“Hey, he has a girlfriend, you know”… “And, so what?”
Wow. This week my cousin and I have been discussing the idea that a lot of Ghana girls do not respect the girlfriend of a man, ie. it doesn’t matter that a man has a girlfriend, he’s still fair game unless he’s married. I came to the realization that this is not just the thinking of, let’s say, ladies with no respect for themselves, but that some educated modern women also share this sentiment. The above quote was part of an exchange that I had with one of my best friends here in Ghana. So when SHE was unmoved by some guy’s girlfriend, it really made me sit up. Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up here, or because I don’t fully understand how relationships work here yet, but my views on this couldn’t be any further from hers.
Here’s my take: I agree you’re NOT official until you have TWO rings on your finger, however I DO respect girlfriends. I think it’s wrong to go after a man in a relationship, or allow him to go after you. One. You would hate it if someone did that to you, and Two. Karma is a b*%#! It’s one thing if two people are just ‘talking’, but with relationships, I’m not touching that. And honestly, even folks that are ‘in limbo’/ ‘dating’/ ‘friends with benefits’…I dunno, I just need you to
clean up your mess wipe your slate clean before we can talk properly. I remember once, I didn’t engage heavily with a guy for like 3 months because he was still sorting out a situation: ‘Well you go ahead and sort yourself out and I’ll continue on with my life; if when you’re sorted, I’m still single, you know where to find me and we can talk.’
I’m not gonna say I’ve never made a
mistake slip-up before, but as a general rule boyfriends are a no-go for me. Why would you want that kind of headache? And doesn’t that also give you an indicator of how this man approaches commitment?
What I find peculiar about the whole thing is that when I first got to Ghana, all the girls I met would tell me some rendition of
“Amma, do not mess around with these Ghana Guys. Tell us their first and last names so we can do a full background check on them. You know some of them have wives in Aburi while living in Takoradi with their college aged girlfriends. Guys here are sus.”
I am ever a skeptic so naturally I preferred to navigate it without those set of blinders… but then what gets me is that the girlfriend knows the man has a wife. The girlfriend is also hoping to get wifed… so who is really the triflin’ one in the situation? To me, if you are a (wo)man who is interested in a (wo)man who is already dating someone and you carry on some sort of dalliance with them… what happens when you reach that point where you want them to commit to you? And what happens when they do commit to you? What happens if they marry you? Do either of you now magically switch off this tendency to court other people? And if you have that magic power… are they selling it at a local MaxMart or market corridor where it can be purchased?! (I ask only for the Hillary Clintons and Lordina Mahama’s of the world). Whats that quote about thoughts becoming actions, actions becoming habits, and habits becoming character? So I mean, if you make a habit of stepping to committed men… even non-married commitments, why wouldn’t this just translate into your character? And if this becomes your character, then it defines you in moments of silence and opacity. When no one is watching, you will in fact do these backwards things like pursuing someone else’s man… even if they are not married yet. It always disturbs me that men are painted as these sex-crazed polyamorous infidels because I really have to ask… well who are they philandering with exactly? And are those women equally sex-crazed whoremongers? Would I be wrong to judge? All these soul shattering questions that lead me really to one conclusion: Do unto others…
That mindset that ‘Oh we are dating but we should still be looking’ is so problematic because if you are dividing attention between your actual relationship and your pursuit of better ones, all of them must suffer. It is just the way it must be. And in the midst of your crumbling episode of Things Fall Apart I hope you realize that, as Afua said, Karma SUCKS. In this world you put into the world the kind of things you would want to come back. Thing is, I have met many a man in a relationship and thought, “you’ll leave her. And want me. So I don’t care. I don’t care’. But I cannot say I actively pursued these men, because I would not want any woman doing that to my man. Unless they finally bottle and patent that magic Switch-Off-Infidelity-Potion… then… well… *shrugs* anything is possible.
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In order to better understand how others feel, I spoke more in depth with my friend (from the quote above). However, instead of re-telling you her piece, I will quote memorable quotes from our discussion:
‘Adultery is in marriage. Once they’re not married, it is not a sin [to cheat] so it’s all fair game…’
‘If I like him, I’ll take him away from his girl; and if he likes her enough, he won’t be led astray.’
‘I wouldn’t do it if the girl was my friend or if the couple was one step away from being engaged, but everything else is fair game.’
‘In a relationship, there are no vows in front of God… I respect marriage, not relationships’
‘If I really like a guy, do you think I won’t go after him? Kai! His girlfriend and I will fight for him and the best woman will win’
‘I don’t think this is a Ghanaian women thing, all women think like this, we’re competitive’
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So I guess the big question is: why should you deny yourself the opportunity to find love, just because he’s in a relationship? What if he is the one, but needs to get to know you small before he realizes he wants to be with you and not his current girl??
Amma, perhaps our ‘ones’ are trapped up in relationships, and we need to go pry them out eh…