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.