Tuesday, April 12, 2005


This is the last post on this blog for the forseeable future.

I started this blog really as a “primal scream.” I was hurting so much and needed to express all the pain I was in. I felt angry at halacha for the fact that I had never been kissed and angry at Jewish men and the Jewish community for the fact that I was alone. Not all those feelings were rational but they were what was inside and I needed to scream! I wanted other people to understand how I feel, to know that there are people in the world who are trying to be good Jews and who are lonely and suffering very badly. I was tired of hearing things like “if you were really serious about getting married then you would just get married.” I wanted people to know that being single for me is like being in a black hole and I would do anything, anything, to get out of it – with the right person. I have tried so many things but the right person has not come. Perhaps I also have not been the right person to someone else – but I am not any “worse” or “at fault” than any of the other normal but flawed people my age who got married 10 or 12 years ago and now have several children.

I did not think about how much this blog would help me. I did not expect that writing would be such a helpful exercise for me because I never considered myself good at it. It is true that it is so important always to try new things! Writing my feelings has helped me to put them somewhere else, on this blog – so they do not have to be inside me anymore.

I also did not expect to be helped so very much by the people who found and commented on my blog. Yes some of the advice was shall we say extraordinarily unhelpful but I have learned that there are so very many kind, supportive people in the world who really want to be as helpful as they can. It has made me stronger to know that. Also even though I still do not entirely believe I deserve it, it is very nice to be told that my words have inspired others, that I am an aishes chayil, that I am strong, etc. I never thought of myself that way and it feels good to have it pointed out. A very little bit I am allowing myself to believe it and that shines some light into the dark.

Finally I never expected that after expressing all my feelings and getting comments from others that I would actually feel better about being S.N.! I thought that the blog would be my last expression of excuses of why I can not be frum anymore or at least not S.N. I thought that the blog would end by saying “being S.N. until you are 35 is impossible and so now I will go and find myself someone, anyone, to not just kiss but have sex with because I can not take this anymore.” But instead I have realized how much worse I would feel if I did that. Even if I never get married which would be very sad, even if I never am kissed ever in my whole life, which would be horribly terribly sad, I would rather have that than give something away before I am ready or to a man I do not trust. I hope that soon I will find a man I trust and that always always whatever I do with him will be in proportion to how well we know each other and the nature of the commitment we have to each other. I cannot promise to be S.N. until I get married but I can promise to myself now that I will not do anything rash.

Here are the things I have learned from writing this blog and reading the comments and emails left by the readers:
  • Being sexually frustrated is indeed frustrating and terribly terribly difficult but after all it is the lack of emotional intimacy that is even worse. The true problem is not that I am S.N. but that I have no one in my life I am close enough to be be not-S.N. with.
  • I became depressed because I was sad about being single and S.N., but once I was depressed the goal became to feel better in general. When I feel better in general I will feel better about being single and S.N. That should be the goal, to find a way to be happy somehow even if I never get married and I am never kissed.
  • The halacha about being S.N. is not as important to me as it was 10 or 15 years ago but it is still important to me. Maybe 10 percent because it is the halacha and 90 percent because for me doing something physical with a man will also have a large emotional component and I do not want to cheapen that.
  • I am not a pathetic loser just because I have never been kissed. First because there are many other normal, sexually healthy people who also have never been kissed for one reason or another and Second because maybe, kissing someone you do not care about would be the truly crazy thing. I have heard from so many people especially women who have not been S.N. and now regret it because they feel they were used. So who made the worse decision? We are taking risks either way. I took a risk to be S.N. and lost because now am still single and I have never been kissed. Other people took a risk and were not S.N. and now have memories they regret. Who can say which is worse?
  • There are some very nice, supportive, and smart people in the world.
  • There are also some mean and/or stupid people in the world.
  • The world really is more cruel to fat people than to skinny people.
  • I knew this before but some of the comments reminded me more that the goal is not to get married it is to get married to a good person who I can have a happy, healthy relationship with. As sad as I am to be single I feel worse for the people who are in unhappy marriages.

Here is what I hope other people have learned or thought more about from reading this blog and the comments:
  • The “singles crisis” is not just about singles who do not want to get married or are not serious. Even people who are very serious and focused are not getting married sometimes for reasons beyond their control. Even if there is something “wrong” with them it often is not any more “wrong” than what many married people have “wrong” with them.
  • Just because a person is Shomer Negiah does not mean that they are not a sexual person or do not want to have sex.
  • Many women do in fact have strong sexual urges and men should not assume that all women only want emotional intimacy. Men: Every woman is different and the important thing is to be happy with the particular woman who is in your life! Women: Even if you are S.N. it is still possible to be a sexual person. Our bodies are not dirty or forbidden to ourselves. Explore and have fun!
  • This may seem like a contradiction of the last point but well life is complicated. For women in particular any kind of touch, even just kissing, can feel like “giving something away,” especially if the woman is frum and had previously been S.N. but even if not. Emotional intimacy and sexuality are very intertwined.
  • When teaching children or students about the halachos of S.N., people should keep in mind that intimacy and sexual fulfillment are both basic human needs and if a person lives without them for a long time it can have a very very detrimental affect on their psychological well being.
  • People in good marriages should please appreciate that you have companionship and that you are one of the lucky ones.
  • If you know someone who is single and becoming less frum as time goes on please do not be too quick to judge them. You cannot know for sure what kind of pain this person is going through or what choices you would make if you were in their shoes.
  • If you are single and S.N. you are not alone! We are a small group but it exists and you are not alone.
  • If you are single and cannot be S.N. anymore because you cannot take it, there is someone here who understands. I myself do not know what I will do about that when I do find a meaningful relationship, if I ever do.
  • If you are having signs of depression please get help! You do not have to suffer. I know what it is like to be so unhappy and lonely that you feel like you would rather be dead. Please do not let yourself feel that way any longer. Go to your doctor and ask for help. It really does work . . . slowly but surely.

May Hashem answer our prayers.


This is probably the hardest post I have written so far. It has gone through many many drafts. I hope it is finished now because the time has come to post it already!

When other bloggers first discovered this blog and started commenting about it a response I saw a lot, mostly from bloggers who are not observant, was something like “Is this what Judaism has come to, making someone suffer so much that she is considering suicide? What kind of religion is this? Are we really to believe that the Orthodox community would rather she hurt herself or be this unhappy than just kiss a man?”

When I first started the blog my answer was to write a post directed to the Orthodox community saying that before you tell people to be Shomer Negiah at least consider the possibility of what you are committing them to, possibly a lifetime of not just loneliness (which no one can control) but also sexual frustration that may indeed culminate in suicidal thoughts or even attempts or other self destructive things. For a long time that is what this post was going to say.

But I have thought it over and I admit that writing that would be partly irresponsible because it would be blaming the Orthodox community for something which is my fault and my fault alone which is not getting professional mental help earlier.

It was maybe two years ago that I started feeling even sadder than before about being single. It was not only being single, there was also my health issue and some other things and I started feeling even sadder than before. If I had seen a therapist then perhaps I would have worked out my issues better. Yes it is true that maybe I would have decided not to be S.N. anymore. Perhaps I (or other people in a similar situation) may have come to the conclusion that indeed it is a choice between breaking the laws of S.N. and becoming completely depressed. Then I could have made an informed decision to avoid becoming almost suicidal by breaking halacha. But a more likely possibility is that I would have found ways to be S.N. and happy as well. I would have been making decisions more consciously and feeling more strong about them. Who knows which way I would have gone then? The important thing I am saying is that what was important was not necessarily deciding to be not S.N. anymore, it was getting professional mental help. What you should be saying is not “what kind of religion is this” but instead “if she is feeling so bad why did she not seek help earlier?”

Instead of getting help when I should have I did nothing and the feelings got worse and worse. Over time I stopped participating in activities I had previously enjoyed because I no longer wanted to bother. I was crying myself to sleep every night and then later I started crying at other times like on the subway on the way to work. Then I stopped being able to sleep. I was tired all the time but jittery and would spend all night watching the food channel and nickelodeon. Then I started spacing out at work and forgetting things. This all happened slowly over a period of months and weeks. Finally there came a day that I could not get out of bed in the morning and I called in sick. And the next day too, and the next. I used all my sick days to lie on the couch watching the Iron Chef and wanting to die. When I ran out of sick days I called my doctor and made an appointment and that is how I started getting help. I wish I had called my doctor before that when I first started feeling so sad but you live and you learn. The feelings I express in this blog are not half as depressing as what I would have said just a few months before.

In therapy and frankly through this blog I am indeed feeling much stronger and happier about being S.N. No I am not happy that I am alone. I still feel lonely. But I do not feel as pathetic as I did a few months ago because I have never been kissed. It means a lot to me to know that there are others in my situation who are strong and relatively happy and it also means a lot to me to know that there are people out there who have been kissed and even had more sexual relationships who also are feeling sad. Depression is something that both Orthodox and non-Orthodox people can relate to because people of all religions experience it for all sorts of different reasons. In my case it was triggered by my feelings of loneliness and sexual frustration but once I was in it it was not about those things anymore, it was a medical condition requiring professional help. The problem in my life right now is not in the Torah but in my head.

Anyway one reason I am writing about this is that it does have to do with singles becoming less frum over time. You see when my depression was at it’s worst I did stop keeping Shabbos for a few weeks unfortunately. This was not the same as what I described in my last post although once again it was not a rational decision that I think the Torah is wrong or that keeping Shabbos is not important. It was more a feeling that nothing is important. Not me and not Shabbos and not whether I might go to hell for breaking it. I did not care about anything any more and so I did not care about Shabbos either. It says in the Torah that one must serve Hashem “with your whole heart and your whole soul.” A person who is severely depressed has no heart left with which to serve Hashem.

So to answer all those critics who wondered “is this what our religion is really all about” I say no. Being suicidal is not what it is supposed to be about. But if I had gotten help earlier I would not have become so depressed. Probably I would have found a way much earlier to feel “shalem” (whole) about being S.N. and maybe even single and there never would have been a reason for this blog.

To all the Orthodox people who are reading this and saying “you see, there is no problem with halacha or with our community. Torah is perfect” I have to say that I do see a problem in our community, which is that as a community we often prioritize halacha over emotional and psychological well being. I understand why this is the case. If we started saying that “the most important thing is to be happy” then everyone would start saying “I am having sex when I am 18 because that will make me happy” or “wow keeping Shabbos feels so confining, I will feel more happy if I break it.” Orthodoxy is not for wimps, it takes fortitude to keep the mitzvos day after day year after year.

Yet there is a difference between “taking the easy way out” and “trying to stay functional in life.” Once again I ask you to not immediately and negatively judge an Orthodox person who seems to have “fallen” somehow. You cannot judge until you have been in their shoes. Perhaps right now for some reason “casting off the yoke of Torah” is the only way they know how to stay functional instead of lying on the couch wanting to die. Of course that is rarely really their only choice, there is usually some better way they have not learned yet. But until someone figures out in therapy what they really need people often do irrational things because that is the only way they know how to survive. Baruch Hashem I have realized that indeed I have some fortitude left and I am recovering and staying frum both. But I cannot bring myself to tell a person who lacks it “well halacha is halacha so you have no choice. Orthodoxy sure is tough is it not? It sure is hard to be a Jew.” For most people it is hard but for some people I can easily imagine that it is so hard that they can not get to work in the morning and they cry on the subway. Not because Orthodoxy is hard but because life is hard, and when a person is desperately unhappy they are unhappy with everything, which for a frum person includes being frum. That is what happened to me. I was in so much pain and I got angry at everything including and especially Torah which is an easy target. Being observant is a lot of pressure and I can understand why a person who feels unhappy and trapped would choose to try relieving the religious pressure even if it is not the religion itself that is causing the unhappiness. Still I would urge others in this situation to get professional help too! After a while I changed my mind, maybe others would too or maybe not.

Also I emphasize once again that the singles crisis is affecting people in serious ways. Depression is a physical problem but for me and for many other people it was triggered at least in part by the ongoing loneliness and the strain of denying our bodies for so long from something it needs. Yes it is possible to be Shomer Negiah until you are 35 and beyond as I have proven by experience but it should not be surprising that the strain of it led me to a psychiatrist office.

To anyone who is S.N. and reading this thinking “I do not want to be S.N. anymore if it leads to depression” I have to say: there is no way to tell if it will lead to depression for you. Maybe you are not wired to get severely depressed or maybe you will get married soon. And also one thing I have realized from therapy and from doing this blog is that if I had done something rash like hire a prostitute or sleep with a guy I hardly knew it definitely would have made my depression worse. I would have felt not only lonely but cheap and I do not think I could survive if I felt cheap.

To anyone reading this who is showing signs of depression for any reason please take care of yourself and make an appointment with your doctor or with a psychiatrist. You do not have to feel this way forever. It can get better. You can be O.K.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Becoming Less Frum

Someone brought up in the comments the issue that the longer people are single the more likely they are to stop being frum or at least to become less frum than they were when they were younger.

As I mentioned in one of my first posts when I was in my early twenties I did not understand this. I thought that if someone believes in Torah and halachah then it should not matter whether they are married or not. As people have commented here sometimes life is hard and I could not understand why being single would make someone become less frum. Even if you are single we are still obligated to keep most of the mitzvos such as Shabbos, kashrus, etc.

Well I am sad to report that I have had my own experience with this phenomenon even though it was subtle. For most of my twenties I was always very comitted to halacha even when I was alone at home because I felt that even if no other people are watching that I still have a responsibility to God and to myself. Even if I was not a wife or mother I was still important as my own unit of humanity.

But a few years ago I stopped washing before I ate bread when I am at home. It was not a conscious decision. Just one day I went to eat a sandwhich and I knew I should wash and I decided not to bother. Who would see? Who would know? I knew that Hashem could see but I said to myself He will understand and just went ahead and ate.

Then a few months later I stopped waiting so long after eating meat before eating milk because who would know? If I went out to dinner and had chili and then came home alone and 2 hours later wanted ice cream then who would know or care? Just Hashem but He would not care so much after all, right?

For me it was not that I was angry at God about being single though often I was. But that was not what made me stop keeping those halachos. It also was not that I stopped believing it was the halacha. It was simply laziness combined with not having people for whom I have to set an example or meet any standards. Certainly when I was out with friends or on dates or with people in my community I continued to wash and be careful about everything just as before.

It might be hard for Orthodox people who are married and have families to understand or admit how much of their religiosity is motivated by their families. You wash even when you do not feel like it because your children are watching you and you want to set a good example for them. You wait the whole six hours after meat because your spouse will know if you break that halacha and he or she will be disappointed. Of course there is the element of believing in it yourself just as there always was for me, but is your belief really so strong that it would repel the laziness or anger or whatever else tempts you to sin if it were not for the family whose standards you want to keep up?

At this point you might say that the halachos I was breaking were relatively “minor” (whatever that means). But what I am saying is that I now understood the phenomenon of my seminary friends whose skirts were getting shorter and necklines lower and who were no longer S.N. I understood how it is that a male friend who used to complain about people who relied on “Shabbos elevators” now relies on non-Jewish doormen to push the elevator buttons for him on Shabbos. I understand now how it is that people who used to go to yeshivas or seminaries might decide to have some fun in their lives and go to a bar and dance together because who is around that will really care? Maybe God. But like I am saying it takes a very strong person to continue being motivated only by that. It is easy to stop caring and hard to continue living up to standards that you set for yourself years ago when you thought you would always have a support network that would help you stay in it. It is very easy for married people to negatively judge the “loose” standards in the singles community but can you really be sure that you would be so frum if not for the children bringing home their parsha sheets and a spouse to whom you have made a commitment to live a certain kind of religious life?

By the way this blog has helped me to become strong again in my commitment to halacha. When I am tempted to break a halacha I think of all the people who said they are praying for me and I think it would be betraying all of you to “waste” the merit you are giving me by turning around and breaking a halacha! So you see I really am paying attention to the comments and appreciate all your caring and supportive words.

I have one more serious post on the topic of “becoming less frum,” and then a sort of blog summary, and then that will be all I have to say, bli neder.

What To Say

In the comments to my last post people asked what they are supposed to say to singles. I want to emphasize that I am not saying that the phrase “I hope you find your bashert soon” is bad. Of course it is the natural response to everything I have written in my blog and I appreciate that people are wishing me well. I was just using it to illustrate a point not to say that that comment annoys me (though the comment “I am sure you will find your bashert soon” does annoy me even though of course I know the people saying it have only very good intentions.)

Anyway here are my personal observations of good and bad things to say to singles.

A rule of thumb is that anything you would not say to a childless couple about being childless you should try not say to a single person about being single. Thus saying at a wedding “you are next” or “soon by you” has lost much of its appeal. Personally I think it is fine just to say “It was very nice to see you. All the best to you” just like you would say to any other adult. If you feel an irresistable desire to give them a bracha may I suggest “May Hashem grant you all that you desire” or “May Hashem bless you with success in all your endeavors.” If you say something specific about getting married then the single person may indeed interpret it to mean that you do not value all the other good things in their life such as their job, friends, hobbies, service to the community, etc. as has been mentioned in the comments.

If you want to set up a single person may I suggest that you first make sure you know something about them and what they are looking for? It is fine to call and ask them! This will show that you are making a thoughtful match and not just putting two people together because they are both frum and near each other in age.

If the single person has been complaining to you about being single then it would appear this is a single you know well and who trusts you so you do not have to be as worried about saying the wrong thing since it appears you are already friends and you tend to say the right thing to them! But here is a suggestion. You could say “You deserve to be happy and since you want to get married so badly I hope you get married soon. Meanwhile I am happy that you are my friend because you are a great person and the world is a nicer place because you are in it.” In other words to say that you hope for them the same things they hope for themselves but also to remind them that their existence has value even if they are single. Personally I like it when a friend (or commenter) tells me they are davening for me but that is because we are friends (or because I have opened myself up on the blog). I do not think I would like it if a person who hardly knows me told me in shule that they are davening for me. I would rather they daven for me and not tell me!

I agree with the commenters that setting a person up is much more helpful than just giving them a bracha but may I add another suggestion. Inviting a single person for Shabbos meals is also very nice and helpful to their lives even if it does not directly help them get married. You are still doing a chessed for them. Even if it seems like they always go away for Shabbos or have plans and you say “the next time you need a meal just call me” then still keep inviting them anyway. If you rely on them to call you they may be too shy or embarrassed to “invite themselves.” If you keep calling them then they will feel more welcome as opposed to one time being told “call me if you need a meal” and then never hearing from you again.

(By the way I think singles who have space should invite back families who hosted them. It is hard to cook for so many more people and childproof the house but if a family has had you over many times then it is time to invite them back! Even if they say no at least you tried. I am saying for Shabbos meals not to sleep over for all of Shabbos.)

People do not like to think that they have disappointed their parents by not getting married. If you have a child who is single then a nice thing to do is tell them “I am proud of you.”

Sunday, April 10, 2005

"Soon By You"

Many of the people who have left comments have said either “I am sure you will find your bashert soon” or “I hope you find your bashert soon.” Both of those are very well meaning responses to my blog but I think they point to some basic problems which I want to point out:

First are the people who write “I hope you get married soon.” This is very well meaning but I want to point out that if that is all you have to say then you are confirming that like me you can not think of any way for me to be happy other than to get married. In many ways these people are right because what can take the place of lifelong companionship? Not a career, not friends, not learning Torah, not doing chessed. There are many worthwhile things I can do with my life but none of them can stop me from feeling lonely inside without a partner who loves me and who I can love. My life can have a lot of value from doing other things but I will still be missing something. Two things actually, emotional intimacy and sexual intimacy.

This is not a problem with the Jewish community, I think it is part of human nature. We are social beings. People want to be loved and part of a family. I do not think that Orthodox single men are happier about being single just because they have a “role” in the community that women do not have. Being part of a minyan or learning in the bais medrash does not take the place of a wife. Also I do not think that non-Jewish people or people who are not part of a religious community at all are any more happy if they want to be married and are not. There are many wonderful and lonely non-Jewish people as well.

So I am not complaining that people who only say “I hope you get married soon” are wrong or saying something bad, I am just pointing out that the comment confirms the basic problem in this blog. Still I wish that someone could offer some advice of what I could do if I never get married that will actually make me feel fulfilled. People are saying to learn more Torah and do more chessed but I tell you I already do those things and yes they are very good and fulfilling but I still cry myself to sleep at night.

Second and more problematic is the comment that “I am sure you will soon find your bashert.”

How do you know that? Do you realize that people have been telling me for more than a decade that “I am sure you will get married soon.” They say “You are such a great person I am sure you will get married soon.” They have always said that and it turns out they were always wrong. Just like you are probably wrong.

I think people say that to make themselves feel better not to make me feel better. When you think about it it is a dismissive comment. It is their way of saying that I feel bad for you and it bothers me that you are in pain so I am going to tell myself and you that the problem will soon go away and then I will not have to worry about your pain any more. You are basically saying There there now, the pain is not so bad because if you wait a little while longer it will soon be over.

I want the people who have little girls to think about my pain and let yourself remain bothered and afraid, not for me but for your daughter. Yes there is a singles crisis and if our community does not work hard to figure out its nature and why it is there and how to help people build relationships and get married, then your own daughter who is now being told “Someday you will be a mommy too” or “Of course the boys will love you sweetheart” or “I am sure you will have no problem finding your bashert” may well prove you wrong as well.


A few days ago I got very annoyed by many of the comments and deleted some because some commenters left “advice” that I believed to be not only irrelevent to my situation but possibly harmful to other people who might read it. Then other readers reacted to them and the commenters ended up having arguments about issues that had very little to do with being S.N. so I just erased the whole thing, the whole argument. Some people are very very annoying!

I noticed that lately very few women have been commenting and I wonder why. Are women more shy? Have the male commenters been driving women away? Is it because men relate to my blog more than women do? I am curious to know why it is the case that most of the commenters are men. Or at least most of the repeat commenters are men. There are some women who have left very beautiful comments but then they seem to disappear. I would like to hear from them more.

I have also noticed that not so many commenters have never broken being S.N.into their thirties. Most people who comment or send me emails say “I am S.N. but broke it a few years ago one time” or “I was S.N. until I got married when I was 25” or things like that. If you are S.N. and in your 30’s or older and have Never Been Kissed please speak up. Please leave a comment even if it is anonymous and only says “36 and never been kissed in New Jersey” or “I am 33 and have never been kissed on the Upper West Side” or something like that. If you could also write how you manage to stay so strong and how you deal with the frustration that would also help so much! If there are not so many of you then really I am starting to feel like the last gullible goody-goody seminary girl remaining on earth!

Thank-You Links

Before closing this blog I want to thank the other nice bloggers who have linked to this one and sent me many visitors. I apologize if I am leaving anyone out, these are just the blogs that I noticed sent me many many visitors. I did not make a complete list of every blog that has linked to mine, sorry. But thanks to everyone who linked to this and forwarded the link by email this blog has gotten over 7,000 visits since the end of March! I am proud but also a little frightened of that. I do not know what to think!

Blogs in English:



Renegade Rebbetzin

Chayyei Sarah


My Urban Kvetch

Seraphic Secret

Kingdom By The Sea

Blogs in Hebrew:

"Rak Kidei Lihair" . . . . A 30-year-old single Israeli woman

Kipa.org.il . . . . I am sorry I cannot find the specific page that has the link but I noticed that hundreds of people came from this site so I am listing them out of hakarat hatov.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

A Few More Different Things

There are many things in the comments I want to respond to. I am trying to compose my thoughts.

If no new issues come up in the comments then I have just three or four more posts to write and then the blog will be done.

The blog will not be taken off the internet. It will stay up for people to find and read in future. Just I will not keep posting. Perhaps I will write updates now and then if something major happens like if I get kissed or married or am institutionalized or something (I am half joking about the last thing).

A few things I can say now:

Yes I have tried internet dating and continue to.

Yes I have moved to another city – more than once.

Yes I am in therapy and it is helping very very slowly.

Yes I am considering dating Conservative men who are at least somewhat observant but do not want to marry someone who is a Conservative rabbi because then I would be a Conservative rebbetzin and since I do not believe in Conservative ideology then that would probably not be a good idea now would it. It is one thing to make compromises within my home so that I will have someone to love and will not be lonely anymore, but it is another to make a public statement by virtue of my husband’s communal position that I think Conservativism is OK as a religious outlook. It is a hard choice because I know that in their lifestyles Conservative rabbis are often indistinguishable from Orthodox people. But how could I be the rebbetzin of a Conservative synagogue? For me it would be like moving to Mars.

No I have no desire or plan to sleep with women to try to solve my problem. Forget the halachic issues I just find it disgusting, the very idea. But uh thanks for the tip.

To the person who emailed asking whether I am S.N. now because it is halacha or because I have no opportunity to not be, I think it is the second but it is hard to say. It is all very confusing. I wish I could say it is because it is halacha but I would be lying. I think it is more because when I break the halacha I want it to be with someone who cares about me so it will be worth it emotionally and spiritually and I do not know when I will find that.

There are other things I want to say too but they have to wait because I have to compose my thoughts.

Sensitivity To Touch

Lately there has been a good-looking man who touches my hand for professional reasons. Let us say that he is a violin teacher or an occupational therapist or something like that.

He does not just touch my hand, he holds my wrist and moves my fingers. Do you remember the scene in “The Age of Innocence” where the main character and the countess are in the back of a carriage and he unbuttons her glove and slowly peels it off? That scene sometimes is described as one of the most erotic scenes in the history of the cinema. That is how I feel when this man touches my hand even though that is not his intent. There is something about the skin to skin contact and the way he is paying careful attention to the way my hand is moving. It feels intimate even though I know it is not. Just having a man gently hold my wrist and move my fingers makes me hold my breath.

Excuse Me While I Indulge In Self-Pity

Soon it will be my 35th birthday.

I will say to myself

“Today is ______’s birthday. How old is she?

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35.

Thirty-five years old.

And never been kissed by . . . anyone.”

Almost Beaten

I was talking once with a married friend about the upcoming birth of her first baby. My friend is fond of natural remedies and yoga and such things and she was very opposed to epidurals. She was very judgemental against women who had epidurals until her rebbetzin told her that for some women, the pain of childbirth is so great that it causes wounds not just physically but on their soul. Some women can handle it and some women finish the experience with scars on their souls that never heal fully.

When my friend said this I was a little bit skeptical of it because how can one get a scar on their soul? Everyone knows that the soul is perfect. One can have psychological scars but I was skeptical about soul scars.

It is a few years later and I have been thinking lately that maybe the rebbetzin was correct. I cannot compare my emotional and physical pain with childbirth of course because I have never had a baby and also I realize that in many ways my life is very privileged. I am one of the lucky ones.

However, the idea that a physical experience can leave spiritual scars feels real to me lately. I feel very much that the strain of denying my body for so long from something that it needs so much has left an imprint on my psyche.

I believe in God very much. I believe that He controls things that happen in the world. I believe that everything happens for a purpose if we can find meaning in them. I believe that God does not give us tests that we cannot pass.

But I no longer find meaning in my loneliness. I no longer feel better by reminding myself of all the wonderful things I have time to do because I am single. I no longer see myself as a holy servant of God who is saving Negiah and sex for her husband. I no longer believe that it is likely that I will ever get married so what am I saving anything for? I see myself not as a holy servant but as a slave, suffering under the lashes of God’s double whip of loneliness and sexual deprivation. I have passed the test so far but inside I am dying like a sick bird.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Response to comments and e-mails

I have many things to say in response to comments and the e-mails I have received.

Please in the future: Instead of calling yourself Anonymous please give yourself a pseudonym of some kind so it will be easier to differentiate between the comments. When posting click on “Other” rather than “Anonymous” in order to do it that way.

Many of the comments have been very helpful and have given me chizzuk. I appreciate all the wishes that I soon find my bashert. From your computer to G-d's ears. Thanks especially to the many women who have written here or by email to tell me they relate to my words and have also been completely S.N. for many years despite their sexual appetites. It is good to know I am not alone. It worries me that there have been so few of such comments but even if we are a small group it is good to have a sisterhood. Also I was very moved by the comments to the post about the biological clock. I hope we all find a way to be happy soon. And to the men who have been S.N. or are trying hard to be: yasher kochachem, and may Hashem give you strength as well.

Thank you also to the woman who in response to the last post about taharas hamishpacha told me that TH is easier in her experience than being S.N. Your comment that being S.N. is a "gnawing desperate hopeless hunger" showed me that you truly understand and your message gave me hope, maybe just because I am so relieved that a married person really understands. Also thank you to Rabbi’s Kid for the brachah that "you find a guy and the sex is so good that he tires you out for 10-14 days a month". Your comment made me laugh because yes that is exactly what I am hoping for! Whoever my bashert is I hope he goes to the gym often because he will need good cardiovascular health for what I have planned for him! :-)

Some of the comments are well meaning but just go to show that when Hashem was distributing the gift of logical reasoning he was more generous to some than to others. V’hamayvin yavin. I say this because I want you to know that I am not blindly following any advice that is put in the comments. In particular I think I have to say that one thing I have realized by writing this blog is that getting hugs and kisses let alone sex from a man I do not know well would not make me happy. I am too sensitive to touch now and it will be my first kiss. It will mean too much to me and certainly it would mean more to me than it does to him if he has not also always been S.N. The goal is to find a relationship not to stop being S.N. with someone who does not really care about me. My threshhold of how long we have to be dating may be lower than it used to be perhaps but I still have some standards.

To all the people who have written to offer to set me up or have asked me out yourselves: I will think about each offer and see what I decide. There may be cases where I never contact you but please do not take it personally. There are many reasons that I might not contact you which I cannot explain for reasons of anonymity. For example one person wrote offering to set me up with a man who I already know.

To the man who sent me an email warning me that there are men who might try to take advantage of the vulnerability I express here on the blog, and try to weasel their way into dating me in order to take advantage of my sexual frustration and emotional vulnerability: Thank you very much for your concern and your warning. It is one reason I am being especially careful about which emails I respond to. If I do date anyone I have met directly or indirectly through this blog somehow I will have all my alert systems on!

Speaking of alert systems: To the person who wrote to me with twisted “halachic” reasons that premarital sex is preferable to being shomer negiah and suggesting that I become a pilegesh (concubine) – you are a sick and vile person. Go prey on someone who might fall for it because I certainly will not. You are a vile snake.

Yes I am very happy to date baalei teshuva.

No I did not attend Bais Yaakov. Far from it.

There Is A Spectrum

I am surprised by how many men are surprised by how much I think about and look forward to sex. Unless of course it is the same man writing many anonymous comments. Anyway why should it be hard to understand that there is a spectrum of human sexuality? Some women who are S.N. are petrified of sex for one reason or another, some do not mind the idea of sex but do not particularly look forward to it, some look forward to it but the lack of it does not bother them too much and some like me are so bothered by the lack that I sometimes cannot function and think about little else. All those feelings are normal and are only a problem if the woman is unhappy about feeling that way. For example I am unhappy because I apparently have a huge “sexual appetite” as one reader aptly put it but am living the life of “who is a strong person? She who overcomes her desires.” Thus this blog and meetings with a psychiatrist. If a woman who does not look forward to having sex wishes that she did then that would be something to discuss with her doctor or a therapist. Similarly married women have different outlooks about sex as I am sure many of the married men who read this blog can attest to. Some are more “into” it than others and if the man and woman have very different sexual appetites then that is something they have to work on in their relationship.

You should know also that even within one person a person’s sexual appetite might grow stronger or weaker depending on the day or week or month regardless of whether they are married or S.N. or not. Even I have had times when I did not shall we say use my vibrators for a few weeks because I was depressed or under a lot of stress. If I am feeling depressed or under stress then sometimes my attempts with the vibrator are shall we say unsuccessful and I feel like a cold fish. I know that happens in the context of marriages too. It is part of life whether you are single or married and the difference is only whether another person is affected by it.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Irrational Outburst

One or two comments people have left are to the affect that “at least being Shomer Negiah is good practice for keeping the laws of Niddah.”

That comment made me so unexpectedly angry that it took all my self-control (of which I clearly have perhaps too much) not to create havoc in my apartment by breaking everything in sight and screaming until I am hoarse (the primal scream!)

What I have to say about this is not an intellectual discourse about hilchos niddah or our obligation to keep it. I know what the halachos are and I know what I am supposed to say about them. But this is how I really feel just now:

After not being hugged or kissed or even having my hand held for 34 years, anyone who thinks I will give them up for any time after I am married has another think coming. That includes G-d. If He wanted me to spend half my married life not being touched He should have made me get married at least a few years ago when I would not have minded so much. I am at the end of my rope I tell you. I am finished with being pure. I am done with being Good and Holy. You can forget it.

I can agree to refrain from sexual intercourse for half of my married life if I ever have a married life and I can agree to go to the mikvah so that when we have sex it will be “kosher.” But most of you people- you have gotten thousands of hugs and thousands of kisses either before or after you got married or both. How often have you cried yourself to sleep because no one has ever caressed your cheek? Have you ever gone for 34 years without being kissed? The thought of keeping all those harchakos and not being touched half the time even after I get married makes me enraged. Any obligation I used to feel to keep those halachos has been wrung out of me and what is left of me has been left to dry in a private hell of loneliness and sexual deprivation. My spirit is broken. Damn it, if I ever get married I will get all the hugs and kisses to make up for lost time even if I cannot always have sex, and if God does not like it then He is the one who can go to hell.

The only people who can legitimately give me chizzuk about keeping all the halachos of taharas hamishpacha are people who were never ever kissed until they got married at least at the age of 35 (it will be my birthday soon. 34 will come and go and I will still be “never been kissed.”) If you got married when you were 23 and now want to tell me that even after I am married I should “be strong” and “do the right thing” then just shut up. Tell it to the juniors at Stern College not to me. I am broken. The only thing stopping me sometimes from doing something drastic to hurt myself physically or emotionally is the teeny tiny hope that perhaps I will get married after all someday. But give up being touched even after that? No way. You may as well tell a marathon runner “congratulations you have reached the finish line. But no water here. You have to run another 26 miles for that.” Forget it.

Update: Already I am not sure how I feel about what I wrote in this post. It is a big struggle and a terrible question for me. I want to have a marriage with kedusha but when I think about effectively being shomer negiah half the time even after I am married I feel dead inside like God has taken something away and I am not myself anymore just an empty shell.

I don't know.

More on My Fault?

In response to people who asked: No I have never had any major psychological trauma at least not any worse than most people. To be more specific my parents are still happily (most of the time) married to each other and I have never been physically or sexually abused. Sexually deprived but not abused! My family has their issues but so does everyone. I have issues and some baggage obviously but I am at least as well-adjusted as most of the married people I know or at least I was until recently. It is only recently that I have become this bitter and hopeless about my situation. For most of my dating years I was more psychologically healthy about it. Like I said I have been on anti-depressants for a long time now though but it is hard to say whether I am alone because I am depressed or whether I got depressed because I have been alone and sexually deprived for so long.

What is my problem? My weight? That I am not immediately exciting enough? I promise that on dates I smile, ask the man questions about himself and listen to the answers, and when he askes me questions I answer fully but not forever. I avoid talking about unpleasant topics and although it takes me a little while to “open up” I am a pretty decent person in a conversation. I have hobbies and a pretty interesting job and things I do in the community and so I have some interesting things to talk about though I must admit I cannot regale my dates with tales of bungee jumping or hiking in the Himalayas. I do not wear perfume but I promise I shower and put on deoderant and some makeup before dates (but not too much makeup). I wear clothes that are modest but tailored and look nice on me.

I do not know. I try to be myself but for most men it is not good enough. They want some sort of instant feeling that I am the One without spending time to build a real relationship. The worst is when a man who is overweight and short and bald does not want a second date with me because I am not thin enough. I do not even know what to say to that. I do not know what they think they will find out there.

My Biological Clock

There has been some comments on this blog and others to the affect that “if she does not hurry up she will not be able to have children anymore!” Some commenters mean “you better hurry and marry someone, anyone,” and others mean “you better hurry and get pregnant with someone, anyone.” I have a few things to say to this.

First of all I am not an ignoramus. Do you think I do not know that the “biological clock” is ticking? Do you not think that I already think about this all the time? I get enough warnings about this from my mother (oh boy I could write a whole blog just about her) without also hearing it from an anonymous commenter who calls himself Shleppy. I am not like some women who decided to focus on her career in her twenties and put off getting married on purpose. I have been trying to get married and then have a family for more than 14 years.

Second, what do you mean “find someone, anyone?” No one can tell me that I am too picky. Most of the time I am willing to date someone a second or third time even if I think they are boring or unattractive, because I am willing to get to know someone and give them a chance. It is rare however that a man will extend to me the same courtesy. Many of these times I do not care because I was not terribly thrilled about them either but I am very rarely the one to say that it is over.

Perhaps you would prefer that I had married the man for whom I felt nothing even after dating him for three months? Do you think that would have been a good marriage? Or the man with the gambling problem? The father of my children should be a gambling addict? Do you truly think I would be happy now if I had married him?

So I do not understand what people want me to do to find “someone, anyone” to marry or have a baby with. What, I should stand on a street corner with a sign that says “Please Impregnate Me?”

Third and most important is this: You do not have to be Orthodox to decide being a single mother is not something one wants to do if she has a choice on the matter. I have thought about this very much. These days even a single Orthodox woman has the option to adopt or have artificial insemination if she lives in an open-minded community and is independent enough. But I do not think that I am emotionally or financially able to raise a baby by myself. I work full time just to take care of myself. Who would watch the baby? I cannot afford to buy a baby everything it needs let alone pay someone to take care of it while I am at work. If I got very sick or something happened to me what would happen to the baby? Also that is besides the emotional commitment of taking care of a baby who cries at night and needs new diapers and a lot of attention and nutritious food and never getting a break because I have no husband. Believe me I watch my friends who have babies and even with a husband to do some of the tasks they go crazy, so I can not imagine what I would do if I was all alone trying to raise a child.

Nevertheless since I have a choice about it if I am still single in a few years I would like to adopt a child if I can afford it and if I have a support system to care for the child if I get sick or something happens to me. I do not want to be artificially inseminated even though the idea of never being pregnant and having my own baby makes me very sad. I cannot imagine myself bringing a new baby into the world who would have no father when there are so many babies with no parent at all who need a home. What I might have to offer a child is not as good as having two parents but it is better than living in an orphanage.

Since adopting will be as much an option in a few years as it is now I am not in a rush, am I? Except to save money for it.

And also except that my ideal is still to get married for many reasons: emotional companionship, sex of course, and also to have babies. For all three of those reasons I want to get married as soon as possible. For all those reasons I have been trying to get married for a decade and a half. But I have tried everything and do not know what more I can do. I try to stay strong and not get bitter and unhappy because certainly that is also a turnoff for men and not a nice way to live. But I cannot help it. Most of the time I feel that it is hopeless. I cry a lot, especially at night.

Friday, April 01, 2005

My fault?

There has been some curiosity about my dating history, I think because people want to be able to judge whether my loneliness is my own fault. I am going to tell you about my dating history so you can judge for yourself. I think that yes I have made some mistakes along the way but I hope you will agree that it is mostly just a matter of how things have turned out. It is a brutal world and sometimes no matter how frum and nice and serious about getting married someone is they still do not get what they want.

In college I dated someone for a few months (in my circles, people usually get engaged after a few months). We considered getting married. We felt very connected and there was a lot of chemistry. We were S.N. the whole time purely for halacha. I was very attracted to him. We were both very frum. It was hard but neither of us even considered being not-SN. We were young and very frum. Being S.N. did not feel like a burden. It felt religious and spiritual and like an interesting challenge. However there was a lifestyle change he wanted me to make that I did not want to commit to and we broke up. If I knew then what I know now I would have married him (he is now married with five children). He was a good man and I should have compromised more. 14 years later the lifestyle change he wanted me to make is something I would not mind but when I was younger I thought it would make me feel trapped. I did not know then what I know now. I was very young.

Then I had a boyfriend whose commitment to being S.N. was probably not so strong but he never pressured me which was very nice of him. I was very attracted to him but managed to stay strong. It was harder because being S.N. was more important to me than to him but still it felt like the religious and right thing to do. There were some problems in our relationship but I thought they were minor and that we could work them out. I guess he did not think so though because he broke up with me on the basis of those problems. If we had stayed together even two more weeks I probably would have offered to be not-S.N. anymore but he broke up with me before I made that decision.

When I was 24 I dated an Orthodox rabbi for about two months (which for me and an Orthdox rabbi is a long time). It was very intense. We spent a lot of time together. I certainly would have liked a physical relationship with him but of course it was out of the question. We hardly mentioned it but of course I fantasized about him. After two months he broke up with me without being able to tell me why. I was very confused and hurt. It was another eight years though until he got married so maybe he just was not ready.

In my mid-twenties I developed a medical condition which is not obvious to dates and does not effect my dating directly but one of the results of it is that I gained enough weight that it was noticable. I am not obese just not as slender as my friends. I am dealing with it as well as I can. Still as you will see I have had boyfriends even after I was no longer my previous slender self. I still like my body usually and am comfortable with it as you can see from other things I have written on this blog, and I think that self-awareness comes through for men who are in tune to it which most Orthodox men are not. I think baalei teshuva sense it more.

But anyway on with the story. When I was 26 I dated a man for three months who I think wanted to marry me very much. By then I knew how precious it was to have a man who treats me so well (I do not mean that in a material way I mean that he was attentive and caring which most men were not) because most of my dates were real duds and also I was noticing a difference in how many dates I got with a man even when I liked him, maybe because of my weight and maybe because I was getting older (my friends had a similar experience and they are slender so it is hard to tell). He was very good to me and I appreciated that and so I stayed with him for three months even though I was not attracted to him at all. I do not know whether he was S.N. himself or whether he was being S.N. to be considerate to me. The question of breaking halacha with him never occured to me because there was no physical chemistry at all. But he was a nice man so I gave it a college try and hoped that I would become attracted to him as I got to know him better. If anyone accuses me of being too picky and not trying to make things work I will kill them! But after three months I knew I could never love him so I broke it off.

In my late twenties I dated someone for a couple of months which again for someone as frum as me is a pretty respectable amount of time. I was very attracted to him. We were both very frum but by then we were older and I was starting to feel that I would be willing to be not-S.N. much earlier in a relationship. He had a wonderful sense of humor and was very attentive to me but of course I wanted to wait a little while just to be sure that there was really a connection between us. The first month we were together was again very intense and after just 3 or 4 weeks I probably would have broached the subject of being not-S.N. except for one problem. I was starting to suspect that he had a hidden problem. There were things he did and said that were very strange. I started paying more attention and asking questions and discovered that he was a little overfond of gambling. Because I liked him so much I stayed with him for a month after that but was more guarded and careful and spoke with rabbis and psychologists about what this issue might mean in the future. Finally I broke up with him because maybe I have never been kissed but I am not stupid.

I know that you will tell me that if I lose weight I will increase my chances but if you think that being Shomer Negiah is hard I could write a whole other blog about my efforts to lose weight. Please do not give me advice about that because I have heard it all before. It is between me and my doctors.

My friends who are still as skinny as I used to be also have trouble finding men to date and they tell me that the shadchanim tell them also that there are not enough men and they are also miserable so I know it is not just me but I think that my weight puts me at the bottom of the list now. One shadchan told me that she will only set me up with men who are also overweight because if she sets up overweight women with men who are fit then the men do not come back to her (I stopped using her services after that. Is it just me or is she perpetuating a problem?) It is very frustrating because if only the shadchanim and the men knew how sexual I am then maybe my being “a little more to hold” would bother them less but I cannot tell a man “I may not be a size four but it is worthwhile to marry me because I will make sure the sex is fantastic.” That is not something you can say on a shidduch date and if they will not give me a chance for a relationship then how are they supposed to find out that if they marry me I would enthusiastically do whatever they want me to do to them? I cannot say that on a shidduch date.

I know I am not perfect and I have my issues and have made my mistakes but there is not anything so bad about me that I do not deserve to be married. Also there is no logical reason for my single friends to be still single. They are beautiful, slender, smart, generous and will make excellent wives and mothers. I do not understand what is happening.