This is Dorcas’* story, as told to Boluwatife

Image: Godisable Jacob via Pexels

I caused my first and only real heartbreak at 21, but even though it felt like tearing my heart out, I’d do it again if I had to.

I met Joseph* in 2014, our first year at the university. We were still settling into school life, and he was this active, outspoken guy who seemed to be everywhere at once. I, on the other hand, was what you’d describe as a wallflower. When the time came for us to choose a class governor, he was the obvious choice. That was how we got close. A lecturer had given us an assignment due at the end of the day, and I was nowhere near finished, so I met Joseph and begged him to delay submitting everyone’s work by an hour. He did, and that’s how we became friends.

He soon started telling me he liked me, and I liked how it seemed he only had eyes for me. We started dating about a month after the assignment incident and were together through all five years in school. It wasn’t all smooth, though.

Joseph was a loud and very ambitious person, a walking representation of an “I must get everything I want” mantra. He always wanted to be better than everyone, the poster boy of success. I’m the direct opposite of that. 

As the daughter of a preacher, I grew up with a contentment mentality. My siblings and I were taught to enjoy the simple things — food, a roof over our heads and just enough money to meet our basic needs and maybe help those around us. Even though I started rebelling against religion around the time I entered university, I still have the same mindset. Economists tell us that man’s needs are unlimited; we’ll always want the next big thing. That sounds like a wasted life to me, where you can’t enjoy what you have because something else looks better, and you just need to have it. For as long as I can remember, I’ve just wanted to be. Not to want something so much, it affects my life. 

This personality clash was the major cause of the fights Joseph and I had.

When he ventured into student union politics in our second year, he struggled to understand why I thought he needed to focus on his studies instead. He also didn’t understand why I was angry that he decided to spend all his savings on a Nokia Lumia when he still had a perfectly working phone because, in his words, “Everyone is using Nokia Lumia now”. 

He also expected me to get that his sudden friendship and partying with shady guys on campus was because he needed to boost his street credibility ahead of running for student union president. Through all this, it didn’t occur to me to leave him. He was all I knew, and maybe this was due to his “must-have-everything” nature, but he constantly showered me with love and attention. There was no reason for me to want more.


My Husband Woke Up One Day and Decided to Join Politics

The extent of how far he’d go for success only became fully apparent to me after we left school in 2019. He didn’t go for service immediately because he had to sort out some issues with the school’s senate, so I worked my NYSC posting to the same state we were in so he wouldn’t feel left out, and I’d be closer to him. 

But even with that, he started getting frustrated about his mates being ahead of him, so he told me he’d decided to make money via internet fraud. I was shocked. This was someone whose parents were quite comfortable and who lacked nothing. His rationale was, Nigeria didn’t reward honest work, and that his parent’s money was theirs, not his. He gave two of his cousins as examples. They’d been working for about four years at the time, but still couldn’t afford a car. As is typical of him, he gave what he thought were convincing reasons why he had to “make a name” for himself. He said it was so he could also provide for me. He assured me he’d only do it for a few years until he made enough money to leave the country.

That’s when I mentally checked out of the relationship. If he could go this far to make money he didn’t really need, what happens if he someday became broke? I knew I had to leave, but I didn’t know how. Then about four months later, in late 2019, he landed a tech job. I was relieved, thinking it’d be the end of internet fraud. But remember what the economists say? He was used to having more and didn’t want to be limited to a salary, so he still did fraud on the side. That was what finally gave me the courage to end the relationship. I cried for weeks after, but I know it was the best decision I’ve ever made. 

He’s a high-flying tech bro now — I see his exploits every now and then on LinkedIn — but I know he’ll always be looking for the next big thing, legal or not. I can’t live like that. If I’d stayed, we’d probably be a “power couple”, but I wouldn’t be at peace. I may never gather enough money from my 9-5 to go on a luxury vacation or japa, but I’m fulfilled with what I have; a career, friends and good health. I’m at peace.

*Names have been changed to protect their identity.

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