If my previous relationship taught me any lesson, it taught me that forever is a long time to waste with someone who gives you half of what you deserve. Get everything you think you deserve or leave when forever is still young as the morning sun. No, I didn’t learn this while I was in the relationship. I learned it many days after he had left my life for a reason I thought was stupid.
I didn’t cheat on him. I didn’t disrespect him. I didn’t keep any secret from him. Think of anything that kills a relationship and I would swear I didn’t do it to him so why did he leave?
I realized he was falling out of love with me but he didn’t have the strength to say it. He acted it. He made it obvious. When one day we both had the opportunity to talk about the changes in the temperature of our love, I asked him, “You don’t give me much attention like you used to do. You don’t even call me until I do. Is it about something I did wrong?” He answered, “No you haven’t done anything wrong. I’ve been thinking about my future a lot lately and I’ struggling to see where you fit.”
It hit me like a mall hammer on the head. This is a guy I’ve been dating for close to two years and he wakes up one day to tell me I don’t fit into his future? The first question was of course what I did wrong but when he explained further, I realized it wasn’t about what I did wrong but more of what I lacked. He wanted a woman who belongs to the office or a woman who wakes up in the morning, put on her suits, wear high heels, pick up her bag, drive to the office to order people around. The boss kind of a woman.
I’m not that type of woman. Yeah, I have a degree in business administration but I’m a more hands-on person. I will sell waakye today and tomorrow I will operate a chop bar. I like to sell and I like to sell things that are in demand. In the two years that I dated him, he maintained one office job and schooling alongside hoping one day he would climb up the corporate ladder but in that same two years, I had moved from selling wigs to dresses and from dresses to cosmetics.
He didn’t like that. “I like a woman who has a stable career.” I had a very erratic career so I didn’t appear like the one for him. I liked his honesty and loved the fact that he didn’t keep wasting my time when he realized I didn’t fit into his future. We ended it so we could both walk towards the light of our dreams.
Not too long after, I found Stanley, the guy who didn’t take no for an answer. Two months after getting into each other’s space, he proposed;
“I want you to be my girlfriend.”
“No, I don’t want to.”
“Just think about it. We could be a great couple.”
“No, I don’t want to couple with you.”
“But, you haven’t even thought about it?”
“No, I don’t have to think about it.”
He didn’t take my no for an answer but one thing led to another and that one thing was care. Stanley was full of care and consideration. Each time we had the opportunity to meet and work on something, he always gave more than he was supposed to. He was full of love for me that at some point it would have been very stupid for me to continue saying no him. I said yes and he asked, “You mean yes as in I’m your boyfriend?”
Our journey started and after one year, there was nothing stopping us. Yes, we had little challenges here and there but those challenges only succeeded in showing us how much we wanted our relationship to succeed. He knew my family and his family knew me. We achieved more in a year than I achieved in two years with the other guy so everything was fine and all directions headed toward marriage.
And then the world started turning upside down, not for us alone but for everyone. COVID-19 became the news and the news was all about the spread of Coronavirus and the need to restrict movement. The day after the lockdown was announced, he suggested to me, “Why don’t you move in with me? Instead of staying apart for God knows when we could use the opportunity to make plans for our future.”
That made a lot of sense so the day before the lockdown, I packed my stuff and moved in with him.
Day one was fun. It was all about me sizing his place up and figuring out where I fit and the perfect spot to place the things I used daily. It wasn’t the first time I was in his place and it wasn’t the first time I was going to sleep there but it was the first time I was going to spend so many days with him without going anywhere. “I better have things right.” The first day passed peacefully and happily. We didn’t even realize when the night came. We talked and laughed until it was 1am before we went to bed.
Four days into our staying together I started observing a behavioral pattern.
The TV didn’t have a remote. When I asked where it was, he said, “Hmmm it should be somewhere around here but I can’t find it. Maybe it fell in a corner somewhere.” I asked again, “How long has it been missing?” He answered, “I don’t know how long. I don’t change the channel often and when I want to I just walk to the TV and change it.” I made it a point to find the remote and hours later, I found it stuck inside the space beneath the armrest of the sofa.
He didn’t know where to put what. He threw things around the place so most often, he finds it difficult to remember where he placed things. Shoes could be under the center table and dirty dish sitting peacefully on the carpet at the hall. He will lie on the carpet, kick the dirty dish around with his legs until the spoon falls off and disappear. You’ll be looking for the spoon and won’t find it until you lift the sofa up. Messy.
I started cleaning up after him, thinking he would see through my actions and do the same. When he leaves the dirty dish at the hall, I would pick it up, send to the kitchen and clean it up. The remote was always missing because he was always moving around with it. All morning one day we couldn’t find the remote until I found it in the fridge later afternoon.
I started getting worried. “No, I can’t live in such a mess. Someone has to make an effort to change things around in this house.” I started drawing his attention to little things. Immediately he finishes eating, I tell him, “Please send the dish to the kitchen.” He would say, “I will send it when I’m going there.” He never goes there so the dish never goes to.”
We had our first fight on day seven.
He wore one boxer shorts for four days. I thought that was all he had. He had half a dozen or so but he kept wearing this red striped one for four continuous days. “You don’t change your boxers?” I asked. He didn’t mind me. I screamed it out loud, “Is that the only boxer you own?” He retorted sharply, “Must you complain about everything in this house? Even the boxers I wear?” I said, “I’m not complaining but you’ve worn this for four days and that’s enough to spread corona around this place.”
He got angry. He didn’t understand why I was counting the days. It’s his boxers so why should I care? He felt micromanaged. He said a lot of angry stuff and didn’t talk to me for the rest of the day.
When tempers were calmed, I decided to have a heart to heart talk with him: “I’m not asking for too much around here. Just do the simple things for yourself and I’ll also do what I’m supposed to do to keep this place going. I’m in your space and I know it’s unsettling but we can work at it.” He didn’t say much. I could feel his ego was still bruised but I expected to see some changes around.
And yes, things changed.
This time, when he finishes eating, he would signal me to pick the dish to the kitchen. When he can’t find the remote, he would call me to look for it for him. He reduced the number of days of wearing one boxer shot from four to two days and this time when he takes off his dirty boxer, he leaves it on the bed. In his mind, I’m the woman so I have to pick off his dirt and clean his mess.
I wake up every morning and clean what I can clean and fix what I can fix around here. I can’t live in chaos so I try. I was only counting the days till the quarantine would be over so I can leave for my house. Unfortunately, one more week was added prolonging my stay here but come what may, the lockdown would be over.
I can see he’s tired of me already. In his mind, I complain a lot. I’m trying to make him do what he doesn’t want to do for himself so he distances himself from me. He spends more time on his phone than he spends talking to me. Yesterday he didn’t bath and this morning, he didn’t brush his teeth but it’s normal for him so I won’t say anything. I’m only his girlfriend and not his mom.
After everything is over, I can imagine myself walking out of the door and not come back again. I will walk out of his life not because he’s a bad person but forever is a long time to waste with someone who gives you half of what you deserve.
—Sophie, Silent Beads – Ghana