People have different reactions when it comes to unconventional couples. Some tend to stop and stare while others are completely comfortable with it.

RYNO ELLIS

People have different reactions when it comes to unconventional couples. Some tend to stop and stare while others are completely comfortable with it. But people may forget one thing about couples who find themselves going against the grain: the love between them. As Riaan Grobbelaar, third year Psychology student, puts it: “Any couple strong enough to withstand adversity must definitely love each other”.

Perdeby found two couples who would be deemed unconventional willing to speak about their relationship and how their love for each other is still normal in many ways. Inter-racial, lesbian couple Thabang Mashego* and Michelle Smith* playfully shared how they met during Aids Week last year when Smith had to speak at a workshop at the Centre for the Study of Aids (CSA).

Mashego, who until then had never been in a gay relationship, courted Smith, who up to then was not too sure about Mashego’s sexuality. Mashego also was not sure about Smith’s stance on inter-racial dating: “I wasn’t sure about her being into inter-racial relationships until I saw her on campus holding another black girl’s hand which was an indication for me”.

Both Mashego and Smith acknowledge the fact that they are an unconventional couple but say they have only experienced a bad reaction from the older generation. When asked what limitations they experience, Smith jokingly replied: “Apart from us not being able to make babies, we can’t really express our feelings and emotions due to people staring”.

Smith insists their relationship is not very different from those of conventional couples. Mashego, described as the spoiled one, acknowledges that they also fight on a regular basis. “Ex-girlfriends are a frequent topic we fight about.” They also have certain traits they like and dislike about each other. “I think Thabang is very mature, strong willed and ambitious but sometimes she tends to be very stubborn when it comes to getting her way,” says Smith.

When asked who tends to make the most decisions, there was a slight pause and a little debating, but they came to the conclusion that Thabang would wear the pants about 5% of the time and Smith would then wear it the remaining 95%. “Michelle is just way more experienced with this whole lesbian thing than I am,” Mashego admitted.

The next couple Perdeby spoke to was Luke Ross* (31) and Lara van der Merwe* (21) – an age gap of 10 years.

They met while working together in the same office, Van der Merwe explains. “At first I had no indication that he was attracted to me. It must’ve been because of the age gap and the fact that he is such a charmer. It just seems that guys like that are totally unattainable. There was a bit of awkwardness between us until he asked me out on a date on Valentine’s Day. He took me to The Palms restaurant in Revonia and, o my gosh, the food was amazing.”

Van der Merwe confesses that she thought it was hilarious when Ross tried to be romantic and read the menu for her: “Being a Literature student and having a knack for languages, he cracked me up when he read words like sorbet pronouncing the silent ‘t’ on the end.”

Fourth year Landscape Architecture student, Stefan Dippenaar*, feels that people with a big age gap will not have much in common. Ross says that he had to, from an early stage, discuss the issue of their age difference with Van der Merwe and they had to decide that they will not take too seriously what people may think or say about them. Ross also says that his parents are very liberal and do not mind Van der Merwe’s age. Van der Merwe says that her family feels split about the age gap: the one half adores Ross but the others do gossip about them.

Mother Theresa said, “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.” And no ethnicity, gender or age can come in the way of it.

*Names where changed

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