“Dating” What does this mean to modern Polynesian women?

millenials polynesians dating relationships

Our guest blogger today is a Samoan writer from New Zealand.  Her name is Lailoa.  Her blog is titled TWENTY9ANDSAMOAN.  Make sure to read her poetry, reviews and blogs.

Have you ever noticed that when our elders and parents introduce your boyfriend they will automatically use the word “to’alua”?? (which translates to husband in Samoan).

Why is this???

There is no actual word for boyfriend in the Samoan language.
There are words “uo teine” or “uo tama”. Uo which translates to friend in English and Tama and Teine meaning boy and girl, but these words are not designated to mean boy/girlfriend, they can also simply be describing words for people. You could argue that the Samoan term for boyfriend is pe’u or manamea (sweetheart) but again these are not proper terms, more endearing or slang words.

The grey stage of a relationship that we call “dating” is never acknowledged by parents or elders. It is much like the concept of “divorce”, taboo in our Samoan culture. It happens but no one really talks about it.

Our parents, who bravely ventured away from the motherland to seek out a better life for us, packed their suitcases with their beliefs & traditions. One of them being, we don’t talk to our children about any kind of adult relationships, let alone encourage them to go out there and date. After all, they didn’t give up everything they knew, just so you could sit in a car at a lookout asking strangers “what are you from?”. (that cousin check is real lol)

So we as young Samoan girls are told we can not date until we are 30 but are asked at 26 when why we aren’t married lol

It’s like they want you to get married but they just don’t want you to date??



…Or they just don’t want to know about it, and to be quite honest pacific girls are not too enthusiastic about sharing this with their mothers either. Unlike all the American teens in the movies who just having their date come over to the house and all lol

“Dating” is dictionary defined as girls meeting socially with guys with the aim of getting to know if they are suitable for a more serious relationship. From what is portrayed in the media, mainly American movies (teen series and rom-coms), dating numerous people at a time is completely normal. But in reality, the amount of negative backlash you would get for doing this would be outrageous, not to mention all the foul Samoan words that would be used to describe you.

I don’t think Samoan millennials have adopted this part of the dating culture and if you are dating many people at a time it's done on the low. Our culture is a conservative one, so its not common or seen in a positive light if you are seeing multiple guys at a time.

But everything has changed since our parents’ love story was told (well part told). Growing up in places such as Australia, New Zealand and America has changed the dating game for us. Meeting someone is not as easy with all these new labels and somehow lack of labels and rules, so how things worked in the past for the elders and our parents no longer apply to us. Traditions have changed with the times and the environment we now live in.

What do these terms mean to Poly women?

If we are …

Dating – We have now been talking for a while & seen each other often enough that I can tell people I have plans on the weekend but not officially boyfriend/girlfriend. He hasn’t said it officially but my friends know your name, have stalked your Instagram and Facebook and haven’t even met you yet.

Talking – Texting/calling, getting to know each other but could be talking to other people at this stage. Haven’t gone out in public or on a date.

Seeing each other – We are seriously looking at each other… like I’m in pre-wife interview mode lol You see me, I see you. Let's not see anyone else now haha.

Hanging out – We flirt, probably attraction chemistry more than anything. But we know this isn’t long term.

Hooking up – We have a casual intimate relationship (you know what it means)

Meeting up/meet ups – This is a young term, meaning we are sneaking out of the house lol this is puppy love.

Together – You are my boyfriend, my pe’u, my manamea, my to’alua. All of it lol.

As our generation become mothers and are young mothers to our princesses, I hope we have the courage to have the tough conversations that our parents didn’t have with us. So that they may learn the truth behind the confusing yet eventful experience we know as “dating”.

Comment below if you agree or don’t agree with the terms.

I would love to hear your thoughts! 😊

If you liked reading this blog you may want to watch this video about Samoan love in the novel Scarlet Lies.

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