There’s a time in every Muslim’s life where your parents think you’re old enough to go into the concrete jungle and find yourself a mate. But like any true ‘coming of age’ story, every young hunter will face his or her obstacles. I feel slightly Neanderthal-ish when people say I need to make more effort in dating. I imagine myself dragging my knuckles, grunting something resembling a mating call with a spear in my hand.
And like those simple cave man days, as soon as I see him I aim my spear and he’s mine. I get clubbed over the head and dragged to the cave or I pin him down. Simple. But it’s also this cave man approach that seems to be creating a new problem. Hold on to your undies kids… it’s SEX. My first and biggest obstacle.
Like many other religion, Islam also asks people to refrain from having sex before marriage. Some people who don’t follow a religion also wish to practice this. Having or not having sex is a personal choice. Personally, I never ask someone I’m seeing about their past history — it’s something that’s been of little interest. But recently sex has always come up. I have not had sex. I’ve never felt the need to explain myself. My body, my rules. Simple.
Although I practice the best I can, for me there there is no religious or cool philosophical reason for me getting no action. But when meeting people, I’ve started to notice I’m almost judged when I say, “No thanks”. And what do some of them expect? They are blatantly asking, let’s sleep together and then I’ll see. Move along mate.
When getting to know someone, if the topic comes up, they change. It’s almost like I’m untouchable, because I’ve never been touched.
It’s a right puzzle. You want to get to know someone so we can sleep with them (at some point), but know one wants to know us because we can’t sleep with them straight away. I’ve heard things like “Awww”, and “You’re so Disney”. Sod off.
There’s an assumption floating about that women who haven’t had sex in their relationships or before marriage are naïve and couldn’t possibly handle a proper relationship. That their development froze on their sweet 16 and everything remains level PG13. Or that we wouldn’t know what to do? Ummm, you knew on your first time right? No Google maps needed? I think I’ll be fine love. Or that we’ll be ‘boring’ — because they really light the room. On fire. Every. Single. Time.
Listen mate, it’s not like we don’t want to have sex. Fuck, we probably want it more than you. But maybe we really know the art of being a lady in the street and a freak in the sheets. With this level of self-control, imagine what else we could do.
Who doesn’t want to have sex, to feel sexy or to have fun? We all want it — it’s natural. But if I’m saying no it’s probably because I don’t want to sleep with you. The sex barrier makes it harder when getting to know people as, going against the rules of nature, we have to fight the urge. But the other party doesn’t have to. And it’s a slight downer when the other party realises this and doesn’t want to stick around because we can’t offer them that one thing, because they think they can find a wholesome relationship elsewhere.
And here I was thinking my personality and interests would fulfill any appetite. “Hey, I can’t have sex with you, but how about I make you a real mean lasagne”. Yeah I understand why this isn’t appealing…
It’s not all bad because you realise that some only want to sleep with you — you’re a pass-time. They don’t need to make you ‘comfortable’, or make it have ‘meaning’. It’s just sex. They would club you round the head if it were socially acceptable. But that’s just my way of life.
This brings us to the second point. Religion. Recently on our twitter page @barfijalebi we got into a discussion about why myself or Barfi would date only Muslims. There were suggestions that we are limiting our dating pool by being so selective.
Personally, when you’re thinking of dating or marriage you need to be selfish and selective and there’s no shame in knowing what you want from life and what type of person you want to spend it with. Some people will take what I’m saying and think it’s valid to endorse superficial requests like, he needs to have a car, house, business, money, etc. That’s not it. I’m aiming for something with a bit more meaning.
Islam for me is a way of life. The Qur’an is my guidebook to go through life. It covers marriage, divorce, relationships, laws of equality, the food we eat, you name it — it’s got it. I can’t stress how important way of life is to me. My religion and practises have moulded a lifestyle. For instance, I don’t drink and I’m not keen on going clubbing. So I wouldn’t consider going out with someone who loved drinking and had to go clubbing every Friday and Saturday night because we wouldn’t be on the same page. My version of a good time and his version of a good time would be so different.
And I like being reminded that there is something with more influence than me in the universe, an energy bigger than my own. I think it keeps me grounded. So I wouldn’t see eye-to-eye with someone who thought they were the center of the universe and the sun and the moon shines out of their arse.
Just because our lifestyles don’t match it certainly doesn’t mean the other person isn’t good enough or bad, I just don’t see the point in trying to force a common ground. So here is my final point.
Dating is piss easy. Making a relationship or maintaining it is hard. I can go on endless dates, but with most of them I would never consider having a relationship, because I can tell off the bat that they don’t respect me and they will never support me in my dreams or hopes for our future because they called them “cute”.
I was only exciting because I was different and it’s fun at the start, but then I had to conform and revert to their definition of a good woman. I’ve been asked to change who I am so many times by some Muslim guys because I’m not ‘Islamic’ enough.
I found that everything they wanted in a partner these days was superficial. Personality or intention counted for nothing, as long I could tick the boxes to appear a certain way. For example, I don’t wear hijab so I wasn’t deemed practising enough and some wanted a pious looking wife. I dated a guy who did everything under the sun, but because I work in media he said he would like me to stop because “It’s not really allowed in Islam”.
I was told I wasn’t dating right by a lot of other females. Women want to be seen as intelligent and independent but when it comes to dating they want to follow the 1950s approach. There were so many backwards rules and I sometimes felt judged for not following them. For instance, I should apparently never ask a guy out for coffee — always wait for him to acknowledge my existence. Secondly, if someone asked me what I thought of a potential guy and I was honest and said, “Yeah he’s cute”, I was told I was being too forward and ideally I should act shy.
I act too much like my real self and time and time again I’ve been told to suppress all aspects of my personality because, “It might scare him”/ “Intimidate him” / “Boys don’t like that”, and when dating I should do the delicate woman routine.
These wise words often came from people who loved the double standard secret lifestyle. They felt they were born with the ‘kill dreams’ card, because they honestly believe women need to appease, as our only true calling is marriage. I make my own rules bitches.
They dangle marriage around thinking, “She’s old now and won’t go anywhere”, and slowly they start sharing what they really want in a partner — who is nothing like you. But one guy I dated actually thought that I would change because I had the chance to finally get married and, obviously, I should be grateful. I broke up with him really quickly after that.
Marriage is never at the forefront of my mind. I don’t plan my life in such a way. I won’t even consider certain things until I see it taking form. I’ll deal with it when I get there. And I will only take someone seriously when I see that they prove they want to walk side by side with me, follow me on the off non-predictable path that is life and love my crazy.
I take my time when dating or meeting people, because life isn’t a race. People around you will act like it is, but it’s not. There is no time frame to find someone, to have children, to chase your dreams. When you get an opportunity with any one of these, grab it. Be selfish and keep grabbing. And life isn’t one thing of marriage, work, friends or hobbies. It’s all of these small fragments that you need to juggle and collect to build your life.
So here’s to still trying to get to know people, so that one day we can wear that Victoria Secret outfit we’ve been eyeing and finally have sex with someone we actually love, and them loving you for who you are and understanding that you’re perfectly flawed.
Jalebi isn’t what her parents named her but the alias she is well know for on her Twitter blog @BarfiJalebi, in which she unravels the horrendously hilarious modern Muslim dating stories. Blazing trails with her kick-ass attitude, she is a shameless practicing Muslim, feminist and explorer. And she can tell one hell of a story.