Reader Questions: Dating an Algerian Man; My Response

Reader Questions: Dating an Algerian Man; My Response September 16, 2013

Last week when I received the letter from Amy, I responded immediately because I didn’t know if she would be willing to let me share her story with you. It takes a lot to reach out to complete strangers and ask for help. Then, when she granted me permission to ask your advise, I held back my response because I wanted to see if you would tell her anything different.

This is my response:

Dear Amy,
I am SO happy to hear from you!
After reading your story a few times, I had several thoughts.
1st. I have 2 friends who are married to Algerian men. I wonder what they would think of this story.
Then, I thought about your individual worries.
He lied about his name/nationality. – It does happen all the time in online dating sites. The problem started when he didn’t come clean on your first date.  If this is not a deal breaker for you, then don’t let it become a bigger issue. The thing I see is that he has to regain your trust. Its difficult to say that only after a month that he’s already untrustworthy but this has to be something you are comfortable with.  I listen to Dan Savage quite often and he talks about online dating and things that end up being red flags and what are caution flags.  I would say proceed with caution, but this is my opinion. 🙂
You are not sure if he is religious or not. – Not all Muslims are observant! Just like in any religion, you have those that are very conservative and some that are very liberal.  You have very religious families and some who are not observant.  In those two spectrum you have stages along the way.  You also have those who are not religious just because it is too much work in America. Overseas, you have a mosque on every street corner.  When it is time to pray, you can hear the call to prayer from everywhere because every mosque calls. Here, you have to work hard to find a place to pray. You have to search for a community, you have to explain yourself to non-Muslims. It is scary, now post 9/11 to be Muslim in America. He may not fast Ramadan because it is really very difficult to fast when you don’t have a support system. If you are living alone in a community of non-Muslims, it is just easier to stop being observant and assimilate.
There are also Muslim men who are not terribly observant when they are young, but become more observant as they grow older or whom become more observant when they are around their family. This is not something that you will be able to know right away. It would give you some clues if he invites you to ‘meet’ his family via skype and you can see his mother and how they interact.
It is not that unusual that he is not interested in dating around, that he is only interested in dating towards marriage. HOWEVER, this is usually the case with religious men. In Islam, there is no casual dating. So, this is a little contradictory IMO.
That he is fine with dating/marrying a Christian or Jewish woman and you not converting. Well, Muslims, Christians and Jews all believe in 1 God.  That is why it is permissible for the three religions to intermarry. The red flag for me is that you said you are a non-believing Buddhist. Does he understand that you do not believe in God? As for him agreeing to allowing the children to have religious choice, it is possible that above all of my contradictory observations he actually is non-practicing and is not concerned with defining a religion for the family.
I agree with him in giving your relationship time. Yes, he’s beautiful. Yes, he has a sexy accent. Yes, he is exotic. But all that wears off eventually. When it comes down to it, do you trust him? Is he being transparent with you and his family? Does his family accept you? Does he make enough money to support himself? Does he have his own Green Card/What is his immigration status? Is he your intellectual equal?
I will post Amy’s responses to my questions in the comments.
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  • Amy’s responses:

    ** He lied about his name/nationality – one friend says once a liar, always a liar. I’m not sure I disagree with that, especially having years of experience with my ex husband. however, he seems to have legitimate reasons. He asked me to be honest, that if his profile said Muslim Arab working as a cashier, would i have given him the time of day. I said no, i probably would not have, despite the fact that i care more about a person’s heart than what they do for a living or where they’ve come from. Stereotypes exist because some people perpetuate them while others completely contradict those same stereotypes. I prefer to judge a person on their initial intention and final follow through, rather than how society says they will most likely act.

    And yet, in hind sight, there were plenty of opportunities for him to come clean before I busted him…but he didn’t. I will say that i don’t think he has lied to me since coming clean. Do i know that for sure? No, of course not.

    **Religious observance – all I know about his family is that his parents are still married, he has one older sister, one older brother and one younger brother. They all still live in Algiers. The older ones are married with children. He says he talks to them about me and tells me that they can’t wait to meet me. I told him on our second date, when he said he wanted to take me home to meet his family, that I would never visit, let alone live in, Algeria; that I have never nor will i ever believe in God; and that I well never convert to Islam. He has said he’s okay with that. We went over this same topic a few days later. When I suggested that we don’t have children because i don’t believe in god and would never convert, he asked if we were dating just for dating, and what do i want from him. I said it all depends on what he wants. If he’s looking to marry a woman who will follow Islam, that’s not me. It never will be. Just as i would never convert to Catholicism or Judaism. I have the utmost respect for anyone wanting to worship god, but it’s just not for me. i told him if he’s looking to marry a woman, no matter what her religious beliefs are, and raise children in a non-religious household, then i could see us down that road. But we have a long ways to go before that even comes into play. Again, it’s only been 2-1/2 weeks since we started talking. I’ve already been married so it’s not a big deal that i’m not married right now, i’m really not rushing into anything. I’m having a great time with him, he’s the first guy I’m dating after my divorce and I’m having a blast with him, whether it works out in the end or not. Ultimately, i think all that matters is the way we treat each other, but not so many people think so. They’re afraid I’m going to get hurt. For crying out loud, an American hurt me for years but heaven forbid a Muslim Arab could hurt me more than my ex.

    Do you think I’m overreacting to not ever wanting to visit Algeria?

    **Thanks for explaining the difficulties Muslims have with prayer because of the lack of mosques and not fasting because of the lack of family support. he hasn’t seen his family in 5 years, although his brother may come to visit in the new year, but he has to get his Visa first.

    **Do I trust him? He’s asked me this directly. What I’ve told him, I’ll tell you; yes and no. I told him I’d give him a chance to redeem himself for lying about who he was to start, because it did seem like a plausible excuse. So far, I think he’s been very honest. He is very confident, borderline arrogant (which I think is another bad sign, but i could also be reading too much into it, so only time will tell). I want to trust him, but he started with such a huge lie, multiple lies interwoven into his initial story. What if I didn’t find out when I did that it was a lie? How long would the lie have gone on? No one can know that. It’s out in the open now, and that’s what matters.

    **He says he understands about me not believing in god. He says he doesn’t have a problem with it, but i have my doubts.

    **Transparency with me and his family, and does his family accept me. He says they can’t wait to meet me.

    **Does he make enough money to support himself? He says that he pays his rent, buys himself decent but not too expensive clothes, and takes care of himself, which he does seem to do. He said he knows I make a lot more than him but that I would never see that he earns less than me. That we will always share in everything.

    **Immigration status: yeah, he also confessed that he’s here illegally. He had a visa to come here 5 years ago but it “expired a long time ago.” When that came out, I said if you want to be with me, you’re going to eventually have to reapply for your papers. I’m not sure if he ever really answered me on that one. But again, only time can tell.

    **Intellectual equal: I think we are, but like he says, only time will tell if we make a good couple. It’s only been 2&1/2 weeks since we met online. Our 4th date will be this Friday at the beach. We have much more to sort out, but i feel the connection, he says he does too.

  • Rachael

    It def is too early. If he is here illegally, than I don’t think he can just re-apply. Usually they only give school visas and visas applied through family. If you stay illegally and get caught (ie pulled over, speeding ticket etc), then he will get deported. Do you want to invest your feelings/time into someone who might unexpectantly leave you? That will really hurt, because its something you both don’t want. I feel like you should be doing some more investigating. Find out if there was previous women to you. If he has been here for 5 years, then he def has dated other women. I would try a bit of reverse psychology with him. Ask him if you wanted to marry him next week, would he? If he says yes, then I think that is a red flag.

    I also think its a little closed minded to say you would never even visit there. Is there a reason why you won’t? I currently now live in my husbands home country (Palestine), and a year ago I never thought I would be here. But my husband got a job and his parents are here. And we’re married. And marriages are compromises. There is not a day that goes by tho that I dont want to be back home with my family.

    If you can take as much time with him as you can, do it.

  • M.

    He may be the real thing, but be cautious the whole way through. I think there are many red flags here. I also find it disturbing that you have to excuse or make compromises in your head for many things. Also, if he’s dating for marriage… could he be also dating for marriage so he can have his green card/visa? Perhaps take a step back and date several people in addition to him and see if that helps you make a more informed choice. Best of luck!

  • Jana

    Amy,

    Thank you for responding to my comments in the last post. His immigration status is a big deal, it will be hard, if not impossible to move forward in a relationship when he has no status in America. I know of a situation where an American married a woman from Morocco, the woman came to the States on a Visa. They got lazy and let the visa expire. Months later they got a knock at the door at 5 am, it was immigration and she was deported back to Morocco. After some time she managed to get a visa to Canada, her husband comes up to see her a couple weekends out of the month, as she is not allowed to enter the States anymore.

    I don’t agree with “M” that you should date a bunch of people in addition to him….you are a grown woman, that kind of drama will only fog up your head, not make things clearer. Take things slowly and don’t get your hopes up. You don’t want to be hurt, so don’t let yourself.

    I also want to point out that there are Muslims who are born into the religion and then there are Muslims who practice their religion, just like in any other religion. Your ex husband didn’t hurt you because he’s an American and if it does happen that this guy hurts you, it’s not because he’s an Arab Muslim, it’s because some men are jerks, immature, uncaring…..etc, etc.

  • za

    Hia again. I’m married to an Algerian and visited it twice, happy to share my (horrid and nice) experiences, if you care to hear!

    • Za it’s nice to meet you! We can always learn from sharing with each other.

    • Cinz

      I’d love to hear them

    • michelle

      za i would love to hear as iam married to a algerian and would love to visit ther

  • za

    Great, I am going to elaborate on the comments page of the previous post. Love your blog

  • Anonymous

    I have been talking to a young algerian male for almost three years now. Yes he is very attractive and charming. He has asked for money two times. I said I do not give money to anyone. We are talking but I am bored with his conversation he seems very shallow and boring now. Its funny how their charm becomes so dull after awhile.

    Lucy

  • Anonymous

    I have been talking to a young algerian male for almost three years now. Yes he is very attractive and charming. He has asked for money two times. I said I do not give money to anyone. We are talking but I am bored with his conversation he seems very shallow and boring now. Its funny how their charm becomes so dull after awhile.

    Lucy