Love Life is a Zikoko weekly series about love, relationships, situationships, entanglements and everything in between.

How did you two meet?

Temi: We met at a gym. 

I joined early in 2021 because I wanted to shed pandemic weight, and my mum recommended I start working out as a form of therapy. I was a victim of layoffs during the start of the pandemic, and so, I was broke and directionless. She paid for my gym membership for three months and for a personal trainer. Each trainer had five to ten trainees depending on how popular they were. 

Michael was in my group. I noticed him right away because he was always quiet and focused on what he had to do. He’d come exactly when the session started and leave immediately after. Most people liked to talk, linger and slack off. I immediately wanted to be just as focused as him, and then, I wanted to know what was going on in his head; it had to be more than the reps.

Michael: I was focusing on the reps to get my mind off being a jobless man who was digging deep into his savings for a gym subscription. Working out was my way of maintaining discipline. It also helped with my self-confidence when I was outside.  At least, I was in shape. 

I noticed Temi because she was a fine girl, and I remember thinking once that I didn’t even understand why she was working out. A part of me felt girls only gym when they’re overweight. But I didn’t think too much into it because I knew that was lowkey shallow.

Temi: After weeks of hoping he’d approach me, I realised that would never happen because he never stuck around. I walked up to him while he was resting between reps, said hi and told him I’d like to talk to him after. I don’t know why I sounded so serious like I wanted to sell him something.

Michael: I was just shocked she spoke to me, so I nodded and continued my workout.

What happened after the session?

Michael: She came to me right after. I was shy because I was sweaty and insecure about possibly being smelly. So it was a bit awkward.

Temi: I didn’t sense any awkwardness. In fact, I mistook his shyness for slight arrogance, but not the off-putting kind. I sha thought he was cool and loved that he was tall but not too tall. 

When I asked what he did, he spoke about his work as a project manager at an investment bank and how he was laid off. I loved how smart he sounded, how he never tried to drag the conversation into something unserious. 

I knew I wanted to be friends with him.

Michael: I thought once she heard I’d been out of a job for months, her face would change. It didn’t. Then she told me she hadn’t had a job for up to a year, and I was shocked.

Temi: We ended up walking out of the gym together and hopping into the same keke because we both lived in the same area.

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How did you stay in touch?

Temi: We checked out each other’s IGs in the keke. But we mostly met up at the gym at least twice a week, sometimes, four times. We became each other’s accountability partners, and he helped me stay focused on completing my reps or getting in good form when the trainer didn’t have my time. 

He made me look forward to my day at the gym, to be honest.

Michael: Me too.

Temi: But we didn’t communicate outside the gym much during that period. I’d go home and doom-scroll on TikTok between tweaking and submitting my CV and cover letter 100 times a day, help my parents with errands and chores, babysit for my elder siblings. Rinse and repeat. 

When the three-month membership elapsed, nobody wanted to pay for my renewal, and I wasn’t in the mood to beg anyone.

Michael: I’m not sure if it’s because she stopped coming, but I stopped going to the gym shortly after. I even wasted about a week of my subscription. It suddenly felt like there was no point. Maybe that’s when I knew I liked her. 

I still didn’t have her number, so I DMed her. She didn’t respond until weeks later.

Temi: I was lowkey more active on Snapchat and TikTok. And I had most of my notifications off because they gave me anxiety to see them pop up randomly.

When you finally saw his DM?

Temi: I was so excited. I remember screaming in my room when I opened IG and saw his username in my DMs with unread messages. 

I pretty much liked him liked him at that point, but it was more like infatuation because we didn’t know much about each other. His DM was something simple like “Where did you disappear to? We’ve missed you at the gym.” My trainer messaged me something similar, but my reaction to his was obviously different.

Michael: She responded, and we DMed almost non-stop for days. It wasn’t like we had anything better to do. We talked about ourselves, things we found on our timeline and people around us.

Temi: There was something therapeutic about suddenly finding purpose in this light-hearted banter with someone whose head was correct. 

Obviously, at some point, we talked about our careers and what we’d do to get back on track. We decided we had to go back to school or get some form of certification. I was already on track to take my second CIPM membership exam as an HR professional. 

He was considering getting his master’s at Lagos Business School or japa. I lowkey discouraged him from the second option because I didn’t have any such plans and didn’t want to just hear one day that he was leaving me in this country.

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Did you guys talk about liking each other at this point?

Temi: No. This was like August 2021, and we were still very much platonic. But I knew I wanted more; I just didn’t know how to nudge him without telling him outright.

Michael: I’m not sure I would’ve done anything about it until I had a job and felt secure enough. Thankfully, we got jobs soon after. 

A friend of mine hooked me up with a virtual coding and software development program that claimed to fix you up with a job or internship once you complete and pass. It was a three-month beginner crash course, and it was cheap. I thought it was too good to be true but had nothing to lose.

About a week before it was supposed to start, I shared the link with her on a whim. We’d never talked about tech, but I figured since we were both always discussing personal development, she’d appreciate the plug.

Temi: Tech was in vogue and everyone was hiring developers, so why not? When I showed my mum, she didn’t mind paying. I also lowkey saw it as an opportunity to get closer to him. 

Don’t judge me, please.

How did the programme go?

Michael: Well. We bonded really well. 

I was surprised she keyed into it quickly. She even paid before I did, and I admired her drive for something productive. During the programme, she was so determined to pass. After the classes, she’d call. Sometimes, we’d do video calls to go over things she didn’t understand. 

She’d get me to get my coder friends on calls to show us what to do on assignments. That’s how we started meeting up.

Temi: At first, we met up outside. You’d see us at these lounges in the afternoon with our laptops, mouses and head phones. Thank God, no one tried to arrest us for doing yahoo sha.

Michael: Please, don’t joke like that.

What happened after this period?

Temi: During. We had our first kiss during this period. 

After meeting up outside to work together a couple of times, we started seeing each other at his place. It got so comfortable with us meeting and working together in his room, but remember that I already liked him a lot at this point, and I knew he liked me back. We just needed to get into a comfort zone.

Michael: I don’t know how it happened but we kissed. And that “first kiss” ended up being a long make-out session that only ended because we had a deadline that night. After we submitted our assignment though, it was pretty clear we were no longer “just friends”. 

We just walked with it without giving it a name for a while.

Temi: And now, I’m basically in love with him. Falling in love has been the most satisfying experience ever. I can’t even explain it.

We’ll explain it in a bit. But first, y’all completed the programme and got jobs?

Michael: Yeah. She got a job in December 2021. I got an internship right after the programme ended in November that didn’t pay too badly.

Temi: I’ve left the job now, but it was honestly a life-changer for me. Now, I can confidently say I can never struggle to get a job again. I have Michael to thank for that too.

Michael: I stayed loyal. I’m still at the job, almost management level now. It can be toxic sometimes, in terms of the targets and pressure, but it’s all worthwhile when I see my paycheck. Well, not so much now with the Nigerian economy, but I’m grateful. 

I’m grateful that I somehow got a great new career and great new girlfriend in the same vein.

God, when? But also, when did you finally put a name to the relationship?

Michael: Sometime during the 2021 Christmas season. I told her we should take our relationship seriously and start making plans together.

Temi: He had this serious face when he said it, as usual. I just laughed and said something like, “So you didn’t think we were serious all this while?”

Michael: You said, “So you haven’t been telling people I’m your girlfriend all this time? Wow.” We did everything people in relationships do, but that was 2021, and situationships and entanglements had just become a thing. I wasn’t trying to play games with my heart.

Temi: It was actually after we attended one ill-fated games night that made us swear off Lagos games night.

Michael: God, no.

Tell me

Temi: At this afternoon games party that turned into a midnight affair, they started telling us to remove cloth and kiss our neighbours. It wasn’t even truth or dare. I sha know that before we knew it, everyone was half-naked and kissing themselves. It was very much giving orgy, and I had to question the company Michael keeps.

Michael: My office co-workers invited me, and I was trying to build good working relationships.

How did you guys escape that situation?

Temi: The party was in this sprawling shortlet apartment complex, so we had to quickly book another apartment to ourselves.

Michael: We didn’t want to head back to the mainland that late at night. We’d had quite a bit to drink and were tired too. 

Temi: That night, we had a long talk about what we wanted to be to each other, and the kind of relationship we wanted. It wasn’t diamonds, chocolate and flowers, but it was the most romantic experience ever. 

One of my favourite things about him is how kind and respectful he is. He doesn’t even try to form hard guy.

Michael: Thank you. I guess.

Do you guys even fight?

Michael: We fight over food a lot. She’s never hungry but always eats my food. And she runs through our cereal boxes too quickly. She also is allergic to water or something. The amount of liquid sugar she takes is so upsetting.

Temi: Wow. That was a lot. I didn’t know you were holding all of that in.

I don’t think we fight like that. Sometimes, I think he has subtle OCD sha. Everything has to be perfectly organised or he’d fight. I don’t like that he gets so nit-picky with me, and that gets us clashing sometimes. 

But we know how to de-escalate as well.

How would you rate your Love Life on a scale of 1 to 10?

Temi: Easily 10. It’s smooth sailing for now. Sometimes, I get paranoid that something will happen suddenly to shake us up a bit.

Michael: Like what? It can’t be that serious. 

It’s a 10 for me too.

Check back every Thursday by 9 AM for new Love Life stories here. The stories will also be a part of the Ships newsletter, so sign up here.

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