This week I spent some time catching up with my reading, wading through blogs that I’d bookmarked and never taken the time to read through, clearing the frightening backlog on my reader, searching out new sites/blogs and the wonder therein, or lack thereof, this as I look for my new pet obsession. At one point I googled ‘blogs by women over 30’, hoping to find another like minded individual, a search that led me to some random site belonging to a self help guru, he who claims to be a ‘dating coach for smart, strong, successful women’, because ‘smart, strong, successful woman’ is a euphemism for ‘woman over 30 who can’t find a man’, at least according to google, apparently. I know, I groaned too, but I was many hours into my surfing expedition, I figured another 30 minutes or so of mind numbing nonsense couldn’t do me any harm. Strange thing is, reading through this genius’ blog, it hit me that for all his self promotion blather and Oprah-like condescension (‘I used to be that way too’ was uttered more times than is acceptable), he had a couple of things to say that made sense, for the most part its common sense, but as we all know, common sense is nowhere near as common as we have been led to believe.
The article that got me thinking was called, and I say this with some shame, “Why men don't like smart, strong, successful women”. Yes, I groaned too, again, but you know I’m a bit foolish, and on occasion (more than) a little cocky, when I read that title I thought to myself, ‘Lakini, why?’ Stop looking at me like that, it was almost 1.00 am and I’d been reading for close to six hours, delusional behaviour is acceptable at that hour. This genius’ theory is frighteningly simple, frightening because of its clarity. He says, and I’m paraphrasing quite liberally so you might want to read it for yourself, those qualities that make a woman successful at work are the exact qualities that make her a lousy date. See, its not that men don’t like the fact that you run a company, they don’t like the fact that you try to run them like a company, and here’s the best bit, turns out it’s not the men who have a problem, its you. Yes, you, in all your brilliant, analytic, authoritative, type A decisiveness, you’re turning these guys off with your brilliance. I know, its infuriating, no? How dare he say such a thing, bloody idiot?
Well I hate to break it to you, but he’s right. No really, he is. Hang on, just think about it for a minute, its common sense, really. When you write a list of all the things you want in a man, your list probably has strong, good provider and responsible at the top, because that’s what a man is supposed be, right? Our problem, and I’m talking specifically to women who are used to working (and maybe playing) in a man’s world, is that we assume that men have the same things on their lists. Because we’re so used to being judged with the same standards as men, being expected to be exactly like men as professionals, when we get out into the dating scene we forget that we’re being judged not as intellectuals, or professionals, but as women, and unfortunately we’re increasingly coming up short.
Some time back I asked men in their 30's what the appeal of the young girls they seem to prefer dating was, and I didn’t get an answer (I did get a couple of answers, but Flani was waxing poetic and Munene was being cryptic, not exactly what I was hoping for in terms of clarity). Reading the seemingly dubious article with the dodgy sounding title is when it finally clicked, although in my defence I’ve been heading to this conclusion on my own, no? No? Well, you try finding a coherent thought in a mind as fucked up as mine, dammit! The conclusion? It has dawned upon me that the reason a man looks at me and thinks, “Nah! I think I’ll go for the semi-literate girl in the tight jeans and sandaks,” isn’t because she has a better ass than mine (well, she does, but that’s not the only reason I get passed over), that youngling is, in some ways, more female. No really, she is, and not just because she wears frocks and make up, and I don’t, she’s simply more girly than I am, and as it turns out, men like girls. Who knew, right? What I call silly, fawning behaviour, a man reads as female coquettishness, letting him play alpha male to his helpless female. I just gagged a little writing that… That’s an extreme example, but it serves to best illustrate the point I’m trying to make. Us ‘mature’ women have gotten so used to standing up for ourselves out here in the big bad world, matching the men stride for stride, that we’ve become completely clueless as to how best to be women, soft, gentle, nurturing women. If this theory is to be believed, then it would appear that the only way we will find our happily ever afters is if we become less…us.
You know what, that may not be such a bad thing.
I’ll give you a minute to pick your jaw up off the floor.
Are you good? Let’s continue.
I figure, if what you want more than anything is to find that special someone, then you must bite this bullet and start turning down your possibly macho brilliance and turning up your feminine wiles. Simply put you need to be more woman, woman, if you’re serious about the search for a man then you cant be fighting the current, insisting on strong-arming some poor bastard into submission. Its not that you’re expected to act like a sandak wearer, all giggly and shit, not at all, you just need to be less
in your approach, and maybe more Martha Stewart. Hell, even our Martha Karua Martha is toning her Martha down in her attempt to woo us, so why cant you? Approach the search for a man less as a hostile take over and more as a merger. Can you feel me now? Unfortunately, that’s the extent of my business lingo, learnt from Wall Street, the movie, I’m afraid I don’t speak corporate. If you can’t, or won’t, then accept your reality and move on, but do so knowing that it’s a distinct possibility that you will spend the rest of your life without a significant other.
Ladies, this is the choice you must make, sooner rather than later, and don’t let anyone tell you any different, it’s a conscious decision you’re making. Weigh the pros and cons, what you’ll gain and what you’ll lose. If you love the fact that you get to do whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want, and you’re reluctant to give that freedom up, then perhaps you need to accept that the freedom you love may be the reason you will never find the ‘love’ you seek, or perhaps that you’re looking for the wrong ‘love’. If what you want more than anything is the husband, the kids, the whole shebang, barring the miraculous delivery of the perfect man on your doorstep, delivered by stork no less, something will have to give. The men you claim to want, the ones who are looking to settle down, have six kids and buy plots in the boondocks, these men have no time for a woman whose lifelong goal is to feature on the cover of Forbes, and this despite the fact that the man may very well be harbouring that same goal.
A week or two back, I made a comment to the great anonymous one that the few people I know who’ve recently come back home, after many years in the Diaspora, have had no problem finding partners, one got married in December after being home for a year, another is seemingly headed down the aisle before the year is out, and this after dating her man from January, this year. The men these women are marrying are not unique specimens, they’re regular guys, the type of guys I would probably dismiss as useless buggers in the local, because they looked at me funny or such like nonsense. The women aren’t the hottest thing ever either, if anything they’re a little fucked up and all (a story for another day). Women in this city are constantly bitching there are no good men to be found, yet other women are landing and getting married at dizzying speed, so what gives? I’ve thought about it and I think I know why, it’s that these women have come back with purpose. These mamas aren’t fucking around, my friend, they have a goal: to find a man, settle down, have the 2.5 kids, house in the leafy suburbs, the works. While we’re sitting at the counter in ka-fulanas, bitching, these women are walking around in their 4 inch Manolos and pretty dresses, hunting. They’ve toned down the excesses of their youth, the endless partying and the random shags, looking at them now, extolling the virtues of waiting till the third month to shag the man, and this from women who shagged their way across god knows how many states, you cant help but laugh at their focus and steely determination. And the best part is, its working, and all because they’ve made that decision.
Today’s life lesson, ladies, is this. You need to conduct a brutal self audit, if possible get someone you trust to show you the unvarnished truth. This isn’t so much about whether or not you like what you see, its about seeing what other people see, and figuring out why. Once that’s done, then you get to make a couple of hard decisions. Remain as you are and hope for that one man who’ll get you and all your lovely idiosyncrasies (read issues), knowing that said man may never materialise, or that said man may in fact be a series of men throughout your life. Or you may decide to try a different approach, maybe grind down the rough edges, leave the alpha female in the office for a change, embrace your inner damsel, maybe even, and I say this with slight shame, buy a sandak, or two, because you can’t be unhappy in plastic shoes, its just not possible. I just gagged again… I don’t know if that approach will get you the man you’ve been dreaming of, but I figure its worth a shot, you’ve tried everything else, no?
Folks, this blog is my self audit. Looking back at what I’ve been writing for the last nine months, I’m finally starting to see what it is I’ve been doing, and why. I know, it sometimes looks like I’m being a self-indulgent cow, analysing seemingly random facets of my life, past and present, but it turns out that it was all simply an attempt to find the answers to the questions that have been bothering me for the better part of my adult life, this so I could finally make my peace with the woman I am, and, apparently, the man I don’t have.
I have to be honest here, the thought of having to change to find a man bothers me deeply. Its not that I think I’m perfect, I know I’m far from it, but its taken me so long to get to the point where I like the person I see in the mirror that I’m loathe to start tweaking her, especially in a quest to find a man I’m not entirely convinced I want. That right, I’m not sure I want the serious man I keep saying I’m looking for. I don’t want to settle down and have babies, and I don’t want someone in my house 24/7. Frankly, I’m not yet at that point that the hubby, family, et al, is what I want more than anything else, so I’m content to keep muddling along, for now at least, and being single, or unmarried as the case may be, is the price I have to pay for my peculiar tendencies. And that’s okay. Its not ‘normal’, but its okay. Really. This is my working solution, and truth be told, its not one I’ll be recommending to anyone any time soon. It’s a lonely path, and sometimes it can be bloody frustrating, if for no reason other than the fact that the rest of the world insists on treating you like a freak, and not in a good way, but its what works for me, for now at least.