Title from the movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016).
PREFACE: This post was written from a heterosexual perspective on relationships and may not apply to LGBTTIQ2SA+ communities. I acknowledge and respect the cultural nuances and gender identities in communities that experience relationships differently.
I’m just kidding! Not really. Well, maybe a little.
I received MANY requests to make a sequel to my post, How to Scare a Man in Ten Days, so here it is, folks! You asked and I, your humble servant, delivered.
Prince Charming is dead
Getting married and living happily ever after is a tale that women have been telling their daughters, granddaughters, sisters, nieces, cousins, and girlfriends for millennia. It’s especially true in the Islamic world. In fact, for both men and women, it’s an Islamic duty and principle to get married. It’s more of an obligation for men to get married in Islam. In contrast, women are rewarded in the afterlife more than married women for their patience and piety in this life if they are destined to remain single (if there is no “naseeb” (fate/destiny) as we say in Arabic). This post is not about explaining why that is the case in Islam; I added this for context since I’m Muslim, so you get a little glimpse of where I’m coming from as you read this post. You can send me a message or comment later if you want to understand why it is this way in Islam. However, all Abrahamic religions — and other religions– have a similar high focus on marriage, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise. This religious expectation could explain why women have been obsessed with marriage for generations. My family is no exception.
I wasn’t the stereotypical little girl who drew future wedding dresses and carried around a wedding planner or the girl who tried on dresses and played out a whole wedding with her sister. I preferred sports and ripped grass-stained jeans over dolls, and I loved to solve math problems and speak publicly about human rights. If I had to choose between brushing up on trigonometry and logarithms over getting married, without a doubt, I would pick the former. Math is perfect, while marriage is messy and requires more navigating, maintenance and effort. If the math was wrong, it was because I was wrong; no question about it. But if there’s something wrong in a marriage, there’s a whole process for identifying the problem. “Little me” had no time or patience to understand the intricacies of marriage. It was enough watching my parents go through it. That is until I reached adolescence, and societal pressure and imbalanced hormones started playing tricks with my mind. The imbalanced hormones eventually sort themselves out; however, the societal pressure — especially Islamic society — never ends and is cruel to unmarried women, worse so to divorced women!
Like a house, women are listed “on the market” when they come of age. Mothers to boys put women under a microscope, looking for “the one” who will treat her son like the king she thinks he is, and dating app advertisements start popping up on their phone: Mothers look around and ask:
- Does she cook?
- Does she clean?
- Does she love kids?
- Does she dress modestly? How is modesty defined?
- Does she work too much? Does she work too little?
- Does she talk back, or will she be a headache?
- Does she have blue eyes?
- Does she pray?
- Does she fast?
- Is she educated? Is she too educated?
- Is she young and vibrant? But not too vibrant!
- Is she blonde?
- Is her family stable?
- Is she loud?
- Is she fat? Is she too skinny?
- Is she materialistic? Is she too minimalist?
- Is she a virgin?
- Has she been in a relationship before?
And the list of questions goes on and on. One even wonders how any woman gets married these days, especially a religious woman! But there’s one question that never gets asked:
IS HE WORTHY?
He’s not a ten but…
“Of course, he’s worthy,” his mother will say. “I raised him! Why wouldn’t he be?!” Honestly, some mothers will mistake the shit in their son’s eyes for gold. I’m not sorry for this comment. If this isn’t you, don’t try to fit the shoe. Alternatively, the mothers who don’t think their sons are the best of the best will still look for the perfect woman who will hopefully encourage them to be the best. Two wrongs don’t make a right, after all. Either way, women are held to a ridiculously high — and most times unreachable — standard. On the other hand, men just need to show up. Here’s the list of questions for men:
- Does he work?
- Is he fertile?
As I wrote in “How to Scare a Man in Ten Days,” no one expected man to change much over the last century. They can put in minimal effort. Society has told them they’d find a wife someday so long as they work and can have kids. Don’t get me wrong. Men are pressured by their families and society to get married too. The difference is that the effort has to come from the woman to make it work. In Islam, a man can always fall back on his mom and say, “find me someone back home,” Believe me, she’s been waiting her whole life for her son to trust her with this task. For North American men, sure, it’s harder to find someone who’s crazy enough to swipe right on their dating profile. But they’re in control as soon as they’re in a relationship. Why? Because we women have been conditioned to anxiously wait for their call, text and proposal. We’ll ask ourselves, “Does he like me? Did I say the right thing? Am I too pushy? Does he need space? Why hasn’t he called me yet? When will he propose? He’s not even a TEN! HE’S the one who pursued ME! Why am I so obsessed?! The hardest part for men, regardless of their religion and upbringing, is the chase. After that, she’s hooked, and he coasts because if she doesn’t know her worth, she’ll settle for his less-than-mediocre ass. So where are these fantastic men, and where do we find them? The short answer, they’re somewhere, and we don’t.
I don’t eat bullshit so don’t feed me bullshit
Contrary to popular belief, dating apps disservice women looking to settle down with “the one”. You’ll argue that you’re working, busy, and have no time to look for someone. But I challenge you with one question: Why are you looking? Stop looking. Stop trying. The more we try, the more we become desperate. The more desperate we are, the more likely we’ll accept just about anything. And if we have standards and don’t accept anything that comes our way, the more we look, the more disappointed and guarded we become because the sea is full of trashy men and only a few fish. You’ll further argue, “But I have many friends who met their husbands on a dating app!” Yes, I’m not saying dating apps don’t work or that you shouldn’t create a dating profile. Stop putting in so much effort. You’re depleting yourselves of valuable energy and mental and emotional peace. Put in as much effort as you get. However, before even considering jumping into a relationship, focus on being the best version of yourself for YOU.
The best version of yourself doesn’t have to fit a specific list of criteria. You don’t have to start waking up at 5 am, going for runs, eating healthier, and trying to maintain a socially acceptable figure and weight. Trust me; I know all about weight management. I was once 190 lbs (86 kgs), and now at 130 lbs (58 kgs), I’m still as single as a strand of hair in a bowl of tomato soup. The best version of yourself is focusing on what brings you peace. Do you enjoy reading? Great, read something, anything! Do you enjoy writing? Start a blog (lol ;-)) or journal! Do you like to punch bags? Excellent, join a boxing club! Do you love children? Volunteer at a school or library! These days, I hear or read about influencers telling people that this is toxic positivity and that you don’t have to love yourself (entirely) to find someone who’ll love you. True. But it certainly helps. Besides, this statement isn’t meant to absolve you from the responsibility you have for your happiness. You are in FULL control of your happiness. You don’t have to be happy all the time or like yourself 100% of the time, but, damn, are you ever lovable. Look in the mirror, girl! You’re a f*cking BEAUTY! Appreciate that. Rave about the little wrinkles under your eyes because this means you’re ALIVE and have a story to tell! If a guy doesn’t see the beauty you hold inside and out, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s an a**hole. It simply means he’s not the one for you, and you’re not the one for him.
Ever heard of the phrase, you are what you eat? The same principle applies to relationships (generally speaking, of course): the men we pursue and attract are a reflection of our self-worth. Unfortunately, a woman who knows her worth will also attract garbage men; fortunately, a woman who knows her worth also knows how to throw out the trash! The day a woman realizes that she’s more than a list of criteria and accepts herself — and ALL her beautiful flaws as imperfectly perfect — is when she’s liberated from social pressures and expectations and can finally LIVE. When you wake up and choose YOU, your well-being and good health before ANYONE else, your whole perspective on life will change. Even your taste in men will change! You’ll think, “Why am I looking so hard for fantastic men? If he wants me, he’ll come and find ME and DO something about it.” Mediocre won’t be good enough anymore! Being NICE won’t be good enough anymore! Effort, communication and RESPECT become your priority. And if it doesn’t happen right away, so what? Travel, eat, pray, love yourself and live your life! Don’t miss out on life because you think you can’t do anything without a ring on your finger. A fantastic man is out there praying every day he’ll find you.
Red flags turn me on
Men, if you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking, “What about the bad women?” Pleeeease, don’t make me write “not all men and not all women.” There are some nasty women out there just as much as some evil men. Red flags are inevitable. EVERYONE has red flags. I don’t care what you tell yourselves to help you sleep better at night. First, red flags are subjective because someone’s red flag could be another one’s green one. Second, if I ever meet a guy who appears to be “so perfect” on the outside and he’s in his late 30s, that’s a blazing red flag for me! No one is squeaky clean, and I would be putting on my detective hat and hitting the dark Web looking for that dirt. Trust me; women can look up your entire ancestry without any DNA. We’re that good. And last but certainly not least, choosing the right person to spend the rest of your life with isn’t about finding someone with no red flags; it’s about finding someone whose red flags are not dealbreakers FOR YOU.
Ladies, we are not in the business of changing men. Life isn’t a Subway restaurant where you can create your own foot-long sandwich of a man. Life is more like a… Seven/Eleven with various ready-made sandwiches with different flavours and expiration dates. So, if I leave you with one piece of advice, it’s “stop looking for fantastic men because men are flawed, imperfect human beings like the rest of us.” Trust that every step you take at focusing on you will lead you on a unique journey where one day you’ll cross paths with the one who is meant for you, whether on a social media platform or at a coffee house waiting for your grande-double-foam-pumpkin-caramel-swirl-easy-on-the-ice-no-whipped-cream-iced-latte.