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

What’s your earliest memory of each other?

Abiodun: Walking onto a train from Ibadan to Lagos and seeing her in the seat beside the one I was assigned. It was a fateful afternoon on May 21, 2022. After I sat, she looked at me with this bombastic side-eye.

Saidat: I did not. I was just hoping to travel without a seat partner that day. But he smelt nice, so I found myself smiling after a while. It was a nice first meeting.

Why was it a nice first meeting?

Saidat: He was a cool guy. I knew he was a bit older, and he acted his age. Very mature. We started a casual conversation some minutes into the ride. I think he mentioned how impressed he was with the quality of the train. He didn’t expect to be so comfortable. 

It was his first time on it. Meanwhile, I was serving in Ibadan and had schooled in UI, so I’d taken the train several times already. I commented that he thinks too lowly of Nigeria. That’s how we discussed other topics and three hours passed like beans. It was my fastest train trip ever.

Abiodun: I was immediately interested in her because of how smoothly our conversations went. I hadn’t had that in a while with someone I’d just met. I admired her smartness too. She’s an original efiko.

Where did things go from there?

Abiodun: Naturally, I collected her number as we got ready to disembark. I wanted to ask her if she wanted to get something to eat with me, but I was in a hurry to meet up with an appointment, so we parted ways.

Saidat: Once I left the station, I didn’t think much of it again. I think I told my elder sister about this guy I had a good rapport with on the train, then I put him at the back of my mind. I came to Lagos for an event and was returning to IB the next day.

Abiodun: I, on the other hand, couldn’t stop thinking about her, so I called the next day and was so disappointed she’d left for Ibadan already. I wasn’t due back till a week later. As soon as I got back, I called her again. I don’t even know why. I just wanted to see her in a different scenario.

And what was the next meeting like?

Abiodun: It took about a week before she agreed to go see a movie with me. We didn’t end up seeing the movie because they changed the schedule last minute, and we had to wait almost two hours for the next reasonable movie. We ended up sitting down for ice cream and pizza.

Saidat: It was fun. We talked some more, got to know each other. And I enjoyed the conversation once again. He paid for everything, including my transport back and forth. That’s when I knew this uncle probably wanted something more. But I liked that he respected himself and wasn’t too forward. 

I’d been talking to some other guys at the time, but he went to the top of my list quickly because we just got each other. Talking to him about personal things was easy, even over the phone. I also liked that he, unlike all the other guys, had a steady job and seemed to have his life figured out. 

We continued on in this talking stage until I moved back to Lagos after I passed out of NYSC in November.

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Why did the talking stage take seven months?

Abiodun: It sounds crazy, but it didn’t feel that way at the time. We were just taking all the time we needed to get to know each other deeply and be friends first.

Saidat: I was comfortable with it. We didn’t have to define anything too soon because I was at a point in my life when I was figuring out who I was and what I wanted. But then, the lines blurred while we were in Ibadan. We were technically in a talking stage, but soon, other things started happening. 

By the time I left in November, we were more like a situation.

When you say “other things”…

Saidat: Things got physical. I was a corper. I wasn’t taking life seriously at the time.

Abiodun: The attraction was there. The feelings were there. But she wasn’t just in the right frame of mind yet, and I wanted to give her the space to figure herself out.

Saidat: November came and I was back in Lagos facing the job market and full adulthood. Though we said we’d continue figuring out what we had, the new distance between us made it harder for things to move forward. We spoke over the phone on and off until it was getting to Valentine’s Day 2023. I told him I was expecting a lot from him since he’d been leading me on for so long.

Abiodun: I took a leave from work and came to Lagos the weekend before Valentine. We spent about three days hanging out. Sometime on the day itself, I decided we had to label our relationship once and for all.

Saidat: That night, he called me and said, “Can I call you my girlfriend now?” I wanted to say yes, but then, I remembered he was still based in Ibadan. I wasn’t hoping to live there again anytime soon. I asked if he ever planned to relocate to Lagos. He said no. I was torn. I couldn’t imagine myself doing long distance forever. So I posted him. 

I thought the relationship would end there, but guess who started visiting Ibadan every month from then on?

Hmm. A finished woman?

Abiodun: We went back and forth on our special train to see each other. She came more because it took her a while to get a job. Then she got a bank job and our visits reduced to every other month. At a point, my neighbours started calling her my wife. Mind you, we still hadn’t committed.

Saidat: I didn’t like the long-distance thing at all. I didn’t think it was sustainable. But I’d been talking to other guys and not a single one was meeting my small standards. They weren’t as easy to get along with as AB, so I didn’t want to let him go. 

He was helpful in ways I don’t get from these guys either. I mean, career advice and such. My relatives are helpful, but he just knows a lot about how to get ahead and helps me stay disciplined.

Have you guys worked out the distance problem yet?

Saidat: Nope. We’re still on it. I’ve been travelling to see him less since I got deep into office work some months ago. These days, I’m just tired and want to sleep any time I have a little free time. But we’re always talking over the phone, and sometimes, it feels like we’re already dating. Other times, it’s like we’re just best friends. I don’t know how to figure it out.

Abiodun: I know last last, I’ll have to relocate if I want this to work. I’m already searching for opportunities in Lagos. I need to show her I’m serious about her. But right now, she’s not even giving me face. I’m not so sure what we are anymore.

Are you sure about moving? Don’t you have family in Ibadan?

Abiodun: I do. My mum. But I live alone. If I move to Lagos, I can still always visit. Many of my friends are in Lagos already. It’s the place everyone wants to be. 

The only reason I haven’t moved since is because I work with an established company. I’ve been with them for seven years now. They retained me after my own NYSC, and it’s one of those jobs people pray for. I can’t just let it go like that. That’s why any opportunity that brings me to Lagos has to make sense.

Saidat: I’m not saying you should leave your perfect job for me o.

Abiodun: My mum won’t mind me leaving as long as it’s for greener pastures, and I can continue sending funds for my two younger siblings’ school fees.

Saidat, how does your family feel about the relationship?

Saidat: Only my siblings know for now, and they’re supportive. They don’t want me to move back to IB though. But mostly because they don’t want to be apart from me. My elder sister also doesn’t want to see me move in with a man so early.

Abiodun: I’ve met all her siblings, and they love me. I can’t wait to meet her parents too. It’s clear to see they’re such a close-knit family unlike what I’m used to. I can’t wait to experience that with her.

But what if you’re never able to move to be with her?

Abiodun: Never say never. There’s always a way. Why won’t Lagos have a good enough opportunity for me? It’s only a matter of time.

Saidat: Energy! I think we’ll be fine either way. Maybe I’ll talk myself into moving to be with him.

Abiodun: Something must sha happen. I’m tired of this one step forward two steps backward in our relationship. I keep thinking I’ll wake up one morning and she’ll say, “Sorry, I’ve moved on with someone else.” Distance is a bastard sha. 

Have you had a major fight yet?

Abiodun: No. No major fights.

Saidat: But we argue about the distance a lot. He also gets touchy when I tell him men are toasting me.

Abiodun: People are always in her DMs or chatting her up on WhatsApp. Why did I have to fall for such a hot cake, God? These days, I just take it in my stride and appreciate her for being transparent with me. It’s not like I’m not talking to girls on my side either.

Saidat: We’re not exactly exclusive right now. But I think deep down, he’ll always have my heart.

That’s nice

Saidat: Another thing we fight about when I’m at his place is little things like cleaning after himself and not wanting me to move things around too much. He lives in organised chaos and still acts protective over where things like his remotes or toiletries are kept. He’s getting too used to this bachelor life.

Abiodun: This is why you need to come and save me from it.

Saidat: Who is saving you?

Won’t this become an issue when you finally enter the relationship?

Saidat: If it becomes an issue, it’ll be a really small one. We won’t have to make into a big deal. I think it’s one of those relationship differences you have to tolerate. 

Abiodun: I don’t even remember the scenarios she’s describing. It’s definitely a small thing. We’re very easygoing with each other. We cut each other some slack because we know neither of us is perfect. Let’s get past the relationship huddle first.

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

Abiodun: We neva even start. 1 o. Or 2, just so you know there’s love there.

Saidat: Come on nau. Me, I’ll say 5. I think we’d have drifted apart a long time ago if we didn’t have something good. You’ve actually been my personal person in so many ways so far. Thank you.

Check back every Thursday by 9 AM for new Love Life stories here. The stories will also be a part of the Ships newsletter, so sign up here.

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