Virtually every week, a Nigerian abroad comes out on social media to lament the scarcity of partners for meaningful romantic relationships. In recent times, we have had a more frequent outcry from women. Not just average women but beautiful and classy ones. What do you think is the problem? Are the men going extinct? Let's dive into this topic from a UK experience.
Have you ever felt lonely despite being in a very crowded space? It is a weird feeling. Everybody wants to help and at the same time, nobody wants to help. This is what dating in the United Kingdom seems like.
Here are some reasons why it might be challenging finding a partner abroad:
(1) Culture shock:
The United Kingdom is a multicultural society. You get to meet Indians, Africans, Chinese, Pakistanis, Europeans, and generally people from different works of life. Their belief systems, behaviours, and different approach to issues are different. People naturally avoid what they find strange and this could affect romantic relationships.
(2) Ethnic Division:
In most cities in the UK, people don't mix especially outside work. The people have doctorate degrees in 'minding their businesses'. The Chinese roll with the Chinese, Indians to Indians and Nigerians roll with their own. People just feel more comfortable with their own.
(3) Too fast, too busy:
Life in the UK is just too busy and fast especially if you are a fresh immigrant. You might have to deal with the rigours of work and school as they run concurrently. These two engagements might make a whole year look like 6 months. Oftentimes, romantic relationships take a secondary position. Some people would pick shifts over romantic dates because that is what pays the bills.
(4) Historical concerns:
Before the tier 4 visas became popular, most Africans saw the locals as keys to their stay in the country. Relationships have always been a means to an end in the UK. A selfish end so to speak. The nefarious activities of internet fraudsters have always complicated interracial relationships. For this reason, most tier 4 visa holders or citizens are wary of new entrants.
A lady who holds a British passport or Tier 2 visa might doubt the love interest of a suitor holding a tourist or student visa. There is widespread distrust in the country and nobody wants to be used as a ladder to step up. Consequently, some potential good men slip under the radar.
Nigerians don't have the best reputation in the UK. This is related to the previous point made. This has led to hasty generalisation and unwarranted assumptions. On dating sites/apps, some people will not talk to you because you are a Nigerian. This might be due to an adverse experience or an ordeal told by a friend, or family member about their experience with a Nigerian.
The UK has so many successful women. Most of them become big-headed as career success and financial breakthroughs come. They tend to desire men in or above their social/economic class. But African men in their supposed class fear women like them because of issues around control. Men don't want to travel on a ship with two captains. Before you know it, one woman is still single at 40 despite her beauty and achievements.
(7) Small population of Nigerians:
Despite the Japa Syndrome, Nigerians are in the minority in the UK. Out of a population of over 67 million people, Nigerians account for just 0.5% which is 271,390 in England and Wales. Most Nigerians come to the UK married. These two factors limit the available options on who to date. Even if you want to consider someone outside your ethnic background, they might not be interested in you.
Due to the sensitivity of this topic, I will not dwell too much on it. It has been criminalized, but it is still what it is. Coloured people are not really in demand except for people who just want to briefly explore. Call that jungle fever!
(9) Lack of intentional efforts:
In the UK, you have to consciously work towards getting married. Attend social gatherings, meet people, shoot your shots, join dating apps, join churches, approach people for relationship referrals, and never give up when you hear a 'no'. You might just be lucky the next time you try.
(10) Marriage isn't a big deal:
People in the UK are not so big on marriage compared to their counterparts in Africa. I have a colleague who has been engaged for years; nothing is happening and nobody is under pressure. In Nigeria, people will ask questions like "Are you Froddo in the 'Lord of the Rings'?"
Generally, people just live together as partners for years and have kids together without being married. An African might frown at this on cultural and religious grounds.
Relationships start with active and good communication. In the UK, some accents are just too complicated to understand. This makes verbal communication stressful. Most people become easily uninterested in those that don't speak like them.
(10b) Indiscriminate s*x:
Due to loneliness and cold weather, most people just want to have fun with no strings attached. They want to experience that crazy feeling of intimacy for the moment. Since society doesn't attach importance to 'body counts', people jump on as many beds as possible. This is paramount amongst single parents. Single mothers just want to drink alcohol on Friday nights and have s*x without entanglements. They tend to enjoy their s*xual freedom and conclude that serious relationships might take that away. If care isn't taken, a woman might wake up to realize that she has had more s*xual partners than a full-time prostitute at the end of the year. S*x is easy, love is hard.
These are some of the reasons I have been able to come up with. I'm pretty sure they could be extended.
It is possible to find love in the UK, although it is tricky. The key is being very intentional about the love search. From my personal research and experience, I believe the most effective way is through referrals. When you meet nice people, tell them to introduce you to their like-minded single friends or family members. Make your intentions clear. This is equivalent to getting references for a job application. Additionally, expand your social circles, and join African churches with huge members. Some pastors take it upon themselves to matchmake people and it works. Dating apps might not be the most ideal place to seek a meaningful relationship, but we never say never.
Osahon George Osayimwen writes from England.