“Bibi, I think you’re better off single!”
My sister glared at her 11-year-old son Gyan-ku, who blurted this out after our family dinner during Ramadan. Her kids had been merrily chatting and teasing each other in the backseat of our car, when somehow their random conversation turned to a discussion about astrology.
Gyan-ku, the ever-enthusiastic nerd, started asking everyone in the car what their zodiac signs were. When it was my turn, I told him mine was Scorpio. He turned to his cellphone to check on a zodiac app.
“Bibi, your most romantic compatibility is with a Virgo.”
“Oh, okay,” I humored him, though I don’t really believe in astrology. After all, my nephews and niece are still kids, although, thanks to the internet, they know more about life than I ever was at their age. That was when Gyan-ku suggested that a romance-less life was better for me.
His little sister Gira-ku protested: “Nooo, Bibi needs to find a husband too!”
I cracked up laughing, so was everyone else in the car.
I didn’t take it personally, but I felt there must be something he wanted to say. So, I waited until the next day before asking Gyan-ku: “So, do you think I’m better off single?”
“Yes,” he responded while playing an online game.
“Umm, why do you think so?”
“Because you’re fun. And you’re happy.” This made me smile.
“But what if I started dating someone someday – or even got married?”
“That’s okay too. I’ll still love you,” he looked up at me and smiled. “But I probably won’t like your husband.”
“Why?” I scrutinized his face, “Don’t tell me – will you be jealous?”
Gyan-ku shook his head. “I don’t know if he’ll like me too or not.”
Aww! So he was afraid that the guy would change me or take me away from him that he’d no longer have time to hang out with his favorite aunt. I challenged him: “What if he does? What if he wants to get to know you too?”
Gyan-ku thought about it for a moment, I continued: “Look, I’m not just going to accept a guy if he doesn’t like you too. He has to like my family too, like you, your brothers and sister, your mom, your uncle Papa Al, your grandma Nini … everyone here. I don’t want him to pretend to like you just to be with me. I won’t even introduce him to you guys if my best friends don’t even like him.”
Please Warn Us about the Red Flags
As I’ve gotten older, I realize that when it comes to relationships, love alone isn’t enough. We may even misidentify a mere infatuation for love, probably out of admiration and loneliness.
I am lucky and privileged to have good relationships with my family members. I have great friends who won’t hesitate to let me know if they sense something fishy about a guy I’m currently dating or in a relationship with. I know it’s not that they don’t want me to be happy or find it impossible for any guy who would want to be with me.
One of my best friends even spied on me and my date one night, because her then boyfriend told me he was worried that the guy might have been up to no good with me. Later I invited the same guy over to hang out with the same group of friends, and my friends told me afterward that he was ignoring everyone the whole time and just wanted all my attention on him.
Thankfully, I listened to them and finally decided to stop seeing him for good. Although he was also playing around – which I’d learned along the way – he wasn’t too happy that I’d made the first move to walk away from him. He tried harassing me online a few times. My friends strongly had a say on that. No worries, even if they hadn’t, I finally cut him off for good.
This doesn’t mean I follow other people’s advice all the time when it comes to making decisions on romance. I may listen to them, yet I still make the final call in the end. It’s my life, after all.
Any guy who wants to be with me should know that I cherish these people in my life, heart and soul. They’ve been around even before he came along. I’m not saying that he has to bend over backwards just to please them all the time. A mutual respect is a good start.
After all, these people have been around through my every breakup and heartache. I don’t want him to force me to choose between him and them – I want all. Yes, I am greedy that way, but for good reasons. If he wants to be with me, he has to at least acknowledge and appreciate their existence in my life.
If he’s wary of them because they might sense some red flags in him, then he’d better stay away. I’m not in a hurry to find someone anyway.
I’d like to think that I’ve also given the right vibe to Gyan-ku: that happiness has nothing to do with whether you are single or married. But I’m also showing him that my option for a relationship is still open.
“Don’t worry, buddy.” I stroked Gyan-ku’s hair. “If you sense something funny about the guy I’m dating, you can let me know. I promise I will listen to you.”
To this, he agreed.