Sunken Ships is a Zikoko series that explores the how and why of the end of all relationships — familial, romantic or just good old friendships.

Omotola* and Tunde* dated for four years. It was her first relationship and she considered him the love of her life. In this article, she talks about their relationship, how they transitioned to friends and why she can never talk to him again now. Here’s her story:

Tell me how you started dating

Omotola: Looking back at it now, it wasn’t the best or healthiest relationship. I met him in 2011, when I was in my first year in university and he was in his final year. He had a girlfriend at the time and everyone loved them. They were couple goals. Then there was me, the 16-year-old who didn’t understand why he was talking to me. 

After he graduated the next year, we kept in touch, and sometime during the next semester, when I was 17, we started dating. I was really excited about being in a relationship with an older guy who’s smart and ambitious. He had so many ideas, and I kept imagining a life where he’d be super rich and we’d get married. It was nice to have someone buy me gifts and give me advice. He was my older brother, sugar daddy and mentor. 

And how did the relationship go? 

Omotola: I had a terrible relationship with my dad at the time, so I want to believe that’s one of the reasons I was with Tunde. He was so mature and intelligent. Another thing was, with him, I could act my age. I had to be mature with my friends, but with him, I could be young, playful and giggly. I was living a teenage dream. 

I got this high from having someone who’d already graduated come back to school just to see me. Plus, he was pretty popular, and that made me kinda popular by association. When he asked me to help with things like his transcript or advice his sister who was considering attending the school, I got off on it. 

So what changed? 

Omotola: After I graduated in 2015, I started to feel like he wasn’t interested in dating this little girl anymore. I don’t know if it was just my insecurity talking, but it’s like it dawned on me just how much more mature he was. He’d been working and all that, and I felt like I wasn’t enough for him.

Then he made a big decision. When it came to furthering his education, he had two options. His parents wanted him to get a Master’s degree in Engineering in Glasgow, but he didn’t want that. He wanted to study business, but to do that, he’d have to put himself through school, which meant attending Lagos Business School. 

When he asked my opinion, I told him to choose the MBA. A part of me wanted it because he lived in Abuja and studying business meant we’d finally be in the same state. But also, he hated Engineering and really wanted to do business. The MBA would’ve made him happier. He agreed with me and came to Lagos just as it became time for my NYSC.

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You were finally together in Lagos. That must’ve been great

Omotola: Well, he wanted me to serve in Lagos. But ever since I knew what NYSC was, I’d wanted to serve in Calabar because I was intrigued by the state’s history and cultural diversity, and I wanted to step out of my comfort zone. I didn’t plan on changing that. So, I kept it from him till I travelled. He was so upset and kept telling me how he didn’t go to the UK because of me, only for me to turn around and leave anyway. I already felt insecure in our relationship, so the strain of this decision only made it worse. I called him one day and ask for us to break up.

Honestly, I hoped he’d reassure me and ask that we stay together, but he didn’t. He listened to everything I had to say about the relationship and was very calm about it. He agreed we did, in fact, need time apart, and that’s how we broke up. 

And after the breakup? 

Omotola: We didn’t talk for a long time. I came back to Lagos in 2016, after passing out of NYSC. The next year, he randomly called to ask how I was. And just like that, we were friends, acting like nothing ever happened. It hurt like hell. I was dying inside because I was still in love with him. 

He was a good friend who helped me out a lot when it came to advice. I would talk to him about things he didn’t even understand, and he would still listen and give me some guidance. The friendship was long-distance just like when we dated because after his MBA, he returned to Abuja. I could tell he had moved on, but I hadn’t really. 

So how did you move from being friends to never speaking again?  

Omotola: In 2018, he called to tell me he was in Lagos and he wanted us to hang out. We had dinner and talked. It was a nice friendly date, but shortly after, he went back to Abuja, in time for his birthday that same week. 

At around 8 p.m. a few weeks later, I got a message from a mutual friend, asking me if it was true Tunde was dead. I laughed. Of course, it wasn’t true. But I made a couple of calls to confirm, and I found out it was true. He died a few days after his birthday. I was crushed. 

RELATED: Sunken Ships: We Should Have Been Friends Before We Dated

I’m so sorry 

Omotola: I felt lost when I found out he was dead. Not only was I lost, I was in denial. For the longest time, I thought my friends were messing with me. I was so confused. 

Do you know the crazy part? I never found out how exactly he died. His parents were very secretive about it because it involved a shooting. Even the funeral was private, and I didn’t get a chance to attend. I mean, why would I? I was just the ex from two years ago. While we were friends, we weren’t close enough that I’d be informed about things like that. The only thing I attended was the memorial service our alumni organised. 

Last year, I was in a terrible place and stumbled upon the Facebook messages we sent each other when we were still dating, and I wept. I had to call my best friend and cry to her over the phone because I didn’t believe the person I could talk to about every and anything was no longer on Earth. I’m sad, not just for the friendship we had, but because of the person he could’ve been. I believed in him so much, and the greatness he had to offer. 

Do you have any regrets? 

Omotola: No. Well, I wish we were closer before he died. It’s been four years since, and I don’t think I’ve gotten any closure because I don’t know how it happened. Only that he was in a coma in some hospital for days before he died. I wish I knew the exact details. 

I can’t say I wish we were still dating because we broke up for a reason. In hindsight, the romantic relationship wasn’t healthy. I was a child for most of it. But sometimes, I find myself wondering what would’ve changed about us if I served in Lagos. 

What do you think your relationship would’ve been like if he hadn’t passed? 

Omotola: I think, at the very least, we would’ve been good friends. Tunde was the kind of guy who wouldn’t just let a friendship go like that. But if you’d asked any of my friends, they’d probably say we’d have gotten back together. 

Before he died, my bestie was still talking about how sure she was about that. But when he came to Lagos, and we had that dinner, it was obvious we’d both moved past that time in our lives. I try so hard to not think of what could’ve been. What I do know is I still love him. 

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