Love Life: “We Make It Work Despite The Distance”

October 14, 2021

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

Chinasa, 26, and Ugo, 30, started having sex while they were in relationships with other people. Today on Love Life, they talk about coming together only to break-up, and the ways they have grown individually and as a couple. 

What’s your earliest memory of each other?

Chinasa: We met on Facebook. I wrote a post complaining about people’s reactions to erotic posts, and he came into my comments to agree with me. That was the first time I noticed him. I clicked on his profile and saw that he was in Bauchi, where I was serving. I was looking for friends then, and to find someone in the same state seemed nice. I sent him a message saying I was in Bauchi and would love to meet up whenever he had a chance. We fixed a date to meet, he cancelled. We fixed another, and that’s where this whole story begins.

Ah, you have told me the whole thing na. Ugo, please take the stage.

Ugo: I first saw her on Facebook. She commented on somebody’s post, something about Bauchi. I clicked her profile and saw that she was serving in Bauchi — the same state I lived in. I sent a friend request, thinking we could hang out and be friends…

Chinasa: My dear, please add that it was my bumbum you saw.

LMAO. When you finally met, what was your first impression of each other?

Chinasa: I thought he looked taller in real life. Quiet too. But the most exciting thought I had was that he looked corruptible. 

Ugo: She wears glasses, so she had this quiet appeal. I didn’t think of anything else. I was busy doing my best to avoid her eyes. It wasn’t until I moved in with her shortly after that my impression of her became clearer, better formed. 

We’ll address that moving in soon. Chinasa, when you say Ugo looked corruptible, what did you have in mind then?

Chinasa: I was looking for someone to be my friend with benefits. I had just moved to Bauchi where I didn’t know anyone, and I wanted to rediscover myself after a tough relationship and a traumatic incident. After four months, I knew I wanted someone. But I got scared whenever anyone came on strong. So I was kind of looking for someone who would be a friend first, and the benefits part would be at my own pace. 

Ugo had this gentle demeanour that made me feel safe having him in my house, and I thought the gentility hid a lot more things.

So, how did the moving in together happen, and when?

Ugo: We started hanging out and talking to each other a lot. Then I started leaving my things in her place one by one. It was a disguise sha, because I knew I liked her at this point. But then I found out she had a boyfriend.

Ahan. Another revelation? Let me keep this in my left hand.

Chinasa: Well, on the very first day he came to my place, I found that he had a girlfriend and they had been together for four years. So the gentility did hide some things.

Ahhh. What’s going on here?

Chinasa: Let me rearrange it for you. We texted; I liked him. We met up for the first time, and I was doing something with his phone when I saw someone’s name saved as Obi’m. I asked him about it, and he told me that yes, he was indeed in a relationship. Since he had a girlfriend, I started talking to someone that same month and a week later, I started dating this person online.

Okay then. Ojoro cancel. 

Chinasa: First of all, he did not “find out” that I had a boyfriend. I told him myself. Also, after I found out about his relationship, I told myself that we could just stay friends and if the sex came, I was down to get it. The sex was not dependent on his girlfriend. I didn’t care about that. 

Ugo: My relationship with my girlfriend at the time was nearing its end. Rather unfairly, I’d checked out of the relationship mentally — it was a chaotic three-year relationship and I was exhausted — but I never made this clear to my girlfriend.

When I met Chinasa and we started vibing, I felt that deeply satisfying feeling you get when you drink a glass of chilled water after running around a football pitch for 90 minutes. She was gentle with her words and touch, the sex was fucking awesome, and she listened.

So the sex happened after all…

Chinasa: And then his girlfriend showed up at my door with her friends.

Hay God.

Chinasa: It was a Saturday, I think. Ugo was at my place when someone knocked on my door. It was weird; I didn’t know anyone who lived nearby and could come visiting. When Ugo heard her voice, he went to the door. She claimed she wanted to talk, but it seemed to me like she came ready to create a scene. Ugo led her away.

For me, I was confused. I thought he had made it clear to her that they were done. When he came back inside, I asked him what happened, and he said that she came with her friends to beg him not to break up. She thought the talk of splitting up  was a phase he would get over. 

Ugo: I came out straight and told my girlfriend at the time that we were done the day she came knocking on Chinasa’s door. I wanted us to become a thing, so I had to act.

Chinasa: That incident caused my first fight with Ugo. I told him to fix whatever issue they had because I didn’t want to be accused of snatching someone’s boyfriend and getting beat up on the road for something I did not do.

Ugo: I understood her fear. She was in a strange land, didn’t speak the local language and had very few friends who didn’t even live in the same area.

But Chinasa and I were never officially in a relationship until towards the end of her service year. Her boyfriend was in the picture for much of it, and she too wanted things to come to a natural end with him. 

But wait first. Chinasa, how did you feel about being in a relationship with someone else and still having sex with Ugo? 

Chinasa: I felt nothing. My “boyfriend” and I vibed a lot, but the sex was so terrible, it couldn’t even be remedied. Because I liked him as a person, I made the mistake of not establishing strong boundaries with him. When he started referring to me as his girlfriend, I didn’t feel alarmed; there was a long-distance between Enugu where he was and Bauchi where I was.

When I count my relationships, I don’t count him as part of it. I knew that the relationship, or whatever I was doing with this guy, was not feasible and it was a problem to be dealt with so I could face Ugo squarely.

Ugo: And I broke up with my girlfriend so I could also face you squarely too. I chose you. I will always choose you.

Chinasa: And I choose you too. But I will be honest, the girlfriend coming to the house made me very anxious.

I had no idea that they didn’t officially break up. The girl was living with someone, and I assumed she had moved on before they officially broke up. So, to see her come knocking was a bit shocking. I think it’s one of the reasons my relationship with Ugo didn’t fully take off till I finished my service and left Bauchi.

How did the take-off happen?

Chinasa: Two days before I left, I told him I wanted him to be my boyfriend.

Ugo: And I said yes and went to meet her in Enugu. 

Chinasa: The Enugu meeting was a mini vacation. We spent the weekend together, and I showed him a few places. His showing up indicated that he would make the effort to make this work despite the distance.

And you were right?

Chinasa: Yes, he was solidly there. But between my master’s and his service, things became crazy. I started my master’s, and he was posted to Taraba for his NYSC service. He later relocated to Jos. 

I was going through a lot of changes, and I kept him out of it because I felt he wouldn’t understand. Wrong move.

Ugo: We had to break up. 

I’m sorry that happened. What led to the break-up? What changes were you going through? 

Ugo: She didn’t care about my career. I started taking my writing seriously, and I wanted her to care about it as I did. I would send her my work, and it seemed like she wasn’t reading or paying the required amount of attention to it, and I felt hurt by this. I thought I could live with the hurt, but I couldn’t. And so I called her one day and asked that we break up.

Chinasa: Leaving Bauchi threw me out into the real world, and it was cold, discomfiting. Before Bauchi and in Bauchi, I had done a lot more growing up. One of the things that happened was that I quit the church, which was a large part of my identity, because religion didn’t work for me and there was a lot of hurt I was dealing with. 

Also, I didn’t get a job on time after service. It felt like I was floating, and there was no landing pad of any sort. 

And in all of this, you still had to read his work and give comments… 

Chinasa: But it was more than that, I’ll be honest. He had a lot of free time and was expecting more attention from me. He was used to seeing me all the time and thought it would continue like that. But I was in the east, grappling with everything, and it didn’t work. Whenever he complained that I wasn’t calling or texting, I would think, “Oh please, not now. Not now. Not with everything I am going through.” 

Master’s admission came through and it was hell too. I felt like I was floating along, not understanding anything and trying my best to stay afloat. And in all of this, we were both broke. 

When he called for a breakup, I felt like he was the most insensitive person. You knew I was going through this much and you chose to break up? Wow. But even with the hurt, I still felt the relief of no longer having to deal with the burden.

And you people ended up cancelling the break up.

Chinasa: After we broke up, we started talking more. He came to Enugu too, and it was easier to explain things to him without feeling judged. I owned up to my inadequacies, and I felt more equipped to name the things I was going through, more knowledgeable about what I wanted from life and how I needed him to help. 

It would also be nice to mention that my master’s results came in around this time and it was all A’s. Other things started falling into place.

How’s the relationship now? Where’s your head at?

Ugo: I feel more secure now in our love than I used to be. There’s a kind of assuredness; a feeling that whatever happens, we will both always make an effort to genuinely understand each other. We are in a good place. The relationship is sort of open, if I can call it that.

How did it become open?

Chinasa: I told him I wanted an open relationship when we were long distance because I didn’t want to be sneaky about being with other people. I learnt fast that I wasn’t a monogamous person, and in the spirit of being more honest with my choices, I told him. 

The first time, he rejected the idea. The second time, it felt like he was trying to please me. When I had my mental health episodes, my sex drive nosedived, but I met someone, felt a spark and told Ugo. He agreed I could pursue it.

That first stint didn’t end well because we didn’t have boundaries. We realised we had shit we were avoiding and being with other people wasn’t going to fix it. So we agreed to focus on fixing our issues after some time. 

We are open again, but for me, it’s just about honesty. For over two years now, I’ve just been meh about things. I live in a remote place now and make no effort to meet people, so it’s open in the sense that we are both open if it happens. But on my side, I’m not actively looking.

Ugo:  It’s the same for me really. If anything happens I’ll let her know, but I’m not actively looking.

What do you love most about each other?

Ugo: That will be her gentleness, kindness and the effort she makes to try and understand my perspective. The latter is part of the reason we’ve come this far.

Chinasa: Ugo is kind, steady and cares for me. Using care here is deliberate. I’m not good at saying what I need, but he’s patient enough to wait till I figure it out and also make things happen before I ask.

Ugo: My heart.

Chinasa: Being with him has been one of the highlights of my life. It’s the first time I’ve fully been myself without apologies in a relationship. People who know us tend to have this idea that he loves me more. I think it’s because they are not familiar with relationships that don’t fit gender stereotypes. For instance, he has moved cities more to be with me because I’m not domestic at all and usually forget to feed myself. He had to move some months ago, and it was hell for me to adjust. It still is. 

But the truth is that he’s the one who truly anchors me and us. His steadiness calms down my own scatter-scatter attitude to life. And, Ugo,  you are home.

What are the things you both do that you don’t like and would like to see improvement in?

Chinasa: Our biggest fights used to be about ambition. He has a really laid back approach to life that I don’t understand, especially because I’m impatient. I love the thrill of pursuing things. So sometimes, I wish he was more assertive instead of waiting for everything to align first. His process works for him, so I’ve learnt to leave him alone. Doesn’t mean it’s not annoying.

Ugo: Exactly this, but on the flip side. She sometimes forgets that not everyone is like her. There was a period I started to feel that she was on my back breathing down my neck even though I knew she meant well.

She’s already improving on this though.

How would you rate this relationship on a scale of 1-10?

Ugo: 8. Most of our issues happen when somebody isn’t being completely upfront. I want us to reach a place of honesty where it isn’t hard at all to tell each other anything; where it simply comes.

Chinasa:  I’ll say a strong 8 with room to be even better. We really grew this year, worked on ourselves and are working towards more things to help us be in the best capacity for ourselves and each other. I don’t intend to get married, but we are doing this long term so I believe we should have long term plans (building our finances, achieving our life and career goals, etc) in place.

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