What’s Wrong With You: Sex After Religion, Dating After Donating Eggs

downloadDear Judith,

Although I grew up very right-wing, fundie ultra-Orthodox, I’ve abandoned it entirely except for one thing: I can’t seem to undo the idea that sex before marriage is a sin. I’ve gotten off with men plenty of times, but as soon as their hands find their way into my pants I get nervous and slow things down, even if physically I want to go forward. Any advice?

Trapped in Virginity

Dear Trapped,

Sin against whom and courting what punishment? Considering your childhood versus where you are now, I’ll hazard a guess that your fear of burning in hell for committing a natural act is the lid on a full box of intimacy complaints. A good place to start is probably making sure you’ve got your facts straight about pregnancy and STD’s. Don’t ask your former Rabbi, obviously, but any halfway-decent person in your new life should be happy to vet your information, especially if you’re honest about its source–don’t be shy. Step two is a brutal assessment of your willingness to defend your desires and needs in the heat of the moment to a guy who’s allergic to condoms yet swears he’s disease-free and an expert at pulling out in time. (Not the worst-case scenario, unfortunately, but a composite of common ones.) Finally, examine whatever notions you cling to about magical wedding nights, purity, monogamy, free milk, chewed-up gum, your father bequeathing you to your husband, etc., etc., ad nauseum. Your first time will be memorable for being your first time; life is too short to hold out for a fantasy ideal.

Good luck,

P.S. Post-finally, plan on repeating step two a lot. Trust and self-acceptance are often the spoils of dismantled beliefs.


DatingGame_large-e1341332070169Dear Judith,

I recently confessed to my mother that I sold some of my eggs when I was in grad school, and she’s literally pleading with me to never mention it to anyone again–especially not boyfriends. Am I being completely unrealistic to imagine the kind of guy I want to marry can handle this fact of my past? What if a kid with my DNA someday comes knocking on my door? I’m not ashamed of what I did, but I’m starting to have a few regrets, and my mother’s confounding me more.

Possible Biological Mother

Dear Possible,

Let’s see: regret kicked in so you told your mother, whom you didn’t involve back when you made the decision…. because you expected her wholehearted support? She doesn’t necessarily sound unsympathetic, but if it’s emotional bolstering you seek, consider reaching out to somebody who isn’t relying on you for grandchildren. Grandchildren she can babysit and buy cute outfits for. Your mother wants you to be happy, too, of course, but anything she perceives as limiting your access to the best potential sperm for your future brood she’ll instinctively resist. Just because a guy is uncomfortable with something you did a long time ago doesn’t mean he can’t have genes for symmetrical facial features and become a billionaire, in other words. Also, I don’t know your family back-story, but usually the older the woman, the more jaded she is about total transparency in a relationship. (Worry about that knock on your door after you’ve had a few kids….)

Anyway, none of this obligates you to keep a secret you don’t even feel secretive about. Competition for suitable mates has eased over the past few millennia (however scarce the options occasionally seem), and thoughtfully narrowing your selection has potential benefits our cave-ancestors lacked the luxury to debate. Fewer choices leads to quicker decisions–that’s a benefit your Mom might appreciate. And you’re free to change the subject if she disagrees.

Hope that helps,


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