Radio/TV presenter Cate Rira spoke to ‘Saturday Magazine’ about being in the limelight and how it affects her relationships.


“I got into my first relationship while at university. I was 23, young, naive but free. I could go anywhere without the fear of someone taking a photo of us and sharing it online. Most people did not even notice we were there.

Everyone minded their own business. Then, I got into the media industry and that changed. As a radio and TV presenter, it means that my face and my voice are out there.

I love the limelight, the fan base that I have created over the years, but it has had an effect on my love life.

It is true that most girls in the limelight get many hits. I get callers who want to take me out on dates, others confessing their undying love for me. And if you ask me, there lies the problem.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to tell why they want to be with me, at least for the first few weeks.

THE SWINDLER

Sometime back, I was seeing this man. I would not say we were in a relationship because we were just getting to know each other better.

Then, one day he talked about his exes. They were all women in the media. ‘I was like, wait, how do you keep falling for women in the same profession?’

He told other people that we were head over heels in love with him and that I was the more interested party in whatever we had.

Not that it’s a problem for me to be the more interested party, but it hurt to know that he was in it for the thrill, the clicks and association: ‘I’m seeing a TV girl.’

Then, last year, I met this man. He pretended to come from an affluent background and always had a list of places we should visit and even offered to help me process the necessary documents.

However, whenever any money was needed, for instance, when we were out and needed to buy drinks or food, he would not contribute.

He ended up swindling not just me, but a friend of mine as well. ‘You have to be careful about whom you are seeing.’ My parents have repeatedly told me this since I became an on-air presenter.

PUBLIC LIFE

The more I grow into it, the more they remind me to be careful because now, my life is different from what it was before I ventured into this career.

There was a time I could go for more than a month without telling the person I was seeing what I did. Now, I cannot.

All my social media platforms are a reflection of what I do. ‘She is dating a slender man’; ‘Why would she go for a man her height?’; ‘Why would a woman like her go out with that particular man?’

When you are in the limelight, people have expectations of you regarding the way you dress, the car you drive and the man you date.

They have a profile of the men you should see, and should you go against their expectations, false stories and trolls follow.

I recently turned 27 and I am in a new relationship after a one-year break. I took the break because there were many things happening in my life — a sick uncle, a job that was hanging in the balance, which I later lost, and financial challenges because of the job loss.

Some of my fans ask, ‘Why don’t you show us your date?’ They are my online family, after all.

KEEPING THINGS PRIVATE

However, to protect my dates and I from critics and ridicule, I do not share my love life online. There is too much pressure.

If I put their faces out there, they will no longer be free. People will want to know who they are, or why they are in a particular place without me. They will be investigated. It is sad.

However, on a positive note, it has helped me understand myself better and the type of man I want. Yes, looks are a plus but that does not interest me much.

What matters is the way he treats me. What he calls me in the morning, how he resolves conflicts with me and most importantly, he should be okay with my choice of career.

TRUE FRIENDSHIP

I wish I had known this when I was younger, that true love is true friendship and peace. If someone cannot offer that, their looks and money will not suffice.

In addition, I have learnt to be open-minded and not be so emotionally dependent on the person I’m seeing that I can’t reason.

When I am asked if it is okay to date more than one person at the same time, I say yes, with a strong conviction.

There is a reason for trying out three different dresses when you have a budget for just one. You want to go home with the best.

But when it comes to my dates, it does not mean I’m getting intimate with them. Intimacy does not have to be part of knowing the other person. At least for me.”