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:
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.