Mantalk: Sorry ladies I don’t date broke women

Sorry ladies I don’t date broke women. Photo | Photosearch

What you need to know:

Let us not ignore a fundamental truth—that relationships are transactional

How much would you pay for love?

As you think about it, I’ll let you on a little secret, entre nous—even if it feels like I am talking about you. It’s not something I advertise, but personally, I don’t date broke women. If the screech of brakes and crumple of metal drowned out that last part, I’ll repeat: I don’t date broke women. Never have, never will. In fact, I have never sent fare in the 29 years of my existence, and my scriptwriter has just informed me that it doesn’t look like they will be inserting a scene of me sending fare to anyone in future reels. Actually, despite having all the grace of an elephant in high heels, I fear I am so dyed-in-the-wool that the moment a woman asks for credit money or lunch or heck any money, my libido plummets. I like my women with money because why are we two broke people in a relationship? Okay, I’m kidding. It's not two. We are usually more.

Here's the codicil: once you prove that you can take care of the bills, your bills, we will finally fall in love, so we can prove to the world that this relationship, this match made in heaven and brought together by Yahweh himself, is love and not a transaction.

This is the rock on which I have built my church, and it’s a gospel that I know I do not evangelise alone. Gone are the days of single-income households. Nairobi is an expensive city—14th overall in Africa. It’s a designer label sewn into a workman’s overall. You wake up hivi hivi and Sh2,000 is gone. You have to be pragmatic, not an idealist to live here, let alone to afford to be in a relationship. And bad things happen to you if you don’t have money. Ask Jesus. The Good Book says he was betrayed by Judas. But that’s one way to look at it. He was betrayed by Judas, because of 30 pieces of silver? I’m just saying…if Jesus had given Judas 40 pieces of silver…let me stop there as suddenly I can see from my window, the clouds darkening.

I mean, haven’t women been doing it all along, placing their needs first? Putting you on a scale, weighing if what they’ve given up is worth what they’ve got. Isn’t this evident in romance’s shrug from poetry to business schools in the quest to balance the books? 

We look for ‘partners,’ not soulmates. And I can prove it. The first thing your woman’s friends will ask her when she finally tells them about you in that ‘Boss Babes’ WhatsApp group of theirs is this: “What does he do?” It’s not that they care about your writing career (ouch), or want to support your chicken skinning business. No way, Jose. They want to know you can afford to keep the relationship purring, they want to put you in a tax bracket and treat you accordingly. They are not rogues, nor saints. It’s just the way things are. It’s evolutionary. Money is the oxygen on which the fire of her sexuality burns.

Men, on the other hand, will ask; “What’s she like?” “Does she laugh at your jokes?” “Does she know you walk commando on Thursday nights during the full moon?” You know, the usual. I wager that it’s time to learn from the ladies, gents.

It’s funny because when it comes to personal friendships, men get rid of the broke friend quite fast. Sometimes, the broke friend can see the writing on the wall (it’s pretty hard to keep up with someone blowing your rent on a 'blessed' whiskey bottle just because Jay Z touched it. Look, the goal is to get hammered, Jay Z aside!) and gets rid of himself fast. No hard feelings. Or why do you think they say your network is equal to your net worth?

Nora Ephron once said, “Never marry a man you wouldn’t want to be divorced from.” Marrying rich is today’s equivalent of winning the lottery in life. It’s very strange how quickly one can make peace with their spouse’s, erm, partner’s eccentricities for as long as they wear Prada. If marriage was built on the quicksand that is romance, there would be what? Three couples only?

There is a book I am reading, “Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating” by Moira Weigel (highly recommend, three stars). In it, there are sentences of incredible length that go to incredible lengths, their tone switching from solemn to madcap to quizzical to desolate: “If marriage is the long-term contract that many daters still hope to land, dating itself often feels like the worst, most precarious form of contemporary labor: an unpaid internship.”

History teaches us that marriage was an economic transaction, a covert way of passing wealth and maintaining it across generations. In other words, marriage was essentially a contract between two families. You did it once and that was that. There was no exit—and, if you didn’t like it, you could hope for the unfortunate—and I say that loosely—early death of your partner. Loyalty was imposed on women, simply because you needed to know whose children you feed and who inherits the house when God calls you home. Does that sound romantic to you?

Let us then not ignore a fundamental truth—that relationships are transactions. And in our perpetual consumer society, love has become that thing we compete against others to get. Love is constantly on sale; dating is what it takes to close the deal. Isn’t it why we commoditise ourselves with click-bait-worthy dating-site profiles, edited to a T, as if they were product descriptions? 

Marriage demands virtue, but virtue is an amputation and what is lost is one of the things that make one feel most alive. Freedom. Identity. Privacy.

Serendipitous love as a romantic ideal is a paean to Tyche, the god of chance—like gambling or betting or staking the lottery as many people do, and actually getting it, as most people don’t. Is it a tragedy then, to make love a transaction? To vow fidelity as long as you serve my financial needs and taste for the finer things in life? Besides, there is nothing romantic about being broke. A candle-lit dinner is only sexy in Runda, not Rongai. “So don’t marry for money,” I whisper to my sister whenever I am paying her bills, “But go to where the rich people are and marry for love.”

It's really no one’s business why, or to whom anyone gets married, except I guess, the government's, especially when it comes to divorce. Those who recognise that it’s a transaction they have made and that they have to bring something to the table as well in order to get anything out of it will eventually reap the investment. Every relationship is contractual; we’re just making the terms more explicit. We all have contracts: you do this, she does this, we do this. It’s a Faustian bargain, but look, here’s your sliver of silver lining—at least it’s a bargain.

Methinks, it’s also why Jesus didn’t get married. I mean, He couldn’t pay Judas 30 pieces of silver, now imagine having to organise a wedding in Cana of Galilee? And Jesus does not look like the sort of man who will feed you on a diet of fish and bread…oh…(Seems going out with Jesus must be a real money saver.)

Every sensible person knows that relationships take work. Marriage is work. Here’s my fifty shillings on that: of course, the relationship will work. As long as you do. 

Can I let you in on another secret? I have enough love to go around. As long as you are not broke.


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