I hate to be that “relationship guy” but no matter how hard I try to shake it off and never speak on man-woman relations, cosmic magnetism draws me back to it. This time, a guy friend came to me for advice that I’ve dished out one too many a time. So I decided to write on it.
Now, I must point out that before a guy goes to another guy for advice, he has to have tried EVERY alternative under the sun. Reaching out to another male with an emasculating situation is like signing an amputation form – the regular treatment has to have already failed. So it caught me off-guard when dude told me “iCon, I don’t know what to do about this girl.”
“What do you mean?” I replied.
“She wants me to be her boyfriend and…I don’t think I want to be.”
I understood what he meant. Most people however would be perplexed to some degree. This guy is in his mid-20s, the lady is too. They’ve known each other eons, been together longer. Not officially, just….together. They’ve been romantically and sexually tied for the better part of the past 6 years. In between times, they’ve gone to college abroad at separate schools and found themselves back in Nairobi working – albeit in separate fields. Through all these, they’ve been “together”. They never announce it, or make a big huff about it. It’s just this silent understanding they have that nobody ever questioned.
And then once upon a post-coital conversation she said: “Dude, do you want to be my boyfriend?”
He reluctantly said yes, for fear of ruining the moment and then called me the next morning to tell me how the confines of boyfriendship have robbed his relationship of its magic.
Sadly, he is right.
At some point, we graduate from puppy love and coy statements and move into real, tangible, consequence-ridden adult relationships. Here, regardless of what name you put on it, a wedding is a wedding and a baby is a baby. Money is either mine yours or ours, and so is everything else. There are legal and social ramifications tied to adult relationships that transcend changing a Facebook status and prancing about indulging in aimless PDA.
So why do it?
The essence of relationships gets lost in the triviality of the boundaries we sometimes try to package them in. While I appreciate the comfort and security that many young women find in being able to “define” what they have, I have to point out that “an absence of security” and “insecure” are not the same thing. One indicates a generally uncertain situation; the other is someone who’s generally uncertain about situations.
To put it simply, if he loves you, wants to be with you, won’t cheat on you, yadda yada, he’s probably more likely to adhere to his purposes without a title of “boyfriend” being imposed on him. Besides, at the end of the day, what does it really mean to be a boyfriend or a girlfriend? That’s not something you can take to the bank. “Will you be my boyfriend?” falls short of “Let’s move in together.” It even falls shy of “Let’s open a bank account together.” or “Let me introduce you to my family/friends.” Really, it’s the teenage sugar pill placebo of confirmations as far as relationships go. Past age 19, you may want to start shedding off whatever little remnants of these notions of boyfriend and girlfriend may still be lingering in your psyche.
You may instead want to divert your energies towards appreciating what you have with the person in question. A special bond that few in the world can test. An ineffable, mutual respect and emotion that is special – and will remain so until you give it a silly title like “boyfriend & girlfriend”.
As for my friend and his girl – she just called asking why he left her.
I replied: “Because he lost you.”
She cried and hung up in a whimper.
At least he didn’t give some lame excuse on his way out the door.