Navigating life as a woman in the world today is interesting. From Nigeria to Timbuktu, it’ll amaze you how similar all our experiences are. Every Wednesday, women the world over will share their experiences on everything from sex to politics right here. This is Zikoko’s What She Said.
Dating as a woman in any part of the world can be a wild range of experiences. For the 29-year-old Nigerian woman in this story, the dating wasn’t the weird part. It was everything from the breakup — from stalking to threatening her with her nudes. In today’s What She Said, she tells us about that experience.
So how did you two meet?
It’s not a big, fancy story. We met while I was still in university. I was 17 years old and he was 24. I went for a party, we talked and became friends. It’s not like we had much in common; he was just very interesting to talk to and it felt like we had similar views. We started dating when I turned 18. He said he wanted me to be “legal” before we started dating.
Was he also in the university?
No. He finished his master’s the year before we met. He was working when we met. .
So what was the relationship like?
It was great, I guess. We didn’t have a lot of fights and we saw each other quite often. He would take me out, take my friends out, send me pocket money, etc. It was quite one-sided in the beginning. He used to spend a lot on me, and I couldn’t always reciprocate in that way. However, after I finished university, that changed.
How long did you date for?
I think six years. We broke up when I found out that he had another girlfriend — his best friend who knew me and was sort of friends with me. I found out a few days after they got engaged. He told me quite casually that he wanted to move on and something about me not being marriage material. Apparently, for about the length of time we were together, he was also dating her. He didn’t see it as a big deal. I don’t know why I didn’t notice because, in hindsight, they were pretty close. He often slept over at her place in the name of “it’s close to my office”, and she took him out a lot. I didn’t suspect because “best friends”. I have a best friend too, and I know how close we are.
Wow. That’s horrible. What did he mean you weren’t marriage material though?
You know, I’m not exactly sure. I think it was just an excuse to break up with me. One thing I’d add is that we never talked about marriage while we were dating, so him saying I wasn’t marriage material was a bit of shock. Also maybe because I didn’t use to cook for him whenever he came over to my house. I dunno sha.
How did you handle the breakup?
I was heartbroken and was hiding it from everyone at first, but it appeared that everyone knew they were dating. A mutual friend actually came to me and said, “Ahn, but we thought you knew. We thought you guys were in some sort of polyamorous relationship.” Even some of my friends knew but didn’t know how to tell me. That for me was more heartbreaking.
I’m sorry. So when did the stalking start or when did you notice?
It started a few months after we broke up. I think three months. I had just started dating someone new and was quite enthused about the relationship. This time, we had a lot more in common and were in the same age range.
The day I posted a picture of me and my new boyfriend online, I noticed that some random account on Twitter was favouriting all my photos. Not just the recently posted ones. The account went as far back as a year. I ignored it because I assumed it was all those random bots. Then I started getting DMs from another anonymous account who said that they had my nudes and would deal with me. I didn’t used to take/send any nudes back then. I was pretty much a prude, haha. I actually humoured him because in my head, I didn’t have any nudes. I kept calling his bluff. Then one day, he sent me a picture of the nude, and it was me! That was when I knew it was my ex.
Wait, what? How?
Pictures he must have taken while I was asleep or while we were together and I didn’t know. All I know is I didn’t consent to having any of those pictures taken. That was just how I knew he was the one. I hadn’t been with anyone else, so it had to be him. I tried reaching out to him, but he wouldn’t pick my calls or respond to my texts. One of my friends told me to block the account. I was skeptical at first, but it was causing a lot of grief and affecting my relationship and work. I blocked him. I was shocked every day I woke up and my nudes were not on the TL.
But wasn’t he married? Why was he doing this? Did he want anything from you?
He never said. For a bit I didn’t hear from him again. Then I started getting DMs from random Twitter accounts and random questions on ask.fm, which is what curious cat is now, saying that they wanted to fuck me or “after all I did for you, how dare you betray me”. He kept finding ways to infiltrate my Twitter. I had to close my Twitter account when it became too much. I made some of my other social accounts private and stopped posting my information online. But that didn’t stop him.
What happened next?
For a few months, nothing. Then he became quite brazen. I would see him in public places. There was a time I noticed him at a party I went to. I left the party with my partner without saying a word. At this point, I was afraid of what he’d do if we ever, somehow, were alone. For some time, I couldn’t be alone. I couldn’t live alone, I couldn’t go home alone. I was constantly afraid he was following me. However, I wanted to know why he was stalking me.
Did you ever find out why?
I have a theory that he wasn’t happy I moved on quickly after he broke up with me. He felt like he owned me. Some of the messages he sent me were framed that way.
Did you receive any support?
Support wetin? In the middle of all of this, the boyfriend I dated right after the stalker broke up with me — for separate reasons — so I was alone. I tried to talk to a police uncle and he laughed and said it’s a free world, anyone could go anywhere they wanted to go and could type anything they wanted online. At that point, I knew it was no use talking to anyone, especially mutual friends, about it. They’d say it was a coincidence.
That sucks. How did it end?
I don’t know I just know that I haven’t seen him or gotten any weird threats from him in a while.
How does that feel?
I won’t say relieved because I’m still always on the lookout, always watching my back. It’s incredibly stressful.
As this in any way affected your relationships?
I’m basically afraid to date, but even more afraid to break up because I’m scared that they’ll stalk me. Eventually though, I know this will pass and I will have the guts to face my ex and ask him why or maybe deal with him. I don’t know.