“You’re the parents of the boy, we are the parents of the girl” (indicating the girl suffers a harder fate) goes the argument when trying to discourage dating while still at home. But this is commonly used when the ‘culprits’ are under legal dating age. So what happens when the individuals in question are of the appropriate dating age?
Normally, long afternoons together, dinner dates, movie nights, parties and “night caps”, are what make dating fun. However, everything exciting about dating is hindered when one or even both parties are still under their parents’ roof.
Sophie is a 25-year-old graduate working with a design company in Kimihurura. She is quite hyper and flashes unending smiles to everyone she talks to. However, Sophie doesn’t get to smile this way when dusk settles because of the strict curfew she has back home.
“My parents expect me home by 8pm. I graduated from a university outside the country without anyone to tell me what to do. But now that I’m back home, my parents have become so protective. I stay in Kanombe and my boyfriend stays in Kimironko,” she says in a confused tone.
While Sophie and her boyfriend do not have the liberty to see each other whenever they please, this doesn’t stop them from having fun just like any other couple, though they have to resort to sneaky means.
“I have to create an excuse like a work party or a business dinner just to be out past 8pm, though I still have to be home before mid-night. My dad never wants to hear about sleeping out and always says I will do that when I’m in my own home and with my husband,” she says.
The light skinned Sophie says she fears to tell her parents about her boyfriend because her parents will start monitoring her time out at night and uncover her excuses.
Patricia claims she can’t wait for school to start so she can have enough time for her relationship.
“I have been dating ever since my first year in university and now I’m in my third year. But when holidays come, I have to put my dating on hold because I can’t meet my boyfriend. I don’t have a job so I never get excuses to go out. And the only time I get to talk to my boyfriend is at night when calling rates have been reduced and, even then, I have to do it in the closet,” she says with frustration.
The 24-year-old who is pursuing a degree in Accounting at School of Business and Finance seems very sad about being stuck at home. She appreciates social media for bringing people together even when they are miles apart.
What the parents think
Justine Mucunguzi is a mother of two girls and four boys. She chose to keep her age a secret but says her daughters are supposed to embrace home in the time they aren’t yet married.
“Yes, my daughter is allowed to date a guy she likes when she is still staying home but going to meet him at night isn’t a possibility. The reason for dating is to get to know each other, now if she spends days and late evenings with him, then what will be the difference when they are married?” she asks.
The older you get, the easier it becomes
Alicia Munezero, a 26-year-old Computer Engineering graduate from Kigali Institute of Science and Technology, says dating at home hasn’t been hard for her.
“When I was in school, dating was unheard of at home and moving out to meet a boy wasn’t something I could tell my parents. These days they are aware of my relationship and my boyfriend drops me home anytime and sometimes even says hello to them,” she says.
Munezero adds that while dating is easy for her, it’s a different story for her two younger sisters – one who is almost done with university and the other is in high school.
A guy’s perspective
Freddy is 28 years old and is dating his girlfriend who is 26. Freddy stays in Kicukiro and his girlfriend in Kacyiru. The distance between them is the least of their problems as his girlfriend has stricter curfew than a preacher’s kid.
“It’s very hard to date a girl who is staying home; I have to balance my work time with the time I spend with my girlfriend because she isn’t allowed out at night. This makes dating really hard for us. Those days when I’m super busy, I have to jump over her fence and we meet in the boy’s quarters to talk,” he says. He adds that he sometimes feels like a thief!
Dating back then
Ninety-year-old Mzee Ezra Mpyisi says dating when the lady was still home wasn’t something heard of back in the day.
“Mothers were so protective of their daughters and they didn’t give them room to engage in dating issues. Marriage was based on family-to-family arrangements and not necessarily dating between the two partners. The man would have to spend time with the lady only after marriage and that is the way it’s supposed to be,” he points out.
Yet it will probably be this way for some time, save for the ones who leave to start their independent lives; girls who are not yet married and are still under the supervision of their parents will never enjoy dating until they are married.