Love Life is a Zikoko weekly series about love, relationships, situationships, entanglements and everything in between.
Paul*, 23, and Keside*, 32, have been dating for four years. In today’s episode of Love Life, they talk about meeting online, transitioning to a long-distance relationship and eventually deciding to open up their relationship.
What’s your earliest memory of each other?
Paul: We met on Grindr in 2017. I remember I was on a study break when I decided to check the app. I was in a sapiosexual phase, so I had said I was looking for intelligent people to be friends with. He responded to it, so we started talking. We kept chatting until I had to go to school. I couldn’t stop thinking about how smart he was.
Keside: I remember the day I collected his number. Not to sound judgemental or anything, but a lot of Nigerian gay men are only on Grindr for hookups. There is a lot of posturing and pretence and sometimes people don’t even show up for hookups. I had gotten to the point where I wasn’t exactly looking for hookups on Grindr — I was looking for some other kind of connection. So when we met, I wasn’t even trying to look at pictures of him. This sounds crazy, but I didn’t know what he looked like until the day before we met physically.
I thought he was someone I could have intelligent conversations with, so when I decided to uninstall Grindr, I asked him for his number. We moved to WhatsApp and kept texting. I was going through something deeply personal at the time. I didn’t tell a lot of people. My boyfriend at the time had done something silly so I broke up with him. I was talking to someone else while I was talking to Paul but that person was blowing hot and cold. I found Paul interesting so the day he asked that we meet, I agreed. I asked for his pictures and I know this is cliche, but it was love at first sight. After exchanging pictures, we agreed to meet the next day.
This is the part Paul may not know but as much as I was taken by him, I had also planned that our meeting would simply be a hookup. This is because he had not given me any indication that he wanted more.
Did you two hook up the next day?
Paul: We were supposed to meet at his house. He came to get me from the junction, and I was like, “WOW”. He has this regal elegance about him that I instantly fell in love with. I was blown away by his beauty. He told me that we were now going to his friend’s house instead. At his friend’s, we talked for hours. We talked about everything. Afterwards, we had tea. I often tease Keside that in his past life, he must have been an old white woman because of how much he loves tea.
Later, we had sex and it was great. When we finished, he asked me if I watched Scandal. He told me about the scene where the president tells Olivia Pope that he wants to give her Vermont, which signifies a nice, quiet place just for two of them. He said he wanted that for us. He had the most tender yet serious look on his face. I told him I was going to think about it. Actually, there was nothing to think about because he was everything I knew I wanted and even more.
We finished and went back to his house. When we got there, he introduced me to his siblings who are some of the nicest people I have ever met. He was working an evening shift at the time so he left for work. We rode in the same cab before going our separate ways. While I was still on my way home, I sent him a message, “I won’t lie, I want you.” That’s how we started dating.
How has the relationship been?
Paul: I will be honest and say it hasn’t been easy, but this doesn’t mean it hasn’t been good. I remember when we just started dating and I wanted to see him every day, but I had my overbearing parents to deal with. We have come a long way. One of our biggest priorities is communication. We always try to talk about everything. There are times when communication isn’t good, but when we resolve it, I feel even more committed to him.
Although, we are now in an open relationship and sometimes that feels weird. I am still getting used to having sex with other men. Sometimes, I feel weird touching them. I have had an instance where I didn’t want to talk to the other person afterwards. I know it’s not fair but that’s how I felt.
I try to reserve certain things for him though. For example, I try not to have emotional ties with anyone else. With him, there’s a kind of ease I feel that I don’t feel with anyone else.
Keside: I agree with most of what he said. Coming to the decision to open the relationship was a practical one but it was also hard. It felt unfair and disingenuous to ask two adults who had a healthy sex life to stop having sex because of distance. Initially, we had agreed to not talk about other people we have sex with because it would hurt too much, but it hasn’t happened that way. Paul often tells me when he has hooked up with someone else and urges me to hook up with other men. When I had a threesome while I was away, he was the first person I told about it. It’s not the best arrangement for us but it’s what’s readily available. I have had sex with a number of people so far, but I haven’t formed any emotional attachment towards any of them. Sometimes, when I am with someone else, I could be thinking about him, which I feel is unfair.
Wait, why did you open the relationship?
Paul: So after we started dating, I spent a lot of time at his apartment. In fact, I was practically living with him for about four months before he had to travel for a professional exam in October. Shortly after he returned, he got confirmation that he had passed the exams and had to move out of Nigeria. The period before he left was really hard on me. He left in March 2019. We didn’t open the relationship until July, after a conversation we had about our sex life now that we were apart.
What was that conversation like?
Keside: It was hard for me, to be honest, but I knew it was the right thing to do. While I was still in Nigeria, there were times that we wouldn’t be able to have sex for some reason and Paul would get a bit cranky, so I knew it was unfair to ask him to wait for me. I remember that evening, I found it difficult to tell him, “I think we should have an open relationship.” He agreed with me, and we had a conversation about what our relationship would look like going forward. We decided not to share sexual experiences with other people but because of how much we share with each other, it was hard not to. I am happy with where we are now.
What’s your favourite part of the relationship?
Keside: Have you seen this man? He is sexy and gorgeous. There is this thing he does with his eyes and fiam, my pants are off. But my favourite part is that he brings me peace.
Paul: I love how much he tries to make me feel comfortable. There’s a considerable age gap between us, but he never makes me feel like I am younger than him. He is more experienced than me, and it always comes in handy when I need advice (even though I have a tendency to do what I want anyway). I also love how honest he is with me. He is very committed to me and intentional about being with me.
What’s been the biggest fight?
Paul: I don’t think we fight. We have disagreements when we have intense conversations, but we usually come out of it with some realisation about ourselves and how we can make the relationship better.
Keside: I know him and love him and I can forgive him, but I don’t think the people reading this would be as understanding, and so I’d rather not share. We generally like to keep things civil so we can make progress.
Do you have future plans together?
Paul: We want to live together and the plan is for me to join him after I am done with all the things I have to handle here. Within a year, this should be possible.
Keside; My problem is this one is editing the truth. I have asked him to marry me at least twice. He said, “Yes, but he needs to get through school.”
What about family?
Keside: My siblings know him and know we are together. My sister-in-law is actually quite fond of him and often asks after him.
He’s met my mom once, but she doesn’t know that we are together.
Paul: He hasn’t met my folks yet, but my siblings know about him. My sister once said, “He is good for you.”
Rate the relationship on a scale of 1 – 10
Paul: 10. It’s easily the best relationship I’ve ever been in. There is room for us to keep growing together
Keside: It’s a 10 for me too. Because of how successful this relationship has been, we are thinking of opening other branches, Abuja and London because why not? LMAO.
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