jdeena

Never settle for what is…come tomorrow it will be what was

Tag: dating

Nice Guys Finish Last- Because They Want To

This isn’t going to be a nice post- not like any of mine usually are. But I am pretty wound up, and I’m feeling a rant coming on. So I, of course, want to share it with you, my loyal followers.

Every article about relationships lately seems to focus on the f*ckboys. You know these types of guys- the ones who seemingly use women just for sex, but mask it as a deep interest in her in order to achieve their goal. They act so sweet and understanding, and after they get what they want, they disappear. We hate these guys, right? They’re scum; they don’t deserve our time. So we dial up our girlfriends and rant. We cry and swear we are never going to talk to another guy like that. We promise each other to alert the other when they start to fall under their very effective spells. We take a deep breath, and vow to only go for nice guys from now on.

But…what if the nice guys are just as bad as the f*ckboys?

And trust me on this. They can be. Because while a typical jerk will make it known he only wanted you for the sex, a nice guy will pretend he doesn’t want it. But he does. Yes. He. Does.

The nice guy will try and talk you off the ledge after a jerk has hurt you. He will claim that you are too good for that kind of treatment, and that you need to stick to guys who truly care about you. Like him! He will tell you that you can open up to him, and tell him anything. He is your friend and shoulder to cry on. He will ask you to let down those walls so he can slide in and offer comfort, while secretly plotting his deceiving move. He gets you to trust him. He’s one of the “girls” so “tell me anything.”

So you do. You feel lucky to have someone like him in your life. You thank him and tell him just that. After a while though, the conversations start to shift. They’re starting to sound like the texts you get from f*ckboys. “Send me a pic” he says. And you’re confused because you don’t understand why he’s asking. You ask as much, and he says that he’s different, because obviously he’s spent months putting you back together after the last heartbreak. But when you refuse, he gets mad. He tries to make you feel guilty.

He asks again, and you still refuse. Now he’s angry. He starts accusing you of not trusting him. He points out how you sent pics to other guys who weren’t as deserving as him. You’re shocked at this behavior, and tell him as much. He stops talking to you for a few days, then comes back and asks again. Now you are angry. No longer confused. Because a pattern has started to develop. And the guy whom you thought was nice, is actually a f*uckboy himself.

Except this is worse. Because he played it off like he was a “nice” guy, but nice guys don’t do this. At least I don’t think they do. Right? Well, maybe they do. Maybe there is no such thing as an actual “nice” guy. Because at the end of the day, they all act the same, don’t they?

Nice guys just take a little longer to get there.

 

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Online Dating Woes, Part 2

So last week I joined another dating website. I figure that I need to try all avenues before truly giving up on ever finding a partner. So, I filled out my profile, writing about my passions, my activism, my writing. I filled out all of the categories. I put together a really great profile, if I do say so myself. Of course, I did add a few pictures, as I personally loathe it when someone has one grainy photo of himself.

Imagine my surprise when almost every single message I received was about my looks. And they weren’t even clever openers. For example:

TypicalGuy1 (not his real screen name): You look gorgeous.

Me: That’s because I am. Anything else in my profile catch your attention?

TypicalGuy1: To be honest your shirt that has your country’s flag.

Me: Ok…anything else you READ in my profile not related to my pictures catch your attention?

TypicalGuy1: Why? Do I have a quiz?

Me: Well, if the only thing that prompted you to contact me was my looks, then I’m not interested. I have more to offer than my looks.

I have yet to hear back from him.

WHY? Why is it that with everything I have to offer, my looks are what drive men to contact me? Oh, I know, initially something has to prompt you to want to talk to someone, but I would hope that after my looks, reading my profile and seeing all that I do would be more of an incentive to want to talk to me. What I really want to say when a guy tells me “you’re so hot” or “wow you’re gorgeous” is “yea, I know.” Because I do know. I am not being conceited. I know I have good looks. And enough people have said it that over the years I’ve started believing it. But that is NOT what I want to be known for.

The other thing that annoys me are the questions about my virginity. Why is it that every single guy just HAS TO ask that within five minutes of conversation? Are we really that regressive that we still judge women by their sexuality? Why does it matter either way? When I bring these points up after being asked, I am told to “calm down” and that I am “overreacting.” Overreacting? Did I ask about your sexual status? Did I try and judge you solely by something that neither is your business nor your right to know?

So here I thought this dating site would be different. Here I thought that I would be able to find some men who were more enlightened. Not to say I haven’t has some decent guys message me. I have. Or I have, somewhat. So many are getting smarter, and will mask their misogyny by pretending to be interested in me, but then once we exchange numbers, turn it all around. Thank God for being able to block numbers.

Lastly are the Muslim guys who will flat out judge me for being on this site. Um, hello- you are as well! Why is ok for you and not me? For example:

TypicalGuy2: Why are you on here? (yes, his opening line)

Me: For the same reason as you, I suppose.

TypicalGuy2: Isn’t that inappropriate for someone like you?

Me: How so? I’m just trying to meet someone.

TypicalGuy2: Well, I’m just looking out for you, I don’t think it’s right.

Me: I don’t need you to lookout for me, I can take care of myself.

TypicalGuy2: So you’re being a bitch to me and I’m trying to help you. Nice.

Me: This conversation is over.

TypicalGuy2: Why? Because I was trying to be nice and you’re a bitch? That’s the thanks I get?

Me: Conversation is over.

He continues to message me, until I finally block and report him. As if I need harassment on top of his judgement. Seriously, what is wrong with you men?

Bottom line: using any online dating site leaves you to be disappointed. People are rarely who they say they are, their pictures are usually not current (or even of them), and every guy feels like a big man behind the screen- meaning he will harass, berate, or judge you if you reject his lame advances. You might ask why I continue to torture myself, and the answer is simple: it’s hard for me to meet people, regardless of all the traveling I do. It’s nice to be able to talk to someone and get to know them, and even meet up once we are both comfortable.

And, if nothing else, all these experiences make for a good blog post. So for now, I will continue to put myself out there, hoping that someday all my efforts and patience will pay off.

 

 

 

Forced to Marry

I see it every day, all over my newsfeed and social media: girls are forced into marriage. No, I’m not talking about overseas in some remote country. I am talking about here in the US.  You might be thinking “Jinan, you are CRAZY!” but let me explain what I mean.

I know women have the right to choose their partner in Islam. I know no one can actually force you to get married. However, culturally, I feel that we are still bound by the obligations passed down from one generation to another. Think about it: when a woman says she doesn’t want to get married, what is your first reaction? Probably horror. Or, let me put it this way: when you meet a woman and ask her age, what is your reaction if she is over 30 and still single?

I am not singling myself out in this post, although I do face both scenarios quite often. But I am trying to open your eyes to a bigger issue in our society- one where a woman’s marital status and her ability to bear children is valued more than anything else she can offer. Just scrolling though social media and seeing how many comments a woman gets when she posts an engagement or wedding picture versus one of her new promotion or a solo trip she’s taken is enough to prove my point. However, it doesn’t seem to be enough for people to be convinced that we- as a society- are obsessed with marriage.

That point alone could have been enough to push me away from that institution; yet I chose to still become a part of it at the age of 27, when I first got engaged. To be honest (and I didn’t admit this at the time), I didn’t want to get married. I did it because my parents were becoming more and more frustrated with me, I was close to thirty, and the guy seemed decent enough. Everyone I knew would always tell me they thought something was wrong with me because I just wasn’t jumping to get married. What can I say? I just felt like I wanted to be on my own, and that I’d never find a guy who could tear me away from my singleness.

So, I got engaged. I went through the motions, made everyone happy -and then just as quickly- disappointed everyone when I took off the ring and left it on the bathroom sink before work one day. It was just two months shy of our wedding day. Yet I felt freer than I ever had that day.

Of course, everyone told me that I shouldn’t give up, and that I needed to keep an open mind. So I did, and I entered into yet another serious relationship that would be the beginning of the demise of my character.

Our culture fails to understand that we of this generation are looking for more than just a man to support us. We want a partner, someone we can love and respect and build an empire with. This second relationship chipped away at my self-confidence over 9 months. By the end of it, when he decided he wasn’t ready to get married, I was the shell of a human being. I was devastated and went into a depression so deep it consumed me. I felt lost, confused, and unmotivated. I was sure no one would ever love me, and spent my days crying and wondering what was so wrong with me that no one wanted to marry me.

And that was it- the breaking point. I went to therapy, and she asked me “why do you feel you need a man to love you to make you feel valid?” And it was such a simple question. Yet all my life, I was taught that marriage is half my faith and my culture made me feel that without a man I was nothing. I mean, just look at the questions we are asked when we meet people: How old are you? Oh, are you married? Oh, why not? I mean, are we seriously validating a woman by her marital status?

So since that day in my therapist’s office, I have vowed to work on loving myself. I have thrown myself into work and activities, focused on my writing and activism, and learned to be alone. I have a great circle of friends, but they are all married. So to count on their company proved fruitless. I go to movies alone, I go to restaurants alone; hell, I even travel alone! It’s empowering and liberating, but even more so, it shows that a woman does not need a man in order to enjoy life. I am not saying I will never get married; but I will definitely be enjoying the journey until that happens.

Do I get questions from my family and friends? Always. Everyone is scared of the “single girl” especially when she is so content in her singleness. But no matter; I don’t let it bother me. I have learned to laugh it off, and to focus on what is important to me. The way I look at it is, this is my life. Not theirs. To live your life for others will mean you will never truly live. So be content in your choices, as I have become.

They won’t like it, but then again, who cares?

Get Off Your Soapbox

I encountered one of many internet trolls yesterday when I was online.

I am subscribed to a few “matchmaking” Muslim sites, in the effort to meet someone, as my city offers very little in the dating scene. So last night, after a fun evening out with my coworkers, I came home and was scrolling through my phone in bed and a chat box popped up from one of the sites. I usually never respond to chat requests, but for some reason, I decided to click “accept” and see what this guy was about.

We exchanged hellos, and he asked why I was up so late (it was 12:30). I told him I had just gotten home from an evening out with my friends. He asked where we had gone, and I told him a local hookah bar. He then asked if I smoke, and I said yes. He responded less than enthusiastically, so I asked him if there was a problem, and he proceeded to tell me that smoking hookah is haram (forbidden).

That right there, for me, was a red flag. When someone decides to say something is haram right away, and it in fact IS NOT haram, to me that shows that the person is ignorant to the most basic concepts of what is forbidden and allowed in Islam. So I proceeded to correct him and say it is not forbidden, just not recommended as it can hard your health. He then said that the sheikhs all deem it haram, and their job is to research these things, so their ruling must be right.

He THEN proceeded to tell me that it is also contradicting that I, as a hijabi, smoke hookah, as my hijab represents purity and piety, and by smoking hookah, I am a hypocrite.

Yes. He actually said that.

I didn’t know how to respond, as my instinct was to initially rip him to shreds with an argument about how Muslim women who cover are not to be used as flawless examples of what a Muslim woman should be. We are not without imperfections, and to assume so is setting us up for failure, as we are all human and surely make mistakes. Also, we are individuals, so to categorize all Muslim covered women into one category is unnecessary and harmful to the image of Islam. However, I held my tongue and explained to him that he can have his own opinion of what he would like his Muslim wife to be, but to belittle and criticize a woman who does not fit that image is ridiculous and small-minded.

He then proceeded to tell me that I was wrong for assuming he was small-minded, and that as a Muslim woman, if I was not to cover “properly” why cover at all? He said my hijab was “showy” and that it defeated the purpose of hijab (which, by the way, my photo on that site was a simple photo from everyday- no jeweled headbands or heavy makeup present).

The thing that really bothered me was not the fact that he said these things- in fact, at some point in my life most of the guy friends I have have brought up these points- but, it was how comfortable he felt in saying these things to me so bluntly, and so soon into our conversation. The whole conversation lasted less than 5 minutes. And in that short time he felt comfortable enough to disrespect and discount my knowledge about Islam and my experience in hijab.

To me, this presents a very real problem among the guys in our community. Let me explain something to you: YOU do not wear hijab. YOU do not understand the day-to-day experiences of a woman who wears hijab. YOU don’t know what it’s like to be a very prominent representation of Islam, and have to watch your every move for fear someone will misrepresent your personal actions with those of all Muslim women. So YOU do not have the right to tell me how I should and should not be wearing hijab.

Wearing hijab in the US is a challenge. But to me, the biggest obstacle I face is not from those in the non-Muslim community. It is from those within my own community. The ones who deem it haram to do one thing or another just because they can. I have seen Muslim women ripped to shreds on social media, by men and women alike, who judge their every move. I have seen great examples of successful, intelligent Muslim women who have taken off the hijab permanently because they could not take any more criticism. What are we doing to ourselves? Why are we placing the blame on others, when our biggest problems come from within?

Get off your soapbox. You are not better than another. And if you truly want to help someone, you will find a kind and respectful way to do so. Throwing accusations at someone, calling them a hypocrite and telling them their hijab is wrong will not support your cause. It is people like that who push others away from Islam. Our religion is supposed to be beautiful, welcoming, and understanding. It is not demeaning, harsh, or oppressive. So next time you feel like you want to point out the “faults” of others, be sure you are standing in front of a mirror.

Blissfully Unaware

I always wonder what it would be like for me to live a life where I was blissfully unaware.

Don’t get me wrong; I love that my mind dissects every single thing I hear and see. However, sometimes I look at how easily people float through life and think to myself, “hey, that life doesn’t look so bad.”

You might want to know what brought this up. Well, after a long hiatus from writing (I was very busy with work and just returned from a trip to Turkey), I figured I’d jump back into writing, and this subject has been on my mind for a while.

I feel that sometimes my mind over thinks things, and it would be easier for me if I didn’t over-analyze everything I came across. For instance, any time I see an article about rape, feminism, or oppression, I have to respond. I just have to. I can’t just let the post go, and move on to the next article. Something in me just rises (usually disgust) and I feel that I have to give my opinion. I know I have alienated a lot of people in this way, but frankly, I don’t care. I have passion for certain subjects, and I feel that it is my duty to combat a lot of those subjects.

However, I also am referring to being unaware in relationships. At this point in my life, any time I meet a guy I can very easily dissect the things he says and does- to the point that I will no longer be interested. You know how some people have family and friends who point out the faults of their partner? I do that all on my own. Because I know precisely what I want in a guy, it is easy for me to pick him apart when one wrong thing is said.

I know I should be more understanding. I know I shouldn’t dismiss someone so quickly; after all I wouldn’t want that done to me, right? However, I feel that the things I get most upset about are things that are extremely important to me, and so if that is the point where I start to break him down, then he can’t be the right person for me. There are certain things in my life that I am unwilling to bend on, and it isn’t enough for me for him to be indifferent. No….he must share the same passion for them as I do.

Let me explain why. I am a very motivated, outgoing, and opinionated person. I know what I like, and what I want from life. It isn’t enough for me to have someone along for the ride. I need him to be there as my co-pilot. I don’t want him to just agree with me, or change his opinion for me. I want him to be just as passionate and filled with fire as I am. I don’t need someone to tell me to “calm down” when I get heated; I want him standing by me, supporting me and telling me I have every right to be upset.

To be blissfully unaware would make my life so much easier. I could get married, have a few kids, and spend my days fitting in things that are important to me- only when my kids and husband were already taken care of, and I had the energy to do so. I often express this sentiment to my friends, and they tell me not to think that way…that my life was meant for more than that. That the way I am is absolute perfection, and that I should never wish to not have my passion.

But sometimes it gets exhausting. I get tired of constantly having to explain myself to those around me. I get frustrated when people assume things about me because I’m a feminist (not to mention 33 and single). I get tired of the battle inside me- the back and forth of two sides, wanting to find that perfect partner for myself but unwilling to bend on my ideals. I wish I could just print out a flyer that lists all my interests and what I am not willing to bend on, and pass it out to everyone I know. That way people will stop sending me or matching me up with guys who I have absolutely nothing in common with.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I am willing to wait for that person. The one guy who will love me for who I am, without making me change a part of myself. At the same time, I am not putting my life on hold for that. I will work, and stay involved, and write my awesome blog and guest pieces for magazines. My life does not revolve around finding a husband. I am pretty sure my life was meant for more than that. At the same time, I want the guy to also have his own passions and ideals. It easier when two people are living their lives apart- yet at the same time- together.

I recently read an article titled “I Want to Be Single- But with You.” And the article made so much sense. The author says “I want to live a single life with you. For our couple life, would be the equivalent of our single lives today, but together.”

That is exactly what I want. As the author said- “One day I will find you.”

And I intend to.

I’m More than My Looks

This is a topic I’ve always wanted to explore, but have had a bit of hesitation as I am afraid of how people will perceive it. Too many times, women are admired for their outer beauty and the overall appearance they present to society…but as soon as they open their mouths and start talking about ambition and independence, people automatically get turned off. And I, for one, am sick of it. And I want to know why that is.

For the last few years, every time I relay my marital status to someone (which is frustrating in of itself that I am constantly being asked to present myself according to that), the very first thing they say (99% of the time) is: “Oh my God how are you still single? You’re so beautiful!” As if being pretty is the only requirement for getting married. As if men only look for outer beauty when looking for a mate. AS IF I, AS A WOMAN, only have my looks to offer someone.

Why is it, that when people hear I am single, they don’t cry: “Oh how is this possible? You are accomplished, intelligent, and ambitious…any man would be lucky to have you!” Why is it, that instead, they use those same traits to create an excuse as to why men DON’T marry me?

I have worked VERY hard to be the person I am today. I have also gone through a lot in life, and I believe it has made me a much stronger person. One who won’t take any bullshit from others. And I pride myself on knowing what type of partner I want in life. Is that so wrong?

Why should I just “let things go” and “not be so picky” just to satisfy the majority? Just because that makes you more comfortable and will safely nestle me into the society-accepted role of “wife” doesn’t mean that it is the best decision for all involved. You are uncomfortable with my singleness? Tough. I am uncomfortable with your single-mindedness; your unwavering ability to look beyond your box to see that there is more to a woman than a status; than her looks.

Maybe I’m not meant to be married. Maybe I think this way so that I can continue to go out there and make a difference in this world. Maybe my ideas about marriage are not conventional, but that just may be because times have changed, and so have the roles of women. Yet both men and women are staying in them because they provide a level of comfort and stability. Maybe living alone presents a fear in you so debilitating that you would rather be joined in matrimony with someone you tolerate, than live alone the rest of your life. Or maybe you truly believe in marriage. Either way, do not push your ideologies on me, and tell me that I am wrong for thinking this way.

The older I get, the more I feel that I truly could not be happy in a “traditional” marriage. And by that, I mean one that is based on dated roles where the wife is the main domestic character, and the male the hunter/gatherer. And while that may work for many, I know for a fact it will not work for me.

I want something bigger; I want something MORE.

I want someone who will look at me and be inspired. I want someone who will be proud of my accomplishments and will boast about them to everyone he knows. I want someone secure enough that he will not feel bad about supporting me in my travels and endeavors. I want someone who will give me the respect I deserve, and not place my life on the back burner as he goes on to live his life. I want an equal partner. 100%.

But most of all, I want someone who will see my heart, the depth of my soul, the kindness in my eyes, and the soft words that flow from my tongue, and believe those to be the most beautiful traits in me. That he will appreciate my delicate hands for the words they type, and my lips for the inspiring words they speak. That he will notice my strong, long legs, and appreciate the way they have held me up as many times as I’ve been knocked down by the trials of life. That he will see, in me, beauty. Beauty as a whole; the mix of emotions, struggles, and success.

That he will notice me- for more than just my looks.

Hot and Cold

So, something that I experience regularly with guys that I meet is this “hot and cold” relationship. You know what I’m talking about. When the guy seeks you out, pursues you relentlessly, makes you take down those walls you’ve built from the last jerk who broke your heart….and then once he’s done ALLLLL that work, he flips. He disappears-POOF!

I can never know what the heck happens at that point. It’s usually about a month or so into the relationship, and I will have just become used to the idea that, yes- maybe I can get married! Maybe there is a guy who really gets me after all! Oh happy day!

But all that is short-lived, because once the guy sees me give in, he changes his mind. This always happens to me, and it is so frustrating. I even ask the guy to PLEASE just be honest with me and let me know if things don’t seem to go the way he was expecting, just so I have the courtesy of a proper breaking-up. No such luck. Maybe because I am so outgoing and opinionated, they fear a really bad confrontation. Either way, they do me the favor of trying to weed out the cowards myself. So thank you.

However, recently, I had a guy actually come back after a month or so and actually apologize- and get this- EXPLAIN why he did what he did! Woah. That’s a bit much to take in. But it was refreshing nonetheless. So here is what happened:

I get a Facebook message of “sorry” and a picture of a bouquet of flowers. I tell him “not accepted.” We go back and forth, and I tell him how hurt I was. I mean, he was showing he was head over heels for me, and then when I was in his city visiting and texted him, he ignored me. It was pretty shocking and disappointing.

So finally, finally, after asking him what happened, he admits it. He was scared. Now, I know we women think of this excuse as a cop-out with most guys. But I am going to give this guy the benefit of the doubt. He said that he was afraid of me coming into town, him falling even harder for me, and then me leaving. We live about a 7-hour drive apart. We have known each other for about 2 years now. We have stayed in touch this whole time, and he always told me I was the perfect woman for him, but I never believed it. But since I was going to be visiting his city, I wanted to see what was really there, so we made plans. But the plans never happened, because he bailed.

That got me thinking; is this what happened with all the other guys? Did they realize something and were just too afraid to tell me? And if so, why did they feel they couldn’t talk to me about it? Am I a big scary monster? Maybe, and I just don’t know it. However, I still don’t believe that as an excuse. I mean, one of my ex fiances did this same exact thing- no explanation, nothing. But this has become such a habit with guys that I meet that it has started to really grate on me. I mean, give me the courtesy of an explanation at the very least. Don’t I deserve that as a human being?

I don’t usually like to speculate, but sometimes I can figure out why a guy has disappeared, and it’s not always favorable. I just wish I could know what goes on in their head. Do they just wake up one day and say “yea…not in the mood to talk to Jinan. EVER.”? I mean, one guy went from skyping me 3 times a day for 2 weeks straight to not responding to my texts, and deleting me off of social media (which I figure is because he posted a pic with a girl shortly after haha). Another guy went from forcing me to talk on the phone (which I hate) twice a day to not answering my calls the day he didn’t call me on his way to work as usual. Literally: hot and cold.

So, what is it then? Is it me? Or are they not yet ready for a commitment? And if it IS that, then why do they force me to break down my walls and open my mind to a relationship, when they themselves don’t want it? Is it a game then? Do they want to see how many girls they fool into falling for them?

Whatever the case, I now know what could be the excuse, thanks to this latest revelation. Quite possible the guy was scared. Which is a lame excuse, but an excuse nonetheless.

Or, quite possibly (and more believable), he was an ass. Either way, I learned my lesson. The next time a “hot” guy comes charging at me, I’ll be sure to extinguish him with my “cold” heart.

A Numbers Game

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing one of my really good friends Nabil. Every time I’m in the DMV area, he makes time to see me, but nothing compared to this time because when he showed up he was so deathly ill, I thought he was going to collapse right in front of me. However, he pulled through (because he’s awesome like that), and we had one of the best 3 hour dinners I have ever experienced with anyone. Forget the fact that he told me some news that shocked me into a frenzied state of mind (still shook up about that FYI). We ended up discussing- which we usually end up doing anyways- relationships.

As a trusted friend of mine, I have always turned to Nabil for advice and a male’s perspective. Even when I was engaged or going through a breakup. Knowing him for ten years has given me the comfort and ease of opening up to him, and he- in turn- is candid in his responses. So at one point during our conversation, I was telling him about my last attempt at a serious relationship, where I gave the guy 3 months to make the commitment. And Nabil told me something I never would have thought about. He told me that 3 months was way too long. Because as short as our life is, we cannot afford to spend 3 months with each person we meet. His theory is that once we meet a person, we know within 10 minutes if we want to see them again. And within 24-48 hours, we know whether or not we like that person. So, at most, we will know whether or not that person is a compatible match for us within a week. And at the end of that week, as a female, we cut the guy off. If he is serious, the guy will come knocking down the door wanting to be with you. If he doesn’t, hey- you only spent a week with that fool.

I stared at him, trying to figure out if he was being serious. (He was.) But as he went on, I realized that his theory made sense. Why do we always drag things out? Yes, it is important to find out each others likes and dislikes, but you will never fully know the person no matter how many months you date. So maybe the idea that we focus on the positives from the start and have pure intentions for a solid commitment are what we need in order to find that partner. Plus, as a female, it helps us weed out the assholes who are just using you.

So all of what he said to me that night resounded in my head all weekend. I kept turning it over and over in my mind, trying to make sense of it. So if I met a guy today, I’d know in a week if I wanted a solid commitment with him? Could I really do that? And if I am doubting whether or not I could, wouldn’t that make ME the problem? Doesn’t that mean that I am the one running from commitment?

It’s true that I was the one who imposed a 3 month limit in my last relationship, but if the tables were turned, and he wanted to commit after a month, would I have agreed? That’s what scares me. Because I think I probably wouldn’t have. Because since then, I have had a few guys show their interest in a commitment, who in fact want to rush into an engagement almost right away, and I admit it scares the hell out of me. How can they be so sure about me? What if they find out my flaws and realize they made a mistake? I admit that I’m not an easy person to love. Not because you need to prove anything to me, but because I am so used to being on my own that I have a hard time letting someone love and care for me.

So, since Nabil told me I have nothing to lose, I plan on trying this new method. I just need to force myself into this state of mind that not every person will meet all my standards, but that I can overlook the not-so-important ones and focus on what really matters, which is (according to Nabil): physicality, religiousness, and character. All the other things are just minor.

After I made it back home from my vacation, I texted Nabil and he told me something that I will end with. He said: “It’s a numbers game. Just don’t hold on to one ticket too long. Keep swapping them out for newer tickets until one fits the bill.”

So that’s what I’ll do.

Emotional Stalemate

What happens when you find yourself at an emotional stalemate?

A lot of times, we are so guarded that we don’t recognize a good thing when it comes. Then, when we see how amazing it can be, we dive deep into the welcoming, warm water without any thought to safety. And we float on for a while,  enjoying this amazing feeling. Until one day, we are tossed so violently from this pool of happiness into the murky darkness of our worst imagination.

So now what?

I always talk about being secure with yourself as a female. Because we cannot expect a man to come and “save us,” nor to “complete us.” But I also feel that we need to be open to new experiences, and not let past experiences prevent us from feeling those amazing emotions that can be so addicting.

This presents a problem, though. How do you find the right balance between guarding your heart, but opening it enough to allow someone in? Is it all or none? Can you really still be guarded but open to a relationship?

As women, we are programmed to be more emotional. Yet when we try and hold back these emotions, we are seen as unfeeling and cold. I myself try to limit the strength of emotions that I share with the opposite sex. Because it isn’t fair in my eyes for a man to use those emotions to take advantage of you. However, what do you do when the guy has let HIS guard down, and now expects you to do the same?

From experience, I can tell you that you can do two things: you can also let your guard down, and expose your heart to the possibility of being hurt. Or, you can continue to hold your ground until you know the guy is being sincere. The latter option may create some problems, as the guy might feel you aren’t taking the same risk he is, and therefore he might not think you are serious about him. That’s a bit tricky, so you’ll need to play it as it comes. The first option often ends in heartbreak (at least for me).

So what do you do? It’s honestly hard to predict. I guess it depends on the guy. All I know is, I almost had my heart broken recently, but I was able to catch it just in time. The reason being, I gave myself a time limit on when I could emotionally “let go.” I bet that sounds odd, and you’re thinking “how can you place a time on emotions?” Well, it’s simple. I told myself that if I did not receive a promise of an engagement in the future by the three month limit, then clearly this guy was not serious. And it isn’t like I didn’t tell him my plan. He knew. It was our agreement when we first started talking. I made sure to remind him (but not too often), and genuinely enjoyed our time together.

But I was starting to fall for him, and I knew that unless I placed an ultimatum, I would have my heart broken. So I did. And my answer was what I expected, so I am glad that I forced him into an answer. Because I am too good of a person to be dragged around for months while he made his choice. I want to move on, and this way it is so much easier to bounce back because really, the emotions I invested were very minimal. While I enjoyed his company, a serious future would not have materialized, and I need more than that.

So, I guess my lesson here is this: don’t be afraid to experience life and love. But, as females, we have to be smart about it. Especially those of us in our 30’s. We don’t have the same time to bounce back as we did in our 20’s, and so play it smart. Have fun. And, depending on who you are, YOU set the time limit you need to figure out if he is the one. Always remember though to stay true to yourself, because that is who will always be there, even after he is gone.

Hijabis are Women Too

So for the past month, I have challenged myself to a no-makeup rule. I do not apply ANYTHING on my face in my day-to-day tasks such as work, errands, gym, etc. I will wear it for special outings and occasions only. So far, I have loved the feeling of nothing on my face but skin, sun, and air. It’s given me more confidence in myself, and when people look at me, they are seeing the real me.

I am always pleasantly surprised when people compliment my looks. It takes me a few seconds to realize they are complimenting the real me, and not the made-up version. I was never big on heavy makeup application before, but even so, it is nice to see people appreciate my true beauty. Some people have said it makes me looks years younger. And while I always have been told I look young for my age, the no-makeup takes it a step further.

I have also been complimented and approached by members of the opposite sex as well, which is truly (to me) the test of this whole challenge. Women, for centuries, have done crazy things in order to make themselves more attractive to the opposite sex. From makeup, hair extensions, plastic surgery, and body-controlling items such as corsets, women have made themselves uncomfortable and stressed out in order to make themselves look a certain way. Why? Because that’s what we are taught from the time we are little (think Disney princesses) to the time we are adults (think magazine covers, actresses, models, etc.).

So you can imagine my surprise when in this last week, I was approached by two guys who complimented me on my beauty and asked me out. One was at the gym, so I was even sweaty and out of breath when that happened haha. To me, I was a bit taken aback when they approached me, because- duh!- I wasn’t wearing makeup or even a cute outfit. But clearly, something caught their attention. And while they both said I was beautiful, I took it to mean a little more than just the outer beauty. Now, I have seen plenty of shows where guys overlook the outer shell of a woman because her confidence outshines her looks. So I know it is possible that these guys saw something that I don’t usually see in myself. Nonetheless, it was a breath of fresh air.

I had to share my observations with someone, so I told one of my guy friends about it. I was excited to talk about my revelations of the no-makeup challenge. However, when I told him about it, his first reaction was that of shock. How dare a non-Muslim guy approach a Muslim woman, and one who is covered at that?! I was confused. Why was that shocking?

His response was that non-Muslim men should know to respect a Muslim covered woman. Approaching her is dishonorable, so how could he just ask her out? It’s outrageous! I had to almost laugh at his reaction. What was so bad about a guy approaching what he seemingly thinks is just another girl? Even if she is covered? So I had to defend the guys and explain why I, as a covered Muslim woman, was not offended.

We all know most Americans get their news from the media. And the perceptions they have about Muslims, especially the women, is skewed. However, all they see is the surface. So they really don’t know what is allowed and not allowed. And when they see a hijabi, what they really see is a woman, just covered up. And actually, because they don’t know much, after they initiate the first conversation, they tread lightly. They are hesitant to touch you, say inappropriate things, or ask questions. It’s sweet, really.

I think it’s great to have these encounters. Because while we won’t actually date them, these guys eventually muster up the courage to ask you questions about why you wear the hijab, what it means, and other things. As a hijabi, I would rather this happen than brush him off initially and have him revert to the media for the answers to his questions. And as a female, it is nice to be noticed for that- being female- just like any other woman. Because underneath the hijab, we are actually just women as well. Just like any other female in society, we like to be flattered. And there is no shame in that.

Next time you want to claim that non-Muslim men should be more respectful to Muslim women and not approach them, ask yourself this question: is it really a question of honor? Because many Muslim and Arab men have no problem approaching a hijabi and asking for a relationship. And what makes that ok, but not the same coming from a non-Muslim? Oh, and keep this in mind as well: not all Muslim and Arab men’s intentions are honorable either. So be sure to factor that in before you answer the question.