Mingling in the Middle East

Of all the different cultures out there a girl could date, Middle Eastern men seem to be the most frowned upon. Just going out in public with my Saudi Arabian friends, I often got nervous or disapproving looks. When I mentioned I was seeing a guy from the Middle East the most common response I got was “be careful.”

This always just confused me. What do they mean by “be careful”? Usually the implication was that he was going to take me to his country and never let me go. Or he would force me to be one of his many wives. While it made me laugh it also made me very upset to see how fundamentally misunderstood their culture is and how unwilling people are to give them a chance.

Today I hope to clear up some myths and verify some facts about dating a man from the Middle East and why it’s not something you should immediately turn down!

First Things First

If you are interested in a guy who is from the Middle East it’s important to find out about his family life and where his values lie. Despite common perceptions, not everyone from Arab countries has multiple wives or is bound to an arranged marriage. It’s similar to if we said everyone in Utah was polygamous. Many people in Arab countries do not practice polygamy and arranged marriage is often times simply a choice. Potential matches may be suggested but they’re allowed to find their own partner if they choose.

Once you’ve worked out that you agree on some important basic values there is no reason to not at least give it a chance. Even if down the road you don’t want to spend your life with them, it’s an interesting and intimate insight into a completely different culture you wouldn’t be able to get otherwise.

Avoiding Mixed Signals

Depending on what country they are from, many Middle Eastern men may not have spent that much time around females that were not relatives or accompanied by a chaperone. This can lead to a lot of misunderstandings of what you might mean when you spend time with them. If you are not interested in dating the person, make sure you make it very clear from the beginning. Otherwise, they may take your interest in friendship as an interest in romance.

Coming from a country where dating before marriage isn’t generally the norm, some may assume things should go quickly and try to move the relationship faster than you really want it to go. This, again, is just all about communication. Make sure you are being open and clear about where you think the relationship, whether that is still in the stages of friendship or ready to get serious.

Personal Lives are Private

This is a trend I’ve noticed with many of my Middle Eastern friends when it comes to girls. They like to keep what they do behind closed doors very private. While I don’t imagine that you share intimate details about your relationship with the world, keep in mind that things that are no big deal to you, may be more personal to them. Sharing a picture of you kissing on the Internet is probably a big no-no unless you have discussed it with him first. While he may be okay with your relationship that doesn’t mean all of his family will be as thrilled to see it plastered all over Facebook; it may have negative repercussions for his family life.

In general this also applies to kissing in public places, even a bar where it’s generally more socially acceptable. He may not be comfortable just yet with sharing that kind of moment with the rest of the world.

Dating a guy from the Middle East can be an extremely interesting, fun and rewarding experience, as it was in my case. But as in every relationship communication is key. Their expectations may not be the same of yours and it’s important to find out early on so as to avoid running into heartbreak down the road.

My rule of thumb when it comes to dating is that no matter the culture or background they come from, if they are kind, interesting, and make me laugh I can give them a chance. Jerks don’t all come from a particular country, religion, or culture so don’t judge a whole group of people from negative stereotypes!

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