Love Life is a Zikoko weekly series about love, relationships, situationships, entanglements and everything in between.
Cassie, 28, and Mark, 28, started dating when they were sure they had the same goals. Today on Love Life, they talk about starting out from an Instagram DM, and how being unintentional kept them apart for two years.
What’s your earliest memory of each other?
Cassie: Mark got me a shoe I posted on my Insta story. I showed my colleagues and said, “I hope it’s not one of those guys that will come and do thread on top of my head because of shoe that I didn’t even ask for.”
Mark: I followed her on Instagram, but the first time we had a proper conversation was when she posted the shoe she liked. I messaged to ask if it was okay to order the shoes for her and also asked for delivery details.
Ahan. Cassie, I need your babalawo’s number, please.
Cassie: Don’t even bother yourself, the juju has casted.
LMAO. Mark, what was in her Instagram account that made you follow her?
Mark: Have you actually seen this babe? I mean, how can I not follow her when she is fine and tall. God dey create abeg.
Cassie, when Mark followed you, what came to your mind?
Cassie: Honestly? I didn’t really notice. I have a lot of followers and people follow me generally. Even the gesture is something I’m kinda used to. People tend to find me likeable. But the gesture made me pause.
Mark: Thank God I followed my babalawo’s instructions. See how it worked!
So, the gift made you notice him….
Cassie: You could say so. It basically put a name to mind. When his gift came in, I was more like, “Abeg oh, I don’t have energy for anything but hey I’ll take the shoe sha.”
Mark: Fear Igbo babes.
But look at you running after her. Anyway, what happened after the shoes came in?
Cassie: He asked if we could hang out.
Mark: She sent me a video of the shoes. About two weeks later, I asked her out for lunch. I knew she was tall from her pictures, but when I saw her in person, I was blown away. That was our first date, and I still have a picture where she was using my time to do content.
LMAO. Let a content creator get her views!
Cassie: Like! Can you let me live, sir?
How did the date go though?
Mark: It was just food and pleasant vibes. I remember having to think of conversation starters because this babe would just answer a question and keep quiet.
Cassie: A bit awkward for me but he seemed like a sane person. To be fair, everything is awkward for me, LMAO. Besides, the date itself was almost a blind date. He didn’t have pictures of himself and wasn’t Google-able. What else could I have done? I was just slurping pasta and feeling awkward.
Because the conversation wasn’t flowing smoothly?
Cassie: I’m not much of a talker, but if the vibes are flowing well, I can be. Bottom line is, the problem was him.
Mark: At some point during the date, I asked myself what I was doing wrong because she looked bored and was pressing her phone. Omo, when it got to a stage, I said, “Let’s go for dessert.” We went next door for ice cream and just waited in the car for a bit after. That’s when she started taking pictures, and I was just admiring her from the side.
Was that how the date ended?
Mark: Sort of. I dropped her off at home in Surulere and drove back home to Ikeja where the date was. I had finally gotten to meet her in person, but I also thought she probably would not see me again.
Cassie: To be honest, this date wasn’t so consequential. But after it ended, I had the same conclusion too.
Mark: But mercy said no.
Hallelujah somebody. What happened next?
Mark: Nothing serious, just a bunch of random Instagram story replies and comments. The next time something significant happened was when Cape Verde airlines came to Nigeria and were doing a bonanza. I don’t remember why, but I know she messaged me and was telling me of an ₦100k return trip to Cape Verde.
Cassie: I can’t even remember why I reached out to him for that. I think we probably had a conversation about travelling, and the airline thing came up around the same time.
Mark: I had just come back from a trip and wasn’t keen on another, but the deal sounded good and I mean, there’s a fine girl to boot, so I said why not. After booking the trip, I realised I could only travel with at least six months validity on your passport, which I didn’t have.
Cassie: He ended up not travelling with us. As I was entering the airport, he was leaving. He was so pissed, he barely acknowledged me. I understand that he was going through it at the time, but I filed that behaviour as a red flag. I knew that we could not work, even as friends.
Mark: Please temper mercy with justice, my lord. I tried and failed to get a passport but it didn’t work and I wasn’t allowed to fly, even though I got to the airport early and waited in line for about three hours.
When Cassie and the other person we were travelling with got there, I was already over the whole thing. Since I wasn’t travelling again, what’s the need for being at the airport? It pained me oh, because Afronation was happening that period and I missed out because of Cape Verde. I messaged her during the trip to get me a souvenir, and she said no because of the way I left them at the airport.
Cassie: I didn’t understand why he was annoyed, because we talked about this passport validity thing on the group. When he asked me to get the souvenir, I said “No” without remorse. I was still annoyed about his behaviour at the airport.
Mark: Instead of you to just say you don’t know how to show love.
Cassie: You and who?
Looks like all your attempts at going out together always end in funny ways…
Mark: See ehn. After that one, we just continued chatting on Instagram. Until she put up on her story that she wanted to do a staycation and asked if anyone was interested. Trust me to say yes.
Clearly, you never learn.
Mark: Not at all oh.
Cassie: Here’s how the staycation works: I decide on a place (Lakowe, IITA, somewhere in Lagos, etc) and rally people together. Sometimes I already have friends in mind, sometimes I need extra people so I post it on my story, we finalise plans, make payments and move.
Mark: For me, it’s another avenue to enter.
A man with intention. I respect that. Were you sure you wanted to date her at this point, or you simply wanted to be friends?
Mark: I’ll let her go first.
Cassie: He sent me a message about liking me and wanting something serious. Like, I just checked my phone one random day last year and saw all of that. I’m my mind I was like ko le werk, but okay sha. I’m not the kind of person to break a man’s heart, so I said something like, “Okay, let’s see.” But I had seen already and knew it was a no for me.
Why was it a no for you? Was it based on the first date and his behaviour at the airport?
Cassie: Yes, but omo, my guy was very unfocused. Imagine being on your own and waking up to confessions of love that you didn’t ask for, only for the person to put zero energy into it after that confession. Men? 0/10, please.
Thankfully, I wasn’t looking for anything so I grabbed the unseriousness as a way out, and we moved on without ever referencing that conversation again or having any other dates.
Mark: I said I’d like us to be friends first before dating and that she should let me know if at any point in time it became stressful for her.
Cassie: But you sha weren’t moving like someone that wanted to be a friend either ways.
What would you have wanted him to do in order to “push his file” forward?
Cassie: Honestly, I was fine. I didn’t even want him to push it further so I wouldn’t have to break his heart. I was just upset because why confess that and then act anyhow? I found it very disrespectful. I’m so big on respect and being treated well.
Mark: To be fair, I knew I liked Cassie and I’d been thinking about her for a while, so that’s why I sent that message. But in all fairness, I was actually acting like an unserious fellow.
How so? What did you do?
Mark: Asides from staying away after sending her the message? Plenty. During the staycation, she wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t do some of the things planned. Instead of being empathetic, I just said okay and went on to have fun with the rest of the guys there. So, I definitely wasn’t moving right.
After that staycation, I wasn’t really feeling the vibe, so I decided to not put all my eggs in one basket. But guess what, I was still chatting her up and responding yes to staycations. And you know why? Your man was lost in the sauce.
Cassie: Men? They will disappoint you.
In other words, Mark, you decided to shoot your shot with other people?
Mark: Not really. I wasn’t looking for a relationship with anyone else. In my head, I thought if I would get in a relationship, it would be with Cassie, so all of what happened with other people was me just having fun.
So you left her to stew.
Mark: I guess. It was more like I was hoping beyond hope, if that makes sense.
What was it about her that made you decide that she was “the one”?
Mark: I really can’t place a finger on it. Asides from her physical attributes and how open she was, there was just that je ne sais quoi that attracted me to her. I guess somewhere between her smile and her smarts, I was lost.
Cassie: Na so.
When and how did you two eventually enter relationship mode? What changed?
Mark: You should probably ask Cassie. Na she fit answer. Me I’ve been in the mode since, but I think things started changing around our third staycation.
Cassie: A couple of staycations in, he started acting better. We had a few deep conversations, and he started being more intentional.
Mark: We had a staycation around Valentine’s day, and I think it was around this time that we had the conversation and I decided to be more serious and intentional. For Valentine, I had to really think well to give her thoughtful gifts. I gave her a book because she likes to read, scented candles and a yoga mat because she likes to lie on the floor. Our friendship kind of grew from there.
I remember she was supposed to go to IITA with some friends but they were in Ibadan the day before her and she couldn’t sync with their schedule to know where to meet them when she came in. So I went to pick her up and we spent the day going around town, after which I dropped her off at IITA. This was around Easter this year.
Did you ever “pop” the question?
Mark: This happened when we did a West African group trip in July. And the funny thing is she hinted that I should ask her out on the trip.
Cassie: I was starting to consider him and my friends (who had become our mutual friends) were all for it, so it made me start thinking, “Why not?” I did the most important thing: I prayed about it, got clarity, and afterwards, I was ready to give it a try. We were planning a trip to Ghana, Togo and Cotonou with two other people around this time. I said that I wanted to be asked out properly, and hinted that he can take the opportunity of us being out of Nigeria to ask properly.
We went to a forest resort in Ghana and he gave me a card and asked me out. LMAO. I gave him the card back and reminded him that I said I wanted to be asked out properly. His reply was “the whole nine yards, you have no idea.” A card didn’t look like the whole nine yards. To be fair, he wrote out all his promises to me in the card so it was kind of like a cute vow. Anyway, he collected the card and went back to the drawing table. When we left the resort to Accra, we got to the hotel and next thing I saw was paranra people, a teddy bear and chocolates. It was really cute and definitely a surprise. This time, I took the card and on the part where it required my signature, I signed it finally, and that was how we began.
Our first date was on the 25th of August, 2019. The asking out happened in mid-July, 2021. That’s about one year and seven months.
Almost two years. This man has the gift of perseverance.
Mark: Na so we see am
Cassie: Let me tell you how we ended up in a relationship.
My ears are wide open.
Cassie: The last staycation we had was at IITA. June 13, 2021. We had been getting closer since April, but on this staycation, I decided to make a move. It wasn’t a move move sha; I just did what my spirit led me to at that point.
We were all hanging out together in his own room and I asked, “Would you like to hold me?” I think that jogged his brain a bit, because the next day, he gave the whole “I’ll really like to have something serious” speech again. I said I wasn’t sure yet, but let’s see how it goes. So between April and June, that’s when I prayed about it, watched his intentions, made sure his head was correct.
How has the relationship been so far? What do you enjoy about being in a relationship with each other?
Mark: Being in love with Cassie has been fulfilling. Daily, I experience how much she cares and how kind she is. She’s very creative and always goes all out when she’s doing something for me. My birthday is next week on the 13th and she put together a surprise for me a month before, to celebrate “one month to my birthday.“
I’ve grown as a person because we always get to have open and honest conversations with one another. She’s so kind, not just to me, but to everyone else. I especially find it sweet that she says hi to random people, especially service providers. This has rubbed off on me. Most importantly, she’s helped me to pray and read my Bible more. We have a ritual of doing a Bible study plan every night.
Cassie: Mark is fully committed to making my life easier. He’s gentle and treats me with respect. He knows with certainty what he wants, so there has been no obscurity when it comes to the direction of our relationship. I love that there has always been no pressure with him. No pressure to go any further than I may want to at any point in time (team waiting), no pressure to have to be anything that I am not, etc. Ours is a love without pressure, and I find it refreshing. And when we have arguments, he tries his best to approach it with kindness. No raised voices, just proper conversations, vulnerability and openness. It’s just such a joy being with him. The bants we have is an added plus.
How often do you two fight? And how do you settle it?
Cassie: Not often. I think I’m the one that starts it most times. We have something we say: “We don’t do that here”. That being anything from raised voices, being unkind with our words, actions, etc. Sometimes in the middle of a disagreement when my brain starts clamping down, he’ll remind me that “we don’t do that here” and it’ll bring me back to earth.
Mark: We also have this agreement not to go to bed upset with one another no matter what. This has led to some interesting late night conversations but we are the better for it. There are times when we would be having little fights and I’ll keep repeating 1 Cor 13:4-8 to myself.
How would rate the relationship on a scale of 1-10?
Cassie: 9. I’m not saying 10 because 10 is for God.
Mark: LMAO. But same.
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