When you think of people being in an open marriage, you probably don’t think about Hasidic Jews. Well, one Hasidic Jewish couple recently anonymously “came out” about their lifestyle to the NY Post. While they made sure the magazine used different names and left out identifying details, any inkling or rumor of their polyamorous activities could get them outed from their community.
James and Monica, both in their 30s, live in Williamsburg in a Hasidic community. By day, they appear to be like many people in their community, but by night, they use Tinder as a means to explore their sexuality. Monica said they “look the part, but don’t follow any of the rules.” Apparently, they’ve been using the dating app since 2014, both together and separately–although they began an open marriage about 10 years ago.
According to the NY Post, their joint profile states, “Looking for multicultural experience. Due to our situation, we don’t have the liberty to expose ourselves on here,” which makes sense considering no one can know what they do in their private life. It’s even more complicated considering Monica identifies as bisexual–which would not be accepted in their community. In general, discussing your sexuality in a public manner is seen as taboo.
To complicate matters, the couple are parents to children between ages 3 and 18, meaning they are keeping it a secret from their kids as well. In many ways, the fact that they opened their relationship isn’t all that surprising, considering their marriage was arranged at a young age (which is common for their community); James was only 20 and Monica was 18, and both were virgins at the time.
While they are attracted to each other, Monica explained that their relationship works for them, stating, “We don’t have jealousy. We never got to date people, so that made it easier for us.”
That being said, the couple have to keep their lifestyle a secret from anyone who could “out” them to anyone who may know them. What makes it harder is the fact that neither Monica nor James believe in the tenets of their sect, as James explained:
“Questioning God was a very difficult process for me. Religion has a strong hold on your thoughts and the way you think.”
However, they haven’t left the community yet, because to do so would mean breaking with their family–which, of course, is understandable. They may enjoy the secrecy, too The fact that James and Monica have come out at all, even if anonymously, is a big deal, considering the conservative attitude of the Orthodox community when sex is involved.
In many ways, I’m glad the couple is being so candid, considering it’s raising awareness about the fact that everyone has a sexual identity–and just because someone is religious doesn’t mean sex isn’t an integral part of their lives. James put it best when he said that he wants other Hasidic couples to feel less alone about their sexual identities:
“We want to inspire other Hasidic couples who also have doubts about God and their marriage. We hope to lead by example. By speaking out and breaking the taboo, we hope other Hasidic couples will do the same and feel less alone.”
However, I can’t imagine how stressful it must be to keep a secret like that from everyone you know. But it seems to work for them for now!