Thursday, 22 September 2016 04:40

The Exclusivity Problem

In this jungle of relationship types, exclusivity cannot be assumed.

In this jungle of relationship types, exclusivity cannot be assumed.

One thing about dating that stays the same in all parts of the world is its anthem: “Find someone that I will not hate on sight and I strongly suspect isn’t a serial killer.” Arranging to meet for some kind of shared food or beverage experience is a given - it is no guarantee especially in the developed world, where we are soon manufacturing electronic babies from all the gadgets we use to communicate. However, most of us with African roots will go for the traditional, and if all goes well, it is usually not the last. How many people are trending towards the one night stand remains a topic for another day.

Being new in America poses cultural differences. When it comes to the dating scene, these differences present some big challenges that could remain challenges for the rest of one’s life here.

The issue of exclusivity

Relationships in America are developed in the same fashion that one would a business - or a house or job hunt - which means investigating one prospect at a time.

Sidebar: While juggling potential partners is considered normal, can I please advise you to limit yourself to one per evening and refrain from discussing your other prospects with any one prospect? Tweet to: @myafricanroots #datingishard

With partners in America, you have to have an actual conversation about exclusivity. It is expected, but it is not always a given. Just because you’ve gone on a second date and more doesn’t mean that it is only your jokes that your most-frequent-date is laughing at. I can see some African people - especially men (no pun intended!) - cringing about having to discuss their feeling. In Africa people walk up the aisle without ever bothering to have the “Am I the only person you are seeing” talk - exclusivity is a given. In America, ending up in someone’s sack does not necessarily mean you two are hooked exclusively. Make sure to have that exclusivity talk for your heart’s sake.

If you never had that talk, you might pick up on some cues that mean you are getting somewhere more concrete. Being introduced as a “girlfriend” or “boyfriend” is actually a big big sign - remember, honesty is the fundamental principle governing relationships here - so if you are introduced as such, you are such. Another cue (which freaked me out a lot before I met Paul!) is being invited to meet the parents. Just be warned - some people take these things more lightly than others. You might hear girlfriend when they meant girl-friend. You might consider it a meet-the-fockers kind of engagement, when they consider it a social visit of no significance. Be sure to talk about it and be on the same page.

There is some advice about exclusivity. Save your heart - and your mind, for some of you that cannot disconnect the two: be honest, open and frank with your partners.

Dating shockers I can warn you about

I love to share the things that I find surprising about dating in America. Here’s my favorite thought for today: The fetish on people from very particular other countries! “Oh my God, he’s British!” “You’re from Uganda? Wow, I’ve never dated a Ugandan. I hear they are real romantics.” And please don’t get me started on the “I hear African guys are good in …” bit - I will literally die! I warn you fresh meat - be careful, some people want to eat you before they know what is on the inside.

What is your dating shocker? Tweet: @myafricanroots #datingshockers


Phionah Klahn

Phionah lives in Colorado. She has her roots in Rwanda and Uganda. She enjoys spending time with her husband and family, fashion, writing for My African Roots, charity and traveling.

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