Over the last few years, the path towards marriage for single muslims has taken a significant turn. Once upon a time, if singles were struggling to meet someone, they could only really turn to their family members, friends or rishta aunties, to help introduce them to potential partners. But that was then. Now, single muslims have thousands of eligible singles in the palm of their hand.
It all started with the introduction of online dating, with sites like singlemuslim.com and Shaadi.com, coming onto the scene. Although their members grew, couples that met through these platforms, and single muslims in general, weren’t always happy to announce they’d signed themselves up to a matrimonial site. For many, they were almost always worried it carried a stigma in their communities and amongst their extended family members, as if it was some kind of last chance, desperate attempt at marriage! So it wasn’t that uncommon for these ‘online’ couples to lie about how they met.
Fast forward to 2020 and the online, ‘halal dating’ scene looks completely different.
The Dating App Era Begins
With the rise of apps like tinder, it’s safe to say, many single muslims felt like there was a gap in the market for a ‘halal’ friendly version. Naturally, (and it didn’t take very long!), Muzmatch and Minder were born. Two of the most successful halal dating apps on the scene. So successful, that singles now confidently discuss their profiles and dating disasters all over social media.
So with the rise of apps, and millions of users (at the time of writing, Muzmatch has close to 3Million users) – Who’d have ever imagined a time, where you’d have so many options and yet feel you have no real choices?
The Unintended Consequences
You know this story all too well by now. You’ve spent a couple nights swiping and by the end of the week, you have a handful of matches in your inbox. You start a conversation with half of them, and a few days later – radio silence. And the cycle continues.
What was it? Why didn’t Mohammed want to meet? Ahmed thought you might not be adventurous enough? The salams faded into nothing more than simple, boring pleasantries with Imran?
Take a moment and examine your internal monologue as you swipe over the next 300 guys on your phone. Too short? This ones not bad, but you could probably find someone with better job prospects? His photos not giving you the right energy? Men, and women alike, are swiping their way through countless options. With checklists and tick boxes they’re sometimes not even conscious of having. Ask your single friend what she (or He!) is looking for, and I’d be surprised if they didn’t use the phrase ‘just someone normal!’. Normal. Although, there is no such thing as ‘normal’ (let’s leave that discussion for another time), do you really think, out of the hundreds and thousands of options out there, that someone ‘normal’, a compatible match, doesn’t exist?
And here lies the problem. We are often unconsciously meeting potential partners with the paralysing notion, that there may well be a better option out there. So whilst these apps were born out of a genuine desire to make the journey to marriage easier, have they unintentionally made it more difficult than it’s ever been?
As Barry Shwartz, American Pscyhologist, talks about in his 2005 ted talk (watch it here), with so many options available, our expectations about how good something should be, go up. Frame this into the context of marriage, and it begs the question, is that why single muslims are finding it harder to marry? Take this a step further, and you begin to question – does this play a role in the growing number of muslims getting divorced?
Taking Barry Shwartz’s analysis on this ‘paradox of choice’, this paralysis from the literal, thousands of options available to us, means in our society, as Shwartz explains, making a decision has become so hard, that we either end up not making a choice at all or we’re less satisfied than if we had fewer options to choose from.
So in the world of halal dating, as single muslims keep swiping, it’s not hard to understand why both sexes feel it has become harder to make a ‘connection’ with anyone long enough for it to lead to marriage.
So with all this being said, what’s the solution for a single muslim, serious about finding a partner? Read part 2 next week. Till then, follow along on instagram to be notified of new posts and join in the conversation!
Barry Shwartz, Ted Talk (July, 2005) : https://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_the_paradox_of_choice?language=ab#t-1157634