The Iranian-American Dilemma

Q: Dear Dr. G, chetori?

I am an Iranian American man, who has always dated women from different cultures ~ Italian, German, Polish, Indian, Swedish-Americans… I have never dated an Iranian woman only because I’ve never found the right one.

I find myself attracted to the kindhearted sincerity, fun loving, laid back attitudes and desire to experience the world characteristics of the Americans I’ve come to know over the years.

I’ve also always found myself turned off by the shy and un-confidant or in your face, give you a hard time diva; ditto for the ‘I don’t care about my Iranian heritage, I’m an American‘ characteristics held by 90% of the Iranian women I’ve met in America so far.

In my gut, I know that I want to marry an Iranian American woman, but frankly the lack of meeting the right one is really starting to bum me out…

Have you heard any of these similar generalizations before, or seen this situation yourself at all? Am I the only one who’s had this kind of life experience? What words of wisdom could you share, so that when enshallah I come across the right Iranian American girl… things are a smooth as possible?

Mochaker… Seeking The One

– Submitted by Male, 30, California

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A: Dear Mr. Seeking The One,

I wish I could wave a magic wand and happily pair up all the lonely singles in the world! Were it that easy! Unfortunately, I’m not THAT good. It sounds like you are a pretty open-minded guy and you’ve dated women from all over…except Iranian women. Let me share some thoughts that I hope may provoke some deeper thought on your part.

I think one thing that happens to many of us American-Iranians is that we get caught in between cultures and often also in between generations, which only compounds problems. Many of us grow up with really traditional and conservative parents who impart some of the more oppressive characteristics of Iranian culture to us at home. Then we go to school and find ourselves surrounded by more liberal ways and we end up feeling like the “odd man out.” The struggle to follow mom and dad’s rules at home but “fit in” at school puts us in a constant state of crisis. Now I understand that this may or may not apply to you – you have not really disclosed too much information about your upbringing. So, if the shoe fits, wear it. Otherwise, don’t worry about it…I’m sure you know someone who fits this description.

So, back to our upbringing. For many of us, myself included, we probably spend years, perhaps decades, fighting an identity crisis. Mine took the form of asking myself almost daily for nearly a decade (maybe more!)…Am I American or am I Iranian? Should my friends be American or Iranian? Should I be seeking out an American man or an Iranian man? It was utterly confusing and profoundly discouraging. I felt hopeless often. I wondered if I would ever meet a non-Iranian who could understand the subtle aspects of our culture. I equally wondered if I would ever meet an Iranian who did NOT think the way my parents did, but showed a slightly more progressive and liberal mindset.

I take the time to describe all of this so that I can prod your brain a little. You are 30, so clearly you have some understanding for who you are. Are you sure that it’s only coincidence that you have not found the right Iranian woman, even to date? I mean…you live in California…and most of the Iranians in this country live on one of the coasts…so…seriously…I can’t help but wonder if there might be something impeding the possibility of you pursuing Iranian or American-Iranian women? I want you to take a step back and try to REALLY be honest about this. I urge you only because I have had to do the same thing. You see, I think many of us caught in this weird in-between state of worlds may actually be experiencing some unconscious thought processing of which we are not typically even aware. I have just now after decades begun to recognize when I am in the presence of older generations who make comments reminiscent of my childhood (i.e., comments suggesting prejudice and discrimination or small-mindedness or ignorance)…I have a visceral reaction. And if you’re wondering whether that is a good thing or not?…well, it’s not. I try to catch myself and invoke feelings of compassion. I tell myself to take a deep breath and NOT be the very person I am judging…and so to NOT judge. It is challenging even on a good day.

So, as you do some serious introspection, think about why you have been able to date women from every culture except your own. Think about what your own “hang-ups” might be that you might have inherited from your parents or from the culture. You see, some people find comfort by marrying the same because it’s easier to share culture hang-ups. But some of us have a polemic reaction…ensued by a life-long LOVE-HATE relationship with our own culture. We cannot live with it or in it, but we cannot live without it. It actually really sucks.

Remember though, my friend, there is an ENTIRE generation of American-Iranians and Iranian-Americans…out there, waiting to meet someone just like themselves, just like you….all trying to figure out what in the heck they are – American or Iranian!?!?!? Perhaps if you try to keep a really open mind and not presume anything at all before you meet an Iranian woman…you may just find the woman of your dreams who is a nice balance between the two disparate cultures. Keep in mind that at the end of the day, people from all different cultures tend to have more (at least of the major issues) in common than not. Start with similarities, not differences.


– Dr. G.

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