How to spot a fake before you fall for them

What you need to know:

If something is too good to be true then it probably is

I remember the day like yesterday. My friend was all smiles and giggles. She was in love. She had finally met the tall, dark and handsome man of her dreams. To sweeten the deal, her beau was rich. I asked her what he did and she answered honestly that she had no idea. Now, this was not a teenager, she was a young woman with a sensible head on her shoulders. I asked why she was not bothered by her future husband’s source of income but she had no answer for me. I knew she was lost to reason and did nothing to wake her from her dream.

Ten years into the marriage, she comes again this time her feet firmly planted on the ground with the weight of the world she seemed to be carrying on her shoulders. The dark knight as we had come to refer to him had been arrested for fraud and she needed money for bail. He had handled all their finances and without him, she had no access to their accounts which had been frozen anyway. She felt like she had had enough.

Over the years, she realised she had fallen for a well orchestrate trap. While she felt like the gods had blessed her with her dream man, it turns out he had been looking for someone exactly like her; a good girl from a good family whose image would give him respectability and stability. His source of income was fluid; he did a bit of this and that to earn money. Sometimes he played with the big boys sometimes he dealt with omuntu wa wansi.

Over the years, he had mastered his craft and raked in millions. Sometimes, the deals went south and he found himself behind bars. Thing is, it was now happening more often and my friend felt scared for her family, especially her young children’s lives and future. “I wish I had known he was playing me from the beginning,” she said.

As an observer I had noticed this from the beginning but I did not want to rain on her parade as the saying goes. The dark knight was as fake as they come and did not even have the courtesy of trying to hide it. Now my friend has become a specialist at spotting fakes and she shared her wisdom with me.

The cliche person

If your dreamboat is fond of saying things such as “I have never felt like this about anybody” or “you are my life”, run for the hills. Not only are these statements inaccurate they are also condescending. You honestly do not expect anyone to believe that they are literally your life when you can function properly on your own. It would be accurate if you were a parasite living in their body, that way their death would mean yours too. Otherwise such affirmations, however nice they sound in country songs do not mean anything.

The borrower

If you have known her for only two weeks and she is asking you to lend her money, distance yourself from her. She does not see you as a person but a source of income. Ladies, if your man is borrowing from you, you should be wary because most men’s egos prevent them from exposing their inadequacies. If he does not see a problem with his being broke just know you are headed for a lifetime of looking after another adult.

I am not saying you should not help your partner when they are genuinely in need, just regulate the giving. Relationships are a give and take but if all the person does is take, then they are just with you for what you can give and once that source has dried or you wake up and close the taps, they will be on their merry way without a second thought.

The over groomed

It is important to look and smell good. It boosts one’s self esteem and makes life easier for other people. But if it has become your partner’s primary preoccupation, it is a cause for worry. Also, stay away from someone who has no regard for your feelings, does not keep time and is not keen to learn about your likes and dislikes. If you tolerate this kind of treatment it only gets worse with time.

The Romans had a saying that you should not have a friend who is not your equal. This might sound like snobbery but the truth is if you realise the person you are falling for is unable to discuss the things you like intelligently, then, do not willingly walk into a life of misery. What are the things they are interested in? Do you have similar tastes? How do they treat the other people in their lives? They say you can tell how people feel about themselves by the way they treat their friends. If they talk ill behind their friends’ backs, it is possible they will talk ill about you too.

Above all, remember that if something is too good to be true then it probably is. As my friend found out, there is a reason why no one has snagged that great catch of yours and the reasons are usually less flattering than they will tell you. Unless you have super powers, you will not change them and changing yourself for anyone is always a painful and thankless process.