The more I think about it, the stronger my conclusion – relationships are a scam.
Take dating for instance – that arrangement where two consenting individuals agree to care for each other in a special way and see where it goes.
To start with, it’s based on pure probability – what the hell do you mean by seeing where it goes? Plus you have to show your love, in gifts, in special nights on the town – basically, it’s expensive. Then there’s the fact that you could come to the end of a three-year-long relationship just to find out you’ve been dating yourself.
It doesn’t help that the pressure to get in relationships is real. Even if you have the confidence and poise of a young Frank Donga, people expect your university degree to come with hints of a relationship – proof that you won’t spend your life alone and become one of those dog-whisperers.
Everything changed when I took a few weeks off work in 2017.
I chose to spend my time resting at home and as Cupid would have it, I learned all the ways loneliness can kill a man. It was then that it came upon me like an epiphany brought to you by BellaNaija; why was I not seeing someone? Would I die if I started dating? Doesn’t a hot piece of cake like me deserve love too?
So I decided to get into the dating pool. And where else would I choose to date than in Lagos – the city of beautiful, independent women where you lose money every time you breathe, sneeze or take a step in any direction. The city where I’ve lived for the last 2 years and most of my life before that.
See how I set myself up? Boys and girls, gather around, I tried dating in Lagos and these are my confessions.
It is starting like this.
Can you convince someone to date you?
The last time I checked, relationships involved a minimum of two people. So the first step was obviously finding bae. I was pretty clear on what I wanted.
Four words: interesting, opinionated, not broke and fine. I stan myself, a simple man.
The problem is, nobody’s walking around Lagos with their character traits plastered on their foreheads. I had to search, something I had neither the time or money to do, so I settled for the next best option.
It’s free and depending on whether your boss can see your phone screen from his seat, you can use it at work.
Boys and girls, meet TINDER.
Except instead of love, I found women trying to sell their market.
One conversation went like this:
Me: “Hello. I’m Segun.”
Tinder Babe: “Hey. Do you want a few hours or the whole night?”
Tinder Babe: Where are you? One night is 30k and you’ll pay for my Uber.
Me: *deletes Tinder app and pleads the blood of God*
So I took my search offline.
Weeks later, I met someone who seemed a good fit at a Brymo concert, but life quickly showed me we were not in the same tax bracket so I moved on.
It took a chance meeting with a friend’s friend to find someone I actually liked. Let’s call her Sunny.
So (potential) bae found, the next obvious thing was to find out if I was being groomed by a serial killer – that thing people call ‘getting to know each other’.
I have come a long way from university and asking girls out to beer parlours. I wanted to do it right and in my hunt for a perfect date, I learned something.
You always have a point to prove.
In Lagos, people treat every date as if there’s a better option waiting for them at the door – so you’re always trying to prove you’re the right option.
I did this by planning my first date at Bungalow’s in Victoria Island.
Nothing too fancy. Just art on the walls and food that looks like it was Photoshopped. Then I saw estimates of the bill on a food review website and my brain started shaking in my head.
Basically, how you choose to prove the point is up to you.
After hours of asking for divine inspiration, it came to me; a place where the breeze is cheaper than air conditioning and God’s niceness can be witnessed first hand. We went to Oniru beach instead. After some snacks, a long conversation and some playing in the water straight out of a lazy Major Lazer video, we agreed to another date.
After a few more dates, things began to move a bit steady.
For one, we had come to understand one another. She had a giant sweet tooth so I figured ice-cream made up for a few unreturned calls. She also discovered I’m a personal person (whatever that means) so she learned to keep things between us.
But what about other people? I mean, all the people walking around, looking for other people’s business to put their noses in.
Lagos has an estimated 18 million people and all of us are in the same WhatsApp group.
Some weeks into my new thing, one of them chose to tell me some ‘private information’ about Sunny. Basically, she had been seeing someone while I was all by myself in this cold world. This ‘information volunteer’ thought I should know that they had been a celebrity couple of sorts.
Right out of the gates, I didn’t like it. But in a rare moment of reasonable thinking, I chose to talk to her first. A brief conversation cleared things up.
It was easy to understand – It happened before me and she made it clear that they had both moved on.
You hear that dull hum in the background? That’s the sound of a fight that almost happened, dying forever. Out here, some people just don’t want you to enjoy things. I wanted to enjoy this so trust became important way earlier than I expected.
With our external enemies in the dust, it was time to overcome my biggest challenge; myself.
But first – an important question.
How do you know when a series of dates become a relationship?
I ask because some people are funny and they’ll actually ask, what are we now? To which I am inclined to answer that we are nothing but pencils in the hands of the creator.
I think for me, it was when we began to dedicate time to one another. She’d show up when I was having a bad day. I’d take time off my regular schedule to go with her for a weekday movie or a play, (or something I wouldn’t be caught dead doing alone).
Sadly, you will find that sometimes, the devil and his bad ideas will come in your way.
Case in point (and proof that I’m my own biggest problem).
After a relatively stressful week, Sunny had been asking if I could make time for us to chill, on her bill at that, but the boys beckoned. I figured I could give Saturday to the guys and hang with her later.
So on Sunday night, while I was in Lekki at a friend’s, I asked her to dress up for a night out. As I dropped the call and made to request a Taxify ride to the mainland, my fingers begged me to play a final round of FIFA, so I did.
I saw streaks of lightning after I conceded the first goal but the rain didn’t start until I had fully been embarrassed.
Long story short, I ended up spending the rest of my night in traffic, admiring headlights and the Atlantic Ocean, and later, apologising for being a douchebag.
It was a lesson that showing up is important. But sometimes, what is required of you is less personal and more… financial.
At this point, Sunny and I had been going steady for nearly two months.
I was swimming in a relationship, guys. I wouldn’t spend the rest of my life alone in a flat with old books, Football Manager and hungry dogs.
We’d learned enough of each other to know our limits, so when she asked for me to pick up the tab on some work-related software she was getting, I knew she was asking because she had no choice.
The problem is for the past two months, my mind had been dreading this moment; a time that reminded of the immortal Nigerian phrase;
No Money, No Honey
Whether it’s for a dinner on the town, a gift or a bail-out, seeing someone puts some strain on your wallet.
I live in a flat in Surulere and fend for myself which means spending 1000 naira feels like I’m losing blood. In the early days, because love and good vibes cannot charge my laptop, I always chose to pay myself (and my bills) first before helping anyone out.
But the truth is that love in Lagos, or anywhere for that matter, needs money to flourish. How to balance the strain is the real question you have to answer.
Also, pray you don’t end up with someone who looks at you and sees a dark-skinned GTB ATM.
Did I give her the bar? Not all of it but I did what I could.
In the end, Lagos is the real enemy
You read that right.
Spending money on Uber and getting stuck on Third Mainland Bridge. Eating at Chicken Republic because Victoria Island’s restaurants are actually made for Instagram. Missing a date because my street is underwater.
I found out that every time something went wrong, it was because Lagos was trying to kill me.
I don’t understand why we all don’t just decide to be friends because that’s what this city really wants.
But then that’s what makes it fun. Fighting, literally, for what you want, like the time I had to explain why I was on Instagram Stories even though I wasn’t answering her calls.
How did it all end you ask? It didn’t. We’re almost a year strong now and we haven’t reported each other to the Police yet so I guess we’re good. Now I’m just waiting for Lagos to elect a new governor so I can know if this city has something personal against me.
If you do decide to get on this journey through the wilderness, please stay off Tinder, or open your mobile banking app together at the same time.