Speak on It – A Reader’s Take on Black Love

tumblr_mdzds0HlxG1ravrcso1_500A while back, when this blog was the official bandeka blog, I told a reader that I would post her response to a blog that I did. In getting caught up with the move to Rambling Roommates, I never did. Although we’ve moved on from the topic, I still want to honor my commitment… so see below for the thoughts of one of our readers. She is responding to this piece that I wrote, which was a response to this previous  guest post.

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Thoughts from one of our readers (Anon).

I think more than anything this black man/white woman thing is a phase/status thing. In my observations (based on family members and two exes who married out of the race) black men actually want black women (and vice versa) especially the older they get. No one wants to grow old with someone who has foreign customs and culture and they also want their children to grow up with their culture and learn their values. When we are young we are open and flexible to life but the older we get, the more we experience the world and try to make sense of it and find our sense of belonging which makes us want to retreat to our cocoon of comfort and what we know, namely our customs and culture. Also, there comes a stage in a man’s life where he expects/looks for a woman who “is like his mother” because again that’s what he knows.

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Where (in my opinion) we “fail” as African women:
1.We forget who we are and get so caught up by the blinding and false promises of Western culture that we shun our customs and norms and name call them names in our bid to be white sorry I meant Western there I go again, I meant to modernize ourselves.

2.Ladies, yes we are very capable of anything a man is capable of; in fact anything a man can do we can do a hundred times better (sorry brothers but it’s the truth :p) that being said we should not try compete with our men. A man needs his place to be recognised, he needs to be honoured and respected (WOAW before you come baying for my blood ladies and reminding me of women who fought for my rights please listen with an open mind). Fact: men are stronger than women (but that does not make a woman any less of a human being) and as the stronger sex they should be the protectors of a home and that is what African culture (as well as other cultures) dictates. I’m not saying the man has to be the sole provider and the woman has to be subservient to him just that men and women are different and not just anatomically. We each have different strengths and roles we bring and play in a relationship. Yes, be ambitious but do not try to dictate to your men and STOP trying to be a man in the relationship. There’s a saying in my culture that you cannot put two bulls in one pen it’s the same with a relationship you cannot have two men in a relationship (unless it’s a gay relationship but even then one acts the role of a man). If you honour your man he will honour you back and support you and your ambitions.

3.In response to Lady B’s song: one, Beyonce was just selling a song. Secondly, none of us knows what Beyonce does behind closed doors. We don’t know tumblr_m6orvq5HlS1rn4d10o1_500what she had to compromise and put up with to get that ring.

How the white woman hook our men in:
1.They are light skinned, have long silky hair and colourful eyes

2.They give them the honour they are looking for and make them feel like a MAN

3.They are open to compromise and are willing to do whatever to please them (e.g. move across oceans)
But they also end up messing it up in the end, when they’ve secured their place their true colours come out and they start dictating, demanding and become less compromising and that’s when our brothers come back to us by that time we’re willing to try anything and are more open to compromise. (LoL)

Last bit: I once shocked my white colleagues when I told them that I want a bride price to be paid for me, I’ll never marry an uncircumcised man and when I get my husband shall be KING of my household. They were shocked that an “educated and independent” woman like me would think like that. But I told them that in my culture that is how it is and I know when I make him my KING he will make me his QUEEN. I’ve seen it, I come from a family of strong, educated and working women (mother, grandmother and even great-grandmother) they honoured their husbands and they had successful marriages and I’ve had three marriage proposals before so I guess I must have done something right. In conclusion, compromising and bending for our men is not an off-set of giving up our independence.

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Now the only few words I (Afua) will say about Anon’s piece stem from this article: Below are some interesting facts and statements from the article, which lend to what our reader has noted above. The article is quite on the money, minus the ridiculous amount of underlined, italicized and bold font… and this is why I’ve taken the liberty to separate out the interesting points for you. Although the article is about black relationships in the US, I think some of it applies to Africans in the diaspora and on the continent too… sometimes we get disillusioned with what we see (cough…the guest blogger), and forget the entire picture.

  • The interracial genocide of Black love is a FALLACY… When news organizations put this garbage out, we eat it up

  • 95% of Black males marry Black women

  • We easily believe all the negative and depressing commentaries about the state of our community and our inability to LOVE one another, even though the FACTS prove otherwise

  • Eighty-three percent of married Black men with an income of more than $100,000 put a ring on a Black woman

  • Black men with college degrees also overwhelmingly marry Black women to the tune of 85%

  • By 35, 75% of Black women are experiencing bridal bliss, and have headed down the aisle at least once

  • All this BS about the Black man’s exodus from educated, successful Black women is FALSE and unsubstantiated

  • When you look at the percentage of Black men out there who comprise interracial marriages, the reality is that those men most likely did not EXPLICITLY choose a white woman over a Black woman, they choose what was most available to them

5fe9fad192294febefd267b7fc032698Also, some wise words to all black female bloggers were included in the article- we must be responsible in our speech: “Stop propagating falsehoods because you are NOT adding intelligent and intellectual commentaries on a “serious problem””.

Thank you, author. Your words are noted… (hence the ridiculous number of black love pics in this piece :) )

On another note, if you want to have your say on Rambling Roommates, let us know: ramblingroommates@gmail.com.

Semantics: Not All Dating is Equal

photo (3)When I got to Ghana a couple months ago, within weeks I had a couple frank conversations with two highly educated persons in my life regarding their definition of dating. This isn’t a rare occurrence, however the stark differences between their definitions AND mine have led me to write this post. I’ll let yall help me tease this out, but essentially I’m wondering whether these differences are a case of semantics or whether fundamental differences in dating styles play a determining factor in the success of a relationship. I’m leaning towards the latter, but let’s see how I feel after writing this.

So here’s (my take on) each person’s stance:

Mr. Logical

Picture1opposites12Life must have order/structure, and that goes for relationships too. At the point of dating, you should have thoroughly vetted this person through the friendship & talking stage, therefore at the stage of dating there must be exclusivity.  Dating exclusively is not necessarily a committed relationship leading to marriage, ie. I could be dating you exclusively and not necessarily want to marry you, but you (and you only) are my girl for right now. Dating also means we’re intimate. During the friend/ talking stage, we could have been intimate or not.

As much as humanly possible the candidate person I’m dating must be thoroughly vetted and if we’re not compatible for a certain percentage of compatibility points, it’s a no go. Compatibility points A, B, and C are automatic deal breakers. Comprehensive vetting can take upwards of 5 years. The ultimate goal here is to minimize the number of potential points of contention during the stage of marriage Control.

Ms. Think Like a Man
I used to do the conventional dating of one person at a time, but along the way the experience became emotionally draining (serial monogamy with headheartache in the end). After taking note of numerous dating blogs, books, radio shows, how men date, I came to the conclusion that I needed to switch up my approach: do not put all your eggs in one basket.

Always have a rotation of guys that you’re dating: it’s a numbers game. Dating should be light and not exclusive. Dating is going out/ talking on the phone- No Intimacy (not even kissing). When it comes to kissing and anything else, discussions should take place first. Before you start kissing, you should have gone on multiple dates. Most men will bore you and not even make it to date 3 or 4… You should be at date 4 before you start kissing.

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Once you’ve figured out who you really like then you start laying people aside, and inevitably start spending your time with your ultimate boo. This approach cuts down on time and foolery. When you’ve always got folks in the wings, you won’t be caught up in folks’ nonsense and become emotionally invested in people that haven’t earned a spot on the team. Haters reveal themselves pretty early, and folks that just want to get in your pants rarely make it past date 2 or 3. Intimacy obviously comes after you begin seeing one person and the two of you have had a conversation about exclusivity. This dating strategy is more objective since you get to balance your time, diversify your options and explore more of yourself. This strategy is also good since guys are dating more than one girl at a time as well. For more information on this, see one of the articles I consulted Here.

Ms. In Between
4292810-256-k28e8ae01To me, the bedrock of a relationship is friendship. Ideally, I would love to develop a deep friendship with a guy and follow his promptings for more (than friendship). The friendship/ getting to know you stage is (decently) lengthy, genuine and runs deep. At this stage in life, dating doesn’t need to be too long before we know that there could be a path to marriage (because the foundation has already been set). Obviously, there must be mutual attraction (you don’t date all your friends), and there must be compatibility on goals/vision of what you want to do with your lives. Dating is essentially a committed relationship with some direction (yes, life happens & things can end up not working out, but at least there’s a path to the relationship and we’re not walking around aimlessly). Intimacy comes when a path has been agreed upon.

The jump from friendship to a committed relationship isn’t the grande canyon, thus the actual dating period doesn’t need to be too long. Beauty fades. People get fat. The feeling of love fades. Sex can will become monotonous at some point. People get annoyed with one another. Folks rise and fall in status and economic standing. Common interests, political leanings change. But what’s your foundation? When you figure that out, everything else can be worked on… Everything else is fluid.

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So considering these three definitions, could Ms Think Like a Man (Ms TLM) successfully date Mr Logical (Mr L)? Or could Ms In Between (Ms IB)? Do semantics get in the way of love or are our definitions of dating, love, relationships just labels?

Lemme see if I can tease out my thoughts on this now…

For some aspects of love, it is just semantics, ie. Mr L and Ms TLM in the beginning stages have similar approaches, just that Mr L would call Ms TLM, his friend, and Ms TLM would say she was dating him. Either way, they would have the mutual understanding that they are in the getting to know each other phase, and that they are not exclusive. Cool? Cool.

However, imagine Ms TLM is dating a MR. IB. Ms TLM has a roster of dudes and a rotation of potentials, but Mr IB is probably not on that rotation because he is just a friend. The two of them hang out, but it’s not like Ms TLM is checking for him like that. However, Mr. IB begins catching feelings… so what happens when he wants to jump to exclusivity, but Ms TLM has moved some members of her squad to her starting lineup?

A little awkward.

Or what if Ms IB and Mr L have passed the talking/friendship stage, however their definitions of when intimacy comes into the picture differ? Mr L needs intimacy as part of the vetting dating process, and Ms IB wants to know that there could be a path before she’s intimate.

Awkward.

I’ve been toiling over this blog for a few weeks now, and I believe my conclusion is that definitions do matter in as much as you make them matter. We all have stated yes’s and no’s and do’s and don’ts, but do we really stick to them, esp when we meet someone we really think is worth bending our definitions for? I believe people can change their definitions: I’m sure if Ms TLM also realized that she had deep feeling for Mr IB, she would be willing to drop her starting 5, right? Or at least I would hope…

And if she didn’t, then maybe he wasn’t the one (to move her enough to change her definition), right?

Like I said, I’m not done thinking this through… But, I wanna hear from you… And Amma.***

I might even ask our real live Ms TLM to guest post for us (since she seems to be the one that throws a wrench into the various scenarios) :)

***When you think through this topic, note that I am not arguing about the soundness of each person’s dating style, but rather exploring whether different dating styles impede lasting relationships, which may otherwise be successful outside of clashing dating styles.

Wifey Tins

photo (3)We’ve I’ve never dedicated a blog post to anyone… explicitly. So here lies my first: Lydia, today we salute you, and dedicate this blog to your “wifey preparation” ways.

. . .

I’m pleased to announce that in the matter of my exhaustive search for an apt, save a boyfriend, I have found myself a humble abode, and have successfully moved in. *Let’s all have a moment of silence*.

Side note: For those that don’t know me personally… I took a slight detour out of the country for work for a few months. Not important. But what is important is that during this time, my room was snatched given up to another person, not as awesome as me… so technically Amma and I aren’t roommates anymore…physically, but in spirit we will always be.

But I digress.

Since moving into my apt, I’ve had to get my house in order- sorting out my Internet, dstv cable, my cleaner, getting roommates, doing some touches to the apt, and other seemingly menial tasks. Now that I am in what I would consider a ‘semi-stable’ state of life, one of the things I have vowed to start doing on a regular basis is cook.

I’m not sure if I should be announcing this to the world, but I don’t enjoy cooking (like others do). It’s not a deep hatred of sorts, more-so just something that’s not high on my list of pleasurable activities in life (watching the food network, high. eating, high. actual cooking, not so high). Living a lot on the road, in temporary situations, in hotels, on my company’s tab…these things don’t lend well to me being my own personal chef, and in the last little while, I haven’t had to do much of it. In times past when I was in a situation where I was established in an apt, it wasn’t any more economical for me to cook for a party of one, particularly when you add in the opportunity cost of doing other things with my time. So thats the context in which we find ourselves for this blog.

The funny thing is that some folks, even those close to me, equate enjoyment with ability… So a month ago, an old roommate of mine took the liberty of forcing a dinner party of six on me…one in which I would host & cook. With this invitation badgering, it became evident that folks were hoping some sort of failure would occur to confirm preconceived notions: ‘But afua, can you actually cook?’ ‘You know you can’t use your house help for the dinner.’ Saa?*** Hmmm k. Well, it’s a good thing I’m up for a challenge, especially when I know the truth about myself, and that people would be put to shame.

And. put. to. shame. they. were.

I am happy to report that, I threw down… hard. Cooking a three-course delectable dinner -don’t play me. ‘Wow afua, this is really good.’ *side-eye* ‘Is it, really? I’m glad you like it.’ I won’t will toot my own horn, because I had folks chowing down on food that they don’t even like, don’t play me. Or Amma, I dey lie? Like I like to say, don’t come for me… You will get stepped to, hard. Thank you.

wifeyNow that the air has been cleared and corrections made to folks’ asinine assumptions, I must ask: does my stock go up because I can recollect how my mother told me that this spice and that spice go better together, or because I can follow a recipe? Am I not the same woman as I was prior to you tasting my food? Am I any more or less ‘wifeable’ because of my culinary skills? …Well, you have to provide food for your family, folks say. It’s even biblical (Proverbs 31). *le sigh* Yes, this actually came out from my friend’s mouth. Well, I can’t argue with you on the bible, but what I know is that I’m not any less of a woman or any less of ‘wifey’ material before I cooked for you. I feel like folks need to relax on this cooking thing. I think people get caught up on things that naturally take their place- clearly I will have to cook for my family, and for those women who don’t know how to cook, they will just have to figure it out- you’re gonna HAVE to learn at some point or find someone to do it for you. I guess it would be different if I couldn’t cook, but my issue is one of desire *le sigh*.

I met a friend of a friend who flat out told me (with amazing pride) that she doesn’t cook (she has a husband and two kids)… And she’s Ghanaian AND HE’S (born and bred) GHANAIAN. *Gasp* ‘Nope, I don’t cook… But what does that have to do with me providing food for my family?’ Good question, I guess. Is she any less of a woman because she has someone cooking dinner for her family, something that is tres common in this part of the world, might I add. You gotta find what works for you AND your spouse. If he’s cool with it, what be the problem? In Africa, it is easier to hire domestic help… So if women aren’t physically doing the cleaning or cooking, BUT it’s getting done (and they’re overseeing it- which isn’t a small task in itself) then what be the issue, Lydia? Why do men, and other women for that matter, equate your ability (and desire) to cook as a super plus plus on the wifey material scale. It’s quite primitive, no? Now that we’re in an era where women work equally as long and hard as men, why is there still an expectation that the woman be the house cook and maid?

So if you’re not the traditional woman in the household, what do you bring to the table? Another good question. Firstly, can I say this: why do people act like African women who don’t cook don’t get married (have you ever met a woman never married say, “I wish I had learned cooking because thats what created my singleness.” Let me throw a caveat in here, I am talking about singling out the ACT of cooking, and not cooking as a representation of something bigger, ie. taking care of your husband, family, home). Secondly, to answer the question: there are a lot of things one can bring to the table apart from cooking, including: support for your man, peace of mind ( you’re a good cook, but you’re a nag 24/7…what’s the good in that?)…lets continue, your sex game is on point (both in frequency and performance), you’re honest with your man, you’re charming and have good morals/ ethics, lets see… You’re faithful, you’re confident in yourself, attentive, compassionate, you handle your business (and ‘take care of the home’), you stick up for your man, you’re respectful, and have respect for yourself, you’re a good mother, you’re caring, considerate, your vision is aligned with his … Or, these things don’t matter??

Yes, there is something to serving/ taking care of your man, no doubt… but tell me how a man would deny a woman with the qualities above if she didn’t cook or didn’t like to cook… OR is this a stigma thing with friends and extended family??? You know folks always say women are the ones who have unrealistic expectations of men, but this is one aspect of wifey that both men and other women perhaps need to rethink… I mean what are the ACTUAL necessities to a happy home. Or perhaps I’m rambling nonsense… And need to advertise myself to the world with the following hashtag: #icanACTUALLYcook

I’ll end with a little sermon I was listening to on the radio the other day. The gentleman speaking was discussing why he believes his marriage has been successful for 34yrs. He simply said, ‘I place no conditions on my wife.’

He went on: Love is the decision to commit and to meet the needs of someone else without any expectations. If there’s certain expectations, there will be disappointment (because we are human). Disappointment leads to divisions in the home, which often leads to divorce.

He used the example of waking up that very morning and going to iron his own shirt… I place no expectation on my wife to do it for me. And doing so means I am appreciative every time she irons for me… Every time she cooks.

I do believe this is the most convoluted post I’ve done since My Trip to Pluto. Lydia, it’s not your fault, clearly I have issues when folks come after my wifeability and my ability to be a good mother. I still love you.

But on the real, certain conditions do destroy a relationship, and we need to challenge what it means to be a wife. Wifey doesn’t equal being a specific mold. Because as soon as you can’t meet the expectations… what happens to the love?

***This is a Ghanaian expression in twi for the phrase: ‘is that so?’. In my case here, sarcastically.

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Tell em’ why you mad, Afua!

I mean you mad, right?? Hahaha…

The thing is, I do not think that it was ever a sum zero game. I do not think that the point of bringing up cooking was to say you would make a terrible wife in its absence. I think that you are right, in the game of ‘ would you rather’, any man would rather an understanding, loving, supportive, sex-kitten over one who can just cook. But it’s never that kind of dichotomy is it? The truth of the matter is that the debate around being able to cook is more about what ‘cooking’ represents than the actual act.

As you admitted, your job had you jumping around the world and working RI-DI-CU-LOUS hours… at that rate, if you were married with that job, when would you have had any time to do things like ‘cater to your man, be supportive, etc. etc. etc.’— you would never be around. The amount of time, effort and emotional investment it takes to make a satisfactory meal that you can be proud to serve is equal to so many of the other attributes you listed— especially coming from a woman who is herself fully immersed in career and other extracurriculars. But this goes for both men and women really. Why do you think folks get all kinds of excited when they find out a guy can cook— #noBobbyFlay

Furthermore (perhaps unfairly so), women not being able to cook having the desire to cook has been associated with other things like:

  1. not wanting kids
  2. not wanting to raise kids without a nanny present 24/7
  3. not spending time out of the office
  4. being an egotistical, maniacal, OCD’ish crazy
  5. Oprah Winfrey

oprahI think more than the Bible and all others, it’s really about what not cooking/ desiring to cook could potentially mean for your character and your ‘maternal instinct’. It’s definitely not fair— and somewhat of an erroneous causal relationship, but it’s so engrained in the social fabric of ‘Africanness’ and ‘Womanhood’ that it seems it would take an apocalypse to reverse the trend (good thing I plan on riding the Jesus train out of here… so I won’t have to find out myself)…

But there is hope yet… as you rightly pointed out. You. Can. Cook.

And even if you married a man that never required it of you… you would probably do it at some point anyway because on some level you have slurped the misogynist koolaid recognize what it means to cook and how intimate it is for both your husband and your kids. Not to mention how many cool points you get from the in- laws.

Cooking is one of those things that’s like… a nice back massage… or a serenade after work… or a surprise vacation to Turks and Caicos for your birthday weekend. It’s just icing on a cake… and who just eats icing??

#thisguy

icing

So in defense of our silent roomie… and still somehow in agreement with you: not being able to cook does not de-wifey you, but being able to cook can upgrade your already existing wifey status.

The List: Decoded

photo (7)In my last post we established there was a survey and people responded...

Let’s get the boring bit out of the way. I considered making an infographic of the demographic information, but I didn’t want to incur Afua’s judging eye. You all know she wishes she could do hates my diagrams. *brushes shoulders off*

So here is a round up of the makeup of those surveyed:

      • 34 women responded to the survey
      • Most of the women surveyed were between 22 and 30
      • Over 2/3 of them have Masters degrees
      • The demographic is basically split 50/50 between living in Africa and living in the US/UK/Europe
      • A majority of them are either in business or nonprofit/ policy type of work

Essentially, all of the women who responded are iterations of Afua and I— so yes… selection bias… *we know*. But it’s interesting that within this selection of women, there were varying levels of expectations. Yes, we did find that most of them were fairly together (good looking, well educated and well situated in career/ finance). However, there was a lot to be said in terms of values (religion, communication, wellness) for both themselves and their partners. The graphs below illustrate how women responded about themselves and then about their partners.

Career

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Some of the ladies admitted they were walking around aimlessly or only sort of where they want to be, while they expect their mates to already ‘be there’ or be really close. Someone commented that this was because they want a man who is head of the household and is able to be a leader in the home. I speak a lot to guys about this topic and many of them would prefer women who are with them on the come up and who are willing to be part of their career journey. To them, gold diggers aren’t just the uneducated video vixens that Kanye raps about looking for a ticket out of the ‘hood— someone’s else’s words… not mine. Well. Ok. Sorta Mine… but paraphrasing from guys on the matter. I don’t think it makes you a gold digger for wanting someone who is well seated in his career. However, there seems to be some insecurity on the guys part about genuineness from a woman who’s lost in her own career path but holds solemnly to his firm foundation. And then there were the women who were ok with someone equally situated in their careers. Nothing surprising there. But if you are a woman with a masters degree, six figure salary and excellent 401K, couldn’t he just be en route? I mean, is nobody at least willing to be with someone who is not quite all together… yet? Michelle was killing the game before Obama meandered his way onto her radar… and we see how that turned out right? One respondent put it this way:

“…Career focus is a close 4th, but it’s not to say he would need to be or aspire to be a CEO. He needs ambition matched by action and follow through and he’s good with me.” #touche

Looks

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This was an interesting one. Yes… Yes… its true: All of my friends are hotties. No… you can’t have their numbers. But while most of my girls are fours… they are willing to be with threes. Which is to say, they are willing to choose to be with someone who is less attractive than they see themselves. There were individuals who want more attractive men, but I know them and it’s near impossible because they are definitely really good looking. Nevertheless, it looks like attractiveness isn’t as much a priority as I hypothesized… or at least that looks aren’t the sum game of attraction (though it certainly doesn’t hurt). So this is essentially a middle finger to those who say the problem is educated black women all want Denzel’s and Chris Attoh’s. We would be just fine with the Idris’s Tyson Beckford’s errr, regular guys of the world.

Health and Activity

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I laughed when I saw this because it sort of reminds me of how I generally hate working out, but definitely don’t want a guy that doesn’t excel at some sort of sport. I see my sisters agree. The narrative is: ‘Look— I am going to hope that my metabolism does not slow down and these fries don’t catch up to me… but you— you BETTA not get fat.’ I mean I, like my paddies, fall somewhere between being a total lazeball and remembering to skip rope from time to time. As long as we both don’t end up looking like the Klumps… I think this is fair. I know guys who say the opposite in that they expect a woman, after child birth and desk jobs, to somehow manage a Victoria Secret figure. As if!

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Most Important Characteristic: It seems in our survey that the most important trait for everyone is monogamy, followed by religion. The comments people left offer insight into the interplay between religion and monogamy, and make it clear that we want loyal husbands above all. The first quote rightly points out that the interplay is still flawed because no one is perfect and people are tempted no matter what their spiritual affiliation:

If hes a christian, issues related to monogamy, and a few other categories shouldnt be a problem….shouldnt….shouldn’t

It is really important that my future mate is very supportive. I think that a lot of these characteristics are great independently, but if there isn’t that love and support base then I don’t think you have much long-term.

Religion/spirituality and monogamy tie for third. A man who shares similar spiritual beliefs will should also (in theory) highly value monogamy. Career focus is a close 4th, but it’s not to say he would need to be or aspire to be a CEO. He needs ambition matched by action and follow through and he’s good with me.

I found it interesting that the second and third most important characteristics were communication and finance/ career focus. On the issue of finance, one person rightly noted:

The finance section is most interesting. One’s proclivity to have fully manageable accounts is different from your current state of finances and this is a gray area in the survey. For instance, though you typically may have money management on lock, recessions, education financing, family circumstances or other components may skew the answer to be “out of control debt/ broke as a joke”

I was mostly correct in my hypothesis except for the bit about looks. Attractiveness was not even a close fourth or fifth which should restore our belief that woman of high caliber are not superficial women with impossible standards.

As if fifteen metrics were not enough, someone also pointed out ‘respect for culture’ as an important ideal. This is really important in the African context when we consider the diversity of ethnic groups and the increasing inter-ethnic/ interracial phenomenon. They had this to say on the matter:

Culture… it is hard to be with someone who does not value culture and or is not open to people of different people. For example, he has to be willing respect rule and follow traditional practices out of respect for me and out of interest. not just say ok thats good for you… he need to be interested on his own also if he is from a different culture he should know enough to share with me!

600_NotMarriageMaterial-275x275So what did we learn?

Well— really smart, good looking Afro women want monogamous men who may not be that attractive but are more fit and more ambitious than they are. They want men who have similar ideals with respect to sexual proclivity, number of children, political inclination and attitude. Essentially– partners who can be leaders in and outside of the house. I wonder if this is a really antifeminist conclusion (I will leave that exploration for the discussion). *shrugs*

Funnily, a work mate of Afua’s once commented that men could only be two of three things: good fathers, loyal husbands, excellent businessmen. Either you get a good father who is a great business man but cheats… a dead beat dad that’s faithful and has a great job or… a man who is both a great father and husband but can’t hold a job. Based on this, I would say that women want a good husband with a great job… I don’t know where that leaves the kids though… no one is perfect right?

So I have to ask, if you could only choose one of the three combinations. Which would it be? Sound off!

To see the rest of the graphs and charts from the survey, click here for the google analytics.

*** All quotes from the respondents are taken verbatim. Even if they have grammatical errors, you can catch the spirit of the words… so… catch them. ha!

The. List.

photo (7)I recently received an email with this long list of criteria from a friend of Afua’s about the qualities expected in a husband. It seemed to be an actual exercise with over 25 metrics with which to rate yourself and your potential mate.

TWENTY…. FIVE!

So naturally I had to find out if anyone else was thinking on this same wave- length. We always talk about these long lists that women have for what they want from a partner but I had never seen one so… long! Most of my girls are really just looking for smart, loyal and attractive guys, with religion sort of undergirding those expectations. This list gets a little more in depth. Here we are taking logistics to the upper limit.

So I created a Google form (naturally… being the budding economist/anthropologist/ sociologist person I am).

I narrowed the list down to 15 metrics and allowed respondents to rate themselves as well as their potential mate on this scale. Recognizing there is no such thing as a perfect man, the results were meant to reflect a minimum bar. After the ratings, the respondents had to prioritize their top three metrics.  The metrics are:

1.    Monogamy- Are you looking for something serious or just flings and fun times, and likewise, are you looking for guys who are serious about a long-term commitment or just flings? 

2.    Attitude-  One’s disposition in life ranging from silly/ playful/ youthful to  serious/ focused/ business minded. 

3.    Children- How many children are you trying to have together? 

4.    Finances- How stable would you say you are financially (stable income? Savings? Etc.) 

5.    Looks- How objectively attractive (to the extent that there is objective beauty) would you say you are and he needs to be? 

6.    Communication Skills- How open are you to listening and responding appropriately?

7.    Family Focus- Do you have a good relationship with your family or is there a bit of frigid air during Christmas Dinners? 

8.    Career Focus- How comfortable are you with the trajectory of your career? How settled should he be in his career path? Willing to be lost and confused together?

9.    Health and Activity- How important is nutrition and exercise your daily routine? Is it a priority for your mate to be healthy? 

10. Worldliness- Are you a world traveler with a diversity of interests or do you love the familiarity of what is local?
 
11. Cooking- Are you crazy in the kitchen or are you grateful for delivery?
 
12. Sexual proclivity- Are you willing to be exploratory in the bedroom or are you rather conservative in your intimate rituals… toys— or not?
 
13. Religion- How important is your faith to your day-to-day life… is it equally important that he have a similar measure of faith… in the same God?
 
14. Presentation- Are you always dressed up or do you most enjoy being casually dressed? Should he always be in business suits or is it okay for him to generally sport sweats and Tshirts?
 
15. Politics- Is politics an important part of how view the world? Should he hold politics in the same esteem? or does it not matter?

simple really.

simple really.

Before the results came in, I expected that most women would have higher requirements of their men then what they had of themselves. That is largely because that’s what I hear from various dealings, though I think people are generally looking for their equals. I also expected monogamy/religion to be the most important metric with finances and career focus coming in somewhere second, and looks/ presentation coming in somewhere third.  As I said girls just want smart, loyal and attractive guys.

Well the results are in… and the best part is the commentary.

Check back here over the course of the next week for some of the insight and feel free to take the survey for yourself.

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The Overflowing Fountain of Youth

photo (7)

I am not complaining about the fact that Jesus gave me baby bottom skin.

I just want to make clear I am grateful that, as they say, black don’t crack and the cellular make up of my skin allows for me to avoid the worry of wrinkles and crows feet.

Having said this… I think my skin is stopping me from being great. Wherever I go… if I am to be approached I can almost guarantee that 95% of the time the guy is younger than me… by at least a century. I have been hit on by so many high school aged/ uni freshmen that its disheartening. And it would not be as disheartening if there was the balance of sophisticated suave men of my age group trying to pick me up at airports.

So first I was like… do I smell?

Should I wear my degrees on my forehead?

Should I walk around in blue/black/ grey and get a FLOTUS bob… it totally works for Afua.

Maybe I should wear make up… weaves mayhaps?

Anything to repel these small boys, abeg!

I recently concluded that in my next relationship story I should date someone who is older then me. I have had my share of younger guys and I think its time, as I consider a long term forever type of situation, that I make time for more established men. The problem is… The ones I have met have been too rigid and super… Well… Boring.

Its not like I need tattoos, earrings and jays (though I’m still a sucker for a proper pair of sneaks— trainers as they’d call them here). I just feel like I need someone who can balance being a useful member of society with utterly useless moments. For example, is it absolutely positively necessary that on BBM or other chat platforms I use proper greeting etiquette? If I hit you with a ‘yo’ or a ‘question?’… We should have the understanding that all of the niceties that might normally precede are included. All of the ‘How was your day’ and ‘how are you this fine blessed mornings’ are part and parcel.kerrywashingtonandhusband

Or is it just me?

Well recently Kerry Washington got hitched to a Nigerian football player 5 years her junior (and no… It wasn’t for papers). I gave her a standing ovation in my mind and then I thought… Maybe its not me. At the end of the day, if I can’t establish a working social contract with guys my age… That doesn’t make me a mad woman… Does it? My dad thinks dating younger is crazy and my history hasn’t helped my cause… But Kerry gives me hope, have you seen the guy?.

*Two slow claps*

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- – -

photo (3)Bright colored clothing. Abnormally high 80s style ponytails. Large thrift vintage store jewelry.

You do smell.

We all smell.

Even before we open our mouths, we have an odor aura that projects statements about us, right?

I’ll admit when I first picked up on this trend of yours, I was disturbed. ‘Amma, for the why?’ ‘You do know men mature slower than women’ ‘Can’t you at least get someone your own age.’ But now, honestly I’m warming up to the idea, and for two reasons. 1.) I used to think you needed a serious man to balance you out, but the more I know you, the more I know you have an internal balance already, and 2.) The older we get, the less age matters (within reason)… So for these younger guys, sha: if you like it, I love it.

I don’t understand this new conclusion for your next relationship, because in terms of your list of priorities for a forever type situation… a guy’s ability to be outright silly and abreast with popular black culture trumps age, period. And the former tends to be found in guys that are of a certain age group. It’s not a bad thing, it just is what it is. You and I both share the blessing of a ‘baby face’, and on top of that I also stand proudly at 5’2 on a good day (I lie, 5’1.5, but who’s measuring), however I recognize that if I were to meet someone attractive on a flight for example, say from Kumasi to Accra last week, my first few exchanges with him would not be about the differences in the release of ‘Yeezus’, ‘Born Sinner’, and ‘MCHG’. (Dear Reader: If you don’t know what any of those three things are, it’s okay).

So, my point is…

FLOTUS-110148996365

It’s not the face. It’s what you place as priorities for your mate as well as for yourself, and how you project it.

I will say this, the combination of being ‘down’, yet enlightened may be a little difficult to find in Ghana… you usually get one or the other. Most of these youngins make it through your first tollgate, but remain parked there, ie. they would not be able to spar with you about the merits of Moyo’s ‘aid is dead’ argument vs. Gates’ ‘aid can never die’ argument  (Dear Reader: If you don’t know what any of those two things are, it’s just a little less than okay). But there’s hope for you yet, because your predilection is likened to that of Kerry Washington’s, so hopefully with a population 5x the size of Ghana’s, you can pick up someone suitable from our friendly neighbor… road trip soon? large

Frigid and Fragile (A Response to Afua’s Thawed Heart)

AmmaI too was once an Ice-Queen.

One of my favorite memories of college was this summer program I attended before my first year. I had quickly become very close friends with these two ladies who would go on to become my besties. The three of us were inseparable and it seemed I quickly became known as this asexual weirdo who wore bright colors and spoke with her hands. When guys would come around with open arms expecting hugs, they would quickly extend a hand to give me dap. I also remember being the one who said, without batting an eyelid, ‘kissing leads to sex… and that’s all men really want. ever.’ Like Afua, I felt that guys were emotionless and should be treated as such. I felt it was most important to be friendly… but to be super discriminatory with vulnerability and affections. Guard your heart above all else, right?

Unlike Afua’s hypothesis, these feelings were a direct product of being raised by immigrant African parents. I was told that my priorities in life were: God, family, education (in no particular order). One can see how hand-holding and footsie were not central to my understanding of relationship building. I felt that love was something you showed to others and that you felt for family. I thought you could compartmentalize your feelings and prevent hurt by avoiding commitments to guys.

Nevertheless all of that changed.

One Guy.

Changed everything.

It’s funny how it’s easy to be calculating and pre-emptive when you are dealing with someone who you have come to know over time… Someone who you sort of liked in passing, but grew to care deeply for. It’s completely different when you loved the person before you met them, and when you met them… you knew.

It’s so much easier to be a heart breaker when it cost you nothing in emotional expenditure to be without the person. When it’s taxing to even dream of a world in their absence, then there are just things you won’t– scratch that— Can. Not. Do. I have always been a bit matter of fact in life… even my father makes fun of my ability to be insultingly exaggerated and snide. I love it. But there are some people who cripple certain types of derisive behavior. That’s probably why they say love is a dangerous emotion. That’s probably why Afua thinks she should figure out every detail logistics before she finally makes a dive into something different. That’s probably why I think she is wrong.

Accessories to Heartbreak since Brain Drain in Africa.

Accessories to Heartbreak since Brain Drain in Africa.

Afua says she is was a heartbreaker. And it is in fact the whole truth. But then I have never seen Afua hopelessly and foolishly do ANYTHING in life. Even ordering pizza at Starbites is the most logical task one can ever dream (shout out to Starbites!). Being a heartbreaker is not as haphazard as one might imagine. It actually takes a lot of tactical consideration to decide how to maximize value in this moment and minimize personal emotional loss by giving just enough to feign interest but not enough to foster intimacy. Being foolishly in love and hopelessly enamored creates a situation where you want maximal current and future returns. That requires a lot of risk. Being calculated and logical often mitigates risk. This is probably why Afua makes for an excellent finance-y person. This is also probably why I would not. Afua, just like me, had that ‘one guy’ experience, which stopped altered her heart breaking ways in the moment *cue shock and awe*. So in a past-not-so distant she was once all hearts and smiley faces and ‘Why hasn’t he called bbm’ed’, which leads me to believe it could happen again. I also know that we all have different journeys in life, and while my experience curbed my attitudes for everyone that followed, Afua has slowly but surely arrived at the post-heartbreaker hotel. Interestingly… I can agree a hundred percent with all of the lessons Afua learned on her road to robotic heart recovery. Even the one about the double standard on cheating. But I have to add one more. Probably the most important one of all:

7. Do to others’ hearts what you would want done to yours. Period.

If you know you are going to do something, or you are being calculating in a way that could bring future detriment… it’s probably best to start sharing and communicating what you feel. Heartbreak is sometimes inevitable, but its best served with a clear conscious and genuine heart. That is the one lesson I learned from that one guy that changed everything. You cannot sit around expecting the worst of someone and being all let-me-hurt-you-before-you-hurt-me if you would go all ‘Lorena Bobbit’ on someone for pushing the same logic on you.

If Kanye has taught us anything… it’s that heartbreak can do one of two things: sell loads of records or cause us to embarrass ourselves in very public spaces (see: Taylor Swift VMA’s). I, for one, do not aspire to be the antagonist of anyone’s award winning album, and I am sure Afua doesn’t either. As such… this is our vow (read: Afuas vow that I am supporting as one should do any recovering heartbreaker friend) to be nice to guys and their hearts by telling them early in the game when its just not gonna happen… right afua? promise? :p

kanye-west-808s-heartbreak-kaws-2

Lessons from a Former Heart Breaker: Part2

photo (3)Let’s continue from where I left off HERE. There are a few things I’ve picked up from my former heart breaking ways, and I thought I would share:

1. Do not be fooled by the act, men are emotional too.

Although it manifests itself differently (and perhaps less frequently), men are also emotional- and I would dare say that when they’re emotional, the intensity can be much more than women. In my former life, I used the phrase, ‘he’s a man, he’ll be alright/ he’ll get over it’ a little too much… But the truth is he might not get over it (for a while). And just because he may not discuss it anymore, doesn’t mean he’s gotten over it. Men don’t have a memory like women in terms of breath, but they have memory in terms of depth (for the things they want to remember). So when you’re treating him anyhow and thinking it doesn’t matter, think again…

2. Break it off quick and as painless as possible when you’re not feeling it anymore.

Dragging something out that you know won’t work is bad for all parties. This is usually where I get into trouble. Leading a man on inadvertently, even if you’ve had a conversation to end it, creates mixed messages. This includes, but is not limited to: continuing to text/whatsapp/call (or respond), and continuing to see him. Actions speak louder than words and human brings men just need a little attention to rev back up… especially if its physical/sexual attention. We women have an almost unfair advantage because of our autonomy (and the effect it has on men) so we shouldn’t use it irresponsibly. Sometimes you need to be the strong-willed one for the both of you.

3. No matter how small social circles can be, stay away run with all fear and trembling from people within close networks.

Don’t do friends or extended family. I find that men are sensitive about this stuff way more than women are… I think it’s something to do with their territorial instincts. The thing is their feelings won’t manifest in the same way (see #1), but one day it might just blow up in your face. As difficult as this can be in African cities where the number of eligible 20- and 30- somethings is minuscule and everyone knows everyone, just try to play in different sandboxes as much as possible.

Teacher at Chalkboard

4. There are some unforgiveables, such as family.

*Le sigh*. I think I wrote about this from the woman’s perspective once, but on the flip side know your man and what his no-go areas are. That childhood memory you are not to mention, or that estranged relationship you should never bring up, just don’t. If a man trusts you enough to open up and share something with you and you use it against him, best believe there will be consequences to your actions. I’ve seen men go back to women who cheated on them while cutting off with the quickness and with no warning a girl who spoke (in their minds) negatively about their mama’s, plain and simple. So just don’t do it (see #1 again).

5. And, speaking of cheating. There will ALWAYS be a double standard applied when it comes to cheating.

There are no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it, a woman cheating will always be a bigger deal than a man cheating. Women, please advise yourselves: loyalty and commitment are just as more important to some men.

6. And along those lines, exclusivity does not have to be explicitly stated for some men (see territorial piece again).

“Well I didn’t know this was exclusive, we’re just hanging out, right…?” You can see why folks I get in trouble here.

7. Ladies is pimps too, period.

I don’t need to elaborate.

Not all the things I’ve picked up on the way are applicable to me, I’ll say. And to redeem myself a little from my earlier admissions: though I am a little more calculated and a little less emotional than most females, I have been in love before. Despite what some exes people believe, I am not a robot. When I do fall for someone, I become more estrogen-esque. I’m working on things though, because I know men people need attention and affirmation. And even though men complain about women nagging, there’s a healthy level of neediness that they desire from their women. I remember sharing an office with a guy at work for one day, and at one point during the day, his fiancée called him 5x in the span of an hr- FIVE. TIMES. I couldn’t believe it. And what I couldn’t believe more was the fact that he picked up every single time and seemed to enjoy it… well maybe not the 5th time. But my point is he probably would rather be complaining of her neediness than her not needing him at all. So I am committing myself to begin making more sacrifices for love, even if that means not seeing movies by myself :)

I will keep you all posted, hey one day you might read about me having my first public display of affection moment in a mall or something (you can’t see me, but my muscles actually just tensed up as I wrote that) lol

Amma, thoughts? Anything I’ve left out that you’ve noticed over the last year?? And flow charts are not necessary in this response. Thanks.

Lessons from a Former Heartbreaker

photo (3)Those that know me have come to the conclusion that in my semi-distant past, I would have been characterized as a heart breaker. It never started out intentional, however for some reason the track record kept growing. Ironically, I’ve always been scared that men would ping me as a ‘career woman who thinks she doesn’t need a man’, but I’m seeing the reverse to be true… to a fault. I think that guys, for some reason, have more traditional expectations of female behavior from me, however once folks get into the situation they get a number of shocks. Here are a few:

1.) It’s hard for me to share my feelings… It’ll be a while till I open up to you. Along those lines, I don’t say things like: ‘I miss you’ ‘I need you’ and ‘I love you’ by heart. This can be problematic with Ghanaian men, because they have this thing of telling you when every time they miss you (and then asking you if you miss them)… errrm surre? *side-eye*. It takes a lot for me to tell you how I feel about you. A lot.

2.) I’ll be honest with you sometimes forgetting to take your feelings into account – isn’t it better u know the truth anyways… *shrug*

3.) To me, monogamy occurs after a conversation. So if that conversation hasn’t occurred, don’t be shocked if you’re not treated as ‘My boo’.

4.) Sometimes I can be selfish, and not even realize it… But it’s not because I’m meaning to, or wanting to hurt you, it’s because I genuinely am used to being by myself and doing things how and when I want to. And no shade here, just being real. I had a guy once get upset with me because I went to see a movie alone… like without him. Like..God forbid..

5.) I rarely show those kind of quote unquote girlie clinginess characteristics (and when I say rarely, I mean. like. never.)… It’s just not in my nature. I don’t even have to talk to you everyday. Just as long as I know you’re mine and I’m yours, I’m good. Likewise, PDA… it’s very minimal for me. And when you’re not with me, interrogative questions of who you with, what are you doing, why are you hanging out with that person, why are you friends with that person, etc are not my modus operandi. Asking for things: buy me this, buy me that, do this for me…no. Even if you’re mine, you could very well be the last person I ask for help from because I hate inconveniencing people (we already know I have a problem asking for help. I’m working on it)

6.) If you start drifting away, I don’t plead/beg/chase/fight/cry for you to come back… Actually I usually just assist you along by halting communication with you. *shrug*

7.) No man has ever seen me cry.

polls_heartbreaker_5820_241337_poll_xlargeIn general, looking at traditional female behavior in relationships, I come across rather indifferent/cold borderline heartless. I think I take that whole “guard your heart” thing a little too far. I am working on some of these character flaws traits… But I am a really sweet person down inside, I promise. smiley

So I got a couple reads recently from people who don’t know me in this capacity. I won’t say the people were spot on, but I was shocked at their takes on me.  And let me say this before I continue: I do not swear (like this) and the only reason this is being quoted verbatim is because it would lose a lot of character if i didn’t… parental advisory is advised:

After not giving my cousin-in-law-to-be a good enough reason for ending it with Mr. chink in the armor guy, he said:

You look like you don’t give a f*&!, like you’re the type of girl who doesn’t get f*%!ed, you do the f*cking…

Yikes!

Then to our new friend a few weeks ago. When asked to describe me and Amma after only knowing us for 20mins, he said of me:

You look like you’re too confident for your own good, you probably break hearts left and right, and don’t even blink.

Ouch. I hadn’t even said but two sentences to the guy at that point.

Am I that transparent??

To bring it closer to home, one of my best guy friends once asked me, ‘why are you like a man?’ *shrug* idk maybe it’s a product of moving around a lot, I responded… it’s easier to cut off people/let people go…

Whatever the reason is, perception is reality right… even if I don’t believe these three reads are entirely accurate… I shall come clean and say I used to have a problem of breaking hearts (self-awareness is the first step). However, I am, with the support of loved ones like Amma, recognizing my areas of improvement  & moving away from such a lifestyle. In any case, there are a few things I’ve picked up from my former practices, and I thought I would share, starting with number 1:

man-stop-sign

SIKE… this post is long enough already, tune-in in a coupla days for my lessons learned.

Part 2 of Lessons from a Former Heart Breaker can be found HERE.

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