Hello, I Don’t Want to Sleep With You, Please Date Me
In the third in her series on dating as a Modern Muslim, blogger The Imposter looks at how to date when sex is off the table.
Hello, Internet, and how are we all this fine winter’s day? Freezing our little mittens off? I thought as much. Never fear, because hopefully this will get you a little hot under the collar. Today we are going to talk about sex… or lack thereof. Come to think of it, you may actually need your scarf and gloves.
I have often come across people from both religious and non-religious persuasions who wanted to save themselves for marriage.
Firstly, if you are this way inclined, I take my hat off to you… and your stamina. Secondly, wanting to remain chaste for your future spouse doesn’t mean that you can’t date. Just because you aren’t ready for a sexual relationship, or indeed don’t believe in having one before you get married, it doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve companionship and should miss out on all that dating has to offer.
In The Modern Muslim Guide to Dating, we spoke briefly about being realistic and upfront about what you want and expect from the outset and how this can, in turn, create a healthy environment where you allow the other person to adjust their expectations when you first start dating.
You must declare your intentions folks, I cannot stress this enough. Of course, the world is filled with people who can, and will, accommodate your particular beliefs but, the fact remains that, there is an expectation of sex when it comes to dating in the UK. In this particular sphere, you are the one that’s changing the pace so the onus is on you to be upfront and honest about what you will and won’t do.
Now, I’m not saying you need to head up your dating profile with a picture of you clutching the Quran with a tagline saying, “NO SEX PLEASE”, rather, I suggest you initially make it clear that you are looking to settle down. If your decision is religiously focused, talk about your religion and how the traditional things have always been important to you. Perhaps talk about how you would like to take the time to get to know someone and take things slowly. This way, you stand more of a chance of attracting like-minded people who aren’t going to waste your time and vice versa. I suppose that’s one of the perks of online dating, you can get a sense of what someone is looking for from their user profile and strike up a rapport based on mutual values and opinions.
Now, although implying that you want to take things slow is a good initial indicator of your attitude towards sex and dating, it is not definitive enough. Once you are in the early stages of dating someone and you sense there is an expectation of something you aren’t willing to give, nothing is going to substitute having the conversation. I hate to break this to you folks but you cannot rely on inference here. Whether you don’t want to have sex until you know you are in love, just don’t believe in casual sex or want to wait until you get married; you have to do the grown up thing and talk about it.
How To Let Someone Know They Aren’t Getting Any (Yet)
- Relax- Firstly, I don’t think this needs a big flowery emotional speech or declaration. My personal views on sex have always just been topics that came up on the first few dates and in a very relaxed way, when talking about past relationships or what we want out of life etc.
- Be fair– If you know sex is completely off the table until someone gets down on one knee, then don’t dangle it as a possibility. Be honest about where your line is and why it’s so important to you. Similarly, if someone is just after something casual and you aren’t, it’s your responsibility to shut it down.
- Be realistic– There is nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t sleep with people I’m not in love with” or “For me, sex is something I enjoy in a committed relationship” or even, “It’s just not something I want to do until I get married”. Be realistic about your rules/conditions around sex. If you are anti sex before marriage but you do enjoy a very blurry grey area around that, then say so. Similarly, if you aren’t willing to have any physical contact whatsoever before marriage then say that too. Be realistic about what you can bring to the table physically, you will be saving both your time and theirs.
- Do not apologise– The way I see it is, these are your personal preferences, you have a right to them just as others have a right to have completely converse preferences. Neither party, though, should be apologising for feeling the way they do. In no other area of life do we do this. Take food for example, I happen to absolutely detest tiramisu. I think it’s coffee soaked, creamy, sodden biscuit hell. I don’t feel guilty for hating tiramisu, nor do I begrudge others who do chose to enjoy it. In fact, I don’t feel anything about my stance on tiramisu, it’s just a part of who I am, like the way I take my tea and how I prefer cats to dogs. If, perchance, I meet a dog person I don’t feel guilty because I prefer cats, it’s just something that’s noted and we all move on. However, there are some people with dogs who couldn’t date a cat person, that’s a deal breaker to them, which is fair enough. I’m not going to suddenly force myself to love dogs and force a fit where there isn’t one, and neither should you.
- Accept the consequences and take them in your stride– Ok, so telling someone you aren’t going to sleep with them is never going to be music to a lot of people’s ears. Be prepared for the fact that you may well encounter people that can’t handle it. You can’t please everyone with this approach to dating, it’s statistically impossible, but, believe me, there are plenty of people who would be willing to try, or who just won’t care and will want to date you anyway you handsome devil.
Having slightly more conservative attitudes towards sex than the average person is no easy feat in the modern dating world, but it is possible to navigate your way through. We all just need to get better at talking about sex and not apologising when we do and don’t want it. Sometimes the mashing together of different cultures can create by-products like this. There will always be certain things that don’t align with the western way of doing things and, if we aren’t careful, these can become shrouded in shame or embarrassment when there really is no need. There is, absolutely, a way for modern Muslims to engage with and be active in the dating world but it begins with open dialogue and being unabashed by the things you believe in.
Next time, we’ll be talking about bringing someone home to meet the parents. If you are a first generation Pakistani Muslim like me, you’ll know what a precarious minefield this can be.
Until next time!