Ugochi V. Ukah: Marriage Tests on the First Date

Naturally, dating should be a relaxing scenario to get to meet and know more about a potential partner or friend but unfortunately, most of the time, this is not so. I have been on several dates that felt more uncomfortable than a job interview and by the time the dates were over, I knew I would not go on a second date with them. It almost feels like everybody, especially in Nigeria, is in a hurry to settle down when they get to a particular age such that they ignore the important aspects of dating and courtship processes. It has come to my notice that there are some questions or topics areas which come up recurrently when I go out on dates, mainly about food, children, and job/money. Probably these questions would not seem as weird if they were asked on a third date or even a second one, or maybe if the questions popped up within the contexts of the conversation, but asking them on the first date or forcing them into the conversations can make the dates go awkward.
The food questions are quite annoying and I’m sure many women can testify to that. Once upon a time, I went out with a guy to a restaurant where I made the mistake of ordering jellof rice and plantain. The food had barely been set down on the table when the guy started “It seems like you like jellof rice”; a statement to which I confirmed positively.
“So can you make it?” he asked. I nodded and he continued.
“This one that you’re nodding, are you sure that you can cook it? When you cook it, is yours orange like this or does it look more yellowish?”
I almost choked, trying to swallow fast so as to respond and convince him that I could actually make delicious jellof rice.
“Ok. Er…what about plantain? Do you usually burn it or is it nicely browned…?” He went on and on.
By this time, I had lost complete interest in the guy even before I gained it.
For some of my lovely Ibo brothers, the food questions are even longer – can you make ofe akwu, ofe nsala, nkwobi, isi ewu, ofe olugbu…? You have to have been born as a chef in order to grab some of them.
Some guys will not even bother to ask you out on a date before they start the screening process; someone has asked me on the phone before – “Do your beans stick together when you cook them or do they remain one-one?” to which I replied “it depends on the day that I make it.” And if you happen to fail the screening process, then there will be no date for you.
The ‘children’ topic is another common one – ranging from the number of children one desires to have, to work experience with children, to blood genotype, to family history of barrenness! It’s almost as if the man or woman would prefer to take you for a fertility test even before the date. I once had to respond to a guy and jokingly ask him to stop putting pressure on my uterus with his questions. Apparently he was not very pleased and so I paid for my own meal (I believe that was the reason why although I may be wrong).
When it comes to money, both the ladies and the men are not playing anymore as many women do not want to suffer trying to build anything with any man while many men, on the other hand, are no longer looking for fulltime housewives. So it has become a battle of financial questions! Some men ask about the lady’s work status or about her family background, trying to ascertain whether her parents are well-to-do so that they don’t have to send her siblings and her whole generation to school. So she might get questions like “Where do you work? How many siblings have you got, what number are you in your family, what do your siblings do for a living?” At first, it might seem like they are trying to know more about you but when someone who asked you about where you work does not seem interested in learning about your job duties but instead, goes straight to questions about where your family members work, for me it comes across like digging for information.
Don’t get me wrong though, I think the ladies are even more forward with the financial details. I have heard some guys complain about some questions that they have been asked by women on the first date. One of my cousins told me that once a girl had asked him if he had driven to come for the date, what type of car he drove, did it belong to him, had he paid completely for the car and if he did, did he pay in instalments or upfront?! Some ladies will also ask how often the man goes on vacation abroad (maybe they would like to know if the guy can afford trips for two?), if the guy lives in a rented apartment and how many bedrooms, what part of the city does he live in, is his company classified under oil and gas (probably that is the only job sector that matters to her?), did he buy valentine’s gifts for his last girlfriend when they were dating, does he believe in ‘Mbaise’ bride price…etc.?
Other bizarre questions one might hear on the first date from either the man or lady include “Can you change church to mine, when will you be ready to marry (and I’m referring to the actual month and year), will your parents allow you marry a girl/guy from another state/tribe, are you an ‘osu’, did you school abroad, have you pulled out any tooth before, are you the shortest in your house, did you grandparents die from diabetes, what are your long term goals, do you have any special talents, who pays for the wedding in your tradition? And some will even take you back to primary school ‘social studies’ with questions like – Who is the head of the family?
The list goes on and on but my point is that these questions have little or nothing to do with one’s personality, therefore gathering such information will not help you check for compatibility (if that is the person’s aim). I believe that instead of turning a date into a complex interview session, people should try to let the conversations flow naturally when they go out on first dates. Simple questions that focus on areas such as common hobbies and likes and dislikes may be more helpful in getting to know someone better; and sometimes, just watching a person can give much more valuable information about one’s character.
I know some people will say that they do not have time to waste so they have to get straight to the point from the start; for such people, I would strongly recommend putting out an online or paper advert with all your questions and desired answers so that only those who completely pass your examination can then apply!
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Ron Chapple

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