The topic of how young Nigerians navigate romantic relationships with their earnings is a minefield of hot takes. In this series, we get into what dating across income brackets is like in different Nigerian cities.
Onome* is a 21-year-old polyamorous lover who spends recklessly on her partners because her love language is gift-giving. In this interview, she tells Zikoko how money moves in and out of her relationships, while on a ₦400k monthly income and an envious financial safety net.
Editor’s note: The interview subject is a woman in a polyamorous relationship with a non-binary person.
Occupation and location
Content creator and student (but also, fine girl). Lives around Ifo, Ogun State
Average monthly income
Salary is ₦200k
Allowance from parents: minimum of ₦200k
Only occasionally does freelance writing because, one, she doesn’t need the extra money, two, she doesn’t like stress. But once in a while, she gets bored. Her last gig paid ₦50k for a story.
Monthly bills and recurring expenses
Data: ₦20k. That’s my only recurring expense.
Oh, and skincare too, like ₦35k a month. That’s it.
My total recurring expenses is ₦55k monthly.
Why so few expenses?
I live with my parents, and I’m an only child. I don’t pay for shit. Instead, I ask. Usually, my dad gives me like ₦100k and says if I need more, I should just ask. I always ask for more because I’m greedy. Also, I don’t pay for transport because my parents drive me. I have a car, but I don’t use it because I don’t have a license.
Sometimes, people dash me money as per fine girl privileges, but most times, I don’t even collect it; then they offer to buy me things or pay for stuff — like, let me pay for your flight, let me pay for your hotel. I don’t like collecting money from men. I do it, but I don’t like it.
What do you spend the money on?
Anything I feel like, mainly clothes and shoes when I decide to go outside. Or gifts for people and donation to good causes.
How did you meet your partner?
We met on Twitter in 2019. I was in a relationship then; they were seeing someone too. We followed each other, and one day in December, they tweeted that they felt like calling someone. I volunteered to be called. We started talking every day. My relationship ended, their relationship ended, and we got together.
Just like that?
We’d been talking for seven months when I broke up with my ex. But my current partner’s relationship was complicated, and I tried to help them uncomplicate it. I liked them, but omo, a seven-month talking stage?
In July 2020, I told them they didn’t know what they wanted, so I would find someone who did. They went, “Okay, wait. Can you like, relax?” We talked it over and decided to start dating. I’m gay, and it’s not my fault I’m very lovable.
Energy. Okay, how were your finances then?
Trenches o. Enough to give me PTSD. Asides allowances, I was earning ₦50k as an intern, and they were earning zero while looking for a job. We managed like that until one year later, they got employed, and I got promoted. We both earn ₦200k salaries now — omo, we’ve come a long way, LMAO.
How did you guys manage?
We’re students, and it was in the middle of the pandemic. it’s not like we could do anything. My love language is gift-giving, so I bought them gifts.
On a ₦50k salary?
The problem people have when they hear “gift-giving” is they don’t understand it’s not about the price of the gifts but the thought behind them. Sometimes, it’s knowing what your partner likes and getting them things tailored to it.
I don’t wear wigs because I’ve never seen the need for them. If someone buys me a wig, they’re wasting their money. Sure, wigs are expensive gifts, but they mean nothing to me. Lip gloss, on the other hand, is something I can’t do without. One of my favourite lip glosses costs me ₦1k; buying me that would mean way more to me than a wig.
I’d buy my partner socks, for example, because they love socks.
Sweet. So how did your relationship survive the pandemic?
I saw other people o. I’m polyamorous and have always known I can’t be with one person. Also, we live in different cities. I live in Ogun State while they live in Lagos. They had to get used to the idea. They could be worried shitless about my whereabouts, and I’d be smoking weed with naked women.
Yep, I even got into another relationship. I’m an extrovert; I love making new friends, meeting new people and going on dates. My partner is an introvert; they never really talked to people or went out much before we met.
How did they take it?
They took it well actually. They’ve always known I’m poly. I’d told them while we were just talking as friends. My previous relationship was open, so I wasn’t going to have a closed relationship with them.
So you taught them polyamory or…?
No. I shared my view with them — if your heart can understand it’s possible to love all your friends, family members, etc., why not multiple partners? They fucked with it. They were sha happy as long as I was happy, and they eventually started talking to someone else as well.
How’s that going?
LMAO, I literally tried to matchmake them with someone this afternoon. They said they don’t have the energy.
LMAO, they’re 23, but that’s my old baby. In their words, “There’s love at home, please.” They think there’s too much rubbish outside. I fall in love every two to three business days, then they say, “It’s hard because they return you to me broken.” They’re a much more poetic writer than I am, SMH.
Aww. Walk me through expenses on a typical staycation
When I visit Lagos, we either stay in a hotel, or I rent a short-let apartment for around ₦75k if I’m staying up to two weeks. If I’m on the island, hotel is ₦25k a night; mainland is ₦15-20k. We go halfsies on food, transportation, edibles and alcohol. Food alone costs about ₦15k for three meals a day.
We rarely go out, so no transportation expenses. We just sit indoors all day, watching movies and stuff after work — we both work remotely.
Last month, we matched on a dating app, and they asked me out even though we were already dating, LMAO. So we got high and went to play games at Rufus and Bees, Lekki. The games cost like ₦10k, and I won all because I’m the best in gaming. After that, we went to an art gallery and had pizza and ice cream. Transport fare cost around ₦10k too. Then we ended the night in a hotel room. It was the best time ever, and I couldn’t stop talking about it. I also didn’t keep track of all the costs because my partner paid for everything — one of the very rare times they’ve splurged.
About splurging, what’s your spending habit like?
They think I’m an impulsive spender. I have more money than them, but do you know I’m the broke one? My partner is very calculative with their money, and they only spend according to order of importance and shit like that. Me, if I see it, I like it, and I want it? It’s mine. I used to sleep with my debit card under my pillow, so if I had a bad dream, I’d wake up and buy something online. I often spend way past my budget too because I love to spend money on people I love. And I like multiple people, so I buy them all gifts.
Has this ever caused conflicts?
Nope. They know not to pocket-watch me. It’s my money.
Do you have a financial safety net?
I save 25% of my earnings, but my daddy is my financial safety net.
Can you shed more light?
Yep. My daddy is my backup plan. He even says it. I’m a director in all his businesses, and they buy land and other grand stuff in my name. Honestly, my future is set, and I can decide never to work again.
So why do you?
It’s simple. I like to work; it gives me a sense of freedom. Yesterday, my dad asked me what I wanted for christmas, and it’s still October. My dad is my plug for everything — heck, he once told me if I wanted to quit my job, he’d pay me my salary. I said no. I chose suffering.
What’s your ideal future for you and your partner(s)?
I don’t care much for being wealthy as the concept of wealth is a big meh for me. I just want to have an apartment my partners can come and visit me in once in a while. I have women to take care of, so I need money for that.
I try my best with what I have now. I send them money, buy them gifts, feed them. But I want to get to the point where if someone says, “Baby, my car is bad.” I can respond with, “Okay, take this ₦200k and manage. Don’t be upset.” I can’t wait to have my daddy’s kind of money. When I think about it, he’s a sugar daddy sha. It makes sense that I learnt work from him.
*subject’s name has been changed to protect her identity.
*This interview has been edited for structure and clarity.
If you’re interested in talking (anonymously) about how you manage money in your relationship, this is a good place to start.