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.
Omo* didn’t believe in same-age relationships when she met Femi in 2019 and pushed him into the friendzone. But that changed when she met him two years later in law school.
In this article, she talks about their NYSC year together in Ibadan and how they’ve moved from chicken republic to restaurant dates.
What’s the most memorable gift you’ve gotten your partner?
I got him an office bag in January. He’d mentioned that one of his job applications was going smoothly, so I bought him the bag, hoping he’d get the job. He got a different one, but he carried the bag everywhere.
Aww. What about him – does he get you gifts?
Yes. He goes all out on my birthdays. On my birthday eve last year, he paid for our train ticket to Lagos and booked a hotel for us. We ended up at the beach, and he got us food to eat. On the day of my birthday, he took me on a date to a fancy restaurant and gave me the most thoughtful birthday gift.
What was it?
It was a necklace with a little projector screen. If you opened a part facing a white wall, it’d display the words “I love you” in different languages. I’m always trying to learn new languages, so it was perfect.
From that moment, I kept thinking about how to outdo him for his birthday. But I was so freaked out about making it a great day that I ended up doing nothing.
I felt bad about it and promised to make it up to him. There’s always a lot of self-imposed pressure for me to do more than he does for me on special occasions. That’s why I’ve already told him to do something small this year. I need the bar to be low so I can surpass it.
But usually, I’m the type of person to buy him a gift on a regular weekday because I think it’s something he needs. For instance, I got him senator materials once; it cost about ₦11k. Then the sandals were ₦17k. I’d also surprised him with a wristwatch on his birthday during our service year in 2021, and it cost ₦15k.
That’s cute. How long have you been together?
Nearly two years. We were in our final year of uni when we met in 2019 and became friends. Before meeting him, I never saw myself dating someone the same age and was in the same class as me, but one kiss from him took him off the friend zone.
One month after we kissed, we were practically in a relationship. We’d spent all our time together, talking and taking strolls to my hostel. But after I went home in October, I started reconsidering what we were doing.
What do you mean?
We’d soon be fresh graduates looking for how to navigate our lives. It didn’t make sense to be with someone at a similar point in their life. I didn’t know how to tell him, so I ghosted.
I know it was a terrible thing to do, but I just didn’t know how to explain it to him.
When I was posted to Lagos for law school in January 2020, I started praying he’d be anywhere but Lagos. But he was.
The first day he saw me, he walked up and acted like nothing had happened. I think it was because he noticed I looked like I was trying to enter the ground.
I reached out to him the following week to ask if we could talk, and we did. He said he understood how I felt but was hurt by how I handled it because we were supposed to be friends.
Because I was the one who fucked up, I doubled down on the friendship. I was always reaching out to him and making plans to hang out together. I was even going to him with my relationship issues.
I had gotten into a relationship before law school. He was older than me, had a promising career and was good-looking — a spec.
But after reconnecting and building our friendship for four months, I realised I was more emotionally attached to Femi, so I ended that relationship.
Then you started dating?
It wasn’t until July 2021 before we discussed giving a relationship a chance. After law school, we ensured we were posted to the same place for NYSC, so we wouldn’t have to deal with long distance in the first year of our relationship. We ended up serving in Ibadan.
How was life in Ibadan?
It was simple —much slower than Lagos. There was also no traffic so we could spend more time together. We tried to go out at least twice a month and have fun on a budger — a ₦500 bike ride to an amusement park. We’d get drinks, ₦1200 shawarma and just chill.
I remember Christmas last year — he’d kept aside ₦30k for outings, but we only spent about ₦15k at the mall, even after playing all the arcade games and eating everything we wanted.
Could never be Lagos
We actually spent most of our time indoors. He’d visit me, and we’d order something from Chicken Republic, or I’d cook. Then we’d spend the day gisting, watching movies, and trying to connect to our inner Gen Z by doing TikToks.
Did it work?
We failed woefully. We’re old people at heart, please.
LOL. How much were you guys earning?
My combined income was ₦66k: my PPA paid ₦13k plus the ₦33k allawee and ₦20k monthly allowance my mum sent. I also started making money from my sewing business — ₦5k here, ₦6k there. As for Femi, he was getting ₦20k at his PPA, the regular ₦33k. He occasionally got about ₦50k – ₦80k from his side hustle doing assignments for master’s students. But it wasn’t frequent, so we were doing broke love.
Interested in talking about how money moves in your relationship? If yes, click here
Screamingg. How have things changed now?
We have better-paying jobs and a rule of going out once a week. The place we go to is chosen alternatively, and whoever is in charge of that week will cover the outing cost.
What’s the most money you’ve spent?
₦6k. I mostly opt for traditional restaurants or amala joints where we can eat.
Who’s better with money?
Me! This man is always quick to spend money on me while I have to budget. I’m very meticulous with all areas of my life, and finance is part of it. I follow a budgeting rule for my expenses.
Smart money FR
That’s me! I like planning. I’ve even tried to create a sheet to help Femi track his spending, but he keeps talking about how most of his expenses are unplanned. Sometimes he’s broke few weeks after receiving salary, but somehow, he finds a way to manage. If I tried to live that life, I’d end up under a bridge.
Did I add that he put me on a monthly allowance? He started with ₦5k during NYSC and now adds ₦5k here, ₦10k there. Omo, maybe he’s better with managing money and I’m just good at accounting.
Do you have a financial safety net?
I’m trying to build one. I take aside ₦130k from my ₦260k salary every month. I send ₦50k as part of my repayment plan for the ₦500k my mum loaned me when I wanted to get my place. Another ₦50k is for next year’s rent, and the ₦30k is the proper savings. I have about ₦180k currently in my savings.
And your boyfriend?
We’re working on it. He currently earns less than me and his side hustle has been pretty slow, so he’s going on vibes and inshallah.
What is your ideal financial future as a couple?
I want us to have invested our money in things with appreciation value. I think he wants us to travel for vacations. We don’t have any joint savings now, but I’d also like the wedding fund sorted.
Yes, spare money I’m gathering to put into my wedding. I saw it in a movie where the character was trying to save for her dream wedding; I don’t have a dream wedding — I just want something small, so I started it as a joke, but now I have about ₦40k.