The topic of how young Nigerians navigate romantic relationships with their earnings is a minefield of hot takes. In Love Currency, we get into what relationships across income brackets look like in different Nigerian cities.
20-year-old Kabir is an NYSC member who believes in expressing love through gifts. In this interview, he talks about his money anxieties, moving from “Fanta and meat pie” dates to proper restaurant outings and exploring sex with multiple partners in his open relationship.
Occupation and location
A freelance writer serving with the NYSC in Jos.
Average monthly income
I get a ₦30k allowance from my dad and ₦33k from the government. My PPA pays me ₦10k, and I make the occasional ₦20k on small writing gigs.
Birthday gifts: ₦25 – 35k
Transportation to Abuja: ₦7k monthly
How did you meet your partner?
Through my secondary school bestie who was dating him.
It was sometime in July 2019. I was with my friend at his house when he said Allen, his boyfriend, was coming over and suggested I wait to meet him. The three of us spent the rest of the day gisting and walking around the estate.
Allen was not as expressive as my best friend wanted, which led to quarrels that led to a three-month breakup, with me playing mediator the whole time. After they got back together, my best friend created a group chat with all three of us, and that’s how I got Allen’s phone number.
Tell me you didn’t?
LMAO. No jo. We only texted because he posted this fine 10/10 man on his status. I asked who he was, and he replied that it was his cousin. We bantered about how they were fine in their family.
Talking to him, I felt horrible because we had a genuine connection. Although he and my friend broke up two months later, it took a year in talking stage, bonding over shared trauma, before we started dating.
What shared trauma?
We were healing from the relationship with my best friend. Making new friends when I got into university later that year helped me realise how toxic the friendship was. He always made me feel less, made fun of my work and gaslighted me every chance he got. So when he sent me a long-ass paragraph about how I didn’t text, I told him we couldn’t be friends anymore because I was tired of reducing myself.
How did it go with Allen after that?
I was schooling and living in Osun state, while Allen lived in Abuja. So we only saw each other when I was in Abuja. We went to the park once, but most of our dates were at the cinema. He’d pay ₦3k for both our tickets sometimes, other times I got my own ticket. And we’d get snacks — meat pie and Fanta after.
He was a graduate in his mid-20s, and I thought he was very tight-fisted at the time. My dad had money, so it’s not like I wanted his. I just couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t allow himself to enjoy small luxuries like using Uber instead of public transport or changing his phone instead of continuously fixing it.
But later, I realised he was only like that because he was unemployed and broke.
What’s changed now?
We go on dates to fancy restaurants, drink wine and eat Indian food. Both times we’ve done this, it cost ₦50k. He’s also very thoughtful and buys me things I like. For my birthday in 2020, he bought me a pair of Chelsea boots, perfumes and pringles. Last year, he got me scented candles, a diffuser, two perfumes, a planner, a tote bag and kilishi. He also got me an Apple watch a few months prior.
What about 2021?
Oh, we’d broken up for six months.
I already knew he wasn’t the most expressive. But between being unemployed and living at an aunt’s place, he was going through a lot, which affected us even more. It didn’t help that I was in Osun state. At the beginning of 2021, I sent a text telling him I didn’t think he was reciprocating my energy, nor did I feel loved. He called me upset because he couldn’t believe I thought that.
The following day, I burst into tears in the middle of prayers with my family and ran out of the mosque. My brother had to come check on me. I told him what had happened, and he advised me to keep the friendship since Allen obviously meant so much to me.
So I called Allen back some days later, and we went back to talking every day and just being close friends. By mid-2021, when I was going through a lot mentally, I leaned on him a lot. And he’d also just gotten an engineering job that paid him ₦75k monthly. At some point, the relationship started again.
I need the deets
When I returned to Abuja, we agreed to meet up. He had a place, and I went there to see him. It started with casual talk about life then moved to intense talk about what we meant to each other and our lives together.
Do you have conversations about money?
All the time. He’s the more financially literate, so he knows all about the stocks and bonds market. While I save my regular ₦10 – 15k, he has stocks with a telecommunication company in Nigeria and some his dad left him when he passed. He mentioned in July 2022 that he wanted to get me stocks, but due to the fall in the stock market, he hasn’t gotten around to it.
Do you ever ask him for money?
I can ask him if I don’t have, but I’d hate to make it a habit. I could say I don’t have money, and he’d send me ₦5 – 10k.
Do you get him gifts?
For his birthday, I got him a gold bracelet which cost ₦20k, and a wireless charger which cost ₦35k. Sometimes, he reminds me that I don’t have to do so much because he knows how much I earn. But I believe in expressing my feelings through gifts, so if I see something I think he’ll like, I get it. For instance, his watch strap is bad, so I want to get him a new one.
We’ve both grown so much together. He’s gone from not having a job to getting one that takes him on international trips. And I’ve allowed myself to love someone enough to be vulnerable with them. I grew up with a misogynist father, and I was always against commitment because I didn’t want to be caged.
We’ve worked hard at communicating our feelings better. He makes me feel cared for and listened to. I also made sure to leave the relationship open. Although sex is not that deep to me, being able to experience it with other people makes commitment feel less like a cage. Because I don’t think being in a relationship with one person means sexual urges or desires will shut down. It’s easy for me to separate sex from emotional connections. So I may hook up with people I meet on Twitter, but it’s nothing serious. Allen and I ensure we never get involved without the other person knowing.
In September 2022, my now ex-best friend, Allen’s ex, called him trying to come over to his place, but he told him his baby was coming over. And then revealed who the baby was.
OMO. How did he take it?
I don’t know. I never reached out. We’d cut all communication, so I didn’t see the need to tell him.
True. What’s your ideal financial future?
I like nice things but we’re not flashy people. We just want to be able to afford things we want, buy a house, and go on vacation maybe twice a year. Allen’s career has already taken off and is doing quite well, hopefully, after NYSC I’ll get a good writing job that pays well.
Do you have a financial safety net?
I try to save a lot because I’m very anxious about money, and poverty scares me. I want to be able to fund the life of comfort I grew up with by myself. So whenever I get my allowance or money gifts, I keep a portion of it aside. I have about ₦300k in my Piggyvest safe lock.
You can also read: Dating in Lagos on an ₦80k Administrative Officer Income
If you’re interested in talking about how money moves in your relationship, this is a good place to start.