Ask Ciiku: Should I have broken up with my boyfriend?

Hi Ciiku,

I broke up with my boyfriend of two years a little over a month ago and it’s been the most miserable time in my life. We met a almost 3 years ago through mutual friends and and struck up conversation and became closer with time. I have never known anyone like him, he is kind, thoughtful, he puts me first, he shows attention and I have never doubted or questioned his commitment, he makes me feel so loved. Being with him has been a great time.

We have our minor issues but we try and resolve them as amicably as possible. All that is good but here is the why. I have never had a problem with his light drinking but in the two years we have dated he has gotten a bit drunk once in a while and I loathe it when he does. We went to my cousin’s wedding and even when we knew there was an open bar, we agreed to just have a little then go home. Mandem went ahead and got quite sloshed and we had to leave the car and cab home. I was so pissed that he actually did that and he woke up and apologised before he picked up the car. I felt horrible and told him we needed to end this . He was upset but said we would work it out but I am now worried that I gave up something that was good. He has talked before about marriage and to be honest I don’t know what to do. This is someone I would like to spend my life with but I am also hurt. I have been thinking of the response you gave B but I also feel like I need to fight for this, for my joy but I am so conflicted.

Please help

Manzi wa Accounts

Dear Manzi wa Accounts,

I am sorry for how you feeling. It is not easy to break away from someone who you love and have invested time in. Especially when that person who you say loves you and is committed to you and has never made you doubt, hurts you and doesn’t respect a course of action that you have both agreed upon.

I am curious, what does fighting for the relationship mean or how does it look like to you? Does it mean that you accept that he will get drunk once in a while and that you will not get angry about it or does it mean that he stops drinking too much? Because you know there is only one person’s behaviour you can control here. And that’s you.

In fighting for the relationship, this means understanding that asking him to stop and him not stopping is something that will likely happen again. He has to be the one to initiate that change. He has to be willing to stop for his own sake, because he sees that it is detrimental for him and by extension the relationship. Not because you think he should because you asked him or because you think that if he really loved you he would change. That is not how it works. And if this is not something that you can accept, then maybe letting go of the relationship is what is the best option for the sake of your peace.

My position? Bend but don’t break. Keep in mind that he might not change and if that is something that you are willing to live with, you do so, without the expectation that he will change and without any resentment. No one is perfect and I don’t even think you expect him to be but the truth is, there are certain elements of a person that with time can cause disagreements and resentment so I suggest you think long and hard about what matters to you and if this is something you are willing to rethink your stance on.

Joy isn’t a finite thing. There is a lot of joy in this world Manzi wa Accounts. And you deserve it.

I want to share two things that I thought about with respect to your question:

The first is this quote:

No one can persuade another to change. Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside. We cannot open the gate of another, either by argument or emotional appeal.

Marilyn Ferguson

And the second is a Twitter thread which you can read by clicking here.

May you find peace.

Ciiku

 

Ask Ciiku: Am I overreacting?

Dear Ciiku,

Hey. I’m in a relationship with someone who claims to love me wholeheartedly but will still do things that I’ve repeatedly told them I’m uncomfortable with e.g he’s best friends with a lady friend that they used to stay all night on phone with but he’d delete their interactions. I caught him flirting with her on text a few times but he now claims he’s stopped and it’s just a platonic relationship 🙄. I feel like he loves me but can you really claim to love someone if you are still so selfish? Or am I overreacting and should I just accept their friendship?

B

Dear B

You know what I like about your letter. That you said “he claims to love me wholeheartedly“. You use the word claim. That means while yes he says you, you are not sure you believe it, you aren’t sure because his actions do not match his words. Am I correct in my deduction?

I have to ask: Is there anything he can do at this moment to make you believe fully and without a doubt that he loves you and that you can trust him and that nothing is happening with anyone else? Is the issue with the best friend the only issue the two of you have? What concerns you more: that there is a female best friend that he flirts with, the deletion of the texts, or many other things not mentioned in this letter? I mean, it is quite suspicious that he deletes them and that you know he deletes them (I assume you go through his phone) which means you already don’t trust him anyway (also using the word “caught” speaks volumes B).

My opinion? Let this relationship go.

Love is many things, and more so, it is more than what positive feeling you have for someone. Being loved is easy. Being loved the way you want to be loved? That’s when work needs to be done.

Why do you feel like he loves you? Is he because he says so? Or is it his actions that show that he does? Do you love him?

Sometimes, because we are with someone, the feeling of being chosen or the fact of being in a relationship is termed or labeled as love. That being in a dysfunctional relationship is better than being single – that somehow the fact that we are with someone means there is love. But that is not what love is. I think we assign things to love that shouldn’t be considered love. And even more than that, we tend to ignore people’s actions and focus on their words, which seems to be the case here B. For example, what compels you to check his phone? Is it because you don’t trust him?

If someone declares that they love you, wouldn’t their action indicate that they would do things that wouldn’t jeopardise the relationship or make the person they are in a relationship uncomfortable?Trust must accompany love, being able to trust someone you are in a relationship with is seminal to peace of mind.

I think you need to look long and hard at what you believe love to be, what you would want from an ideal relationship and what you are getting from this person. And remember, above all, love should be fair – to you and for them.

You deserve to be loved the way you want to be loved B. You deserve to love someone worthy of your love. And the truth is, from how you describe it, as little as you do, doesn’t seem to be it.

Ciiku

Sexual Harassment

On Tuesday evening, I went to Gender Forum hosted by Heinrich Böll Stiftung at Alliance Francaise in the CBD.

It was a last minute decision but lately, I have been trying to say yes to things I would usually say no to. And it was such a good decision.

The discussion revolved around sexual harassment in the workplace, what happens after, what the Kenyan law states, what policies organisations should have in place and various other matters. And I couldn’t help but think about my life in formal employment and how such a forum would have really helped me when I was young and starting my career off and even later. I have worked in places with the most detailed human resources policy but with scant details on how to deal with sexual harassment.

Even at my last job, my immediate supervisor would send me inappropriate messages and when I escalated the matter to his supervisor she told me to “handle it” which I did by blocking him on whatsapp. There are many issues that women face when they are in employment and most often, the system doesn’t aid them in ensuring their safety.

I have been asking myself what systems can be set up to provide support to victims of sexual harassment. I am still thinking about it actually because it is something I feel that has become accepted and shouldn’t be.

I must say that I was quite glad to see young girls – some who seemed to still be in University- attending the forum and engaging with this topic and I am only writing this to remind myself and whoever reads this to be kind and empathetic, to be a support system for someone who goes sexual harassment/sexual violence.