Yesterday I had the pleasure of being in conversation with my sister-activist-friend Dr Njoki Wamai at an event hosted by the Queens College Feminist Society and FLY- Women of Colour Forum.
One woman shared that she and a friend had concluded that perhaps they had to give up on the possibility of finding good relationships that were congruent with their values as African feminists. This is a conversation that I continued with a friend later, and a struggle that I am very familiar with. Although I am currently partnered, those of you who have read this blog will know that for years I was single, and I need to stress, happily single. And that’s the first point that I want to stress:
Relationships are not the be all and end all of life
Many of us grow up with the idea that our destiny is to get married (to a man), to have children, and to live happily ever after. This is what is presented to us as the ‘natural’ order of things. Something that absolutely needs to happen, and so we grow up expecting to meet our Prince Charming (the possibility of a Princess is out of the question of course), and so it can feel all kinds of fucked up when we meet frog after frog after frog. And the great thing about being a woke feminist is that you’re like, “hell to the nah. I’m not about to settle with a frog’ which is great. But of course it can still leave you feeling a bit meh. And wondering if you are missing out on something…
Expand your possibilities
This one is especially for my sisters in the Diaspora who are usually surrounded by men of all races. You.Do.Not.Have.To.Date.Only.Black.Men. Date men of all races – I understand and appreciate the desire to date someone who shares heritage with you. Who knows what good jollof is (of course Ghana jollof is best), who understands that in future you can’t put your parents in an old people’s home, who gets why you need to send money home regularly. But chale, you’re limiting yourself if you only stick to your own. More importantly, date people (wink, wink). Oranges are not the only fruit.
Live your best life
Confession: I really enjoy being single. Of course there are all sorts of nice things about being in a relationship but being single really rocks. There is a beauty and freedom in being single. Doing what you want, when you want. And so live your best single life. Focus on your self and what makes you happy. Cultivate an amazing social life. My single (and current partnered) life was full of fun dance classes, various networking events, travel, hanging out with friends, being a member of professional clubs, and fun casual sex. And that’s another thing, we all have our individual standards when it comes to sex. I have friends who can only have sex with people they are in committed relationships with. I understand that. It’s probably the safest thing to do (where sexual health is concerned). But if sex is important to you, don’t let being single stop you from having sex. Besides I have a sneaky feeling that single people have all the best sex.
I would love to know more from you. Are you at an age where you have started to feel concerned that you might never end up in a long-term relationship because you’re not ‘traditional’ enough? Do people call you ‘radical’ because you refuse to settle for a frog? How have you dealt with this? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
2 comments On 3 reasons why relationship are not all that
Being in my early 40s I have reluctantly given up on being partnered. I would love to be with someone but not so much that I can confirm to ‘norms’ that i dont believe in. When i told an ex i still had no intention of changing my surname he remarked that age hadn’t ‘tamed’me! How have I dealt with it? Not sure I Have, particularly the involuntary celibacy! Can’t shag frogs. I am dealing by becoming the person is want to marry well read, travelled financially secure etc
@Ama – No words at your ex. No words! This is why he’s probably an ex huh.
I love that you are focusing on becoming the person you also want to be with. Keep doing you