I have a question.
Is it possible to love someone you have not met? Can you fall in love with or at the least, have strong feelings for someone you have not met? My friend and I were having a conversation recently and he was going on and on about this guy he was sort of seeing, how he was perfect for him and all and how they complemented each other. Anyway, I casually asked where the guy was and when I was going to meet him, and he said the guy worked in Zaria! Knowing that my friend would not take a trip to Zaria without telling me, I asked him if he had met this guy. He said no. I was a bit worried, because I believed my friend could be heading for disaster and he doesn’t handle disappointments very well. So I went on to ask him: “How do you fall in love with someone you have not met physically?” He started gisting me about love and compatibility based mostly on BBM, Whatsapp and occasionally Skype connections. I didn’t want to be the party-pooper, so I let it slide.
Later I wondered if perhaps I was overthinking this. I mean, cyber relationships are a thing, right? They do exist, don’t they? However, I remember one incident very many moons ago, which is the reason for my skepticism. I was introduced to someone by a mutual friend and we got talking; I mean, he ticked all my boxes, so I was very happy to get to know him. We developed a great online chemistry and it was almost fairytale-like. We talked twice everyday and then caught up on BBM and Skype every now and then. We had similar interests and hobbies; I remember us arguing vigorously about the Caine Prize and who should have won it.
All was going well until he visited me in Port Harcourt, and everything fell apart. I began to see the things that BBM did not reveal and I began to feel restless. First of all, Skype and selfies did not reveal the paunchy tummy. Well, not everybody can be committed to exercise, so I let that slide. The real problem became his mannerisms. Firstly, he can snore for Africa and Asia combined. He was very rude to people, especially service people like waiters and sales persons; he yelled at them when it was necessary and when it was not, and he hurled abuse at other drivers on the road when they drove recklessly. That happens to be one of my biggest pet peeves. I managed to survive the weekend, and after he left, the online chemistry gradually fizzled out. Besides I was no longer a shiny object anyway, so it was expected. The “see-finish” syndrome came into play (I will write about it one day) and we both became lukewarm toward each other, until he eventually vanished from my BBM and it was good riddance honestly.
After that experience, I resolved that to love someone, you have to see them in their “natural habitat”, observe their personalities, see how they live, see how they treat other people and get a glimpse of who they really are. These are the things that the social media will probably not show you. I am of course speaking for myself but I sincerely do not believe that you can love someone without meeting them.
I often travel for work, and I was in Benin one time on a work-related trip. Benin is a town where I knew nobody, so I was more than comfortable with the company of my colleagues. With the kito stories that emanate from that town, I wasn’t interested in meeting anybody. Then, my friend buzzed me and spoke about his friend who was also in Benin and bored to death and asked me to meet up with him. I felt that was okay, seeing as this new acquaintance was a recommendation. I hit him up and asked him over to the bar of the hotel I was staying, where we had drinks and some fish.
The guy turned out to be a very strange breed of Nigerian gay man. I was inspired, blown away and in awe of him all at the same time. First of all, while we were chatting, he mentioned that he was married, and I thought to myself: Oh great, another MGM. And then, he clarified that he had a husband. I laughed, thinking he meant a boyfriend. But he corrected me and said he had a husband – a husband – and proceeded to show me a wedding band on his ring finger. I could see the impression the ring had made on the finger; so clearly, he’d being wearing the ring for a while. And that was when he had my full attention.
He told me he was married to a German who he met while he was on his NYSC in Port Harcourt. They were together for two years before they went to Berlin and had a commitment ceremony, and have been married for eight years now. I nearly could not believe my ears as he went on to tell me that they lived together, and about his husband’s children (yes, he has grown children who stay abroad) call him “Daddy Henry”. He also talked about the battles he fought – and won – with his family on account of his marriage, and that his family doesn’t acknowledge the relationship or his sexuality, but he has a relationship with them. And he talked about how he continues to live by his own rules.
As astonishing as his story was, I began to analyze it in my head. I mean, it was easier because the hubby is a foreigner and very well-off. But ultimately, it became clear to me that it is possible to have a married life in Nigeria with your man, if you so desire. By the end of the evening, I was so glad I met him. This guy renewed hope in me that there is loyalty and longevity in the gayborhood after all.
We kept in touch after that trip. I even got to speak with his husband one of the days we spoke on the phone. And recently, he called to tell me that one of his husband’s children just had a baby, so he was officially a grandma, and we had a laugh over it.
At the end of the day, it’s each person with his kettle of fish, but I just thought I should share this story with you guys.
“Dennis, how do you get over someone you care about and who doesn’t care about you? How do you do it?”
My friend sent me this message out of the blue on BBM. He was going through some boy drama with some self absorbed human he had fallen for and was trying to get over. Now among my friends, I have a reputation of being “Robocop” – the one who rarely gets hurt and who gets over guys easily. This is of course a fallacy; I just have perfected the art of pretending to be strong until I become it (fake it till you make it, right?). I remember once having a conversation with Pink Panther, and he asked me how does one become strong, to which I responded, “Life teaches you to be strong, life toughens you, I’m sure the crocodile upon birth had a very soft hide, but elements of the weather over time made it grow a very tough hide. Humans work the same way.”
Anyway, back to my friend who wanted to get over the guy… I started offering him suggestions: I told him, “You have too much time on your hands to be thinking, get busy with a project and you will forget him.” I mentioned the time I had a painful experience a few years ago while I was on leave; I was going mad because I was home all day thinking about this guy and the drama. God came through and my friend, who was a PhD student, begged me to help him with an assignment and I jumped at the offer, so much so that after a week plus of working on the assignment, my tormentor had vanished from my thoughts.
My friend asked if he should delete the guy from BBM and I told him no, that it would make him look petty and give the guy the satisfaction of knowing he’d hurt him. I told him that if the guy’s updates upsets him, he should change his display name to something like ‘jerk’ or ‘jackass’ or ‘Enugu idiot’; that way, his updates would show as “Enugu idiot changed display picture….” and they would upset him less. This made him chuckle and we went on to laugh over it.
At the end of the day, there is no template for anything in life. You just have to find what works for you and do it. What I shared with my friend has worked for me over the years. I am a very different person, I believe in crying privately but still smiling to the world. And hell will freeze over 63 times before I let anyone have the pleasure of knowing they hurt me.
Oh, and guys, y’all should step over to our sister blog, sagbachronicles.com, and check out THIS POST about internet trolls, and begin to put some things that happen on this blog and on this journal especially into perspective.