Modern day “dating”—I use quotations because for Muslim Americans, it’s not the typical kind of dating—is pretty difficult to navigate. Add the convenience of having the ability to swipe right and left whenever you get bored with whomever you are seeing and you have a recipe for disaster. Now, piling on another layer of complexity, some of us are so jaded from previous experiences that we write off potentials in less time than it takes to deactivate your Minder account. For me, the truth is, a guy never stood a chance because before I even met him, I already decided he would be just like the rest.
Instead of spending my energy actually getting to know guys, I had made up my mind that they would be complete and utter disappointments. I was a self-proclaimed, “man-hater“. Maybe it was because I was surrounded by men at work or maybe it was because I came across some low-quality guys, but once one showed interest in me I began my spiral to self-destruction.
I was right, I am always right, I’d be right again this time.
I set every man up for failure with my preconceived notions and concluded that:
He would be a liar
He’d constantly be late
He would never surprise me
My parents wouldn’t like him
His parents wouldn’t like me
He wouldn’t be as ambitious as I am
He wouldn’t realize how smart I am
He would be playing me.. and a dozen other girls
He wouldn’t appreciate me
He wouldn’t sacrifice for me
He wouldn’t always pay on our dates
He would try to get in my pants
He wouldn’t get me
Before we even had our first date, I was playing the breakup in my mind. I was right, I am always right, I’d be right again this time.
I wrote off every slip of character as an epic flaw
The scenario was always the same; I’d meet or be introduced to a guy. We would chat and sometimes immediately hit it off. But as soon as I got comfortable, I was on the hunt- searching endlessly through my predetermined list of fuck ups for him to prove that I was right. He was going to somehow fail me and I would have to end things with him because he was just like the rest. And I obviously deserved the best.
Imagine being this guy, and trying to court a girl who scrutinized you under a magnifying glass, waiting for you to slip up so she could write you off like the dozens before you. I was that girl for most of my mature adult life. I was dismissing guys because I wrote off every slip of character as an epic flaw that I would never be able to live with. I actually sometimes stopped responding to texts and calls because I didn’t have the energy to tell them I had already decided, for no good reason, that they were no good for me.
I was a self-proclaimed, “man-hater“.
And then I realized I was alone and would always be alone as long as I didn’t give anyone a real shot at getting to know me. So I finally decided that I was going to let myself be wrong. I got out of my own head and let fate take the wheel. I stopped looking for a flaw in every person who came along and instead learned to give them the benefit of the doubt and accept that, hello, people are human. It wasn’t that I was lowering my standards, but rather I was erasing the preconceived notions from my mind.
I gave myself a real chance at getting to know these guys who came along and decided to change the narrative in my head.
I decided instead that:
He would always be honest
Sometimes he wouldn’t be on time and sometimes he would
He would surprise me when I least expected it
My parents would love him
His parents would love me
He would be as ambitious as I am- if not more
He would appreciate my intelligence
He would be devoted to me
He would appreciate me and show me he did in his own simple ways
He would sacrifice for me when necessary
He would always pay on our dates and I’d offer too, because it’s fair
He would respect me and my body and never cross the line
He would get me, and more so, he would love me
I told myself that instead of going out and trying to find someone, maybe I just wasn’t ready to meet anyone and that’s why I was writing guys off— deciding they were no good before they even had a chance to prove otherwise. I was too busy trying to be right to ever really give someone a chance. Being right was costing me more than I realized. I didn’t have to let my guard down, I just had to open my heart to appreciate the imperfections instead of seeking perfection.
In an era of social media where everyone’s life seems to be perfect, it’s important to take a step back and realize that sometimes we have to instead let fate and Allah’s (SWT) plan unfold. We have to erase the picture perfect image in our minds, erase the mistakes of others and stop using that as a basis for our future encounters. Maybe you’ll never meet your perfect match but there’s no reason to write anyone off before ever giving them a real shot at proving themselves.