Some years ago I was told by a friend, who was going through a difficult time ending a relationship, that I was good at giving advice. It was not the first time someone had told me this. I decided, with the help of Jahanshah Javid, that it would be a good idea to start an advice column that gave guidance freely, openly and from the heart. When choosing a name for my ‘Iranian Dear Abbey’ I remembered my nanneh (nanny), Kobra Khanoom, in Iran who though illiterate was full of wisdom and goodwill and used to give everyone advice that was simple and confident.
There is a tradition in most cultures, certainly in our Iranian one, of wise women giving advice. It is the kind of counseling that is free of psychological and clinical training, unafraid of being sued and boldly free of any disclaimers. It is the kind of advice-giving that is as old as when people first started telling each other their problems. I have decided to revive Kobra Khanoom’s advice column because the older I get the more ups and downs I experience, the more like her I become.
So if you need a naneh to help you with a problem ask Kobra Khanoom and she will try her best to answer your question. It is, after all, up to you to listen. Email me at MsKobra@yahoo.com
Question: I have a Persian platonic guy friend. We have been friends for about 9 months now. He likes to talk about womanizing and how he signed up for an on line dating web site but I am not sure he has actually dated anyone since his divorce almost a year ago. I prefer not to get into that aspect of my friend’s lives.
My problem is the following: every time he sees me talking to some guy, he has an allergic reaction and begins to treat me in a mean way. He always apologizes. He has acknowledged that he gets jealous. We have spoken about, “How we are not compatible for each other.”
I am tired of all the drama. I am also tired of him using the excuse that it is because of what he suffered by the IRI and his ex-wife. I’m not the IRI nor his ex-wife! As a matter of fact, I am the total opposite of his ex-wife.
I have also suffered a great deal and have an ex-husband too. I don’t go using it to justify harming someone.
I truly try to live my life by the following: “good words, good thoughts and good deeds”.
Should, we continue to be friends or should we go our separate ways? He normally is very nice but…
Kobra Khanoom’s Answer: The guy’s interest in you is not platonic in the least. His jealousy is ample evidence of the fact that he is interested in you romantically. His talk about womanizing is part of his courtship ritual it is his form of chest puffing.
You can stay friends but know that he is not on the same page as you and be super careful. I would keep a very good distance because people who are emotional like this and suffer from jealous fits are also easily deluded into thinking that they have a chance when they don‘t. I would not even consider taking the relationship to a sexual and/or romantic level because if he gets this jealous now can you imagine what he will be like once you sleep with him. Life-long celibacy is better than a suffocatingly jealous partner!
A woman’s “no” is taken with different degrees of seriousness in different cultures. In our Iranian one, which is certainly more patriarchal than the American one, a woman’s “no” is not taken as seriously. I just followed the Zanjan University case of sexual harassment in which the girl who is the victim was charged for Efshagari which means revealing the crime! Remember the case of a poor woman gang raped in Saudi Arabia who herself was condemned for having gotten into the car with an unrelated man. I am not saying Iranians are all macho and narrow minded or that the Saudi regime or the IRI reflect what your friend feels but this level of patriarchal oppressiveness in Islamic culture does its damage in subtle ways even to those who think they oppose it. The jealousy you see in your friend is an extension of this mistrust for women that permeates most societies and some certainly more than others.
But somethings are not gender or culturally bound–I think it is universally true that when one is romantically interested in a person who considers him or herself ‘just a friend’ often one stays in the friendship hoping that it will evolve into something more. So if you are not interested in this guy you will do him a favor to be overly blunt about it and/or keep your distance from him. The burden is on you to control the situation because he being smitten is unable to do so.
I truly believe that obsessive jealousy especially one that is blamed on an ex-wife and an entire political regime is stupid, unbearable and suffocating. It is a sign of deep insecurity. People who believe they are great or good don’t doubt their friends or partners. His wife probably left him because he was overly possessive. Be careful not to hurt the guy and keep your distance. Tell him to write to me maybe I can help him.