My Matrimonial Jihad On Match.Com (Guest Post)
A few years after converting to Islam, I wondered to myself how I was ever going to find a Muslim husband. I mean, people who are not Muslim complain about how hard it is to find someone, but here I was restricting myself to a minority segment of the population! But an even bigger problem was that I didn’t have any ACCESS to this (Muslim male) population, due to the strict gender segregation enforced in my local Muslim community.
However, there are mechanisms built in to the community to deal with this problem, mechanisms that remind me of the movie “Fiddler on the Roof.” Yes, “The Aunties” knew about lots of single brothers in the community. “So and So’s son,” or brother, or whatever. And since I was a convert, and The Aunties wanted to help improve my religion, they felt that the obvious choice of husband for me would be the strictest, most traditional Muslim man they could possibly find.
Given that I was (and am) a non hijab-wearing, independent-minded, successful career woman with little to no interest in traditional gender roles, that approach wasn’t going to work for me. Since restricting myself to the local community was clearly not a viable option, I realized that I would need to expand my search nationwide—by going online.
After thoroughly researching the online matchmaking option available to me, I thought I’d try match.com, eharmony and a couple of Muslim-centric sites whose names I can’t remember. I immediately noticed a difference between the men on the Muslim sites and the ones on the non-Muslim sites.
The men on the Muslim sites were clearly more traditional, and their ads focused mainly on their religion and how they practiced it, rather than on their individual personalities. It made it difficult for me to want to connect with any of these brothers, because that gave me little to no insight into whether I would have any personal compatibility with them.
A few examples of guys I spoke to over email from these Muslim sites are as follows: The guy who said that he memorized the Qur’an, wore traditional South Asian clothing, did a million other different supererogatory religious things, and was looking for a woman who was “Very Beautiful;” The guy who couldn’t believe that I would question things in Shariah Law that I felt were more culturally-influenced than Qur’anically so; and of course, the guy who wrote just to chastise me for putting too many silly, superficial things about my personality in my ad and not enough ‘Islamic’ things.
On to eharmony! This is a Christian-based site that also caters to other persuasions (you do have to be straight, though). I was really impressed by the idea at first, because they have you fill out this REALLY comprehensive, 45 minute long personality profile, and.. it’s really expensive. That must mean it’s good, right? I got one match, and he was pushy and rude, so that was the end of that.
That left me with match.com. Their site gives you the option of filtering by religion, smoking/drinking habits, race, age, whether you want kids or not, etc, etc…. so it was easy for me to whittle down my choices to Muslim guys who don’t smoke or drink who were within a few years younger to ten years older than me.
One of the first things I noticed was that a lot of the guys on this site seemed more “normal” to me. Many of them weren’t practicing Muslims though so I had the opposite problem that I’d experienced on the Muslim sites.
Some examples of guys I communicated with on match.com: The guy who emailed me a form letter, and then blew up at me when I followed my gut feeling and didn’t give him my actual name right away; The guy who seemed just perfect, until I realized he was avoiding any question I asked whose answer he thought I might not like; and the guy who was modern and progressive and wanted a smart, successful woman in his life… as long as she was obedient to him.
Then there were the many email conversations that ended on their own due to lack of interest on both sides. I gave up after a while and took a break from online dating.
After many months, I became curious and took another peek at some of the profiles on match.com. One of the guys’ profiles showed that he lived hundreds of miles away from me, and was originally from the Middle East. Well, I wasn’t about to get involved with a Middle Eastern guy… you know how THEY are. I didn’t actually KNOW any Middle Eastern guys personally, but still…
When I went ahead and re-posted my profile, I got a response from that same Middle Eastern guy on the first day! Since he took the trouble to write to me, I figured I should at least read his profile in full. Turned out… he seemed kind of… normal. And interesting. ..and someone that I might actually have a lot in common with. Hmmmm…
To make a long story short, we started emailing regularly, and I found him to be sweet, sensitive, giving and in search of a true partner in life. Emails led to calls, which led to visits, which led to talks about all the issues you need to talk about before you get married (I highly recommend this book), and then an engagement.
After many productive talks about whether or not we should get engaged, he drove me to a park, sat me down and asked me if I was sure I was ready to marry him. “Yes.” I replied, “...you wanna shake on it?” At this point, he pulled out a simple, beautiful ring that he’d bought for me, even though he was a student and didn’t have any money.
We’ve been married for four years now, and I have to say that I can’t imagine anyone more perfect for me.
In the end, using a non-Muslim-specific site was right for me, just because I’m not that traditionally-minded. I don’t think there is anything wrong with the Muslim websites, and in fact they are undoubtedly a better choice for many people. But if you do choose online “dating” to find a spouse, I would advise to go with what feels most natural for you.