Love Life: This Relationship Has Made Me More Conscious Of My Privilege

July 1, 2021

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


Audio: This Relationship Has Made Me More Conscious Of My Privilege

Bisola*, 28, and Boye*, 29 have been dating for ten months. Today on Love Life, they talk about being an interabled couple in a long-distance relationship, navigating people’s intrusive curiosity and why they’re meant for each other. 

inter-abled couple

What’s your earliest memory of each other?

Bisola: My earliest memory of him was in primary school. He was a year ahead of me. 

Boye: I don’t remember her from primary school. My earliest memory is when we met on Twitter in 2020. 

How?

Bisola: So Boye has always been a wheelchair user, and that’s why I remembered him. Sometime in May 2020, he posted a video showing how he navigates his life in a wheelchair. The video went viral, and that’s how I found him — there aren’t many wheelchair users with that name. I sent a DM, asking if he went to our primary school. He said yes, and we started talking. 

What happened next?

Bisola: We kept chatting. It wasn’t anything serious — occasional hellos here and there. One day, he said he was more active on Whatsapp, so we exchanged numbers. We continued talking there. 

Boye: Our conversations were random and interesting. I am a big fan of Game of Thrones, and she had read the books, so we talked about that. We also talked about societal and political issues. It was nothing serious. 

When did things get serious?

Boye: Whenever we chatted, I was usually on and off — I am notoriously bad at texting. I get a lot of messages because I’m in so many WhatsApp groups. This means I have a lot of unread messages. After a while, Bisola and I didn’t speak for a bit. She sent me a message, but I didn’t reply to it for weeks. She sent another message and I apologised, but it happened again. She sent a message saying, “Clearly, the fastest way to chase you away is to stay in touch.” I apologised again, and this time, I pinned her chat on WhatsApp. This meant no matter what happened, I’d always see her chat. This happened mid-September last year; we’ve talked every day since then. 

Bisola: Wait, let me add more clarity to this. He wasn’t responding on WhatsApp, but we were still talking intermittently on Twitter. So now and then, he would reply my tweets and I would reply his. On his birthday, I wished him a happy birthday on Twitter, and we started chatting. At some point, he asked why we were chatting there when we had each other’s numbers. That’s when he went to WhatsApp and saw that he had missed my messages. 

Boye: And I pinned her chat. 

Bisola: Yeah, so we kept talking. All this time, he wasn’t in Nigeria. He came to Nigeria in December last year, and we met for the first time since primary school. It was at his house. I brought him a gift — a bunch of random things he liked. We had talked so much so it didn’t feel like we were meeting for the first time. Also, I met his mum, his two brothers, his sister and her fiancé. There was no room for any awkwardness. We saw each other almost every day after that. He was in Nigeria for about three weeks, and just before he left, he popped the question. 

Boye: It was kind of obvious to us that we were going to end up dating because we got along well. We were just waiting to see each other. When I came to Lagos, we spent almost every day together. I am quite traditional, so I asked straight, “Are you my girlfriend or are you not my girlfriend?” Let’s know. She said yes. 

How has the relationship been so far?

Boye: It’s been great. I come to Lagos a lot, and she comes to London a lot as well. I think every month since January, we have spent time with each other for like a week or two. 

It’s been fun. We debate a lot, but we don’t argue. We don’t fight. We have shared interests. We’re both intellectual people, and we talk about social issues a lot. Just general good vibes, you know. 

inter-abled long distance couple

Sounds cool. What’s life like as an interabled couple? 

Bisola: It’s been eye-opening. People with various disabilities have to navigate a world that’s not optimised for them. I’m more conscious of my privilege — I don’t worry about a lot of things he has to consider. 

I’m also always expecting a reaction from people when we are together. It may not necessarily be a negative reaction, but I find myself waiting for the other shoe to drop. When I told my friends about him, I made sure to tell them that he was a wheelchair user before they met him, just so nobody’s shocked and we can maintain normalcy. 

My work in this relationship is understanding disability, recognising my privilege and doing what I can, if the opportunity arises, to help other people living with disabilities or less privileged. 

Boye: For me, this is all I have ever known. I’m quite independent. I don’t rely on anybody for anything and I do everything myself. The thing that stresses my relationships most is what people think or say about them. People often ask how the relationship works – they ask very intrusive questions. It’s a normal relationship to me, but to everyone else, our relationship is something inspirational. The only difference between this relationship and others is people’s attitudes towards disability. This is what governs their predisposition to what they think relationships should look like. 

What’s the best part of the relationship?

Bisola: Boye is an amazing person and also an amazing boyfriend. He is very kind and thoughtful. I am really lazy — all I want to do is lie in bed all day and be babied. I love how he can do that for me. I love how comfortable I am having him do that for me because while I want to lay in bed, I am also fiercely independent. With him, it’s easy. 

For the longest time, we kept waiting for the worst to happen because we couldn’t believe how good it was. You know how you get into a relationship and you have to do this and do that. That doesn’t happen here — we are just two people living their lives who have chosen to live it together. 

Now I’m curious about how you navigated through your biggest fight?

Boye: We haven’t had a big fight yet. I am not an aggressive person, and I don’t see the point of a fight. I believe that everything in this life can be sorted out with a conversation — either somebody changes their opinion or we agree to disagree. We can’t achieve anything like that with a fight. I am a big advocate of never apologising for how you feel because how you feel is always valid and so far we haven’t had a fight.  

What’s your favourite thing about each other? 

Bisola: I can’t lie, he makes the meanest ayamase sauce

Boye: It’s my food I used to steal her. 

She is extremely honest. She never minces her words. What she says is what she means.  I appreciate clarity and honesty. 

Do you have future plans for each other?

Bisola: I don’t know about him, but I want to marry him. 

Boye: LOL. We will marry eventually. We’re not particularly young, so it’s pretty straightforward where we are headed. It’s not a case of let’s see where it goes. We have dated other people,  so we know what we don’t like. 

Rate your relationship on a scale of one to ten and why. 

Boye: 11. It is everything I have always wanted, in terms of peace of mind, happiness, loyalty and friendship. We get along quite well, and our families do as well. I never feel like I have to be anyone else with her — I can always be myself. 

Bisola: 11. This relationship doesn’t feel like work. It doesn’t feel like anything out of the ordinary. It is normal living with a special person. 

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Mariam Sule

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