Have you ever wondered how those girls with no particular good jobs and no comfortable mummy and daddy live a well as they do? How they managed to buy every expensive ‘aso-ebi’ going? How they run posh SUVs, and buy real jewellery, including diamonds?
But then, look at the man sitting behind a huge office desk, looking bored as he writes yet another fat cheque as one of such girls prattles on. He is always just that bit too old/fat/foreign for the lovely creature in front of him to fool anyone that this is true love. But he’s got the money, she’s got the looks – and they both want a little of what the other can give.
I ran into Somi a couple of weekends ago. She’s he eldest daughter of a very dear friend and runs a thriving consultancy firm. I’d seen her with a friend of hers a couple of times and they were always nicely turned out. But I knew as of fact that the friend didn’t have a high-salaried job, but her life style belied this. “She’s an actress you know”, Somi now said after I’d voiced my opinion. Really? You could have fooled me! I didn’t think the roles she’d played could fetch that much money. I told her. Then she opened up on the story of her friend, Rita, and Martin, the man who opened the door of wealth for her.
“She met him on location”, she said. “A friend of the producer, he’d dropped by out of curiosity. He was in his mid-50s, tending to fat and balding, but he was into oil and gas (aren’t they all these days!) and had a few houses in very choice areas in Lagos. Within a few months, he started taking her on trips abroad and they’d stay in the very best hotels. He bought her designed clothes and she was always dripping with jewellery. Her new apartment was furnished by a reputable `interior’ decorator and she didn’t need that much persuasion to give her budding actor boyfriend the kick.
“After three years, Rita said she realised she didn’t fit into Martin’s world. It was obvious she didn’t fancy him either – she always maintained she deserved an award for her performance whenever they spent time together. There was no common ground between them. She felt bad and out f place in his company and was embarrassed about it all. She started drinking heavily from the well-stocked bar Martin provided. She began to think she needed a boyfriend of her own age. They’d have tremendous rows about it, but I believe that if you take things and you enter into a contract then you have to pay. She was really nasty to him but he had a good `shock’ absorber!
“I became her shoulder to cry on. He was besotted with her but didn’t realise that if you try to buy a person, they didn’t think they’re getting true love – they think you’re just buying their looks. Rita felt she was being used. So it didn’t matter if she behaved badly because she was being treated like a whore, she would act like one …”
“Women like rich men”, observed Sandra a psychologist, “and it’s not always because they can provide for us what we can’t provide for ourselves. It’s because4 money and power are strong aphrodisiacs, and the strength of personality needed in the first place to obtain them is very appealing to some women. Well, this may be so to start with at least. From when she turned 25 to age 30, Ego, who works in advertising lived with a wealthy divorcee. “I’d always convince myself that I didn’t find just the money attractive, but then I wouldn’t find someone attractive in the first place if they didn’t have it in them to make it – drive, and ambition was the turn on for me. I certainly liked the lifestyle, it was a money-no-object one. But we did love each other for the first three years or so -0 at least, I thought we did. That was when I was rather naïve and very dependent on him – I was hardly earning anything at the time. He liked being the omnipotent provider. It made him feel big. And I felt secured and cared for.
“But when I landed a plum job in the advertising department of a telecoms company and was earning a respectable amount, he didn’t like it at all. I think he felt – wrongly as it happens, that money was the only hold he had over me. He tried everything to stop me working, he even bought me an expensive car as a bribe for me to give it up. But mostly, he was just incredibly nasty and I’m sure it was to undermine my confidence. I began to see that he hadn’t got where he was by being a nice man. He was utterly selfish and ruthless. I think he genuinely believed that love and business could be treated in the same way. If you want something, buy it.
“One night, after a particularly heated argument, I went to the spare room to sleep. He simply came in, picked me up, and put me in the double bed, saying he’d spent so much on me, I was his possession as much as the bed in the room. He then had sex in spite of the fact I didn’t want to and tried to fight him off.
“It was then I realised I didn’t have any autonomy in the relationship. I think he thought of me as a desirable, and useful pet. He still wanted me – to the point of obsession. That’s not my idea of love. Love is for equals. We didn’t part as friends, and to this day it still hurts that I was such a bad judge of character.
“If someone thinks, rightly or wrongly, that a woman is only with them for the money, they’\re not likely to treat them well, continues Sandra,. “But many men who lavish their money on women are unwilling to admit this is the main source of their attraction. As a male colleague, who’s very successful puts it: `Just because a woman might get some material benefits from being with a particular man, it doesn’t mean to say that’s all she wants. She must actually like him. Surely? I don’t think money is that important.
Not for him maybe. But when you haven’t got it, it can assume an importance out of all proportion. And women who are lucky enough to be blessed with physical beauty are encouraged to capitalise on it. Good looks are recognised as a passport out of a humdrum world. One feels a sense of injustice when a lovely woman is too poor to make the best of herself and grab the good life …”