Love in All Its Dimensions…Single Life in Turkey

by Anisa Benmoktar on August 6, 2009

Single Life in Modern, Multicultural Turkey…

Turkey has well and truly earned its title as a Transcontinental Eurasian Nation. Bordered by 8 countries and uniting Asia, The Middle East and Europe, this land, which was once at the helm of the famous and feared Ottoman Empire, has long provided rich soil for many diverse cultures.

Turkey has a Muslim heart and soul.  More than 99% percent of the population is Muslim, with the majority being Sunni, and just less than a quarter being Shia Alevi. Alawite Muslims also live in Adana, Hatay and Mersin.

Modern Turkey is run as a democratic, secular, unitary and constitutional republic. Modernization, progression and a deep desire to be part of Europe have bought about many changes that were rooted almost a century ago. Its been 86 years since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk,  “The Father of Turks” and founder of the republic, rejected hijabs in his campaign to modernize, equalize and neutralize Turkish society.

Hijabs: The Great Debate…

Around 65% of Turkish women cover their heads, except where scarves are banned – in civic spaces, including schools, universities and official buildings. Since the beginning of 2000’s, the number of Muslims has grown in Turkey and the current Justice and Development governing party has Islamist roots.

Today’s Turkish population is overwhelmingly young: 65% of the population are aged 15-64, and 31% are aged 12 to 24. Only 7.1% of the total population are over 65. There are slightly more men than women in Turkey – with 1.02 males to each female, and there are more Turkish singles than ever before.  (By which we mean those who presently don’t have a partner and might be looking – hurry, hurry!)

The average age at which Turkish people marry is 24 for women and 26 for men and most expect to marry and have children. It is not permitted for women to marry before the age of 15, or men before the age of 17 and polygamy is illegal under Turkish law.

Regional Variations

Within Turke’s rich cultural tapestry, there are inherent differences between East and West. The Eastern part is more traditional and adherent to customs dating back centuries, including arranged marriages, while the West is more secular and progressive. In rural areas, families usually decide on whom a person will marry, but in urban areas the couple themselves generally make the decision. That being said, marriages don’t often just take place between two individuals in Turkey, the families also marry in a sense, as parents from both sides get to know each other, and if they don’t see eye to eye, the marriage is said to be pretty much doomed from the get-go.

60% of Turkish people inhabit major cities as opposed to smaller towns. Within these cities, many young Turkish people wait  to complete until their education and military service before even thinking about getting married.  Financial stability and being able to provide for their potential family is an important consideration for most single Turkish men.

Where to Find a Soulmate in Turkey

Alcohol is legal and very popular in Turkey and some folk still prefer to search for a soul mate in the countless constellations of cafes, bars and clubs that cluster major cities such as Istanbul and Ankara.

Still, there’s no denying that Internet dating has become a huge phenomenon in Turkey in recent years. In 2004, Yonja.com became an unprecedented hit among online enthusiasts and set the stage for other popular online dating sites such as izmir.net, and Istanbul.net, which allows users to search for others in or near their area.  Most city dwellers own a computer and Internet dating has generated thousands of marriages among Turks and between Turks and people of other nationalities.

International marriages are becoming increasingly common: Germany and Russia are the two countries where most mixed marriages occur. Popular TV Show Yabanci Gelin (Foreign Bride), has attracted no end of attention and clearly demonstrates that single men in Turkey are fascinated by foreign ladies and people from different cultures. For Turkish girls, it would appear that Italian men are labelled as the “ideal” choice (must be the shoes wethinks!)

Aşk bir deryadır dalmayan bilmez. (Love is like a sea  – one who doesnt dive in, doesn’t know it.) – Turkish Proverb.

Useful Links

BBC News Report: The Islamic veil across Europe
Gender Ratios -  Turkey (2008)

LoveHabibi - Arab & Muslim Dating, Friendship and Marriage

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: