AT a recent funeral reception this male face tried catching my eye and when he did he would smile. I gave a tentative smile after a while and he sauntered over to my table. “Sunkanmi?”, I asked, the penny finally dropping! I’d known him for ages. I got to know him through a very dear friend and we were often going out in a group. His girlfriend, Dora, worked with an airline and was always travelling.
In spite of having a thriving business, Sunkanmi seemed to have all the time for Dora. He was virtually her shadow – you seldom saw one without the other. His attention was so stifling that Dora was getting fed up with his unfounded jealousy.
“His kind of love is turning into something sinister,” Dora confessed a few years into their being a couple. We were out to lunch, her treat, as she wanted my opinion on how to handle this dark side of her man. “I know he loves me”, she continued, “and treats me like a princess. The only problem is his jealousy. I daren’t keep in touch with male friends and colleagues as it is just not worth the interrogation.
Even in our group, being too friendly with our male friends was a total no-no. As you are well aware I hardly go out without him, yet I’d never cheat on him because I love him. I’ve tried everything I could to prove that I love him and I’m at the end of my tether. Maybe you have some ideas on how I could handle this?”
Was she asking me how she could prove her trustworthiness as if she were the one at fault here? Well she was! I assured her she wasn’t to blame for her man’s insecurity and that she was bending over backwards so as not to rock the boat. Her man might be her soul mate, but he was excessively jealous when he had no reason to be. It might have been acceptable for him to be a bit anxious at the start of the relationship, but after two years together, he ought to be feeling secure.
He might love her, but it was the possessive type of love. Because of him, she’s cut off most of her friends and given him far too much control over her life, all in an effort to make him happy. I reminded her that I’d walked down that path before and the fact we were sitting down to lunch and discussing it showed she knew her relationship wasn’t healthy.
The answer wasn’t to carry on tip-toeing round him. It’s to make him realize the reasons he gets so edgy were nothing to do with her or her actions. Perhaps in the past, other people had let him down; maybe family friends or . partners had betrayed him – so he was extra wary in relationships. Or perhaps he didn’t feel he was good enough for her, was scared she’ll find someone better, so he was overtly anxious all the time. In my this-agony-aunt-knows-beat-tone, I advised her to reignite her friendship with her old male and female friends and let lover-boy know it was all above board by showing him texts or e-mail she was sending. As his trust grew, she should work her way up to being able to go to the occasional evening with friends without him tagging along. This wouldn’t be easy as he may get anxious and insecure, making her feel like backing down so as to avoid friction.
She shouldn’t give up however but she must strive on building a relationship based on trust rather than jealousy.
It was months after that I saw Dora and she told me what she thought of all the advise I gave her. “He became insufferable as soon as I put your suggestions to him”, she told me sadly. “He followed me all over the place virtually taking apart my luggage whenever I returned from my overseas trip and checking for any sign that pointed to my sleeping around. In the end, it got to a point when I told him I couldn’t take all the embarrassment of his jealousy, we were over. At first, he took it very badly, pleading he was prepared to do anything to change, and even telling me I could go out with as many men as I liked and he withdrew temporarily to show he was serious. That was when I knew it was truly over – his overtures were pathetic and he would never change.
“After a while, he left me alone and I heaved a sigh of relief – I could not go out without looking over my shoulders for fear of being caught. I was having a cosy eventing with a potential boyfriend weeks later when my door-bell went. Peering through a window, I saw it was Sunkanmi. I felt irritated but quickly thought finding a new man with me would be a good sign that I’d moved on. So, I let him in. Big mistake. He eyed my visitor as a boxer would an opponent and was very hostile, irritating both of us with his remember-when stories of our past relationship. I wanted to ask him to leave but my date told me he had other engagement and I saw him off. He wanted to know if I would be safe with Sunkanmi the way he was and I assured him I would. Sunkanmi was my ex-afterall, not a monster.
“As soon as I got back in, he pinned me to the sofa, wanting to know what game I thought I was playing. He tried to kiss me but I bit him. That enraged him and he tore my clothes and knicker and raped me, all the time wanting to know if the ‘wimp’ that just left knew how to satisfy me. I cried and pleaded and this seemed to urge him on. When he was done, he slunk out of the house and that was the last I heard of him. So much for undying love … “.
So, here was Mr. lover-man years later at the reception where I ran into him, with a woman in tow and whom she introduced as his wife. The woman was ugly – there was no kinder way of describing her. As if reading my mind, he took her back to their table before coming over for a chat. Defending his choice of a wife, he said he went through a lot of trauma when Dora dumped him. With an ugly wife, he wouldn’t worry his head about where she was and who was bunking her. That left him free to face his business and even have the old fling when he felt like. It shows you how warped jealous minds could be and how their behavior beggars belief most of the time.