Monday, November 30, 2015

Why is it so difficult to have a normal relationship in Kuwait?

I've really had enough and I vowed about the same time that I got my German Shepherd that I would stop dating and concentrate on spending time with someone who makes me really happy - my dog.  Mike and my goats made me happy. I could spend time alone with them on the farm and not worry about anything.  (Until, of course, Farm Drama 2015 and the farm and the goats were no longer an option.)

So I'm back in the city and usually exhausted Sunday through Thursday from work so I don't have much time for anything.   I attend evening events/receptions - many for work (especially this time of year).   Friday and Saturday are my free time - and yes, I spend a lot of time with the dog in the desert, at the beach, in Kabd in training sessions with him.  Also spending a lot of time with friends.  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 too seems to be 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.  "I want a woman who... " but what are you willing to do for it?

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 compromise (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.  Is this what it's come to?

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?  You never said that we were exclusive either.  Should I be dating other men?

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" should not be commonly-used 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.  Relationships have compromises.  What is there that makes you feel like the other person truly cares about you?

(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. 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.

Are my expectations too high?  I don't know how they could be lower.  I expect time invested in me. I expect to be part of his world. I expect mutual trust and admiration.  I expect not to be condescended to.  These should be basics.

"I can't give you what you want right now...."  What do I want?  Time? That's it.  Ok, if you are out for a booty call, say it like it is. A booty call.  Kuwait is full of those guys.  That's not what I need.  And if you can't give me what you want, don't advertise yourself as someone who wants to spend time with a woman; having a meal, travelling, watching a movie, etc.  Say, "I'm here for a booty call."  Done.  Most of us get it.  I'm sorry but I (ME) can't give you what you want right now:  a booty call.  I don't advertise it.  I'm not into it.  My IQ is slightly higher than those base intentions.  Kuwait is full of those girls.  Go find one.

So, after reviewing  this (after a preponderance of the evidence) from an objective standpoint, I see, "Maybe he's just not that into you."  True:  perhaps not.  The evidence speaks for itself.  


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.


Anonymous said...

classic DG line
There is no return on investment because there is never an investment.
dahm gyrl u b awesome
miss q8
miss u

Xtina said...

You know what, I think I have the right guy to introduce you to.. honest to God, he feels the exact same way as you do.. and I think you two should atleast meet.

Hit me up if interested :-)

sapphireheart said...

Desert girl you just summarized why I collected my kids and left my kuwaiti husband and returned home to the states. He never paid any attention to us, was constantly on his mobiles (yes, mobiles), could only manage to spare 2 hours a week for us, and we never saw him except when pre-dawn and right before he arrived home to sleep. Those of us who can't speak arabic are particularly screwed because we can't read their text messages from hoes, nor understand their hook-up conversations by phone. Cheating and duplicity in relationships is like some sort of national sport there. I bailed, as I didn't want my kids to think that crap was normal or that this was how a marriage relationship works. Never saw such a high number of narcissists and players per capita as in kuwait. You really ought to think about coming home lol! You seem like such a nice lady with plenty to offer... take care. I really enjoy reading your blog.

Anonymous said...

Haha.. I dont think u could have summarized the shit that happens ere any better.. Bunch of hypocrites i say!!

Adl said...

As a kuwaiti i can share the following observation about my fellow kuwaiti friends: the cultural requirements for being a "good, respectful man" makes most of those that aspire to be categorized as such avoid dating altogether. It is required of "good, respectful men" to never have superficial relationships with women - they jump into marriages. In fact, for that slice of society, dating a girl is disrespectful towards the girl as well as towards them. Take that with a grain of salt, yet most of my friends who try hard to be "good, respectful men" have strictly monogamous, dead serious, generally respectful relationships with their wives - which they didn't date.
Maybe this observation helps... ?

Desert Girl said...

Thanks Adl. This guy didn't date his x-wife. He was a virgin when he married her. His requirement for a serious relationship now is to get to know the woman completely. As the divorce rate in kuwait is around 60%, I think dating is rational.

Anonymous said...

The only answer to your question IS the one to which you say BS! I see where you're coming from though, so let me explain.

The way you described a relationship: 'getting to know each other, going out on dates, meeting friends and family, etc' is the norm in western societies. However, in Kuwaiti Culture, the norm is traditional marriage (through family). More recently, a 'somewhat regular dating' followed by families being involved SIMULATING a traditional marriage has become common.

'Somewhat regular dating' is the type of dating you talked about: no family or friends involved, no going out for dinner, etc. Essentially, the relationship is probably all about sex. IF both are REALLY into each other, they will get married through family, and that's what I mean by 'simulating' a traditional marriage. When the two get married, couples rarely (if at all) announce that they knew each other before marriage; this is frowned upon.

Families are involved in all types of marriages whether there was dating or there wasn't, whether the man or the woman believed in the traditions or they didn't. Part of the reason is that women have to get their fathers' permissions to get married (religion), so families almost always have to be involved, which is why this is the norm (not that any of this applies to you, but this is an explanation for why this is still the norm even though most people are violating some of these rules). Also note that people believe in most religious teachings, however, traditionally, there have been laws that are strictly followed while there are other laws that are barely followed i,e, 'sex before marriage kinda okay as long as no body finds out' while 'first marriage without paternal permission' is almost non-existent.' Bottom line is, many people date before marriage and have sex, but IF they found someone they wanna marry, they will resort to the traditional way through families; others may go to the traditional way without even dating at all.

One last thing, the fact that you are a westerner plays a big role. Since almost all marriages have to go through families, I believe that many families are not keen on the idea of their sons marrying foreigners, so you have two things piling up against you: being a foreigner and the different norms.

And of course, there are the jerks who think SEX SEX SEX; they are everywhere and are part of a bigger world-wide problem, not pertaining to Kuwait only!
With that being said, the current situation here promotes meaningless sex for a couple of years before marriage, if that's not your cup of tea, then be careful out there as Mr. Right is probably in the minority.

Desert Girl said...

Anonymous Dec 30 - Thanks for the breakdown. This isn't my first goat rodeo and with an engagement or few in Kuwait, so I understand where you are coming from. It is your opinion, but I have to disagree about the part that "many families are not keen on the idea of their sons marrying foreigners." In fact, I believe that more and more Kuwaiti families are in agreement that even their daughters marry foreigners in many cases these days. Times are a'changing.

Mo said...

Hey DG,

Your frustration is very understandable. There is something in the way Kuwaiti guys/women perceive relationships. It is quite distorted. I'm not trying to be critical here as I am a Kuwaiti guy as well. But it has bothered me too. Can I analyze it and say exactly what's happening? Maybe not but I can guess. The Kuwaiti culture has the family lineage ingrained in it very deeply. "From what family is s/he?", " From what part of which village did they hail?", etc. Add on top of that the novo Reich generation that created an extremely impatient, self-centered generation. And finally almost all the guys were raised by maids who the kids had power over. Imagine your care giver has no authority over you. That's pretty twisted. Put all these together and you get a very distorted set of family values that prefer similar lineage Kuwaitis yet not nurturing enough to maintain healthy relationships. So imagine how they feel about someone who is not from a so and so family?

Of course there are always exceptions. I've met guys who are in wonderful relationships with their Kuwaiti wives, and other with their non-kuwaitis wives.

Maybe there is someone out there for you. Maybe it is a blessing in disguise that none of these guys lead you on for too long. I think a 1 month time to figure them out is not too bad. You mentioned something that really hit me. False hope. Having some hope for a month then the whole thing falling apart is not too bad to be honest. Imagine being completely in love with someone for 5 years? Every waking moment and every ounce of work you did was for them, firing on all cylinders to secure a life together, giving them all the time you can give, and complementing them on their high and low days, and offering to compromise as much as humanly possible. Then one day you travel for work and you get told that they want a divorce by email, get blocked on social media, and refused to have a a phone call to understand what is going on. Talk about shattered hope along with shattered everything (FYI she was not Kuwaiti).

I know you are frustrated, and I know I'm looking at life too negatively, but I think you are lucky to have figured out these guys early on. It could have been worse. Hopefully this will cheer you up just like buying self-help books to remind you that you are doing well.

Warmest wishes,