Love, Marriage and Sexuality in My Islamic Country

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Reader’s Question

I am from Isfahan, Iran. I am Muslim and study at university. I am 21 years old, alone, and have never had a girlfriend “because that is bad in Islamic countries”. Nevertheless I need to know love! I need mutual love with a girl.

I am always thinking of sex. In Iran, boys do not marry until 27 to 35 years of age. I am under stress!

Psychologist’s Reply

The strength of a culture is not what they tell you is bad. The strength of a culture is how they help you to be full, be good, be accomplished and be in the company of good people.

Yes, you have every right to complain about the restrictions you are under. As difficult as it is for you now, I wonder how your peers are handling this stress. I wonder how your local cultural/religious leader could help you with this. Do you think that you are the only young Muslim to have this struggle? Try not to isolate yourself. Seek out the company and advice of other men who know this struggle and can help you get through this difficult period. Whatever your choice becomes, try not to make it in haste or under duress. You can talk about how you feel. Men can gather for events that are active and non-sexual. I wonder if you have tried any physical activity other than sexual fantasizing that might divert some of your attention?

Given your cultural environment, how do young Iranians meet and marry? Are marriages arranged, or are you left to yourself to find and court a young woman? If marriages are arranged, then is it too early for you to consult with a matchmaker? Who would help you with this, your father or Imam? It sounds like you have at least seven years before you can marry. I urge you to make the best use of your time. Explore the options available to you in your culture and then take advantage of them. Approach your male advisors. They will know what to do to help you. Try to understand whether these cultural restrictions really are in your best interest. If they are, choose them and embrace them for the freedom they offer. Otherwise, you have a question of faith that goes beyond your sexual impatience. Psychologists cannot advise you on that. I can only hope that those who advise you from within your culture speak to your pain and do not try to enforce discipline on you. You are already self-disciplined. What you need is the camaraderie and support from those who are shaping your life.

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