You can’t date him—he’s my friend’s roommate’s cousin-in-law…

I have never dated a Nigerian, or African for that matter, so perhaps that’s why I don’t “get” the following. Can someone explain to me why it’s taboo to date someone who may have known your friend or family member, no matter how vaguely or for how long?

For example, a friend of mine, let’s call her Biola, told me her friend can’t date a guy (Bayo) because a couple of years back Biola’s friend was showing clear interest in Bayo’s roommate (who also happened to be his cousin). Biola’s friend and Bayo’s cousin never dated though, but apparently it would be bad if a few years later she suddenly expressed interest in Bayo, and they entered into a relationship.

Yesterday, a Naija friend of mine told me a guy she has been getting to know over the past couple of months told her that he’s not sure he can keep pursuing their relationship because he found out that several years ago she kissed his cousin once (is it still called a one night stand if all that happened was a kiss?).

(Ok, those are the only examples that I can recall, but you see where I’m going, right?)

In both cases, I don’t think either potential relationship should have been snuffed out before it began. In the first case, they never dated so what if she’s now decided she likes the other guy better, especially since years have passed? YEARS! Why should a couple that might be potentially meant to be miss out on even pursuing their relationship because of these so-called rules?

And in the second scenario, I think this guy needs to grow up a bit: it was one kiss, and it happened years ago. If she had wanted to pursue that relationship, she could have. She didn’t, so he should be confident that she’s into him and is happy with him. Also, depending on where you live, chances are that someone you know, or someone you will eventually know, may have dated the person you’re with. You just have to deal with that possibility and unless you’re given reasons to fear that the previous relationship might not be completely over, don’t let it get to you.

Perhaps the reason I don’t understand this is because I have an oyinbo friend, a male, who dated three women (each for at least one year), and these women regularly see each other at group gatherings. I won’t say the three women all love each other but two of the previous girlfriends are polite to each other, to the current wifey, and to their ex. I know it took time for them to get to the point where they could all be in the same place without wanting to leave right away, but it wasn’t the end of the world. One of the exes is getting married and she’s decided that she doesn’t want him at her wedding sha, because her husband isn’t quite as comfortable with that idea and I completely respect that decision.

Basically I think it shows that relationships of that complexity can be handled in a way that is professional. I mean if wifey had let the fact that two women she knew vaguely had dated her man before her, she would not be engaged to the man who will be the father of her child that is due in a few months.

I have a habit of looking at relationships rather simplistically (“He’s cheating on you? Dump him!” He takes recreational drugs? Get rid of him!” “He’s gorgeous but so conceited? Run far, far away, and fast!”) so I’m sure there is something I’m missing here. Also, add to it the fact that Naija men are scarce in my area, and perhaps good Nigerian men are scarcer still. If a good man approaches me and things click, I will date him. I won’t let the fact that my friend (who was interestedin him a few years ago but no longer is) knew him first stop me from pursuing something special.

Keep in mind the following caveats:

  • we’re not talking about not wanting your friend to hook up with a man or woman that you had a longterm relationship with, or had a sexual relationship with
  • this also doesn’t refer to the case where your friend tells you “I like him/her” and you go and try to win him/her away from your friend before your friend has moved on (though that would be interesting talk for another time)
  • this is not about the snatching or stealing away of anybody’s boyfriend or girlfriend

Would you date a guy or girl under the same circumstances described above?
Have you dated someone who was “taboo”? Was it worth your while or not?

21 thoughts on “You can’t date him—he’s my friend’s roommate’s cousin-in-law…

  1. Yay!!! I am sooo first!

    Hmmmn this your post is very "thought provoking"

    let me read thru again then I'll put a comment up! but I'm first!!!!

  2. Lol. I have dated someone Taboo. However, it was a bit of a different situation, I was reassured over and over again by both parties that nothing had happened, not even a kiss. It was wierd at first but I got over it quickly.

  3. First off (i love messing with ya), why your friend's name got to be "Biola"??????????

    I'm with you on this one, as long as there was no relationship, I don't see what the problem is. And as for the guy who couldn't date your other friend because of one kiss, well let's just say she doesn't need that type of immature behavior in a grown man anyway.

    Nigerians can be so complicated. My mom says it's taboo for two sisters to marry brothers. I dunno why?????

  4. Wellll…

    My "experiment"(ages ago!)had something to do with my cousin(not real cousin o!…naija cousin in other words…family friend!).

    I didn't know at the time but he told me himself for whatever reason…but I didn't think it was a big deal…moreover I didn't want to date nor "sleep" with him. He was my kissing experiment!

    Your post is a big deal o! I think it all boils down to loyalty and people's misconception about what loyalty really means.

    I once had a "crush" on a guy my friend dated…way before I even met her(my friend) and I asked myself if could date this guy had he asked me out…truth is loyalty or what I think it means…won't let me do it…but then…what if the guy is the real deal?…honestly I can't answer the question truthfully…

  5. WTF! I've never heard of this before, but honestly, attraction is attraction. I'll ask my parents about this – though they are Igbo – and we'll see what they say. I've never dated a Nigerian man either. This is sounding very strange to me. Another custom which I've never heard of.

  6. GNG, it isn't a taboo o.

    My husband once wooed a good friend of mine, I met him on one of his wooing visits.

    She dint gel 4 him, n he decided he'd better put his eggs in another basket (Oluwadee).

    2day he is my hubby n I am his wife.

    N am no more friends with my "once good friend".

    She stopped talking to me, n me I refuse 2 b bothered.

  7. Oluwadee: So u mean she stopped talking to you over a guy she didn't want to be with but you got to marry you instead?? Na she sabi. *hiss*

  8. See what I was talking about? Oluwadee’s friend stopped talking to her because of man…meen

    I respect your liver Oluwadee… You really took a chance and it worked out well!

  9. Hmmmmm,my dear.this thing can be true in a funny way sha.

    my beau was dumped,(please note dat d babe DUMPED) by some gal cos she was travelling and there was just no where for him to fit in then.

    2years later after he had dated 2 other gals,we met and a year after we met,d babe dat dumped him came back in full force.Un4unately 4 all concerned,we have for d same company at some point but i wasnt there wen beau was there,jus her and we werent friends……………………… u get d pic?

    either ways,he was suppose 2 be taboo after a year dat we had been togeda ooh.

    Infact ehn……………………people are funny!!!!

    Oluwadee's stroy happens all d time,i think it jsu gals and their egos.i mean,if u arent attraced to a guy and he goes on to like ur friend,is it anyone's fault????xcpet of course she liked d bobo and she was jsu forming……….in anycase,all dat one na past-ense!!

  10. i wont date anyone that has dated my freind or cousin but its not a TABOO to date someone who has known someone you know or your family members…those pple you have talked abt in ur post are UNIQUE o!!its not a TABOO

    @ oluwadee i see why d girl would be upset tho!!u dont know maybe she was secretly geliing for him and didnt tell anyone and was still fronting n all -lol!!and then u guys met on his wooing abi toasting visits!!!! Personally i will be jealous & hurt if my goodfriend starting dating a guy who was still toasting me(ITS HUMAN NATURE to just feel a lil hurt)….but i will nurse my hurt secretly and be happy for them shebi i wasnt geling!!!With the type of friends i have i know they will sit me down and be like okay this is what is happening Do u like this guy?can i go ahead with him?

  11. @Naijababe – I just don't get it either.

    @Rethots – how do you define friend? Does it matter how long ago your friend dated this girl, if you knew the girl back when your friend was dating her, or the level of seriousness of the relationship?

    @Afrobabe – lol count on you to say this! Please explain your rationale o about why you wouldn't enter into a relationship, but might consider a sexual relationship?

    @Oya – Oh, you're in a unique position where both parties actually tried to convince you to give the new relationship a chance! I think a lot of people would love to be in that situation.

    @Abbie – I'm sure it's a just a coincidence that my friend happened to be named Biola…*ahem*

    My mom feels the same way about two brothers and two sisters! So naturally, my sister and I have told her we're going to try and find two brothers to marry.

    @No Limit – I do get what you're saying about loyalty, but I think sometimes people take this concept of loyalty too far. I'll write on that later.

    @Adaora – I'm not even sure if it's a custom; all I know is that it's only among my Naija acquaintances that I'm hearing that you can't date this or that person because someone you know knew them first.

    @OluwaDee – I didn't mean taboo in the sense of it being a true taboo, that's why I put "taboo" :)

    Your situation is a tough one o! I know I would have felt strange having the guy transfer his affections from his friend to me, and I'd wonder sef if it was because I was conveniently close by or what. But then again, this led to you meeting the man you you're going to marry so who can fault that?

    @Abbie – unless OluwaDee's friend was playing hard to get which is really her loss because I sort of feel that if you play hard to get you deserve what you get.

    @No Limit – Yeah, it would be interesting to know what made OluwaDee decide that this guy was worth losing the friendship for, even in the early days…stay tuned for an exclusive interview, lol.

    @qmoney – Ok, that is just ridiculous! I'm glad you didn't let any of that nonsense interfere with your relationship. You're right on with your evaluation of a situation if the girl was forming and someone else was able to be genuine, too bad, her loss.

    @pink-satin – I would react like you…it would be hard sha but time heals all wounds, and I'd realize that there's a different man out there for me.

  12. Personally, I am so liberal and left-field that things like that do not bother me AT ALL… but I've seen a lot people get their panties in a bunch for less. I am the one girl who will introduce an ex to my better-suited friend if I think they are a better match (already happened, and yes they were a perfect match)… Why keep two people miserable for our own selfishness? He is an ex for a reason and I think my friends are fabulous so I don't blame him for liking her. :)

    But then again, like I said, I am pretty liberal in my way of thinking…

    In the case you cited, my small knowlege of human nature tells me that Biola certainly has a thing for Bayo's roommate, which is reason for her interference… And the other dude was just no longer into ol' girl, that's why he found a trivial excuse to move on.

    As human beings, we like to dwell on so little.

    I don't understand

  13. I think i echo a lot of the comments when i say "Kini Big deal?" hehehehe…ok, i'll stop

    I honestly don't understand what the problem in the first case is but then…we women sometimes get it mixed up sha…

    for the second case, i've heard that guys have such big ego trips that the guy is probably just bothered that his cousin's spit has been in the girl's mouth… or sha that his cousin knows the girl on a more personal level sha…depends on how close he is with the cousin, imagine them all in the same gathering, i think even the girl would be uncomfortable unless she just does not send all of them together…maybe the guy just needs to figure out if he can deal with it or not sha…hmmm….

    Again i say….KINI BIG DEAL????

    We need a guy's perspective in here…

  14. well, a secret liase…sex…would be secret so no one is hurt…who knows you might even find out he is no good in bed…lol

  15. Forgive me for not coming to your blog for ages! I forgot to update the link on my blog feed and I thought, "It's been a while since GNG wrote something, let me drop by her blog" only to find that you had been posting all along! LOL

    So.. to the topic of this post: I don't see the big deal in the scenarios that you described. But a long time ago, I was in a wierd love triangle with a girl friend and a guy. I didn't date the guy in the end cos I felt it wasn't worth losing my friend over.

  16. Gosh we women especially have been known to be very complicated creatures. A man likes you, chases after u…. u front or are not interested and then he finds someone else (a friend) and goes for her and you're upset? Just like everything else…. You snooze, you loose…. very simple.

    I dont see why it should be a "taboo" at all and in the case of that friend of yours who the guy didn't wanan date just cose he KISSED his cousin a 100years ago…. his loss i say. At least she didn't waste 1yr or more of her life/time with him for him to now come up with such fuckery.

    Personally i'd never date anyone my sis or very close friend has been with. Why? cos from the moment we're introdruced, i see 'em as brothers :) so much easier. But anything else outside this is fair game as far as i'm concerned.

    Like Ms Sula said, i'm one of those that will introduce an ex to a friend if i thought they'd be better suited for each other, its up to them if they wanna pursue it or not (and yes, i've done it b4… no big deal)

    If two people's relationship were meant to be then it will as long as u're not the reason it isn't. People over react for no reason

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