I Didn’t Know How to Say ‘I Love You’ Until I Met You — Adesegun and Demi

June 3, 2022
My Bro is a biweekly Zikoko series that interrogates and celebrates male friendships of different forms.

When Adesegun and Demi met for the first time over five years ago, their interaction was what anyone, especially Demi, would describe as a hot mess. However, listening in on their conversation now, it’s hard to think of a time when these two weren’t obsessed with each other. In their friendship, the “I love yous” flow freely and without hesitation as I watch them remind themselves of just how much they mean to each other. 

In this episode of My Bro, they talk about the transition from hatred to friendship, bonding over the losses in their lives, accepting each other’s differences and how this friendship has made them more receptive to love. 

Our origin story

Demi: I hated you the first time I met you. 

Adesegun: Wow! Not this story again. I have zero recollection of this event you like to tell people about. 

Demi: Of course, you don’t. In 2016, I attended my very first Nollywood premiere with a friend. I was very nervous because I was new to Nollywood and all of that. I remember I was having a conversation with this friend, and out of nowhere, you just walked in between us, faced him and started talking to him like I wasn’t there. I was like, “Wait, am I invisible?” You guys didn’t even realise when I walked away. I overheard you introduce yourself to someone as “The Movie Pencil”, and I marked your name and face. In my head, I just knew we’d be enemies for life. We met at another premiere where you introduced yourself to me, and I was like, “I know who you are”.

Adesegun: I don’t remember any of this, and I’ve asked around. No one else does. But I love you, so I’ll allow you to run with this gist. My first recollection of meeting you was at the other event where I introduced myself to you. We kept running into each other because we had the same circle of friends, and over time, we became intentional about hanging out together, so we became friends ourselves.  

First Impressions

Demi: Apart from the fact that I hated you, in a way, I was also intrigued by you. Listening to you, I could tell you knew a lot about Nollywood — an industry I was trying to enter. Your style stood out for me too. This guy, you were wearing suspenders, and that’s my thing. So I was like, “I hate this guy, but he’s smart and can dress”. LOL. 

Adesegun: You probably don’t know this, but something about you makes people gravitate towards you. I’m also very attracted to people I perceive to be good. I can’t pinpoint why, but I felt you had that vibe. The older I’ve gotten, the more intentional I’ve become about my friendships and telling people how much they mean to me. From your interactions with our other friends, I could tell that you’d have my back no matter what happens. I liked that feeling. 

We knew our friendship was real when…

Adesegun: I think we became really close when your mum passed away. I’d lost my mum four years before that, so I was familiar with that kind of loss. It’s easy to get sucked into entertaining people and planning the funeral that sometimes, we forget to process that we just lost someone. I knew you needed someone to pay attention to you, so I did my best to show up for you. 

Demi: Show up? You were at my house every day after it happened and wouldn’t leave until I went to bed. You lived on the mainland at the time, your office was on Victoria Island and I lived further into the island. Yet, you showed up every day. 

Adesegun: That was when it hit me that I must really care about this person, to go to their house every day after work. I worked in consulting, with one of the big four, and I would leave your place at night and still get myself to work the following day. We were friends before that, but this period changed everything for me. It kind of sealed our friendship. 

Demi: Oh, I knew our friendship was real even before my mum passed. I think it was one of your birthdays and you had sent me this long message that ended with, “I can’t believe Demi Banwo is actually my friend”. I don’t usually get messages like that. In that moment, I knew I had to be intentional about being a good friend to you. And the way you showed up for me when my mum passed, I knew I’d never be able to get rid of you. 

Working through grief together 

Demi: There was a moment when I lost my mum that I didn’t want to see anyone. I retreated into myself. For about a month, I stayed at home, refusing to see or talk to anyone. Distancing myself ruined many of my friendships because they didn’t understand that I needed space, but you did. And even though you wanted to be there for me physically, you knew that I needed space, and you were gracious enough to give it to me. It helped to know that there was someone who understood what I was going through. I didn’t have to explain myself. 

Adesegun: I lost my mum unexpectedly years before, and it shattered something in me. I’m just like you in the way I retreat into a shell when I don’t feel like the best version of myself. One night, I cried so hard I fell asleep. When I woke up, I was surrounded by friends who’d waited for me. I didn’t realise how much I needed them around me until that moment. That experience taught me the importance of letting people in and allowing them to be there for me in whatever way they could. 

In your case, I wasn’t even sure if I was doing the right thing until you thanked me one day for giving you space when you needed it. Since I stopped visiting and started sending texts instead, I felt like I was still checking in. But it was also important for me not to let your need for space be about me or our friendship. You were navigating your grief in your own way. It was important for me to understand that and let it be a part of our friendship journey.

Demi: True. I feel you’ve always been the guy to wear his heart on his sleeve. You tell everyone exactly how you feel, which is a rare vulnerability. I mean, It was a massive adjustment for me when you first started saying “I love you” to me. Even though it was refreshing, I wasn’t used to displays of emotion on that level. One thing you’ve done is shown me that it’s okay for me to be vulnerable too. Meeting you, being open about my emotions, all of this has been a turning point in my life. 

What holds our friendship together? 

Demi: Blood covenant. But shey you know you’re a stressful guy? 

Adesegun: LOL. I’ll admit, it’s not easy to be my friend. I can be very vocal about things, and it might not always be the sweet parts. I’m the friend who won’t hesitate to call you out. You have this habit of saying “I’ll call you back” when we’re on the phone and you never do. I make it my mission to drag you for it. 

Outside of the grief we both experienced, we have similar world views, shared values and now, we run a production company together. I can see the goodness you exude and it just makes me want to hold on to you being a part of my life. I always tell people that you’re the love of my life. I’ve kept you there and it was my decision to do so. Remember I told you about it and you accepted? 

Demi: The title o, not the responsibility. 

Adesegun: Wow! Funny thing is, I used to hate using “best friend” when referring to people in my life, but I’ve been intentional about saying it with you. Many people will fight us after this sha because we’ve declared that even though we have other male friends, you and I are the main friends of the group. To be fair, I told all my other friends at my surprise birthday party last year, and you were there. 

Demi: You wanted them to look at me with bad eye. That was the surprise birthday party you made us throw for you. Who asks for a surprise birthday party? 

Adesegun: Me!

Demi: Anyway, we threw the party sha. What holds our friendship together for me is the support you give me. I tend to come up with ideas and talk myself out of them because of doubt. But every time I share something with you, you never shut it down. If it doesn’t make sense, you’d work with me to make it make sense. That’s very encouraging for me. You’ve also broken down all the barriers I had with letting people in and I didn’t even realise when it happened. 

I love our friendship because it doesn’t feel like we’re forcing anything. There’s this feeling of ease. I could be thinking about something, and the next thing, you’re saying it. I also love that we both understand the need to give each other grace. So we’re not judging each other because of situations where one person cannot meet the other person’s expectations. 

Adesegun: One more thing. I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this, but for some weird reason, I trust you. 

Demi: You do? Technically, I know your signature, so you have no choice. 

Adesegun: Why are you so annoying? 

What we would change about our friendship 

Adesegun: This guy, I need you to blow quickly so you can take care of me. I’m tired of labour. 

Demi: Look at this one, so you don’t know you’re working hard so you can continue your role as my sugar daddy? But seriously, the only thing I’d change is time. I wish we’d been friends earlier because I would’ve loved for you to meet my mum. I realise that with the many close friends I have now, most of them never met my mum. She was very particular about who my friends were, and I know she would’ve loved you. 

Adesegun: The interesting thing is, my head keeps telling me that maybe if we met earlier, we wouldn’t be as close as we are now. But really, I would’ve also loved for my mum to meet you. Even outside that, our friendship didn’t blossom until my 30s, and I wish it’d happened sooner. Notwithstanding, I’m happy we have this now because this friendship is one of the greatest accomplishments of my 30s. 

Demi: Awww. Am I one of the greatest accomplishments of your 30s? Oh wow! 

Adesegun: Don’t worry, I’ll get you a plaque. I wouldn’t like to change this feeling that we both have each other’s genuine interests at heart. 

This friendship has changed me

Adesegun: You can now say, “I love you”. We both know you couldn’t say it before you met me. 

Demi: That was exactly what I was going to say! This friendship has made me more open to receiving love. I remember being shocked when you started saying it to me. Even though I knew you meant it, in my head, you didn’t have to say it out loud. I believe in showing that I love you through my actions, but meeting you has taught me that it’s important to say it too. 

Adesegun: There’s something you like to say about being secure in your position in my life. It’s a tiny thing, but it’s important to me. I give a lot of love to people. Having someone acknowledge it and give it back has changed how I approach my other friendships. Now, more than ever, I know I need to remain open to giving myself to genuine friendships. Who would’ve guessed that it would take getting to my 30s to finally call someone my best friend? 

I want you to know 

Adesegun: Demi, I want you to know that I’m rooting for you in everything you do. My idea of success for you goes beyond money or blowing; I want you to see your dreams come to fruition. You’re such a giving person and you deserve the world. You’re part of my success story, no matter what. I’m in this friendship intentionally and willingly. I have your back till the end of time. 

Okay, that sounded like a wedding thing. Let’s see if you can top it!

Demi: I can’t. You’re the lover boy here. But what I want you to know is that you’re part of why I want to be successful. Every time I picture where I want to be in life, I see you there. I’m grateful for your openness. The fact that my family also loves you, I don’t even get it. I genuinely love you, and I don’t see that ever changing. 

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