Wednesday, March 30, 2005

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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

excellent post.
i commend you!

3/30/2005 07:42:00 AM  
Blogger kishmech said...

feel for ya. Well thought out.

3/30/2005 09:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Lao Ju said...

I just started reading your blog yesterday on the referral of a friend of mine, and your frank honesty is pretty engrossing.

We don't share much in common (great disparity in age and gender) but I think you are able to relate the psychological emphasis of what you're experiencing quite well, to people from all demographics.


3/30/2005 10:16:00 AM  
Anonymous doug said...

"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."
What would you have had them say or do differently? if they had said to you you may die a virgin or the boys will be out having sex with whomever, would you at that age possibly have kept S.N.? and if you weren't S.N. would any of your concerns about vulnerability or damage from your relationships be differentin this context? the unpleasant truth is that there is no one to blame for this situation, and we can only hope that yu will find your bashert sooner rather than later.

3/30/2005 10:33:00 AM  
Anonymous doug said...

"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."
What would you have had them say or do differently? if they had said to you you may die a virgin or the boys will be out having sex with whomever, would you at that age possibly have kept S.N.? and if you weren't S.N. would any of your concerns about vulnerability or damage from your relationships be differentin this context? the unpleasant truth is that there is no one to blame for this situation, and we can only hope that yu will find your bashert sooner rather than later.

3/30/2005 10:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

perfectly put-- although I don't know what else all of the teachers, friends etc. could say/have said.

3/30/2005 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger Eliana said...

You said in the beginning of your blog that you are not much of a writer, but I have to disagree. Rarely have I felt so moved by so few words. You tell you story with simplicity and power.

3/30/2005 02:34:00 PM  
Anonymous neha said...

Hi, I just wanted to say that I think you're an amazing person and you writings have really touched me. I'm from India and in our culture, women are traditionally supposed to really pure and etc, otherwise supposedly no man would want you. So really felt your words when you said that nice boys will be sleeping with other women while you are trying so hard to be "good". It's sick to me how unfairly societies make rules for women, yet none for men. I guess I wanted to say, that for everything you have done, for all that "goodness", i think you derserve so much. You deserve the world.

3/30/2005 02:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I started saying tehilim as a zchus for you today.
I will, bli neder, make this into a "I demand that you find NJG a shidduch" campaign. I don't know how much my words are worth to Hashem, but I'll keep petitioning for you. (I encourage others who are reading this to consider doing the same. the more people petitioning, the greater a force it'll have.)
I think I'll stick to psalm 121 (it's well known and very powerful). I will try to say this every single day until you find your shidduch (may it be soon). (I imagine that you don't want to post your hebrew name, so i'm just gonna refer to you in my conversations with Hashem as "nice jewish girl", or formally as "rachel bas sarah".)


3/30/2005 05:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Kiki said...

I was never really SN, although I remained a virgin till my wedding night. I wanted to be SN, but being the tactile person that I am, made a decision that I needed hugs and that I would know where to draw the line.

I just want to point out that SN does not stop forever once you are married. If you have learned the laws of Taharat Hamisphacha (family purity) you would know this. there are times (during menstruation and 7 days after) that you may not touch each other, kiss nor even pass a plate to one another.

I guess being SN prepares you for that part of marriage, which after almost 11 years I still find difficult.

I wish you much hatzlacha in finding your bashert, and kudos for you for bringing this subject to the fore.


3/30/2005 07:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Brad said...

Don't be jumping to conclusions that "good guys" have been out making out with women and having sex constantly(unless they're married of course) There are many guys, good guys, wonderful guys, who r frum and r dying from the same hormonal pressures that u r, With the added inability to have an out in the form of a vibrator without the requisite amount of guilt from violating halachah coming along as well. Ur predicament is extemely harsh. but dont make it worse by imagining that "good guys" have been able to do what they want the entire time that u have been trying to live up to the ideal/halachik perspective. Every1 who tries is faced with these problems "hazorim bdimah brinah yikztoruh"

3/30/2005 08:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK this is tricky. How would one go about redding you a shidduch? Something about your sincerity -- I have no idea if it would work, of course.

3/30/2005 09:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just found your blog through Renreb, and i feel for you. I was single through my late-ish 20's (years after people in my frummy circles are supposed to be married)and I wondered what I would do if I were still 30 adn older and had not found the right guy. I even once said to a guy (someone i became freinds with because i was needy for male attention despite a clear knowledge that I would never date/marry him) that if we both were 30 and not married we should sleep together so I would know what it was. But i did get married, and so while I ache for you I know that I dont really know what its like that many more years later. I do clearly remember that feeling of wanting to get on wiht my life already, and the frustration of having no control over when I would (if ever) be able to move forward to the next stage. I hope you find him soon...

3/30/2005 10:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In the relationships that I had we made decisions based on emotional and intellectual clarity not physical passion."

there's a lot of truth to this. But some people do get married to get into bed with each other even though there isn't enough there. More men than women do this (and not because the men are hornier, because they are less likely to be thinking about "mother of my children" and all that jazz).

3/31/2005 12:20:00 AM  
Blogger The Lioness said...

You were wrong you know. You are a powerful writer.

4/01/2005 11:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But what could they have said? And really, that's a risk everyone takes. I'm your age, not SN and not married. I have gone for years without sex. I have also slept with men I didn't love but were good bonks. I have had men wanting to marry me but I knew they weren't right. Maybe I'll never marry, maybe I'll never have kids. Who knows? Being SN does NOT guarantee that a) you will find someone and b) that he'll be the rigt one. But you know? Neither does having sex.

4/01/2005 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger The Lioness said...

Oh, forgot: could you open up the door a bit more and maybe try Conservative? Give them a chance to surprise you and adjust themselves to what your needs are. People become MORE and LESS religiously all the time. Don't underestimate the power of YOU. It's a big, big power sweetie.

4/01/2005 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger The Lioness said...

(Oops, sorry I called you "sweetie", it just sort of tumbled out.)

4/01/2005 12:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think you appreciate the differences between the orthodox and conservative philosophies. (as well as I don't think you understand orthodoxy and the concept of jewish law.)
it's not simply "oh, well, here's another way of looking at it". They are very, very different. And for someone who is orthodox to marry (!) a conservative would probably be disastrous.
That is, unless you think a wife has some magical ability to re-program her husband's thinking.

4/02/2005 09:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Rabbi Rick Eesh Aish said...

I disagree. Like she has already experienced, if only, she would have taken that first boyfriend. Love is there and it should in her case it must be grabbed. If the guy who comes along and attracts her and is special to her is Conservative, I would say just go for it. Now this is B'Dieved. Of course she would look at someone of her background. Of course, what she is finding is that those guys are taken already a while ago. Who is left are these somewhat pathetic pseudo cool upper west side guys, who presumably have many issues w/ committment to marriage. So it very well might be that her muse is someone Conservative. I am sure they can work out the idea that Shabbos is Shabbos, etc... The gulf is not that wide. There shules and schools and friends, but nothing there is unworkable. Each side could compromise a little. Go get him!

4/06/2005 09:56:00 PM  
Anonymous b,h,&E said...

in the extremely bidi'eved scenario that she meets a nice guy who is unfortunately conservative, I could *understand* someone in NJG's shoes deciding to marry him, BUT, I would say that she must be adament in requesting of him to:
A) not interfere with her mitzva observance in any way;
B) He should try to keep mitzvos properly, and must be strongly commited (even if only for her) to mitzvos like shabbos, nida, kashrus, etc...;
C) that he must not express his heretical views (if he has {I know, not all conservatives are that far off}) with their children. (e.g. "little shmuel, come here and let me tell you something a lot of your friends don't know. You see, G-d didn't actually write the torah; rather, 4 groups of superstitious, primitive, misogonist, elderly men wrote it. It has much nostalgic meaning to us, but saying that G-d wrote it is hard to believe and a little extreme. OK, go run along now, but be sure to be back to daven maariv!")

There are probably some more serious considerations that would need to be made in this very, very, bidi'eved decision as well.

(I realize now that I'm going to have to be more specific in my davening and ask G-d to be sure and send NJG a nice Torah-observant man. She definitely deserves that and much more.)

4/07/2005 03:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Advice said...

Why don't you join one of the orthadox online dating sites and send messages to guys you find interesting (even if they are younger then you?)?

It may be tough and a lot of people won't write you back, but you can't take it personally, and some guys who find you interesting may write back (i've gone out with girls several yeard older then me).

You got to do what you need to do to find your bashert and it sounds like your shadchanim and friends aren't much help, so you need to rely on yourself..

4/17/2005 08:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Unmarried Jewish Girl said...

I'm reading this, but you're reading my mind. "They" (rabbis, teachers, family) were always telling us that the road to happy marital life was being SN until marriage. However, I look at my married friends today (and there are many) and I don't see any correlation between previous SN behavior and happiness. Some of them are happy, some of them are not. Some of the nicest, sweetest, purest girls I know ended up with jerks, or less than ideal husbands. They don't suffer, but they aren't thrilled in their marital life either. More importantly, girls I knew who were "sluts" often have married the best guys around and have amazing marriages.

I don't want to encourage promiscuity, but I think the "sluts" were a lot more honest with themselves and their desires than the SN girls. As you said earlier, many of us are SN by default and consider that holy. The "sluts" went after what they wanted and yes, they often got hurt in the process, but some of them ended up striking gold.

Another thing, regarding an earlier post where you said that virginity was all you had, that's a problem. You define yourself in terms of your restaint or inexperience. It's not just that there's more to you than virginity (I hope), it's also that if all you are is your virginity than what happens to you after you get married and have sex? Do you dissapear?

I think that some girls have a very strong sense of themselves and they can be SN and stay "pure" and get married. Some girls, however, don't know who they are and use sex and promiscuity as a means for figuring it out. They don't find themselves in sex, but bad sexual experience is disaturous enough that if it doesn't destroy them completely (which unfortunately it does sometimes), it forces them to do more soul-searching and learn who they really are. Also some girls are lucky and never have to figure out who they are because they get married very young, but that's not the issue here. I'm not trying to encourage promiscuity, nor am I telling you to go out, get laid, and that all your problems with be solved. What I am saying, is that I think that defining onesself in terms of a lack of experience also shows a lack of a "sense of self". Who are you? And I think happiness in marriage has less to do with virginity and more to do with both sides of the marriage being complete and whole human beings.

But again I don't know you and I have not walked in your shoes. I am struggling with many of these issues myself and what I write here are things that I have told and tell myself.


4/27/2005 10:17:00 PM  
Anonymous "pseudo cool pathetic uws guy" said...

Your blog - and UJG's comment to this post - should be required reading for all frum post-high school educators, from Rabbi Orlofsky ( on down. Actually, a fair number of those educators, especially on the more modern side, are the former "sluts" and their husbands who frummed out post high school, got married young, and are now preaching for us to be the shomer people they never were.

5/17/2005 08:10:00 PM  
Blogger Me, Uncensored said...

They tell us Christian girls the same thing, hon. "To get a Godly guy, you've got to be a Godly woman."

They don't tell you that sometimes even if you are a Godly woman, he doesn't show up for a while.

I'm going to suggest something to you that I've done myself a few times when I've wanted something.

Pray, and tell G-d "if you are never going to send me my bashert, take away this desire to marry!"

G-d *makes* us want things because He's a father and, like any father, likes to give His kids good things. He will never, ever *make* you want something and then not give it to you. The only desires He gives us are the ones He is going to fulfill.

So try it. If that desire stays, you've got confirmation that yes, He's listening, that desire is from Him and it really is going to happen for you eventually.

If that desire goes away (and I'm betting it doesn't because I believe very few people are called to be single), then there will be no more pain. Not only can He make you *NOT* want something anymore, He can also change your mind to the point that you'd go "I wanted that? What was I thinking?!"

Worth a shot, anyway.

6/05/2005 02:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, im 27 and i was promised by a 'rebbe' when i was 20 that within one year i would get married. i didn't become a chusson untill i was 24 and it broke off partially because people (esspecially rabbunim) felt that they had an obligation to 'save' the poor young girl (whos own problems they didnt know about) from marrying someone with any chesronos (which happen to not be so horrible), so i went through a breakup with someone that i really truly loved with all my heart and soul. this is a person for whom there isnt anything i wouldn't do to make her happy. i would literally give up my life if i had to in order for her to live. even though the official breakup was only about 6 or 7 months after we met, we had been dating for more than two years untill we stopped talking forever. this is the most embarresing, depressing, tragic and emotionally destructive thing ever to happen to me. it drove me to thoughts of suicide or going off the derech, it caused me to drink for a while in a fruitless attempt to stop the emotional pain, but i'm still in so much pain and still have no hope of ever meeting anyone else, because i love her so much and anyone that i meet i always compare to her. it happens to be that she's still single, but its been driven into her head by her family and whomever else didnt want us to get married that she should move on and forget about me.
the world is a lonely, cruel and cold place, but maybe you (the writer) are lucky to have never loved than to have loved and lost. may you find the one that is really meant for you and feel the way about him that i feel about this woman, and never break up. believe me, hashem will hear your cries and have rachmonus....well, at least thats what everyone says to me.
you can email me, maybe i'll try to find you a shidduch.

1/29/2006 12:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Niall said...

I read your post. The situation also describes me, only I'm not Jewish, I'm Catholic and a male. I too bought into a system that promised a fulfilling life and rewards. I regret every aspect of my past and have since been forced to dump it out of my life for the sake of my survival. I had no one to share the excruciating pain of being alone and no one who understands. I think these rules were developed in a time where cultures were geared around families supporting courtship and where early marriage for most was inevitable. Now that support system has fallen apart in our modern society yet archaic religious rules remain, and we are victims of that fallout. I have no advice really other than to investigate the behaviors and attitudes you have to keep you alone. I'm not trying to be offensive here, but God does not help people like us. If he does, he would have already. God is a questionable thing and serves many cultural roles but seldom individual ones. You make a mistake if you think ears will respond to personal prayers for a mate. Anyway that's all.

8/23/2012 10:18:00 AM  

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