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.
Bella* is living the baby girl life, with no job, heavy bills or need for savings. In this interview, she talks about meeting her two current boyfriends on Instagram and having her parents as her safety net.
Occupation and location
University student living in Oyo state
I get a standard ₦60k monthly allowance from my parent and between ₦80 – 100k from my partner.
Monthly bills and recurring expenses
There’s also my ₦200k rent, but it’s taken care of by my parents.
I try to keep money aside sometimes, but it’s always with a goal in mind. I invested in a clothing line one time in 2020. I started with bespoke, so people paid me before I made their clothes. But when I decided to expand to ready-to-wear with ₦50k, the tailors messed up the sewing and fabric choice. I ended up having to give out most of them to friends. Abeg, I don’t like suffering. Whenever I get money now, I try to make myself comfortable.
What does that look like?
Buying things that make me happy — clothes, shoes, food. I’ve spent ₦33k on two dresses in the last two weeks. Like now, I want to change my phone, and I have about ₦250k, but if I use it, I’d have to survive on garri till like February. My boyfriend promised to send me money for a new phone, so I’ll just wait.
How often does he give you money?
Sometimes, once a month; other times, it’s more. He usually gives me ₦80 – 100k. Although he recently sent ₦150k, so there’s no telling with these things.
How did you guys meet?
We met on Instagram in August. Laide* slid into my DM, and we started talking. He’s in his early 30’s and works in the US, while I’m 22 years old, living and schooling in Ibadan, Oyo state.
I planned to visit Lagos the following week, and coincidentally, he was going there too, so we made plans to see. In retrospect, he’d been following me on IG for a while, so he probably waited till he was visiting Nigeria to text me.
And what was your first meeting like?
It was nice. We met at a Chinese restaurant. I can’t remember how much the food I got was, but I know the menu was pricey. The food came in platters, and we had a cocktail and mocktail respectively. He spent an average of ₦70k on our everything. We spent the whole day and the next together.
I was staying at a friend’s place in Lagos, so I just texted her that I wasn’t coming back that day. I spent the night at his place. The next morning, we went out for breakfast. I honestly have no idea how much that cost. We went back to his place after that, and his family visited later in the day. Meeting his little nieces and nephews was fun. Then he gave me $200 cash when I left in the evening.
What did you spend the money on?
I had an occasion to attend, the asoebi plus sewing cost ₦45k. I also got some clothes and shoes. A dollar was about ₦700 then, so it was a lot. I spent the rest of the week visiting some friends and family I had in Lagos. Then almost a week later, he wanted us to see again. This time, we met at his friend’s lounge. It was more of a group hang because he had about five friends there. They were really nice and tried to involve me in all their conversations — from politics to relationships. In the end, they split the ₦150k bill.
I went back to Ibadan after that, but we stayed in contact. Two weeks later, he said he was returning to the US and would like for me to see him off to the airport. I already liked him at this point, so I came back to Lagos. I got in the day before the flight, and we spent the day at his place with his friends and family. In the morning, we went to the airport and said our goodbyes. He sent me ₦100k before he left.
Wait, there was another time we met, a few days before he travelled. He’d gone to see a friend in Ibadan, and on his way to Lagos, he stopped by my place in school. We spent some hours together and got to know each other really fast. That’s why it seemed normal to start dating before he returned to the US.
A long-distance relationship?
Yes. The first month was hard because of the time difference. When I’m free, he’s at work; when he’s free, I’m busy. Sometimes, we went a whole week without talking to each other. I’d try to text and call, but he won’t respond.
How did that make you feel?
Like I couldn’t rely on him emotionally which made me so upset, I ended up splurging on a dress.
I can’t remember, but the highest I’ve spent on my shopping sprees is ₦20k. I’m a stress shopper. At the slightest inconvenience, I go to the supermarket to buy random stuff. Sometimes, I buy for my siblings; sometimes, my friends.
We eventually spoke about it, and he explained he was going through a hard time. He’s not the most expressive person, so I don’t try to coerce him into telling me something he doesn’t want to.
How are things now?
Way better. Since we spoke about it, he started to put more effort into communicating, plus we understand each other better. I realised I have to overlook some of his shortcomings to keep enjoying what we have now. Now, we text and send memes often, and when we can, we talk on the phone — usually for two to three hours. The relationship is not intense, but we’re good. It also helped that he came back for the holidays in 2022.
What are the things you enjoy?
Money. He sent me ₦100k and a cake platter for my birthday in October 2022. During his December visit, he also bought me a lot of clothes, shoes and a designer bag.
And what gifts have you given him?
Nothing. He’s in the US, so that’d be difficult. And he doesn’t care for his birthdays. He appreciates that I even make the effort to be the first to call and wish him a happy birthday. He doesn’t expect anything from me, TBH.
How do you know?
I tend to gravitate towards people who treat me like a princess. I always get hair, clothes and shoes, both from people I’m dating and random people online.
I could post online, and guys would slide into my DM. One time, I complained on IG about issues with my bank. One guy asked for my account number and sent ₦50k. Another one sent ₦30k. I can tell some people I like something, and they’d send me the money to get it. Sometimes, we don’t even talk long enough for us to meet offline.
On my birthday, I got at least 50 DMs.
That’s how I met Emmanuel*, my boyfriend.
I have two boyfriends at the moment.
Do they know about each other?
What’s the plan?
I don’t have one. Time could pass, and Laide and I would end things or Emmanuel and I would stop talking. I’ll just let time solve it because I’ve decided to have my cake and eat it.
Emmanuel is really sweet. He texts me every morning to tell me I’m the most beautiful girl he’s seen. We started dating this January, about a month after we started talking.
Is he at least in Nigeria?
Yes. He stays in Ibadan as well, so it was easy for him to come and visit me in December, just a few weeks after we started talking. We spent the day gisting, which was nice. He buys me food all the time. He’d just ask me what I want to eat today and have it sent to me. The food costs between ₦2 – 4k, and he does this at least once a week. He also gave me ₦25k some weeks ago as compensation for not getting me the wig he promised. He said he had some bills to pay, and I’d have to wait till February.
Okay. How’s Valentine looking with two boyfriends?
Emmanuel mentioned getting me the wig and going on a date, but I don’t know about Laide. He’s not very romantic. I’d usually have to ask for what I want before he gives me, and I think it’d be inconsiderate of me to ask because he’s planning to send money for my phone.
Fair. Will you get gifts for any of them?
I haven’t decided yet. Maybe for Emmanuel.
Aren’t you worried they’ll find out about each other?
I don’t think that’s possible because they’re in entirely different circles. Laide is a businessman abroad. Emmanuel is a student. Also, if anyone leaves, I’d be fine. But usually, I’m the one who leaves. I’ve always been in relationships — although this is the first time I’m dating two people at the same time. I wanted to be single once, but that only lasted one month before I met Laide.
He was really sweet when we met. I could tell he was really into me. I also try to find love and money in the same person, so he was a great fit. He works hard and has a house in an expensive part of Lagos, so it was giving prime husband material.
Do you have a financial safety net?
Does my family count? Because I can always trust my parents to come through for me. Even if I don’t get boyfriend allowance, I’d be sure of consistent funds from them.
What about your ideal financial future?
I want to earn a stable income from coding. I can focus on exploring my interior design dreams with that income.
Wait, I didn’t know you were a coder
I was learning online before my laptop went bad, but I’ll fix it soon. I’m giving myself like six months to master coding. Till then, I’m living my life the best way I can.
If you’re interested in talking about how money moves in your relationship, this is a good place to start.