He said he never told his family about his marriage to the year-old woman. Ahmad said he got his wife pregnant a year into their marriage.
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‘I Was Something She Bought’: Syrian Men Marry To Survive — Refugees Deeply
For important news about the global migration crisis, you can sign up to the Refugees email list. Some sources don't allow their images to be republished without permission. Do not translate a story into another language without our written permission. We often republish pieces from our partners. He has gone on outings a Facebook group arranged to introduce refugees and locals.
It was from that group that he learned about Improv Without Borders. Last year, he fell into a conversation with a German medical student who asked him for his number, and they even went on one date together to see a soccer match with some of her friends. He liked her — thought she was cute — and she was intensely curious about Syria. He had high hopes. Abulhusn center, in red shirt loves to walk in the busy spaces of the city, where he enjoys people-watching and listening to music.
Doing a postmortem on a date gone bad can be maddening for anyone.
The Refugee's Dating Coach
Was it my hair? But the spiral of questions can be even more desperate if you're a foreigner. Abulhusn couldn't help but wonder: Had he done something culturally inappropriate? Or was his refugee status itself a blemish?
Despite all his efforts to toe the line, were women associating him with the sexual predator stereotype of refugee men that Germans read about in the news, a trope that got frequent play during this year's presidential election? Lierenfeld, the improv teacher, watches Abulhusn become looser and more outgoing week by week. But he tells her he can't seem to translate that relaxed workshop version of himself into ordinary life.
So Lierenfeld, 28, offers to give him a flirt coaching session — the chance to brutally break down his game and show him how to improve it. They arrange to meet at a downtown coffee shop in Berlin's hip district of Mitte.
At their tiny, square table, they look like one more couple on a date. Lierenfeld says she likes her sessions to be as realistic as possible.
Single ladies! 9 myths about dating Arab men you can dump this Valentine's Day
Abulhusn tells her about his puzzling failure with the med student, and Lierenfeld tells him to give her his phone. She wants to see the text exchange for herself. Abulhusn performs at a class at Improv Without Borders, a program he attends every week to gain self-confidence. As he hunts for the texts, Lierenfeld gets right down to business: Do you have some one-night stands in Berlin? Abulhusn admits that he's a virgin, "even by kissing. Abulhusn says he believes that there are no important cultural differences between himself and the women he wants to date in Germany.
He values things like mutual respect and honesty and equal rights for women — he was raised to believe that in his Druze community, he says. But in Germany, the simple fact of his virginity will itself prove to be a divide. Lierenfeld studies the texts from the medical student and delivers what is obvious to her, but surprising to Abulhusn.
That's obvious to me. She's inviting you to cook together, which means you're already at her place.
She tells Abulhusn the problem was probably not that he'd done anything wrong or inappropriate. He'd just failed to "make a move. When she's not leading a workshop, Lierenfeld works as a "flirt coach" — helping clients become more confident in flirting with women.
She and Abulhusn left had a recent session. He'd be mortified to be lumped in with the refugee stereotype of a man "who is always harassing girls," he says. I understand your feelings, but there's one part of what you're saying that is really arrogant — which is that you have to think and decide for her. She's a grown-up person. As a traveler in a foreign country, it can be easier to figure out what not to do than what to do.
Abulhusn understands that "no means no. Abulhusn says that this time with Lierenfeld transformed the way he sees himself. He now makes it a point to try not to cross his arms when he's talking to women. And if during all these years in Germany he's been afraid to come across as dangerous, now he thinks a bit more about how to make himself feel safe. Accessibility links Skip to main content Keyboard shortcuts for audio player.
He hopes to find a girlfriend.