Love Life is a Zikoko weekly series about love, relationships, situationships, entanglements and everything in between.
Ejiro*, 23, and Mimi*, 22, have been dating for over a year. Today on Love Life, they talk about running away from their homes to build a life together, learning to survive on their own and what a future looks like for them.
What’s your earliest memory of each other?
Ejiro: It was sometime in January 2020. I was scrolling on Twitter one night when I saw her tweets. She said no one cared about her, so I reached out. I don’t know how to make friends and I didn’t know what to say to her, but somehow the conversation went fine. We talked all night and continued talking the next day.
Mimi: I won’t lie, when I saw her message, I felt weird because she said she cared about me. In my head, I was like, “You don’t know me,” but she was nice so I kept replying. Our conversation went on for days. She used to send me dry jokes via email.
Ejiro: I wanted to make her laugh. She would call me to tell me random stuff, like a car she saw driving too fast. She went out a lot more than I did and had friends to hang with, so she had lots of stories. I looked forward to her because it’s was like living vicariously through her. She has this weird laugh that made me tingle. That’s how we kept talking for a month. I felt comfortable talking to her. We told each other our dreams. I wanted to go to culinary school and she’s a writer trying to go into tech.
Aww, so how did talking every day lead to a relationship?
Mimi: She asked me out. It was strange to me because she was seeing this other babe. I was also having sex with someone else, so when Ejiro asked me to date her, I didn’t take her seriously.
Ejiro: She ghosted me for two days.
Mimi: I was like, who is this one trying to play with? I liked her, so I was scared that if I said yes, she’d hurt me. I turned off my phone for two days to think about it.
Ejiro: I had exams during that period. I usually don’t read at night class but that night I had to go because I was too distracted thinking about her.
Mimi: During this time, I told my best friend about Ejiro. I wanted to say yes but I didn’t understand Ejiro’s plans for me. When I went online, I asked about her other women. She said she was going to end things with them.
Ejiro: And I did. Then I asked her out officially via email. She said yes.
How has the relationship been so far?
Ejiro: This has been my longest relationship ever. I have only ever dated women and things never worked out between me and those women. When Mimi and I started dating, I was in Delta state and she was in Uyo. She came to see me in March 2020 when ASUU was striking. When the lockdown happened, she was with me and we went to my parents’ house together. It was risky, but there was no other option. I told my parents that she was my friend and had nowhere else to go.
Mimi: My parents thought I was stuck in school. During this time, things were great between Ejiro and me. I stayed with her family for three months before returning to Uyo.
Then what happened?
Ejiro: In August, someone outed me to my parents, and I had to run away from home. That period was hell. My mum kept calling Mimi and accused her of turning me into a lesbian. It was a lot, and Mimi was also dealing with her own stuff.
What was going on?
Mimi: In December 2020, I tried to kill myself. My dad was sexually abusive and my mum blamed me. It was on Twitter I learnt this wasn’t my fault.
That Christmas, he started bullying me because I didn’t let him have his way with me. I made sure I was busy all the time to avoid being alone with him. To escape, I tried to drink a bottle of Sniper. I ended up not doing it, but I didn’t see much of an alternative. When I told Ejiro about it, she asked me to come to her school3.
Ejiro: She came in January 2021 and was supposed to spend a week. One week became two weeks. Next thing, a month passed and she just never went back.
Wow, how did both of you cope?
Ejiro: Omo! During that period, it felt like there was a dark cloud over our heads. There were days where we couldn’t eat. We were squatting in somebody else’s house because our jobs were not paying enough to be able to afford rent. It was hellish, but we got through it.
Mimi: Somehow, we started getting more jobs and were able to save up to get an apartment in Sapele. I was used to hardship, but Ejiro wasn’t. It was difficult watching her suffer through that period, but we are better now. I remember when I made my first ₦50k from writing this year. We saved aggressively, and in October 2021, we were able to move to Lagos so Ejiro could attend culinary school. We are not where we want to be yet though.
Where do you want to be?
Mimi: I want us to make more money and be financially stable.
Ejiro: Yup, and we are working towards it.
Nice. Tell me about your biggest fight.
Ejiro: We had just rented our first apartment in Sapele and moving in was stressful. We had to carry furniture on our heads because the road was terrible and no driver agreed to drive their car on it with heavy load. I don’t like stressing Mimi, so I left her in the new house and went to get the rest of our stuff. When I came back, Mimi was angry I had left her all day. She was yelling. I had never seen her like that before.
While she was angry, I left the house. I felt bad because it was our first day at our new apartment — it was supposed to be special. When I came home, I saw that she had been crying. I gave her the food I got her and we talked about it.
Mimi: When Ejiro is stressed, she ignores me and shuts out the world. She would make plans on how to solve the issue on her own and not tell me about it. That day, she didn’t tell me where she was going. My battery was dead and I could not reach her. I was so mad. If she had at least told me where and what she was going to do, it would be easier for me. It’s also what I hated about being in a long-distance relationship with Ejiro. She would just forget about me and I didn’t like it. I don’t have any problem with constantly texting or calling, but I feel like I am the one always initiating it. She also doesn’t know how to talk.
Ejiro: The thing is I don’t know how to do long distance. Calls and texts frustrate me as opposed to being with her in person. It’s a big struggle for me but I am trying. The way we’ve planned our future, we may have to be in a long-distance relationship for about one or two years so I have to do the work if we are going to stay together.
How are you two now?
Mimi: I just joined Ejiro in our Lagos apartment and our relationship has improved. But there’s some more work to be done.
Ejiro: The plan is to leave Nigeria soon. Mimi is studying to be a developer and after culinary school. The goal is to find jobs outside Nigeria and move.
Mimi: We also want to get married.
What’s the best part of the relationship for both of you?
Mimi: Ejiro is my best friend. We talk about any and everything. No matter what’s happening in our lives, we are still able to talk to each other, and that’s the best thing for me.
Ejiro: I call her my spine because I don’t feel fear when I’m with her. She accepts me the way I am and this is huge for me because I always felt like I had to be a different person when interacting with people.
What is your favourite thing about each other?.
Mimi: She’s funny in a dry way and I love it. She’s also a great listener. Sometimes I say something and think she hasn’t heard me but then later, she makes a joke about it. It makes me feel loved.
Ejiro: Is it selfish of me to say her eyes are my favourite thing about her?
Not at all. Rate your relationship on a scale of 1 to 10.
Ejiro: 8 because we are not where we need to be but we are getting there. I don’t want to see Mimi lack anything. I know that the way we are now is much better than how things were six months ago, so I’m hopeful. I know that getting stable jobs will definitely help our relationship.
Mimi: 10 for me because my happiness is not dependent on the state of our finances. I am happy with her in this relationship. I did something big by moving to Lagos with her and I am proud of us for that.
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