How many ‘the one’s’ before you meet the actual ‘one’?
Before you start judging me, I’m asking for a friend. A friend who comes to me almost monthly with that one tired statement. “I think I finally found the one.” Less than two months later she’s heartbroken.
On a serious note now…
I thought I had met all types of guys. The summer bunny who gave me sweet nothings for a couple of months, the poet who collided with my soul’s specific needs, the rich guy who spoiled me just as much as my late father did, the intellectual who took me to another world in my dreams… I had met them all. The broke guy, the guilt-tripper, the over-achiever, the braggy dude, the feminine one. All of them, and I always thought these guys were a lesson for my next. But nothing ever prepared me for the cheater.
You see, I had always been bragging about how I pick the right ones. I carelessly said “Could never be me” whenever discussions surrounding the cheater came up. What I didn’t know was that the universe was slowly whispering into my reality “Never say never.”
By the time I turned 22, I had had it with men in the dating scene. So I wrote a list of what I wanted and what I couldn’t stand. I decided that come what may, I would never compromise on any of these standards. This worked for a while.
The problem with the cheater, however, was that he was disguised as the perfect guy. The kind of guy you keep away from your friends because he’s too good to be true and they may point out something that you don’t see. After all, love is blind. The kind of guy who tells you that whenever your insomnia kicks in you can call him to go through the problem together. The kind of guy who ticked all my boxes. The kind of guy who gave me butterflies, but little did I know that these butterflies were actually my gut telling me to abort the entire mission.
I met The Cheater in campus for the first time. He was never interested in me, or at least I never noticed it. He had been praised for excellent work in the media field, and so I forcibly jumped on his bandwagon when it came to group work. Again, please don’t judge my friend me. Everyone loves a good grade. We were a group of five girls and him, and he never even looked at me twice. But this didn’t surprise me, I was never the prettiest.
I never heard from him again after that semester, save for the few times I passed him across the school corridors. He was known to be a womanizer, and so I found him with different girls just about every time I saw him. (Red flag #1)
Years passed and we graduated. I landed my first job, a paid internship at a reputable media house. Here, I worked like a dog. I did clerical work more than career-related tasks. The workers treated me and talked to me like I was worthless. But this didn’t bother me much because I knew that at the end of every month I could afford a solo date and a new pair of shoes. Who needs men anyway?
I worked at this particular media house for about six months before I had to quit due to sexual innuendos from the bosses. I sat at home doing nothing for two subsidiary years before I got another job at a radio station.
I remember that interview so vividly. It was a rainy day, and I started to commute before the sun had risen. The interview wasn’t at least five hours ahead of my arrival, but I wanted to be the early bird that caught the worm. I went in my usual pink culotte pants and a black buttoned chiffon top. My hair was gelled down at the back where my natural kinks were then released in all their glory. My complete good luck outfit.
I was led to a board room with about five seats and one by one my competitors started to trickle in. I was playing candy crush on my phone to ease my anxiety, minding my business when I looked up and saw The Cheater. He looked at me and smiled charmingly. For a minute I rolled my eyes internally knowing that he was much more qualified than I would ever be. He walked in and came to say hi. I tried my best to look unbothered, but I guess my best wasn’t good enough. He carried on with a five-minute conversation that I was least interested in.
The thing with life is it is full of surprises. When the time came for the interview to begin, The Cheater stood up and said: “George, follow me this way…” Apparently, The Cheater was the interviewer. Damn it!
I will not bother you with the nitty-gritty of how the interview went, but all I can say is I got the job. The cheater gave me the job. When I got the news, I couldn’t help but think that I had been given an upper-hand because I knew the interviewer. But we would deal with that later. For now, all I had to do was celebrate my new source of income.
One thing led to another and before I knew it, the cheater had charmingly asked for my number via email. He really had a way with words. You see, I’m the type of girl to make you work for my number. You will solve ten mathematical equations just to get those ten digits. But when it came to him, I couldn’t help myself.
Before I knew it The Cheater and I were dating. He asked me to be his girlfriend in the most romantic way, during a weekend trip to Diani. I can’t deny it, love is much sweeter when money is in plenty.
We kept our love a secret and most times our dates took place in his apartment. That was what he wanted. He said we could jeopardize both our jobs if the board of directors found out that we were in a relationship. This made no sense to me, but I was infatuated by this newly found magic and so I chose to ignore it. (Red flag #2)
However, it didn’t take the rumour-mongers too long to figure out that The Cheater had fallen in love with a mystery girl. I loved listening to the stories about how he was seen buying 20 bouquets of flowers, or booking trips for two almost every other weekend. I sat and listened and occasionally threw in a “Must be nice.” But I wasn’t lying, it was nice.
What I, however, ignored the most, was my best friends’ opinion. Remember when Rihanna sang “My new nickname is you, idiot, that’s what my friends are telling me when they see me leaning to my phone. They’re telling me to let go, he is not the one?” Yeah, I felt that.
They said his life was too mysterious. That I had too many unanswered questions about him, and they always felt shivers when they met him. They didn’t see what I saw in him. But they didn’t have to, love doesn’t make sense. It’s magical. It doesn’t ask why.
We had been together for about a year when I noticed that he picked most of his calls outside of the house. He always had an excuse. ‘This is official, I need extreme silence.’ Or, ‘I’m trying to sign an extremely important business deal. I have to act professional’ (Red flag #3)
But you see, he was an important man in the corporate industry. These things happen. You can’t pick official calls just anywhere. The silence is part of the deal.
You may call me naïve or stupid, and maybe I actually deserve it. Maybe I should have seen beyond his bullshit. The problem is, I didn’t.
I walked into the office one fine Tuesday morning. Tuesdays were my favourite day, but this particular one was special because it was my birthday. To put the icing on the cake (literally), I had eavesdropped on The Cheater’s conversation with the receptionist who was booking a trip to a special place for two. Exciting. The receptionist greeted me with a huge smile and asked if I wanted to know the latest office gossip, to which I politely declined.
I didn’t see The Cheater that day. At breakfast, I thought he would surprise me with a fancy lunch, and when that didn’t happen I thought he would surprise me at dinner. To my dismay, the day came and went without me hearing a word from him. (Red flag #4)
I went home to find my best friend with two bottles of wine (dry white, Cabernet Sauvignon) and a box of cake. She broke the news to me. It was all over social media, my man had flown a girl to Lamu, my favourite Kenyan destination, on my birthday, to propose to her there.
I decided to shorten my list. If my next man could just remember my birthday, take me out publicly, have few female friends and pick his phone calls around me, maybe I could compromise on that left dimple on his cheek or well-combed beard.