“Is this a gut feeling or am I just insecure?” I constantly asked myself while I was dating Ben. It was one of those situations where I couldn’t quite justify my feelings to him, but I felt uncomfortable about many situations. Think of it as one of those times you meet someone and instantly dislike them, but you can’t justify the dislike. Similarly, Ben’s interactions with several women made me uneasy.
Ben was a social butterfly. He had good relationships with the men and was friendly with women, too. I felt he could be too friendly. He was a businessman, so it made sense that he was social. It was, after all, his friendliness that was the genesis of our friendship. The first two months of our dating involved a lot of travelling. I would accompany him to out-of-town business errands. We had a lot of time to ourselves.
However, in the third month, I began to spend more time at his place because he didn’t travel as much. Additionally, I couldn’t accompany him on his trips out of town, so he asked me to go to his place before he returned. He would tell me he would return on a certain date, so I would go to his place and wait for him. That was when I started interacting with other people in his life.
I met his close female friend, Betty. He had talked about Betty even before I met her. She had been his friend since college. They were in the same class and did business together at some point. They remained good friends. I didn’t like Betty, and the feeling was mutual. It felt like a constant struggle for dominance in Ben’s life. When she joined us to hang out, she constantly said, “You don’t know Ben, like I know him, and I know what’s best for him.”
It was a constant game of “Let me choose for him” when ordering things. Once, we were all together when Ben got a call to deliver something out of town. We all went. As Ben conducted his business, we exited the car and strolled. There were fruit vendors. The avocados looked good, so I got some. Betty quickly said, “I even thought you would buy mangoes because Ben loves them. He hates avocados.”
I didn’t have time to respond to her as Ben came, and Betty started selecting mangoes, telling Ben how she knew he would appreciate them. I let it slide because I couldn’t find a way of telling Ben that his female friend and I were fighting over who would get him fruits. It was, however, evident that I didn’t like Betty.
Back at his apartment, a cleaning lady would go to his house weekly. On one occasion, she found me in the house. Ben had left. The lady already had her routine. I was in the bedroom when she knocked at the door. I opened the door.
“Hi, Serah,” she said.
“Uuuhm, I’m not Serah,” I said in confusion.
“Oh, sorry, you look like his girlfriend Serah. I thought it was her,” she said.
She told me she wanted to clean the room and continue her business. That incident got me wondering about his ex. It turned out Ben had a type. It wasn’t a big deal until two weeks later when the cleaning lady went back. This time, I wasn’t around, so she only found Ben. Obliviously, he mentioned a conversation where she complained that I used up too many dishes in the kitchen while cooking. Ben thought it was a compliment to me and my love for cooking.
“Do you discuss your girlfriends with your cleaning lady?” I asked him.
“She has worked at my place for some time and notices things. It was on a light note,” Ben argued.
After the cleaning lady incident, Ben introduced me to his caretaker, Grace. Grace had just come back after a month away. She had been unwell and had gone upcountry to stay with her family. Ben had mentioned Grace in his stories, but I didn’t think they were that close. So, in addition to the cleaning lady going to his house once a week, Grace would go every few days to help with chores like cooking and doing the dishes. Ben claimed he was helping her because she needed the money as a single parent.
Grace was laid back, and she would engage me in conversation when she found me in the house. On a Saturday evening, Ben had gone to meet a client. Ben called me, “Hey, so I have to go out of town for three days. My client needs something,” he said. We had a short conversation. Shortly after, the doorbell rang. It was Grace.
“Hi, Ben has told me to pack a few things for him; he’ll pick them up at the gate shortly,” said Grace.
She proceeded to his bedroom to pack for him. Noticing my discomfort, she asked me what to pack for him. As though used to such situations, she told me stories about Ben’s exes and praised me, claiming that she could tell that Ben liked me. We finished packing, and Ben called when he got to the gate. Grace took the bag of clothes, and he left.
That incident left me feeling weird. I decided to confront Ben. At first, he told me I was bothering him while he was busy. I got angry and went silent. After three days of silence, he texted me. When I raised the issue again, he told me Grace was like a trusted assistant. “If something was going between Grace and me, would I have introduced her to you?” Ben asked, defending his interaction with her. Eventually, I couldn’t stand it because it felt like I was playing the jealous girlfriend.
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