Help my Muslim sister-in-law with dating!
December 3, 2018 5:50 PM   Subscribe

Difficulty level: Chicago, beautiful divorceé. My SIL is a gorgeous (truly beautiful), funny, late-20s Desi woman who would like to find a Muslim man with the goal of marriage. However, she has been through a divorce, and is struggling to find Muslim men who aren't completely terrible. Is there anything like Muslim speed-dating? What do people do after college, when most of the sons of family friends are already married? She's already exhausted Muzmatch and Mindr.

My sister-in-law has been very frustrated with how awful the men she has met on the apps are. They are shockingly immature.... and not just in a 'men today' kind of way. I'm a non-Muslim who had nice experiences dating scores of men on OkCupid, and I cannot believe how these men behave. Examples include sending sexual texts repeatedly despite after being explicitly asked to stop, or waiting 6 months to tell his parents she was divorced and then abruptly breaking off the relationship as soon as she asked him to tell them.

She's starting to get despondent, and wants to pursue new ways of meeting Muslim men besides the apps and family friends. Does anyone have ideas?
posted by thelastpolarbear to Human Relations (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Ooh I'm sorry. Is she a member of any professional associations? What about community groups?
posted by k8t at 6:54 PM on December 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

Um, how long has she been looking? I ask this because, literally, every single woman I know in her general circumstance has had to deal with 2+ years of this kind of thing (up to, and I'm not joking, 15 yrs), including abusive Facebook rants about how she's a whore for having dated before Him. Repeat biweekly.

... long story short, I'd recommend doubling-down on non-traditional sources. Use OKC, or whatever, and then just make the requirements ultra-clear. There are dudes who meet her requirements there. Not many, perhaps, but they're there. That's what has worked for every modern single woman I know who's been Desi and/or Sect- or Religious-specific (which is to say, 5 women).
posted by aramaic at 10:32 PM on December 3, 2018 [8 favorites]

Ooh I will follow this question with interest. I'm Muslim, I know good Muslim men, but the majority of my married Muslim female friends have married outside the religion for this reason. From my own experience I think any resource created specifically for Muslim people will overwhelmingly attract the more conservative types who will not date anyone who's been divorced etc. So I think aramaic's suggestion of using OKC and other non-Muslim-specific dating resources might be the way forward. If there are any local meetups or interest groups for desi people, that might be another way to go. They won't all be Muslim but there may be a few and just expanding one's network when one is looking for a partner is a good idea.
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:32 AM on December 4, 2018 [10 favorites]

I'm not Muslim, but +1 to Ziggy500's point that religious dating apps will give you a more socially conservative pool of people, and just seem, generally, like bad news. Can she find any meetup, art, music, or activist groups or meetups for people who are likely to be Muslim but also contemporary-minded and progressive?
posted by moonlight on vermont at 4:22 AM on December 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

Okcupid allows you to put your religion, and filter by it. Their questions and matching algorithm are also a good way of finding people with similar values.

As with comments above, a Muslim I knew had found Muslim specific sites hard in that although it meant easier to find those that practiced religion in the same way, their relationship style was too conservative (in his case, the women expected to give up work and be supported by him).
posted by JonB at 4:28 AM on December 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

If she's Desi, may be an option; the site is based in India but it has international reach, and is explicitly targeted at people looking for marriage.

Seconding the chorus that religion-specific apps aren't the way to go, but perhaps she could see if there are events through the local mosque or community centre that might allow her to meet someone?
posted by Tamanna at 7:04 AM on December 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

I have a female Muslim friend that's in the same position. She's the same age, is a doctor, has a great job, is beautiful, wants desperately to marry, but keeps finding herself dating garbage men whose behavior is even worse than what you describe. I have a couple other women friends in the same boat, only a little older, and from what I can tell the situation only gets worse, especially if you want to have a family and feel the clock is ticking.

I also have some friends that are Jewish that have dealt with this problem by finding a great guy who is non-religious, but open to converting and raising their children Jewish. I've seen a lot of very happy marriages work out this way, and the guys really commit to following all the religious customs. They go to synagogue, have shabbat dinners every weekend, put their kids in Jewish schools, are as thoughtful and considerate regarding the religion as you would want anyone of the faith to be.

The only problem is you need to switch gears, find a great guy first, then work out the religious details.
posted by xammerboy at 9:37 AM on December 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I'm a believing Muslim woman, albeit somewhat non-practising. Nevertheless, exposing my children to Islam (an inclusive, middle-ground version of it) is important to me. After my divorce in my mid-twenties from a patriarchal, closed-minded, borderline abusive Muslim man, I went looking for more open-minded Muslim men, thinking that they would fit more in line with the lifestyle and values I wanted.

Boy, was I wrong. These men, even the ones that tend to be less conservative in their thinking, have Muslim families who invariably stick to outdated principles and traditions that prevent divorcees from being fully accepted as a new wife, even going as far as to shun children born into such a union. Case in point: my own mother's Muslim friends expressed doubts as to the likelihood of me marrying a man who hadn't been married before and didn't have children. One tried to set me up with a man 10+ years my senior, who had kids half my age - he, unfortunately, was viewed in our community as a good man but a potential 'last resort' - which was basically also how they viewed me. To be clear - I was absolutely open to dating single parents. As you and your SIL have realized, many traditional Muslim families, though, view single parents and divorcees as less than desirable.

I turned to regular dating sites and found some pretty amazing men on OKC, Match and even Tinder, who were also looking for marriage. Importantly, they were open to conversion, accepted that I may want to practise some aspects of my faith, and open to raising children exposed to my faith.

My partner now (I say partner because we got married at a mosque with an imam to assuage my mother's horror - we're not legally married in California, where we live) is learning about Islam, and while he may not convert any time soon, embodies what I believe are morals and values that are completely in line with what a "faithful" Muslim man should be. He may not be nominally Muslim, but he's much more of a Muslim in my eyes than my ex-husband or the many other Muslim men I know. He encourages me to involve our son in the Islamic traditions and rituals I follow. He's never been married before, and has no kids of his own, which I mention to emphasize how some Muslims families are - a couple of my ultra-conservative Muslim aunts expressed shock that I had found someone who wasn't already 'damaged goods', like I was.

My anecdote is to underscore Ziggy500 that your SIL might do well to focus on dating sites that aren't specifically geared towards Muslims. Muslim women do tend to feel guilty for dating men outside their faith, as I did for a very long time, but upon parsing that guilt, I realized that a non-Muslim man whose ideals mirrored those of my faith fit the mould of what I wanted way better than a trash Muslim man did.

Word of caution, though, since you say your SIL is a beautiful Desi woman: we tend to be viewed as 'exotic' and this results in some very creepy exchanges even on regular dating sites, so she shouldn't be discouraged if those interactions happen. Block and move on.
posted by Everydayville at 10:46 AM on December 4, 2018 [17 favorites]

I am what they call a modern Orthodox Jew and we have many of the same problems. I am not divorced, but I am disabled, and have several divorced female friends. Dating non-Jews is not an option for people who want to remain a part of the Orthodox community.

In addition to the obvious--stay on the apps, go to communal events--I would try to expand her Muslim *female* friend group as widely as possible. All ages, all political outlooks. Then be totally shameless about asking to be set up. Ask everyone, even if she doesn't feel like it. For example, several friends of mine got married to guys who had gone out on unsuccessful dates with their friends. The friend said hey, you might like this guy, he just wasn't for me, and the rest is history.

I have a happy ending--at 41 I am marrying my long-term boyfriend, a (perhaps overly) traditional guy I met in the library.
posted by 8603 at 11:42 AM on December 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Also, in our circles, the woman usually has to be the one who's willing to travel out of town for dates. Sigh.
posted by 8603 at 11:56 AM on December 4, 2018

Sorry, me again--she may want to see if her single and young married friends are interested in a matchmaking group. Once a month, women get together and trade names and dating resumes of various guys to see if any group member has a good idea for him. (Yes, a dating resume is a thing...sigh.)
posted by 8603 at 12:08 PM on December 4, 2018

My Desi friend has met a number of Muslim men on
posted by PeaPod at 12:50 PM on December 5, 2018

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