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

What’s your earliest memory of each other?

Vanessa: We remember it very differently. 

He claims I snubbed him while I vividly remember shaking his hand as enthusiastically as I could manage. But it was clear there was negative tension there from day one.

Dare: It was at a bar, so we were bound to have different memories of the meeting. She was waiting for someone and was being rude to the barman. I just politely greeted her as I waited for my drink with a friend. 

Turned out I knew the person she was hanging with from school. The person reintroduced us, and we all ended up spending most of that night together.

How did that go?

Vanessa: It was fun, but we kept rubbing each other the wrong way. 

He always says I was snubbish to him and his friends the whole night. And he went home deciding he couldn’t stand me. For me, he barely spoke to me, so how did he reach that conclusion? I thought he was too distant, but his nice lips stood out to me.

Dare: Unfortunately — or should I say, fortunately — that was the start of us seeing each other almost every week because our mutual friends got close. One of my guys even asked her out. They dated for up to a year.

When did you realise you liked each other?

Dare: It took at least two years of hating first. 

Vanessa: Between 2017 and 2019, we’d meet at our friends’ get-togethers, parties, hangouts and everything in between. 

Dare: Every time I saw her at these things, I’d just be annoyed for no reason. It was either she was making comments about how someone should stop feeling good about their car because it was basically Uber drivers’ default car or she was being unnecessarily picky with her food. 

But I always noticed her, even when we didn’t talk to each other. I’d also think about one thing or another she’d done long after I’d left the outing.

Vanessa: I thought he was an asshole because of the way he looked at me when our paths crossed. His tone when he spoke to me was always distant, even after months and years had passed of us knowing each other.

Then August 2019 came, and we had to attend an event together for work.


Vanessa: I was chasing a deal and needed an introduction to one of the sponsors we were chasing. I asked within our friend group, and everyone pointed at him. He knew a key executive at the company directly, so I had to go to his private chat for help.

Dare: I offered to get her into an event where she could meet the guy personally. 

Vanessa: I jumped at the opportunity. I was struggling at work at that time because my KPIs had pivoted, and I had no idea how to execute the new expectations. But I didn’t want to let my bosses know so I wouldn’t get fired. 

We met up at the place, and for some reason, I started confiding in him about how lost I was when it came to pitching and closing sponsors. He pulled me aside before we entered the venue and gave me a crash course on what to do. 

Even though he was still annoying about it, I really appreciated that. I got to see a less cold side of him.

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Was this the turning point of your relationship?

Vanessa: In hindsight, yes. 

The drive back was interesting. We had this weirdly random conversation where he told me he didn’t usually date Igbo girls. I rolled my eyes so hard, but I also knew he was lowkey flirting.

Dare: We got to the venue separately, but I offered her a ride home. I had my dad’s car for the night, so I thought, why not?

Vanessa: I realised he was a kind person. It didn’t matter that he obviously didn’t like me, he was still cordial.

Dare: During the car ride, I discovered she was talkative. That’s why I was always catching her snide comments. She talked a lot and loved to make fun of things, including herself.

Did she make fun of you during this ride?

Dare: Nope. She was too busy making fun of herself, picking at everything seemingly dumb she’d done at the event. We became a lot closer after that. She needed me to strengthen communications with the guy we went to see, of course.

Vanessa: I think we also felt the beginnings of a real friendship. But then, a lot happened in the next few months. Like, the pandemic.

How did COVID affect this blossoming friendship?

Vanessa: Maybe because we’d just started being real friends before the lockdown, but we suddenly became the closest people to each other when it all went down. We were constantly texting. He and my mum were my major support system amid the uncertainty.

Dare: I worked in tech support, so I was one of the few people who had to brave the pandemic midway into the lockdown to be in the office. A lot of times, I had to sleep over there or at a nearby hotel. Our office was also thinning out because of the layoffs, so I had less and less company. 

It became a favourite pastime to text her and exchange jokes.

Vanessa: We spent a lot of time talking about our lives, families, exes, best and worst moments, things like that. Before I knew it, I had to confess the bitter truth to one of my friends, that I was crushing on him. 

She screamed, “I thought we hated him.” I laughed hard.

Did you tell him how you felt?

Vanessa: God, no. We still had about a year of sending each other mixed signals ahead of us. He was active in the EndSARS protests… 

Dare: While she stuck to social media protesting. 

Vanessa: We fought over that. He thought we had to all leave our phones and be more present at the protests. He kept trying to get me to come to the tollgate, but I never did. 

By December, we started attending hangouts again, and I noticed him get close to some other girl, so I told myself to move on.

Then one night, while I was out with a guy I was talking to, he walked up to our table to say hi. We chatted for a bit, and when he left, the guy I was with looked at me and said, “You know that guy likes you, right?”


Vanessa: Yes o. I just rolled my eyes, but inside, I was smiling brightly.

Dare: I don’t know what that one saw in five seconds of banter. He was right sha. We can go on and on, but the summary is we kept getting closer as friends until I decided to ask her out as a joke midway into 2021.

Vanessa: He made it seem like a joke, but I knew he was serious. He asked me to eat out with him at a nice restaurant and everything. Idiot.

Dare: Since then, we’ve been annoying each other into sticking together.

What does the future look like?

Dare: That’s something we hardly talk about actually. We’re not in a hurry to do anything at all.

Vanessa: It hasn’t felt like we’ve been together for three years at all. The years have just zoomed by, it’s scary. 

I know you’re wondering if we ever talk about marriage, but it’s honestly not the priority for either of us right now. It will make things too serious; we’re enjoying our current freedom to be whatever we feel like to each other at any given moment.

Dare: We’ll most likely be together for a long long time, that’s all I know.

Have you had a major fight yet?

Dare: Haven’t you been hearing us say we fought about this and fought over that? You think we were just exaggerating?

Vanessa: We fight o. All the time. Like serious shouting, and sometimes, crying.

Dare: We’re both really expressive about things we care about. We can fight over politics or how we’re budgeting for the month or our schedule for the day.

One day last month, I agreed to go with my friends to watch a show on the same day she’d wanted me to go with her for her friend’s dinner. I casually mentioned it to her over the phone, and she lashed out. I’d forgotten. She was so upset, we basically had a shouting match about how I never thought about her.

Vanessa: It was me screaming that he didn’t care about me and he screaming back that I was all he thought about. It was the cutest most triggering thing ever. We still shouted back and forth for a good five minutes. I still cried and didn’t talk to him for a day. And he still sent me “big head” as a text message on the second day.

And it doesn’t feel like the tension will add up over time?

Dare: Omo, there’s too much tension coming from outside, with work stress and price hikes to even feel anything but gratitude that we have each other.

Vanessa: I actually agree with that. There’s no time to overthink anything these days. We fight, we get it all out of our system, and then, we move on. It’s even therapeutic sometimes. 

Dare: The point is that we like each other. I’m sure the day we don’t like each other again, we’ll part ways, but till then, we’ll enjoy each other — the good and the bad parts.

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

Vanessa: 7. We’re toxic AF, but it works.

Dare: 8. You and who is toxic? I’m perfectly normal, please.

*Names were changed for anonymity.

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