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Banking on a ‘potential’ man

It is usually a bad bet to see a man for what he could become, but is there a way to better your odds?

Sylvia Wakhisi @PeopleDailyKe

Potential can be one of the most risky things to depend on in a relationship, but that is what Maryanne Njeri, 35, was banking on when she introduced her husband, then boyfriend to her parents. They said an outright ‘No’.

Why, because while Njeri was a graduate with a degree in International Relations under her belt, her fiance´ Joseph was a matatu conductor. Her family was outraged, but she insisted that it was her way or the highway. And when they refused to let her be, they eloped. She took the highway all the way to Mombasa to start a life.

“He was a tout on the route I plied to university. I would take the matatu he worked in about three times a week. From the beginning I noticed that he was a respectful person. We became friends when one day he followed me about 30 metres after I had alighted to give me my change, which I had forgotten,” Njeri recalls.

Talking with him, she noticed he was street smart and exceptionally good with people. And he always had a project or two going on beyond his daily schedule. “Once I helped him market branded T-shirts to my school mates, a business, which did well until other people caught onto the idea,” she adds.

So, when Joseph asked her to be his girlfriend, she did not think twice about it. Her friends were shocked, they thought she had become a drug addict and he was her supplier. But Njeri had seen the ‘potential’ in him. Now, they run a successful restaurant business in Mombasa, which also provides top hotels in Nairobi with seafood. Nobody remembers that he was once a makanga.

“He is the most responsible man I know,” Njeri says of him. But what is it she had seen in him that made her give him a chance? Many women cling to men who are losers with the excuse that he is just going through a rough patch in their life.

And then, on the other side are the women who do not give ‘hustlers’ the time of day. Usually branded the golddiggers. Wiser women are known to advise young girls to avoid men who are already established, and instead build with ones partner the life they desire. But is it just luck, or is finding a man with a bright future-not only financially, but emotionally as well possible through method?

Sociologist Beatrice Nderitu says women should study men the way one would look at a potential business partner. “Talk is nothing. One still has to prove they can do whatever they have the potential to do. Even banks when giving loans, they look at ones commitment to the cause. It may take time to pay back, but if there is a firm business model, they will loan the money. Same with men,” she says.

Sylvia Atieno, 32, says that while patience is key with some men, there are limits. “I’ve tried dating hustlers and Kenyan men with their egos are the ones who ruined it. Honestly, a man who constantly hints that he does not have money is kind of off-putting,” she said of the topic.

“I don’t expect extravagant dates and I even offer to pay sometimes. After a while they blame for emasculating them, and say that you look down on them even when you don’t. These men of today are divas!” she adds.

According to Nderitu, the tell tale signs of a true upcoming star is whether he walks the talk. “The thing is, if a man has the potential to do great things and is actively working to achieve those great things, that suggests a much more stable situation.

As a woman, if you can see a man with potential doing the necessary work to make himself into who he wants to be, there is a higher chance he will be able to fully realise his goals. But a 30-year-old man who is content sitting around and drinking while he talks big, yet doesn’t take any initiative in getting an adult life on track isn’t going to result in much,” she advises.

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