Here it is. The big one. Regardless of whether it’s right or not, it’s a reality. Muslims. Have. Relationships.
Not all of them do. A lot of them are extremely conscientious and want to save the whole thing for marriage. Good for them. But for those who do, it is often in secret. Which is unfortunate. But necessary, given some of the cultural baggage that we drag in with us.
Because we are so closet-y about relationships, however, some dangers arise. For some relationships are done in fun and perhaps are made more to be what they are. They have that “This is so wrong but it feels so right!” vibe, which makes the hormonal rush even more misleading.
Some people argue that relationships help us learn about the fairer/gruffer sex a lot more than we could have learned otherwise. Arguable, but I see their point.
I don’t think I need to get into the complications that relationships pose whether in the realm of Islam or not, and I’m certainly not going tell you, gentle Muslim reader, that you are wrong or right for being in one or not being in one. But the fact that it’s technically a no-no, and the fact that because it is wrong Muslims are repressed in an unhealthy way, paves ways to even further complexities.
I have a friend (who, for the purposes of this story, I will call a relatively ‘conservative’ Muslim) who in spite of doing everything she could not to do so, ended up in a relationship with someone who she really liked and who really liked her. A little over a year later, it ended. She was crushed. We did not see each other much while she was undergoing the initial shock of it, but what she told me later still deeply saddens me. “I’m not saying relationships are a good thing, or that it’s all right to go out with just anyone,” she said. “But sometimes I feel that people who are used to it, who have it as a part of their culture, know how to deal with it better than we do.” She was never a stranger to depression, but THIS, this awful black wave that kept swallowing her, what was it? Was she crazy? Was she being punished for what she did? Who could she ask for for help?
Chick lit gives countless accounts of women who upon being dumped are dragged out by their girlfriends and hooked up to IV drips of wine and chocolate. Because those friends have been there. They know of the horrible, horrible darkness that descends upon realizing that someone you really wanted to be with is no longer there. Since high school, and probably more times than necessary, and probably in relationships that were more dysfunctional than necessary. But they knew that black dog.
My friend knew nobody who knew of this. So she toiled and toiled, with no one telling her that she should keep herself busy in as many different things as possible, that this bad as this was, this would pass, that having come upon a bad day she would now know what a good day is, that she should exercise and eat and sleep well. While pretending everything was fine: to her family because they had no idea what she had been through, to her friends because they could not begin to comprehend what this was doing to her. She had to learn it the hard way.
So she could tell me when my time came.