Like an increasing number of Iranians, Mahnaz divorced after marrying young because of the pressures of a conservative society that she feels often ignores a relationship's most important ingredient: love.Now single, she looks back with sadness on the collapse of her marriage, but bears no anger towards her parents who made the arrangements seven years ago. From the first meeting with my husband's family I had a bad feeling about it," she says.

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And just like everywhere else, many men and women struggle to connect with someone, despite their best efforts.

But getting to know each other is merely one part of a complex ritual.

What lies beneath is usually deep parental involvement in a country where even for young adults the family is core; most singles live at home.

For those of marrying age, the pressure to conform can be suffocating.

"I sometimes feel I am thinking about my parents more than myself," says Fereshteh, 28, who has been going out with her boyfriend, Amir, for two years.

"They first asked me if I was going to marry him after one year," she says, admitting to doubts even over touching her suitor's hand, as such affectionate contact is forbidden outside marriage.

For young Iranians, at first glance, finding love appears no harder than anywhere else: people go on dates at coffee shops, cinemas or restaurants and meet at parties.

The official reasons for splitting up are a lack of affection between couples, family interference, domestic violence and drug addiction.

But many young people cite strict social mores as a heavy burden.