Recovering Undercover Overlover

Play the audio file below to enjoy a better reading experience.

I stumbled on that picture of us yesterday, the only one in which you smiled; the white of your dentition so distinct from the wealthy glam of melanin in your skin. You probably wonder why I keep the picture, I feel like I need something of you to hold on to… or you probably don’t wonder, maybe you kept it too. Isn’t it funny that we only have three pictures to boast of in almost four years of friendship and that all the time we spent together amounts to what, 504 hours max? We were in the same vicinity for a year but it felt like we didn’t make the best of it. Urges to see you were accompanied by nagging voices in my head and my pointless quest to remain unattached to you despite your advances got me constantly reminding myself that I had no rights to demand a thing from you. I was also avoiding the unpredictable events that would probably have ensued. You see, contrary to what you believe, I always tried to avoid drama with you but somehow, it kept rearing its ugly head, deepening the gulf between us and making the possibilities of a life together even more vague. I watched you move on while emotionally clinging to thoughts of what could have been.

I smile now as I remember the last time you came back to the area, the jokes and laughs that led to clicks of shutters and the conversation about her. She always caused drama between us. I remember once losing my cool over you both, it was about a year after you and I met: she had said in my presence that you were hers and I flipped after she left. Shots of vodka were followed by my girls daring me to call you and let my bile out. I cursed you out and waited for your defense but you only listened in silence, denying me of the response you knew I wanted so badly. You said you never went past plain friendship with her and I believed you, although I think a part of you loved her. I might sound silly but I owed it to you as a friend to believe you over her. I still think about her sometimes, wonder how she got the perception and boldness to tell everyone otherwise and if she knew how much you denied relations with her. For over two years, the sight of her filled me with envy and resentment, feelings which were later replaced by pity as the realization that we both never had you sunk in.

Two months after your visit, you admitted you were in love with me after years of claiming emotional independence. You scrambled every feeling for you that I had tucked in the ‘moving on’ folder. How could you keep that from me for months? How could you encourage me to be with another man when you harbored those feelings for me? I eventually adjusted to the futility of that love you claimed to feel for me. You had always said watching me be with someone else, listening to my relationship tales and having to be there for me through it all hurt but you would rather suffer the consequences of not having me than break up my relationship. You didn’t understand that it wasn’t just you who suffered. So I stayed. It passed and our friendship continued. I didn’t understand you just didn’t want to be with me and nothing could change that. Everyone said you liked to play with my heart ’cause you knew you had that power. Everyone thought it but me.

Three months went by before I decided I no longer wanted to be the one who sent messages first, strived to keep conversations alive and reached out after days of no contact. My affection for you had made me build a very strong mental link and need for you. You said I mattered too but it did not feel like it, I felt shortchanged. Our argument got you exasperated, I cut off communication with you because I was tired of being the only one who seemed to need our friendship. Weeks passed by, then a sudden call from you to ‘say hi’. You had seen our pictures and they brought you memories. After some refusal on my part to budge easily, we exchanged ‘I miss yous’, talked about our issues and made up. We managed to remain stable till my relationship dissolved and I told you I’d still love to get with you if the opportunity came up. But that was when you hit me with the bombshell: you didn’t think we were compatible! I blew up but also accepted we were never going to happen and made up my mind never to try again.

Another peaceful cycle was disrupted by word from that one about things only you could have known. A first episode years before had been undeniably connected to you. I was hurt by the disregard for the trust I had in you, you were hurt by my failure to maintain that trust. As usual, you called me dramatic for choosing common sense and judgment before friendship. This time, it was your decision to put an end to our merry-go-rounds. I thought we had been through too much already to let this one break us but you can’t be friends with someone who insults your character, you need people with the same focus as you, without the negativity that past events bring. Basically, I am toxic to your life.

Every time I think of how good you were to me when I needed you, I want to beg you to come back but I’m just going to pick what’s left of my dignity and walk alone from here. Some days, I think we are still friends, I still love you very much and care for you; other days, I send the memories to hell. You were right after all, we are so incompatible we can’t even make a friendship work. A mix of your mechanical self and my rigidity would have been very boring and disastrous.

You might be reading this right now, I hope you understand there is no malice here. I wish you all he best in the world and pray you don’t go off the path of greatness you are treading already. I hope the woman you finally open your heart to knows how amazing you are when you let yourself. I hope she understands you the way I never learnt to. I hope you find it okay to be vulnerable with her the way you could not be with me. I hope you never stop making your mother proud, Heaven knows she deserves it. I always looked forward to meeting her but life had different plans.

If you ever need a thing from me, you know what to do. Please, don’t hesitate.

Be good to yourself and others.


  • Loelah

    It is well

    August 8, 2016
    • Dele Lawal

      Well, well… First it sounded like a letter or maybe I just chose to be distracted by events that I can easily relate to. The little I have learned about human psychology suggests that ’emotional fences’ are rarely a product of strength.
      I have a feeling many people who appear cold, uncaring, distant, detached or seemingly stolid and imperturbable are actually repressing a variety of feelings they’ll normally like to let out. That’s a serious trouble for today’s world!

      I hope this is fiction. …& if it isn’t, I hope it reaches its target and it yields invaluable results. Impressive delivery, subtle reminder and great write-up.

      August 8, 2016
  • Kels

    Sigh.. When the friendzone wall is breached.

    Posted from TNC Mobile

    August 8, 2016
  • Tunde

    the great philosopher ari gold said “let’s hug it out, b****!” Ladies, anytime a guy leaves u feeling like this, u need to “fuck it out” of ur system, cos nothing good can come out of this kinda senrenre…
    However, haters would say my comment doesn’t make any sense

    August 8, 2016
  • anonymous aboki

    Love will phuck you up..

    August 8, 2016
    • But that’s not necessarily a bad thing ????

      August 8, 2016
        • *glances around*
          Who’s that?

          August 8, 2016
      • Nosa

        Of course, you will not agree it’s a bad thing

        Posted from TNC Mobile

        August 10, 2016
  • This was very brilliantly written.


    This is such a real thing; so real, so depressing. Especially when people with whom you think you had a connection suddenly drop off the face of the earth, and things that looked happy and gay before suddenly feel no so much.

    I feel this.
    I know it exists.

    But hey, we pick up the pieces of our dignity and self respect that’s left, right after doing whatever we can to see if it can be resolved, and move on.

    These things happen,

    August 8, 2016
      • gboukzi

        Or love is just overrated, and an excuse we give ourselves to accept rubbish from other people.

        August 8, 2016
        • thalordsleek

          Love is not overrated, but it sure CAN be an excuse to open yourself up to rubbish from other people.

          August 8, 2016
          • Olumide

            Which is precisely why it is overrated.

            August 11, 2016
          • Trista

            Love is exaggerated abeg.

            August 12, 2016
        • Nosa

          Some should give this fellow five bottles of Gulder????????????????????????????????

          Posted from TNC Mobile

          August 8, 2016
        • sonia

          Shebi i said it. They’ve broken your heart

          August 8, 2016
  • MR.


    August 8, 2016
  • Dr Jekyll

    I’m sorry.
    Can we go back in time?

    August 8, 2016
  • *sigh* @ray, this situation is too real, I hope this isn’t something you’re personally going through. A similar experience I’ve had and it’s really not a good one. That feeling…

    Beautiful writing again. Keep doing you, babes!

    August 8, 2016
      • andré

        I was going to ask if this was based on a true story, till I saw @seryxme ‘s comment and your response to that.

        But gosh! This was so beautifully written. I mean, how do you write something so sad [and probably brought some hurtful memories] with such grace and fluidity? Like did you feel like crying while writing/ typing? lol

        I don’t know if it won’t sound wrong to say I enjoyed it but this is a beautiful beautiful piece.

        And I hope you heal completely…soon. *Hugs.

        August 8, 2016
          • JoyGirl

            You sent it to him? Is a new cycle going to start?

            August 9, 2016
          • Nosa

            “Sent it to him”

            Very good. Very what? Very good

            Posted from TNC Mobile

            August 10, 2016
  • Enigma

    I see my self in major parts of this convo. When the one u love refuses to open up to you. It’s so emotionally draining, the back and forts. I hope one day love finds me.

    August 8, 2016
  • Sigh.Love and all the attendant issues…

    August 8, 2016
  • Oluwadunni

    This is so beautiful and poignant.
    Reading this got me so upset. Because I watched something similar happen to a friend. And I really detest the kind of scenario that played out here: love triangles, people who claim to love you but don’t act on it or act true to it, people who make advances towards you and later start acting like you were the one who forced them to love you, people who run away and leave you in the dark, oh and the worst, the ones who think they can return to your life and jeopardise it with confessions, apologies, remember-when’s and what-could-have-been’s.
    It’s so unhealthy when you don’t cut people like this off quickly; people will call you a fool (been there) and try to you see reason. You will give excuses that moving on is difficult but you have to move on, you have to honour your heart.
    The thing is to never let it go back and forth for too long. Walk away as soon as possible. And if both of you are mature enough to still preserve your friendship, well, cheers.

    August 8, 2016
    • Oluwadunni

      *try to make you

      August 8, 2016
    • Olumide

      Or just dont “fall in love”. Easy.

      August 11, 2016
  • ME

    @ oluwadunni, you’ve said it all. People who take u through the I-love-U-No-I-don’t! cycle sure ain’t worth wasting ur breathe over. They are indecisive and don’t know exactly what they want or when they want it. Most of them only stick around and play that game with u cos they realise that you truly care and that gives them some level of power over you. To them you are jst like a very good piece of furniture. They travel and slam d door hard against your heart, let dust settle on you without giving a damn, then they return after some time, open your door (cos they have d keys), treat u ‘nicely’ for a yle by cleaning up and dusting off particles from your surface (by way of lame apologies and explanations) unto you look clean and comfy enuf to sit on. And you allow yourself get carried away with d ‘attention’ u are getting from them after a long period of silent hiatus, then u open up again and allow them SIT ON YOU…the Good old rocking chair!…you did d right thing by moving on @ray. And the fact dt ur ‘friend’ told ur story to some other person and betrayed ur trust really stinks…friends don’t do that.

    August 8, 2016
    • Annie

      I swear, you just wrote everything on my mind.

      August 8, 2016
  • ????????????????????????????????????????
    With articles like this, I think I should just give up on writing! It’s not a competition but I can’t compete with brilliance like this! Well done, @ray

    August 8, 2016
    • Twisted

      My thoughts exactly. I cant keep up with such.
      *packs pen and jotters*
      whistles O digba O da bo!**

      August 8, 2016
      • Biko, wait for me. Let us go before @ray reveals us as the wannabe writers that we are ????

        August 8, 2016
  • Sparks & Tingles

    “A mix of your mechanical self and my rigidity would have been very boring and disastrous.”

    You both dodged a bullet. You woulda ended up together based on the chemistry but reality would have torn you apart anyways. This article is misery beautifully painted, I know because I was there too.

    August 8, 2016
  • Twisted

    Dearest Ray,
    From the second i read a comment written by you, I knew there was magic in those hands! This was beautiful, I swear.
    You are hands down my spirit animal.
    I’m glad its all over now. I pray you receive healing in your heart.

    August 8, 2016
  • Lolaaa

    This hit very close to home. It’s been my life for the past few years. That couch analogy is spot on! I really need to get over this whole dead end situation.

    Posted from TNC Mobile

    August 8, 2016
  • Dearest Ray,

    just come and accept my bae proposal already. Woz the meaning of all dis? So this was beautifully written, and I can also relate- too well, I’m afraid. Stay strong boo

    August 8, 2016
  • Leray

    Trust is key!

    Friendship, relationship or business… Once broken, it can never be mended (fully).
    Almost been in similar situations but once you realize it never ends well, you make early decisions that saves the (or a part of) the friendship.

    Nice piece Rach!

    August 9, 2016
  • “I cut off communication with you because I was tired of being the only one who seemed to need our friendship”

    Sigh. So relatable. I don’t even know what to say.
    It seems I’m that guy just that me and the person who would be writing never really got into a relationship to begin with.

    Now we’ll never know … maybe its for the best. One less broken heart.

    August 9, 2016
  • Kismet

    Met the Mr,
    Got all the attention,
    Became indecisive over some family objection,
    Told him I didn’t think we should move forward quite a few times
    He backed down…
    Alas the light bulb went off a little too late.
    I tried to get back what we had..Concrete wall all the way.
    This life is a pot of beans..sigh..

    August 9, 2016
  • Nosa

    Fam, too many broken hearts, unrequited love, one-sided love and tears in ghis comment sections.

    Y’all really need to stop loving or trying to love, it’s not good for one’s health.

    Posted from TNC Mobile

    August 10, 2016
  • Popeye

    At first I was hoping the post wasn’t about me…lol.
    In my case I think d both of us were just comfortable with being last options cos we were “bestfriends” n then we thought wtf with last options let’s just do this n then started to profess serious love n all. Had a few fights that didn’t make any sense to me,tried to settle…babe was forming vex…homie decided to move on finally this time not minding everyone saying “we d best couple n all that bs”. Got a “missing you” message recently n homie doesn’t even know if he misses bae too(he actually does) but wouldn’t do nothing about it. Can’t keep going on in circles.
    Anyways, lovely write up.
    P.s: forgive my disjointed writing

    August 10, 2016
  • iFeOlUwA

    That was deep, thoughtful & reflective….
    Unfortunately it’s just an example of the vagaries & complexity of the human emotion, the desperate need to strike the balance between what is right and what u want …the earnest attempt to maintain d correct stance in the conundrum of contrasting opionions.
    Maybe that’s what love is; letting go of something u want so much yet feel it’s best without u….or not.
    I still think & believe that love as we know it, is an abused & overrated word.
    Best decisions are probably the ones made with the crystal clear mindset ; unobscured by the shades of emotions.
    Letting loose of the clutches of *feelings* and moving on as the gentleman did was the right decision all along.

    August 12, 2016
  • Osasu Elaiho

    I can relate to this completely. Isn’t it funny how we have that one friend that we feel we are meant for but who doesn’t feel the same way about us?

    The thoughts can’t even form coherently in my head because in my case, I’m in your shoes. In the sense that you still get those memories sometimes and wonder what could have been. Then again maybe you’ve put it totally behind you and never think about it again.

    I don’t believe love is overrated or exaggerated as someone mentioned earlier while commenting, I just believe that a lot of people don’t truly understand what it means to truly love. They don’t understand that it means to be selfless always amongst other things.

    This is an absolutely graceful and poignant piece.

    Thank you for sharing.

    August 13, 2016
  • Raymond

    The Other Ray…

    The fact that this post was written with a rationalizing tone makes me assume feelings didn’t die.. they were just compartmentalized and put away in safe storage. Lemme answer for him

    First of all I always knew I loved you. I also knew just how much and that it was not enough… when I denied at first it was because I did not know how to explain and it was easier to just deny

    I felt similarly for her like I did for you even though I liked you more. It was just as difficult to explain to her that I liked her too much to outrightly deny her but not enough to actually date her. She never understood and felt I was just shy in admitting my feelings and I know this is hard for you to hear because it sounds like you blamed her for feeling and thinking the same way I believe you did too

    I only know how to treat my friends good. it is not an expression of love. It is just how I am. I don’t even do it to be a good person or because I have a desire to be good. I act and it turns out to be good with little or no effort on my part.

    I rooted for you to love somebody else who would love you right. It only hurt because of that schmuck you picked. For Gossake him? of all people in the world Ray? HIM?!

    Its funny how I was right afterall but you still blame me for not trying.. because subconsciously you think if I had not wasted so much time denying… if I had not complicated things with the other girls and wasted time not being ready… and just loved you as much as I could, perhaps things would have been different and I would have been wrong.. but I wasn’t wrong. I was right.

    Years later we are at this comfortable place where you can write about this and drop the ‘no malice’ line knowing that I will read this as an accusation followed by an I-forgive-you and I can bring out my copy of the picture and remind myself that even as you will no longer open up your heart for me to enter, you just might still walk in, if I open mine.

    August 23, 2016
    • Ray

      Lmaoooo omg. I don’t even know what to say. This really got to me though and makes me wonder if this would be his version too.

      September 8, 2016
  • Omotayo

    Beautifully written.
    I think i’m at the other end of this story

    August 24, 2016
  • Adeyinka

    There are days when i want to unlearn everything i’ve learnt , to forget everything even my mother’s face but i know in my heart that even then i ll never be able to forget US; the love that knows never to stay. I hope you find what you looking for .

    September 20, 2016
  • Miss N

    Great article @ray .Good play on words ; neatly woven together to remind us of that one person we wished we had , sadly unreachable

    October 12, 2016
  • Buzz

    All these sadness is bad for my skin. Took me to a deep and dark place. In my case we did have a romantic relationship and that was our fatal mistake. Now we don’t even talk anymore,from strangers to best friends to lovers and back to strangers full cycle. Maybe it was better you guys didn’t get intimate. Brilliant write up btw

    October 20, 2016
  • Dante

    sigh. Lovely write up! Reminds me of the mind when its still forming the defences. Wishing them well never sounds real even when its form the heart.

    love how the piece looks at the subtle details of PTSD ( lol)

    November 22, 2016
  • Jojo

    I’ve learnt quite recently to cut off any useless relationship that will interfere with my image of mind and happiness…. Let love carry it’s heart attack and go

    January 30, 2017
  • Jojo

    *peace of mind

    January 30, 2017
  • Long time no read TNC, and the first thing I read just speaks words that I’ve been struggling to pull together in a way that I never would have done. Very beautiful, heartfelt writing. Thank you for gifting me with this.

    January 15, 2020
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