We’re men, we cheat because we can
Hand to God, I wanted to write this differently. Separate myself from the ensuing drama. Obtain a high moral ground. Smirk, even. I was this close to doing it, but then that would be cheating, hehe. Mostly you would have seen right through me and that is not only risky but shameless. But in this business, you have to be shameless.
And that’s what cheating is: shameless audacity. It eggs you to bury your morality, ergo your beliefs. It prompts you to cross lines better than the most shameless Nairobian content creator. It requires you to break rules and tell lies with blatant confidence and without compunction.
I’ve seen a lot of cheating in relationships — Nairobi is famously described as one big bedroom which to me is the first step towards accepting societal ills as pop culture. As I get older, my circle is getting married (or married off), biting the bullet and ditching regular casual shindigs for heaven-bound (I hear), occasional tempestuous sex. I remain strong but even I know someone’s daughter will soon start suggesting those weird couple retreats where people pitch expensive tents in the middle of nowhere to watch stars we can actually see better in a questionable high-rise building in Kilimani. Or Pipeline. There’s no difference anymore.
So why do men cheat? Why do you cheat? Why does anyone cheat? I am no Dr Phil but let me share my feelings toward this: it’s simple. We cheat because we can. It’s delusional confidence with youth pastor swag. Our human need to explore is rooted in desire. The jugular of relationships lies exposed — the faith a partner has to place in the lover. Boy, do we snip that artery.
Sometimes, there is no motive. Sometimes, one thing led to another and she had craziness in her eyes and that extra dose of witchcraft and that frictionless murder sway and she laughed at my jokes and she made me pancakes and did that thing that I like and now we are here. It’s a cul-de-sac. Nobody knows why they moved to Rongai instead of Ngong. Or why they stop replying to your texts after 7 p.m. It’s complete hokum.
Ever heard of the hall pass? In journeyman language, it’s permission to break rules. For instance, if I could sleep with Rihanna and Maxine, in that particular order, with no consequences, I would. In fact, Rihanna, if you are reading this, I’m ready to risk it all. What is life but a long wait for death?
In Nairobi it’s normal. In Nairobi, whose guide is Hollywood and not the Holy Word, every day is hall pass day. Chain chain. You can hear it in our music. Siku Hizi ni KuBad. Usherati. And the magnum opus… “Na-i-ro-bi, yule anakupea; pia ananipea... sote tunashare.”
Cheating is an adventure, and who doesn’t like fun? Who doesn’t like being told their eyes look like two black peas floating in a sea of white milk? Or that they smell like what they would smell like if they were using God’s soap?
Read: How to date a Kenyan man
People say that the key to every relationship is communication. Well, guess what. I did communication (with PR) in university and I struggle with relationships. No PR.
So why do we cheat?
Where do you even start?
No, seriously: where do you start? Writing about cheating is like being plonked down in Switzerland with a notepad and being asked to map the Alps. For men, it’s about the hunt. It’s about you but really, it’s not about you. You get it? It is an article of faith that men just love to prey. (Pray for us). Sexual fidelity in today’s world is…to use local parlance, all vibes and inshallah. Sure, angels and heaven sound fun but have you hung out with demons? Exhilarating.
Methinks cheating is a form of self-preservation. You assume you will be cheated on…why not cheat first? Get them before they get you. Growing up in African households— where the patriarch had gacungwas and ndogo ndogos and a kid dumped at your gate ever so often who has that unique DNA-defying trait from your ancestors, you know, the generational forehead — does that to you.
I’m a jealous figure. I have so much love to give — I can be shared but I hate to share. It’s double standards, I know, but that’s like expecting your local pastor to be your lord and saviour.
I’ll tell you one more reason why we cheat: I have an ideal partner in mind (long legs, a sizeable forehead, the repository of an intimidating intellect, deep brown eyes that whisper ‘take me’ and a raucous personality – and all this housed in the body of an Aphrodite. PS: If this is you, send me an email. I love you already) and I want my partner to be that. It’s the Pareto principle in reverse: your partner may have 80 percent of what you want, but you go out looking for the 20 percent. Desire is a burning flame that devours everything in its path.
Mistakes, however, are the evidence of a life and not life itself. Mistakes are the ashes of a life that is burning well. The hallmarks of life under construction. If I were to boil it down to the bones, it would be: freedom. Romantic love is a hoax, and monogamous love, a ruse. These two rules are the North Star to guide your local dating life. And as anyone who has been cheated on affirms: cheating is deeply personal. It’s a wound that festers and never heals — reminded with a throbbing emptiness in the gut and sticking pain behind the eyes — as something done to you. It’s an affront, deeply intimate. Himalayan pink salt-meet-wound. And this is key: why cheating hurts so much. Because you will always wonder, why am I never enough? And that is the question that the universe never answers — that and why people put pineapples on pizza.
Life is beautiful violence and we all live on the fringes of the chaos, occasionally adding Mentos to the Coke by our actions. That’s why we keep searching for the next high, the next dopamine, and so on and so forth. Here’s the one thing you learn from cheating: people say honest things. And it is much easier to be truthful with a woman who has 30 minutes than a woman with whom you’ll spend 30 years. It’s the cheater’s code. In other words, it is fun. All vibes and inshallah.
Before you lose all faith in humanity, here’s the salve: eventually it all gets boring. Like pineapples on pizza. Because you are on one side until you are on the other.
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