Okay, so we all know that being single in our culture after a certain age is like driving around in a car with a manual transmission and no air-conditioning …yep not life threatening but frustrating as heck and sometimes disheartening. Finding the right partner is certainly not an easy road to navigate, however, I feel like the level of difficulty is increased exponentially in Nigeria.
Prior to moving back to Nigeria, I had heard all these amazing stories about how people moved back and got married within 6 months and so on. One story in particular stuck in my mind. This girl, was just hanging outside her house when her neighbour came by to say hi with a friend of his. I imagine megawatts of “thunder and lightning” must have occurred, because after dating said friend seriously (I mean seeing each other everyday and all the other typical aspects of being in a relationship) for 6 months, he proposed and the rest as they say is history – introduction, engagement, wedding and the whole nine yards.
I repeated this story and many others to my wide network of girlfriends and we did a lot of oohing and aahing over how romantic these stories were, oh, I forgot to mention that this was during the “innovative” period of wedding websites. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent going to these sites and looking at all the lovely pictures and reading the various “how we met” stories. I was definitely an old school romantic … sigh.
So of course my girls and I would go on about how lucky women at home were with so many “hot” Nigerian men to choose from…right … WRONG!
What people forget to mention is that sure there are men a dime a dozen, however how many of them are ELIGIBLE?
Okay so let’s get some definitions going …
Wikipedia defines Eligibility as “desirability as a marriage partner, as in the term eligible bachelor or bachelorette”.
This definition automatically implies that to be deemed eligible, there must be some type of criteria or dare I say “list”.
Yes, the dreaded “list”.
I remember an older friend of mine telling me that when she was much younger, she had an eligibility list a mile long. I am talking of mundane things like … He has to be tall, handsome, funny, baffer (just kidding) and so on. Ahhh … the joys of being young and naive. During lunch sometime ago with the same friend who now is in her late thirties, I reminded her of her list and asked if she was still working with the same list. She laughed heartily and said that the only criterion she is working with now is:
“Can he just be BREATHING?”
A bit drastic you might say. Maybe … Maybe not.
So I have been back for several years now, and yes I have had tons of fun and met loads of people, but I can say with absolute certainty that the grass is not greener on the other side. At least outside Nigeria, we single ladies are left in peace. In Nigeria, everyone feels the urge to poke and prod you to explain why you are single. I am sure you’ve noticed how quick people are to ask single people all types of random questions. My personal favorite is why are you still single? Seriously! As if 90% of single people are single out of choice. Jeez.
A single co-worker of mine once told me that her very wonderful aunt asked her this same well intentioned but unwittingly annoying question. She replied saying; well, aunty I can’t very well ask myself out, date myself or marry myself can I?
Another common question asked is- are you being too picky? Now this question is just plain annoying. Obviously I am not saying women should have an unrealistic eligibility list, however, is it wrong to have standards? And by standards I don’t mean superficial ones, I am referring to deeper characteristics related to religion, personality, and fidelity amongst others. Are we expected to give up these standards simply because we want to get married?
Now let’s even assume that in this competitive race to get married, people decided to simply get married for marrying sake, what about compatibility?
Imagine a highly educated woman marrying a danfo/okada driver. I am using a female example, because let’s face it most men seem to be more about physical characteristics than intellectual characteristics … sorry guys. But let’s be honest, when was the last time a Nigerian man married a woman because she can solve complex math equations, quote advanced physics in her sleep and is knowledgeable about world politics?
Okay it’s really hard for me to even have a mental picture of this scenario.
However, another question I’d like to ask is why do domestic maids always seem to have boyfriends? I mean if they are not dating the driver, it’s the security guard, or the meat seller in the market … I mean without a doubt they tend to have access to a wider range of men.
Just the other day, the cleaner in my office told me she was getting married to husband 2 because husband 1 was too demanding (not sure what she meant by that). I thought to myself, husband 2 ke? Some people are praying to just be in a relationship. Or has education and exposure become a limitation to dating and getting married in Nigeria?
Whatever the answers to the questions I have posed in this article might be, I really do believe that the key to surviving singleness, regardless of what side of the Atlantic one might live, is patience. Patience to wait for what will always be yours, and patience to shift through all the ineligible men that may come one’s way.