This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. One of the main cultural issues in universities is relationships between male and female students. Due to the adverse consequences of this issue, explaining of the beyond the causes of friendship with opposite-sex, is one of the first steps in planning for youth issues. This qualitative research was conducted based on content analysis. Nineteen female university students were enrolled. Semi-structured questions through four sessions were used to gather required data.
Two themes were extracted. One was the behaviors leading friendship which consisted of 5 subsets including self and extra-self, meso, exo-, and macro-systems.
The other theme was the actions against with consequences of sex which are made of 2 subsets of the quality and the consequences of sex. Various factors such as person attitude, felling lonely, and community atmosphere, including the university environment, family, friends, religious beliefs and media that promote the Western culture can be effective in friendship before marriage.
Since the society of our country is considered a young populated one and the culture of the West through the media currently influences on our culture, reproductive health programs should be developed in a high priority focusing on youth fitted with their current needs according to Islamic-Iranian culture. Female Students, Friendship, Iran, Opposite-Sex, Social Ecology Introduction University students are considered an important part of each society and paying attention to their healthy behaviors including reproductive health behaviors should be taken into consideration.
According to statistics issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC , prevalence of health-threatening behaviors including smoking, alcohol drinking, high-risk sexual behaviors, and drug abuse is growing in youth population 1.
A study in Tehran among high school students showed that 2. One of the major health concerns which can affect young people is human immunodeficiency virus HIV infection. Understanding their needs, values and norms can help researchers to anticipate some of the social realities 6.
Hence, this study with its nature-oriented perspective intended to explain the pattern of opposite-sex friendship in a group of Iranian female students. We used focus groups discussion FGD because it is a form of group interview that provides communication between research participants in order to provide information required 8. FGD is a form of group interview that provide communication between research participants in order to generate data 9. It is useful for exploring people's knowledge and attitude FGD is particularly appropriate when the interviewer has a series of open-ended questions and wants to encourage participants to explore the issues of importance to them generating their own questions and pursuing their own priorities Social ecological model SEM was used to analyze data.
It can provide a theoretical framework to analyze various contexts in multiple types of research and in communications SEM is the study of people in an environment and the influences on one another It is primarily a qualitative research model to conduct field observations; however, it has been and can also be utilized in experimental settings.
In SEM, the effective factors on behavior occur in micro-, meso-, exo- and macro-systems, in which individual, interpersonal, organizational factors, community and culture are explained Materials and Methods Qualitative research projects are based on a nature-oriented paradigm that focuses on the principles of reality Data in this study were analyzed based on content analysis CA. CA is a systematic method of classification and coding that can be used in text information discovery, and in revealing patterns of words used, their frequency and structure, relationship between them, and communication analysis CA, beyond extracting data from text content, can be used to reveal the themes and patterns Therefore, in this study, using this method and based on the descriptions given by the participants, overt and hidden concepts specified by coded, summarized, and classified concepts and themes were extracted.
Codes were derived based on meaningful units of the descriptions of participants, and then classified based on differences or similarities Nineteen students participated in this study. FGD was conducted in four sessions with a maximum of 90 minute.
Before entering the interview, they were informed of the content of discussions. Interview began with two general questions. Do you have friends who had experience of friendship with opposite sex? In your opinion, how is the trend of relationships between male and female students in universities in Iran?
After that, according to the interview process, probe questions were asked. Interviews were recorded and personal characteristics of the subjects were registered. When the new data as a new code and a new category were not extracted, it indicated that the data is saturated, then no more meetings were scheduled 18 , Verbal communications of the participants, which were recorded on tape, together with non-verbal communications were transcribed.
Interviews were reviewed several times, then, the text pieces were broken into units of meaning. Then summarized semantic units and codes were extracted in the form of words or phrases. Codes, based on the conceptual and semantic similarity, were classified. Decreasing trend of data in all stages including sub-categories and main categories was moving until not only conceptual units were summarized, but also the main categories and sub-categories became more abstract and conceptual.
Credibility was established mainly through member checking. Member checking was used in 3 ways at 3 stages of data collection and data analysis: In order to increase transferability of statuses to other groups, different participants were used in terms of their socioeconomic, educational level, and rich description about reporting of the research process in material and method section Ethical considerations such as obtaining informed consent during research, collecting methods and data recorder were respected.
In analyzing the results, the researcher decided, regarding the classification of codes, to use the theory of social ecology. Two themes, as systems leading sexual behavior, and behavior coping with the consequences of sexual behavior were extracted. Sexual Behavior Leading Systems: Systems leading friendship was extracted from the four main classifications, namely self micro-system , micro-system extra self , university organization meso-system , the mass media exo-system and values and religious beliefs macro-system were extracted.
In this group, individual values and attitudes toward friendship problems were classified. This study showed that participants believed that relations before marriage are increasing and are considered a common issue. So, not being in isolation, there should be established relationships. It appears that students are trying to behave in mutual interactions in social environments; that is, university, based on their understanding of stereotypes and expectations of society.
Expressing the cause of friendship, the majority of students take the family involved in this issue for various reasons. One of the reasons expressed by the majority of the students is that they believed various degrees of freedom given to female students by their families have a significant impact on this increasing process of communication, so that, one participant expressed, "Girls are allowed to travel to far places to study, they can have their own cell phones, and be very open-handed "; This means that young females are given much more freedom than before by their families.
The second reason concerning the family involvement is that most families prohibit the youth from marriage at young age. The youth believe that marriage at young age may be appropriate; Why?
Because there is evidence that Iran, along with decreasing age Menarche, age at first marriage has increased dramatically 21 , and this situation along with other reasons that describes in this article may urge them to form pre-marriage friendships.
Others expressed that sexual behavior is reinforced because of new family patterns, so that non-traditional families can be influential in this issue. On the other hand, male and female relationships in the family are taboo, especially adolescents do not usually talk with parents about these relationships, and the mothers are told that this is a closed form of relationship and they intend to get married; for example, we enter the relationship in an implicit form.
While the reality may be something else, most relationships are formed out of sight of parents. The other said, "If mothers are told about our relation because we are going to get married, some mothers treat us well, and they help us to form our relationships correctly. While mothers are not fully aware of the relationship and its quality from one hand, the young are allowed to enter sexual relationships out of sight of the family from the other hand.
It seems that families do not allocate enough time to meet the emotional needs of young people. They need to be embraced by their family as well as their parents should show them enough affection. Friends and the norms governing on the group of friends are other important components in performing a behavior in people, and friendship, is not an exception from this rule. In this study, the participants considered role of friends effective in the performance of sexual behavior.
So you take action to go toward it and you get the following". Female students generally believe that they might be blamed by their peers for not having friendship with males so that they get chances to achieve their sexual goals. It seems that girls are behaving under the pressure and urge of sexual behavior caused by their boyfriends. Lack of sufficient skills in ability to control a female against her sexual desires is one of the weak points among females that should be emphatically considered in reproductive health programs.
It seems that being badly hurt from the first relationship strengths the next relationships which are made only to intend to enjoy, delight and fun, and to forget the bitter memories of the past relationship. In these circumstances, girls makes friendship with other boys and even with several individuals at the same time and experience short-term friendships all of which are the consequences of failure in previous contacts. Such communication can put the person at the exposure of higher risk form psychological, social and biological aspects.
One participant said, "The best relationship communication is always the first. Meso system Organization of University: It seems values which govern the student community influence individual behavior and attitudes of students at the university level. In other words, it appears that university is an organization whose members individually help the aspects of relations outside of marriage, thus their expectations are provided as a meso-system.
Exo-sytem of Mass Media; Another factor on which students had great emphasis is accessing to mass media such as private satellite, internet, pornographic pictures and movies showing or describing friendship and sexual behavior before marriage.
Although, the media can inform young people about sexual and healthy sexual transmitting at the same time they can impose the values of Western societies, nations, and sexual ethics on the people of other countries threatening them. Macrosystem of values and laws governing community: Participants believed that religion and its laws can be effective on sexual contacts between male and female students. But unfortunately, it seems that Western culture with its own equipment like satellite and Mass Media intends to influence on our values and beliefs 2: The actions against with consequences of sex: This theme is composed of two categories; the consequences of sex and sexual quality.
The consequences of sex: In this study the consequences of guilt due to psychological trauma caused by the individual performance against the values and custom and norms of society were extracted. Female sexual function develops a bad feeling of sin in them, which may be present for long periods of time. Also, being pregnant and consequences such actions like abortion, having teen hymen deflowered always cause physical or mental injuries in teenagers.
Marriage is usually a major problem for girls at the beginning of which the sexual behaviors start. They perform actions such as the hymen repair surgery resulting in mainly high costs for them. The interviews revealed that most girls are afraid of pregnancy in comparison with sexually transmitted diseases STD like HIV infection, and being affected by the diseases are the last concerning, and such problems may increase the transfer of STD.
Participants said that quality of relationships, depending on duration of their friendship, is different and its range varies from minimal physical relations to sexual intercourse. In other words, their friendship continued into stages that can be followed by physical or mental injury.
But what our community has been more perilous is the kind of anal intercourse because the value of virginity is important among young people.