Real-life Eggplant Emojis And Harassment: A Nigerian Woman’s Tinder Experience


March 19, 2019

Early last year, after an almost fairytale-like relationship, came to an abrupt end, I did what all movies recommend you need to do to move on from a breakup. I deleted his number (even though I had it memorized), Which didn’t stop me from sending long epistles at 2 am in the morning. I cried. A lot. I wallowed, sulked, and swore off men for all of 5 minutes (damn you heterosexuality). Then finally, I joined Tinder in search of the ultimate rebound who would set me on the path of finally moving on.

Before Tinder, searching for a rebound involved being set up by friends, who, even though they meant well, always managed to match me up with more frogs than princes. With Tinder, I thought I’d have more control. I had all the information I needed to do a Google deep dive. I’d stalk through all of his Instagram followers and those of his siblings. Search his name on Twitter alongside words that could raise red flags – ‘rape’, ‘sexual harassment’, ‘hates Harry Potter’.

I’d spend hours researching a prospect more than I did my final year project before deciding whether to swipe right or left.

For some, you knew instinctively when to swipe left. Profiles like – ‘ere 4 hookups only, no time to waste‘. Or photos of men clearly in their mid-40s posing as 20 something-year-olds. Or just pictures of penises accompanied by a phone number to call for a ‘good time‘ that you wish you hadn’t opened in public.

I got exactly eleven matches in the time I used Tinder, and the experience with all of them ranged from hilarious to angering.

First came Mr. Kpa Du Kpa, 26.

My first match seemed perfect. He was the right age, good looking enough for me to swipe right and his profile was devoid of catchphrases like ‘I like my women BBW‘. With Lagos being the size of a shoebox, turned out I was even casual friends with his cousin or family friend or something.

Following the rules of the Nigerian internet, I decided not to send a message first and neither did he. I checked back every day for two weeks, stubbornly refusing to message first. After weeks with no communication from either of us, I stopped imagining what our babies would look like. Mr Kpa Du Kpa was clearly ready to die on the ‘I won’t be the first to message’ line and so was I.

Then there was Mr Nice Guy, 27

The next match sent a message 2.5 seconds after I swiped right on him and we matched. The next couple of conversations were full of him proclaiming that he was a nice guy and had only ever been hurt by ‘girls like me’ in the past. That was my cue to unmatch, which was futile because I had linked my Instagram account to my Tinder account and Mr Nice guy decided to move our conversation there. He sent countless messages about how I had proved him right and how I must be an asewo looking for sugar daddies on Tinder because I failed to recognize what a nice guy he is.

Mr Not A Catfish, 26

One thing I found surprising about Tinder was the sheer amount of foreign men on it in Lagos. I was talking about this with a friend after matching with one and according to her, eighty per cent of any foreigners I saw on Tinder in Lagos where yahoo boys, and that I shouldn’t bother engaging. Even though Mr NAC’s profile seemed a little too detailed to be a catfish account, I ignored his messages.

Weeks after matching with Mr NAC, I ran into him at a party. We also turned out to have quite a number of mutual friends. ‘Hi we matched on Tinder but I ignored your message because I thought you were a catfish‘ didn’t seem like a great opener. So I avoided him all night and sent an enthusiastic ‘Hey!‘ back weeks after his initial message to me on Tinder. He never replied.

Mr Older Guy, 35.

After swiping left a thousand times in a couple of days with no rights in sight, I decided to widen my fishing pool. I set the age limit at 25 – 35, putting a twelve year age gap between me and the oldest guy in the range. It didn’t take me too long to match with a 35-year-old.

He was at the peak of his career, well travelled and seemingly well read. I envisioned gloriously long conversations that didn’t involve questions about my bra size (yes that happened) and polite, respectful dates. My lifelong obsession with Idris Elba is clearly to blame for this error in judgment. The first couple of conversations were spent ascertaining my age over and over again. Because apparently, I look older.

The last conversation was the one where we tried to plan a date. He wanted to meet at a hotel. I said I wasn’t comfortable with that and would rather meet at say – a restaurant. He replied that that was fine and we could head to a hotel later on. I expressed my confusion at this, he expressed confusion at my confusion. Turns out he only used Tinder expressly for hookups and expected anyone else on it to do the same. I told him he’d save a lot of time if he added that to his bio and unmatched.

Mr. Almost Perfect Match.

I gave up on Tinder for a couple of weeks and opened it on a random day out of boredom, swiping right and matching with only one person while wondering what way he was going let me down. Was he going to be a creepy paedophile? Or a sexual harasser? Mr Almost Perfect Match turned out to be a pretty nice guy. Nice enough to be the only guy I’ve ever gone on a date with off Tinder.

On our first date, he was polite and respectful. By the second date, some casual misogyny began to seep through the cracks. It was less than you’d expect from the average Nigerian man but more than I’d tolerate. Expressing shock at things at me stating that I don’t like to cook and retorting with ‘you just haven’t found the man to cook for‘. And saying ‘so you are one of those feminists‘ in a tone that was borderline taunting were deal breakers for me. We went on a couple more dates after and I stayed friendly but he was not the one.

 

After Mr. Almost Perfect Match, I put an end to my Tinder adventures and resolved to be matched by one of my friends the old fashioned way. And I did get matched with someone who was perfect for me at the time. I hadn’t given Tinder a second thought in months until a friend mentioned a new dating app she had just signed up. It was supposed to have finer pickings of men than Tinder and better user experience. Which meant I won’t be stumbling on any unexpected penis pictures as I swiped. So last week I joined ‘Bumble’ and I’m curious to see what rabbit hole of Nigerian men it’s going to lead me down.

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