Dating in Lagos is like a high pressure rollercoaster – And I don’t like rollercoasters
When I told my friends and family I was moving to Lagos, reactions varied. Some were shocked, others confused, a few were excited and in the midst of these response, was a reaction I didn’t quite expect: relief. This move, some of my people told me, was how I’d get myself a significant other and ultimately, a husband. Not that I was looking, but according to them, since I had successfully completed the school-college-university-first job thing, it was time.
Yes, time. Unbeknownst to me, I’d seemingly crossed over from the place where marriage was this far off thing light years away, to another place, a place where serious relationships and marriage were suddenly much more urgent.
Well, not to me, I was actually pretty unbothered. Apart from the odd, “There goes your son in law,” comment to my mum when Thierry Henry was on TV, I never really gave that stuff much thought. My immediate concerns were way more pressing; work, money, Arsenal’s inevitable mid-season decline, how to make the perfect pancake, and so on. I shrugged off the relief expressed by my people, I found it amusing.
Enter Lagos. Is there a more relationship obsessed place? It seems like everyone’s talking about relationships in one form or the other almost all the time. When I first arrived here, my lack of interest in dating hadn’t changed, again I had more pressing issues to concern myself with, like; work, money, whether or not Arsene Wenger would buy a striker, how much I missed McDonald’s and so on. Whenever I told anyone this, they’d assume I was just playing ‘hard to get,’ and offer to fix me up with their ‘single’ friend/cousin/brother/son.
Like many things, the dynamics of dating in Nigeria were different to what I was used to, and like with many things, I wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t prepared for people—ranging from family to potential employers, taking such a vested interest in my relationship status, or having to explain myself whenever I said I wasn’t dating anyone. The answer ‘Single ‘ was almost always followed up with the question ‘Why?’ and the not-so-subtle reminder that somewhere out there was a clock ticking with my name etched on it in angry, bold lettering.
Being single in Lagos is synonymous with searching, so even if you’re technically not searching, you are, meaning that there are other people searching for you. Searching (by choice or otherwise) is a convoluted, high-pressure roller coaster ride—and I don’t like rollercoasters. It’s not for the faint hearted but you certainly learn some things.
Things like how fluid the term relationship is. Who would have thought one word could mean so many different things to different people. Being in a relationship means you’re in a relationship in the literal sense, but somehow it doesn’t, because you’re not really off the market. The only thing that really takes you off the market is marriage, and in some cases even that is subject to terms and conditions. You learn about other things too, like entitlement, expectation, pressure, and why so people are uncomfortable with “going Dutch.”
Then there are the colourful characters you meet, like the guys who bombard you with declarations of love or proposals despite only ever having one interaction with you. Or the guys who casually ‘forget’ to mention they have girlfriends and/or wives, those who confuse ‘proud’ with ‘uninterested,’ and the ones who are definitely old enough to know better.
Somewhere in the midst of all this are of course the good ones (don’t believe all those Yoruba demon memes), the honest ones, the kind, funny ones. And in typical, cliche, city of love style you usually stumble across one when you (or someone representing you) is not searching. As I said before I don’t like rollercoasters so I was relieved to get off. Now if only I could get people to stop talking about weddings, and that blasted clock.