Love among millennials is compartmentalised; these are the words of Tabitha Mwai, a relationship coach.
She adds, “These compartments are mostly tied to sex, money, fun, experimentation and companionship. Most young people are after instant gratification. Few get into a relationship in the hope of finding a life partner, which is a worrying trend.”
So, how do the successful ones make their relationships work? Three young Kenyans narrated their dating experience on ‘myNetwork‘:
MUGURE MWANGI, 25, DIGITAL ANALYST
My dating experiences have sometimes been affected by mismatched expectations between me and my partner. At the beginning, it was difficult and even awkward for me to talk about my expectations. I would rush into things, sometimes blinded by lust and infatuation.
I didn’t understand the importance of communication, and this often bred anger and resentment. He and I would waste a lot of time arguing.
Now, I’ve learnt to listen more to my partner. I have since articulated my expectations clearly, and this has made things easier for both of us. Author Jason Lauritsen says that clear expectations result in great relationships.
Limited finances too have been a thorn in some of the relationships I’ve had. I tend to be hot-headed, particularly regarding my financial openness with my partners. I have sometimes held back from sharing my financial status and plans.
Over the years, however, I’ve realised that a relationship can’t thrive where there’s no financial accountability or mutual respect. Budgeting together and sharing financial obligations helps minimise financial disputes.
Total commitment is a huge investment and at the same time a big risk. It takes time and a lot of reassurances to build trust. No one should ever judge you for your choices or those of your partner.
My worst dating experience so far is when I was trapped in a relationship with someone who was so disinterested. He was always bored. Spending time together seemed like a jail sentence for him. There was no spice or surprises in our relationship, and I didn’t know how to make it fun anymore.
One of my friends talked to me about it, but I didn’t pay much attention at the time. Being in a relationship can be tough, especially for individuals with nasty past experiences. I’ve learnt the importance of first working on myself and loving myself before trying to change or love others.
CLEOPHAS OLUOCH, 24, DIGITAL CONTENT PRODUCER
My partner and I have been dating for three years now. We met back in university. We are both believers, and our relationship is anchored on Christian doctrines. Disputes sometimes arise between us, but we embrace our differences because if we don’t disagree, we can’t understand each other better.
My partner and I have cultivated a culture of openness. We, for instance, don’t ever go to sleep without apologising whenever we wrong each other. This has helped us prevent the problems from running out of hand.
That said, the distractions of technology, social media, family and friends and the pressure to grow in our careers and achieve our goals have all significantly affected how we relate as a couple. I’m a digital content producer and I spend most of my time online. While this does bring us closer, the diversity of technology has often created rifts between us since we can’t both be chatting all the time.
My partner takes offense when I’m unable to engage her online due to work commitments. It’s something we’re working on, through communication and constant reassurances.
We both acknowledge the need for family time. With the understanding that friends can make or break us, we’re very deliberate about who we let into our lives, and how much control we allow them.
Is time a challenge in our relationship? Certainly. Our work schedules clash always. I work between 2pm and 9pm, and this limits the amount of time we spend bonding every day. By the time I’m home, she’s usually already in bed. It was particularly tough when we started out. Before Covid-19 forced us to work from home, we virtually had no time to catch up.
There are times when we are unable to meet, mostly because of sudden assignments out of town. It’s disappointing, especially when a lot of planning has gone into setting up the date.
But we compensate by making the most of our time together, by discussing our careers, fears, expectations and fantasises. Although few, such moments help us reflect, challenge each other and strengthen our bond.
My partner is passionate about journalism and I’m her biggest cheerleader, and so is she to me.
There are also times when either of us has to back off to allow the other person to be by themselves. When grieving, for instance. Apart from that, we support each other all the time. On when we will settle down, that hasn’t been decided yet. We are yet to approach our parents formally, but we shall do so on God’s good time.
AFENNY WANDO, STUDENT
My biggest dating problems so far are anxiety and insecurity. I tend to worry too much about my partner’s intentions, his feelings and whether I can depend on him. Sometimes I fear that he’s with me just so he can recover from his past breakups.
I also keep wondering whether my partner and I are truly compatible.
A stable relationship is meant to make you feel loved, secure and happy. Sometimes I hold onto these feelings and hope that nothing disrupts the relationship.
Sometimes I hold back when my partner wrongs me, fearing that he might get annoyed if I brought it up. But what worries me the most is my doubt of our long-term compatibility. Sometimes I’m not sure if I am as happy as I think I am.
I have a tendency to overthink my partner’s words and actions. It got to a point when I asked myself: am I worrying too much about this relationship instead of enjoying the good times?
On finances, I don’t involve myself in his expenditures or anything to do with his income. I only lend my views when he consults me about an investment idea, for instance.
When it comes to paying bills, rent, shopping and personal expenses such as salon money, I handle it all by myself. Unless I don’t have money at all, I’d never ask for his help. I rarely ask for money from him. He does surprise me sometimes with gifts, and so do I. We’re still not stable financially, but I understand that he is a young man trying to put his life on track. To grow, we need time and each other’s support.
We had planned to have a joint account early in our relationship, but we shelved the idea so that we could study each other’s financial behaviour. This will help us to budget and save with ease in future.
Given the demands of our careers, we’re unable to spend as much time together as we’d want to. My boyfriend and I, however, always create time for each other. He’s my favourite person to hang out with. He’s chirpy and fun too. Whenever we can’t meet in person, we hold long video calls.
The desire for most people is to have someone who shares in their aspirations, hobbies and outlook in life. My perspective is different. I consider it monotonous to want to acquire what you already have. This can be exhausting coming from a life partner, and can limit growth.
I want to take risks and explore different experiences in life so that I can learn more. It is also an opportunity for me to face my fears and find new ways to love my partner. In the long run, I might fall in love with his passions. Life is only fun when you explore it together.