Month: February 2015

On Why You Should Change for Your Man

photo (1)“Don’t let anyone change you”

“Your partner should love you for who you are… as you are…”

“You can’t enter into a relationship with the idea of changing your partner… if you can’t love them as they are, then you don’t deserve them forever”

Raise your hand if you have heard one or more of these before…

I certainly have. It’s easy to believe that change, when explicitly requested in a relationship, can be bad. Often this conclusion is a result of deciding that when change is requested, nay, required, it is somehow an attack on who you are as a person— like a direct hit to your identity. Then the idea of changing at the request of someone who should love you as you are, feels contrived… almost like “Was this your plan all along? To woo me and then force me to transform to suit your fancy”?!?!

But sometimes changing for your partner… and for the health of your relationship is good.

Let’s look at Ginuwine.

As he said back in the day… even though he may be on TV, he is in fact the same ol’ G.  Fast forward to 2014, him and his wife are fighting on instagram as he foolishly posted a picture of their daughter with a caption implying she was a stripper— or whatever. I mean, I wonder how much Sole was telling him, “Babe, you actually can not be the same ol’ G… you should find a new G status to acquire that includes not being so faded on television that you are slurring your words in a live performance.” Perhaps if Ginuwine was a new Ol’ G, his marriage would be in a better place (and even maybe his career). ginuwine

Perhaps that example is egregious… because he should obviously change for his own good. But so… is that the standard? If your partner requires certain changes of you before you can move along in the relationship, is it ok as long as these changes are constructive? What if they seem constructive to your partner but may not be to you (as in, they are not destructive but you don’t find them particularly valuable)? Is it unfair of you to acquiesce and are you doomed to a life of sadness if you do? Will all your friends judge you and say you’re whipped?

I remember casually dating a guy in college that had been a childhood frenemy (I hated him until I was like 18… on everything, I wished death upon his life twice.) The fact that we were even casually dating was a feat. He was very headstrong, and I was very dogged in my beliefs, but we somehow clicked. I remember we had this long conversation about trust and what it means to really be vulnerable and show affection. He would always say that I was so hard. I thought I was doing really well with my smiley faces and the fact that I made a lot of time to talk to him. Over time, I became increasingly comfortable with him but I was still guarded. When it came time to go back to school, I told him straight up that I knew that this relationship was going to wither into the wind because we were in different time zones (Cali love #noTuPac) and he was a guy… so… we shouldn’t fool ourselves. He said we should just see what happens, and stay connected. I obliged. We tried to stay in contact but the time zone difference was killing us softly. I knew this would happen. I remember telling him that I knew this would happen. Even though we knew the time zone factor was an issue, he said it came back to me being an ice queen “hard”:

“You can’t ever just say how you feel Amma. If you miss me, tell  me you miss me. Don’t be afraid to be affectionate. I mean yeah, we always seem to be busy but you’re just not vulnerable”

“How can I be vulnerable when you are never around!?” I thought… crying on the inside but maintaining my nonplussed attitude on the outside. If he couldn’t handle my love…well… then… good riddance.

Fast forward ten years later, and in a number of relationships I have received a similar critique. It could be the case that I just attract these really soft, romantic types that do not reflect the archetype of the hard, emotionless African man I understood. Or it could be that I was in fact an African man Ice Queen. Upon realizing that the latter was closer to the truth (though the former is not mutually exclusive), I decided maybe I should try something different. Maybe I should change.

Here’s the thing… none of my friends take issue with my “lack of affection”— neither do any of my family members. They all love me as I am, and completely accept the way I show love (read: smiley faces and acts of service). Any changes I would make, therefore, in my propensity to show affection, would be at the strict request of the person I was dating. Thus: I would, in fact, be changing, for my man. Setting pride and ego aside and looking at this as purely wanting to make sure the person I am with is happy, one would be hard-pressed to find fault with my actions. Furthermore, these changes do not make me less “me”… in the ways that people know my character and general sensibilities. Yet, talking to friends about it… even in the abstract is often met with hesitance. “If you start now, will it ever end… what else will you have to change… blah blah blah”…

Most people understand that change is inevitable.

No one really expects to be the same ol’ G forever… but I think people take issue with the change being done for someone else, as opposed to for yourself. But what is really wrong with that? Am I less independent? less intelligent? less— anything because of it? And if the changes don’t make me unhappy (though… a bit… uncomfortable in the short term— open affection takes getting used to, I am fighting years of desensitization, allow!), isn’t it worth the effort?

All in all… I am happy with the changes I have made. Aside from making the other person in the relationship happy, there are also spillover effects for other relationships with friends and family. At the end of the day…I just cannot be the Ginuwine to someone’s Sole… it could never be me, me, me (*cue track*)

What are your thoughts? Should you change for your partner? Is changing for your partner a slippery slope? 

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Why Did you Let me Date Him?

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I love this meme. It epitomizes the phase of life my contemporaries find themselves in now, and me too. It’s not like the days of old our yester-years (ok maybe like 5yrs ago… or hell, like 2yrs ago) where being with someone or NOT being with someone had less no dire consequences… Ok maybe not dire, but the opportunity cost wasn’t as high. Now, the opportunity cost of being with someone or not being with someone seems colossal. Let’s listen in on my conversation with a close friend earlier this month, it helps illustrate the point:

Friend: “It doesn’t seem like it’s working out [with Billy**].”

Friend: (A description of inconsequential and consequential traits and characteristics not fully appreciated in the beginning of dating bliss… Of which I shall skip, because they frankly have no bearing to the premise of this post).

Af: (Interjection of empathetic “Oh, really’s”, “Oh. I’m sorry,” “Yea?” “Uh hmm”)

Friend: “Why’d you let me date him, Afua?”

Af: “Excuse me, come again…?”

Friend: “You’re supposed to be my friend, you should have said something. Now I’m turning 30 and I have wasted the last 2 years.”

Af: [Thought: well that escalated real quick… But I’ll indulge in your slightly irrational line of thinking]

“Welt, let’s see… You said you liked him and he was a good fit. You also gave an extensive list as to why the aforementioned was true. You said you did background checks (with friends and people who knew him). How was I supposed to know he was going to do bait and switch on you? I don’t know him from Adam nor do I hang out with you and him together, so what exactly was I supposed to do? Where was I supposed to get this epiphany from, especially when your behavior hasn’t changed negatively.”

Friend: (A bunch of other highly whiny-like statements and accusations of my blame in the situation… For the most part I tune out)

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Le sigh

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BUT…It did get me thinking, what should be one’s participation in your friends relationship(s)?

meme2Because I do this blog, folks like to talk to me (and I like to use their lives as content lol 😉 ). However, I’ve become less than enthused about shelling out ‘advice’ for a number of reasons… one.) you never really know both sides; two.) life is already too complicated for me to be rendering out advice on a situation that is not mine; three.) me, myself, I’m not even dating, remember?…so what am I going to say? I mean in instances of extreme behavior, like domestic violence, extreme unhappiness, sure I’ll say something directly… But other than that, it’s meh… keep your thoughts to yourself. With cheating situations, if you’re not my good friend, ya I’ll look at you and feel sorry for you, but I will keep it moving.

We are the sum of our decisions… And just like I told my friend at the end of the conversation, life is about the decisions we make and the consequences that result from them; for the things that happen to us that we cannot control, we control how we react and respond to them. Irrespective of what our friends say or don’t say, there’s personal responsibility for the lives we lead…

Is that mean? What do you do with your friends? Do you find yourself meddling more or less as you grow older?

**Names obviously changed.

Leading Lady vs. Best Friend: The Art of Not Dating, and Still Coming up on Top.

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“This is not a hard one to figure out. Iris, in the movies we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason you are behaving like the best friend.”**

Great quote from one of my favorite movies, The Holiday. Not too much explanation is needed, but in essence the girl likes a friend of hers and is running around doing ‘best friend- like’ duties in hopes that he will see how amazing she is, but she never gets the leading lady status.

So Amma wrote a piece some time ago, which essentially discussed kissing dating goodbye and becoming friends with people (in the hopes that one of the friendships develops further). It was an eye opening piece, and something I’ve naturally kind of taken up. Truth be told, the traditional ‘American’ style of dating here has been a. exhausting and b. not fruitful. Not to mention it inadvertently makes people Ghanaians think you’re a whore. Not my words, but many, many, many other people’s. So naturally I’ve just pretty much migrated to not dating. At first it was something kind of strange to admit, however outside of a couple random first “dates” here and there, not dating has now become a comfortable norm for me. It makes life actually quite simpler, and if you recall, the simple life was all I was looking for this year. In general, not dating boils down to being friends with people and not having pressure (to be or do something after X number of rendezvouses). Although I’m not at the next stage yet, the belief is that in time someone will think that within our friendship ‘I’d make a good life partner for them’. It’s been a personal choice to go down this route, and I’m not saying it’s for everyone. But I told you about the jungle, right? You got folks out here denying your relation- situation-ship with them, faking the relevance you are to them, trivializing your feelings for them and their feelings for you, hedging against wifey with you, cheating on their girlfriends with you, and all other sorts of cowardice behavior, so it would seem that friendship is the safest only route to go in the beginning of getting to know someone.

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The whole point is that we all have a spectrum of behavior, and in some regard character is revealed in friendship- when y’all are not officially together- in ways that can be hard to see when one is trying to ‘impress’ the other within X amount of dates. Spending time with someone in a group or exclusively, in a platonic nature, helps you better sift out whether the guy is one of the players or even worse, one of the bad ones masquerading as a good guy… and these latter seem to exist far more than one would think. The whole process involves your own deductive reasoning and also questioning other people about the guy’s past, which can help in establishing patterns of behavior. However that being said, just like any plan of action, no strategy is fool proof. People can still get duped, there can be a lot of miscommunication, and time can still be wasted when you’re “non-dating”. So there are still strategies one should must adopt when one is a ‘non’ dater (particularly if you start preferring one friend’s company over others). In my brief time as a non-dater, there are a few things I’ve picked up on (through experience, but also through the mouths of men themselves). I think these are good food for thought if you’re still trying to come up on top as a non-dater:

  • Just like in dating, for non-dating to materialize into something long term, the guy must actually still want you and believe you’re the cat’s meow; the guy must still pursue you (after you’ve established you’d be open to being pursued). If this doesn’t occur, what will happen is y’all will just be acting like best buds only. You will be running around doing bestie-type duties and one day he’ll show up with his leading lady. Don’t play, it happens, so you need to strategize. I understand that it’s a buyers market in Ghana globally, and it probably will continue to be for the foreseeable future the entire life of my potential child-bearing age. But just like in dating, in non-dating you don’t want to chase a man down into being with you.
  • I know your initial relationship is that of frienship, and nothing more. BUT you need to still make him treat you like a lady- still allow him to pay when y’all hang out (it doesn’t have to be every time); don’t talk about other guys with them as if he’s one of your girlfriends… just don’t; don’t emasculate, belittle, or treat him with disrespect… one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my adult years is how fragile a man’s egos is… respect. is. everything. Also, don’t hang out with him and his buddies all the time – men rarely wife ‘one of the homies’. In essence, what you want to do as a friend is to still have a healthy distance, so he can see you as a woman that he could date/ wife/ whatever.
  • In regards to making your feelings known, this can be tricky. Some folks say flirting is ample, and if he doesn’t pick up on it, then it’s not on his mind. However, some folks say you can actually say something. It’s funny, 40-days-datingbecause the majority of the former advice comes from women, and the latter comes from men. I think one needs to gauge your individual relationship and situation here. However of late, I am of the latter camp: I don’t think there is anything wrong with notifying the person of your openness to something further. This, at the very least, removes any miscommunication and the other person can’t ever claim that ‘they didn’t know’. After that, the ball is in his court to move. A lot of men just can’t pick up on non-verbal cues… especially if yall have been just friends. Notifying him of your feelings should be done strategically though, and you have to ready for any outcome: whether he’s interested, not, or needs time. Make sure you figure out how you will behave given any of the outcomes, because the last thing you want is a ruined friendship because you’ve gone and made things awkward.

So what do y’all think? Is non-dating actually better or worse? Are there strategies you can suggest to not get trapped in the best friend bucket?

Random Bonus: I saw this clip of two friends who tried to date for 40days. I don’t know where I was last year, but apparently it was all the craze. SPOILER ALERT: It didn’t work out for them, however it was fascinating reading their daily blog HERE. The thing is a great friendship doesn’t automatically equate to a good romantic relationship… for various reasons. The two of you may not want the same things in life… one of you might not be ready for the work it takes (to love) – which was the case here… or just plainly, one of you may not have romantic feelings for the other. However, it never hurts to try, right?…

** It’s completely cliche, it’s a chick flick, and… welt, it’s got jude law… but, it’s a great movie. Check out the scene (start at 1:05):