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.
Take us to the beginning of your dating experience. Was it a good start?
You tell me. My first boyfriend was a cultist.
I didn’t know immediately, but when he told me over a year into the relationship, I didn’t break up with him. It just explained why he often disappeared for a while and was rather inconsistent. I only broke up with him about three years later, when I couldn’t handle his inconsistency any longer.
How did you meet a cultist though?
I met him in 2011 at a JAMB tutorial centre, and we dated on and off during the three years it took me to finally gain admission into university — no thanks to federal universities. I remember when we started dating, he disappeared for about a year, and I couldn’t get in touch with him. I was so confused. But then, he came back and eventually showed me his cult shirt. I was 19 then, and very naive. I already liked him a lot, so I didn’t break up with him.
Let’s talk about the inconsistency that eventually led to that
One time, he kept me waiting for up to an hour for a date. Other times, I’d just not hear from him for weeks. Then, he’d turn up and want to carry on with the relationship like nothing happened. I’d just find myself crying in bed because I missed him and didn’t understand what was going on. I eventually convinced myself that the heartache wasn’t worth it.
And after him?
After him, I finally got into school and another relationship. This person cheated on me with my friend because I wasn’t ready to have sex. My friend was even the one who came and told me. After that one, I didn’t date again throughout uni.
But there was a guy who asked me out for up to two years. He was consistent; he’d come to my hostel on campus, and we’d gist and laugh for hours. I decided to give him a chance after graduation in 2017, and he ended up being my best boyfriend to date. He was kind and thoughtful, but he lied about being a smoker when he knew it was my dealbreaker at the time. When he finally came clean, I broke up with him.
Ironically, I smoke now.
What is this life?
Around that time, I started learning about things like gender inequality, feminism and internalised misogyny. I’d been poking holes through things society portrayed as normal for a while, but it really came to a head that year. I started NYSC at the end of 2017 and got into another relationship. The problem started when I decided to carry my new boyfriend along on my newfound journey.
He didn’t take it well?
No. We started having arguments from early on, about things as little as having rights as a woman.
One time, we went to computer village to fix my phone. As we were leaving, the repairman ran after us to return something my boyfriend forgot, saying, “Thank God say no be your woman you forget like that.” I was shocked and later shared with him how that came across as equating me to an object. I was mindblown that he didn’t understand how that was a problem, how you can draw a straight line from that kind of mindset to the general violence against women.
It’s like the majority of men don’t see women as human but as objects that exist solely for the pleasure of men.
Do you think he saw you that way too?
Not obviously, but there were things he did.
For example, I wasn’t sexually active at the time. I had a Pentecostal Christian upbringing, where I wasn’t allowed to wear trousers or earrings. Of course, sex was a big no. We’d make out sometimes but never go all the way.
One day, we’d gotten to the point of dry humping, and the next thing I heard was, “I put in just the tip.” I cried for an hour, I felt so betrayed. And the main problem was he didn’t even see how he’d violated me and taken advantage of my trust. He hadn’t even cared to seek consent because he had access to my body and felt entitled. That experience affected me so much, I had to get therapy to heal from it.
Have you had any healthy relationships with men?
I honestly don’t think so because my next memorable relationship was long-distance and toxic as hell.
We met during NYSC in 2018 but didn’t date until after because we were both in relationships. After NYSC, he went back abroad and then asked me out sometime in 2020. I agreed to date him because he’d been a really good friend, and I thought he was a decent human being.
However, I shared my reservations about long-distance relationships beforehand. Big mistake, because he spent our entire three-month relationship using that as proof I didn’t really like him instead of that I, in fact, liked him enough to try with him! Suffice it to say, the relationship was one big emotional rollercoaster.
How so, please?
He’d always play these mind games about how he knew I didn’t like him and was cheating on him with my ex, or just make negative assumptions about almost everything I said or didn’t say.
One time, I half-heartedly asked if he’d upgrade my iPhone 6 to a 7 or 8 — X was the latest grade at the time, so I wasn’t greedy. He just responded with a comment implying that that was why I really agreed to date him.
Later, he asked to take a break because he was having domestic issues. I asked if there was any way I could support him, and he accused me of making what he was going through all about me.
Some weeks later, he messaged me saying I shouldn’t wait for him. Did he expect me to put my life on hold for him before? In retrospect, I realise he only initiated that relationship so he could get my nudes.
Yes. He even texted me some months later asking if I could reshare them with him, that he’d mistakenly deleted all the ones I’d shared. I spent the whole of COVID year recovering from him.
Men are what?
Is it the one I had a situation-ship with later in 2020, who kept talking about his ex, making comments like: “When the most beautiful person you’ve ever dated is now in someone else’s arms,” or “If his ex was single right now, he’d be with her.” It was particularly annoying because I’d asked him several times about it before and he lied and said he was over her. Of course, I eventually gained sense and left that one.
But guess what. He still gave me three missed calls last night (2023).
What was the last straw for you with men?
Sometime in September 2022, I met two guys on the same night out in South.
I don’t know which one showed me the most pepper, the insecure dog beater or this nonchalant guy. And not even at the same time o.
Oh, dear. When you say “dog beater”
I’ve truly seen it all.
So this guy walked up to me while I was taking fresh air outside South, and started talking about how he was a hot shot who made clothes for celebs. We exchanged IG contacts, and later on, we started DMing. That’s how he started sending me Instagram posts of wigs I can choose from. Before I knew it, he was offering to buy me a phone and change my life. I told him to calm down; I didn’t want anything from him; we barely knew each other. He went off on me that “Am I trying to insinuate he had ulterior motives?”
At some point, we agreed to go see a movie together, but when he picked me up, he said he wanted to take something from his “atelier”. He drove us to a self-contained apartment in Surulere, and I immediately knew that was where he lived.
There was this other guy watching a football match. I sat on the one sofa available, right next to a bed. He sat beside me, and that was how the idea of seeing a movie flew out the window. He just kept asking me things like, “What would ₦500k do for me right now?” “Send me your account number, I’ll wire you ₦1m.” It was a lot.
Then, he took my hand and placed it on his crotch.
I jumped up and knew I had to get out of that situation. He stood up too and walked into another room that must’ve been his kitchen. Next thing, I heard this loud keening that sounded almost human until I realised it was a dog.
What was wrong with the dog?
I peeked in through the slightly open door and saw this dog chained to a table.
First of all, the room was dirty. Then, the dog must’ve been white originally, but its fur was brownish and matted. It just looked so sad. Meanwhile, this guy was screaming at it and started hitting the poor thing. Oh my God. He came back out, and I asked what the problem was. He said, “I just bought this stupid thing because I thought it was cool. Didn’t know I’d have to be cleaning piss and shit.”
Someone needs to rescue that poor dog!
I just hightailed it out of there. I told him I needed to get something to eat, and he offered to drive me to this shawarma guy near my house. From there, I said he didn’t have to wait with me for it to be ready. As soon as he drove away, I blocked him. FAST.
Even on the way there, it was road rage galore. I was like, if I even make the mistake of dating this person, he’d beat me.
And the other guy?
That one was both better and worse.
It’s giving wedding vows
He also chatted me up at South that night, and said I was his exact spec. But then, we ended up in a situation-ship because I wasn’t looking for a relationship anyway. At first, I didn’t mind because the sex was good, but he was so nonchalant.
How did he expose himself?
I made the mistake of messaging my friend that he was someone I couldn’t even have intelligent conversations with. He saw the message and was offended. I felt bad so I apologised, but he ended up using that as a weapon against me later.
Also, we’d always meet up at my house because he lived with his parents. I’d cook for him, or order food or snacks for us, but not once did he ever think to bring me anything on his way. Not food or a little present, nothing.
So you broke up the entanglement?
No. Not at first. The sex was good.
But then, in April 2023, I started having severe anxiety over a job I was about to start, with responsibilities I didn’t feel completely confident I could deliver on, so I shared my concerns with him. That led to me opening up that I wished he’d be more sensitive and caring. Then I asked for a break because I wanted to be celibate.
I was just saying all that because I wanted a full relationship with him. Apparently, I was trying to guilt-trip him into committing. Then he brought up how I’d already told my friends he was unintelligent, so why did I suddenly want to date him?
I was disappointed, annoyed and done with the whole thing. We haven’t spoken since.
So what now?
Nothing. I’ve completely given up on dating men.
I don’t think men and women think the same way at all, and I’m exhausted from trying to find common ground with one. Maybe if a man came correct, is a kind and decent human being to me, I’d change my mind. I want someone who’d make a real effort to want to be in my life.
These days, I’ve been exploring relationships with women, and it’s been a lot healthier for me. Women have been a lot kinder to me.
But have you always been bisexual or is this because of your toxic experiences with men?
I’ve always been bisexual, but I didn’t realise it until 2021 when I started to truly experience life outside the confines of Christianity.
I’ve always liked women and found some of them attractive in a sexual way. But I’d usually write it off as a girl crush. I’d been socialised never to pursue such an interest, so I never did.
What changed in that regard?
In 2022, it just occurred to me to explore it fully.
One day, a friend convinced me to open a Bumble account, and I filled in “everyone” when they asked what gender I was interested in. Shortly after, I met a woman on there, and we became friends. Recently, we’ve started talking more romantically, and she makes me feel good.
Most of my friends are queer. I have maybe three straight friends in total, so it’s nothing new to me. Just last week, I attended a queer speed dating event, and that was the first time I’ve put myself out there as someone interested in queer relationships. It was such a wholesome experience.
I love it for you
There’s something the girl I met on Bumble told me once. She said, “It’s okay if, at the end of this journey, you realise you’re straight. But at least, you’ll know.” That’s where I am right now, but I know for sure I won’t find out I’m not straight.
I’m curious how you know for sure
Even sex with women is better because men are selfish in that department too. The women I’ve been with always ask how you’re doing, and mutual pleasure is considered. I’ve never got that feeling with men.
In the beginning, they’re all “heart eyes”. But once you give them small space, they start moving mad. It seems no man has loved me enough to make the effort to be a decent human being to me.
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