The woman of thirty’ is a beautiful, confident lady who has come into her own as a person at the top of her game. She is successful and accomplished....
Playboy mansion: Why some men are afraid of settling down with one woman and having children
The picture of a lone, unattainable man is more prevalent in society today. Single, well-groomed, charming and smooth, this man prowls the social scene with the confidence of someone who know he’s going to get lucky.
He leaves a trail of broken hearts in his wake, and more often than not, a long list of frustrated women. Why won’t he commit? What does he really want? What will it take to tame that lion?
Culturally, a man who collects notches on his bedpost commands a lot of respect and admiration, especially from his peers. He lives out the fantasy of his married friends, even as he challenges women hoping to change him.
But according to relationship experts, reluctance to commit to one woman is not a good sign. On the surface, it can be as simple as sowing wild oats.
Marvin Omunga, 35, is a pilot in Nairobi. He has been around beautiful women for the better part of his career, both in and out of the country, and he meets others within his social circles. But the idea of committing to any of them has never crossed his mind.
“I have lost count of the number of women I have been with,” he says. “Every woman is different in her own way, which makes every encounter unique and that’s what I love about it. It’s impossible not to have your head turned out here.”
He doesn’t consider himself a playboy, but he won’t dispute the nature of his lifestyle can be classified as such.
“I don’t really have time for a serious relationship, to being honest. I’m always on the move, I’m far too busy to settle for anything domestic. I know what people say about pilots, but for me, it’s really about convenience. Maybe when my situation changes, I’ll consider a change of lifestyle, but for now, I’m enjoying it.”
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For Eric Ndolo, his reluctance stems from his personal ambitions in his career. “I see a lot of my peers and even younger than me getting into serious relationships and even marriage, and I find it really courageous. I wish them the best, but I have not even achieved a quarter of what I wanted to do for myself and family before 30. I am also discovering a lot of myself and on this journey, it feels more rewarding without the hangup of learning someone else too.”
The 27-year-old works in HR for a startup company within the city, and has also had his fair share of failed relationships to draw from in the past.
“I have had two committed relationships so far. One in campus and four years after campus. The difference between doing this in campus is the proximity and effort changes completely after. Dating on your parent’s tab is easy and simple. Also, proximity in campus can make you each other’s hobby.
“Years later, it’s a whole different keg. There are dreams, goals, rent, disappointments from two different people who have two totally different experiences. It is a lot of work, giving and taking which can feel tiring. I got the clingy but not clingy type who want to know where you are all the damn time and date you take a train ride with your colleague.”
Ndolo adds: “I just couldn’t see myself settling down to keep reporting to a semi-parent instead of a partner. I also don’t want someone who I have to push to pursue their own goals. Supporting them would be great but dragging someone is another headache. No one can dream for two.”
Does he see himself settling anytime soon? “Eventually, yes. I want to get to a point of exclusivity. There are wonderful people I’ve met who give me hope that it’s possible, but not just yet. I want to live light for a while - move cities in a flash and have no hangups, decide to sleep in another part of town for a weekend without answering to anyone who I’m with or what I’m doing.”
Dr Muthoni Mathai, a psychiatrist and lecturer at the University of Nairobi, cites the fear of losing one’s freedom as a primary reason why men fear commitment.
“It’s an ambivalent situation, I guess for everybody. For a lot of women, relationships are like coming home. But for men, there’s that loss of belonging, but also freedom. Going where you want to go, when you want to go, with whom you want to go. Coming home when you want to come home. It also means responsibilities and commitments, both financial and in terms of time commitments. So men ask themselves, ‘what am I getting and what am I losing?’”
Dr Mathai attributes the difference in men and women’s approach to relationships to upbringing.
“Men are socialised to leave, to go out and explore the world. We socialise women as the foundation on which homes are built. So, a woman who is out there not building a home is very insecure, because that’s what she’s socialised for,” she explains, adding that men were traditionally expected to establish new homes and thus needed to find a wife and sire children. “There’s been a lot of change in the way men are socialised now. They’re encouraged to go out and conquer the world.”
A woman, according to Dr Mathai, grounds her social fulfilment in being part of a family network.
“As a woman, when your friends start getting married, then you can no longer be part of that group. You know, they move around with other married people. So, you might find yourself at one time completely on your own. But for men, you socialise outside of the family very much. So, in a way, even a man who doesn’t get married, who does not commit, can still socialise with his friends and go out.”
Jennifer Karina, a psychologist, counsellor and founder of Anchor Relationship Network, believes fear of commitment boils down to how we viewed our parents’ relationships.
“Our perspective on marriage and relationships is skewed as a result of the relationships we saw when growing up, especially that of our parents. If a boy saw his parents struggling in their marriage, he might be less open to it himself. He would not trust the process or the situation of a relationship.”
Society has also made it so much easier for men to get everything they would need from a woman without having to do much.
“There is so much available for free, hence most men don’t see the need to commit. Sex, money, attention… these are all things they can get very easily. And they have so many alternatives. Why pay for the cow when you can get the milk for free?”
It is unhealthy, however, as it shows a fear of commitment and intimacy that men should want to address.
Women in situationships with no end in sight shouldn’t hesitate to demand clarity, according to an expert.
Jennifer Karina, a counsellor and psychiatrist argues that “as a woman, you need to insist on clarity within your relationship.
You need structure. You cannot date indefinitely. Insist on knowing where that relationship is going. Are the two of you just having fun? Are you dating to marry? Make sure you involve parents and mentors too, because accountability is important. That man may tell you he loves you, but is he willing to repeat that in front of your parents?
If you feel like you’re stuck with a man who isn’t willing or ready to commit, be ready to check the benefits you let him have access to.”
“For men, you need to accept that there is no such thing as the perfect person. You’re not perfect yourself. Ditch the fantasy of who you think you want.”