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It also features the core components of addiction; namely, salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal, conflict and relapse Griffiths, , p. Research has shown that internet addiction, particularly for youths, can cause depression and social isolation Sanders, , p. Fortunately, cyber -relationships may not necessarily lead to internet addiction. Griffiths articulates three types of cyber-relationships. The first is a relationship that starts and continues on-line, with the couple having no intention to meet in person Griffiths, , p. The second is a relationship that starts on-line, but the couple eventually takes it off-line Griffiths, , p.

The third is a relationship that starts off-line, but is maintained on-line Griffiths, , p. While only the first type may prove to be internet addictive, the last two are addictive to the person rather than to the medium Griffiths, , p. Contrary to widely held stereotypes, the Arab world does not seem to have abstained from cyber-dating. Youths and women have evidently been exposed to it.

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Unfortunately, since it is a new discipline, no literature covers cyber -relationships in Egypt. However, research has been conducted on other countries suc h as Kuwait, a similar country to Egypt in terms of culture, language, ethnicity and religion. In Kuwait, the highest segment of internet users is university students Wheeler, , p. Fifty percent of Kuwaiti university students, -more females than males,- reported using the internet for leisure Wheeler, , p.

Cyber-relationships are usually forged with others from similar backgrounds, such as other Kuwaitis, Arabs or Muslims Wheeler, , p.

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Social and religious values help filter and buffer these communications Wheeler, , p. Many on-line couples meet in person, as potential suitors, and some end up married Wheeler, , p. Such practice challenges cultural, social and religious norms and traditions. Kuwait is a conservative nation which does not encourage mixing of the sexes; the internet provides Kuwaiti youths with a chance to bend the rules with little danger of exposure Wheeler, , p.

It may already be starting to gradually change tradition, as most internet cha tting takes place from 4 pm to midnight, a time traditionally reserved for family gatherings and visits Wheeler, , p. Nevertheless, change seems to be still far off. Thus, it appears that youths have not yet fully incorporated this phenomenon, and are still in the experimental pha se Wheeler, , p. Many predict that the strata reaping the most internet fruits will be Arab women. The Kuwaiti experience seems to validate this Wheeler, , p.

In a culture where only men are allowed to initiate relationships, on-line dating empowers and frees women, as it frees them of the social inhibitions associated with their initiation of such relationships Hardey, , p. It is also safer than off-line dating, both physically Hardey, , p. It also provides women with a chance to better understand male thinking; an opportunity unavailable due to the gender segregation Wheeler, , p. This will be the case particularly with Arab countries that enforce strict laws and systems of gender segregation, like Saudi Arabia Elmusa, , p. This means that winds of change may soon rock traditional religious and social authorities Elmusa, , p.

A close-ended questionnaire Annex 1 was constructed. The American University in Cairo AUC was chosen as a purposive sample, since its students have access to internet and computers, and possess the technical and linguistic knowledge necessary for internet use. Furthermore, they fit the criteria of being Egyptian youths. Thus a total sample of undergraduate students, ages 16 — 23 was pooled. The sample consisted of 61 males and 75 females.

The increase in the number of females over males may be representative of the case in Egypt, where females exceed males in number. Out of the total sample, 66 students There appeared to be no significant gender differences as 30 of these 66 students were males, while 36 were females.

Since this paper researches the nature of cyberrelationships, the referred to sample hereon will be the 66 students who reported using the internet for that purpose. For those involved in online relationships, the mean time spent on the internet was 1 — 2 hours per day. Eleven spent 1 hour online daily, 13 spent 2 hours, 10 spent 3 hours, 9 spent 4 hours, 5 spent 5 hours, 4 spent 6 hours, 4 spent 7 hours, 2 spent 8 hours, 2 spent 9 hours, 2 spent 10 hours, and only one spent 16 hours.

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There were significant gender differences. The mean for male access of the internet was 2 — 3 hours per day. The mean for female access, on the other hand, was 1 — 2 hou rs per day. Five males reported accessing the net 7 or more hours per day, in comparison to 6 females. All respondents stated they accessed the net from home, many also from university. There were no significant gender differences. Furthermore, it has an instant messenger system, which enables instant online conversations.

What adds to its allure may be the fact that it is free of fees. Both these cites appeared years before MSN. Only two females, in comparison to no males, mentioned using specialized dating sites; namely cupidjunction and one2onematch. Only 34 out of the 66 strata who dated on-line stated the number of times they engaged in a cyber-relationship, as many could not recall. Almost half of these 34 students 17 stated they only engaged once in cyber-relationships.

Three mentioned they engaged in them twice, 8 trice, 1 four times, 1 five times, and 1 seven times. Only three students stated they engaged in them more than 10 times; specifically 2 said 10 times, while one said 17 times. There appeared to be no significant gender differences here. The mean appears to be that student engaged in cyber-relationships once. However, this mean is undermined by the fact that almost half the sub-sample could not recall the numbers of time, due to their frequency.

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Thus this is not a valid mean. As for the type of relationship sought over the net, the mean was casual on-line chatting 37 out of the 66 students. The other types of relationships were not nearly as popular, since 9 sought online dating, 10 real-life short tem relations, 5 long-term serious relationships and 3 sought other types of relationships. Nevertheless there were significant gender differences.

On the other hand, only 3 females 8. One female in comparison to 2 males sought other types of relationships. As for the time invested in the cyber relationship, the mean appears to be 1 — 2 hours per day. Out of the 61 students who reported engagement in cyber relations 1 chatted 15 minutes a day, 10 for 30 minutes a day, 12 for 1 hour a day, 16 for 2 hours, 6 for 3 hours, and 4 for more than 4 hours. Significant gender differences were manifest here; while the mean time invested in the relationship by females was 2 hours a day, it was 30 minutes to one hour a day for males.

In other words, females spent around four times as much time as males. The most popular time for chatting is evidently late night. Out of the 66 students who date on-line, 33 prefer doing so in late night and 21 prefer the evening. With an exception of 2 females, no one does so in daytime or afternoon. In terms of mood, 31 out of the 66 respondents experienced mood improvement, 23 experienced no mood change, and only 4 experienced mood deterioration. In terms of loneliness 28 out of the 66 respondents experienced a decrease in loneliness, 23 experienced no change, and 7 experienced increased loneliness.

In terms of sociability, 19 experienced increased sociability, 35 experienced no change, and only 3 experienced a decrease. As for self-acceptance 18 respondents experienced an increase in self-acceptance, 37 experienced no change and only 2 experienced a decrease. As far as self confidence is concerned, 19 experienced an increase in self confidence, 37 experienced no change and 2 experienced a decrease. As for the reasons students resort to the net for finding romance, all provided reasons were picked, -although not necessarily by both sexes.

Further reasons were also added. Of course there were extremely significant gender differences.


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When it comes to the nature of the on-line relationship, most respondents 24 stated they never exchanged photographs online. Only 15 stated they rarely did, 12 sometimes and 7 often. None stated they always did. As for gender differences, it seems more females than males never exchanged their photos online.

The number of those doing so rarely or sometimes is less than their male counterparts. No females stated they often nor always exchanged photos. As for online video conferring the vast majority 43 stated they never did. Only 8 did rarely, two did sometimes and two did often. No one stated they always did.


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There were significant gender differences as all females said they never did. As for online voice chat the majority 29 stated they never did. Seventeen rarely did; 5 sometimes; and 7 often. Only 1 always did. As for exchanging telephone numbers, the majority 21 stated they never did, 19 rarely did, 7 sometimes did, 7 often did and 4 always did. There were gender differences. For example 13 females never did, in comparison to 8 males; and 4 males always did in comparison to no females.

The norm is that sometimes youths disclose their true identity. Eleven respondents said they never did, 12 rarely did, 20 sometimes did, 13 often did and 8 always did. Again gender differences were present. For example, Only 2 females always disclosed their identity, in comparison to 6 males. The norm is that sometimes participant share their deepest emotions with their cyber - date.

Twelve respondents said they never did, 14 rarely did, 21 sometimes did, 7 often did and 2 always did. As is clear by these numbers, the tendency not to share deepest emotions is hig her. No significant gender differences were present. As for chatting in Arabic using Latin letters ex: Twelve respondents said they sometimes did, 3 rarely did and 7 never did.

The majority 28 respondents always used emoticons. Eleven reported they often did, 11 sometimes did, 2 rarely did and 6 never did. There were no clear pronounced gender differences. As for the differences between on-line and off-line relationships, all reasons were chosen,- although not by both sexes. Gender differences were so manifest that a general norm or mean was not workable. The se differences, are cited in table 2. Out of the 66 respondents who had been involved in online relationships, 24 reported the relationship developed into a face to face offline relationship, while 37 reported it did not.

Five did not provide valid answers. Out of those reporting that their online relationship developed into a face to face offline relationship 11 were females and 13 were males. Those reporting it did not were 16 males and 21 females. Those who chose not to take their on-line relationship into real life did so for all the span of provided reasons. Some added more reasons. Gender differences were so pronounced that a most commonly cited reason was not applicable. Details are provided in table As for those who chose to take their on -line relationship into real life, they did so for all the span of provided reasons.

Gender differences were so significant that a most commonly cited reason was not applicable. Details are provided in table 4. Those who pursued the rela tionship offline, they usually did so after around one month of online courtship. One person took the relationship offline face to face after less than a week, 3 after a week, 5 after a month, 2 after 2 months, 3 after 6 months, 1 after 8 months, 1 after 10 months, 2 after a year and 1 after more than a year.

However, this mean is not a valid, due to the significant gender differences. While the mean for females appeared to be one moth, the mean for males appeared to be one week.

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Four females took the relationship face to face after a month, 3 after 6 months, 1 after 10 months and one after a year. No females reported doing so before a month of online courtship. On the other hand, a male reported less than a week of online courtship prior to a FTF relationship, 3 reported a one week courtship, 1 reported a month, 2 reported 2 months, 1 reported 8 months, 1 a year and another more than a year.

Seventeen respondents stated that telephone conversations interceded between the online and offline phases of the relationship; 7 of these were females, while 10 were males. In contrast, 6 respondents stated they did not undergo such a phase; 4 of these were females, while 2 were males.

As for the duration the relationship lasted offline, no pattern or norm could be worked out, as it ranged across the continuum, with the least being one day and the most being five years. Five said they were still engaged in online- initiated relationships, taken offline. Females reported longer duration than their male colleagues.

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Most respondents reported their friends accepting their cyber-relationship. This was the case with 26 respondents, in contrast to 12 who said their friends did not accept their relationship. Eight respondents indicated that they did not inform their friends of their relationship. Significant gender differences were present. Seventeen females in contrast to nine males reported their friends accepting the relationship. On the other hand, 6 males in comparison to 2 females reported they kept their friends unaware of the relationship.

Most respondents 22 reported their families were unaware of their cyberrelationship. Fifteen respondents indicated their families did not accept their relationship, in contrast to 6 who reported they did. The only significant gender difference was that 10 females reported their families did not accept their relationship, in contrast to only 5 males. Internet dating is now prevalent in Egypt, as more than half of the sample Internet addiction is an important issue where it comes to cyber-dating.

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