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.
*Disclaimer: Alex* is gender nonbinary and uses they/he pronouns. Thank you*
Alex* had bumped into Femi* at every summer lesson they attended. So, it was natural they became friends. From friends, they started dating. Now, they haven’t spoken in years. Here’s Alex’s story:
How did you meet him?
Alex: I don’t remember the exact way we met, but I do remember we kept meeting at various summer lessons when we were in primary and junior secondary school. When I got to SS1 in 2012, I stopped attending them. So that put a halt to our conversations.
Then, I graduated and didn’t get into uni immediately, so it was back to summer classes by 2015. Guess who was right there? If you meet someone that many times, you’re bound to be friends or at least talk to them. So, we became friends.
What was the friendship like?
Alex: Being friends with him was pretty easy. We could talk about anything from our parents to depression and even our crushes. It helped that he liked the kind of things I did. We liked the same music and books, things people constantly thought I was weird for enjoying.
He was also extremely protective of me. Yeah, he spent a lot of time trying to scare me by convincing me to watch horror movies, but no other person was allowed to. He teased me in a way similar to how you acted with a younger sibling, and I found it funny because I was a year older than him.
How did the dynamic change?
Alex: He was a great friend, and I didn’t want to ruin it. That’s why I didn’t tell him about my crush on him. I listened to him talk about the people he liked and the ones who liked him while seething with jealousy.
In 2016, we both entered uni, and I got into a relationship with another guy who broke up with me a day before Christmas. I don’t know if that’s what made him confess he’d always liked me, but he did. He even made me a playlist, which is how I started making playlists for people.
Alex: Yeah, but I thought it’d be messy. I thought dating would suck, and if we broke up, I’d lose my friend. I agreed anyway because I liked him. We started dating properly in the new year.
What was dating him like?
Alex: Soft. He always wanted to make me happy. We would always go on dates even though we were broke 100-level students.
He was very intentional about showing up for me. His school was far from mine, but he still came to see me every weekend. He thought I was brilliant, and everything I said was genius. I almost believed him.
Sounds amazing so far
It’s just he was a very sad boy. Sometimes, he’d just close up without telling me what was wrong. And whenever he went silent like that, I knew something bad had happened. But all I could do was worry and expect the worst.
He was passively suicidal, so his silence could’ve meant death. But we’d never gone off for longer than a week before.
So, what happened?
Alex: Three months into our relationship, he did the disappearing thing again. A couple of days passed, then a week, and suddenly it’d been three weeks, and I hadn’t heard from him.
He didn’t use social media, and he had only one friend. Whenever I called the friend, he’d refuse to tell me what was happening. I couldn’t even leave my house because my parents wouldn’t let me leave the house.
While worrying about Femi and trying to understand why he’d disappeared for so long, I met this guy who told me everything I wanted to hear: how I deserve someone who won’t treat me that way. He was writing me poetry and all that. So one day, I kissed him.
When Femi eventually reached out to me, I told him I kissed someone else. I broke up with him. It felt too much like cheating.
How did you feel after the breakup?
Alex: I don’t know. I didn’t feel as different as I thought I’d feel. While talking to this new guy, I was already subconsciously letting go of the relationship with Femi. It wasn’t until the relationship with the other guy scattered that it hit. It became two in one. I thought I was going to die.
Did you ever reach out to Femi again?
Alex: No. I couldn’t. We haven’t spoken in years now, but I don’t think I want any form of romantic relationship with him still. I’ve currently changed as a person, and I don’t want to be hate crimed by someone I used to love. I want the memories I have of him to remain good forever.
Alex: I regret losing my friend. I wish I could still talk to him about certain shows because we have history, and he’d understand why things make me feel the way they do. I wish I could tell him I watch horror movies now and send him some theories about my favourite musicians, but I can’t. I don’t miss our romantic relationship; I just missed our friendship.
I genuinely wish I never crossed the line from friend to lover with him. He truly was one of the best people I had in my life. He made it easy for me to live every day. I really regret losing my friend.