By Olubunmi Familoni
So you sleep over once, without a change of clothes, and seemingly in good faith, she suggests almost subtly that you should probably leave two or three shirts behind the next time you come around. Now, you’re accustomed to the ones who mark their territory by moving in; this one knocks you totally off balance with this new move; you have never encountered this particular tactic, it is very unfamiliar and you almost do not know how to counter it, this her trying to move you in with her, rather than the traditional move of moving in with you, which is a simpler scheme to foil — by just planting some other female’s item of clothing or jewellery in your crib, preferably the bedroom, for her to find, as a hint that her proprietorial advances haven’t been too successful, and of course to pass a message that you cannot really be owned; even if you can’t engage the services of an actual girl to facilitate this counter-play — one you can convince to leave something of hers behind so that the intending ‘proprietress’ can move out, or at least halfway out — you can buy a pair of earrings or something more scandalous like lingerie (so that she’d know that whoever is trying to usurp her position isn’t playing, it’s war), and just stuff it somewhere her nose wouldn’t be able to miss it, and yet won’t be too obvious. If she still doesn’t budge after this, you might need a crowbar to prise her off your life, to avoid a marital incidence, which is usually what these things culminate in.
Anyway, back to the tactical honey plotting to have you under her roof; when the tables are turned in this direction it has become a psychological war of attrition — she’s trying to establish her dominance in a relationship which, when its origin is investigated, she created — that is, created the situation that brought about the establishment of the relationship; a relationship which you might not have had much contribution in its emergence, and you had imagined in your delusions of being smarter than a woman that it would be a semblance of a fling; but by moving you into her territory, through subtle, unobtrusive overtures which might have gone unnoticed by the unsuspecting eye, she is bringing you onto her turf, into her space, where the game is now governed by her own rules. Using the most effective age-old combination-weapon of food and sex, she conquers you psychologically and takes you captive physically; and if she happens to be a megalomaniac dominatrix, she might proceed to breaking your spirit, with such calculated moves of emasculation as dictating what you should wear, what/who you should see, where you’re allowed to go, cuts you off from the rest of the pack which she knows is a threat to this autocratic system of romance. When it does occur to you that in this state of captivity you can no longer be had by any other female, not even the woman who had you — your mother, the realisation dawns that you have finally been owned, and checkmated, and it is now too late to begin to retreat, as you’re already so many feet deep in that you’d have to be excavated from such a relationship.
All this starts with you leaving two or three shirts behind, then she gets you a toothbrush (so that you don’t have to rush off back to your place early every morning), before you can dial 911 you’re moving your sofa and TV to her flat so that you can stay over weekends and watch football at hers, when you’d rather be watching it with the lads over bottles and with shouts and laughs. Then she begins controlling your diet, this eventually leads to you reducing your alcohol intake to a healthy (and of course, pathetic) half glass of bloody wine every evening after dinner! Dinner of three measly morsels of something dreadful-tasting, since you now have to watch your cholesterol level and all that sad blood-sugar level bullshit like you have some sort of terminal disease or the other; all you’re trying to do is have a girlfriend, but then she’s suddenly your nurse and has turned the house to a bloody hospice. What kills you is when she replaces the bachelor things you brought over with her artsy-fartsy bamboo chairs and grotesque paintings and these pretty little hideous flowers in vases in “perfect ikebana fashion”, that it almost feels like living in one of them bloody fancy, hoity-toity gardening magazines, all in order to “restore the feng shui of the apartment” after your bland macho man-stuff had disrupted this equilibrium when you moved in. “Jesus, you suggested I move in; I was doing just perfectly in my sty on the other side of town and didn’t have to care about feng shui or any other of Jet Li’s cousins! Now I’m to blame for disrupting your bloody equilibrium and I have to suffer for it by eating only two spoons of food everyday? Why!”
Now, in the usual traditional direction that these cohabitation relationships move, of the female moving in with the guy, if there ever was a fight she would just move out, or if the guy was one of the ungentlemanly types, he would put her out, and that’s just putting it kindly; now with the tables of the cohabitation relationship turned, and the guy has been tricked into moving in with her, at the slightest hint of a tiff, she would be the one doing the putting out: this is a situation that could go anything from throwing your things (including electronics of course) out the window, depending on the level of her fury, which if it were a notch higher, she would gather all your things in the backyard, put a match to them, and get some vengeful pleasure from the warmth of the bonfire. Ultimately, there is no pleasant way for a man to be put out of a woman’s house; all the options are unpalatable. In the end, the putting out is almost as fierce as the moving in was subtle.