Dear Neil: I’m in a year and a half relationship with a guy from Saudi Arabia. We are both professionals, but he is 26 and never married, and I am 37, divorced and I have 2 kids. Because we are Muslims, our relationship is not allowed, and his parents don’t know about us at all. I don’t know if he he is serious about me, whether he’s thinking about marrying me, or if he just desires a girlfriend. Any suggestions?
Needing Help in the Philippines
Dear Needing Help: Being in a relationship implies that the two of you talk about important issues and feelings. If you don’t know where your boyfriend stands regarding a future with you, ask him. And you could also tell him how you feel and what you want. Perhaps something like: “How are you feeling about us, and do you see yourself proposing anytime soon?” If he says he is undecided, you could ask him what he would need—or what it would take—for him to decide.
You being 37 with kids may mean you are ready to marry, and him being 26 may signify he’s not. You have so much more to lose than he does if you think about the scenario you described. He may feel he has all the time in the world, where you may not, and you have children to consider.
I am reluctant to advise about the religious aspects of your relationship because I don’t know enough about your faith, but it is my understanding that there is no Muslim law that prevents the two of you from marrying, although there may be a dictate about the two of you being chaste before marriage. That being said, having his parents supportive of his decision may be extremely important to him, and having his parents disapproval may be too much for him to deal with. This is why it is prudent for you to have the conversation with him now about how he envisions the future.
Dear Neil: Is it considered cheating if one person stays “active” on dating websites after a couple have become serious?
Wanting to Know
Dear Know: Yes. If you are on dating sites, you are representing yourself to the world as single and available, and you are putting temptations in front of you. If you have entered a serious relationship, presumably you do not want to do anything to threaten the stability of that relationship, hurt your partner or give him or her reasons to feel insecure around you.
If your partner finds out, you will have immediate and powerful trust issues in this relationship, and trust issues have a long afterlife and are hard to get rid of. You are therefore playing with fire if you stay active on dating sites while also being in a serious relationship.