Putting myself out there in the name of dating is like volunteering to the front lines of war. I am completely unfit for it. I refuse to do it. My future husband will have to find me in my house, and here’s why:

I. There are too many rules

When people were learning the rules of dating, I was out chasing chickens. I am that clueless. I thought you met someone interesting, did some activities together (get your mind out of the gutter please, thank you), rinse and repeat. But no, there are nuances and traps and terms and conditions that I didn’t read. There are mixed signals to decode and power plays to negotiate. I don’t know who is supposed to text who first. I don’t know how long I’m supposed to wait before replying. I don’t know where I go wrong. Can’t we just talk like humans?

II. You must be in perfect health

As soon as you report an ailment greater than the flu, you’re out of the running. You essentially become a write-off. Suddenly, you’re viewed as this permanent liability and we have too much stress as it is to cater to an invalid. Maybe that’s why “in sickness and in health” is included in the contract. Life can be cruel sometimes. You can never know when an accident might happen, or if your body is slowly turning against you, waiting to strike with a catastrophic diagnosis. Then again, how many take that contract seriously? It is not my place to say.

III. The tables turned

I think I fell asleep at some point. When I woke up, the dating world had completely changed. How does a man younger than me hit on my mother, just because she has a car and no husband? (Mind you, this happened when I was 24 years old) How does a man visit my house empty-handed, put his feet up, and expect to be fed? That’s not how I was raised. If I’m anyone’s guest, I turn up with a gift, however little. How does a man ask me to “hotspot” him so he can use my hard-earned data for TikTok?

It used to be that women were the askers and receivers of money and favors and gifts. We had carefully built the reputation of telling men that we need “2k urgently,” or “the cooking gas ran out,” and many more excuses to ask men for cash. Nowadays it doesn’t matter. Maybe this is gender equality. The results? Everyone becomes stingy. Generosity becomes a rumor. We become uptight as soon as we meet a potential bae. I still can’t wrap my head around this.

IV. A plant is better company

Think about it. Sunshine, soil, water. What else does a plant need? It’s a living being, just like me. It will thrive with these basics. What does a date want? Charm. Entertainment. Willingness, nay, eagerness to jump in the sack. A performance of a lifetime. Only to get ghosted. I’d rather hang out with a cactus.

V. The economy is incompatible

When it comes to public transportation, few things are worse than sitting next to someone who just won’t shut up. The culprit in question was the bus driver on my recent trip to the Nairobi CBD. I climbed into the middle seat at the front, said my polite hello, and he spoke non-stop since that moment. I was trapped for almost an hour, and couldn’t get a word in edgewise. That man educated me on the impact of the Kenyan economy on coitus. Here’s the sanitized version:

“If you’re broke, your wife doesn’t put out. If you’re broke, you can’t afford an escort. If you’re broke, you can’t have any woman whatsoever! If you want to entice a woman, you must buy her a drink or two, and some food, then rent a room, then pay for her services, too. For us men,” he shook his head sadly, “we’re all doomed.”

In short, things are bad. Dating is for the wealthy. How we define wealth is another matter, here in the nation of “kuniama lunch,” missing meals and laughing about it.

VI. The character development curriculum is hard

Dating these days can jolt us in unique, unforgettable ways. It’s not enough that losing a job or crossing paths with a con artist can slap us squarely in the face. Discovering you have a deputy in your relationship, and probably more than one, is sobering like nothing else. Try finding your partner in bed with a stranger and being told, “It was never that serious.” Even worse, if you share your heartbreak with anyone, the best advice you’ll get is “oga urudi soko,” just shower and go back to the marketplace. I don’t subscribe to this philosophy. It means we’ll never learn.

And I’ll bet you’re wondering about how I cope with the extended dry spells. If not, I’ll tell you anyway. My solution is simple: I walk it off. I don’t know how many kilometres I’ve walked so far. Ask my shoes. Therefore, unless I meet my future partner on a very, very long walk, his best bet is to magic himself onto my doorstep. I’ll water my cactus while I wait.










Photo by Sarah Wolfe on Unsplash