Month: February 2012

Let’s Not Complicate Things With Labels

A friend and I were chatting the other day, and he was amazed at the differences between dating in the US and in Ghana. ‘Dating in Ghana is simple’, he said. I beg to differ on that statement (particularly as more Ghanaians who have lived a Western-style of life move back), but where he was coming from was understandable. Our conversation had begun with us talking about a mutual friend, and me telling him that me and our mutual friend had dated in the past. ‘Oh, really? We’re not the closest of friends, but I think I would have known if he had a girlfriend.’ Clearly, I had to revise my statement: ‘I never said I was his girlfriend, I said we dated.’

He turned over to me with confusion, ‘I don’t understand.’ From that, I knew that our definitions were way off so I went on to explain what I refer to as dating. ‘Mr. x and I hung out a decent amount, but we weren’t exclusive.’ ‘So the difference between dating and going out is exclusivity?’ <- errmmm yes, and no. You can be dating exclusively (ie. neither party is seeing anyone else in that capacity), however if you haven’t had a discussion about being exclusive, then you’re not in a relationship. It’s not something that just happens, you both have to know what kind of relationship you are in. My friend turned over to me still in disbelief. Honestly was this something he’d never heard before?! ‘Is this like an American thing?’ …I don’t think so. In fact, I know it’s not an ‘American’ thing because I dated this guy IN Ghana. But this got me thinking, have we complicated the simplicity of ‘boy meets girl (or girl meets boy), they like each other’s company and get along really well, and they enter into an exclusive relationship’? I didn’t go into more detail with my friend, because I don’t think he could have handled me defining other dating terms like ‘talking’, ‘seeing each other’, ‘friends with benefits’ (see HERE for a more comprehensive dating terms list).  I wanted to explore this issue with another friend of mine, a female living in South Africa. Although she wasn’t as dumbfounded at the idea of dating, she did say that in her experience things are much simpler in Africa, “to me, after we’ve gone on about 3 dates, I’m considering you my boyfriend.” I laughed at that, ‘That’s presumptuous much. I’ve dated guys for over a year without ever considering them my boyfriend.’ ‘Ya, but why would you continue to see someone for a long period of time without being exclusive.’ …I had to think about it, I’ve really never had to explain this concept to someone before:

“Dating can be less messy/stressful/time-consuming/ and just less work than being in a real relationship, and perhaps you’re not ready for such a commitment, or the timing is off, or you live in different cities, but you both still like spending time with each other. I had to add a cautionary statement with my explanation: dating can also be MORE messy/stressful/time-consuming/ and generally more work than being in a committed relationship. It’s the best of both worlds (no commitment, but still companionship) when both parties are fully aware of what is going on. And it gives you a chance to get to know other people in the same way (yes, people do date multiple people at the same time).”

Of course at some point casual dating stops- it’s not cute to be dating multiple people after a certain age (you fill in the blank when that is). But how do you know when you need to stop? How do you know when you’re being too picky? Well according to Peter Todd, a Professor of Informatics and Cognitive Science*:

“In the face of this conundrum, the best strategy for picking a mate is to date enough people to establish some baseline standards, then settle down with the next person you meet who exceeds the bar.”

In Todd’s research, he found 12 to be that magic number when it comes to finding out what you want in a relationship. 12. Is that high? Low? And what if you generally don’t date much? Todd says that, “After dating 12 people, most people have enough information to determine what qualities they’re looking for in a long-term partner. Statistically speaking, that’s the point when people who want to settle down should basically end their search and settle with the next person they date who meets (or surpasses!) these expectations.” Sometimes too much choice can be a negative thing, so:

  • If you’ve dated fewer than 12 people, feel free to keep looking (AND dating)
  • If you’ve dated, say, 30 people, you’re probably being too picky

I don’t know about this science to figure out the right number of relationships situationships you need to be in before knowing when it’s time to bow out of the game (the author himself states, “some people find [love] on their first try, while others find it on their fourth marriage”); however, at least this provides some type of ‘numerical baseline’, eh?

So what’s your dating/relationship number? And what are your thoughts about my take on ‘dating’ on African vs. Western terms?



Poll [Results] Wednesday – 2/15/2012

Do African Men Sideline African Women For White Women When Their Incomes Increase Or They ‘Make It’?*

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*The original poll was posted on January 16th, 2012:

Respect My Turf



I recently moved to a new city, and last weekend a friend of mine took me out to explore the town. We ended up at a nice local spot after dinner, and it was there that something very interesting happened to me. Of course I had to blog about it 🙂

For most of the night, my friend and I were sitting at a table where there were two empty seats. At one point during the evening, one of the hostesses approached me and asked if it would be alright if two ladies came and sat in the two open seats at our table. ‘Ya, that’s fine with me… why would I have a problem with that?’ At that point in the night the place was getting quite crowded, so of course it would make sense to offer up the seats. Without any thought, I turned over to my friend and asked him if he would mind if two ladies came and sat in the two open seats (I wasn’t sure if any additional people were going to join us). He said he was fine with it, so I told the hostess that we didn’t mind. She then asked me a second time, and explained to me with emphasis that they were the ‘two ladies in the corner’, making sure to point out who she was talking about. Again without any hesitation, I repeated to her that it was fine, they could come sit with us. It was not until she walked away that things started setting in… ‘why did she come up to only ME?’- she knew my friend very well (he’s a regular at the spot)… ‘why was she so set on explaining to me that it was two ladies in the corner who wanted to sit in the two seats’- as if it mattered who needed the seats. In any case, about 20min later when the two seats were still empty, my friend asked the hostess what happened to the two ladies, and her response brought so much clarity to the situation:

“It is not right for me to bring two ladies over here when you are with a lady already.”

My friend relayed her response to me, and we chuckled. I think I had more of a good laugh about the situation because of my own personal take on these things.

First, my friend and I were not on a date, and second, and more importantly, even if we were together, I wouldn’t have batted an eye if two ladies sat next to us at a table. I appreciate that this hostess respected me enough to “protect” me from those ladies who could have possibly made a pass at ‘my man’ (or perhaps she was protecting me from ‘my man’ making a pass at one of the ladies), but honestly if a man is going to step out of the relationship, how much can you really do to prevent it? My friend and I ended up having a lengthy conversation about the whole situation. He understood the point I was making, but he also explained the idea that there are two sets of men: men who cheat and men who are about to cheat. The latter being the majority of men. Even good guys can stray, so there’s no point in creating more opportunities for them to do so. Fair enough, but if you’re with a woman and can’t control yourself, then what does ‘grabbing your hand when a pretty girl walks into the room’ or ‘not allowing two ladies to sit at our table’ really do? …I dunno perhaps there’s such a thing as being too trusting?… or being too naive?

In the same way, I never really understand why women confront the ‘other woman’ when they suspect cheating (with the argument that ‘you should respect me as a woman’). Isn’t that something the woman should be addressing with her man? He should be respecting you as his mate, no? Is a man not grown enough to do the right thing? A close friend of mine told me that early on in her relationship with her boyfriend, she had to set him straight a few times after he had gone and acted a little crazy  …checking out girls with his friends while she was around, errmmm…?? But after she set him straight regarding what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior, he knew what the deal was. I’m obviously simplifying their situation, but in essence shouldn’t you be dealing with these issues in-house?

When I think about the other side of things though, it is nice when a man lets another man know you’re his, even with a small gesture. Not sure how men feel when women do the same. What do you think? Is it different for men and women? Do men want women to act territorial? Should women be territorial about their men, or should you just be confident in your relationship? …you know I love my polls! Let me know!