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.
Whenever a public proposal video where the woman says no surfaces on the internet, it’s usually followed by a litany of assumptions about the cruelty of the woman. No one ever seems to ask why the woman turned down the proposal. Was she unsuspecting? Or not ready to marry? Did she not love him? Or did she not just want to get married?
This week I ask 4 women who said no to public proposals a simple question – why?
He blindsided me – Funbi 25
We had been dating for exactly 11 months. I was 21, and he was 30. When we started dating, he said he wanted to marry soon. And I made it crystal clear to him I was nowhere near ready and wouldn’t be for a couple of years. I was only 21, for goodness’ sake. Every couple of months he’d bring it up, and I’d tell him I wasn’t looking to get married until I was at least 26. He’d say he loved me enough to wait and that he understood.
The month before he proposed, he had already told his family without saying a word to me. His younger sister who was my friend told me about because she knew my stance on the marriage issue. When I confronted him about it, he said that his younger sister misinformed me. That he had only told his family that I was the woman he intended to marry in the future. The explanation didn’t sit too well with me, but I accepted it. The next month was my birthday. He threw a big surprise party with most of his family and my friends. The only person who had met him in my family was my sister, and she wasn’t there. After they brought out the cake, a saxophone player came out. I thought it was part of the party only for him to get down on one knee. I bent down to whisper the no in his ear. That he should please stand up so we could go talk about it somewhere private. Baba refused to stand up, he said would not take no for an answer. So I walked out. When I got home, I texted him that we were done. I felt no pity for him because I felt like what he did was very manipulative.
It wasn’t the right time for us – Seyi, 28
I loved him deeply, and I wanted to say yes, but it wasn’t the right time for us to get married and I had told him before he proposed. We had been dating for about 6 years, most of which was in our university days. As at the time he proposed, he was in-between jobs, and I was working at a dead place collecting eighty thousand naira per month.
The first time we had the marriage conversation, it came up naturally. We talked about how much we loved each other and wanted to devote ourselves to each other. It was very sweet. A couple of weeks after he started asking me what type of ring I wanted. I told him to calm down, that there was no need for a ring or a proposal yet. Because once we did that, our families would start pressuring us to get married. The month after we had that conversation, he got a high-paying job. He had not even collected his first salary when he planned with some of my friends to get me to a private room in a restaurant for a surprise proposal.
When I got there, there were about ten people, 3 or 4 of his friends and 5 of mine. He already had ‘will you marry me’ balloons and roses set out. Before he could even get on one knee or bring out the ring, I took him aside and told him we had talked about this and agreed to wait. He said we did, but he had gotten a great job now, so what was the problem. I asked him, ‘Me nko? You think when I was saying I want us to be set in life, I was only talking about you?’ He got pretty upset and his friends had to take him home to calm him down. I and my friends sat down to eat the food that we were supposed to use to celebrate. I let him cool off for a couple of days before going to see him. I knew the biggest problem was just that his ego was bruised. We are still dating now and we’ll probably marry next year.
I was pregnant; I said no – Kate, 30
This happened when I was 25. I was seeing one of those men so foolish that everyone in my life complained about him. We weren’t even dating seriously; we were pretty much just fooling around regularly. That was how I got pregnant. When I told him he pulled a ‘Are you sure I’m the father?’ Followed by a ‘So what do you want to do about it? Abort it? That was when I truly understood the depth of his foolishness.
A week after he came back to beg that he was sorry, and he wanted to be involved in the baby’s life. I told him no problem. By then I had already told my family that I was pregnant. I had also told them that the father of the child wasn’t interested in raising the child. So they didn’t even bother looking for him. When I told my mum he had come back to declare interest in the child, she didn’t even want to hear it. After declaring that he was ready to take part in the child’s life, he ghosted for another three months.
Only for him to come one day with his mother and an uncle to tell me he thinks we should get married. It was very clear that his mother was the one pulling the strings, and I told them to fuck off. It wasn’t a public proposal the way you see it in the movies, but he really came with family members to my family home. I know he was expecting the presence of family to pressure me. Thankfully, my family was firmly on my side. My baby girl is it 5 now and the idiot that wanted to get married has only seen her twice this year.
He tried to propose after he cheated – Kemi 28
We had been dating for two years when I found out he was cheating in the worst of ways. He had dumped his side chick for another side chick, so the first side chick decided to come to me as a woman. I confronted him, he begged, he cried and promised it would never happen again, for some reason I stayed but the relationship wasn’t the same and he could tell. I became more withdrawn from him and would get paranoid whenever he went out at night. I finally talked about it with him and told him we needed to find a way to work through our issues or just end things already.
Instead of him to work on putting to bed my trust issues, he decided to propose. He did it at his apartment with a couple of mutual friends present. I walked in to find him already on one knee. It was seeing him at that moment with his stupid friends who knew he was cheating standing around him; I knew that I had to get out of the relationship. I mumbled ‘No, I’m sorry’ and entered his bedroom. He came after me looking genuinely confused. He said cheating on me, and my finding out made him realize how much he couldn’t do without me. I told him it made me realize that I could do better than him. And I picked up my bag and walked out of his house. He kept begging and sending his friends to beg, but I still said no. Once people heard that we were done, so-called friends started telling me about how he was cheating with one person or the other from the very beginning of our relationship. He’s engaged now, and I genuinely pity the girl.