This week, Chiamaka gives her two cents on the constant back and forth about going out on dates.
Before I properly begin, I will like to state that I feel like I can properly speak on this issue because I did not always live in Nigeria. I got acquainted with the dating scene with fresh eyes after University and it was truly insightful. Black American Twitter has infamous rows about dinner dates, specifically about spending two hundred dollars while on a date night out. The conversation revolves around men arguing about the cost of the date, stating that it is too expensive and an unreasonable amount to spend on a girl especially on a first date. Nigerian Twitter descended into its own discussion about dates and the amount required to be spent by men on them, when a lady tweeted that a man had requested to see her and she had asked him to plan a date to that effect. Unfortunately, the man’s response was that he was the “wrongest person” to ever suggest such a thing to. The conversation very likely ended there. Since she shared the discussion with Twitter, it has raised a lot of dust and a lot of people have given their two cents on the matter.
Some women stated that she could have cajoled him into still taking her on a date, while some others noted that he had already given her a direct answer and that should obviously be the end of the discussion. While the post stirred up conversations on both sides, it seemed to have triggered a lot of opinions from men, in particular, who gave pretty strong and interesting takes. The conversation shifted to how women were using men to visit fancy, high-end restaurants and take pictures to match the aesthetic of an expensive lifestyle. Various men ranted about the prices in Lagos restaurants, how many women were not even good dates overall and how so many women go on multiple dates per day, simply to eat free food provided for by their dates. Others gave some more honest takes, stating that planning for and going on dates is never really an issue when the man actually likes the woman and that majority of these arguments stem from the fact that men do not seem to enjoy the dates when it does not end in sex.
For a lot of men, a great date is one that ends in sexual activity between you and that woman, whether or not it is the first date. Personally, one thing I have noted while ‘dating’ in Nigeria is regardless of the level of our relationship, Nigerian men have always tried to ‘score’ after. One way or another, they will either try to get me to come home or to a hotel with them. The moment I refuse, their behavior and demeanor changes. They feel that they have wasted money in that regard.
During the back and forth interactions on Twitter, a lot of Nigerian men straight up expressed that planning dates was stressful for them and they were really not interested in doing that for women. Some said that it was appalling for fine dining to even be a first-date choice and that more women should think of splitting the bills or covering costs if they wanted to go to expensive restaurants for the first date. Personally, I think that we are all deceiving ourselves.
The person who initiates the gesture to see someone is responsible for all the bills incurred in the facilitation of this meeting. Standard. Now, before you say “Nigerian women do not ask men out”, ask yourself what product of culture this exemplifies. Nigeria is simply a patriarchal culture, one that a lot of Nigerian men have no interest in dismantling because it benefits them greatly. They only complain when the system does not benefit them, which is when it comes to paying bills. Asides from that, they have no issues with denigrating women, expecting to be hand-fed by their girlfriends and then subsequently their wives or enjoying the social status that being a male affords them. So, questioning why women do not ask men out, in a culture and society that makes them feel inferior and second-rate, is void.
Another issue is that Nigerian men have never met a woman that they did not want to ‘ask out’. Once they are even the slightest bit attracted to you, they jump at any opportunity to get in your pants. The real desire that they have is to engage in sexual activities. Asking the woman out on a ‘date’ is just their way of creating an opener to sex. Usually, the question of a date is only put on the table when a woman has rejected their sexual advances and explicitly stated that she would not desire to visit them at home. Now, there are some exceptions. These exceptions may lie when they want to impress the lady in question or when they genuinely like the woman. Mainly, the question of a date is just their way of creating face-to-face meeting that will lead to—or end up in—sexual activity.
When I first came to Nigeria, I did not balk at the idea of having dates at home (the man’s house). My first year here was also after the lockdown, so I understood why some meet-ups could happen at home. I made sure to drive as well, so I could leave when I wanted to. I noticed that the men who asked me to meet them at home more often than not wanted to meet at night, employing coercive tactics to their openers for sex. They were also likely to try to get me to consume a lot of alcohol. If this was not effective, they would try to see if I would lose hang of time and then be forced to sleep over. When they found out I drove, or I pulled up in my car and they saw it, they would be visibly disappointed.
House dates are perfect for people in relationships or people who have been seeing each other for a while. It is insidious to pretend to not know why women would rather meet in public spaces. While Lagos may not have many options for cheap, regular dates, I can promise you that the majority of the public are finding ways around it. Many people, more than they like to admit, have been on more cheap dates than the other way around. Movies, suya joints and lounge dates are extremely common. However, the opposite is commonly spewed to paint women as hungry gold diggers or people just looking for a free meal. Meanwhile, we more than likely have to deal with boring dates, men who grope or coerce and men who are unnecessarily sexual during dates.
Lastly, it is very foolhardy to position the lives of a minute number of conventionally attractive women who have access to the richest men as the reality of the everyday woman in Lagos. Regular women do not go out on ten dates a week. Regular women do not have dates taking them to the fanciest places, nor do they ask for it. Monied men are a very small population, so who then are the girlfriends or women going out with men with no money? If a man decides that he wants to date multiple women and wants to date ‘top babes’ as well, then he must spend his money to that effect. I feel no pity for a regular man trying to date women who would not even look in his direction twice while on the street coming on social media to wax lyrical about how he has to spend upwards of fifty thousand naira each on every single date. I also feel no pity for men who have the urge to womanize, then being upset that said womanizing is costing them money. We really do have bigger fish to fry.