West African Returnee: If you ever date a married man...
If you happen to make it through living in West Africa without ever being courted by a married man then I envy you. If you never date one, then you're truly blessed. Yours is the life we all aspire to have.
Since moving back to West Africa in 2007, more married than single men have attempted to court me. Before I made the move from NY, I was sure and certain that I would never ever be one of those girls. You know those girls without morals and good sense who date married men? I knew that I would never ever do that because those girls have zero self respect. Lord knows my Gates Millennium Scholar ass was definitely too intelligent to be one of them.
Fast forward 10 years on the continent and girrrrllllll!!!! What no one tells you when you move back home with your degree and fabulousity in tow, is that married men don't all come as the big belly sugar daddy Nollywood Ogas. They don't tell you that some of the married men you'll meet will be middle-aged, attractive, "good", hardworking, intelligent dudes that would be perfect for you if they were not married.
When the traditional big belly daddies hit on you, you know flat out that's not for you. Nope! You ain't attracted to them and you ain't looking to be nobodies sugar baby. You and your home girls continue to party and eat out and live your returnee lives fabulously and single.
Then months go by and you're still fabulous sure but you're fabulously single. Where is Mr. Boo at though? Well in Sierra Leone Mr. Boo aged 22 (how old I was when I moved there) was either still in high school or still in college. And even if he wasn't he certainly wasn't stepping up to us in club. I mean we rarely saw or met our peers in the spots where we would hang out. And when you did, we didn't have shared interests or life experiences.
No one made plans to date a married man. And yet one by one each one of us; reluctantly at first began to turn friendships to flirtations and before you know it that's your boo. In the majority of cases the married boos had wives in foreign countries.
(Who would actually date a married man whose wife lived in the same country code? Not I! Like I said, I always thought of myself as a self respecting young lady and so even in dating a married man I thought there should be a thieves code.)
This is how they were:
One married man said he was separated or soon to be separated and considering a divorce (it was true).
Two others lived on the continent while the wives lived in the diaspora.
Another one lived in Nigeria with his wife and I lived in Sierra Leone.
Of the four; two are still married, two others are separated/divorced (had nothing to do with me. HA!). Now we are all just friends. The relationships have all since ended, and with one of them I'm still shaking my head like how did I ever even date this man? I must have been blind. SMH.
Unlike what everyone assumes when you date a married man is that the relationships are always transactional. Mine weren't. It was love. They didn't pay my bills, or upkeep. They were not sugar daddies. They were married boos. Of the four I would say two of them were actual relationships while the other two were passionate flings. And by passionate flings, I mean they were hot, I was hot, it was hot.
The two full fledged relationships with my married boos had no restrictions. We went everywhere together. Woke up together almost everyday. Went to sleep together. Ate together. Did all the kind of things that boyfriends and girlfriends do. I met their parents and family members. I mean I didn't get the this is my girl friend introduction (HA!) but they knew who I was and the nature of the relationship with their son.
During the relationships I was never under the delusion that these men would leave their wives for me. I also did not seek to be their wives. I mean I didn't want to be the source of someone else's unhappiness. I said to myself if these relationships end of natural causes because these people don't want to be together okay but I will not be the cause nor the source.
In today's parlance you could say I was a side piece with main chick powers. I was there when they would call their wives, or their wives would call. Sometimes I would leave the room and give them privacy and other times they would excuse themselves always returning to say sorry. But I would always say ain't no reason to be sorry this is the fact of our life. I was very honest to myself about the nature of our relationships; I considered them temporary situations of circumstance. I would not be with any of these men if I had been living in NY.
Each relationship ended because I wanted them to end. They lasted about a year on average (except for the multiple year liaison with that Yoruba man who had me losing my mind for a while there. He was beautiful, still is, but I'm a changed woman. *ahem*). Like all relationships, I left when the connection faded, or it just wasn't working anymore.
If you ever date a married man and you're a smart respectable woman like myself, don't plan to marry him. Don't try to break up the marriage (wasted energy you don't have that power). I don't believe anything good can come from intentionally trying to destroy something else. There is nothing ideal about dating a married man. No one dreams of meeting the man of their dreams and see them already married. I have learned that the man of your dreams, really truly is not going to come married to someone else. Yes you can have deep core transforming love with a man who is already married but 99.9% of the time like all good things it will come to an end.
And I don't know anyone who dated a married man, myself included who doesn't regret it no matter how good the sex was, or the depth of the connection. When its all said and done if you ever date a married man, you regret it. There usually is nothing to show but sometimes shame and regret and hoping that no one who actually respects you ever finds out the who or the what.
I for one have hung up my date married men cape. I can't do it anymore. I want only good karma, and clean juju in my life. If a married man talks to me now I will not encourage it. I will not meet him for coffee. I will not discuss it over a "harmless" lunch or dinner. I will not meet him at his hotel when he is traveling on business. I will not travel with him. He will not come to my house. I will not take it for granted that anything about it is innocent. We can not be friends. All married men intentions and desires must be killed and demolished where they start. Do not pass go. Do not collect 200. Go straight to jail, take a cold shower, and move on, move to another country if necessary, or if you're me don't go to where he lives. Just move on.
If you're a married man and you happen to read this my advice to you is don't make promises you can't keep; don't say forever, say right now. And while in the right now treat her like gold (otherwise what's the freaking point?)
If you're a married woman wondering about signs to watch for to find out if your husband is cheating....I don't think there are any if your husband has a relationship with another woman. I don't mean if he keeps a woman, but I mean if he has a relationship with another woman who is an equal for love and not sex that that woman is going to be an accomplice in keeping his secret. You will never ever know. Even years after the affairs I had with married men end, I would never say we were together. Like never!
If you ever date a married man...don't do it for more than a year, don't think about a future with him, there isn't one, and don't try to destroy his marriage.