Love Life is a Zikoko weekly series about love, relationships, situationships, entanglements and everything in between.
The subjects of this week’s love life, Isoken* (19) and Dami* (21), met at a tutorial centre in 2020. They talk about why she turned him down the first three times he asked her out, lying to her parents about their relationship and dealing with their religious differences.
Tell me about your first impressions of each other
Isoken: I thought he talked too much.
Dami: I considered her a snub. She had friends who acted like they were better than everyone. Once, my friend went up to her to try to get her number, but she ignored him.
Isoken: The guy looked rough. I wasn’t interested.
Dami: You could say I was curious. That’s why during a chemistry class in the tutorial centre we attended, I decided to sit beside her. She was all alone, and I felt we could have a decent conversation if her friends weren’t with her.
Isoken: I wasn’t shocked when he sat down beside me. I’d caught him staring at me on different occasions during our classes.
Dami: How did you know I was looking at you if you weren’t always looking at me too?
Isoken: You had some female friends I knew. I looked at them, and you just happened to be in their presence. I’m neither rude nor a snub. I’m just not good at making new friends. That’s why I didn’t chase him away when he sat beside me.
What did you talk about?
Isoken: Phones o.
Dami: I’m not good at making conversation, so I don’t even know how we started talking about phones.
Isoken: See what I mean by he talked too much? The few conversations we had were always off-point.
He’s lucky I’m a cool and calm person. If not, once his rubbish talk started, I’d have pushed him away.
Dami: I collected her number because I wanted to talk to her more on WhatsApp.
Isoken: I felt compelled to give him. He’d been there, talking to me for a long time. I didn’t want his effort to be in vain.
How did the WhatsApp conversations go?
Dami: Initially, it was awkward. There were occasional hi’s and hello’s, but nothing serious until I started observing how she spoke to her friends during and after the tutorials. She seemed pretty cool based on the snippets of the conversation I heard. I also knew she was smart because of the way she participated in class. With all that information, I started putting more effort into our texts, and actually trying to start serious conversations.
Isoken: We talked frequently about our fears and aspirations. I realised he was someone whose company I enjoyed, and by April, we’d become good friends. After that, the friendship was off and on. Dami, explain why.
Dami: Between April and December , I asked her out three times. I liked her a lot; the way she talked and behaved captivated me.
However, she kept saying she wasn’t ready to get into a relationship. I’d stop talking to her for a while, only to come back and continue our friendship from where we stopped.
Isoken, why were you always turning him down?
Isoken: I liked light-skinned men; Dami is darker. He didn’t look like the kind of guy I’d date. Plus, I wasn’t ready for what he looked for in a relationship.
Isoken: The second time he asked me out, I remember asking him what he expected from the relationship and how he expected it to play out. I never saw sex as something one did at the beginning of getting to know someone, but he made it sound necessary.
Dami: At that time, I was really immature and all my beliefs about relationships were wrong.
Isoken: He didn’t realise this on time. Then in February 2020, almost a year after we’d met, he started dating someone else. My phone got spoilt, and I couldn’t talk to him for a while.
Dami: The relationship lasted for about three months. She broke up with me a couple of weeks before my birthday in May. I was sad because I thought 2020 was the year I celebrated my birthday while in a relationship. Add the fact that it was in the middle of lockdown, and I had nothing to do.
While I was spending my birthday sulking, I got a text from Isoken, wishing me a happy birthday.
Isoken: I slipped my sim into my mum’s phone to send the message. I missed him and wanted to use his birthday as a chance to talk to him.
Dami: She eventually got a new phone in June, and we continued talking. That same month, I came to stay with my dad, who lived close to her house. I asked her to see me and she did. That was the first time we saw each other physically since the tutorial ended in May 2019.
In July 2020, I asked her out for the fourth time, and she said yes.
Isoken: I noticed when I knew he was dating someone else, it made me sad. I felt entitled to him. I wasn’t ready to date, but I didn’t want to lose him again. Plus, I think that relationship made him a better person. We talked about dating for two days because I kept asking him questions. I wanted to be aware of what I was getting into.
It’s been two years since then. What’s the relationship been like?
Isoken: For me, it’s been a blessing. I found a friend and a lover all in one. We’ve had our ups and downs, and no one is perfect, but we always find our way around whatever it is that’s troubling us.
Dami: This relationship is the best thing. I call her my teacher because I’ve learnt a lot from her, and she’s helped to bring out a better version of me. There are times I find it difficult to make decisions on my own, but she’s always there to give me advice and help ease the burden.
Isoken, you mentioned finding ways around things that trouble you both. Things like what?
Isoken: For one, distance. I’m currently in Benin, and he’s in Lagos, so we can’t see each other as often as we’d like. We make up for it with phone calls and texts. Unfortunately, when we’re both in the same state, we hardly get a chance to see each other.
Isoken: My parents are very strict. They believe I shouldn’t get into a relationship with someone until I want to marry. How’s that possible if I don’t date first?
To be with Dami, there’s a lot of sneaking around involved. I’ll have to lie to my parents about my whereabouts so I can spend the day with him. I don’t like lying to my parents, but it’s the only way.
Sometimes, I think it’s unfair I’m the one who has to do all the lying and sneaking around. It’s very stressful.
Dami: My mum knows her to be my girlfriend, but we haven’t had a chance to have any conversation about her yet. Maybe she wants to see how far it goes first. One thing I know for sure is whatever I want, my mother will want the same for me.
Isoken: I tried to introduce him to my parents, but once they asked him about his religion, and I said he’s a Muslim? They locked up immediately and started preaching about how I shouldn’t get into relationships. In their eyes, he’s a guy I’m just friends with. They have a problem with people of different faiths getting into a relationship. Although we’ve been together for two years, I still think about our different faiths. My religion is very important to me, so it’s all very confusing.
Dami: I don’t consider the religion thing a big issue. I just know I want to marry her and build a family with her eventually.
Isoken: The end goal of the relationship is marriage, but maybe along the line, we’ll figure out how to navigate the religion thing.
I wish you both luck. On a scale of 1-10, how’ll you rate your love life?
Isoken: 7. The distance and the sneaking around takes it down several points.
Dami: 8. We can’t see each other often enough.