Saturday June 7 2014

So, I have the qualities you are looking for in a woman?

By Grace Kenganzi

“You have all the qualities I’m looking for in a woman”. I might scream the next time I hear this line from a man who barely knows me. The first two times, I was flattered albeit with a little reservation. But I’ve heard it too many times not to have a problem with it. In fact, if there is some sort of complex you develop when you hear a certain phrase often, I might develop it.

This is how it usually goes. A man I’ve only known as well as the odd “Hello, how are you?” either says he wants to talk to me. It’s almost always followed by a request that I should not be offended. Which goes to show that they also know that there is something odd about what they are going to tell me. After I have assured them that I will not be offended –anti being polite, I listen. The first question is always about my relationship status.

Saying I’m single seems to be the green light they were waiting for because without any finesse, the next words out of their mouths are, “I ask because you have all the qualities I’m looking for in a woman”. As I said earlier, the first time I heard it, I was flattered but uncomfortable. What do you say to that? Thanks? Okay? I remembered muttering both responses complete with the question marks.

What irks me about this line is how impersonal it seems. This person has studied me so well that they have made up their minds that I fit their ideal woman without any input from me. Mind you, these are men who I have never had any meaningful conversation with so there is no way they would know what makes me happy, angry, sad, nothing. But somehow I fit into their lives perfectly.

I understand that we all have a checklist of things we want in a partner. That list, which while not written down, is at the back of our heads. Usually, the more you interact with a person, you mentally check your list to see if they meet it. Interaction being the important part.

The third time, I heard this line I asked what it was about me that made me meet these “qualities”. He said he had done his research and found out I’m not a “spoiled girl”. Like I’m a fruit or milk. When I pointed out how ambiguous that was, he could not elaborate it but he was sure that I was the girl he wanted to marry, not court and get to know, but marry. Let’s just say that train was just too fast and disturbing for me to get on board.

When I meet a certain criteria when you don’t really know me then our potential relationship stinks of a professional one. See in a professional relationship, the company has a list of requirements which if you meet through references and interviews, you get the job. When you start work, that is when your employer gets to know your true colours and staying in that relationship starts to depend on your performance.

Failure to meet your objectives and targets can lead to termination of that contract. In short, that relationship is conditional. Considering most of these men have been feeding me this line in the hope of us being together till death do us part, I wonder what my fate would be if I agreed to a relationship only for them to realise that there are certain things about my character that don’t fit the criteria anymore.

Another thing about that line is the implication that these men would take any woman who meets their criteria. Call me vain or something but when I get married, I want it to be to a man who appreciates me as Kenganzi not some vague criteria.

Also, I would want a little input into the life you have mapped out for us as you tell me about these “qualities” I meet. Did I not mention that these men also regale me with stories of how life is going to be when, not if, we get married? I didn’t? That’s a story for another day.