Niddah Diaries, Month 1, Day 1: Talking About Blood, and Intimate Moments

As I mentioned, I’ve been together with the bf for 2 months now. We started dating shortly after I finished my period, a month later I was out of town for a week when I next got my period, and so, this is the first time that I have been menstruating while in the same place as him.

We had plans to go out Saturday night. We had spent Saturday in different cities, and that’s when I got my period. I was a little nervous in telling him that I got it. I mean, we’ve only known each other for two months. I’ve been pretty open with him about everything in my life, but still, talking about menstruating and bleeding and all that is just not something I’m used to.

Call me a bad feminist, call me a prude, but I don’t like talking about the blood that comes out of my vagina. It makes me uncomfortable. It’s dirty. I know, feminists aren’t supposed to think like that, but I do.

I debated telling him on the phone about my new status, but I couldn’t figure out a way to discreetly say it, and I was still too uncomortable with the words to just come straight out and tell him directly. So I let it go.

He came over to pick me up, and immediately gave me a hug. I hugged him back, but apparently then made an uncomfortable face. He asked what was up. I said, “remember that niddah thing we were talking about…?” and he got it. I was extremely thankful that I didn’t have to go into more detail than that, but also immediately began thinking about next month, and if I could use the same line, or if I’m going to have to come up with a new euphemism every time, or if I’m just going to have to suck it up and get comfortable with talking about my body.

The date was both wonderful and frustrating. Wonderful because I really like him. I enjoy spending time with him, just talking. He’s really funny, and witty, and smart. We spoke about a lot of important topics.

Frustrating because, the whole night, all I wanted to do was lean over and kiss him. And I couldn’t. I could come close. I stood extremely close to him, looked up at his face when I was talking so that our faces were only inches away from each other, but I did not touch him. I wanted to so, so badly. And I’m pretty sure he felt the same way. There was a lot of body heat and chemistry between us. I started to understand this idea of “separation makes the heart grow fonder”, because all I wanted to do that night was take him back to my place and get busy with him.

But I didn’t. And I’m glad. I am glad that we had a great time without any physical touch, and I am glad that the lack of touch made our physical chemistry stronger. I just hope this feeling lasts.

Niddah Diaries

This is a very personal topic to be writing about, which is why I have chosen to share it via an anonymous public blog.

As those of you following me may know, I broke up with the old bf about 4 months ago. I have started dating a new guy, and we have been together about 2 months.

We are not having sex. Due to both mine and his negative experiences with introducing sex early on in a relationship, we have decided to wait. However, we are still somewhat physical with each other.

He and I are both marriage-minded. If this relationship goes well, we would both like it to end in marriage. We are also both Orthodox Jews, and believe in keeping the Jewish sexual laws known as niddah.

Niddah, in it’s strictest biblical interpretation, forbids a husband and wife from having sex while the woman is menstruating. Rabbinic decrees have stretched this to include 7 days after the woman stops menstruating, and to prohibit all types of touch, including hugs, kisses, etc. During the middle ages, under the influence of Islamic neighbors, these rabbinic decrees were even further stretched to prohibit such activities as passing an object directly to one another, sleeping in the same bed, and eating off the same plate.

Additionally, as part of these laws, many believe that since an unmarried woman is considered a “niddah” (menstruant) until she purifies herself in the mikveh, which only happens after she is married, an unmarried woman and man may not touch each other at all.

Needless to say, we don’t keep all of these restrictions. We touch, sometimes. However, it is important to him that, since eventually he does plan to keep the niddah laws in marriage, some form of niddah should be observed before marriage as well.

We decided that, while I am menstruating, we will not have any physical contant. No hand holding, no hugging, no soft arm stroking, and certainly no kissing. I told him I’ll try. I’ll see how I feel about it.

I have always been ambivalent about niddah. On the one hand, it seems so restrictive. Why can’t I have sex with my husband when I want to? Particularly in marriage context, when kids are involved and the couple is often tired and exhausted at night, if there happens to be one day where both spouses are up and ready for it, why should the fact that the woman only stopped menstruating 3 days ago be a hinderance? And what if one spouse had a particularly trying day? The other can’t come home and offer a hug of support?

On the other hand, long term monogamy is scary. Am I really expected to have sex with the same person year after year after year and still have that same spark of intimacy and excitement and arousal? Niddah, supposedly, is a way to combat that. By creating a distance between spouses for a certain amount of time each month, there is a certain excitement that, supposedly, returns when the couple can reunite physically.

I have heard vehement arguments from both sides of the spectrum. I haven’t yet decided how I feel about it.

And that’s where this project comes in. I have decided that, in order to sort through my feeling on niddah during this experimental time, I will write my thoughts and feelings down on this blog. I welcome your comments and input, particularly those of you that have some experience with keeping-or not keeping-niddah.