By Helen Ovbiagele
Our readers didn’t disappoint. We expected an influx of reactions on the piece with the above title, and this was what happened. And why not? Going on dates with members of the opposite sex is very important, because it’s an avenue to study and understand your love interest at close range.
You meet, or get introduced to, this fantastic-looking human being, who’s also a high-flier in achievements and position, who talks posh and seems the ideal person to be seen with. You’re awed and smitten as you run the person’s image through your fevered ‘love-struck’ mind.
You think you’ve struck gold. You can’t wait for that first date. You get ready with care and hope you’re looking your best. At the back of your mind, there’s an invisible score-card. First of all is punctuality. Did the person keep to time? Next comes appearance. Has the person turned out clean and tidily-dressed to your taste?
Next is demeanour. Polite and polished in the way he/she addresses you and those around, or portrays a loud-mouth
ed attention-seeking person? As the afternoon or evening wears on, you’re silently scoring other things too; what he/she orders; the way he/she sits, eats or drinks, etc.
Of course we all strive to be on our best behaviour while out on a date, but it’s impossible not to slip at a point, and reveal our true nature. After several dates, you should have a fairly good idea of who you’re dealing with, if you’re heading in the same direction, and if the relationship will lead to a union.
Well, this all depends on what you want to get from the relationship. If you’re out for a good time only, and not a union, you may not bother yourself with a score-card of any sort, because you know you’re going to jump ship at a point and go for someone who meets your expectations on most fronts.
Still, it’s important for you to show some class yourself, because, male or female, one day you’ll be a parent and have the huge task of raising responsible human beings with integrity, self-respect and good character. So, the earlier we imbibe these ourselves, and look out for them while dating, the better.
Thus you would avoid those ‘nasty surprises’ which rear their heads after you’ve tied the knot, which inwardly make you go, ‘Oh! I didn’t know he/she is like this! Oh my God! What have I have got myself into? Help me somebody!’ You may then have to calm down, and accept and adjust to your ‘discovery’, if it’s bearable. Ideally, it’s best to find out what you could be in for, by ‘shining your eyes’ while dating.
Many of our readers who sent in mail on my write-up, condemned the man for saying he wouldn’t pay for the meal his date ordered when he had taken her out for drinks only. A few condemned the lady for doing so, but said her reaction to what her boyfriend told her was too drastic for a loving relationship.
“Ma, if that man knew that he didn’t have enough money on him to cover drinks and meals, he shouldn’t have taken his girlfriend out to celebrate her birthday. He should have sent her a lovely present with a nice card instead. Telling her outright that he wouldn’t pay for the meal she had ordered in his absence didn’t show he had any respect for her. How much would the fried rice she ordered have cost that he reacted like that? What a shame on his part! Thanks - Prudence, Lagos. ”
“If I were that girl, madam, I wouldn’t end the relationship there and then, especially if I love him. I would tell him to pipe down, and that I would pay for the meal I ordered while he was away from the table. I would ask him if he would like me to buy him some fried rice too. My offer would make him ashamed, and could lead to an apology, and perhaps an explanation about his offensive reaction.
Maybe he didn’t have enough money on him that day. I would continue to study him quietly. If stinginess is very much a part of his nature, and not a lack of money, I would ditch him later. Two wrongs don’t make a right, as the girl herself was wrong to have ordered the plate of food without asking politely first if she could, but the issue of food shouldn’t have ended the relationship. That seems a bit crude. - Ayomide, Ibadan.”
“A girl has no future with a man who could behave in such a mean way while out in public. That angry reaction when he was the one who invited his girlfriend out for drinks to celebrate her birthday, was rude and totally unacceptable. He should have shown more maturity and finesse. The girlfriend was right to end the relationship right there. - Pam, Lekki, Lagos.”
“Ma, I know some of your readers out there would condemn me for this my view, but that lady acted disgracefully, I must say. Even if she were really starving, she would comport herself like a lady and not order for food, especially while her host was away from the table. A well-mannered lady wouldn’t behave like that, whether she thinks the boyfriend can afford that meal or not.
She should have allowed him to return to the table, and then she would ask if she could order a meal, since she hadn’t eaten all day. It would be left to him to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Personally, if I were a lady, I wouldn’t tell my boyfriend that I’m hungry, unless he asks me. Our girls have to learn good etiquette, if they want respect from the men. – Thanks, Richard, Port Harcourt.”
“Auntie, don’t you think it’s important to include etiquette on the curriculum at all levels of educational institutions in Nigeria? I’m married and only in my late thirties, but the way my parents raised me and our siblings, if I were still single, I wouldn’t dare tell a boyfriend I’m hungry for any reason, unless he asks me while we’re on a date. And if he does, I’m most likely to decline his offer to buy me a meal, even though I may be very hungry.
Reason? Mum said we (both sons and daughters) shouldn’t behave like a glutton and accept food outside the home. It was when my husband and I had become officially engaged that we began to dine out together. He told me jokingly then that I was old-fashioned that way, but that he respected me for that discipline, and that we must raise our children that way. A lady out on a date shouldn’t order food anyhow when she isn’t paying. Her date may not have enough money on him to pay. Not all men carry wads of naira around with them. - Elfreda, Lagos. ”
“Both man and lady were at fault, ma. The lady shouldn’t have ordered food just like that, in the first place, when the man had specifically told her that he was taking her out for drinks. Maybe she wasn’t exposed enough to know the difference. All the same, she should have asked first, if she felt comfortable with the guy enough to do that.
The guy, on his part, should have hidden his ‘shock’ well, when he found that his date had included fried rice in his absence. I’m sure he didn’t have enough money on him to cover that. If that was the case, he certainly found himself in a tight corner.
I accept your suggestion that he could have politely asked her to lend him some money until the next day, to pay for the food, as he didn’t have enough on him on the spot. To tell her angrily that he wasn’t paying for that, was disrespectful, even though the lady was the one who brought on the unpleasant situation. Thanks, ma. J.O., Agege, Lagos.”
We thank all those who sent in their views.