Back in the Market
Six months after my ‘ iddah ended, the intensity of my angst had waned, by counselling, journaling, confiding in bosom buddies, listening to self-love meditation, yoga sessions, walks in the forest, and doing trauma release exercises. I toyed with the idea of embarking upon the online dating world, somewhat apprehensively as I wondered if the timing was too soon, post-divorce. On the other hand, I also had not spoken to a man as a potential husband for more than 11 years, and was curious about the market. How easy would it be to find eligible Muslim men as a divorcee and mother? I told myself that indeed, it might be too soon to meet someone seriously for marriage, but what was the harm of taking a peek? Furthermore, it often takes time to get to know someone, perhaps a year or so. What was wrong with merely having a conversation? So I got the Muzmatch app, created a profile, albeit cautiously, and was on. As a woman who does not display my photographs on social media, I initially blurred my pics, hoping that I would attract a man who was drawn by the content of my profile. No such luck, not a single man liked my profile, and I realised that I would inevitably have to display my pics. The Profile Pic and Other Pics of Me were an adventure all on their own. During my marriage I had buried any narcissistic tendencies I may have had, especially since my son was born. From the moment of his birth, it is as if “I” had ceased to exist, and every aspect of my attention was directed towards him. In every single photograph from that moment, he was the character at centre stage, with my ex-husband and I merely supporting props in the pictures. Beyond my instinct to adore and fawn over my son, my marriage was decaying, as was my self-esteem. From about 6 months post-partum, I felt the barrenness of my marriage, the schism between us becoming more expansive, the loneliness becoming more acute. I retreated into the dark shadows of my mind, and started to feel worse and worse about myself. Yet now, post-divorce, I have a more independent child, and have been endeavouring to regain a sense of self, and a healthier self-esteem. I am well-aware than in order to be a good mother, I need to be a fulfilled and happy mother, and part of that is also having happy relationships. Yes, I would like to remarry. Yes, I want love, warmth, kindness and intimacy. So here we are. On a Muslim dating app. Back to the Profile Pic and Other Pics of Me: I entered the world of selfies. I needed pics of myself that didn’t include my child. A pic where I looked happy, well, not dolled up but also not too drab, with good lighting. I connected with my narcissistic side, taking pics and selecting the ideal portrait and full body shots for my profile. It still makes me feel slightly strange that men all over the world are able to behold me with their eyes, for as long as they like. Good men, decent men, sleazy men, disturbed men. Perhaps even my ex. All kinds of men. But what other options do we have? We all know of some couple who met online and ended up having a successful marriage. Perhaps we will be of the lucky ones? So I tried to ignore that uncomfortable feeling, and proceeded to expose my pictures. The process made me think of a panel discussion on marriage I watched on Youtube, where the scholar mentioned that it is sad that in this age we are compelled to approach a deeply sacred covenant (marriage) in very profane ways. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enypq6z4If0 The online dating world can be quite profane indeed.