Love Life is a Zikoko weekly series about love, relationships, situationships, entanglements and everything in between.
What’s your earliest memory of each other?
Kola: The very first WhatsApp video call we had in July 2020 after a friend of a friend linked us up.
Peju: I told my friends I wanted to end my year-long celibacy run. I hadn’t been in a proper relationship in over a year, konji was being an epic bastard and the lockdown only made it worse for me.
As soon as it was over, I begged one of my most outgoing friends in our group, until she gave me three guys’ numbers. At first, I was uncomfortable about calling them, but I told myself I wouldn’t have wanted her to give my number to a bunch of random guys.
Kola: But they still got your number when you reached out to them sha.
Peju: I only called one of them and we texted for about a week when I reached out to you. We had the video call the next day because he was desperate to see my face.
Kola: I wanted to be sure the DP was real.
How did the call go?
Peju: It was the world’s longest video call. We were on it for about five hours, but remember that this was post-lockdown when we all seemed to have too much time on our hands. We didn’t exactly talk throughout. We just kept the call going while doing other things, with occasional comments and grunts.
Kola: It was a very comfortable call, and neither of us could end it until MTN eventually ended it for us. But it helped set the tone for us.
Peju: We had similarly languid video calls every other day until we met in person in September. We’d long since agreed to go get drinks as soon as we were both comfortable enough to be outside. And also when the sensible Abuja spots had opened up.
Kola: We met for drinks and the vibe matched up in person. That was the start of our highly convenient situationship.
Why a situationship?
Kola: I’d just gotten out of a long relationship and wasn’t looking to get into another one so soon.
Peju: I was still getting used to the idea that the pandemic wasn’t going to lead to the apocalypse. So you can say I was in the “We’re all going to die tomorrow” mood. I just wanted good sex to guide me into the afterlife well. My priority was, “Will this man bring me the end-of-the-world-level smash I needed?” When we met, I was pretty confident he would just because of how much I wanted to hug him and never leave his arms.
Kola: I was a lot less morbid about the whole thing, but it was exciting to meet an attractive woman who was pretty much ready to have sex right away. No hang-ups.
So did you guys do the deed right away?
Peju: Yes. He invited me over to his house the next day, and I ended up staying there for two days.
Kola: We did other things.
We played FIFA, she went off for a while with a friend of hers, and I worked from home for a bit. We didn’t just have sex for the whole two days o.
Peju: Of course. No one was thinking that, love.
The sex was alright, so we just continued having it from then on.
You’ve now been together for three years, so can I assume you started liking each other at some point?
Kola: I think we always liked each other. You can like each other and still be in a situationship.
We just weren’t ready to commit and didn’t try to force ourselves to. It was convenient the way it was, and we were both happy without trying to add responsibilities to it. I was still a bit heartbroken from my ex and also navigating risky waters at work at a time when layoffs and salary cuts were rampant.
Peju: I was going through personal struggles — family drama, unemployment, disillusionment — and was honestly in no headspace to cater to a proper relationship. I even started talking to someone else around Christmas time that year, and almost entered a relationship that would most likely have been toxic. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.
Kola: But she slept with him sha.
Peju: FU. We weren’t committed to each other then.
Anyways, he caught feelings first and asked me one day if I didn’t feel like we should be more. I was surprised because I believed the old African mother’s take that once a guy can sleep with you casually, he’d never be interested in a relationship. So I asked him what made him bring it up.
Kola: I think it was March 2021. We’d been friends with benefits for several months, and I wasn’t over it yet. I still always wanted to spend time with her. One day, I just grew curious about what she thought of what we were doing, that’s all. I wanted to know where her mind was at.
How did that conversation go?
Peju: We decided to give dating a try. I still didn’t have a job, and my home issues were still there, but it was all less overwhelming to me after the fog that was the COVID period. I was ready to be alive again.
Kola: I’d switched jobs and had better job security at the new place, so you can say I was feeling really good and confident.
That was until she suggested an open relationship sometime in May 2021.
Peju: I was afraid.
At some point, I realised I really liked this guy and became scared of the ensuing commitment. I was already anticipating breakfast and wanted to cushion the blow early enough. If we were committed but not exclusive, he’d either break up with me before I fell too hard for him, or I wouldn’t feel so bad anyway because I’d already have someone else.
Kola: She didn’t explain this logic to me at the time, but it would’ve still been the craziest thing I’d ever heard. I told her right away that I didn’t want one, and she just smiled. That’s when I knew it was some kind of test.
But we didn’t really become a traditional boyfriend and girlfriend until early 2022.
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What’s your version of “traditional boyfriend and girlfriend”?
Kola: Communicating multiple times a day? Always being in each other’s faces physically and virtually? Running the most mundane plans by each other? We do these things now. But in 2020 or 2021? Big fat NOPE.
Peju: Yeah. Even after we had the whole conversation about taking our thing seriously, we’d just have a few calls to check in on each other every other week. It went from calling or texting only when we wanted sugar to small emotional talks here and there.
One time, he dropped by my house — my parents’ house actually — and brought me this wide tub of goat meat pepper soup. That was probably the most touching thing that happened between us. It was more like we went heavy on the “friends” part of the benefits than we were dating.
Kola: But that was our process to get to where we are now, and we took it.
Peju: I enjoyed that growing period a lot. Just as I’m enjoying what we have now.
Would you say you guys are in love now?
Peju: I would. Yes.
Kola: Our version of it anyway.
We care about each other a lot, and I think of her as my best friend right now, definitely the best sex I’ve ever had. But we’ve made this decision to never marry or have kids.
Peju: Oh yeah. I’ve always known I don’t want to get married ever, and he doesn’t want children, so we made a pact.
Wait. Please, explain the root of these decisions
Peju: I lived with my parents all my life until I moved in with him last year, but believe me when I say it was the most toxic situation ever. So toxic that it took Kola’s strength to help extricate myself from it. I’d probably have never had the mental power to get myself out of there. My elder sister is still there today.
I lied to my parents that my new job gave me an apartment in Lagos. They still don’t know I’m in Abuja with them. I’m mentally preparing for the day my mother or relatives in Lagos decide to visit me. I’ll either lie that I’ve gone on a business trip or make a quick trip there and beg one of my close friends to use her flat.
Kola: Or just tell her the truth at that point.
Peju: What my parents have going on is a very abusive thing, and I absolutely never want myself to be so tied to someone — because of a marriage certificate and joint assets and children — that getting out when things get beyond toxic becomes impossible. I can’t let that happen to me after all I’ve experienced, trust me.
Kola: Mine is a lot more mundane. I just don’t want children.
I’m confident I won’t be a good father, and this world is too messed up to bring new beings into. I don’t want to be responsible for the experiences of a dependent. The idea that your child could go through trauma, and it’d somehow be because of something you didn’t even know you did, is too much of a burden for me to shoulder.
Peju: I’m completely aligned on that, TBH.
Add that to the actual pregnancy, labour and birth experience, and then, caring for children during that infant-toddler-child and even teenage period? It’s too much. If we were all being honest as a society, we’d confess that it’s all just too much. The pain and suffering in this life is too much jo.
What if you change your mind in your 40s, but then, it’s too late?
Peju: My mother had my only sister and me in her 40s. Rare, but it happened to my mother twice. And come to think of it, maybe there’s a reason she didn’t have us earlier. Maybe she wasn’t supposed to bring us into such a toxic environment, but she forced it. No, I don’t think I’ll change my mind.
Worst case scenario, me and Kola will freeze our eggs/sperm when we get to our 30s. Thank God we’re laser-focused on our careers now, so we may be able to afford IVF. If not, it’s the thought that counts, abi?
Kola: Of course, I’ll always have sperm, so I’m not that pressed to change my mind.
Peju: You just told the universe to give you high blood pressure or prostate cancer.
Kola: God forbid. You’re actually a mad person. But that’s lowkey why I love you.
Peju: Yeah. Anyway, we had this conversation over time as we opened up to each other about our fears. He already knew how much my family life affected me, if not from day one, then from the day he talked me into moving in with him last year. But it took a while for me to find out about his aversion to kids. We were making futuristic plans in January 2023 when he finally admitted he didn’t want them, and I was like, “You know what? I get it.” We made a pact there and then.
Do you remember what your first major fight was about?
Kola: First? Which one was the first now?
Peju: The toilet bag one.
Kola: Oh shit. That one was annoying. God. Small tone in my voice caused wahala.
Peju: It was one of my first few sleepovers at his place during COVID year. I don’t know how my black toilet bag found its way to his kitchen. All I remember is that it was dirty, so I unpacked it one evening with the intention of giving it a little scrub and letting it dry before putting my stuff back in.
But that never happened because, sex.
Kola: Anyway, later that night, I saw it on the kitchen counter when things were still a little foggy. I picked it up and said, “What is this?” in what Peju called a disrespectful tone and threw it in the bin.
Peju: Not just any bin o. The kitchen garbage can that had trash food and everything. I was so upset.
Kola: She screamed at me and insulted my life. I ended up throwing her out of my flat. Not one of my finest moments. We were still a “situation” then, so it didn’t really affect us. We just called each other the next time we needed sex — about two weeks later — and continued on.
Ahhh. And you forgot that was your first fight?
Kola: Oh, we’ve fought — a lot.
Peju: Yes na. Not every time love and light. Sometimes, you need drama and chaos for that healthy balance. It’s the struggle to be “cool” in relationships that used to cause see-finish o.
Agreed. How would you rate your love life on a scale of 1 to 10?
Peju: I was looking at you well to see if you’ll call any lower number. Hmm.
Kola: I’m tired of this person.
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