Men too get hurt after a heartbreak

The soreness of break-ups is not something us men are willing to admit. PHOTO | COURTESY 

What you need to know:

  • When a guy tells you that he doesn't want to be in a relationship but it's nothing to do with you, believe him says Mariga Thoithi.

"You don't look like the kind of guy to be single" is a statement I hear pretty often. So often, that if I was to be petty I would get a t-shirt printed with the words, 'I'm single, YES, I'm single single and not Nairobi single.'

I didn't understand what the statement meant until I eventually learned that it's a compliment by women. How exactly is that an accolade? Can't they tell you that they like your hair, or nose or ears or something? How is telling you that you don't look single equal to telling you 'you're yummy like a sexy avocado?' Anyway, I'll take the compliment.

What usually follows next is the question around whether I am truly single. Whether I have a girlfriend or a wife and whether anyone thinks I am their boyfriend or husband. You can't be too sure in Nairobi and you have to cover all bases because you'll find someone has a full family, three years later and when you ask him why he didn't come clean, he will straight up tell you that you asked him whether he had a girlfriend not whether he had a wife.

Then, the question that gets all their attention is why. Why am I single? If they are driving they will park their cars off the highway to listen to you and ask all the questions they probably have stored in a Google Doc shared by women worldwide. That's always complicated because I don't know the perfect answer to give. Breakups have three versions- his side, her side, and the truth and once in a while the three intersect but most times they're mutually exclusive and have a life of their own. Any story you give is just a version of your truth at best—how you experienced the breakup and you're usually the victim in your own story. So my version of the story is that we weren't compatible, as a quick summary.

I've been single for two years and a few winks and it took me about a year and a half to fully get over my last relationship. No one told me that heartbreaks can crush you, mostly because we go around thinking that men are heartless and invincible. Heh. I learnt that we aren't, the hard way. I was those men in RnB videos crying in the rain shirtless begging her to come back. Well, maybe not that exactly but you get the drift.

My ex and I had fallen into the trap many people get into that makes you believe that just because you like or love someone you should be with them. Then, it dawns on you that you're incompatible. By then you are too far gone to let go of each other until you reach a point where you're miserable together and fighting all the time. That's what we did. We found ourselves trying to change each other into the people that we wanted to be and it ended terribly because of pent up frustrations. It was a meltdown at the end. I kept quiet about it because I wasn't going to be that person trashing their ex online. Your ex doesn't suddenly become a bad person because you broke up with them. She's still an incredible, gorgeous and brilliant person, who just wasn't the person for you.

Knowing that we were done, however, didn't make the break up easier in the least. It didn't make those sleepless nights afterward better or make it easier when I had to explain the break up to everyone who asked. I felt like it would have been easier to have prepared a 48 slide PowerPoint to send to anyone who asked because retelling the story brought back the hurt again. Most people were asking to see if anyone cheated or did anything scandalous and you could see them digging further hoping I would dish out the dirt but there wasn't anything saucy about it.

Every time I've thought of another relationship, I feel like I would rather support Arsenal because at least their misery is expected and there are support groups, oh wait, those are just their fans. But I feel like my life of being a 'kitanda tangatanga' ambassador is almost done and I'm ready to be foolish enough to fall in love again.

The soreness of break-ups is not something us men are willing to admit. Hug the man next to you after their breakup because they will probably never be able to fully voice what they went through. And when he tells you that he doesn't want to be in a relationship but it's nothing to do with you, believe him. It really isn't. Men, how did your last break up affect you?