The Love Thief: Part 2

While I realized I wasn’t ready to get married because I was not ready to depend on a guy financially, I also realized it was particularly difficult to avoid relationships altogether; seeing as there’s always that fascinating curiosity that draws one to someone they have recently met. That right there, is what has seen me try to date a couple of times; but due to my crippling anxiety, I’m always failing miserably.

The curiosity only gets me through the dating door, but my anxiety pulls me out of that situation just as fast. For instance, I once dated this Muslim guy, who was in so many ways my ‘dream guy’. He was physically attractive, had a great sense of humour and was very caring. Funny thing is, when we started talking we, or at least I, did not have any intentions of getting romantically involved with him.

In any case, since I knew he was Muslim, and I’m Catholic, I tried keeping him at arm’s length. This is because I knew even if we started dating somehow, our respective religions would present a great obstacle at some point. Case in point: in Islam, marriage is a contract that can be terminated at any time, while in the Catholic Church, it is a sacrament which can only be terminated by death.

As a matter of fact, the Catholic Church does not recognise the civil divorce. Therefore, if any of the parties want their marriage fully terminated, they can only seek an annulment by the church. Ideally what this means is that under civil law Catholics divorce all the time; a substantial number of divorce petitions are filed by parties married in the Catholic Church.

I remember getting shocked, when during my court clinicals in the second year of my legal studies, I came across divorce petitions filed by Catholics at the court registry. In my understanding at the time, Catholics never divorced. It is then I understood how it all works. Essentially, state law allows Catholics to divorce.

Nonetheless, this is just a procedural issue because with regard to the Catholic doctrine (Canon law), the couple is still married in God’s eyes, and as such, have no freedom to remarry. Ergo, a divorced Catholic purporting to remarry is only perceived to be committing adultery.

In light of this, I knew if I got involved with this guy, we would hit an iceberg at some point. In my thinking therefore, it was better to avoid that situation in the first place. Every time he brought up the idea of us dating, I would jokingly remind him that as a Muslim man he was allowed to marry up to four wives; something I would never be comfortable with.

However, we found ourselves chatting each day and before long we were already getting emotionally attached. Gradually we realised we were getting out of the ‘friend zone’ and into the dating zone. By then. I already liked him too much to care about his religion. Furthermore, since us dating wasn’t something preconceived, I had not had the time to engage my mind about all the things that could possibly go wrong. My anxiety was still in hibernation and I was really happy.

As months passed by, I became increasingly aware of the fact that our relationship was starting to feel every bit serious, and it’s at that point I started researching on Islam generally, just to get an idea of what I was getting myself into.

I even researched on mixed religion marriages just to get a feel of how they work, and if they are sustainable. I think he usually felt my apprehensiveness because he would constantly reassure me that he would do everything in his power to protect our relationship. His words were calming, and I think that put me at ease.

Over the months, we became so ok with each other’s religion, that he would refer to me as ‘my Catholic girl’. I, on the other hand, would remind him to say his prayers if the praying time reached while we were chatting. If we had questions about each other’s religion we would discuss them. It was just so interesting.

I wasn’t sure how it would turn out if eventually we chose to get married at some point, owing to the aforementioned religious differences; but every time I would just silence the tiny voice in my head telling me I was building myself up for an epic disappointment. I was so upbeat about our relationship working.

However, one evening while we were chatting I asked him if in the event we got married he would contemplate marrying another wife, given that Islam allows it. “I’m not sure”, was his nonchalant reply. Needless to say, that response broke my heart into tiny little shards. I felt that if he loved me for real, he wouldn’t contemplate marrying another woman.

That moment awakened my anxiety, and it sucked me in voraciously, like a fierce tornado. It’s at that point it hit me hard, that our relationship had no future. Even if I fell head-over-heels in love with him, we could never marry. As far as I was concerned, our halcyon days were over.

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