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

What’s your earliest memory of each other?

Tade: We’ve been family friends since before I can remember. We lived in the same neighbourhood, had our clique of friends and our families attended the same church.

Sonia: The nostalgia! We played with my dolls on weekends. Both the boys and girls. We’d all sit on the floor in my living room, playing pretend in the afternoons.

Were you guys close then?

Sonia: No. We didn’t have a bond until she transferred to my school in JSS 3. I was the only person she knew, so she gravitated towards me and my group of friends. We got closer because we had inside jokes most of my friends didn’t understand.

Tade: We had so much fun in secondary school. We became so close that our classmates, mostly boys, used to tease us and say we were dating. Look at us now.

Let’s get into how that happened

Sonia: I wasn’t thinking about relationships in secondary school. I didn’t even have crushes. But I knew I had a special bond with Tade. I had a best friend, but even she knew Tade and I were closer than we were. 

Tade: We were by ourselves a lot, talking about TV shows, clothes and our plans for the future. When she entered the boarding house in SS 1, we drifted just a little because we spent less time together. But we still had stuff we could only talk about with each other.

During the holidays, we’d hang out in church, participating in dramas and dance performances. A lot of our childhood friends had left by then, but they were replaced over time with other kids.

When did you realise you liked each other beyond friendship?

Tade: After high school graduation, she went to the US for uni. Meanwhile, my parents had started having issues in their marriage, and my brother and I were collateral damage. Things got so heated that they couldn’t agree on what university I should attend. 

The result? I ended up spending three years at home before I moved to Cyprus to study mathematical engineering. 

Sonia: I was sure she’d make a new life and forget about me. To begin with, the time difference was even crazier to keep up with than when she was in Nigeria.

Tade: But somehow, we managed to stay in touch through that and the craziness of studying for exams and term papers. The turning point for us was when we both swindled our parents into paying for me to attend her graduation in 2016. 

Don’t ask how we managed it, please. 

I have to

Tade: We lied. Do you want people to call the police?

Sonia: She told her parents two different stories about how she had to pay for a special course, and they both sent her money. I told mine that there was a graduation fee. 

Tade: I actually think back now and feel bad we made our parents cough out money so suddenly. I don’t think I can do something like that again. But I don’t regret it.

Watch three couples share how time has changed their relationships over 5 years

You lied, and then, you saw each other again…

Sonia: For the first time in almost five years. I remember us dancing, crying and jumping in the middle of the arrival hall at the airport. People must’ve thought we were crazy.

Tade: It was during this visit we had our first kiss.

Details, please

Tade: We kissed on the second night. 

It was the night before the ceremony. We lay in bed after a long evening out with her school friends. We couldn’t sleep, but we were also too wired to talk. It felt like the most natural thing to lean into each other and kiss.

Sonia: She stayed for a couple of days in my little apartment, and we had to share my small bed. I wanted to do so much more, but we chose restraint.

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Why? Was it awkward?

Sonia: A little. It was a little kiss, no tongues or anything. It’s crazy that I can remember it like it was yesterday. We were both so nervous with each other. We didn’t want to mess things up. I don’t know how we kept from going all out actually. Maybe because the feelings were new, and we were overthinking trying to understand them. 

Tade: We must’ve known without even having to discuss it that our love was becoming different. There was this new energy between us. I wanted to hug her all the time and for much longer than normal, but I just didn’t.

Sonia: I kept thinking about the fact that she’d leave soon, and it made me almost depressed. I wanted her energy around me for the foreseeable future. So the visit was rather bittersweet.

Tade: We even briefly talked about her coming back to Cyprus with me. But I think we both decided that wouldn’t be wise. In the end, I had to go back sad and alone.

Did you make any decisions about your relationship before you left?

Tade: Not really. A lot was left unsaid. We just focused on celebrating her milestone. I still had about two years of school left. We were so young. We had nothing figured out.

Sonia: I threw myself into job hunting and a master’s programme. And we went back to finding time to talk to each other over FaceTime.

Tade: For the next two years, things were dry and uneventful… except when she helped me write my thesis. 


Tade: I’m exaggerating, obviously. We didn’t even study the same course, but she’s great with academic writing so she offered to help. She also had better access to research papers and better methodologies based on the American curriculum. It made everything faster. 

Sonia: She got into a couple of relationships though. 

Tade: More like flings.

With girls?

Tade: Yes. I’d pretty much figured out that I liked women. 

Sonia: I was too busy having anxiety over my career and future to have “flings”. People tried to get with me, mostly guys, but they never worked out because I was always too impatient and most black guys in the States are arrogant.

Tade: After I finally graduated in 2018, I moved to Georgia on a work visa. Three months later, she got a new job in DC, and we moved there together. We’ve been inseparable ever since.

Were you official at this point?

Sonia: Yes. I don’t know how it happened, but it happened.

Tade: I think it became clear when she invited me to move to the US and move in with her, and I actually did it. I was scared AF because I had zero plans. My parents wanted me back in Nigeria, but I didn’t want that. I had to get uncles and cousins to chip in on the travel and visa payments. 

Sonia: I offered to give her some money too, but she refused.

Tade: It was bad enough I’d be living in her house with no job for some time. 

When I got here, the first thing we did was make out for hours. It was pretty clear we were official.

So how’s the last five years been together in DC?

Sonia: Everything from the shootings to the pandemic, inflation and job insecurity has tested us. But it’s been great having each other to fight the battles with.

Our relationship has been a dream. There’s no anger or depression that can’t be solved with kisses and cuddles, just lying under our thick bed covers in each other’s arms, crying, ranting, laughing or whatever.

Tade: Something we picked up recently has been spending Saturday evenings in bed, watching old black and white movies until we fall asleep.

Do your families back home know about you two?

Tade: No.

Sonia: Nope.

Tade: It’ll probably stay that way for a while.

Sonia: None of our siblings or relatives know either. We don’t entertain people like that.

Tade: We don’t hide it from the public, but our life has been pretty insulated. We mostly hang out with work friends and a few people from Sonia’s universities or our secondary school. Most of them know about us.

Sonia: My high school bestie teases us all the time like, “I knew. I just knew it!” I’m like, girl, chill.

Tade: We still get side looks from the Naij folks, though. It can be funny at times. Other times, it’s really annoying.

Tell me about that

Sonia: It’s mostly the newly born-again guys. Everyone is finding Christ afresh and getting so religious these days. I wonder if it’s something in the air. But I think they mean well. They try to preach in the most polite ways.

Tade: But it’s still disrespectful.

Sonia: One time, we were hosting in our apartment because I just got a long-awaited promotion, and we invited up to 15 of our friends. Tade and I were in the open kitchen at some point. She wanted to get some more drinks from the fridge. I followed her and we hugged and kissed a little. 

I turned and saw this babe giving us a strong stank look. Tade didn’t even notice. But then, the next day, we were talking to the girl on the phone, and she said, “You know you guys can invite me to things, but you don’t have to make out in my face when you know I love the Lord.”

Tade: I was so angry, I just told her she doesn’t have to come to our house anymore then.

I’m screaming. Have you guys had a major fight?

Tade: For sure. We had this major major one recently that made me scared I’d ruined our relationship for the first time. It was over money.

One of the major aspects of our lives is budgeting. You have to budget well to survive in this country. We budget for all the little things, but we also do it for vacations, major purchases and all.

Sonia: This was in 2022. 

We’d been planning to move to a two-bed for some time. When we’d had most of the money together to move, renovate and so on. Tade took most of it to replace her computer and buy some other gadget. I get it was an emergency, but I went crazy because she didn’t even talk to me first.

Tade: My stuff got wrecked, and I was in the middle of this important project. I’d even lost some of my work in the process. I thought she’d understand.

Sonia: The shock was mind-blowing because I was already dreaming of our new space. We had our biggest fight ever, and I won’t forget it any time soon. I finally understand why people say proper communication is so important. If she’d only spoken to me before making that decision with our money, maybe I’d have understood or come up with an alternative.

How did you get past that?

Sonia: By talking. She slept on the couch for some days though.

Tade: She made me cry and beg. She only forgave me after I went on my period, and she saw me suffer through my cramps.

Sonia: I couldn’t stay angry with her while she was in pain. But then, mine started like two days later. It was such a funny, painful mess.

What does the future look like?

Tade: The usual. Marriage. Kids. Not sure how involved our families will be in all that, but we’ve made a pseudo-family here.

Sonia: There’s my career mentor. She and her husband are like parents to us now. We vacation with them a lot. And we have lots of friends turned siblings who’ve been willing to sacrifice large amounts of money, time and favours to help us in so many ways.

Tade: But it’s not one-sided. We’re there for them in many ways too.

Are you saying your biological family hasn’t been?

Sonia: Mine have tried their best, and I’ll always love them for it. I send stuff back home all the time. 

But they aren’t here. They don’t do much for me in terms of companionship. I have sisters in Atlanta and my brother is in Dallas, but we haven’t seen each other in years. I respect it. They’re building their own families too. 

Tade: We’re completely estranged. My brother, father, mother and I — we all live separate lives. Besides the occasional WhatsApp call with my brother, I don’t feel much like we’re connected in any way. 

My father has a new wife with kids. My mum also remarried.

Sonia: But it’s fine. Everyone gets to find their tribe. We don’t have to be restricted by blood ties. And in the end, what matters most is finding your soulmate and making the most of it.

True. And how would you rate your Love Life on a scale of 1 to 10?

Tade: 10. 100 even.

Sonia: 10. I actually can’t imagine doing this life without you.

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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