I'm a 21 year old Ph.D. student who has never ever dated. Right now I live in the U.S. but up until a year ago I was living in Iran, and in case you aren't familiar with the situation there, dating is both legally forbidden and frowned upon by religious people (unless the couple intend to get married in the near future). Still many people cross these boundaries and have actual relationships outside of marriage.
I unfortunately have a mom who I have never felt comfortable discussing these things with. Even religious Iranian parents give the sex talk to their kids. My parents never did! So the ice is still there between me and my parents. I have tried testing the waters though, through conversations I've had with my parents and I'm almost sure that they are the type who frown upon relationships outside of marriage. The first time I told them I'm taking a ballroom dance class (which I do purely because I like dancing, no hidden intention to get close to someone or anything there), my mom was so freaking out that she immediately said something like: many girls try deceiving boys into doing evil things (and despite my asking she refused to clarify what she meant by evil). You get the gist, my parents are old-fashioned conservative Iranians who despite not being religious are apparently picking up their personalities from the rulers of the country. Although to be fair my dad might be OK with dating and all, but I'm almost sure my mom isn't. I can't figure out why though, because my aunt (my mom's sister) was OK with my cousins' dating and some of my mom's closest friends ask me if I have a girlfriend from time to time (my mom usually just looks at me silently when these questions come up waiting for me to say no and then we behave as if the question has never been asked).
So feeling like this, I never even thought of dating back in Iran.
Now combine all of this with me being on the shy side and not having the greatest of looks (I'm not particularly self-conscious about my looks and I work what I've got but at the same time I accept the reality). I am not a great conversationalist, and it takes so long for me to be able to open up to someone. I am very accomplished for my age though, both academically and financially. I am great at what I do, and when I say that I'm talking world-wide top 100 (you don't know me so I'm not boasting).
For some reason relationships with Iranians very soon come up to getting to know the parents and that's where my biggest problem is. Despite this I have tried asking some Iranian girls living here for dates and have been rejected every time. My good sense tells me that it's because they know that my parents are in Iran so they get all judgmental and presume that I was raised in a religious family and that I'm old-fashioned and everything (most of the Iranians here came here because they couldn't stand the religious rulers).
Now I haven't stopped there. I have tried dating non-Iranians too. But for some reasons, the most important of which I believe is my lack of fluency in English, I have been rejected every time. Well except for one time when my date basically took advantage of me. I was trying an online dating website. We met at a cafe and talked for 3-4 hours. After that I got a call from her saying how she enjoyed talking to me and that she would like to meet up again. Remembering that she had always wanted to try skydiving and that she's on the poor side financially, I suggested we should go skydiving, my treat. Well, we went, and right after I dropped her home she told me that she couldn't imagine continuing dating me because I was not fluent in English. This being such a mean way to let down a guy aside, couldn't she have figured that out the first time we talked for 4 hours?
I have tried dating expats too, but that hasn't worked out either.
I swear I'm not picky about looks. I have never tried asking girls out based on how they look, or how slim they are (in fact most of the ones I have asked out have been on the curvy side). Obviously personality matters, but I haven't even gotten to know anyone deep enough to make sure we have compatible personalities.
I'm really coming to the conclusion that the decisions of my life that have been made for me (what some people call luck) are just keeping me from ever having a relationship. I have tried asking girls out about 20 times, I haven't been just sitting around, but I have been rejected every single time. I haven't even been able to have a first date, except for the one time I said earlier. So this is why I posted here. If you think there is still something I can do, please let me know.