Are you Afraid of Meeting People?

The other day I introduced two friends of mine together. I told them that I will give them both each others numbers but will stay out of it because that is the adult thing to do. At first, I was hesitant to introduce them together, but thought to myself, I would like to be introduced to someone if there was potential, so, why not?

This story led me to thinking, why aren’t people meeting other people? From what I am seeing around me, not many set ups are happening right now. Usually people meet traditionally, through the family, where there are many strict rules, regulations and expectations or through ones own effort, where the person goes out and meets someone through work, school, online, etc..

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We have a saying in Arabic, امشي بجنازة ولا تمشي بجوازة (walk in a funeral rather than walk in a wedding). I totally understand this saying. It is so hard to introduce people together and have nothing to do with it after. If they fight, they will talk to you rather than talk to each other. If they marry, you will reap the credit. If they divorce, you won’t hear the end of it.

But why is it so hard to meet people? From what I’ve seen, it all boils down to one word; fear. Everyone is so scared to meet someone, to commit and to be vulnerable with someone for fear of getting hurt. There is so much pain in heartbreak. It is both unbearable and unforgettable at the same time. It is worst than the bitter cold medicine with the awful aftertaste that you remember as a child and more painful than that scar that never heals. Remaining single, for many, is better than taking the leap once again.

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But let’s start from the beginning. Let us say someone came and told you that they would like to introduce you to someone. You ask about their name, age, occupation and the certain characteristics that could be deal breakers for you. You stalk the rest. You accept and then you wait. For a girl, waiting is a big deal. As a girl, you cannot make the first move and contact that person; you have to تتقلي, which literally means “be heavy”. Simply because, what would he think of you if you contact him first?

Then he contacts you. That on its own is awkward. What would he say? Would he message or call? Which is more acceptable? Which is less awkward? What about rejection? Would he contact you directly? Wait a few days? All these thoughts buzz into your mind. Where would we go out? He has to select the place of course because you want to see what his suggestion is like. It says a lot about a guy.

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Then you both start talking, going out, getting to know each other while treading carefully because you are together, but technically not together. You enjoy the moment, he meets your friends, they’re nice. You meet his friends, they’re nice too, except for one, but that can be fixed.  You do not talk about the future because that is the forbidden topic. The future is scary, who knows what could happen. Why ruin the moment? Why label things? YOLO. You water down every notion, emotion and thought of a relationship. Let’s not think about this. Let’s not discuss it.

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Yet, its on both of your minds. So, why not discuss it? As a rule of thumb, if you don’t discuss it, it will never happen. You will continue living YOLO until one of you wakes up, realizes that this is not what I want, grabs all the courage in the world and leaves this relationship for a more serious one. One where both talk about the future and flat out say what they want out of it.

That is why arranged marriages are so straightforward. People know from the get go what they are getting into. They realize, when they visit each other with their families for that cup of coffee, that they are in it because they want to get married. From that cup of coffee onwards, everything is done for the sake of getting married; talking, going out, getting to know each other; all for the sake of understanding each other.

I am not advocating for arranged marriages. As much as expectations in arranged marriages are contained, as much as they come with their baggages too and many times they don’t work. Issues like, not much time given to know the person, leading different lifestyles and family involvement from the beginning, can be overwhelming. Many get to know their spouses during marriage and either learn to live with them or decide to divorce.

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But why has this notion of meeting people changed all of a sudden?

A wise woman once told me that the world has changed. Females are being raised to work and be independent while males are still raised to be the men of the house and to have the last word. When such a female meets such a male, it won’t work. She doesn’t need him to tell her what to do anymore or take care of her; she can take care of herself very well. He then finds it odd that he is not having the last word and is not being given the kind of respect that he expected. At the same time, she wonders why she should take permission from him when she was used to doing everything on her own. They break up and the search begins again.

On the flip side, the females are so tired of being overworked and look at marriage as some sort of escape, comfort and financial stability. She feels that now she can relax because she has come to the finish line. Meanwhile, he has saved every penny since his first day of employment or has borrowed money from his family to get married. He spends money on coffees, dinners, engagement parties, lunches, more dinners, the wedding, the house, the furniture inside the house and so much more. While he is fine with all that spending, he expects some support from her, but all she can think of is where will they spend the next vacation and how will they buy that new car. He thinks she’s using him and she thinks he’s not being cooperative.  They break up and the search begins again.

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I admit. I am generalizing. Not all relationships are like that. Many relationships around me are amazing. Although they have their ups and downs, the couples make it work and are happy together. But this is not the point of this blog piece.

Going back to my story. Do you understand why I was hesitant to introduce these two together? Being from the Middle East, it is hard to meet people. There is no formula and no cheat sheet. We live lives that are deeply rooted with culture and traditions yet lead  western lives on the surface. How we approach people and how we commit to them is a tricky issue because we want to use the best of both worlds while not looking like we solely belong to either. We want to show that we are “cool” and take relationships lightly, but at the same time, keep in with traditions and expectations because we don’t want society to think differently of us and of our families. It is really, as per every Facebook relationship status, complicated.

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A friend of mine once told me, the reason why not many are getting married is because people are becoming picky. There are so many excuses everywhere that we don’t really try to get to know people anymore and don’t fight for relationships to work. At the same time, Pintrest quotes all around me tell me that if it is the right relationship then it shouldn’t be a fight, but a peace. Should we be pieces of Play-do meshing together, or should we be pieces from a puzzle, either we fit or we don’t?

I am not sure what the answer is. I know relationships are based on common ideas, less expectations, shared responsibilities, the five languages of love and finally, communication. Maybe thats the missing piece, communication. How will we meet people if we don’t communicate? Let us talk to each other, get to know each other. The more we talk the less awkward it becomes and the less awkward it becomes the more people introduce each other. Next time I see two that can fit together, I won’t hesitate, I’ll set them up. YOLO anyway, so, why not?

 

 

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