By Naomi Lucas
I’ve thought about writing this for a while but wondered where to start. A recent occurrence helped me make up my mind. After being in a couple of relationships that didn’t quite work out, I asked a friend of mine why she hadn’t considered a male friend of hers I felt was okay. The guy didn’t hide the fact that he really liked her and wanted to be with her; and he was the one who saw her through most of her breakups. She grimaced and told me she wasn’t attracted to him at all and that he wasn’t the kind of person she would like to be seen in public with. Fast-forward a few more years-she’s getting married pretty soon…and yes, to the guy in question! I’m sure she can’t remember telling me, but I can and it’s haunting. Sometimes I want to confront her, ask her what changed, confirm if she knows what she’s doing or if she’s finally allowed the pressure get to her, and then I remind myself it’s probably not in my place; but that’s not the point I’m trying to make here. Forgive my digression.
If you’ve been observant you would’ve noticed an increase in cases of domestic violence, infidelity, divorce, separations, single parenthood and other challenges that confront the institution of marriage. In summary, the distortion and disintegration of the single most important unit in the society has become a pandemic; so common place it’s now one of those things. It’s been of great concern to me ‘cos I can see how easy it is to end up in the shoes of those who have had to deal with these issues firsthand. What’s worrisome is the fact that we ladies aren’t learning from the mistakes of those who have gone before. We read the stories and watch the news and shake our heads in empathy and disgust, certain such things can never happen to us…until they do. We go into relationships that are doomed from the very beginning, ignoring obvious signs that should cause us to pause and re-evaluate, with the hope that things will get better. I’m not talking about this from a holier than thou perspective. It’s as much a note to self as it is advice for any lady who cares enough to listen.
I’ve had my fair share of heartbreaks and made mistakes, but I’m glad I’ve learnt and can confidently say I’m a better person for it. I’ve put together some thoughts and values that guide my relationship and my expectations of the guy I would eventually settle down with. I do hope it brings clarity and direction for some confused lady out there…
Know What You Want
Before you venture into a relationship with any man you need to first define who you are, what you stand for, what your values are, where you are going, your likes, your dislikes, what makes you happy, what you’re afraid of, what makes you tick, what you love about yourself, what you don’t, what you want in a guy, what you don’t, what you want your future to look like, the kind of life you want to live. Bottomline- know yourself inside out ‘cos its very easy to lose your identity in a relationship. But beyond that, it’ll also be easy to know when someone isn’t meant for you or when someone is, when you deserve better or when you’re compromised.
I was engaged to this guy and wedding plans were already underway. I called the engagement off to the mortification and utter shock of friends who felt I had caught a really big fish; the kind of guy ladies would kill for and they couldn’t understand how I could be stupid enough to dump him back in the ocean. For everyone that asked why I did it, I remember telling them that after all the aso-ebi wearing; I was the one that would have to live with the guy. I looked into the future and didn’t like what I saw, and decided to do something about it before it was too late. If I didn’t know who I was and what I wanted out of life, I would’ve been a Mrs. somebody today, with a kid or two in tow, unhappy, discontent and resentful.
I believe the concept of Mr. Right is as mythical as Unicorns. No one person is perfectly suited to someone else. But there are basics, things that irrespective of class, age or temperament you shouldn’t compromise. To those of you who aren’t sure, here’s how to know you’re with the right person; don’t quote me though 🙂
What’s His Belief System?
I’m not talking Christian or Muslim, I’m talking about his anchor, his spirituality, and morality; his interpretation of right and wrong, of human existence; his values and how they translate to everyday life. Where does he find meaning? What keeps him grounded? If he doesn’t have any, trust me darling, there’s no point. The end in his case, will always justify the means.
Does He Respect You?
I mean everything you are and what you stand for! Your family, your friends, your opinions, your dreams, your past, your career. I find that guys who are disrespectful of women are also psychologically and verbally abusive. This is even worse than physical abuse ‘cos you have no scars or injuries to prove it. Ladies in relationships like this have very poor self-esteem, are very indecisive, rarely share their opinions in public, find it hard to take compliments and feel like the least beautiful in the room. They do can do anything to get approval, never feel like they have, and end up feeling inadequate and undeserving.
Is He A Confident Person?
Can he hold his own during conversations or does he give you every reason under the sun why he can’t make it for the birthday party? Self-confidence is the most attractive quality a guy can possess. It transcends money; it’s the assurance a woman needs that tomorrow is going to be okay. Dating a guy who has a poor sense of worth for himself and his abilities can be very emotionally draining because he’s most likely going to project his dissatisfaction on you and eventually rob you of yours. Sometimes this lack of confidence manifests as egotism and chauvinism. If he feels the need to remind you he’s a guy and in charge of the relationship then there’s a problem. You’ll find that getting him to see things from your perspective or to listen to advice will be practically impossible ‘cos to him doing that is accepting you know better.
Does He Love You?
I mean love the way 1st Corinthians 13 defines it, not love like we know it to be these days. Love is a gut feeling, a knowing that you’ll be okay with him. It’s knowing you don’t have to bend over backwards to please him. When he doesn’t deploy reverse psychology to keep you in a perpetual state of guilt or dredge up long forgotten fights every time there’s a new one, when he’s not intimidated by your tall dreams and desire to want to be your own person and ensures you stay connected to those who matter to you, if he’s the first person you run to when you feel overwhelmed, if he keeps you focused and does not exploit your weaknesses or insecurities; then he loves you.
Is He Responsible?
Can he be held accountable? Can he be depended on? Will he keep his side of the agreement? Does he understand the spiritual, cultural and social duties he ought to perform? Does he understand his job description? In fact, does he know he has one? The same way some guys describe ladies as ‘take home to mama’ I feel there should be ‘take home to papa’ guys. The major reason why families are in such a state today is attributable to the utter irresponsibility of a majority of the male species. He cheats on his wife; it’s her fault. If she hadn’t put on so much weight he wouldn’t have noticed his secretary. The teenage son is caught doing drugs, it’s the mother’s fault; she didn’t bring him up properly. You’re doing the dishes and making breakfast and spring cleaning and loading the washer with a kid strapped on your back and he calls out to you in the kitchen, asking where the hell you kept the TV remote. Need I say more?
Where Is He Going?
What’s the big picture for him? Is he a dreamer? Does he see a future that excites you? Is he constantly seeking out opportunities and ways to make tomorrow better or is he counting the number of years it’ll take him to get to level 8 in the Nigerian Civil Service? If he’s not ambitious chances are he’ll try to keep you from reaching forward as well. The most damaging consequence for me is how fast you’ll lose respect for him and wish you ended up with someone else. Look for a guy who’s going somewhere, who is on a journey and believes the destination is in sight; your successes and achievements will be less intimidating.
The Money Equation
A young lady I know came to me and said she needed my advice. I listened. The story: There’s this guy who’s been on her case and wanted to go out with her. He’d gone to great lengths to get her number and was ‘toasting’ her relentlessly. He was a Muslim, in his thirties, said he wasn’t married, lived in a different city and had a lot of money. She told him to give her some time to think about it even though she already seemed predisposed to the idea. She wanted to know what to do. So I asked questions…
Do you want to go out with him?
Why do you want to go out with him?
‘Cos I can go back to school (She had dropped out due to lack of funds) and I won’t have to worry about money anymore.
He’s a muslim, you attend Redeemed. How do you want to cope with this?
Since money is the major reason why he’s attractive to you, what happens when someone with more money comes along?
I stopped asking questions. I hope my advice to her that day made a lasting impact.
I remember a friend of my elder sister’s saying she couldn’t date a guy if he didn’t live within the VGC axis. This was close to a decade ago. She’s still not married. The thing is, by the time the guy moves from Berger to Yaba to V/I to VGC, he’ll most likely be taken by some lady who wasn’t afraid to live in Berger. You may say stories abound of women who stood by struggling guys only for the guys to make it and ditch them or marry younger women. I’d say for every one of those, there’s a story with a happy ending. I’m not saying marry a broke ass, I’m saying, let the guy’s bank account not be the reason why you choose to be or not be with him…
This list is by no means exhaustive so feel free to share your comments.
The story isn’t over, stay tuned.
To be continued.