Category Archives: Young Love
This is Amma’s response to The Economics of Sex: The Game Has Changed [Part 1]
. . .
Let’s go all the way back…
Who says we all want to get married in the first place?
I studied labor relations in college (random… I know) and if there is ONE thing we came out of there knowing and understanding, it is the economic and social power of a scab. Scabs are the people who, in the midst of a protest, will continue to work or continue to offer the service being scaled back for the sake of a greater good. They are the undermining, no-good, back stabbing son of guns who can single-handedly prevent the greater good.
They often suffer ‘mysterious’ tragic ends.
They had it coming.
So what does this have to do with economics of sex? Well… the collusion bit of course. The problem is, as you rightly asserted in your synopsis of the movie, aside from birth control there are also shifts in societal norms that have de-valued marriage or long term commitment and have made sex an end in and of itself.
Back in the day, women got married for plenty of reasons:
- Economic stability- since the man was the sole breadwinner
- Societal pressure- giving birth to a royal lineage, marrying up, being offered in a business transaction between two powerful families… I mean, just generally being used as collateral
- Puritanical Conceptions of family- the idea that a family is only valid if there is a mother, father (who are married and at least the woman is faithful) two children and a pet
- Religious reasons- Christianity required it of any sexual encounter
Today we are seeing that less people are ‘religious’, more women are breadwinners, society is opening up to alternative family relationships (two dads anyone?) and thanks to Sheryl Sandberg, we are leaning in and there is no pressure to be a great mom and great wife, just a great women in the boardroom. Women today aren’t dainty little princesses waiting in purity for their handsome princes to come slay dragons and win their hand. Some of them are wearing heavy armor, getting out into the war zones and looking for an occasional good time between battles. Whether we blame feminism or hip hop… or just blame the devil, one thing is true… these messages have resonated with a number of women, most of whom would be scabs in that remedy of collusion.
There are women who do not want a committed relationship… they do not want to make sex a premium. They want it to be as easy to come by as birth control is in Ghana. They want it subsidized almost… some even want to make profit from it (and I am not even talking about our girlfriends in Cantonments… did you see episode two of ‘An African City’?!). I mean if women see sex as a currency to gain things like apartments, cars, Louis Vuitton bags…
deputy ministerial positions, then well, who’s going to give that up so that all you commitment-loving, old- fashioned, socially brainwashed anti-feminist women can get married?! You see how this is a dilemma?
So then the real answer here comes from the male side.
The pressure should not fall solely on the woman to revalue sex as something worthy of a long term committed relationship. Guys are culpable to. They need to stand up and be counted. They also need to hold a higher standard for sex. It’s funny that Afua says men will spend the better part of their youth philandering with the scabs, only to come back in hot pursuit of a women they deem ‘wifeable’… someone who seems pristine but is willing to go ham in the bedroom. Something about a lady in the streets and a freak in the sheets… they want the seemingly good girls once they have been bad boys all up and through town. How nice… really. I mean would it be so difficult to say, I also value sex… *shrugs* I guess it is according to the video makers.
But honestly, I have actually met a number of guys like this. I remember a guy I knew in grad school who had only been with two girls. I was really shocked. I mean here he was, good looking, tall, well educated, charismatic… not even particularly religious but he just couldn’t find value in ravaging through the women that were THROWING themselves in his direction. In his case, he had heightened the value of sex and was also being a gatekeeper of commitment, because he was also not into just dating for giggles. I mean, I was truly in awe. And yes… yes… this is because I
have had(?)-ish low expectations of men when it came to sex. As the video points out, men can dissociate sex from romance and love and passion and all the things that make women like Olivia in Scandal seem like a victim of ardor instead of a confused two- timing side chick with an almost insatiable sexual appetite— but I digress. Because I think men can engage in sexual activities with women they have no real interest in more often than women, I assume that because they can they do. However I am finding, more and more, that this is not necessarily always the case and maybe it’s really just Hollywood that has us fooled. Or maybe I am just meeting really great guys. At any rate, men can and do have the power to also raise the value of sex and restore it to the confines of a committed relationship. The real collusion here is between men and women…
And it’s not just men in their old age… a lot of the behavior we see comes from the nurture of our own parenting. I know in the Ghanaian context, I had a conversation with a women in her 40′s who explained that for ‘big’ men here to be faithful to their wives was a symbol of their homosexuality. That a man that is successful should have a sexual appetite bigger than one woman, and any woman that cannot stand this should not aspire to marry into that kind of success. And I mean, with mothers like these— who needs enemies?! There is therefore a role for men, especially fathers, to play in shaping the psyche of acceptable male behavior as it relates to holding a higher standard of intimacy. I came across this letter written from a father to his son about the only reason someone should get married, and in the preamble it said:
Before we talk about sex, though, I want to talk about marriage. Not because I’ll shun you or shame you if you don’t put them in that order — although I hope you will — but because I believe the only good reason to get married will bring clarity to every other aspect of your life, including sex.
You’ll have to read the entire piece for the reason but suffice it to say, this is a man willing to place a higher value on sex and to instill that into his son. Do you think his son will be traipsing around feeling like he should sow his wild oats before getting married? ME thinks not. And it had nothing to do with women holding hands at Independence Square in solidarity— but everything to do with a sort of brotherhood— an order of males seeking nothing less than commitment and sacrifice before engaging in this form of intimacy.
The economist in me is also thinking the issue may be the age old microeconomic problem of imperfect information. Maybe we are all just hiding behind these false pretenses where girls are giving it up because they think it’s what guys want, and guys are taking it because they think here are these free, liberated women who are exploring their sexuality and pushing the boundaries of social conformity— who wants to be the patriarch to re-institute all of the oppressive rhetoric women fought so hard against in the ’60’s? So then the men just sort of give in too, and then everyone is playing this game of ampe where you are so distracted by the clapping, you don’t even know that you are all on the same foot. Madness!
So how do we tear the veil of confusion? Communication. This guy blogger has made it very clear, and very public that he stands on the side of valuing sex in long term relationship. Perhaps if we were all this transparent, we could sift through the hay and find the needle in the stack.
Look… all I am saying is, as long as men hold low value for sex, there will always be scabs wiling to undermine the female sex revolution… but if men were to themselves, maintain a higher standard, then the scabs become obsolete and there is now a better situation for everyone involved. Even if everyone doesn’t want to get married, or people are delaying marriage for one reason or the other, there should still be a proportionate cohort of women AND men who are willing to raise the standard… for the love of humanity (hahaha!)
Do you think women need to work together to restore sex to its place of commitment or is that more of a conversation between men and women where men also assume some of the responsibility? Sound Off!
BUT DON’T WAIT ANOTHER DAY… :)
You would have to be living under a rock to not have seen The Economics of Sex vid on some timeline, tweet, or status update in the last few weeks. I’ve included the vid below. It’s only ten minutes, but I know y’all won’t watch (…I do look at our blog stats), so I’ve given you the run down of the main points:
- Pop culture says everyone around you is enjoying casual sex; elite culture insists that women and men are exactly the same in this regard, however “On average, men have a higher sex drive than women… On average, men initiate sex more than women, they’re more sexually permissive than women, and they connect sex to romance less often than women… Women on the other hand are likely to have sex for reasons beyond pleasure: to express and receive love, to strengthen commitment, affirm desirability and for relationship security” …it just is what it is.
- Women are the gatekeepers to sex, and men are the gatekeepers to commitment.
- If we look at this purely in economic terms, if sex is ‘her’ resource, how does a woman price sex? A few drinks and compliments?
A month3 months of dates? A lifetime promise of commitment?… The pricing of sex isn’t in a vacuum, because the market value of sex is part of a social system of exchange – ie. what others are buying and selling sex for has an influence on your individual price.
- In the world of simple supply and demand, when supply is high prices drop, but when something is hard to find, people will pay a premium for it. And men these days know that the market value of sex has decreased.
- There has been a splitting of the female mating market (those looking for sex vs those looking for marriage), largely as a result of the pill [I'm adding in my own bit here and saying also because of society, condoms, media, etc.]
- So what does this mean for women:
- Women get to be selective for SHORT-TERM sexual relationships – because the supply of men (wanting Short Term sexual encounters) outnumbers their women counterparts. [To see this displayed in all it's glory, all you need to do is go to any bar on a Friday night]
- However, the reverse is true when women want to settle down.
. . .
I’ve always said I’m an economist at heart… somewhat. That’s why when something is explained to me in economic terms, I get it.
I get that you can have casual sex with women who like having casual sex AND with women who think it’ll make you wife them, AND THEN when you’re done
making enough money, getting to that certain position in your career, growing up, sowing your wild oats, there will still be the ‘good ones’ out there waiting to be wifed.
I get that you have lowered your standards, because women have lowered theirs.
I get that whenever you choose to get married, as long as it’s not after the age of
50 70, there will always be droves of women willing and able to take up that burden privilege.
…I get it
…I got it
So what do ‘we’ (women wanting commitment before the clock strikes menopause) do in this case? How do we circumvent the game, and swing things back (even just a lil bit) in our favor?…inquiring minds wants to know.
I’m going to briefly describe what the vid says is the way women can gain back power. However, I want to make a quick note that after Amma responds to this later this week, we will also have a male guest post on the subject matter (whoop whoop testosterone… yes we’ve heard your
nagging, cries, complaints constructive feedback) :)
So how does the vid say women can gain back the power? Drum Roll pleaseeeee…
BY STICKING TOGETHER.
Somewhat of a kumbaya/ yaya sisterhood of sorts. But that’s as simple as it gets. Women no longer have each others backs in the mating market… now they’re each others competition. And in order to get the attention of men, women appeal to what they believe men want, sex.
I was in Lagos last week and a group of ladies and I were talking about the male market, when one summed up the group’s sentiments quite simply: ‘no one wants to truly commit anymore.’ This was a group of Americans AND African women, mind you. As I sat there, I kept thinking ‘are women asking men to though (by their words AND actions)?’ According to the Economics of Sex, men aren’t actually afraid of commitment *cue shock and awe*, rather they tend to behave as well or as poorly as the women in their lives permit. [please read that over. again. let it resonate]. Thus, economists have concluded that collusion – women working together – would be the most rational way to elevate the market value of sex. If women demanded a higher market price in exchange for sex, we would be seeing:
1. more impressive woo’ing efforts
2. greater male investment
3. longer relationships
4. fewer pre-martial partners
5. shorter co-habitation, and
6. more marriages
A woman’s power in this economy is to know what she wants in a relationship and signal it clearly …but none of this seems to be happening, so for now the economics of contemporary sexual relationships favors men and what they want, even as what they bring to the table diminishes.
As this commentary on the video put it, “Sex is her resource. She decides when it happens, in a consensual relationship… The pressure to have sex weighs from all sides, when at the end of the day, she holds the power. “If girls did actually come to realize that they’re “in the driver’s seat when it comes to sex (and if sisterhood really were powerful), they could change the market entirely, having sex only when they were ready and only when they saw a serious commitment on the part of their partner.”
So, we ask…Given that we can’t make it mandatory for women to sit through a ‘ya ya sisterhood’ sex-ed course in
high school, middle school, elementary school, pre-k, how do we get this message of holding men accountable and looking out for your fellow sister across….?
My guess is as good as yours. But I’ve found that talking about it, and actually living it out is a good start… *shrug*
Also, don’t forget to VOTE for RR for Best Blog for the 2014 Ghana Blogging Social Media Awards: Instructions are HERE!
A week after Afua’s post, I received a call from a guy friend who had a very interesting theory about our Accra experiences. He essentially said we were going about the dating thing completely the wrong way. I chuckled… naturally that would be the response, because what? were we supposed to just sit in our rooms, twiddle our thumbs and hope for our
6’2″ King to come riding into our living rooms in the latest BMW and just swoop us up?
According to Yaw**, ‘dating’ as we have defined it on our blog is largely a Western concept, and the willingness to go on these dates without any pretext is usually a signal for.. well… sex. He said:
‘Ghanaian guys… we don’t just approach women to go out, unless all we want is to
bed them. If you are really serious about a girl, you just watch and wait’
So I reply:
You mean you’re just sort of hanging on the periphery taking notes and deciding if and when to approach? How can you even know someone if not by first letting them know your intentions and then getting to know them over live music at Afrikikos… or something equally nice (and relatively expensive… after all if you approached her, she must be worth the change, no?)
Plus, it also means that you thought Afua recounting her dates was some sort of morse code for her announcing some of her sexual escapades… which is a big false. Hmpf. (Afua knows I would judge her otherwise). No… No… When we mean dates… we mean it in the normal way… as in sitting down, talking, laughing, sharing important details about favorite colors and travel experiences… you know… very ‘When Harry Met Sally’… except without all of the melodrama. Just a good time with a potentially good person”
‘Your kind of dating is full of fronting. Questions and answers. Makeup and good behavior. You’re not being real. When you don’t make your interest known and you just watch how the person is socially, at church and in various settings… and get to know them as a friend. It’s more authentic’
That makes a lot of sense actually.
Then he ends with this:
‘Plus, there’s no pressure and we can go around *dating* girls who we won’t wife… before we finally settle down with the girl we were eyeing years before’
I can’t say I hate that idea. Afua always laughs at me because in my fairytale life, I’d just happen to fall in love with my best friend who would declare his love for me right after he lands into millions and is ready to give me the wedding on the moon he believes I deserve *deep sigh*… aside from just general visions of grandeur, Afua points out that we are too old to be making ‘best friends’ and that the best way is to go out on dates and hang out with guys until we find one we really click with. This all makes sense because we hear of perfect strangers becoming the perfect lovers and having the perfect homes… but the stories that generally endear us… the ones that pull at our heart strings and challenge our tear ducts to burst— are the ones where there is less… well… calculation. Where I (sorta) believe in ‘meet boy, become BFF’s, trip and fall in love’… Afua is more the ‘meet boy, fall in love while striving to develop a deep friendship’.
So here lies the dilemma. We all want to feel like there is a guy out there that can see us for us and will love us first from a distance… and then sweep us off of our feet in romance. But the busyness of our lives— work, Bible studies, girls night out, the radio show on YFM every Sunday evening at 9pm (shameless plug…. whatever… I don’t care. I don’t care. ha!) — makes it almost impossible to even have those kinds of fantasies. So naturally, we have evolved socially to accept that instead of our parents arranging our marriages, we arrange them ourselves through a series of one-on-one encounters meant to weed out the useless ones and isolate the ones that would be worthwhile. The ones we could fall in love with while developing a deep friendship over time. And while there is a diversity of dating styles and definitions (as Afua pointed out), the premise is pretty much the same: Meet. Eat. Repeat— or don’t if you’re weird or similar in anyway to Afua’s Kofi, Kwame, or Kwesi. In either case… falling in love has to at least start with an orchestrated meeting of two people who have expressed an interest beyond general acquaintance.
This seems immediately simple and obvious to us, but there seems to be a completely different thing happening on this side of the world and it’s so obvious considering Afua’s point about guys marrying old high school sweethearts or university crushes 5 years after having run around messing about with every other girl… aka dating: There’s a bit of a disconnect.
It sounds almost like dating is some glorified version of prostitution and that money and time spent are used as barter for sex and sexual favors. Furthermore, going on these dates (with someone who you are not already actually ‘dating’— the irony!) is a signal that you are not actually looking for a serious relationship. **shockface** What spirit of confusion!?
So I have some questions:
- If I am serious about being in a committed relationship, but I do not have ties to any highschool or university in Ghana… and my life doesn’t allow for me to sit around and wait idly for someone to stalk me… then how does one actually date someone long term without going on dates with relatively perfect strangers?
- And if I follow Afua’s advice, and have someone vetted before agreeing to go on a date with them, does that necessarily mean that they are not interested in anything long term, but are rather looking to get to know me— in the very Biblical sense?
- Should I just assume that if I am asked on a date, then those guys’ relationship goals are not aligned with mine and that I should actually focus (or not focus) on all the ‘male friends’ who have actually made no advances at all?!
This is really and truly a strange phenomenon… it’s almost circular in logic and impossible to break… it doesn’t. actually. make. sense. But on some level… it’s sort of alluring (strange… I know). It’s almost a game of hide and seek… but with adults. So here I am back and forth in my mind between thinking the Ghana Guy way is a bit off, but then sort of intriguing, when I have a thought: Maybe it’s time to try something new.
Perhaps it’s time we *dead* the dating thing and do the whole ‘bff’s until we say otherwise’— thing. A bit risky since a) neither of us did university or high school here and b) this would mean that we have to wait 5 yrs for some guy to stalk us and fall in love with us from a distance. Remember in high school, during youth group everyone was ‘encouraged’ to read the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye which essentially pushes this idea of friendship and courtship and group outings… maybe they were onto something. Or maybe that’s what all the Ghanaian youths were reading while we were away watching movies like The Titanic and hoping that we would find a Leo to our Kate Blanchett. I blame Western media. I also, digress.
*le sigh* All in all… it feels like most of us, in Ghana at least, want to be in serious long term committed relationships with people who we trust and whose character we can vouch for… but the means of getting here seem to be different enough that there is a bit of a mismatch and we end up disillusioned about the guys we have come to encounter in our time being in Ghana. There is a clash… of GARGANTUAN proportion… and yet all we want to do is be in love.
I need to hear from the fellas on this one… is Yaw** right and does this effectively mean we need to kill our dating life in favor of the carefree, watch-us-from-a-distance life?
Are we going about this all wrong?
It’s as if we heard you before you even said it:
“We want to see new selfies of you guys.” ‘We want to see y’all on camera rambling about love, dating, sex, marriage’… So, that’s exactly what we did… kinda.
Last week, RR were panelists for the AdventuresFrom Google Hangout discussion on the ‘Metamorphosis of Love’. It was fun times, so checker out below. Perhaps in the future we’ll do vblogs of just the two of us :)
We’ve done you a solid and shown the moments when we chimed into the discussions, just in case you don’t have time to watch the full hour sesh, you can click on the times below.
. . .
Introductions of RR and other panelists: 0:00 – 2:13
“A woman’s taste buds change every five years” – RR discussing their definition of love and how it has evolved 2:15- 5:45
Compromising for love – RR discussing what kind of compromises they have made in the past and generally what kind of compromises they would make for love 12:00 – 15:42
Sex Sex Sex – RR discussing whether there can be love without sex 25:34 – 28:43
What are you looking for in the future? RR discussing what they would like to say of love when they’re 80 and looking back on their lives 38:42 – 42:41
Shout it out from the Mountain top! – What RR wants to be able to yell from the mountain top about love 54:00 – 55:27
**We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming in honor of Valentine’s Day. Amma will post a response to Afua’s Ultimate Dating Advice next week, but in the meantime we’re doing a special Love Languages post for all the lovebirds!**
. . .
“Cedrick, what are you getting your girlfriend for Vals day?”
“Hmm… Amma… I don’t even know. She is not the kind who likes flowers and so on… what do you think?”
“Oh… I don’t know. I never really celebrate Valentine’s Day. I don’t see how it would be really different from any other day. Are we going to have a different conversation from the ones we normally have at dinner? Am I going to love you more for buying me chocolates and flowers (though I do love flowers… mother was a florist, what can I say).
Are you going to use this as a day to present me with tickets to go waste my life away at a fancy resort in Jamaica?! I mean… I don’t get it.”
“Eish…. Amma Noo Noo… haha! It’s just something nice to do… and since she is back in town I want to make it special, but I don’t know what she would like.”
“Well, what’s her love language?”
Can you imagine being in a relationship with someone and neither of you speak the same language? Talk about communication problems. If you are not aware, according to Dr. Gary Chapman, there are five love languages that we all speak. These five languages are how we like for love to be expressed to us. The languages are:
- Physical Touch- as in, *cue Mariah Carey’s ‘Touch My Body‘*
- Gifts- as in, ‘I love you so much, I bought you this new Kia Sorrento babe’
- Words of Affirmation- as in, Kendrick Lamar rapping ‘She Needs Me‘ to me (as I imagine he shall in the near future): “She go to work, she go to school, her body smooth, no tattoos
Type of girl that’ll make your mother feel comfortable
My pops love her too, she’s compatible, she’s independent
She handle her business, she believe in God and no other religions
She’s never in competition, when it comes to her friends, she’s dependable
She set her own trends, a confidant, a mediator, so sweet, every flavor
Just a conversation with her doing you a favor, look at her hips, I want to be her pager
Conservative, affirmative, actually she relaxing in sweats and bobby pins
The beauty of her, a blind man can see, a true queen and she needs me”
- Acts of Service- as in, ‘Whoa Amma, I see that you are out here working so hard… you should take a day off while I cook, clean and give you a full body massage— just cuz’
- Quality Time- as in, ‘Yeah I know that this Tottenham game is the difference between champions league and… well… not-champions-league, but it’s cool. I will miss the game AND post game commentary so we can take a walk along the beach
while I listen to you go on about nothing really.‘
So after I convinced my colleague Cedrick to take the love languages quiz, I decided… it’s been a while, let me see what my love languages are. I think the great thing about little tid bits like this is that you get the right vocabulary to talk about your emotions. You also understand how, if for example your main languages are gifts and services but your partner is always just affirming you with little notes and showing you PDA, things can get a bit frustrating. So this Vals day, Afua and I thought it appropriate to highlight the love languages.
I was not surprised at all when I took the quiz and discovered my love languages… Here are mine:
So my number one is Acts of Service and my number two is Quality Time… and at the very VERY bottom is Physical Touch (which makes ALL the sense in the world since I believe(d) that kissing guys would ultimately lead to my death (again… immigrant parents… anti-afro-american rhetoric… blah blah blah). This would also explain a lot about my general reaction to GH guys
heckling me on the street screaming words of affirmation to get my attention—not. my. thing. This would also explain why I am generally most impressed with acts of sacrifice, since I think this shows above all that you value me enough to put things that are important to you aside. Ultimately, this explains why ‘traditional’ Valentine fair of gifts and hallmark cards are definitely not my thing. Either way, knowing this kind of information is a great way to save money and stress when considering Val’s day gifts… Maybe it is the traditional route of sending her flowers and gifts… but maybe its putting on an apron and getting down in the kitchen. Maybe it’s both at the same time… maybe it’s none.
After taking the quiz for myself, I naturally had to get all my ladies to take the quiz. I initially thought Afua’s would be physical touch and gifts…
I. Was. Wrong.
She was wrong.
I’ve been a little late to this Love Languages movement. Although I briefly touched on it in a previous post, I never really understood the five distinct languages and had not taken the quiz to understand which were mine until Amma sent me the link. My results were weird (see below), not because my number 1-4 were all clustered within a point of each other, but because they left #5 all by her lonesome self…
If you talk to my parents about when I was a baby, they will tell you I was
a little odd: ‘She could talk plenty and just surprise you with the things that came out of her mouth, and everything she did she liked to do it for herself’. I was the child that never cried for attention or to be held…. I didn’t want you to help me, because I could do it by myself. I didn’t need to be entertained as I would camp out in my crib and just be chilling with myself. Fast forward some 25 years later, and you’ll notice that nothing really has changed I am still not one that needs to be touched to express love and affection. If you really know me, you know this (clearly Amma, we’re drifting). Everything (else) communicates ‘I love you’ to me far above physical touch. And let me chime in here what I mean by physical touch before people start picking up things that I HAVEN’T put down. The physical touch I’m referring to includes things like holding hands, rubbing my lower back, arms around my waist, arms around my shoulder – *these* types of physical touch don’t really sit well with my soul as much as they just irritate it. I guess this is just how the good Lord saw fit to create me (note that my sister, who is 18 months older than me and was brought up in the same household as me, is not like this at all – so this isn’t a product of my upbringing).
I think on some level we all sort of ‘know’ our love languages. I remember when I lived in Italy, I used to see couples holding hands while dining at a restaurant and would think it was so strange, like ‘why do I have to hold your hand while we’re eating… I don’t get it…’ I would much rather hear you say how much I mean to you, and that you think the world of me, or that you’re really proud of me than be sitting there acquiring sweaty palms under the dining table. On the other side of things, I also ‘know’ that when someone I love says something really hurtful to me, it’s equally earth-shattering… but in a bad way. So this test didn’t necessarily say anything new to me, but like Amma said, it does put some vocabulary to it all. Although I knew Physical Touch would be last for me, I think what was traumatic wasn’t that it was indeed ranked last, but that it scored zero. Now I know I’m definitely an anomaly not only for women, but for Africans and for the general planet as a whole, thus I am aware that I’m going to have to make
a lot of sacrifices and compromises when I settle down – Self awareness is the first step, right? (I just pray to God that my man’s #1 love language is not Physical Touch… because that will be problematic).
So for this valentine’s day, we want our readers to make sure they are speaking the same language as their significant others. Even if you (THINK you) know your love language (and your partner’s), it’s still a good exercise for the both of you to take the free quiz online (if you don’t have time to read the book) to understand what love really means to the both of you. Armed with this information, both of you will have a better idea of how to display affection in a way the other one can actually feel.
Here’s the link to the QUIZ >> 5lovelanguagesquiz
Share YOUR Love Language with us in the comments section! Or give us a story of when you were mismatched in love languages with your partner.
…and of course, we must say:
. . .
Like we promised, here’s information on the AdventuresFrom Google hangout that RR is participating in on Friday. If you can’t watch live, we’ll put a link up to the session next week.
Join our ‘Metamorphosis of Love’ hangout on Valentine’s Day
Friday, 14th February at 17:00 GMT.
The topic to be discussed is the metamorphosis of love or its perception from the African woman’s context. What were you taught about love as a young woman, and how did those concepts change if at all in various stages of life and with different experiences?
Facilitator – Malaka (Ghana/US)
Her fab guests are:
Tosinger (Nigeria/US) Listen to her music via http://www.afrodreaming.com/home.html
Rambling Roomates (Ghana) Read their blog http://loveafrican.wordpress.com/
Tiffany (South Africa/Kenya) Check out the site she curates http://holaafrica.org/tag/holaa/
Ngosa (Zambia)Visit her blog http://mwanabaafrika.blogspot.com/
This hangout will be streamed live via this link with a recording available after the hangout via the same link. If you are on twitter follow the live tweets via @adventurefrom with the hashtag #AdSex
- Nana Darkoa wrote a blog on Why African Women are Choosing to be Single and gave a shout out to me and RR. It’s an interesting piece, so go take a look.
- Amma and I will be participating in an AdventuresFrom google hangout this month, which will cover the topic: ‘What does love look like?’ We’ll give you more details closer to the date.
I’ve decided to put a soundtrack to this post, because it seemed highly appropriate. So heads up, there are bursts of dance breaks to GrandMaster Flash ‘The Message’ throughout this post. Accra may not be the jungle that NYC was in the 80′s, but sometimes it sure as hell feels like it :)
Ok, that’s it. Let’s begin.
I made a new friend at the beginning of this year and when we first became intimate (which for female friendships means we began discussing our ‘men situations’), she was astonished at my dating past in Ghana. Her exact words being, “OMG, you date a lot.” I don’t, to be honest, but I do have a few colorful stories from dates I have been on in this humble city, which in turn solicits such a response from people… or makes it appear that I do date a lot. So this is the inspiration behind this blog. Additionally, I did say in a previous post that we were going to have a series of conversations about dating in Accra, so here goes…
Because a number of guys I’ve been on dates with have come to know about my blog, I don’t want to
expose them for their low down dirty ways put their business out like that slash people have actually flat out told me, “I don’t want to appear in your blog.” Ugh, fine! Why are you so sensitive? lol. I kid. Anyhoo, because I don’t want to be dubbed undateable in this dear city, before I give you a little taste of what I’ve been up against for the past year and a half, I will make a PSA that names have been changed in this post and I’ve changed up/ cut short some scenarios to save people some face, but still give you a flavor of the jungle that’s out here.
**Dance Break**: “It’s like a jungle sometimes… It makes me wonder how I keep from going under… Going under…”
Ok, let’s start with Kofi*. Kofi and I knew each other through a few mutual friends. We exchanged numbers at some party after I came back from a temporary stint outside the country: “Oh, you’re back in the country, we should hang out.” After a couple weeks of superficial whatsapp messages and insignificant calls, we decided to see each other out. The majority of the evening was uneventful, so let’s skip to the end of the night where Kofi has kindly asked me to perform fellatio on him… Yes, you’re reading that correctly. Perform. Needless to say, I’ve stopped talking to him on all accounts that require more than a ‘Hi’ in public.
Next we can talk about Kwame*. Who, after helping him with some professional work, decided we got along well enough to ask me out. Cool. We end up at dinner, where in the span of the first 20mins, I was asked: ‘How much I make’ ‘When’s the last time I had sex’ and ‘How many sexual partners have I had’; and the icing on the cake was being told ‘not to take offense to the line of questioning because this is just how he gets to know a girl quickly without BS’. Because #nobodysgottimeforBS. Nope, we certainly do not. You can imagine that my interactions with him subsequently have followed in the same suit as Kofi.
But I must write about Kwesi*, because he is my ultimate favorite. Kwesi met me along with another friend in the same night. Separately, he sparks interest in both of us and proceeds to get some intel on the two of us from a mutual friend. Kwesi then proceeds to go on a date with both of us in the course of about a week. When Kwesi stopped calling after our date and I stopped
caring reaching out after learning about the date he had with my friend (and that he’s a man whore that’ll hook up with pretty much anything with a vag- – -), it was no surprise to find out that he has most recently asked out one of my besties in Accra, who I had introduced him to for a business transaction. #supershady #noshame #youresomessy > Perhaps next time I see him, I should give him your number, Amma? LOL.
Although my engagement with Kwesi only lasted 2.5 weeks, I have stories for days with this one. The sad thing is, I like Kwesi, I
have had no problems with him, he’s super chill and we probably would have been cool friends acquaintances. I actually had a really nice date with him too, but like I told Amma… the issue with him is I didn’t know what was genuine and what was part of the game. Come to find out, it was ALL part of the game. Nana wrote in her piece that if a guy’s into his 30s and not married there’s usually a very good reason why. Kwesi is case in point of this. A leopard rarely changes his spots and a lifetime of gaming women doesn’t stop easily. When I confronted Kwesi about my friend he said to me, ‘but, I thought we were cool, Afua’. << What?… Like are you mental?… My favorite is when men make you feel stupid when they’re doing super shady things. Honestly, don’t men ever get tired of gaming women…
amusing sad that I have these (and more) colorful stories in my dating history. I honestly used to shy away from telling them, because I thought they somehow reflected poorly on me… Like do I smell? How do I keep attracting the Mayor, the Sheriff and the County Judge of Loser-Ville. And all these men are returnees of sorts, seemingly nice wholesome guys upon first interaction with them, and they’re in respectable jobs about their grind. But the superficial is so deceptive, and I’ve come to realize sometimes you can’t help what knocks on the door, but you can definitely decide whether to let them in or even open the door, for that matter.
Dance break: ‘don’t.push.me.cause.I’m.close.to.the.edge.I’m.trying.not.to.lose.my.head’
Thus, my #1 advice to ladies dating in Accra is….
Always Always Always seek counsel first. ALWAYS. And do so with people who have been around for a while; in my case that is NOT my immediate circle of friends who have been here <2yrs. Do background checks with someone who returned to the country at least 5yrs ago. Let’s get a snippet of how my conversation went down with my new fav friend, who’s been here over five years (yes, I felt stupid after our conversation):
“Wow Afua, you got sucked in the Kofi vortex. Please seek me before you do anything stupid again. Do you know how many of my girlfriends he’s casually hooked up with, meanwhile he has Adjoa*, his longtime girlfriend he’s planning to do knocking** for soon.”
Wow. Wow. And Wow. She must be the luckiest girl in the world.
“Oh come on Afua, everyone knows he’s the biggest prick Accra has to offer… Leave him to the foreign girls, who find his ‘I’m such an enlightened African’ act charming”
With Kwesi, my friend couldn’t stop laughing for about five minutes. Like five proper minutes:
“Oh little one, this boy is not serious in life. He’s gonna wake up 45 and still chasing anything with a vag- – -. He is the biggest ladies man ever so what exactly made you think this would be any different with you?’
And when I kept quiet, I definitely got the side eye from her.
Ok some random pondering, I often wonder if guys ever step to their guy friends on behalf of women. As in, ‘hey dude, she’s actually good peoples, don’t mess with her if you’re not interested.’ Just pondering… Do they ever think of their sisters, mothers, best female friends, their sisters-in-law, nieces, best friend’s wives…Like don’t ‘we’ deserve better *shrug* My feeling is no, but I continue…
Given that the number of educated returnee-type 20- and 30-something yr olds is
small minuscule in Accra, if that’s the crowd you’re dating, someone is bound to know the guy’s (or girl’s) background. And for me, as someone who didn’t grow up here and has only been ‘back’ less than two years, seeking counsel is beyond a must, particularly as the goal this year is NOT to have any colorful dating stories: as in I want the most boring dating life this year… the ‘boy meets girl, date, relationship, done’- type boring.
I have other dating tips to keep life moving along nicely in Accra, however these do not supersede rule #1.
Date outside the returnee crowd – this crowd can become an easy go to because you think these guys are more likely to be less traditional when it comes to gender roles and would be more compatible with your life experiences, but all this doesn’t necessarily lead to a good relationship (or a relationship at all).
Try a nice foreigner (who is not looking for a short term (African) good time) - maybe it’s time to try non-Ghanaians, non-Africans… non-Blacks?
Ask friends and (extended) family that YOU TRUST to be on the look out for guys they think would be a good match for you - YOLO. Maybe your cousin’s friend has been eyeing you for a minute, but never thought you were interested; or maybe you’ve always gotten along with your bestie’s older brother. You never know, love could be closer than you thought.
Maybe it’s time to consider the guys you’ve kept in the friendzone - There could be possibilities there if you actually took him out of the friend zone, you know.
You may look at your exes - I know people like to say, ‘don’t look back, there’s nothing good there, always move forward’ etc, but maybe it could be that the timing was off for the two of you back then, and now that you’re in different places in your life, you could make a real go of things.
*Not real names, obviously.
** Knocking is the traditional Engagement ceremony in Ghana
See Amma’s response to this post: Clash of the Titans
**Dance Break**: “It’s like a jungle sometimes… It makes me wonder how I keep from going under… Going under…**”
I must say, I am still, even a week after, in total shock and awe. It feels like just yesterday we were sharing witty banter and light exchange. I feel like I was robbed a little. I have heard such great things about Komla Dumor, and he was so accessible. I was just getting to know and become a true fan. And just like that. Gone.
Funnily, we were just talking about his love life… and about his wife who he proudly pronounced was a fellow Harvard grad from Ghana. I cannot even IMAGINE what she is going through right now. My prayers are with her and the rest of the family. The world has lost a renowned journalist, but his family has lost a son, a father and a husband. May he rest in peace and may his family be encouraged in this time. This is a response for which I am certain he would have approved.
This blog is a response to Afua’s blog on the Plight of the Single Returnee Woman:
Ok Afua… tell ‘em why you mad…
You mad, right?
All of us know the value of hard work. When I consider the demographics of our readership, I think we have all generally bought into the ideas of meritocracy (real or perceived). And while I could go on about the fallacy of boot strapism and the social constructs that inhibit true meritocracy… I think we all agree that generally if you work smart, you’ll get the things you deserve. We spend our lives accumulating titles, certificates, and accolades to prove to the world how talented we are. Somehow… these titles don’t earn us the one thing we want: relationship.
I read an article recently entitled 5 Ways Success May Be Hurting Your Love Life. The title itself is like a ‘Boy… BYE!’ type of call and response, but then when I got to the second point, I stopped and thought about it:
2. You may think you’re entitled to love because of your achievements
Apparently, love— like many other realms of life, is the furthest from meritocratic. Take Kanye for example. I mean, this guy is (in my opinion) a lyrical genius. College Dropout was like a rapper’s thesis on critical race theory and marxism (see: Slave Ship). I don’t think Kim K. deserves him. Yes, they are both narcissistic but Kim is generally… well… useless. Like the world isn’t more beautiful, or wise or enlightened because she stepped into it. She’s got many more years though (God willing). Maybe her impact is forthcoming. In either case, it seems a bit unfortunate that for all his genius, he ended up with Kim K. As JayZ would say, ‘I feel bad for you son’. And you might say, but he’s happy. To which I say, nah he’s delirious. Even Barbara Walters agrees. I guess the other lesson you could take is that maybe you can find enduring true love in a hopeless place. *shrugs* For purposes of this post, I will focus on the former. I will say that he (was) a nice, talented guy with great artistry and impeccable taste. He sort of earned someone better, in so far as one can earn someone at all. And I suppose that is just the point. That you can’t.
Similarly, Afua’s rant on the plight of the returnee in Ghana is another picture of a meritocratic dream deferred. That’s why I was concerned for her when she sent it to me… like Girl, you really want to say all that?! Essentially, the narrative here is:
I went to really good schools and I’m super smart.
I have a really good sense of humor.
I’m worldly in all of the ways that matter but I love Jesus and you could take me home to Aunty Martha.
I remember to throw on some mascara from time to time and I’m fun.
It is therefore unfortunate that a woman so well rounded has yet to find a match. I mean, really, where is the justice in the world?! When our parents tell us ‘get good grades, be respectful, love Jesus,
don’t sleep with everything you see, don’t date until you are married…’ aren’t we earning credits towards our future wifey status— among other desirables? I mean it seems to work well for us in work and personal passions. We find that all the goodness about ourselves comes together perfectly to earn us promotions and favor. We see that we make friends relatively easily. We get a chance to sit at the table with the best and brightest. Why can’t this also warrant a (decent) relationship as well?
We are basically saying, we are
perfect above average normal, so why haven’t we found our perfect match?!
Laughable isn’t it?
To say something SO presumptuous.
But why else do we feel we are entitled to a great relationship with an even greater man (preferably tall, dark and ballin’)? It really is about how highly we value ourselves. While there is nothing wrong with knowing your self worth, love is no respecter of persons. That’s what is frustrating about relationships. That there is really no exact science or even art to lasting love. It mostly requires faith. Faith that even if you weren’t as awesome as you are, or in spite of all your supposed awesome-osity, there is no way to circumvent time and circumstance. And that in due season, at the appointed hour, things will come in line.
So yeah, we do throw shade when we see the Honey boo boo’s of the world in happy relationships, while our own team (that’s killing the game in every respect) is single and ready to mingle. It does feel like the universe is out of wack when Halle Berry is still waiting to exhale after 2 marriages and a kid. But love doesn’t see beauty or accomplishment… and the sooner that is internalized, the sooner we can stop having these pity parties and focus on making the most of the single time. Use all your hard earned cred to do something meaningful and in due time… it will happen. One girl wrote:
“I’ve been living like God owes me something. Like He hasn’t held up His end of the deal. He has given me the desire for relationship and marriage, and He just hasn’t followed through.
I’ve been living under the impression that I deserve a relationship.
People talk all the time about pursuing people or things for the wrong reasons, but maybe we pursue God for the wrong reasons. Maybe subconsciously I’ve been treating God like He’s a vending machine. And my pursuit of Him has really been a pursuit of someone else.
Each day is a gift, and I’m not waiting for it to get here. It is present in every moment, and it begins anew daily. “
I think that eloquently sums it all up. To be in the present and allow time to do its work, as we continue being great.
I could go on to further critique Afua’s assumptions about what makes a girl ‘relationship material’ in the first place (being “too known” is a sure fire way to un- earn potential wifey status, just FYI), but that is its own commentary for another day. For now, I think it’s best to understand that relationships are not earned. They are not given to you after you have acquired a specific number of personal attributes. Relationships… much like the Grammy’s, may sometimes go to the seemingly undeserving, but when you get down to it… what does it even mean to ‘deserve’ someone’s loyalty and love? At the end of the day, we spend each day becoming better people and productive for the world, and hopefully… someday someone will be willing to join us for the ride.
It’s the holiday season… and the spirit of giving is upon us. I for one, know this can be a supremely stressful time for buying gifts… especially buying for guys. I feel like the world wants us to believe they are super simple and that meeting basic needs will prove satisfying enough for the holidays— not the case when you are dating a man whose fashion sense precedes him… or who insists he wants nothing (because he already has… everything.)
So in these harrowing moments, when your back is against the wall— what does one give to one’s man that is not insulting but won’t break the pocket (see Kim Kardashian’s gift to Kanye… #girlsabr3)
Here is what we believe to be suitable gifts from the heart that are genuine and will remind him daily of what an insanely awesome girl you are
and if he were to ever leave or forsake you it would be God’s wrath and not yours he should be worried about. Sorry. Crazy Person Moment.
1. Signature Apparel
So I dated a guy who dressed super well. Better than I did. I can admit this now.
Buying him things was like torture.
However, I figured out that if I got him something that no one else could get him but was essentially exactly like everything else in his closet, I would be #winning in the gift giving department.
I really like Ohema Ohene’s line of clothing items (and they’ve recently opened a shop in East Legon!—no they did not ask for an endorsement—yes I am doing this from my heart). There are some really bold pieces but also more subtle ones for those guys that don’t want to say much with what they’re wearing— that sort of casual appeal that we have all come to know and love.
Afua: I won’t lie, I’m not so sure how much this is my cup of tea nor the type of guy I’m into’s either, BUT if this is your man’s swag, definitely run with it.
2. Tech— Accessories.
Look… I haven’t yet reached the Michelle O. level of dropping thousands of dollars on the newest Bose speakers, but I can definitely get you a boss iPad cover that lets all your friends, family and enemies know that you mean business. This is especially clutch because everyone else sees how great you are and it’s important during the season of giving that you spread your cheer (and style savvy) to all of his compatriots.
Plus, it’s actually handy.
(These could totally be made in Bolga… and then inscribed!)
Afua: I really like Amma’s idea of personalizing gifts. I once got a guy a money clip with his initials engraved on it… and I definitely came up on top that year. I am also a fan of patronizing the north of Ghana, so this gift idea is winning all around.
3. Musical Compilation
This might sound a bit cheesy, but I once did a nice little compilation of songs that were meaningful in our relationship and it was a hit. Now I am NOT suggesting this gift be given as a standalone… as the sentimentality of it won’t compensate for it being sort of cheap and seemingly ad- hoc… but it’s a great complimentary gift. And there are so many cute little ways to package it now.
Afua: Personally I don’t see the problem with this being a standalone gift… it sure is better than just a ‘cake’ to me, *shrug*
When Amma told me she wanted to do a holiday special on what to get your man for the holidays, I thought it was so appropriate. In our (Ghanaian) culture, where an appropriate present for your man on his birthday is a cake, I often wonder if women get creative with their gift giving, because there are some neat things out there… things you can really dress up or make as chill as you want, depending on the message you want to send.
First things, first. Kaftan.
Amma and I share many similarities in life, but our love for men in Kaftan stands above
all most others. I’m not one to call myself a fashionista, nor do I fuss about my any man’s clothing, but there is absolutely nothing like a man in Kaftan. Nothing. The way God designed our traditional dress to bring out all the qualities of sexiness, swag, masculinity (indeed everything a woman needs to feel about her man), it’s absolutely mind boggling. Kaftan has the ability to upgrade any man’s status instantaneously- Amma’s words, which I totally agree with. Long sleeve, short sleeve, shirt-level, knee-length or to the ankle, royal blue, grey, gold, take your pick… and don’t let it be white…wooowee *le sigh* Ok, I’m done. :) Now that I’ve clearly stated how this gift is obviously for my benefit, let’s get into how it is a suitable gift for your man. It’s practical: other than men needing clothes, it is a great outfit for weddings, parties, and even everyday wear (you can get away with a lot). And he’ll definitely be getting some love action from you, if you’re anything like us.
Something I just thought of that would be really sexy would be if you engrave a
naughty cute little message on the inside of the shirt or trousers… this is the beauty of getting something made in Ghana, you can be creative… :)
Amma: AGREED! *swoooon* Honestly, in the hierarchy of men’s apparel… white tee and cargo at number 4, suit and tie at number 3 and kaftans tied at number 1…
It’s interesting how they say a well tailored suit to a woman is as lingerie to a man, but my next pick is just one aspect of the suit: The bowtie. I don’t think this is something that Amma vibes with as much as I do, however I like a man in a bowtie, and if your man is that kind of man that rocks bowties, do it! It’s a clean simple gift, and we’ve found some really nice ones at Krachi, a local company just taking off which makes local print (and other patterned) bowties. The company is just about to launch a new line of bowties so watch out for that!
Amma: I am not one for recommending neck wear for guys, largely because I think it’s really easy and sort of unexciting. But I love Krachi ties… so if you are going to make this your move, I’d say make it one that matters by getting something that stands out.
I think more creative gifts like creating a playlist or going on weekend getaways are actually the best types of gifts. Even though women probably prefer these types of gifts more… I’ll admit I once had my guy promise to take me on a weekend trip if I lost a bet we had going… I still think a man would really enjoy you putting together a nice weekend getaway for the two of you- And by putting together, I mean planning, PAYING, driving, etc. I’m not sure what man wouldn’t turn down fine dining… quality time together… and, couple massages. Done. Even though it’s been in small intervals, Ghana has stepped up it’s tourism game; I just returned from a really nice wedding in Aburi, so I can say for a fact that you don’t have to look far for some really nice (long) weekend getaway spots. See some suggestions below!
Amma: I loved Beige Village… and I definitely think it’s a cool chill spot for guys to get away and hang around without
prostitutes and debauchery distractions. Golf… massages… buffet meals and excellent service. Annnnd all the OG’s go out there to relax (there’s this great pic of Amoabeng and co. as a reminder, haha)… so obviously their spirit of OGness will rub off on him. Honestly… everyone wins!
Clearly this list isn’t exhaustive, similar to our date spots in Accra post (look out for part 2 of that soon btw!), however this is a decent list to get you coming out on top this gift-giving season. So a Merry Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours, and we’ll see you in the new year for more ramblings!
WHOA. I don’t know what to say, but THANK YOU. I’m not one to be very outwardly emotional (y’all know this), so you can probably imagine the inner struggle I had writing and actually posting my last blog, but your response has only confirmed that it was the right thing to do. After posting ‘Knowing Before You Know‘, I received so much love through calls, emails, whatsapp messages, informal discussions- thanking me for being so
blunt open, it was kinda crazy weird. Not to mention the fact that y’all really shared the post – it was the highest single day viewed post in the history of this blog, by more than double… ya, crazy times.
So without getting too emo on you again, I wanted to say thanks for the encouragement and support…and the sharing of the post! It’s great to know people relate to and appreciate what we’re writing.
On a last note, I want to clear up that that post wasn’t about bashing the guy or men in general; there are great guys out there, and I actually think he’s one of them. Judging from the way he treats his family and friends, I know he’s going to be a great husband to his wife one day; my post was about the fact that ‘she’ wasn’t me… and I should have been more attentive to the signs so I could have bowed out of the game much earlier and been on a path to find the person who was for me.
Anyhoo on to my actual post, which is a response to Amma’s piece on Faith, Fidelity and Family.
- – -
If I’m honest, I’ve often wondered
if when this subject would come up. In fact, it’s such a dicey topic that it’s taken me over three months to pull a response together. Amma and I have had several too many conversations to count on this topic, because it’s a little too close to home for us. Like Amma, I also grew up in a strong faith-based home. Although not quite the Pentecostal hooting and hollering-type, it was definitely the grounded in faith, grounded in The Word and church-type. And like Amma, I also fell in love with someone who didn’t share in my faith was basically atheisty- agnosticy, and I had to grapple with how I wanted to proceed. Following the relationship, I still have to say that my feelings toward being with someone outside of my faith aren’t hellbent on ‘no’. Too much has happened since then for me to know that life is complicated, and sometimes love is complicated too. So as much as I would love to be with someone who shares my same beliefs, I can’t guarantee that if put in the exact same situation again, I wouldn’t continue on with the relationship… And that’s just real talk.
The topic of inter-faith or faith/no-faith relationships has reared it’s head several times in the last few months, not only with the referenced letter in Amma’s post, but also with an intriguing conversation that I had with some new friends of mine here in Accra. And because you know I love to retell a good story… let’s begin:
The setting is the apartment of a young married couple in Accra. I’m having a friendly discussion with the man of the house about everything and nothing in particular. The conversation slowly steers towards the standard, “how is life in Accra treating you as a ‘returnee’ ‘half-outsider’?” Armed and loaded with my ‘young returnee answer tool kit’, I respond politely that things are fine and uneventful.
“And dating in Accra?”>> ‘bold, much?’ I think to myself, ‘this usually doesn’t come up till further into these types of conversations…’ But still, I present my neatly packaged response: “uneventful.”
“Are your standards too high?” Was the subsequent question. Which for now I’ve come to expect when I give anyone a less than stellar response to the “Are you seeing anyone?”-type question. Unfortunately for me, the one word response of ‘No’ is never believed by whomever I’m speaking to, and spending time explaining how their assessment of me is incorrect is always a very conscious decision because it means getting into an exhausting
argument exchange that I’m so over before it begins. However, as life would have it I found this gentleman mildly worthy to continue engaging with me on this topic, so I gave him a half truth in response, ‘I’m not picky, but I do think wanting someone that loves Jesus in a genuine- genuine meaning not illogical fanatic way**- is hard to come by these days (read here how some studies brand Christians less intelligent than atheists).
“My wife is religious, and I’m not in the least.”
From here, he proceeds to tell me their story and how things work for them in a faith/no faith relationship. For some context: this is a young, well educated, well traveled couple with no kids. However, this isn’t the end of the story- his wife walks in and he invites her to join in on the discussion, which puts an interesting spin on things. I won’t waste too much time on the details of the rest of the exchange, but my two takeaways from the conversation were these:
1. It can work- Inter-faith and faith/ no-faith relationships. However, the can is a very big can. And that work, is very real work; and,
2. It is not ideal for the party that is Christian (particularly if this is the woman).
Obviously, I don’t know the ins and outs of Mr No Faith and Mrs Faith’s marriage, but as it pertains to #1, what I mean is that heaven doesn’t rain down fire and the world doesn’t come to a screeching halt (like some Christians would like to believe). However, undoubtedly sacrifices have to be made: Mr. No Faith mentioned he accompanies his wife to church on occasion because he knows ‘it’s important to her’, and Mrs. Faith mentioned that she doesn’t share with her husband her ‘God experiences’ knowing he wouldn’t appreciate them (I believe her actual words were, “he’d probably laugh”). In regards to #2, I say this isn’t ideal for the Christian spouse because marriage for Christians is supposed to have a deeper purpose of being one of the most important ways God uses to demonstrate His Nature -how He loves, how He commits, how He sacrifices, and how He forgives- to non-believers (and believers) on earth. Thus fundamentally, this is supposed to guide how a couple spends their time, money, and how they raise their children, etc. Particularly for the Christian wife, an ‘unequally yoked’ relationship isn’t ideal because men are looked to, in most people’s minds, as the (spiritual) leader of the home. Amma pointed out that this seems to be something women ‘obsess over’ more than men, and I think it’s because there is no substitute influence over a woman’s life and her children’s than the leadership of her man on all matters spiritual and none. With the number of ‘single’ women I see at church, children in tow, I often wonder what the dynamics are at home (for example, what is their continual response to their children when they ask, ‘How come daddy doesn’t have to go to church?’). [If you want to read more on this, here's a good article on whether interfaith marriage is always wrong, from a Christian perspective].
I think similar to Amma’s dad, Mrs. Faith having crossed over the hurdle of nuptials has the luxury of saying things like, ‘you should try to find someone you’re spiritually compatible with from the get go’- which is indeed something she said during our conversation. Because both she and Amma’s dad successfully found someone they actually connected with enough to marry (even if it was only on a physical and emotional level), hindsight is now 20/20… especially when you’re rendering advice to single young women like me and Amma. But for us who haven’t been fortunate enough to have found our
ride-or-die, lover, roomie, best friend person to share our lives with yet, we recognize that it’s quite a tall order these days to find someone who you connect with – mind, body, AND soul. And things become more complicated when you add in the fact that the difference between some Christians and non Christians is inconsequential, for the most part now. It also doesn’t work in your favor when you’re smitten by a particular type of guy- the highly educated, highly analytical, highly opinionated critical thinker who is not drawn to fables about an intangible God up in heaven looking out for us (and dictating how we have to live our lives), much less His incompetent followers gouging money from poor unsuspecting gullible people *side eye*- yes, Amma and I dated iterations of the.same.guy. Although these men were supportive of our individual relationships with Christ (and have a lot to do with why we have individually matured in our faith/beliefs even now), I know our relationships with them would have been richer if we could have been able to-
…pray with them and not at them…
… go to church with them
… make jokes about the Israelites in the old testament stories with them (really, Amma?)
… encourage them through scripture and (co)prayer
… and talk about hearing from God or experiencing a move of the Spirit without them rolling their eyes and/or smirking, just like Amma said.
However, I also know being a Christian doesn’t guarantee connection/compatibility (nor fidelity, honesty, good communication and all that other great stuff), so I can empathize with Lola that she was captivated by her husband by something other than his spirituality. I am happy that she found that special someone, and I recognize that people do change (note that it’s generally accepted that men take a longer time to ‘find religion/spirituality’ than women), but I also know that it’s not my job to change anyone, it’s God’s. So while not making any judgments on Lola’s situation, if I were to end up being with someone not of my faith, rather than placing stipulations on what their spirituality has to become ultimately, I would make peace with who I was marrying… as he was. And I would certainly make peace with the fact that I may be forever trucking to church solo, children-in tow, answering questions like ‘why doesn’t daddy have to go to church?’
**What I mean by this is you actually know why you believe what you believe, and how it translates to practical living, rather than blindly following any hooting and hollering pastor of the day, or just going to church because that’s what your parents did.
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