Category Archives: Young Love
A couple days ago, one of my dearests emailed me a quote from the book ‘So Long A Letter‘, written by Mariama Ba. It is a letter from a wife to a husband who intends on taking a 2nd wife (they are muslim). Sometimes I think I take for granted monogamy as one of those given non-negotiables, however it isn’t. Although the wife in the novel is part of a religion and culture that allows for polygamy, monogamy was a non-negotiable for her. This letter had me in knots because of the raw emotion of her words, or as my roommate put it, ‘Its like this super refined literary masterpiece of righteous indignation…’ …yes, yes it is.
Princes master their feelings to fulfil their duties. ‘Others’ bend their heads and, in silence, accept a destiny that oppresses them.
That, briefly put, is the internal ordering of our society, with its absurd divisions. I will not yield to it. I cannot accept what you are offering me today in place of the happiness we once had. You want to draw a line between heartfelt love and physical love. I say that there can be no union of bodies without the heart’s acceptance, however little that may be.
If you can procreate without loving, merely to satisfy the pride of your declining mother, then I find you despicable. At that moment you tumbled from the highest rung of respect on which I have always placed you. Your reasoning, which makes a distinction, is unacceptable to me: on one side, me, ‘your life, your love, your choice’, on the other, ‘young Nabou*, to be tolerated for reasons of duty’.
Mawdo**, man is one: greatness and animal fused together. None of his acts is pure charity. None is pure bestiality. I am stripping myself of your love, your name. Clothed in my dignity, the only worthy garment, I go my way.
We were sitting on a couch together at one of me and roommates famous house parties. He was flirting, I was flirting. It was fun times. I’d do my lap around the room, playing gracious host, but somehow I’d always find myself returning to that couch. He was cute. Correction, he was hot. He was sweet too. And above all, he was into me. Done. Numbers exchanged and we were off into dating bliss for all of…two weeks.
There was a chink in the armor.
Actually a few chinks. But I ignored them… after all, he was so sweet… and hot.
A couple more weeks and a couple more chinks. Hmmm ya, this isn’t going to work. But… he’s… so.. sweet. Like that kind of, take you and your roommates out, sweet. Like that kind of, come over and cook for you, sweet. I must Ignore. Ignore. Ignore. Perhaps the chinks aren’t really chinks, perhaps I’m being too picky, perhaps I’m comparing him unfairly to the previous one, perhaps…
Perhaps, these chinks ARE real. Very real.
Against all my better judgment, I think… I had to end it. But now what?
But of course, we stay friends…let’s hang out when we can or speak from time to time.
Nope, was his response. Why would we do that? I have enough friends.
Hmm k, well I guess that’s that.
But it isn’t just that. I genuinely miss him as a friend, and although I didn’t fancy him as anything more, I hoped we could continue to be friends. He didn’t though. He saw our relationship as one of all or nothing.
Maybe my desires were selfish, who knows. He does have the right to pick and choose his friends, right? In all honesty, I’m not sure what else I could have done to steer clear of an outcome like this. Perhaps we should have never dated. Now I see him frolicking with my roommates… ‘so you can hang out with them, can you…
thought you had enough friends‘… yes, I’m a little salty annoyed. Perhaps we should have just been friends.
I suppose one can’t be too mad because if I look at the reverse, just a few months ago I did the same thing:
‘We can ease up on this friendship thing for a while.’
And I find my actions completely reasonable when I’m the one dictating them *shrug*. I guess this is just one of those casualties of dating. But, I wonder… how does one minimize these types of outcomes? If you knew losing a friendship could be a possibility, would you be deterred from dating someone? In my case, looking back, prob not.
I think there’s some expectation for me to begin this response with some form of unwavering support to the original piece: ’It is so cliche now to see an intelligent/ well-to-do African man with a white woman’ or some other biting statement, but the truth is that this type of response is so cliche… another
bitter angry annoyed black female blogger writing about black men and white women. It’s a waste of time and energy, doesn’t help anyone, and is such a bore. Although, I can relate to the sentiments discussed in the piece (and the scenarios as well), once we come down from the ‘ranting and raving’ on our soapboxes, I think there are some things to address as African women, with the role we play in ‘letting our men go to other races white women’.
My last longterm situationship ended last year and following the demise of the relationship, I had to take a hard look at the role I played in its demise. Not only because I don’t ever want to repeat the situation again, but also because I felt as though I let my fellow African sisters down. It’s a bit difficult to convey this feeling because
I don’t fully understand it myself I’ve never felt a particular sense of devotion to my fellow African woman. However, in some strange way I felt as though I let the past, present, and future African woman down. Namely on my part, I contributed to the stereotype of not being able to ‘hold your African/black man down’, ‘love and take care of him like he needs’… and accordingly, I was not able to help the world see what real (educated) black/African love looks like in the 21st century. Please note before you keep reading, the only thing I am addressing in this piece is me. I am writing this in hopes that it can help someone out there, because I think we do ourselves a disservice if we’re not learning lessons from others.
When a close black guy friend read the White Women guest piece I am responding to, he sent me this:
I don’t totally agree with the premise, but it was humorous. If I had to answer the question of what is the difference between the Black Woman and the White Woman, it is as simple as this: Black Women spend more time talking about “What I’m not going to do…” where White Women spend more time talking about “What I’m open to consider…” Thus, they get the man they want, because they’re willing to consider things where Black Women immediately put up the no and set the ultimatum for the Black Man to take it or leave it, and we see what he usually does…Leaves it.
What’s said above is spot on. From what I’ve seen, a lot of African women are brought up with very principled backgrounds, which leads them to an attitude of ‘I don’t do this, I would never do this, I only do this this way… take it or leave it’. Like the guest blogger mentioned at the end of her piece, “I am not moving to anyone’s country where I do not speak the language, cannot cook the food and burn every time I go outside unless there are ring(s) on it…take it or leave it.” Whether it’s from watching what has occurred in their own households (how the women in their lives didn’t compromise, or did compromise and got burned); or it’s from growing up in strong christian or traditionally valued households which have framed what they believe a lady should and shouldn’t do for a man… these things play into what women give up and give in for their men.
In my personal case, I held on to things, rightly or wrongly, which I believed trumped being with him. When I was eventually ready to lay aside “my ultimatums”, it was way too late. My point here is not necessarily about being principled about certain things, but it’s more about understanding the situation. We, African women, can’t get mad when African men pass us up (because of this issue) when
other white women are more willing to, for all intents and purposes, ‘sacrifice for their man’. And ladies, the amount of times I’ve heard (and said) ‘well if he loves me, he’ll oblige, and if he doesn’t…then he can get to steppn’ is beyond countless. And there is some truth to this, BUT there is also truth to the fact that you may not be giving him the chance to fall in love with you with all your barriers placed, so you can’t get mad if he doesn’t decide to stick around long enough to figure out whether he can love you.
Second thing, and this is a little paradoxical to what I just mentioned, is that for me, I didn’t demand anything in terms of commitment from the guy. And I think this is more common than not with black women. Though I wasn’t content keeping the relationship as it was, I thought because he didn’t say anything about things, I didn’t want to rock the boat… so we remained non-defined and that’s an equation which will never add up: Not requesting commitment + Having demands 1,2,3 now or before we are ever to take it to the next level = diaster. Perhaps what should have happened is a discussion of commitment and what that entails on both our parts, which would have also helped with the issue of ‘giving in’ and ‘giving up’. I think some African women put barriers in place because they don’t have the commitment they want or they are scared that they won’t get the commitment they want if they let down their guard. This is not to say the fear isn’t unfounded, but at the end of the day love is an art not a science… you go all in and try. When Beyonce said, ‘if you like it, then you shoulda put a ring on it’, I don’t think she meant neglect telling a man what you want in terms of commitment before the ring stage. And I’m not saying to do this to any guy, but this is for a guy who you believe is serious about a relationship with you.
Of course this is my one-dimensional take on things, and I have not exhausted the list of my faults in the relationship, but I think these two things stand out as dear lessons learned, which I thought I would pass on to my fellow African woman. So no Kanye, ‘he didn’t leave my a$$ for a white girl’, really he just left my a$$, period. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what color the new girl is, because it’s less about that than it is about what the two of you couldn’t do and be for each other. White women aren’t stealing African men as much as they are offering them something ‘WE’ won’t or don’t. Until we’re willing to change that, or at the very least acknowledge it, we can’t be mad when another bites the dust.
I must separately address this idea of not being African enough or foreign enough, because it’s so intriguing to me. I have to say that
unfortunately for me, I was privy to this guy’s thoughts about our compatibility after the fact… and I was indeed hit with the ‘you wouldn’t fit in with the fam’ chorus… so it was a little fascinating to see that family compatibility would exist with a white woman. However, the one foot in/one foot out explanation makes a little sense now. It is excusable when a foreigner acts as a foreigner, but when someone brought up in an African household acts as a foreigner, perhaps traditional families are less forgiving with this. This is definitely a topic to continue exploring… I wonder readers, what’s your experience on African men opting out of relationships with African women who are too foreign?
On an ending note, perhaps me and ms. guest blogger should be encouraging our fellow African women to become more open to scenarios such as the one on the right **KanYe Shrug** ->
You. I want YOU. Yes, YOU. Not some 2.0 version of you, not what I think you could be after I fix you, not some idea of you. You. You with all your gunk, your craziness, and your flaws. You. I just want you. Isn’t that so sexy?
Not just that, but I think it’s actually called love… But hey, what do I know
I met a guy about 1.5months ago, and in the short time that I’ve known him, he’s made quite an impression on me. I met him through my cousin initially, and then through some
random not-so random events I met him again through my roommate (Accra is a very small city). During our second interaction, he did not waste any time chatting to me about our initial mutual acquaintance, my cousin.
“I’m pretty much in love with your cousin”
…Errmmm, *I’m looking around the room* ‘… Is this boy talking to me?… I don’t know him from Adam though…’
I remain polite. “Hmmm, Ok.”
The conversation continues to my bewilderment.
“Yup, I’ve told her I am going to be with her”
And yes, the words, “I want to marry her” did come out of his mouth during our conversation.
I continue to remain polite. ‘…Ok sure, mr man (whom I’ve only met twice in my life). Nice story.’ *side-eye*
Side-eye not because you’re kinda crazy to be telling me your business after meeting me twice, but side-eye because my cousin
is was in a fully committed long term relationship at that point in time. One in which discussions of ‘he could be the one’ had taken place between she and I.
“Ok, great, nice to meet you and aaaa good luck with that.” Second *side-eye*
Let’s fast forward to last week, shall we? We shall.
You guessed it. They’re dating.
Talk about surprise right? Well… Maybe not so much, and here’s why: this boy was determined and decisive. He knew what he wanted, and made plans to go about getting it. No, he wasn’t a home wrecker, but he made his feelings known to my cousin and showed her time and time again that ‘hey, I’m serious about this… I. Want. You.’ He also wasted no time to get support from family members. Case in point, my sister also met him, and later in a
random not so random conversation with me, she shared with me a similar interaction she had with him.
SIDE NOTE: I’ve glossed over the part where they’ve been friends for a bit and she is into him too, but I hope that at this point in time you would know that friendship is foundational to me.
. . .
I’ve been slowly working on a post about how to know when you’re wasting your time with someone, it’s sort of a rundown of red flags that I’ve picked up on from my own experiences, other people’s experiences and just reading things… It’s still a work in progress, but two things on that list apply to mr man’s situation: 1. Indecisiveness and, 2. Your relationship with his close friends and family. I’ll give you a snippet of my take on these two things:
1. Indecision is a decision. Don’t necessarily equate that you keep breaking up and then returning back to each other as a sign that he’s clear about whether he wants to be with you longterm. At a certain point, I can’t help you if you can’t make a decision of what you want. And there should be an expiration date on how long I can wait for you to decide. Ladies, when a man is indecisive about you, it’s for a reason. Or am I lying, men?
2. If you’re always introduced as a friend, he’s not that into you. If you guys are ‘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 ask to meet his family/friends and he evades the question like the plague, it’s time to consider why. And don’t worry, this includes the lot of ‘I don’t tell people about my personal business’ folks too. Yes, some men don’t like to gossip about who they’re fooling around with, but this isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m talking about when he’s serious about you. When you’re special to him, he’ll want the other special people in his life to know about you. And vice- versa. Period.
. . .
So back to
my future brother-in-law mr man. I can gel with his approach, BUT Please don’t equate his determination for stupidity. I know for a fact that this guy would not have continued to express his feelings for my cousin forever with no response. There was a communicated expiration to his proposal:
“I’ve told her that if she doesn’t let me know within X amount of time, I’ll back off’.
And I think that’s fair. Just because you’re in love doesn’t mean you throw reason out the window.
Welcome to the fam, mr man.
A little bob marley came my way today, and I thought I would share… it’s nice to hear these things sometimes…
And yall enjoyed my last marley post.
On a side note, I’ve been quite mute lately, but I’m hoping to get out a few posts (including guest posts) in the next couple of weeks. I’ve received feedback that I don’t really write about myself… so I’m going to start opening up in my posts..
“Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever. Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colours seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon. You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.”
― Bob Marley
-and, because every woman wants to feel worth it-
The caption reads, “Think ‘Sex and the City’ meets Africa! Five beautiful, successful African females return to their home continent and confide about love and life.”
When I have too much to say, sometimes I feel a question does the trick: Bandeka, are we feeling this?
I’m sorry, I can’t help myself… just one thing: “you can directly correlate the drive a country had in stealing African territories with the amount of drive its modern-day countrymen will have in the bedroom…” …ok let me not begin actually, #ican’t.
My friend wrote a tweet a couple days ago that really struck me:
vulnerability x time = intimacy
I wanted to hear more on the matter, so he sent me this:
Just my thoughts…
So, vulnerability x time = intimacy
Intimacy is born out of vulnerability. A person needs to allow themselves to be seen before they can cultivate anything real with someone else. The degree to which we do this is the degree to which we get intimate with another person. Unfortunately, many in our world (particularly in our generation) think of intimacy as solely physical. I don’t. It’s emotional, mental and spiritual before it’s ever physical. When we’re invested in ego, invested in reputation, invested in power and status… rather than invested in allowing ourselves to be seen as we really are — complete with chipped paint and all the requisite chinks in the armour — we sabotage our relationships. Many of my “close friendships” over the years could’ve very well grown and fluorished into a connection of the romantic sort… but in at least two or three cases, I made an executive decision and placed the woman on the bench… on account of her inability (more so, unwillingness) to be vulnerable.
Now all this is under the assumption that one has the time to achieve this. One of the things I’ve been reminded of since returning here [Ghana] is that intimacy comes quickly for me. Whether the relationship we have is platonic or not, I often get deep on the first or second question of the conversation. I’ve had people joke about how excruciating times with me can be… but also, how they end up being genuine, authentic and refreshing once they clear the hurdle of being reluctant about vulnerability. Most “normal” people take time to get “deep” however. It’s a gradual process. Even in long-standing friendships, when people have been apart for a very long time, once they reconnect, they’re usually slow to get back to the same level of intimacy. So a person has to be patient (to a degree) and wait for enough time to pass that a person can develop trust and confidence in the relationship… and feel comfortable opening up.
Now, some people are able to speed up this process. Particular demeanors, personalities and dispositions lend to this. Similarly, if you’re the opposite of these (cold, frigid, intimidating, arrogant) then you’ll cause people to clam up. So the speed can be varied.
But intimacy can’t be had without vulnerability.
And in most cases, vulnerability can’t be had without time.
Some people spend “years” in a relationship, but have no intimacy with their partner… because they spent those years putting up fronts and/or interacting on a functional level — “how was your day?” “who’s going to pick up the kids today?” “what’s your ePack fund looking like?” — rather than a vulnerable level — “what are your hopes? dreams? fears? what about yourself gives you pause? why does that quality in that person irk you so much?” etc…
So lessons I’ve had to re-learn since getting back to Ghana: intimacy is a lifeblood for me, and relationships are (more often than not) personally useless to me without it; vulnerability requires putting in the time, rather than expecting things instantly; the more the tendency to front, the weaker the connections between people will be. This is true at work, church, home, etc.
Hope that gives you an overview of where my mind was when I came up with the equation?
I’ll be responding to his thoughts in Part 2 of Vulnerability x Time = Intimacy. Stay tuned.
Having witnessed a flood of people getting engaged and married in the last 6months, I think I’m going to start a mini-series on marriage… so here begins the first piece. Enjoy!
If I had a dollar for the number of times I’ve heard of a young African couple getting married abruptly, and then <9months later welcoming a new child into their home, I probably wouldn’t be rich, but at least middle class status There’s no judgment, but I do find the differences in the African approach and the American approach to pregnancy before marriage quite intriguing.
Take Lady #1- a woman in her mid-20s who has been dating her bf for a few yrs. They were married this past year and recently had a child. The kicker isn’t that people know the couple got married because she was pregnant, but rather that it is common knowledge that this lady got pregnant on purpose because the guy was taking a long time to marry her.
Take Lady #2- a woman in her early 30s dating a man in his mid-30s for a couple years. Recently she has become restless about the guy not wanting to make a decision about getting married (his MO being, ‘what we have is good, let’s just continue what we’re doing). Her response has been, ‘I’m about to be out of this piece, why wait on someone who is just wasting my time?’
The stories are loosely based on the lives of women I know. I don’t think I have to tell you which of the two women is African either*. Again no judgment. Although there are some differences in age and how long each woman has been in their relationship, I think its okay to compare the two (dating for 5yrs in your mid-20s can be some-what comparable to dating for 2yrs in your 30s). Knowing the 2nd woman very well, I know she is very serious when she says she’ll be out very soon if this guy doesn’t express interest in marriage soon (and side note: I fully agree with her stance- in your 30s, after dating for 2yrs, you need not to be taking a ‘let’s see where this goes’ stance). This lady would NEVER, and I can emphatically say NEVER dream of getting pregnant to corner her bf into marrying her- she just wouldn’t.
Men hold out on marriage for various reasons (not ready financially, finishing school, looking to get to a certain place in their career), but sometimes it simply comes down to the belief that there could be something better out there. So if your guy gives you that spiel, should your action plan be to reel him in (through various means, including pregnancy), or should you let him go? Thoughts?
UPDATE on post – since I initially began writing this piece, lady #2 has in fact ended her relationship, and has a new fabulous bf who is serious about marriage.
*people, please no hate mail on this. I know American women get pregnant on purpose to trap their men too. However, from what I have seen, African men are more likely to respond to pregnancy with a proposal than American men. Correct me if I am wrong though.
End of post.
I know a bunch of you were thinking that.
I’ve been meaning to post something related to this topic for a while now, but reading about Megan Good’s recent wedding finally pushed me to
finish start this post.
I think it’s quite fitting that Megan Good played a beautiful vixen who made her new man wait 90 days for sex in the recent ‘Think Like A Man’ movie. Fitting, because in real life Megan and her new husband, Devon Franklin, practiced celibacy throughout their relationship- they dated for a year before getting engaged*. [Pause for the reaction of the reader]
I mean, is this unheard of? No. Traditional? Sure, but traditions change- see here: Single, Saved – and Having Sex. Crazy? Yes. Impossible? Apparently not… Watch a short interview with the two of them below:
“The relationship is completely different,” Meagan said, adding that sex is added treat to true love. “That’s just icing on the cake.”
I’ve read articles that blame religion and churches for keeping some black women single. They claim that black women are expecting unrealistic characteristics in men (including celibacy), thus they remain single. However, it does beg the question, ‘should you change such a valuable part of your life for a man?’ I do know couples that are practicing celibacy because of one person’s personal decision to wait, but it is definitely not for everyone. Whatever you choose to do, one thing I’ve learned is that honesty is the best policy. I haven’t heard from you all in a while, weigh in on the discussion below… could you wait?
Before I begin, I’d like to say a big Happy Birthday to co-founder, Yaw Boateng! From all of us at Bandeka, we hope you have a fabulous day!
- – -
You’ll never get a second chance for a first impression, they say. So what are you doing when you’re in a social setting and looking to meet a certain someone (or someones)?
“the very early part of developing relationships is important to the success of long-term relationships, including marriages.”*
How’s your flirting/networking style? Are they producing the results you want? Regardless of whether you’re a timid person or mr/ms popular, there are various approaches to being sociable. Perhaps dissecting how you find, attract, and communicate who you are and what you want will help you produce results you want.
Personally, I am not the most comfortable in social settings where one has to continually mingle around making small talk. As social as I can be at times, I find these settings so much work whereas others find it quite natural. I have my moments of being social, but I would never say that I am the life of the party, however I’ve come to realize that I don’t need to be in order to network effectively and also to meet someone of the opposite sex. You have to find what is most comfortable to you, and what you would like the outcome of your interaction to be: are you looking for a number? Someone interesting to chat with just for the evening? A business partner? Or your other half?
According to a study*, which surveyed over 5,000 dating adults about how they communicate romantic interest, there are five distinct types of flirting. More importantly, these types of flirting are associated with different relationship outcomes:
“Traditional flirting thinks men should make the first move, and women should not pursue men…. Compared to men with other flirting styles, traditional men tend to know someone for a longer time before asking them out. Both genders are likely to be introverted preferring quiet, intimate settings to large social scenes.
Playful flirting seems to enjoy the game, flirting is for fun and self-esteem. This style is less likely to result in important or meaningful relationships, (for obvious reasons).
Physical flirting communicates sexual interest. This style of flirting is a quick way to develop a relationship with sexual chemistry and emotional connection.
Polite flirting uses nonsexual communication and proper manners. People with this style of flirting take a slow approach, and don’t find flirting flattering. They tend to have meaningful relationships.
Sincere flirting expresses genuine interest and creates emotional connections. People with this style of flirting tend to have relationships that involve strong emotional connection, and sexual chemistry- these tend to be meaningful relationships.”**
Does your flirting style express who you are and what you’re looking for? Does this also help you pick up the signals of others- ie. maybe s/he is just looking for a great conversation for the night, not someone to take home to mom. I will follow up on this blog with specific flirting (and networking tips), so be on the look out for that soon!
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*Jeffrey Hall and Steve Carter, 2010 October issue of Communication Quarterly- http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/news/20101101/5-flirting-styles-what-type-of-flirt-are-you