The slim, dark-eyed Mahtabi wonders whether she should lower her standards with the next man she dates.“On the other hand,” she said, “I feel our Iranian boys are not educated enough by our parents to tolerate living with a liberated woman, let alone enjoy it.”Abidar Dadman, a 37-year-old bank employee studying for a master’s in international business, recently dated a man who was uncomfortable with the fact that she earns about 0 a month more than he does. Sometimes he would slip in underhanded comments, saying she must have gotten her job through family connections.
I just want to be a decent girl who is a traditional mom and at the same time part of modern society.”As divorces become more common, some women are picky about whether to remarry.
Hajar Hasani, a 32-year-old pathologist, divorced her surgeon husband two years ago after his long work hours took a toll on their marriage. does not make our boys mature enough.”In many rural areas, attitudes remain staunchly traditional.
Then in her late 20s and rebounding from a string of broken relationships, Fahimeh Azadi moved alone into an apartment in working-class southern Tehran.
Her very presence, she recalled, was “a walking challenge to the men.”Azadi had joined a growing number of women in Iran who are electing to remain single, defying their parents’ expectations and the strict conventions of the Islamic Republic.
Still, Azadi had to balance independence with caution.
She ascended the staircase only when it was clear of neighbors and admonished visiting friends to walk on tiptoes to avoid attracting attention.
Mahtabi fell in love in her early 20s, but her first boyfriend was unwilling to introduce her to his devout parents.
A more recent relationship with a suave computer expert broke up when he told her he would only marry a virgin.“The way he dressed was as fashionable as any European,” Mahtabi said, “but mentally he was an old-timer.”But with so much of Iranian life centered on the family, many single women struggle with loneliness.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)Now 35, Azadi has moved to a more genteel part of town but still lives by herself.