Call the grammar police
We spoke daily, whether it was on the phone or on Facebook messenger, Skype, WhatsApp, or via text messages. The more messages we exchanged, the more my inner grammar police begged to come on duty. I’m quite passionate about English grammar, editing, proofreading, and attention to detail so Sayo’s apparent lack of passion for these topics bothered me—the dream guy that I made up in my head had impeccable English language skills. But because I wanted to be considerate of Sayo’s feelings, I kept my thoughts on this to myself.
Haha: no. I told Sayo. He was cool about it—he thanked and said he was committed to improving.
My nearest and dearest didn’t see my side on this grammar issue. A friend reminded me that I regularly help her with spelling and grammar and that it hasn’t negatively affected our friendship (true). I was challenged by my dad and others to consider the effect of grammar on the relationship—if we couldn’t understand each other, that was a serious problem, but this wasn’t the case. Some people laughed when I brought up this issue. It may sound silly but I had to accept that my daydream of waking up to see that my guy had hijacked my blog to write a beautiful blog post about me may never happen (I suppose it might happen but I’d probably be too busy analyzing grammar to appreciate it!).
Sometimes I would correct him and sometimes I didn’t. I decided not to focus too much on it until I can have a more direct impact. I also realized that one of the reasons this is an issue for me is because I care what people think and a part of me is therefore selfishly motivated to be the grammar police. That being said, who thinks that God’s going to use this to teach me not to care what people think? Or to humble me? (I’ve imagined Sayo schooling me in grammar one day and me not handling it well!) That’s usually how these things work: you think a lesson is for someone else when it’s really for you!
Learning about each other
We spent a lot of time talking on the phone and online, so we had to deal with connection issues. Many times we’d be talking, only to find out that the other person hadn’t heard a word that was said. Or the call would keep dropping. Sayo’s really patient with calls dropping and he would keep calling back but I would reach my limit very quickly. My annoyance with the mobile provider would very quickly become annoyance with Sayo for calling back when our connection was only going to drop. Sometimes the line would reconnect and Sayo would hear me “expressing my frustration”. After a while he learned to tell me that we’d talk later, once the connection had improved.
It wouldn’t bother me as much when the internet connection would mess up, but Sayo found this more annoying. He likes chats to flow so when the conversation isn’t flowing, he’ll usually say “Hello!” which used to annoy me because I’m thinking “Hello, I’m here waiting for your messages but they haven’t come in!” Now it makes me laugh because all his messages—including the “Hello!”—come in all at once so I know it’s the network acting up.
I learned how bad I am at gauging time. Weekends are the best time for Sayo and I to get a lot of conversation in. I hang out with friends at their place most Saturday evenings and I spend all of my Sunday at my parents’ house. So what Sayo and I would do is make a date to talk at a certain time and when that time would come, I’d sometimes still be out. At that point I’d tell him that I’ll be home in “15 minutes”—an hour later I’m still not home! He used to get worried when he wouldn’t hear from me at the agreed-upon time but once he realized that I’m terrible at estimating how much time I need, he patiently waits. It’s rude of me to not respect his time so I’m working on that.
When it comes to discussing contentious issues, I tend to be the one who brings it up and I’m not at peace until it’s resolved. It bugged me (and still bugs me) that Sayo wouldn’t bring things up but he said that I don’t give him enough time! Working out differences of opinion means lots of phone time because we handle situations so differently! In the early days, many of these conversations felt like they’d be our last.
I learned how caring and supportive Sayo is, even from a distance. When I’m working on something at work or for my blog, he leaves me to do the work. He checks on me but he supports me taking time to do things that are important to me, including watching my shows. He encourages me when I’m frustrated. He checks to make sure that I’ve eaten, even though I tell him that someone my size cannot starve, even if I miss a few (days of) meals! If I tell him that I’m not feeling well he’ll give suggestions of medications or other remedies to try and be follows up. He checks on my grandmother and great-aunt (our matchmaker) and brings them little gifts when he visits. And he calls my parents without my prompting or knowledge, to say hello and check on them.
As 2016 drew to a close and 2017 began, I’d had in-depth conversations about the relationship with my parents, sister, and friends. Although I liked Sayo and thought he was a great guy, we had only met once for a couple of weeks.
I had in my head an idea of how a long-distance relationship leading to marriage should progress: we meet, we visit each other several times, he proposes, we’re engaged for 12–18 months, and if all goes well, we get married. Would we really get married after meeting in person just once?
No way: I had to see him again and see if I was ready to make such a big decision.