Yenta Gets Educated

In Career on April 21, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Yeshiva boys photographed by Margaret Bourke White

As many of you have noticed, the frequency of advice giving has waned over the past year.

This was due to a serious Torah intake, and a revitalization of the information Yours Truly has to offer.

As the Jewish Education of Your 29-Year-Old Yenta continues, watch for workshops like this one in your area.

Keep your eyes peeled, post Yenta sabatical, for a bigger, badder, and more Jewish voice to come.

Sex And OCD

In Dating, Health and Body, Mental Health, Sex on April 20, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Redefining fun, one move at a time.

Hi Yenta,

I have been with my boyfriend for nearly a year now, and it is better than I ever imagined a relationship could be. We live together, we have a cat, and we are both very happy. The problem is this: my OCD makes any type of sex impossible.

We are plenty intimate – we mostly pleasure each other by mutual masturbation – but I can’t even bear to be completely naked with him when we do this for fear of fluids. He is very patient and understanding, but I worry about how long that will last.

He wants to spend the rest of his life with me, but there is a very real possibility that it will be a very long time – if ever – before I am able to have sex, and I am afraid that he will eventually start to resent me for it. Is it possible to have a lasting romantic relationship without sex?

Thanks for your help!

-Keepin’ It Dry

Dear KID,

When you say “my OCD,” it sounds like, “my puppy,” or “ my favorite cat.”  If your OCD is held and coddled, it will snuggle you and remain with you.  I don’t know where you are in your healing process, but I encourage you to challenge your OCD threshold.

That is to say, how far can your disorder go until it runs your life?  Phobias are real, OCD is real, anxiety is real: but human beings have an even realer capacity for healing.  With proper time, care and attention one can reverse, or at least lessen these types of discomforts.

If you have not already tried, perhaps begin first by thinking outside the therapy box, and later, outside the sexual box.   Ie, instead of Psychiatry, dabble in the other healing arts for answers to your questions.  To every thing there is a season, and to every ailment, there is a root. Working with an acupuncturist, a cognitive behavioral therapist, sex therapist, massage therapist,  sexual surrogate, shaman or even a regular psychologist or clinical social worker could begin to address your fears of fluids from a new angle.  Other ideas: doctor-monitored herbal remedies, yoga, meditation, and/or drastic changes in diet.

On the flip side, you could also take another route.  That is the route of acceptance.  This means accepting you will never sleep with your man in the traditionally anticipated way.  You worry about him, and I worry about you.  Are you selling yourself short sexually by so quickly giving your OCD free rein in the bedroom?

If not, maybe this is your threshold.  Maybe this sex, at all, is your triumph in which case I congratulate you.  And the truth is that yes, sexless relationships are possible.  Especially in your case, where you are actually having sex, just not intercourse.  A lifetime commitment to mutual masturbation has happened before and can be a phenomenal way to explore the less-known regions of sexuality and sexual pleasure.

Click here for details on enhancing sex without intercourse.  Everything from new forms of touch and activity, to using other senses and forms, like talking, smelling, etc as means of enhancing your bedroom delights.

Other reads:

Sex Without Intercourse by Gerda Mundinger, a book of anecdotes from real people on how they enjoyed each other without “doing it.”

Let Me Count The Ways: Sex Without Intercourse by Marty Klein, Ph.D. and Riki Robbins, Ph.D.

I am all for you committing to and celebrating a non-intercourse-having existence, as long as that celebration is not a way of quitting and selling yourself and your partner short before reaching towards healing your phobias.  Our bodies are limitless in the knowledge and secrets they hold, you might need to grin and bare it and begin (again) the arduous process of exploring the underside of your OCD.

Merissa Nathan GersonCreate Your Badge

yenta yenta yenta

He Eats Like A Pig

In Dating, Health and Body on April 17, 2011 at 4:32 pm

When you kiss a man, you are eating his breakfast with him. Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II,

Dear Yenta,

I just started dating someone about a month ago.  I really like him, we make a great match in a lot of ways.  But there’s one way in which we really don’t match up: food.  I’m a vegetarian, who loves good healthy food.  Food isn’t just sustenance to me, it’s culture, its experimentation, it’s nurturance.  Michael Pollen’s Omnivore’s Dilemma is one of my favorite books.  There isn’t a vegetable out there that I don’t love.  Cooking is a very important thing to me, and in other relationships it’s been an important part of my connection to the other person.

This guy is exactly the opposite.  Not only does he absolutely hate vegetables, he doesn’t even know how to identify some of the very basic ones.  He’s in his 30’s, but when we go out to dinner, he might as well order off the kids menu– he eats pizza, grilled cheese, hamburgers (no tomato, lettuce, pickles, or onions, of course) and cheese omelettes.  The only color other than white and yellow on his plate is the occasional ketchup to go with his french fries.  Even with beer we don’t match up– I’m always looking for a fun new microbrew or craft beer, and he rarely strays from Miller Light.

I know it sounds like a trivial thing, but this mismatch has actually been pretty challenging for me in our burgeoning relationship.  It’s obviously not just about the food itself, it’s an ideological thing.  Am I overreacting?  Should I try to convince him to start eating like an adult?  Sneak veggies into his food like you do with little kids?  Help, Yenta!


Dear Foodie,

There are a few key points here.  1) You have been dating a month and he already annoys you.  That is not fly.  Month one should be easy and blissful.  2) He eats like a child.  You are what you eat.  There is nothing burgeoning about this relationship.  Get out, and get out now.

I strongly believe that you can decode a great deal about a man based on how he tackles his plate.  Go to a quick-paced eatery and watch one day with a notebook in hand.  Look at how some men gobble, others slice and chew slowly, others eat in small piles or leave flung chunks of food across the plate or the table.  In the way a man approaches what he consumes, you can detect a great deal about his interior choices.

Ie, does he waste food?  Does he care where it comes from?  Is he connected to the world beyond himself, or is food a frenzy, a moment of need rather than a moment of gratitude, consciousness and connection? Also, remember that what we eat affects our temperament.  If he is eating Ramen noodles, his nutrition is low which means his emotional stability is not being fed.  This translates across the board.

This sounds judgemental and absurd, but it is just judgemental.  What are your values?  List them.  Figure out what you need your man to understand, appreciate, be connected to.  He might not have to be a vegetarian to be your lover, but perhaps a conscious eater?  And consciousness can come in a million forms.  This bozo sounds like he is stuck in a fourth grade mentality and it shows in his choice to eat Wonderbread instead of spelt.

I don’t understand why women think it is too much to want someone to be evolved.  That is your god-given right, and really your obligation for the sake of humanity and generations to come.  You must hold high standards and seek a man who has progressed beyond fourth grade because fourth graders cannot rise up and grow to the potential you have inside of you.

Leave him, maybe send him a cookbook, and seek a better man elsewhere.  There may be nothing seriously wrong with this particular guy, but there is plenty wrong with this particular guy when it comes to dating YOU.  You HAVE to be picky because you CAN be picky because you owe it to yourself and to your community to find a man who raises you up, or at the very least, meets you where you are.  Why on earth would you want to spend your good energy educating a child-man on how to eat vegetables when you could be exploring life eye to eye with a man of your caliber, discovering new things and expanding daily.

You didn’t learn to eat well for nothing.  You are an evolved woman.  Onwards and upwards!

Other books to send him off with:

Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating by Mark Bittman

Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship With Food by Jan Chozen Bays

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan

Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser

Ask Yenta!  E-mail a question to merissag[at]gmail[dot]com directly, or using to ask anonymously.

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