This is the story of Ruona and the many like her that inspires me to write this. You see, Ruona’s 19, and when you’re a girl fresh out of her teenage years in this part of the world, this is when the eyes on you stop strictly observing, and the 30-year-old men behind them begin to move.
By this part of the world, I mean Nigeria, though my friends in other countries have assured me that the experience is universal. The men I’m talking about are “the good guys”™. They aren’t the pedophiles who go after pubescents, no, these guys consider that behavior morally reprehensible (or so they claim). These guys are ‘good’. They only enter into relationships with adults. That means 18-year-olds, at least. Or maybe 17, because ‘what’s the difference?’ Their point is, they wait for you to “ripen,” like fruit.
Ruona is 19, and the man she’s dating is 35. Her parents know the man, and “approve” of the relationship. Ruona considers herself lucky. Her partner is grown, well-off, buys her everything she’ll ever need, exposes her to a ‘higher class’. Makes her a higher class. I’ll talk about this soon, but first, here’s this article’s big statement:
If you're 30+ and you feel comfortable dating 19-year-olds, you are one of the big problems of this world.
You're not cherishing innocence. You're looking to steal it. You're looking for naivete. If you want to date and can't find anybody within your age group, then you're the problem. Because if you're looking for a “good girl,” there are plenty. Anybody that tries to say there aren't is a liar. They are in churches and mosques, if you’re religious, holding the same opinions as you.
You don't want a good girl. You want ‘baddies’ that haven't yet badded. And I despise you. Here’s why.
Picture this scenario. You're considering whether to get a Masters’ Degree in order to move up in your career and your younger girlfriend or boyfriend, with no working experience and having never left the care of their parents, is taking their third JAMB (For the non-Nigerian, JAMB is a standardized university admissions test that people take after high school. If you don’t score high enough to meet your chosen university’s cutoff for your desired course of study the first time, you might have to take it multiple times).
In that scenario, and all the similar others you can think of, there’s one constant danger. You, this much older person, occlude them.
You come down from above and pluck this person away from their natural progression. There are a lot of things they can't experience because you've blocked them away from them. Friends they can't make. Sufferings they can't suffer. You parent them away from their parent. And it becomes difficult for them to ever function without an older controlling figure in their lives.
And the worst thing is, they won't see it that way. You're lifting them a circle above, of course. They're going to parties with 30+ people now, right? They don't have time for petty teenage and 20s drama, because they're having conversations about pertinent life issues and the like. In fact, they will begin to have a certain disdain for their agemates. The ones who ‘don't know what the real world is like’. They don't realize that these 30+ parties aren't their parties. These life issues aren't their issues. They don't know what you steal from them by turning them into gleeful spectators of the age group above them, instead of participators in their own lives.
So they go from 18 to 30, all at once. And they never truly realize what they lose. But you do. One thing they lose is the growth of individuality that comes from getting to 30 on their own.
But I’ve only focused on the effect such a relationship between unequals would have on the young person, and this focus has assumed a certain benignity that is, unfortunately, usually absent from these relationships. What I did not mention is the character deficit you would have to suffer from to be unable to cultivate a relationship of equals with someone at your same level of development. Or to be able to do so, only to choose an unequal relationship with someone who still has a fragile, growing view of the world and cannot match you in any way. How can that be good?
A relationship like that is unfair. The older party is using dynamics of power, influence and experience the young person hasn’t ever tasted. I turn 22 this year. I’ve been in the university for five years, and the ease with which I could manipulate my very well exposed and educated 18-year-old self if I could meet him today is frightening. I probably have no more raw intelligence than I used to, but the gulf in experience over these crucial growing years simply cannot be bridged. I could wrap younger-me around my finger if I wanted to. The older you get, the more perverse you can see that it is. And no truly good person perceives an absolute advantage over their partner as desirable. So, the ‘good guys’™ are bad. They are very bad. Ruona is very likely going to legally marry her 35-year-old, sometime in her early 20s, and this will be her life. There are many like her here in Nigeria. This practice is socially and culturally acceptable. Many of these men cheat on and abuse their younger wives, girls like Ruona, who can never leave them because they made sure these girls like Ruona grow up to be nothing without them.
Young people should date one another. The alternative sucks.
I wrote this story during the first week of January, spurred on by personal experience and accounts from close friends. However, a post appeared on Twitter three days after I finished writing. The tweet author, who is 36, talks about how he plans to find a 19-year-old to marry once he is 40. If you would have a look at it here. The tweet author and several other men in the comments are prime examples of the very population I describe in this story.
One man comments, “Girls at that age will gladly accept your proposal if they know you can take care of them.”
The sentiment is undisguised; these men are choosing to go after much younger women in order to control them. The thread went viral, and, though there was outrage, the amount of support it received is disheartening.