Love Life: We Help Each Other Grow

June 17, 2021

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

Audio: We Help Each Other Grow

Femi*, 26, and Yemisi*, 25, have been dating for two years. Today on Love Life, they talk about helping each other grow and be better people and how the lockdown helped them transition into a long distance relationship.

What’s your earliest memory of each other? 

Yemisi: In November 2018, I asked people on my Twitter timeline what they wanted before the end of the year, and this person who thinks he’s a smooth operator said lunch with me. I said, “Cool, I can make that happen.” He slid into my DM and asked if he should go straight to the point or do small talk before asking me out to lunch. He was very formal — using big grammar. LOL. I said he could go straight to the point and we settled on a date, but he didn’t get back to me. 

A few weeks later, he apologised. He said he was busy with work and we should reschedule. But I was away for a conference on the island. I wasn’t planning to leave the conference venue, so I told him we could plan something when I returned to the mainland. While I was still at the conference, I tweeted that I wanted cake.  Femi messaged me to ask for my address and sent a cake. I actually got two cakes. One from Femi, one from someone else. 

Femi: Whose was bigger and better?

Yemisi: Lmao. I’m not going to answer that.  

What happened next? 

Femi: We started chatting via Twitter DMs but we still didn’t go on that date. Her office organised a monthly event that I used to go for. At these events, she was always with other men, so it felt like she wasn’t interested. 

A few months after we started talking, a mutual friend organised a dinner that we both went for, and after that, we became close. She slept in my house that night. 

Yemisi: The dinner happened four months after he sent me the cake in November 2018. We actually met once in early 2019 before the dinner. It was a mani-pedi date, and I brought a friend along. 

Femi: A male friend who is taller than me by far. 

Yemisi: LOL. I didn’t think of the mani-pedi date as a real date.  

After the dinner, things naturally fell into place. We had a movie marathon the day after the dinner because I tweeted I wanted to see a movie with someone and he slid into my DMs to indicate interest.  

Femi: She claims she planned the whole thing. I can’t disagree. 

Yemisi: LMAO. Then we started hanging out after work regularly. He would come to my office or I would go to his house. One of the things we bonded over was Game of Thrones and getting pedicures. We found out that we had a lot in common: Our parents are pastors in the same church, we come from the same place, and have similar beliefs. In May, he invited me to his church and I went. We spent more time together before he officially asked me out. 

How has the relationship been so far? 

Femi: Although we have fights and sometimes over the littlest of things, it’s been good. We spent a lot of time together during the lockdown. This meant we spent a lot of time in the kitchen together and that came with some bickering. We got to know each other deeply. For instance, I found out that she doesn’t know how to open mouthwash. 

During that period, we skipped the regular boyfriend-girlfriend stage and entered the comfortable married couple stage. 

What was your biggest fight about? 

Yemisi: We were arguing about something on Twitter. I was coming from a moral perspective, and Femi was looking at it from a legal perspective. We were in the same house, in the same bedroom, but I didn’t talk to him for like two hours, I don’t remember how it ended. At the end of the day, we kind of agreed on the same point, but it took a while to get there. 

Femi: My idea of our biggest fight is different. We used to take evening walks, and one time, we were supposed to go get food. At some point on the way, she stopped to tie her shoelace. I asked her to move away from the road so she could be safe.  For the rest of the walk, she kept frowning. Even when we got home, she continued frowning and wanted to be by herself. I don’t know if she remembers this. 

Yemisi: I do remember it — I didn’t like his tone. I think I’m responsible for like 70% of our fights. He calls me “Fighter” because I fight about everything. 

So how do you resolve fights?

Yemisi: Whenever we fight, it’s always Femi that reaches out to me. He’ll make me come out of my shell by offering food or joking. After that, we’ll have a conversation about it.  I’d feel bad because he is such a kind, thoughtful person, which is annoying. Then I would now apologise properly and admit where I went wrong and he’ll do the same. 

One thing he’s taught me is that more than anything, love is a choice, and even in these fights, we keep loving and caring for each other.

Femi: My strategy is mumu button. At least that’s how I de-escalate the immediate tension so that we can have conversations about the problem. We can be fighting and pause to ask each other what we want to eat or joke about something else.

What’s the best part about the relationship? 

Femi: Yemisi is my sugar mummy. She spoils me. I can’t say I want anything and that’s how it ends. She always finds a way to get it for me. From clothes to gadgets. Especially now that we are apart. She is so intentional about taking care of me and she motivates me to be better. 

Yemisi: We help each other grow and become the best possible versions of ourselves. Since we started the relationship, we’ve both grown simultaneously. When we started talking, I got a new job, which was a big deal for me. Shortly after, he got a new job. We helped each other prepare for the interviews and gingered each other. There’s such a stong sense of “I believe in you” in this relationship. After I got a raise, he got a raise as well. I got a promotion, and he got promoted too. That’s how we do things over here. No one gets left behind.

Although Femi isn’t expressive, he’s very kind and thoughtful. Sometimes we fight about it because I’m like, why is he doing something for this person, but he’s taught me to be a better person to the people around me. 

Also, he is my sugar daddy. When my computer was bad, he vexed and got me a new one. After I moved, he got tired of the shitty video conferencing app we were using and got me an IPhone so we could FaceTime.

So you help each other grow professionally, financially and emotionally? 

Yemisi: Yup. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my salary has grown 10x since we started dating. When you’re with someone who is succeeding, you’re forced to put in your best and succeed too. Similarly, when you’re with a kind person, it rubs off on you. We’ve been deliberate about learning from each other.

Femi: What she said about growing professionally and financially. 

And then emotionally too. I’m usually quiet, reserved and sometimes clueless. But she’s been intentional about helping me grow and she’s been patient about it too.

Do you have any future plans together

Femi: She’s trying to get me out of Nigeria. 

Yemisi: Yup. I recently moved out of Nigeria. We both knew from the start of our relationship that this would happen. At some point in the relationship, we knew that we wanted to end up together. Our siblings know each other. This year, I met his mum, and he’s met my parents online — my dad already calls him his son. We are on the road to getting married, but one of our biggest priorities is getting him to join me abroad. 

What’s long-distance like for both of you?

Femi: It’s hard tbh. But definitely not the worst thing in the world. No physical touch is the hardest thing. And sometimes, unnecessary squabbles because the nuance is missing.

Yemisi: It’s not the worst thing or the best thing. I think we’re lucky because, during the lockdown, we lived together for about eight months. We got to know each other. I think that was a defining point in our relationship. I recently told him  that if I had left Nigeria before the lockdown, we might not be together. Living together helped us know each other.. 

We both like physical touch, and sometimes I want it, but not having it is not the worst thing. 

Overall, we’ve been able to hack how we spend time together. We talk everyday and send gifts to each other a lot. We have movie night often. Long distance is good for us, but it’s not the best situation. 

Rate your relationship on a scale of 1 to 10. 

Femi: 8.632. 

Yemisi: LOL. What?

Femi: It’s because of the long distance. Sometimes I want to knock your head or do things I can’t say here, but it’s not possible, so yeah. 

Yemisi: 9. We have been dating for two years, and we have both grown in different ways. There’s no way you’d date him, and you wouldn’t grow or date me and you wouldn’t grow. Our growth is the best part for me. 

Check back every Thursday by 9 AM for new Love Life stories here. The stories will also be a part of the Sex Life newsletter, so sign up here.

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Relationships can be hard, and sometimes you just need someone to give you a bit of advice. Ask Ozzy is our new advice column where you send Zikoko the relationship questions that have been bugging you, and Ozzy Etomi gives you the best relationship advice. The column is part of our brand new category, Ships, that tackles all kinds of relationships, not just the romantic ones. If you’d like to send in your questions, click here.

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