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First of all, to be single in the 21st century is completely and utterly ordinary. In fact, in the U. And of those who are unmarried, close to two thirds have never been married. Fewer women than ever before are financially dependent on a spouse.


Metrics details. Cultural and religious norms and expectations may influence the needs and behavior of single women. This is particularly true in those countries where religion and cultural expectations are salient in everyday life.

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In this context, the present study investigated the needs and concerns of Iranian never-married women aged 35 and older. This qualitative study involved a conventional content analysis. Interviews were done with 23 never-married women aged 36—64 years in Iran. A total of codes, 22 sub, 8and 3 themes were extracted from the interviews. The 3 themes were: 1 mental-spiritual lack; were lack of emotional support, uncertain future, mental rumination, and sexual worries; 2 reform of culture and society; were an adverse effect of culture and being overlooked in society; 3 loneliness arising from disability; were aging and loneliness and sickness and loneliness.

The of the analysis indicate that the needs and concerns of never-married women over the age of 35 years in Iran remain unmet.

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This suggests that policymakers and health planners should take into consideration the growing of never-married women as a societal reality deserving of attention. Peer Review reports. All individuals, whether single or married, have such needs, but such fundamental and individual needs appear to be somewhat overlooked in single people.

According to the International Conference on Population and Development ICPDreproductive health refers to a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being associated with the reproductive system and its processes and functions. Despite an urgent need to improve all aspects of reproductive health, there are unfortunately social barriers and discrimination with respect to access to reproductive health [ 2 ].

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Studies have shown that single females feel lonely, less attractive, less satisfied with life, and have functional problems with respect to social relationships and self-confidence [ 34 ]. Single women also experience status of isolation and stigma [ 5 ]. Women in this category are more likely to develop psychological disorders such as depression, aggression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder [ 6 ].

They also face problems living independently and communicating with friends [ 7 ].

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Furthermore, they are likely to experience emotional, psychological, and supportive deprivation, and also to be subject to gender inequality [ 8 ]. Sharafoddin showed that single people are more likely than married people to engage in addiction or suicide [ 8 ]. A study by Kajbaf focused on the psychological consequences of never-married females and males aged 32 to 42 in Iran.

Kajbaf found that these people were depressed, socially excluded, and concerned about their finances and personal independence [ 9 ].

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However, in contradiction with the prior findings, Noorbala stated that the rate of mental disorders in people who have never been married is less than married people, which is due to the lack of married life difficulties [ 10 ]. In contrast to so-called individualistic societies, in collectivistic societies such as those in Africa, South and Central America, Southern Europe, and Asia [ 11 ], staying single into old age can be contrary to cultural norms and traditions. These cultures treat marriage in young adulthood as a developmental task [ 12 ], and carry the expectation that couple relationships should persist into old age [ 1112 ].

Against this kind of background, social norms can adversely affect the lives of single women and their reproductive health [ 1314 ]. For instance, a study on never-married women in Iran found that not being married was Single never married lonely a social stigma [ 15 ]. According to the theory of stigma, single people may not become perfect people and therefore there is a lot of psychosocial discrimination against these people [ 16 ]. This issue is especially prominent in Asian countries where marriage is one of the norms of society and not marrying is known as an abnormality and stigma [ 15 ].

Scare stories about old people who never marry are wrong, except for one.

Qaderzade mentioned that never-married women face psychological problems, a vague future and feelings of being a burden to others. They usually despise themselves and refuse to see in the community. Thus, isolation and loneliness become more apparent to them [ 7 ]. Despite the expectations obtain in collectivistic societies, in recent years the of single women has increased globally [ 17 ]. Statistics also indicate that after the age of 35, the marriage rate for Iranian women decreases [ 18 ].

Most studies of single women have focused on young unmarried women, but it is important to consider all age groups and the full range of individual and social characteristics [ 19 ].

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According to Iranian culture, marriage is highly appreciated, and it is a social norm [ 21 ]. Also, having an intact hymen in the time of marriage is a value for the girls and their families.

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So, in Iran, the only way to have sex, intimate relationship, and become a mother is through marriage [ 22 ]. Therefore, never-married women face challenges of their needs such as the sexual desire with religious beliefs, and cultural norms. Research on the psychosocial health of never-married women in Iran is scarce and consequently little is yet known in any detail about the needs and concerns of this group.

This qualitative study aimed at discovering the needs and concerns of never-married women over 35 years of age in Iran.

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Inclusion criteria included Iranian nationality and ature of written informed consent see below. Exclusion criteria were severe mental issues such as substance use disorder, major depressive disorders, bipolar disorders, or schizophrenia based on self-declarations. Sampling was purposeful and then snowball method.

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For sampling, at first, the researcher, with the help of her supervisor, identified and invited the never-married women with inclusion criteria who were working in her school to take part in the study. After that, for access to more participants with more maximum variation, she asked participants to introduce other never-married women between their friends and relatives.


On the other hand, the researcher started looking for never-married women among her own relatives and friends, and also she went to religious places that many people, as well as never-married women, go there to pray, too. At the time of recruitment, participants were informed about the study goals, the confidential situation of interviews, secure data handling, and their voluntary participation.

Then informed consent was obtained. The researcher tried to select participants with maximum variation such as people with elementary education to people with a Ph. Data were collected from semi-structured, in-depth, face-to-face, and individual interviews until data saturation. Data saturation means that the interviews were continued until no new data was obtained.

In fact, data saturation occurred when a code or a new category did not emerge from data analysis as Strauss said [ 23 ].

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The languages of the interviews were Persian. All interviews were recorded. Data were collected from December to March Data triangulation can be reached by collecting data at different times and settings and by using different sampling protocols. In the present study, data triangulation was obtained by using two methods of data sampling purposeful sampling and snowball sampling.

After drafting the interview questions, if the researcher did not understand some parts of the interview or if further questions emerged, a second interview was arranged.

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In this study, the of participants was But five participants were interviewed two times. So, we had 28 interviews with 23 participants. In this case, the researcher contacted the participant, arranged another interview time, and interviewed them again. So, a total of 28 interviews were conducted with 23 participants, and their needs and concerns were examined thoroughly.

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Each interview lasted about 60—90 min average 75 min. For this purpose, it is used conventional content analysis and inductive reasoning method, Using MAXQDA 10 software for data management.

Men who never marry or have kids might not be as lonely as they seem.

This approach helps in avoiding the use of preconceived and allows the to emerge from the data [ 25 ]. The steps are as follows:. The recorded interviews were all transcribed, immediately after the interview, and then read through several times to build up a general impression.

The text was divided into semantic units that were summarized in the next step and converted into codes. Codes were compared based on their differences and similarities and organized into sub based on similarities, in the next step, sub were compared with each other, and similar sub were combined based on internal similarities and external differences from other sub that the main finally emerge.

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Four Guba and Lincoln [ 26 ] criteria [credibility, reliability, generalizability transferabilityand consistency] were used to establish data validity. Initial themes were carefully reviewed by the study team credibility increased through conducting in-depth interviews, member checking, and validation of emerging codes and in the subsequent discussion and through comparing and Single never married lonely by two researchers until agreement was reached. The conformability and credibility of the findings were verified through member checking, peer checking, and maximum sampling variation.

To create reliability, one expert the observer not involved in the study conducted the second reviewing process. To reach a conclusive decision, disagreements were modified by discussion. To generalizability, diverse samples of participants were recruited, the researcher proceeded to present an exact description of the study process and the activities performed during the course of the study the research steps were recordedand the interviews were analyzed by individuals other than the participants in the study.

Finally, to achieve data consistency, the research team reviewed the interviews, codes, sub, andagain. A total of codes, 22 sub, 8and 3 themes were extracted from the interviews Table 2. This category was formed by combining three sub- 1 Need for a companion, 2 Need to love and be loved, and 3 Striving to be a mother:. One of the unmet needs that the never-married women suffered from was not having a companion.

The participants also needed someone to love and to be loved by him.

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Posted March 29, Reviewed by Abigail Fagan.