The F Word
This week our intrepid dating guide, the self-styled Muslim Hitch, takes on family pressures and realistic expectations in dating as a single Muslim. And we promise, there isn’t a swear word in sight…
We’ve all heard it – that dreaded word, the one that begins and ends with you wanting to stick needles in your eyes every time you’re called it. Picture this: a nice family and friends get together, someone else’s kids are dropping their chicken dinner all over Auntie Salma’s new sofa. Everyone around you seems to be married, and they tell you about all the lovely, fluffy things they do as a couple, and then complain affectionately about their spouse having too many shoes/not changing the kitchen light bulb that fused last Eid.
Then the conversation turns to you.
Every couple, every auntie, nearly every uncle, will probably ask you this –“So, how come YOU haven’t found anyone yet?” They then proceed to answer the million dollar question with their own epic conclusion: “Is it because you are being too…” – *dhum dhum dhuuuuum dramatic music as camera zooms in for the next word* – “FUSSY?!”
And there it is. Trumpeted out loud, like a punch to the stomach, a thorn in your side. I know you’ve been through it – I feel your pain. It’s unpleasant to hear especially when you know you’ve tried your darnedest to meet potentials, giving people you would never normally give the light of day a chance. And for this reason, I want to help you navigate the F word and advise on damage control. Here are a few comebacks that might prove useful:
a) Play the Islam card: “When Allah wills it, only then can it happen. Pray for me. Inshallah.”
b) Throw it back in their court: “Well, you must know someone for me? Help a brother/sister out!”
c) Be a wise guy: “Choosing a life partner is like choosing a good apple, it’s taking me time to sift through all the rotten ones.”
d) Try the shock factor: “Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t realise I shouldn’t be fussy about the person I’m meant to SLEEP WITH FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.”
If this hasn’t helped, let me try another approach. Below I give you a compare and contrast exercise of two profiles who contacted me some years ago – the first from a mainstream site, and the second from a Muslim site.
Non Muzza bloke no.1:
I’m 32 in earth years, but older in wisdom and morality and younger in humour. A mixture I like to call ‘enigmatic’ but others refer to as ‘simple’.
I love to laugh, including at myself, regularly.
I like spontaneity but need a sensible mind to harness me in when I’m about to swim into the deep, even though I have my own arm floats.
I’d love to meet someone as contrary as myself.
And finally, I like chocolate covered peanuts.
Muzza bloke No 2:
I want u
To be with me In a nice Restaurent
To have candle light dinner?. &
to say those sweet three words to U
The second left me not so much questioning the F word as thinking the WTF word. Of course, they are not all as bad as No.2, but I illustrate the point with the above since many singletons have told me that they’ve given up on finding a suitable Muslim partner as they don’t even cover the basics – like the ability to spell. So, being ‘fussy’ is not the issue. Surely it’s about having some dignity and a sense of self-worth. It’s about having standards. Sure, potentials should be given a chance, but not to the extent that you compromise more than you ever thought you would.
Having said that, there is a ‘however’. However, there are, I’m sorry to say, some people who deserve to have the F word applied to them. For instance, the ones with the immutable tick lists. For example: “He must be over 6 ft 4 inches” (even though she’s 5’ 1”); or: “She must be able to cook like my mum and look like Angelina Jolie.” Well, if you look like the Muslim version of Ryan Gosling, you might be entitled to say that, but let’s face it, you’re more likely to resemble the Muslim version of Peter Griffin.
But, the F word still sits uncomfortably. I would suggest using a less blackboard scraping term, like – unreasonable expectations. The pressures we put on another human being when we apply unreasonable expectations even before meeting the person, will only lead to discontent in a marriage. We need to embrace the good with the bad, accept and love them for who they are, not what you unrealistically want them to be. It’s about a finding the right balance – managing your expectations and trying to find what is best for you. Or you can let eHarmony embody the F word on your behalf, as they search through all the apples for you, handpicking more compatible matches based on your personality – something those matchmaking aunties of yore tended to bypass with their ‘biodata’ forms.
So to round off, the next time you’re called the F word, take heart and remember what’s been said. Don’t lower your standards, know your worth, but also don’t expect a Muslim Aishwarya Rai or a Muslim Henry Cavill with a high flying job (if you’ll pardon the pun), as your true knight in shining armour on a white steed could turn out to be a noble IT administrator in a Ford Fiesta.
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