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?
**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.
Some of you may or may not know that on Saturday we lost a great journalist, Komla Dumor. Komla was most recently a presenter on BBC’s World News and Focus on Africa, however most Ghanaians remember him as host of the Super Morning Show on JoyFM (a popular radio station in Ghana). Komla was host of the show for many years before he left for the BBC in 2006. He was a breath of fresh air when it came to journalism about the continent (not shying away from asking tough questions, but also bringing a balanced story about the triumphs and tragedies of Mama Africa); and he was a symbol of hard work and dedication to one’s craft- and I’m not just saying these things because he was also a fellow alum of the Harvard Kennedy School! Apart from Kofi Annan, I cannot think of a better ‘ambassador’ for Ghana in the last few years. If you haven’t seen Komla’s TEDtalk on Telling the African Story, I would encourage you to take a few moments to watch it.
I know you’re probably wondering what the passing of a journalist has to do with this blog. Well, about a week and a half ago Amma and I had a discussion with Komla on twitter. We discussed (along with several other people) the plight of educated African women and how challenging it is to find an African man to date and marry. I told Komla that I was working on this precise blog, and he told me to forward it to him once I had finished writing it. Though I cannot do so anymore, I will dedicate this blog to him. R.I.P. Komla.
I’ve included snippets of our twitter discussion below. If you want to see our full interactions on the topic please visit here, and scroll to Jan 7th.
— Komla Dumor (@BBCkomladumor) January 7, 2014
Afua Entsuah (@afua_en) January 07, 2014
Amma Aboagye (@a_aboagye) January 07, 2014
Komla Dumor (@BBCkomladumor) January 07, 2014
Afua Entsuah (@afua_en) January 07, 2014
Komla Dumor (@BBCkomladumor) January 07, 2014
Afua Entsuah (@afua_en) January 07, 2014
Komla Dumor (@BBCkomladumor) January 07, 2014
- – -
I wrote a blog back in August, and for reasons
unknown I didn’t post it. It was a self-pity blog, and I knew it. A couple (brief) moments of Woe Is Me, which I (knew I) didn’t need to share with our readers. Amma also agreed: “OMG Afua, PLEASE don’t post that!” Yes, thank God for co-writers/editors.
There are a few things that I hate to be labeled in life; other than being labeled as the type of woman who can’t cook/won’t take care of her man and home/ won’t be a good mother / and someone who has high standards, what
I think I hate most to be labeled is ‘the angry single black female (blogger)’. I hate this label so much that I often censor posts about my relationship status and other topics that might make me come across as angry/bitter or having an attitude problem. At the very least, I DO NOT post things like the blog I wrote back in August. However, I stumbled across this blog over the holidays and re-read it, and Amma and I came to an agreement that perhaps we COULD share the blog (that was written in a momentary lapse of judgement that does not in any shape, fashion or form portray my general positive/all smiles outlook on life and love) and discuss it, because there are a number of interesting things that arise from it. What I discuss in the post is the plight of most some single returnee women, and I’ve come to the realization that whether I discuss it or not the world (and you our readers) have already formed opinions of women like Amma and I… So chale, #girlsabr3 paa… I’m posting and we’re going to discuss it. Medase [which means Thank you in Akan twi]. Enjoy the read!
What’s Dating like in Accra?
It’s a plane, it’s a bird, no it’s thirty I see on the horizon.
Le sigh. It’s my birthday. And though I am not 30 yet, I’ve now reached the humble age of being just as close to 30 as I am to 25.
One inch closer to 30, and one step deeper into the bottomless pit of harassment from everyone
I know about marriage:
‘What about that one guy from…’ Nope.
‘Or that guy at church that…’ Notta.
‘Or the one friend which…’ Never.
‘Well, I swore that you had that one that…’ Well, you swore wrong.
Usually a cloud of silence looms following the above, and then comes: ‘Well how come [you're single]?’ Though I’ve never understood this question in the past, it’s irritation increases to new bounds with age. As if picking a man occurs on my Sunday grocery run, where he’s sitting on aisle 9 between the milk and cheese. What this question is really meant to do is to provide agreement to an unstated yet painfully obvious statement: ‘It’s okay, there’s nothing wrong with you, Afua’. It’s usually here that I’ll indulge in the conversation for the sake of the other party, because obviously the conversation is not meant for me, but for their confirmation that there still exists some order in the world: ‘You know, next time you go to The Lord in prayer, please do bare me up‘ / ‘In your next round of fasting, remember me kra… For I know it’ll come, he’s on his way, in due time’ *rolling eyes*.
In these types of conversations, the grande crescendo takes place with the full on questioning of how I stack up (compared to other ladies who are in relationships and/or are married already): but are you cooking for them? Are you dangling that feminist thing in front of them or talking too much? And then the icing on the cake is the definitive statement that the other party is not worried about me: ‘Because beh you’re pretty, and smart and not crazy, so most definitely you’ll find someone.’ Depending on the audience, I either stand with an innocent smile to join in their dumbfoundedness,
feign state my confidence that I am indeed not worried because at any moment in time I could meet the man of my dreams, or unleash my semi-feminist attack that men don’t necessarily want these things they have listed out/ these things don’t mean anything these days because look at all the amazing beautiful smart black single women around the world *shrug*. The latter happens less, and usually only towards family to put the fear of God in them…
A couple weeks ago, a group of six of my girlfriends had a lunch to celebrate the return of one of our dear friends. A couple hours and a couple bottles of wine later came the dreaded discussion, the topic we love to hate, The Inevitable:
“Lay it on me girls, what am I really in for now that I’m back?”
Five of the six present are for all intents and purposes single, including the recent returnee herself. The one who isn’t, is dating a black American living in Ghana.
“Well,” One starts: “Hoes be killing the game.” I laugh, but she is dead serious.
Another chimes in: “If they’re not into their careers and still sowing their wild oats and surveying their options, they’re with some hoe, some white girl (white includes everything non-black in this case), or they’re douchey and not what you want. The few that are wifed up already with sensible girls hold down the rest.”
After a few more comments of a similar nature, the guest of honor brings it home: “So essentially our men don’t want ‘us’. Great. Welcome ‘home’.” - And by ‘us’, we mean our prototype: Ghanaian, but not. Feminist, but not. And definitely Too-Known. It was interesting to then collectively list out all the women killing the game in ‘our’ own country: the born and bred Ghanaian, the basic chick, the hoe, and the foreigner… hell, the foreigner is even killing the game from outside Ghana we conclude. From here we list out the number of guys we know that have met their significant others outside Ghana and have brought them back to the country to live with them. Let me interject here that the recent returnee’s own brother is seriously dating a ‘white’ girl who he has moved to Ghana. [SPOILER ALERT: Since the writing of this blog in August, the serious girlfriend has now become his fiancee].
Rest assured, it wasn’t an all male bashing session that followed, but it was funny to have things come full circle in my mind, because when I moved to Ghana from South Africa a little over a year ago (save a 3month dip out/dip in), I had a long conversation with an earlier returnee and fellow love/sex blogger, Nana Darkoa, who flat out told me: ‘Afua, there are no eligible men in Ghana… For your purposes, those men are all married.’ And then here I am a year later co-signing to a similar message to another returnee. Hmm. At the time I moved from S.A, I was less worried about this because I thought I was in a progressing situation, but a year later… a few abysmal first dates (actually a little more than a few), a lot of new ‘friends’, and a few okay guys… singledom still looms. Although I don’t think Nana’s assessment of Ghana is entirely correct, I do see her point. Even while at lunch my group of girlfriends tried to come up with five names of returnee women who had come to Ghana single and met men that they were now happily married to. Five. That’s less than 1 person per attendee (note that we disregarded women who ‘knew the guy in primary school’ or ‘the guy was a family friend’). Needless to say, we couldn’t come up with five women. Sigh.
The truth is I know why I’m single, it’s quite simple actually: I haven’t found anything that has stuck [on both sides]. The reasons that follow really are inconsequential because they vary from guy to guy (so contrary to popular assumption, it isn’t about having high standards). I am of the belief that when it’s supposed to stick it will, even if that means that this happens on the other side of 30, to the horror and chagrin of my relatives… when it’s supposed to stick, it will. So until then, another year, another step into the bottomless pit.
Happy birthday to me.
- – -
Ya, I wrote that. *shrug* Don’t judge me.
So it’s six months later, how do I feel about this post and the things that I said in it. I won’t spend too much time here, because this blog is just a conversation starter to the general topic of ‘Dating in Accra as a Returnee’. However, I will say this: my situation may not have changed in the last six months, but my attitude definitely has. I’m in a place of ‘Whether or not my situation changes, I do not want to get tied up in knots about things (or allow others to tie me up in knots about them).’ I have life and health, I have great family and friends, and I like my job. I like where I am in life… I’m growing and learning a lot about myself, and until a man comes alongside me to join me on this ride, I should not be downcast and distraught.
Read Amma’s Response: No One is Entitled to a Relationship
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.
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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
A 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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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.
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 what 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
Also, 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: email@example.com.
When I got to Ghana a couple months ago, within weeks I had a couple frank conversations with two highly educated persons in my life regarding their definition of dating. This isn’t a rare occurrence, however the stark differences between their definitions AND mine have led me to write this post. I’ll let yall help me tease this out, but essentially I’m wondering whether these differences are a case of semantics or whether fundamental differences in dating styles play a determining factor in the success of a relationship. I’m leaning towards the latter, but let’s see how I feel after writing this.
So here’s (my take on) each person’s stance:
Life must have order/structure, and that goes for relationships too. At the point of dating, you should have thoroughly vetted this person through the friendship & talking stage, therefore at the stage of dating there must be exclusivity. Dating exclusively is not necessarily a committed relationship leading to marriage, ie. I could be dating you exclusively and not necessarily want to marry you, but you (and you only) are my girl for right now. Dating also means we’re intimate. During the friend/ talking stage, we could have been intimate or not.
As much as humanly possible the
candidate person I’m dating must be thoroughly vetted and if we’re not compatible for a certain percentage of compatibility points, it’s a no go. Compatibility points A, B, and C are automatic deal breakers. Comprehensive vetting can take upwards of 5 years. The ultimate goal here is to minimize the number of potential points of contention during the stage of marriage Control.
Ms. Think Like a Man
I used to do the conventional dating of one person at a time, but along the way the experience became emotionally draining (serial monogamy with
headheartache in the end). After taking note of numerous dating blogs, books, radio shows, how men date, I came to the conclusion that I needed to switch up my approach: do not put all your eggs in one basket.
Always have a rotation of guys that you’re dating: it’s a numbers game. Dating should be light and not exclusive. Dating is going out/ talking on the phone- No Intimacy (not even kissing). When it comes to kissing and anything else, discussions should take place first. Before you start kissing, you should have gone on multiple dates. Most men will bore you and not even make it to date 3 or 4… You should be at date 4 before you start kissing.
Once you’ve figured out who you really like then you start laying people aside, and inevitably start spending your time with your ultimate boo. This approach cuts down on time and foolery. When you’ve always got folks in the wings, you won’t be caught up in folks’ nonsense and become emotionally invested in people that haven’t earned a spot on the team. Haters reveal themselves pretty early, and folks that just want to get in your pants rarely make it past date 2 or 3. Intimacy obviously comes after you begin seeing one person and the two of you have had a conversation about exclusivity. This dating strategy is more objective since you get to balance your time, diversify your options and explore more of yourself. This strategy is also good since guys are dating more than one girl at a time as well. For more information on this, see
one of the articles I consulted Here.
Ms. In Between
To me, the bedrock of a relationship is friendship. Ideally, I would love to develop a deep friendship with a guy and follow his promptings for more (than friendship). The friendship/ getting to know you stage is (decently) lengthy, genuine and runs deep. At this stage in life, dating doesn’t need to be too long before we know that there could be a path to marriage (because the foundation has already been set). Obviously, there must be mutual attraction (you don’t date all your friends), and there must be compatibility on goals/vision of what you want to do with your lives. Dating is essentially a committed relationship with some direction (yes, life happens & things can end up not working out, but at least there’s a path to the relationship and we’re not walking around aimlessly). Intimacy comes when a path has been agreed upon.
The jump from friendship to a committed relationship isn’t the grande canyon, thus the actual dating period doesn’t need to be too long. Beauty fades. People get fat. The feeling of love fades. Sex
can will become monotonous at some point. People get annoyed with one another. Folks rise and fall in status and economic standing. Common interests, political leanings change. But what’s your foundation? When you figure that out, everything else can be worked on… Everything else is fluid.
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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.
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.