Oh, Ramadan. How I have a love/hate relationship with you. I love you because it’s a month of spiritual cleansing and discipline. I hate you because I have to come up with answers for every question posed by non-Muslims about fasting. Usually, it’s something to the effect of “you really can’t eat from sunrise to sunset?”, “Is it hard?”, “Do you lose weight?”, “Can you just sleep all day?”
But one inquiry the other day caught me off guard, and to be honest, I felt like I was already at a cultural crossroad just based on the question alone: “How does Ramadan affect one’s dating life?”
It’s hard for me to answer the question because by “practicing Muslim” standards, you just don’t… date. Rather, you talk. The one you’re “talking” to? He’s not your boyfriend, he’s the guy you’re with.
Even if “dating” and “talking” are essentially the same thing (daily phone calls and texts, restaurant and movie outings, etc), there’s a stigma placed on dating and boyfriend that suggest a temporary situation. With Muslims, even if your “situation” doesn’t work out, you’re supposed to approach it with the intention of getting to know someone as a potential spouse (and yes, you can be talking to a guy for 2+ years.)
So how does Ramadan affect one’s interaction with the opposite sex?
It Promotes Honesty
If you’re single, Ramadan introduces a handful of new challenges. For me, the biggest difficulty during Ramadan is that I have to reevaluate my friend-zoning tactics. I get asked to “hang out” quite frequently, and I’m a firm believer in the “tell-him-you-can’t-do-dinner-but-lunch-would-work” approach. It safely places them in the “friend zone” with no hard feelings. Problem? I can’t eat during the day, so I either have to get dinner with him, or I have to stop avoiding the issue and just tell him “I’d rather not.”
It Encourages E-Dialogue
Consider the beginning of Ramadan as the Muslim equivalent of a Birthday or a New Year – a perfect time to send a seemingly non-suggestive Facebook message or text, wishing your secret crush a “Blessed Ramadan” and attempting to further conversation.
But some of us see through this, guys. Just because you think it doesn’t look like hollering and that we won’t think you’re a total creeper, doesn’t mean that’s always the case. But by saying “Ramadan Mubarak! How’s fasting going?” instead of a random message on May 3rd at 2:42am that says, “Hey beautiful, long time no see, how are things?”, you’ve attached religion to the message so we can’t just ignore it. Now, we’re subconsciously guilt-tripped into at least a courtesy response.
Go For A Group Hang
So let’s say you like someone. You’re past the e-dialogue phase, and you want to hang out, but you’re not sure if asking to hang out one-on-one is too forward, and you’re not even sure if that person is interested. Ramadan has a solution for that, too! Just make an “event” out of a 4am breakfast!
Get a group of friends together, plan an outing to your local IHOP, and invite the apple of your eye. In my opinion, the early morning meal has much more appeal than a group dinner, because it’s unique to Ramadan (and if it isn’t obvious, no, I will never agree to waking up at 3:30am to get breakfast during any other month of the year.)
Consider it the effective, non-threatening way to hang out, chat a little, AND practice your religion.
A former TV news reporter and now a sarcastic presence on the Internet, Samia Khan doesn’t hold back when it comes to sharing humor in 140 characters or less. You can read her humorous celebrity interviews and encounters on her blog. This article was originally published on MTVvoices.com.
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