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
My uncle, who is a marriage counselor, frequents this blog from time to time, and after reading my take on logistics and love, he took me aside and said, ‘Afua, I think you need to believe in love again.’ I don’t know what happened, and I don’t need to, but you need to start rebuilding your faith in love again.’
Although I don’t think I’m jaded on love, perhaps my blog(s) come across a lil more ‘matter-of-fact’ than ‘hopeless romantic’. And I think in my quest to be pragmatic in life, I’m less able to, as Amma says, ‘suspend reality’, so perhaps my uncle does have some-what of a point. In any case, he recently gave me a book (A Match Made in Heaven- Inspirational Love Stories) in order to encourage me to believe again that love always finds a way, that people can meet in the most miraculous ways, that your future spouse can have the guts to wait for you & not settle for whatever comes along (because of age/ time/ family pressures), that if its meant to be its meant to be, and that age and time are no match for the power of love, and all that other good stuff. So I’ve started reading the book – each chapter a new story of how a couple met and fell in love (sometimes in the most miraculous way… or even more touchingly, in the most simplistic way).
For those of you who can’t get your hands on a book like this and also need to jump start your belief in love again, I want do share a short clip with you (it’s ten minutes of your life…just watch it). I was already in tears half way through. I guess you can say I’ve begun drinking the kool-aid… a little.
“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…
I think one of the most dreaded words for an independent woman is ‘submit’. I don’t need to go into much detail as to why some independent women dread this word/concept within the context of a committed relationship, but I want you to take a look at the short video below and see how you feel about Shanel Cooper’s take on submission. Is there really power in being submissive as a woman?
In the clip below, the author of ‘Stilettos in the Kitchen’ lays out the traditional roles of women and men as follows:
Traditional roles of womanhood: taking care of home, cooking, taking care of your children, nurturing, teaching, loving, uplifting, taking care of your man.
Traditional roles of manhood: Protect, provide, conquer, be strong, provide a home for a woman to nurture and love.
Is there something to say about the traditional roles of men and women in a relationship, or have we moved past that in the 21st century? Can men and women have successful relationships with altered roles, or are the traditional roles just the way things are supposed to be?
A rhetorical question was posed in this BellaNaija article* that I thought I would pose to you as well: “How is it that after I have had the same job shift as my husband I am meant to come home to the cooking and cleaning and he comes home to the sofa and latest Manchester United scores?”
**Pay close attention to 2:08-3:17
* If the article doesn’t open at first, refresh the page.
You must have been living under a rock for the past few months if you haven’t heard about Kim Kardashian’s wedding on August 20th. Kardashian wed Kris Humphries in a lavish style wedding- reports say it cost between 10-17 million dollars; the wedding aired on E! last night and will air again tonight. I knew the couple had not been together for a long time before they got engaged, but I was surprised to learn that it was only for 6 months (Kim had dated Reggie Bush on and off for three years previously). For Kim’s dating history, visit here.
Quick engagements and marriages isn’t new to the Kardashian family: Kim’s younger sister, Khloe got married to NBA player Lamar Odom almost one month to the day they met. Though this is not the case here, studies show that marriages resulting from online dating have shorter courtship periods, so I am wondering: is there a minimum amount of time you need to date someone before you know that they’re ‘the one’? And with age, does this time shorten?
I love reading relationship pieces by male authors, so here’s a very frank article on how long a woman should date a guy before getting him to commit: http://www.singleblackmale.org/2011/09/01/commit-or-die-even-good-relationships-should-have-an-expiration-date.
The discussion was sparked following a couple tweets:
@WisdomIsMisery: I’m thinking there is no reason to date a man over the age of 25 longer than 12 months if you want a ring from him. There, I said it.
@WisdomIsMisery: If you’re still “seeing where things go” on the 13th month. BREAK UP. You’re wasting your time.
What do you think? The author of the article, who is also the author of the tweets, makes some good arguments in this piece:
By 25, you should know the type of woman/man you do not want to date. You may need more time to determine the type of woman/man you want to be with but if you can’t figure out the type of people you do not want to be with you are behind the learning curve
Ladies, if a man is dating you for 12 months and he does not know what he wants from you (assuming you know what you want from him), another 12 – 36 months will not help.
I’m going to be honest with the ladies – fellas forgive me – the average man knows where he wants a relationship to go in 48 hours (or less). —> really? I hope to address this in a subsequent post.
A man knows long before a woman whether he is going to commit to her or not…Often times, however, he will put off the inevitability of his decision for as long as possible, especially if you are not forcing him to choose. If a relationship was a boat, men are the captain. They know the destination but that doesn’t mean they have to tell you…
…the longer you date a man in an undefined relationship the odds of you ever getting a commitment from him decrease, not increase. Nine times out of 10, if a grown man is keeping you around, while refusing to commit, it’s because he is looking for something better.
Why else would he do it? Who is this guy, Barack Obama? What is he doing that is so important in his life that he cannot commit to you but he can do everything BUT commit? If he sincerely thought you were irreplaceable, why on God’s green Earth would he risk losing you? I’ll answer: He doesn’t think you’re going anywhere and he is likely looking for an upgrade; give him enough time and he will find one.
In closing, if you want a commitment, date men that want to commit and hold them accountable. It’s really that simple.
It seems quite simple to me. I have some comments regarding this article, but this post is already quite long. As the author points out, the average US man will marry by 28 and the average US woman by 27, so it makes sense not to waste time in pointless relationships after 25. Chew over it and let me know your thoughts, have you ever been in this situation before? Did it work out? Do you know others who have? Guys, is this pretty much on the money?
On the heels of my “Can Women Plan to Find a Man?” post last week, a friend sent me a message that I thought I would share:
Check this out: LINK HERE . You don’t need to buy the book as these notes are amazing. but you are right. the women who get married are those who have the agenda and force the guy to marry. I said I’d never been one of those women. I’m sorry. I want someone who wants to be with me not someone who thinks “well I guess I’ll marry her”.
The link above directs you to a bullet point summary of the book, ‘Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others’. Aside from the fact that the book confirms this notion of women having to make marriage a priority if they want to get married, I was intrigued by the second set of notes, which discuss a man’s age of commitment. I would encourage you to skim through all the notes, but in the meantime I’ve copied the specific section below. Guys, can you confirm or deny any of the following claims? And ladies, if these numbers are roughly accurate, are you dating your ‘age appropriate guy’? Make sure to take our quick poll below!
- Most men will not consider marriage before they reach the age of commitment
- For 80% of high school graduates, 23
- For 80% of college graduates, 26
- For college men, the high-commitment period is 28-33
- For men who go to graduate school, 30-36
- After the age of 37-38, the chances that he’ll commit drops dramatically. After 43, it drops even more
- A 40+ man who has been married before is more likely to remarry than an equivalent bachelor is to marry
- Most men will not contemplate marriage until they have been working and living as independent adults for several years (hence the high-commitment periods)
- Men become likely to marry after they become uncomfortable with the singles scene
- E.g. They realize that they’ve become the sleazy old guys who hang out at the bars and hit on younger girls
- Men do have a biological clock, based on their desire to be an active father (especially to their sons)
The Single Black Male blog discussed a man’s age of commitment just last week in a post entitled, ‘The Male Marrying Age…Explained”:
When a man has decided he is ready for marriage, he enters marriage mode. The way he thinks about women and relationships changes. Suddenly the allure of the game is less appealing. The club might not be as fun. Intelligent conversation might actually matter again. And the days of dating 8 months before you get a title are gone. Either you are in wifey consideration … or [you're not].
Ladies, we want to know whether the age of a man influences your decision to date or marry him: would you date or marry someone younger than you? Take our fun polls below!