When I started writing this column, I was at the tail end of 31. Now I am at the rear end of 41. My job here is to write about relationships from my (a man) point of view. Of course, it’s heavily subjective and is in no way representative of the larger male populace. But what I know and I believe in is one's point of view keeps on shifting. Only a complete fool doesn’t change his mind. I have changed my mind on many things about relationships over the years but I have also retained certain truisms on romantic bonds despite being wrong on them. Here are some things that have changed and some that haven’t.
I now believe that it’s never that serious. That no matter how strongly you feel about something today, next year you will look back and wonder what the hell that was all about. Sometimes the best way to go about life is not to get a hernia about things that are not a matter of life and death.
People don’t change. I’m more convinced more than ever that people don’t change who they are. At least fundamentally. If you are a psychotic lover now, chances are you will still be a psychotic lover five years from now. If you are a selfish lover today, I can bet tomorrow you will still be selfish. People don’t graze too far from their personality traits.
No more mani-pedis. I changed my mind on doing pedicures as a man and a whole bunch of rubbish activities that I thought defined me as a man. It’s fine to do pedicure. It doesn’t mean you are less of a man — especially if you have ingrowths. But I still haven’t changed my mind about manicures. Maybe at 50, I will. But today I won’t be caught dead with my fingers dipped in a small bowl. Yikes. Because next, I will be tweezing my eyebrows. Then, there is no guessing what I will be doing next; perhaps waxing (God forbid!).
I also changed my mind on whether a man should cry. It’s fine to cry. There are no medals for “acting” like a man. Nobody wrote the handbook on what a man should be or shouldn’t be. Be the man you choose to be. And make peace with it.
You haven’t figured things out yet at 30. At 31, you think that you have things figured out. Nothing could be further from the truth. You can read a thousand books but at the end of the day, time and experience is what brings wisdom. You need to live to know. And life comes at its own pace.
I have learnt not to judge anyone. That most things aren’t what they seem like. That there is no model relationship and that what looks broken from outside, may work from the inside and what looks shiny and fancy from the outside may be completely broken on the inside. Forget the green grass in the neighbour’s lawn, the kind of manure he uses might make you throw up.
I don’t believe in love at first sight anymore. This is a construct of romantic books and movies. You might see someone at the ATM and think, “My Lord! She is stunning!” But that’s only because she has lovely hips and her skin looks like chocolate. That’s not love. That’s optical assault. Love takes time, love is not perfect. My idea of romantic love has become very jaded over time. It’s not as strong and laden with great confidence as it was in my early 30s. It’s been beaten about by time, left out in the rain a few times, soaked with overnight dirty laundry. But it’s steady, not starry-eyed.
I don’t believe in couple counselling. This was my view ten years ago, and it still holds. I believe couples sometimes need a different ear and voice, yes, but often it depends on both parties’ willingness to work things out. If one is not willing, then even the best counsellors from as far as Lugogo in Kampala will not help.
A woman shouldn’t pay the bill on the first date. This sets a bad precedent for any relationship that should come after. She can pay for the second one, though. I also believe that you don’t have to have the last word in an argument as the man. It doesn’t matter who says the last word. Often you can say more by saying less.
Sex is overrated. Lastly, I wish I knew this ten years ago but sex is largely overrated. It’s a rotating wheel. A paradox. You want more but when you get more you realise it isn’t even better. And often it’s not even what you get, it’s what you give. The world doesn’t revolve around sex as they made us believe decades ago, people do. The world just revolves around the sun. I also thought you had to break your back or hang from a chandelier to be a good sex partner. Not anymore.