Why are we still single?
Are we going through a marriage crisis?
Growing up in the West has had a major influence on us as single Muslims in how we live our lives and how we view and seek marriage. Many of us have grown a thick skin toward the traditional arranged marriage that once used to be the main ideal and successful way for the many past generations before us.
Now, marriage game rules have changed due to the strong desires for love and romance, creating a beautiful love story, and marrying the love of our lives. This has driven many of us to take different approaches in searching for and trying to find the one.
As a result of our lifestyle, western culture influences, and taking a different approach to marriage, these changes have brought new challenges along with them to the community that many of us don’t understand and underestimate while being unsure of how to react to them. Even some of our community leaders are having a hard time grasping at the situation.
Why are we still single? A question we often ask ourselves due to the pressure placed on us by others, including our own families, friends, and the community we live in. There are many reasons to why we’re still single – here are some:
The Lack of Connection within the Muslim Community:
If I were to ask you, how many Muslim families do you know in your community? The answer for this question usually ranges between 3-12 families, depending on your location. Out of all the Muslim families we know, how many potential options for marriage do we have? The answer is usually none to one, while not considering compatibility, attractiveness, and the chances of it actually working out.
Now, how can we find our future significant other if we’re not well-connected in our Muslim communities? Many people give up trying and consider marrying from overseas, though, is this a true and real solution? This solution works, but mainly for men, while women are being left out with barely any men to consider for marriage. As a result of this, we’re seeing the rise of single Muslim women in their late 20s, 30s and 40s who are very professional, great marriage material, and very mature and capable of handling marriage responsibilities.
Due to this disconnection between Muslims, new ideas like Muslim dating websites along with single Muslims social groups have emerged to rescue us from this hole we have sunk in. The idea of online dating to find our future significant other has been considered to be the most viable option to many, while still a good portion of us won’t even give it a chance due to the bad reputation we believe it holds.
Personally, I haven’t used online dating yet, though I’ve had the privilege to be part of a social group for single Muslims called “Single Muslims of California” on Facebook and have had a great experience connecting with other single Muslims in town and out of town as well. Nonetheless, I believe any tool available to help us connect better and bring the Muslim communities together should be considered a valid and viable tool to use as long as it doesn’t take us away from our deen (faith).
The Paradox of Choice to The Unrealistic Expectations:
While the limited options some single Muslims face in the West when searching for their future partner due to the lack of connection within the Muslim community is real, the opposite side to this equation is as real. The western industrial societies have introduced to us the idea of the more choices we have the more freedom and liberation we’ll have.
We are bombarded with dozens of choices on a daily basis from which salad dressing to choose from in the supermarket to which partner to choose to spend our future with. When we are exposed to a high number of choices of prospective future partners along with their qualities, values, and characteristics, especially via online dating and via cities with a bigger Muslim population, our expectations and standards automatically rise up high to the roof.
Escalation of expectations is a real issue in our Western societies. Before I get into this, if we are to look and analyze the previous generations before us, we can notice and see how easier they’ve had it when searching for and choosing their life partner for marriage. Things used to be much simpler back then – once they were genuinely attracted to the person of interest, shared some similar values, liked the level of their deen (faith), and got along with them just fine, the two would be committed for engagement then marriage to follow while they were committed to work with each other when problems, issues, and conflicts arose.
Nowadays, when the marriage topic is brought up, we start to ask ourselves many questions and get very specific into what exactly we are looking for:
Do we choose love before marriage? Do we choose someone from the same origin as we are who speaks the same language and shares the same culture? Do we choose an introvert or an extrovert? Do we choose someone at the same level of intelligence as we are or someone less intelligent to feel more superior? Do we choose someone educated and career-oriented or someone who wants to sit at home and raise the kids? Do we choose someone who’s more attractive and less compatible or the other way around? And this goes on and on, escalating our standards and expectations of our future partner to perfectly fit the image we have for them in our heads.
We really want to get this decision right if it is for all eternity, we want to choose the perfect partner for us who’s on our level in life. Due to this high number of choices we have to choose from, many of us automatically put the idea of marriage on hold and decide to pursue further in our education and careers because it becomes overwhelming. As a result, we start to see the number of older single Muslims who are still not married rising.
The problem doesn’t even stop here; when we happen to meet someone we’re interested in but see him/her as good but not perfect, we subconsciously start to become more controlling over what they can and can’t do, what they should and shouldn’t do, and who they can or can’t be because until they fit into that image, we are not satisfied and happy with our decision of choosing them.
In doing this, we swipe left on them just like the online dating app Tinder, we give up on them to start looking for that perfect match so we can swipe right on them then. In doing so, we are encouraging the same destructive cycle to repeat itself while also lowering our chances of finding the right partner for us. It’s time we start learning from our own mistakes and the mistakes of others, it is time to start reflecting on and analyzing major issues in our societies to understand and learn the lessons from them.
Here are a few very important relationship lessons we can learn from the above sections:
1. Low expectations is the key to happiness.
2. Searching for that one perfect match is an endless journey.
3. Swipe right on a good enough match then work with them over time to build a strong relationship foundation that is supportive of self and relationship development.
4. Full acceptance of the other person and who they truly are, is essential in any relationship.
5. Commitment, hard work, time, and effort put into building the relationship can’t be avoided, it is nearly impossible to find someone who perfectly fits the image we have in our heads.
6. Change can’t be forced on anyone, it has to come from within.
In part 2, the author will delve deeper into the issues surrounding the Muslim marriage crisis. Stay tuned..
Republished upon author’s kind permission. First published on muslimdamsel.com