As I’ve said before, Jordan is developing fast, and in its path, society stumbles over discrepancies between tradition and influences from the West.
One of these discrepancies is in dating.
The glue of Arab society is marriage. There are weddings and engagements every single weekend and most girls’ diaries resemble Jane’s in 27 Dresses. Marriage is on everyone’s lips here.
Traditional marriages are organised by the parents, and often the potential bride and groom don’t meet until late in the game. When they do meet, it’s always in the presence of a parent.
Because it’s not socially acceptable for boys and girls to be alone together, dating gets complicated.
As we all know, dating in the West presides on the idea that you’re taking time to get to know a person, and the M word is nowhere in sight on the first dates (actually, FYI, the first time I saw my fiancé I was already naming our kids).
So what does dating look like in Jordan?
I don’t know, because it happens covertly.
I have seen a pick up line in action though, and it sounded something like an interrogation: Did you go to uni? What does your dad do? Where are you from? and finally: Can I meet your parents?
First, he shows a strong interest in your marriageable qualities, and then brings the shock factor by directly asking the question every girl dreams of. Generally, he’s got no intention of meeting your parents – this is a new tactic.
To be fair, boys have it hard. There’s a lot of pressure to get hitched and girls only date with the intention of doing just that. They’ve got to offer something, right?
I don’t know. But from where I stand, dating in Jordan is far, far more complicated than in the UK, and leads to much more heartbreak – There’s so much more on the line.
An apt line from Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, bar the reference to India’s prohibition (oh, pun), on ‘Oriental’ dating (I, too, cringed at those words):
Twin problems of the city’s sophisticated, cosmopolitan youth: how to consume alcohol in a dry state; and how to romance girls in the best Western tradition, by taking them out to paint the town red, while at the same time preserving total secrecy, to avoid the very Oriental shame of a scandal?