I was asked to write an article about my experience with relationships; the most complex, fun, nerve-wracking yet, crucial part of everyone’s personal life. And the first thing that popped into my head was “but I’ve been single for the longest time, what would I know?” Let alone the fact that, at my age, most of my guy friends are already married, with kids, or are re-married after a divorce, or divorced; which makes me at this point one of Cairo’s few available bachelors.
Contrary to what women believe, Egyptian men fall under the exact same societal pressure to get married after a long wait. The entire family takes it upon themselves to get you settled. It becomes the talk of any outing, coffee break, gathering and recently even at the recording studios with the crew. Yes, even at work they also seem to be really pondering why all my male colleagues are hitched and not me. And to make it even worse, their silly smirks and judging looks make the pressure on me as a guy just as bad as it is for a woman. So in case you were wondering how guys have it, or why it has to be so hard on a woman and not a man, here you go; we’re all sharing the same plate of pressure.
In my case it has now become a social mission rather than pressure. Everybody who knows me, even remotely, has taken it upon themselves to find me the right partner. There are also long discussions of how, why and what could be the reason I haven’t been married yet.
At a very young age I never believed in those relationships and high school love stories. Not because I’m a cynical, hate-all-relationships, kind of guy. I just always thought at the time that if I’m going to be with someone at such a young age, it’s never going to go anywhere, except for these extremely one-in-a-million rare cases. Of course I was looked at by everyone around as the biggest of weirdos. And I was faced with the occasional conclusion of “well you do have a point, but…” and then silence and rude looks.
I stood firmly by my beliefs, and was assured every day that I was right. Most of my friends who used to date everything that moves and ended up marrying in their early university years are now back on the market. They’re either divorced, with kids they love but don’t know what to do with, staying stubborn in miserable relationships, or cheating on their partners.
Of course, I’m not condemning all early relationships, nor am I in denial about the necessity of having a life partner. However, I am a strong advocate of thinking things through.
We look at old couples who still seem to be very much in love, and wonder why our relationships don’t look like that. That’s because it was much easier back then for a couple to make the selfless choice to be together, without society’s overwhelming pressure of standards, social background and number of followers. Knowing they would be forever safe with their person of choice, and in love no matter what, was the make-or-break factor. Today, people get married because they’re bored, need the attention, gave up on finding someone they want, pleasing family or for the sake of “hey why not, let’s be spontaneous.”
We violate the sacred act of marriage and then wonder why we have commitment issues, and hunger for the rare relationships where we see respect, comfort, mutual understanding, support and emotional stability. A man trying to prove he’s the man of the house, providing for a woman whose main goal is to show off her lush house and expensive clothes, trying so hard to prove to the world how happy they are, is what seems to constitute a marriage these days. So yes I might still be single, and I might still have to face my family’s disdain towards my choice for a few more years, but at least I have a clear image of what constitutes a marriage.
Think it through; being single is the time you have solely for yourself, use it wisely and when you decide to get married, make sure it’s absolutely your choice, not anyone else’s.
Sherif Nour El Din
Mega FM Radio Host