So I'm back in the city and usually exhausted Sunday through Thursday from work. I attend evening events/receptions - many for work (especially this time of year). Friday and Saturday are mine and yes, I spend a lot of time with the dog in the desert, at the beach, in Kabd in training sessions with him. But I've also been dabbling in the wonderful world of Kuwaiti dating ....again.
.... and, of course, have remembered why I stopped....
There doesn't seem to be any difference here: Men from all walks of life, high and low, educated and uneducated, cultured and non-cultured, and all those in-between seem to have the same issues. It is scripted. And the script is now so ingrained that I feel like one of those jaded women I swore I would never become. (Alas, how do we all learn? Repetition.)
Honestly, I've tried to maintain a positive attitude. Keep it light. Keep it happy. Brush it off. Keep hope alive. But until when?
It's always the same story: You (regardless of who you are, how much you earn, what your education, your cultural background, family, what your IQ or your reputation is) are never the center of the others' attention. Why is the divorce rate so high in Kuwait? I don't blame either gender. It is how your taught. It is how much you are willing to sacrifice and put into a relationship that determines the outcome. And it seems like here, the complacency level is so high that it outweighs any opportunity to see a good outcome. No man or woman is equal in a relationship. Everyone is doing their own thing, living completely separate lives. They never have the opportunity to come together as a unit. There is no return on investment because there is never an investment.
I see very few role models here (and I'm talking about Kuwait because this is where I live and have lived for the past 20 years). People cheat. And if they don't cheat, they are constantly searching for the next-best-thing. Nothing is maintained. No relationship is nurtured. No work goes into a relationship. It always has an expiration date. Nothing is put into a relationship and very often - it is one-sided. (Leaving me/others to ponder: 'What do I get out of this?')
There are always the few that spark my interest and make me sincerely believe that there is hope. The ones who (again, unfortunately, this is scripted) want to travel and be romantic and have a life together. It is fleeting. It's like something out of a romance movie that is never going to come to fruition. It is a fable.
Begin as you mean to continue.
Perhaps there are good intentions? Not everyone is so blatantly careless, right? (And I use the term "careless" intentionally because that's what it is - the lack of caring and consideration.) I ask: How does it begin? Is there respect? Is time spent on you? Dinners (outside of my home)? Is that person willing to sacrifice (anything?) to be with you? Give up a boys night out? Spend 24 hours with you once in a while? Watch a sunset (and wouldn't it be nice) perhaps a sunrise together? Leave the phone at home? Do I get to meet your friends? Do we spend time together or apart? Where is the investment? .... And this is in the beginning.
I'm not an option after the rest of the tasks on the list is completed or the other options have been diminished. I'm not plan B. Why should I ever be allowed to feel like that? Why should anyone? This is the way I feel here time and again. It's tiring. Dating is now perfunctory for me. I date because I just hate to give up hope. As my girlfriends (who have stopped dating completely also) say, "Impress me." But it isn't happening.
What happened to normal (maybe by western standards?) relationships? I don't think my expectations are high. I don't need material things and I can pay my own way. I don't need to go shopping or have a man pay to buy me things I want. I can do that. All I need is consistency and time.
And please - everyone has time if you want something. It is attainable.
My average time for determining if it will work or not is approximately a month (sometimes less depending on the levels of care) from the time I meet the person. Lately, men have been pursuing me (several, for months) and I've been very reluctant to let them into my world.
I found someone I wanted to date. He met all the criteria: Incredibly intelligent. Funny. Well traveled/cultured. Very handsome. Ambitious. I literally adored the guy. Allowed into my world, he met my friends, he met my dog, we went out to dinner, flowers.... and yet I was immediately relegated to Plan B status. Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays he has commitments; non-negotiable commitments. Meaning that I don't rate prime-time (weekend nights). I translate: You are not important enough. Or perhaps you have another girl who rates prime-time and you don't. You're an option and she is (or perhaps even "they" are...) the main event. He also brought up marriage (during a conversation about an entirely different topic) and how he didn't want to re-marry again. He was setting the ground rules. "Don't get your hope up with me," basically. Who said I wanted to marry you? Can't we just have a relationship for a while and see where it goes?
Why? Why can't it just be normal? Why can't it just feel natural? You meet a guy who you have a connection with. He seems happy with you. You're happy with him. And then the barriers and rules start to be set into place.
What I hear is that the men I meet want to have a relationship with a Western woman. But once they get to the point where they have her, they back off. Do I need to break down "normal" in our world?
- You meet
- Talk. Not SMS. You talk.
- On the occasions when one of you must SMS, the other returns the SMS immediately.
- You go outside for dinner (not in secret in my home, not his)
- Sex is not an immediate requirement.
- You meet his friends/he meets your friends
- You hang. Spend time together. Watch a movie (not a clock).
- Talk. Not SMS. You talk.
- Spend the night together. Have breakfast together. (Please - you're not always working. Everybody sleeps and eats.)
- Maybe go to parties or gatherings or dinners together with other people.
- Travel maybe.
- You are introduced to his family. He is introduced to yours.
- You progress together. This may mean engagement or even marriage (there is a possibility! not a closed door.)
"No" and "I can't" and "Sorry" are not standard phrases.
I respect a man with determination. I admire him for having ambition. I'm happy that he's hard working and that he has a life. It's good that he's busy and that he's got goals. That's great. But that's his life and where do I fit it? Between the hours of X and X on (day) and (day)? I'm not another attainable commodity. I'm a busy girl too. I have a busy schedule. I have responsibilities. I don't lack in intelligence either. But.... the difference is that I make time for anyone I care about. I would never knowingly allow him to feel like second best under any circumstance.
(If I start to feel second-best, I go home to my dog who always makes me #1.)
And I have no problem (at all) with being direct. "You're not the one for me." "We're not well suited." Whatever. Direct is good. Being given false hope is not. It's depressing. It's hope-shattering. It adds another growing case-study statistic (a statistic that in several months from now, I probably won't even remember). But it is a lost opportunity; something that if, given the investment, may have had a long-lasting high-yield return.
Kuwait is the land of lost opportunity. In so many ways. It doesn't have to be that way.
Disclaimer: I know that I will get the kind of comments that read, "Because it is a different culture with a different religion and there is no dating here." To which I say BS. There is now a lot of dating (not just Westerners with Kuwaitis but Kuwaitis with Kuwaitis). Many of the people I meet are Western-educated and have lived overseas for a good part of their lives. Further, religion should make you a better person. Dating doesn't revolve around intimate relations.