Love Life is a Zikoko weekly series about love, relationships, situationships, entanglements and everything in between.
Ayo*, 26, and Joke*, 22, are classmates, roommates, best friends and ultimately lovers who have been together for over three years. For today’s Love Life, they talk about balancing a relationship with many intersections and not being able to stay broken up.
What’s your earliest memory of each other?
Ayo: I had just moved to a new school. I remember our class organised a freshers’ event that I attended. During the event, I saw someone distributing ice cream and cake to people in the room. She gave the people around me and skipped me.
Joke: You make me sound evil.
Ayo: I was wondering, “Why this?”
Joke: LMAO. You know why.
Ayo: Eventually, I asked and found out that I was supposed to pay for the event like my classmates. I wasn’t aware because I had not settled into school yet — I had other engagements taking my time, so I wasn’t always around.
I kept thinking about how beautiful she was, and I wanted to know more about her. That was when I started paying attention to her.
Joke: My earliest memory is different. It was our first day at school. We were all sitting in the lecture hall, waiting for the lecturer to come in. I am a very quiet person, especially in class. That day, I kept hearing someone’s loud voice.
Ayo: LMAO. Are you mad?
Joke: Mind your business. That was my first impression of her. I was just thinking, “Who is this noisemaker?” I looked back and saw her. She had locs, but she packed it like cornrows and was wearing a nice dress. She was sitting in a group with her friends making noise. In my head, I was like, “Who are all these ones?” She is a direct entry student, so we had not met before that day. I didn’t get any queer vibes from her that day.
Then fast forward to the freshers’ night. When I was serving the people around her, I saw the shock on her face, and I realised she wasn’t aware of the payment thing. Plus, she kept staring at me. I thought, “This is not normal staring,” so I kept passing, trying to steal glances. After I finished serving everyone, I took a cup of ice cream to her. I did not care whether she deserved it or not, but she left this part out of her story oh.
Do you remember when you started talking?
Ayo: We were grouped together for practicals and our results were completely different from the other groups’.
The next day, she came to my room. She had texted me before, but I did not reply. I think I was reading or something. She asked what result we were going to report. I told her we should report exactly what we got. After that incident, I saved her number.
Joke: We were even supposed to be roommates.
Were? What happened?
Joke: When we got to school, we knew we were supposed to pick roommates. I already had my own set of friends, but they told us to group ourselves in 5s. So we were looking for two extra people to make our room complete. I knew that our classmates who were in 100 level with us were already grouped, so I wanted people from direct entry.
That was how I got her number. Some people spoke to her and thought she was cool compared to other direct entry students. Before I could propose being roommates to her, someone told me that another person had asked her first, and she had agreed. I even saved her number as Ayo DE.
Ayo: LMAO. Wow.
LMAO. Tell me about when you both became a thing.
Joke: After the whole thing with our practicals, she remained on my contact list. I could see her WhatsApp status, and she could see mine, but we never talked. My partner at the time told me she got queer vibes from her. I was excited because I wanted more queer friends – people I could talk to.
I remember one time she came up to me while I was chilling in front of the library and asked why I was there alone. I told her I wanted to clear my head. I asked her why she was there too, and we slipped into a conversation. At some point, she asked about my partner. I asked if my partner could be a girl or a boy, and she said yes.
That was the day I confirmed that she was queer too. Another time, she posted something about being sad on her WhatsApp status, and I reached out to her about it. I found out that she was having some issues with school, so I invited her to go get ice cream. Ice cream helps me relax. She agreed to it even though she doesn’t like ice cream. I will let her continue from here because I know she has a lot to say.
Ayo: So, it’s not like I don’t like ice cream. It’s just that after a few spoons, I get tired. It was nice that she suggested it, and I enjoyed myself. She eventually ate more than half of the ice cream because I was wasting it and she doesn’t like waste. Do you know during that whole friendship date, she was on her phone texting?
Joke: Ahn ahn.
Wow. Joke, I’m side-eyeing you.
Ayo: We talked sha. It was mostly her wanting to be a good friend to me and take my mind off things. During this period, I was paying more attention to her, catching feelings on the low. Apart from this ice cream thing, anytime I texted her, she would air me for like 12 hours before replying.
I eventually figured she was in a relationship and took a step back. But somehow we got closer. We started studying together and sitting together in class. I wanted to be friends… or maybe I didn’t. When I want something, I go after it, but I wasn’t going to intrude on her relationship, so I was being a friend. I think things took a turn when she started having issues with the person she was with at that time, and she would come to my room to talk about it.
Joke: Nobody else understood the whole being queer thing.
Ayo: Yeah. So we got closer. She would stay in my roommate’s bed and study with me. Eventually, they broke up. That night, she asked me to come to her room. I stayed on her bed, but I could see she was sad.
Joke: This wasn’t a romantic thing oh.
Ayo: On her part. On my part, I liked her, but I was respecting her relationship. She was always giving me ela whenever I brought up romance. That night, I asked if I should sleepover, and when she said no, I carried myself to my room. I don’t know when we eventually moved from friendship to romance. One day she was saying no and the next day, her tongue was in my mouth.
LMAO. Wait. How did it escalate like that?
Ayo: I actually can’t remember because we were always together in my room. I think it happened randomly after we had spent so much time together and decided to stop fooling around. After we kissed, I knew we had gone beyond friends, so I asked her out, but she aired me again.
Na wa. Tell me how you asked her out.
Ayo: I was on my bed texting her. LMAO. I said, “I think I love you, and I want you to be my girlfriend”. She laughed.
Joke: LOL. She makes me sound like a bad person. It was unexpected. She told me she had something to say, but we play a lot, so I was expecting something silly. When she said it, it was a nervous laugh. She felt bad and turned towards the wall. I was trying to explain to her that I was just nervous but no.
I feel like my grandkids are going to hear that I laughed when she asked me out. I took my time to respond because I was trying to process what happened with my ex. I wasn’t actively trying to get into another relationship. I needed space.
So, how did the relationship eventually start?
Ayo: It was around my birthday. I usually make staycation plans with myself at a hotel of my choice. This time, I asked her to come with me.
Ayo: She wrote me a long letter which read: “You are officially not allowed to see other people”.
Awww. How long have you two been together now?
Ayo: 3 years, 3 months and 4 days. After the first year, we stayed in the same room. At some point, we were even bunkmates. So, we are not just dating, we are friends, roommates, classmates and best friends.
Wow. Do you remember your biggest fight?
Ah! Go on…
Ayo: In 2019, we had a lot of communication issues. We actually broke up. Other people were taking our attention. She had someone she was talking to, and I had someone I was talking to too. This caused a lot of fights between us, which lasted for months. But when you have invested so much into a relationship, especially when you are dating your best friend, it is difficult to walk away from everything.
At that time, we had been dating for two years. In the lesbian world, that is like ten years. We are best friends, so even when we weren’t being romantic partners, we always had a friendship. We wanted to make sure we had given our all to this relationship, so we decided to try again. It’s been good since then.
Joke, do you remember the exact incident that led to the breakup?
Joke: It was a lot of things, but I think at the time, school was extra difficult for both of us, and it affected our relationship. We did not get to spend as much time together because we were in different postings. It was mentally tasking, and we both didn’t do well with it.
It was weird for us because we usually found a balance between our school life and our relationship. This left room for us to start talking to other people who were available to us at the time. Imagine coming back from work after a shitty day and taking out your anger on your partner who is sad about something else. It leads to a fight and you both are not talking to each other. It became easier to talk to someone else about what was going on at the time.
This brought up a lot of communication issues that made things worse. Being in a relationship for two years, not having any major fights didn’t help when these things started happening.
That sounds rough.
Joke: Even after we broke up, we kept coming back to each other and eventually realised we couldn’t be apart. As she said, it’s hard to stay mad at your lover when they are also your best friend. I think that was what helped us get back together. We were able to understand what the other person was going through. Being apart didn’t work out so we decided to stay together.
How long did the breakup last?
Ayo: About four months, but we stayed in touch.
What did you learn about each other during that situation?
Joke: The break was good for me because I learnt how to communicate better with her. One of our major issues was that I had poor communication skills. I prefer to walk away rather than talk, and she is someone that likes to talk. She also fixed her boundary issues that I was not cool with. At the point we realised we could work on these things, we decided to give it a second try.
Ayo: I learnt that when she is going through something, she turns to distractions to take her mind off it. A distraction could be a person. I learnt to always be there for her and get her to talk even though she doesn’t want to. We have a lot of difficult conversations.
She likes to know she has me in her corner and no one is taking her place. I am the kind of person that forms strong connections with people. When I like people, I talk to them a lot. She complained I had boundary issues and so I communicated my relationships with her. We learnt to work on things because they will always be other people, so we had to sit and sort it out.
What is your favourite thing about each other?
Ayo: I love that when she sets her mind to do something, she just does it. Since we have been together, I’ve watched her start her business, chase one job or the other. She can talk about wanting something and within the next week, she has achieved it.
Joke: I know she is talking about life goals and determination, but I love her eyes and her smile. I have always told her this. Sometimes I am mad at her and I see those eyes and I feel calmer. She has really pretty eyes, and I like her smile, especially when she is smiling at me.
Rate your relationship on a scale of 1 to 10.
Joke: 9, the 1 is for when she is annoying me.
Ayo: Same. Because she can be really annoying.
*Names have been changed for anonymity.
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