Towards the end of grad school, I had a friend who began to talk about babies all.the.end. I didn’t understand it. It got to the point where she told me once that she believed her womb was ripe for a baby… ‘Your womb is what now??’ Again, I didn’t understand. But somehow, I’m beginning to (Read more about baby fever here). Although many of my peers are getting engaged and married now, I’m not feeling that ripeness to do so (mind you, I feel it’s time to settle down in a longterm relationship that’ll lead to marriage, but I’m not feeling the ripeness to be married quite yet). What I am feeling of late is a little tugging of this baby fever…strange, I know.
My friend sent me the picture below with the note, ‘you know your child’s going to have attitude like this, right?’ I could only laugh… not because there’s a high probability that what she said was true, but because of late I’ve been thinking a lot of what my ‘mini me’ will be like. What characteristics will s/he take after me? My outspokenness? My attitude? Or, my slight OCD-leaning tendencies or other quirks, perhaps? Not only this, but what will my child(ren) take after from my significant other??
I’m curious, how much does baby fever influence dating choices – to date someone and not to date someone? And I’m speaking here for BOTH men and women…
“Hun, it’s not you… it’s
memy unborn child…”
We haven’t done a poll in a minute, so let me know what you’re thinking..
I’m finally getting around to responding to Eli’s guest post… It’s taken me a little while to finish this… starting and stopping several times. As Eli knows, this is a sensitive topic for me. Something I’ve struggled with in the past.
Vulnerability is scary and often unnatural to many people. I find the latter even more-so true with Africans given that our culture encourages us to suppress (and sometimes not even acknowledge (certain) emotions). One of the main reasons for this is that being vulnerable is viewed as a sign of weakness and exposes flaws…and within a relationship dynamic, this can translate into very real negative consequences, ie. your significant other discovering that they do not want to be with you anymore. So people keep quiet. They conceal themselves. Or become who they believe the other person wants them to be. And this is why many relationships/ marriages have shaky foundations.
Time is the unassuming key factor in this equation. Rightfully, it should have a multiplying effect on vulnerability in order to achieve intimacy. In my opinion, opening up to someone gradually makes for a stronger bond- there’s just something about getting to know someone intimately too soon which screams warning signs (that crash and burn scenario). I know people wouldn’t be able to handle all of me in the first conversation, nor would they be able to understand certain things about me unless there had been a foundation set over time… for example, appreciating that I’m really not as tough as I want people to think I am, first, will allow you to better understand that my feminist roar really masks my burning desire to be an amazing wife to a great man one day… To take care of him… be his support… his best friend and the mother of his children…
One of the tough questions that Eli touched briefly on in his piece is how long should one wait to become vulnerable with someone – emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically- and is there an order which guarantees success? Is it best done all at once? My roommate and I were discussing the romantic landscape of our current lives, and she said something I really connected with: there’s something unnerving about meeting someone out and beginning the relationship on a romantic level right away. Her desire, and frankly mine as well, is to develop a friendship with a guy and for things to naturally blossom. Is this too idealistic? Who knows. But in my experience, the best relationships last when a foundation of spiritual and emotional intimacy is laid first. If I’m to be frank about things, I can accurately predict whether a relationship will be short- or long-term depending on how quickly we’re physical.
Opening up has been a journey for me, even with close friends. I’ve been guarded a lot of my life, because there’s always been an implicit persona that needed to be kept up… ‘the academic one’ ‘the good girl’ ‘the tough girl’ ‘the African daughter from a respectable home’. How exactly does one admit to their fear of rejection when she’s known as the ‘haaard girl’, you know. Although I’ve become better at opening up, I still stick to the premise that one does not necessarily need to share everything with everyone, and that means your partner too. Some things are just for you and your Creator. However, your significant other should be the one person on this planet earth who knows the most about you and who you feel the most comfortable sharing things with: not your best friend(s), not your colleague(s), not even your family, but your significant other- that’s just how I feel.
But to eli I would say this, a lot of people do not share
your our view that love blossoms out of vulnerability. I can “love you”, be married to you/be in a longterm committed relationship with you, and that have nothing to do with my emotional, spiritual (and even physical) fulfillment in life. Rather, my love for you is in how I take care of you- monetarily… it’s how I respect you as a woman and the mother of my children… but not that I necessarily share my feelings with you (perhaps because I don’t even acknowledge my own feelings to myself). Do we look at that couple and say that the man doesn’t love his wife if that’s his definition of love?
My friend wrote a tweet a couple days ago that really struck me:
vulnerability x time = intimacy
I wanted to hear more on the matter, so he sent me this:
Just my thoughts…
So, vulnerability x time = intimacy
Intimacy is born out of vulnerability. A person needs to allow themselves to be seen before they can cultivate anything real with someone else. The degree to which we do this is the degree to which we get intimate with another person. Unfortunately, many in our world (particularly in our generation) think of intimacy as solely physical. I don’t. It’s emotional, mental and spiritual before it’s ever physical. When we’re invested in ego, invested in reputation, invested in power and status… rather than invested in allowing ourselves to be seen as we really are — complete with chipped paint and all the requisite chinks in the armour — we sabotage our relationships. Many of my “close friendships” over the years could’ve very well grown and fluorished into a connection of the romantic sort… but in at least two or three cases, I made an executive decision and placed the woman on the bench… on account of her inability (more so, unwillingness) to be vulnerable.
Now all this is under the assumption that one has the time to achieve this. One of the things I’ve been reminded of since returning here [Ghana] is that intimacy comes quickly for me. Whether the relationship we have is platonic or not, I often get deep on the first or second question of the conversation. I’ve had people joke about how excruciating times with me can be… but also, how they end up being genuine, authentic and refreshing once they clear the hurdle of being reluctant about vulnerability. Most “normal” people take time to get “deep” however. It’s a gradual process. Even in long-standing friendships, when people have been apart for a very long time, once they reconnect, they’re usually slow to get back to the same level of intimacy. So a person has to be patient (to a degree) and wait for enough time to pass that a person can develop trust and confidence in the relationship… and feel comfortable opening up.
Now, some people are able to speed up this process. Particular demeanors, personalities and dispositions lend to this. Similarly, if you’re the opposite of these (cold, frigid, intimidating, arrogant) then you’ll cause people to clam up. So the speed can be varied.
But intimacy can’t be had without vulnerability.
And in most cases, vulnerability can’t be had without time.
Some people spend “years” in a relationship, but have no intimacy with their partner… because they spent those years putting up fronts and/or interacting on a functional level — “how was your day?” “who’s going to pick up the kids today?” “what’s your ePack fund looking like?” — rather than a vulnerable level — “what are your hopes? dreams? fears? what about yourself gives you pause? why does that quality in that person irk you so much?” etc…
So lessons I’ve had to re-learn since getting back to Ghana: intimacy is a lifeblood for me, and relationships are (more often than not) personally useless to me without it; vulnerability requires putting in the time, rather than expecting things instantly; the more the tendency to front, the weaker the connections between people will be. This is true at work, church, home, etc.
Hope that gives you an overview of where my mind was when I came up with the equation?
I’ll be responding to his thoughts in Part 2 of Vulnerability x Time = Intimacy. Stay tuned.
Having witnessed a flood of people getting engaged and married in the last 6months, I think I’m going to start a mini-series on marriage… so here begins the first piece. Enjoy!
If I had a dollar for the number of times I’ve heard of a young African couple getting married abruptly, and then <9months later welcoming a new child into their home, I probably wouldn’t be rich, but at least middle class status There’s no judgment, but I do find the differences in the African approach and the American approach to pregnancy before marriage quite intriguing.
Take Lady #1- a woman in her mid-20s who has been dating her bf for a few yrs. They were married this past year and recently had a child. The kicker isn’t that people know the couple got married because she was pregnant, but rather that it is common knowledge that this lady got pregnant on purpose because the guy was taking a long time to marry her.
Take Lady #2- a woman in her early 30s dating a man in his mid-30s for a couple years. Recently she has become restless about the guy not wanting to make a decision about getting married (his MO being, ‘what we have is good, let’s just continue what we’re doing). Her response has been, ‘I’m about to be out of this piece, why wait on someone who is just wasting my time?’
The stories are loosely based on the lives of women I know. I don’t think I have to tell you which of the two women is African either*. Again no judgment. Although there are some differences in age and how long each woman has been in their relationship, I think its okay to compare the two (dating for 5yrs in your mid-20s can be some-what comparable to dating for 2yrs in your 30s). Knowing the 2nd woman very well, I know she is very serious when she says she’ll be out very soon if this guy doesn’t express interest in marriage soon (and side note: I fully agree with her stance- in your 30s, after dating for 2yrs, you need not to be taking a ‘let’s see where this goes’ stance). This lady would NEVER, and I can emphatically say NEVER dream of getting pregnant to corner her bf into marrying her- she just wouldn’t.
Men hold out on marriage for various reasons (not ready financially, finishing school, looking to get to a certain place in their career), but sometimes it simply comes down to the belief that there could be something better out there. So if your guy gives you that spiel, should your action plan be to reel him in (through various means, including pregnancy), or should you let him go? Thoughts?
UPDATE on post – since I initially began writing this piece, lady #2 has in fact ended her relationship, and has a new fabulous bf who is serious about marriage.
*people, please no hate mail on this. I know American women get pregnant on purpose to trap their men too. However, from what I have seen, African men are more likely to respond to pregnancy with a proposal than American men. Correct me if I am wrong though.
I recently discovered the blog Mind of Malaka, and it has become one of my new forms of entertainment. Malaka is a Ghanaian blogger based in the US who writes about marriage, motherhood, and madness! In a post that I stumbled upon: “Spousal Stimulation Does Not Always Equal Arousal’, Malaka discusses things married couples do, which single people would not understand (or people who are just dating). I thought the piece was quite
disturbing hilarious, so I had to share. Malaka’s piece is a stark contrast to another article I was reading, which discusses a woman’s need for a little mystery in her relationship, ie. women should never let their men see them ‘putting on spanxs’ (or shaving their moustaches, tweezing their eyebrows or beards, or engaging in any act that relates to grooming, maintenance, and bodily functions the bathroom). I wonder if the latter is an old school of thought, while the other is the new norm for committed relationships. Before you jump to say that you have a history of being very open with your significant other, let’s run down Malaka’s list, shall we?
Let me also quote Malaka before I run through the list: “Let’s face it: there are things married folks do that people in casual relationships would never even permit, even as a passing thought. The bonds of matrimony are (supposed to be) that strong.” Here we go…
“1.Kissing your spouse in the mouth first thing in the morning without brushing your teeth.
2.Taking a dump in the same room while your spouse brushes his/her teeth.
3.Picking your spouse’s pimples and blackheads. (I admit, I happily did this when any guy I was dating would allow me to. Nothing makes my day like hearing a pimple go *squish!*)
4.Shaving each other’s pubic hairs
5.Cleaning up your spouse’s poo if he/she was too sick to get to the toilet immediately.
6.Cleaning up your spouse’s puke if he/she got carsick after a long trip.
7.Calling from the checkout line to ask if the “absorbency on these sanitary towels are the right level”.
8.Asking if the other party has gum, and being responded to with a partially chewed piece from the other person’s mouth.
9.Lying in bed playing the “make a new sentence with the last word of my sentence” game. (This is actually really fun!)
10.Farting in the middle of a heated conversation and carrying on like it never happened while the other person stares in disbelief before eventually fleeing the scene of the stink.
11.Scratching your butt, waving your fingers in your husband’s face and asking him if it smells like chocolate and/or roses.
12.Fighting over who gets to hide from the children in the attic.”
Still singing the same song??? OH me, OH my. On one hand, it’s great(?) that people can be so comfortable around each other, but I do wonder how one can keep up the sex appeal when you’re squishing the pimple of your spouse? Or scratching your …. let me stop. lol. I’d be interested to hear her husband chime in on the discussion. Given that guys are so visual, I wonder how seeing your wife take a dump while you’re brushing your teeth affects your relationship… or maybe it doesn’t at all…???
Regarding the other article, I wouldn’t agree with the author’s grand-old neighbor, who believes it is a sin to let your man see you “in a face mask, rollers or housecoat.” However, I agree that my desire to see my ‘other half’s ablutions or maintenance tricks, or for him to see mine’ is very low. Also, let’s point out that labors of love, such as #5 and #6 on Malaka’s list, don’t fall in the same category as say, #8…
What do you think? Better for the two of you to be ‘one’ for all intents and purposes, or are there some things that are best kept to yourself — POLL BELOW!
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PillowTalk’s new question has been up for about a week now on Bandeka, but it’s taken me a little bit to put together a piece to address the issue. Why? Because the topic of black men with
other women white women isn’t the same topic as interracial dating for people black women, so the topic has to be treaded on delicately.
Never have I ever seen a race of men who are so quick to date outside of their race as black men.
A couple weeks ago, I saw this piece announcing Michael Jordan’s engagement to his longtime girlfriend Yvete Prieto (a Cuban American model). There was nothing particularly exciting about the announcement, however I was
floored entertained at the comments written by readers. They go on in a similar manner to the one I just quoted above:
“Sistas, let this be a wake up call to keep it movin and do what you need to do. Its obvious that we’re not considered worthy and have been hated by our own men for quite sometime…”
“It Figures! A NON-MINORITY FEMALE!”
“There is nothing I can say that hasn’t been said already …Black men are sell outs, black women are jealous, love has no color…blah blah blah…”
“Et tu, Michael? Boy, what are there now, like 3 black women in the world so all those who are famous have to look to other races?”
At first, I did throw some judgment at the commenters- ‘haters, much?’, however when I recalled a conversation that I had with a friend a few months ago, I had to check myself. A few months ago, after seeing a picture of a successful African man that I admire a lot, I asked my friend if the white lady beside him was his wife. ‘Yes, that’s his wife’. My response was a sadden, ‘oh ok’. Not because I have anything against
interracial marriages white women, not because I have anything bad to say about her personally, but because it’s becoming common to see powerful black men marrying outside of their race, and sue me, when I see a successful happily married black couple, I smile a little inside (if Obama’s wife was white, I wouldn’t feel the same way about the first couple). A friend put it quite reasonably to me, there are so few black men ‘at the top’, and white women have their pick of a much wider pool of white men every other type of man, so it stings more when they dip into our jar. [Read here why black women rarely date outside their race/white men: http://madamenoire.com/124921/reasons-why-black-women-dont-date-white-men/5/. It also stings to be passed over by an eligible black man when he 'makes it' - statistics show that as black men increase their earnings and status, a larger percentage marry outside their race. So back to the first comment I referred to in this post, I do agree with it- I may be wrong, but I can't think of any other race where men are so quick to date outside AND celebrate it. (Though this is probably one of the worst examples out there, see here).
Ladies, here's some good perspective on things though: "While it may annoy you that a black man chooses to date outside his race, it’s also foolish to fixate on a segment of the population that clearly has no interest in you. If this same man chose to date black women, he may prefer them in a certain size, shape and color that you may not fit and he’d overlook you anyway. So what’s really the difference?"* Perhaps instead of racking our brains as to why certain black men don't want to be with black women, black women should just keep it moving and look for that person that wants to be with them.
It's so easy to clump 'blacks' together as well, but there are differences between African Americans and Africans. I'm interested to know your thoughts on African men. Is this a phenomenon across the board for black men? Do you think African men tend to sideline African women for white women as their incomes increase or when they 'make it'? From my experience, African men DATE white women, but MARRY them less; I've actually heard this from African men I know: 'I'll date white women, but it's not like I would ever marry one." Does that make African women feel better? Anyhoo POLL BELOW, let me know your thoughts... this should be an interesting one!
Make sure to check out White Women Part II
One of our first blog posts, ‘The Secrets to Love…as told by some smart young kids’, continues to be one of the most popular among readers. I’m not sure if this is due to mere curiosity, or the fact that you all like to read the thoughts of innocent children who haven’t been corrupted by society yet. In any case, I came across this NYT article on advice from some smart ‘old’ kids, and I thought I would share The article is based on a book, “30 Lessons for Living”, which offers practical advice on life from over 1,000 interviews with older Americans from various economic, educational, and vocational backgrounds. The author writes, “For far too many people, the learning [process] comes too late to help them avoid painful mistakes and decades of wasted time and effort. In recent years, or example, many talented young people have denied their true passions, choosing instead to pursue careers that promise fast and big monetary gains. High rates of divorce speak to an impulsiveness to marry and a tenuous commitment to vows of “till death do us part.” I’ve copied the piece on marriage below.
A satisfying marriage that lasts a lifetime is more likely to result when partners are fundamentally similar and share the same basic values and goals. Although romantic love initially brings most couples together, what keeps them together is an abiding friendship, an ability to communicate, a willingness to give and take, and a commitment to the institution of marriage as well as to each other.
An 89-year-old woman who was glad she stayed in her marriage even though her young husband’s behavior was adversely affected by his military service said, “Too many young people now are giving up too early, too soon.”
For more advice on love and marriage from the participants in the study, visit: http://legacyproject.human.cornell.edu/category/love-and-marriage/
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If Your Family Did Not Approve Of Your Choice Of A Significant Other, Would You Carry On With The Union?*
*The original poll was posted on December 23rd, 2011: http://loveafrican.wordpress.com/2011/12/23/if-you-aint-no-punk-holler-we-want-prenup-we-want-prenup/
In the wake of Vanessa Bryant filing for divorce (after her ten year marriage to Kobe Bryant), I thought it was the perfect time to bring up the discussion of prenups, and whether in modern-day African relationships (between two successful people), prenups should become more customary? And if not, how should we protect ourselves?
I don’t believe in prenups myself, but when I heard that Kobe didn’t have one, I cringed a little inside. All I kept thinking was, ‘Man, that sucks!’ But is that the right attitude to take? See HERE for a different view of the situation:
Vanessa stood by her husband as his wife for over a decade, and raised their two children. If he couldn’t respect the marriage enough to be faithful, then getting half is getting exactly what she deserves.
It is true. Vanessa has been with Kobe for 10 years, and even though she wasn’t physically playing the game with him on the court, she sacrificed for him to have his successful career (including standing by his side during his rape ordeal, sticking with him through multiple extramarital affairs, and raising their two daughters). Although, half of ‘his’ fortune (estimates put this at $150 million) is A LOT of money, and let’s not forget the spousal support. Thoughts?? I’m not sure where Kobe goes from here, but a discussion with one of the co-founders of bandeka brought up an interesting take on celebrities: ‘when you get to a certain level of wealth (or you’re on track to reach a certain level of wealth), there’s no point getting married – you can have relationships, you can have children, just don’t get married (or at least don’t without a prenup)… look at Oprah, Diddy, Clooney, etc.
On another note, while reading about Vanessa and Kobe’s relationship, I discovered that they met when she was 17, and they got married when she was 19 (she was a backup dancer in a music video which was being filmed in the same building where Kobe was working on his own music video, which was never released). They dated for six months before getting engaged. His parents and sisters were so against the union that they did not attend the wedding (neither did any of his teammates or his longtime agent…awkward.)
In African relationships, family is a very important part of the equation- for various reasons (the most basic being, approval and peace of mind). So if your parents did not approve of your future spouse, would you go ahead with the marriage? Do parents have a sixth sense when it comes to these things? I want to know what you think. Have you witnessed instances where parents have been dead wrong about their child’s significant other in the end? Let me be clear that I am not saying that Vanessa was the problem here, nor am I saying that in general parents think that there is something necessarily wrong with the other person. What I am saying is that perhaps parents/family may be able to see whether a union with you and another person will ultimately work out. Take our poll below!
Bandeka’s third PillowTalk question is now up on Bandeka.com, and it appears women want to know, “Why does everything revolve around sex?” Good question. Why is it such an important part of a ‘good’, ‘healthy’, or unhealthy relationship for a guy? You should definitely take a look at the site if you haven’t already! I think some of the answers are quite interesting.
We’ve heard studies say that men think about sex every seven seconds, but apparently that isn’t true according to a recent Ohio State University study. The study found that it is really more like every 1.26hrs. Hmmm… so guys think about sex less often than we think they do, but the truth is women think about sex too (and probably more than guys think they do). I’ll make a shout out here for my girl Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, who runs the blog Adventuresfrom.com* (full title: Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women). Nana, who is a big fan of
Bandeka one of our co-founders (check out: http://adventuresfrom.com/2011/11/23/bandeka-an-online-dating-service-for-well-educated-africans.html), launched Adventuresfrom a couple years ago because she wanted to create a platform where African women could express some of the things that they wanted to say regarding sex (and the things that men needed to know). She (rightfully) thought that no one was talking about sex from an African woman’s perspective.
In Africa, it seems that the topic of sex has been reduced to a few things: abstinence, violence or AIDS; but, the discussion should open up more to include the needs of both women and men (it is important because sexual satisfaction IS a predictor of a happy marriage: see here http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/45604220/ns/today-today_health/#.TuhxsOZb9-6 ). They say one of the reasons why sex begins to die in a marriage is because women begin to feel like it’s more of a chore, and I think one of the main reasons this occurs is because women don’t communicate what they want and need from their partners in the bedroom.
I digress though. Back to the Ohio State Study, which will be published in the January 2012 issue of the Journal of Sex Research. Psychology Professor Terri Fisher says that, “It’s not uniquely sex that [men spend] more time thinking about [compared to women], but [it is also] other issues related to their biological needs, as well [including food, sleep, etc.]” So, in essence men just think about their biological needs more than women do. Read more on the study HERE.
RANDOM: Music Artist Robin Thicke recently said in an interview that the key to a happy, successful, passionate marriage is “lots of sex”. Hmmm..yeah, sure… And honesty, trust, patience, forgiveness, etc- It’s all summed up in those three C’s: compatibility, communication, AND chemistry (which encompasses sex)…but yeah, I ain’t mad at his statement
* Reader discretion is advised, Nana’s site isn’t for everyone.