9 Christian Women Share with Us Why It’s Challenging to Find Love in Egypt
If you have a Christian childhood friend, one thing you will always hear her talking about is the challenge of finding love in Egypt where Christianity is a minority religion. While most of the over-3o-year-old women you meet are happily married, getting there is without doubt no walk in the park.
The highly restrictive rules against divorce, being a part of a small community where everyone knows each other’s past and belonging to different sects are just some of the challenges that burden women and men equally. Getting married in Egypt can be difficult without adding religion to the equation – considering the rise in prices versus the average citizen’s income in addition to the demands of complying to the cultural rules of marriage.
In an attempt to fully understand the trials and tribulations of finding love, we asked nine Egyptian women, from different age groups and social upbringing, about their relationship experiences.
“We are a small community, most of us know each other through parents or church, you’ve known most of the men that would make suitable husbands since you were a child, so they’re basically friend/brother-zoned, and it is very difficult to change the way you look at them”, T.N. told us.
“I have been in love for six years and we still haven’t got engaged, and it is not just him who isn’t moving forward, I am also very worried about not being able to get divorced if for some reason we were both miserable. No matter how much time passes, you are never a 100% sure of your decision”, K.G. told us.
“I dated a very high profile guy when I was in college and unfortunately I didn’t expect it to haunt me till my late 30s. Everyone I meet somehow knows everything that happened between us and although it was a very decent and cute relationship that didn’t work out because his parents did not accept my tayfa (sect), it is becoming a Scarlet letter with every man I meet”, L.K. told us.
“I would say the biggest challenges I’ve had to face are the fact that we all know each other, so if you are a church-goer with a past, you are literally screwed. You always get asked who is your priest, or whether you’re from the same sect. These are issues that strain the relationship that is already hard to maintain when religion isn’t even on the table”, D.S. told us.
“Most of the Christians in my sect travel abroad to study, work or immigrate because they don’t really see a future for themselves in Egypt, so it lessens the choices and the chances that you actually fall in love”, Y.V. told us
“It is a very small circle and chances are you will end up with a guy who one of your close friends was dating. One of my best friends is married to a guy who dated me and another friend for a while. It could get very awkward”, I.K. told us.
“I am an orthodox who fell in love with a protestant guy. My family absolutely disagree with the concept of inter-sect; most families don’t like it unless both sides are open-minded. I had to end the relationship and I haven’t been with anyone since”, S.D. told us.
“I was engaged to an orthodox guy and the marriage arrangements ruined it. The guy was okay with becoming a catholic, however it was very difficult for his parents to accept it. They tried for a whole year to convince me and my family that I should be the one who changes sects. It became worse during their fast. They would intentionally make me feel bad for doing things in a different way. It became a who-is-better game that I did not want to be a part of anymore. Yet, some couples make it work easily if they settle the whole which church we’ll go to issue”, M.C. told us.
“You would think only your actions can affect your eligibility as a bride, yet your parent’s past has a big say in what happens to you. This is an issue for everyone not just Christians, but because we are a minority, we all know everything about everyone. It is so difficult for me to escape my mom’s past, which is that she wanted to marry a Muslim when she was in college. She didn’t even go through with it but it managed to ruin my relationships”, H.K. told us.
WE SAID THIS: Names have been removed to protect the privacy of those interviewed.