Dating in Nairobi is an extreme sport, is what they say. There are no rules to this game (or if there are then they are mostly unwritten so you have to go through countless false starts) and no referees to keep score. It’s even worse that the shared sentiment among my social circles is that you attract what you are. This basically implies that if the men coming your way fit into a general description of dysfunction, then you’re the problem, seeing as you’re the common denominator.
I have struggled with this assertion the past two years of being single because I’ve been on a streak of bad luck. I seem only to attract taken men. Men who want a bit of fun on the side despite having significant others. It all starts out great, meeting attractive men who take a seemingly genuine interest in me. Four or five dates down the line, they drop the bombshell, “I have a girlfriend, but we’re not on good terms right now so this is okay.” Or,” The way you and I relate is just so different from what I have with my wife. I would like to keep seeing you.”
I think once or twice would be a coincidence, but when it keeps happening, I’m up to five men now, perhaps there’s something I’m doing wrong. Take the most recent one for example.
I was in my knickers and an oversized Safaricom t-shirt when he knocked that Saturday morning. I had just moved into the neighborhood and barely knew anyone besides the caretaker and watchmen. Wrapping my lower body in a shuka, I opened the door to find a sexy, dark man smiling down at me. “Your car is blocking the entrance, could you come move it?” he said, and his voice was rich and warm, with just the right baritone.
“I’m sorry, you must have the wrong house,” I replied, opening the door a little wider to take in his entire frame, “I don’t drive.” The mystery knocker then apologized for waking me up and introduced himself as Sam from the block of apartments opposite my own. After introducing myself, and establishing that I was new to the area we got to talking about ourselves. The conversation ended with me promising to give him a call later in the week to discuss insurance options with me because he had his own private insurance firm.
Over the course of two weeks, we had dinner at my house, went to the movies and had a wonderful time. He was perfect. A great listener, spontaneous, interesting… Everything was going well until one afternoon when he came over. Three glasses of wine and an hour of flirtatious conversation ended with him making the move and kissing me. My brain was a little fuzzy but I was happy. Maybe this would be the end of my single phase. I’d been single for two years now and it got a little lonely sometimes. Just when he was hovering over me clearly about to take things further, his phone rang. It was on the coffee table beside me so when I turned my head I could read the caller ID quite clearly. ‘Wifey’.
I froze, and when he saw that I had seen the caller ID he started to make apologies. He went into my kitchen to receive the call and I remained there on the couch unsure of how to feel. Of course, I started to go over all the signs I could have missed. I’d never gone to his house, despite it being a hop, step and jump away. I felt that it would have been too forward of me to do so seeing as I’d just met him. Plus, the comfort of having dates on my house is a thing I’d discovered I enjoyed. I could exercise control over how the dates went. I’d only met one of his friends at the movie screening, and the friend showed no surprise at Sam introducing me as “the lady I’m seeing” with a wink and a nudge. I couldn’t think of any red flags I could have missed.
When Sam walked back into the room, he could tell the mood had changed. He stood in the doorway scratching his head in that way I have come to recognize as the general guy gesture for ‘I know I made a mistake’. He was clearly unwilling to take on the elephant in the room so I did.
“Are you married?”
He seemed to contemplate lying, because he started to chew on his lip and shift nervously before nodding his head in the affirmative. He couldn’t even meet my eyes, that snake!
“Does she live here with you? Why don’t you wear a ring? You didn’t think this was worth mentioning?” The questions came tumbling out in quick succession.
“She works out of town and only comes during the weekends. I’m sorry Sharon, I didn’t mean for this to get so far, I just enjoy your company…”
I was livid. This was the last straw. I’d listened to this story four times before with very slight variations. They all said they were sorry, said they wished they’d met me earlier, that if I was willing we could make it work… It was all just so disrespectful! With the little dignity, I could muster I asked him to leave my house and to forget my name.
It was time for some self-assessment. I started to think maybe I should take time off, reconsider how I navigate this relationship business. My entire dating life was starting to sound a lot like that Sza album, Ctrl. I would never consider being a side chick, a mistress. Perhaps I was moving too fast, or not digging deep enough into people I was seeing. Maybe the pressure of being the only single friend was blinding me to red flags, or coming off as desperation therefore making me easy pickings for randy men who want to have their cake and eat it too. Or maybe this extreme sport just got even more extreme, and the only way to win is to not play.
***Single lady in Nairobi is a collection of real life stories and opinions from different women. It looks at the current world of dating in Kenya and experiences that ladies have gone through. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Potentash.com
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