Love Life is a Zikoko weekly series about love, relationships, situationships, entanglements and everything in between.
Angel*, 29, and Akin*, 37, are deeply in love, but they are trying to go their separate ways. For today’s Love Life, they talk about getting back together after their first breakup and finally choosing to “decouple” due to their religious beliefs.
What is your earliest memory of each other?
Akin: We met at a conference in 2019. She was one of the brains behind the event, and I was there as an attendee. Throughout the conference, I had my eyes on her. I loved the way she looked and spoke. I wanted to know her better. After it was done, I walked up to her, acting like I had a work-related question.
Angel: When he said he wanted to hang out, I thought, “Join the queue, mister.” After the conference, he came to the DMs. He was interested in me and wanted me to know. I liked the consistency and intentionality, so I gave him a chance. We had dinner.
How did that go?
Akin: There was good food and there was great conversation. I wanted to get to know her, but at that dinner, it felt like we had been friends forever. We talked about everything. Even when the weather changed and everything became cold, we moved to another spot at the restaurant with blankets and kept on talking. Everything felt right.
Angel: He told me he was going to marry me, and I found it funny. On our way back to the car, it began to rain. We sat together in the car, and he brought out a CD he’d made for me. I thought the dinner was incredible, but listening to the CD felt like we had unlocked another level of being intentionally loved.
Was that the “official” start of your relationship?
Akin: She had to travel a few days after the dinner. Honestly, I didn’t want her to go. I wanted to spend more time with her. So when there was a problem with her visa and the travelling had to be pushed back a few days, I whisked her off to the beach.
Angel: LMAO. The beach trip was what sealed it for me. I had all my answers that he was the one for me. After that trip, we talked all the time. It was intense. We couldn’t get enough of each other’s company.
I came back from the trip, and he sent his driver to come pick me up. He made special arrangements for my comfort. All the little things he did to make me comfortable really warmed my heart.
But it didn’t last long.
Angel: The intensity reduced oh. Gone was the man who had my time, the man who always wanted to talk and be in my company. He just didn’t have my time anymore. It didn’t feel like he was into me as much as before.
Akin: In my defence, I had just gotten a new job, and it was demanding. But she didn’t get it. After a few weeks of awkwardness, she decided to be upfront. She laid out all the problems and asked, “Do you want to break up?”
What did you say?
Akin: I said, “Yes.”
Angel: You can imagine. The relationship was only three months old.
Akin: As I said, I just got a new job and it was killing me. When I met Angel, I was still in the onboarding stage, so I had time to be myself and love her with complete dedication. A few weeks down the line, I was done with onboarding, and they threw the real work at me. I was anxious about failing, and I was fighting so hard to strike a balance.
She would DM me randomly, “Let’s do lunch.” In Lagos. On a workday. Who does that? The pressure was mad. I live on the mainland, she lives on the island. I would struggle to meet up. But I wasn’t giving her half as much as I had, and she could sense it.
Angel: But you didn’t tell me this, so there was no way I could know. It just seemed like 100 to 0 real quick. My first thought was, “Oh, so you have caught fish now, and there is no need to be intentional anymore, abi?” Saying that work was killing him didn’t seem like a very valid excuse too. It just seemed like a way out.
Akin: Angel has a unique work schedule, and she gauged everything else by it. Work didn’t interfere with her life as much as it did with mine. So she couldn’t connect with the reality of not being able to text her throughout the day.
I would read her body language and feel guilty, sometimes, irritated. I understood where she was coming from: she had seen better days in the relationship, and she wanted those days back.
I wanted to give her those better days too, but I couldn’t. The relationship that used to be a comfort for me now became a source of stress. So when she gave me the option of breaking up, I took it. I believe we were two right people who met at the wrong time.
Angel: You know what was most annoying? After he agreed to break up, he now said, “If I’m in a better place and still single, would you give me a chance?” I was pissed off. Like, you didn’t succeed in this round, and you are booking space for another round. Are you okay?
Not going to lie, I was deeply hurt. I had told him my experience with people and yet, he was going the same way too.
I’m so sorry about that.
Akin: I kept trying to make amends. We had agreed to let each other go, but I knew it came from a place of deep hurt and resentment, and I didn’t want her to go into the world holding on to that.
But this one? She held on tight to it. I’d call her and she’d be like, “Ehen, what do you want?” Or I’d say, “I miss us,” and she’d go, “Okay, what am I supposed to do with that information?”
Angel: Oh, the attempts at making amends were the worst. I was taking time out to heal, and each time he reached out, it felt like the wound was being ripped open again.
Akin: One time, I called her by her oriki and she fired back, “DON’T EVER TRY THAT AGAIN!”
Angel: LMAO. You that I was trying to get away from, you’re now using such tender language on me. Did my village people send you?
Akin: I wasn’t ready to give up. No matter how short-lived what we had was, it was a perfect reminder that the kind of person I wanted and the kind of love I desired exists. And I wanted her to see this too.
Angel: Ah, I remember the gift too. LMAO.
Akin: We exchanged gifts with each other’s names on them. And then one day, madam called me and said she wanted to give me back my own, so she could get hers back.
Angel: That gift was another reminder I wanted to erase. I was looking at it on my table one afternoon and I said, “Nah, the devil is a liar.” You know the funniest thing? A few days or so after I collected that gift back, mine broke. It seemed very symbolic. Almost like it was a breakage of all the memories the both of us had made together.
Akin: But then I found your slippers.
Angel: LMAO. This man called me months after we had broken up to say he found the slippers I left behind. I honestly didn’t believe him. Slippers, after how many months? But he sent me a photo of them, and so I had to go get it. I asked him to send it by dispatch, but he said he wanted us to meet.
Akin: Say the truth, you needed someone to talk to. Because, to be honest, I didn’t even think she would come. Anyway, we went out to get dinner, and it was like we were back to the beginning all over again.
That familiarity came back. Yes, it’s a case of once bitten, twice shy, but even in that shyness, I felt like I was home again. We caught up on old gist, told each other what we’d been up to, everything.
Angel: And then he said we should hang out that Sunday. At the beach. The beach oh. When he mentioned it, I was like, “The beach, AGAIN?” But of course, I went. And after we clarified where we were in our lives, Part 2 of our relationship began.
So that was Part 1… Okay, what happened in Part 2?
Akin: I wanted to try again. Angel knows how to love me. She gets it. She sees me beyond how I see myself. It’s almost like we’ve lived a lifetime together before and we understand each other so well. So I asked her if she would be willing to.
Akin: This is the most beautiful love I have ever had. This woman is incredible.
Angel: You are incredible. I must have done something good in another life to be loved by you, the way that you love me.
Akin: Thank you for loving me the way you do. Thank you for always being so intentional and gracious. I believe in healthy, kind love because of you.
Angel: You know how you always affirm me and gently point out how I could be better when I am falling short? Even difficult conversations are easy with you. I will forever be grateful to have met you.
So, are there wedding bells coming soon?
Akin: Why do good things have to have comma? [Sad sigh]
Angel: I am Christian, and he’s Muslim. His faith does not forbid him from marrying me, but mine does. I also know that the practicality of a Christian woman getting married to a Muslim man are not black and white, especially in our blessed country. Then there’s a part of me that worries I won’t get the blessings of my parents if I go ahead with the marriage.
Akin: I think we saw it coming. We talk about it a lot, even till now. There is so much love and our lives are so intertwined, but it doesn’t erase the other responsibilities that we have. We respect each other’s beliefs. Yes, we have found a common ground despite our religious differences, but that’s just the two of us. What happens when the children come? We are responsible to them, after all. And faith is a vital part of that responsibility.
Angel: I want my children to be Christian, and from his family, they believe it’s a given that his kids would follow his faith and be Muslims. My faith is at the base of a lot that I do, so how do I remove that when raising kids? Will they be confused? So many questions.
Yes, you can give children what to believe in, but you can’t predict how they will turn out. But there is a bedrock I am supposed to be responsible for.
He’s perfect the way he is. I have no intentions of changing or converting him.
Have you met the families?
Akin: I have met her parents, and they love me. And she has met some of my family members too.
Angel: Funny story. After my mother met him just as a close friend, she called me and asked, “What’s going on between you and Akin?” I know what she meant, so I answered and said, “Ah ah, mummy, you know he’s Muslim, right?” I was vague and kept one ear open to see how she would react.
And she said, “Good. Let’s not get carried away.”
Akin: It is tough. My family thinks we are not serious. They love us together, and they expect that she should just surrender for peace to reign. These are some of the practicalities she’s concerned about.
Angel: This is one of the things I’m worried about too: the community I am likely to lose once I marry out of my faith. What a Muslim-Christian marriage union would mean, going forward in a society like ours.
Why isn’t converting an option for either of you?
Akin: Neither of us cares to convert. We love each other, and we respect the faiths we profess.
Angel: He’s perfect the way he is. I have no intentions of changing or converting him.
So what next?
Akin: After an incredible relationship (especially Part 2), we have decided to let each other go. It’s tough, but I think it’s necessary pain. We call it “decoupling.”
Decoupling? That’s new…
Angel: We have decided to detach from each other slowly, rather than abruptly. An abrupt and total break-up cannot work. We are too interconnected to try that forceful method of detachment.
Akin: Think of it as trying to erase something gradually. We try to carry on with our lives separately, attempting to undo everything. We have tried seeing other people, for instance.
How has that worked out?
Angel: I’ll be honest. It doesn’t feel right. I find myself unconsciously holding other men up to his standard. Talk about physical attraction or intellectual connection, he is like the blueprint.
Akin: I have gone on dates, but I never follow up. Angel is the standard for me. She checks all the boxes. Even her hugs are different.
Angel: Yours too. I mean, they’re friendly hugs, because we’re trying to decouple, but the hugs feel different. And yes, I also admit that I get slightly jealous when I hear that he’s with other people.
Akin: One time, we were supposed to meet up, and I kept her waiting for like two hours because I had a female guest who refused to leave on time. She is a purely platonic friend, but she would not go home on time. When I eventually got to Angel and told her, you need to see the way she raked for me.
Angel: In my defense, he didn’t call me to inform me that he would be late. I was worried about him not knowing that our friend here was with a woman. Thank God I didn’t drive to his place to check up on him. I would have been so hurt.
Akin: In all, we have each other’s back. I know it’s cliché, but she’s the yin to my yang. She completes me.
Angel: Perhaps one day I’ll grow older and realise that the things I consider so important do not matter. Or perhaps we’ll find other people that are right for us and know how to love us the way we want. Everything will work together for our good and that’s what I keep holding out hope for.
Akin: I love you.
Angel: Me too. I love you so much.
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