Love Life is a Zikoko weekly series about love, relationships, situationships, entanglements and everything in between.
The subject of this week’s Love Life are two young people in love. Obi* (22) and Elizabeth* (21) have been dating for almost three years. Between lockdown, different schools and not-so-long distance, their saving grace is their parents’ awareness of their relationship.
Tell me your earliest memory of each other
Elizabeth: After I’d just left a not-so-great relationship in 2019, I decided I wanted to have a hoe phase. My friend introduced me to a couple of people, and one of them was Obi. We followed each other on Twitter, but when I scrolled through his timeline, it was just anime, manga and music. I didn’t engage in a conversation with him until I tweeted asking who wanted to play iMessage games, and he sent me his number.
Obi: A lot of people were playing iMessage games at the time. Plus, I’d followed her and didn’t know how to spark a conversation. I saw this as my opening.
Elizabeth, what was your hoe phase plan?
Elizabeth: I really wasn’t in a good place in my previous relationship and I didn’t want to dive right into another one. I wanted to mess around without any strings attached.
Then I started talking to Obi in October, and for the first few weeks, all we did was play iMessage games with the occasional “how are you” text. Then on the 16th, one of my friends who knew about him joked that the two of us would make a cute couple. But we never actually started getting to know each other until later.
When did it hit that you liked each other?
Obi: I realised I had a crush on her because I got jealous because she was talking to multiple people. I’d go through her Twitter account and see all the interactions, but I didn’t tell her how I felt yet because I didn’t think she felt the same way.
I’m a musician, so one day, I was checking out the songs I had posted on SoundCloud and saw she had listened to one of my songs so many times that it got to 1k plays.
Elizabeth: I was so embarrassed. I didn’t even know that SoundCloud notified you when someone played your song repeatedly. When he texted to thank me, he told me he had a crush and I shared his sentiments.
Shared what sentiments?
Elizabeth: That I liked him, a lot. When he asked me out a couple of days later, I told him to hold on. I had dated someone that year and didn’t want to date two people in the same year. It made me feel somehow because it felt like I needed time.
Did you wait?
Obi: For like a month. In December, I decided to go to an Island block party. I knew she was going and I wanted to see her. When I saw her, we talked, danced and I whispered in her ear that she should go out with me.
Elizabeth: When he met up, I drank a lot of alcohol because I was nervous. Not the kind that I wasn’t aware of my surroundings — just buzzed. He took care of me while I was in that state and that’s how I knew he was the one. When he asked me to date him, I agreed.
I said I didn’t want to date anyone the same year, but I really liked him. Before we started dating, there was a day I tried to text him, but the message wasn’t going through. I started to panic and my friend joked that maybe he’d blocked me.
It didn’t help that a mutual friend texted him and it went through. Turns out my network was glitching and he never blocked me. The way I reacted to the possibility of him blocking me made me realise that I liked him a lot and didn’t care if it meant I’d date two people in the same year.
Both of you were teenagers at the time. Was there a lot of sneaking around?
Obi: No, actually. When we started dating, I told my mum about it. The last relationship I was in before Elizabeth really broke me when it ended. I was sulking around the house and my mum didn’t like that she wasn’t told from the beginning. She said when I eventually started telling her things about the girl, she got bad vibes.
When I told her, she ran a background check on Elizabeth and that’s how my girlfriend became mum-approved.
Elizabeth: I told my dad first because unlike my mum, he’s a bit more chill about things like this. He just told me to be careful. My mum wasn’t told until three months after we started dating.
The last relationship I was in, my parents only found out after it had ended and my mother was very hurt. She had me when she was still in university and so wanted to make sure I was doing okay relationship-wise.
I think my parents trust me enough to know I won’t do anything ridiculous, but then my mum just wants to know who I’m with in case she needs to beat up someone.
LMAO, love it. You both started dating right before the pandemic. How was that?
Elizabeth: Terrible. My school had online classes and so my parents didn’t stress me about spending so much time on my phone and laptop. I was talking to him as much as I could and I really wanted to see him.
We knew we were going to be in a long distance relationship because we were in schools in different states, but we thought at least with school, we’d be able to see each other once school closes.
But then my school sent us home for a compulsory 2 weeks “break” and two weeks turned into months.
Obi: Six months into our relationship, which was my birthday, I decided I was going to see her.
She told me that if I wanted to see him, he’d have to come here. He agreed, and I got to spend time with him.
Was risking COVID something you both did frequently?
Elizabeth: Well, something he did. He doesn’t care about himself so he does things like that.
Obi: Here for a good time and not a long time.
And when the pandemic ended and school was what you had to deal with?
Elizabeth: It wasn’t as easy as we thought. Because of the pandemic, my school kept trying to make up for lost time. It’s a private university and we were kept on campus for about six months because I was in my final year. I couldn’t see him, and I was miserable.
Obi: Sometimes, I’d be on holiday, but she’d still be in school. It was very sad.
Elizabeth: But we found ways to make it work. We’d call, text and send gifts. It was hard, but we pulled through.
How’s it now?
Elizabeth: I’m done with school, and so is he, so we get to spend a lot more time together.
Obi: We run errands and go on dates. I like being able to spend time with her like this.
Elizabeth: Plus since our parents know about us, they don’t mind us spending so much time together. Sometimes, my mum even asks me why I haven’t seen him in a while, that don’t I miss him?
Which brings me to my next question. Do your parents get nosy and into your business?
Obi: Not really. And it works for me because I don’t like telling people when I go out. Whenever I want to leave my house, my mum asks, “Concert? Open mic? Elizabeth?” and I just nod my head that yes, I’m going to see Elizabeth.
Elizabeth: They don’t care. For the most part when he’s around, they mind their business. It’s only once in a while, when they feel like it, that they stay in the living room with us.
What’s next for both of you?
Elizabeth: In as much as all the people in our lives want us to get married because they want to wear aso ebi, it’s not something we’re thinking of right now. I’m 21. That’s child marriage.
Obi: I want to marry her, but I don’t have marriage money yet.
Elizabeth: We’re thinking of getting an apartment together. I like my own space, but I enjoy having him around me. I want to share my space with him.
How’d you rate your love life on a scale of 1-10?
Elizabeth: Oya, answer the question.
Obi: Why me?
Elizabeth: I want to hear what you’ll say.
Obi: Ladies first, please.
Elizabeth: LMAO. I’d rate it an 8.7 over 10.
Obi: I’d give it an 8.
Obi: 8 because there are so many things I want to be able to do for her but can’t. I’d tell you the things, but she’s here and it’s a surprise.