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.
The subjects of this Sunken Ships, Eno* (23) and Emem* (21), share how love wasn’t enough in their relationship. They talk to us about the situations surrounding their breakup, choosing to remain friends and thoughts on getting back together.
How did the two of you meet?
Eno: We met in person in January 2020, but we started texting in December 2019 when I responded to one of her tweets.
She’ had mentioned she was coming to get yarn somewhere around my office for something she was crocheting. I jokingly asked her to buy me food. She did, and I gave her the most horrible directions she never let me live down.
Emem: Emphasis on the horrible directions part. I don’t know how they do it, but they can make you get lost on a straight road. I decided to come see them because I was bored. Also, we had been texting a lot leading up to that time, so I just thought seeing them wouldn’t be bad. It became a thing where whenever I was anywhere close to that area, I’d try to see them.
Eno: If we were not physically seeing each other, we were on calls for hours on end. I was enamored by her and everything she did. I wondered how one person could be so full of life. She was amazing.
Emem: Was? Ah.
Eno: Shut up.
LMAO. When did feelings get involved?
Eno: I realised she liked me in February when she tried to buy me a Valentine’s Day gift. She said she got gifts for all her friends, but she didn’t talk to me like someone who was talking to their friend.
Emem: Truly, I do buy gifts for my close friends every year, or I at least try to. With Eno, I said that because I didn’t think they liked me too.
Eno: I knew I had feelings for her, but I also had feelings for someone else. I couldn’t reconcile liking two people at once, and it kept leading to arguments.
I know it hit me one day in June. It was after one of our arguments. We weren’t speaking to each other, but I couldn’t stop thinking about her. With every errand I ran, I wanted to share the silly things that happened to me with her. That’s when it hit me that oh, I was actually in love with this person.
Emem: We started dating in the first week of July. I texted them one day and was like why don’t we do this relationship thing.
Eno: I wanted to ask, but she beat me to it. She always beat me to everything. Her blood is too hot.
Emem: If I like something, I go after it. I don’t like wasting time.
What was the relationship like?
Eno: We were in love, and it felt perfect-ish, like we made sense together. The good days were really good, but the bad days were really bad. She always got me; I didn’t have to struggle to explain certain things I did or why I did them.
We had a messy beginning, and it took a toll on the relationship. I hated to admit it, but it did. Loving her was easy though. Unfortunately, in many ways, we kept hurting each other. One thing she used to say was, “Love is not enough” and she was right because it wasn’t.
Emem: I’m a broken person, and the thought that a relationship could be without drama was very new to me. I felt like problems were necessary, so when we solved them, it felt wrong.
The beginning was messy because they were new to relationships and wanted to go at a much slower pace than me. I think that was the main problem of our relationship; we never walked at the same pace.
I wanted to buy them all the gifts I could buy, and show them off. But they wanted to be more intimate, to spend more time together, getting to really know each other. I felt we could figure ourselves out later on in the relationship, but they thought we should do all of that in the beginning.
By the time they started picking up the pace, I’d slowed down.
Is that why you broke up?
Eno: I didn’t listen enough to her physical and emotional needs, so we became incompatible somehow. I didn’t make her feel loved and wanted.
Emem: Instead of communicating with them how I felt, I kept letting it pile up till I just burst from frustration and annoyance. I dated them for two years, and for half of that time, we were walking on thin ice around each other.
Eno: She stopped getting me the way she used to. It’s like she forgot there were other parts of me than the ones she already knew.
She stopped asking me what movies I enjoyed and just kept referring the ones I watched when I was a teenager. It felt like she was stuck on the person she met and not the one she was growing in a relationship with.
Emem: We should’ve broken up a long time ago, but by November 2022, I knew we couldn’t enter the New Year the way we were, so I asked that we break up.
Eno: Every day after the breakup was hell. I cried so much and couldn’t eat, and I was miserable. I couldn’t share jokes with her or see her, and God, I cried. I cried on the bus and the road. Everywhere. I have no idea how I got anything done.
I knew we were going to break up, but I hoped we wouldn’t. Even though I was prepared for the possibility of a break up, the reality knocked the wind out of me. I was rendered useless.
I felt alone in my sadness. I didn’t know if I meant anything or if we were important. I hated the awkwardness that came with texting her. It was like a grating noise. She called me my name one time during text instead of the nickname she gave me and I cried myself to sleep.
Emem: I may have asked that we break up, but I cried a lot. There were days when I’d want to call and tell them about my day, but I couldn’t. The realisation would lead to more tears. It was a lot. They’d weaved themselves into every corner of my life, and I couldn’t escape them. Their birthday is my password, so every time I opened my phone I was reminded of the fact that this person was no longer in my life. They were friends with my friends and we even had to do some work together. Even the book I was reading in school was bought for me by them. I couldn’t escape.
I felt like I had made a huge mistake with the break up, but at the same time, I knew I did the right thing. We needed to work on ourselves away from each other.
Eno: I missed all the silly things that made no sense to anyone but us, her teasing me, having someone be more excited than me about my stupid interests. I missed her in her entirety.
I also missed her mum. I didn’t know how much of our lives had become so intertwined until the break-up. She was unavoidable. I didn’t even want to avoid her.
Is that why you’re still friends?
Eno: To be honest, it was hard to be friends at first. I’d blocked her everywhere because everything was too painful a reminder of the relationship, but I missed her friendship.
We make the best friends. The jokes and conversations we have, I love them. I eventually responded to texts, called, and we fell into a comfortable routine a month after we broke up.
Emem: That’s my guy forever and ever. Even though the romantic part of our relationship suffered, the friendship was always there. We showed up for each other and even after we broke up, we still show up for each other. Being friends with Eno is a special type of relationship, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Eno: Yeah, what she said.
Emem: I greatly dislike you.
Eno: You love me.
Emem: I really do.
Something you learnt from the breakup?
Eno: I learnt that I’d somehow lost my sense of self. I didn’t know how to be soft anymore, how to enjoy my company, and I’m capable of being bold and better. Also that she’s softer than she lets me know.
Emem: I’ve always been a softie, but yeah, I was too hard with you. It’s unfortunate that almost everyone saw the softest version of myself but the person I was supposed to be in a relationship with. I learnt that I have problems, and I’m trying to work on them. But I’m enjoying this whole being single thing for now.
Do you see yourselves getting back together?
Eno: Yes. Well, I hope so.
Emem: Yeah, I do, but like, not now. We have some personal things to discover.
Eno: And we need to make sure we won’t make the same mistakes we made the last time.
Emem: Period, bestie.
What do you plan to do differently?
Eno: If I feel more secure spending time with myself, I’d be able to show up more for her and actually listen to her and not just hear what I think. I’ll show her how much I love her at every given moment and make the silly TikTok with her. I’ll dance on the road with her and just enjoy her without asking her to be more or less than she is.
Emem: I’ll talk about things more. I didn’t know when I became so closed off to them, but I plan on opening up more. In fact, I’m even trying now. Abi?
Eno: Yes, you are.
Emem: Baby steps and a lot of hard work, but I try because I love the idiot.
Eno: I might maybe love you too.
Emem: LMAO. You’re adorable.