Thursday, March 31, 2005

A Few Different Things

I think this blog will continue for another few days and then be done. I have a few more posts to write and some responses to comments and then I will have said everything I have to say on this topic. My points will have been more than thoroughly made.

Thank you to the people who have emailed me already telling me about the similar issues you face even when it is not exactly like my story. I wish we could all find more happiness but it is good to know that we feel empathy for each other.

I have seen on other blogs that some people are saying that I am self-obsessed. Well of course I am self-obsessed on this blog because it is a blog about me and my problem. I do not go around all day talking to my co-workers or friends about my problems. However when someone offers criticism it is wise to consider if maybe it is true. Maybe my critics are correct. I will think about that.

Thank you to all the people who have offered to set me up on dates. At this point given how personal this blog has been I am more concerned about protecting my anonymity. For you to set me up I would have to tell you my name and where I live and more about me and it would be strange to have a stranger know who I am and also know the personal things I have written here about myself. I appreciate your offers and sincerely wish I could take them but it would be compromising myself too much. However if you know a nice, sincerely religious Jewish man there are certainly many nice religious women like me to set him up with. It is not so hard to find us if you try and who knows, maybe the woman you set him up with will be me after all.

Free will

I do not understand it. Some of you are saying I am a tzadekes and an inspiration when I am blogging about wishing I had an emotionally satisfying way to break this halacha and am thinking about starting to date non-Orthodox men! I do not understand that. Certainly there were times in my twenties that I almost broke the halacha with my boyfriends and would have if we would have gone out longer. If I am a tzadekes it is only because I have not had a lengthy enough relationship to have much of an opportunity to be otherwise. With some of my boyfriends, if we would have gone out a few more weeks then probably I would not have been S.N. with them anymore. The only halachic choice I have made is in dating men who were Orthodox and not getting into physical relationships too quickly. After that my story is one of happenstance not holiness.

Perhaps the other small impressive thing is just that it has taken me this long to start falling apart emotionally because of the long-term sexual deprivation. That is a point of my blog: that different people may get to the point at different times but it is understandable if eventually a single person decides they are not strong enough to keep this halacha. I do not think I am any religiously better than an otherwise Torah-committed woman who is 24, ten years younger than me, who decides with some feelings of religious guilt to make out with her boyfriend or even have sex. How can I judge her for that when I know that if she denies herself she may end up like me, fantasizing about suicide and drowning her pain in Zoloft?

Yes it is true that by succumbing she is breaking the halacha and we are obligated to keep halacha, and also she is taking different emotional risks and may also end up unhappy about it. She may also feel very guilty. But we have free will to sin or not sin. I cannot judge such a woman for taking her chance to quench her physical needs, even if it is only a temporary solution. Only God can do that and personally I think God is more merciful than some other people make Him out to be. I would encourage her to think carefully about why she is doing it, and how much does she trust the man, and to consider how she will feel if they break up and to try to do the Jewish thing instead, but if she cannot, I would not blame her or think she is any less Orthodox than me (assuming she believes that being S.N. is the halacha and that she should be following it even if it is too hard for her at that time).

If she succumbs to temptation she is taking an emotional and spiritual risk and if she does not she is taking a physiological risk. I have made my choices about which risks to take in the circumstances which I have had and do not truly regret them as much as it may seem. But I cannot blame others for choosing a different set of risks. Every Orthodox person has some halachot that are too hard for them or that they just ignore or where the emotional costs demotivate the person from keeping the halacha even though they know they should keep it. We all have different challenges. Let he who is 34 and never been kissed cast the first stone.


At first I resented the comments of people who said “come on, just stop being Shomer Negiah. How ridiculously religious can you be?” because if they were saying “just stop” then obviously they did not read my blog carefully and did not understand how complicated this all is for me. With whom do they think I should be not-S.N.? A random man on the street? But after thinking about it I understand the comment better because frankly deep down I have the same attitude about Orthodox men who do not pleasure themselves. The idea that there are men who do not even – you know – leaves me speechless and a little angry. “God will understand” I want to tell them. Just go ahead and do it. Have some joy in your life. Do not let religion ruin your life and your happiness. All the things that people are saying to me about negiah, see? But now I stop to think about it I realize that it is just my way of putting them down to make myself seem better. I know that I would never have the strength to do what they do and it is easier to pressure them to sin or decide there must be something psychologically wrong with them than to admit that I am more dependent on self-pleasure than they are or that I do not have as much self-control or dedication to halacha as they do. We all do that I suppose. But it is not nice.


On this blog and others people have suggested exercise as a way of relieving sexual tension. This is in fact a very good idea though for me it is better at preventing tension than relieving it. When I come home from the gym I do not miss sex as much as I do when I have not been exercising. For the readers who “relate” to my problem I highly recommend it.

The man from Indiana

This non-Jewish man from Indiana who works on my floor, I cannot tell you how painful it is to work on the same floor with him. Sometimes when I am supposed to be working I am really thinking about what I would like to do with him on one of our desks after everyone else has gone home.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Emailing me

Some commenters have asked for an email address for me. I have set up this address:

The problem with email is that if I send an email to a reader then you will be able to see my IP address which will tell you where I live. So you can email me at that address if you do not want to post a comment on the blog but I will not respond to it. I will only read it. I am sorry.

The Real Problem

I have noticed in the comments of some other blogs that linked to this one that some people are angry on my behalf. They wonder if being Shomer Negiah is what Judaism is “about” and pointed out that our religion is not meant to be ascetic. We do not have nuns in Judaism which is basically what I have become. Actually I feel not so much like a nun and more like a virgin sacrifice on the alter of “the singles crisis.”

You see I am not as angry at the requirement to be S.N. as I am at the fact that I am not married. I do believe that being S.N. makes sense especially in a person’s teenage years and their early twenties if they are still single then. Maybe later too. I agree very much with the commenter who said that I would not want a relationship with a man who was staying with me in order to get the physical benefits. When I look back at the men I have dated, none of whom I guess were for me since we did not stay together - I am glad that at least I did not make myself even more vulnerable to them than I did. In the relationships that I had we made decisions based on emotional and intellectual clarity not physical passion. I think that is a good way.

The trouble is not being S.N. it is what happens when a person is S.N. and then they do not get married for a very long time. It is true that in Judaism we are meant to be sexual people, we are not meant to be nuns or ascetics. That is because we are meant to be married.

I am not angry at the Torah for telling me that I should not hug or kiss men outside my family until I get married. It is a good way and I will stay strong for as long as I can. If I ever do have a meaningful relationship I will surely talk with the man about this at the appropriate time and we will make decisions together about what kind of relationship we want. Now I think about it I think deep down I really would like to stay S.N. until I get married if I can. If I was in a relationship where the question was even practical I would just be so happy to have reached that point of emotional intimacy. It has been a long time. For many years I have been S.N. by default as I explained in my first post. Perhaps truly it is the emotional closeness I crave even more than the physical closeness.

I am though angry at the teachers, rabbis, friends, and book authors who led me to believe when I was young that if I conducted myself as a holy Nice Jewish Girl surely a Nice Jewish Boy would be attracted to my modest, holy ways and marry me and build a bayis ne’eman b’yisroel with me. I am sure that no one ever promised that outright, I am sure they just said Be Good because that is the law and the way to be a servant of Hashem. The assumption was there though: Be Good, and soon you will have a husband and a beautiful, spiritual Jewish home and children and a sexual relationship with your husband where neither of you compares the other to past partners because neither of you has had any.

No one ever said Be Good, and if a half-decent man shows interest in you then take him no matter what because after you are 26 or 27 it will become much harder to get dates. They never said Be Good, even though it might mean that you will be a virgin until you die. They did not tell me that I might still be single when I am 34 no matter how Good and Nice I am. Definitely they did not tell me that the Nice Jewish Boys would be busy making out with or having sex with other women while I focused on being a servant of Hashem.

I committed myself to a system with the understanding that it would lead to a certain kind of life. I paid dearly for my ticket but long ago the ship left without me.

Now I am 34 and have never been kissed. I cannot go back. I could not undo the life I have had even if I could think of exactly what I would change. I am 34 and I still want the Nice Jewish Boy and the spiritual companionship and home and the children but I am afraid I will never get those things now barring a miracle. Meanwhile in addition to lacking emotional intimacy I have also denied myself from a physical need. Yet if I fill that need with someone who is not offering emotional intimacy as well I know I will feel used and miserable. The problem is not that I have never been kissed. The problem is that I do not have anyone to kiss.

Who do I touch

In response to comments I have seen on other blogs I want to emphasize that I do have physical contact with other people sometimes. I get hugs from people in my family, both male and female. I have nieces and nephews and we cuddle and kiss and play. As I wrote in my first post there are times in my professional work that I touch other people including men.

The topic of this blog is my lack of sexual or romantic contact with other people.

Also it is true that if I do not see my family for a while then sometimes many days pass without touching other people. That is very lonely.

Physical necessities

Many years ago in high school I heard Judge Daniel Butler of Pittsburgh speak at an event about someone in his family who was an American soldier who liberated a Nazi concentration camp at the end of World War II. The concentration camp had many children who had survived but they were sick and hungry. The soldiers started giving out food to them and the children made a line to receive the food.

Judge Butler’s relative noticed a child lying on the ground too weak to stand up. The child was dying. The soldier did not know what to do so he bent down and held the child and rocked him.

One by one the other children left the food line and lined up in front of this soldier to get hugs instead.

I would never dare to compare my situation to the one of those children but I know that I would gladly give up food for a long time to have a kind, intelligent, handsome, religious man put his arms around me and stroke my hair and tell me that he loves me.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


What pleases me about most of the comments which other people have left here is that almost everyone is trying to help me. Though, I wish I could confront in person the person who said that vibrators raise expectations too much. Did that person read my blog? I have a choice between shall we say “relieving the tension” myself or committing suicide. That commenter is a self righteous person and I will not write the other names I mentally have for him.

However most of the commenters seem to be nice people who are trying to help me but are missing the mark so I will explain something. Many of you have suggested that I find a middle ground between being S.N. and having sex. If I understand you correctly you are suggesting that I stop being S.N. and get hugs and cuddles from my next boyfriend so that at least I will have some physical contact with another person.

That is a nice suggestion but it supposes that soon I will have a man in my life with whom that is an option. Perhaps you do not understand what it means to be 34 and a single Orthodox woman. It is like applying for a good job and you find out that there are 25 other applicants just as qualified as you are. Everywhere I look are wonderful Orthodox women, and not enough men. The shadchanim say not just to me but also to my friends “I will put you on my list but there are not enough men so it may be a long time before I set you up.” My married friends say “I am sorry, ________, but I cannot think of anyone for you nor for any of our other single woman friends.” Sometimes they say that they know a few men but the men are too picky or do not seem interested in a meaningful relationship and also there is the problem that my friends and I are socially adapted and sometimes the men are not. The local shidduch club announced that they no longer accept profiles of women, only men. I go to singles events and the men are outnumbered 2 to 1 or 3 to 1. The men on dating websites who are my age want a younger woman who will be able to have more children, and the men 10 years older than I am also want a younger woman who will be able to have more children. At least that is what some of them tell me in their responses to my emails if they respond at all. The ones who write to me first usually are in their fifties.

Still I persevere. For the last few years I had about 2 or 3 new dates per year. Usually after one or two dates with a man if he is anywhere close to what I am looking for I am willing to continue dating even if there are many differences between us because I am willing to try to make something work - but always the men move on to the next person on their list. The last time I had what could be called a boyfriend was when I was 27. More about my previous boyfriends in a later post perhaps.

To be happy I need a way I think to explain my life to myself so that I can feel shalem (whole) about it. Yes I might get married or at least have a nice relationship for a while but I cannot count on it. I need to find a way to say “Even if I die a virgin, the story of my life is still a happy story.” At the moment I do not feel that. When I look ahead at a lifetime of being alone, I wonder why God put me here, and why He would be so cruel as to put me in a community that values marital sex so much when He knew I might never have it.

My other option I think is to start dating men who are not Orthodox at all and have no plans to be. The idea scares me a little bit because of course they would expect physical contact right away and I am not used to that. I do not know how I would tell them that I want to wait at least a few dates before touching, and I want to wait until I get married to have sex. I suppose if the man were sensitive enough I would be able to tell him and maybe he would walk away or maybe not. The bigger issue is that I want to have a Shomer Shabbos home. I want to raise my children if I ever have any to believe that Torah and mitzvos are important. I do not want to be married to someone who does not really believe in Torah. I do not need a man who is exactly religiously like me but being Orthodox is a very big lifestyle commitment. How could I be with someone who does not share it at least in some minimal way? How can a Shomer Negiah girl date someone who is not even Orthodox? Even if I decided to try I am not sure how I would go about doing such a thing.


All the time, I am afraid of being raped. Imagine if my only experience with sex ever in my life was a violent one. Imagine if after “saving myself” for 34 years for someone who loves me enough to marry me if I was violated by someone who was just helping himself. I think they would have to institutionalize me. Always, I am careful of where I park my car and where I walk alone at night. Always, I am aware of where my drinks have been and never get into an empty elevator in a building which might have a closed floor. Always, when I come home, I have my key ready and am aware if a strange person is following me into the building. When I stay in a hotel I never walk to my room if a stranger is behind me. It is a little bit obsessive I think. When your virginity is all you have, you guard it carefully.

What will be the reality?

I wrote that women I know who have been not-S.N. in some of their relationships seem more comfortable than I am in their sexuality (which was refuted by some commenters). You might say: but Nice Jewish Girl, I thought you said you have owned three vibrators! You must be very comfortable.

The difference is that everything I know about my own sexuality is based on fantasy and on conjecture. I know how my body responds to various stimuli but I do not know how it would respond when you mix in a real man and emotions and not knowing yet what he likes and him not knowing yet what I like.

Yes I think about sex all the time. Yes I know how to relieve the tension, as it were. But I have a fear that I will get married and discover that I am bad in bed, or that I just do not enjoy it, or that my husband has some kind of sexual issue that has to be overcome or that I do. What if truly I do not like it? What if I am bad at it? The question haunts me and causes me a lot of pain. I hurt for not being able to find out either way. I hurt for not being able to get on with my life.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Nice Company

Thank you to all the nice bloggers who linked to my site, especially to Renegade Rebbetzin, Bloghead, and most especially to Esther for saying I am Jewlicious. Being called Jewlicious moved me very much. Lately I have been feeling that my commitment all these years to being Shomer Negiah has been pathetic rather than holy. Esther reminded me that I have been strong, in ways apparently which most people are not. I had forgotten.

Thank you to everyone who left comments on my posts. Even though there is nothing that anyone can do to change my situation (other than introduce me to my bashert) it is nice to know that there are sympathetic people reading my words.

I was worried that when I start getting comments they would be something like “This is why I hate Orthodoxy” or “Come on just get out there and have sex already” or perhaps “You should say more tehillim to stop yourself from having lurid thoughts.” I am so very happy that this has not been the case. Almost everyone has been thoughtful and kind. Thank you.

I have already written the next few posts, I wrote them before I saw the comments that have already been written. I worry that it will seem like I am just complaining. How many ways are there to say that being Shomer Negiah is difficult and lonely? Then again I think it is important to express this. It is important for teachers in Jewish schools to understand. It is important for me to have a means of expression and it is important for other Shomer Negiah people who might be reading this to know they are not alone. It is important for me to know I am not alone.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

What would I tell my daughter?

If I ever have a daughter, what will I tell her about being Shomer Negiah? What will I try to encourage her to do or not do? I know what I should say. I know that since I actually have kept this very difficult halacha for many years that I can be a role model, I can say “it can be done, it is hard, but be strong because you can do it.” But. But. But. But can I honestly say “it is worth it”? Maybe until you are 23 or 24. Yes, when you are young it is worth it. It saves you from a lot of pain. And of course it is the halacha. Young people in Shomer Negiah relationships often truly feel a lot of holiness for it and that is very important and nice. But to be S.N. until you are 34 is too much. It is too hard. The price is too high.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

If I could turn back time

I have been thinking about my last post from Tuesday . . .

What is more important for me to discuss with a rabbi is my mixed feelings about the fact that I have been S.N. all this time. I wrote in my first post that I do not regret it. I know women who were physically intimate with their boyfriends to one degree or another, and afterwards when they broke up the fact that they had done that did not help them and in many cases made them feel worse. But. But. But. But they have more confidence in their femininity, I think. The ones who have been not-S.N. with serious boyfriends seem more comfortable with their sexuality. I am not talking about women who did anything that made them feel cheap, rather women who did things with men that were in proportion to how well they knew the men, and how long they had been dating, and how well the men treated them.

I wonder whether it might have been better for me to go ahead and for example “make out” with some of my boyfriends when I thought I had a chance. This was years ago. Would it make a difference in how I feel about myself? If so for better or for worse?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Needing divine intervention

I sometimes consider going to a rabbi to talk about my problem. I would like to think and hope that a rabbi will have some spiritual guidance to give that would help me. But what could he say? He would not tell me that I have waited enough and it is alright for me to sleep with someone I hardly know. He would not tell me that I could date non-religious Jews or non-Jews in order to increase my dating pool. And there is nothing he could say that would make me feel better about being not just a virgin but never even kissed at 34. The best I could hope for is reassurance that if I am not S.N. in my next relationship, that it is understandable and God will not judge me harshly for it. But even that is irrelevent if I am not seeing anyone. I do not need a rabbi. What I need is more dates. I need a boyfriend. I need a shadchan, and I need a miracle.

She is not me

I am worried that some people might read my blog and think about some woman they know who is Shomer Negiah and smirk inside thinking “inside she just thinks about sex all the time and really needs to get laid.”

So I wish to emphasize that yes I am Shomer Negiah and I am sexually deprived but I am many other things also. Being S.N. does not define who I am. It does define this blog but not me. I have a job, talents, friends, spiritual and personal aspirations. I am worthy of dignity and respect.

I write about the not-dignified things here because I have nowhere else to go. Even with girlfriends, how much time can we spend talking about dating? And also, some of them really are more prudish when it comes to talking about negiah or more especially about sex. Some of them do not want to think about it or admit that they want it. Maybe they just do not want to think about what they are missing or perhaps they are truly frigid in some way. I am not sure. I just know that there are not so many people in the non-virtual world who I can tell about how trapped I feel.

When you meet a frum lady in your community who is single, please do not smirk inside about what she “must be thinking.” You do not know what she is thinking. She is someone else, not me, (probably.). Probably she deserves better than for you to be lewd in how you think about her just because of what you read on another woman’s (my) blog. That is all I have to say.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

So Close Yet So Far

There is a man I think about. He is a friend of my friend so I see him sometimes. He is exactly the physical type I am attracted to. He is devastatingly attractive in my eyes.

He is not religious enough for me. He does not keep Shabbos. He does not keep kosher. He certainly is not S.N. He is just a friendly, handsome, Jewish man. I wish I could date him but I cannot or at least that is what I am trying to remember. If he said he wanted to date me, I do not know what I would do. I could not marry him.

We joke around. We make small talk. Then we say goodbye and I do not see him for a few weeks.

He does not know that every time we are talking, I am thinking about what he would look like with his shirt off, and his wrists crossed over his head, handcuffed to my bedpost.

When I see him it is like someone waving a hot meal under the nose of a starving person, and then taking it away. Would it be better never to see him or other men I am attracted to, if for one reason or another I cannot date them? At least when I see them and think my thoughts, I am remembering that I am a woman.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

No Good Choices

I go to work and all day I think about sex. Well OK not all day, just whenever my mind is not occupied with something else. If I thought about Torah half as much as I think about sex . . . I don’t know. I would know a lot of Torah I suppose. When I meet an attractive man I think only about what it would feel like to have my hands in his hair. I have no coherent thoughts when a handsome man is nearby. I particularly am taken by a man who works on my floor who is so very attractive. When he walks by I can feel my body temperature rise by several degrees, but of course I say nothing because what can I say? He is not even Jewish. He is a WASP from Indiana.

Sometimes it is not about sex I fantasize about but rather about affection, and I fantasize about holding a man’s hand when I am walking around outside. I will go places for Shabbos and secretly envision a man who loves me sitting next to me at the Shabbos table. I just want him to be there.

A close girlfriend once said to me “_______, you need to get laid.” She meant it half mockingly and half seriously. It is true that I am so wound up . . . what was that line in Ferris Bueller? . . . well, anyway, I am very wound up. But it is like that song, “I can’t get no satisfaction”. What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to go offer myself to a man I hardly know? I want to be caressed and I want to be held tight and I want to be made love to, but I do not want to be cheap.

I want to be in a good relationship and then maybe, if the man feels similar about being Shomer Negiah as I do - get the caresses and the hugs. I want to get married and then have sex. What if that never happens? What if it happens when I am 50 and meanwhile I have wasted all the years of being young? As I already have? I have no good choices. I am trapped.