Love Life is a Zikoko weekly series about love, relationships, situationships, entanglements and everything in between.
*David, 27, and *Ebuka, 25, have been together for a year and a half. For today’s Love Life, they talk about living together, proving naysayers wrong and having to keep their relationship a secret.
What’s your earliest and fondest memory of your partner?
David: My earliest memory of Ebuka is seeing his dance videos on Facebook back in 2013. I watched and downloaded every single video he uploaded. I can’t dance to save my life, so I’m captivated by people who can.
Ebuka: It has to be right after we exchanged numbers in 2015. I found out that he sends “Happy Sunday” messages to all his contacts, complete with motivational quotes to help get them through the week. That level of thoughtfulness won me over.
I began expecting the messages every week, and whenever it didn’t come in, I would check to see if he was okay. I later found out they cost him around ₦2,000 to send every Sunday. That told me all I needed to know about his character.
Do you remember meeting each other in person for the first time?
David: I remember it like it was yesterday. We started properly texting in 2018, but our first meeting was totally unplanned. I was finishing up an errand, and it turned out he was visiting his cousins around the same area, so we decided to meet.
We spoke for hours, and it was nice. I still have the pictures we took that day. I remember posting one of them on my status, and a friend said we made a cute couple. I just laughed because we weren’t even close to discussing that yet.
Ebuka: I remember everything he wore: a pink polo, blue jeans, a face cap and a knapsack. He never goes anywhere without his knapsack. I remember thinking he was even cuter in person, and I loved the way he walked and talked. He was so graceful.
When did you realise you had feelings for each other?
David: It was a couple of months after we met. I felt like I could talk to him about anything. I had lost my job around that time, and he kept checking up on me. He would consistently send me job listings to look through.
Do you know the craziest thing? I was in a relationship at the time, but my boyfriend couldn’t care less about my struggles. I love buying gifts for the men I like, but I had nothing at this point.
Unlike my boyfriend, Ebuka cared about me for me, not what I could give him.
Wait. David, you had a boyfriend during all of this?
Well, officially, I was in a relationship, but it had technically ended. We were holding on to that last thread of hope, trying to see if things would get better. It never did. So, before I asked Ebuka out, I texted him to officially end things.
In fact, my former relationship was so bad that we hadn’t texted each other in six months before the breakup. It’s like we were waiting to see who would take the step to end things. I don’t think you can call that a relationship.
Ebuka, how did you feel about this?
I didn’t know he was still in a relationship. I asked him if that chapter of his life was done, and he said it was. I wasn’t as upset when I found out it was still ongoing because of how distant they clearly were.
David, how did you ask Ebuka out?
We were getting a lot more serious, and he was coming to my place every weekend. So, I decided to give him a key to my apartment. There was also this nice ring I had, and I gave that to him too.
Funnily enough, we still weren’t official at this point.
LMAO. After a key and a ring? What else is left?
David: LMAO. You have to open your mouth and ask for it to be official, biko. One night in June 2019, I finally sat him down and asked if he wanted us to be boyfriends, and he said yes. That was it.
Ebuka: It actually wasn’t that simple. I had heard some worrying things about him, and I needed to straighten them out. That night, we had a very long conversation, and after he was able to convince me that he’d changed, I was ready to be with him.
What worrying things?
David: It was based on my reputation back then. I used to be everywhere, jumping from men to men, so no one thought I was relationship material. One of Ebuka’s best friends was someone I had hooked up with, so he told him I only wanted to fuck and run.
He wasn’t the only one that told Ebuka not to date me. Even people I thought were cool with me went behind my back to warn him about me. He heard this from so many people; I guess it freaked him out.
Ebuka: Yeah. When I told my best friend about my feelings for David, he told me not to bother because he wasn’t the committed type and whatever we had was going to be fleeting. I needed to clear things up and make sure I wasn’t wasting my time.
Oh wow. How did he convince you?
Ebuka: He explained he wasn’t committed to any of those guys. All of them knew what they were getting into. He never claimed to be in love with any of them; it was all about sex.
David: I told him my feelings for him were different. I wanted to build something real with him. So, I made a choice to be very intentional about this relationship, and thankfully, I’ve spent the past year shaming all the naysayers.
LMAO. Mad. Do you remember your first major fight?
Ebuka: We haven’t had any major fight yet, just little disagreements. They are mostly about me not being vocal about my opinions. I’m not exactly an open book, so I tend to keep things bottled up inside until they come out in an ugly way.
So, David has been teaching me to open up immediately I feel uncomfortable.
David: Ebuka is the kind of person who won’t say anything even if the house is burning, but you will see the discomfort plastered on his face. I have to guess, and I always go with the worst-case scenarios. Thankfully, he has gotten better.
How has this relationship been different from your past ones?
Ebuka: In my past relationship, I was with someone much older than me. To him, that meant I had to be submissive. Anytime I tried to bring up something I didn’t like, he would gaslight me. Then I would have to apologise for “overreacting”.
It eventually got too toxic, and I had to leave. With David, even though he is older than me, he actually cares about me sharing my thoughts and feelings. That’s all very new to me, and I’m still getting used to it.
I feel so comfortable with him because whenever I bring up an issue, he listens, acknowledges his faults and tries to do better. It’s an amazing quality. It’s exactly what a relationship should be like.
David: Our relationship feels a lot different than my last two. It’s the first time I want to be intentional about not just my words but my actions as well. I don’t want to fuck this up.
How does living in Nigeria affect your relationship?
Ebuka: It’s quite draining. We can’t express our love for each other out in the open. We can’t even risk holding each other’s hands. Sometimes, I feel like I’m betraying my love for him because I can’t say it out loud, but what more can we do?
We just have to keep reminding ourselves that we love each other.
David: Honestly, it’s very hard. Everything seems set up to work against us. We can’t do PDA or even look at each other in a certain way in public. I especially hate that I have to introduce Ebuka as my roommate or best friend or “bro”, not my boyfriend.
In public, all we can do is shake hands and hug awkwardly. When we go on dates, we have to be extremely conscious of our surroundings. We can never tell if we’ll be dealing with violent homophobes or the ones that will just make snide remarks.
Being Nigerian is hard. Being gay in Nigeria is harder. Being an effeminate gay man in Nigeria is the hardest of them all. Honestly, the goal is to japa because it’s going to take a while for things to get better, and I don’t want us to wait that long.
Fair enough. So, what are your plans for the future?
David: We’ve talked about getting married and having kids, but we haven’t started making concrete plans yet. It’s definitely something I feel strongly about. I grew up in a house filled with kids, so I really love them, and I want as many as possible.
Before I even knew I was gay, I always planned to adopt as many kids as possible.
Ebuka: I’ve always loved the idea of marriage, especially the dedication and responsibility that comes with that kind of commitment. David and I practically live like a married couple already, so once we leave this country, it feels inevitable.
I also want to have kids, but only two. So David and I will have to discuss that.
LMAO. Clearly. So, what’s it like living together?
David: We’ve been living together for over a year now, and while it has its occasional ups and downs, it’s been fun. I get to have Ebuka with me all the time, and I’ve learnt so much about him.
Like, I know he is a light sleeper, a terrible soup maker and a total bed hog. He sleeps in the middle of the bed, and I have to manage the edge. All in all, it’s been good, and I’d totally recommend it for other couples.
Ebuka: LMAO. It’s been an experience. I understand him a lot better now. I know his limits and his triggers, and it’s helped our relationship. It’s a learning process, but I also recommend it.
What would you say is the best thing about your relationship?
David: It’s great having someone that will always have your back no matter what, and that’s Ebuka for me. He is dependable and consistent. With him, I always feel at peace. He is truly the complete package.
Ebuka: For me, it’s our openness and capacity to communicate. We know everything about each other — the good and the bad. We trust each other, and that is the foundation of our relationship.
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