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Sex and relationships

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This is what we think about sex and relationships

BY JAMES KAHONGEH

University is perhaps the most exciting phase in one’s life, and the place where many have their first relationship. While some of these relationships withstand the test of time, with some individuals even going ahead to get married later on, there are those that don’t even survive a semester. This week, we explore the delicate subject of college romance.

PETER KEA, 21

“There are other ways of enjoying each other’s company besides sex.”

University of Nairobi Bachelor of Commerce, 3rd

University of Nairobi Bachelor of Commerce, 3rd year student Peter Kea. PHOTO| CHRIS OMOLLO

Peter is a third year marketing student at the University of Nairobi. He believes that there are a variety of other ways to keep a romantic relationship going besides sex, such as having a mutual hobby and running a business together.

At what point did you start dating in the university?

I was hesitant to be in a relationship at first because most of my friends dated only for sex; some would change girlfriends every semester. It wasn’t a lifestyle I felt comfortable with. While in my second year, I met my girlfriend, who was then in her first year. It was easier for me to approach her because my confidence had grown over those two years.

We actually met in the library and picked up a conversation. I found her unusually friendly, unlike most university female students who are sceptical about men. Soon, we became friends.

At the time, romance was not in the picture, but we started meeting more often after classes because we enjoyed each other’s company.

To what extent has this relationship impacted your life?

Our relationship has been about adding value to each other. I am more committed to my studies and my grades have improved – she is a good influence on me. I have a feeling that she agreed to this relationship because I have my life in order; only a woman in search of a genuine relationship would consider such aspects in a man.

Also, before meeting her, I was very reserved and would only get into class just when the lecture was about to begin and would leave immediately after the class.

Through her, my confidence has grown, and today, I am more interactive with fellow students. Last year, my girlfriend and I started a joint stationery business, an investment that has instilled financial prudence in me. In a nutshell, I believe in having a purposeful relationship; something that is built to last, not just for convenience or because everyone else is in one.

What’s your view on premarital sex?

Sex before marriage can’t be justified, however way you look at it. I believe it is more enjoyable when you have nothing to hide and when you do it with a clean conscious. For us, sex was not our primary motivation to date. We have other ways of enjoying each other’s company, such as taking walks, taking part in charity work and learning new skills, such as playing various musical instruments.

From your experience, what values keep a relationship strong?

I have watched my friends’ relationships collapse for lack of commitment. Many university students are in relationships for convenience.

Openness has been the foundation of our relationship; we tell each other the truth, however ugly it is, and share personal concerns. I have also learnt to respect my girlfriend’s privacy; I understand that first, she is an individual.

Growth is also critical. If you are stuck in the same position in your relationship for long, there will be nothing to celebrate, and soon, boredom will kick in.

Our joint investment is testament to our growth.

VICTOR WANDETO, 21

“A man should be able to financially support his girlfriend.”

Machakos University 3th year student in

Machakos University 3th year student in Economics and Statistics, Victor Wandeto. PHOTO| FRANCIS NDERITU

According to Victor, a third year economics and statistics student at Machakos University, stress-related depression among students who are dating is caused by failure to have their priorities in order.

Is college an ideal environment for a relationship to flourish?

I have been in romantic relationships that failed mostly because I wasn’t prepared to be in one. As a Christian, I have decided to wait for the right time and the right person to date. I am only going to commit to a relationship when I am emotionally ready and financially sound so that I am able to support my partner.

That said, I don’t think, however, that there is anything wrong with dating in college, but it is not a prescription that every student must follow.

You say you will only date once you are able to financially support the person you’ll be in a relationship with – is this practical for a student?

Whether you’re a student or working, as long as you are in a relationship, as a man, there will be bills to pay, even small ones such as bus fare and lunch. In my previous relationship, I would pay for our dates, even though she would occasionally pitch in, so yes, I would still provide for my girlfriend if I were in a relationship.

Some of my peers wouldn’t do it though, arguing that just like their girlfriends, they are supported by their parents – the Bible says that it is the man’s responsibility to provide for his woman, but this shouldn’t be leeway for women to exploit their boyfriends.

From your experience, is it possible to draw a line between love and lust?

True love is kind, is patient and cares about the other person’s purity, and does not dishonour them. Lust however is self-centred and is mostly driven by physical desire; your needs come first even if it means using the other person to fulfil them.

When I was dating, I set myself boundaries – my girlfriend and I could not, for instance, be all by ourselves at an isolated location, that way, we were able to honour our purity.

It wait was not easy, but we avoided all circumstances that could lead to sex. s not easy, but we avoided all circumstances that could lead to sex.

What role do you think one’s parents should play in their relationship?

I did not get to introduce any of my girlfriends to my parents, although it was something I wanted to do because my parents have taken the effort to talk to me about relationships. Next time round, I plan to do it.

My feeling is that some are reluctant to involve their parents in their love life because they have a different partner every semester. There is also a misguided notion that unpleasant experience is the best teacher. In Christianity though, reviewed experience is the best way to learn. It is great when you have someone who is willing to hold your hand when you are in a relationship.

Stress-related depression is common among young people, have you experienced this?

Thankfully, no, but it was difficult balancing between my studies, my girlfriend and my spiritual life. Stress in a relationship is majorly caused by pressure from the inability to balance between academic, dating, and for believers, spiritual obligations. Some of us also find it difficult to differentiate between reality and illusion from media content such as movies.

We tend to go into relationships with high expectations, and when they fail to meet these expectations, we easily slide into depression.

TRACY KIMATHI, 21

“Few young people want a relationship nowadays, they prefer hook-ups with no commitment.”

Tracy Kimathi a Finance Student at Kenyatta

Tracy Kimathi a Finance Student at Kenyatta University on 16th October 2017. PHOTO| CHRIS OMOLLO

Tracy, a fourth year student of finance at Kenyatta University, is in a long distance relationship (her boyfriend is a teacher in Garissa). She believes that lack of purpose in a relationship makes it hard to sustain it when problems come knocking.

Do you have any regrets about a past relationship?

My lowest moment was discovering that a guy I was dating had reunited with his ex-girlfriend, who had a child from another relationship. I discovered that they had been seeing each other behind my back for two months. I was so heartbroken.

How is your current relationship different from your previous one?

There’s definitely a big difference. I am more mature now and value communication in a relationship. My boyfriend and I for instance consult before any of us makes a big decision, such as taking extra courses, internship and career choice.

He asks me to account for all my actions, which has made me more honest and responsible. I was very immature when I got into my first relationship; I was in my first year at university.

I would quarrel with my then boyfriend over petty things, such as going out, and I would even lie to him whenever I wanted to spend time with my friends. Today I go out less often, which has helped me to focus more on my studies as I look forward to finish school.

Before, I would hop into a relationship without taking time to know the other person, but now, I scrutinise a person even before accepting them as a friend.

Where do you think relationships among students go wrong?

Few young people want a relationship nowadays, they prefer hook-ups with no commitment. My observation is that male students at the university have sold their lives to alcohol and gaming and therefore have no time to cultivate a long-lasting relationship. As for young women, they have unreasonably high expectations of how they want their boyfriends to treat them, which leads to frustration and heartbreak. I think this emanates from having a selfish attitude, where one wants to be in a relationship for a particular reason, usually just for the thrill of it.

There are also female students who persevere through abusive relationships just because their boyfriends give them material support. One of my schoolmates puts on a happy front but in reality, she is miserable. She only stays in that relationship because she gets expensive treats from her boyfriend, including an enviable wardrobe, but she is a victim of violence; her boyfriend beats her up.

The fact is that a number of female students usually paint a picture of being in a happy and glamorous relationship, when in reality, they are unhappy. There is lot of deception among dating students because no one wants to be seen to be in a failing relationship. Most students lack purpose when going into a relationship.

When problems start, therefore, instead of fixing them, the easiest step to take is end the relationship since there is nothing to safeguard.

SARAH KARIMI, 21

“You know you are with the right person when he points out your mistakes and encourages you to be a better person.”

Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and

Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) 4th year student in Financial Engineering Sarah Karimi. PHOTO| FRANCIS NDERITU

Sarah is a final year financial engineering student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT). Her current relationship saved her from alcoholism.

How did you meet your boyfriend?

I met him through a friend. At the time, I was nursing a broken heart. My perception of men and romance then was that of bitterness; the last thing I wanted was to be in a relationship. After the breakup with my ex-boyfriend, I took to drinking heavily as a distraction from the misery I was feeling.

When my current boyfriend started showing an interest in me, I outrightly dismissed him, sure that all he wanted to do was take advantage of my misery.

He didn’t give up though. After a couple of months, I asked him to give me a good reason why I should date him. He said that he would help me quit drinking, even if we did not end up dating. That was the deal breaker.

Does age, in your opinion, matter in a romantic relationship?

A 21-year-old friend is dating a 35-year-old man. The two seem happy, but she has been reluctant to introduce him to us, afraid that we might judge her.

From a woman’s perspective, dating a man who is slightly older eliminates the possibility of petty fights. A big age difference, however, is not healthy as you are likely to constantly disagree due to different lines of thinking.

An older man may be thinking about settling down, while a young woman in college is more concerned about her studies, hanging out with her friends and having a good time.

What expectations did you have in this relationship? Have these expectations been met?

I went into my relationship primarily in search of a support system. My drinking bothered me, and I wanted to stop doing it because it wasn’t adding any value to my life.

My boyfriend lived up to his word; he helped me quit drinking; I am more responsible now, and happy with my progress, so yes, my expectations have been met. He really does care about my future. He was a student at Daystar University when we started dating.

Their school programme was stricter than ours, such that he could not afford to miss classes. Initially, I would skip classes to visit him. One day, he demanded to see my timetable, and when he did, he reprimanded me for skipping classes just to see him.

Then, I felt he was imposing his rules on me and trying to drive me away. Later, I realised that he did it to help me. We understand each other now, and fully support each other – you know you are with the right person when he or she wants the best for you and points out your mistakes and encourages you to be a better person.

DAVID MANYASA, 23

“Many young men in college derive pride from sleeping with numerous female students.”

David Manyasa, a 4th year Civil Aviation

David Manyasa, a 4th year Civil Aviation Management student at Moi University. PHOTO| JARED NYATAYA

Materialism and a false sense of conquest, says David, a fourth year civil aviation student at Moi University, is what contributes to promiscuity among college students.

You say your first relationship was at the university…

In my second year yes, but only to conform. Most of my friends had girlfriends, and I did not want to be the only one in our social circle without one.

The relationship turned into a big disappointment; the girl would demand so much attention from me, I lost touch with my friends and even had no time to study. We broke up after a year.

Why do you think some students have multiple sexual partners?

Most of my male college friends are involved with many women as a way of proving their masculinity; the fact is that many young men in college derive pride from sleeping with many female students. Some male comrades start relationships with a fixed resolution – sexual gratification.

As for some of the female students, they are driven by materialism, and will therefore agree to a relationship with any man who is ready to spend their money on them. From my observation, there is hardly genuine love in most relationships among my peers. Both men and women are to blame for this.

From experience, who is the ideal person to date? Would you, for instance, date a friend?

I once blundered and dated a friend – the relationship lasted just a few months and the friendship was lost in the process. I wish we had kept the friendship instead of trying out a romantic relationship. My advise? Don’t date a friend because you risk losing that friendship.

Does your university offer sex education? To what extent has this influenced the relationship choices you make?

I have never attended any course or unit on sex education, I have learnt what I know mostly through experimenting. My decisions have mostly been influenced by my own judgment, I am therefore lucky that I have not made a crippling mistake.

Sex education is mainly taught in high school, but I don’t think what is taught is sufficient to help one make informed decisions when the time comes.

There should be emphasis on sex education at college and university level because students here have more freedom and are more at risk of making bad decisions.

 

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