In Gambia male and female relationships are mostly initiated
by men. This is done either directly or indirectly using a third
party. Usually people start dating in their teens, although in
the rural areas courting can begin earlier than that.
||People date and go out more or less freely with
each other in the urban area, while in the rural areas things
are much more controlled because the community is very small.
Young people dating do not physically express their love in public
except at parties or when they are amongst people their own age.
As a woman, don't be surprised if a man comes and tells you he
loves you; that is how it is done. If a man approaches a woman
then no matter how long the conversation the words 'nobb' or 'sop'
may come up. The word actually means "like" but very
often they are mistranslated by local people who think it means
"I love you", but actually it means "I like you".
Gambian men who approach you will rarely take a 'no' for a 'no'.
They'll try at least two more times before giving up. To make
your life easier, do not take it personally when men insist so
much. Gambian women, even when they are very interested, will
always start by declining your amorous advances both to test the
pretender's determination, and to show that they are not an easy
However, other relationships may be platonic; this may be co-workers,
neighbours etc, who are friends and may visit each other quite
often, although this sometimes may result in a physical relationship.
Sexual matters are discussed among peers of the same sex group.
Gambian men are very friendly with women, and while you will be
eager to meet new people and make friends, be aware that Gambian
women may interpret your reactions toward male solicitation in
a way that you never intended. If you find that you are overwhelmed
with unwanted male attention, try to use humour to diffuse the
situation or to exit it without incurring bad feelings. Humour
is used in many situations in Gambia, and it can be a very effective
tool to communicate difficult messages without insulting people.
Contraceptives are used among some young girls to prevent
pregnancy, but again it is used more in the urban than rural areas
due to illiteracy, poverty and lack of accessibility.