Love Life is a Zikoko weekly series about love, relationships, situationships, entanglements and everything in between.
What was your first impression of each other?
Dave: I met him at a restaurant in 2017. One of my oldest friends from uni invited me and another school friend to have a meal together and catch up. He brought Kene and another friend too. I also came with a friend. That’s how we all became this large group of friends who are all close till today.
Kene: Not that close, but we hang out once in a while. I wasn’t even that close to the person who invited me at the time. We’d met about a month before that, on a project at work. But I thought he was cool, and I was trying to go out more.
Dave: My first memory of him was me thinking he was so small and yellow. He hardly spoke during the whole get-together.
But that memory was overshadowed by something else. When it was time to pay, the table agreed we’d split the bill equally. I was broke and had purposely not eaten much, so this was an unwelcome surprise.
Kene: He looked so conflicted. Everyone else was oblivious and just paid up and left. Then it was me, him and the guy who invited us all. I’ll always find it funny that he didn’t just disagree with the splitting idea from the beginning because he couldn’t afford it. That’s how me and the other guy had to cover his bill.
Dave: I wanted to, but I was too ashamed to call attention to myself like that.
How did that lead to a relationship?
Kene: Later that week, our mutual friend called me to apologise about it, but I didn’t think anything of it, so I told him, “It happens”. He said Dave was asking for my number to thank me directly. I told him he could share.
That same night, Dave called and was acting all shy. He asked for my account details so he could reimburse me, but I told him not to bother. When I noticed that this only made him feel worse, I relented and sent him. I got an alert about an hour after our call, and it was a lot more than what I paid for him.
Dave: I felt bad. He didn’t even know me. I was also touched because I know guys who’d never pay that money for an almost stranger.
After I sent the money, I thought I’d never hear from him again even though I wanted to get to know him more. So imagine my surprise when he texted me some days after and told me it was nice I sent him more than he paid, but I didn’t have to. My response was to ask him if he‘d like to watch an Arsenal match with me at a viewing centre that evening.
We met up an hour later and had a couple of beers while watching the game together.
Kene: He was very good company. After the match, we talked for a bit and went our separate ways.
We did that a few more times. Sometimes, with some of his other friends. Meeting up with him became a part of my life outside of work and occasionally hanging out with my “actual friends”. It became some double life like my alter ego playing at having a social life.
I looked forward to his texts inviting me to watch one sports game or the other.
Dave: This went on for three years. We didn’t talk about liking each other until 2020.
Did COVID have anything to do with the eventual reveal?
Dave: Yes and no.
I knew I liked him a lot from the first day we met to watch that game. But I didn’t want to say anything because you can’t just show yourself like that in this country. I’m always extra careful, and honestly, most of my relationships have been with women.
Kene: I didn’t know he was gay or bi. I was absolutely sure he was straight. So I just suffered in silence, settling for his company, which I enjoyed. Then, he got together with his girlfriend in 2019. I was crushed. But it was all the confirmation I needed that he was straight.
Dave: I noticed him withdraw when I started dating my girlfriend. He was suddenly not always available to hang out and hardly came by my place. I started to miss him, but I let my feelings for my new babe overshadow that.
By September or October 2019, we weren’t speaking much except for sharing memes on IG or something related to a mutual friend. I wasn’t happy that we were drifting apart.
Kene: I felt like he gave me breakfast even though we weren’t dating. It almost felt like a heartbreak. One night, I even cried myself to sleep. So I couldn’t handle talking with him as a friend anymore.
Dave: The lockdown came, and I was lonely AF — my girlfriend was in another town. I started thinking about him a lot, so I called to check on him. That’s how we started calling each other every day just to gist and keep each other company.
Kene: I wanted to tell him I liked him this time, but the way I was scared, ehn? I didn’t want him to hate me because I was gay. I’d never felt that way before.
Who did the telling in the end?
Dave: Neither of us.
We started getting vulnerable, revealing way too much about our lives to each other. Like how little sex we were getting or how much we needed someone to hold. It started as a joke at first, just us teasing each other, but after a while, we both knew we were being sincere.
Kene: I started it. I got tired of wishing and waiting and just wanted something to give. The first time we met up after the lockdown was lifted, he gave me this big hug and a little peck on the side of my face. My whole heart screamed.
Then we went back to watching football matches and drinking beer together. My heart sank a little. One night at our regular lounge, I took the leap and invited him over to my place. I can’t even remember what I told him we’d do there, but he agreed to come with me.
Dave: That was the first night we spent together, and it was great.
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Did you start dating officially after?
Dave: Yes. We had a long talk the next day and decided to commit.
Kene: But not exclusively. He still had his girlfriend.
Dave: We agreed to not go public, so I asked him if I had to break up with her, and he said no.
Kene: She really likes this guy, and I didn’t want to be the reason why he broke her heart. Three years later, I’ve learnt to live with it. Since we can’t be together as fully as we want, I don’t want to deprive him of a full relationship just because.
But don’t you feel deprived?
Kene: That’s the life. Not all of us can have the luck of a bisexual in Nigeria.
Dave: We’ll come for you o.
Kene: Sometimes, the secrecy adds to the spice of our sex life. The fact that no one in our circle knows about us makes me feel a little bold and reckless. It’s our special secret. However, I sometimes feel cheated when I see him and her together.
Does she, at least, know you guys are together?
Kene: I suspect she knows. But we’re also pretty discreet. We haven’t told any of our mutual friends, and it’s not like we steal kisses in the kitchen when she’s in the living room or anything like that.
Dave: We’ve talked about it. I know there’s no way to tell her now without breaking her heart and letting her down. But at the same time, I’m being the best possible boyfriend to her in every other way I can think of. That must count for something.
I’ve always been open to her about being bisexual, and she knows how close I am to him.
Kene: That’s why I think she already knows but doesn’t want to address it.
Aren’t you guys scared this might blow up in your faces?
Dave: A little.
Kene: Not really.
What do you fight about?
Kene: Being his side chick even though I came first.
Dave: We’ve never fought about that.
Kene: But we should.
Dave: Our first fight was over him scratching my car after I told him not to drive it out because he was a little tipsy. This was in 2019 or so. I’m just glad nothing happened to him.
Kene: He doesn’t like it when I’m on the phone for a long time. We fight about that a lot. But my work can be very demanding.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your Love Life?
Kene: Hmm. 8? 9? Something high. I only feel down when I find it hard to imagine our future together.
Dave: I’d say 8 or 7. I know I’m not being true to you or my girlfriend or even myself. I know I need to make a decision very soon as we’re not getting any younger.
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