Michelle: Joy is a successful banker in her 30s. She’s with Francis, her boyfriend of almost three months. Joy met him online during the quarantine. Her concern is his tongue. No, it’s not what you’re thinking about! Neither is it forked! But it can’t tell the difference between the letters P and F. And his subjects do not agree with his verbs. In short, he’s grammatically challenged. Initially, Joy thought it was no big deal but since a lot of their interactions are done online, it’s slowly becoming an irritant.
DJ: It must be tough for Francis to eventually know that someone close to him judges him on the basis of his speaking skills. But Joy can probably pull off a conversation around it if her intent is for him to develop more so he could have better career prospects. Communication is an essential part of every relationship. While they may be getting along fine, perhaps this is why Joy feels they’re not in sync.
M: I can understand Joy’s dilemma because honestly, I am also a bit bothered when someone mispronounces their F’s and P’s. Saying “One Feso” instead of “One Peso” can be a deal breaker. My dad, who was proud of being a product of the public school system, would often say, “It’s not how you say it for as long as they understand it.” We sometimes laughed at the way he pronounced some words but he took it in good stride. He would say “ve-ge-ta-balls” for vegetables and “ham-bur-jer” for hamburger. Yet, he was an awesome public speaker and a very funny guy, so his bad pronunciation just made it funnier. For Joy, Francis’ speech and grammar might be irritating because I think she wants him not just to look good but also speak better.
DJ: Looking at Joy’s profile, it’s possible that her concern is deeper than Francis’ P’s and F’s or his communication skills. Maybe it’s because he does not stimulate her. Mentally. And so she’s bored. Considering that a lot of their interactions are done online, things are probably becoming more like a routine. Perhaps he does not challenge her enough. Relationships evolve because of challenges. I’m bringing this up for her to process and think more about it so she can articulate it better when she talks to him. If she thinks his subject-verb agreement is crucial, her motivation and action have to be concurrent, too.
M: Ultimately, it’s not just about grammar, pronunciation, tenses and spelling that can make or break a relationship. Do they communicate well? Meaning, do their minds sync? Do they understand each other, share the same essentials and find each other interesting? At the end of the day, his words will not matter. His actions and his good intentions will. If Joy is too picky or finicky, I guess she should tell him to just face the truth that this phase in their relationship has reached its finality.
DJ: I suggest for Joy to take a step back and really think about whether or not she can live with whatever she feels is inadequate with Francis. She can even communicate her needs, help him through with his tongue, then see if things change for the better. It’s really up for her to decide whether or not the relationship is worth being in. If they can work this out, then great. Otherwise, she can listen to her gut and see what it’s telling her. It could be a sign she’s not feeling fulfilled.