I had a conversation with a friend recently. He wanted to start dating again.

“I have a tip for you, if you want,” I said

“Ok, shoot,” he said.

“Ask her out properly,” I told him. “Don’t be vague. Say when you would like to meet and where. How she responds will tell you whether she’s interested or not.”

Like many women, I have been on the receiving end of many none-asks. Men really love to pull out that classic, “we should hang out sometime” line. 

What, pray tell, am I supposed to do with “we should hang out sometime”? It then falls on me to ask, “Where? When?” And then they say, “whenever you’re free.” Then I have to say “OK, I am free on Saturday evening, does that work for you?” To which they will respond, “Cool, where do you want to go?” And then it will be up to me to suggest a place, and by this point any interest I might have had in the person has turned into dust, crushed under the mental load foisted on me to ensure the date happens. 

I was there minding my own business, but now I have to do admin because someone decided to “ask me out”? I have to align calendars, be a location scout, and then no doubt organise transport on the day of? Something is not right here, friends.

There is a disproportionate amount of labour that women perform in order to participate in romance, and it is because men simply refuse to pull their weight. Where is the intention? The follow through? Forget romance (if you won’t pick the restaurant, I don’t see you pulling my chair), how about a little consideration? Surely if I am going to spend an hour drawing my eyeliner on just right, the least a man could do is spare me the logistics planning for our date? 

Dating today is bleak. Openly showing interest is now called simping. Planning a nice, thoughtful date down to the last detail is seen to be “doing too much”. We’ve cultivated a culture where the loser wins, that is, whomever cares the least wins the attention olympics. The logic is that the less effort and attention I show this person, the more they will like me. If my attention is a scarce resource then it goes up in value. Demand and supply, free market dynamics, capitalism but for the heart. Like I said, bleak. 

I watched a video recently that tried to pin this on the hyperindividualism reality of our lives today. In the video, French Philosopher Alain Badiou says that modern society has placed an emphasis on individuality over the value of community, leading to people living lives in isolation from their true selves which crave connection. 

To survive in our broken societies which don’t uphold communal care, we have become hyper independent. But love demands interdependence. He is much more elegant in how he says it, describing romantic love as ‘the most powerful way known to humanity to have an intimate relationship with another’. Watch the video to see how he links it all to dating app culture and our need for risk management.

Attempting to love someone is risky. There is no guarantee they will love you back. But trying to manage that risk by not caring too much is the very antithesis of love. If there is a context where go big or go home perfectly applies, love is it. Dating is it. You have to swing for the stars in order to land on the moon. Sure, it might end in tears, but just because you choose to be tepid and nonchalant doesn’t mean you won’t get hurt anyway. Might as well go out swinging. So, go on, risk it all and ask someone out properly. 

What I said to my friend was, “Women love a man with a plan.” But what I really meant was, “Women love a man who can take a chance on us.”

PS

Legend has it that wooing was once serious business. Men used to send love letters (not “wya” texts), go on bended knee and beg for second chances in the rain, sing nayhooooooo… you get the drift. I miss the days when men would gather a band or bring out a boombox and perform under your window, the neighbours be damned. It was before my time and beyond my geography (seemed to only be a thing in American music videos) but I miss it regardless. Rain was a big feature because how can love grow in a desert? And now we’re in a love drought. Tragic.

Author

  • Jacqueline Kubania

    Jacqueline is an award-winning journalist and communications practitioner with a combined nine years’ experience in local and international newsrooms and the non-profit sector. She is a Chevening scholar and was the 2015 Kenyan winner of the David Astor Journalism Awards Trust. She has previously worked for Nation Media Group as a senior reporter, and has also reported for The Guardian in the UK and City Press in South Africa. She holds an MSc in Practising Sustainable Development from Royal Holloway, University of London. Jacqueline currently lives in Nairobi and works as a communications consultant and freelance journalist. Her favourite subject is people, in all their layers and complexities. She is a feminist and a supporter of social justice. She hopes to one day do a food tour of West Africa. Talk to her about books, cats, or travel.