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

What’s your earliest memory of each other?

Nnenna: One Saturday in May 2018, I saw a new female friend’s Instastories where she was hanging out at this get-together. I texted her, and she told me this guy I knew was relocating. I was shocked and wanted to say goodbye to the guy, so I ran there. Only to find out this girl was lying just to get me to leave my house. 

Anyway, the hangout was fun. There were snacks and lots to drink, so I stayed.

That’s how I met Basil. He was one of the guys hanging out there. We started chatting randomly, but I ended up moving to a different guy and kissing him. Later that night, the hangout moved to someone’s street. Basil was there, and the first guy I kissed wasn’t. Basil and I ended up making out that night.

Basil: We kissed for a while. I got her Instagram handle. We talked for a while too. She went home. That night I slid into her DMs, and we started stalking each other on Instagram and SnapChat. More on Snap after a couple of days.

Did you know about the other guy she kissed, Basil?

Basil: It eventually came out because the guy was an asshole. The moment he knew I was starting to like her and talk about her, and we were going to be a thing, he started running his mouth. 

We run in the same circles. He’s a friend of a friend of a friend, so somehow, he was always in my house.

Nnenna: The guy was an idiot. Can you believe he had a girlfriend?

I told Basil about the kiss some weeks after that night. That’s when I heard that the guy had been using me to boast. He even started trying to invite me over for things, whether it was drinks or a hangout or to come to his place. I would send screenshots to Basil telling him to call his “friend” out. Someone who already had a girlfriend, SMH.

How did the drama play out?

Nnenna: Nothing much happened once the guy noticed I was ignoring him. I just stopped hearing from him or seeing him around when I visited Basil or any of our mutual friends.

Basil: Some of my guys confronted him. He eventually got angry and started avoiding us.

Nnenna: I didn’t think too much of it. Basil and I were going strong. I felt like I was completely in love with him because he made me feel special. We hung out a lot and were always texting or calling when we weren’t together. I loved that I had his full attention. 

It was easy because he wasn’t working at the time, and I was just starting an internship, so we had all the time and energy in the world. Then, he told me he was going for his master’s in England and he probably wasn’t coming back to Nigeria.

Ahh. What did that mean for your blossoming relationship?

Basil: My japa plan was in motion a long time before we met. I wasn’t even looking to enter a relationship when we started liking each other, so I was conflicted for a while. But refusing a route out of Obasanjo’s country because of love was something I didn’t feel was an option for me. My parents definitely wouldn’t have heard me out.

When I told her, I was so sure she would cuss me out and then block me, but she didn’t.

Nnenna: I wasn’t that strong. This was a few months after we met, and I was already falling hard. I cried myself to sleep the night he told me. But over the phone, I formed hard guy. I thought he was breaking up with me, so I said, “It’s alright. I understand.” 

A part of me felt he just used me for cruise because he knew he wouldn’t be here for long. He said, “This isn’t over between us. I want us to make this work.” But in my mind, I was like, “This boy is a liar, ahh.” I didn’t think long-distance relationships were realistic at all.

What happened after the big reveal?

Basil: I continued calling her every day until I got busy with travel preparations and all. I noticed she was withdrawing from me in terms of how open she was during our chats. Normally, she’d be so detailed about everything that happened in her office. How her supervisors were exploiting her for basic errands. How some woman kept looking at her anyhow. How her dad doesn’t take her work seriously. How the commute was draining her soul. 

After I told her about my trip, we started having slow, drawn-out conversations that felt more like we were mourning the relationship. It was bittersweet because I knew it meant she really liked me and would miss me. I was just happy she kept taking my calls and staying on them for hours even when we wouldn’t say a word to each other.

Nnenna: I was crying all the time. It was like I was a newlywed whose husband was going off to war or something. I couldn’t even tell my parents why I was moping around the house all the time. They didn’t know about the relationship. They didn’t even think I should be having one so young. 

I’m an only child. My friends didn’t understand why I was so sad because I barely knew him. He wanted me to go with him and his family to the airport on the day of his departure, but I didn’t. I told him I’d meet up with him, and then, I turned off my phone the whole day.

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But why?

Nnenna: I didn’t think I was strong enough for that. I also didn’t want that to be the way I met his family for the first time. Lastly, I still thought it was goodbye forever, but a part of me also wasn’t ready for the closure.

Basil: I was crushed. I cried as I left my family to go check in, and they thought it was because I would miss them. No, I was heartbroken. 

Nnenna: We didn’t speak to each other again for months.

Basil: I was angry with her for breaking my heart.

Nnenna: I literally felt the same way. See life.

How did things pick back up?

Basil: She just WhatsApped me one day after like three months, asking how school was going.

Nnenna: I missed him. I was angry he didn’t reach out, but I figured I’d make the first move, and if he didn’t return my energy after a while, I’d chop my L and withdraw. I thought, at the very least, we could still be friends.

Basil: To be honest, I hadn’t reached out to her because I was so overwhelmed with the workload in those first few months that I couldn’t even think. The moment I saw her WhatsApp, it was like God was telling me he still loved me. I grabbed my phone and texted her back. That’s how we kicked things back up.

So a long-distance relationship? How did that work?

Basil: I told her I wanted her to be my girlfriend pretty early on. While we were in Nigeria, we actually never made it official. 

Nnenna: That was funny because, before him, I always said I’d never take any guy seriously who didn’t ask for a committed relationship point blank. Now, I know you can always tell when something is serious. Action is stronger than words. 

After he asked me to be his girlfriend, we started talking about how I’d join him in London. I started applying for scholarships up and down. I needed something fully funded because I knew raising money for me to relocate wasn’t part of my parents’ plans. I must’ve applied over 200 times in that first year, but nothing reasonable came through.

Basil: In the meantime, we did a lot of talking, video calling and stalking each other on Snapchat. I “virtually” went along with her to most of the events she attended. 

We still have daily calls and check-ins and virtual dates. The pandemic really helped us because the tech world stepped up with cool new ways to help people connect virtually. We loved it when Netflix Party became a thing. We enjoyed all those virtual museum tours that became available during that period too. 

Nnenna: We’d have most of our meals together over Zoom, and when MTN wasn’t being our opp, it really helped us feel like we’re part of the meaningful aspects of each other’s lives.

We should do that more often actually. I miss that.

Have either of you ever been tempted to move on with someone within reach?

Basil: Yes. All the time. I second guess our relationship all the time, especially with pressure from friends. 

But it never lasts. I just like her too much at the moment. We’re so connected because we always communicate. I see her every day even though we’re not even on the same continent. Our relationship feels very real, and I constantly long for her, so it’s difficult to let go. Not that I want to. 

Nnenna: We talk about it a lot too. We always reassess where we stand with each other. Sometimes, a guy would flirt with me. I think he’s really cute, someone I might date. But the next thing I know, I’m telling Basil about him and laughing it off. I just wish it was easier to travel or relocate as a Nigerian. I’ve had my visa application denied four times for no reason. It’s hell, and everything is so expensive.

Basil: It’s like the universe is making it harder because we both want it so much. Every year, one family member or the other gets their visa approved on the first try.

Nnenna: Sometimes, I’m scared we might end up moving on from each other, but I don’t want that day to come. My parents always tell me I’m behaving like this because I’m still young. They say things like, “You’re wasting your youth on what may never be.”

How do you feel about their lack of support for the relationship?

Nnenna: I don’t know how I feel about it. Sad? Worried? I know they’re reacting out of fear because they see me constantly on my phone or laptop, caught up with some guy who has an established life across the ocean. They’re worried I might get hurt.

But I just know how Basil makes me feel seen and loved all the time.

Basil: My parents get like that too sometimes, but it’s not as bad because I also have to speak with them over the phone. I used to get this vibe that they didn’t think I should be so serious about a girl who was still in Nigeria. My mum liked to ask, “Haven’t you met any nice Nigerian girls in London yet?” 

But since 2023, they’ve come to realise I’m serious about our relationship. I’m already making plans to return to Naij for the first time since I left, just to see her again. I’ve been saving for it. The plan is to come in the summer and get away together for up to a week.

What are the chances of an in-person relationship anytime soon?

Nnenna: I don’t know. I thought for sure I would’ve joined him by now. But now, I’m wondering where I got that certainty from knowing I have no substantial funding from anywhere.

Basil: Last month, I asked her to marry me.

Nnenna: We’re not officially engaged yet. I haven’t told my parents or friends, and we don’t have a ring. Only us and his parents know. It feels wild, but I’m excited. I’m scared of the unknown but excited still.

Basil: I’m scared too. I have no idea what I’m doing. But we go run am.

A long-distance marriage?

Basil: God, no! 

With us married, it’d be easier for her to get her visa approved and to get both our families to support us in cash and kind. Of course, we’ve both been saving for a while too.

Nnenna: We’re not rushing to do the wedding, but once we do, we’ll go ham on my relocation plans. 

Have you had any major fights so far?

Basil: The number one thing we fight about is when I try to “lecture” after she vents about something. This is an old one because I’ve come to learn my lesson and stop “mansplaining”, as she calls it.

Nnenna: Urggh. In the first year of our relationship since he left, I’d rant to him maybe about a work issue, and he’d start telling me how to fix it like I’m not thinking straight. He’d be like, “Don’t react like this. Take a breather. This is why this is happening. Have you made a plan to solve that?” I’d get so worked up because obviously, I know I’ll figure it out once I’m not angry anymore.

Basil: I realised that when she rants, she just wants me to be a listening ear and support her motion. I used to get upset that she was upset I told her the truth. Then I’d still have to apologise. Ahh. Tough times.

Nnenna: We also fight over him Netflix cheating on me!


Nnenna: We have virtual movie dates every weekend, but sometimes, especially when it’s a series we’re watching together, he’d watch some episodes during the week without me. I think it’s the subtlest but heaviest betrayal of trust. Then he’d try to pretend he didn’t, but the truth always comes out.

Basil: I can’t help it that I have better internet and more time. And I haven’t done that in a while. I’m sorry, love.

Nnenna: It’s so annoying. 

One time, I was on leave throughout the week, but I still waited for our agreed-upon time on Saturday so we could continue watching a show. For some reason, we didn’t get to watch it that weekend. Do you know this guy still went ahead and watched the whole season later on without me? 

When I remembered and asked that we finally watch it, he just told me he’d already seen it all. I was so pained. I still haven’t finished that show till today.

Basil: Again, I plead for your forgiveness.

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

Basil: A high 7. The long-distance is killing me. Does that sound like the lyrics to an old song?

Nnenna: Yeah. 7 too. 

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