Start of Relationships

Traditional start of relationships in Tunisia - Tourism

Please note

Many who read these pages for the first time will be amazed by their content and won't believe what they read there. Others think that they will never come into the situation that they will fall in love in their vacation.

But rest assured that we know very well what we are writing here about, because we lived or live in the country and had or have family links with Tunisians. We are also getting, every few days, letters in which we are being asked for help, assistance or assessment on problems and situations. Our impressions and advices arise both from our longtime and current experience.

Our urgent recommendation to the readers, is, therefore, that they take these articles very serious, even if they do not - or do not want to - believe it (yet) or cannot imagine the situations and circumstances described here. What is being described here is not just desires, hopes or wishes, but rather the reality!

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Traditionally, relationships in Tunisia begin when a tunisian man notices a tunisian woman whom he likes or when a tunisian woman is being recommended to him by his friends or tunisian family.
He will then, accompanied by members of his family (eg. the father) visit the parents of the woman and apply as a marriage candidate.

If her father did not immediately reject this request, he will then talk with the daughter (in some cases, the daughter even doesn't know the applicant yet).
In Tunisia, women are, though, not obliged to follow the wish or suggestion of her fathers, so there are no "forced marriages" in Tunisia.

If the two future spouses and their parents agree, then the next step is an official engagement, in which the man usually gives gifts and jewelry, almost always of gold, (ring and chain) to the fiance.
Only from this point on, the man and the woman are allowed to meet officially, but only under the supervision of a family member.

After a more or less long period of engagement, in which the two meet and get known to each other, the wedding will take place.

Of course, times are changing, even in Tunisia, and so, today, boys and girls meet as well in schools or on the street, in modern regions also in mixed cafes, in which not only men, but also women are allowed to enter.

In many cases, couples meet also "secretly" and in numerous cases, they also will have sexual intercourse (but only in rare cases a man will marry then "such a girl", because they, and their families as well, prefer those who are allegedly inncocent and conduct a "good" lifestyle).

After a while, the man will, in the traditional way, address the father of the woman officially ... or he will not do that at all, if he considered the affair to be just a matter of fun. In fact, the latter happens quite often and the men take here advantage of the naiveity of many young tunisian girls...

Relationships with Europeans

In most cases, things look quite differently, when Tunisian men start relationships with European women.

Here, the first contacts are made in public, the man will not even make the attempt to talk to the parents of the woman and he will invite her even after a few days to his family.

In many cases, sexual contacts and overnight stays take place, sometimes even in the home of the family of the man.

All this is, to the highest degree, contrary to the Tunisian tradition and culture - which means nothing else than that in most cases, such a relationship is not considered to be "honorable" and serious, but that there are other motives.
And this is well known to every tunisian, although hardly anyone will talk about it.

These "other" motives are, in almost all cases, free and easy to obtain physical relationships and the hope for financial benefits and for a visa to Europe.

In all fairness, it must be said that a Tunisian man will not always consider such a relationship in every case being an unilateral profit or exploit (aka. Bezness) - he rather usually assumes that his manhood ("strong, true man") alone is an adequate compensation for the benefits that he hopes to enjoy.
It sounds bizarre, but that is how it is. Amongst many tunisian men there is the firm conviction that western men are "cold" (because they do not feel the urge to have immediate physical relations when something excites them) and the women, therefore, primarily like Tunisian men who are "always ready".
And this is, according to the conviction of many tunisian men, even the main reason for women to go to Tunisia for their holidays!

Covertly, there are talks that entering into a relationship with women with eg. disabilities or who are much older is being considered a "service" for the woman, which shall result in payments/benefits for the man.

Nobody should delude oneself - women, who are not chased by men in other countries who are 10, 20 and more years younger, will not seriously be chased in Tunisia either.
And if they are, then the only reason for that is, because the men expect it to be advantageous for them, and, in their way of thinking, as well for the woman.

If this is clear to both parties, when they enter a relationship, then there won't be a problem, because then each party knows what they are getting, what they are involved in and what price they will have to pay.
But those who make the mistake of believing in romantic infatuation of "greatest love" with the Tunisian partner, they will pay for it, sooner or later, in one way or another, and that is as sure as death follows life.

Of course, they are exceptions, but those are based on very special conditions and chances that are as rare as a strike in a lottery - and they almost never will happen with relationships between tourist women and tourist workers.

Work in the tourism industry

First it must be noted that, contrary to popular belief, not every Tunisian wants to leave Tunisia for another country at any costs.
In most cases, the ones who want to leave the country are younger, come from lower social and financial backgrounds and have often no higher education level or a respectable job and/or men who have family members living in Europe already that will act as an "anchor" point.
However, all of them have idealistic, unrealistic ideas about the life in Europe and their chances for work.

Namely, a Tunisian who has a good job and comes from a family with good status, which puts an emphasis on tradition, has either no desire to leave Tunisia - or, if he considers this, then he will try to do so by his own powers, but never with the help of a relationship with a "foreigner".

Moreover, the work in the tourist industry, even if it is profitable for Tunisians, is socially not acceptable, so, apart from high income positions (eg. Manager, Director), one will only rarely find a Tunisian "of standing" as an animator, a waiter, salesman or towel delivery boy.

These are all low qualification jobs, which are performed in an environment contrary to traditional and religious beliefs (serving alcohol, viewing half-dressed women, etc.), and are, in this context, not really the best pick for men or women - much less for women, even.

Workers in the tourism industry are only there because it promises to yield an higher profit or because they have not found something otherwise - these professions are not loved "and dreamed of by anyone", and that goes for 99% of the total workforce there.


Start of relationships in Tunisia - Part 2

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