Faith Ilesanmi writes on the dating scenarios in various Nigerian universities and motives behind why young undergraduates ‘fall’ in love.
Being in a relationship has become one of the ‘must haves’ for many young undergraduates in institutions of higher learning across Nigeria. For them, once they are accepted in to a higher institution, it is expected that one finds a love interest/partner before or at the end of the first year among one’s peers or such a person may be seen as anti-social personality or sometimes, tagged as a ‘weirdo’.
In fact, many students go to great lengths just to have someone to call their own. Students see relationships as the first step to being an adult and so some would do anything to have one.
The pressure to find a partner is usually very high during the first year because many of them want to feel wanted, while experiencing a new lease of life that the university setting presents. This is applicable especially for the ladies when males flock around them to ‘break’ their supposed naivety. Usually termed ‘freshers rush’, many unsuspecting girls get entrapped in relationships that may not eventually be beneficial to them.
One of the most common reasons for dating among students is that most of them want to have relationships with people that are financially buoyant. Many ladies always want guys that can offer them flamboyant lifestyles usually influenced by social media. If a guy does not have enough money to spend on his girlfriend, that relationship might not last if she needs to be offered materialistic things that will get her excited.
According to Oluchi Okafor, an undergraduate at the University of Lagos, “Every girl desires to be pampered with luxurious lifestyles but many girls make this factor their priority. So, if they want to be in a relationship, they do not give guys who do not reach their materialistic expectation a chance. If you need a girl in this category as a guy, you have to be financially okay or else you are just wasting your precious time. Girls in this category are always known as ‘big girls’; they use the latest types of phones, wear the latest dresses, including going on unending trips with their guys. That is like the only way the relationship can be stable and long lasting. If a guy is rich, single and of working class, a lot of undergraduate girls can do anything just to have him so that they can have that extravagant lifestyle”.
Also, an undergraduate girl from a rich home, also has males flocking around her so as to gain from the relationship and earn respect from other students in the university.
In federal and state universities, it is very easy for people in a relationship to go out on classy dates, beautiful love trips outside the school without the need to get the school’s permission, unlike private universities where the only way they can get a luxurious lifestyle is strictly within the school premises. However, some students in private universities have found ways around it and go out at will, mostly during weekends, to clubs, parties and so on. The restriction on students in private universities from showing off their materialistic worth is also very high and so they are left to getting fancy products that are within the school’s premises.
Apart from the lifestyles of dating in universities, there is one major difficulty that students face, especially students in the private universities. Privacy in relationships is very essential, and partners want to be left alone just to have time for one another. Cuddling, kissing and other intimate things are also demanded as proof of the love you claim to have for your partner. In federal and state universities where guys can even sleep in the girls’ hostel and vice versa, it very easy for them to have privacy and in a situation whereby one’s partner stays alone or off-campus, a girl can decide to pay her man a visit without anyone intruding. There are also instances whereby a lover has a roommate or roommates, they gladly excuse both lovers to give the privacy they truly want. This is one of the opportunities that the students in these universities enjoy, unlike in private universities.
Another dating style in the university among undergraduates is ‘codes’. Some students do not want their relationship to be public, so they prefer to use codes to fool people from suspecting that they are a couple. Most students use codes of ‘school mother’, ‘school father’, ‘spiritual father’ and most commonly, ‘bestie’.
Temilade Adewale, an undergraduate at Bowen University, said, “If you really want to know people who have a thing for each other and using codes as their cover, the ones who call each other ‘best friends’ should be thoroughly checked. Most times, such couples are likely in a relationship, but there is practically no need to ask them because they will definitely deny it. Sometimes, it is when you see their wedding invite that you would know that they were ever in a relationship all those years under a code. Most students love to keep their relationship in code in order to avoid interrogations among their peers”.
Friday Treat discovered that the one of the most used codes of all is ‘tutorial teacher/guide’.
Lilian Obeche, an undergraduate at The Polytechnic, Ibadan, said, “If undergraduates of opposite sex are seen together, most of them quickly give excuses that they are reading together for a very serious test that is coming up. If you decide to watch them closely, all their secrets will be revealed”.
Also, there are people who love to associate themselves with people that have high social status to upgrade their class. Students are interested in people that have social life in school.
Lilian continued: “If you are a very brilliant student, people will be all around you just so they can date you in order to boost their intellectual capacity. People always criticise extremely serious students in school, but there are some special ones that they need to use as their stepping stone to boost their level of performance in their academics and the only way they can get really intimate with them is by being in a love relationship.
“Apart from intelligent students, people that have made it for themselves whilst in school get into relationships quickly. For instance, if you are a well known blogger, dancer, even a brand influencer, people would love to be with you so they can emulate what you do that makes you stand out.”
There is another form of dating system in higher institutions, where students of opposite sex co-habit in the same room; ostensibly to cut costs. In the course of staying together, most develop feelings and start a sexual relationship. These sets are called ‘live-in’ lovers. Other dating styles include ‘friends with benefits’, where both parties agree to be sexual partners only on demand, without an actual relationship involved. Most times, each party is allowed to have individual relationships.
A relationship expert, Mrs Kemisola Alade, in a chat with Friday Treat, said that peer pressure, social media, lack of proper parenting, especially where wards cannot trust to talk to their parents about certain problems are responsible for most of the developments.
She said: “With the advent of social media and internet where all forms of vices are easily accessible, for instance, porn, cyber bullying, sexting etc, young people go through a lot of experiences that may be too much for their age.
“In a case where they are mostly unmonitored by their parents, or in cases where the children cannot talk to their parents about pressing issues, they have to face such problems themselves in the best way they can.
“Such insecure young people will find love or succor wherever they can, and may likely fall into wrong hands, especially girls.
“It is important that parents monitor their wards in higher institutions especially if they stay on their own.
“With right parenting and prayers, most young adults can be led right.”