Dating As South Sudanese in North America

To echo my fellow South Sudanese female friends, dating just seems so darn difficult. And a lot more difficult when it comes to dating in our South Sudanese communities. Is it just me and my friends or does anyone else feel the same way? What is it about movies and TV shows that makes relationships on the screen seem effortless and well, absolutely wonderful? Whatever the secret is, I feel like I need an in.

Personally, I’ve not dated a lot of South Sudanese men and I think that’s what frustrates me the most. I’ve went through a series of short term relationships of various significances with men of diverse backgrounds. However, every time I’ve taken a liking to a South Sudanese man, it’s always been different. I’ve often felt a sense of connection with them that I haven’t been able to feel in my other relationships. I’ve asked myself time and time again why this is. It cannot just be because were from the same country, look alike and speak the same language. Because the thing is, I’ve had far more in common with men who were not South Sudanese. And yet, I’ve felt stronger connections with South Sudanese men. And yet, the shortest relationships or interests have been with South Sudanese men. It’s not for a lack of trying, I honestly do not get it! Perhaps the problem is with me, but I don’t think so.

Has anyone noticed that people, especially young adults, in our South Sudanese communities do not date? And if they do, the relationships are often not long term committed relationships that end up in a strong, loving and everlasting marriage. Maybe this is only specific to my community here in Winnipeg, but i don’t believe that. I’ve seen tons of broken relationships, including my step-mother and father marriage, and far too many single moms. Why is that?

Call me a hopeless romantic, but I want a fairy tale love story. I know, TV shows and movies are not a true account of real life love because it does not showcase the challenges and work it takes to make a relationships work. However, I don’t think it’s stupid to want an epic love story that lasts all the days of your life. I want to raise children in a loving and caring home with parents that are committed to each other. The more I date and talk to South Sudanese men, the more I lose faith that my partner will be South Sudanese. Why? Because I want a committed and loving relationship and I think this is something we struggle with as South Sudanese living in North America.

Perhaps it’s because we come from a culture where men don’t have to commit to one wife and can marry as many as they can financially afford. Perhaps it because we’re a group of refugees trying to navigate life in a strange and new land. Perhaps it’s because we’ve lost our identity as South Sudanese and are trying to find our place. Perhaps, as refugees, we’ve experienced psychological trauma that prevents us from starting and maintain loving and healthy long term relationships. Personally, I think it’s a combination of all these and more. And if this is the case, what do we do? Where do we go from here?

I do not have all the answers and I write this because I want to start a dialogue. Please share your thoughts on the comments below, I would love to hear from you. I thoroughly hope that this blog post does not offend anyone and if it does, I apologize. Please know that I’m coming at this from my own personal and biased experiences. I also realize that I’m generalizing and that exceptions do exist. I want to hear what your experiences have been like in your South Sudanese Communities so please leave a comment below.

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