Is this relationship worth pursuing?
February 10, 2015 9:59 AM   Subscribe

I am 36 years old, female, divorced...about two months ago, I met a guy that is from Egypt and is Muslim. He has been in the U.S. for about 7 years, and is now 32 years old. We have a lot of fun together, but now lately I am questioning if a future is really possible. First of all, I was raised Catholic...I'm not really practicing now, but I don't know if I can raise my children as Muslims (and if I were to marry this guy, it is non-negotiable; the children MUST be raised Muslim).

But more troubling to me right now is that he is still talking to his ex. I have really tried to play it cool with him, I don't chase him, I don't nag him, etc. BUT he was only with this woman for 6 or 7 months, and claims he has no interest in her...yet he is still replying to her texts, giving her "advice,", talks about her life details to me, etc. I found it extremely odd when I asked him about the last time he texted her, and he said "10 days"...what guy remembers EXACTLY when he last spoke to his ex? I should add that he broke up with her only a week before he met I'm feeling like I may be a "rebound" girlfriend. This other woman is moving out of state soon, so I'm not sure why he would see a point to a relationship with her, but who knows. All I know is that she is aggressively trying to get him back, from what he has told me. She has NOT accepted that things are over. Also, one last thing that bothers me is that he is quite lazy at making plans with me...if I ask him to do something, he will, but other than that, he just doesn't plan much. But he will send me sweet texts everyday and/or call at night. When I start to really lose patience, he will be very sweet for a while, bring flowers, etc...but it's getting old. I guess after writing all this, I realize how bad it sounds...but I am just wondering what others' opinions are, mainly on the ex-girlfriend issue. Thanks.
posted by Maggsie97 to Human Relations (32 answers total)
My rule of thumb: When someone lists out all the factors and pros and cons and one-other-things and whatnot, the very lastest thing they say is how they really feel, and that's their brain saying "Here's what to do." With that in mind, the last thing you wrote was either "it's getting old" or "I realize how bad it sounds". Either way, this is your brain telling you that you don't really want to bother. Listen to it.
posted by Etrigan at 10:02 AM on February 10, 2015 [48 favorites]

That sounds like an awful lot of worries and misgivings for the time when you are theoretically still in the honeymoon phase of your relationship. What will things look like in a few more months when the everyday stuff sets in?
posted by goggie at 10:06 AM on February 10, 2015 [7 favorites]

This is going nowhere for you. Pull the plug. There are many nice guys out there, and as nice as this guy is, the religion thing is a non-starter. I'm not even getting into the rest of it.

You want to be with someone who WILL put the effort into making plans with you, who isn't texting with an ex, who is putting YOU and your needs first. This guy just isn't doing it.

You'll be fine!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:07 AM on February 10, 2015 [12 favorites]

Run. Run. Run!!!

The only Egyptian I know is the one I am married to. I think that is not really important to your question.

Before you even get to the religion and cultural differences - the ex gf issue is -- yikes!! Everything you write about this guy is unappealing and a recipe for future misery. He's not making you happy. He is allowing his ex to actively pursue him, and worse, he's telling you about it like it is an OK thing to do.

Run. This sounds awful. Don't date unhappiness. Run.
posted by jbenben at 10:07 AM on February 10, 2015 [9 favorites]

It's really, really ok to break up because of "too many cultural differences." Really. You are not a bad person.
posted by Melismata at 10:09 AM on February 10, 2015 [16 favorites]

I don't think maintaining a friendship with one's ex is inherently skeevy; it was my preferred default mode when I was single. (Happily, my wife doesn't mind that many of my close friends are exes.)

But there are other obvious warning signs -- you have difficulty with a nonnegotiable condition of a serious relationship (in fact, is it odd is that the topic of the religious upbringing of eventual children got brought up after only two months?) and most importantly, the fact that he doesn't seem to be all that into you (which puts his relationship with his ex in another light altogether). You said you're losing patience with his neglecting you, but he hasn't really changed, has he? I'd look for something better, which is what you deserve anyway.
posted by Gelatin at 10:12 AM on February 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

I hasten to add that his *allowing the ex to continue pursuing him* is much more than simply maintaining a friendship; he seems to be, at best, stringing her along as a fallback position, and what confidence does that show on his part? Lose him.
posted by Gelatin at 10:14 AM on February 10, 2015 [5 favorites]

Things should not be this difficult two months in, no matter what the specifics are. Dodge this bullet.
posted by misseva at 10:16 AM on February 10, 2015 [5 favorites]

Cultural and religious differences can be bridged with a lot of work if everything else is very compatible and shared values are there. But, that's not even an issue for you at this point. His inappropriate enmeshment with his ex is a gigantic red flag. Say goodbye to this drama, he's not taking you seriously.
posted by quince at 10:19 AM on February 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Your subconscious has cleanly pointed out to you several things that feel really, really wrong about this relationship, and you should probably not disagree with someone who is GOING TO win an argument (because your subconscious will). Listen to your misgivings and leave him.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:19 AM on February 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

I don't think there's very much information to go on here. I'm surprised other people are so quick to DTMFA. He has an ex who it seems has serious boundary issues, but it also sounds like he's pretty upfront and non-skeevy about what his current relationship with her looks like. You're perfectly entitled to say "too much drama" and walk on, but it doesn't sound to me like there's anything here that inherently "needs" to be a dealbreaker if you don't actually feel that way.
posted by threeants at 10:20 AM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

I don't think it's worth pursuing, no. The lovely thing about dating someone is that you are not locked into anything. You can make choices about what you like and don't like in a mate. Time is so precious, though, so don't waste yours or his.

To me, there is no smile cute enough, no joke funny enough, no good times good enough, to overlook those things that make your heart heavy and worried. You deserve and can get someone who doesn't have you playing second fiddle to his ex and who makes a visible effort to make plans to see you and be around you. Accept no less if those things are important to you.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 10:25 AM on February 10, 2015 [8 favorites]

Nope nope nope. I doubt she's the one who hasn't accepted it's over. In fact, it doesn't sound over at all. Most likely, she's got him on a string and he's got you on a string just in case things don't work out.

The way you describe yourself makes me think you consider yourself desperate and vulnerable, so maybe you'll "settle" for someone who treats you like this.

Run away!
posted by mibo at 10:27 AM on February 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

Yea, agree that the Muslim/ Egyptian issue is a side thing. This is not a good relationship for you to stick in.

Really culturally or religiously conservative Egyptians would not see this behavior as even remotely acceptable.

Stick in it if you want a fun fling but not if you want something long and serious where you are both giving each other real value and consideration.
posted by cacao at 10:30 AM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

I don't think the cultural differences have anything to do with the current situation. It's all about the ex and his attention to her and lack of attention to you. You shouldn't be running out of patience only two months in. I feel like there's a real disconnect between what you wrote above the fold about raising kids Muslim with this guy, and below the fold, where he barely seems committed to you. Why are you even thinking about kids with this ex stuff going on?
posted by zutalors! at 10:32 AM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

I wonder if he would be ok if your ex were in the picture the same amount...

That's just me being bratty of course and purposely pushing buttons... I know he'd freak out about it. Or let's say I'd be willing to bet a large amount on it.

Anyways this ex thing would bother me quite a bit and I don't like that you don't get to negotiate the children religion thing, it's just "expected" that you do what he wants. Also it sounds like he is buttering you up in a way that isn't genuine. Let this fish swim away.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:40 AM on February 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

"I guess after writing all this, I realize how bad it sounds". It sounds bad, but not in the way I think you think it does: YOU sound like you are beating this relationship to death with your own insecurities.

You've only been with the guy for 2 months, chill out a little bit. You're WAY over-analyzing this. It makes me tired just to read your account. If you quit it this instant, and just have fun with the guy, it may or may not go anywhere. If you continue on the track you're on, it won't go anywhere good.

People are allowed to talk to their exes, even be good friends with them. If you can't handle that, obviously he's not the guy for you. But don't allow your own personal jealousy to color who you think he is. Again, doing that is going to lead nowhere good.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 10:47 AM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

It sounds like maybe she ended things, rather than this idea he's giving you that he is the one who ended their relationship.

But that doesn't really matter. What matters is that you're two months in and your question reads as basically "I have fun with this guy, but I don't trust him or like him or see a future with him... do I have a future with him?" And the answer to that is "no."

And the kids' religion thing is setting off flags for me. I mean, if that's a deal breaker for him, okay, it's a deal breaker. But I don't like it when things are off the table to negotiation. And you don't want to raise your kids Muslim. So, yeah, long term, it's a problem, regardless of all the other stuff. By the way, would you also be expected to convert to Islam?
posted by J. Wilson at 10:50 AM on February 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

You deserve a guy who is *totally* in to you. This is not that guy.
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:58 AM on February 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Nthing the religious aspect is not the real issue in this particular case. (And really, every relationship is its own particular case.)

You're not happy, you yourself see it, and that's okay. There doesn't need to be a red flag. Love's supposed to be love, especially just two months in. Everyone has some differences about the particulars of what "love" means to them, it's okay to accept yours.

And if you need a personal FWIW... I have many Muslim friends, dated a Muslim (this is the first time I've ever even put it that way in public), have read the Coran, can quote a few hadiths, enjoy reading Al Ghazali... yeah. This ain't about Islam. It's about what you want in a relationship. (And also FWIW? The vast majority of Muslims who aren't extremists hold to fatwas which allow marriage with other Abrahamic religions, namely Jews and Christians. Fatwas are not universal, one can choose amongst them, though it can more or less depend. It's like any religion. People pick and choose, often more than they want to admit. And that's okay! That's why it's so important to recognize what YOU choose in life is a-ok too.)
posted by fraula at 11:11 AM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Well, two things:

1) He's not that into you, you're not that into him or so it seems, and you're having major life-planning doubts. Use Miko's script and move on.

2) People can be friends with exes. Maybe it's different in the gay world, but I think this is one of those areas where the straights could learn a lot from us. When I look at the (admittedly short) list of people I care most about, people I'd jump on a grenade for--and, apparently, who would do the same for me--the people who are most important in my life, almost every single one who isn't a relative is an ex boyfriend.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:19 AM on February 10, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, I appreciate the input. As for being friends with exes, I still occasionally talk to a few of mine, but they were exes from YEARS ago. It took a while to get over the feelings, hurt, etc. So we were not friends right away...and it would have made a new relationship awkward if the exes were still trying to get me back.

As far as the religious differences...i did NOT mean to imply that I'm planning to have his children right now...but at the same time, I am 36 years old. So I think it's reasonable that I am giving it consideration, trying to figure out if this guy is worth staying other words, could we have a serious relationship/marriage down the road? I now am thinking for sure that the answer is NO. But thanks again to all who chimed in and made me feel even better about the decision.
posted by Maggsie97 at 11:41 AM on February 10, 2015 [5 favorites]

I think it's naive to minimize the role of culture and Islam in your decision, especially seeing how he is adamant that your children are to be raised Muslim. For example, if you were to have a child with him and it turned out to be a girl, would he bring her up just as he would a boy? If not, what are the differences?

Having had several direct experiences with several Muslim cultures, there are certain things that I could not stomach inflicting on my hypothetical female child. Of course, you may feel differently. But you need to ask.

Personally, I would not even consider a partner who insists on making unilateral parental decisions this early in the process. Have another conversation with him about this and watch out for his language, does he say "our children" or "my children"? I bet it's the latter.
posted by rada at 12:12 PM on February 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

** "She has NOT accepted that things are over" means that she will be a third wheel in this relationship forever: it won't stop. She isn't really his ex, not to her and apparently not to him.
** Combine that with his "claims that he has no interest in her", while also continuing to text her, "give her advice" (yeah, right....), talking with her, talking about her to you (c'mon, really?).... there's a big difference between being friends with your ex and never really breaking it off, and these two have never really broken it off.
** The religion thing is make-or-break all by itself, and it doesn't even matter what religions are involved. Not just the possibility of kids, either: he refuses to even consider compromising on how you two as a couple would live your joint lives, and it sounds like he has zero intention of ever doing so. Maybe you would and maybe you wouldn't consider converting to his religion, but I'd bet that it would eventually come up, and your failure to convert to his religion (note: not his failure to convert to yours, because that would not even be a possibility) would end things.
** One week between them supposedly breaking up and him getting together with you: not good, not good at all.

Get out now, before you get hurt even more. Find someone who isn't lying to himself about being already involved with someone else.
posted by easily confused at 12:26 PM on February 10, 2015

Too many red flags to count. You're at the age when you can't afford to be messing around with guys like this, especially as it sounds like you want to get married and have kids in the near future. Stop wasting your time with this relationship and go find someone that doesn't make you write questions to Ask Metafilter (this is my litmus test now for solid relationships) about his/her behavior.

"So long and thanks for all the fish, so sad that it should come to this"
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 12:35 PM on February 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

I didn't read past the word "non-negotiable." The answer to your question is no.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 1:01 PM on February 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

I guess after writing all this, I realize how bad it sounds...but I am just wondering what others' opinions are

My opinion is that this sounds like just about the most low-quality relationship you can have and still sort of call it a "relationship". Not a good relationship, or a romantic relationship, just technically two people vaguely socially engaged with each other.

Seriously, if your best friend wrote this, what would you tell her? Do that.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:16 PM on February 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

You're at the age when you can't afford to be messing around with guys like this

QFT. Seriously. If you were 26, there might be time for this benefit of the doubt, exploration stuff, but you're not. It sounds like you're interested in children. And it sounds like this guy isn't a viable co-parent for you (he can't even pay attention to you now). The religious differences are actually pretty serious and would likely get more so with each life decision and childrearing hurdle. If you really do see yourself marrying and having a family, the faster you move on from this, the better. I don't think you have the same view of relationships, let alone compatible worldviews. Time's a-wastin'. Sorry biology is so harsh to women, but it is.
posted by Miko at 3:26 PM on February 10, 2015 [5 favorites]

You've devoted like 3 lines to the culture thing and a much longer paragraph to the ex-thing. He is very involved with his ex (being friendly is one thing, but constant texting and relationship advice another) and you are perfectly entitled to feel skeeved out by that, in fact it would be a little odd if you weren't. And the fact that he broke up with her ONE WEEK before meeting you seems like a huge red flag to me. I'm not saying DTMFA - if you want to continue to have fun with the guy you should do so but if you were my friend and we were having this discussion over coffee I would caution you not to expect this relationship to go the distance. And if marriage and kids are your priority now, then maybe time to call it quits.

(FWIW I'm Muslim, and have many close Muslim friends and family members in deliriously happy and long-standing relationships with non-Muslim people from different cultures and countries. The key to all these relationships has been compromise, understanding, and prioritising the relationship with the other person. If you cannot stomach the idea of bringing up your children as Muslim, and if he wants his children brought up that way, then that seems to me like an irrevocable cultural difference. It is OK to break up with someone over a cultural difference. It doesn't make you a bad person. I've been at the opposite end of your situation, fretting that a guy I'm into doesn't really 'get' the culture I'm from, and I have chosen in those cases to walk away.)
posted by Ziggy500 at 3:40 PM on February 10, 2015

I just read this article about looking for a worthy life partner: 'How to Pick Your Life Partner'. It makes some really good points.

I am a person who has a habit of getting caught up in triangles, and I see that you are in a triangle. You are not Number 1, he hasn't drawn a protective circle around you and put her outside of it.

This is the time of your relationship where he should be bringing his A Game. Half-heartedness and needing direction are big signs that you are going to be doing the heavy emotional lifting - as you know to be true over the religion angle, and the being cool with exes thing.
posted by honey-barbara at 4:43 PM on February 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

All I know is that she is aggressively trying to get him back, from what he has told me. She has NOT accepted that things are over.

Who knows what she really thinks? All you know of her is what he's told you.

By mentioning her to you, he gets to keep you jealous and make you feel you have to compete for his attention; presumably he's playing the identical game with her by mentioning you. Meanwhile he gets to feel wanted by two women. Win/win for him.

I know it may feel like leaving is letting the ex win, but it's more like making a dignified exit before the trainwreck.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:14 PM on February 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

Honestly, if you have to ask if the relationship is worth pursuing, the answer is no.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:18 PM on February 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

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