I no longer believe in Oyinbo love.
Growing up I believed in oyinbo love. How could I not? Every single thing around me influenced me to believe in it. Oyinbo love is incredibly well documented and has seeped into all cultures everywhere.
Oyinbo love is romantic love.
From the first day I read Cinderella, Rapunzel and all those fairy tales where handsome princes fell in love with beautiful damsels; I was being set up to chase the illusion of romantic love.
I graduated from fairy tales to Mills and Boon. Where men are tall, dark and handsome and not to forget, rich. The women are beautiful and always with less money or experience generally than the men. And nothing on this earth says oyinbo love more than Mills and Boon. I mean there were never people of colour… Caucasians every single time.
From Mills and Boon to chick flicks… All those oyinbo romantic comedies that almost always end up with one person chasing the other person to the airport before their flight takes off and confessing love in a grand way. Then the other person does not leave anymore but comes back and they live happily ever after.
Can we speak about the beautiful ballads that were the soundtracks of my generation? Where we sat down on our beds at night listening to Yakubu Lamai play sappy songs; while we dreamt of men that would come and sweep us off our feet and love us forever.
“What is the colour of love? What do you see?
Is it warm? Is it tender when you think of me?
I see the colours of love.
When I’m thinking of you.
As a picture perfect painting.
Of a love forever true.”
(Billy Ocean. What is the colour of love)
What really is oyinbo love?
Oyinbo love is the feeling of being in love. It is thinking about someone so much that it consumes a person. It is about the petting… the kisses… the poetry… the long walks holding hands on the beach… In fact, it is about love making… not being able to function because we miss someone… It is obsessive, volatile and unpredictable. It is buying flowers and talking to each other every day. Also, it is opening of doors and plenty chivalry. It is sweet and light and we can tell when it happens; same way we can also tell when it leaves. It is fleeting. Indeed, it is fluff. It is the icing on the cake and not the cake. It is characterised by grand gestures.
Oyinbo love has nothing to do with choice. The love supposedly chooses you. Hence “We can’t help who we fall in love with.” Hence, “It just happened.” It is accidental and so completely without premeditation.
Oyinbo love makes us believe that there is ONE person out there that was specially made and tailored; just for you. It makes you feel like you will be incomplete forever; not till you find this one person that is your half. And then when this one person comes; everything in your life will become the way it is supposed to be and the two of you will love forever till the sunset of life happens.
Oyinbo love is infatuation on steroids. It is a crush raised to the power of a crush.
I, as a Nigerian kid that was raised by books and TV mostly on such matters; (because our parents found such discussions too awkward); grew up aspiring and searching for this sort of love.
Follow your heart.
How does he make you feel?
Can you picture your life without him?
Does he make you feel like a princess?
Oyinbo love rule book was pretty shitty, come to think of it. Very impractical.
Oyinbo love is fickle.
Have you watched them base their relationships on feelings and ephemeral things over and over again?
It is no wonder they are always falling out of love.
“I love you but I am not in love with you.”
“He used to buy me flowers and now he doesn’t. He has fallen out of love with me.”
Their divorce rates are astronomical. (We are steadily catching up). We explain women finding independence here as the reason why divorce rates are increasing. But oyinbo women found their independence way before us. They live in countries with very good laws that protect women and establish gender equality. And yet their divorce rates are still climbing.
Because this love that they talk about has an easily accessible front and back door. Easy to come and go.
Romantic love is cute but should be categorized under tag of ‘fun and games’ in a relationship. The icing on a cake makes it look amazing but it’s there for décor; and not the actual part that gets eaten.
In fact, 40 opens your eyes to a lot of things. You can look back and see clearly.
When most people get married, it starts off as romantic love. This is easily built. Seeing each other. Video calls, texting, going on dates, sharing inner thoughts and all that.
When the nitty gritty of living with another person starts; everything falls like a pack of cards if there was no substance to the relationship. After the honeymoon, we soon realize that things are complicated.
We realize that building a life with another person is more than opening doors and kisses.
We realize that a lot of it is unglamorous.
Actually loving a person is mostly about skills we may or may not have developed in our growth.
It is about patience… seeing the short comings of the other person and yet; still staying there for them and vice versa.
This is as opposed to the romantic love that says that love is blind.
True love sees.
Love has a whole lot more of consciousness to it than we are made to believe. It is a series of conscious decisions and habits honed with time.
Love is kindness. I will take a little kind gesture over a room full of red roses any day. There is no love in cruelty. Deliberately hurting a partner and watching them hurt and feeling satisfied that you have gotten at them. Playing mind games with each other.
Love is humility… not fighting for dominance or the chance to subjugate the weaker person. Equal regard and respect for each other. Watching each other’s back.
Love is endurance. This is not a word that we like. But the lessons of life always have a dash of endurance in them. Few things do not require waiting. Love sometimes means waiting. Waiting for a partner to figure out some things. Waiting for a partner’s growth. And waiting for a partner to ride over the crest of middle age crisis.
Love is built one block at a time over time. The beginning may be a big bang (figuratively of course) but every other thing is conscious building.
This is why I do not believe that there is one great love. Some people have skills that make sharing a journey of love with them easier. Some don’t.
Honesty. Openness. Willingness to learn. Willingness to unlearn. Communication. Selflessness. Empathy. Tenacity. Determination.
You see the things above? These are the blocks that make up love. Every other thing garnishes it. Oyinbo love is the bow on the present. The actual present itself is a million-piece jigsaw puzzle that two people are willing to play for life.