I met my husband on a dating app.
There, I said it.
This might not sound like a big deal to some, but for the longest time this little detail has been an awkward part of our relationship. Not only were we weirded out by it, but even our families strongly advised us not to tell anyone that part of our story.
We, along with others, turned it into an almost shameful thing. When recalling our journey together and how far we have come, we would laugh at the beginning every time.
But now that I have had time to reflect on it – I’ve decided that it is not really funny. And it is definitely not shameful.
It was a matchmaking app to be exact. Designed specifically for Muslims who don’t want to ‘date’ in the normal sense, the app was geared towards marriage and finding a compatible life partner. It even had the option to add a third person into the chat for those who wanted to avoid talking to a stranger alone.
The fact that we met this way through this app means we both initiated this search for a partner willingly and with the right intentions. So I don’t know see how this is somehow shameful and something to be embarrassed about. There are couples (my age) who have met at school and dated for a couple of years then told their parents and gotten married. No one seems to have a problem with that – but when it comes to two people meeting online – the question of ‘log kya kahenge’ (what will people say) comes in from all directions.
With the way our society works, if you didn’t meet your soulmate back in school, do not come across him at work, or your parents are not after you to say yes to basically anyone who comes through the door – well then, you are basically screwed.
We don’t even talk about marriage. In a culture where arranged marriages are the norm, it’s crazy that we have cultivated an environment where young adults are still awkward about coming to their parents to talk about wanting to get married.
Many households have no discussions about marriage until that distant relative sends an unexpected rishta your way and you are expected to give an answer on whether you are interested in this third cousin working in Dubai as an engineer.
Or get told about that family friend’s young son that happens to be a Canadian citizen and you are basically insane if you don’t take this perfect opportunity to move to Canada and settle into a life of convenience.
I know I’m mentioning some extreme examples but we’ve all heard versions of these stories before. The point here is that there is a rising problem in our society where we have people who want to and are ready to get married – but are unable to find the right partner. Yet, we remain close-minded and blind to seeing and fixing this issue. If we can’t even discuss a couple successfully meeting online and getting married – how weak is our mindset?
My husband and I were both urged not to tell any extended family members about how we met – even on our actual Nikkah day. So basically we were expected to lie and say we met in some more socially acceptable way like in college or at work. All this begs the question – was the truth really that bad?
It was not until I heard similar stories from other Pakistanis who met their spouses online that I realized this problem wasn’t just within my own family. Our society in general is biased and hypocritical when it comes to this subject. Even in these times when it has become so difficult to find someone you actually connect with, we are judging and shaming people who have managed to do so, simply because of the way they got there.
Although online matchmaking is still frowned upon in many Muslim cultures, it is quite common to see success stories of (even multi-racial) couples who met online and have actually (happily and willingly) moved countries to be together.
Needless to say, online dating apps are only a good way to find a suitable partner if used safely and smartly. I am not here to say everyone should try it out. I know of people who have had really bizarre conversations and experiences with people they met on the same app that I met my husband, so I am definitely not saying that this method is better than any other and that it will work for everyone.
All I’m trying to say in that in these modern times, we need to be more open-minded and accepting of the different ways people have been written to meet each other. It is actually quite beautiful, if we are willing to see if that way.