“I am an alpha male.” At some point in our lives, we’ve had the misfortune of hearing that line or something close to it. It is a line and a concept loaded with acts of misogyny and sexism, and to understand how it affects everyday people, we spoke with 8 Nigerians to see what it is like dating someone who buys into the concept of being an “Alpha” male.

Read their stories below.

Kachi*, 27. Straight,

I was dating this popular/semi-famous guy and because he always seemed down for spontaneous things I ended up being attracted to him. It was a full-on situationship. Anyway, sex was amazing but I started to notice how much he enjoyed it when I play-resisted him; he would get more and more aroused by ‘no’. He enjoyed controlling my body, but it was all consensual so I didn’t think much of it then. Things changed when I stumbled on notes he had written, describing scenarios where he had manipulated situations to get the right reactions from me (to be clear, most were situations of him trying to make me feel good but I found it interesting how he claimed responsibility for even situations where I had made my own decisions). He also had notes saying how he was the alpha in this situation; how I was a nobody with no life ambitions, how he was the dom and I was the sub that needed to be controlled and put in her place.

It was crazy to me because zero of his actions ever reflected those thoughts. He had just merrily kissed me goodbye to go run an errand the night I saw the notes. I waited for him to come back, pretended that nothing had changed. He tried to initiate sex that night, and when I said no, it was as if he didn’t hear me. For some reason, I wasn’t worried or scared, I just looked him right in the eyes, and said no one last time, then I went to bed. Obviously, that was the end.

Wendy, 24. Pansexual,

So, I dated this guy three years ago and he initially claimed to be the biggest feminist ally to get to date me. Then we started dating and he remembered he was an “Alpha male”. He started trying to be the final authority on what I do with my life. Next thing he started to pick fights with me saying stuff like “all you will ever get are weak men who would just use you for sex” to scare me into not losing an Alpha male. Eventually, when we broke up he told a friend of mine that we broke up because I refused to let him guide me and give me direction in life.

Emily, 21. Straight.

He was attractive but ill-mannered. When asked any question, he would literally shout at me, saying he’s an alpha male, and generally making me feel I had to be quiet. He was also emotionally abusive with an anger problem. It took my friends repeatedly telling me how disrespectful he was for me to finally move on. When he hit on my friend, I confronted him and he threatened to beat her as a punishment as he was an alpha male. Omo Abuja boys are wild, and his sexism was so irritating because it worked in putting me down many times

Tara, 25. Straight.

I am a feminist, a very strong and devoted one but it’s like that opposites attract saying is my whole life. Who have I dated that is not sexist or misogynistic? But the most sexist and misogynistic guy I’ve ever been with was the guy I was with a couple of years ago. He did a lot of things like slut-shame women including me. I would tell him that a man used to try to date me and he would go dig up dirt about the person. Then say, it’s because of the way that I am that such a randy man could think he could get with me. Also, he was really broke and I was the one always paying bills.

We would go out and I would pay cash but the attendant will give him the change and I would try to correct the attendant but he would tell me I was overreacting. We had a major fight about that and this was when I paid for a service with my card and the attendant told me to stay back and he should come to input his pin and I started shouting at the attendant that he was a sexist pig. My boyfriend told me I was doing too much and it wasn’t that deep. Omo, I wanted to run mad. It was a horrible experience. I broke up with him not quite long ago.

Chidinma, 24. Straight,

I dated this man when I was 20 for about a year and he was obsessed with the gym. He would work out a lot and pretty much mock me every time we went to the gym together for not lifting as much. When he fell sick and lost his muscles he became a different person, it was like he needed to show he was still stronger and every time we had a quarrel during the period, he would tell me how he wouldn’t marry me again.

He just kept finding ways to put me down because I could still go to the gym and he couldn’t. Now that I think about it, it was a very problematic relationship. He was very “Christian”, so when I wouldn’t do as he said he would come with the submission line and say he could marry me. 

We lived together for about a month because he had accommodation issues and that was when I knew I couldn’t do it anymore. He would complain about me ordering food and would tell me that his mother would have to “train” me for one year before he can marry me. He wanted to impose his dominance all the time, he wouldn’t go out with me if he didn’t have money then he graduated to taking money from me without asking or paying back because he was the head and “what do you need money for, you’re a woman”.

Onyinye, 19. Straight,

I dated a man sometime last year. He was an Igbo guy in his late 20s. He was someone who never listened to me and always took my opinions as inferior. There was a time we were just talking and I said “omo” and he started asking if we were mates. I had to do everything he asked even when I was uncomfortable with it. Even when he did something wrong or something I didn’t like, I couldn’t speak up because he disregarded it and always turned things around to make me feel guilty. Luckily, I was able to leave the relationship this year.

Ronke, 19. Asexual,

I was with a guy who was in an ‘open relationship’ and he claimed to be over the babe but still didn’t break up with her. Also, the relationship was only ‘open’ for him because he didn’t let her do stuff with other people, and to make matters worse, he wanted me to be exclusive with him but he kept doing whatever he wanted. He once implied that I was fucking my brother because my brother used to drive me everywhere and that made him really jealous.

Tireni, 23. Straight,

I was seeing this guy that was very sexist and misogynistic. In his defense, he was 15 years older than I was and I didn’t stay long enough for it to manifest properly. I met him randomly one day close to my estate. He picked me off and dropped me where I was going. I don’t usually enter rides, but it was really hot that day. Very nice guy, obviously much older, but I like older guys so I didn’t mind. We exchanged numbers and he started calling me. We went out a couple of times and it was pretty harmless. 

Then he told me about how he bugs his girlfriend’s phones because he needs to know they’re faithful to him. That was weird, but he’s a security operative so I let it slide. 

Then he asked me to come over to his place one day to chill. Next thing I know he told me that there’s beans in the cupboard and moi-moi leaves on the sink. That I should go and cook. He was like am I not a woman, that it was my major job to make my man happy. Then I got a new job. This job was certainly going to be more tedious and stressful, but also very engaging and interesting. A big step in the right direction to my dream job. He insisted I turn down the job because it’ll make me busy and that I won’t have time for him. After that day, I accepted the job and blocked him everywhere.


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