Love Life is a Zikoko weekly series about love, relationships, situationships, entanglements and everything in between.
Damola*, 28, has been dating Robyn*, 27, and Imani*, 25, for a few months now. For today’s Love Life, they discuss navigating jealousy in a non-monogamous relationship and how honesty makes it all work.
What’s your first memory of your partner(s)?
Damola: Let me answer this chronologically. My first memory of Robyn was at one of the #EndSARS protests. I was chilling with my guys in my car when a friend brought her over.
She was looking for company because she had come alone. She sat in the car for a bit, but she didn’t say a word. To be fair, we were all talking about sex. I thought she was cute, but I didn’t pay much attention until we bumped into each other weeks later.
My first memory of Imani was in a Clubhouse room. I saw her face and knew I had to find her Instagram. I followed her as soon as I did, and she followed me back. After a few days, we were FaceTiming.
Robyn: I had been going to the protests for about a week by myself, so I reached out to a friend. That’s how I ended up in Damola’s car. I remember him talking about liking bumbum, so I didn’t think he was focused.
I ran out of the car after two minutes.
Imani: My first memory of Damola was on Instagram. He followed me, I checked out his profile and thought he was pretty cute. He messaged me, and things just kind of picked up from there.
When did you realise you were into each other?
Damola: It was definitely after the first conversation with both of them. For Robyn, it was on our first date. For Imani, it was over FaceTime. I can usually tell I like someone from how much we have to say to each other.
I’m drawn to women who teach me things, and I learnt a lot from both of them the first time we spoke. They were very interesting conversations — the kind where you completely lose track of time.
Robyn: I found him intriguing after our first conversation, and as time went on, I realised how attentive and caring he was. He wasn’t like those sleazy Lagos guys who change their personality to get a babe. He was consistent.
Imani: I can’t pinpoint exactly when I realised I was into Damola. I remember telling him I only wanted to be friends, and he was really cool about it. We continued talking, and I just found myself falling for him.
Damola, how would you define these relationships?
Damola: I think, primarily, they are friendships. I’m friends with both of them, and as with most friendships, there are similarities and differences. Then on top of that, there’s a sexual and romantic nature to them.
I struggle with defining what romance is, but I know I enjoy it and am good at it. I genuinely see them as my good friends, and I also just happen to be very attracted to both of them.
Robyn, do you agree with that definition?
Robyn: Yeah. When we first met, I asked him what love looks like to him, and he said, “Friendship”. So, yeah, we’ve been really good friends. This will sound corny, but I think he might actually be my best friend.
Imani, what about you?
Imani: Yeah. Damola’s definition is pretty accurate.
Damola, is this kind of romantic situation new for you?
Damola: Not really. I’ve been non-monogamous for the past two years, but what is new is feeling this level of comfort with my partners. With them, I don’t need to worry about my intentions being misunderstood.
I mean, the fact they even agreed to this interview says it all.
Robyn and Imani, is non-monogamy new for you?
Robyn: Yeah. This is definitely all new to me, but it was surprisingly easy to accept. At this point in my life, I don’t want to feel caged by anyone or anything.
His honesty was also very refreshing. I asked him to always tell me about his other women, and he does. That made me feel comfortable with the whole thing. I never want to feel or look crazy, so I’d just rather know.
Imani: The concept is new to me too, but I find it freeing, non-possessive and non-controlling. That’s everything I’m running towards right now. I’m trying to stay away from relationships that make me feel trapped.
Damola, so you told Robyn about Imani when you met?
Damola: Not instantly. I just talk about my life in passing and things come up organically. I think I was talking to my sister about Imani, and Robyn was there.
For context, I’m generally paranoid about getting into relationships like these because I never know how much honesty women actually want. So when they say, “I can deal with this,” I’m usually sceptical.
Robyn reassured me that she was fine with hearing about it, and that made me comfortable, Since then, I’ve been pretty open about it. I talk to Robyn about Imani the same way I’d talk about any other friend.
Robyn, is jealousy something you’ve had to navigate?
Robyn: No, I wouldn’t say I’ve dealt with jealousy, but something new happened recently. Damola and I have been spending a lot of time together in the past couple of months, so it was odd not seeing him for a while.
I wouldn’t call it jealousy. I was just missing my friend.
Damola, why didn’t you see Robyn for a while?
Damola: There was an expectation that I would be spending a lot of time with Imani. We hadn’t met in real life before, and she flew in from Canada to see me. So, we’ve been hanging out a lot before she leaves.
Robyn: To be fair, I was actively avoiding him too. I didn’t want him to feel weird about any of it. I’m travelling out of town for a bit, and it’s one of the reasons why.
I figure he won’t have to worry about spending time with me, so he can just enjoy these weeks with Imani. If I’m around, he’ll be worrying about me feeling lonely, and I don’t want that.
That’s sweet. Imani, so you actually flew in for Damola?
Imani: Yeah. That was like 80% of my reason. The other 20% was me needing a change of pace in the middle of this pandemic. I wanted to escape Canada for a bit.
Damola, how does long-distance work?
Damola: It just does. Imani and I are typically in front of our computers for work, so we just always have each other on FaceTime — we don’t even need to be talking. That’s how we spend time together.
How does this differ from your relationship with Robyn?
Damola: I don’t really think about differences between both relationships, but I’d say the most obvious way it differs is that Imani and I actually spend most of the time we’re together talking.
Imani: To be fair, that’s because we can’t have sex for most of it.
Damola: LMAO. True. Anyway, I don’t feel like the distance diminishes the value of the relationship at all. But that could also be because, in my head, I know it won’t be long-distance forever.
I plan to split my time between Lagos and Canada.
Wait. Are you doing that for Imani?
Damola: Nah. It’s something I’ve always planned to do.
Oh ok. So, how do you typically manage your time?
Damola: I’m just very good at time management. It also helps that I’m genuinely friends with the women I’m with, and as a result, they become friendly with my other friends.
So, even when we can’t make time to hang out alone, we can all just hang out in groups. I think managing my time and relationships, both platonic and romantic, just comes naturally to me.
As I get busier with work, I’ll probably have less time for as many people, but I don’t think that affects me being non-monogamous. It’s what anyone who has many friends will have to do at the end of the day.
Do you think about what this looks like long term?
Damola: I do expect the relationships to evolve, but I don’t really have conventional ideas about relationships. For example, I don’t think about marriage. I doubt that will change.
I don’t have any picture of the future that is fundamentally different from what we have now. The one thing I hope is that no matter what happens, we remain friends.
Imani: I’m not thinking too far ahead because everything in life is pretty uncertain. I don’t know what could be different down the line, but hopefully, we’ll still be good friends.
Robyn: To think about this long term would be to ignore the very foundation this was built on. So, no, I definitely don’t sit around and think about what the future holds.
At any point, if either of us wants to stop with the romantic and sexual aspects, that’d be fine. We should still be able to maintain a friendship because that was the whole point of this in the first place.
How is this relationship different from your past ones?
Imani: Besides it being a non-monogamous situation, it’s more open and honest than any relationship I’ve ever been in. My past relationships were also very controlling, and this is nothing like that.
Robyn: I’m starting to sound repetitive, but it’s the honesty for me. I never used to believe guys when they swore they were being honest, but that’s not the case with Damola.
Damola: I’m less paranoid than I usually am. I’m not expecting anyone to try and spring monogamy on me. It helps that I met both of them at a time when the last thing they wanted was for a man to try and own them.
Damola, do you need or want the women in your lives to interact?
Damola: I don’t care. If they want to, that’s fine, but I don’t need them to. This interview is actually the first time they are interacting. The relationships are separate and have nothing to do with each other.
Robyn and Imani, do you feel the need to interact with each other?
Imani: I don’t feel the need to interact with Robyn or anyone else Damola is seeing. Not because of any ill intent towards them, but because it doesn’t affect what we have.
Robyn: I don’t feel the need either. Not at all.
Are both of you currently seeing or open to seeing other people?
Imani: I’m not currently seeing anyone else at the moment, but I’m not opposed to it. I mean, I’m not actively looking but if I met someone else that I liked, I would date them.
Robyn: I’m not either. If I meet someone I like, I guess I’ll just have the conversation with Damola. This situation doesn’t come with an instruction manual, so I’m winging it. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.
What do you like the most about each other?
Damola: It’s a bunch of things. I like that they teach me things. I like that they are both risk takers. I also like that they aren’t held back by society’s expectations of them. They are also super hot — I like that a lot.
Imani: I like Damola’s mind and the way it works. If it didn’t work the way it did, he probably wouldn’t be as honest, open, intelligent and easy to talk to. So, yeah, it’s his mind for me.
Robyn: I don’t think I can pick just one thing. I like being around him, spending time with him, picking his brain and just talking for hours. I like everything about him.
How would you rate this relationship on a scale of 1 to 10?
Imani: So far, it’s been 10/10. I haven’t had any issues, so I think that’s a fair rating. Awkward if it’s not the same for him.
Damola: If you think they’re not both getting 10/10, then you must think I’m a stupid man.
Robyn: Looks like we have 10s across the board.
*Names have been changed for anonymity.
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