Monday, March 12, 2012

Dating Pt. 1: Meeting Your Habibi

Sabah el kheir LOVEanese! I'm so sorry I haven't been posting recently and I've been on a temporary hiatus (as you can see, my last past was a month ago--yikes!), I've just been so busy/overwhelmed by my thesis edits. Luckily, it really is almost done this time. So, stay pumped for it, it'll be coming out soon-ish. I also have to admit that--as you can imagine I hope--I've also just been a bit burned out of writing. It takes a lot to write one of my posts, and I've just been needed a break from it all. Also, I must admit something as well. Since I've been in a relationship (read: since she moved to Lebanon), I've already learned so many things that books, articles, academics, and the Internet could never teach me. It's left me a bit overwhelmed as well. I've just realized how little I actually know, and how much you learn about relationships and love simply from you own experiences. Anyways, like I always say: I'm not an expert, and I'm learning just like everyone else. I'm not the teacher, just a student of love and life as well. I hope to be re-inspired though, and as I always say, you should comment and challenge anything I say. Also, don't be afraid to suggest content.

I digress with some quick updates for you, LOVEanon was featured in another magazine recently! Communicate Levant featured the Valentine's Day post in their new issue. Also, Masculine Magazine featured LOVEanon as well (so now a total of four magazines have covered the blog, these two aforementioned magazines, RagMag, and TaGgED).

Communicate Levant's feature

(Close up)

That's not the only blog-related news. Last week, Emma Gatten from the Daily Star interviewed me on a piece she is writing about dating in Lebanon. I talked with her for a long time, and I hope I gave her some useful information (you can read it here). But honestly, there's just not a lot that's really been written about dating in Lebanon. It seems from my research that individuals tend to know a bit about what is normative, but otherwise, it's just a huge guessing game--that is when it comes to many aspects of dating such as what to do, when to do it, and how to meet someone.

This is especially true with the last one. Have you ever really thought about where you are meeting people? Where that "special someone" might be hiding, just waiting for you to lock eyes with them? Honestly, for the average Lebanese man or woman, there aren't many options available. I'm going to argue that there are really three ways most meet here in Lebanon: Through family, family friends, in-laws, etc., at uni, or at work. These are the social spaces that are most active in individual's lives: the home, the school/university, and the workplace. The biggest limitation to these spaces, however, is that they don't always have new faces for you to meet, and when they do, it's all about luck if you actually find them attractive.

"Chouuu ya helwi! Yalla, come cook and dance for me while I look in the mirror at my hairs."

Does this sound familiar? You go to work, see the same people. You go out with your friends, the same friends you've had for years, doing the same thing, at the same place? You go to uni, talk to the same people in the same courses? Or do you not go out on a Friday night because you're too tired and have to work the next day; thus, meeting people is impossible? Or did your parents try to introduce you to someone, but you just don't click? Or you meet someone at a wedding, but they're weird. Or your mom has a friend who knows someone who's eligible, and you meet, but there's just nothing there. Or a friend really want you to meet one of their cousins, but it just doesn't work. Have you ever felt like that?

Let's just face it: there really aren't enough space in most people's lives to really meet someone. And I'd say this gets even harder if you're a woman who is in her late 20s or older. Anyone ever wonder why? Think about it like this. I talked about it a bit in this LOVEanon post, but relationships are already conditioned by so much and by so many people/groups in Lebanon that it's really not hard to understand why dating is difficult too. First of all, consider that dating is more or less a newer concept in the country. Perhaps it was ok to date in Beirut in the past, but it is and was a contentious topic--at least for most of the country. Along with the "newness" of dating, there's also the conditions that I mentioned that are required in a partner such as the same social background, same religion/sect, being from a good family (has anyone ever really figured out what that means!?), and if it's a man, a good job. If it's a woman, well... have a good reputation and produce good, healthy, religious children.

Well, maybe not these kind of religious kids...

Outside of school, work, and family networks, other places that are available for some include cafes, malls, bars/pubs/clubs, and as I mentioned in this post, the Internet. I've heard a lot about how people meet either intentionally or accidentally through Facebook for instance, or through dating sites like OkCupid. To me, this says that there is not enough space for individuals to interact--especially free of the conditions that are often placed on them. Moreover, proximity and sameness are inherently related. I think I've mentioned it before, but if you're Maronite and you live in Bikfaya and you've gone to Catholic school your whole life, and then you go to USJ or NDU and you meet another Maronite, it's normal. Your chances of meeting some different are a lot less than someone who has moved all over Lebanon. We segregate ourselves, and that ultimately affects who we meet, who we love, and who we marry.

This post is kind of a deviation from how I usually write, but I just wanted to share the thought with you. I'm really interested in knowing where you meet people, how you date, what the expectations of dating are, and how you meet new people in particular. Please talk about your experience in the comments!

And if you do empathize with what I'm saying, there are a few shallow suggestions. The first is go out to a new place. Not the same pub or restaurant or bar. Go to a new place or location, try something new. Even if you're going with your friends, this can be fun and exciting. Alternatively, try grabbing drinks with those individuals who you keep saying you'll go out with but you never "have time to." Make time. Especially if you're feeling the marriage bug and you're looking for someone to no avail. 9/10 times, they aren't going to just fall into your lap. Be proactive! Even though I said a sad reality is that the social spaces for meeting someone are limited, it's not impossible. You just have to work a bit harder.

Let me know how you do it, and how it works. There's obviously so many motifs and images in the media and in Hollywood movies showing what dating is, but it doesn't really echo reality, especially the reality here.

Share your thoughts, and as always: spread the love,

P.S. See you next week! Any content suggestions? Thanks for reading :)