of a bait n switch setup (if you ask me) so it’s even worse. Her fiance resides in the US, and during the course of their dating expressed his openness to moving to Ghana within a few years after their marriage. Now that they are engaged, the moving back rhetoric is changing and to be frank, last time I talked to her, she didn’t sound like he was willing to budge. One thing she pointed out to me was that, once she gets married, she has no leverage to say, ‘I don’t want to move to the US’ … and expect to keep a happy home. I feel her too, because her desire to stay in Ghana is just like mine, and I don’t know how I would feel about leaving Ghana for an unforeseeable amount of time for my man right now.Yes, my love for this country is a little disgusting.
So to the title of the blog, I don’t think love conquers all. Don’t get me wrong, love is a beautiful thing, but when it comes to spending YOUR LIFE with someone, you need more than love. In this case, you need to get your logistics in order, because down the line you don’t want any kind of resentment over this or for your spouse to be miserable in a foreign land. #nobodysgottimeforthat
A family friend of mine recently got engaged to an American lady. And as exciting as the news was, one of the first things I thought when I heard was, ‘this girl is going to move to Ghana without ever having lived or visited the place, I pray she loves it here when she comes’. We are a global society, yes, and home is literally a 6hr hop over a ‘small’ pond, sure, and Ghana’s the most amazing country in the world, obviously, but living here longterm (and in Africa in general) is not the easiest thing in the world, and it is not everyone’s cup of tea (even those OF African descent), so this isn’t just a small change in physical surroundings.
I dunno… perhaps this could also be the African woman in me talking (remember our guest post on
Foreign White women)…cause there are some folks doing it successfully I guess *shrug*. What do you think? Does love conquer all? Would you marry someone who wasn’t about relocating for you?
Before I turn this over to Amma, I also want to know when should this conversation come up? Cause I feel like this conversation needs to be had from jump, NOT when yall are just about to have the marriage talk. A few months ago I was considering a Ghanaian guy who, like me, has been dubbed by society as an ‘Afropolitan‘, however when he confessed in passing that he wasn’t married to living in Ghana necessarily, I already knew this was not gonna work. Your “I’ll go
wherever the wind takes me wherever is right for me at the time; and if that’s Ghana, great, and if it’s not, great” was not common ground for us, and that’s cool… so I didn’t follow through with it, because I knew hey, we’re not compatible on this… and being in Ghana is actually THAT important to me. But this happened in the very beginning stages of us getting to know each other, and I think rightfully so, because what I was not about to do was get into a relationship with him, possibly fall in love, and then now get to the marriage stage before realizing, ‘hey, you’re not tryna be about that life in Ghana… and that might be a problem’. This would make the decision harder for me, because I’ve gone and fallen in love already. I think some relationship decisions need to be head decisions, NOT heart decisions… particularly in this day and age. Perhaps one of the reasons divorce rates are so high these days is because folks delude themselves into thinking love conquers all, when maybe sometimes it doesn’t…
From time to time, I get told that I’m heartless… so Amma, am I being too pragmatic? Should you allow your heart to fall in love and figure out the rest later? Ie. What if Mr. Afropolitan could have been ‘the one’? Or are people being too naive these days? Everything just doesn’t fall into place because you love someone, does it? Should there be these parameters around love? Sadly, I have a feeling I know what Amma is about to say, but for you the reader watch this space this week for her full response, you might be surprised!
Amma’s response can be found HERE!
I am temporarily in a living situation where my cousin’s girlfriend visits the house a lot. Watching them interact and observing how they make decisions ’as a couple’, particularly concerning their future, brings to light what I love (and miss) most about being in a relationship (right now): Being in a partnership with someone.
And here’s what I mean…
For me, probably the best part about being in a secure longterm relationship is having someone to be your partner-in-crime. I am currently looking for an apartment in Accra (no small task, might I add), and I’m running around town seeing places with various agents… updating my price to location to convenience to roommate vs living alone matrix after each viewing (don’t judge me), and it would be so nice to have someone to go through this experience with me. Someone to listen to my abuse of the agents and my insults of the ENTIRE foreign community in Accra for jacking up real estate prices! Someone to tell me I’m wack for even contemplating living in Osu/Labone/ or Cantonments* for less than $1500/month, and to listen to my economic analysis on how this housing bubble will. have. to. eventually. burst. Pause: Clearly, I’m feeling some kind of way about my apartment search right now. But you know, someone to say, “hey babe, don’t pay out rent for more than a year**, because we might be looking for a place together by then”… Hehe
Although I’m getting ample advice from friends, and I have my ride-or-die dad who will accompany me to a viewing at the drop of a hat, and put in his two cents (even when not solicited), it’s different when you’re doing it with your significant other.
I’ve yet to read the famous 5 Love Languages book, but I know for me, the highest form of intimacy and when I feel most loved by my significant other is when they become my go-to for making life decisions, and I become theirs… when they’re hearing me out regarding career and life decisions and supporting and encouraging me to make the best decisions given all the seen and unseen moving parts. When they’ve become not just my teammate, but my biggest cheerleader as well.
Have you thought about your love language lately? What does it look like, and have you articulated it to your significant other so that they can show you love in a way that you can actually feel?
- – -
Bonus: Just because I love seeing couples that display a friendship and are just having fun with each other, I’ve put a video below that has been circulating around the web. Aside from it’s comedic nature, I just LOVE how this couple interacts with each other. #Toocute I had to post. Enjoy!
* areas of Accra where I would be straight crazy to ask for something less than $1500/month
** in my beautiful country of Ghana, landlords ask for rent payments for a yr to 2yrs, upfront; yes, you read right: upfront.