Monday, February 28, 2011

Theory vs. Practice

It has been a long time. I wish I had something substantial to say about how my life is different now – for example, that I am seeing someone, or engaged, or married – but unfortunately none of that is true. In fact, I have not had any sort of relationship since the one I wrote about 5 or 6 years ago. Many dates, but nothing that led to anything worth writing about.

However, there have been some changes in my approach to the issues of negiah and sex, at least in theory, so I thought I would write a new post. I know some of you are interested in the application of this halacha and how it actually affects people in real life, so I want you to know how it is affecting me.

(Also I want to apologize to people whose comments waited for many months or even years before I approved them. There was a batch that I did not see until now.)

I am now 40 years old, and I have never had sex. I have "made out" with one man, and that was more than 5 years ago. I am trying to deal with it with as much humor and grace as I can – I do not go around complaining to my girlfriends, for example, and I try to keep busy so that my life is not all about feeling sorry for myself – and for the most part I am still a normal member of society even though I do sometimes succumb to deep sadness.

But I am angry, even though I cannot always explain who I am angry at. Perhaps myself. Perhaps life. Fate. God? It is difficult to shake the feeling that I was so incredibly naïve to internalize the idea, when I was younger, that if I acted a certain way and had certain very solid and rooted, wise values, that a like-minded man (who was also socially normal, intelligent and somewhat decent-looking, at least to me) would think I was wonderful and would want to spend his life with me. How innocent I was, how stupid, not to realize that no matter how "religious" a man may seem on the outside, no matter that every Friday night he sings "sheker hachen v'hevel hayofi," if you are not pretty enough nothing else matters, not really, not in dating.

The internalization of the fact that Orthodox people are every bit as superficial as everyone else has shaken my love for the community, and by extension for the laws that govern it. So much of what I value about the Torah was related to family life. The kind of Shabboses I wanted to spend with my own children, the way I want to celebrate holidays with my family, the values and memories I would like to share with a husband and pass along to future generations.

Without any of those things invested in it – if my observance of mitzvos is only for me – then it all starts to feel more annoying. Shabbos is annoying – lonely, boring, and annoying. Holidays are time consuming, boring and annoying. Purim, for example, is coming up. Take away the children and Purim is just hearing the megilla again and giving food packages to a couple of people and having a big meal with relatives I do not particularly feel like seeing, especially when they have had too much to drink. I would actually rather go to work since I like my job.

On the outside, few people know that I have changed. I wear the same modest clothes and, publicly, at least, still keep Shabbos and all other observances exactly the same way. But I have changed. I have less patience for it all. I feel deep down that if I am not going to get the practical benefits of a Torah lifestyle – if it does not even make me feel particularly spiritual anymore, and I am angry at God and I cannot seem to attract a decent Orthodox man – then I would at least like to have some fun. I toy with the idea of spending a Shabbos at the beach instead of keeping it at home. I am very seriously considering not going to shule on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur this year because God has already heard what I want many many times, and I am not in the mood to ask for forgiveness from a God who I feel so deeply has turned away from me.

Part of me knows that is self-centered and petty since it is the same God who has given me my health, my income, my family and friends but let's be real. I am 40, lonely, bored and sexually frustrated. I am starting to have had enough. I feel sad about this, becoming the kind of person who would have appalled me when I was younger.

I wrote once on this blog that being and staying Orthodox is not for wimps and that it takes a lot of fortitude to keep the mitzvos day after day, year after year. I guess I am losing some of that fortitude.

One of the comments I approved today was from a woman in a similar situation as me, in her early 30's, who wrote that she stays strong by remembering that Hashem loves her like a father loves a daughter, and that everything has a reason. I have tried to feel like that and there was a period of time that I was able to feel that at least sometimes. But it is getting more and more difficult for me. I hope the woman who wrote it is able to continue feeling it because for what it is worth it does help, if the feeling is there.

What is interesting is that when it comes to sex, the purpose (or one of the purposes) of the prohibitions against touching or sex before marriage is fully and completely upturned the older I become without it.

People say that it is important to save sex for marriage, and even kissing/touching, so that it will be special. We live in a Western society that cheapens sex, and the Torah-observant community wants to keep it holy and unique, something special and mysterious that one shares only with a life-long partner.

When I was younger, that worked. I saw sex exactly that way, as something incredibly intimate that one should never, ever do with a person who has not fully committed to you. As I have said in the past, I do not think that being shomer negiah, or at least celibate, is a bad idea for teenagers and people in their early 20's. It is good to keep these things special. It is good for people who get married young.

But what happens as one gets older is: As one's sexual frustration grows, it starts to weaken the threads that used to hold together "sex" and "specialness" in the mind. Sex becomes more and more of a simple primal need, like food or air, and eventually, if one does not eat or breathe, one will not care if the food is full of preservatives, or bland, or if the air is slightly polluted. You have to eat, even if the food is not gourmet, as long as it is not poisonous. You have to breathe, even if the air is not clear and refreshing, as long as it is not toxic. And you have to have sex, even if it is not with the man of your dreams, as long as he is not a sleazebucket.

The idea that a person can "live without sex," used so often to minimize the suffering of people who, according to halacha, must live celibate lives, does not take into account that one can also "live" with food being pumped into one's stomach, but never eating. One can "live" on a ventilator. But who calls that living? Yes, I am living without sex in the sense that I am both a virgin and still alive. But it has led to depression and misery. It is not "living" any more than subsisting on 600 calories a day is technically "living" or breathing very polluted air and coughing all the time is "living."

So to me, at this point, sex is something that I feel I want, need, MUST DO whether I am married or not. No, I do not want it to be cheap. I do not, for example, plan to hire someone to have sex with me. Nor do I plan to have sex with someone I have just met, or who I do not like, or who is not nice to me.

But, in theory, if I got to know a man whose company I enjoy, and who I share a sense of mutual respect with, and who I feel would stay around in my life for at least a few months – even if only as "friends with benefits" – but who, for whatever reason, was not marriage material, I do feel that it would be fine – good for me – to enjoy a sexual relationship, and that I would not feel cheap. Disappointed, still, not to have found a deep and lifelong love, but not cheap. One of the privileges of being 40 is that I know well what would make me feel cheap and what would not. It is one of the advantages of not being 18 anymore.

What keeping this halacha has done in my life, over time, is erase the connection between sex and love, and instead has made sex-by-itself something so vital that it that requires "only" basic respect and liking each other. Pretty much what most people in their 30's and 40's expect out of sex in Western society, if they are not religious, I am guessing.

Lest you rush into judgment and fear thinking that Nice Jewish Girl is about to debase herself by finding herself a "Sex Buddy," please remember that I have absolutely no idea how to find such a situation. I do not know how to communicate with a man that I might be willing to have sex with him. I dress like a frum girl, and have a reputation as a frum girl, and I would not know how to communicate to appropriate people that I am willing to tarnish it even if the opportunity came up with a decent man. I do not, after all, want to become a target for sleazy people. And most decent men who are not Orthodox and who want sex after say a few dates won't bother with me because I don't know how to let them know that I'm not one of those Orthodox girls who wants marriage or nothing at all.

My ideal situation is still to get married to a man who loves me and wants to have a Jewish home and family with me. But I would be willing to settle for a cute man with a sense of humor and lots of patience who could initiate me into the world of sex. Right now, I do not know how to find either one of those without risking becoming a target of oily people.

So, like I said, nothing substantial has changed. It is all theoretical.

123 Comments:

Blogger The Hedyot said...

Welcome back, I've often wondered how things have been going with you. I'm sorry to hear that this issue hasn't yet been resolved in your life. I hope you find what you're looking for soon.

As an aside, I notice that you refer to yourself (not just in the blog title, but referencing it in the post as well), as a 'girl' ("I dress like a frum girl, and have a reputation as a frum girl."). Not a woman, but a girl.

This kind of thinking is a result of a certain frum mindset that I think you would do well to step out of it. Until they are married, the frum world sees a person as still a child, despite how old they are or how much they may have achieved. I think that maintaining such a perspective (even if unconsciously) is unhealthy for a person such as yourself. (Sorry if this comes across too critically. I mean it simply as a helpful suggestion, not as an attack or accusation.)

2/28/2011 08:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there a way for me to send you an email (anonymously)? I feel like I felt similarly to you a few years ago (even though I was younger), but don't want to post for the whole world to see. There are ways to meet frum guys who want to have sex, who haven't yet met their life partners.

2/28/2011 10:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One time, a flood covered the land. A man sat on his front porch, praying. A pickup truck screeched to a halt, and the driver urged him to leave, to no avail. "God will save me."

The waters rose higher. The man climbed to the roof. A boat came along, and still the man refused assistance.

The waters rose higher still. The Coast Guard helicopter approached, but the man stood his ground. No amount of pleading would budge him. He would pass the test of faith.

He drowned and woke in Heaven. Approaching God, he asked, "Why have I failed you? Why didn't you save me?"

God replied, "Are you kidding? I sent you a truck, and a boat, and a helicopter."

3/01/2011 12:07:00 AM  
Blogger Shomer Negiah said...

Anon of 10:43 pm:

I have put my email address in the sidebar.

3/01/2011 12:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ever considered that the world won't fall apart if you give up your faith.

It won't.

The rest of commenters are going to be really unimpressed, but you might consider just giving on god. What did your community give you? Being an atheist or agnostic does not mean you are immoral, it just means you don't seek guidance from religious texts. Texts that seem to have failed you in the past. You've got 1/2 a life left to live, what did you get from the first 1/2 half where you were religious.

You can still be straight as an arrow and still think for yourself.

This will fall of deaf ears.

3/01/2011 02:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whether sex is "special" or not is largely a matter of the mind. You can have boring, uninspired sex with someone you are married to, or someone you love, and you could have amazing, mind-shattering sex with a complete stranger.

I speak from experience.

Maybe you need to take a second look at some of the men you don't find attractive. Try to see them as attractive. You might be surprised to find that anyone can seem attractive or unattractive, depend on you look at them, or how you're willing to look at them.

Again, I speak from experience.

My advice is: have some sexual experience, any sexual experience. (Masturbation?) Sure, some people are content to be sexual ascetics, but if you feel as miserable as you do, and you cannot make the misery go away somehow, perhaps that is a sign that you need to find some sort of sexual release, unless you want to be chaste the rest of your life, like Upton Sinclair, and sublimate your sexual energy into creative or intellectual works.

3/01/2011 03:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm 45. Male. Atheist. Lonely. I can say this. Strict ideas about how to live should not get in the way of life.

3/01/2011 03:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many of us like to think we know God's purpose, and when we don't we wait for it to be clear to us. Ultimately this conversation comes down to a matter of interpretation, and so it falters.

Whereas when we contemplate that we are, in our existence, in the expression of our hearts, the purpose that we seek, not the means but the end itself, the conversation does not falter... instead it becomes about where our hearts lead us, and how our minds can take us there with honesty and integrity. But most of all with forgiveness.

3/01/2011 04:37:00 AM  
Anonymous JJ said...

I'm sorry to hear that you are so unhappy. I'm in my mid-30s, and I relate to every word you say. You're a thoughtful person, so I am guessing you may have thought of these ideas, but just in case not:
1. Having a kid yourself. The book On Our Own and another book Knock Yourself Up tell about support groups for women who want to have kids. I felt enormously better reading of these. I know that doesn't address sex, but it does address the family side.
2. I think lots of single people our age leave the community at least mentally as you have, so you will find tons and tons of men and women your age in the same position as you are, seemingly frum but suffering from being single and wanting to find a way out in some way.
3. Jdate, Ok Cupid, and even SYAS (if you change your religiosity level to the most liberal ones and say you won't cover your hair) are all sources of like-minded people. Even if you wear skirts and sleeves, you can still dress in a way that only a fellow frummie would know that you were frum. The secular folks have no idea. I find it a bit lonely to date secular people, though.
4. If you would consider a gentile man, there are evangelical Christians, Mormons, Indians, and others who feel similarly.

Best of luck. I really feel for you and will start praying for you. When/if I pray. I am in a similar tenuous position about Judaism as you are.

3/01/2011 08:36:00 AM  
Blogger lojbaj said...

I do not know how to communicate with a man that I might be willing to have sex with him.

There are a variety of popular websites where it's considered ordinary to post personal ads that contain explicit requests for sexual favors. If you don't want to be specific about that sort of thing, the entire concept of a "dating service" is to match up people who have similar parameters for what they're willing to accept in a relationship. I'd be surprised if there weren't a site specifically for questioning orthodox Jews.

If you think that's inherently sleazy... well, to some degree you're right, because interacting with such a public forum means interacting with some pretty terrible people. For whatever it's worth to you, though, there are fine and decent people who use such sites. You need to put a lot of effort into separating the wheat from the chaff, though.

I think that last bit is true no matter what technique you use to look for people.

3/01/2011 09:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NJG,

I was directed to your blog today by a non-Jewish friend who thought I would want to read it. (I am not sure how she found it.) My story is quite different from yours (perhaps I will send a personal email another time), but I wanted to thank you for your honest posts. I read this one and the one when you had your first kiss, and the comments posted.

Hashem should give you all the strength you need in life. You seem like a thoughtful, intelligent woman. I am sure He loves you and is with you always.

-Basya

3/01/2011 09:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a sad situation. For me, the saddest bit is how you still retain the core belief that having sex with a random cute (maybe even paid) man just for fun, or even just to get the big V out of the way, would be wrong or somehow unfulfilling.

Will you feel the same way when you are 80 and still a virgin?

It's so easy to just drift along like this, believing you have "standards" but in reality you probably find sex scary and intimidating just as you would anything totally alien and unknown. How could you not? I have enormous sympathy for you. I grew up in a sexually repressed culture, too, and I know what it's like to have these ingrained notions of what sex should be like.

My wish for you is to wise up *just* a little bit more. You said in your post:

> What keeping this halacha has done in my life, over time, is erase the connection between sex and love, and instead has made sex-by-itself something so vital that it that requires "only" basic respect and liking each other. Pretty much what most people in their 30's and 40's expect out of sex in Western society, if they are not religious, I am guessing.


No, NJG. People in their 30s and 40s in western society who have never had sex DO NOT expect this from sex - people in their teens and twenties do. Virgins in their 30s and 40s are whipping out $500 and hiring a nice-looking man for the night. You'll be surprised how non-sleazy, considerate and skilled they are in both romance and sex.

For the sake of your 80-year-old self, I urge you to think about this option.

3/01/2011 09:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you read the frum & formerly frum blogs. You needn't be alone with your problem. There's a lot of discussion out there.

3/01/2011 09:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck. It is a wide, maddening, wonderful world out there.

3/01/2011 10:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you read this?

3/01/2011 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger shipofthesun said...

Just read the post, and not to go all Dr. Phil, but you have been trying to live up to standards of conduct that don't translate into reality very well. Your "primal need" for sex/love/affection is just that, a need that is every bit as important as shelter, food and air. The lizard brain wants what it wants, and no amount of high philosophy can overcome that. You seem to have impossible standards, both for others and yourself, based on what might be an idealized human in your culture, and that ideal doesn't exist in the real world, i.e. people lie about their actions, and behind the public persona that may seem wonderful, lies someone with the same foibles and failings as anyone else. Your disillusionment stems not from the fact that you can't find the right person to fit your needs, but from the teachings and rules(which I am admittedly ignorant of for the most part) that don't allow for humans to live up to them. Ignoring human nature and the lizard brain for a aesthetic lifestyle can only lead to pain, because at heart, we are animals, programmed by our genes to do and need certain behaviors.

3/01/2011 11:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I wouldm't blame you if you gave in and experienced one of the greatest gifts of life (if the opportunity arose) it sounds like your beliefs have stunted your growth, you sound very childlike in your writing. I guess the only good thing that has come out of this is that you have reached out to other people in your situation. Im sure you hear this all the time and I wont begin to patronise you about how this is mostly your own fault because you were so narrowminded and naive, but I think you have suffered needlessly long enough!Maybe even after you have sex you will come to realise that sex is only really a big deal when you are not getting it. Good luck anyhow.

3/01/2011 11:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's what happened to me: I writhed around with guilt, and created strong associations between doing what I wanted and doing something wrong. I internalized the belief that it was always somehow wrong to do what I wanted, and I gravitated towards experiences that accepted that they were wrong: the brutality of pornography, the messy drunkenness of one-night stands. I was unable to have what I considered a moral sexual encounter because I had no sexual ethics of my own, I had just borrowed the sexual ethics of my (Roman Catholic) community, in which there was no place for my own experience or my own pleasure and health.

This is something I still struggle with. One thing that has helped is focusing extremely hard on my own sexuality, learning about it, and respecting it. Fantasizing, thinking out loud and privately, masturbating (can I say that here?), and most importantly imagining how my sexuality would affect others, and how they would affect it back. Not vacant, idealized dream figures, but real people. The hard part is that this has to be grounded by contact with others, even if it's just conversation.

At some point, and after a certain amount of experimentation, specific things I wanted (and I'm anonymous, so I can say; a partner who rarely said no to me, someone who was attracted to my mind first and didn't care much about my body, a person who had a sense of play about sex) became quite clear to me, and the bigger problem of guilt and control was replaced by the comparatively smaller problem of courage and responsibility.

I think that making this blog shows that you are thinking carefully about your sexuality -- you probably feel like you think about it too much, that you're unhealthily driven to think about it -- but I think it's a healthy part of the process. I'm pulling for you -- not to have any particular kind of sex, but to experience joy and peace on your terms.

3/01/2011 12:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI, your first time probably isn't going to feel great mentally or physically, even if it you were to do it with your dream man. But after the first time or two it becomes *really* enjoyable. So I'd strongly suggest that you get out there and experience the things that you want while you still have the chance. Life is meant to be lived. Why would a loving God create an activity that can provide such great pleasure, and then tell you that he doesn't want you to ever do it? For a young person there can be valid loving justifications for that forbidding. But for someone in their 40's I can't see any loving reason why one would say you shouldn't do it.

3/01/2011 01:48:00 PM  
Anonymous SQ said...

"I dress like a frum girl, and have a reputation as a frum girl" [...] "I'm not one of those Orthodox girls"

You're 40 years old and unselfconsciously refer to yourself as a "girl." This is commonplace, even ubiquitous, in the frum world but it speaks volumes about how the frum world sociologically categorizes female life stages. And it seems you've internalized it.

3/01/2011 01:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I made the choice you are thinking of making. I was SN through my 20s. In my 30s I just gave up and got a non-Orthodox boyfriend. He's a good man and I'm glad to be with him. On the other hand there are things I've lost. For many years I taught in the frum community and I can't any more, and I miss that a lot. I also don't spend much time with a lot of my old friends because they judge me. It's ok, I have other friends, but I still miss the frum world. There are times when on shabbos when I'm making tea in a kli shlishi and I think, what's the matter with me, I'm sleeping with a man I'm not married to and I'm worrying about the details of cooking on shabbat? But, well. That sort of detail-oriented halachic observance means a lot to me, and I'm not going to give it all up just because there are ways in which I can't keep it completely.

It's funny, though, you can't get away from people judging you. In the non-frum world they judge you for not having sex, or for caring enough about halacha that it's even a question.

3/01/2011 03:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love, romance, and sex, are only as special as you think it is. Speaking as a rape survivor, I actually feel like you are lucky not to have experienced that, and you still have your virginity.
I definitely would agree with many others that you do not need to be married to someone to share an amazing intimate experience with them. However, sex is (in my opinion) the ultimate act of vulnerability.
I would never choose to have sex with someone that I wouldn't also choose to have a baby with (or on my own), or share an incurable and/or possibly fatal disease with. Those things are far more serious than a wedding/marriage, again this is just my opinion.

By the way, I stopped believing in God when he put me through an abusive marriage for 8 long years, and at the end of that, took my 3 year old daughter away.
Please enjoy your life while you still have it - take a chance, because you never know when your number is up.

3/01/2011 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger town2paint said...

I'm a 35 year old reform jewish guy; so, I may not understand the depth and complexity of what you are going though. But I do want to say that I am so excited for you!

As long as you honor the basic guidelines that you have already set for yourself: To not "...have sex with someone I have just met, or who I do not like, or who is not nice to me." And, plan "...to know a man whose company I enjoy, and who I share a sense of mutual respect with..."

You have an amazing opportunity for wonderful experiences. As you said, "One of the privileges of being 40 is that I know well what would make me feel cheap and what would not." You may not be versed in bed or romance, but you are in life and in knowing yourself. As long you surround yourself with people based on your excellent guidelines, there's a good chance that fumbling through romance will be an exhilarating experience.

When people say they wish they could do it all over again, it's based on the condition that one could do it all over again with all the knowledge they have gained through life.

You have a unique opportunity to, in a sense, do it all over again. You can explore sexuality with the curiosity of a 20 year old and the the wisdom of a 40 year old. Enjoy.

3/01/2011 04:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

even holding hands and "making out" are pleasurable steps to take while deciding if the man you like is someone you like enough to ...

3/01/2011 06:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a difference between having sex and making love. The involvement of heart & soul in lovemaking means it will always be special, or holy, if you wish. Having sex is good for the body and the spirit; making love is good for the heart and the soul. You need both.

3/01/2011 06:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I take your wanting to live a halakhic life very seriously. (It appears folks not of ortho background fail to understand the encompassing social/emotional/physical totality of orthodox community life) But Halakhah isn't all-or-nothing. It makes sense to feel the *whole* Jewish system has failed you, but women who take care of their sexual needs aren't mumaret (limited denier of Jewish law), they're just Jewish women who are having sex. Virginity is important, but Halakhah accounts for non-virgins (married or never married) as well.

Most mitzvot (commanded acts) such as shomer negiah are part of a *communal* system. If we practice shomer negiah, our families and/or communities should help us find partners, which we can't do ourselves, when not permitted sight or contact with potential mates! Your misery and loneliness are not solely due to personal failings - family and community have not done right by you. No wonder you're furious and want to ditch them all. One is caught between tradition (strict shomer negiah and arranged marriage) and modernity (relaxed tzeniut and free partner choice).

I'm going to add another part to my post shortly...

I hope you find ways to be happier, and haShem willing, you will be able to do so within the Jewish world.

3/01/2011 08:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Continuing with some practicalities... not mentioned in any of your posts.

Humans have physiological need for touch from other living beings. Touch causes a cascade of positive neurological and hormonal responses. Plants/gardening, pets, horseback riding, contact sports, and physical caretaking all cause the response to various degrees, and erotic and parenting touch apparently influence the response the most.
What does halakhah say about this? Non-erotic touch between people of the same gender is permitted. While taking up female wrestling may not be realistic for a follower of tzeniut (modesty), therapeutic massage, such as at a spa, is permitted within halakhah. None of your posts have mentioned therapeautic touch. It's not sleazy (unless one prefers it that way). Modern western massage is modest (draping is required in most jurisdictions) and boundaried. It's affordable. There are many female practitioners. One can also learn mutual massage, because it's important to learn how to communicate one's touch preferences, and how to understand the touch preference of others.

Another piece of the loneliness is lack of emotional intimacy. Modern life has made for too much sexual suspiciousness among folks of the same gender. We need some untrammelled emotional intimacy, whether that's a sibling, relative, a chevruta (study partner/intimate friend) of the scholar or the mussar (Jewish self-discipline) practioner, or one's secular BFF. But we all need closeness to one person or a very small set of people, deep sharing, to feel connected. As Shir haShirim (Song of Songs) states many times, lovers should also be friends. Conversely, we learn how to love from having close friends.

Another piece is learning to signal availability and interest within the limits of tzeniut. Since tzneniut for women is similar to modest attire in other religious groups, it's possible to get becoming clothing that's also modest. While it's relatively easy to change one's attire and hair-do, learning the complex social interactions for negotiating a physical date is, as you've mentioned, difficult. It might be helpful to work with a therapist *plus* a role-playing professional (actor, sex worker, or sex surrogate - no, touching isn't all they do, and they can even be the same gender as yourself if that is more appropriate) to help develop interactive bodily, visual, and verbal cueing.

Some halakhic authorities permit men and women who are *dating* to write (email, IM) each other as long as there is no visual element (no pictures or webcam). I've found IMing is an amazing way to share, before meeting. I have read about and personally known people who have had fulfilling sexual experiences through writing. More usefully for you, it might be a safe way to hone your interactive dating skills, without intolerably compromising your modesty, or scandalizing your community.

Again, I hope you find resolution... soon.

3/01/2011 08:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don't know what i could say to you. i wish i could build a time machine and take you back 2000-3000 years to show you how things really unfolded. you just happened to be born in to an orthodox jewish family. i was born in to a religious muslim family. but being born in to a family with a certain religious doctrine doesn't mean that they have a monopoly on the truth or that they're right. just closing your eyes and believing to the bottom that something is true and that you will be rewarded for believing and following its tenets doesn't mean it's true. i'm not religious anymore, because i realized the only replies i got were from walls echoing my prayers.
i don't want to tell you that a and b and c are the conclusions i reached to, i just think you have some soul searching to do.

3/01/2011 09:15:00 PM  
Blogger kisarita said...

loved that last comment by town to post by the way I couldn't agree more!

Don't do anything that violates your sense of self, that includes halacha, and that includes people who tell you that you're wrong for not wanting to jump into the sack with a stranger

3/01/2011 10:20:00 PM  
Blogger kisarita said...

One more word of caution:
Don't announce your wish to have sex too explicitly and openly to the public. You may encounter some married rabbis using fake names or other predators. it happened to me...
Don't mess with anyone who isn't totally transparent with you.

3/01/2011 10:22:00 PM  
Blogger Jenna Lyles said...

Thank you for so honestly and openly sharing the complexities of your experience here in such a public forum. No one has the right to approve or disapprove of your decisions--they are yours, plain and simple. Again, thank you, and good luck!

3/01/2011 11:49:00 PM  
Anonymous john said...

Sex has become such a personal issue in your life, with such gravity surrounding it. There are a few things you need to accept about sex, in order to become more comfortable, and less afraid. Maybe you've already thought of them, but I'll say them just in case.

You first sexual experience is not going to be great. No one's is - whether you are on your wedding night with the man of your dreams, or with someone you just find nice and trustworthy. Your first sexual experience is going to be exciting and terrifying, but most of all it is going to be awkward, nervous and embarrassing. It's going to be painful or at least uncomfortable, and it's going to be messy. And all this nervousness will be obvious to your partner, and it will make them nervous too.

If you can accept these facts as given and unavoidable, then hopefully it might be a little less scary. You might make mistakes. You might choose a man you think you can trust, only later to find out he is an asshole or a predator. That's okay, we all make mistakes. Being a bit more mature than the average virgin you hopefully will be able to avoid some of them, but you might step right into others. This is going to be okay too. We all make mistakes.

You won't enjoy your first sexual experience, at least not during it, but you might look back on it fondly and with a sense of achievement, of breaking through personal barriers in your life. Your second and third will likely be almost as awkward. It will only be once you become comfortable and familiar with sex, and with your partner, that you will start to enjoy the act itself. And then all the frustration and anguish will be over.

Good luck :)

3/02/2011 12:32:00 AM  
Anonymous AwM said...

i am a chabad ordained rabbi. having discussed this blog with some colleagues, we have come t the conclusion that we placed in the same situation as you would have long ago succumbed.

no one would judge you.

you are a saint.

3/02/2011 01:24:00 AM  
Blogger Sociologist Tina said...

I'm the opposite of you yet the same! My heritage is also Jewish. I have done work in Tantra. I'm a spiritual explorer and truth-seeker, and lover of Danny Matt's Jewish Mysticism. In addition, I have quite a bit of education, and am currently pursuing certification as a Family Life Educator.

I hope you won't find me rude to say that I think I might be able to be of assistance.

Even if you don't take me up on my offer (free phone session), I guess I see it as a both/and, rather than an either/or: sex is both basic human need, and also, it is sacred, at least under certain circumstances, and can be the most wonderful intimate, tender expression of love that there is.

I think that it is possible for you to feel better--- it is definitely not too late!

Sincerely,

Tina Miller, M.A.

aka
SocialPsiTina

www.UnconventionalWisdomCoaching.com

3/02/2011 03:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not one single guy volunteers to help? Hmm.

3/02/2011 08:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just like a runner needs to keep fit and in practice to win a race, to overcome a spiritual challenge you need to keep on charging your battery.
Putting the words of the Torah in to practice and knowing G-D loves you for it, should help you gain the strength to continue. You have to know, that the fact that you have held on so far is AMAZING, brilliant and almost super human. So why sacrifice your purity for a moment of physical pleasure? It’s not wrong to have questions and doubts, but search for an answer in the right place from someone who is wise in torah and secular knowledge. It’s the answers that you give yourself that can be what you will regret later.
Because you now have a desire your evil inclination will help you find every possible excuse. Don’t allow yourself to listen, block it out by doing something else that involves you physically: learn an instrument, go to an art class, swim, walk, visit the elderly or sick, music... help yourself by avoiding things that fuel your desires like watching or reading things that will stimulate you, music is also a very important tool to use correctly. Try to find something spiritual to put your energy in to as well (Shuirim are great help try R’ Tatz- very intellectual and R’ Wallersteine- (look for “women only the magic touch shomer negia”) @ torahanytime.com.)
Giving up will never give you the release you dream of and why sacrifice all to find that out. And you know that keeping on track will give you that amazing feeling of doing right and winning the struggle even when it’s so hard for you. Continue doing your hishtadlus (i.e. try all the things that G-D has put in your hands to achieve your goals) and if it is part of the Divine Plan marriage and children will come.
G-D didn’t put you in this world just to do those mitzvahs which are easy for you. Overcoming that which is difficult for YOU, is your purpose.

3/02/2011 01:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dont say this lightly

Sex is not what its cracked up to be. frankly Ive always considered it a chore, Something Ive sort of HAD to do.

I guess in our society people make it out to be the greatest thing ever.

I am married and frankly I probably could do without it. The wife seems to want it more than me although I am not sure how much she really needs it either.

I though it was just so I got this fantasy to be with a Shiksa.The Opportunity came and I was with a Shiksa I was not particually attracted to this Shiksa, but in my position beggers cant be choosers . She was much better than the wife, She really knew how to please a man, but frankly I didnt enjoy it much either. I even passed up other opportunities to be with her. (She did not know I was married)

In other words Sex for sex sake isnt what its cracked up to be

3/02/2011 02:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I so feel for you. I was single for several years after I left my wife and became Frum and I was not SN in the least (though if the woman wanted to be SN, I had no problem with that). I had sex with Frum women, women on their path to Geirus, non-Jewish women with no intention of converting, Jewish women with no intention of becoming Frum. Even though I am sure that it is of no comfort to you, I admire your strength, the strength I didn't have.

One non-Frum Jewish woman asked me how I could reconcile my adherence to Kashrus, to putting on T'fillin in her apartment after spending the night, etc. with having regular sex with her. I told her that I couldn't, that I was a hypocrite.

She respected that.

I wish that there were some older, single Cohanim that I knew.

After thinking much about it, I think that this thought may be comforting: even though I was a major transgressor of the sexual laws after I became Frum, I still found a wife and now have a new baby. Hashem didn't disqualify me.

There is a question I would like to ask you--early in my t'schuva, I dated a woman in a similar situation to yours. On our first date, we made out some, just kissing. I probably could have seduced her into having full on sex, but I thought better of it.

I never considered her to be marriage material, so I always thought that I did the right thing by her. Reading your post, I'm no longer so sure. What do you think, SN?

3/02/2011 02:20:00 PM  
Blogger loveandlivethetorah said...

It seems like you have exchanged the need for a long term close relationship with the opposite sex for any close relationship with the opposite sex.
Because you have been unable to find the former,you are willing to settle for any close relationship no matter how short.

What i am trying to say is that it is not a need for sex,although sex is a big part.
It is the closeness that people share with each other during sex that you are seeking.

Humans need that type physical and psychological closeness.
Sexual acts are not a need which cannot be lived without,so i believe to be true.(I will explain further down,but indirectly)

On a different subject,
I really think it would improve your life many times if you had a kid/s.
Artificial insemination is already approved by many Rabbi's in the orthodox world.

Remember that there are people who have sex for years with a spouse but would gladly give up all the sexual pleasure they ever had or will have just to have a kid.

Once you have a family,it is my belief that the physical closeness and deep relationships that come with raising your kids,
will make it much easier to forget,or at the very least significantly diminish your need for a sexual relationship with a partner.
Although even if i'm wrong and it doesn't diminish,
You will nevertheless have Wonderful kids who will bring you much Nachas B"H,and that would be Great.

3/02/2011 03:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, this is a really powerful blog, thanks for sharing so much. I found it through DovBear. I'm 36 and still single, but no longer frum and definitely not SN.

Based on reading a couple of your previous posts, one thing that it seems like would be really important and empowering for you is for you to get in touch with, and love, your own body. That doesn't necessarily mean masturbation as others here are suggesting, though it can, but also doing things like working out, getting a massage and other things that might release feel-good chemicals in your body. Try walking around your house naked and find things that you really like about yourself in the mirror, spend some money on a makeover, get yourself some pretty lingerie even if you're the only one who sees it. Not because these things change how you look, but because they can change how you feel about yourself on a physical level, and that feeling will be projected to men. I've found that what's more important than looks is confidence in yourself and your body; feeling like a strong, sexy woman.

Then however and for whatever purpose you next interact with a man, he might be more attracted to you if you feel more attracted to yourself, and any level of sexual experience you decide on can be more empowering for you.

Good luck and I hope that you will find everything you're looking for and all of the happiness you deserve in the near future.

3/02/2011 03:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope this finds you well. First, let me say WOW, you have allot of courage and guts to share this. Do not let people tell you that this is the "Yetzer Horah" talking. Your resolve is unshakable! You are 40 and you controlled yourself in spite of all this pain for this long?

Your experience here and statements are spot on!

One of the problems with our frum culture as it is -is we try SOOO hard to create a tzniusdik environment but putting mechitzas everywhere and having events to prevent mingling, and people are advised to place ALL their faith in hashem and shatchonim. This system is designed for VERY YOUNG ADULTS who would otherwise lack the maturity and judgment to select a mate without certain controls. If you don't believe me -talk to a Beis yakov girl -just 18 or 19 and ready to make babies and not question why. Ask a BOY in his early 20's. At that age it takes less to create a foundation for marriage, and they also have less baggage.

As the years go by especially for the ladies, there is a feeling inside not unlike having to pay interest on a loan as time goes by -there are more and more qualifications and hangups and justifications -and obstacles that come up as we become more mature and complicated people. The RIGHT ONE has to justify the wait and not feel like a COMPROMISE.

Young people are just shallow because they have no experience -and they need help -don't believe me? Read shidduch advice books for a good laugh. People need to be TOLD certain things? Such cluelessness and naivete is what is bred in this ideal bubble the Frum world creates!

This establishment want to enforce on everyone such high standards that ironically what you have is another perverse meat market -only without the fun.

What if your frum resume isn't so perfect? what if a person has A.D.D. or isn't drop dead gorgeous -or hasn't the mazel in spite of earning degrees is having trouble being gainfully employed -and not for lack of effort!

My wife turned down (I believe the number was 28)may shidduch dates -from the stories she told me these guys were mutants. She found me -a modern orthodox guy and at the time of our engagement I lost my job. Her family tried to intervene and instead of assist me -they relied on the rumor mill to dig up dirt on me. There IS a happy ending -10 years later we are still together I am out of work because this economy sucks, and I wonder every day why Hashem is doing this to me, BUT my wife STOOD BY ME THE WHOLE TIME!

I really do get what you are dealing with except for one part that does not seem to fit. Why would you want to have a romance with a frum guy in the western sense -someone that will love you and respect you and not make the experience 'cheap'. But still not consider him marriage material?

Are you talking about a hypothetical guy who has no job? Not frum enough? TOO FRUM(I doubt that because HE wouldn't have sex with YOU -he would probably go to strip clubs or hire a hooker in secret to stay in good standing on the surface -such is the irony)? You have a job, why not be open to pursuing marriage to a guy with a lousy job or actively seeking employment? Frumkiet can improve! My wife HAS made me a better man -I volunteer for events, go to shuirim and really try to be an example to my sons -I really curbed my own habits and grew up allot -for her because SHE BELIEVED IN ME.

Your logic doesn't check out because on one hand you don't want to give up "the prize" and have lived a life of celibacy, boredom, and loneliness because you have high standards, BUT you will sleep with someone with whom you can love if they are NOT "marriage material".

I think your story is a good message to the frum community that the kind of prudery they are pushing creates outsiders who are in some ways FORCED to take matters into their own hands after playing by the rules for so long.

3/02/2011 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger Mr. Bookman said...

Welcome back! Great stuff, as usual. I came across the blog after you'd closed up shop already, but I've caught up up on a few posts.

Dovbear tipped me off about you coming back.

3/02/2011 05:02:00 PM  
Blogger Mr. Bookman said...

@anonymous "just like a runner": It's a real shame. If you weren't terrified of what you imagine God has in store for you, I think you'd be able to have real empathy for others.

3/02/2011 05:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is quite heart rending to read your post. As others have stated, your self-control up to now is amazing and frankly, super-human. And yet you can't shake the feeling that it's your weakness. I do not want to chas v'sholom judge you. To be honest, most people fall far short of you in their conviction and observance. I wish you continued strength.

One thought did come to me. There are couples in every community who have difficulty conceiving, and turn to whichever experts they can for help. Sometimes they will spend tens of thousands of dollars on medical tests and treatments, to no avail. Their personal plight is not dissimilar to yours, in that they are doing all the "right" things, being good people, but not getting the results they pray for.

Some of these people are counseled by Rabbis to adopt. Perhaps in the merit of giving the comforts and love of a good home to a child who would not have that, Hashem will answer their prayers. If you think this is urban legend or some Artscroll fantasy story, I can assure you it is not. I have relatives that tried for 18 years to have a baby, finally adopted two children, essentially threw in the towel on the idea of having their own, and then only months after the second adoption, found out they were pregnant. They had tried every medical advance and had given up. And yet...

I am not sure what you can do that would parallel this. Raise money for a mikva? Help organize classes on shalom bayis?

I believe you will find THE guy out there. And it will all be worth it.

Best of luck to you.

3/02/2011 05:34:00 PM  
Anonymous B-sh said...

While i agree with your sentiment, I think there are some basic flaws with the way you think Judaism views sex and marriage. the whole negiah thing, is a d'rabonom of the issur of niddah. has nothing to do with "keeping it special", in fact the torah has no prohibitions against sex before marriage as long mikveh is involved. the whole forbidden act is a primarily catholic idea against enjoying the world, and the whole keeping it special idea is a romanticism created by modern society. Negiah as a whole is a modern telltale of frumkeit, yes it is an old geder but came back into practice within the last 100 years, specifically in america, can you say land of chumras?!?!?
Marriage happens to be nothing about love or cherishing each other, it is simply a financial contract and away of keep people from sleeping relatives that could poison the gene pool.
That all being said, be proud of your decision, i know a bunch of people that hit the sexual frustration point and would just go and sleep with anybody, soon they lost respect for themselves and lost all their connection with who they are and who they want to be. you seem to know what and where you want to be, so i say go for it, have fun and if you decide it's not for you, write it off as life experience and don't do it again till you feel it is the right time.

3/02/2011 05:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't give up hope. A frum woman I know in her mid-50's (never married and SN) has just got married to a great guy (a widower) who is about 60. I think she believed that she would always be single. Just be yourself.

3/02/2011 10:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

... BTW, it is not clear how they met - a NY shadchanit called Zeva (?) seems to have been involved.

3/02/2011 10:23:00 PM  
Anonymous sistersdoingitforthemselves said...

Beautiful post. But I think it's long past time to start taking responsibility for your own happiness and satisfaction. That includes, first and foremost, your own sexuality. The internet is the perfect place for this type of exploration. I agree with those that you might want to start looking into a paid option. But before you do that, you need to get to know your own body and learn to satisfy yourself. Start a toy collection, find some good erotic literature and movies (not gross sleazy male stuff). Then look into a paid or casual option. I say this, because if you don't do some prior research, the "first time" probably won't be very magical or exciting. It will probably be either very boring and or scary.

If you have done some or any of this, good for you. If not, there are really no excuses. You are 40. You deserve sexual satisfaction. Stop waiting for a man and take care of yourself.

This goes for children as well. Don't wait till it's really too late. Have yourself a baby. You will never regret it. You already feel distanced from the community so who cares what they think? Yes, it will really be difficult. But more and more women, even Jewish and frum ones, are doing it. I'm sure you can find some support system of likeminded mothers. You deserve this happiness as well. Don't wait another 10 years and lament how you lost that opportunity as well.

Wishing you much hatzlacha on your journey.

3/03/2011 04:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You might think of having a child (with artificial insemination). It is not so uncommon these days. Why should you be denied that joy in life?

3/03/2011 05:29:00 AM  
Anonymous NoComment said...

I found this blog through a friend’s commenting on it, but based on this post I want to go back and read it from the beginning. Thank G-d that someone else out there is willing to say out loud what I’ve been thinking.

I’m in a similar situation to you. I’m over 40 and never had sex. I fooled around a bit with a then-girlfriend a number of years ago and, while we would infrequently get together after we broke up, that hasn’t happened for a while. Yes, we were both frum at the time (and still are).

It’s tough. I know that the “nice guy/nice gal” solution is to get married and have sex as part of married life, but how long is that going to take? Or am we expected to marry a semi-random person of the opposite sex to keep our hormones in check, only to discover that each of us makes the others life living hell (as has happened to friends of mine)?

I also find myself becoming less religious in some ways. Most people out there would never notice, even most of my close friends. Some of it is that I’m not willing to let go completely of being religious – I gave up too much to be where I am today. Some of it is still the hope that I will find a semi-reasonable match in the religious world.

Like you, I’m not looking for a one-night stand, but some sort of relationship, even if it’s short-term. I’m sure that some of my single religious female friends feel the same way. The catch is that we all feel a need to put on the “good person” act and never admit it.

I know that I turned this into my own rant, rather than commenting on your blog, but thanks for letting me vent.

3/03/2011 06:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had something to say, but it's all been said.

I was where you are, and became non-SN, and non-Orthodox (although still observant). I was lucky.

I found someone, I married him. I imperiled the marriage when we couldn't have children. I was lucky.

We're still married, with children.

My thought is this:
1) I don't think it's about attractiveness. I think that's what we - as women - are taught to believe, from a very early age, and it's incredibly damaging. But when I look around, at least, my friends who got married earliest are not the most beautiful or the most charming. They were the most lucky, or the most Blessed by Divine Providence, or however you would like to say it.

It's damaging, nonetheless, and to women more than men, but I think the empiric evidence is not that success in finding a partner is based on looks. It might be harder to deal with the fact that success in this system is even more random and haphazard than just the superficial.

2) None of this lifestyle (halacha/chagim/observance)in my experience, really makes sense without family. When I/we experienced infertility, it was as bad as when I couldn't get married, and perhaps as lonely because I couldn't talk about it (yes, even in a non-Orthodox environment). I don't mean to be obnoxious; I was already so lucky. But marriage without children meant that Judaism still didn't make any sense. Holidays were painful, Shabbat was terrible, and I just hated it all.

What was the point of that? Oh, that I found some comfort in planning on having a child on my own. Didn't happen, but I found it consoling, to have a plan within my own power.

But that's about me, not you. Your loss seems to be centered around touch and intimacy. Some of that you do get from children, but that's not, of course, their primary purpose (they don't have one; that's why you have to be really really sure you want them.)

So this is probably not helpful.

But I wanted to tell you that you're not alone. And that I think you are a lovely, articulate person who is trying very hard to be good and to be sane. And the situation you've been given is not an easy one. It makes me angry at all the lies we've been told about finding a partner, and deservedness, and lots of other silliness. It's luck, my dear, nothing else. You are no less deserving than anyone else.

I would be angry at the emphasis placed on this within Judaism, and I do think it's worse in the frum community, but you know what? It's there in the secular world too, just with a later onset and a different twist. Damaging, all the way around.

You have all my support and thoughts. I think you are dealing with this situation with grace.

3/03/2011 06:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go for an older Cohen, they already have such a hard time meeting girls they can marry cause of the special "Cohen requirements", your probably the answer to thier prayers.

3/03/2011 09:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know a guy who is about your age AND a Cohen , never married.

A few years ago he confided in my he was desperate and paid someone to come over.

Ill admit I was a little shocked and taken aback, But I realized he needed to do that.

I do not think any less of him because of it, although I was shocked he would even tell me this.

3/03/2011 10:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,

I read your blog a year or two ago, and it really is very well written. Thank you for writing it.

I'm ambivalent about writing here, because it's so easy to give advice and I know that you have had a lot of it. I'll write this out in any case, as much as a peptalk for myself as anything. Then I guess I'll decide whether or not to post. [decision: I'm posting, but in 2 parts]

I think the question in the end is what the things you want are worth to you. This is something I don't know, since I don't know you, or how you feel today about who you are or what kind of life you want to live.

Still, I think there are two kinds of risks or costs to weigh against doing what you need to do to have sex.

First, you say that you don't know how to meet someone you would feel comfortable having sex with. Some suggestions (again, without knowing what you'd feel comfortable doing), and then something about the costs:

- You said "most decent men who are not Orthodox and who want sex after say a few dates won't bother with me because I don't know how to let them know that I'm not one of those Orthodox girls who wants marriage or nothing at all". I think that really, in this case, you have to just tell them. Explain your background, explain that you'd like to have sex, explain that it doesn't have to be a long term relationship, and see how the man reacts. After all, especially if he is not part of your religious community, you don't have much to lose. And when you met the man who kissed you, you pretty much did tell him what you wanted, even if it wasn't completely explicit.

Also, this is a very important point with sex in general. It's good to get used to spelling out to someone what you want or need from him, and what you are able to give.

- There are spaces where more- and less- religious people meet and interact. I don't know if you're still in Israel, but there are some not-Orthodox yeshivas that tend to attract both secular people who are interested in religion intellectual and also Orthodox people in various stages of examining their beliefs. That might be a context to meet people wrestling with similar issues who might know where you're coming from, besides anything else.

- friends. Do you have any friends who aren't Orthodox, or who are but would be understanding, and who might know men who are in a similar place in terms of their feelings about sex or intimacy?

- non-Orthodox shuls with an established, committed congregation where people get to know each other through activities or classes. I think you would be accepted there, and eventually find people you could open up to.

- are there support groups for people leaving or considering leaving the Orthodox world? Some people who leave want to change their lives as radically as possible. Others want to keep many of the parts of their old lives that they loved, but to live in a more flexible way, and people like that might work for you.

The thing is, again, I don't know how Orthodox you want to be. Would doing these things cost you your ability to stay in your community? Would you lose friends over it? Another cost is that it can be very, very discouraging to keep trying new things and meeting new people and not finding someone you feel all right with. You've been on many dates - I'm sure you know this. So that's always another risk: the energy and time that all this takes, and the lousy feeling that follows unproductive efforts.

3/03/2011 10:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The thing is, again, I don't know how Orthodox you want to be. Would doing these things cost you your ability to stay in your community? Would you lose friends over it? Another cost is that it can be very, very discouraging to keep trying new things and meeting new people and not finding someone you feel all right with. You've been on many dates - I'm sure you know this. So that's always another risk: the energy and time that all this takes, and the lousy feeling that follows unproductive efforts.

I think (and this is the pep-talk-to-me part, because I'm also looking for something) that you pretty much have to accept the latter cost and just put your energy into it as a project. You force yourself to try out one new synagogue a month until you find one you feel comfortable with. You force yourself to sign up to one new activity every so often. You force yourself to tell one guy a month what you're looking for. And you do it with low expectations, preparing yourself for potential disappointment and accepting it, simply for the sake of doing it and of being able to tell yourself that even if you failed, you took active steps to get somewhere. It's hard and it can get impossible to keep up, at least for me. But on the rare occasions when I've had the energy to do this, I have actually made progress. You can try to give yourself a year, maybe, to try new things with your life, your religion, your activities. If you want to go to the beach on a Shabat, you do it. At the end of the year, you re-evaluate, but you do your best to keep it up that long.


The other cost is about this: I do not, after all, want to become a target for sleazy people. After all, where does this fear of sleazy men come from? Of course, they exist, and they can make you feel terrible. But I think, just as you grew up believing that religious men would not be superficial and have found out otherwise, that you may have also grown up fearing the "bad" men who just want to use a woman for sex. If this is the case, then you know by now that you yourself are a woman who, if she met someone she didn't want to marry or even have a long relationship with, might still want to have sex with them. Does that make you one of those "bad" people? Be careful not to confuse true bad character for an enthusiasm for sex, or for a desire to have sex and not a relationship. I had a pretty conservative outlook on this until my early twenties, when I finally kissed a guy for the first time (and no, I was not religious, but plenty conservative and afraid). I felt that I was lowering my standards and was worried that he just wanted me for sex. But, even though we both knew that it would be a short-term thing, he treated me in a way that was gentle and considerate. I didn't even understand it at first -- we were clearly not in love, it was logistically necessary for this to be at most a fling, but he made me feel as though he cared about me, if only as another human. I've been surprised this way by everyone else I gave a chance to. Granted, I do filter; I don't have sex with anyone who I would avoid spending time with in general, or with anyone who makes me uncomfortable or who seems like someone who wouldn't back off if I needed him to. But the fear of being used for sex is - what can I say - not such a fear any more.

3/03/2011 10:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But there is a cost. It can take time to feel comfortable with someone, or even to feel attracted toward him. You might at first feel that you're lowering your standards, and you might feel bad about it. Especially since you describe the possibility of being "cheap," which I think is the same as the fear of "bad" men above. If being with someone really makes you feel bad, you should stop; when it comes to sex you never owe anybody anything but basic decency. But I think you may have to prepare yourself for your views of specific guys to become more flexible, and to be willing to give a chance to guys who are not initially what you would have chosen or who you are not even particularly attracted to.

I think I will post this. [on edit: hah! Btw, I'd almost prefer you didn't actually publish these on the site, but you should do as you like.] But it really is advice to someone I don't know, and I'm sure it's badly expressed to boot. If it is possible to you, please try to find someone real you can talk with -- whether a friend you can trust, or a therapist or social worker who knows the world you're coming from. If it's a friend, I don't think you have to work so hard at maintaining the image of handling things with grace. It's what friends are for.

Oh, and the other thing I meant to say was this. If you decide that the costs are too much, that's okay. Life is about tradeoffs, and if you decide that your faith and your community have too much value to risk changing your life, that's very legitimate. But I think you have to make that decision, and remember the value you found in whichever path you decided to walk.

All the best.

3/03/2011 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MENACHEM SAYS
I am FFB and of course cant relate to you. I am quite sure you have most of the replies here telling you to give up on your orthodoxy or at least to cool it a bit. I cannot give you this advice. Your situation sounds terrible and I dont doubt that it is. Telling you the usual things, pray harder, wait longer, you have heard it all before. What I will say is though, that you need a fresh outlook on being Jewish. Most likely you have come up the MO way, not realising that it is mostly false. I suppose you have already gone the rounds of all the rabbis and their wives and know better than me the answers they give you. But that is not what you want, you want a man not answers. You are having dates but still not finding one. You think offering him more will seduce him, I doubt it. I can only say before you go on this huge step out of religion that you are thinking doing, and are being given advice on this blog how to go about it, speak again to a new rabbi or his wife. I can recommend Mrs M Salomon of Lakewood, the mashgiach's wife. She did not have a chareidi upbringing, went to a mixed school and a non-Jewish one. I am sure she will understand your plight, and may even be able to find a man for you. I hope you take my advice, and wish you all the best.

3/03/2011 11:40:00 AM  
Anonymous midnite99 said...

As ever, wishing you strength and joy and fulfillment. B'hatzlacha.

3/03/2011 11:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Ani said...

I think it's amazing and gutsy that you were able to write on the internet about this topic. You wrote about many things that I have been thinking myself in recent years about shomer negiah.
There's a couple of things I want to comment on, however. You mentioned that you are considering not going to shul for Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur, because G-d has not given you what you want. I don't want to sound preachy, but I do think you need to take some time to self-reflect about why you keep the mitzvot/religious lifestyle. You may want to explore your relationship with G-d, and if you can have a meaningful relationship with Him even if He is not giving you want you want in life.
Also, you mention that you would be okay with having sex with someone that you only know for a few months. I think that just because you are not married to someone, you can still find someone to be in a serious, committed relationship with. You mentioned that people in the secular world in their 30s/40s will have sex with someone they are in short term relationship with. I am not sure, but from my observations in the secular world so far, I think that casual sex is something done in college and their 20s. I think that people in their 30s/40s in the secular world, in general, tend to look for a serious, long term partner with whom to have sex. But that is after they have had casual sex, and since you are in a place where you have not had the casual sex experience, perhaps that is an experience you would like to have.
Also, have you considered dating outside of the Orthodox world- but still within the Jewish community? You may have a different experience.
One more thought- you mentioned that you are bored and lonely. Apart from your need for sex, do you have friends and an active social life? (Perhaps you do and just didn't mention it in this post). I think that part of meeting someone is having an active social life. The last guy I went out with I met because I had gone to a friend's house for shabbat. Perhaps if you surround yourself with friends, it will at some point help you to meet someone?

3/03/2011 12:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here are some random thoughts about your post:


Have you read anything by Wendy Shalit? She's an MO author who has written books and articles about the general situation you've been in, and doesn't push the religious angle. She might make you feel better about the life style you've been leading.

Let me also suggest that you consider not just rushing into penetrative sex. It's good to take the time to experience the various stages of sexual arousal in the presence of another person as ends in themselves without having an ultimate agenda. There's a book that I believe is called Outercourse that might give you some ideas as to what to do and how to go about doing it.

From a technical standpoint what that could mean is to learn how to give a body rub, how to arouse each other without direct contact of the genitals, how to massage each other's genitals in a way that has an erotic component but isn't primarily to get each other off, and how to manually stimulate the other person so that you bring each other close to the edge but not over the edge and then do this over and over again. There can be more to these things than you might think.

There are non-pron sites on the internet that cover these topics. But before you go to them you might want to check McAfee's Siteadvisor to see if they have viruses or malware. Some of the women's forums (Ivillage, Women's Health, Female First) might also have something of interest along these lines.

Also keep in mind that many (maybe a majority) guys who would be in your age group and would be available for a relationship, at least non-frum guys in that category, have seen at least some pron, even if they aren't addicts and don't seek it out. So their views of what sex involves might be jaded by what they've seen.

3/03/2011 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Listen to that little voice that says go to the beach on Shabbos. I know it is possible to spend an observant Shabbos at a beach location. Maybe there is a reason that thought comes into your mind. If nothing else, a change of scenery on Shabbos might be good for the soul as it lifts your spirits.

3/03/2011 01:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should know that in Judaism it's never all or nothing. You can be a frum person while being lax in some areas. Just like people who say Lashon Hara are still considered part of the community.

Also, nothing says you have to go all the way sexually. There ways to be satisfied sexually without full intercourse and still keep your virginity for that special someone.

Yes, Negiah is assur but some acts are more assur than others.

3/03/2011 01:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hatzlacha - great post. Live your life as best as you can figure out. Do what you feel is right. We're behind you.

3/03/2011 03:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I presume you live in the New York area. With Purim coming up there are a large number of single parties in the next few weeks, that have a mixed crowd both observant and non. Try finding out about them through Facebook events listings. You might even go in a sexy costume that you'd never wear otherwise and see what happens, (wear a mask if you'd like to preserve your anonymity). Some big parties are thrown by Aish March 17, MJE march 13th 7-11, and the Purim Gala Party same date 3-6pm, (yes go to more than one party a day, live it up!). More are popping up everyday on Facebook, so enjoy!

3/03/2011 03:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to you. Titchazek. I was SN in high school (and still am, btw) when a friend of mine introduced this philosophy of "waiting for sex in order so that it's super special with that special person", and I thought that it made a lot of sense. Later in life he went on to convince himself that he was an exception, (perhaps more in love than a typical person that chazal had in mind?) and I lost a lot of respect for him. Moral of the story- I dont think we should convince ourselves that we follow mitzvos for a good reason, because when it's just "reasonable", so then I can be reasonable too. If eating pork was merely unhealthy 3000 years ago, well, thats how reform people look at the entire Torah, right? My heart goes out to the aguna as well, and her wedlock has nothing to do with this painful one. But you're not an aguna, and dont give up on yourself. Get out there and find a 50 year old widower with 2 kids.
Oh, and I'm glad lots of non frum people opened up to you and agreed that you should go mafkir your body. I'm sure thats the kind of theoretical support you need.
I was once reading in a book how the standard advice that doctors give their young female patients contemplating sex, "DONT GET PREGNANT". And I was thinking- gee, is that really advice?
If you have this super active sex-drive, and want to deal with it in a more mutar way until you find that guy I mentioned, perhaps you should talk to a capable physician.

3/03/2011 04:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have nothing in common except our humanity, so take this for what it's worth: Treat yourself and others well. I regret few of the stupid or silly things I've done, only the mean ones. And human touch is one of the most important things I can imagine. Give yourself the OK to live freely.
Jenny

3/03/2011 05:53:00 PM  
Blogger loveandlivethetorah said...

The comments have so much about sex,so little about love.
I realize it is a major theme on this blog(sex,that is),it's THE main theme of this specific post,of that there is no doubt.

But as i tried to point out in a earlier comment,The real problem here is love.
Let's face it,
No matter if you meet good guys who are cute and wiling to be "friends with benefits",this will still not change your loneliness,
Just your sexual frustration.
Even if you will always have FWB until 120 years old.

Always continue looking for "the one"(not keanu reeves,although anything is possible:) )
But if you still cannot find a man to permanently share your life with,
Then it is high time you considered having a kid/s,
The clock is ticking.

Trust me Dear,Setting up a family before the biological clock stops ticking will improve your life to levels you did not know possible.
if you Can't have kids biologically,then adopt,
why wait?

I wish you the very best,
And Heavenly Success in all your endeavors,From the bottom of my Heart.
Your Courage is Simply Amazing.
Shabath Shalom. :)

3/03/2011 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger FFR said...

I feel your pain. It's getting more and more difficult. I use the internet as a sexual outlet, and an outlet for my loneliness, but it is not sufficient.

It's definitely taking a toll on my emunah

3/03/2011 08:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear NJG,

I'm in a very different situation (gay man, 31, and not a virgin) but I'm feeling the same frustration that you describe (need for sex vs. finding a boyfriend). This is the only post of your blog I've read, so forgive me if I suggest something that you've tried already. Here are a few ideas:

1) It sounds to me as if you may have a problem of self-esteem. Ok, maybe you aren't the most conventionally beautiful woman, but I'm convinced that with the right advice you could make the most of what you have (and still be tznuah). Maybe it's as simple as a new haircut - something that will make you more attractive to guys, and, more importantly, (cheesy I know) more attractive in your own eyes. Try to feel comfortable in your shoes.

2) If I remember right, our tradition has something about trying a change of place or change of career when you're feeling stuck. Perhaps it doesn't have to be so drastic; just try something new, f.ex. a new activity that tingles your curiosity and is a bit of a challenge and makes you feel adventurous. That will allow you to meet new people, and they'll see you in a very flattering light (plus you'll be in a good place to start a relationship as serious or not as you want it to be).

3) I think I have a glimpse of one of the reasons why Judaism has all these rules about premarital sex and even touch. The thing is, sex is a body thing but it's not just the body. You have sex with someone for the first time, and perhaps it's awkward and not all that pleasurable. Then you repeat, and you like it better. You get more into him, and the two of you get better and better at sex... and, by the time you take a look, a part of your neshama has become entangled with the neshama of that man. Perhaps some time later you realize that that man isn't right for you, but by that time breaking up becomes a really painful thing to do that leaves a scar on your soul. So yes, our tradition wants to make sure that that "soul-binding" only happens after marriage, ideally after you know that you're marrying someone who's right for you. What I'm trying to say is, beware of friends with benefits. Even if it sounds counterintuitive, I wonder if it isn't more Torahdicke to have great sex with a stranger you'll never see again (although, from the sex point of view, you'll feel more comfortable with someone you know and the sex does get better as you develop intimacy with the same person).

I hope some of this helps. Behatzlachah!

3/03/2011 09:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am pained reading your post. I don't want to be crude but I'm going to speak my mind.

God created you as a human being and humans have to have sex. Must. It is, as you say, primal. If you can say only one common thing about all humanity, it is this: we need to fuck.

Second, Mitzvah or no, I simply can not imagine, nor would I want to believe in, a God that want you to suffer physical and emotional isolation for so long.

Enough. Start having sex. Enjoy it. Regret it. Enjoy it again. don't wait until you are 50, 60, 70, or god forbid, die a virgin. Start living now and know that God loves you and respects incredible commitment you have made to him.

Look, you can still go to shul, wear modest clothes, and eat kosher, but allow yourself this righteous "avera." You deserve to be touched and I truly believe that if God could, he would say the same exact thing.

Final words. Start stupping and dont stop. Its time to turn the page, start a new chapter and see what happens. You may even begin to love Judaism again.

3/03/2011 10:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never read your blog before; I don't know your back-story nor do I know you. So I apologize if this is the wrong approach.

First of all, you are going through a huge nisayon. One most people would not have made it this far through. So you have tremendous strength. I'm sure you're also familiar with l'fum tzara agrah-- your pain/frustration is worth so much. I see you're at your breaking point, and I understand why that is so, but don't forget that we're not in this world for the purposes of feeling great. We're here to do what is right no matter what.

Lastly, I know you're sexually frustrated and also somewhat naive due to not having had physical relationships. But in your eagerness to engage in sex you're forgetting how attached women get to men when they are sexually active, whether or not they want to be attached. This attachment resulting from sex only disappears when women, due to being hurt and detaching from the sexual experience, actually become unhealthy sexual beings. You're still healthy, which means you will get attached, which means you will no longer be able to make good decisions in terms of a marriage partner.

I don't blame you for giving up. I don't know that I would be thinking so differently in your shoes. But as someone who's not in your shoes, I feel the need to remind you that sex makes women get attached and thus hurt, and women who have been hurt are not as able to have healthy future relationships/marriages. I know it's taking a long long long time for you to find the right person and you're afraid you never will. But in your decision to give up this dream you might actually be jeopardizing your happy ending.

3/03/2011 11:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First I feel for you and may Hashem help you and find the man that belongs to you. But let’s loose the word Orthodox it is only a label you are a Jewish woman that is going through a very terrible time. As hard as it is for you to hear but this is part of your tikkun. Being 40 and not being married and had no sex no wonder you are going through a tailspin. In the meantime as hard as it is for you, you need to focus on something else then sex because the more you are being obsessed with it, it will become even harder.
You are getting a lot of advice here some of it good and some of it not in my opinion. Let’s find something that will make you happy if going to the beach is making you happy then do so because a happy soul clings to HaShem. Keep talking to HaShem don’t give up and despair, make Him your friend tell Him everything to the deepest part of your soul, you can do that sitting at the beach on Shabbat. In our live we don’t know why we have to go through hard times but as hard as it is for you to read this it is for your own good. (Don’t hate me for these words). But this is the teaching from the Holy Zaddik Rev. Breslev. He says never depair no matter what happens in your live. Have Emunna HaShem is hearing you; you need to open your soul to hear Him. An unhappy heart blocks all spirituality and let me assure you, you don’t want to be disconnected from HaShem you think you are miserable now it will be even more without HaShem. You want to find gratification in your sex life, marriage Berat HaShem without giving up who you are and what you stand for. You might just learn how to think different. First every woman is beautiful in her own way so there are also men who are beautiful and I am not talking about physical appearance, I know that beauty helps but it is not the ultimate. How many people are looking beautiful from the outside and are so ugly inside so what is the beauty all about if the soul is not connected right. So except HaShems decree and pray and talk to Him to change it. Find happiness in every think you do and when you think you made a mistake, remember we the human race are not perfect HaShem created us this way and He will forgive us. You might be surprised that I don’t tell you to have sex that is not for me to say, it is a decision that only you can make and whatever you do HaShem will understand and He does not want you to walk away from Him. All the best and may HaShem bless you with a wonderful marriage and children in a beautiful , warm spiritual home.

3/04/2011 04:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Shoshanna said...

Not frum, but somehow grew up with the idea that sex was just reserved for the Great Love of my life with whom I'd have children.
In my mid thirties he had still not appeared and having no experience also made me more bashful and easier to walk away from any potential suitors,
as NOT having sex was what I was used to, even though I wanted it, the idea freaked me out.

Suddenly one day I met a very attractive guy. Good looking, but not much of a mind. We ended up having sex many times, but in the end we broke it off because besides chemistry there was nothing there.
I thought having sex after having waited so long would change my life, make me happier; truth is, I don't feel different at all.
Somehow I do feel a little more lonely, as the physical connection was there and made me feel attached to him, but the communication was difficult and now
I don't have either.
I had no experience, while he had had slept with a lot of women, and we both knew we did not have a future together, it still felt intimate and warm and we created a special moment in each other arms.
I did get hurt-and still am-, but I do not regret it, and know I should have engaged earlier with it, as also at my age now staying with someone who is not
going to give me children is a waste of time.
Even though I am happy this has happened and I wish it had happened earlier in my life, I cannot help still feeling the same
inside; I would like to sleep with more men, but I know I would still be bashful about it, as I rather wait for the Great Love. He probably only exists in my imagination and I might as well have fun in the mean time.
What did change was my view of myself, I was surprised I grew so attached to someone who had no understanding of me or appreciation for my personality (he was not a bad person-just a very different one).

In short; sex is not as life changing as you think or maybe even hope.
What it can be is, however, a way to feel connected to someone and to feel warmed for a few moments. This does not necessary always have to be someone
who is your beshert, this can be with a random person, even though it generally takes a little bit of time together (in bed) before you actually feel that.

It is hard to get away from an idea that has been ingrained. I do believe however that sex is a natural bodily urge and think that a lot of these laws around sexuality are
bound to a time where women were to be both protected and silenced- unwanted pregnancies and male suppression (need proof of bleeding on the first night).
However it is a different time now and I am glad you are honest with yourself. If you manage to find a sexual partner, please remember one thing: you decide the rules of the game. Only do what you feel comfortable with and you can stop at any time.

3/04/2011 06:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ugh, NJG, please don't listen to the sexist BS. Women can engage in casual sex and not become emotionally attached. And getting hurt is not the end of the world, anyway--it certainly doesn't prevent you from having a happy relationship in the future! It's a part of life, and can even be an enriching, deepening experience.

Halacha that purports to protect people from experiencing emotional pain is just insulating them from the complexities and beauty of life. I have experienced excruciating emotional pain in relationships and would not trade it for anything. It is my life and I treasure the experience.

Besides, all these people who warn you that it will be too painful in the end if you explore your sexuality are just being condescending. You are an adult woman and are ready for that kind of emotional complexity.

I would not judge you if you chose to hire someone considerate, clean and skilled for your first time. But in any case, good luck!

3/04/2011 06:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Chana said...

First of all, you sound like a beautiful and sensitive person. I truly hope your bashert will find you and that you'll have a beautiful marriage and children.

I agree with AwM that we cannot judge you and none of us can say that we would be able to stand as strong in such a nisayon.

I also very much identify with your feeling regarding Yom Kippur and the like. After becoming frum, I married and had kids and twisted myself into a pretzel following the "right" advice and hashkafah. However, my husband is a really difficult person and I am very lonely. Because of all his personality issues, our kids aren't turning out so well. Because of how hard I've tried to be a good mother and wife, it kills me to see all my mesirus nefesh and sincere intentions going into the garbage. I have often felt rejected by God because I have done so much to make myself into what I thought He wanted me to be, and the kiruv people promise BTs so much, yet what I have is not necessarily better than what the average secular person has. So what has been the point of all my effort? It's hard to go on and know that things may not change, may even get worse, yet I still need to try (at least with my kids). It's hard to do so much and continually meet with failure. I don't mean to compare your situation with mine; I honestly feel yours is harder for various reasons. But there are some resonating similarities, and I feel for you. Speaking with Hashem in my own words has ended up helping me a lot. (No, I'm not Breslev, but for me, a lot of Rebbe Nachman's advice really works.)

One last thing:
Sometimes, looking at things nitty-gritty helps get through a nisayon. Many of the comments here in favor of you getting into a sexual relationship are written by men, for whom losing virginity is a very different experience. As a female who has been having sex since I was 14, I'd just like to point out a few things (please pardon the bluntness):

1) Because losing female virginity is almost always a painful and somewhat bloody experience, most women need to have sex a few times before they really start to enjoy it. Merely "losing your virginity" often proves disappointing and embarrassing for the female partner.

2) While the female orgasm is more powerful than the male orgasm, it takes more work on the man's part for her to get there. Furthermore, due to anatomy, most women can experience orgasm before or after sex, not during -- unless the guy is particularly coordinated and skillful. Basically, actual sexual intercourse for women, while enjoyable, is overrated. It is unlikely (though certainly not impossible) that you will have this amazing orgasmic experience during intercourse, like men do.

3) I am concerned about you getting emotionally very attached to a casual partner, despite your best intentions. Because of the culture in which I grew up, sex had no emotional bond for me until after I became frum and got married, and I was happy without the bond. But you have the idea of physical & emotional intimacy intertwined ingrained in you. I think it makes a difference and I think it could ultimately result in a lot of emotional pain, and you'd end up in the emotional state you're in now, maybe even worse.

If you are already aware of all this, then I want to apologize for going on about something you already realized. It's just that I really see that because satisfying sex depends so much on your emotional make-up, your body, and the person you're with, and very individual things like that, I'm not sure if you'll end up getting what you're aiming for by pursuing a casual relationship.
But I think you are a very special person and I'd really love to see things work out for you.

3/04/2011 08:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel for you. My background is from a very fundamentalist/conservative Christian perspective, and I can tell you that being married to the wrong man, and having sex with him, is not much better. I do have three beautiful children for which I am very grateful, but the marriage was an utter disaster for 20 years. We were "put together" by the leadership of the church, and we didn't have sex before we married. We are now divorced and although it was the right thing to do, I am still dealing with the emotional aftermath of it.

I want to warn you about dating sites. Please do not be afraid to exert too much caution. I have been on 2-3 sites over the past two years. You will easily find a sex partner but you might not find a friend. The men there are often rude and presumptuous. At least this is my experience.

Also, in regards to casual sex. Some women can do this without getting attached, others cannot. I am not trying to talk you out of it but I also don't want to see you get hurt by getting attached to somebody who isn't getting attached to you. Sex for men is very different. It occurs outside their body, not inside like ours. They can very easily "hit it and quit it." Some women can too, but most that I know cannot.

One last thing: sex isn't everything, it really isn't.

If you don't mind I'll say a prayer for you that you will find what you are looking for, a loving husband and children.

3/04/2011 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger sonofaleiman said...

I read your post, I must admit, with a feeling akin to morbid fascination. I'm not sure that is what you were striving for, but I am trying to be honest.
For full disclosure I am rabbinic in nature, maybe not a Rabbi per se, but nonetheless rabbinic.
I offer my thoughts, unsolicited, as chizuk. I pray they don't fall on deaf ears.
Perfection is nearly impossible to attain. It takes a lifetime to achieve and a moment to lose. That is the nature of the beast. One can toil for years and in a moment of weakness relapse and destroy all that has been attained. It is so frustrating. But that is perfection. It isn't, nor was meant to be, easy. Easy is for the universe of pretty good. Or nice try. Or something.
You've been (nearly?) perfect. You've agonized over your achievement, blogged about your worries and travails and come to this crossroads. Having never been where you are I cannot and may not stand in judgement of you, but I can offer to share with you the esteem within which I hold you. I cannot imagine the pain, the emptiness or the longing you must experience daily, I can only say that you are a hero(ine) of mine. Don't make your life's work much the poorer by ascribing to it a sultry ending. Please don't! Each of us has a message to deliver to mankind. for some of us that is meant for our dependents: children, students, etc. You have taught all of us. Your message is universal.
This time of year I always think of Esther who, as we close our Megilahs and imbibe some grape juice, remains in the palace for a lifetime of "service" to that proverbial fool. I liken your plight to hers and bow to you with the same degree of respect as I would to her.
I heard about a Rabbi who was called by a woman on her deathbed who was a niddah. She asked if she might hold her husband's hand as she passed... I can't imagine how I'd respond. He said that although he was in no position to judge her, he is absolutely jealous of her opportunity.
I can't possibly say honestly that I wish I were in your shoes, but I can say that what I envision as your chance at greatness is something that I hope with all my heart to one day be privy to.
I will be thinking and davening.
Hatzlochah!

3/04/2011 01:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have so much respect for you, and how much you have thought about your situation. You have made the contradictions so clear. I also appreciate your compassion; you've done all this without demonizing anyone, finding fault with the situation but not people (mostly). I think that shows a huge spirit.

You are getting a ton of advice, which gets really old. I know that. I wish people realized that single people who don't want to be have thought really hard about what to do and tried most of it.

I write only with one correction to some of the comments above. It is true that if you are having sex, it is likely that you will become emotionally attached to someone with whom you've been so open and intimate. There is a risk of getting hurt.

From experience, I can tell you though. The solution to that is not to have no lovers. The solution to that is to keep two lovers simultaneously. One is distant and doesn't call back? The other is more handsome. The other was annoying and did something irritating? The first is a better kisser anyway. The answer to any sort of dilemma isn't necessarily "do the most restrictive thing." Sometimes it can be "do even more of the most indulgent thing." I know that's vastly out of your boundaries; I only want to point out that there are very many solutions in the world.

Megan

3/05/2011 01:28:00 PM  
Anonymous anonit said...

I think I have some advice that's a little different from what most people have been saying: if you want to meet someone nice who will want to have a physical relationship with, you need to go out and do physical things with the opposite sex. Dancing is by far the best option, but co-ed sports or acting or even singing (it is nudity, after all ;) would work, too.

I think there was a commenter above who mentioned that secular people in their 30s or 40s are no longer looking for short term relationships, and I think that's the case. This doesn't only mean that you might need to be prepared to have a long-term not-necessarily-halachic relationship in order to have one at all; it also means that you have to be prepared to invest time and energy in socializing with available men in a way that is very different from frum dating.

I haven't read enough of your blog (just this post and the first two) to have any idea why the shidduch system is not working for you, but I can say why it didn't work for me. I was never attracted to the strangers I met because they were strangers. I never saw them in a natural context, doing things that might appeal to me (either morally or sexually). The system was set up to prevent that, and it happened to be something I needed in order to be attracted to the opposite sex.

But when I started to socialize with secular people again, I was able to see more sides of them and get to know them well enough to actually be attracted to them despite their flaws.

I didn't start out saying how brave or strong you are because I have been in a similar situation (I'll email you about it), and I think the only brave thing I did was take responsibility for my situation and my own choices. This is something you've done in theory, but remember that in Judaism it is practice that matters.

3/05/2011 11:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your blog, and can only wish you well. I hope you find what you are looking for, and feel no remorse.

3/06/2011 04:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was going to send you an email. But why not say what I am thinking publicly. First, I have no idea what it is to be in your shoes. As Pirkei Avos says, don't judge your friend until you are in his place. I got married at 19.

You've gotten a lot of advice about sex and casual relationships. I can't help there.

I do want to say that I laud and respect your commitment to halacha. Your conflict and dilemma cry out to my heart.

I recommend the book Sex for One by Betty Dodson
http://www.amazon.com/Sex-One-Selfloving-Betty-Dodson/dp/0517886073/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1299508664&sr=8-1

Also, you are probably aware that going to the mikva knocks your level of issur from niddah to p'nuya. Though I hear the disillusionment towards a system whose wisdom is not working for you in your current situation.

I was thinking about a desert island. If a person were stranded on a desert island, with no choice but celibacy, then that would be one thing. But what if 2 people were stranded somewhere--somewhere, let's say for example's sake, where there is no mikva (obviously a desert island with an ocean would not qualify)? And years went by and they weren't rescued, and they were making a life together? Halachically, would they be permitted to be sexually together without mikva? No. Would they be halachic heroes if they could withstand that pressure? Perhaps. How would they be judged by Hashem if they succumbed to sexual temptation, which as you say, is a physical need? We don't know. Hashem knows the capabilities of everyone, the pressures they are under, and how much they can withstand and how much they can't. One of the things that strikes me in the Midbar experience is that sometimes Gd is angry and thinks the Jews should have been able to have faith, and sometimes Gd is compassionate and understands that the situation is too much for a human to bear.

Chazak V'Amatz. Whatever you decide, it is your life and you are the one living it. May you find happiness as your life continues to unfold.

3/07/2011 10:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Jiyin said...

SN, I am sorry for your challenges, but I want to say that you seem to be facing them with grace and a great deal of wisdom. Negotiating a reconciliation between faith, human need and life challenges is very difficult, and you seem to be doing so thoughtfully and intelligently.

I wish you all the luck and good fortune in the world. Thank you for these posts, which have been insightful and enlightening to me, and which are beautifully written and have been a pleasure to read.

3/07/2011 11:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Eli said...

Wow, what a powerful and heartfelt story. As short intro: I'm Orthropax (lost my faith after being married with children...still happily married).

All I can say is, if you are sacrificing so much for your faith, spend a bit of time finding out if it's the truth. I for one, will tell you it's an absolute lie. And because it's a lie, the side effect is that poeple such as yourself get hurt by it. A divine system would have a better success ratio with its followers. Forget the frummies are brain-washed into believing that Yiddishkeit is the best thing that's ever happened to them - they struggle through life and at the same time carry on that they're having a great time. I repeat: it's a lie. I have spoken to many rabbis, sat on the couch with many therapists, and I know the truth when I see it. If you study history, sociology and psychology, you will understand that it wasn't God that created the Jews, it was the Jews that created God.

3/07/2011 12:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should follow up with the Anon who might have a link to others. I went to Yeshiva through HS and then was released into the wilds of college. I had a fair number of relationships and although I regretted some, I did revel in others. I can tell you this, the frum world is full of "good girls" who tried on a few pairs of shoes before settling down and are none the worse for it.

Do not worry or care about the community and their thoughts on your morality. They have not helped you thus far and will be content to let you fall farther and farther into lonliness.

Get out there and get laid. Often. Some of it will be good and some so-so. Some will leave you feeling empty and some will leave you glowing and blissfully tired. Along the way, you might find that person who is perfect. Frum? Maybe. But if you get to spend the next 40 holding on to someone while the world continues to spin, you will be happy. And that is what Hashem, in his infinite wisdom, wants.

Anon L

3/07/2011 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger Mr. Bookman said...

I don't know how to contact you privately, so I'll say this as a comment.

First of all, I love your blog. It's honest, insightful, and well written. That said, I think you are making this into a sexual problem when it seems to me to be a psychological one.

To even the playing field, I am a frum man who is also shomer negiah, and I am depressed.

My depression, though, has to do with low self-esteem, as yours seems to as well. As many comments have pointed out, you have sex tied up with an emotional feeling. That feeling is acceptance. I think that if you work on boosting your self-esteem in healthy, therapeutic ways, you will develop confidence and men will want to associate with the real you.

But it seems like you are convinced it is sexual. So go out now and have sex a few times with a nice man. You can even go to the mikvah first so it's kosher. Get it out of your system. There's nothing halachically in your way.

As an orthodox Jew, I'm telling you, and I'm sure you know: Standard halachah does not apply to ill people. Not having sex before marriage is an issur derabbanan so that Jewish girls are not made into prostitutes. This general gezeirah clearly doesn't apply in your case. However, such a psak obviously can't be made into a public psak for all people. So, ask a Rav who understands mental illness, and you will probably get a hetter if you use the mikvah.

Certain Rabbonim/psychologists that come to mind are Rabbi Dr. Hersh Weinreb of the OU, Rabbi Dr AJ Twerski, Rabbi Dr Benzion Sorotzkin. All three are available by email and phone, with their contact information online. If you want, I can make an introduction for you.

Don't continue to torture yourself. It is nobody's interest. Not God, or yourself, or anyone else. Please consider what I've said.

I hope you have success healing and happiness in the future.

3/08/2011 02:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand EXACTLY what you're going through. I'm a little bit younger than you. I became religious at one point and invested time in being Orthodox-keeping Shabbos, kosher and negiah.

You can't find a decent Orthodox man because they are in quite a short supply. They aren't keeping Shomer. No one REALLY expects to men, too, either.

At one point in the last year, though, I was where you are but the feelings of anger towards a community of married women who mock the singles got to me. (that is who you are angry with, the community and Gd).

Then there was a Sunday where I couldn't get out of bed. I was starving but all I did was laid there and cried, too depressed to get myself food, as hungry as I was. I finally realized something had to give because I was depressed enough that I might have a nervous breakdown. I rationally realized that I sure as hell wasn't going to end up in Bellvue because I refused to let my frumkeit snap and that's what happened that day. It snapped. I dress according to the rules, but I went out and got myself an OTD guy about 15 years younger than me for an F buddy. Actually, he sort of fell in my lap... ahem my bed... later on that day. I took it as Hashem's answers to my prayers.

Now, I live this double life and I really just don't care. He asks me why I don't just come out the closet as a no longer observant Jewish woman. I'd rather not. I can't imagine the shock of some of my frum friends who wouldn't understand.

I've come to realize that most Orthodox singles over 25 are just like me. Maybe they didn't have to almost have a nervous breakdown like I did, but they stop keeping Shabbos because sitting around alone is just too lonely. The women quietly date in a different way.

Anyway, just LIVE your life before you have a nervous breakdown.

3/08/2011 06:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A friend forwarded your howl to me and I have a few words to share with you.

I am Gentile of Gentiles, I am Christian, German, uncircumcised and of such a melange of unJewish breeding stock as to warrant a picture next to Goy in the dictionary. So much for my provenance.

I'm 42, my name is Michael, I have never been married and have no children, apart from one miscarried child when I was 20.

My father was born in Dunoon, Scotland, and my mother in Berlin, they both were naturalised as Americans as children, both were orphans in their several and sad ways, both were anti-draft protesters and both were involved in the occult.

I was born as the result of a hippie-love-child desire, the result of a ritualised sex magick, by a father who was a friend of a descendant of Crowley, a bad scene and a bad set. So much for spiritually tainted genetics.

When my Mother discovered the true extent of my father's involvement in the dark arts (he and his father both were members of secret societies - and no, I am very far from crazy or delusional) she left him, hitchhiked to Canada.

Unsuccessful in her bid to raise me in a new life where the draft-dodgers had preceded her, she gave me to the state to be placed with a nice, wealthy Christian family.

Through this and the mechanics of adoption I had at least five mothers by my first birthday. Today I identify as Son Of None: I had no father and was nameless.

To say I have attachment and abandonment issues still - would be an understatement. Nightmares, last night.

The family I was adopted into was unremarkable on the surface.

I was a high-strung, nervous, intelligent and sensitive child. Gifted, the tests indicated.

3/08/2011 01:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Part the second:

I was four years old or so the first time that my adoptive father put his penis in my mouth.

By the age of 11 I had started high school and so began five or so years of perfect hell: at or very near the absolute bottom of the pecking order by day, the focus of an adoptive father's mad sexual damage worked into my psyche by night. This persisted until my exit from the family home, which took place the very next day after my 18th birthday. The message I sent thus was clear.

By this time I had had numerous dangerous sexual encounters with much older men, several with other boys my own age. All switches were turned firmly to 'on' at a very young age.

As to the rest of my life and relevant history, I lost what virginity I had left to a woman when I was 19. It was an ineffable and diaphanous threshold, but I did clearly feel something within me change, and nearly wept for its loss. I can explain no better than this, it was not merely an engulfment by vaginal muscles - there was something irretrievably lost.

I ventured forth into one dysfunctional relationship after another, finally having a species of spiritual awakening which convinced me of what I already knew, and what you have written about and questioned: that sex was holy, was a vibrant and beautiful thing, was a sacrament and should not be used cheaply and must be reserved for its right purpose.

The best time to plant a tree is twenty-five years ago, the next best time is now.

I've been celibate, too little too late but celibate, for 13 years, now.


So I am 42 and thanks to such things as having sex with men whose face I never saw (I'll leave you to figure that out), having been on both sides of the sex trade, I am infected with a host of diseases, none of them fatal but all of them limiting, I will almost certainly never hold my own children, and probably not ever have sex again.

No thanks to myself and the way I've treated my body and health, I appear a deal younger than I am, and have matured into a man who women seem to find attractive.

All those years and searches for meaning, all the guilt-ridden self-hating sexual escapades I indulged in and was cheated of even enjoying thanks to a ridiculously sensitive conscience and God-haunted cosmological view (I still believe in Him, more so even) have added up to where I find myself today: unlikely to ever experience what I now understand to be possible, a deep soul connection with a woman I love. A home.

I do not recall ever, once, feeling guilt-free, or free in any sense, in any sexual encounter I have had.

I have never been, really, a virgin.

I felt compelled to share this antipodal view with you, take it for what it is worth.

May the God you pray to hear your prayers, and bless you, and keep you from harm.

3/08/2011 01:35:00 PM  
OpenID kissmeimshomer said...

I really feel for you. Why do you post so rarely though, you seem to have a large following...?

3/08/2011 06:48:00 PM  
OpenID koshercritternyc said...

Just had to weigh in...to the person who wrote sex isn't all it's cracked up to be and they've found it a chore -- you're doing something wrong! Sex is amazing! When you have sex with a partner you're in love with it's probably the most wonderful gift we will experience on earth...seriously. And even someone you're not in love with it's still pretty great.

I know all the frum folks will be telling you to daven as a way to avoid temptation and find your bashert. I have nothing against davening but I echo other comments by saying you should try to find some intimacy with another person. JDate and OKCupid are actually great places to try.

Best of luck. As another said, you're a saint.

3/08/2011 10:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can continue to curse the darkness or you can light a candle...the rest is commentary and self-pity!

3/08/2011 11:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Thunder said...

I am not going to get into the sex/touching stuff but I urge you to look into becoming a single mother.
It sounds like having your own family may be even more important and meaningful to you.

This can be done 100% within the confines of Orthodox Halacha. Look into it.

3/09/2011 07:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Ilanit said...

I only just discovered your blog, and after reading this post I feel so much sympathy for you. (I'm sorry if you feel uncomfortable hearing that, but it's the truth.)

Frankly, I would encourage you to go out and find someone to have sex with. But don't expect it to be fulfilling. I mean, I come at this from a particular and peculiar angle: I' a 21-year-old woman who has had sex twice before, once with a man and once with a woman. (The first Christian and the second Muslim, and neither observant.) I grew up reform, though I'm not anymore. I don't really affiliate with any denomination. My parents encouraged me to wait for someone I loved, but not necessarily til marriage.
I lost my virginity at 20, with the man who had been my boyfriend. I slept with him several months after we broke up, because I felt that I was getting older, and in secular society, that's pretty old to be a virgin.
It was fine. I didn't get a ton of pleasure out of it either time (actually with the woman it sucked, but that's another story).

The thing is, for a lot of people, sex really is only good and pleasurable and mysterious and holy if it's with someone you love and care for. (For some people it can be good with anyone, but I'm not one of those people.) It was better with my ex because I knew and cared about him, even if I didn't love him. The woman I slept with only a few hours after we met- we didn't know each other, so we couldn't possibly really care about each other. Maybe sex can only be really good if you treat it as an I-Thou relationship, like Buber says.

Maybe that's why sex has historically been reserved for married couples only- because only once you're in love can it be truly satisfying.

I think you should look for someone to have sex with, if only to satisfy your curiosity. I really think G-d will understand. I hope you can find someone to really connect with emotionally and sexually.
Good luck! And sorry for the novel.

3/09/2011 03:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Ilanit said...

Also, I highly recommend that you read the article "Not Like a Virgin" by Sara N. S. Meirowitz in the book "The Passionate Torah: Sex and Judaism". The whole book is really great, you can find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Passionate-Torah-Sex-Judaism/dp/0814776051

3/09/2011 04:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to cry because I feel like I know you. My older sister went through the same thing.
She did not get married until she was 40 years old, and so did several of her friends. Most of the group is still 40 and single. It hurts to see these wonderful girls suffer.
I'll tell you my honest opinion: the shiduch system is bullshit. You can't wait, you don't have time! Go out there, go to bars, go to meetups and groups. Join Fetlife.com if you have a kink! Dating is trial and error. I dated a lot of assholes before I met my prince, and YES we had sex before we got married.
Abandon the frummy thing. You can still be frum and modern.
Move to the city (not the UWS) and start living!!

3/09/2011 09:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why dont you just masturbate? Its cleaner than sex and u get what u want. Have you ever done it?

3/10/2011 12:45:00 AM  
Anonymous LostGIrl said...

Hi, I've posted a couple times before on your blog (years ago) and I'm glad you're back, but sorry that you're issue hasn't been resolved. I don't have much to add to what's been said. I did want to thank you for your blog. I am 10 years younger than you. If i hadn't read your blog, I would probably be where you were at when you started writing it (30 and a virgin - although I had been kissed).

I am still single and it does upset me. But I am glad that I haven't waited to physically connect with someone. And no, I don't think that my being a virgin would have brought a life-partner any closer. In fact, most of the great guys I know have married non-virgins (and I don't know one normal guy who insists on virginity in a potential wife). I think I realized how little it mattered when I looked at guys I was attracted to and saw that not only were none of them virgins, I preferred those who had a past. There was something there about not being afraid to live and try things. I started wondering why I was judging myself on a different standard than people I admired and wanted to be with.

I hope you find what you're looking for, for now, and forever.

3/11/2011 09:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to read this blog long ago, and then it stopped being updated. Criminy how I've missed it. I wish things had worked out for you, but I suppose that is neither here nor there now. Anyway, welcome back.

3/12/2011 12:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are over-thinking this. What you need to do is:
1. get laid; and
2. lose weight.
Getting laid will help you lose weight, as sex makes one happy and less inclined to seek solace through eating. And losing weight increases the number of men that the otherwise overweight woman (which, to judge from your writings on the topic, I assume includes yourself) can lure to her bed.

Now, I know what you must be thinking: "Isn't this a catch 22? Don't I first need to lose the weight to find a proper boyfriend who, after all, likely has other options?" Maybe, but I'm not talking about finding a beshert here, just someone who will give you sex. And for that, all you really need do is run an ad on Craigslist plainly asking for sex. No need to go into details about any of the rest, just ask for sex. You should get about a hundred responses; I very very strongly suggest you filter the responses with the help of a trusted girl friend (if you have one). Insist on a condom, of course, and make it clear that you and he are to have sex at least a half dozen times or so. And then you can move on to other things, like losing weight and living a morally, socially, and physically healthier life, as nature (if not your rabbis) intends.

3/12/2011 04:18:00 PM  
Anonymous IJustBrokeShomer said...

As a high schooler who goes to a co-ed yeshiva, it is really nice to see you bluntly address these issues that are virtually ignored by the faculty of my school. I do not believe that many high schoolers (myself included) understand the ramifications of having a high school relationship. Sadly, the superficiality of many of the "relationships" is blatantly obvious, and it has made me rethink how worthwhile it would be to hook-up knowing that the relationship will go nowhere.

This is a problem that is swept under the rug by my school for the fear of seeming to controlling, but I believe is greatly misunderstood by most High Schoolers. Kind of sad this is what Modern Orthodoxy has become

3/13/2011 09:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Nice Jewish Girl,

You are amazing. Don't do anything that will ruin your self-esteem or cause you emotional hurt. Having relations has a tendency to get you attached to your partner. You could find yourself truly hurt and debased after a casual relationship, even if your initial intention is that the relationship is temporary. Besides, casual sex is titillating, but not lastingly pleasurable in the end. You need a soul connection for that.

3/15/2011 02:24:00 AM  
Blogger Melanie said...

Hi, I just randomly found your blog as I was googling to find out more about Orthodox Jewish life (I'm reading a book about it).

Anyway, I'm an evangelical Christian, very serious about my faith, and can really relate to your feelings. I want to marry a man who shares my faith and raise a family that practices my faith. Waiting indefinitely is very, very, very frustrating and difficult.

Although I do find a lot of spiritual joy and satisfaction in being obedient to G-d. About 5 years ago I was tempted to give up on G-d's ways and started dating and having sex with a man who only nominally called himself a Christian. Although having sex was fun, I was miserable on the inside. I knew that I had violated my relationship with the Lord and found that difficult to live with.

I wanted to get married more than I want anything else on earth, but my relationship with G-d is the most important relationship I will ever have and not worth sacrificing.

I understand your temptation to have sex....and I don't think it would be an awful decision, but I hope you don't give up on your faith. G-d is understanding, He's knows we're made of dust. He loves you. I pray you meet the right man soon and that regardless, G-d would fill you with His peace and joy. Blessings.

3/22/2011 01:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Daniel said...

Have you tried using www.jewpro.co.uk. Although it's based in the UK it has many subscribers from across the World and it's a great resource for Jewish Networking. What about starting afresh somewhere else, maybe like coming to London. You shouldn't have to feel alone and there are great organisations out there who could help you and before you know it you might be using Jewpros services for finding those Jewish Wedding Bands, Kosher Caterers etc. in London

Wish you well!

3/22/2011 10:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to you. I was in the same situation for years.

If you are thinking about sleeping with someone just to get it over with or to fill the urges you have, then why wont you need it again after that? And again and again after that? It just wont end.
Maybe thats something you already thought of. But I think, like others here have mentioned already, that really its about having someone that loves you. Otherwise there are ways to pleasure yourself (and ways that do better than most men could..) all on your own.
I think that having sex without the love is a bigger letdown afterwards when you go back to normal not having sex. And dont tell me that you are going to still look for love while constantly sleeping with people. Thats doesnt work so well and its not honest.

Bottom line is that no matter what you think G-D has not given up on you. Maybe you davened but forgot to take action to be closer to G-D? Maybe try accepting a new level of tznius upon yourself as a zechus? Or something else if thats too hard? I dont recommend making up your own thing, but having someone help you choose an area to improve in to become closer to G-D. Its funny cause Im the last person in the world to be telling you this. I failed miserably in my tests and will regret it till the day I day. But Im here to encourage you to try one last method. I think that after 40 years you would be willing to try one last ditch attempt?
Someone suggested talking to Rebitzen Salomon (mashgiach of lakewoods wife). I think that its a very good idea. But you have to be completely honest with her and tell her your life story and your feelings. Dont think she is just some frummie lady or something. Her background is totally different and she is a good person to talk to.

If that doesnt work I hope you at least take some of the aveira out of it by going to a mikva beforehand. And no it doesnt make it have no aveira at all, but I would assume its better than not going.

I really really really hope that you find your life partner soon. "G-D's salvation comes in the blink of an eye"

Much love from a fellow jewish girl

3/27/2011 03:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No offense and I'm not trying to flame (although I do love to flame), but I associate Jewish girls with being liberals and thus being kind of loose. I'm ethnic Catholic and have that ideal of the traditional innocent Catholic girl, by the way. I'm not ignorant, I know you can't generalize, though generalities do ring true. Any comments? Are Jewish girls more like the traditional Catholic girls I'm so fond of, or are they more like the liberated, loose American females I'm not so fond of?

4/03/2011 11:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Eli said...

BTW I just read The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance, and I think you would enjoy it. It's about a Mormon woman who struggles with faith and sex.

4/04/2011 02:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To answer your comment on liberal Jewish girls and being loose, I think I may be able to offer an explanation. I do not know much about the non-religious community, however, if a girl (early 20s and single from a religious community) would ever even kiss a boy, she would be compelled to hide the fact because of judgement from the community and her friends. A girl from a religious community must keep her reputation because of possible future prospects of marriage and community acceptance.

Statistically, (according to diverse sources), between 72% and 85% of all Jewish high school graduates attend college and higher education. This also includes Jewish women. As Jewish women are becoming more educated, they often times take a less conservative, more liberal view on political and social issues.

I hope this clarifies your confusion. However, my answer cannot account for all jewish women from either religious or non-religious backgrounds.

4/22/2011 07:31:00 PM  
Blogger Dr. Michael D. Evans said...

It is always best to stay reserved as much as possible. Sex is a special need but if we are not married, then we can do so without it. It is not like food, air or clothing. it is not a basic necessity.

4/26/2011 05:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Judaica Jewelry said...

Glad to hear from you finally... i haven't been to your blog in months, but I was pumped to see some activity finally. Hope to hear from you soon, again!

5/03/2011 02:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to say this but I think the time has come for you to begin to question whether you want to continue to be an orthodox Jew. It appears to be making your life so miserable.

Most of us never really think about why we are Jewish. For most of us, we are Jews because our familys are. But we could have just as easily been born Muslim or Christian or even born without any religion at all. I strongly feel that believing that following a particular religion is the only way to be good in G-d's eyes is incredibly self-centered. It is implying that one's own group is somehow above everyone else and I don't believe that G-d many any of us "better" than anyone else.

I'm beginning to meander away from original point, though. You really should question why you continue to practice Judaism the way you do if it is making you so miserable. It simply might not be the right answer for you. You can continue to be spiritual in your own way that you see fit but I, for one, do not believe in a G-d that would cause someone so much misery for no reason (book of job arguments aside).

Finally, I hate to say it, but as much as we want to believe we must question whether our religions are "right" or not. Obviously, they can't all be the one true path so who is to say being an orthodox Jew is better than any other option, especially when there are others that will make you much happier. No one can definitely say they are right about their religion. Many religions get around this desire to question them by the irrefutable concept of "faith". I think we need to question it though, we each need to follow our own path and I hope you path leads you to a place of happiness.

I wish you the best and good luck. Keep us updated.

5/04/2011 10:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've just discovered this site and have spent the last couple of hours reading posts and comments. I'd like to say that it's the most interesting, and one of the most touching, blogs I've read in a few years. I think we all can and do relate, even though many of us aren't frum, Jewish, virgin or even religious.

I can only add that your endurance says a lot and I really admire you for it, but when it's at the cost of your own sense of being in the world and your emotional health (and, something that deeply matters to you: your faith in G-d), you really need to step down and JUST BE HUMAN. For a while, at least. I can imagine how conflicted you are and I can't say that I know a thing about being observant, but I do know what it is like to have increasing frustration, depression and that nagging feeling of inadequacy and loneliness.

I agree with those who say that sex won't live up to your expectations, but that is totally irrelevant. You need the experience, not the pleasure (or lack thereof). You need, I insist, to just be human, to "fail" and be imperfect, and forgive yourself for it. G-d has given you all the tools to "go wrong" and to make up for it.

5/10/2011 09:06:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

I don't know if it's too late, but I just wanted to say that I think having sex is a mistake and one you will not look back proudly on.

I commiserate with you in a million different ways -- more than you can imagine -- but try to really think deeply about what you're contemplating. Is the temporal, the pleasure, worth the betrayal of truth and higher values?

5/17/2011 07:24:00 PM  
Anonymous gift said...

Its quite sad to read this post. I admire your orthodox observance. Keep it up. I don't come from an observant background, but not that I have a daughter, I would love to raise my daughter in an observant way. Its a better life. God gives you challenges for a reason. Many times in my life I felt abandoned by God, but in retrospect the challenges that I faced served a greater purpose. It didn't feel that way at the time. Stay inspire, stay Jewish. You will either meet someone or discover a greater and more fulfilling purpose. Hashem has a plan for you. Trust me!

5/19/2011 05:37:00 AM  
Blogger S said...

It looks like this comment is at the end of a long list of others.

You've probably heard everything I'd like to say, but I'm going to say it anyway. I'm sorry. I'm sorry that you're in so much pain. Can I know what it's like? Perhaps. No, I'm not 40, or even 35. But then again, would that make a difference? Someone can be older than you, and be in less pain, or younger, and in more pain. We're all so different.

But I did wait years before getting married. And I was lonely. I was desperate. I couldn't go on like that. And I started finding people who could help ease the loneliness, just a bit. Truth be told, I met some wonderful, very special people. But I was destroying myself the whole time. Not because I felt cheapened, but because i was investing in relationships that wouldn't, couldn't go anywhere, that had no risk - which is liberating, but also very, very unhealthy.

It was wonderful and awful and beautiful and bittersweet, and at the time i told myself that I needed it to survive. And I honestly felt that way.

With a lot of direct, clear intervention from the one above, I escaped. I learned how to be happy without those relationships, even though most of my friends had moved on - married, kids, living far away. I was able to be happy day by day - because that's the only way to live. Worrying about tomorrow only ever hurts us.

And as soon as i did the work I needed to do - I got married. Now, I know that there's no guarantee of anything for anyone else - but to me, the main point isn't that I got married. It's that Hashem was there with me, every step of the way. And every time I moved forward and grew, he was cheering me on, even when I couldn't hear him.

I hope that one way or another, you find a way to see that in your life - hopefully along with someone who will appreciate every aspect of who you are, in the deepest, most wonderful ways.

5/19/2011 03:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Velvel said...

Well written article and I understand where you are coming from completely.

In the "Frum World" it's not only single women that struggle with this issue it's also Frum or what is becoming more common formerly Frum men who struggle with it.

Usually the very people that have done their best to keep you single such as siblings and mothers who didn't approve of the initial marriage candidates for you are the ones who would be "shocked and outraged" should they discover that you too need and desire sex as a single human being.

Many single religious men try to remain virgins well into their 20's
and even 30's. However, at some point after enough painful rejections they say genug. They discover that the vast majority of the rest of the world doesn't have a problem with singles having a sex life. So without giving people who are not ready to do it ideas, it's at least for a man quite simple to find many single women to make love to.

However, I must say be careful what you wish for. The other single will many times fall for the Frum or formerly Frum single and just like a Frum girl will often want much more out of the relationship sometimes even marriage. It can get very complicated and very painful as you don't want to lose that person in your life, and don't want to go back to being the Frum single leper.

Rabbis as politically incorrect as it might be to say, are a major cause of the problems of the Frum single. They have way, way too much power and can ruin a potential Shidduck with one gesture let alone the damage they have been known to make with one phone call.

You might very well find someone you never expected to marry and have children with by following your new ideas.

I wish you all the best.

5/19/2011 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger wendy said...

Have you tried the Jewish dating services like J-Date or J-wed? They have different categories such as orthodox, chasidic and the like. It is chock full of men who are in the same situation you are in...just a suggestion.

5/20/2011 12:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Rachael said...

Wow, there are some seriously messed up people commenting on this post! So sorry that you are being belittled in the midst of pouring out your heart. You deserve better!

I'm a Christian, but married to a Jewish man (who I met in church). That's a whole different story, and tonight I'm so frustrated for the millionth time as we have disagreed over how to parent our children, and guess what, it stems from our being intermarried. Sigh. Please don't go there.

Let me say that I completely have respect for your situation - you have more integrity than most people. I am so impressed with the Orthodox community and the level of righteousness you strive for in your daily lives. This is not repression - it's integrity, something our culture knows too little of, I'm afraid. So, you go girl, for living out your beliefs and sticking to them. I know Christian women who have a very similar experience. There are too few good men in the world.

Do not settle. You have gotten some terrible advice! God made you Jewish for a reason, and He has called you to a higher standard for a reason. I pray that someone will come along that shares your values and that everything clicks!

5/22/2011 04:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Orthodox Judaism is a cruel sham

What the heck kind of G-d tells you that the point of life is to "fill the world with [Jewish] children" and then doesn't provide and then makes it difficult to locate a companion and start and consummate an intimate relationship.

Join the unaffiliated reformative Jews.

Or become an atheist or unitarian.

We do not have to fear a vengeful god. We are not children. We know that bad people are frequently unpunished, good people are often stricken with illness or other tsuris, and accidentally turning on a light on Saturday afternoon is no big deal.

Life is too short for so much suffering and bullshit.

Chaim

5/22/2011 10:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG
F---@%$%&^*(^%R@#%^$&* I really do wonder often what G-d will possibly say to us after life is over that could possibly make us understand/be thankful to him/maybe completely humbled for/love him/forgive him for everything we went through. For some reason I believe or like to believe that I will be humbled and thankful when I hear the explanation. (I guess that's bec. that belief means that he actually cares about me and loves me, but who can know that for sure? it would definitely be more believable if a human being---a man---could demonstrate a desire to love me/care about me for whomever I am, but alas.....)
I just have to say that I am so sorry about everything. I hope you're doing good.

5/26/2011 10:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just found this blog and am so amazed at how naive you are at 40. I discovered early in adulthood how extremely hypocritical Orthodox Jews were regarding negiyah, that even the most Orthodox give themselves permission to be free of it once they are at least engaged, but even well before. It's the best kept secret in Orthodox Judaism. It's sad to think that you have kept to this "rule" for no reason whatsoever and also that everything is NOT for a reason, another bit of Orthodox horseshit. GET A LIFE BEFORE IT'S OVER! Go take some meditation classes. Get a taste of Jewish Buddhism. Find some joy! You are never going to be rewarded for this self-inflicted suffering.

11/07/2011 08:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi. I was doing some research on abstinence when I came across your site. How long should you wait? I am 29 years old, Reform Jew, and I had the same values that you have about sex, that I was going to wait for marriage, and that I was going to marry a soulmate. But I've begun to have the feelings that you are feeling, that sex, like food, and air, is necessary for life, and that maybe I won't marry a soulmate, and that maybe there's no point in waiting for marriage as so many people are non-commital anymore. In fact, in today's society, you could be married one day and in the process of getting a divorce the next!

Believe you me, I feel your pain. I have had a few slip-ups where men took advantage of me, very brief situations. Now THAT makes you feel CHEAP. Don't let men do that to you--I felt like a piece of trash afterwards every time. It's hard to find good men out there that aren't taken--when I was younger two of my guy friends told a friend of mine at a party that they were both single and was I interested. They had dated so many of my female friends that I was ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTED. Is that considered missing my chance? It is also important to note that only God knows why (pun intended), but there are more women than men in this world. Statistically and from a scientific standpoint.

I don't meet men in synagogue either. Most of them are marrried or in their 60's, 70's, and 80's. It is infuriating. I hardly meet anyone my age in synagogue or services, a few people I see once in awhile, but that's just how it seems to be.

Maybe God is having trouble finding the right men for people like us. We are close to Him, and we get angry at Him...but then we say we're sorry, and we are forgiven. God loves us. I don't know why this is happening. This phenomenon. To put it frankly, it sucks.

There are books out there in the Love and Relationship section about finding a soulmate. I recommend looking into those, I've read a few myself, tried some of the techniques/suggestions.

It's also always worth watching "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," and knowing that maybe, just maybe, he really is out there.

God Bless You, Take Care, and Good Luck. -J

3/09/2013 02:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wrote a long answer, and it was wiped away, perhaps as well.

G_d never offered my the power to author my own life. Shomer Negiah is familiar to me as my own law from G_d, although I never heard the name before.

Why be celibate, even as a Catholic (somewhat) male straight physician? How absurd! Especially as I have no better explanation than it seems that G_d made things so.

[And not even without a sex drive, that I wish sometimes!]

The G_d that creates LIFE wants me to be so, and loves me. I wish I were different, but I am only the way G_d made me.

I would have done a better job of it, I imagine - but G_d has not asked for my opinion.

Live. Be. That is the task. G_d made LIFE. I do not understand much any more. I Live, I Am. That much I can do.

3/14/2013 09:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a young woman of 28 and choosing a life of celibacy and a more religious path I am ever more confused. about everything it seemed that living a life sin was much easier... Since being celibate I have reverted back to old ways twice in the past 8 years it seems like after every 4 years my courage and loneliness collide and the loneliness wins. For you I feel pride In knowing that you can withstand the pressure that surround us with such courage... I believe that sex should be for marriage but I also feel it's a forgiven sin I have also experienced the pit falls of the sex before marriage... I say this to u In respect to u just wanting the experience even at 40 the emotions that come with sex can be far more complicated sometimes than most let on, age does not make any more or less ready or able to deal with them. For the most meaningless sex even with a friend gets complicated not for all but most. I ask you this the story a person wrote was lovely instead of worrying about not having try to see what god has given you something we are do distracted on what isn't there what god has given us is Not recognizable.. People may say to you give up your god but even tho I have lived a sinful life and am not prayer for guidance to live a more religious life I pray you ask for even more grace and guidance and strength... Use the faith that you have in god for another week then a month then a year maybe god has plans for you to marry someone outside of your faith to use you as an instrument to bring that person to him, sometimes your strength can inspire others... Don't loose the natural imagination we have to give us hope... Maybe you should travel a bit... Stay away from the Mundane. keep remembering that god has a plan he always does.. I'm younger but after years of no change I myself am wavering but remind myself that my ultimate goal is for everlasting life when this world is past... Not to gain all in this world but loose my soul in the process I am proud to know you have such strength... If u say I have had the experiences so I don't know how u feel I find that knowing makes it harder for me... I know the pleasurable side I wish I didn't... because you tend to think the books and your mind will somehow collide and transcend your thinking and it rarely matches reality... I pray that god calms your anger, and stays any eager decisions.. Lot was tested in a way most of us could never handle yet he held true to god... You can do this remember you serve a god that could make a man fall through your roof this very minute...

8/31/2013 05:59:00 PM  

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