I decided to venture into a scary territory and talk about dating and boys back in my uni years. I find that the biggest challenge most African students tend to face is finding the balance between who you are (i.e. culture, values, religious beliefs or not) while growing yourself and adapting to your host country. I believe we live in a completely different world from our parents’ & well…the struggle is real y’all!. Looking back, here’s what my brief stints in dating life have taught me:
Ugly duckling do tend to turn into beautiful swans
If you have that friend with a wonderful attitude, he is smart & focused on his goals, your mum loves him…always walks you at night when you study late: he’s perfect…only problem is he does not have the “x” factor & his dress sense sucks…this will not always be the case. The truth is in your early 20s someone to have fun with (and people’s looks) seem so important, but as you get older-what matters is someone to build a life with (that is reliable and trustworthy) and with whom you can have tons of laughs in the process. Fast forward a few years, I can guarantee you that guy will be a catch. I have seen it happen a few times where old uni friends finally take the plunge in dating & become a power couple. Don’t sweat the small stuff and overthink it, I genuinely believe that “it” will happen if & when it is meant to happen.
Slayage is not a value
Many girls make/have made that mistake (myself included). Dating a model (if that is all he has to himself) only looks good on a picture, there need to be more qualities (i.e. generosity, reliability, funny, smart/hardworking, etc)… don’t simply date a guy because he is “cute”-these “cute” ones often tend to be extremely self-absorbed, believe they have at least 100s of girls after them, and make you a temporary assignment/distraction. He needs to have more than just being “very hot/cute” [at the least for me 🙂 ]
Trust your guts
It does not matter how many butterflies you feel when near the guy, if your gut tells you something is wrong…I have learnt to take it as Gospel truth: run…lol!
Put yourself out there, three dates rule
Go on dates, period! If I am asked on a date (unless really creepy): I go & commit to at least 3 dates before making up my mind about someone. The more people you meet, the more you understand what you like and/or do not like and even more importantly, the more people you are likely to meet.
It is difficult for the guys too
It takes great courage to approach someone you like knowing that you might face rejection. Don’t be a mean girl, if not interested let the guy know respectfully that you do not see him that way…Even if he is persistent, after a while he will get tired and move on with someone that actually likes him the way he deserves to be liked/loved.
Heartbreaks do heal themselves with time
I once dated a guy for 1 year & took 3 years to get over him (rolling eyes, I know..lol!). There are no formulas to get over a heartbreak but what makes it painful (and drag on) is not accepting that it is over …truth is it WILL hurt & suck (people have compared break-ups to the pain of mourning a loved one). However, if you do the right thing (i.e. keep the right kind of busy with friends, school, work, side projects, etc) time will pass & before you know it…all will remain is a memory. Once heeled, do jump back on the dating horse!
You can’t make someone love you & more importantly you cannot force yourself to love someone
This is probably MY biggest lesson of my 20s. There is a bit of magic in love i.e. that spark or those butterflies cannot be manufactured however hard you try. In the words of He’s just not that into you: “when a guy acts like he does not give a sh*t about you, he genuinely does not give a sh*t about you”.
On loving someone, I know relationships are all about compromise i.e. what you can and cannot live with but in my case-I have realised that attraction & getting along (be it mental, physical,etc) is crucial for me. I have learnt, to be honest with myself (and with any guy) re-where I stand & what I feel: otherwise you just end up hurting the person in the long run(or are delusional).
Not all relationships are meant to end in marriage
There are 2 huge periods of stress (more like utter panic) in a single African girl’s life i.e. pre-25 and pre-30s. Lawd, why do we do this to ourselves…lol?! Just do not turn every “hi” into “is he the one”? It is pointless, a waste of time and energy… and adds a lot of unnecessary stress in any relationship #truestory.
Nationality/culture can be overrated
Some of the best couples I know are from different nationalities/cultures/tribes/races. While cultural background (be it race, nationalities, tribe etc) matters & can help you better understand your partner, it is should not be a reason for refusing to date someone-period. Keep an open mind and have the courage to admit to yourself that you like and/or attracted to the other self (regardless of background and differences) 🙂
Studies must still come first
No African parents send you abroad for an engagement ring & marriage (abeg!)… Make sure you keep your feet on the ground and do not let your studies take the backseat to your relationship (we have all made that mistake… it ain’t worth it, esp if it does not work out in the end…).
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and would love to hear from you about your experiences of dating while studying abroad. Sharing is caring, your story might be a saving grace for someone else.
Until my next post