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

How did you meet?

Nonye: During NYSC in 2021. We served at the same PPA in Kogi State and happened to both be coming from Enugu.

Jojo: We were teachers in the same secondary school. I taught maths, science and business studies; she taught English and CRS. And our rooms were beside each other at the corpers lodge. But eventually, we talked our roommates into switching so we could stay together. 

The first day we met, she was reporting to the school two weeks late because she’d asked the state coordinator for permission to go back to Enugu after returning from the orientation camp. I later found out she’d lost her mother just before NYSC started.

Nonye: Yes. But I tried to suppress the grief for a while. 

We didn’t get to meet in camp, but she was the only corper who didn’t have a class when I reported to the school. She offered to help me carry my things to the lodge, which wasn’t close by, especially since we had to go on foot. We didn’t say a word to each other the entire way — the sun was too hot for that — but as soon as we got into my room, Jojo started asking me a thousand questions about myself. 

Jojo: I’m like that. I love to get to know people. 

We became friends from that first day because she was so nice and open, answering all my questions and asking back too. We related to each other’s stories because we lived in the same Enugu town. By the time I left her to settle in while I went to teach my next class for that day, I felt good knowing I had someone I could hang out with. 

NYSC was such a beautiful time because we did everything together. We even split bills and expenses. We were like sisters separated at birth.

Did you start liking each other during NYSC?

Jojo: As friends, yes. We had a strong connection, but we weren’t thinking in a romantic direction at that time. I didn’t even know I was gay then.

Nonye: Nothing happened romantically until after she came out to me on New Year’s Day in 2022. When she told me she was gay, I said, “I know.” I feel like I knew she was gay before she did. Don’t ask me how. I just know when she told me, I wasn’t surprised at all. I was happy for her for finally finding herself.

Jojo: When I came to terms with my sexuality, she was the first person on my mind I wanted to date, but I was too scared of ruining our friendship. We were back in Enugu but still as close as ever. We’re both working a 9 to 5, but we help each other with our side gigs too. I’m a freelance photographer, and she runs a thrift and crochet store online. 

Before I could find the nerve to ask her to date me, I got with a girl I met on Twitter who also lived in Enugu, and we dated for some months. Nonye was super supportive, so they became friends too. 

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When did friendship turn to love?

Jojo: My dad passed away in March 2022, and the grief was much. So we bonded over her understanding of what it feels like to lose a parent. She was there for me throughout the preparation, burial and mourning period. My girlfriend couldn’t be there because I hadn’t come out to my family. 

I kept to myself a lot during those three or so months it took me to recover from the loss, but Nonye was always there for me, sleeping over, sharing what helped her heal when her mother died. I liked her then more than ever. When my ex broke things up with me in June 2022, because I wasn’t showing enough commitment to her, I started thinking about asking Nonye to be my girlfriend once again.

Nonye: I still loved Jojo as a friend but didn’t think beyond that until the day she shakily asked me out when we’d gone to the cinema to watch Thor: Love and Thunder. I told her I wasn’t gay, and she said she knew. 

Later that night, I couldn’t stop thinking about her asking me out. We spoke the next morning, and she didn’t bring it up again. I was upset about that, but I also didn’t bring it up until some days later when I said I really liked her too. I didn’t know what I was doing or what to expect, so I was scared about what I said. But I knew it was true. 

She had this wide, bright, beautiful smile on her face when I looked at her again. I know it sounds cheesy, but I’d never seen her smile like that before. I’d always loved Jojo, but that’s when I realised I really liked her too. Without needing to ask each other again, we just started dating from then on. 

One of the things that’s happened in the last several months is that we spend and plan our money as a unit, even our side gigs have unified.

What was your first major fight about?


: We have this on-and-off argument — not necessarily fight — because I always insist I’m not gay when it comes up in private. But it’s true. I’m not. She’s the only girl I’ve ever been attracted to. Generally, I still find boys attractive. If god forbid, we break up, I’d most likely be with a guy. 

Jojo: It feels like it should make me happy, but it makes me sad, and I don’t know why. I know I have no reason to think this because she’s the most devoted and loyal partner to me, but I keep getting this uncertainty that I’m just a phase to her.

Nonye: You’re not. I want us to last forever, but if we don’t, it won’t be because I see you as a phase. You know that’s not true.

Jojo: I do. But I still think if you’re dating your gender, you’re gay sha. 

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Actually, she could be. How has this relationship been different from past ones?

Jojo: It’s my first truly mature relationship. Before Nonye, I’d had mostly unserious relationships (school flings) with guys. 

My first girlfriend was great, but being with Nonye now, I realise we were quite childish. Our five-and-a-half-month relationship consisted of going out to get shawarma together every weekend, making out and arguing over the most basic things. It was like we were doing it for fun; nothing more. 

With Nonye, we still do shawarma and make out, but we also talk a lot about important things like work, spending, personal development and even our relationships with other people. We advise each other a lot and look out for each other.

Nonye: I’ve only dated two people in this life. One was in high school and another in university — we broke up sometime during NYSC. But Jojo is the only one who’s met almost everyone in my family. Although, it’s only my immediate elder sister who knows we’re intimate. That has changed the stakes a lot. 

This relationship is pretty mature; we take the commitment seriously.

What’s the most unconventional thing about your relationship?

Jojo: I don’t want to say us being gay so as not to alert the LGBT police, but I don’t know any other gay couples, so I think it still counts. I think it’s also unconventional to be a gay person dating a straight person.

Nonye: That shows just how strong our love is.

Jojo: Right.

How has the relationship changed you?

Jojo: Dating Nonye has helped me let my guard down. I feel like I can trust her completely with my heart and things like life decisions. She’s a truly wise, intuitive person, so that has rubbed off on me a bit. These days, I find myself thinking the way she thinks, which is by checking if the vibe is right before jumping into things. 

This can be as little as if I should go somewhere, talk to someone or not, eat at this restaurant or another. And the vibe check has never failed me. My relationship with my mother has also improved greatly since. She’s taught me to appreciate what I have before I lose it.

Nonye: I’d actually say the same about my relationship with my dad, although it’s just occurring to me. 

Besides that, I’ve become a lot more enterprising since we got together, since we became friends actually. I don’t see how our businesses would grow the way they do without your sense. I’m more attuned to making profit now. Soft life loading. 

Oh also, this is the first relationship in which I’m so comfortable with being open and vulnerable. We’re always oversharing with each other.

How would you rate your love life on a scale of 1 to 10?

Nonye: 8. We’re still fresh. Our first anniversary is next month, and I’m so excited, but it still feels like we’re in the honeymoon stage.

Jojo: 8. I guess what she’s saying is we should revisit this rating after we celebrate a year.

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