Illustration by Catherine Morton-Abuah
Did your boo woo you with lavish, elaborate dates early in your courtship? Did he make extravagant proclamations of love and devotion before you even knew each other’s last names? Does your bae already make casual references to your future nuptials a mere two months into your relationship?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above, it’s possible that you might be with a Mr Cuff ‘em Quick, a new ilk of marriage-minded men clogging up the late 20s dating scene. These men have one goal in mind and that’s to make it down the aisle with a woman in the not-so-distant future. And by not-so-distant, I mean by the end of the current calendar year.
Such men might be a Pick Me girl’s dream, but to ordinary women with goals beyond settling down, they are far from desirable. The problem is that any decent woman who looks good on paper runs a high risk of attracting such a man. That’s because these men are not looking for “the one”, they’re looking for anyone to settle with as they are more in love with the idea of marriage and what it represents than they are with the woman they choose.
In the beginning, Mr Cuff ‘em Quick presents as the perfect guy: affable, endlessly charming and agreeable. He plans dates which are so perfect and picturesque, they wouldn’t look out of place in a romantic comedy. He’s keen to please so he’s willing to meet your every whim. But then this morphs into overzealousness and it starts to grate very easily. There are good morning texts waiting on your phone before you are even up and you must dutifully respond, lest you run the risk of him believing you’re no longer into him. He wants to see you every day, no matter what other commitments you have. He insists on daily conversations. It’s way too much too soon, but to him, it’s all in the name of romance. It starts to slowly become apparent that he’s one of those “nice guys” or soft boys who seem perfectly innocuous at first but eventually reveal typical traits of toxic masculinity like being too controlling and dictating the pace of the relationship. This is only the beginning though, phase two takes things up a notch.
“It starts to become apparent that he’s one of those “nice guys” who seem perfectly innocuous at first but eventually reveal typical traits of toxic masculinity”
Due to the groundwork Mr Cuff ‘em Quick has laid in his initial phase, he feels well within his right to now ask for some sort of commitment from you. Usually, this comes in the form of making things official and becoming boyfriend and girlfriend way earlier than normal, say two, sometimes even one month in as if you’re in Love Island. You might try to protest, but he will coercively convince you that it’s for the best because “when he knows, he knows” or “it just feels right”.
If he’s really good, he may even bring God into the equation citing the deity as a source of his certainty and saying he’s received a sign that you were meant to be. You may wonder why you haven’t been made privy to the same signs by God if this is truly the case, but you will eventually yield, hoping that your vim will eventually match his and everything will work out. But all this does is signal bae to sprint headlong into the next phase.
If all of this is sounding eerily familiar, don’t be alarmed. Close friends and family members have also outlined how common this behaviour is. One friend found herself being “girlfriend-ed” after only a few weeks of dating. And people have the cheek to talk about women and their manic biological clock?
Now Mr Cuff ‘em Quick has got you in his clutches and he sees his end goal of marriage firmly in his sights. Things will get more and more intense by the day. He’s moving mad at a Usain Bolt pace, meanwhile, you were looking for something akin to a light jog around a park. He will soon insist on you meeting each other’s families and friends even though you’re not trying to be so interlinked when the relationship is in its infancy. This bug-a-boo’s EE bill must be wild as the phone call frequency and texts are getting too much. It’s suffocating. “Something’s got to give” is what it comes down to in the end and it has to end just as quickly as it started because it just doesn’t feel right on your end. It feels rushed, it feels forced, it feels un-organic. Because that’s the thing about dating a Mr Cuff ‘em Quick: they just won’t let things be.
“It has to end just as quickly as it started because it just doesn’t feel right on your end. It feels rushed, it feels forced, it feels un-organic”
Beware, if ever you try to set a boundary he will back you into a corner until you agree with him on his terms by making you feel sorry or guilty. Yes, those, Cuff ‘em Quicks are master gas-lighters. They’re the biggest victims and if you don’t have your wits about you, you’ll find yourself being dragged deeper and deeper into a serious commitment that you did not ask for because it feels like the easiest option. Before you know it you’ll be dragged down that aisle because you couldn’t be arsed with the drama of saying no. Contrary to popular beliefs about women, many of us aren’t looking to just hop and skip down the aisle with the first man that asks us. Marriage is not something that all women necessarily aspire to.
“All I wanted was to go on dates with and have a good time with someone cool,” you say to yourself. This was my thought after yet another relationship with a Mr Cuff ‘em Quick ended disastrously. It broke down of course because I want someone who wants to get to know me gradually for me, rather than eyeing me up because of their haste to get married.
So how can women respond when we do encounter a Mr Cuff ‘em Quick and we aren’t ready to settle down? The easy solution, one I wish I myself followed, is to reassert your desires clearly and repeatedly if you have to. Even when you feel you are being strong-armed into going along with something, be firm and don’t relent in your position. Show a Mr Cuff ‘em Quick that you are no Pick Me and he will hopefully get the message.
Oh, and don’t worry about him and his feelings. No matter how deeply in love he claims to be, he’ll be fine. In fact, he’ll be onto his next potential wife in approximately 5, 4, 3 – oh what do you know, they’re already married!
If you are worried about an abusive controlling relationship, there are resources that can help