The Problem With #CoupleGoals

A couple who were doing coupley content on TikTok broke up and the ensuing comments have been truly something to behold and it gave me the final push to talk about this concept of Couple Goals.



the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result

Like many things that have been commodified – other people’s relationships are something we are told to aspire to – despite the fact that we have no idea what the totality of the relationship is about. As I keep proclaiming, being coupled is seen as an achievement due to the hierarchy of relationships with romantic relationship being seen as the apex – the highest achievement. And not so much the quality of the relationship even but rather that you attained it.

And that’s why people love the idea of couple goals because it gives them this rose coloured glasses view of how relationships ought to be. From my observation, we often say people are couple goals because they are portraying an aesthetic we desire (or are told we should desire). Beauty and youth are especially heralded. If they follow social norms, live a conventional life – the better (date, engaged, marry and then children) – most variances to this are rejected. If their social media presence shows wealth, travel and a curated aesthetic – even better; manufactured vulnerability is interpreted as intimacy.

I find it all so unimaginative.

Alaine de Botton often says that we assume that love should come naturally to us and that it shouldn’t be work or something we should learn which, is a product of romanticism, of which I am not a fan. People also have that ridiculous expectation that those in their lives should somehow automatically know how to love them. But then it brings to question, do people even know how they want to be loved? Or are they looking at other coupled people and picking from what they doing and deciding that whatever it is someone is getting, it would work for them to? Is that why these people become #Goals? Do people seriously think that they can gauge relationships from snippets they see online?

When couples separate or have issues publicly, suddenly you see comments “love is dead”, “if they didn’t make it who will”, ” I don’t believe in love anymore” and such like statements. My first instinct is to think it all hyperbole but truly there are people whose values on romantic love are derived only from what they consume on social media. Making choices because they see other people make them.

And that’s tragic.


This Conversation Amuses Me Pt 2

READ this post first because I had to come back to this because I saw the FUNNIEST video ever.

There is a video on YouTube about why women these days arent “marriageable” and it reminded of some things I forgot to write in that post from Monday.

  1. WHAT IS A MAN BRINGING TO A WOMAN’S LIFE? Like why is that never discussed? Why shouldn’t that be the focus? WHAT ARE YOU BRINGING HERE KEVIN? And please remember the science that women partnered to men are the unhappiest and least content. So tell me LEWIS, what you bringing?
  2. These are not the times when marriage was what gave value to a woman’s life and I think men feel like they are owed labour and absolute devotion from women. And that’s a pipe dream.
  3. The thinking that they can shame women into submission and desperation and that ain’t gonna work.
  4. And there is something to be said about the FACT that men listen to OTHER men about what women want (or should want) and that is sus. SUSPICIOUS. But also have to keep reminding myself that men don’t like women as people but rather as sex objects and labourers.
  5. LET ME TELL YOU MAINA, when women stop doing things for and seeking validation from men, it is going to be glorious. Divesting and whatnot because even seeing women file for divorce isn’t something that used to happen and it is happening more. Whew. It will be so glorious. WOW.

Ask Ciiku: I need to define boundaries with my friend with benefits

Dear Ciiku,

I have a FWB who is also a very close friend. I would like to ensure that it remains that way without feelings getting caught in the process but to also not treat them poorly in order to maintain this. How do I/we build the boundaries this relationship needs?


Dear Anon,

A dilemma of the ages if ever there was one. A close friend, a sexual relationship and boundaries. Will your friendship exist after the sexual relationship ends? That’s what the boundaries are supposed to ensure? From your letter I’m reading that you don’t want this to develop into a romantic relationship, that it remains a friendship plus sex. Is it possible that feelings can be caught by one party? Yes. Is it possible that the friendship might not exist once either of you get different sexual partners (on the assumption that it is monogamous)? Probably.

I’m glad that you acknowledge that one doesn’t and shouldn’t treat a FWB poorly. A FWB is like any other relationship in the sense that communication is key. And when I say communication I mean that conversations need to happen about what is happening, what is wanted, what isn’t. From your short note I see that you are clear about what you want, something you have thought about and this must be expressed to your FWB. Relationships work when the people in it are on the same page and have the same understanding of the expectations of each other. Not when we make assumptions of what the other person must be thinking or feeling. I must stress that this is achieved through honest, open communication. Talk with your friend. Lay your cards on the table. Soon. And remain true to yourself. Always.

All the best,


Ask Ciiku: How do I deal with a toxic friend?

Dear Ciiku,

So I’ve had this friend for about 10 years. I use the term ‘friend’ very loosely here, reason being she’s very toxic. We were very close in college but drifted apart soon after. We lost track but she somehow managed to find her way back into my life. Thing is: she gossips a lot. The stuff she says about other people is so horrible and sometimes made up. And no one is safe, even her own parents & siblings have been trash talked. My way of dealing with this has been to ghost: I avoid her completely (I haven’t physically seen her in years but she always reaches out by phone). I tell her absolutely nothing about my personal life so she doesn’t have material to spread. I suspect there’s a bigger problem. Some mutual friends have told me that the issue may also be mental/psychological and the more I assess her behaviour over the years the more I think there may be some truth to it. My theory is she’s become so ostracized by friends and family cz of this behavior that she feels there’s nothing to lose by being a total bitch. So my question is this, how do I communicate that I think she needs to get therapy or some kind of help without offending her and without becoming a victim of her shenanigans? I think it’s a very sensitive conversation and I don’t know how to broach it since we’re no longer close (I’d rather not meet her to have this talk). Or should I just forget trying to help and continue to avoid her like everyone does?

Regards, Remote friend

Dear Remote friend,

I think we can both agree that she is not your friend. I don’t believe that just because you have history with someone that they deserve presence in your life as they please or even to be called friend.

Also, without a professional diagnosis, there is no need to say that this person has mental issues because they exhibit the behaviour you mention in your letter. People can be and are not good, they lie and are vile. I think assigning this to a mental issue to try and explain certain behaviour stigmatises those who genuinely suffer from mental illness. I understand that people tend to assign mental issues because they want to believe in the goodness of others. We really should not.

Let me repeat that: terrible, bad people exist. It is not your job to “fix” them. What you can do, what is truly in your control in this case and for your peace of mind, is accept that this person is not someone who exhibits behaviour you would associate with a friend and remove her from your life to the extent that if others begin to talk about her, you refuse to be part of the conversation. Completely dissociate yourself. So no, I don’t think you should have any conversation with her.

All the best,


Ask Ciiku: Thoughts on dating you sibling’s friend

Hey Ciiku!

I’ll get right to it. Dating your sibling’s friend who really really gets you, thoughts?


Dear Reese,

My thoughts are that two consenting adults should date if they so choose.

Now that that’s out of the way, I am curious as to the hesitation or even doubt about the situation. As though there is a rule that says you shouldn’t date your sibling’s friend. I understand that things would be awkward IF you were to break up under certain circumstances, but what if you didn’t? What if the relationship became a balm, a respite, surrounded you with love? Is that a chance you are willing to take because some random rule made by only god knows who that you shouldn’t date your siblings frje?

Ask Ciiku: Will our friendship survive?

Hi Ciiku,

I am friends with a girl and I think I’m developing feelings for her. We hang out a lot and enjoy each other’s company. I haven’t yet told her how I feel yet, but this is because I think it might ruin what we have. I am not sure my feelings are reciprocated. Should I tell her and risk our really good friendship?


Dear Anonymous,

I feel like I keep repeating myself when I say this but it is also apt for your scenario…. “the greatest predictor of love is proximity.” Do you know why this is so? Once you spend time with someone, talk a lot, share etc, it seems to only make sense that the relationship should turn romantic. Why is this so? I think that it is because a romantic relationship is seen as the pinnacle, the relationship above all other relationships. Therefore if there is a person in your life who makes you feel things, it makes sense in your head that it must be romantic feelings. Is that the case with you?

A couple of scenarios : She reciprocates your feelings and then you become a couple and live happily ever after. Second, she doesn’t reciprocate your feelings and you stop being in each other’s lives due to the tension. Three, you decide not to tell her and every time she gets into a relationship you are jealous and unreasonable. Four, you decide to not tell her and realise that the feelings that you felt were really related to a platonic intimate friendship and you realise that the relationship is a deep friendship and that only.

How do you then figure out what to do? For one, spend time with yourself figuring out what exactly you feel for your friend and if indeed it turns out to be romantic feelings, then you must decide what to do about that. And if she doesn’t reciprocate your feelings, you have to be willing to accept that the friendship will probably not exist after. Make the right choice because the only person you can control here is you.

All the best,


Ask Ciiku: How do you know when you like someone?


how does one know that they actually like someone and it isn’t just as a consequence of that person saying they like them. I am starting to think I may not know the difference.


Dear Missy,

I read in a book; The single greatest predictor of love is proximity. Your point stands and to be honest, it happens often. We end up being friends and lovers with people because they give us attention, we see each other often, we @ each other on social media, they say they like us ….

Things like feeling fondness and attraction for someone even when you aren’t with them and the butterflies in your stomach serve a purpose so I won’t act like they don’t. But there has to be more to it than that.

If we approach relationships, romantic or otherwise, intentionally then we, in my opinion make better decisions on who we like, don’t like, want in our circles etc. Intentional in knowing ourselves and the the kind of people we want to surround ourselves with, what values they espouse and what values we deem important, what importance they place in having you in their lives, and other related things. Liking someone because they like you is a thing as well, reciprocity is also important but beyond that, what else is there?

I’ve read some engagement stories where based on the story, women were basically coerced into relationships. There is nothing good to reading that a man pestered a woman until she relented and agreed to go out with him. This manipulation tactic is still erroneously lauded as if women can’t know who they want to date or who they like unless the person has forced them. This isn’t what we are about, right Missy?

We are about mutual like, mutual attraction, mutual respect, mutual love etc.

And you know what? Give yourself more credit…. I think you know.


Ask Ciiku: Should I have broken up with my boyfriend?

Hi Ciiku,

I broke up with my boyfriend of two years a little over a month ago and it’s been the most miserable time in my life. We met a almost 3 years ago through mutual friends and and struck up conversation and became closer with time. I have never known anyone like him, he is kind, thoughtful, he puts me first, he shows attention and I have never doubted or questioned his commitment, he makes me feel so loved. Being with him has been a great time.

We have our minor issues but we try and resolve them as amicably as possible. All that is good but here is the why. I have never had a problem with his light drinking but in the two years we have dated he has gotten a bit drunk once in a while and I loathe it when he does. We went to my cousin’s wedding and even when we knew there was an open bar, we agreed to just have a little then go home. Mandem went ahead and got quite sloshed and we had to leave the car and cab home. I was so pissed that he actually did that and he woke up and apologised before he picked up the car. I felt horrible and told him we needed to end this . He was upset but said we would work it out but I am now worried that I gave up something that was good. He has talked before about marriage and to be honest I don’t know what to do. This is someone I would like to spend my life with but I am also hurt. I have been thinking of the response you gave B but I also feel like I need to fight for this, for my joy but I am so conflicted.

Please help

Manzi wa Accounts

Dear Manzi wa Accounts,

I am sorry for how you feeling. It is not easy to break away from someone who you love and have invested time in. Especially when that person who you say loves you and is committed to you and has never made you doubt, hurts you and doesn’t respect a course of action that you have both agreed upon.

I am curious, what does fighting for the relationship mean or how does it look like to you? Does it mean that you accept that he will get drunk once in a while and that you will not get angry about it or does it mean that he stops drinking too much? Because you know there is only one person’s behaviour you can control here. And that’s you.

In fighting for the relationship, this means understanding that asking him to stop and him not stopping is something that will likely happen again. He has to be the one to initiate that change. He has to be willing to stop for his own sake, because he sees that it is detrimental for him and by extension the relationship. Not because you think he should because you asked him or because you think that if he really loved you he would change. That is not how it works. And if this is not something that you can accept, then maybe letting go of the relationship is what is the best option for the sake of your peace.

My position? Bend but don’t break. Keep in mind that he might not change and if that is something that you are willing to live with, you do so, without the expectation that he will change and without any resentment. No one is perfect and I don’t even think you expect him to be but the truth is, there are certain elements of a person that with time can cause disagreements and resentment so I suggest you think long and hard about what matters to you and if this is something you are willing to rethink your stance on.

Joy isn’t a finite thing. There is a lot of joy in this world Manzi wa Accounts. And you deserve it.

I want to share two things that I thought about with respect to your question:

The first is this quote:

No one can persuade another to change. Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside. We cannot open the gate of another, either by argument or emotional appeal.

Marilyn Ferguson

And the second is a Twitter thread which you can read by clicking here.

May you find peace.



Ask Ciiku: I don’t want to be lonely

Hey Ciiku,

So my issue starts with a question. Do you believe that everyone has a person out there and eventually they’ll find them? Because I’m at that place where I don’t think this is true anymore, and some people really end up alone. And like, I’m learning to accept it, I’ve decided to give up dating and I’m starting to imagine the rest of my life like this but I’m also terrified of ending up alone. Not right now, I have a lot of things I can focus on, I’m building my career, I have great friends, so the loneliness is easily masked. But I keep thinking about 10-20 years from now, when all my friends have built their lives with their partners so of course we’re no longer as close as we used to be, and basically they won’t be as available to me as they are right now. And I’m terrified that being alone then will be awful. Can you imagine being 50-60 yrs old and you really have no one? It sounds so sad and lonely and I really don’t want that. One of my biggest fears is ending up like that woman who was found alone in her house having died for like 2 years and no one knew who her people were. Can you imagine being dead for 2 years and no one even noticed? Whew. I guess I know what the root cause for this is, I’m scared of not mattering, not being valued. And as much as I know romantic love isn’t the be all and end all, there’s also a level of companionship and intimacy that you get in romantic situations that you can’t get elsewhere. When you have your person, and the two of you are committed to each other, there’s a way you can ward off most feelings of being alone. So my question then will be, do you believe in a person for everyone, and if not, then what can you tell a person whose entire life has shown her that there really is no one for her. How would this person then build a life where she will not end up sad and lonely in her old age? (As context, I’m in my late 30s so I’ve lived life, and these thoughts are not just panic led hysteria caused by “if you’re not married by 30, you’re useless) Thanks for listening and apologies for the long ask.



Dear A,

To answer your first question: Personally, me, myself and I, I do not believe that there is that one person out there for someone, nor do I believe that people will eventually find that person. I believe that there are people who come into your life and then we see the possibility of spending the rest of our lives together and then we put in the work. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.

The concerns you raise are not new to me. I have heard them before even from my friends. And only recently, I read this article which you should read if you have not yet.

Let me say firstly,¬†this was a hard question to answer. And as someone who is in a committed long-term relationship, it would be remiss for me to speak about romantic relationships as something that doesn’t matter. It has to be more than me saying that you need to be self aware, enjoy your company and all those other things.¬† I am aware of the privilege I have in that case as well as probable blind spots I may have as I respond to you.

That being said, I think we need to re-imagine companionship and intimacy inside and outside of romantic relationships.

The statistics show that for women, they feel lonely in their marriages and seek companionship from their friends. Being married does not preclude you from loneliness and does not ensure that you are valued or that you matter. Those are the facts. I think what is more important is to create fulfilling, reciprocal, kind and empathetic relationships.

We need to make a life in this world as is and part of that means seeing and acting on relationships – romantic and platonic- differently. It means having honest conversations about companionship and intimacy, it means thinking of relationships outside of societal norms, it means asking more from our friends, married or not.

I have read stories of communal living where women friends are opting to live together. I would like to see how it works out. And I know the issue of sex will arise, but that is a whole separate issue, isn’t it?

If you think about it, capitalism is the reason we opt to live separate lives. It keeps us in a state of want and benefits from loneliness. It makes all the sense then, to think outside of the boxes that capitalism keeps us in, to speak with each other about loneliness, companionship and intimacy, to seek out people who enrich our lives and to demand reciprocity.

Be loved,


Ask Ciiku: I am being manipulated

Dear Ciiku,

I like a girl. She has a boyfriend. Has had one for 6 years. I know I shouldn’t be fucking with her, but here I am, nonetheless. We go on dates, we’ve had sex on 3 separate occasions, and we talk pretty much all the time, telling me things she doesn’t feel comfortable enough to tell her boyfriend or any of her close friends. But it doesn’t look like she’ll ever leave her boyfriend, and I feel like I’m in love all by myself. I need to walk away but I don’t know how to without being rude about it, because every time I suggest time apart, she says no, and that she enjoys our conversations and the time we spend together. I’m pretty certain that this is high level manipulation, and I don’t know why I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt in believing that she would hate to lose me as a confidante.

Please advise me on the best way forward, specifically, how to go about cutting ties with her.


Dear Matt

So basically she wants to have her cake and eat it?

I am glad that you know you need to walk away so that I do not have to tell you. Is it high level manipulation? Likely. She knows you want to be with her, are in love with her and uses this to get what she wants from you. You see that, don’t you Matt?

Why indeed do you think you are giving her the benefit of the doubt? Is there a part of you that hopes she will see different and choose you instead? I am not going to give you false hope Matt. I am going to tell you that cutting ties with her will not be neat and clean. You have tried to talk to her about it but it didn’t work. And you stayed. It does show in your letter that you care for her. But you know, you deserve the kind of relationship where someone listens to you, cares for you and above all your time, attention and emotions are reciprocated.

I feel you need to be as honest to her as you have been to me. Tell her via text that you are choosing yourself. And that in choosing yourself, you can no longer be her confidante and that you need to not be her friend. That you feel like you deserve better. And that you are going to find better. After that, I suggest you block her in all platforms. Sounds drastic perhaps but it really isn’t. You have to keep reminding yourself that you matter and that you are making this choice because you need to choose yourself. So do that Matt. I wish you the best.

Rooting for you,