“I’m increasingly coming to terms with the fact that I may never get married,” said Mustafa, a 34-year-old Black Muslim man who asked that we not use his real name.
He has been on two dates with women he met on dating apps in the past year – and they left him feeling fatigued and doubtful that he would ever find a genuine connection with someone.
He had turned to the apps, he said, because, there is no dating scene in his British-Somali community. But, he lamented, “it’s really hard to find someone. And that’s true for every online dating app, it doesn’t matter if it’s Muzmatch, Tinder or Hinge.”
This is not how Mustafa imagined his life would be in his mid-thirties. When he was younger, he pictured himself as a devoted husband and loving father to a couple of children by now. In this mental image of familial bliss, he was also living in a picturesque cottage in the English countryside complete with “a lake or something”.
Instead, he recently celebrated his 34th birthday single and living in a flat overlooking the Wembley Stadium arch in North West London. But, he added with a shrug, “I’ve started learning how to cycle.”
Discussing his hobbies and interests – cycling, reading, writing – he sounds more optimistic. He has directed his energy away from the fickle and unpredictable pursuit of love and towards those variables of his life he can control, like picking up new pastimes. He isn’t alone in this.
‘All they see is a Black guy’
Although the United Kingdom’s Black Muslim community is culturally diverse, including people from a wide range of African and Caribbean backgrounds, it only comprises 10 percent of the UK’s Muslim population. This can make dating or finding a marriage partner particularly difficult.
A recent survey by Muzmatch, a Muslim-specific dating app that has been heralded for helping 20,000 Muslims meet and marry since its launch in 2015, revealed the challenges faced by Black Muslims dating in the UK. Muzmatch asked 471 of their members from different ethnic groups if they felt that race and ethnicity affected the matches they received and whether they had negative experiences as a result of this. In their answers, Black users pointed to a range of issues – including fetishisation, colourism and discrimination.
Most of the Black women surveyed complained about being fetishised and branded “exotic”. One West African woman described how dark-skinned women were considered unattractive and how she …….