In Summary
  • Maureen is a 30 year old single mother to a 6 year old. She concurs on the idea of taking things slower.
  • “I got pregnant and moved in with my then boyfriend at 24 – he was 26,” she says.
  • “I don’t regret getting pregnant, but I regret moving in with him."

“If I could tell my 20 year old self anything about dating, I would tell them not to be monogamous,” says Joanne Khamisi, 38 years old, now married for four years, “I am not telling her to sleep around. I’m just saying go on more dates and don’t fall in love so easily. I used to be so in love with the idea of being in love that I would convince myself I was in love. Also, I spent four years thinking that getting married to my campus boyfriend was – had to be – the way the perfect fairy tale turns out.” Joanne says that it was not until she was in her late 20s that she discovered it was okay and possible to seek out men who fitted her ideals, “I stopped fitting myself into whichever man I happened to be dating at the time.” 

Maureen is a 30 year old single mother to a 6 year old. She concurs on the idea of taking things slower. “I got pregnant and moved in with my then boyfriend at 24 – he was 26,” she says. “I don’t regret getting pregnant, but I regret moving in with him. Someone should have told me that settling down was not going to make me grow up or mature beyond my years. Both of us were not only not equipped for marriage, we were not equipped for each other.”

Maureen, who separated from her baby-daddy at 28, says the lesson learnt was that there is a lot more to a successful marriage than good sex and having a child together. “I still don’t know what it takes to make a marriage work, but I have an idea what doesn’t. Circumstances don’t make it work. Actually our chaotic relationship did us more harm than good. I am beginning to be comfortable with the idea of co-parenting – which at 24, I thought would be shameful. If I tell you I love my baby daddy, it does not mean I want to be with him. This concept has been revolutionary in terms of how I deal with men in general. I can have a healthy, functional relationship with a man without it being romantic. It’s amazing.”

20s insights

1. If I don’t find myself, the man in my life will define me.

2.  Not every man is a potential love interest.

 

“I have a boyfriend,” 36 year old Anne Kaigai says. “We’ve been dating for about five years and intend to get married. I love him but I am not sure I can compromise on the fact that he is not ambitious.” On the one hand, Anne says she is feeling the pressure and desire to get married and have children, but on the other, settling down with someone who matches her upward career mobility is important to her.

“He is a good man but I am worried I will be the primary bread winner and finances will become a sticky point. Am I being vain? Should I marry for love and commit to the financial implications? I also worry that I have invested too much (time) in this relationship to let it go. Maybe I have stayed with him because no-one else has come along. I don’t know. But then again, maybe I am stalling because as I approach 40, I am beginning to think that I might be okay with not getting married or having children. Being single is becoming a less scary thought.”

30s insights

1. Yes I am single – maybe it’s not such bad thing since my career is off the charts!

2. I am zeroing in on a man with my ideals – I am less interested in values that don’t match. Maybe there no perfect man? Maybe there is no fairy tale? It sure is beginning to seem that way.

3. Things don’t always go as planned. I was terrified about not meeting the timelines.

4. I am learning the things about love, sex and relationships I didn’t learn in my 20s. I am clearing the wreckage of my past. And that’s okay.

5. I am enjoying sex more.

 

 

“After I separated from my husband at 42, I walked away having no idea what I wanted with and from men, I’m still rather clueless,” 43-year-old Wacuka laughs. “Even if my marriage had not ended, I feel like this age would still be an odd period of reflection and probably some discontent. Maybe it’s a pre-menopause thing?”

Five months ago, at the nudging of one of her friends, Wacuka joined a singles’ Whatsapp group. “A few weeks ago I went on a date with a 50 year old who’s been widower for four years. We talked more about our children and politics than we did about ourselves. I could be friends with this man; I really like him. I am just not attracted to him physically. So I am thinking maybe he is the logical choice because he is comfortable and safe. But I find myself thoroughly attracted to younger men – you know the ones who just look like trouble?! (Laughs hysterically). Maybe I should just take time and have fun with that. Nothing serious. Get 14 years of a bad marriage out of my system, you know?”

American actress Jenny McCarthy wrote a book titled Stirring the Pot. In it she states: “I don’t know what’s going on with my hormones, but at 41 I want and enjoy sex more than ever. In my 20s sex felt like a chore. That’s when you fake orgasms to get guys to think you’re awesome. Now that I’m in my 40s, sex with the lights on is my favourite pastime! Lesson learnt: Sex is much more fun when you’re trying to please yourself, not just him.”

40s insight

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