When it comes to relationships, there is a fine line between being a caring, attentive partner and being a jealous, controlling one. Many Arab men cross that line on a regular basis.
And before #TeamMen gets defensive, let's make one thing clear: We agree that "not all Arab men" adopt such attitudes, so this post is strictly referring to those who do.
But the sad reality is that some toxic relationship habits have become so normalized in our communities that many women believe they simply have to put up with their controlling partners.
If you have an Arab boyfriend or male partner, here are 6 warning signs you should watch out for:
1. Policing your outfits
Just when you thought you've perfected the artistry of maneuvering your parents' dress code, your partner feels emboldened to police your wardrobe and asks you to wear less "revealing" clothes.
Why? Because he is jealous (read: threatened) that it might increase the chances of other guys being attracted to you.
He usually starts off with oh-so-adorable remarks about how he would prefer that you change your clothes "for your own sake." However, these remarks only become more frequent and aggressive longer into the relationship.
The funny thing is, he was probably well aware of your fashion preferences before getting together with you, yet he thought you were gullible enough to change the way you dress if he asked you to.
2. Undermining your job
He tells you to slow down and take a break when he sees you working hard, rather than encourage you to challenge your limits and fulfill your goals.
But it doesn't stop there. Some men go as far as refusing to let their partners work, especially after marrying them, claiming that this would "honor" them. Yup, that's actually a thing.
Contrary to popular belief, women are not delicate creatures in need of protection. Plus, working is not all about the financial benefits, but also about the personal sense of achievement and the sweet taste of independence.
3. Excessive and uncalled-for jealousy
Arab boyfriend jealousy is in a league of its own. Under the pretense of jealousy stemming from his love for you, your Arab boyfriend tends to be overprotective of you around other guys. He basically seems ready to punch anyone who remotely looks your way.
While some women might find such acts endearing, this kind of behavior raises red flags about major insecurity and control issues.
4. Dictating who you should be friends with
It goes without saying that men, and Arab ones in particular, often expect their partners to limit their friendships with male friends.
Some even try to control which female friends their partners can/cannot hang out with, often making shallow judgments based on first impressions.
You might experience this through comments along the lines of, "I don't trust her" and "I think she is a bad influence on you."
While such comments may be based on valid reasons in some cases, they often undermine your maturity and your ability to decide who to spend your time with.
5. Expecting you to spend all your free time with him
For many Arab men, being in a relationship means spending every waking moment with one's partner, whether in person or virtually.
So, your boyfriend might make you feel guilty for hanging out with your friends or doing some activity on your own while he is free. You might also notice that he is low-key isolating you from your friends and family because he wants you all for himself.
Newsflash: Spending time apart is pretty healthy for a relationship.
6. Over-protectiveness disguised as excessive pampering
Some Arab men's definition of "chivalry" includes treating their partners as children who need to be sheltered from the evils of the world. They undercut women's autonomy by trying to compel the latter to become dependent on them.
For example, some ask their partners to limit their outings on their own, while others insist on driving their partners around, accompanying them everywhere, and paying for them despite the latter's serious objections... all under the guise of pampering and protection.