Our Discussions

Non-Iranians and Relationships
1 (a web visitor)


Please forgive me if I've mis-spelled any farsi words. I am a twenty-two year old girl who is currently enrolled in law school in Boston. I came across your website and decided to post a message of concern about a situation I've come across.

First, allow me tell you a little about myself. I was born in the United States from an Iranian family. My father is a physician and my mother a housewife. Growing up with a dual culture (Iranian and American) gave me an appreciation of diversity. My parents took me to ballets, plays, opera, etc. They also instilled in me a love for my Iranian/Persian culture. I participated in Yalda, Nowrooz events, Persian parties, Persian-Student events, etc. Because of these dual cultures, I have come to appreciate worldly-ness in both Iranians and Americans.

However, I have deeply religious parents. Both my mother and father have gone to Hajj and have taken my brother and I to Islamic classes at a very young age. I have great respect for my religion and am very thankful that my parents have taught me about my religion.

Yet, when it comes to dating and men, my parents feel that only a Iranian-Muslim male can be a complete match for me. Although I love and have great respect for Iranian men, in the past, I've had very horrible experiences with them. Usually, (and I don't mean to stereotype) Iranian guys come off as very aggressive or very passive. Other times, they feel the need to impress me with there club-going experiences or the car they drive. Some Iranian men I have met through family friends are very dry, and extremely dull. Maybe I've just had a few bad experiences...but recently, my mother and her good friend have set me up with a young man. Although he appears to be nice, we both don't have much in common. After talking with him for a two months, he tells me that he loves me and wants to meet me soon. However, I have no feelings for this man. The worst thing about this is that I feel that both my parents want this young man to be my husband. Although my mother has told me to marry ! someone I love, I think she feels that this man maybe my "last chance" for a respectable marriage.

Recently, I've come to befriend a young man who is not Iranian. My professor decided to introduce one of his brightest students to me. We got along quiet well and found out we had much in common. This young man comes from a good family (his father is a professor), and is polite, gentle, and very respectful of my culture/religion. My mother has met him and thinks he is nice and would make me happy, yet my mother insists that I marry a Muslim and to give my Iranian suiter a chance. I don't want to offend my parents but they make me so frustrated.

I want to have a relationship with someone I'm interested in, not someone I am forced to love. My parents marriage was a marriage of love, yet they won't let me have the same experience. I feel like my parents are being selfish.

I hope that all the madars and pedars in this forum would volunteer their opinions to what would be the best thing to do in this situation. Merci!

2 (a madar)


I am an Iranian-Muslim woman (came to US when I was 17) who decieded Iranian man are not a good match for me. and I am very happy about the decision I made 15 years ago and 3 kids later.

I don't think even your parents want you to be unhappy. Having love, respect and support from your spouse is very important. With you in law school, your life and career with take a lots of time, you need some to support you emotionally and not be a baby who wants to have a little wife at home to cater to his need.

By the way you are only 22 years old and don't worry about losing your chances to get married. You sound like a mature young lady who knows her hertiage and proud of it too. If you don't give in to the pressure of your family I am sure you meet the right person (what ever nattionalitie or religous he is)

Good luck in your studies

3 (a madar)


It sounds to me that you are a very intelligent and educated young woman, and I'm sure you have achieved your success in life with love and support of your educated parents so obviously your parents want your happiness. All parents think they know what's good for their children and one thing that scares them the most is if their child's future husband/wife is not a good one. So, your parents behavior and thoughts about your future husband might not be as unusual as you think it is. At the same time you are entitled to choose your own husband and have the type of relationship that you think is right for you. Why don't you have a nice and friendly talk with your parents and let them know that you are old enough to decide who's right for you!? They might not agree with you completely, but I'm sure they will still love you as much even if you don't marry an Iranian muslim man. They're happy if you're happy!

Good luck!

4 (a madar)


Here is my two cents on this subject. I Agree with Madar #3. I think you need to communicate with your parents and let them know your feelings. I am sure they are reasonable enough to understand your feelings. I do feel that you are very young and you have your whole life ahead of you. Why are you rushing into a marriage. Give some time to yourself and the man you love to see if he really is the right person for you. Marriage is a big commitment and you are the only one to know what is right and wrong for you. I am a mother of two girls myself and of course I would love for my children to listen to me and marry some one I would think is the best for them, but I hope I am reasonable enough to let them decide what is good for them. I only have one criteria for my daughters, do not get married before you are at least 25 years old. I feel you need to enjoy your young age and explore the possibilities for yourself and continue your education before you rush into a marriage.

5 (a pedar)

Here are my comments as an Iranian pedar with two daughters.

I also want to augment Madar #4's comments. I'm not sure why at the age of 22 you would want to get married. Times have changed and people should get married when they are ready and not because of the suggestion of their parents.

You obviously have very good parents and your life is on the right track. It is normal at this point for the parents to want to see the "ultimate" happy ending for their child and the beginning of her womanhood by stepping into a family of her own. But that decision should be yours and the best time to make it is when you have completed your education. That's what I encourage my daughters to do. When you finish your education, regardless of the field, you'll have gained better tools for decision making about your life. Take it easy, enjoy your single life, finish college, and rest assured that the time to get married will come to you just like everything else has fallen in place in your life so far. Don't rush into one of the most important decisions of your life. You may have to explain this concept to your parents. I have a feeling that they may be trying to choose for you with the hesitation that they may think you are not ready to make that choice yourself. Experience life a little, then I'm sure they'll respect your choice.

6 (a pedar)

Agreeing with everyone's comments so far, especially regarding your age and the time you have ahead of you, I think you also need to be aware of falling in the "he is Moslem and Iranian" and therefore by definition better than a non-moslem/non-Iranian trap. No offense to anyone mind you. Just sharing lessons learned the hard way.

A non-iranian friend who has personally a lot in common with you and is respectful of your beliefs, traditions and wants in life is preferable, in my opinion, to another iranian who may be simply just looking for a wife based on the standard iranian matrimony checklist (educated, good family, presentable, prudent, blah blah :-). This is in no way a tacit endorsement of the non-iranian scenario. But based on personal experiences, i have found out, a marriage or a relation- ship for that matter, can not be based on the fact that you and/or your parents passports' have the same color and you both get simulateneously excited about March 21 (March 20 this year :-). You do live in this country and sounds like you will continue to do so therefore while being iranian/moslem may be a necessary requirement for you, it is dangerous to assume its sufficiency.

By the same token, you need to be aware of your non-Iranian friend's beliefs and wants in life. If he is a Christian and wants his children to grow up and sing in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir while you want to take your children to Hajj, you may have a slight problem. I guess the point being, you need to discuss these and many other issues up front.

You sound like an intelligent person with a bright future. Take your time and do not rush into anything. Nobody I have met has ever complained of getting married too late. Only of jumping into something too soon.

7 (a madar)

I'd like to make a comment on the "right" age for marriage. This sounds to be the concern of everyone's so far. I don't think there is any fixed outline for proper age to get married. Some might be ready at age of 20 and some might be ready at 40. It all depends on what kind of life one has lived or what one's expectation of life is or more importantly how mature a person is.

Some like to get settled down and have a family while they're young and some don't, and this does not say anything in particular about the person. I personally might encourage my daughter to get married after age of 25, but at the same time I don't think 22 is "too" young (specially growing up in the U.S.!)

Finding the right partner, she can still explore and enjoy life, only she's not alone and has someone to share the excitements with!! That sounds fun to me! :)

Sure, marriage is a big commitment, but come on, it is not end of everything. It is the individuals and their expectations and the level of communication between them that makes a marriage a success or a failure! I think the main problem this young lady is facing is not her age, is the fact that her parents trying to pick her future husband.

8 (a web visitor)

Here's another side of the story from a non-iranian. I'm a 23-year old Russian woman. I left my country 2 years ago and came to America. One of the reasons for this action was the same problem that is discussed in this group: intercultural relationships, international marriages, etc. My parents could not comprehend that I as a Russian could date someone of a different culture, nation, religion. Our arguments and fights got to the extreme point, so the only way out I saw for myself was to leave my family and, consequently, Russia. All I wanted for my life was to find a person who I would love, respect and appeciate for the rest of my life and nobody would tell me that it is wrong because he belongs to different culture/religion.

Now, I thank God he gave me strength to fulfill my dream. After long time of patient waiting I met him. He is a Zoroastrian Iranian, the kindest man I've ever met. His family became my family. I can write about my happiness for hours. But not to bore you, I just want to say that I'm happy that the fact that we have different cultures and religions helps us to develop ourselves, learn and respect. I'm sure our children will be thankful to us some day that we gave them the opportunity to be trilingual from the start.

I would like to thank the founders of this web site (I have just discovered it). I'm sure I can learn a lot from you.

Thank you,

A Russian

Please send your replies and/or opinions regarding this subject to madar-pedar@surya.eecs.berkeley.edu.

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