James was one of those people who consumed everyone around them. When he gave you attention, it felt so good, and it was like a drug; you’d find yourself desiring another hit. In hindsight, he knew about the effect he had on people, women mainly, and he capitalized on it. I got roped into playing his game. Perhaps because I thought I was too smart to fall for a man’s games, but the singer who said the heart is not so bright was on to something.
James was successful in his career in his early thirties, fun to hang out with, good-looking, and interesting. He said he was single, making him an eligible bachelor. He had no baby mama drama, which is increasingly becoming one of those items on the checklist while dating. All factors considered, dating James was like striking gold. When we started chatting, he felt like a catch.
“So, what are you doing in July?” James asked me and even highlighted the specific dates that he was asking about.
“I don’t have anything planned unless something comes up,” I replied.
“I want you to set those dates aside for me,” said James.
“Why? What do you have in mind?” I asked him.
“I want us to attend the rally together. You said you haven’t toured Naivasha. Let me show you around,” James proposed.
It was a date. I saved the dates. That was about three months before the rally. Having made plans with someone I liked three months in advance, I assumed he was serious about me. Making such plans must mean a level of commitment on his end, I imagined. His actions stated otherwise, but I made excuses for him. His communication became irregular.
He would check on me after every two weeks. When he would call, we would have long phone calls. They would be filled with laughter, which was easy because he was funny, and things sound funnier when you like someone. He would then disappear for a few more weeks and reappear. It wasn’t enough for me, but I dared not complain, fearing I would look needy. After all, he was still committed to attending the rally with me. It was still a level of commitment to me, I convinced myself.
Unfortunately, unlike men who can go on multiple dates without feeling like they’re cheating, I couldn’t go on dates. I quickly shut down other men who showed interest within the three months leading up to the rally. It felt like I was cheating on James. Once, while on call after 10 P.M. with him, another guy called me. We were on a video call with James, so when the other guy called, it affected the video call. I picked up the call quickly and then got back to James.
“Who’s calling you at this hour?” James asked.
“Just a friend,” I said.
“He better know that you’re spoken for,” said James, sounding jealous.
I tried to hide my excitement, but once the call was over, I reported my feelings to my journal. “He said I am spoken for. He’s claiming me,” I wrote. The excitement dwindled because he went back to his patterns. I texted him the following day but only got an emoji reaction. It felt like I was forcing the conversation, so I retreated. As predicted, he called me a week before the rally.
During the rally, he made me feel like I was the centre of his universe. I was on a constant high of emotions. We had fun, as expected, whenever we hung out or had a lengthy chat. We even met some of his friends during our stay in Naivasha. Logically, it felt like it was time to take the relationship to the next level. James had other ideas. We went back to the usual programming. Our conversations were limited to when he wanted to talk to me.
I got tired of feeling like there were restrictions to our interactions. So, I decided to change the game and started going on dates. I went on a date with my female friend and posted some of the highlights without posting my friend. It didn’t take long to get a reaction from James. He threw a fit that I was going on dates with other people. I didn’t bother to correct him.
“I wanted to have conversations with people before our two weeks schedule came up,” I responded.
He didn’t respond, but he got the message because he called more frequently for a while before going back to his old ways. Tired of the inconsistency, I asked him upfront what his intentions were.
“My dear, you don’t rush a man. Mzee haharakishangwi,” said James.
“Okay,” I responded.
It was clear that he had no intention of dating me seriously. The message was now clear to me. I moved on, and when he called me at his convenience, I stopped picking up. After I got over him and reflected on our interactions, I acknowledged I might have ignored the signs, but they were always there. He had shown me who he was from the get-go, but I had deluded myself.
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