GFY Stories: Being a single homeowner has raised my standards when it comes to dating

I’m 31, Nigerian and whilst I’ve dated in the past, I’ve never had a long-term relationship ever.

Alice Tapper

Tell me a little bit about you

So, I’m 31, Nigerian and whilst I’ve dated in the past, I’ve never had a long-term relationship ever. I found that despite living at home, the cost of living in London meant there was never a time when I felt that I could afford to save for a flat deposit and have a full social life.  Naturally, over time, my friends slowly started to settle down and find life partners, but I just never made it a priority despite the usual external and internal pressures to settle down.

I had all the usual excuses, that I’m too busy working all time to make time for it, that I was trying to be more financially stable before I can think about a relationship, that I live too far from central London to meet anyone viable and that my mum would judge me if I started to spend nights at potential boyfriends’ places since they couldn’t come back to my mum’s.

Tell me about your flat

I bought my flat towards the end of 2020 when I was 30. It's worth me flagging that I did do shared ownership as I always knew that shared ownership was the only viable way for me to buy on my sole income. Combined with the fact that I work in the advertising industry that doesn't really pay well in comparison to other industries. But I’m also lucky that I'm from London, so I was able to live at home and save for 8 years, plus my mum gave me half my deposit. So, I had a lot of support to get to where I am

What's single life like for you today?

I've realised that since I've brought on my "own", the urgency to find a partner is no longer a priority. I don't feel the pressure I used to because I've realised that I can live the life I want on my own terms and my own income. It's raised my standards so much that I'm unwilling to settle for anything less than what I think I deserve which in some ways makes me feel very powerful, but in other ways, make me feel very lonely. Some days I’m so scared that I might not find the sort of relationship that I want.

The most recent dilemma I have is that I tend to get nervous of telling any man that I date that I own my flat as I get scared that they would either judge me for being able to buy on my own or worse, use me to get out of paying their own rent, which is probably unfair of me to think, but it's a real fear of mine.

I'm conscious that not many people my age will ever have the chance to own a 1-bedroom flat in East London and I'm very grateful to have been able to have done this, but in some ways, it feels like an additional barrier to overcome. Especially as a Black Woman who already has so many barriers in the world of dating.

I'm continuously floating between the idea of being the strong independent women who doesn't need anyone to make her happy. But also, I want to find love and it makes me sad, that I feel that I must hide a part of my life to do so. Also, dating is expensive especially if you split the bills which I'll always offer to do so but having a much smaller disposable income since I brought my flat, means that I tend to lean towards quality over quantity these days.


Does your culture and childhood upbringing impact how you date?

In my culture, we date to marry or at least that was how I was raised as a young girl and whilst it has taken a long time to break away from that train of thought. It was easier to spend a long-time avoiding dating & relationships because of my fears, some of which were proven to be true, and some of which were just excuses, so I didn’t even have to try.

I found it interesting to read that you’re nervous about telling men about your flat. Could you share a little more? How do you feel about this?

Since I bought my flat in 2020, a new fear has awoken, one that I didn’t even see coming as I’d spent so long aiming for what I thought was the ultimate sign of adulthood that I’d never considered how I would feel once I’d brought my flat.

I’ll always be grateful to have this space that’s just for me, but I’m also conscious that my situation is unique and that most people my age don’t own a 1-bedroom in East London which means I’m reluctant to tell anyone I’m dating about it just in case they would either expect an invitation back after a date which comes with its own set of risks, especially when mixed with the expectation of potentially spending the night or worse, expect to move in at some point. Also, should we get serious, which is the natural progression of a relationship, that does come with its own set of risks financially.

There’s also the selfish element where I've realised that since buying on my "own", the urgency to find a partner is no longer a priority. I don't feel the pressure I used to. As I now know that I can live the life I want on my terms and my income. It's raised my standards so much that I'm unwilling to settle for anything less than what I think I deserve which in some ways makes me feel very powerful, but in other ways, make me feel very lonely. Some days, I’m so scared that I might not find the sort of relationship that I want.

I’m really sorry to hear about your experience of dating as a Black woman. Have you ever had a negative experience when talking about your flat or money in general?

Dating as a Black woman in modern society is probably comparative to doing a marathon combined with a Tough Mudder and then a 5K swim. Sometimes exhilarating, mostly exhausting. Between the fetishizing, over-sexualisation and the constant backhanded compliments, half the time I don’t even bother to approach a guy because you just don’t know when the other shoe is going to drop and what’s worse is half the time, they don’t even think they’ve done anything wrong at all.

Whilst the flat hasn’t come up yet, in some ways it feels like an additional barrier, but on the other hand, the money conversation has come up in a way I didn’t anticipate mostly regarding who pays on dates. I've always maintained that a person paying for a first date means absolutely nothing to me. I don't attribute any value to it beyond that it was a lovely and kind thing to do, but you're not entitled to anything because you did it. So, if that's why you did it, then more fool you as I would have been happy to split it from the off. I judge people on their character, not on how much money they have in their account. Yet, I had a date with a guy who made such a big deal of spending £25 more than me on our first date that he wanted me to cover his share of the bill on the second date, so it would balance out even though the extra £25 was for 2 shots that he ordered without my say-so and the ticket to the venue which he also suggested and prebooked. So, it was a very confusing situation and frankly, we’re no longer seeing each other.  But I do wonder how he would have taken the issue of my owning a flat considering how he reacted to the £25 situation.

Final thoughts...

I'm continuously floating between the idea of being a strong independent woman who doesn't need anyone to make her happy. But also, I want to find love and it makes me sad, that I feel that I must hide a part of my life to do so. Also, dating is expensive especially if you split the bills which I'll always offer to do so but having a much smaller disposable income since I brought my flat, means that I tend to lean towards quality over quantity these days.


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