Love Life is a Zikoko weekly series about love, relationships, situationships, entanglements and everything in between.

Audio: We Found Love In A Hopeless Place

Nwando, 22, and Dave, 22, met in the strangest of places: a gutter. On today’s episode of Love Life, they talk about the sweetness of easy love, and the troubles of dating as young people.

What’s your earliest memory of each other?

Dave: The first thing I remember about this babe was that I met her in the gutter. Literally. I was passing and she was sitting in a dry gutter with my friend. He called my attention, introduced us, and then his attention was diverted by someone else, so I joined her in the gutter. And there we were, talking about the sky. The conversation tapered off and not long after, I stood up and left. We didn’t even exchange numbers.

Nwando: LMAO I hate how this gutter is a part of our story. But I guess we found love in a hopeless place. Anyway, my own version of the story is that we met through a mutual friend. I went visiting and Dave was around, so the friend set me up with him and left us alone. We talked about stress management, writing, stars, and some other random things I can’t remember. We talked about a whole lot, actually. In fact, we spoke about our parents too.

Dave: We did?

Nwando: How else did we know our dads were engineers? We revealed way more than just conventional strangers ought to. I should have known you had high kidnapping value at that time and cashed out.

Dave: And if I had known you would take me out of the streets, I would have renewed my vows to Lord Future on time.

LMAO. So what happened next?

Nwando: We started meeting regularly. I was taking a 400 naira bike to go visit him almost every evening. In those days, we saw ourselves as friends, nothing more. Besides, I was one year and seven months out of one yeye breakup like that.

So, with a love life rusty like zinc, I went to see man every night. Most of the time, we would talk or take walks, and afterwards, I would take a bike back home. It was fun, but let me not lie, it was the absolute ghetto.

Dave: Eheen, so you were out of a relationship for just a year and seven months? How come I didn’t know that? 

Nwando: Abeg, abeg, abeg. 

Were you the only one who did the visiting?

Nwando: See ehn. My friends thought I was ment. All the time, I was going to look for man. I was the Mohammed searching for a mountain. One day, the keke I was supposed to enter back to my place was robbed right in front of the one I finally entered.

After that day, I knew we had to find a balanced model for the visits.

Dave: To be honest, I knew it wasn’t fair to have her bear the major burden of the visits. We both liked each other, so mutually beneficial things like visiting had to be balanced.

Nwando: Hian. How did you know I liked you at that time, Oga?

Dave: Please dear. Would you spend that much money on transportation to visit someone for six days in a week? I knew you liked me, and I also knew you express things through your actions more, so I saw the signs clearly.

Nwando: Hard girl in the mud.

When did you both confess feelings?

Nwando: This is his favourite story, so I’ll let him tell it.

Dave: We were talking one day, I can’t quite remember what we were talking about, but I was in her presence and I felt this overpowering rush of emotions. The best way to say it was that I was head over heels. She was still talking, and I said something along the lines of “Hey, I want to tell you that I really like you.” Immediately after, I said, “Fuck it, I love you.” And she said she loved me too.

It was like my ears were hearing something else. It’s one thing for someone you like to like you back, but when you tell them you love them and they say the same, the game changes.

Did the game change for you both? 

Dave: Not so much, to be honest. We were just satisfied to be loving each other. Even though we were on the same page in terms of how we felt, I didn’t ask her to be my girlfriend yet because she was working on a lot of stuff. I wanted her to have a clear head first.

So, one day we were talking after a “session” and we approached the relationship subject. We talked about our red flags, our dos and don’ts, and what we wanted in partners. It was a really lengthy conversation. We ended with the agreement that we’d take a week or two to think about it. Two weeks later, I asked if she would be my girlfriend, and the werey said, “I consent”. I was like, “Give me a meaningful answer abeg,” and she told me it meant “yes.”

Hold on one second, Nwando. What does the “session” in your answer mean, Dave?

Dave: A deliverance session. The kind that makes holy water feel like acid when they sprinkle it on you afterwards.

Ahan, mad oh. I thought you were still in the talking stage.

Nwando: My dear, it’s called testing the waters.

Dave: We were talking, but we were also walking the talk too. 

LMAO, you both kill me.

Nwando: I’ll give it to this man. He’s very considerate. He did not pressure me with “when will you come and see me” or “let’s take it to the next level”. That period was really very tight for me, so even though we were friends and benefitting from each other in one way or the other, he didn’t rush me. Instead, he was in the background, cheering me and holding my hands through everything.

When he asked me to be his girlfriend, I just had to agree because he had shown to me an easy love, and he supported while I did something I always loved. At no point did he centre himself or his feelings. 

What is this something you always loved?

Nwando: School politics. He was involved in his own school politics as well, but he never felt intimidated. He let me be myself while giving me full-time support.

How long have you been together?

Nwando: Two years plus.

Dave: Two years, one month, and two weeks, if my math is correct.

Have there been any fights?

Dave: Yes nau. We’ve had some fights, but never a physical fight. They usually stem from our different ways of handling issues. Nwando is a reactor; she reacts to things in the way she feels at that instant. For example, I could do something she did not like, and instead of addressing it directly, she simply reacts or does something she knows I would not like.

On the other hand, I’m the kind of person who would put aside the issue so I can explain what exactly I find annoying about it. So, when she reacts in a way I don’t like, I tell her, “Nwando, I don’t like what you did just now, and here’s why.” And then she gives the reason for her action, and this just leads into an open conversation.

Nwando: One thing I will give credit to him for is that he has never shouted at me in an argument. He’s big on negotiation, compromises and discussions, just like I am. We’ve had a few “I’m not talking to you” moments, but because this man likes me to a fault, he’ll come so we reason together and talk it out.

David: And some other times, she comes to me and I cannot keep up the hard guy act around her. Besides, after I saw you cry, I swore I would never do anything to hurt your feelings again.

Cry ke? What caused the tears?

Nwando: So, there’s this mutual friend of ours, a lady, and both of them had a thing before we met. One boring night during the lockdown period, the devil said to me, “Accuse him falsely. Tell him you heard that something happened between him and the babe and hear what he has to say.” I did as I was told.

Instead of this man to refute the claims so I could feel good and tell him I was just pulling his legs, he started apologizing. I’m not a jealous person, but when I heard that, I was moved to tears. I just sat there and thought, “Hei God. Is this how I have used my hands to do myself?”

Dave: Wait a minute. It was a false accusation?

Ah. Trouble. 

Nwando: He cried and apologised too, and we sorted it. The next time — and this was a defining moment in our relationship — the devil said to me again, “Accuse him falsely.” And just like the first time, this man started apologising and saying it happened a long time ago but he didn’t bring it up because he was scared of making me cry. Me, cry for a man? Never again. There and then, I told him we had to talk. Nobody had a monopoly on moving mad. 

I told him, “See what’s going to happen: we have to open this relationship. We are too young to be monogamous when there is nothing concrete binding us for now. In the future when we want to take it to another level, we will close it. But for now, let’s explore other people.”

Dave: I opposed the idea. I was not comfortable with the idea of her hooking up with someone else. But she told me I had to choose one. It’s either open on both ends or closed on both ends. In her words, “We are not going to close the door and open the windows. We either close everything or open everything.”

Have you made any new discoveries since you opened the relationship?

Nwando: Opening the relationship made us understand that what we have is beyond sex. We have good friendship, love, fraternity, and a bond that is really very strong. 

Dave: And I have come to treasure this bond.

Aww. Is this where we begin the official wedding countdown? 

Dave: I’m not big on marriages, but Nwando has set the standard for what I would want in a partner. I have told her I will cry on her wedding day if I am not her groom. I will cry small and then eat wedding rice. 

Nwando: LMAO. We are taking the day one at a time. We have plans to marry, but we are not rushing. We are working on exploring our young adulthood, flexing life, creating our networks, building our careers and figuring out our different paths and all.

How would you rate the relationship on a scale of 1 – 10?

Nwando: 8. Nothing is perfect, not even with us. But he makes love easy and working towards perfection with him is realistic. 

Dave: Honestly, I would give it an 8 too. I think the beauty of a relationship is in the mastery of each other. Enough for respect, love, compatibility and independence from each other to still thrive. I am happy with her, and I don’t think I could have asked for a better partner.

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