marriage

Guest Post: Nah Hun, We’re Going Dutch! Treat Her Like a Lady: Part III

guestblog

We’re really guest posting things out, eh? We must say thank you to our guest bloggers for making this space more interactive lately!

So if you can remember, I wrote a post about ‘Being a Lady’ and how I have to begin seeing myself as one and allowing guys to treat me as one. In a response to what I wrote, Amma’s boyfriend wrote a guest post for us, which was quite an eye opener for me… if you haven’t read it yet, I would take a look HERE.  Now for Part III of our mini series on chivalry, another guy that I referenced in my original post has graciously written an almost contrasting opinion piece to Amma’s boyfriend. Definitely gives me something else to think about.

Enjoy! And let us know what you think about the post. 


Afua says to treat her like a lady.

I agree; treat her like an intelligent, independent lady. So that means split the bill with her on general principle—unless certain conditions are present.

Apparently the idea of a man splitting the bill is quite an affront to many Ghanaian women. I apologize if I’ve offended in the past. I’ve learned my lesson. After many-a-date without happy endings, I have learned.

But my dating world spans, indeed, the world, so things are different…and different and different and different. Complicated, I would say. I pay; she pays; each pays; I pay the meal, she pays the desert; I the meal, she the tip; she the meal, I the drinks; and every combination you can imagine. I’ve even had an inelegant occasion where I was going to pay—honest!—but I had left my wallet so she paid (and perhaps wonders to this day if that’s just my hustle). On another occasion, I offered to buy a plane ticket and she canceled the trip at the suggestion (through my gesture) that she couldn’t buy her own (she wasn’t Ghanaian, of course).

If you’re thinking I’m revealing too active a dating life with all these combinations, don’t. I don’t do dates per se, you see.  When I go out with a woman, we’re going as two friends or potential friends. If the ending retroactively confers a date status on said outing, great.  As you might imagine, I’ve been on many dates when I didn’t even recognize I was on a date and probably broke all the rules. So I shall henceforth use “encounter” to cover all these, well, encounters.

With all these combinations and complications—you’re probably already thinking this guy is bad news—what are his rules?

imagesIn essence, I’m an advocate and practitioner of women’s equality in all ways: equal salary, domestic chores, everything. I can also be hopelessly cerebral, and no one has convinced me just yet why it should be any different with the restaurant tab. Why the man has to pay by default.

To be clear, I do it happily most of the time, but only if I can justify it. The idea of paying for a professional, income-earning woman on an encounter when she’s got her own makes no sense to me. For me, it’s like showing off. It’s like I’m saying I have money and you don’t, you know, like you’re the weaker vessel or something.

There are, however, some conditions under which my paying makes sense to me:

  1. I initiated that we go to that particular place (Some Ghanaian women will pester you to take them out and then go on to suggest [insert name of a fancy restaurant])
  2. I know for a fact that it will be significantly more of a financial stretch for her than it will be for me. Say, she’s a student, new entrepreneur, unemployed. (Even then, I know women who would still prefer to pay for themselves as an assertion of their independence.)
  3. It is culturally accepted that the man pay (to the extent that she might not even carry enough money on her).

If none of the conditions above exist, we’re going Dutch, baby. It’s not personal. It’s logical. I can’t forget a trip I took with a woman who created a Google Docs spreadsheets of expenses before we started, diligently updated the spreadsheet throughout the trip, and sent me my balance upon return. Now, *that* was a turn on.

But here’s the good news if you’re a woman looking to be “treated like a lady”: Some guys will pay on the first date and gradually go Dutch on subsequent dates. I’m the opposite. Even if I go Dutch on the first “encounter,” once it retroactively becomes a date, I become inclined to pay for subsequent outings depending on the relationship and relative financial situations. Even if she’s in better financial situation than I, I will buy gifts. Of course if we progress to having a joint account, then it’s coming from the joint account except for special occasions.

So you might pay for the first meal, but I could buy the house. Fair deal, no?

I write at a time when one of Ghana’s most prominent preachers has warned Ghanaian women that they’ll burn in hell with their beauty and brains unless they humble themselves and get a man. So, ladies – I’m here to save you. You don’t have to humble yourself before me, and you won’t go to hell either. Just get the check. I won’t be offended.

ad9ef610776a8938f972bef595f690a4

What does offend me is when people (men and women) are unreasonable or ungrateful. Even in Ghana where I pay most of the time (see 3rd condition above), some women take it for granted and make unreasonable requests. One theory I’ve heard is that when a girl meets a boy, she’s never sure how long it will last, so she’s got to make him prepay his tax: real estate tax (rent), education fund, and (if the man is a politician) cars and trips to Dubai.

Another argument I’ve heard is that the man should always pay because he wants something from the woman.  Now, that’s logic I can appreciate. So, let’s talk.


hmmm hmmm and hmmm. Thoughts, RR? Kinda takes one back to this scene from An African City, doesn’t it?…

An African City: Episode 2: Sexual Real Estate 7:24-10:20 

Not All Women Want to get Married – – and Other Half Truths.

photo (5)

Soooooo… we didn’t win. Tear. If you recall, we were nominated for Best Blog for Ghana’s 2014 Social Media Awards, but unfortunately we didn’t win. I know you’re wondering who on earth could have possibly beaten us…? We are too. But it was the lovely ladies over at AdventuresFrom (the bedrooms of African women). We have nothing but love and mad respect for our big sisters in the blogosphere, so we say a HUGE CONGRATS to them!!!! Y’all have stepped up the game in (female) African blogging, and give a great platform for women to openly share whats on their hearts and minds regarding sex and sexual health.

 

giphy

The Social Media Awards Ceremony was held at the end of Ghana’s Blog Camp event held a couple weeks ago in Accra . Despite not winning, we did have a blast leading the Blogging 101 breakout session and interviewing people for Google’s youtube corner. I’ve included some pics below of the event, and a highlight video at the end of the blog.

BlBfBlLIQAA3uhj (1)

Main session

BlCC2fwIAAAfeR8 (1)

Afua and Social Media Extraordinaire, MacJordan

BlDIeeOIcAAg6yR (1)

Amma and Afua leading breakout session on Blogging 101

– – –

Ok. It’s time for a short blog now.

 When we started RR, I made the decision that whenever Amma and I engaged in a back and forth, I wouldn’t respond to Amma’s reply if I had started the discussion… trust me, this has been no small task, especially when Amma likes to bust out diagrams of the highest inaccuracy. BUT I’m going to break my rule today, and say a few words in relation to something she said in her last post:

Who says we all want to get married in the first place?

Sigh… I love my feminists, I do. In most circles, I am considered one of their strongest advocates, allies, and yes even, leaders…. so my next few statements might actually come as a shock to some. I’m sorry in advance. :)

The feminist movement is not old enough for people to be tooting around that ‘not all a critical mass of women want to get married’. This seems to have become a default response in the never ending discussion of what women should do (career v. family) and when they should do it; it’s become a defense mechanism of sorts… from what?, only God knows I do not quite know. But it’s as if the admission of wanting to be committed to someone (gasp, someone with 1 Y and 1 X chromosome) is some sign of weakness… or contrary to the movement. In any case, as it stands now what we’re seeing is a delay of marriage rather than an outright abolishment of it. Delaying marriage to do other things such as make a name for yourself in your career, do you as a single person for a while or whore around make like you’re a man with no emotional attachment to sex, is not a complete abolishment of marriage. Until data proves otherwise, you won’t be able to convince me that the majority of single, never been married women at 45 wouldn’t prefer to be a long term committed partnership, you just can’t**. You can’t because as much as some in the movement want to yell, kick and scream… there is biology/ human nature at play here… something one cannot fight (regardless of whether you believe in Adam and Eve or evolution). For the majority of feminists screaming this message of ‘we all don’t want to get married’, these women are a. still young enough to be able to eventually say yes to a lifetime partnership if they choose marriage(ie. in their mid to late 30’s) b. screaming these statements as hypotheticals with one or two examples of ‘people they know who are happily single and never been married at 45, c. jaded about marriage because of what they’ve seen in the media and in their own lives, d. think ‘feminists’ wanting marriage have been somehow brain washed by religion or society, or e. just plain outliers.

I feel a little passionate about the above, because I’ve seen a trend of some feminists demonizing the desire of would be fellow feminists to get married (particularly before a certain age). But to me, feminism and marriage are not mutually exclusive. More so, the choice to get married (and whenever you want to) is fully in line with the spirit of feminism: the ability to choose (and do) what is best for you without hindrance due to your gender (even if that means cutting short your promising Fortune 500 CFO path to have … babies).

polls_SingleLife_main_Full_0213_467688_answer_4_xlargeNever-Get-Married-300x300

There will always be women (scabs, as Amma puts it) stopping female collusion from being great. They, in all their awesomeness and glory, will never be thinking about nobody’s desire to get married as they try to get theirs by sleeping around, and feigning saying that their end goal is never to be married. However, my question is, ‘are these women singing the same song at 40, 45, 50?’ How many heterosexual 40/50 year old single, never been married (or in a long term partnership) women do you know that are happy as a clam saying they’re glad they never got married or into a long term partnership?

And that’s my point. Thus far, the majority of women eventually come around to the idea of ‘settling down’.

Alright, I’m done.

 

…sorta.

I must conclude by saying that I do recognize that a lot of people have a very messed up view of marriage, either from their own parents or others; I’m not going to sit and pretend that the baby boomer generation didn’t systematically suck at being able to choose one person to be with for their adult life, to love, sacrifice for, cherish, and be faithful to for better or worse in sickness and in health, BUT that doesn’t mean the fundamentals of being committed to one individual should be thrown out with the bathwater. I know I’m probably not the best person to speak to this because I have a great view of marriage – my parents have been happily married for 30 yrs, and I can’t think of many divorces in my extended family- yet still, removing me from the equation as the messenger, just because people suck at marriage doesn’t mean the institution in and of itself sucks. And neither does the fundamental idea of loving one person for life, and longing for companionship and partnership with them.

**so we’re clear: notice I said, “never been.” Those who have, and no longer want to be again are a different story. And even for these, let’s also make a distinction between regret of being committed to the wrong person versus saying you wish you never entered into marriage or a long term partnership (and don’t want to engage that type of relationship again).

 

– – –

Highlights from the #BlogCamp14 event, our session made a cameo @ 4:10-4:47

The Economics of Sex: The Game Has Changed [Part 2]

rr

This is Amma’s response to The Economics of Sex: The Game Has Changed [Part 1]

. . .

Wait…

Let’s go all the way back…

Who says we all want to get married in the first place?

I studied labor relations in college (random… I know) and if there is ONE thing we came out of there knowing and understanding, it is the economic and social power of a scab. Scabs are the people who, in the midst of a protest, will continue to work or continue to offer the service being scaled back for the sake of a greater good. They are the undermining, no-good, back stabbing son of guns who can single-handedly prevent the greater good.

They often suffer ‘mysterious’ tragic ends. They had it coming.

So what does this have to do with economics of sex? Well… the collusion bit of course. The problem is, as you rightly asserted in your synopsis of the movie, aside from birth control there are also shifts in societal norms that have de-valued marriage or long term commitment and have made sex an end in and of itself.

vintage-ads-that-would-be-banned-today-small

One excellent reason for marriage… indentured servitude. *sarcasm font here*

Back in the day, women got married for plenty of reasons:

          1. Economic stability- since the man was the sole breadwinner
          2. Societal pressure- giving birth to a royal lineage, marrying up, being offered in a business transaction between two powerful families… I mean, just generally being used as collateral
          3. Puritanical Conceptions of family- the idea that a family is only valid if there is a mother, father (who are married and at least the woman is faithful) two children and a pet
          4. Religious reasons- Christianity required it of any sexual encounter

Today we are seeing that less people are ‘religious’, more women are breadwinners, society is opening up to alternative family relationships (two dads anyone?) and thanks to Sheryl Sandberg, we are leaning in and there is no pressure to be a great mom and great wife, just a great women in the boardroom. Women today aren’t dainty little princesses waiting in purity for their handsome princes to come slay dragons and win their hand. Some of them are wearing heavy armor, getting out into the war zones and looking for an occasional good time between battles. Whether we blame feminism or hip hop… or just blame the devil, one thing is true… these messages have resonated with a number of women, most of whom would be scabs in that remedy of collusion.

photo 1 (1)

There are women who do not want a committed relationship… they do not want to make sex a premium. They want it to be as easy to come by as birth control is in Ghana. They want it subsidized almost… some even want to make profit from it (and I am not even talking about our girlfriends in Cantonments… did you see episode two of ‘An African City’?!). I mean if women see sex as a currency to gain things like apartments, cars, Louis Vuitton bags… deputy ministerial positions, then well, who’s going to give that up so that all you commitment-loving, old- fashioned, socially brainwashed anti-feminist women can get married?! You see how this is a dilemma?

So then the real answer here comes from the male side.

The pressure should not fall solely on the woman to revalue sex as something worthy of a long term committed relationship. Guys are culpable to. They need to stand up and be counted. They also need to hold a higher standard for sex. It’s funny that Afua says men will spend the better part of their youth philandering with the scabs, only to come back in hot pursuit of a women they deem ‘wifeable’… someone who seems pristine but is willing to go ham in the bedroom. Something about a lady in the streets and a freak in the sheets… they want the seemingly good girls once they have been bad boys all up and through town. How nice… really. I mean would it be so difficult to say, I also value sex… *shrugs* I guess it is according to the video makers.

unnamed

But honestly, I have actually met a number of guys like this. I remember a guy I knew in grad school who had only been with two girls. I was really shocked. I mean here he was, good looking, tall, well educated, charismatic… not even particularly religious but he just couldn’t find value in ravaging through the women that were THROWING themselves in his direction. In his case, he had heightened the value of sex and was also being a gatekeeper of commitment, because he was also not into just dating for giggles. I mean, I was truly in awe. And yes… yes… this is because I have had(?)-ish low expectations of men when it came to sex. As the video points out, men can dissociate sex from romance and love and passion and all the things that make women like Olivia in Scandal seem like a victim of ardor instead of a confused two- timing side chick with an almost insatiable sexual appetite— but I digress. Because I think men can engage in sexual activities with women they have no real interest in more often than women, I assume that because they can they do. However I am finding, more and more, that this is not necessarily always the case and maybe it’s really just Hollywood that has us fooled. Or maybe I am just meeting really great guys. At any rate, men can and do have the power to also raise the value of sex and restore it to the confines of a committed relationship. The real collusion here is between men and women…

And it’s not just men in their old age… a lot of the behavior we see comes from the nurture of our own parenting. I know in the Ghanaian context, I had a conversation with a women in her 40’s who explained that for ‘big’ men here to be faithful to their wives was a symbol of their homosexuality. That a man that is successful should have a sexual appetite bigger than one woman, and any woman that cannot stand this should not aspire to marry into that kind of success. And I mean, with mothers like these— who needs enemies?! There is therefore a role for men, especially fathers, to play in shaping the psyche of acceptable male behavior as it relates to holding a higher standard of intimacy. I came across this letter written from a father to his son about the only reason someone should get married, and in the preamble it said:

Before we talk about sex, though, I want to talk about marriage. Not because I’ll shun you or shame you if you don’t put them in that order — although I hope you will — but because I believe the only good reason to get married will bring clarity to every other aspect of your life, including sex.

stock-footage-football-time-of-african-american-son-and-father-on-beachYou’ll have to read the entire piece for the reason but suffice it to say, this is a man willing to place a higher value on sex and to instill that into his son. Do you think his son will be traipsing around feeling like he should sow his wild oats before getting married? ME thinks not. And it had nothing to do with women holding hands at Independence Square in solidarity— but everything to do with a sort of brotherhood— an order of males seeking nothing less than commitment and sacrifice before engaging in this form of intimacy.

The economist in me is also thinking the issue may be the age old microeconomic problem of imperfect information. Maybe we are all just hiding behind these false pretenses where girls are giving it up because they think it’s what guys want, and guys are taking it because they think here are these free, liberated women who are exploring their sexuality and pushing the boundaries of social conformity— who wants to be the patriarch to re-institute all of the oppressive rhetoric women fought so hard against in the ’60’s? So then the men just sort of give in too, and then everyone is playing this game of ampe where you are so distracted by the clapping, you don’t even know that you are all on the same foot. Madness!

So how do we tear the veil of confusion? Communication. This guy blogger has made it very clear, and very public that he stands on the side of valuing sex in long term relationship. Perhaps if we were all this transparent, we could sift through the hay and find the needle in the stack.

Look… all I am saying is, as long as men hold low value for sex, there will always be scabs wiling to undermine the female sex revolution… but if men were to themselves, maintain a higher standard, then the scabs become obsolete and there is now a better situation for everyone involved. Even if everyone doesn’t want to get married, or people are delaying marriage for one reason or the other, there should still be a proportionate cohort of women AND men who are willing to raise the standard… for the love of humanity (hahaha!)

Do you think women need to work together to restore sex to its place of commitment or is that more of a conversation between men and women where men also assume some of the responsibility? Sound Off!

AND REMEMBER… VOTE FOR US! TWO MORE DAYS!

BUT DON’T WAIT ANOTHER DAY… :)

voterr

The Economics of Sex: The Game Has Changed [Part 1]

rrYou would have to be living under a rock to not have seen The Economics of Sex vid on some timeline, tweet, or status update in the last few weeks. I’ve included the vid below. It’s only ten minutes, but I know y’all won’t watch (…I do look at our blog stats), so I’ve given you the run down of the main points:

  • Pop culture says everyone around you is enjoying casual sex; elite culture insists that women and men are exactly the same in this regard, however “On average, men have a higher sex drive than women… On average, men initiate sex more than women, they’re more sexually permissive than women, and they connect sex to romance less often than women… Women on the other hand are likely to have sex for reasons beyond pleasure: to express and receive love, to strengthen commitment, affirm desirability and for relationship security” …it just is what it is.
  • Women are the gatekeepers to sex, and men are the gatekeepers to commitment.
  • If we look at this purely in economic terms, if sex is ‘her’ resource, how does a woman price sex? A few drinks and compliments? A month 3 months of dates? A lifetime promise of commitment?… The pricing of sex isn’t in a vacuum, because the market value of sex is part of a social system of exchange – ie. what others are buying and selling sex for has an influence on your individual price.
  • In the world of simple supply and demand, when supply is high prices drop, but when something is hard to find, people will pay a premium for it. And men these days know that the market value of sex has decreased.
  • There has been a splitting of the female mating market (those looking for sex vs those looking for marriage), largely as a result of the pill [I’m adding in my own bit here and saying also because of society, condoms, media, etc.]
  • So what does this mean for women:
  1. Women get to be selective for SHORT-TERM sexual relationships – because the supply of men (wanting Short Term sexual encounters) outnumbers their women counterparts. [To see this displayed in all it’s glory, all you need to do is go to any bar on a Friday night]
  2. However, the reverse is true when women want to settle down.

. . .

I’ve always said I’m an economist at heart… somewhat. That’s why when something is explained to me in economic terms, I get it.

photo 2I get that you don’t want to settle down with me now, because let’s face it… you don’t have to.

I get that you can have casual sex with women who like having casual sex AND with women who think it’ll make you wife them, AND THEN when you’re done making enough money, getting to that certain position in your career, growing up, sowing your wild oats, there will still be the ‘good ones’ out there waiting to be wifed.

I get that you have lowered your standards, because women have lowered theirs.

I get that whenever you choose to get married, as long as it’s not after the age of 50 70, there will always be droves of women willing and able to take up that burden privilege.

…I get it

…I got it

…Good.

So what do ‘we’ (women wanting commitment before the clock strikes menopause)  do in this case? How do we circumvent the game, and swing things back (even just a lil bit) in our favor?…inquiring minds wants to know.

I’m going to briefly describe what the vid says is the way women can gain back power. However, I want to make a quick note that after Amma responds to this later this week, we will also have a male guest post on the subject matter (whoop whoop testosterone… yes we’ve heard your nagging, cries,  complaints constructive feedback) :)

So how does the vid say women can gain back the power? Drum Roll pleaseeeee…

BY STICKING TOGETHER.

Somewhat of a kumbaya/ yaya sisterhood of sorts. But that’s as simple as it gets. Women no longer have each others backs in the mating market… now they’re each others competition. And in order to get the attention of men, women appeal to what they believe men want, sex.

I was in Lagos last week and a group of ladies and I were talking about the male market, when one summed up the group’s sentiments quite simply: ‘no one wants to truly commit anymore.’ This was a group of Americans AND African women, mind you. As I sat there, I kept thinking ‘are women asking men to though (by their words AND actions)?’ According to the Economics of Sex, men aren’t actually afraid of commitment *cue shock and awe*, rather they tend to behave as well or as poorly as the women in their lives permit. [please read that over. again. let it resonate]. Thus, economists have concluded that collusion – women working together – would be the most rational way to elevate the market value of sex. If women demanded a higher market price in exchange for sex, we would be seeing:

photo (4)

on avg

1. more impressive woo’ing efforts

2. greater male investment

3. longer relationships

4. fewer pre-martial partners

5. shorter co-habitation, and

6. more marriages

A woman’s power in this economy is to know what she wants in a relationship and signal it clearly …but none of this seems to be happening, so for now the economics of contemporary sexual relationships favors men and what they want, even as what they bring to the table diminishes.

As this commentary on the video put it, “Sex is her resource. She decides when it happens, in a consensual relationship… The pressure to have sex weighs from all sides, when at the end of the day, she holds the power. “If girls did actually come to realize that they’re “in the driver’s seat when it comes to sex (and if sisterhood really were powerful), they could change the market entirely, having sex only when they were ready and only when they saw a serious commitment on the part of their partner.”

So, we ask…Given that we can’t make it mandatory for women to sit through a ‘ya ya sisterhood’ sex-ed course in high school, middle school, elementary school, pre-k, how do we get this message of holding men accountable and looking out for your fellow sister across….?

My guess is as good as yours. But I’ve found that talking about it, and actually living it out is a good start… *shrug*

Amma, thoughts?

Also, don’t forget to VOTE for RR for Best Blog for the 2014 Ghana Blogging Social Media Awards: Instructions are HERE!

Clash of the Titans (Response to “The Ultimate Dating Advice: Seek Ye First”)

photo (7)A week after Afua’s post, I received a call from a guy friend who had a very interesting theory about our Accra experiences. He essentially said we were going about the dating thing completely the wrong way. I chuckled… naturally that would be the response, because what? were we supposed to just sit in our rooms, twiddle our thumbs and hope for our 6’2″ King to come riding into our living rooms in the latest BMW and just swoop us up?

Apparently so…

According to Yaw**, ‘dating’ as we have defined it on our blog is largely a Western concept, and the willingness to go on these dates without any pretext is usually a signal for.. well… sex. He said:

‘Ghanaian guys… we don’t just approach women to go out, unless all we want is to bed them. If you are really serious about a girl, you just watch and wait’

So I reply:

“Creepsicle much?!

You mean you’re just sort of hanging on the periphery taking notes and deciding if and when to approach? How can you even know someone if not by first letting them know your intentions and then getting to know them over live music at Afrikikos… or something equally nice (and relatively expensive… after all if you approached her, she must be worth the change, no?)

Plus, it also means that you thought Afua recounting her dates was some sort of morse code for her announcing some of her sexual escapades… which is a big false. Hmpf. (Afua knows I would judge her otherwise). No… No… When we mean dates… we mean it in the normal way… as in sitting down, talking, laughing, sharing important details about favorite colors and travel experiences… you know… very ‘When Harry Met Sally’… except without all of the melodrama. Just a good time with a potentially good person”

He continues…

Image (4)

‘Your kind of dating is full of fronting. Questions and answers. Makeup and good behavior. You’re not being real. When you don’t make your interest known and you just watch how the person is socially, at church and in various settings… and get to know them as a friend. It’s more authentic’

Ah…

hmmm…

That makes a lot of sense actually.

Then he ends with this:

‘Plus, there’s no pressure and we can go around *dating* girls who we won’t wife… before we finally settle down with the girl we were eyeing years before’

Oh.

Smh.

I can’t say I hate that idea. Afua always laughs at me because in my fairytale life, I’d just happen to fall in love with my best friend who would declare his love for me right after he lands into millions and is ready to give me the wedding on the moon he believes I deserve *deep sigh*… aside from just general visions of grandeur, Afua points out that we are too old to be making ‘best friends’ and that the best way is to go out on dates and hang out with guys until we find one we really click with. This all makes sense because we hear of perfect strangers becoming the perfect lovers and having the perfect homes… but the stories that generally endear us… the ones that pull at our heart strings and challenge our tear ducts to burst— are the ones where there is less… well… calculation. Where I (sorta) believe in ‘meet boy, become BFF’s, trip and fall in love’… Afua is more the ‘meet boy, fall in love while striving to develop a deep friendship’.

So here lies the dilemma. We all want to feel like there is a guy out there that can see us for us and will love us first from a distance… and then sweep us off of our feet in romance. But the busyness of our lives— work, Bible studies, girls night out, the radio show on YFM every Sunday evening at 9pm (shameless plug…. whatever… I don’t care. I don’t care. ha!) — makes it almost impossible to even have those kinds of fantasies. So naturally, we have evolved socially to accept that instead of our parents arranging our marriages, we arrange them ourselves through a series of one-on-one encounters meant to weed out the useless ones and isolate the ones that would be worthwhile. The ones we could fall in love with while developing a deep friendship over time. And while there is a diversity of dating styles and definitions (as Afua pointed out), the premise is pretty much the same: Meet. Eat. Repeat— or don’t if you’re weird or similar in anyway to Afua’s Kofi, Kwame, or Kwesi. In either case… falling in love has to at least start with an orchestrated meeting of two people who have expressed an interest beyond general acquaintance.

This seems immediately simple and obvious to us, but there seems to be a completely different thing happening on this side of the world and it’s so obvious considering Afua’s point about guys marrying old high school sweethearts or university crushes 5 years after having run around messing about with every other girl… aka dating: There’s a bit of a disconnect.

It sounds almost like dating is some glorified version of prostitution and that money and time spent are used as barter for sex and sexual favors. Furthermore, going on these dates (with someone who you are not already actually ‘dating’— the irony!) is a signal that you are not actually looking for a serious relationship. **shockface** What spirit of confusion!?

So I have some questions:

Destiny-s-Child-in-Independent-Women-Part-I-music-video-destinys-child-30897872-400-225

QUESTION!

  1. If I am serious about being in a committed relationship, but I do not have ties to any highschool or university in Ghana… and my life doesn’t allow for me to sit around and wait idly for someone to stalk me… then how does one actually date someone long term without going on dates with relatively perfect strangers?
  2. And if I follow Afua’s advice, and have someone vetted before agreeing to go on a date with them, does that necessarily mean that they are not interested in anything long term, but are rather looking to get to know me— in the very Biblical sense?
  3. Should I just assume that if I am asked on a date, then those guys’ relationship goals are not aligned with mine and that I should actually focus (or not focus) on all the ‘male friends’ who have actually made no advances at all?!

This is really and truly a strange phenomenon… it’s almost circular in logic and impossible to break… it doesn’t. actually. make. sense. But on some level… it’s sort of alluring (strange… I know). It’s almost a  game of hide and seek… but with adults. So here I am back and forth in my mind between thinking the Ghana Guy way is a bit off, but then sort of intriguing, when I have a thought: Maybe it’s time to try something new.

kisseddatingPerhaps it’s time we *dead* the dating thing and do the whole ‘bff’s until we say otherwise’— thing. A bit risky since a) neither of us did university or high school here and b) this would mean that we have to wait 5 yrs for some guy to stalk us and fall in love with us from a distance. Remember in high school, during youth group everyone was ‘encouraged’ to read the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye which essentially pushes this idea of friendship and courtship and group outings… maybe they were onto something. Or maybe that’s what all the Ghanaian youths were reading while we were away watching movies like The Titanic and hoping that we would find a Leo to our Kate Blanchett. I blame Western media. I also, digress.

*le sigh* All in all… it feels like most of us, in Ghana at least, want to be in serious long term committed relationships with people who we trust and whose character we can vouch for… but the means of getting here seem to be different enough that there is a bit of a mismatch and we end up disillusioned about the guys we have come to encounter in our time being in Ghana. There is a clash… of GARGANTUAN proportion… and yet all we want to do is be in love.

I need to hear from the fellas on this one… is Yaw** right and does this effectively mean we need to kill our dating life in favor of the carefree, watch-us-from-a-distance life?

Are we going about this all wrong?

**name changed.

Speaking My Language…

**We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming in honor of  Valentine’s Day. Amma will post a response to Afua’s Ultimate Dating Advice next week, but in the meantime we’re doing a special Love Languages post for all the lovebirds!**

. . .

photo (6)

“Cedrick, what are you getting your girlfriend for Vals day?”

“Hmm… Amma… I don’t even know. She is not the kind who likes flowers and so on… what do you think?”

“Oh… I don’t know. I never really celebrate Valentine’s Day. I don’t see how it would be really different from any other day. Are we going to have a different conversation from the ones we normally have at dinner? Am I going to love you more for buying me chocolates and flowers (though I do love flowers… mother was a florist, what can I say). Are you going to use this as a day to present me with tickets to go waste my life away at a fancy resort in Jamaica?! I mean… I don’t get it.”

“Eish…. Amma Noo Noo… haha! It’s just something nice to do… and since she is back in town I want to make it special, but I don’t know what she would like.”

“Well, what’s her love language?”

“Her what?”

Exactly.

Can you imagine being in a relationship with someone and neither of you speak the same language? Talk about communication problems. If you are not aware, according to Dr. Gary Chapman, there are five love languages that we all speak. These five languages are how we like for love to be expressed to us. The languages are:

mariah-carey-touch-my-body-o

  1. Physical Touch– as in, *cue Mariah Carey’s ‘Touch My Body‘*
  2. Gifts– as in, ‘I love you so much, I bought you this new Kia Sorrento babe’
  3. Words of Affirmation– as in, Kendrick Lamar rapping ‘She Needs Me‘ to me (as I imagine he shall in the near future): “She go to work, she go to school, her body smooth, no tattoos
    Type of girl that’ll make your mother feel comfortable
    My pops love her too, she’s compatible, she’s independent
    She handle her business, she believe in God and no other religions
    She’s never in competition, when it comes to her friends, she’s dependable
    She set her own trends, a confidant, a mediator, so sweet, every flavor
    Just a conversation with her doing you a favor, look at her hips, I want to be her pager
    Conservative, affirmative, actually she relaxing in sweats and bobby pins
    The beauty of her, a blind man can see, a true queen and she needs me”
  4. Acts of Service– as in, ‘Whoa Amma, I see that you are out here working so hard… you should take a day off while I cook, clean and give you a full body massage— just cuz’
  5. Quality Time– as in, ‘Yeah I know that this Tottenham game is the difference between champions league and… well… not-champions-league, but it’s cool. I will miss the game AND post game commentary so we can take a walk along the beach while I listen to you go on about nothing really.

So after I convinced my colleague Cedrick to take the love languages quiz, I decided… it’s been a while, let me see what my love languages are. I think the great thing about little tid bits like this is that you get the right vocabulary to talk about your emotions. You also understand how, if for example your main languages are gifts and services but your partner is always just affirming you with little notes and showing you PDA, things can get a bit frustrating. So this Vals day, Afua and I thought it appropriate to highlight the love languages.

I was not surprised at all when I took the quiz and discovered my love languages… Here are mine:

Picture2

So my number one is Acts of Service and my number two is Quality Time… and at the very VERY bottom is Physical Touch (which makes ALL the sense in the world since I believe(d) that kissing guys would ultimately lead to my death (again… immigrant parents… anti-afro-american rhetoric… blah blah blah). This would also explain a lot about my general reaction to GH guys heckling me on the street screaming words of affirmation to get my attention—not. my. thing. This would also explain why I am generally most impressed with acts of sacrifice, since I think this shows above all that you value me enough to put things that are important to you aside. Ultimately, this explains why ‘traditional’ Valentine fair of gifts and hallmark cards are definitely not my thing.  Either way, knowing this kind of information is a great way to save money and stress when considering Val’s day gifts… Maybe it is the traditional route of sending her flowers and gifts… but maybe its putting on an apron and getting down in the kitchen. Maybe it’s both at the same time… maybe it’s none.

After taking the quiz for myself, I naturally had to get all my ladies to take the quiz. I initially thought Afua’s would be physical touch and gifts…

I. Was. Wrong.

—-

afua.

afua.

She was wrong.

I’ve been a little late to this Love Languages movement. Although I briefly touched on it in a previous post, I never really understood the five distinct languages and had not taken the quiz to understand which were mine until Amma sent me the link. My results were weird (see below), not because my number 1-4 were all clustered within a point of each other, but because they left #5 all by her lonesome self…

If you talk to my parents about when I was a baby, they will tell you I was a little odd: ‘She could talk plenty and just surprise you with the things that came out of her mouth, and everything she did she liked to do it for herself’. I was the child that never cried for attention or to be held…. I didn’t want you to help me, because I could do it by myself. I didn’t need to be entertained as I would camp out in my crib and just be chilling with myself. Fast forward some 25 years later, and you’ll notice that nothing really has changed I am still not one that needs to be touched to express love and affection. If you really know me, you know this (clearly Amma, we’re drifting). Everything (else) communicates ‘I love you’ to me far above physical touch. And let me chime in here what I mean by physical touch before people start picking up things that I HAVEN’T put down. The physical touch I’m referring to includes things like holding hands, rubbing my lower back, arms around my waist, arms around my shoulder – *these* types of physical touch don’t really sit well with my soul as much as they just irritate it. I guess this is just how the good Lord saw fit to create me (note that my sister, who is 18 months older than me and was brought up in the same household as me, is not like this at all – so this isn’t a product of my upbringing).

5lovelanguage

I think on some level we all sort of ‘know’ our love languages. I remember when I lived in Italy, I used to see couples holding hands while dining at a restaurant and would think it was so strange, like ‘why do I have to hold your hand while we’re eating… I don’t get it…’ I would much rather hear you say how much I mean to you, and that you think the world of me, or that you’re really proud of me than be sitting there acquiring sweaty palms under the dining table. On the other side of things, I also ‘know’ that when someone I love says something really hurtful to me, it’s equally earth-shattering… but in a bad way. So this test didn’t necessarily say anything new to me, but like Amma said, it does put some vocabulary to it all.  Although I knew Physical Touch would be last for me, I think what was traumatic wasn’t that it was indeed ranked last, but that it scored zero. Now I know I’m definitely an anomaly not only for women, but for Africans and for the general planet as a whole, thus I am aware that I’m going to have to make a lot of sacrifices and compromises when I settle down –  Self awareness is the first step, right? (I just pray to God that my man’s #1 love language is not Physical Touch… because that will be problematic).

So for this valentine’s day, we want our readers to make sure they are speaking the same language as their significant others. Even if you (THINK you) know your love language (and your partner’s), it’s still a good exercise for the both of you to take the free quiz online (if you don’t have time to read the book) to understand what love really means to the both of you. Armed with this information, both of you will have a better idea of how to display affection in a way the other one can actually feel.

Here’s the link to the QUIZ >> 5lovelanguagesquiz

Share YOUR Love Language with us in the comments section! Or give us a story of when you were mismatched in love languages with your partner.

…and of course, we must say:

unnamed

. . .

Short Announcement

Like we promised, here’s information on the AdventuresFrom Google hangout that RR is participating in on Friday. If you can’t watch live, we’ll put a link up to the session next week.

Join our ‘Metamorphosis of Love’ hangout on Valentine’s Day 

Friday, 14th February at 17:00 GMT.

The topic to be discussed is the metamorphosis of love or its perception from the African woman’s context. What were you taught about love as a young woman, and how did those concepts change if at all in various stages of life and with different experiences?

Facilitator – Malaka (Ghana/US)

Her fab guests are:
Tosinger (Nigeria/US) Listen to her music via http://www.afrodreaming.com/home.html
Rambling Roomates (Ghana) Read their blog http://loveafrican.wordpress.com/
Tiffany (South Africa/Kenya) Check out the site she curates http://holaafrica.org/tag/holaa/
Ngosa (Zambia)Visit her blog http://mwanabaafrika.blogspot.com/

This hangout will be streamed live via this link with a recording available after the hangout via the same link. If you are on twitter follow the live tweets via @adventurefrom with the hashtag #AdSex

Dear Lola (and Amma). Pt 2 of Faith, Fidelity, and Family

photo (3)

WHOA. I don’t know what to say, but THANK YOU. I’m not one to be very outwardly emotional (y’all know this), so you can probably imagine the inner struggle I had writing and actually posting my last blog, but your response has only confirmed that it was the right thing to do. After posting ‘Knowing Before You Know‘, I received so much love through calls, emails, whatsapp messages, informal discussions- thanking me for being so blunt open, it was kinda crazy weird. Not to mention the fact that y’all really shared the post – it was the highest single day viewed post in the history of this blog, by more than double… ya, crazy times.

So without getting too emo on you again, I wanted to say thanks for the encouragement and support…and the sharing of the post! It’s great to know people relate to and appreciate what we’re writing.

On a last note, I want to clear up that that post wasn’t about bashing the guy or men in general; there are great guys out there, and I actually think he’s one of them. Judging from the way he treats his family and friends, I know he’s going to be a great husband to his wife one day; my post was about the fact that ‘she’ wasn’t me… and I should have been more attentive to the signs so I could have bowed out of the game much earlier and been on a path to find the person who was for me.

Anyhoo on to my actual post, which is a response to Amma’s piece on Faith, Fidelity and Family.

– – –

photoIf I’m honest, I’ve often wondered if when this subject would come up. In fact, it’s such a dicey topic that it’s taken me over three months to pull a response together. Amma and I have had several too many conversations to count on this topic, because it’s a little too close to home for us. Like Amma, I also grew up in a strong faith-based home. Although not quite the Pentecostal hooting and hollering-type, it was definitely the grounded in faith, grounded in The Word and church-type. And like Amma, I also fell in love with someone who didn’t share in my faith  was basically atheisty- agnosticy, and I had to grapple with how I wanted to proceed. Following the relationship, I still have to say that my feelings toward being with someone outside of my faith aren’t hellbent on ‘no’. Too much has happened since then for me to know that life is complicated, and sometimes love is complicated too. So as much as I would love to be with someone who shares my same beliefs, I can’t guarantee that if put in the exact same situation again, I wouldn’t continue on with the relationship… And that’s just real talk.

The topic of inter-faith or faith/no-faith relationships has reared it’s head several times in the last few months, not only with the referenced letter in Amma’s post, but also with an intriguing conversation that I had with some new friends of mine here in Accra. And because you know I love to retell a good story… let’s begin:

The setting is the apartment of a young married couple in Accra. I’m having a friendly discussion with the man of the house about everything and nothing in particular. The conversation slowly steers towards the standard, “how is life in Accra treating you as a ‘returnee’ ‘half-outsider’?” Armed and loaded with my ‘young returnee answer tool kit’, I respond politely that things are fine and uneventful.

“And dating in Accra?”>> ‘bold, much?’ I think to myself, ‘this usually doesn’t come up till further into these types of conversations…’ But still, I present my neatly packaged response: “uneventful.”

“Are your standards too high?” Was the subsequent question. Which for now I’ve come to expect when I give anyone a less than stellar response to the “Are you seeing anyone?”-type question. Unfortunately for me, the one word response of ‘No’ is never believed by whomever I’m speaking to, and spending time explaining how their assessment of me is incorrect is always a very conscious decision because it means getting into an exhausting argument exchange that I’m so over before it begins. However, as life would have it I found this gentleman mildly worthy to continue engaging with me on this topic, so I gave him a half truth in response, ‘I’m not picky, but I do think wanting someone that loves Jesus in a genuine- genuine meaning not illogical fanatic way**- is hard to come by these days (read here how some studies brand Christians less intelligent than atheists).

“Aaaa you’re one of those. Like my wife.”unequally-yoked

“Excuse me?”

“My wife is religious, and I’m not in the least.”

From here, he proceeds to tell me their story and how things work for them in a faith/no faith relationship. For some context: this is a young, well educated, well traveled couple with no kids. However, this isn’t the end of the story- his wife walks in and he invites her to join in on the discussion, which puts an interesting spin on things. I won’t waste too much time on the details of the rest of the exchange, but my two takeaways from the conversation were these:
1. It can work- Inter-faith and faith/ no-faith relationships. However, the can is a very big can. And that work, is very real work; and,
2. It is not ideal for the party that is Christian (particularly if this is the woman).

Obviously, I don’t know the ins and outs of Mr No Faith and Mrs Faith’s marriage, but as it pertains to #1, what I mean is that heaven doesn’t rain down fire and the world doesn’t come to a screeching halt (like some Christians would like to believe). However, undoubtedly sacrifices have to be made: Mr. No Faith mentioned he accompanies his wife to church on occasion because he knows ‘it’s important to her’, and Mrs. Faith mentioned that she doesn’t share with her husband her ‘God experiences’ knowing he wouldn’t appreciate them (I believe her actual words were, “he’d probably laugh”). In regards to #2, I say this isn’t ideal for the Christian spouse because marriage for Christians is supposed to have a deeper purpose of being one of the most important ways God uses to demonstrate His Nature -how He loves, how He commits, how He sacrifices, and how He forgives- to non-believers (and believers) on earth. Thus fundamentally, this is supposed to guide how a couple spends their time, money, and how they raise their children, etc. Particularly for the Christian wife, an ‘unequally yoked’ relationship isn’t ideal because men are looked to, in most people’s minds, as the (spiritual) leader of the home. Amma pointed out that this seems to be something women ‘obsess over’ more than men, and I think it’s because there is no substitute influence over a woman’s life and her children’s than the leadership of her man on all matters spiritual and none. With the number of ‘single’ women I see at church, children in tow, I often wonder what the dynamics are at home (for example, what is their continual response to their children when they ask, ‘How come daddy doesn’t have to go to church?’). [If you want to read more on this, here’s a good article on whether interfaith marriage is always wrong, from a Christian perspective].

I think similar to Amma’s dad, Mrs. Faith having crossed over the hurdle of nuptials has the luxury of saying things like, ‘you should try to find someone you’re spiritually compatible with from the get go’- which is indeed something she said during our conversation. Because both she and Amma’s dad successfully found someone they actually connected with enough to marry (even church and hateif it was only on a physical and emotional level), hindsight is now 20/20… especially when you’re rendering advice to single young women like me and Amma. But for us who haven’t been fortunate enough to have found our ride-or-die, lover, roomie, best friend person to share our lives with yet, we recognize that it’s quite a tall order these days to find someone who you connect with – mind, body, AND soul. And things become more complicated when you add in the fact that the difference between some Christians and non Christians is inconsequential, for the most part now. It also doesn’t work in your favor when you’re smitten by a particular type of guy- the highly educated, highly analytical, highly opinionated critical thinker who is not drawn to fables about an intangible God up in heaven looking out for us (and dictating how we have to live our lives), much less His incompetent followers gouging money from poor unsuspecting gullible people *side eye*- yes, Amma and I dated iterations of the.same.guy. Although these men were supportive of our individual relationships with Christ (and have a lot to do with why we have individually matured in our faith/beliefs even now), I know our relationships with them would have been richer if we could have been able to-

…pray with them and not at them

… go to church with them

… make jokes about the Israelites in the old testament stories with them (really, Amma?)

… encourage them through scripture and (co)prayer

… and talk about hearing from God or experiencing a move of the Spirit without them rolling their eyes and/or smirking, just like Amma said.

However, I also know being a Christian doesn’t guarantee connection/compatibility (nor fidelity, honesty, good communication and all that other great stuff), so I can empathize with Lola that she was captivated by her husband by something other than his spirituality. I am happy that she found that special someone, and I recognize that people do change (note that it’s generally accepted that men take a longer time to ‘find religion/spirituality’ than women), but I also know that it’s not my job to change anyone, it’s God’s. So while not making any judgments on Lola’s situation, if I were to end up being with someone not of my faith, rather than placing stipulations on what their spirituality has to become ultimately, I would make peace with who I was marrying… as he was. And I would certainly make peace with the fact that I may be forever trucking to church solo, children-in tow, answering questions like ‘why doesn’t daddy have to go to church?’

**What I mean by this is you actually know why you believe what you believe, and how it translates to practical living, rather than blindly following any hooting and hollering pastor of the day, or just going to church because that’s what your parents did.