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My Childhood Makes It Difficult For Me to Accept Love

Is love really enough or is it all about money? How do you receive either when you had a broken childhood? These are the questions *Kate answered as she shared her story about loving an unfaithful partner she hoped would live up to her expectations of money. But when she finally decided to leave, Kate confronted the reality that a rich lover may not be the key to her happiness.

Here’s Kate’s story as told to Ortega

I was so sure I’d leave the moment I found out he cheated. Plagued by the cruel stories my aunties told me about what my mother experienced at the hands of an unfaithful and abusive man, I was sure I’d pack my bags. But there I was, convinced I could “fix things”.

It all started four months after he’d lost his dad in 2014. I was 18, so I didn’t have the balls to convince my Nigerian mother I needed to travel to my lover’s hometown. I tried to be there for him, but when you’re in different cities, it’s hard to love a grieving partner. I was convinced I was doing a good job though. On the days he couldn’t bear to talk on the phone, I made sure I left a text. I was stuck at home until school resumed. But I tried to push past the distance.

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When I returned to school, I wanted to give my all to make sure he was okay. Being in the same faculty made it easier. We went to lunch every day, and we walked back home together almost every day. Heck, I was doing assignments for him when I had the chance. But little did I know that grief led him back to his ex during his father’s burial.

And the worst part? I found out just like the cliché tales you’ve probably heard — the paranoid girlfriend snooping through her boyfriend’s phone. Only this time, I wasn’t “paranoid”. It was completely random. I can’t explain what happened, but I felt the urge to search for his ex-girlfriend’s name on WhatsApp. For the first time in nine months of dating, I questioned his trust. And I found exactly what would break my heart.

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What came after was, of course, a series of apologies. But while my head was telling me to gather my pride and move on, my heart was fixated on the fact that I’d given nine months of myself, investing in the potential of this guy who could build a financially secure future for the both of us — like I also intended to do l. And although we were just in our third year of school, I believed I was supposed to build the man I wanted. A man who was very different from my father.

He was kind and sweet, and he also had an idea of what it meant to own a business. I was hoping that the ideas would flourish as time went by. But then, he just seemed to have an idea every other month without any solid plan as to how he’d make a profit. When he made money, he gave it out at the slightest inconvenience any of his y had. It’s either they needed money for food or to fix a phone. And while that was something I adored, it was something I’d seen my father do too often. To my father, every other person’s needs were always more important than mine.

But I felt obligated to stay. I wanted to help him think through business plans, manage the earnings from sales and find freelance jobs on the side — I felt it was my job to fix everything.

I believed I needed to go through a phase of financial struggle with him to truly earn his love. I’d seen it in the movies I watched and heard friends talk about the suffering they went through to get to a point of enjoyment with their lovers. Plus, he was the first person I’d ever opened up to about my family and he was there for me whenever I needed to talk. I felt the least I could do was be with him.

I also didn’t understand that becoming rich as a couple wasn’t equivalent to how long we’d financially struggled together. And I believed karma would catch up with me for wanting anything materialistic out of love. So I stayed.

We were together for another six months and to the best of my knowledge, he was faithful during that period. But everything in the relationship became utterly irritating. The lack of spontaneity dimmed my ability to really enjoy the relationship.

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At first, I thought it was some kind of residual anger from finding out about the steamy make-out sessions with his ex. But then I kissed someone else and told him about it, and we were still both inclined to fight for our relationship. Maybe it was love? Or fear? I summed it up to the lack of passion and his inability to take charge of planning out any of our activities.

While my friends were going out on cute dates, I spent the entire relationship splitting bills. I love the “Independent woman” title, and I had money from side jobs to take us out. But it gets old when you expect your broke lover to step up after betraying your trust. The apologies and sweet texts were cute, but I wanted a lot more. I mean, imagine two years of dating and not a single dinner date? Not even for our anniversary.

At some point, I voiced my concerns, but then, I became an “inconsiderate” lover. Still, I was too scared to call it quits because I didn’t want to lose out on when his potential really came through. I didn’t want to end up with regrets about what could’ve been. So I waited.

Another year went by, and he started to earn money to buy gifts and take us to places, but everything was repetitive. Call me insatiable if you will. But after almost two years together, I expected my lover to know me like the back of his palm. Because I knew him that well. Why didn’t he know I hated getting slippers as a gift because of my enormous duck-shaped feet? Why didn’t he know the place that served my favourite type of fish? Why did I have to repeat how bored I’d grown of having dates at the cinema? The relationship was a boring cycle.

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I truly believed he loved me. But after university, love wasn’t cutting it anymore. So I decided it was time to break up right before I had to go for my NYSC in 2018. Finding out he was still casually talking to his ex also triggered my decision. He admitted he only kept this from me out of fear, but I was done.

I couldn’t see myself dating anybody’s son who’s just starting out in life. I wanted someone who had life a lot more figured out financially. But when I got into another relationship the following year, it was hard. He had the money to sort out a lot more things, but I didn’t know how to accept his acts of kindness. To me, I had to go through some kind of suffering with him to really be entitled to the money. I was so sure true love only came from trying to fix each other. So, we fought a lot.

Since money wasn’t his problem, I wanted to amplify his faults. If he blinked the wrong way, I was going to blow it out of proportion. If we weren’t arguing over the most irrelevant issues, I was making a fuss about him buying me things. But when I complained about something, he’d fix it. If I was too sick, he’d take time off to take care of me. When you spend the better part of your childhood in a broken home, how do you receive love without being suspicious? Especially when it’s the one thing you’ve craved all your life.

It’s been nine months since my new relationship started in 2019. And it’s the first relationship in which I’m trying to experience love without feeling like I need to work for it. Like, I don’t need to do anything to receive from my partner. All I saw my mum do was give to my dad. Yet, there was never a moment he doted on her. I imagined it needed to be the same for me.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen that there’s much more to love than what I saw growing up, t. That there’s no karma for choosing to leave or stay with a partner who’s still building their life. If it feels right to walk away, I will. And while I’m growing to believe in love, I’m also starting to take as much as I’m willing to give because I deserve it.

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