When you fall in love in Egypt (and you’re a foreigner)

When you fall in love in Egypt, you’re almost in trouble.

You can go out together, but you can’t kiss in the streets.

You can kiss at home, but the porter won’t allow him to come upstairs.

Because girls are not allowed to have male guests, and vice versa.

If your porter allows him to come upstairs, he will probably have to leave at some point because he lives with his family and can’t spend the night outside.

He’s probably engaged, he’s probably going to get married to an Egyptian girl.

If this is the case, you will be “his little secret”.

And if he’s single, he’s probably not willing to marry a foreign girl.

If he wants to marry a foreign girl, it could be because he wants to leave Egypt. (I said it could be. This is not always the case… But you have to be smart to understand.)

When you want to have a holiday together, you can’t sleep in the same hotel room unless you’re married. Yes, this is Egyptian law.

When you’re a foreign girl and you go out with an Egyptian guy, you’ll get “that look” from people a lot. Many people here just think we are sex machines (because I don’t want to use the term “whores”. Ops, did I say that?).

Even if you’re single and you’re going out on your own you will get “that look” a lot.

Some guys may want to be with a foreign girls just to have sex, but will never stop telling you they love you. It might be too late when you understand they were lying.

When you fall in love in Egypt, you fall in love in a mostly chauvinist country. You might not get as many attentions from him as you would like. And he will even think he’s doing great.

Beware of the ones that tell you “don’t worry, I am one of the open minded ones”. They will use this in their favour.

When you fall in love in Egypt, you’ll have to face many more obstacles than in the western countries.

It might not be the case, but sometimes it happens.

Therefore I’d say, it’s much better not to fall in love in Egypt.

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56 Responses to When you fall in love in Egypt (and you’re a foreigner)

  1. Ali says:

    I don’t think I could handle that. Definitely does sound like it’s better to not fall in love in someplace like Egypt. Assuming you went through something like this, I hope your heart has recovered.

    • Thanks Ali, you got it. I did fall in love, had more than one experience, and I am pointing out some facts – but of course it’s not always like this. I know people (like Simona below) who are happily engaged:)
      Anyway, sometimes it’s not that easy…

  2. Simona says:

    Well, fortunately it’s not always like this! Just like in every country you find assholes or nice people! I’ve been lucky enough to find an awesome person!

    • Yep but as I said on Facebook, I am not saying that “Egyptians are assholes” – I am saying that there are some social issues, such as not being able to show affection in the streets, the buildings’ porters (bawab) not allowing male guests, or the law against unmarried couples in hotel rooms that make things hard.
      Not what we are used to in Europe (and US I guess)

  3. LeslieTravel says:

    Thanks for this peek into the Egyptian dating scene. I appreciate your honesty! I think many travelers have had a similar experience in less restrictive societies. When I studied abroad in Argentina, there were local guys that specifically dated foreign students and were very free with the “I love yous.” You’d see the same guys hanging out at the foreigner spots again and again. When you’re traveling in a foreign country, often you don’t know the norms and it might take a while to figure out when a guy is being sketchy or insincere. I read a great post on this once… I think it was on Journeywoman.

    • Will check out Journeywoman blog and look for the article u mentioned!
      Sometimes we just need some “extra care” before dating someone, and it’s a fact.
      This is how it works in Egypt *sometimes* and I think it’s fair to warn newcomers… All the “I love you’s” can be very confusing:)

  4. Ceri says:

    Wow, that was certainly an eye opener. Thank you for Giulia.

    That actually reminded me of a guy my mother works with. He’s Egyptian and has been desperate to return to Egypt in the last couple of months but can’t because his ex-wife is Welsh and he has children with her who live here. She thinks if he takes the kids over there, he’ll never come back.

    • And she doesn’t want to follow him to Egypt?
      Well I don’t know how it works with children, I can’t go this far:)
      Anyway again, I am not generalizing but I think every girl went through that at some point. And it sucks.

  5. Amine Akl says:

    You are not completely off the mark, but as an Egyptian who is very happily married for the last 14 years to a French woman I met in Cairo, I am must stress that there are many many exceptions to what you list.

    • Thanks for your comment and I am sincerely happy for you and your wife:)
      I didn’t mention the word “exception” precisely because I believe there are MANY MORE examples of “happy ending stories” than just a few exceptions. So you’re not just an exception, I hope:)

  6. kamasheto says:

    Well yeah, if you’re a foreigner you need to keep an eye for everything – not just dating. Not that this is any excuse for them, but if you go to country were pre-marital sex is socially forbidden you should have at least anticipated this would somehow surface at some point if you decide to go for it.

    Please don’t blame Egypt for that.

    • Not blaming anyone:)
      Just reporting what I experienced and saw (not only concerning myself).
      And of course, dating is not the only thing we should keep an eye for, but a broken heart hurts more than an empty wallet, or so.

    • kamasheto says:

      Sure. Then again, I hope these are the only two things at stake here. :) I certainly hope time heals your heart quickly. Quicker than it usually does.

      Happy, safe, traveling.

  7. Kat says:

    Definitely there are many exceptions. It would be advised, especially for foreigners, to know a person properly before taking romantic words too seriously. Also a lot of girls come here for a temporary period and wouldn’t actually consider a permanent relationship. I know Egyptian men who have had their hearts broken by foreign girls too! And for those who are sincere, often the cultural differences are very hard to overcome, but first of all it requires both sides to realise how big the cultural differences are, and how far-reaching. Finally yes, you may face many more obstacles, but you might also end up having a much richer relationship than otherwise, and something to really treasure!

    • Kat, as I said above, I didn’t use the word “exceptions” because this would imply a negative “normality”… I am just listing some things one should watch out about. That’s it. Am absolutely not saying that’s what happens all the time.
      And because I love Egypt and I know Egyptian people, I also know we could “end up having a much richer relationship than otherwise, and something to really treasure!” as you said.

  8. Juno says:

    That’s one powerful article sis. And I see a lot of resemblant with Korea.Yes, they thinks they are doing so great because they think they pay attention but really do not, many of them are chauvinist but they can’t see that because it’s male-oriented society. Being tough and harsh on women is highly praised as alpha male. Stupid. That’s why I’m so sick of all that even though I grew up here.

    • Yap. Am not surprised I get the most upset comments by males!
      I love Egypt as everyone knows, but I can’t hide sometimes there are things I don’t support. That said, I also know some amazing guys there and this is not a generalization. But the culture and the background is what it is!

  9. akshaye says:

    Nicely crafted article guilia!! rather i would love to fall in love wid egypt itself than an egyptian girl…hope you came over from your bitter experience…but “sometimes” culture of the society/country makes impact of ones decision/thinking!!!

    • There’s nothing wrong with Egyptian girls:D well, this post is from a female point of view, but I know there are some issues for guys too. I assume it must be very hard for a foreign guy to have a relationship with a conservative Egyptian girl. But again, this is not always the case!
      Anyway, I did fall in love with Egypt and this is a great feeling – a pinch of broken heart could never change this. :)

  10. megan says:

    Sounds like it could get awkward. I hope no one broke your heart!

  11. Jaime says:

    Wow I knew things were diff in Egypt and the laws are weird but I did not know it was this bad. Its going to be so strange when I get there & actually see all this. At least for me if I do have a boyfriend I could invite him over cus its a guy jajaja. Even though I know its hard to be gay in Egypt, but hopefully I can the community in some way while I am over there.

    • Yes, inviting a guy won’t be a problem:) And also, (straight) guy walk hand in hand in Downtown. But I wouldn’t risk showing *too much* coz people may get u in trouble.
      If u need help with the “community” I can help you. :)

  12. India wasn’t this restrictive, but it had it’s moments. Yeah, I would stay away from that, far away. I especially like the last sentence. Best not to fall in love. Amen.

    • Well yes usually it’s better not to fall in love regardless where, if on travel. But sometimes it happens. And then it can go very wrong!

      India… I have a physical need to go. Never been but feel the attraction…

  13. Florenzo says:

    Pretty harsh characterization on a culture that has been in existence probably longer than the countries from which these foreigners come to Egypt from.
    I would assume because of what you implied is ‘strictness’ there is no
    rape,incest, philandering, teenage pregnantcies, abortions, and unwanted children. Don’t know, but is the Egyptian Family unit strong?
    Morals seems to be the case here. Liberal western values vs Middle Eastern strict morl and somewhat characterized as antiquated. That is the question.

    • Of course there is rape, teenage pregnancies, cheating and all that. But there’s this layer of *moral* covering everything…
      I would accept the moral if people respected it. But in the end, it’s very fake sometimes!
      Anyway, that was not the question – I am not saying “Westerns are better” – I am just saying that for a Western it might be hard to manage a relationship in Egypt. Period.

  14. Pingback: The Twitter 10: June 2011 | The Working Traveller

  15. Leslie says:

    I can’t believe how strongly people are reacting to this. If they had read more of your posts they would know you loved living in Egypt and fell in love with the country. This article is in no way bashing Egypt or saying the West is better– you are just reflecting on how cultural differences can make relationships difficult between a foreigner and an Egyptian. I suspect some commenters didn’t even read your post completely, they just immediately assumed it was culturally biased and skipped to the comments field.

  16. Mohamed says:

    well , actually as an egyptian guy, this is one of the most deeply honest discreption of what you may face in egypt as a forigner….
    yes guilia, you were right …. but i wanna you to know and everybody too, that tourism communities like Hurghada and Sharm in egypt , is just like the other tourism places in the world tailand, morroc, brasil, …etc.

    the young desperate guys who have poor background not only in their economically statuse but also their ethics ,behavior undelighable , ungood raised childhood ….leads them to look for a short cut,meen, low ways to get out their shit…by marrying the PASSPORT not the Forign GIRL

    and some of them just playing with girls and giving bad impressions about their countries…

    on the other hand , it have to take a deep look by staying in for a long period before you will meet the normal guys and ppl of true egyptians specially out the tourism communities like in cities… you will find ppl having the same issues that you have in europ,usa, …etc.

  17. Inlove says:

    Great article. I agree with a lot of information here as I have experienced it first hand after falling in love with an Egyptian. There can be ways around things though if you have contacts – being together. I love my fiancé very much but I was also skeptical at first after reading horror stories but did go back to see my man (now fiancé). I hear from him everyday and he is very sweet. I also met lots of his friends and family (aunts, uncles, brothers, mum and dad). Hopefully all will still be well in the future.

  18. monty says:

    i guess ‘m the most unlucky here cuz i loved western guy & ‘m egyption girl !

  19. abdallah mohamed says:

    that’s completely wrong , im in love with a foreign girl , and what you said is completely wrong :), that depends on the egyption guy dude .

    • Giulia says:

      Yes I wish it was wrong too ;)
      But seriously, I know it’s not always the case and I even stated this in the article. But based on my experience and on other friends’ ones, I know what I am talking about… and you know too.
      You can’t say “it is completely wrong” and then “it depends”. Right? ;)
      Other than that, I am honestly happy for you and your girlfriend, and I hope I will be as lucky ;)

  20. JF says:

    i like the topic,and it really tell the true;and many egyption guys really very easy say:”i love you,i want meet you famiy and marry you,i swear to god….,swear by our daughter’s life…..,my mother going to die”ect,they will say any words to make you believe his lie.they will treat you very good in front of you,but 5 mins later after he leave,everything changed.very good skill at lying. one of my friend who marriage egyptian guy,she also said don’t easy to believe what they said.when they said” i love you” it’s nothing for them,treat it as hello.

  21. Think Alike says:

    Hi, I meet a Christian Egyptian man in Skype and we seem to be enjoying our videochats almost everyday. We talk for 8 hours straight and he seems very nice and sweet. In the course of conversation, he had never shown any sign/action that he is after something (too early to conclude I guess). He told me that I am different from all his online friends coz rarely does he see girls who are using their brains. He also told me that he understands the fact that just a couple of conversation is not enough basis to judge a person but he really thinks I am nice and different. He keeps on telling me that he admires the way I think that’s why he enjoys talking to me online. He is very handsome but sometimes he just tells me that I am like his daughter. I am 21 and he is 23. He is currently studying Pharmacy in the University of Alexandria. I am very confused. He seems very nice and religious. I just need a little enlightenment I guess…

    • Giulia says:

      Hi there,
      well, honestly I can’t say, I don’t know him… just do as you feel: if you feel like he’s a good guy, just keep doing what you’re doing:)
      I don’t mean to say one shouldn’t date an Egyptian guy!

    • Think Alike says:

      I feel that he is really a good guy but I don’t think he’s interested in me…

    • Giulia says:

      Never say never:) I wish you all the luck! Feel free to keep me updated.

  22. ThinkAlike says:

    Yay! Sure. Thank you :)

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  24. Ahmed says:

    Well. You might be right about all you said, I can not agree more. But the thing is, tourists who visited Egypt, usually enclosed themselves in a very narrow places ( Sharm El-Shikh, Hurghada, Luxor and Aswan) and you can not form a complete picture about anything from just looking at a part of it. I can add the time frame, I mean, anyone who visit any place, only stay for a week or little bit more and this is not enough time for anyone to fall in love . Love is not that joke you can sell to someone just to spend some good nights with.

    You mentioned a lot about the constraints to visit each others freely, or spending the night together and showing affection on the streets! Isn’t that strange to come from someone who doesn’t want others to think about like sex machines (because most of these things are sexual related) and do not say it is not (You do not watch
    American movies?! Mostly every date ends in bed!)

    What is behind the scene?! whats beyond?! Those are the questions you might ask yourself when you start to know someone new and you are starting relationship with…Not all people are just behind your charms and dreaming about you day and night and want to spend some really good time with you and not all Egyptians wants just behind foreigner girls (Specially stupid ones!) because they want to leave Egypt and to be honest part of the fault the girl might be the one to be blamed about because she let herself to be used and she was not smart enough to see the true feelings from the fake ones even so I am not defending these kinds of actions , they are so mean and I refuse it completely, not that only but the whole idea of using someone, I know the feeling to be used specially by foreigner…

    By comparing Egypt to any another county you will find it not so very different specially if you look at Eastern Europe (I can write books about this! and add to this USA itself ( Please read the news or watch the TV sometimes) the number of police reported Sexual Violence from different kinds was 84767 during 2010 (Oh, this number is not true! they are all saints out there! they kiss in the streets, they sleep over, there is no bawab to prevent male visitors. oh It is not trueeee! You put your sword in my heart :'((

    My dear, Bollocks are everywhere in Egypt, USA, Canada, Europe…etc. We just can not specify it for a certain place because we had a certain kind of bad experience, I have travelled a lot and I met different kinds of people, not because I have some bad experience with someone I got the right to judge all the people who came from that country and it is not fair as well, just to set ourselves as judges and hide behind our flags. Finally I can say, It is Better not to fall in love at all. Believe me I am a scientist :P

  25. sophia says:

    I’m not sure if Dr npitimeh the great ( npitimehspirituralhome@gmail.com ) can remember me or not with all the People you helped, but I am writing this to you regards the Love Spell that you cast for me a year ago. If you can recall, derick and I had been together for about 2yrs. We were so much in love. The problem was outside interference with our relationship. For some reason no one wanted us together. His family was constantly interfering in our relationship and my family hated Derick I don’t know what the reason was, all I knew was that I didn’t want to lose him over what our families wanted! I contacted dr igodo and he suggested a Binding Love Spell. So with that, he got started right away on my case. The process was so fast and easy to understand. Within 24 I started seeing positive results! Derick’s family totally started accepting our relationship! It was very strange! My parents started to accept Derick as well! It was crazy how everyone just backed away from us and let us enjoy our lives together! It was completely amazing I just wanted to let you know that after a year things are still going well! As a matter of fact,Derick and i are getting married next 2 weeks! We are having a huge wedding…with ALL of our family and friends! I couldn’t be happier! I just wanted to say thank you again for all of your help! You have truly been a blessing to both of us.


  26. canadiangirl says:

    iam reading these post and i can say i met my fiance almost 3 years ago online we met in real we have a big age difference but my family loves him alot and his loves me to .we are getting married this week and could not be happier ! iam just going to hate leaving him here when i leave :( yes it is hard to be together in egypt but he is worth the wait and i respect his culture and religeon . iam canadian he is egyptian and to us it makes no difference where we come from we love eachother at 1st my family had problems with him being so far and they did manage to split us up for a time but we never stopped talking and soon got back together now they see it is real not just a ploy for him to leave egypt bc if he wanted that he could have found someoe else when we were apaprt for a number of months but he didnt

  27. PEARL says:

    Very informative discussions, anyway I will follow my gut
    instinct and hope that I am right! If not we live and learn :)

  28. Tarek Ayman Snadily says:

    I’m Egyptian teenager boy and I have 16 and I really don’t look at them like they are sex machine and I don’t think that all of what you have said is true I dont mean that you are not saying the truth I mean it’s not 100% right and also people looks at them because they don’t usually see people from outside but for me it seems so bad and hard to marry woman just to leave my country but there is right things like you are not allowed to visit a girl and boys are not allowed to visit a girl but it is not that bad to fall in love in egypt

  29. Jaymie says:

    Is pre marital sex and cohabiting (European Female and Egyptian man) actually against the law? Meaning can you get arrested for it? Or is it just socially un accepted ? Thanks.

    • Giulia says:

      Living together without being married is illegal. Having sex is not illegal, just not accepted by traditions…

  30. zicozimpo says:

    I feel sick of this subject, where every you surf cyber space you will stumble with this topic. Ironically there are so many girls complaining and there are much much more still fall in love with Egyptians every day, which simply means that Egyptian guy still have some thing to offer to the western girl, some thing that she misses in her local guys. every happy western woman married to an Egyptian thinks she is the only blessed one by being so lucky married to the lonely good Egyptian guy, in my very closed circle I have three Egyptians who are married to foreigner women and they are all happy and I there are thousands of foreigners who married and live here in Egyptian without problems, haven said that doesn’t mean that there are no other sad stories which is completely normal
    for western women and girls let us be honest here, you are not angles too, social differences is both ways we have much to say about you social norms too and if your local guys are better why would you leave your home and go so far searching for love.

    last thing, remember that you come to us and we don’t come to you, so if you are so unhappy with Egyptian guys its so easy honey stay home and enjoy your local angle man

  31. zicozimpo says:

    I didn’t say that Giulia, you are welcome anytime, what I said If Egyptians guys are not good enough in your opinion its so easy you can come to Egypt any time you want and no need to take a guy back with is this difficult?? the problem is you come here and married in thousands every year and still complaining

  32. zicozimpo says:

    yes. I know, you want to marry??

  33. zicozimpo says:

    yes, I know, you want to get married??

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