I love speaking to people about relationships. Have I mentioned that already? (Answer: only about a trillion times.) Part of the reason I do is because people are so different in their perspectives on what they’re looking for, and furthermore, what to do when they meet a person who could possibly be what they’re looking for. A lot of people’s ideas on how best to get to know someone are informed by their religious leanings, but a lot of them are also derived from their social sphere and their culture. As such, trying to determine ‘the right way’ to get to know someone becomes a very complex exercise i.e. I’d rather not attempt it.
What I will try and do is list some of the common ways I’ve seen people go about things. People generally don’t stick to just one method; at different times and in different relationships different methods may be more appropriate. Anyway, enough of me jabbering on, let’s get into it:
1.) The Front Door Friendlies
Typically, people who only do the guy-comes-over-to-girl’s-house way don’t know each other from a bar of soap when this happens. They’ve been suggested to each other by a mutual family friend or relative, and as such everything has to go through the formal mechanism of the home visit.
This might seem like the most religiously appropriate way to “date”, but for some of these people religion barely enters the equation. It’s simply the done thing. This lack of religious considerations is illustrated upon the parties becoming socially engaged, upon which it suddenly becomes Halal to go out alone together, despite the lack of any official Islamic standing.
Pros: Aside from the ‘Halal’ factor, this method allows people to scope out each other’s families from the outset. It also minimises issues of commitment-phobia and immaturity-someone is simply unlikely to even go for a home visit if unready.
Cons: Some may feel this method isn’t conducive to getting to know someone well due to the formality of the proceedings.
2.) The Chaperoning Shorties
This method usually involves people who either don’t know each other very well or who are concerned about doing things the ‘Halal’ way. For people in the first category, the chaperoning can simply act as a way of facilitating communication.For people in the second category, the primary concern is avoiding any religious impropriety. Having a chaperone present, even though the chaperone may simply be a friend and not a mahram, also makes the meeting a lot less scandal-worthy in the eyes of the Muslim community.
Pros: It’s less formal than the above method, but still considered to be fairly ‘Halal’.
Cons: Chaperoning becomes difficult to sustain after the first few times. After all, who has an endless supply of friends or family who are obliging enough to continually play the third wheel? Not many. Either the parties will proceed to the home visit stage a la category 1, or they’ll slip into category 3, the Meet-up Mavericks.
3.) The Meet-up Mavericks
This method is for people who are used to more casual gender relations. They’ll often have friends of the opposite sex and as such will feel fairly comfortable getting to know someone by meeting up alone with them in a public space such as a café or shopping centre. These people are not irreligious; they simply feel that there a lot more grey areas in gender interactions than more conservative Muslims would like to admit. They examine their intentions, and upon finding them to be pure, will proceed without many qualms to get to know someone one-on-one.
Pros: It’s perceived to be an easier and more natural way of getting to know someone as it eliminates external distractions.
Cons: Apart from being slightly less socially acceptable in the eyes of the wider community, it’s also a lot more tricky as the parties involved have no external hand guiding the process. It can also be difficult for these people to know when to step things up to the more formal, meet-the-parents stage.
4.) The Computer Cuties
In today’s world, social media reigns supreme. For many Muslims, it becomes the primary hunting ground for both meeting and getting to know a partner. While eventually these people will have to proceed to any of the categories above, the online space will often remain their comfort zone until they get married. Often these people see each other in person at university or Islamic events, but their online interactions are far more in-depth and frequent.
Pros: It’s seen by many as a ‘Halal’ way to get to know someone without the formality of the home visit or the external distractions of being chaperoned.
Cons: A social media persona can be deceiving. It can be difficult to gauge compatibility over a computer screen.
What do you think is the best way to get to know someone? Are you willing to try a number of methods or just one?