No Ladies, it’s not your job to build a man

What you need to know:

  • No man will date a woman because she has the ‘potential’ to be beautiful
  • Potential is not prophecy; not all ambitious men actually make it in life

Rarer than love, give me the truth.

And the truth is pretty simple. If anyone, could be my sister or even someone’s daughter, asked for my thoughts on the dating scene/sin right now, here’s my unbridled opinion: never marry for money. But go to where the rich people are and marry for love. Short and sweet; just what the doctor recommends.

Having read the emails you send me, I chuckle because I know your secrets—you all harbour a voyeuristic fetish, so I am going to wash some dirty linen in public too.

A couple of weeks ago, a distant uncle of mine had a nasty fallout with his wife. It was the cry of the village. You know, one of those split-village villages which only appear on the 9 pm bulletin when some bored housewife slashes her husband’s manhood with a cutlass. That’s not exactly what happened, except there was some ‘cutting off’ alright.

My uncle had finally made it rich and discovered that he has a type, which—who would have thought—happens to also be my type: short, petite, light skin to a fault with a sizeable derriere and questionable morals and preferably flaunts a central Kenya type of forehead. In short, a baddie. (Some—but not me—might even go as far as calling her a gold-digger but doesn’t that actually require a mining license?)

Now my auntie was like, ‘after all I did for you.’ My uncle insists he pulled up himself by his bootstraps. Of course, she did something because she was always around, making the home while he built the house. She dated him when he had nothing, and now that he is enjoying the view from the mountain top, he just realised she did not make the cut to the promised land. Long story short, everyone in that village just has to buy bread, tea is served daily.

That got me thinking of how women ‘build’ men. Or how they say they do. ‘After all I did for you.’ But you see that therein lies the problem. Women love dating men with potential, men who could be something; men with ambitious dreams. In turn, men learned to become snake-oil salesmen, with charm and chutzpah, selling the Times Tower from his bedsitter in Mwiki.

But potential isn’t prophecy. The road to hell isn’t paved with good intentions for nothing. Potential aches for that sweet spot between tech-bro high fives and stay-at-home mom lite inspiration. It is a waiting game, like watching an advertisement about soap on TV: the good stuff is always coming your way, right after this word from our sponsors.

I tell anyone who cares to listen, that after being dated for my potential, sometimes the unpalatable truth is that for every Nyashinski, there are thousands of Kleptomaniax on the brink of making it. Sometimes, potential goes unfulfilled. Scratch that, many times, that potential is never fulfilled. For every Sauti Sol, there are thousands of Camp Mullas at the cusp of greatness. That sometimes, even after you leave the hood, you never really find your way out. It’s the rule of life, and having boundless potential doesn’t make you the exception.

Do not get me wrong, I love love, and I am a hopeless one at it, yours truly might even have had moisture in his eyes the first time I saw the Titanic; but sentimentality has its limits. I still prefer to make decisions based on pedigree than potential.

Potential isn’t prophecy. I know you want to build with the stones that builders rejected
but maybe you should stop and consider why they rejected it in the first place?

Spoiler alert: Ladies understand this. No man will date a woman because she has the ‘potential’ to be beautiful. That one day her nyash will grow. Men deal with facts and figures. What you see is what you get. It’s time to start telling women that when they start dating to not expect any commitment from a man unless she is married or at the very in the process of marrying. You could sleep with a man and he would be perfectly justified in leaving you the next day.

Since sauce for the goose tastes just as well to the gander, men have always kept this card tucked tight under their sleeve. Men feel no obligation whatsoever to a woman they are either not married to or engaged to no matter how long they have been together. And they should absolutely expect her to act the same way.

Sometimes I see the hand women are dealt and I sympathise. See, you cannot go back and reclaim the years that you have wasted ‘building’ a man. Are so many women really incapable of understanding the ways of the world? Men can be stupid too, but they learn with time, and these women are left with the choices of these men who have learned their lessons of life. Ultimately the cheese betrays the milk.

I think it is outright irresponsible to jettison your dreams on behalf of someone else, simply because you have the hots for someone. That sounds like a fever and you should get it checked. Sure, follow your heart, but take your brain with you.

Since I have been dishing out the dirty linen, I might as well reach under the bed and pull out the Spongebob underwear as well. Not many people know this because I don’t advertise it, but several years back, in 2005 actually, my grandmother died. Her death is one of those things that stay with me, not least because I was her favourite grandson (or is that what she told all eight of us?), but she was also the kind of woman who put everyone first. She had made me her personal project to get me from skinny to heavyweight, with emphasis on heavy, before her demise.

I am still working on the heavy part but it’s really hard when you have to carry the weight of her loss (too soon?). My point is, sometimes, building with a man, building a man pays off in the future. But the chances are slim (did you see what I did there?).

We all have dreams, and we all have what our lives turn out to be. Making money can easily become a Chinese finger trap. So can supporting those who make money. I say this cognisant of the fact that I have sisters, and maybe one day, my daughter, as she confides in her therapist will be like…“I remember the day I read his thoughts on the Saturday Magazine…”

But until that day, sister, listen and listen good. I know they tell you that “if you leave a man with a vision for a man with a television, be prepared to watch the man with a vision on your husband’s television” and all that balderdash. But look on the brighter side, at least you get a television. And who knows? The man with a vision may be on television having been caught up in a government scandal. This is your amor fati. Potential isn’t prophecy. Men do not date potential, so why are you?

General aphorisms aside, for men, most crushing of all is the realisation that rich guys still get the girls. This daggers the feminists too, who tend to feel women who marry into wealth sell themselves and somehow betray those women who, for example, choose to tough it out in the workplace…or marriage. But the truth is a stubborn thing, isn’t it? That at heart we’re all still cavemen. Most men just want the biggest cave at the top of the hill and the women want to feel safe living in that cave at the top of the hill. Guess what? The guy with the biggest cave gets the girl. Other men are mad since they don’t have that biggest cave. And women are angry either because it isn't them in the big cave, or they feel these days you only deserve a big cave if you work for it yourself.

But hey, you continue pulling the wool over our eyes by claiming that you are ‘building’ him. I don’t recall any fundi living in the house they are contracted to build. Besides, if you are so good at building, why haven’t you built yourself?