Hello! Could I just quickly give Scarleteen in general two thumbs up and a big THANK YOU!
The fact that this site exists and has lots of educational, nonjudgmental sex and relationship info is the best thing ever!
Going on to my question, some background first
I have always considered religion a big part of life. In the religion I am from, there is a cultural tradition of arranged marriage. While keeping everything safe, comfortable, and consensual, most of the women in my family (and all those I feel comfortable talking to about sex/relationships), have in their early twenties, allowed their families to pick who they are going to marry from a pool of interested men. They then dated for a short time (like a few weeks to a month) and then married happily. "No dating until you meet the boy you want to marry" was the rule.
Now I'm 21 and in college, and this is my relationship model. I have super supportive parents. But I've never dated, had any sort of sexual contact with a guy, or any romantic relationship. Now that I'm at the age where my relatives have gotten married, I'm experiencing pressure from parents to start dating by a certain age, get married at a certain age, even though I have no clue how to do that or if I even want to, because I've never actually been in a relationship before! Also, everything is cool until it is not, because the message has always been wait to date and have sex, because according to my family dating=sex happening=marriage soon, all the time. Other confusing notions about sexuality: girls flat out aren't sexual, I'm weird for wanting dating without marriage, "good girls" dress or act a certain way to avoid unwanted attention so shame on you for wanting to dress up in that top, or wear that eyeshadow. Or that there's so much emotional pain after a breakup, its not worth dating just to date someone and not get married.
To make this even more confusing, some other members of my family want me to do whatever I want, just as long as I don't get married to "early". I just feel all this unwanted pressure since I'm not ready to do anything at all in real life but explore what I might want to do romantically or sexually using Scarleteen's resources. Some "friends" too, have judged me in the past by saying I should not be committed to this arranged marriage model and they would never let their parents choose their husband, and so this is oppressive (for me!) somehow. That doesn't even make sense to me. I don't feel like I can go to the women in my family, because some have the beliefs above.
I'm also experiencing a lack of pleasure, recently from (about 3 months ago) whenever I do something like masturbate, think about my sexual fantasies, or even read a romance novel, just because I feel all this guilt about staying "in limbo" between the two camps "marry young, have a long-term relationship in the security of your religion" vs "marry when you are older, possibly much older, but explore and date many people and have many different sexual experience". All this thinking about the different options makes it hard to enjoy right now! And the thing is, as I have discovered more about myself: I want multiple things. Casual sex and long-term relationships, oral and vaginal sex, that I have partners that respect me and my choices, that I can dress however I want so long as its not hurting others, room to explore all of this stuff, both real life, and all the sex fantasies, without being judged. It makes me giddy and happy sometimes that all of this is possible. Its what my parents have and what they want me to have. I don't think the pressure is intentional, I am 100% certain they just want to see me happy and safe romantically and sexually at the end of the day, but they have different viewpoints about how a relationship looks. How do I deal with this pressure and accept my feelings about sex and relationships? Sorry if this was a really long post.