As salaam alaikum,
Back when I first started going out with B, I wrote a journal entry called The First Conundrum in which I outlined my problem - for our first date, B had invited me to go to the First Annual Nigerian Conference at Harvard for the 50th anniversary of Nigeria's independence. I liked him and I wanted to go, but on the same day, there was a conference being held at the Boston ISBCC by the founder of the Ta'leef Collective, a project which I am very much a fan of that really creates a forum for reverts and, as I call them, Muslims at the fringes to have dialogue, to learn about Islam, to return to the masjid in a way they wouldn't have before.
It was a one-day intensive for young Muslim students and professionals. It would have been perfect for me...but instead, I went out on a date.
So I liked this guy, I was Nigerian, it would be a great event, but I also was interested in what dude had to say, and he would only be in Boston for a limited time. In a sense, I was making a decision between my Nigerian identity and my Muslim identity.
I decided that I didn't do a whole lot with my Nigerian identity, so I chose that over the ISBCC event. Of course, it was also a decision to try dating, so I went there.
And thus began something that will impact the decisions I will make for the rest of my life. I began dating a non-Muslim, an issue that I had turned over in my mind but something that I assumed would never happen.
And now another non-Muslim, a Christian, is interested in me, and at the cusp of something else happening, I'm just going to have to take a time out.
For one thing, the way that B and I broke up had unnecessary drama cultivated by him, but besides that...he broke up with me because he needed space, and he didn't want me to wait for him. He'll need to be with himself for a long time. The thing is...the point that we got into our relationship, even with the unnecessary elements of our breakup, I still cared for him, and I still do. I want to check in on him, touch base with him periodically, all of these things.
Just talking to this guy I'm currently talking to, and he's a nice guy, I realize that I can't be doing that if I'm ever in a relationship with someone else. Like, that's a big no-no, still talking to your ex. I mean, it's all inevitable. If I don't end up with B I'm going to end up with someone else, so eventually our friendship/contact/whatever is going on right now would have to end. I just worry about him and want to check in on him and make sure he's okay and not continuing to go at life alone.
It's especially after a conversation I had with this other guy, and he was talking about what he felt constituted cheating...
The other big issue with this other guy is that he's not Muslim, and he'll have not Muslim expectations for a relationship that I did not fulfill with B...okay, let's be frank. He'll want to have sex. I did not have sex with B (haha, I feel like Bill Clinton right now), but let's say that before him, I had never kissed a man, and that's no longer true. I don't have to do that with anyone else, I realize. I don't regret the intimacy I had with him, and at the same time I do not regret that we did not have sex, by my demand.
I realize that if I cross that line, a lot that makes up my morals, my values, who I consider myself to be will dissipate. A lot of people remark at how different I am from most women they know (non-Muslims), and I think a lot of it has to do with my integrity in that regard. Not my virginity--I never liked that construct. But, the standards I live by, and how I struggle to uphold them...it's not the standards themselves that make me, it's the struggle that has shaped me.
But non-Muslim men have this expectation of sex in relationships that is real, and I understand now why so many Muslims see dating as synonymous with sex in this country because, oh Muslimahs, if you survey your non-Muslim friends, that's usually the case. My roommates of old and new, most of my friends...it's all true. They all assume that sex is part of a relationship...
So I don't think I can relate to non-Muslims anymore. I think the reason that B didn't pressure me to much is because he's a softy. Other men will not be as patient or understanding.
The issue is, it will take a very specific type of man to make a match for me. Even if I were to assume the manners and the dress of a hijabi again next month, I'm not the Muslimah that most Muslim men would expect out of a woman who wears the scarf. I once tried to fit into what I thought was the mainstream American Muslim world in college, and I didn't. I failed miserably.
I don't want to fit in, at the end of the day. I've never fit in really anywhere, and I love who I am. I just wish I had a way to go about finding a life partner without having to compromise my values any more than I already have, but for me, that seems a little bit impossible.
I don't know. Pray for me, as always.