Navigating life as a woman in the world today is interesting. From Nigeria to Timbuktu, it’ll amaze you how similar all our experiences are. Every Wednesday, women the world over will share their experiences on everything from sex to politics right here. This is Zikoko’s What She Said.

Today’s #ZikokoWhatSheSaid subject is Meye Ebie, a 40-year-old Nigerian woman. She talks about how she found out she may never have kids, the dating scene for black people in Canada and what enjoyment looks like at 40.

What’s something you love about turning 40?

Not giving a fuck anymore. Not about marriage, not about kids, all I have to do is focus on myself. I’m tired of degrading my peace trying to date men. The Canadian dating scene hasn’t been the best experience for me either, especially with these 40+ men.

LOL. Let’s start from the beginning. What was the dating scene like while you were in Nigeria?

I’d say the guys back home were much more respectful. At least, they’d feed you. Here, people assume you’re after their money. No one wants to go to a restaurant. They’d rather meet up at a park, and that’s no different from going to walk my dogs. It’s a waste of time.

I spent my 20s in Nigeria, and the guys actually cared to impress me then. I was a hot cake too. They’d buy me gifts and chase me for weeks just to get one date. That’s how it should be, but men here want to skip all of that.

Lol. Did you have any serious relationships back then?

Oh yes. I had one when I was 28. He is three years younger, but I was sure I would’ve married him if I didn’t have to leave for Canada. He wanted to make a long-distance relationship work, but I wasn’t interested. I felt distance would eventually end the relationship. Doing it earlier was better.

Now, he’s married with two kids and we’re still on talking terms. I loved being with him because It never felt like he was younger than me. We had conversations I wish I could have with the men I’m meeting now. He talked about his dreams; I knew exactly what he wanted from life. There were no games.

Is that something you think is missing from your dating life right now?

Yeah. It’s like men my age are having a mid-life crisis and want to be young and free. What I want right now is a man who can hold a decent conversation. Not just a night of drinks and sex, then it’s all over. I want to laugh, go dancing and have a genuine connection. I’m tired of wearing expensive makeup and dressing up to meet boring men.

LOL. I’m sorry it’s been tough on the streets.

When I moved to Canada in 2013, I was 30. My seven older siblings and friends were already badgering me about meeting someone, and I was worried time was running out too. Being in a new space didn’t make it easier to find someone after my last relationship ended. The easiest way to meet men was online because I was adjusting to my new life.

I was living with my older brother in Alberta and shuffling between classes, watching my older brother’s kids and trying to earn money on the side. There was no time to go out and meet new people, so I tried dating apps. At first, I was focused on dating only black men.

How did that go?

That was a big mistake. Whether they were Nigerian or Ugandan, the African men were all the same.

Like the Nigerian man I dated when I was 32. I’d been in Canada for two years at the time. I thought being with him was great because of course we shared the same culture, so I assumed our values were the same. A few months into the relationship, it turned out he was married and had kids back home. I even found copies of his marriage certificate and a kid’s birth certificate in a drawer, and he still tried to deny it. He spent the next week calling and crying about how sorry he was. 

LOL… And after that?

The next was a year later and a  guy from Haiti. I knew he had grown kids, but while we were dating, a newborn popped up. I confronted him, and his offer was that I should be his fifth baby mama rather than leave. I didn’t have the energy to be upset at that point, so I asked him to drop me at home and never contact me. As usual, he called a week later to cry and explain.

It always ends in tears. 

Then the following year, there was the Hawaiian guy with three children from his ex-girlfriend. I can’t blame him because my instincts told me to run from the beginning. That was the last time I dated a black or brown-skinned man. 

My friends tried to make me go on some blind dates, but desperately hooking me up just never worked out.

So were the white guys better?

LOL. I did have one decent relationship when I was 33. We met on Facebook at a time when I felt even lonelier than I had when I first moved to Canada. I’d moved out of my brother’s house to get more time to myself, and worked at a department store I hated. The endless loop of going to work and coming home made me sad. I eventually got two dogs, but I still wanted to be with someone.

So when this white guy started sending texts on Facebook asking about my day, it felt good. As things started to get serious, I made it clear to him that I wanted a relationship that would lead to marriage. He didn’t object, so I committed myself to him. 

Awwn… Sweet

For the first three years, sure. After that, I realised he was a douchebag. All he wanted was a partner to live with, cook and clean after him. A housekeeper with relationship perks, essentially. All the talk of wanting to marry me suddenly seemed unreasonable to him. I didn’t have any more time to waste and that ended the relationship in 2018. 

I’ve been single ever since, dealing with the ups and downs of dating apps. 

LOL. Is it better now that you’re older?

Not at all. 40+ men are out here looking like grandfathers and expecting to date an Agbeni Darego at their age. It doesn’t make any sense. The worst part is how they play mind games.

Take my last potential date for example. He was a white older man, and we’d been chatting for a while. When we finally wanted to meet, he kept talking about seeing me during the week. Since I have a busy schedule with a job and school, I asked him to choose a specific date to plan my week out. Suddenly, he got defensive. His response was, “What if things don’t work out between us? Why waste time planning?” 

That sounds weird.

It was. I didn’t understand why he was on a dating app in the first place. The point is to go on dates to see what happens. After that, he went on about how he was hurt in his last relationship, but I’ve been on these apps for eight years. I wasn’t falling for that. 

Why stay on the app for eight years if it hasn’t been great?

It’s either that or nothing. I don’t trust my friends to hook me up, and I don’t have the energy to dress up to meet someone I’ve never had a conversation with. With online dating, it’s easier to screen people out of your life. 

Like the guy I’m chatting with right now. He claims that he’s over his fiancée and wants to get into a relationship with me. I’ve asked him many times to explain why the engagement ended, but he has no tangible reason except, “It was her fault.” There’s no part that was his fault, and that already tells me he’s not serious. It’s better to meet those kinds of people online than to waste a date to find out. 

LOL. I see.

Besides, I’m not bothered that I’ll never find a man. I was a hot cake in my 20s, and I’m a hot cake now. 

A baddie at 40. Love it! So 40 may be your best year at this point?

LOL. Yeah, but the toughest transition into 40 has been accepting that I may never have kids. I found out almost two years ago when I was rushed into the emergency room. I was at work and started feeling extreme abdominal pains and couldn’t move. The doctors thought it was a gallstone that would eventually pass, but when I couldn’t walk without assistance for a week, they ran more intense tests. 

That’s when they found the fibroids.

I’m so sorry. 

Thanks. One of the fibroids is located too close to my womb, so if I chose to do surgery this year, I could lose my womb in the process. I’ve always loved kids. I have five older sisters and two older brothers, and they all have kids of their own now. I took care of each of them at some point and always wanted mine too. Accepting that it may never happen was hard. At first, I was worried, scared but… I don’t know. There was anger, grief and finally, acceptance. 

I’ve blamed God and myself these last two years, but fibroids aren’t something any woman can control or avoid. I had to come to terms with that reality. I have to fight for my health. 

I’m sick of waking up every morning and feeling pain around my hips and waist like my grandmother. I’ve also realised that I don’t have to worry about the idea of not having kids so much.

What do you mean?

The only person that could’ve made this choice more emotional for me would’ve been my mother. She passed away in 2018, and she’d cry knowing I’ll probably never have kids. But without her, more grandchildren aren’t exactly a priority for anyone. My dad is 89 and has at least 10 grandkids. His bloodline is secured, so I have the space to do me.

But you still want them, right?

A part of me does, but I have my nieces and nephews. When that stops being enough, I can adopt or get someone’s sperm and go for surrogacy. The options are endless.

My siblings and friends who are invested in me having kids have advised me to freeze my eggs, but the financial and mental stress involved isn’t worth it. I’m already in enough pain. I’m not interested in the hormonal injections and egg retrieval process. All because I want to create life? No, please. The unending badgering about marriage is enough stress. I want to be single and happy in peace right now.

I just turned 40, and I’d like to focus on enjoying that.

What does “enjoying 40” look like for you?

Beyond accepting that I may never have kids and not giving a fuck about that or marriage. The beauty of 40 is that it can be anything I want it to be. 

Right now, I’m trying to get another degree, so I can get out of my department store job. I want to give myself a lot more options than I’ve had in the past. There’s so much life ahead of me, and that’s enough to look forward to every day.

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