We no longer check to see whether Telegraph. Co. Uk displays properly in Internet Explorer version 6 or earlier. This is the question posed by the man opposite me, the man with whom I am on a date. A first date, I might add. In a trendy, Soho cafe, surrounded by people. Lots of people. With ears.Just Started dating A guy Who Is moving away
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Pray? Here? Really? I look around nervously. Before I've had a chance to utter the words: Don't, please, just don't, he has already placed a firm hand on my arm, bowed his head and proceeded to launch into saying grace, audibly enough that several other tables in the joint have turned to stare in bemusement. I want to die. I want the ground to swallow me up. It is as cringeworthy to me as an episode of Fawlty Towers, with Basil running around beating Manuel senseless with a frying pan. I suppose I brought this on myself after all, I met the Public Praying Man (as he shall henceforth be known) on a Christian dating site. I succumbed for several reasons. Firstly, because my Christian faith is important to me, and I would ideally like to share that with the guy I end up with. Secondly, where else do you meet Christians these days?
What with, the odds are already stacked against women and sometimes you have no choice but to look outside your immediate pool. And thirdly, because I'd become really tired of trying to explain my faith to the atheists I was dating, who at best looked on it as a quaint eccentricity, and at worst just thought I was an idiot. Unfortunately, as hit and miss as internet dating can be on mainstream, generic sites, it gets even worse on the niche ones, contrary to what you'd expect at least in my experience and several other women I've shared tales of woe with. Scrolling through Christian Connection, the most popular UK Christian dating site, profile after profile said almost nothing about the men in question. Instead said blokes had chosen to write strings of generic proclamations about how much they loved the Lord. Come on. I was getting that vibe already guys, considering you've chosen to join a religious dating site. Way to state the obvious and waste your digital calling card. There was also a serious sense of humour failure, as if the men on there were worried that being a bit funny is the work of Satan and no self-respecting Christian would dare make a joke. It was all so banal, so pleasant, so utterly devoid of irony or character or anything interesting. But these aren't my sort of people! I thought desperately. This won't do at all!
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The best was from a man on a boat. He was writing from the waters off the coast of Canada, and wondered if I'd wait for him. He was due some leave from his unspecified nautical job in three months, and could we meet up and see how things progress? Hmmm. There were plenty more from those who clearly weren't a good match guys in the 55 plus age bracket, guys who lived in Australia, guys who were saving their first kiss for marriage. At least Public Praying Man made it to the dating stage but his penchant for saying grace out loud made me feel, as many of the men's profiles did, that I wasn't Christian enough to go out with a Christian. Because while my religion is foundational, from then on in, I am still an individual with my own tastes, likes, dislikes and sense of humour. Having a religion in common with someone doesn't actually guarantee you have anything else in common. Of course, it's not just Christian women who try and find a partner who will share their culture and beliefs. Leah*, an accountant from London, tells me how she joined JDate, the leading dating website for the Jewish community, because it's important to her that the potential father of her children would be able to teach them about their heritage. It's pressure from my family but also pressure from myself I think life would just be easier, and better, if my partner was Jewish, she tells me. I don t really meet Jewish people in everyday life I don t go to Jewish events and my social circle isn t particularly Jewish. My friend was on JDate and said it was fun.
Some of the issues she's come across are similar lots of messages from people in the older age bracket, and guys who are based in wildly inconvenient locations, like Israel or America. There's also the sense that some men are using their profile to advertise themselves as the perfect Jewish husband-in-waiting: Lots of them are just looking for a wife, ASAP they post pictures of them with their nieces and nephews, basically saying, 'look what a great dad I'll be'. It's a bit off-putting. And for Leah, herself an interesting, intelligent young woman, the men on the site seem a little, well, uncool. In all honesty, there just aren't many attractive men on there. You start to feel like you're looking at everyone who's left on the shelf. For Muslims using an internet dating site, such as Bestmuslim. Com and Muslim Mingle, I ve heard that the problems can get even more unsettling. As well as the issues of he's too pious, or he's just a bit boring, there can be far greater worries about whether potential suitors are simply weighing up your worth based on your ability to secure them a visa. I've tried a few of the most popular Muslim dating sites, says Aisha*, a Sunni Muslim. She said I was out of luck. Sure enough, when you check out the forum on free Muslim dating site, Helahel.
Com, an alarming number of posts are from young men (or so they claim), essentially advertising themselves as rent boys. I NEED ONLY HELP. UK. USA. CANADA. SPAIN. UNITED ARAB. AMARATES PLEASE MARRY ME IF ANY OLD LADY OR GIRL WANT YOUNG BOY FOR FULL LIFE WITH 55 YEARS AGRIMENT [sic] reads one post. The whole experience raises a bigger question: how do you find someone of faith to share your life with when you are in a minority? Sure, there are success stories we've all known someone who knows someone who found her soulmate online. They will tell you that if you just want it enough, and you keep trying, and you accept that you have to get through 55 frogs to find the one great catch, and you don't give up hope even on your 75th appallingly bad date then you'll get there. Eventually.
But as for me, I'm exhausted even thinking about it. It turns dating into a full-time job, and I'm already lucky enough to have one of those. For now, I'm going to stop looking for a while. Maybe there I will use more Christian dating websites in the future, but for now, I'm leaving my love life in the hands of God.