Sixteen months ago on a Sunday afternoon, Angie’s housemate lost a relative. The boutique operator in Kigali escorted her friend for the funeral service and burial. But while at the funeral service Angie met a stranger who later gave her a lift back home. The two became friends and before they knew it they were in love. Today the two are engaged and planning to walk down the aisle.
Next month, Angie and Apollo are set to get married at a church in Kimironko.
Angie and Apollo’s story resurrect the old debate of whether where you meet your life time partner should be an issue. Does it matter whether you meet your future partner at a burial, on a prison bus, at school or on the streets? Whether at a bus stop, on a rainy day while sheltering from the morning rain or at a friend’s wedding or through a friend request on Facebook, how and where you meet your life time partner is something many a people are particular about.
For some, the place where one meets a life partner is as important and wouldn’t be caught mentioning that they met their spouses in certain places. For others it’s about that person and not where you met them.
“The place had no role to play; I met him at a funeral of someone I knew well. I liked his character from the first day. I am not sure we would have gone far if he had a bad character regardless of the place we would have met,” Mukaruliza says in Swahili.
But James, a technician with a telecom firm in town, says some places are a red flag when looking for a life time spouse. “Where you meet determines how compatible you are, if you meet in a night clubs, there are less chances that what you have together will last long as you are just looking for instant gratification.”
Relationship experts say it is better to look for ideal spouses in the socially ‘acceptable’ places. ’
“I think it is better to meet through friends, family and acquaintances, it provides room for back ground checks and there are lesser chances of deception. You need someone to introduce the two of you,” says Keza a 20-year-old University student who met her current boyfriend through a cousin.
Jean Marie Nkongoli, the father of one who met his wife while she was working as a front office assistant in an office he frequented says the best place to meet a potential life partner is the ‘unknown’.
“There may not be any solid proof but the greatest things happen by accident, planned things don’t always turn out as expected. Things that catch you off guard tend to surprise you and win you over than those you expect. You can meet a potential spouse anywhere as long as you are open minded. Imagine meeting a lady on a rainy morning while sheltering from the rain when she has no make-up on. You find her with her guard down and when she is not trying to impress. Or the lady you sit next to in a crowded taxi when you are rushing to work. Accidental moments that you least expected and least prepared for are best because you portray who you really are.”
Nkongoli figures that young people should be more open minded and not restrict themselves to meeting in approved places like schools or work places. “There is no right or wrong place to meet.”
For Barbara Umugwaneza, a bank teller, the place and circumstances are important as her job involves meeting numerous people every day. “The venue matters, if I will take you seriously. It is hard to take you seriously if we only meet while we are out for a drink or just because you smile at me while I am serving you at work. The environment is supposed to be sober where I can see your true traits. An ideal place for me would be at a wedding or in church.”
Much as some choose ideal physical locations for them, we cannot ignore that social media has also had an impact on how people meet.
Freddy Kalisa’s a third year university student says social media is the new meeting venue for most young people. “Social media, especially Facebook, can now be termed as a meeting point for most young people dating. If you want to really see some one’s character, go through their timeline and profiles. Through social media you can find people you have something in common with or people you would like to hang out with. You can also choose people you have mutual friends with; personally I wouldn’t mind dating someone I met on social media.”
Kalisa says that social media’s impact on young people interactions is greater in that it not only provides a meeting point; it also acts as a communication medium.
“When you stop a lady on the street because you like her, how do you even begin a conversation without seeming like you are disturbing them? I also have a problem with meeting people in places like funerals or while on job assignments, it shows you are not serious in whatever it is you were doing.”
The latest development on social media has been met with hesitance by some, especially parents who think meeting virtually takes out the element of human interaction and could easily lead to deception. One of those parents is Gerald Nuwamanya, a 50-year-old father of four residing in Kanombe.
“When people meet on social media, they only reveal parts and traits of themselves that are positive and conceal the not-very-attractive part. The relationship will most likely be built on false grounds and deception. A real relationship cannot be built when the characters are selective about what they want to be let known and no chance to learn who they really are. That is why I advocate for people to meet physically in social places through mutual friends.”
Nuwamanya holds the opinion that the point of initial contact should not be through introductions from mutual friends. “Nowadays young people are meeting people they know nothing about and getting engaged, that could explain the high rates of divorce and unhappiness. Meet a potential spouse through ways that will allow you to know more about them.”
Celebrated entertainer and soon graduating from Law school, DJ Pius figures that the point of the initial contact matters.
“The first impression is the lasting impression, where you meet at first will cause them to have an impression of you and build around it. If you meet at say a nightclub, they will take it that you are outgoing and build a relationship with that in mind or try to live up to that. If people meet in say a library or an artistic place, they may take it that you are a frequent reader which will influence how they see you and will perceive you throughout the relationship and probably even after marriage.”
The religious view
Pastor Maurice Rukimbira of Anglican Church, Kigali Diocese who doubles as a professional marriage counselor said that the venue or circumstances of meeting don’t really matter as much as what they build after. “I have not conducted a research to come to any sort of conclusion but the venue of meeting doesn’t mean much. There are no specified meeting venues where one ought to meet their future spouse. You can meet anywhere, what matters is the relationship you work on building thereafter. Traditionally there was Umuranga where the girl’s and the boy’s family were introduced by a mutual acquaintance and this would lead to marriage. Nowadays people take initiatives to meet on their own.”
The pastor sees nothing wrong with people meeting on social media as long as they open up to each other truthfully thereafter. “There is nothing wrong with meeting online as long they will be open up to each other and build the relationship honestly.”
Where is the ideal place to meet a future spouse?
I believe the best place to meet ‘the one’ is at a party, around a bunch of happy people. You meet your future spouse there and then take it to another level.
Facebook has become the ideal place to meet a future spouse because it has replaced real interaction and that’s where most meet.
It can be anywhere; it’s just a matter of time. I believe if that person is meant to be the one then that’s it. But wait, who would want to meet their future spouse in church?
You can meet your future spouse any where. It will be that place when every thing is just so natural the magic will just flow when your eyes meet.
Tarzan David Lubega