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Why you should ask questions at the beginning


Dear Jerome,
I read your column and I felt that you are the right person to advise me on my problem. I’m a final year Law student at the University of Benin. I met this guy, Okogie, during my 100 Level. He was a final year student then. The first impression I got about him was that he was a player but I later discovered that behind that rugged look was a sensitive and loving guy.

We started dating almost immediately and he was my first [i.e. the first person I had sex with]. Things were rough for him and he didn’t have money but I didn’t care. This didn’t go down with my elder sister as she was used to dating men who have money. Through my sister, I had problems with my parents, to the point that they stopped sending me money.

It was frustrating for Okogie  but I convinced him that it was going to be okay someday. Any little money I had, I used to cater for both us.
Eventually, things became good for him when he graduated, got a good job, a good car and lots of money. But with it came the women and friends. I spoke to him, pleaded, quarrelled and, even fought him to change his ways but it all fell on deaf ears. I went as far as telling his mother about it and she advised him to but he didn’t change.

It got so bad that one day, I got to his house and saw him with another girl. I slapped him and walked out and promised myself that that was the end of the relationship. He came back weeping and pleading.  His friends came begging me and, after a while, I forgave him. I guess you already know that he went back to his old ways soon afterwards.

Now, what I really want to tell you is I think I don’t love him anymore. I’m not even sure of this because, I know I still care but I’m looking into my future and I don’t think I want a person like him in it. But, Jerome, I’m going to be fair and truthful here. One thing I know is that he dearly cares for me. I don’t know whether to describe what he offers me as love, but I do know that he feels something so strong for me.  I don’t know if it’s because I stood by him all that while and that’s the last thing I want.

When I tell my friends, they say I want a fairy tale  something that does not exist. I don’t know if they are right. What I do know is that I want a man who’ll love me for me; a man whom I complete his world. A man who can call me in the middle of the night just to say ‘I love you’  not when he’s drunk; a man  who’ll be faithful to me because I remain faithful to him. A man who’ll want his children to have my eyes, lips etc. Is this too much to ask, Jerome?

I want to pull out of this relationship but my heart isn’t strong enough. I think we could be better off as friends than lovers but he won’t let me go. Anytime I say it, he gets so piqued and tells me that I’m his wife and I’m not going anywhere.
Sometimes, I feel like I’m in a cage as he monitors wherever I go or whom I’m with but he’s free to do as he pleases without me monitoring him.

Please advise me, Jerome. I need to know if I’m living in a world of illusion; as my friends’ say I’ll grow old waiting for ‘prince charming’ or face reality which is sticking to the one whom I think cares.
Thanks,
Efosa

Dear Efosa,
I want to thank you for inviting me into the affairs of your life. I also want to thank you for your sincerity and I hope I can also be sincere with you as I look into your concerns.

As I look into your relational experience with Okogie, I realise that you have been naïve about the dynamics of relationships, so some things were missing from the very beginning. When you met Okogie, you had an impression of him which, in your own words are: “The first impression I got about him was that he was a player but I later discovered that behind that rugged look was a sensitive and loving guy.”
You did not tell me how you discovered this. For instance, you didn’t say in your letter that you spoke with him, asked him a few questions and got answers which you verified to realise that he was not what you first thought of him. This could only mean that you have made the same mistake that most people make at the beginning of a relationship, which is: “People Don’t Ask Questions!”
It’s really amazing how we get into relationships and don’t realise that one of the most effective ways of knowing the people we are beginning to date is to ask them questions. You need to find out things and not just assume that just watching someone’s behaviour will give you all the answers that you need.

With due respect Efosa, I believe that was what you did. You changed your opinion of Okogie probably because he showed you a little kindness or did something that was in line with your own values, and then you felt: “Wow! I must have judged him wrongly”.
Well, if you look back now, you will realise that he is what you thought he has always been, a player! When I advise that you should ask questions, people may ask: questions about what? Well, you may ask questions at the beginning of a relationship and over time on issues like:

1.  What’s your family background and quality of relationships, past and present?
2. What were your past love relationships like; what are your reasons for breaking up and what are the lessons you have learned?
3. What is your attitude to sex and preferences (including contraception)?
4. What are your sexual histories (including discussion of AIDS)?
5.  What is your spiritual or religious philosophy and practice?
6. What are your personal and    professional goals?
7. What are your financial habits, background and goals?
8.  What is your attitude to personal growth, counselling, books etc.?
9.  What is your attitude to food,   exercise and health?
10. What is your attitude to addiction and is there such history?
11. What are your ethics, morals and values?

If you had asked such questions, as time went on, you would have been able to watch for consistencies in Okogie’s words and behaviour, which would have enabled you to take informed decisions, long before now, on whether to continue or end the relationship.
And, if he was not ready to answer some of these questions, such behaviour would have given you insights into how far you may want to go with him.

Unfortunately, you went very far too soon, like most ladies do today. In your own words: “We started dating almost immediately and he was my first [i.e. the first person I had sex with].”

In my opinion, you gave him too much too soon.  My dear Efosa, your relationship with Okogie ended long time ago; before you even started noticing the signs of infidelity in him.

He only stayed longer because, for a season in his life, you were his rescuer. As soon as his new job started to rescue him, what you had to offer became peanuts, and I am sorry to add, ‘bobo mi’ had to move on.

But, do not worry.  I am sure you will be having another chance with a true ‘prince charming’ that may just be coming your way. And, if that happens, my advice is don’t get so involved too quickly. Remember, you are still trying to sort yourself out for now; from the wounds inflicted on you by your ex-player boyfriend. You also need to have a sober time, settling your differences with God Almighty through forgiveness of sin so that He can give you total healing and grace to start well with someone else.

For counselling sessions on marriage, relationships and career; and to find out about the next Speed Dating Event, call Jerome on +2348037194335 or +2348053537663. You could also add Jerome on Facebook as Jerome Yaovi Codjo-Onipede.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.