26 Oct Stuck on you
Lindo, a 30-year-old clothing merchandiser confesses: “It’s 9.30pm. I’m 18 years old. The Generations credits are rolling and, as if on cue, mom goes to bed. I change channels, and my phone rings. It’s him. The remotes lips out of my hand.Suddenly, it’s as if I’m having an out-of-body experience. Hands trembling, I answer.
Him:Sure baby gal,how’re doing?
Me:Hello,I’m fine;can’t complain.
Him:I’m in your neighbourhood and want to see you.
Me: Sure, no problem. Give me a few minutes, I’m coming outside. As I put the phone down, panic sets in.
All sorts of questions run through my mind:
How do I sneak out of the house?
What if mom wakes up?
Does my hair look good?
How do I go from my dowdy about-to-go-to-bed look to a casual but cute one in three minutes flat?
But looks aside, the most critical question is:
Am I really about to risk the wrath of my strict mom to see a guy? My answer to anything related to this guy, whom I admit to have been shamelessly obsessed about four years, is always ‘yes’. I’ll risk all hell breaking loose just to be with him because he’s what I call the ‘kryptonite lover’. You know how in the Superman cartoons the superhero had one weakness, kryptonite? Well, Themba is that to me. Even now, 12 years later, after two serious relationships, a fiancé and a child on the way, I’m still stuck on him. His voice and the mention of his name makes me weak.”She met Themba in high school, and they were teenage lovers. “He was my first love and we shared my first kiss. And, boy, was it dramatic. One minute he was casually talking to me, and the next he was all up in my business,” she says.
Lindo recalls how, when she was in matric, she’d get home from school, scrounge around the house for all the loose change and head out to the shops to call him. They dated on and off for a few years but she just couldn’t shake him off. “I knew he was not good for me – he was a player and never kept his word. He’d cheat like he was getting paid per affair.I’d find out from friends or the girls themselves. He’d apologise and I’d forgive him, and so it went,” she says.
Make sense of your relationship
According to clinical psychologist Teboho Monyamane, “It’s important to ask yourself what it is that’s preventing you from moving on.” She adds: “Think about how the relationship was and what it is that caused it to end – ask yourself if those issues are still there and whether you both have the same understanding of your needs and expectations. If you feel stuck or confused, it might be helpful to consult a therapist who can help you make sense of your relationship dynamics.”
Bonnie Kaye, a relationship counsellor and author of Manreaders: A Woman’s Guide to Dysfunctional Men, agrees with Teboho and suggests that if you make the list of the reasons you keep breaking up with each other, you’ll probably notice whatever’s written there doesn’t change much over time. She says:“This person can’t do what is necessary to keep both of you happy, so move on and find someone who’s able to give you the emotional support you need in a romantic relationship.”
As time progressed, Lindo did things for Themba that became more ridiculous. “I remember one Wednesday evening I’d arranged a sleepover at a friend’s place so that I could get a lift from her while my car was undergoing a major service. At about 11:30pm, Themba called after having disappeared out of my life for almost three years. Just that voice saying: ‘Hi, baby, where are you?’ had me flustered. He said he missed me madly and wanted to see me.”
Lindo begged her friend, who had an important meeting scheduled for 7am the following morning, to borrow her car.She drove off to where he was,then left his place at the crack of dawn to return the car.“Madness!”she exclaims. His unceremonious entries and exits in and out of her life were often disruptive because sometimes they’d happen when she was in serious relationships.
But because Themba had this inexplicable hold over Lindo, she’d ditch or risk the relationship for a brief tryst with him .“I guess what kept me on this‘not so merry-go-round’ was the flicker of hope I’d always had that he was the one, that we’d somehow eventually find our groove and have a proper long-term relationship one day. But with the wisdom of hindsight, I’ve realised how, in most cases, a relationship with your kryptonite is always doomed,” she says. According to Teboho, sometimes, especially after a long-term relationship, the dating world can be a little daunting and intimidating. “People might feel like they’ve lost a part of themselves and struggle to adjust to a self-concept that doesn’t involve their ex. So, you keep hoping that things will change for the better.
It might be tempting or feel ‘natural’ to go back to someone you’re used to and with whom you’ve shared many experiences, especially if you feel lonely. This is known as revolving cycle, or cycling; the reasons for this behaviour are varied but there are some common themes. There are usually some unresolved feelings that keep people in cyclical relationships,” says Teboho. Bonnie says, “These situations start out with you feeling flattered by the attention and promises of change, but the reality is that these kinds of manipulators, or even abusers, if you will, don’t change, but their partners have to.” She adds: “You need
to set boundaries quickly before getting sucked in again and again.”
Decided to move on
Other people who have had this kind of affair include Chris Brown and Rihanna. Even though they’ve broken up and she’s since moved on to date other people, Rihanna admitted in an exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey that he was the love of her life and that her heart still races when she sees him. But watch them try to get back together again and it’s almost certain it will implode. In the same interview, Rihanna explained how, even though she and Chris have moved on, she believes he’s the one lover she’ll always care about. And Lindo is no different. She says: “Themba is my Chris Brown. A year ago, I finally let him go. I deleted his numbers, email address and WhatsApp – I’ve decided to move on.
But guess what? As I drove to work with my fiancé one morning, I saw him stopped at the traffic lights. It was awkward, he was with someone else but I found my heart racing again,” she admits. Teboho warns that these kinds of relationships tend to become more negative and toxic over time, hence seeking professional help is the first step to take