Real AF is an anonymous 21 Mag series that explores the interesting lives of Nigerian women because navigating life as a woman in today’s world isn’t easy, and we all have stories to tell.
We spoke with a Nigerian woman about her toxic relationship, situations she faced and how she found her way through. Be ready to pick your jaw up for this one.
Tell me about your previous relationship.
We started dating in August 2019. At the time, I wasn’t even looking to be in a relationship but he kept insisting and was constantly so nice to me. We were in a talking stage for about 3 months and the relationship itself lasted for a year. During that year, I experienced a lot.
At What Point Did the Relationship Turn Toxic?
About 5 months in, I started to notice there were a lot of other girls in his space. I started having doubts at that point, but I went along with it. There was a girl in particular he was always talking to and hanging out with. When I asked him about it, he would tell me she was just a friend. Sometime in December while I was away from school, we had a mini staycation together and I noticed he was still talking to the same girl. I assumed he had stopped talking to her, but he hadn’t. I confronted him again and he mentioned that they still talk from time to time. I remember being so upset. The entire thing ruined the staycation for me. He had a way with words and a sweet mouth. He always knew just what to say so he kept giving me cunning and shady replies without actually answering any of my questions. I did have doubts at this time, but he apologized.
So what happened next?
Things went on fine for a little while, but by January he was talking to 2 other girls. I was so confused because I couldn’t place where these girls were coming from. Anytime I asked about them, he would shake it off by saying it’s natural for girls to like him but he’s not interested, so it’s not a big deal. He even promised not to lead them on. In February, I found out he was still talking to the girls, and one of them was in fact his co-worker. I could feel the entire event replaying itself but I just ignored because I didn’t want to ruin the stay for myself all over again.
He really was my best friend and I was so attached to him. All his issues apart, we had a great friendship and great chemistry. This was one of the main reasons why I kept making excuses for him but over the course of the month, other girls also came into the picture. In June, he started talking to someone else who he claimed was his cousin/distant relative. I really thought they were cousins so it wasn’t a problem for me. Around that same time, I noticed he posted an advert for someone else’s business and even put it on his story highlights. But I brushed it off thinking it was for one of his friends.
In August of the same year, he travelled and I called him a couple of times to check if he arrived safely, but he didn’t pick up. This was something he did a lot. I couldn’t reach him throughout that day and night, so I expected he’ll call me the next day. The following day, I saw he had posted on Snapchat and it was a video of him and his “cousin” in a hotel room.
I could not believe my eyes. In the video, he was standing behind her and they were doing cute things like a couple would. It did not make sense to me so I texted to let him know he had not returned any of my calls. He would read these texts and still not reply. Before the day ended, I sent him a text telling him we needed to talk about the situation over a video call and l gave him a certain time I would call.
During the call, he kept giving ridiculous replies to every question I asked. I would ask him why he did this or did that and he would either reply “I don’t know” or would just keep quiet. He got me really upset and we didn’t talk till he came back from his trip. When he got back, we met up. Everytime we saw it was really toxic because instead of addressing the elephant in the room, we would get intimate. We had such great chemistry that I could not resist him. I almost can’t explain it, it felt magnetic so it was always difficult to remain upset with him. After we had gone our separate ways, I would go back to being angry.
Wow. what happened next?
Chemistry aside, things just were not the same anymore. Of course I could tell that he didn’t just run into his “cousin.” I know he travelled to see her, so it was definitely planned. Every time I brought up the situation, he would get manipulative and not address it. I found her Instagram because he was always posting her pictures on his page. It was then I realized that the advert he had up on his highlights for months, was for her. That broke my heart.
With all his posts on social media, do you think he was doing it intentionally To Trigger you? The Audacity.
I was trying to understand the audacity as well! It was so embarrassing. When we first started dating, I really wanted to keep the relationship private but he constantly wanted to make it public. He posted all about it on his social media and we had mutual friends in our circle. He was intentionally embarrassing me by cheating publicly and it was just pure wickedness.
I remember how he used Twitter a lot and at the time, I wasn’t on the app. I decided to open an account that year to check his page. You wouldn’t believe what I saw next. His Twitter header was a picture of both of them (he and his “cousin”) holding hands in a car, and his profile picture was an image of her. I went through his timeline afterwards and saw threads of Tweets he had made about her. People are actually very wicked and i’ve learnt the hard way. I’m taking my wickedness pills every day–Morning and night. Seeing all of that confirmed everything and at that point I knew I needed to end the relationship.
I needed the closure so I met with him physically to get answers to my questions. He then told me that he had been dating the other girl since the previous year. I was so hurt and I went to bed crying that night. This was someone I was really attached to.
Whew. I’m so sorry you had to go through that.
During our relationship, I would borrow him money ranging from like 30k to 50k from time to time. He always promised to pay back but he never did. After we had the conversation, I broke up with him but I couldn’t stop talking to him. I decided for us to move forward as friends. I honestly don’t know what I was thinking but I made that decision because I was still so attached to him.
He was still dating the same girl at the time but will always call to talk to me. I had to remind him often about his girlfriend. Just imagine what I was doing. Being friends with my ex who cheated on me with a girl he claimed was his cousin. To now top it off, he was also dating the girl he cheated on me with. It was so messy. His girlfriend would call him and he’ll end her calls to keep talking to me. Literally the same thing he used to do to me.
We kept on talking and there were periods he would ask to still borrow more money from me. In November, his mum had an accident and she was supposed to have surgery. He didn’t have enough to cover the bills so he asked me. It was over a hundred thousand Naira. I didn’t have enough money to cover it so I asked my mum for some money. After sending that to him, he still needed some additional amount so I borrowed from a friend. He promised that he’ll pay back by the end of the month. He didn’t.
After a while, he started to pay back in portions of N10,000 or less while giving several excuses. I eventually had to borrow from another friend to pay back the friend I was owing.
We made plans to meet up sometime in December for a mini- staycation. Again, I honestly do not know what I was thinking. I knew I was going to hurt myself but I just needed an escape which is why I agreed to see him. The plan was for him to book a space for me to spend the night, and then meet up with him the next day.
I got to the place we had agreed on and called the contact he gave me, only to find out that he didn’t actually book the space. I had no money left with me because I had paid off the friend I borrowed money from. After waiting for hours, I eventually got another place to stay. The next day, I travelled to the location to meet up with him for our staycation. I called him severally to let him know I was around but he didn’t pick up any of my calls. At this point I was broke broke and I couldn’t reach him at all. I had to stay with a friend for the night. He didn’t pick my calls for 3 days. After 3 days, he sent me a text saying that he was sorry and that he had been sick. This man then told me that he had a Brain tumor, and said that he had been unconscious all the while.
Brain tumor? Sis.
I shut down because I believed him. I wanted to believe it was true just to convince myself it was the reason he had put me through so much. We met up later that night and I was so worried. I kept asking if he was fine and I was just trying to make sure he was okay. I was trying to be strong for him. It was not until the next day my friend sent me a picture from her sister’s instagram showing that he had attended a wedding on the days he was “unconscious.” This guy was never sick. I was so broken that he lied to me. I wasn’t even concerned about him going out with his girlfriend. I fully knew he was in a relationship and I was the one doing stupid things. I just couldn’t believe he would put me through all of that.
The next day, I didn’t bring it up. I realized he was never going to be honest with me. I just wanted to collect my money. It was over N200,000 by then. He strung me through other similar manipulative situations as well. Eventually, I got to a breaking point where I just sat in my bathroom and cried. I couldn’t figure out why I was doing all of this to myself because of a guy.
Did you eventually get the money?
I eventually got the money from his mother. I had waited too long and decided to call her. A couple of weeks later, she sent it. At that point, I had blocked him. I didn’t want anything to do with him anymore.
I’m so glad you did that for yourself. Have you Spoken to him since then?
He tried to reach out to me several times and even used his mum’s number to call. He apologised and said he just wanted to talk but I never gave him a chance to. I blocked his mum’s number as well. He hasn’t been able to reach me since then.
What would you do differently if you had to do it all over again?
I would leave. From the first time I had my doubts, I would have left.
Any advice to anyone currently working their way out of a toxic relationship?
Listen to yourself and trust your intuition.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.