In the midst of frying pancakes and sausages on a glorious Saturday morning, I found myself debating about what I call ‘family boyfriends and girlfriends’. This is a term I had come up with, and for the sake of those who do not understand this concept… let me break it down.
A family girlfriend a.k.a ‘iyawo wa’ is one who has been dating her boyfriend for something like 2 years plus and she is well known by her boyfriend’s friends and family. She is in attendance at every family event, more often than not she is in Asoebi, she cooks jollof for her boyfriend’s friends, she is wife material 100 yards… in short, the whole family is rooting for her!
A family boyfriend is also similar to a family girlfriend. He will give you money to give your parents, he may even pay your school fees or your siblings school fees, you will wear ‘anko’ together, he is ultimate husband material. In short, your parents will kill you if you don’t marry him! Now, what does these two categories have in common? The absence of legal binding a.k.a Marriage!
Relationships are interesting because they are dynamic and they sort of mimic life… highly uncertain, and without rules. Though, I find the whole concept of family boyfriends/girlfriends ‘somehow’ but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t worked out for others, neither does it mean it is necessarily bad thing. It is more of a boundary thing which is very personal. Some people are fine with zero boundaries, and some are not. So, let’s discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a ‘family boyfriend/girlfriend’.
One of the advantages and probably the most crucial point of a ‘family boyfriend/girlfriend’ is the high probability of transitioning into marriage. I reckon meeting your boyfriend or girlfriend’s family is such a big feat that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Therefore, before anyone can proceed with such chances are they have thought about it and they are pretty much invested in the relationship. When I was younger, around 13/14 ish, our neighbour’s brother had a girlfriend who came around very frequently but, the amusing part is that every Saturday she comes in very early in the morning to help him out with his laundry. At every family occasion, she was always present. In fact, at some point we started referring to her as Iyawo Uncle S.
In my own little wisdom, I always thought to myself ‘this aunty is such a nice aunty, I pray Uncle S. marries her’. Even I that wasn’t a family member started rooting for her… as per, wife material! Fortunately a few more years down the line, they got married. Disclaimer: This is not to say you must do laundry for a man who hasn’t paid your bride price oh! If you want to do it, do it without sentiments attached.
Second point, you have people rooting for you. If you have displayed your ‘wife/husband material lace’ long enough around family members and friends, chances are… you have supporter’s club. Your jollof rice cannot be in vain! God forbid Akin will come home one day and say he wants to marry Folake. For where? His mother will fight him! His sisters will disown him. In fact, they will spit fire and brimstone. You think I’m joking, I have seen this happen first hand to a family member. That is how bros woke up one day to tell his girlfriend he is not ‘doing’ again. His mother did not ‘gree’! She dragged the issue with him till he finally married her. Today, it’s been many years down the line with three beautiful kids!
Also, more often than not you will have good rapport with your in-laws. There is one proverb in Yoruba that says ‘you can marry a bad spouse but you can’t have bad in-laws’. Errrhmm, married people… is that true? Whether it is true or not, it is a beautiful thing to have solid/cordial relationship with your in-laws.
Wearing ‘Ankos’ and ‘Asoebis’ is not necessarily a bad thing. Infact, you are better off wearing it and taking pictures so that insta fam can see it and take note. As per… private property! God forbid your boyfriend or girlfriend is keeping a side ‘somebody’, the Asoebi is more than enough warning that says ‘private property, keep off’!
As for its disadvantages, well… it may not end in a marriage like either of you hoped. Relationships, even marriages… do not come with guarantees. It may work out, it may not because… Life happens! If you find yourself at that point, take it in good fate and it is probably best you do not try to be a family boyfriend or girlfriend to anyone again. Verdict, it is too much energy! Also, the break-ups are harder to initiate and tad messier to follow through. Not a pretty sight!
In addition, you may also have to break ties with the whole family after you’ve broken up with them because that is the healthy thing to do. Finally, wearing ‘ankos’ and ‘asoebis’ is a double edged sword. You can break up with the person but the clothes will remind you, your pictures will remind you, monitoring spirits on ‘insta’ will notice… something that felt more like a marriage will feel like a divorce!
If you are down for the ‘family boyfriend/girlfriend’ arrangement I must say, tread with caution keeping it at the back of your mind that the pendulum can swing either way. So BN fam, does anyone have tales of family boyfriends/girlfriends? Did it work out for you, or do you regret it? Would you do it all over again? Does it have more advantages or disadvantages apart from the ones highlighted above? Share your stories!
Photo Credit: Jason Stitt | Dreamstime.com