Darwin would’ve had a field day with the Muslim community. It’s all about survival of the fittest here, baby. Only the strong survive. Those who survive do so because they develop adaptations suited to the specific environment they reside in. (Who knew, I was actually paying attention in Biology and not just sneaking potato chips under the table.)
To translate this into Love Haqtually terms, what this means is that the Muslim marriage circuit is extremely competitive. This is particularly the case for females, for reasons I’ve mentioned in previous posts e.g. perceived early ‘expiry’ date, possible number imbalance between males and females. But males are not immune from the race to the (figurative) altar, and so entire subsections of the community are constantly plagued by uncomfortable romantic tensions and undercurrents.
The problem is that because people tend to stay within their own circle, there really is very little to go around. If you attend the same classes and events with the same people, the chance of meeting someone diminishes significantly. If you do meet someone, you most likely have to reconcile yourself to the reality that Prince Charming has probably gotten to know someone within your circle, or that Princess Charming has probably been romanced by several fellows before graciously settling on you.
When ‘fresh meat’ comes into the territory, the change in the air is palpable. Everyone wants to know who the new guy or girl is, and if they’re even half-decent everyone clambers over each other to get there first. This becomes extremely awkward for both participants in the scramble and bystanders. No one wants to be too obvious, except that everyone is. Whether the approach is coy or flirtatious, demure or bold, it’s meant as a silent marker of territorial rights.
This unspoken, ever-present competition manifests itself in many ways. It’s often played out on social media, where ‘likes’ and comments act as weapons to add to the arsenal. The other way the competition tends to play out is a game of interest-matching, where the competitors try to demonstrate that their interests align so closely with the prized object that they must emerge victorious. You like X scholar? He’s totes one of my heroes! Now marry me, stat!
All this scares the heck out of me. Frankly, I’ve never been good with competition because of my huge fear of confrontation. But that’s a silly attitude to have when the stakes are high. Finding a partner is like landing a job in some ways; you need to take risks, put yourself out there and be prepared to find out that one of the other candidates has nabbed the position and not you. It’s pointless to complain of not being able to find a partner if you’re not willing to get your hands at least a little bit dirty.
If you want to avoid competition, go the ‘traditional’ route and let your parents find someone for you. But even this isn’t fool-proof. Some suitors are known to be notoriously picky and do the rounds with any number of girls, leaving each new victim wondering who will be the one to finally capture his heart over lounge-room cups of tea.
I know this all seems dreadfully cynical. What about feelings, you ask? Don’t some people just click? Sure they do, and it’s beautiful when it just works out like that. But if you’re an environment with five other girls all thinking they click with the same guy, things get just a little bit dicey. If two or three people are interested in the same person, they obviously all feel some kind of connection with that person. Determining whose feelings are the most ‘legitimate’ is impossible; it then simply comes down to who is chosen by that person based on their own selection criteria.
How do you increase your chances in this dog-eat-dog world? Here are some tips:
1.) Attend different events. Go to a place you’ve never been before if you want the ‘new girl/guy’ factor.
2.) Don’t put all your eggs in the one basket. Connect with different people through different interest bases.
3.) If you’ve gotten to know someone from one circle and it doesn’t work out, cut your losses and move on. Try not to double-dip if possible.
4.) It’s a big, big world out there. Don’t confine yourself to just your city or even just your own country.
5.) Positive vibes and a sweet, friendly personality will do wonders. It’s hard when you’ve been through a few romantic setbacks, but if you’re bitter and resentful this will not only blacken your heart, but also decrease your chances of meeting someone.
Please forgive me for the following cliche, but it really does come down to naseeb. This doesn’t mean sitting back and waiting for someone to throw a pebble at your window. Be proactive and fight fairly and honestly for what you want. But in the game of love, you have to accept that things don’t always happen when and how you want them to. You can’t force someone to like you when they don’t, and if you have to make yourself into a show pony to get someone to notice you then you’re fighting a losing battle already.
Trust in Allah swt and make the most of whatever opportunities He sends your way. Don’t nitpick, but uphold your standards of what matters to you. If you like someone, don’t wait for them to make the first move, but don’t compromise your self-respect. If someone isn’t interested, realise that it’s not about you: they simply have a different idea of what they’re looking for. You’ve been given a whole life to live and you are wholly you, regardless of whether you have your ‘other half’ by your side or not.
Do you feel silent pressure to get in the ring? Have you ever liked someone who was being pursued by someone else?