My guy, give me some room, please – Pearl Osibu

My guy,  give me some room,  please – Pearl Osibu

Boundary (Noun) – A line marking the limits of an area.

That is according to my Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th Edition.

On my mind today, the concept of boundaries.

{Small Trivia, I struggled with the spelling of Boundaries just now because of course we say ‘boundries’ so I spelled it ‘boundries’ and spell check says no ma’am. Thank master Jesus for spell check o.}

Ehen, so I was saying. Going by the definition of boundaries above, let’s relate it to personal boundaries – personal space if you like.


We’ve all seen those complaints, whether on social media or in person, wherever, where someone complains bitterly about a barely known acquaintance just pops up with a ‘Hi baby’ message. We all have that person who calls you at a certain time of day, either too early or usually, too late and you’re like are ‘you kidding? Where’s the fire?’ We know that bros whom you meet with a handshake and they sidestep it and zero in for a full-bodied chest on chest hug,  whaaaaat? In fact, throw in a peck. (Acceptable if you are ‘crazy’ like Denrele or something?) We know that person who visits and thinks they should be entertained in your bedroom but you beg to differ? So you guys dance an awkward tango. Let’s chill in your room. No, let’s catch some TV in the parlour. That person who swoops in and opens pots in your kitchen ‘hey what’s cooking?’ and you stand over their shoulder smiling uncertainly if you are you, or marching them out! if you are me.

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How about the less overt instances? Like the person who doesn’t know when to leave; who doesn’t know what words to use; who doesn’t know there’s a big difference between Hello and Hi (nuance people, nuance). Someone said very recently, can’t remember whom, ‘Nuance is not our thing’ – our here being Nigerians. I concur. Subtleties? Let pigs eat shame!

These scenarios I describe, they cut across various relationships – whether employer/employee, parent/child, friend/friend(or acquaintance), mentor/mentee on and on, the list goes on. In Nigerian parlance, we call it levels. And when you cross that invisible line (and it’s extreme), we call it see finish.

Usually, it can be a little challenging to know where you stand with people. Sometimes, we make assumptions. It is not making the assumption that is the problem. It is how we respond to the reaction that follows.


Hey Pearl Baby, thank you for adding me on facebook. I saw your profile picture. You are so sexy. I’m sure your boyfriend is lucky…


I’m sorry, but could you please not address me that way? You’re welcome by the way. Not a biggie.

Ehn? What are you even feeling like sef? Who you think you are? When you are not Beyonce. Abeg gerrout make I see road.



Very Familiar.

It’s not always that grating but you get the idea.

Reminds me of when my boy James first came to work with us. Like wow. We had to have conversations upon conversations about boundaries. He sulked a long time, then grew on us. Then he left to go to school and another boy came. OMG. I almost felt like he owned the house and I was visiting. He would be sprawled on the couch in the living room watching TV, zapping through channels without so much as a ‘if you please’, join in on conversations with my friends, use our bathroom. I went crazy. After several very awkward ‘talks’ I was just so weary I had to ask the flatmate to talk to him mano to mano.  As they say in African adage, when handshake don reach elbow. Or as we used to say in boarding house I give you allowance, you ask for allowances.

It can be very annoying and draining, having to set up and maintain boundaries. Some people don’t know when to stop. I have been guilty. I remember once I became friends with an older writer and I referred to her as ‘babe’ in our chats. She told me calmly she wasn’t crazy about it and I apologized. We are great friends today. Usually that’s all it should take.

Notice I said ‘should’ right? Right. Because usually when you try to set up boundaries, people resent it, they feel snubbed and offended. Makes you wonder why.

Listen, it is not a rejection of you. It is not discrimination or …whatever. It is simply this WE ARE NOT IN THE SAME PLACE IN THE RELATIONSHIP. We may get there, we may not.

How do we deal with this? The truth is, groping. Relationships are groping in the dark. Because believe it or not, there are questions I ask my boyfriend and he demurs and if I insist, he could become brusque. Yes I’m human, so yes I get upset. But guess what, I understand that he is a human being and he has a right to his personal space, same as me. And the fact that I give him space in my closet doesn’t mean he has to give me space in his closet (it would be nice however, you kidding?) but you get the gist. Sometimes, a relationship can even move two steps forward and suddenly one step back. Sometimes some people are just…maybe bipolar or something. It’s okay. It’s not personal and it’s not judgement of you. Don’t make me guilty for your own insecurities. And hey, you can walk away, right? I never apologize for setting up boundaries – people are different.

Let’s be mature. Let’s be sensitive. And we’ll be alright.

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  2. Dajie

    Nice write up as always. Those Facebook messages drive me crazy I will never understand calling a stranger baby. Never a dull moment dear. When are u gracing us with your presence???


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