Helen Coffey wants to meet a fellow Christian to share her life with, so signs up to a religious dating site. She, like other youthful religious women, finds the practice isn’t fairly what she hoped for
11:00AM BST 24 Jun 2014
“,Do you mind if I beg real quick?”,
This is the question posed by the man opposite me, the man with whom I am on a date. A very first date, I might add. In a elegant, Soho cafe, surrounded by people. Lots of people. With ears.
Plead? Here? Truly? I look around nervously. Before I’ve had a chance to utter the words: “,Don’t, please, just…,don’t,”, he has already placed a hard palm on my arm, bowed his head and proceeded to launch into telling grace, audibly enough that several other tables in the joint have turned to stare in bemusement.
I want to die. I want the ground to gulp me up. It is as cringeworthy to me as an gig of Fawlty Towers, with Basil running around hitting Manuel senseless with a frying pan.
I suppose I brought this on myself –, after all, I met the Public Pleading Man (as he shall henceforth be known) on a Christian dating site. I gave way for several reasons. Firstly, because my Christian faith is significant to me, and I would ideally like to share that with the man I end up with. Secondly, where else do you meet Christians these days? What with more female churchgoers than boys, the odds are already stacked against women and sometimes you have no choice but to look outside your instant pool. And thirdly, because I’d become truly tired of attempting to explain my faith to the atheists I was dating, who at best looked on it as a quaint eccentricity, and at worst just thought I was an idiot.
Unluckily, as hit and miss as internet dating can be on mainstream, generic sites, it gets even worse on the niche ones, contrary to what you’d expect –, at least in my practice and several other women I’ve collective tales of woe with.
Scrolling through Christian Connection, the most popular UK Christian dating site, profile after profile said almost nothing about the fellows in question. Instead said blokes had chosen to write strings of generic proclamations about how much they loved the Lord. Come on. I was getting that vibe already guys, considering you’ve chosen to join a religious dating site. Way to state the demonstrable and waste your digital calling card.
There was also a serious sense of humour failure, as if the boys on there were worried that “,being a bit funny”, is the work of Satan and no self-respecting Christian would dare make a joke. It was all so banal, so pleasant, so utterly devoid of irony or character or anything interesting. “,But these aren’t my sort of people!”, I thought despairingly. “,This won’t do at all!”,
Then there were the messages
The best was from a man on a boat. He was writing from the waters off the coast of Canada, and wondered if I’d wait for him. He was due some leave from his unspecified nautical job in three months, and could we “,meet up and see how things progress?”, Hmmm.
There were slew more from those who clearly weren’t a good match –, guys in the 50 plus age bracket, guys who lived in Australia, guys who were saving their very first smooch for marriage.
At least Public Begging Man made it to the dating stage –, but his penchant for telling grace out noisy made me feel, as many of the fellows’s profiles did, that I wasn’t Christian enough to go out with a Christian. Because while my religion is foundational, from then on in, I am still an individual with my own tastes, likes, dislikes and sense of humour. Having a religion in common with someone doesn’t actually assure you have anything else in common.
Of course, it’s not just Christian women who attempt and find a fucking partner who will share their culture and beliefs.
Jewish online dating
Leah*, an accountant from London, tells me how she joined JDate, the leading dating website for the Jewish community, because it’s significant to her that the potential father of her children would be able to train them about their heritage.
“,It’s pressure from my family but also pressure from myself –, I think life would just be lighter, and better, if my playmate was Jewish,”, she tells me.
“,I don’,t truly meet Jewish people in everyday life, I don’,t go to Jewish events and my social circle isn’,t particularly Jewish. My friend was on JDate and said it was joy.”,
Some of the issues she’s come across are similar –, lots of messages from people in the older age bracket, and guys who are based in frantically inconvenient locations, like Israel or America.
There’s also the sense that some boys are using their profile to advertise themselves as the flawless Jewish husband-in-waiting: “,Lots of them are just looking for a wifey, ASAP –, they post pictures of them with their nieces and nephews, basically telling, ‘look what a fine dad I’ll be’. It’s a bit off-putting.”,
And for Leah, herself an interesting, intelligent youthful woman, the boys on the site seem a little, well, uncool. “,In all honesty, there just aren’t many attractive dudes on there. You begin to feel like you’re looking at everyone who’s left on the shelf.”,
One Muslim woman’s practice
For Muslims using an internet dating site, such as Bestmuslim.com and Muslim Mix up, I’,ve heard that the problems can get even more unsettling. As well as the issues of “,he’s too pious,”, or “,he’s just a bit boring,”, there can be far greater worries about whether potential suitors are simply weighing up your worth based on your capability to secure them a visa.
“,I’ve attempted a few of the most popular Muslim dating sites,”, says Aisha*, a Sunni Muslim. “,On one, I got explosions of emails from guys 15 years junior than me living in Pakistan and India, who just wished an chance to budge to the West.
“,I contacted the administrator of the website and asked her how to stop these creeps from permanently clicking on my profile and sending me emails. She said I was out of luck.”,
Sure enough, when you check out the forum on free Muslim dating site, Helahel.com, an alarming number of posts are from youthfull studs (or so they claim), essentially advertising themselves as rent boys. “,I NEED ONLY HELP . UK . USA . CANADA . SPAIN . UNITED ARAB .AMARATES PLEASE MARRY ME IF ANY OLD LADY OR Dame WANT Youthful BOY FOR Utter LIFE WITH 50 YEARS AGRIMENT [sic]”, reads one post.
So what hope is there for the normal religious women looking for love?
The entire practice raises a thicker question: how do you find someone of faith to share your life with when you are in a minority? Sure, there are success stories –, we’ve all known someone who knows someone who found her “,soulmate”, online. They will tell you that if you just want it enough, and you keep attempting, and you accept that you have to get through 50 frogs to find the one excellent catch, and you don’t give up hope even on your 70th appallingly bad date…,then you’ll get there. Eventually.
But as for me, I’m weakened even thinking about it. It turns dating into a full-time job, and I’m already fortunate enough to have one of those. For now, I’m going to stop looking for a while. Maybe there I will use more Christian dating websites in the future, but for now, I’m leaving my love life in the arms of God.
*names have been switched
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