Dating in Libya
Courting is usually followed by dating, if you liked the previous post ....then here is how dating has evolved in Libya as I see it:
...So you’ve lied to each other for months or weeks, been on your best behaviour or had some ‘lover’s’ quarrels in which the winner was the one to hold out and not call the other first. You’ve made your dad broke on phone bills, and your brothers or sisters snigger when you answer the phone in that voice reserved only for him.
He thinks you are the Goddess of Sex incarnate and you think he is perfect marriage material, those hormones are at a loss and you’re weak at knees when you hear his voice, what next?
Next you wait for him to ask you to meet; you do not ask to meet him. Eventually that day comes, and he asks to meet with you on a date. In the 70s -80s you will not be able to sit at a café together, the few that are available are men’s domain, and you would cause a scandal by meeting there. But you have a few choices depending on HOW MUCH you want to sacrifice and your courage:
(1) meet in a street outside your area and stay talking at a respectable distance from each other; but risk having someone you know bump into you.
(2) Arrange to meet at the University café – only place where there are men and women sitting in public without anyone frowning.
(3) Go in his car (or a borrowed ca)r and either park somewhere discreet or drive around. Risks : someone may see you , and you’re toast , grounded.
(4) Go with him to a friend’s empty flat, or shop, or office. So not to risk being seen by others and ruin your reputation.However, by this you actually taint your honour as this guy knows very well what he is doing and he was testing how far you would go. Accepting this solution, unless he loves you very much, means you have failed, and are cheap and fair game, because now he is not going to try and meet you to discuss your future as a couple, but he is going to try to get you into bed or as close as possible to that. Now if you are caught, you risk a prison sentence for adultery, let alone pregnancy if you have been foolish enough and the least is dishonour, but you won’t get killed by your family or tribe. Some smarter girls take a chaperone who acts as a lookout as well.
Points 1-4 are not all as cynical as I make them sound, some girls enjoyed these things immensely, they were occasions to dress up - and putting a fruity or minted lip-gloss was risqué , the summum of sexiness. You also had to find a foolproof excuse to be absent for a couple of hours from home on a legitimate errand. This usually involved a lot of machinations. This was the 80s. I will leave it to the imagination of the readers as to what happened at those dates. But I can assume that like all relationship there was a 50/50 chance at success and movement to next step : the engagement. Most girls though did nab their man.
Enter the 90s, during those years we begun to be drowned with latino telenovellas and satellite TV, now the girls had other ideas at their disposal, universities were full and courting improving a bit over the earlier version, the guys stopped being total idiots. No girl was going to sweep the front door to see her man. Couples were increasingly acceptable on campus and the unfolding relationships we witnessed were very entertaining. The goal was to get your guy prior to graduation day! i. e. you get your degree + a ring on your finger. That was equated with success. Dating meant you got, valentine cards, and flowers, letters , teddy bears which became fashionable - you know the white ones with a red bow where the toy is holding a heart shaped red cushion with ‘I love you’ printed on it … How I loathe these, I think the Arab world has been flooded with them. My Arab readers ? do you recall those ? what about my non –Arab readers, did you OD on white teddy bears ?
If a man gets me one of these made in Taiwan white teddies I swear I will commit a crime !!!! Putting make up on was very much tolerated now, so some used and abused.
Dating also meant you get to go to a restaurant together.
These are all courting, flirting, dating and affairs behind your parent’s back.
While a ‘legal’ official courting was when the man who saw you out for example liked you followed you home then asked about you and brought his family to ask for your hand, then you had an engagement party and you spent a good time with your fiancée meeting legally, either suitably chaperoned lest dear Lucifer gives you ideas, or arranging secret un-chaperoned meetings ( see 2-4 again) link here. Another version is that you met through common acquaintances and again he asks to marry you either after a few phone calls or directly.
In 1995 internet and mobile technology was introduced but to a select few, while in 1998 everyone could access it but at exorbitant prices. By 1999, internet cafes were springing up everywhere and by 2002 many people had cellphones, by 2005 mobile technology was and essential part of youths and other’s everyday life and quite affordable. So how did the dating go during that decade up to now 2006?
We shall see … hopefully the fun continues =>