10 Reasons Why I’m Still Single

How can the amazing that is Ms. Hala still be single, you wonder? Peeps, I’ll give you ten reasons why I’m still single!

In the last few years, I’ve decided to date more seriously, keeping an open mind as I’m in a good place in my life now to be in a serious long-term relationship. I haven’t seen much difference in the dating scene be it back home in California or Qatar to be honest. Maybe I’m doing it wrong?

Call me picky. Call me stubborn. I don’t care! I may be ready for a relationship but I’m not settling to just be in a relationship. There has to be a set of realistic standards and if those aren’t met, then it’s simply not meant to be. #SorryNotSorry

In my community at least, relationships need to be taken a little more seriously than just the idea of a relationship. It’s not about one’s status, changing your social media profile picture or having that big fat Arabic wedding. At the end of the day, it’s about two people sharing commonalities, compatibility and love. It’s about two people supporting and carrying each other through life’s good and bad. It’s about two people sharing the rest of their lives together. And I want that or nothing at all. I’m content with staying happily single despite what many in my community have to say.

كلام النّاس لا بيقدّم ولا يأخّر” – جورج وسوف”
“People’s talk makes no difference” -George Wassouf

Still need a reason why I’m still single? I’ll give you ten reasons why I’m still single.

usapassport10. The Blue Passport: Can’t we be seen for more than where our families gave birth to us? This is quite the conundrum for many of us multicultural and multi-lingual children of immigrants. Even as an expat in Qatar, I’ve been asked out by some that flat out told me they were interested in my blue passport, but not a mention of my brown eyes. I have really beautiful brown eyes. #JustSaying

9. Two Birds, One Stone: Speaking of holding the “right passport”, when you want to be with me because they’ll get both the passport and -fill in the blank with a sexist term-, it never has and never will be flattering, period. The worst I’ve heard from many Muslim men? After our first interaction, he can hit two birds with one stone being with me, and I quote, “passport and halal sex.” OMG, I’ll marry you and help you achieve your bird stoning goals. #Sigh

8. No Style, No Class: I prefer my men with some sense of style. Fitted suit, crisp thob or a clean pair of jeans and a shirt. Sadly, that isn’t always the case. Fake tans, globs of hair gel and skinny jeggings that are not cute on a dude, period. And for the love of God, why do dudes wear capri/flooded pants? Those are MY pants dude! #StopIt

7. Too Pretty For Me: Speaking of style, call me shallow but I’m not interested in a guy who is way prettier than me. He can’t have better hair, better shaped eyebrows or a firmer butt than me. I don’t mind if you get a mani/pedi and your hair did but it can’t be better than mine. I want to be the pretty girl in the relationship here. And let’s be real, I can’t be in a relationship where I’ll constantly be jealous of my pretty man, with his amazing hair flicks and that toned ass.

6. Cash Money! Bling Bling!: For whatever reason, people have the impression that I’m oh so rich. Alhamdulillah, I’m financially stable but I’m so far from deemed rich. We haven’t gone on two coffee dates and you’re already asking me to borrow money? Dude, you need to go and reevaluate your life! And men that are rich think that’s how to seduce me? You trippin’ booboo because if that’s all it took, I would’ve been hitched to any of the rich monkeys that have crossed my path a long ass time ago!

5. Not Muslim Enough: I’ll never forget the first time this happened to me. Long story short, weird dude proposed marriage and I refused. He then stated that he was proposing out of the goodness of his heart because I will not go to heaven unless I marry him because I wasn’t Muslim enough. What the hell does that even mean? Ever since I’ve had this statement said to me over the years. Not 100% Muslim when in jeans and hijab. Not 100% Muslim when in mixed groups. Not 100% Muslim when you’re friends with non-Muslim. These dudes think that by faith guilting me, I will succumb to their odd advances? I’d rather be a bad Muslim than with you! #JustGoAway

4. To Be Pro-Choices:  I’m not interested in having children. If it happens, it happens but I have the right as a Muslim, as a woman, as a human being to my own personal preferences. People simply need to learn that they have the right to respectfully dis/agree. Yet men and some of their very involved mamas have had the audacity to tell me, “Oh, you’ll change your mind as you get older.” “How selfish can you be?” “Why would you deprive him of his right to be a father?” Really? Really?

3. Cultural Misunderstanding: “Is that your Egyptian or American talking?” “You’re only saying that because you’re American.” “See it’s because you’re Muslim but in my American culture…” Huh? Why do people think I switch between either of my multi-cultural globetrotting mentality as deemed convenient? Especially in this part of the world, both American and Arabs, expats and locals, have a hard time grasping the idea of being multicultural individual. You must pick one, you can only be one or the other. I’m the best of all worlds, it’s part of being human. I’m not either or. No one is.

2. Closed Palate, Closed Mind, Closed Heart: Speaking of cultural understanding, the world is so grand, how can you not take it in and appreciate it all? How can you not care to see the world? How can you hate on someone simply because they are different than you? How can you eat the same thing every single day and yet hate on other people’s foods? Stop this closed-mindedness, it’s the 21st fucking century! I just can’t deal with those who have tunnel vision and don’t go beyond their bubble.

SoGorgeousSoSillySoOMG1. Because This Is Me: As my bio states, I am simply amazing! Why would I change that? I will not change me. You will not change me. I come as is. So gorgeous, so silly, so OMG! Plain and simple. So either accept it or stop talking and keep walking, booboo! #ByeFelicia

Can you relate peeps? Share your stories in the comments below.

W.I.S.S. – The Word “Spinster”

spinster [spin-ster] Disparaging and Offensive. a woman still unmarried beyond the usual age of marrying.  Arabic: عانِس، عوانس

Being a 34 year old lady, I’m again reminded of the word “spinster”. I’m convinced that the word must’ve been phrased by a very bitter person back in medieval times (be it in any language). The fact that the word is almost only applied to ladies makes me hate the word even more. It’s sexist, hurtful, divisive and discriminatory on so many levels.

The first time I heard the word “spinster”, I was 19 years old. It was said to me by an older lady with limited education whom wanted me for her son so he can move to America. I didn’t pay much mind to her at the time. Maybe because I knew what her intentions were. Or because I was too young to understand that word at the time.

That word really didn’t hit me hard until a couple of years later when it was said to me by someone I once liked and respected. From then on, I heard that word more often than necessary. When I decided to go to graduate school, I was told I would never find a husband. When I decided to travel, I was told that I wasn’t making an effort to find a husband. Every time the subject of marriage came up, I was reminded by random people to stop being picky because I was becoming a spinster.

This all happened before I turned 30.

As much as I try not to let it bother me, it bothers me. It’s derogatory and very offensive, more so to those whom actually are looking for someone to share their lives with but haven’t. I’m not alone on this as per my conversations with people between the U.S., Egypt, Qatar and beyond. Whom decided what age a lady (or a man) should be married? Whom decided that if you don’t have children before a certain age, your prime has come to an end? Whom decided that men only want to marry a lady within a specific age group?

I have relatives in Egypt that have passed this unbeknowth marital age for one of many reasons. One cousin has dedicated his life to his work and found it difficult to find someone from the humble country town whom would share and support his passion. Another cousin in the same town and of the same age sided with her demanding parents of unrealistic expectations which has caused a hault in suitors coming through the door.

Even though the culture in Egypt asks that both parties’ families share in the financial costs, there’s this pattern of making it more difficult than necessary to get married. Anything outside of marriage is haram but the halal way has been made to be so difficult, it’s almost near impossible. And those whom wait too long to be able to go about it the halal way? They’re now spinsters.

In Qatar, I’ve met people whom remained single simply for financial reasons while others were divorced but still paying back some hefty marital related loans. Unlike in Egypt, men here are burdened with all the finances to get married and start a family. As the culture here is very tribal, there’s this “keeping up with the Jones” mentality. If one family did something, you had to do the same if not better. Even if you couldn’t afford it, you borrowed for it. I know at least two of my friends whom have been divorced in under 5 years of their marriage just over financial troubles. They got married like the Jones, but they couldn’t LIVE like them. And those that choose to wait, refusing to be a statisic? They’re now spinsters.

In the U.S., it’s a real mixed bag between the cultures but the mindset of spinsterhood is still there. People are in awe when a 40 year old celebrity gets married. Did you see the rukous over George Clooney “finally getting married”?

However, from my personal experiences within the Muslim and Arab community back home, some of this ideology exists. If a man marries a lady beyond the age of 30, it’s as if he performed a charitable act. If a lady marries a man beyond that age, it’s because he’s rich or she couldn’t get someone her age. It can’t ever be because two people loved each other, God forbid.

Sigh.

And let’s back track for a second here, is it just me or do those that barrage us with “get married already” comments the ones whom are completely unhappy in their marriage? Seriously, I have yet to be approached by a happily married person, aside from my mother and aunties, about my marital status. Maybe it’s because those happy in their marriages know what it takes to be in a happy relationship. It doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t just marry the first person that crosses your path.

Maybe it’s because those happy in their marriages are happy because they actually lived their lives, learned to care for themselves before they were ready to share it with someone else. Maybe the happier you are, the happier your relationship. If you happiness depends on someone else, you will in fact be miserable in that relationship. Sometimes, one is not destined to be married with 3 kids living in a house with a white picket fence by the age of 25.

I can’t image being married at 25. Hell, I can’t image being married at 34!

At 25, while many of my friends were ready to join the marriage club, I was taking care of my family while starting graduate school. I was no where near ready to be married let alone even date at the time. People go through different phases in their lives at different ages. There really is no structure or time frame for one of the most important commitments in one’s life.

Let’s be honest, when the time comes, it’ll come. People nagging us into something you aren’t ready for doesn’t help. Using the word “spinster” only makes it worse.

So ladies, when a miserable hater comes at you with, “when are you getting married already?”

Just tell them, “I’d rather be a happy spinster than a miserable wife.”

Tarrington Spinster
image c/o  grave-mistakes.blogspot.com

W.I.S.S. – Blue Passport, Part Two

My time in Egypt was simply amazing! A learning experience like no other! I saw history in the making, meet amazing people and truly lived like an Egyptian! The one question everyone seems to ask me since I’ve been back, “did you meet anyone special?”

The answer with a loud laugh is, “of course not!”

Staying with family the majority of my four months stay made it pretty well obvious amongst family, friends and neighbors that there was an American girl amongst them. That theory resulted in a lot of marriage proposals. Some funny and some completely absurd. Two of them were probably one of the worst I’ve ever encountered. Here’s the second story…

“Hala can I speak to you for a moment?”

“Yes Baba?”

“When I went to visit a cousin of mine in a nearby town the other day, he told me of a suitor who was very interested in you.”

“And I’m very not interested Baba”, I said with a big smile on my face.

Two days later, I found out that smile didn’t work! His family invited themselves over to my Aunt Sayeda’s house where I was staying during my father’s last few days in Egypt with me. It was just my Aunt Sayeda, her daughter-in-law Fatma and I hanging out when three men came knocking on the door about a couple of hours earlier then expected.

My aunt and Fatma went to the reception area to greet them with soft drinks while I stayed in the other room. I could hear a man speaking quite confidently of the suitor as I sat there hesitant to meet these people. From the minimal words Aunt Sayeda and Fatma said to the guy, I figured I should go into the reception area and try to end this once and for all.

As I walked in, I saw the three men sitting across from the ladies. As I gave the “salam” formalities, I saw the man whom I had heard earlier, a mutual friend, the spokesman of the family. To his left was a slim white-bearded man and a very young, clean cut slim man. Both rarely raising their gaze from the floor to return my “salam”.

“Are you Nagah’s daughter?” asked the spokesman.

“Yes I am. Who are you?” I blatantly asked.

“I’m ‘so and so’ and we are related through your father. What’s your name?”

“You don’t know my name?” I laughed as I rolled my eyes.

“No I don’t” he answered, a bit confused.

“I’m Hala. So how are we related exactly?”

He continued on as to how he’s related to my father and Aunt Sayeda. Him and my aunt talked a bit about the family tree as I took a second glance at the two men. The older man, the suitor’s father, would switch his gaze between the spokesman and the floor. The suitor quickly returned his gaze to the floor after I caught him looking at me.

“We are here to introduce you and your father to this family here.” The spokesman had now turned his attention to me. “This man here has been my friend for over 20 years! He’s worked his whole life in Saudi Arabia, a self-made wealthy man! He has two sons, one married and lives in Australia. His other son, Bakr here, has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, very smart! They are here to get to know you and propose marriage to you.”

I wasn’t surprised that this proposal of marriage was for the sake of America, nothing more.

“Really? Marriage?” I asked sarcastically.

“Yes, are you surprised?” he asked smiling, not noticing my sarcasm.

“I’m surprised every day I’m here in Egypt!” I laughed. “However, marriage proposals from people who don’t even know my name has stopped surprising me.”

“This is our tradition! We know you come from a good family thus we propose. Not like in America where tradition and religion doesn’t exist.” He caught himself and took a breath before continuing, “Well, if you’d like to stay for this you can–”

“As an American, when something concerns you, it’s tradition to sit through it. Since this obviously concerns me, why would I go anywhere else? I’m going to be sitting right here.”

My loud, proud in-your-face attitude with a smile didn’t put any of the men in any bit of ease. The room went awkwardly silent, tension to be cut with a knife. After a long moment, the spokesman started talking about religion and tradition in this small town. I responded with one or two words before the Asr Azan (call for late noon prayer) started. They left to go pray at the nearby mosque and stated they’d return shortly. When they left I just looked over at Fatma who had been struggling to cover her grin.

Fatma relieved of their departure began to giggle, “I hope they got your answer. Bakr is obviously trying to following in his brother’s shoes, get married to someone outside the country.”

The ladies shook their head in dismay as they left to pray and prepare for the men’s return. About twenty minutes later, I found myself back into the reception area with the men and my cousin Mohamed who had come home from work. We all sat down in that same awkward silence awaiting my father’s arrival.

The spokesman started going off again about how great this unemployed suitor was with his bachelor’s degree and wealthy family under his belt. When he wouldn’t stop, I made sure to state that I on the other hand was a self-employed working lady with two masters degrees. My wealth, however much (or little) it may be, was my own. That shut them up again until my father finally returned.

After all the “salam” formalities, they started talking about family, religion, traditions, almost anything else in the hopes that I would leave, but I stayed through their entire nonsense. With my father now in conversation with the spokesman, the suitor had summoned some kind of courage and attempted to be part of the conversation. He also summoned the courage to look me in the eye every chance he got to speak.

What was he trying to prove, I had no clue nor did I care.

The spokesman again started discussing the suitor’s father’s wealth when the Maghrib Azan (call for early evening prayers) began. All the men went to pray Maghrib at the nearby mosque and finally got a few words to my father away from my ears. They stated that the suitor’s mother had just passed away about a week or so ago, that Bakr’s father wanted to do what was best for him as he had done with his other son in Australia. Bakr’s father reminded mine of how they were wealthy enough, should I accept Bakr’s proposal, to provide for me the lifestyle I currently have, whether I decide to live in Egypt or in America. He stated this with the hopes my father would give them the answer they wanted to hear.

My father simply replied, “we’ll get back to you.”

Upon learning all this from my father when he returned without the men, I was completely irritated and annoyed. These materialistic idiots kept trying to put a price tag on me! My father tried to calm me down but it blew up into an argument as I continued to ask why couldn’t he just say “no thank you”? Why was he being so polite to them? Why was he giving them any hope of a response?

When the argument went no where, I gave myself a moment of solitude on the rooftop terrace of my aunt’s home. No one seemed to understand why I was even upset. They expected me to be flattered at the attention, meet these people politely then go about my day.

I begged to differ.

My cousin Mohamed waited for me to calm down before having a “father-daughter” talk with me. He, to some extent, understood where I was coming from but that cultural formalities required them to be polite and respectful to those that came into their home. I understood however I didn’t want to conform to it when it came to dealing such people.

After my father flew back to California, I was between ElManzala and Cairo. Fatma told me that the family had sent a messenger for an answer while I was in Cairo. Damn it! I thought. Fatma, giggling a bit, shared with me Mohamed’s conversation with the messenger, “Do you have any idea what Hala thought of them? I was sure they had gotten the rejection from either from Hala or her father. So let’s just leave it at that.”

I didn’t see or hear from them or the relative that had discussed them with my father the rest of my stay. The proposals continued but slowly declined, as a relative in Cairo told me, that it was obvious I’m not a stupid girl falling for stupid men. I found all those individuals absurd, selfish with a one track mind. My blue passport was never going to be of any use to them.

…and that’s Why I’m Still Single.

Read Blue Passport, Part One here.

Edited to correct name spellings.

W.I.S.S. – Blue Passport, Part One

My time in Egypt was simply amazing! A learning experience like no other! I saw history in the making, meet amazing people and truly lived like an Egyptian! The one question everyone seems to ask me since I’ve been back, “did you meet anyone special?”

The answer with a loud laugh is, “of course not!”

Staying with family the majority of my four months stay made it pretty well obvious amongst family, friends and neighbors that there was an American girl amongst them. That theory resulted in a lot of marriage proposals. Some funny and some completely absurd. Two of them were probably one of the worsts I’ve ever encountered. Here’s the first story…

Almost everyone in the small farming town of ElManzala where my dad’s from knows everyone else, with a high chance of being related in some way, shape or form. I meet many of these relatives who were related by marriage, by blood or because his wife’s brother-in-law’s brother married her sister’s cousin’s niece.

One of such relatives, Mariam, thought it would be appropriate to try and help her married brother Ahmed to propose to me. Several attempts and talks with my father, my Aunt Sayeda who I was staying with and her older son Mohamed didn’t work. I soon bumped into Mariam as I was on my way back to my aunt’s home from a short Cairo trip. A short conversation with her got me to believe I had put that to rest.

I was wrong.

Mariam thought it would be appropriate to send her husband along with Ahmed to Aunt Sayeda’s home the very next day! My father & cousins were out and only my Aunt Sayeda and I were home with a couple of her guests. As they walked into the house, the tension that rose up in the air was noticed by the guests. The men entered the reception area, walked right past me where I got one look at Ahmed and threw-up a little in my mouth. He was just surrounded with a really ora, it was odd and disturbing.

Ahmed had the nerve to sit on the far end of the couch where I was sitting. I tried to be as polite as possible for the sake of my aunt and her guests. I turned the other way and continued to listen to the guest’s little story thinking to myself, “what the hell is going on? Didn’t I make it clear to that stupid bitch I was in no way interested in whatever that thing is that just walked in?” The men decided to start smoking and that was my que.

I looked at Mariam’s husband and politely asked, “Can you please not smoke in here?”

“You don’t like the smell of cigarettes?” he asked with a dumb coy smile.

“No, I can’t stand it! It’s disgusting! Please either don’t smoke or take it outside.” Which is Egyptian for, “GET OUT!”

They immediately left realizing Ahmed won’t be able to get two words through to me asides from his awkward “salam” and many side stares. Aunt Sayeda held her laugh until the rest of her guests had left about ten minutes later. She couldn’t believe Ahmed’s audacity after he and the family were told their proposal was simply not welcome. Aunt Sayeda then told me about how he married a divorcee with four kids about a couple years ago. He had fathered her fifth child before taking a job in the UAE. He was in Egypt on his annual vacation oddly staying with his sister in the country rather then with his wife and children in the city. From what she had heard, he had been attempting to go to America for a while now. 

His proposal of marriage was for the sake of America, nothing more.

Mariam still attempted to invite me over to her house the next day by sending her daughter as a messenger of the invitation. Mohamed and his wife of course had a fit with the family. They again refused on my behalf her attempts, letting her know that I had threatened to confront her if she made any further attempts to contact me. Confrontation in a small town like this is seen as a scandal to the confrontee. Mariam and Ahmed finally stopped pursuing me.

ElManzala being the small town that it is, everyone knew everything as it happened, many feeling the need to share their disgust and disbelief with me. It was from them that I learned that Ahmed’s wife in the city had soon found out too. She called Ahmed’s employers in the UAE stating how Ahmed had abandoned her and their children, asking for spousal and child support. The company not putting up with such embarrassment immediately fired him and retracted their visa sponsorship. His wife soon filed for divorce.

I was not happy to hear such news but honestly I didn’t feel sorry for him either. I found him repulsing and disgusting. A man ready to leave his wife and children on the hopes of going to America. His selfishness and greed took him to a dead end. In a matter of months, he lost everything. My blue passport was of no use to him.

…and that’s Why I’m Still Single.

W.I.S.S. – Muslim Relationships, Gentlemen of Quality

During this holy month, I’ve been following the daily Huffington Post writings of Imam Khalid Latif. Everyday he posts “Ramadan Reflections” where he discusses topics many Muslims and nonMuslims can relate too. His reflection for Day 16, Muslim Relationships and Day 17, Developing Muslim Gentlemen of Quality seemed to be too perfect to not share with my W.I.S.S. readers. He discusses relationships in Islam and what he deemed to be one of the many problems many Muslim Americans are facing in finding compatible partners.

For Day 16, thought this excerpt from his piece was rather interesting…

Religiously speaking, there isn’t a prescribed method for finding a spouse in our tradition. We find a variety of ways in our tradition that people utilized when getting married as well as different types of couples. Younger men marrying older women, intercultural marriages, arranged marriages and love marriages, marriages in which the woman proposed to the man, and many more. What this shows us is not that these ways are the only ways to do it, but there are many ways and no set, defined way to go about it. Permissibility does not equate to normativity — meaning just because it’s allowed to be done in a certain way, doesn’t mean that’s the only way of doing it. In general, this is something that needs to be understood because too many of us give advice based off of our own subjective experiences and understandings, and don’t really think about the reality that the other person is coming from.

Coming from a bi-cultural background, the method of finding a spouse has always been a topic of conflict. Everyone feels their way is the “halal” or permissible way of finding a suitor. If two meet online, they are judged; when two are arranged, it’s considered backwards; when two date (within Islamic manners if that makes any sense), they are seen as too Americanized. No one is satisfied if it’s not  a method they deem “halal”.

Please read both entries as well as his daily entries and post your thoughts in the comments section below. Would love to hear what you all think!

Ramadan Reflection Day 16,Muslim Relationships
Ramadan Reflection Day 17, Developing Muslim Gentlemen of Quality

W.I.S.S. – The Sexual Manifesto: Reasons Why You’re Still Single

If you’re from San Francisco and single like myself, you will appreciate this hilarious piece by Christine Borden of the SF Appeal! Enjoy! =)

The Sexual Manifesto: Reasons Why You’re Still Single
By: Christine Borden

Singledom can be a degenerative disease. Instead of alleviating the pain, let’s attack the source of this problem. You may be (sad and) single if…

1. You use the following fragrances: Tag, Axe, Old Spice (arguable). You use them liberally and as if you were hard of smelling. Not even hipsters are this self-ironic.

2. When you see someone you really, really like in public, you flirt with them by staring. Oh god, they’re looking at you! Avert your eyes! Stare at them again. Quick, what does that ad in Spanish say? It’s so fascinating. Er, fascinante.

Click here to continue reading

W.I.S.S. – Are Single Women Too Independent for Their Own Good?

I came across a very interesting article yesterday by Lindsay Schnaidt via Maria Shriver amidst my e-revolution efforts that I felt is relevant to be included in my W.I.S.S. series.

Lindsay notes an interesting point in her article,

There is no shortage of theories on the cause of this. We are too busy or too picky. There just aren’t enough good men out there. Technology has changed how people interact with one another and we aren’t adapting quickly enough. One recent blog even went as far to say many women aren’t married because we are angry, we are sluts or we are selfish.

So my question is: in order to get these husbands, do we need to become a little more needy?

I think that just because we are in fact not with someone doesn’t make us angry, sluts or selfish… just well aware of what we are looking for. With regards to “what we need to be”, I refuse the notion that we should be needy in order to be with someone. If anything, I’m a firm believer that a strong independent lady should be with someone who appreciates her independence and supports it.

Funny enough though that as we ask if we are in fact too independent for our own good, I hear the answer as “yes” from other ladies in my community. However, I get a whole different perspective on that from the gentlemen. One gentleman told me that if a lady is not independent, then there is no point in being with someone that needs constant “babying”. Interesting…

So click here to check out the article and let me know what you think!

…and yes, Ms. Shriver herself granted me permission to repost the article on The Rants!