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November 21, 2018

A free spirit? Are you sure?

You are going to laugh when I tell you this, but please do not stop reading: I have been dating or should I say hanging out with a saved guy? Okay… are you done? Can I go on with my story now? Thanks.

So I met this guy at a Nairobi café and we had a very nice chat. It emerged in conversation that he is a born-again Christian, and that he is saving himself for marriage. While it was clear from day one that we are very different in some fundamental ways, we still managed to laugh a lot and have a good time.

Very recently over a meal he told me what he really wants is a 'free spirited' woman. This came as a surprise to me because not only is he saved, he is very traditional. He wants his wife to take his last name, he wants to be the breadwinner in the family, and he pretty much wants his household to submit to him and his wishes. In case this is the first time you are reading this column, I am not that. I intend to keep my father’s name, provide for my family as best I can with my God given talents and yeah, that submission thing will be in constant negotiation.

So, what was he doing kinda dating me? What was I doing kinda dating him? Yes, we laughed at that one and chalked it up to mutual curiosity and a mild interest in anthropology. I should also mention that he is hot, well-mannered and quite lovely actually.

What does he mean by 'free spirited'? He means opinionated, laughs out loud, takes risks in life, a woman that can challenge him… So he wasn’t that? I am that. The issue is that my opinions are different from his. I enjoy my wine a little too much for his liking, I really don’t enjoy church and I laugh out loud and take risks in life. I asked him to explain his ideas to me.

It turns out that ‘free spirited’ is not a tidy box but rather a spectrum and while I am on it, he wants a far milder version than what I am.

Growing up, I was told I am too much. In fact, recently, when I told my mum I couldn’t see her on a Sunday because I had a brunch date, she gave me a list of instructions – no feminist talk, be agreeable and please do not argue with the guy. Frankly, it hurts. And for almost all my life it has cut me so deeply. I have been pissed off at the world, operating from a belief that once people got to know me they would find it impossible to like me, let alone love me.

Now as an adult, after yoga, after therapy, after lots of prayer and finally believing that God didn’t make a mistake, I have found a semblance of self-acceptance. Now as an adult, I can meet a guy, go on a few dates and when we figure out that we want lives that look very different, I can walk away intact. There is nothing wrong with either of us, we just want different things.

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