Fijian relationships between men and women have undergone many changes since the introduction of Western influences. These changes are due to the desire to become more 'Westernized' and therefore, incorporating the ideals that they perceive are important within Western society to their culture. This has caused relationships based upon an idealized version of 'love'. These Western influences, such as movies, magazines, and books make it seem as if many people have casual sex, and that they are all in 'love' relationships. They portray love as this necessary aspect in a relationship and do not focus upon the amount of time that the majority of people feel is necessary in order to fall in love. Fijian society does not encourage relationships that are conducive to the Western view of 'love' because they focus upon separation between men and women, and do not encourage cross sexes to spend time together before they are married.
Even after marriage, separation between the sexes is promoted through division of labor and male dominance within the marriage. Since Fijian relationships have applied the idea of 'love' to relationships which are based upon separation and male domination, idealized 'love' relationships are occurring. This can be seen in premarital relationships in the fact that many of the couples do not have a friendship before they have a relationship, and often claim to be in love Premarital relationships are not based upon significant amounts of time spent together. Couples do not get to see each other often and when they do they often meet in crowded areas so that it is not suspected that they are together.
It is not uncommon to have long distance relationships Many of the traditional means for choosing a spouse, such as parents influence and male domination, have remained as strong influences. This is because premarital relationships are based on this idealized view on 'love' and therefore, are not strong enough to basis marriage choices upon. Marriage relationships have changed due to Western influences, they however are also retaining many of the traditional views. Traditionally marriages were arranged.
However, due to Western influence Fijians are now having 'love' marriages. These marriages are facing many of the same issues that premarital relationships are. Because of separation of the sexes, these marriages are not based upon significant amounts of time spent together. They are instead being based upon traditional views. These relationships are based on little contact. Even after the relationship has been established extensive contact is not available.
Therefore they have to base their relationships on something other than shared knowledge and experiences. They have adopted this structure from what they see as important to Western relationships; love. The difference is that in Western relationships love is based on time spent together and this aspect is lacking in Fijian relationships. They therefore have adopted the idea of love but applied it to their relationships in a symbolic fashion. The relationships between men and women are continuing to change as Fijians become exposed to increasing amounts of Western culture. This is affecting all areas of their lives, economically, religiously, and within their daily lives.
Although many of the traditional views have remained as influences within their relationships, these are slowly changing as the rest of their lives change.