Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Flirting, Dating, or Courtship? Learning to Appreciate Saudis

By Chiara

As difficult as it can be to understand whether a relationship is a friendly one, or a romantic one, and where it is headed or not within one’s own culture--and allowing for the cross-culture divide of gender--it can be more difficult and challenging to do so cross-culturally and internationally. Before one gets to the marriage permission process, there are many other relationship stages at play. Some relationships never reach that stage, nor should they necessarily. Diana (pseudonym) has graciously agreed to share her story of a romance that was very enriching personally, if not leading beyond the initial stages of a romance. Below is her story in her own words. As you read you might reflect on the beauty and challenges of romance, and be reminded of your own experiences.

My Saudi was 40 years old when we met in the summer of 2008, in a trendy European beach town. I was there for a weekend, and had gone to visit some friends. Although I usually spend my holidays there, that year I had already taken them, so just spent the weekend. As usual, I was staying at my mother’s house, and my friends were all staying in a posh hotel 10 km away from the town centre.

The three of us (2 women, 1 man) went in one car, the classier one, not mine of course, to have dinner at the port. After dinner we went to a fashionable night club, where we all spent the night dancing, drinking, and talking with each other. I was not drinking much, as I was on diet, and don’t like drinking a lot of alcohol, anyway.

I met My Saudi by chance, during that night out. I remember I was having a good day--by this I mean a day when your hair is perfect without effort, your skin shines, and with a little make up you look great. I was dressed in black, my favourite colour for night, in long trousers and a sequined t-shirt, high heels, and a handbag.

I usually do not pay attention to people who come to talk to me at nightclubs. I’m fed up with making conversation with uninteresting people who feel free to come to talk to you just because it’s supposed that if you’re a pretty girl in a disco, you’re looking forward to meet all the men in the place.

But he was different. It was funny because I did not realize he was standing beside me until my friends said aloud, “What does he want?” So I turned and looked at who they were pointing to, and he came to me and smiled. I was ready to give him back my best smile and say, “Forget it, sorry”. But then I saw his eyes--those big black, sparkling and curious eyes--and his overall well-groomed, pure look. I thought he deserved my attention for a while. And he did, because his warm, strong and firm voice, together with an educated manner, intelligent conversation, and a great sense of humour matched what his eyes promised.

So we started to talk and after a few minutes I forgot about my friends and the rest of the people. The first thing we talked about was the usual when you meet someone for the first time, what’s your name, where are you from, how old, holidaying? Later, we were telling jokes, and realized we laughed about the same things; and we started to talk about other issues such as our jobs, and family. We recognized we had a lot in common despite our obviously different backgrounds.

To be honest, I have to say that I’ve been in this place a lot of times, and I’ve always feared talking with Saudi men. It’s a place where Saudis love to spend holidays. You can recognize a Saudi about 80% of the time because of skin colour. Skin colour does not matter to me. My fear was 50% the behaviour I’ve seen there, and that I’ve not seen anywhere else; and 50% what I knew about closed Saudi society.

In that and similar places, older Saudi men gather in corners of the nightclub surrounded by those really beautiful Northern/Eastern European girls. They grab the girls in front of everybody (something only money can buy); and they could be their fathers! What were the girls thinking? Well, I know some of them make it to a wealthy life, and others just live all year from what they have made that summer, as it’s known Saudis give good “tips”.

Younger Saudis close deals with professionals as they do not have the guts and experience of old ones. I’m not saying that does not happen in my country, sure it happens! But Saudis seem to like everybody to see it. There is no hiding at all. In fact, they seem to enjoy showing off, and watching people watch. I feel it is a pity, because it’s easy to buy something with money, but what about winning the prize for who you are, for what makes you unique? Money does not impress me.

But I took the “risk” for his eyes.

So, before we realized it, the night club was closing! My friends, who were not far, for the same reasons I’ve explained, and stood by my side, had drunk a lot. So we had a problem to go back home. I did not know how to drive an automatic car, as mine is not. My Saudi realized something was wrong, and he offered to drive us. My male friend was amazed! My Saudi drove us all to the hotel. Once there, we asked for 2 taxis, one to take him to his hotel, and one to take me home.

While in the car he talked to my friends. They all liked him, and they told me later that he seemed a good man. So, when they got inside the hotel, and I was outside alone with him waiting for the taxis, we exchanged phone numbers, and we promised to keep in touch. Even though we just saw each other for a very short time that evening, since I was leaving the next day (career oblige!), afterwards, I texted him every 4-5 days, and he called me approximately every 7-10 days.

Every time we talked, we remembered what happened when we met, our mutual curiosity, our interest at first sight, our perfect first impressions. When talking about other things, we were impressed by how easy our conversation was. It seemed as if we had known each other from a long time ago, we felt so comfortable. Yes, I know that sounds more like teenagers than people almost, or in, their 40’s, but that’s the way it was.

I was very excited about the possibility of meeting him again. We did talk a lot about finding time to see each other, as he was supposed to travel to Europe. But things did not turn out as desired, as the worldwide crisis started and his business faltered, so he had to remain in Saudi, and had little time to sleep let alone to travel. During these days, as he knew I missed him, he tried to call very often.

Yet, I did not know if it was the reality of him, or the idea that I had created of him that was the most appealing. I think now that it was a bit of both. I was seeing him as a very mature person, so smart and funny, with a very caring approach to me and my personal issues, a person who loves to enjoy life and wants to share it, strong, sweet. I could even see him smiling through the phone when we talked. I mean, you can notice in the voice when the person is smiling at you or not, and he always was, as was I.

Still, at that time, I did not really have a clear idea of what my feelings were, if any. I needed to see him in order to make them clear. I was very confused, because I did not know what to think of myself--feeling like that for a person I’d not seen for more than 2 hours, who lived “only” 5,000 km away, in a country with a very different culture. A cultural difference that was sometimes noticeable even in our conversations, because of our different approach to everyday life.

He found it amazing that I was independent and working. He kind of liked it, but at the same time did not, as his mother and sisters were not allowed to do so by social custom. Still, his family is open-minded about some issues. He told me the problems his sisters had, as they were divorced, and that divorce was not seen as normal as in Europe. He wished that could be different. He suffered a lot because of the stigma against them as he loved them. He also suffered a lot because he and they were the children of a second wife, so he said he would never have a second wife, as he had seen what his mother had gone through. He did not understand why I was living alone, not under my parents’ roof, as he was still living with his family. He said he was building a house inside his parents’ compound, so they would all live close to each other.

I just explained my life to him, the reasons, and that this is very usual here. In fact, what’s strange for us is just the opposite; so we finally laughed at how different everything was. However, those were differences that we respectfully understood. We tried to think them through together, and at the end any of them the cultural reasoning was so understandable once you know the whole story.

I tried not to have great expectations. After all, all the men I had found up until then still needed to “be in the oven for a while longer”, as they were not mature enough. But he seemed, and sounded, different. He really seemed to know what he wanted, he had a clear idea he wanted to work until age fifty and then enjoy life, as he’d been working without a break. Also, when I explained to him my career problems, he always had very wise advice only experienced and travelled people can give you.

I could not share this telephone relationship My Saudi and I were having with many people. If you say that you’re having a romantic but platonic long distance relationship with someone, and you say he’s an American, a Swede or from another Occidental country, everybody finds it a great story. But, exactly the same relationship with a Middle Easterner can be viewed very differently. We all fear what we don’t know--a different religion, different culture, different dressing codes; and the Middle East has always been seen as very poor on tolerance, freedom, and woman’s issues.

If you say he is from KSA, it is even less understood. KSA is seen as a place with no freedom, where a woman is worth nothing without a husband. And for us, Western women, it’s been so hard to achieve all what we’ve achieved that thinking of falling in love with a Saudi means going back to a distant past. Here everyone tends to think also that all Saudis are rich, so they all live in luxury, and that the rich who travel are hypocrites for what we see of their behaviour when they holiday. We see it as a closed, tribal, classist society, very advanced in some things money can buy, but still anchored in the past related to some issues such as women’s freedom.

I have to say that My Saudi has opened my views about KSA. I’ve also done a lot of research, and despite all the differences and difficulties, I’m more aware of the truth behind those fears, recognizing the genuine concerns and distinguishing them from the fears based on urban legends.

So, given these prevailing attitudes, my confidante was a woman married to a non-Saudi Arab. Yet, she and her husband made an alarming observation: no Saudi man is unmarried at that age! My Saudi was probably just flirting with me, as he must be married with a bunch of kids. They were sure that a man of his age, in his country, and still single would be almost impossible to find.

When I shared this with him he agreed with that statement, but he said that he was. He said that being single cost him a lot of fights with his mother, who was still trying to marry him to close family members.

I also explained this relationship to another friend who did not take it well. She just found the whole idea disgusting, and said “Do what you want, but if you have something with him, you’ll lose all you are and have achieved.” She said, “And it goes further, would you move to a place women go fully covered? Where you cannot drive and work? Where you have no independence and are not able to take part in life as an active member of society? I answered that I knew all that, as I’ve seen and read a lot about it; and, that I was not going that far yet. I was just thinking about meeting him, and then time would tell. It is not that I did not think about the future, it is just that love, if it is real, is so difficult to find that I would go wherever it is, USA, KSA or Japan, no matter how difficult/easy things might be.

That was why I didn’t want to tell any more people I knew about it. I was afraid that they could indirectly determine my perception of what I may have felt.

I thought I would meet My Saudi again soon, and if I had to listen to that negativity all of the time beforehand, it would wear on me. Believe me; if one friend were aware of the relationship, that friend would persist! And, imagine if you would multiply that persistence by 5 friends, 10, x …!

However, I did not know what to think, because I did not understand any need he might have to lie. Sometimes I feared that my friends were right, because it was difficult to explain his behaviour. On the one hand, I thought it couldn’t be true that he was married with children, as sometimes he called at 2 in the morning, and talked while walking around his house. I thought I would have heard voices, or he would have awakened someone. On the other hand, I had also read that family is so important in Saudi that if his mother had wanted to marry him off, no escape would have been possible.

Yet I thought to myself: “No one can live life for me, and my good choices or mistakes are 100% mine. I won’t explain my relationship because I know that about 90% of people are going to have the same negative opinion, and if everybody keeps saying the same thing each and every time, eventually that leaves a trace. Even if you don’t want it to, your perspective may get distorted. Since the day I met him, I decided I wanted to be free to live THIS experience and to see how it turned out, without any external conditioning. It does not matter if it lasts one more week, a month, or more, or if it ends tomorrow. Whatever will be, will be.” So I persisted!

Our conversations were amusing and relaxed at times, while at others we discussed our respective countries’ issues, politics, labour issues, rights. He said that in his family women were not obliged to cover, but some of them did and others didn’t. And they all drive outside KSA!

He also explained other things to me about his family. His sister suffered from breast cancer but they found out just in time, so now she’s ok. His brother bought a house here, in the beach place we met a long time ago. I still remember when he spoke to me about his niece, how he really loved her. He told me that once he was so busy that one day she was with him, and he had no time to give her his full attention, as he was reviewing paperwork for his business. He asked her again and again the same questions without realizing he had done so, and that although she was little, she was a smart girl, and had already answered well. So, at the end, when his sister got back she asked her daughter, “Did you have a nice time with your uncle?” She answered, “Yeah mum, but I think he is a little bit dumb.” LOL! LOL! I still laugh when I remember this story.

Always, we had time in our conversations to remember our meeting, and to wonder if we would recognize each other when we met again. We never spent less than 1 hour on the phone, so we had time to talk about a lot of things, while also planning to see each other soon.

I do not know when the time between calls started to be longer--15 days, 20 days…a month. Still, having a phone friendship with him was great. I really enjoyed our conversations, and he did too, which is why he kept calling, or so he said.

The first time a month passed between calls, he apologized for the delay in calling. He said he’d been very busy travelling through all the Gulf countries for work purposes, as his business was suffering a lot in the worldwide crisis. His company was fighting very hard in order to finish projects on time, and trying to get all the pending accounts paid. He had to move very fast to be the first to close deals, as everybody in business was hungry right then. He said that the last weeks he’d not been able to sleep more then 4 hours per night.

I listened to his words, and told him that I could understand. Sometimes I had weeks when I worked so much than when I arrived home I didn’t do anything at all, because I was very tired. BUT that was not a strong enough reason to not make a call--at least a single one, giving an explanation as to why he was not going to be calling for weeks. He could have made such a call before starting his travels!! C’MON!

He replied that he had thought about it, but after the first three weeks without calling he thought I’d be mad. As he was under a lot of pressure, he thought it was not the moment for this kind of stressful call. Then as time passed, he realized that although things in his work were slowing down, but his initial delay and procrastination made him postpone calling because he was ashamed. He didn’t know how to face the conversation. He knew it would be a tough job to recover my friendship, because, as he has a lot of sisters, he knew how women are. I relented.

After that apology, there were other lengthy silences. Yet, I was still expectant. I still valued our calls.

The thing is that I’m always in a rush, so I almost never have time to pay attention to things. Nevertheless after a February call from My Saudi, I realized, thanks to his example, that I was missing out on a lot of the beautiful things that nature offers us. I didn’t take even a minute to enjoy any of them--such as the moon, landscapes, gardens, trees, roses, the sky. He made me feel I needed to reclaim my life from my everyday concerns, and give a turn to it, feeling closer to what life really is about, and not what we are told requires our attention.

For example, one day I had a phone call from My Saudi saying he was going to be in the desert for a few days, in a jaima; and that it was going to be nice because the moon was going to be full. When I drove back home I looked up at the sky, and really saw it: a nice, bright full moon, no clouds. I was like, “Wait, you did not even realize before that the moon was there? You need a call to realize moon is there?”

I recognized that I didn’t usually look at the sky, either at night or during the day. I was missing the gifts nature offers us daily. Thanks to that realization, one day I heard birds singing by my window. Isn’t that wonderful? I’m sure it was not their first day of singing, but it was my first to hear them.

When you mature you realize you can’t make somebody like or love you. Things are what they are. You are how you are. If someone likes you as you are that is great; if not, no problem. One of these days, someone will. I really believe that things have to come easily, naturally. If forced, it’s because it is not meant to be.

These beliefs are what led me to believe over time that this relationship has been a big illusion that can’t go any further. I have not heard anything from him since August, exactly a year after we met, so I've decided I can't expect anything of him anymore, nor rely on him in any way. He is very nice but I can’t be constantly waiting, and praying or begging for a call.

Even my disappointment now is not as it was in the beginning. All illusion on my part has been put on hold; and now I’m very cold. Without knowing why, I’ve the feeling he won’t call back any more. I am “dis-illusioned”, but not disheartened.

In fact I’m very grateful to have met him. He has fulfilled my heart this year. I’ve not felt alone; I’ve been very happy while lasted. He has encouraged me to take control of some parts of my life that I was missing out on. I already knew about them, but now I want to create a remedy soon. He’s been a sparkle. So I have only nice words for him. I hope he is fine and doing great, as he deserves it!!!

As for me, after my story with him, which inspired me to read wonderful blogs written by people in the KSA, and to learn more about Arab, Muslim, and Saudi culture, I feel I understand Saudis better, and feel closer to them than before. No fear now.

When first becoming aware of Diana’s story, I assumed there would be heart ache. However, Diana has handled this relationship very maturely, and has come to take from it the best it had to offer, while being realistic about expectations from it. Interestingly, she has provided for herself the closure that women seem to want or need, in the face of the non-closure that men seem to offer in ending a relationship.

What are your impressions of Diana’s story? What experiences does it bring to mind for you? Does the closure/non-closure female/male divide I have put forth apply in your experience? Have you had the experience of becoming acquainted with someone who changed your perspective on a culture, or defied stereotypes? Any other comments or thoughts?

*Just before this story was to be posted Diana's Saudi called and...hmmm Part II?


Anonymous said...

Have you forgotten Part 2?? or is it gonna come soon...

Hope all turned out well for Diana...

Chiara said...

Abu Abdullah--thanks for your comment, wishes, and questions. I was in contact with Diana recently, and there will be no Part II, at least not with this Saudi. It seems there story is complete as written above, which is a pretty good outcome! I trust Diana to keep us posted, if there are new developments to share. Thanks again.

Add said...

Very touching story.

Although, I must share my thoughts here about one specific thing; why, when time had elapsed and she did not receive any calls, did she not try and call him instead?
October 18, 2009 8:28 PM

Salma said...

Well the title got me for sure...
I am forever complaining to hubby about how in the world we will have our daughters learning about the other half without the ideas of courtship that people have here (Toronto).

I find so many things confusing and fascinating at the same time, for instance, most of what Diana spoke about resonates with me as a woman who was always coming in contact with various cultures.

The hidden behaviour of many that I know and have known is something that makes me see just how difficult it is to really get to know someone. If I apply this to my case I would say that hubby taught me a lot about the differences and issues that I did not perceive.

I also learned that even though an Arab man says he is "open" it is very hard for him to really understand where I am coming from as a woman born and raised in the West.

Diana, I do wonder (as I have seen for myself) if it is easier (in context) for a man who is not in YOUR culture to advise you in a way that he might not advise his sister etc.
October 18, 2009 8:37 PM

Anonymous said...

Add, sometimes I called but his is a work phone so sometimes when he's busy, secretary or other partners answered his phone and then passed him. So we decided I would communicate by email and sms (that they were not allowed to open), that way they would not know which kind of calls was receiving, and he was the one calling as my phone is a private one.

I did text him, but he did not answer.

Salma, I explained him a particular situation that happened to me in my current job with my boss (man), and I was amazed how he answered, he sounded so western, I mean I thought that maybe in that issue he would team my boss, you know sometimes man tend to protect themselves, and with the idea of saudi's being a male society... but he did see clear the situation and gave me very useful advises.

Thanks for your comments!

October 18, 2009 10:12 PM

Chiara said...

Add--an excellent question!

Salma--thanks for your comment, which touches on a number of key issues, including cross-cultural dating given that dating isn't allowed in one of the cultures; the difficulty in reading behaviours cross-culturally; and the challenge of seeing the world from another's perspective.

Fortunately we are able to make that imaginative leap enough to have a sense of connectedness, yet retain our individuality. That applies across gender and culture. I'm sure we've all had situations where we needed to try to respect and support someone else without fully understanding or agreeing with their point of vue.

And then there are the times that the hub says something, and I think "Does he have any clue about the person he married?" "Remember me, I'm the one you married because I am not like that!" or "Since when am I a somatizer?--wrong culture, wrong woman!" LOL :)
October 19, 2009 4:50 AM

Chiara said...

Diana--thank you for commenting and replying to questions.
Indeed, he must rebuild the relationship by being more consistent and reliable, as any person who has interrupted a relationship must.

I am glad he was able to advise you in your best interest with your boss, perhaps because he understands the male boss' perpective so well.

We're on for part II eventually, right? LOL :)
October 19, 2009 4:54 AM

Pedro said...

Well, I think long-distance relationships are good for shy people. Socializing integrates us everywhere and we can find a companion anyplace in the world. All this romanticizing about meeting somebody 6000km away is very nice but it's still a fantasy.

Because for me a relationship e precisely that, a relationship, somebody to hold us and be with us. Other than that is basically a grown-up version of Pen Pals :)))
October 19, 2009 10:09 AM

Chiara said...

Hola Pedro!--Gracias por su comentario. I understand what you mean about the danger of a fantasy relationship, and agree that it can prevent forming real relationships.

However, Diana has been having this phone relationship with the plan of meeting again, so it is not quite so improbable.

Indeed, many of us have been separated from our loved one and forced into a long distance relationship, and it is challenging for just the reasons you named. It his hard to replace the physical contact, and hard not to be distracted by real life socializing while planning the next get together and working hard for the ability to be together again--or at least in the same time zone! LOL :)

I'm sure Diana will respond to you, and maybe others who have been in a similar long distance romance, or commuting marriage.
October 19, 2009 8:55 PM

Anonymous said...

Hi Pedro, I guess those kind of relations are good for shy people… but I am not, I do not need phone relations to socialize.

I have a lot of friends and meet new people when I travel, I know people even in the supermarket line, as I’m a very open person,

You’re right when you say all this romanticizing about meeting somebody 6000km away is very nice but it's still a fantasy. ..well if he really works again on it, might become real very soon.

Another thing is where that story goes.

I’m European and I’ve lived many relationships already. I prefer to be and meet often the person I love.

But this is a different case, as he lives that far, If I was 17, I would not pay attention to this story, but I’m 20 years older than that so I’ve lived already lot of experiences and know that special sparkle is not that easy to find, yet not only from a sparkle we can base a relation.

That’s why we always agreed we needed to meet, in order to clarify feelings. But that moment did not happen yet.

But as I know what I want, by now all he has offered to me by phone deserves my attention and even romanticizing with it…without loosing myself in the way, is what experience ( age :0) gives you.

October 19, 2009 9:33 PM

Susanne said...

I enjoyed reading this. I had mixed emotions as I put myself in Diana's shoes. But she seems to have handled this guy's actions well. Indeed she seems thankful for some of them so I am happy for her in that regard. He sounds very charming. Honestly I do have questions about how he made it to 40 and is single in a culture that values marriage and lots of children, but maybe he is divorced. Quite common.

As for the questions at the end, (I can't remember what they all were...argh!) most definitely my views have been challenged and changed by meeting people from the Arab Muslim world just over two years ago. If you can imagine ordinary ol' me here in the southern USA getting a message from a Syrian Muslim asking me (in a very polite way) about something I wrote on a MySpace profile about Christians being persecuted in the ME .. wow! Not looking for that in a million years. I only created the profile so I could view my siblings' pictures! Never thought I'd meet someone from the Middle East that way. But I answered him, he wrote back, we started chatting on Messenger and became dear friends as we both learned more about each other's people and culture. He knew quite a bit about American stuff already since they have our TV shows and news. But I was better able to explain my spiritual views and I learned a lot about Islam from him. Earlier this year my husband and I traveled to Syria to meet Samer, his family and some of his friends. (A few of them were already online friends to me prior to going there. I'd chatted with them by e-mail and Messenger on occasion, but nothing like Samer and I would talk. We still talk every day.)

So I can relate to Diana on how Arabs can be so charming. :-D

Thank you, Ladies, for this interview.
October 20, 2009 3:33 AM

Chiara said...

Diana--thank you for your response to Pedro. It is so true that with maturity comes a greater ability to handle a romance, protect one's heart, and maintain an ongoing life.

Susanne--thank you for your comment and sharing your experience of a virtual relationship turned real. Your experience has been transformative--and resulted in a great blog!
If you ever want to remind yourself of the post questions you can click "Show Original Post" under the post title at the left as you are composing in the comment section on the right.
But you have been leaving great comments without such aids! Thanks.
October 20, 2009 5:15 AM

Anonymous said...

you are lucky that not to get cheated

my sincere advise to you is to find a soulmate from your community, area, country. the distant mountain looks to have smooth edge, but it has lot of thorny plants along with fragrant flowers :)
October 20, 2009 1:13 PM

Mueen said...

I don'tlike the story.It is boring and time waisting such stories r common with those who spread vices......Love has really some different story.u don't know........
October 20, 2009 5:28 PM

Chiara said...

Anonymous--thank you for raising some key points on this general topic. Flirting, dating, and long distance "courting" are indeed fraught with the potential for infidelity and hurt feelings.
Also, some do firmly believe in staying within one's own community, and that is certainly best for them.
Some communities are highly multicultural though, and in that sense the community allows for diversity within the group who have shared experiences and values.
Rather like the ummah come to think of it, or an major Canadian city or a cosmopolitan one anywhere. Vacation towns also bring diverse people together at least for a chance meeting and then a shared learning experience as Diana has had. I am very impressed that she has used this as a spring board to learning more about Saudi/ME culture and been able to revise her previous perceptions and maintain a positive image even when disappointed.

Mueen--welcome back. I'm sorry you found the post disappointing. Thank you for raising the key issue of the non-Islamic nature of some behaviours, and the distinction between flirting and love. However, how does a love grow from an initial perceived attraction to a genuine substantive feeling unless there is further interaction, platonic though romanatic as this has been for Diana, or after marriage for those with the most tradition, sight unseen type arranged marriage? Please share your further thoughts on this, if you like.
October 20, 2009 5:50 PM

Diana said...

Hi Susanne,

Thanks for your nice comments and sharing your friend’s experience. Yes I’ve questions about that too, so I hope if we meet I can ask again about it, in person is easier to see if he’s lying or not.

Does Saudi male’s passport include wife name if one is married? Long time ago that was used here. If so, and we finally meet can check that.

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for your advice!

In today’s world and being a frequent traveller anything can happen, can find someone close or far from my community, ideas, world… I do not choose in the meaning he has to be from here or have at least … just choose by persons whoever they are or where are they from.

Of course if he lives closer better, but for me is not really a big deal.

Hi Mueen,

you are in your right not to like my story but I can not agree is time wasting as it is a real story, my story, so for me is not :o)

Related to “such stories r common with those who spread vices......Love has really some different story.u don't know........”

Spreading vice????? Hahahha excuse me but I can only laugh on that affirmation of yours. Where do you see vice? What do you understand for vice? Searching for love is? Are you the kind of person that thinks all western people are after vice?

Have you travelled and met us? I think yours is a much closed perspective of our world. We have freedom, some of us go off limits some others don’t. What for you is vice maybe for us is not, and probably some practices that you consider normal are considered vices for us. So it’s all relative.

I don’t know what love is??? Ok, illustrate me!

For me the best part of being a westerner is that I can freely choose the person I marry, and as I can interact before it happens, I can choose who I want to be my future husband for what he is, not for what my parents impose or economical or any other reasons.
Just for the love I might feel towards him, whoever he finally is.

And all can be done without the word vice, as love is love, no vice in real love.

Hi Chiara,

Yes, he must rebuild the relationship as interruptions deceive. He had reasons I can understand but I’m not going to explain now as is too long. I’m giving him a second chance so he better work on it, as no third will be given.

Yes, he understands the male boss' perspective perfectly. And I was amazed he knew what to do and who I had to speak to and how to handle it.

October 21, 2009 12:53 AM

Anonymous said...

Hi Diana

I enjoyed reading your story, I am an Arab man “Other than Saudi” and live in Saudi Arabia for years, I felt you are talking about someone I know very well, He is Saudi from Syrian decent, photographer, has B. Sc. in Civil Engineering, single never married, he is the third in his family, and he is the eldest male among them, the other older two sisters were divorced and one of these two had breast cancer, the last four digits of his cell phone is 7473.

If this information are correct I could give my opinion and exchange more details, by the way that guy caused the most stressful and painful tragedy in my life.

Good Guy
October 21, 2009 10:09 AM

Srinivas said...

sorry! since i could not logon and put comment, had to comment as Anonymous.

perhaps, i might not have picked the correct thread while commenting - i never loved and married - i don't know anything about love marriage or inter-cultural marriages

my serious concern is that love should never end with lust and spoil one life

this writing should not be taken as story (as somebody has commented that the story is not interesting)

am waiting for part II, to understand the gravity of the situation better

my prayers with the almighty for ever welfare of Ms Diana

gurudEva dayaa karo deena jane
October 21, 2009 10:32 AM

Srinivas said...

guru = master
dEva = almighty
dayaa karo = shower compassion
deena = hapless
jane = people

this is a prayer to the almighty to shower his compassion on these hapless souls

without his assent, not a single stick would move - breath cannot go in and come out - we require his assent for each second

this is in sanskrit :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Anonynous/Good Guy!

Thanks for your interest…luckily for me the end of the cell number does not match as My Saudi’s finishes in 6, but I was holding my breath for the family coincidences until I saw that!

Because although photographer is not his profession either… one can easily lie on job!

Sorry that Mr. 7473 caused you pain and stress… there’s a lot of thoughtless people!

Hi Srinivas!

Thanks for your warm words!

Part II will depend on how My Saudi acts from now on, let’s see is up to him to win me back or not.

Sanskrit! OMG there’s just a few people in the world know that language!

October 21, 2009 9:38 PM

Chiara said...

The fact that you yourself travel alot professionally makes getting together with your Saudi more likely. Also vice is a term relative to culture and faith. For the strict, it is important to remind from the post that so far this relationship is romantic but still "platonic".
I am glad to read that you are proceeding but with caution.

Anonymous Good Guy--thank you for extending yourself in this way, and I'm sure hoping that a person so capable of hurting another is not Diana's Saudi. I too am sorry for your hurt. Since we are interested here in bi-culturalism, could you say if you are a Gulf, Levantine, or North African Arab and if your feel bi-cultural being in Saudi? If not, no worries.

Srinivas--what a kind and concerned comment. Thanks, and for your beautiful prayer.

October 21, 2009 10:32 PM

Srinivas said...

am asking just for curiosity!

the details of persons are disclosed here. will that person not see these? does the future relation which is in the offing does not get soured?

is it not better to make the blog available to limited people?

am asking with concern, that is all.

gurudEva dayaa karo deena jane
October 23, 2009 6:56 AM

Chiara said...

Srinivas--thank you for raising an ethical question in such a sensitive manner. I think the details here are sufficiently vague that the person could not be easily recognized or identified. As we just saw, often more than one person fits what seems to be a unique pattern. It is true that being identified could be difficult, but Diana has used a synonym and identified herself as European so this could be any European-Saudi flirtation/ relationship, which is part of why the story resonates with others. Thanks for your thoughtful and thought-provoking comment.
October 23, 2009 10:21 PM

Anonymous said...

Hi Srinivas,

I understand your concern, but as Chiara said details are very vague and can fit in a lot of people for sure, because although I give information, good guy thought he knew him and was not the one he knew, although some details may not fit every 40 years old man's situation in KSA, sure fits hundreds, I did not say his name or the city where he lives, not my name either not the place we met, and europe is wide.

If he finds out? If what he says is true, I don't think he will mind. Anyway I will probably tell him I've posted the story when we meet.

Thanks to all of the commenters!!

October 24, 2009 12:08 AM

Chiara said...

Diana--thanks for adding your perspective. I do hope you will meet again, in Europe, soon, so that you can feel the relationship is taking on a more concrete shape, and be able to sort out your feelings better.
At some point showing him the post may be a good way to further discuss the relationship and share your feelings. Not to mention the comments!! LOL :)
October 24, 2009 12:47 AM

NidalM said...

This is not the first I've heard of a Saudi that is 40-years old and unmarried.

In fact, this is lowly becoming more and more common. There is a class of Saudi men who have, while still holding to some traditions and customs, have become disillusioned by what Saudi society contrives as 'the perfect girl'.

It is a rarity, as you yourself have found out. But most of the ones I know are very cultured, liberal, have a great outlook on life.
October 25, 2009 3:26 PM

Chiara said...

NidalM--thank you for contributing the alternative explanation and a more optimistic perspective. I'm hoping you are right about this!
October 25, 2009 8:26 PM

Single4now said...

Very interesting story. I have to give Diana credit for handling the situation the way she did. Although, I truly dislike men who cannot commit and, in order to avoid any heartache (plus it would be religiously unacceptable), would never form a relationship with a person whose intentions weren't clear to me.

Personally, I would advice Diana not to keep waiting for this man. An year is way too long to wait for someone and there is no guarantee if he calls back he'll commit. He has probably moved on with his life or finally agreed to marriage with a family member as his mother was trying to convince him to do.

InshaAllah, she'll find a wonderful man who is closer to home and ready to give a relationship all it needs. :)
October 27, 2009 7:13 AM

Chiara said...

Single4now--thank you for commenting, and I will remind Diana there are more comments here. Interesting and pretty blog you have! It has worthwhile posts on the topic of trying to find a Muslim spouse, and the challenges in that. I would imagine that being a doctor yourself is a mixed blessing in that regard. Are you also a specialist? That seems to deter some GPs from making a match. I hope you will comment on newer and older posts which do seem to have relevance to your themes, and vice versa. Thanks again for your comment and sharing your advice with Diana.
October 28, 2009 6:11 PM

Anonymous said...

Hi Chiara, he better like the idea…because is done.

I’m very surprised there are more comments, thought was over, so thanks to all of you for your comments, perspective and caring.

Nidal, I’m really happy to hear although is a rarity, they exist, and yes, he fits in your description.

Single4now, in here is very difficult to distinguish people’s intentions as we do not need commitment in order to date, although is what almost any woman wants.

So my radar does not really do a good job at that.

I’ll just wait a few more monthe, as he has promised to meet. Anyway I’m very cold right now and not sure if he’ll be able to change this, but he still has a chance if he is really interested. If not having been phone friends is ok with me as I’ve had a friend in the other side of the line that has listened to me, made me laugh, advised me and cared for me for a while.

Whether is him or not, here waiting for a wonderful man to start a family!

October 29, 2009 5:00 PM

Chiara said...

Diana--thanks for commenting further. You seem to have this relationship in a very balanced perspective. Please continue to update us. All the best with your Saudi, or your new Mr Right, or both!
October 30, 2009 3:53 PM

Single4now said...

Chiara - nope I'm not a specialist but I do hope to study further, inshaAllah. Actually, I intend to blog about a specific problem I and my single friends have faced because we dr.s and it's ironic that male dr.s don't seem to be any more understanding.

Just catching up on other stuff so my blogging is a bit slow nowadays. I'll definitely check out the other posts as well. :) I have read many but didn't get a chance to comment. But they were interesting reads such as the statistics.

Diana - thanks for taking the time to reply back. I understand it's not really part of the western culture but it is a part of his culture so I would expect more of him. I would suggest that if you do get to meet him then to ask him what his intentions are and where he sees you in his life so you do not end up waiting around for him or expecting something he cannot live upto.

I feel like, as women, we tend to forgive too easily and hang on to relationships that have long lost their meaning just for the dream of what was and what could have been. My intention is not to comment on what you should do. It's just that I've seen too many sisters get hurt in such situations. Hope you consider it as sincere advice from the heart of a sister. :)
October 31, 2009 3:53 AM

Chiara said...

Single4now--thanks for your thoughtful reply. It is true that women drs face more challenges in marrying whereas male MDs are seen as a great catch. MD couples where the woman has a more high profile career than the man are rare, especially where the woman out earns the man. It is still a quite conservative profession.

Your suggestions and rationale for Diana are very sound.

I look forward to your comments on other posts when you get the chance.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for your comment, I really do appreciate it as I see comes from the heart and in fact you're right, sometimes we forget about ourselves while searching for love..

November 15, 2009 10:50 PM

Single4now said...

Chiara - As you may have read by a recent post of mine, I am struggling with finding a spouse who can accept me working. It's one of my biggest hurdles which is unfortunate.

Going to check out the other posts now. :D

Diana - I'm glad. Whatever happens I hope it's for the best for you. :D
November 16, 2009 6:29 AM

Chiara said...

Single4now--yes, I have heard of stories of a number of women with professional training whose husbands were pleased they were so educated, in order to help educate the children, but didn't want them to work--such a waste of talent, training, and resources, such a set up for "housewife syndrome--bored, anxious, depressed, overeating, using stimulants, overinvolved in children's lives, bitter, etc". Of course the syndrome doesn't strike all SAHM but can do, especially where it was not the woman's choice.

I'm enjoying your comments on other posts!
November 16, 2009 7:48 PM

Anonymous said...

Hi Diana and Chiara ,

I read this just today , and I have something I want to say :

I'm a Saudi girl and I'm very familiar with stories like these, actually when I first read this I was surprised it still happens , I thought western women were as familiar with Saudi men behavior as the rest of us !

Dear Diana, this seems like a typical Saudi man, he might not a be bad guy. He just loves to live the fantasy of a romance with a European woman (it's good for his self-esteem). Saudi men are very strange creatures Diana when it comes to relationships.they are contradictive and not very honest. I won't say "liars" because believe it or not they may not realize they are lying , they just don't want to tell the whole truth.

What is also strange about Saudi men when meeting a Western woman is that the very things they like about her are the same things they will complain about later on. No Saudi man no matter how "open" he sees himself will put up with the things a Westerner are accustomed to.

What I want to say is : Go on with your life and forget him, don't give him another chance and don't continue to be his late night entertainment.

You deserve better than this, don't make him think you are too desperate.

Sorry for the long rant, and I wish you all the best.

Chiara said...

Anonymous--welcome, and thank you for your comment. I am sorry for the uncharacteristically long delay in replying.

You make excellent points that one might apply to dating in general, cross-cultural dating, and as you have described it, dating Saudi men in particular.

Your advice is good to anyone dating, essentially be realistic enough not to have false expectations, value yourself, and desperate is unwise.

Thanks again. I will let Diana know that you have commented.

Chiara said...

PS I hope you will read, enjoy, and comment on other posts. If you like you can invent a name so that we might know consistently when it is you commenting. You only need a name to use the Name/URL option, as the URL is optional.

Anonymous said...


Sorry for the delay answering..

Thanks Anonymous for your comment, and Chiara for letting me know, I've been away for a while..too much work..

Probably is a usual behaviour for saudi man...but sometimes persons not always respond to stereotypes..but unluckily that was not my case.

He is still calling, with a 15-20 days lapse time, but I'm not in the mood anymore, so I'm not texting him at all.

He still keeps saying the same, but a lot of time has already passed. Tired of waiting.

Not really seeing anyone else but open to meet people.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Chiara for the warm welcome. I’m enjoying your blog and would love to comment more if my time allows.

And thanks Diana for replying. You said he still calls, yeh and he probably will for a long time (as long as you’re returning his calls !) . He will only stop when something more worthwhile to him come along. That’s how Saudi guys see relationships , It’s their game , their rules.

As I said before, they like the idea of romance with a Westerner , they like the idea more than the woman herself sometimes, and they like to brag about it in front of their pals. It boasts their egos BIG time.

What I hope you will understand is that Saudi men might be the least sensitive men in relationships . They don’t hold women best interests at heart . So this guy will never feel guilty of lying and deceiving you and will continue being dishonest and making excuses . Believe me Diana I heard this alot, from my brothers,my friends, my male colleagues .. they always say its the woman fault for not seeing it coming , ie the woman fault for trusting them !

Don’t be surprised , they are the production of a society that always sees women guilty for something or another , even if it’s 100% the men’s faults.

It’s great that you are open to meeting new people. You really sound like a nice lady and I do wish you a great life.

Chiara said...

Diana--you are welcome for the notification, and thanks for your prompt and sensitive reply. You seem to have a good handle on how to "handle" this relationship.:) Keep us posted!

Anonymous--You are very welcome and thank you for commenting again, and sharing your experience and perspective on this topic. I look forward to your comments on newer and older posts. If you wish please share a little more about your perspective, eg what general background you are from, your experience of Saudi, etc. Also feel free to pick a "non-identifying" name.


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