Jessica* (24) started her relationship with her fiancé as his side chick. She talks about falling for him before finding out he had a girlfriend, becoming close when the main chick relocated and deciding to choose her own happiness.

This is Jessica’s story, as told to Boluwatife

Image source: Pexels

Before you judge me, I didn’t set out to be anyone’s side chick, but as they say, life comes at you fast.

I met Jacob* in November 2019 at the NYSC Orientation Camp in Iyana Ipaja, Lagos. We were both part of the Batch “C” stream, and I noticed him at the Cultural Day Carnival. I can’t remember how we started talking, but I remember thinking, “I really like this guy”. He schooled in the East, and it was his first time in Lagos. Because I was born and bred here, he was fascinated by my stories.

We exchanged phone numbers and kept in touch even after the orientation ended. The initial Place of Primary Assignment (PPA) placement struggle meant we were too busy to talk for the first few weeks after camp. The day we finally met up was the day I realised I’d already fallen for him. It was also the day I discovered he had a girlfriend.

He’d mentioned Michelle* (his girlfriend) a few times in our messages, but I just assumed it was the sister he told me he was staying with in Lagos. Anytime he mentioned her name while we were chatting, it was usually along the lines of, “Michelle just got back from work” or “Michelle is disturbing me about doing chores in the house”. Maybe I just didn’t want to see what he wasn’t expressly saying.

I had invited Jacob to a beach hangout my friends were having, and he came with Michelle. It was there he introduced her to me as his girlfriend. When I was already in a “casual relationship” with this guy in my head! Apparently, he’d told Michelle about me too — the friend he met at NYSC camp — and honestly, she was very friendly. I felt guilty about allowing myself to develop feelings for someone who hadn’t outrightly said anything. So, even though I believe everyone is single and fair game till they get legally hitched, I decided to give Jacob some distance. Besides, he hadn’t shown any serious interest in me.

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Spoiler alert, the distance didn’t work. Jacob noticed it and pestered me for a reason. How blind can men be? I finally gave in and told him I had feelings for him on New Year’s Day 2020. He was speechless, so I told him I knew he had a girlfriend and was already putting the feelings behind me.

Michelle relocated to be with family in the US that same January, and the distance started to take a toll on their relationship. Jacob would rant to me about their increasing fights and the different time zones weren’t helping matters. One of their more serious fights was about their future and the possibility of Jacob relocating. But he is pro-Nigeria. He could visit other countries but didn’t see himself living elsewhere permanently. Michelle thought otherwise, and sometimes, I’d come in to advise them to be patient with each other.

At the same time, Jacob and I got closer. Since he was always telling me about his Michelle issues, he spent more time at my place. I lived alone, and my flat was closer to where he worked in Ikeja, so it made sense. Then on my birthday in March, he kissed me. I was elated, of course, but I wanted to make sure he did it because he wanted to and not because Michelle wasn’t around. He told me he was developing feelings for me but needed to figure out what he wanted. 

Then lockdown happened, and somehow, we spent the entire time together in my place. We got even more intimate and basically became an item. He was still with Michelle, but only because he wanted to break up with her in person and not over the phone. It was well and truly a side chick situation, but I refuse to be ashamed. I’d suppressed my feelings when I learnt he was with her, and even played the good friend. He came to me on his own when he realised they weren’t compatible.

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I reduced my communication with Michelle to avoid getting involved in giving relationship advice or answering questions about Jacob’s changed attitude. She must’ve noticed my coldness but I tried my best not to give it much thought and just focus on being happy with Jacob. I knew he spoke with her and had to be as loving as possible — when they weren’t fighting — so she wouldn’t know he’d mentally checked out, but it was me he was with, so it didn’t matter. 

The situation continued for about a year until she visited home in April 2021, and Jacob finally ended the relationship. In the end, it was a  mutual break-up. She didn’t see herself returning to Nigeria permanently, so she didn’t think they had a future together anymore. I’m not sure if she knows I’m with Jacob now — I tend to avoid bringing her up with him — but she’ll definitely know soon because we’re now engaged.

Jacob popped the question on Christmas Day 2022, and I said yes. We’re very much in love, and I look forward to spending forever with him. In life, shit happens. You never know when shit will get thrown at you. People say, “Don’t let your partner keep you from finding the love of your life”. What about not letting your happiness slip away just because someone got there first?

*Names have been changed for the sake of anonymity.

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