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

Love Life: We’ve Drifted Apart, but Can’t Break Our Engagement

Take us to the beginning of your love story

Bernard: We met at a family gathering.

Ijeoma: My extended family is large, and we always have these big festival-like events to celebrate the littlest things. 

That time in February 2021, we gathered in our family house’s big compound to mark the day my late grandfather built the house. We were all allowed to bring friends, so I brought four of my girlfriends. But my elder brother doesn’t really have friends. He’s the only sibling who never invites people to these gatherings. 

This time though, he decided to invite his co-worker, so we were all curious to meet this person.

Bernard: They didn’t know we were office besties. We’d worked closely together for over a year and had an easy friendship. But it’s true that her brother mostly kept to himself.

Ijeoma: Anyway, we all met Bernard, and he sat at our table, right next to me. That’s how we struck up a conversation. The first thing I asked was why he wore formal clothes to a Nigerian party. Apparently, my brother didn’t tell him it was a family event.

Did you become friends from then on?

Ijeoma: Once we got to talking and passing comments about my family, I realised I liked him and was already imagining getting really close to him.

Bernard: I ended up spending the whole day with them and didn’t leave until 9 p.m. when the old people were beginning to get drunk and loud. I spent most of that time with her because the friend who invited me disappeared at some point. 

Right now, I don’t even remember what we talked about for so long. We just kept on gisting and sharing stories. I liked how mature she was about everything. 

I also stayed for the opportunity to eat and drink my fill because there was no food at home.

Ijeoma: We even gave him food in a pack to take home. 

We exchanged numbers and basically started talking stage from that moment. We got to know everything about each other in the following month, and I think that over-revelation so early on affected us over time.

Really? How so?

Ijeoma: It didn’t happen immediately, but it got to a point where it seemed like there wasn’t much to discuss anymore. It’s like we shared so much so quickly that there were no surprises anymore. Don’t get me wrong, we decided to date in 2021, and he became my first true love who I was always happy to be with. We had so many beautiful moments together.

Bernard: You make it sound like we’ve already broken up.

Ijeoma: I’m just saying that sometimes doing too much too early can put a strain on your relationship. I told him every single thing about me, things my parents and siblings still don’t know about. And I want to believe he shared everything with me too.

Bernard: Mostly.

Ijeoma: And now, we’ve probably seen each other finish.

What was it like after you decided to date?

Bernard: More talking. But then, she moved in with me in August, and our relationship took on a more serious tone. We started navigating being broke together, and it was strangely unifying for us. We would jump bus and then trek some part of the way together. 

Our relationship caused a rift between me and her brother at work, though. When he changed jobs, we stopped talking altogether. He wasn’t angry with me, but I think he was uncomfortable about the fact that we were living together.

Ijeoma: He knew our parents didn’t know and wasn’t comfortable with that. Actually, even Bernard didn’t know I moved in without telling my parents. I’d wanted to move out since I graduated from university. Dating someone who had his own apartment was just the perfect opportunity. At least, my parents knew about and approved of him as my boyfriend. That’s what counts.

Bernard: We spent much of our relationship that year, going to work, church, planning ways to manage money, pay our bills and make more money. It was a vicious cycle, but in all that, we had each other, and it somehow made the whole thing bearable. 

In November, when I finally got the bank job I’d been hustling months for, I asked her to marry me. 

She said no.


Ijeoma: I thought we were still young for that. I’d just turned 25. We were both still finding our feet.

Bernard: I felt there was nothing stopping us from finding our feet together while being married. We were already doing that, only we weren’t legal yet. I really wanted to introduce her to my family, but I didn’t want to say, “This is my girlfriend, and we’re already living together.” 

Luckily, when Christmas came, I was able to spoil her with gifts and get her to change her mind.

Ijeoma: We saved for some months and went out together to buy rings in 2022. It was a really happy period. I started imagining all the wedding ceremonies we would have.

But then, I thought of all the plans and decisions we had to make and panicked. I had such high expectations of what I wanted married life to be like, and our conversations during this period showed that we don’t quite want the same things.

Bernard: She always talked about how she loved the town we lived in, and was so happy she was born and raised here. She never mentioned she’d always wanted to live in Lagos until we got engaged. It wasn’t too surprising because who doesn’t want to be based in Lagos or Abuja? But no one wants to just relocate there without good money or a plan. 

We don’t have either of those now, and truly, I’ve never aspired to live in Lagos.

Ijeoma: We’ve committed ourselves to working past some of these things, but in a lot of ways, we’ve drifted apart in the last few months.

If you want to share your own Love Life story, fill out this form.

How exactly have you drifted apart?

Ijeoma: For me, our conversations are dying. I know we still love each other very much, but before, I had this constant compulsion to share every detail of my day with him because I craved his opinions and reactions. 

Over time, I’ve noticed I’m not as interested in letting him know my true feelings or thoughts about a particular subject. I feel like I’ve said so much to him that I can’t be bothered to open up about things anymore. It’s not him. It’s just life. I’m exhausted by adulthood.

Bernard: Yes, we just don’t talk anymore, like there’s nothing to talk about. Most times, it’s not even that bad because we still enjoy just being in each other’s company, in the same space. One of those rare times when we have time to attend someone’s event, we find ourselves bonding or searching for each other with our eyes when we’re separated. But our one-on-ones are more quiet these days.

Ijeoma: Sometimes, I’m content with it. Sometimes, it makes me sad. Most times, I’m too tired from work to even deal with it like that. LOL.

Bernard: We’ve talked about ending our engagement and even starting all over again after a break, but even the thought of no longer living together seems too extreme of a change to bear at this point.

How’s your sex life during this period?

Ijeoma: It’s definitely reduced, I won’t lie. But we still have sex. I joke to him sometimes that we have married couple sex. Like Daddy and Mummy sex. It’s sweet and comfortable, but it gets boring at times.

Bernard: “Boring” isn’t the word I’d use. We’ve fallen into a predictable rhythm with each other, and that can be both good and bad.

Ijeoma: I think I’m content with it. That’s the place we’re at right now: contentment. I appreciate him a lot, but because our priorities and new interests are in opposite directions these days, it’s affecting all the love and respect we have for each other.

Bernard: It feels very much like we’re becoming just friends now. This next year will be a defining period for our relationship.

Ijeoma: I don’t even want to think about it. I’m confident we can make it work if we make the needed effort.

What new priorities and interests are these?

Bernard: So, I want to have my children in my early 30s. She wants to have up to ₦10m saved between us before she gets married or even thinks about kids. Things like that.

Ijeoma: I think it’s very important to be financially prepared to start a family. I’ve seen too many family members fall into penury because of “God will provide”. 

We’ve also had some differences in career paths. I think he should consider transitioning into a less demanding industry. Banking and raising a family don’t mix, in my opinion. I don’t want an absent husband while I raise the family he wants so badly. 

Right now, he’s not even willing to consider that, and of course, it’s not in my place to force anyone to switch careers.

Bernard: It’s not like I’m not willing. You make it sound like it’s something I can just do.

Has this led to any major fights between you?

Ijeoma: Well, we get heated over these kinds of conversations once in a while. But I see it in a positive light that we’re being vocal about what we want and care about from early on. No one is bottling up their expectations to wait till we’re married with five children first to suddenly reveal.

Bernard: That’s true. 

I would say our major fights have actually been related to extended family. Like she said earlier, her family is big, and they all interfere in each other’s business. Her sisters can be pests in ours. My family is not quite as big and vocal, but they’re still your average Nigerian family. It’s either they’re interfering in our relationship and the pace we’ve chosen to go at, or they just force their own drama into our lives.

Ijeoma: The first real fight we had, one of his uncles who stayed in our apartment for a week, insulted me. And he couldn’t even defend me. I know he didn’t want to be disrespectful to his uncle, but there are ways he could’ve stood up for me and made it clear that what he said was unacceptable. 

No, he just kept mum and walked away. After the man left, I let him have it. The next time something like that happened, he changed up.

Bernard: There was another time we fought over my grandmother sending me a charm.

Ijeoma: Oh no. Let’s not even get into that. I can’t believe you actually wanted to keep that thing in the house I’m living in with you!

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your Love Life?

Bernard: 7

Ijeoma: Yes, 7.

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.

RECOMMENDED: Love Life: Our Joint Ambition Keeps Us Going



Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.