single in the sandpit

Last weekend I went for a roast dinner (my first one in Dubai!) with three women I met via a meetup group (more on making friends in a new town another time). We had all met at least one of the group a couple of times before, but this was the first time we’d spent any time together as this combination of four.

Conversation was ticking along pleasantly, and about an hour in, someone asked “so, who out of us is single?” It turned out, three of us were. I was really surprised – a 75% single rate is probably the highest I’ve found in any social situation I’ve been in in nine months. It feels like everyone in Dubai is married, or at least well on their way to be. In my late twenties in London, I was always aware that I was in the minority as a single person, but as a 30 year old woman in Dubai, I feel very much like the odd one out. Women my age don’t move here on their own. They move with their husbands – either following him a few months after he’s set up here or embarking on the adventure together. I’ve lost count of the number of times people have asked me who I’m out here with (I’m old enough not to need parental supervision), who I live with (just myself, and it is WONDERFUL), or even just as blunt as where my husband is (you tell me love, you tell me).

The relationship status question opened the floodgates. The usual topics of ‘why is Tinder so awful’, ‘why is Bumble such hard work’, ‘why are men so terrified of commitment’ (the constant million dollar question of anyone unlucky enough to fling themselves into the dating fire pit) filled the conversation. Turns out there are single men here, they just all sound they should be gracing the pages of Take a Break magazine. I kicked off proceedings with my most recent dating story, but it turns out ‘he was perfectly lovely for two months, then ran for the hills at the slightest whiff of a relationship’ pales into actually being quite pleasant when compared to:

The story of the guy who rescued the woman he was dating from a not-insignificant adventure sport accident, stayed with her in hospital, provided for her in the 2+ months she wasn’t working, persuaded her to visit him in Oman, then the day before her flight, ghosted her. Communication severed – calls unanswered, texts not replied to, just like that. Only to be spotted on Instagram a few weeks later enjoying a helicopter ride with his new beau.

The story of the guy who lied about his nationality, lied about his job… and even lied about the fact that he was going to pay half the rent of the apartment he was sharing with his girlfriend, effectively leaving her homeless at twenty minutes notice.

The story of the guy who entered a UK-UAE long distance relationship with a woman who was living here, introducing her to all his extended family via Skype (including his nephews), eventually leading (after a couple of years) to her being persuaded to quit her job and return home from the Middle East to be with him, only to discover that said nephews were in fact sons, and there was also a wife in the picture.

Wish me luck everyone, dating in 2018 is going to (continue to) be a bumpy ride!


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