Am I being manipulated or is this Arab culture?

I'm an Expat living in Saudi Arabia and 2 months ago I started dating this guy from the middle east because we had a lot of life goals in common (want to get married and have kids, sooner rather than later, not interested in messing around etc.). I've never dated an Arab guy before and to be honest had some preconceptions about Arab guys targeting western women for their money and passports as I've seen a lot of women here get taken advantage of in this way. Anyhow, to cut a long story short, I really like this guy and he takes SUCH good care of me. He drives me everywhere, remembers little things I need, anticipates my every want and lavishes his attention on me. The problem is that he wants me to either marry him or move in with him. Moving in without being married would be dangerous in this country but marrying him too soon could be equally danegrous as he would have rights over me, under Saudi law, and although I believe he is a good person fundamentally, I also believe he has some issues. So, much as I believe he is sincere when he says he wouldn't cause any problems for me if we wanted to divorce or move out from one another, I don't believe he knows himself well enough to guarantee he'll keep to it. So, now he wants to cut off contact until I decide if I want to move in with him or not. And if the answer is no he wants to break up as he says he put a lot of effort into me and doesn't want to waste his time. He says 2 months is more than enough time to know if you'll marry someone and is accusing me of playing games and being irresponsible. To me this sounds ridiculous, manipulative and accusatory. Not an indication we would marry well,... but I want to be open minded and give him a chance. My dilemma is that if I keep my mind too open, I'll be naive and possibly taken advantage of. Is this guy putting the pressure because he genuinely doesn't see why I wouldn't want to marry him, or trust him with my freedom? Is it normal in his culture to want marriage so soon? I mean he's Muslim but not religious... or is he manipulating me to get what he wants? He's about my age, knows I haven't got any money. His parents would not approve but he says he makes his own decisions. Also, he would not require me to 'revert'. Can someone please give me an outside perspective? I'm not stupid, and I really like this guy but something scares me and I don't know what: prejudice or a real issue?


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Most Helpful Guy

  • First of all you've only been dating him for two months. That's clearly not near enough time to focus on marriage. You still have so much to learn about the country, like the customs, where to go if you have an emergency. Hopefully what you are learning about the country and customs isn't coming from him, because if it is, then you may not be gaining accurate information.

    I really think that you may need to pull back the reigns on this one for the moment. If you are a Western woman, many guys there will see you as some sort of trophy, and many countries, women are viewed upon as possessions. The culture is pretty much biased in favor of the males there and women tend to have little to no recourse in terms of legal issues.

    If he does see you as his trophy, then chances are that may be a motivating factor as to why he's wanting to move to marriage so fast. Factor in the fact that you're far away from home so support from family and friends will be slow at best. Accompany that with your lack of knowledge and understanding of the customs, culture and legal recourse then it's clear that you will be so dependent on him for most of your needs. He will have you isolated and all your actions will have to go through him.

    It may not appear as manipulation to you right now, because he's "courting you" so he's playing up the nice guy persona to keep your interest. Once you're married, what will be the motivation for him to continue that persona? At that point he will know he has you and it will be difficult if not impossible to break free.

    If I were you, I would definitely put the breaks on this situation, even if you don't stop it, it is urgent that you slow it down. If he genuinely cares for you, he will understand you, support your decision and not pressure you into a situation that you may come to regret later.

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    • I forgot to add it, even when you do seek help, things will be complicated by language barriers as well. You have a lot to consider before you agree to a marriage there.

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What Guys Said 3

  • Others have already said much of what I would say. But I wanted to focus on one thing you said.

    You said: " His parents would not approve but he says he makes his own decisions."

    Just because he makes his own decisions, doesn't mean his family will go along with it. It will not be like in the west where the family stays out of it. They might view his actions as a black mark on the family name. They might feel **obligated** to take action on it. So don't think for a minute that him acting on his own means the family won't get involved. They can put him under all kinds of pressure, or act on their own.

    I'm not familiar with Saudi Arabia, but in other parts of the middle east the family name and image can be VERY important. The image presented to the outside world may be very different than what is said and done behind your back. Here in the west this is what we call being two-faced. This guy is courting you and showing you one face - and you may not find out what the other face is until it's too late.

    I think you are playing with fire with this guy.

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  • I'd bet on manipulation, and your passport. 2 months is a short time to really know someone from another culture, and he'd have totalrights over the kids in his country, among other things.

    I'm not an expert on Saudi culture, but I know people there don't rush intomarriage when the family is involved. I think he's tryng to take advantage of the relative freedom he has with a Western woman.

    And I just do't believe he wouldn't take advantage of Saudi law if there's a divorce; you likely wouldn't see your kids again, according to my understanding.

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  • He's being manipulative. No more words.

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What Girls Said 2

  • real issue! please listen to your heart! very manipulative. He does not know himself either. He will be influenced by his culture. If it sounds rediculous then it is. Take care of yourself and stay away, it is really a warning from him really! You will care about another person, this sounds NOT GOOD. Save yourself the headache. He will change on you as soon as you marry him for the worst fears you have. Good luck! Once you marry him, there's no one to help you!

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  • u knew the laws before getting involved. and you know the laws when you say you and him both shared the common goal of marriage. same laws then as now. so I'm not sure why you suddenly worry about marriage. unless you had not planned on living there.

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    • I had planned on not living together or getting married while in Saudi unless I know the guy is solid. 2 months in't long enough to hand yourself over to someone, is it? I'm wondering what his big hurry is?

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