Capital FM (Nairobi)

Kenya: Dating - a Man's Experience...

Anybody who confesses to being a relationship expert is in my opinion a liar unless, and I repeat, unless the person has been involved in not less than a hundred and one relationships. This is because dating or a relationship, for that matter, is all about experience.

From the high school desk mate you could barely look at straight in the eye when making conversation to the campus drunk who left you broke after a night out partying on an already miserly budget, you must admit that you have had lifetime experiences that may prove difficult to shrug off, even after you've met your soon to be life partner.

This pays tribute to the theory that "Experience is the best teacher." I choose to share a man's view on what can be an interesting, wonderful, sometimes expensive, and sometimes heartbreaking experience.

Every man should look back to the very first step they made at making conversation with a member of the opposite sex they liked; with pride, despite the outcome. I say 'despite', because not all such moves were reciprocated with flirtatious blinks of the eye and a shy smile, but rather with perhaps your first experience of female aggression and flat-out rejection.

For a lucky few, however, this first step was a confidence booster. All of us, though we may have undergone this rite of passage in our early teens, still treasure these memories.

Fast forward to our later teens and we had "fallen in love" or so we lied, with one of the soon to be women. Blissfully unknowing of the fact that men only fall in love later in life (in their thirties, or later, if ever) we many a time got our way, at the expense of their naivety.

By the time we were in our early twenties and using our intelligence, we found ourselves on campus, with a clean slate and no one to look over our shoulder. Here is where all the parties are had, and where all the beauties one could ever want were found, within a defined area. Dating on campus was an expensive affair, considering that we simultaneously found that we had cigarettes and alcohol to budget for.

Nobly, despite much suffering and sacrifice, we went through this. The women, however had grown wiser, and few in our age group seemed to look our way. Quick thinking and persistence met opportunity when we found that we could now prey on "freshers" for the first two years, after which we began dating seriously, and planted the first seeds of our 'Relationship Life' (some of which haunt us to this day).

Humour aside, dating and relationships are just a phase of life. It begins with one person taking the leap. We have been accustomed to the man making the first move which, in truth should not always be the case. Listen to married couples; ask them how they met. You will be amazed to hear all the harrowing romantic experiences men and women alike went through. What has become more than obvious over the years is that not all of us are the same. Some are willing to take the risk, while others are more conservative and unwilling to take rejection in the face.

Dating and being in a relationship are often confused with one another. Dating is less serious or intense than being in a relationship. Often, what might begin as dating might end up being the beginning of a relationship. When two people start dating, they are relatively unknown to each other and are discovering more about the other person. In some cases, this association might not be exclusive to seeing other people.

Dating might move to a more intense phase, where you start referring to each other as "boyfriend" or "girlfriend". But the question is - what changed? Well, the level of commitment to one another is greater, you tend to spend more time together, and more often than not, the association is exclusive. Whereas, "liking" is the common word used to describe the feelings of people dating, the word "love" begins to describe the feelings of people in a relationship.

One does wonder when is the best time to m

ove to the next level. Believe it or not, many people do this unconsciously. There are several signs that you are making this bold step. You may start spending more time together or even making decisions that have long term consequences to someone's life such as those regarding the other person's career or finances.

For most women, this is the happiest, and unfortunately most vulnerable time of their life. Because most men, on the other hand, approach this phase with caution. Money and commitment are important considerations for men at this point in their lives. Most men are also wary of what their friends, family or colleagues will think about this potential suitor.

I disagree with the common notion that men fear commitment. When it comes to relationships, men are more practical and less emotional about the choices they make. In contrast, women's decisions are highly influenced by their emotions at the time, which also explains why they take longer to get over a bad relationship.

Our character, commitment, beliefs and attitudes are the main determinants of the success of our relationships. The reason for this is this is exactly what a relationship is entirely based on.

This article was written by RENALDO DESOUZA

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