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

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What’s your earliest memory of each other?

Tonye: I actually can’t remember. We were friends of friends for the longest time. He was a childhood friend of my closest male friend from secondary school. As we became adults, we found ourselves in the same friendship circle. 

I think the only reason why we weren’t close at first was because his family relocated to Jordan when he was in secondary school, so he’d only come back to Naija with the IJGB crowd in December. Between 2013 and 2018, you could just tell he loved the whole Detty December Lagos vibe and never missed it. 

We got to know each other better with each of his visits because we’d find ourselves at the same holiday events at least once or twice each year.

Peter: But I remember exactly when we met for the first time. It was at a mutual friend’s beach hangout in December 2011. We said hi to each other once, and that was it. The second time was when I came for summer the next year. We met briefly when your best friend came to pick up something from you on the way to a party you refused to attend.

Tonye: Oh yes. That day. I keep forgetting.

And I didn’t refuse to attend. You guys just threw the invitation at me last-minute and expected me to drop everything.

Peter: You need to embrace spontaneity more. That’s one of your weaknesses.

Deep. So when did you realise you liked each other?

Tonye: I always found him attractive, but just as a thought. By 2014, when I’d gotten used to hanging out with him. I noticed that I thought about him for a long time after we had any interaction. 

In December 2015, I was seriously looking forward to seeing him even though we weren’t really friends. He has this carefree, “sure of himself”, clever attitude that just drew me in. Before he came, I found myself asking his friend about his relationship history. That one told me he hardly ever dates or doesn’t date for long, so I told myself to calm down.

Peter: But when I came that year, we only saw once. And it’s not like she tried to reach out or even give me a clue that she liked me.

On the other hand, I was a stupid boy back then. My head wasn’t really in the space for committed relationships.

I see

Peter: It wasn’t until around March 2016, when we had this long-ass, out-of-the-blue FaceTime call that we really connected. 

We’d had a conversation on the TL about something that went viral on Twitter, and that’s when I found out she’s one of those fierce feminists. So I popped into her iMessage and asked if she wanted to FaceTime about it. I don’t even know why I asked. I found feminists curious back then, so I made it a point to have these obnoxious conversations with all my female friends who were feminists.

Tonye: Oh God.

Peter: Well, when we FaceTimed, I loved that she looked so good in her natural state. Her hair was messy, her face looked fresh, and even her bedroom voice was everything. 

And I realised she wasn’t really hardcore with her feminism. She was so cool and chill, and we went on to talk about our other interests. That’s when I considered the idea of dating her for the first time.

Tonye: But first, he just wanted to sleep with me.


Tonye: Yes. He was pretty vocal about it. But one ocean kept us apart, so nothing happened. We just kept up a long-distance friendship and got to know each other more. It was around this time in 2016 that he confided in me that he had a temper he was working on. 

He mentioned this while he was talking about an altercation he’d had at work in the US, where he’d moved to in 2010. He got so angry that his whole body hurt just from the anger. I didn’t understand it; he explained that his anger takes over his whole body sometimes, and he feels so helpless about it. I’d never heard about something like that before, so I just told him to try to see a therapist.

Peter: I was more excited than ever to come to Naij that December, and that’s when it really sank in that I might like her.

Tonye: I was nervous because I still believed he only wanted sex. At first, I told myself I didn’t mind that, but when I saw him the week before Christmas at someone’s get-together, I changed my mind. I knew I couldn’t handle just sex with him, and I told him there and then.

Peter: We both laughed and then went on to enjoy the event with our other friends. We didn’t see each other again. When it was time for me to leave in January 2017, I called her on a whim to ask if she wanted to come with me and a bunch of my friends to the airport. As usual, she claimed last-minute and refused. 

As soon as I landed in Dallas, I started missing her. Although I got back into the flow of work, my friends and relationships there, at the most unexpected moments, I’d just remember her smile or smell. It was crazy.

Please, tell me you started dating soon after

Tonye: Nope. 

Not until December 2018 when we met up at his friend’s lounge. That’s when he asked me out. I told him it wasn’t possible because we lived different lives in different continents and only saw each other once a year. He said he’d move to Nigeria to make it work. I thought he was crazy.

Peter: I wasn’t, as you can see. I honestly didn’t see it as a big deal at the time. I’d spent the first 14 years of my life in Nigeria. I still had some family and friends here, so it wasn’t that crazy of an idea to me.

Tonye: I told him to do it first. In my mind, that was it. I thought he’d never talk about it again. 

We met up twice more on some outings with friends, then I invited him to my apartment warming just before he travelled back in January 2019. I’d just moved into my very first place after living with my parents all my life. 

That was where and when we had our first kiss — a short and warm kiss that happened after he followed me into my bedroom without me noticing. We just kissed, laughed and left the room again. 

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How did things advance?


: I started thinking hard about how to relocate to Nigeria without being broke and jobless. 

The first thing I did was speak to my dad about it. He didn’t freak out like I thought he would. He just advised me not to do it all at once. Instead, I could get a job or start a business in Nigeria, or do both, then gradually move my things and only quit my job in the States when I have everything settled. I did that. 

I offered to help a friend run operations at his start-up. I also used my life savings on an apartment and car I could lease for Uber if I didn’t end up making enough money to keep up a decent lifestyle. All of this took several months of me going back and forth between countries.

Tonye: I didn’t know any of this was going on at the time, mind you.

Peter: I didn’t want to tell her until I’d quit my job in Dallas and there was no going back. This was in September 2019, so when I called and said I was in Nigeria, she didn’t believe me because it wasn’t December yet. I offered to come to her not-so-new apartment to prove it.

When did you both know you’d fallen in love?

Tonye: I mean, when I found out he’d actually relocated to Nigeria. I know it wasn’t entirely for me, but still.

But you barely knew each other

Peter: And we probably never would’ve if we still lived continents apart. I just wanted to give us a chance. There was really nothing holding me back in Dallas. In fact, that city represents most of the trauma I’ve experienced in life — bullying, discrimination, addiction and more. I think I would’ve moved back sooner or later.

Tonye: I think also having a lot of mutual friends at that point helped make us feel super close. We’d been in the same circle for almost a decade at that point, so we were familiar. My mum already knew about him because he’d somehow come up in our conversations about my life.

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Do you remember what your first major fight was about?

Tonye: Yes. Our first major fight was major indeed. It was when I realised what he meant by having a temper. It was scary.

Tonye: I won’t get into details, but like two months after we decided to start dating in September 2019, a friend of ours invited us to a thing. The friend sent the invite through me, and I didn’t know it was because he’d had a falling out with Peter sometime before. 

The whole thing ended with us having a huge fight about it, where he went on a rampage and became another person for up to an hour. I locked myself up in his room and cried the whole evening.

Peter: I’m so sorry.

Tonye: We took a break for some weeks because the experience was so jarring.

How did you guys come back from that?

Tonye: He’s really good at begging for forgiveness, and I’ve come to realise he’s truly helpless to how he reacts to things that upset him. But before I agreed to continue dating, I made sure he committed to seeking therapy and anger management counselling.

Peter: I did it right away. It was bloody expensive but worth it. There’ve been way less episodes since then.

When you say less…

Tonye: I don’t think it’s something he can ever completely heal from because it’s triggered by some deep-set trauma we’d prefer not to get into. At many points in our relationship, I’ve questioned my decision to stay, but at the end of the day, our love and commitment to each other have grown stronger from these experiences. 

For example, the lockdown of 2020 was a huge trial and defining period in our relationship.

Peter: She’d moved in by then. I fell off a few times during the lockdown, and each time, I was so terrified she’d leave, but she didn’t. I knew I had to ask her to marry me in December 2020 when the heat had blown over a bit. Plus, December was our season. For so many years, we only ever saw in December.

Tonye: We didn’t get married for almost another year though because he worked really hard to convince me I’d be making the right decision by sticking with him despite his emotional struggles. Navigating his tempers is still a work in progress for us.

What’s the best thing about being married to each other?

Tonye: We’re sensitive and considerate of each other. This might be controversial, but I’d say I have his temper to thank for that. We don’t give room for even the slightest of anger in our home because we know how destructive it can be, so we’re constantly checking on each other, trying to do right and apologising instead of taking offence. 

Peter: And we’d rather leave the room to clear our heads, then come back and discuss touchy subjects. We don’t let it blow over just for the fun of it. My favourite thing about us is how attuned we are to each other’s pet peeves, and we have all these little things we do to calm each other down.

Tonye: Like I know you hate it when people tease or casually insult you or anyone you care about. So I try as much as possible not to.

Peter: But I also don’t like that you litter and casually stand and talk in open passageways.

Tonye: I don’t like when you just randomly shout in the house because of sports or gist, or dip your finger or cutlery in my food.

Peter: You also don’t like when I try to go on as normal after clearly offending you. It’s been my flawed attempt at keeping my temper in check for years, but I’m unlearning. 

Tonye: I also don’t like when you skinny-shame me.

How would you rate your Love Life on a scale of 1 to 10?

Peter: 10. I’m so lucky you’ve decided time and time again to stick around.

Tonye: 10. It’s a blessing to watch you slowly grow and heal, and see how committed you are to doing better.

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