Feelings — the dreaded disease on the streets. Its symptoms include blushing too hard, double texting, sending care packages, travelling together, you know how it goes. In some cases, your person catches feelings too, and you both proceed to explore the relationship you have with each other. In other cases, your person is clueless or repulsed by the idea of a romantic connection and you are left alone to eat the proverbial breakfast. But what if I told you catching feelings wasn’t the worst thing to happen to you on the streets? What if the person you’re seeing is an armed robber or a BAT advocate? Did you think about that?
On a more serious note, the streets, as the dating scene is fondly called, is what you make of it. The experience you get when you’re fresh out of a relationship you ended is different from when you’re lonely and looking to settle down with someone who wants the same things. For the latter, people who have been on the streets long enough can smell it and sometimes take advantage of it. That’s where the fear of catching feelings comes in. The fear that you will be the only one aching for something you can’t have. But what if you don’t want anything? What if you just want to stay in the moment and enjoy what you have with this person?
Permit me to summarise feelings as love. If Love is defined as an intense feeling of deep affection, it explains why people are so afraid of it. But consider this, maybe what people fear isn’t love but rejection. And what if we removed this fear and replaced it with something else.
I want to take it up a notch and remind you that catching feelings for someone you’re intimate with is a reminder that you’re human and you function the way you are supposed to. Affection is a natural phenomenon. We experience a range of feelings for the stretch of people in our lives. These feelings include love and pain, and they can be fickle or enduring, depending on who you’re exploring them with.
The idea that you need to have one person who adores you comes from a world where marriage and kids are the core purpose of being on earth. This is a world most Nigerian youths are unlearning. They are looking for other sources of purpose like their work, philanthropic causes or drugs. If your goal is not marriage and you’re just looking to date people for the sake of it, things become simpler, and dare I say, as fickle as life.
Maybe I have this mentality because the first time I joined the streets I was in an open relationship and I wasn’t looking for commitment. Being on the streets and living in the moment has taught me to manage loss better. In 2020, my partner and I broke up but it didn’t hit me till March 2022 because we lived together throughout that time. Then, I found a poem called “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop in which she encourages all of us to embrace loss because it builds character.
This is not to say that the fear of loss isn’t valid. Many have been burned before and dread a repeat scene. But the hard truth is that you’re going to be burned again anyway. Relationships require a lot of work and this work can be tedious enough to leave scars along the way. If it doesn’t work out, you’re still going to be hurt. Plus, it’s not healthy to be so afraid of being heartbroken. You already live in Nigeria, why do you want to add to your emotional strain? This is a call to unpack that fear, toss it out the window and chase what you want.
Personally, I think everybody needs some kind of plan for navigating the streets. Ask yourself why you are on the streets and what you aim to achieve. It’s much easier when you know what you want and you don’t have fear dictating your moves. Right now, I’m looking to explore connections that thrill me and I don’t mind catching feelings along the way.
Now that you’re ready to receive breakfast, here’s an article making a case for sad girl music.