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

What’s your earliest memory of each other?

Cynthia: We met in 2015 when I was doing my third master’s in Unilag.

Jide: That caught my attention right off the bat. Why is someone doing three master’s, for God’s sake?

Cynthia: I did two in the UK just because I wanted to extend my stay. But Theresa May struck with her new immigration policy sometime in 2012, when she was Home Secretary. I had to finally return to Naij. To be honest, it was a relief.

Jide: This Nigeria?

Cynthia: Yes o. It was getting tiring to live in a country that didn’t want me. Anyway, I was living off campus around Yaba. And my roommate was his younger sister. We met for the first time when he came to drop off a gas cylinder he had just bought for her.

Jide: But then, we found out we went to the same secondary school.

Cynthia: And the same university in the UK for our first degree.

Jide: She’s obviously been stalking me forever. But strangely, we never met until that day in my sister’s apartment. I was too far ahead of her in school.

Sounds like the universe had decided your fate. When did you realise you liked each other?

Jide: My sister introduced us, and the three of us talked for a bit, until she got tired and left Cynthia and me together in their little sitting room. Like I said, I was amazed she had two master’s already, both in the medical field. Then I found out she was getting an MA in English because she was transitioning into creative writing and loved the same writers I loved.

Cynthia: I sent him a couple of my short stories and one unfinished manuscript—

Jide: Which she still hasn’t finished, by the way—

Cynthia: Shhh. I shared them with him, and he read two of the stories there and then. My stories tend to be esoteric because I like to read speculative and literary fiction, but he got everything I was going for. He even gave me some very sensible pointers to improve the character development. It was refreshing to have someone understand my mind like that with little effort.

Jide: I found out she knew and read Murakami, and it was all over for me. I was gone.

Cynthia: I still don’t like Chimamanda sha.

Jide: Hmm. We’ll forgive you for that one… for now.

And when did it turn to love?

Cynthia: I couldn’t stop thinking about him after he left that night. I tossed and turned in bed for hours, dissecting our hours-long conversation and revelling in it. He was really cute, and I was already imagining a love affair between us, but only within the confines of my imagination as a writer.

I really didn’t think anything serious would happen. I’d had too many experiences of long, drawn-out conversations with guys, mostly over the phone. But the conversations always fizzled out after a day or two; as if the person just ran out of things they were interested in talking to me about and didn’t think it was worth it to explore other angles. Admittedly, none of those people got me as much as he seemed to from the beginning. But I thought this one was too good to be true and would still follow that pattern, last last.

Jide: I was completely hooked. I hadn’t had such a good conversation with someone — about all the things I loved best —in years, possibly forever. People don’t talk enough about how amazing and rare it is to meet people who love enough of the things you love, especially the things you may be too ashamed to mention. On the first evening, I shared a few things with her I would normally never share with a stranger. I may not have put a name to it right away, but I was in love with her from that day. 

I got her number from my sister and returned the next day to give her my original Kill Bill box set. She’d mentioned it was her favourite Hollywood movie, and all I could think of was getting home and getting back to give it to her. I dropped it off and went straight to work.

Cynthia: I was so happy. I didn’t even know how to react, but he had to rush off to work. So I was off the hook for the time being.

I’m guessing that’s how y’all started dating?

Jide: We never made it official, and I take responsibility for that. But we started seeing each other every other day. We would be at each other’s, discussing work, school, books and our life ideologies. We’re both very deep thinkers, and we enjoyed sound boarding our ideas off of each other. I run my father’s engineering business, so we’d talk about diversifying the company’s investment portfolio and she’d refer me to all her many IJGB friends running one business or the other. 

A month after we met, you were more likely to find her in my house in Surulere than in Yaba, probably playing FIFA for hours on end. The only thing is she never slept over.

Cynthia: I didn’t want the awkward situation where I’d have to explain to a grown man why I didn’t want sex at 27.

Jide: If only she knew I would’ve completely understood. But I know she still wouldn’t have trusted me enough to take that chance at the time. I really didn’t mind her sleeping in her own place every night. I’ve never been a big sex person, and I’m a stickler for everyone respecting each other’s space and boundaries, so it worked for me.

Do you remember what your first major fight was about?

Jide: Yep. She lost the Kill Bill set just two months after.

Cynthia: I kept it on the TV stand in the sitting room of my Yaba apartment, and it just disappeared one day. Till today, I can’t understand what happened to it.

Jide: It was a special edition that’s no longer in circulation. It had miniature collector’s items inside and bonus content. Giving it to her was a huge sacrifice I made only because I thought maybe she would appreciate it more than me, being her “favourite film of all time”. 

When she told me she didn’t know where it was, I lost it. I was so crushed I didn’t speak to her for three days. I’m ashamed to say that now. A part of me didn’t like that she just kept it on her TV stand in the first place. I thought she would treasure it in her bedroom or something, like I did.

Cynthia: I wanted to show it off. He was so angry, and I could tell he was hurt. I felt so bad, but I was also angry that he would react so deeply to a material thing. 

Jide: I honestly got where you were coming from with that statement, but it made me regret giving it to you more. It made me realise I did value the box set more than you. And I saw it as a symbol of my willingness to sacrifice for you. We were obviously not on the same page about that. So I let it go. 

That was just one con out of a thousand pros in your favour. I called her on the fourth day and apologised for keeping away. I wasn’t going to let you go because of that.

Cynthia: Ope o. LOL.

How has this relationship been different from past ones?

Cynthia: From the first month, we were so certain we were in this relationship for the long haul. We never even had to talk about our commitment directly; we just started making big decisions together. Like us not attending jumat anymore, or you starting your real estate business and me querying US literary agencies for representation.

Jide: And finally moving in together after you got your THIRD master’s a year later.

Cynthia: Yes. That. I’ve never had any of that in my previous relationships. Everything with us happens so organically. No one is playing some game or trying to have some upper hand. We genuinely care about each other being happy and comfortable at all times.

Jide: Also, because our relationship was built on the foundation of mutual creative interests, we keep finding new things to love and share with each other. It’s so unique for me because we always always like the same things. So I’m almost never worried whether she’d enjoy something I want to share with her.

Cynthia: Like the time you were so obsessed with trying out recipes. First, you made kitchen “firewood” jollof with foil. Then it was ewa agoyin from scratch. That was lovely. I loved it because I used to dream about making things like bread and milkshakes from scratch in my kitchen, so I could make sure everything is clean and organic.

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What’s the most unconventional thing about your relationship?

Jide: We’re mostly celibate.


Cynthia: Yes. We only have sex on New Year’s because we try to start each year reviewing whether we want to continue on with our resolutions from the year before. So it’s basically a celibacy review session, a chance for either of us to speak out that, “I’m not doing again. I miss sex.” But so far, we’ve always chosen to stick to celibacy. 

This year’s review session was funny; we kept bursting into laughter when we made out. We didn’t even pass second base.

Jide: Why do you look so shocked? We’re both asexual. She doesn’t enjoy sex at all. And I’m indifferent about it. It’s an indulgence I’d been overstimulated with in my 20s, and now, I’m obsessed with the idea of complete purity.

Cynthia: It works perfectly for me because the idea of sex repulses me. In secondary school, I couldn’t understand why people kissed. Why would you want to exchange saliva with an almost stranger? I’m pretty sure my body is missing one or two sex hormones. Because I don’t feel a single pleasant sensation when I do it.

Jide: I feel the pleasant sensation, but not enough to make me miss it when I don’t have it.

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I’m curious how the celibacy decision came about

Cynthia: When he asked me to marry him in 2018. 

Jide: We’d been dating for over three years. We lived together. It was the natural progression of things.

Cynthia: But I said no, which confused him. He pestered me about it for days, and I didn’t know how to explain I didn’t want to have sex with him ever. I’d been scared about it up until that moment, and there it finally was, the point where I had to come clean or run. So one day, I came back from work early, packed all my stuff and moved out to my half-sister’s apartment.

Jide: I came back home and was so scared she had disappeared. She wasn’t picking up her calls either. She basically ghosted me for up to a week. The worst thing was I didn’t know the half-sibling she might have been with — she had at least four half-siblings in Lagos, all from different mothers. Her dad is dead, and her mum lives in another state. I had to work like a detective to track her down, grilling all her friends. I still couldn’t find her o.

Cynthia: I’m very secretive, so I didn’t even tell any of my friends I was leaving his house. It was the long emotional messages he kept sending me on all platforms that eventually got to me. I started feeling wicked for keeping him hanging like that. He sounded so earnest in his voice notes. We met up, and I explained to him how I never wanted to have sex with anyone ever.

Jide: Scratch my original answer to this question. How I knew I’d fallen in love with her is when I knew without a doubt that I’d give up sex to be with her forever. When I told her I accepted her decision, I was already contemplating life without sex and making peace with it mentally. I felt no panic or reservations whatsoever. I only wanted to make sure it wasn’t coming from a place of trauma. When she assured me it wasn’t, I gave in completely.

Cynthia: I was actually traumatised by walking in on my elder brother watching hardcore porn when I was 12. I didn’t want to ever be touched or have my body intruded in that manner, or any way at all. So I decided there and then that I would be a nun. When the nun thing didn’t work out, I chose celibacy.

How have the last five years been?

Cynthia: Our marriage has been an extension of the relationship before it, and it’s as beautiful. There are ups and downs, but we go through everything on the same side. Our beautiful conversations about every single thing make me feel alive. When we hug or cuddle, it’s after we’ve laughed so hard and bonded over books or music or a great new hobby, and I love every moment of that.

Jide: We now have two beautiful children we adopted in 2019 and 2021. We decided it would be cheaper than going the IVF or surrogate route. And we’re passionate about giving the children who already exist a home, rather than taking extreme measures to bring new life into this flawed and difficult world.

How would you rate your love life on a scale of 1 to 10?

Cynthia: 7. Every morning, I choose to love Jide again and again. He’s such a kind and giving soul. But there’s always lots of room for improvement, and I like to keep a very open mind for fresh blessings.

Jide: Hmm. 8. Only because I am always the more generous of the two of us, and I want to stay on brand. Cynthia motivates me to explore new things regularly, and I’m so grateful for that in my life. All we need now is a big dog.

Cynthia: Like a Husky.

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