Saudi Arabia: A Saudi Relationship and Intimacy


When East meets West or rather Saudi meets non-Saudi sparks can fly and love can certainly be in the air.  However, Red Alert!  No matter where the relationship between Saudi boy meets non-Saudi girl takes place there are distinctions and vast differences in outlook.  The Saudi guy may seem mature and worldly.  He may seem comfortable and at ease with public displays of affection (PDA).  He may even encourage his non-Saudi girlfriend to hold his hand and kiss him.  He may use very smooth and convincing words that the relationship should be taken to the most intimate level.  He may speak promises of love and marriage.

A young woman from a Western background may not think twice on the actions or words of the Saudi guy.  They may sound like the words many other guys around the world say.  Yet there is a distinction.

The Saudi guy is raised in a culture where chastity is revered.  He is raised in a society which is oriented to ‘protect’ the women.  The woman is to be cherished, adored, faithful and unseen.  His sisters would not think to call a guy.  If one his sisters ever attempted to hug or hold the hand of a man to whom she was not closely related she would be ostracized.  There would likely be punishment and some form of retribution. 

A Saudi guy will cajole and take what is offered.  He will likely think twice of a woman outside of marriage ‘offering’ her most intimate gift.  He’ll take it.  He’ll enjoy it.  But don’t expect the giving of such a gift or the closeness from such intimacy will place a new dimension of permanency on the relationship. 

When a Saudi guy is serious and thinking of marriage, he wants to protect and shield the woman regardless of whether she is a Saudi or not.  He does not want other men to interact with her.  He does not want anyone to think less of her.

Most Saudi men are resigned or accepting that they will likely marry a woman of their own nationality or region.  However many Saudi men who do have interaction with Western women like to take opportunities to know them.  The Saudi man will generally be very curious if it is true that Western women are easy to leap to an intimate relationship…after all that is what is in the news and movies.

So what does a Western woman do if she is faced with moral and ethical challenges?  Does she succumb? 

I’m pretty traditional but not closed minded.  I do not agree with women who chose to have a relationship outside of the boundaries of marriage and more so with an Eastern man.  The odds are simply not in the favor of a permanent relationship.  Intimacy makes the relationship more complicated and a higher risk for greater heartbreak in the future.

So what does a woman do?  I suggest both the man and the woman talk frankly and candidly about morals, ethics and intent.  The man and woman need to learn about each other’s history, family, backgrounds…these are important factors which make a person who they are today.

Sadly I don’t think the woman should simply take a Saudi man’s word that he intends to marry her as he presses for greater intimacy. Knowing all of his friends and his favorite brand of deodorant are not going to make a permanent relationship.  The Saudi man with intentions to marry a non Saudi woman will respect her.  He will share with her about his family so that when he slowly introduces her to his family she has the right words.  He may want to be out with her in public and with friends present but he should also have the wherewithal to advise her that what they are doing now would not be the same either with his family or in Saudi.  If he is not preparing her for changes then he probably does not have the desire of a permanent relationship.


Some may say so what…..a couple is young and just having fun.  If neither intend for the relationship to go to marriage and both are at ease with sharing intimacy outside of marriage, let them.  I can’t say that.  I feel such relationships and attitudes just further degenerate problems with today’s society and an ever-increasing need of self-gratituzation.   Maybe I’m just getting old… (smile)


28 Responses

  1. Poor Saudi guys who took the trouble to Study in the West, specifically, the USA and would not find a single fine American girl that would to talk with them. All US girls will run hundreds of miles away from the shade of any Saudi. Eventually, they would all come back to Saudi.

    This article aint helping. The US would be as dry as Saudi. Drinking beer alone and thinking about those blondes that one cannot lay a hand on. This is tough. I’d rather be in Saudi.

  2. ‘I do not agree with women who chose to have a relationship outside of the boundaries of marriage and more so with an Eastern man.’

    Why more so with an Eastern man?

    Don’t worry Saudi Bedu, it’s still a good place for Saudi men to study as there are plenty of girls that are not ‘old fashioned’ and do not think that a sexual relationship outside of marriage is an immoral thing. (a sin is only a sin if you believe it is) Also they are probably busy studying and have no intention of getting married before they finish school. Just be careful with the ones over 25 years old because they might be starting to think about permanence.

  3. IMO, I’d say a lot of depends on the motives behind why the Saudi guy is dating someone from another country (US, wherever). Is it because he wants to have fun while he studies abroad? Is it because he wants to experience another culture? Is it because he really loves the girl AND plans a future with her? Is it because he prefers living in a place such as the US compared to his home country and wants someone else who wants the same thing? Another question is how religious are he and his family? What are his views on sex? Is he already engaged to someone back home? How open-minded is he in general and specifically when it comes to intimate relationships? Is he willing to stick around and work things out in difficult points in the relationship? Is he willing to stand up to his family for his beloved? (Also, the same questions can be asked the other way around, too.)

    In general, I can say that there are some good points that have been made.The reason why I can’t fully agree with this is that a lot of it depends on the individuals in the relationship, their families, etc.

    What would American guys do if the situation was reversed, including the marriage approval process?

  4. I do have to agree with you there StrangeOne. People are ALL individuals and there IS a chance that even though he came from Saudi, he might not even be a Muslim or agree with the strictness that he may have been brought up with. Maybe his parents were liberal, maybe he is a rebel?

    Carol, it is a bit confusing (to me at least) when we keep being told not to paint all with the same brush but then you do it as you are here. Know what I mean?

  5. I agree with Lynn…and why the….Saudi man + nonSaudi woman mix…is that the only one that could possibly happen between a saudi and nonsaudi? Are we to assume that Saudi women studying abroand would never engage in an illicit romance?

    As for the , waiting to marry before having sex…our bodies are biologically programmed to have sex…they arent programmed to be married. We invented marriage…or should I say men who felt owning their women needed a more permanent sort of legality to it. I would never agree with careless casual unsafe sex….but not all relationships end in marriage…and not all people have relationships hoping it will end in marriage…so what are they to do about sex? Never have it???

    Personally speaking I do not ever intend to get married again…been there done that and no thank you. Even if I meet the most wonderful person on the planet…cohabitation is about the most I could manage…however Im 42…does that mean I am basically meant to be celibate for the remainder of my life? How very nun like of me…no thanks on that either. (sorry for the TMI but once the horse has left the barn…what is the point of closing the barn door 😉 )

  6. I think what Carol is describing here is one large sub-group of Saudi society- one archtype if you will. It describes many of the men but not all. I have always mixed with men- I still talk with men and my husband talks with women. He never tried to “protect” me from talking to them. And here in Saudi we know many of each others friends. However this is a pretty good description of that archtype. Some men in every culture are players- promising more than they mean and overstating their intentions. This is the form it can take with a Saudi.

    I would also say that apparently girls do call guys here. These guys might like to believe their sister wouldn’t do it- but there’s a lot of number throwing going on (ok, we’ve progressed to Bluetooth and BB pin). Things are changing.

  7. I like your article but I would like to say that you might over simplify or over generalized that idea about Saudi guys. When you are saying “a Saudi guy” would do this or that you are putting all Saudi guys into one category and assign their actions as facts which I think is a little bit unfair.

    I’m a Saudi guy living in South Korea and living with my Girlfriend from Czech Republic. We’ve been together for more than a year now. I don’t see her as an opportunity that I got to use or a chance to have an intimate relationship. Yes, some guys would think of it like this, but to put me with those guys as one category is just a different extent to the idea that all Muslims are terrorist. I believe in individual choices and that includes going against the common customs or against some of the religion practices.

    I really sincerely Enjoy your articles and I my self was part of a social group for women rights in Saudi Arabia until I moved to Korea in 2009. Keep the good talk flowing 🙂

  8. You would not BELIEVE the noise in my house when my dad found out that I had called a boyfriend (I believe I was 20 years old at the time and I’d already had this same boyfriend for a few years) We daughters were not allowed to accept expensive gifts either. Now parents (not me of course, I was mean) give their kids cell phones and laptops and have no idea who their kids talk to or when they are talking to them.

  9. Never say never Red.

  10. @Lynn, I got in trouble for calling a boy who was just a friend- not a boyfriend when I was in high school. “Girls NEVER call boys”. Hmmm. One lesson that didn’t stick. I mean I wasn’t calling to giggle and flirt- I called because I had something to say!

    “Never say never Red”- we need a thumbs up button.

  11. None of us girls were allowed to drive before we were18 either while the boys could. Also, I wasn’t allowed to work in order to save money for college which I was going to have to pay for MYSELF – ‘girls don’t need college, they are just going to go off and get married anyway…’ I wonder if my dad ever knew that my Muslim boyfriend paid the balance of my unpaid tuition so that I could register for the next semester? hehehehe

  12. Lynn…NEVER!!! 😉

    My dad didnt allow me to do anything simply because I was me…

  13. Interesting article Carol, I didn’t realize this is where you stood on the subject. My Saudi and I have been together for a little under a year now, and while we both know that eventually we will have to leave each other, we still haven’t found a reason to separate yet. Why ruin a good thing 4 yrs premature? Just like with any relationship, there is no guarantee we’ll even be happy together in 4 years time, but I’d like to think for the time being life is pretty peachy.

    It took a long time to wrap my head around the whole culture difference and the rules regarding him and women. But in the end, I’m dating a person who made his own choice, not a society. Is it a little self-gratuitous? Yeah. If being happy in the short term is a little selfish, I’ll take the title. He’s my best friend, we laugh and cry together, and we share every aspect of ourselves. Before I met him I wasn’t looking to date for marriage- I was looking for exactly what I have now (albeit without the impending doom time-line).

    I don’t think it’s degrading to our society- but that’s just my opinion. As long as intentions are made clear at the beginning (hey, I’m not sure what I want right now, and as long as your ok with that…) it’s a choice made by two consenting adults. Through this and accepting it for what it is, I’ve found happiness and have learned a lot about myself and my spirituality. When the day comes that we have to separate, there will be tears and I’ll miss him dearly, but until then, we’re happy peas in a pod.

  14. Talanathas, I hear ya. I was with my Muslim for 5 years before he had to go back home to Yemen. There WERE tears and thoughts of him trying to stay here but I am not at all sorry for the time that we had. It was an enriching experience for both of us but I am SO very happy that we did not cave in the end. I know it would not have ended well 😉 I wonder how things would have been had we had the internet and Skype back then? It would have probably been much harder to make a clean break, I’m sure.

  15. Right now, for whatever reason, I have been thinking a lot on the first Saudi guy I was in a relationship with. Sure, we both made things difficult on each other and there was a lot of mis-communication, but I can’t help but still think that overall he’s not a bad guy. He was also very much for women driving as he had taught female members of his family how to drive.

    I am beginning to realize that he meant a lot to me, even though there were many times he drove me absolutely crazy. He’ll make some other woman a great husband, I’m sure. As for me, I’ll likely never marry. I’m not even sure if I want a serious relationship. Falling in love with someone once is enough.

    As far as being in a relationship knowing it may end later- even marriage can end later. Life’s too short to worry over things like this. I used to, and all it did was make me miserable.

    I kinda understand your point about marriage. I’m not planning to ever get married myself, and I’m only 25. Anyways, I hope that whoever you are intimate with next treats you with lots of love and respect.

  16. I really do not mean to “spray paint” a solid color and generalize all relationships into a box. I do believe there are exceptions to the rule. I guess in seeing where so many relationships have had unhappy endings I want to make sure eyes are opened.

    I think it would be interesting to hear a Saudi man’s definition of love. I ask because the environment in which he grows up is so very different to that in the West. Once he has reached puberty his contact with women drops dramatically.

    I will not deny that there are Saudi women who have dated either in or outside of Saudi but I do wager they are waaaaay in the minority. A Saudi guy can get “caught out” seeing or being with someone else and survive but for a Saudi woman it can alter the rest of her life.

  17. Did you think that your Abdullah’s definition of love was much different than other men in the world?

  18. I was surprised at how pure and simple his definition was and especially coming from one who was older with many life experiences…yet perhaps that is exactly what it took for ours to cement!

  19. How did he define it? Did you think that he defined it differently than other Saudi or American men? How would you have thought he would define it? Did it differ from your definition?

  20. Hi Lynn,

    Remind me to come back to your question. I don’t want to give a fast answer.

  21. @Carol & others,

    I think things like this should be said. I’ve been with my Saudi for 3 1/2 years and we plan to marry as soon as we can, given the laws in both countries and his need to ensure his sisters are taken care of when he leaves. BUT, the day a Saudi boy comes sniffing around my future daughter may just be the day I invest in a shotgun – for a lot of reasons.

    It’s ok for you to say that so long as no one gets hurts, there isn’t any problem, but there’s a lot of girls (and boys) who get hurt in these situations. Not every American girl is as blase about marriage and commitment. Not all Saudis come to the West with intent to respect the women’s choices – but then, American men sometimes do the same thing, looking down on a woman who gave in to him, regardless of how hard he worked to convince her. In my experience, Saudis on a whole are just much better at the manipulation games, and the women who get pulled in by them should be warned. I found AmericanBedu after I decided to try to build a lasting relationship with my Saudi, and I’m EXTREMELY grateful for the warnings and advice I heard here – even the bits I threw out. They helped me see and discuss possible trouble spots with him, and work through them before they came out to bite us later. We have a stronger relationship for it.

    We should keep in mind, even if 1/4 of Saudi men respect their foreign girlfriend and want the best for her, that still leaves many that either don’t care or don’t understand that they should. And in my experience, they are VERY good at drawing in the unsuspecting westerner with their charm, lies, and seeming consideration. But both individuals in any international relationship are representative of their home cultures to those lacking that exposure. It’d be nice if they could keep that in mind.

  22. Bravo Lady Siog!

  23. Thanks Carol 🙂

  24. do you think that he will marry you? Don’t dream to much!!

  25. I wasn’t planning to, but I fell in love with my Saudi ex. Didn’t realize how deeply until after we broke up. Yes, he drove me crazy. Yes, there was constant drama (somewhat due to culture, some to personality differences), but the passion, love, and hint of craziness is what I miss most about our relationship. Some men, even some Saudis, are easy to get over. But what do you do when you fall in love with someone who doesn’t want to marry you even if they love you enough to be your best friend? What do you do when he doesn’t understand why you can’t be “just friends” after the breakup?What do you do when after your initial breakup, you are still attracted to each other and it’s almost as if you had never broken up? And what do you do when it doesn’t matter if you’re friends or not because either way, it hurts like hell? And it’s not because he’s Saudi, it’s because he was himself and I was stupid enough to fall in love with him. This is over 9 months later, and I still miss him. When I’m his friend, I want to be with him again even though we both want to argue with each other. When I’m apart, I want to cry sometimes because I fell in love and it didn’t work out. I usually hide this deep inside me, though.

    The only way I know of to get over it (though I haven’t completely tested it yet) is to find someone else to create a meaningful relationship with and to treat my ex as if he’s died and I’ll never see him again. Sounds crazy, but I’m not sure what else to do. Any ideas?

  26. I suggest keep reminding yourself why you broke up – it was not a healthy relationship and did not have a future. I do not think jumping into another relationship is the right solution. First you need to work on getting rid of the baggage that still hangs on you from the first relationship. This is a good time for you to discover YOU without any encumbrances. When a relationship is around the corner it will happen on its own.

  27. ‘I do not think jumping into another relationship is the right solution’

    I DO! At least dating anyway. Enjoy your life to the fullest. Just don’t date any more Muslims or people that have family ties outside of the US. That’s personal experience talking.

  28. Lynn & AB,
    Thanks for the advice!

    I’ve tried jumping into another relationship, and it doesn’t help things any. Entering another relationship slowly and cautiously might work, but I am being much pickier this time. My feelings get too involved and I really tend to put a lot of effort into a relationship, so I’d like for the effort to be worth something. I also want to be able to fully appreciate a relationship with the next guy I date rather than comparing him to my ex.

    Part of the issue is that while I don’t care as much about waiting to be in a relationship again, aside from sometimes having company is nice (but then there are friends for that), is that I want children sooner rather than later. I know I still probably have a good 15-20 fertile years ahead of me (if not more) and that I can easily adopt for at least the same span of time if not longer, but I still don’t want to wait too long. I want to be relatively close in age to my children. Cultural programming, I guess. 😀

    While my current job may not pay as much as some I am qualified for, I am learning a lot about myself and other people through it. I am learning that once you reach a particular age, age doesn’t seem to correlate as strongly with wisdom, experience, and maturity. Or at least in some cases, it’s true. Most importantly, I’m enjoying myself at the moment. It’s my vacation of sorts. LOL. 🙂 I’m also learning that I have quite a bit to offer, which I guess I have been told, but didn’t fully realize. I just do what I do because it’s fun and it’s me and that’s life.

    I just wish I didn’t have the emotional baggage from my ex. It’s not always easy to deal with. Kinda am also wishing I had taken the opportunity to possibly ease into a relationship with my best friend instead of the one I fell in love with. I really feel foolish for choosing my Saudi ex. I can tell him whatever I want to, but it’s not going to make the memories I have of us go away. It’s not going to change the current situation, either. At least there’s the future, right? 😉

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