Today I had a chat with one of my male friends about dating and the difficulties we are facing to find a decent relationship.
Since I come from a conservative Muslim background, my experience with dating is still in its infantry as I only started 3 years ago. During that time, I felt that arranged marriage (as happens in my country), although may not be a good solution, was easier than dating. The reason that arranged marriage is easier because the 2 people involved in that arrangement don’t have a lot of choice, especially for women. So they, kind of, accept their situation and try to make the best out of it or just live it because they are expected to do that despite any problems or incompatibility.
I admit that, when I was dating, I was evaluating the guys I met according to “whether I see myself married to this man or not!”. Last year, I met an interesting person but after the relationship ended I realized that I was dating him with the mindset of an arranged marriage. To give you an idea of what that means, I will explain how arranged marriage work back in my city. Usually the man’s female relatives (mother, sisters, nieces…etc) look for single prospective women either through friends or in parties. When they find one or more, they make arrangements to get their picture (with or without the knowledge of the girl involved) and showing it to the man of interest. This man then chooses the most interesting person for him and send the family to ask for her hand with a picture of him. In some occasions, this girl may have more than one suitor at one time. Hence, with the family approval, she will choose one of them. Once the pair is formed, they start a process of knowing each other (while each living in their parents’) with the expectation of marriage once they get acquainted enough. This period lasts few months to a year, depending on the family rules and usually the couple are not allowed to have intimacy. Break ups and divorce are strongly frown upon, and if a woman does choose to divorce she will be branded as “inadequate for marriage” for the rest of her life. Hence, from the beginning, most women feel obliged to accept the person they chose even if they were not compatible. In my case, although I was against this outdated approach, the process of reading through multiple profiles and finally meeting a person that I felt some connection with made me super anxious because, unconsciously, I obliged myself to commit to marry that person instead of letting the relationship run its natural course. This, of course, stressed the whole relationship until it blew up in my face!
However, if I subtract myself from the dating world since I know very little about how to actually date, I still find it strange that many people, who are supposedly familiar with dating, are not able to find partners despite the large number of available singles (males or females). I could be wrong, but including my friends (males and females) I often saw some familiar faces in all of the different dating sites I tried (Match, eHarmoney, Plenty of Fish, OkCupid, etc). I also heard many men/women complaining that they were not successful in finding partners even after few years on these websites.
Now my question is, Why is it so hard to find a suitable partner (man or woman) among those available nowadays? In my opinion, it is possible that:
There are people who use such sites in an unsuitable matter which decreases the trust that would be otherwise given to another respectable/honest person. Therefore, we become prone to think of any new person we meet as “The candidate is guilty until proven innocent” instead of “The candidate is innocent until proven guilty”,
The disappointments that some people face during/after the process of meeting several candidates added to the fact that we become pickier as we become older increases our pickiness. With time, our list of criteria becomes crowded as every criterion that was at the bottom of the list migrates to the top of the list.
“The grass is always greener on the other side” effect. The large number of singles on both sides may cause some people to think that there is no need to continue with one person (even if that person was a good match) since it is possible to find a better catch if they look a bit more! In old times (at least in the American movies I used to watch), people then put more effort into winning each others trust and appreciation which makes the relationship more valuable and worth saving if some misunderstanding arise. Nowadays, some people prefer to just quit and go find another person rather than putting a little bit of effort to build the relationship.
Having said all of that, I am not against leaving a relationship that doesn’t work (after trying and failing to work it out). I am also pro finding the perfect partner if available. However, is there really a person that fits perfectly with all our criteria? Even the identical twins that are raised in the same environment end up having different personality traits and different ways of thinking. How is it possible for different people to be perfectly matched then? add to that they may be different genders? I think the word “different” answers these questions perfectly and it would be unfair for anyone to expect or demand otherwise from another. I have to add that I am not advocating that we have to change ourselves to fit someone else, but if that change will make us grow into better us then why not do it for ourselves? Why don’t we try to find a common ground of acceptance, understanding and respect while keeping our individuality at its best? Obviously, I (and I think many people) can’t stay/work a relationship with someone that is extremely different or have multiple traits that are considered a “no-no”.
In general, I think that a successful relationship should follow the Venn diagram where the couple would have and should accept both their similarities and differences. Having differences is a healthy thing in a relationship and we should respect the quality time/activities we or our partner want to spend alone or with friends. Because this will be our time to recuperate our passion and decrease our boredom of being with the same person for a large chunk of our lives. This way our joy will increase when we connect with our partners to share similar activities and desires. The percentage of similarities shared is certainly different between people, however, with some patient and understanding we could increase these similarities if we wish. How? Wouldn’t be nice to try new things with your partner and discover similarities that neither of you knew existed?
I hope that everyone will find their Venn diagram soul-mate and share their happiness for ever after.