Lifestyle

Why I’m only dating Muslim men


A few months ago, the only real experience I had with dating apps was through friends as I messed around and swiped through their profiles. It seemed like an intriguing but daunting world, and one I didn’t necessarily see myself in.

My family is Muslim and strict about dating and boyfriends. It wasn’t something to be thought about until I was in my mid-20s and of a ‘marriageable age’, and even then it was restricted to coffee or maybe dinner dates – definitely no sleepovers. 

But having turned 25, I had been getting not so subtle hints from my mum about finding someone. In my Arab culture marriage is highly valued and seen as the start of a woman’s life. I don’t necessarily agree with this sentiment but I do want to meet someone. I figured it made sense to put myself out there, and with lockdown I had plenty of time on my hands.

I downloaded an app and initially chatted to both Muslim and non-Muslim men. Sharing a faith is important to me but I was curious; this was my first time on dating apps and I wanted to experience it all. It didn’t take me long to start noticing some differences between the two. 

Non-Muslim guys were, overall, quite blase about dating, playing the whole thing cool. There was a lot of small talk, a lot of casual messages, and replies would sometimes take days. Some were explicit in their profiles that they were just looking for some fun and nothing serious. 

What really stood out was their reaction and attitude when they realised I was Muslim, something I made sure was blatant in my profile. Some instantly unmatched with me.

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A lot of Muslim men alluded to marriage in their profiles, with phrases such as ‘looking for a wife’ (Picture: Shahed Ezaydi)

Those that stuck around asked a lot of questions like ‘is it true you can’t have sex?’ or ‘if you’re Muslim, why don’t you wear a headscarf?’. I found myself spending a lot of time explaining my faith, which got boring pretty quickly.  

There were, of course, non-Muslim guys who were interesting and made the effort, but I didn’t want to date someone who has absolutely no clue about my faith and background, who would potentially need constant education.

In the end, I decided to filter my preferences to just Muslim men. At least there would be some common ground to start off with.  

I started swiping – and soon noticed something interesting about them, too. 

A lot alluded to marriage in their profiles, with phrases such as ‘looking for a wife’ or ‘I want someone who will make my house a home’.  

It was a real surprise – this never comes up when I talk to Muslim men in real life. It made me feel out of my depth and nervous about how much was at stake. Yes, I want to get married, but in a few years’ time. Would these guys even wait that long? 

After we matched, the conversation was much more intense and fast-paced than it had been with the non-Muslim men, almost like speed dating. One guy, Ali, jumped straight to questions about my future goals and what I wanted in a partner. 

Muslim men clearly take dating more seriously than their non-Muslim counterparts (Picture: Shahed Ezaydi)

It was like he was filtering out people so he wouldn’t waste any of his time. Another, Adam, wanted to talk about the position of women in society and how he didn’t believe in feminism. No small talk, nothing. His opening line was ‘isn’t feminism awful?’.

He presumably didn’t want to date a woman with ‘awful’ feminist views, so made sure to screen them out early. Conversations like this made up a significant proportion of my matches.

I came to be very wary of phrases such as ‘looking for a wife’. Women, as individuals, get lost in words like that – they didn’t exactly make me feel valued, and they made looking for love seem like a box-ticking exercise rather than the search for a proper connection.  

I felt that Muslim men clearly take dating more seriously than their non-Muslim counterparts. Maybe they feel the same pressure to get married as Muslim women do? Or perhaps they think the onus is on them; I do think that men are generally expected to be the more dominant gender in my culture. 

However, perhaps the biggest shock was that I was receptive to their approach. Small talk can be a good thing to get conversations going but I’ve realised that I actually like it when men just get right to it. 

I’m hopeful that when some form of normality resumes, I’ll start meeting the men I’ve connected with (Picture: Shahed Ezaydi)

It gives me the opportunity to bring up topics or questions that I might have previously been reluctant to delve into, such as politics, family and children. I’ve seen some of the women in my family give up their dreams and careers because it was one of their husband’s caveats to marriage and I don’t want the same for me. 

Apart from the likes of Adam, I found most Muslim men were open to discussions on what equality in a relationship would look like.

Having these conversations early on also helped me gauge if there were red flags from the get go (instead of finding out six months down the line) and it made it a lot easier for me to work out what I wanted in a person. The expectations were clearer for everyone.

Lockdown has meant that I haven’t had the chance to go on any physical dates yet, but I have potential ones in the works. I’m hopeful that when some form of normality resumes, I’ll start meeting the men I’ve connected with.

For now, I’m going to keep my focus on Muslim men, which my parents will be happy to hear. This pressure to do so annoyed me when I was younger but having a partner my mum and dad approve of has become increasingly important to me.

I have also broadened my understanding that love is about seeing parts of yourself within another person and for me, this includes my faith. I want to share my life with someone I can talk about it with. 

Love is tricky to navigate at the best of times without throwing religion into the mix. In time, I hope I’ll be able to root out the guys who are looking for the idea of it, rather than a person to fall in love with.

Last week in Love Or Something Like It: How my lover, my boyfriend and I made it through lockdown



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Love, Or Something Like It is a regular series for Metro.co.uk, covering everything from mating and dating to lust and loss, to find out what love is and how to find it in the present day. If you have a love story to share, email rosy.edwards@metro.co.uk

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