When those before me first mentioned their moment of departure from the values they once upheld, just after a crucial breakup, I sympathized with them but felt it was simply a moral failure on their part. And I boasted I’ll never be caught up in that kind of temptation no matter how hurtful the heartbreak may be. Little did I know it was more serious than that.
These ones weren’t just the regular guys out there. They were men of character and reputation. And for their relationships, they maintained the standards any woman, if the qualities they speak about are to go by, would want to be with. Easily, I concluded they simply lost it.
For a few times, I heard these ones, older ones, mostly male, narrate how, after such heart-wrenching breakups, indulge in behaviors they hitherto weren’t proud of. Some of these actions and situations aren’t that ‘bad’, especially when you measure against what’s prevailing in this age of moral decadence, but when you compare to the standards they’ve previously projected, they clearly fell short. And for others, it was an outright season of lust and its associated consequences.
Years later, as I took responsibility for nursing my own broken heart, even though I had ended the relationship, I was determined to never fall in the steps of those stories I heard. And for the most part, I didn’t. But there was something else I missed, which turns out to be the exact thing those before me missed.
Our situations were similar, good guys by some standards, who do all their best to nurture their relationships, love and honor their partners, who despite contrary examples, evidence, and emotions chose to follow the path of love. Our commitment to the standard of love we practiced wasn’t for a lack of options. Of course, there were times we didn’t want to, times it was difficult to practice, and times when we could only apologize and rekindle our commitment.
The first problem begins when it starts to feel as though the relationship was lost because you went overboard with your love. As you go over what went wrong, what you did wrong to have deserved such an unexpected ending, you start to feel you were taken for granted. If only you were not so ‘mumu’, perhaps you could have saved your heart. You look around and see men who aren’t half the man you are keeping their own relationships. I mean, men who clearly berate their partners yet still have those women adore them. It gets worse when your former partner moves on to men that are not even close to you, at least, in their outward display of character. And that’s not to say you didn’t have your fault in how things ended.
You begin to think, maybe your idea of being the perfect partner was merely a religious illusion. Maybe if you hadn’t forgiven every time you were offended and been so calm in resolving issues. Maybe if you had, like the traditional male, demanded, insisted, and asserted more. Maybe it was your idea of serving, rather than demanding your own needs be met. You begin to consider what became of your desire to be a different type of man. Maybe traditional men are that way for a reason, you know? Maybe that lack of vulnerability is really to protect themselves.
That sets an imaginary alarm off. It’s not that you completely deny the standards you’ve come to uphold, but that little window of doubt begins to nurture a season of indifference. And it is in that numbness that the departure happens.
Whilst you’ve been a man who has forgiveness ready for an offending partner, you begin to wonder if that isn’t too much luxury to give underserved partners.
Whilst you’ve always followed the path of peaceful resolution, you now refrain, and even occasionally think maybe “changing it for her” may serve your purposes better.
Whilst your love has previously existed somewhere closer to the unconditional love quadrant, now you waiting to see the direct result of your actions before you mete it out.
You never really decide not to be the man you’ve always been or that you were, but it is this unconscious indifference, questions, and doubt that opens you up to that decadence. And depending on the influences around you or how conscious you are about this subtle mindset, you may exit that stage unscathed, or look behind you and see a trail of lust and many non-love behaviors left by a man you never thought you could be.
In my own season, I’ve learnt. I’ve learnt it is not the tendency to do bad that is my greatest temptation-as a matter of fact, I may never decide to do bad, but it is the good that I fail and continuously fail to do, and the moment of indifference and hesitation that besets and ushers in all the things, behaviors, and habits that’s alien to my aristocratic lineage.
I’ve also learnt to encourage my friends and others, especially in moments when they are victims of undeserving heartbreaks or ungrateful friendships and relationships, and affirm the good they do, and the qualities they always upheld.
And to you reading, especially when relationships turn differently than you expected, I hope you never doubt that the tenets of love that you see Christ show, that the scriptures expect of men, and women, are still relevant in today’s world.
I am the ImisiOluwa; and I’ve had my own moment of departure too.
Love you Plenty!
Note: Little Lines continues next week. Stay tuned.