CVIndependent

Tue06022020

Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

I’m a woman who married young (21), and I’ve been with my husband for seven years. Within the last year, I’ve realized that my falling libido probably comes from the fact that I am not turned-on by our boring vanilla sex routine. I get so little fulfillment that I’d rather not even do it. I’ve tried talking to him, but he says he prefers sex without foreplay or a lot of “complicated stuff.”

I had some great casual sex before we met, but it turns out I’m into BDSM, which I found out when I recently had a short affair. I’ve kept the secret and guilt to myself, but I have told my husband I’m into BDSM. He wants to make me happy, but I can tell he isn’t turned on doing these things. He denies it, because he’s just happy to have sex at all—but a butt plug and a slap on the ass do not a Dom make. I’ve tried to ask him if we can open up our relationship so that I can live out my fantasies. I would like to go to a BDSM club, and he isn’t interested at all. He was very upset and said he’s afraid of losing me if we go. He also felt like I was giving him an ultimatum. I told him he was allowed to say no, and that I wouldn’t leave if he did.

When I was younger, I thought there was something wrong with me, because everyone else wanted monogamy, but it never seemed important to me. I’m not a jealous person, and I wouldn’t mind if he had sex with other people. In fact, the thought of it turns me on, but he says he isn’t interested.

I know he loves me, and I love him. At this point, my only solution has been to suppress this urge to have BDSM sex, but I don’t know if it is a good long-term solution. What should I do? Keep my fantasies to myself? Have another affair or ask him to have an open relationship again? We have a 3-year-old daughter, so I have to make our relationship work.

Want The Hard Truth

Two quick points before I bring out the big guns: First, marrying young is a bad idea. The younger two people are when they marry, according to a veritable mountain of research, the likelier they are to divorce. It makes intuitive sense: The rational part of the brain—the prefrontal cortex—isn’t fully formed until age 25. We shouldn’t be picking out wallpaper in our early 20s, WTHT, much less life partners. And second, basic sexual compatibility (BSC) is crucial to the success of sexually exclusive relationships, and it’s a bad idea to scramble your DNA together with someone else’s before BSC has been established.

And with that out of the way …

“WTHT might be surprised to hear she is just a normal woman being a normal woman,” said Wednesday Martin, New York Times best-selling author, cultural critic and researcher. “Like a normal human woman, she is bored after seven years of monogamous sex that isn’t even her kind of sex.”

You mentioned that you used to feel like there was something wrong with you, WTHT, but just in case you have any lingering “what’s wrong with me!” feelings, you’re gonna want to read Untrue: Why Nearly Everything We Believe About Women, Lust and Infidelity Is Wrong and How the New Science Can Set Us Free, Martin’s most recent book.

“We know from recent longitudinal studies from Germany, Finland, the U.S., the United Kingdom and Canada that among women only, relationship duration and living together predict lower desire/boredom,” said Martin. “In fact, the Finnish study found that even when they had more/better orgasms, women in monogamous relationships of several years’ duration reported low desire.” A straight man’s desire for his long-term, live-in female partner also decreases over time, but nowhere near as drastically as a woman’s does. “Contrary to what we’ve been taught, monogamy kills it for women, in the aggregate, more than it does for men,” said Martin.

So that’s what we know now—that’s what the research shows—but very few people in the sex-advice-industrial complex have wrestled with the implications. Most advice professionals, from the lowliest advice columnist to the most exalted daytime TV star, have chosen to ignore the research. They continue to tell unhappily sexless couples that they’re either doing something wrong or that they’re broken. If he would just do his fair share of the housework or if she would just have a glass of wine—or pop a “female Viagra,” if big pharma could come up with one that works, which (spoiler alert) they never will—they’d be fucking like they did the night they met. Not only isn’t this advice helpful; it’s harmful: He does more housework; she drinks more wine; nothing changes; and the couple feels like there’s something wrong with them. In reality, nothing’s wrong. It’s not about a more equitable division of housework (always good!) or drinking more wine (also but not always good!); it’s about the desire for novelty, variety and adventure.

Zooming in for a second: The big issue here is that you got bored. No foreplay? Nothing complicated? Even if you were 100 percent vanilla, that shit would get tedious after a few years. Or minutes. After risking your marriage to treat your boredom (the affair), you asked your husband to shake things up—to fight sexual boredom with you—by incorporating BDSM into your sex life, by going to BDSM clubs, and by at least considering the possibility of opening up your marriage. (Ethically this time.) And while he’s made a small effort where BDSM is concerned (butt plugs, slapping your ass), your husband ruled out BDSM clubs and openness. But since he’s only going through the BDSM motions because he’s just “happy to have sex at all,” what he is doing isn’t working for you. And it’s probably not working for him, either.

At bottom, WTHT, what you’re saying—to me, if not to your husband—is that you’re gonna need to do BDSM with other people if your husband doesn’t get better at it, which is something he might learn to do at the BDSM club he refuses to go to. Which means he has it backwards: He risks losing you if he doesn’t go.

“She once put her marriage at risk to get BDSM,” said Martin. “WTHT’s husband doesn’t need to know about the affair, in my view, and he doesn’t need to become the world’s best Dom. But he owes her acknowledgment that her desires matter. Get to that baseline, and other things tend to fall into place more easily. The discussion about monogamy becomes easier. The discussion about needing to be topped becomes easier. Working out a solution becomes easier.”

I’m not suggesting that an open relationship is the solution for every bored couple, and neither is Martin. There are lots of legitimate reasons why two people might prefer for their relationship to be or remain monogamous. But two people who commit to being sexually exclusive for the rest of their lives and at the same time wanna maintain a satisfying sex life—and, open or closed, couples with satisfying sex lives are likelier to stay together—need to recognize that boredom is their mortal enemy. And while the decision should be mutual, and while “ultimatum” is a scary word, in some instances, bringing in reinforcements isn’t just the best way to fight boredom; it’s the only way to save the relationship.

A couple of weeks back, I told a frustrated husband that his cuckolding kink may have to be put on the back burner while his children are young. The same goes for you, WTHT. But at the very least, your husband has to recognize the validity of your desires and put more effort into pleasing you.

“In straight culture, people tend to define sex as intercourse, because intercourse is what gets men off, and we still privilege male pleasure,” said Martin. “But seen through a lens of parity, what WTHT wants is not ‘foreplay’ or ‘complicated stuff.’ It’s sex, and the sooner her husband lets go of this intercourse = sex fetish of his, and acknowledges that her pleasure matters as much as his does, the sooner he’ll be a real partner to his wife.”

For the record: A relationship doesn’t have to be open to be exciting; BDSM doesn’t have to be crazy complicated to be satisfying; and date night doesn’t have to mean dinner and a movie. Date night can mean a visit to a BDSM club where your husband can learn, through observation alone (at least for now), how to be a better Dom.

You can find Wednesday Martin on Twitter @WednesdayMartin. You can find her books, blog posts, videos, and more at wednesdaymartin.com.

On the Lovecast—All Hail Satan! with Satanic Temple founder Lucien Greaves: savagelovecast.com.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; @FakeDanSavage on Twitter; ITMFA.org.

Published in Savage Love

I am a bi, white, married man—35 years old and living in a big Midwestern city. I’d like to know what’s going on in my psyche—from a sex-research perspective.

I’ve been hung up on cuckold fantasies with my female partner for years now. I’m a creative person, and I’m especially fond of creative fantasizing in bed, and my partner enjoys this as well. But nine times out of 10, I’m spinning a yarn about her fucking other men, whether it’s a threesome, cuckolding with me watching, or her going out on dates and coming home a delicious mess. These fantasies took an unexpected turn when I asked her to share stories about people she fucked in the past. She obliged—and holy shit, was I turned on. The only unfortunate thing is that she did not have many great sexual experiences in the past, so she feels like there is not a lot to share. Anyway, we have an amazing sex life, obviously, and I feel no shame whatsoever about these fantasies or how turned on her memories make us. I’m just curious as to why it turns me on so much. I know others have similar kinks, but it seems so antithetical to the heteronormative expectations of what I should be turned on by.

Any ideas?

Fantasies Reliably Enhance Every Dalliance

“‘Why am I like this?’ questions are always rabbit holes,” said Dr. David Ley, a clinical psychologist, author and sex researcher. “We create rich, satisfying stories that are really just a form of mental masturbation—no bust on masturbation—when the truth is, at least at this point, we really have no clear idea why people have any of the unique sexual fantasies they do.”

Dr. Ley literally wrote the book on cuckolding: Insatiable Wives: Women Who Stray and the Men Who Love Them.

One popular explanation for why being cuckolded might turn a man on—why knowing his wife or girlfriend had fucked someone else (or was fucking someone else in front of him) might turn a guy on—was the “sperm competition” theory. To quickly summarize: A man who suspects his female partner recently had sex with another male—and whose reptile brain believes the other man’s semen might be “present” inside her—will have a more powerful and voluminous orgasm when he next mates with his female partner in an effort to “flood out” his competitor’s semen. For a time, many sex researchers theorized that male swingers and cuckolds were subconsciously inducing “sperm competition” reactions—i.e., they were in it for the more-powerful orgasms.

“Unfortunately, much of the research into sperm competition is now suspect, due to a failure to replicate many of these findings,” said Dr. Ley. “So to a degree, we’re now saying, ‘You know, it’s complicated. Everyone is different, and there are no simple answers.’”

And now that we’ve said that, FREED, Dr. Ley, who has worked with many cuckold couples, has noticed patterns—and he’s willing to put out some alternative theories of his own.

“Many cuckolds have a desire to engage bisexually with other men, using their wife’s body as a sort of proxy,” said Dr. Ley. “Given that FREED is a bi male in a heterosexual relationship, these cuckold fantasies might be a way for him to express his bisexuality while including his wife. Additionally, vicarious erotic fulfillment is often a central component in many cuckold fantasies. This goes beyond simple voyeurism—and FREED’s comment about his wife’s regret at not having enough sexual experiences to share offers us a clue in this direction. Many cuckolds celebrate their partners being sexually unrestrained. FREED might just be turned on by the idea of his wife cutting loose and sharing that supercharged erotic energy with other partners—past, present and future.”

Finally, FREED, I wanted to add a “ding, ding, ding” to something you mentioned at the end of your letter: The erotic power of doing something that seems antithetical to the heteronormative and/or vanilla-normative expectations heaped on us by culture, religion, family, etc., should never be underestimated. While not everyone is turned on by the thought of transgressing against sexual or social norms, a significant percentage is. So long as our normative-busting transgressive turn-ons can be realized with other consenting adults, we should worry less about the “why” and more about the “when,” “where” and “how.” (Now, in private, and safely!)

Follow Dr. Ley on Twitter @DrDavidLey.


I’m a 35-year-old married man with two beautiful small children. I knew I was a cuckold before I met my wife. As soon as things got somewhat serious, I made this very clear, as I had learned repeatedly that my desire for a cuckold relationship almost certainly spelled doom. While we were dating, she cuckolded me multiple times and seemed very accepting of the idea. I was in heaven, as I finally felt accepted for me. I remember very clearly on the day of our elopement discussing that this was more than a kink for me—it was central to my sexuality, and I needed her buy-in before committing for life.

We played a time or two after we got married, but my wife’s interest in the lifestyle greatly decreased. After we had children (the first child four years ago), her interest in cuckolding evaporated. It’s entirely gone. I accepted this for some time due to having young children. When I broached the subject recently, she expressed legitimate concerns around STIs, pregnancy and being “found out” by friends/family. But this is something I need, as I made clear before we married. It’s not just a “kink” for me.

I love my wife, and I don’t want to pressure her into having sex with others, but I’m hurt and frustrated. I can’t help but feel like I had a bait-and-switch pulled on me. What do I do? Be thankful for the things I do have? Ask to go to a sex-positive therapist? Ask for a divorce? I’m lost, hurt, confused and angry.

Cuckold Has Understandable Regrets Now

Cuckolding may be something you need, CHURN, but it’s something you’re asking the wife to do. And the doing presents more risks for her—the risks of STIs and pregnancy fall entirely on her, as she pointed out. And if people were to find out (or suspect) she was sleeping around, the “shame” and potential social ostracism would fall entirely on her, too. Even if you were to tell anyone who found out that it was consensual and/or that you were a cuckold, it’s not like she wouldn’t still be shamed or ostracized. Judgmental family and friends would just heap equal portions of shame on you, too.

To your credit, CHURN, you acknowledged the legitimacy of your wife’s concerns. And I’m going to acknowledge the legitimacy of your frustrations: You told her before you eloped that you needed this to be happy, and she didn’t just agree to it; she was (or seemed) enthused about it. I might be inclined to see this as a bait-and-switch myself if you didn’t have children. Even the most adventurous people—sexual or otherwise—tend to become risk-averse when their children are young, and I imagine your wife is currently some combo of highly risk-averse and completely overwhelmed. (Hey, are you doing your fair share of the housework and child care?)

Instead of threatening to divorce her (which would amount to pressuring her), I would encourage you to find a sex-positive counselor who can help you two talk about what your sex life can look like once your children are a little older. If she can express it without being expected to act on it tomorrow, my hunch is your wife can see cuckolding you again once your kids are older. Since finding women who are into this isn’t easy, as you already know, it would be in your own self-interest to take the long view and be patient.

In the meantime, CHURN, content yourself with hot memories of all the times the wife cuckolded you in the past—and hot dirty talk about all the times she’s going cuckold you in the future.

On the Lovecast, summer sex toys with Erika Moen: savagelovecast.com.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; @fakedansavage on Twitter; ITMFA.org.

 

Published in Savage Love

My fiancé and I have been in a relationship for 11 years. His best friend is one of his exes, and that has always bothered me. What do I do?

Needing Guidance After Getting Engaged

You could make up your mind to get over it, NGAGE. Or you could threaten to break off the engagement unless your fiancé cuts his best friend out of his life. That would be an asshole move—an emotionally manipulative asshole power move. But, hey, you wouldn’t be the first person to wait for the moment of maximum leverage before telling your partner that, despite what you led them to believe (or allowed them to assume), they are going to have to choose between their best friend(s) and the person they’re about to marry or just married.

Fair warning: If you issue that ultimatum, and your fiancé (or husband) writes in and asks me what to do, I’m going to tell him to leave you.


I’m a 58-year-old happily married gay man, and I have a well-hidden kink that I’ve had since childhood: I get off on destructive, city-smashing giants—think of Godzilla as a muscular man smashing things with his dick. Since this is impossible to realize, I rely on drawings and other images.

After Tumblr removed the adult content, I found my way to newer websites. Some featured manga-style drawings of giant prepubescent boys. I’ve NEVER experienced any attraction to children, but these cartoons are a turn-on. Does lusting after cartoon images of boys make me a pedophile?

Freaky Erotic Art Requires Serious Self-Scrutiny

If you aren’t sexually attracted to children, FEARSSS, you aren’t a pedophile. Pedophilia is not something a non-pedophile drifts into after viewing a little squicky manga. Pedophilia, according to the best and most current research, is a hardwired sexual orientation—one that can never be acted on for moral and ethical reasons.

That said, I would urge you to avoid viewing or downloading this stuff. It’s illegal in the United States (and lots of other places) to possess drawings or computer-generated images of children that depict “a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct,” per federal law. I don’t know whether your local prosecutor would consider viewing drawings of giant prepubescent boys smashing buildings with their dicks as a criminal offense, but I’m sure you don’t want to find out. Avoid those websites.


I understand the pleasure received by the “suckee,” but I need help understanding what benefit or pleasure the “sucker” derives from the exchange. Is it the taste of come?

Confusion Over Cocky Knobblers

We do it for the glory, COCK, and that warm feeling that comes over us when we can look up and say, “Emission accomplished.” (Sorry about that.)


Where can a gal go to find reluctant/nonconsensual porn that isn’t overly rapey? I really love power play (think “naughty secretary gets punished”)—but when I look for reluctant/nonconsensual porn, I often come across male-perspective rape fantasies. I’d love to wank to a video or story about a woman reluctantly enjoying herself while her aggressor fucks her up the ass, but every search is fraught with the perils of finding something truly rapey. And that just makes me feel sad and icky. I’m willing to spend money if I trust the source. I just don’t know where to look! Is the issue with my keywords? Help!

Really Enjoys Specific Pornographic E-Content, Thanks

“This is one of the things people don’t understand about ethical and feminist porn—it’s not just soft lighting and sweet lovemaking,” said Tristan Taormino, the feminist author, sex educator, podcaster and porn director (tristantaormino.com). “Ethical and feminist porn can also have an edge and feature power play, so long as there’s consent. My series ‘Rough Sex,’ which has three volumes, is all about real women’s kink fantasies, and there will be something in there for RESPECT (you can find it on gamelink.com). In addition, I recommend bellesa.co, where she can use the search term ‘rough,’ and xconfessions.com, where she should search for ‘BDSM.’”


I’ve written before to ask if there is a newspaper or online publication that translates Savage Love into Spanish. If there is, I can’t find it. I can hardly believe no one does this. Can you give me a simple answer, please?

Something’s Lost In Translation

Simple answers are my specialty, SLIT. As far as I know, my column isn’t translated into Spanish. But it can be read in Italian in Internazionale (internazionale.it), the weekly Italian newsmagazine. (I have to give a shout-out to Matteo Colombo, who does an amazing job of translating my slang-laden, neologism-packed column into Italian every week! Thanks, Matteo!)


I’m a 57-year-old man, and I have been in a relationship for 10 months. I have some erection problems that are helped by ED meds. The issue is I haven’t told my girlfriend I’m taking them. I take a pill when we are together “just in case,” but this is costly, and the resulting lack of spontaneity makes me anxious. Also, I feel like I’m holding on to this secret.

Please Send Advice

Call your girlfriend. It’s time you had the talk. Give her your reasons. Tell her it’s not her fault—and, really, it’s not her fault or yours. Men don’t take boner pills because they aren’t attracted to (or horny for) their partners, as some fear. The reality is quite the opposite: Horny men take ED meds. She may need to hear it a few times before it sinks in, PSA, but you have nothing to be ashamed of. And, if she enjoys the sex, she should be as grateful for these meds as you are—and she shouldn’t want you to waste them any more than you do.


I’m a bi guy in my late 20s. I date women and occasionally hook up with guys. In between, I have toys. My question has to do with something that happens when I’m using a dildo and stimulating my prostate: During intense stimulation … I pee (I think)? My confusion lies in the fact that what comes out is clear and doesn’t smell like urine. I know there’s a debate about female squirting and whether it’s urine, but I’m still very confused. But is this normal for a man? Should I worry?

Leaking Everywhere And Knowing It’s Not Good

Your dildo isn’t just stimulating your prostate gland, which produces the milky fluid that comes flying out of your cock when you ejaculate, but your Cowper’s glands as well. The Cowper’s glands are located just under your prostate, and they produce a clear fluid, aka “pre-come,” that basically flushes out your urethra during arousal. Urine is acidic, and acids can harm sperm cells. So pre-come neutralizes whatever acids might be lurking in your urethra—basically, pre-come makes sure your urethra is a safe space for your sperm cells. Some men produce very little pre-come; some men produce buckets of it; and some men produce more under particular circumstances. Don’t worry, LEAKING, just enjoy.

On the Lovecast, work questions on the podcast?! Yup. Listen at savagelovecast.com.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; @fakedansavage on Twitter; ITMFA.org.

Published in Savage Love

I’m a man with a very liberal background. Recently, a girl I started dating—a girl from a similar background—mentioned that she has “a thing for black guys.” She also met my childhood best friend, a man of Korean descent, and commented to me that she found him handsome despite not typically being attracted to Asian guys.

The position that I’ve always held is that we’re attracted to individuals, not types, and it’s wrong to have expectations of people based on race—especially when it comes to sexualizing/fetishizing people. I think we should date and have sex with whomever we want and not carry prejudiced expectations into our relationships. I am worried she sees black men as stereotypes of athleticism, confidence and the other complicated constructions we’ve made about the black body, like black men having bigger dicks. I also worry that she might see me as less masculine and less well-endowed because of my race.

I eventually asked her about these issues, and we had a tense conversation. I tried to ask if she had ever checked herself for possible prejudice where her sexual desires are concerned, and she shut the conversation down by accusing me of trying to control her. I reassured her that I wasn’t trying to control her, but it is possible I was projecting the insecurity her comments stirred in me into the conversation. I’m trying to balance two components: my own insecurity and the possibility that she’s holding a legitimately prejudiced opinion that makes me uncomfortable.

Any advice?

Seeking To Interrogate Newish Girlfriend’s Statements

It’s a big leap from, “I have a thing for black guys,” to, “White guys aren’t masculine or well-endowed,” STINGS, and you made that leap on your own. So in addition to confronting your new girlfriend about her attitudes and assumptions … you might want to give some thought to your own?

That said, the things your girlfriend has said about black and Asian men are legit problematic. When someone describes their attraction to a certain group, racial or otherwise, as “a thing,” that usually means they see members of that group as things—and in a society that dehumanizes black people, white people can easily come to see black people as objects.

As for her comment about your Korean friend: Prevailing beauty standards shape our ideas about attractiveness, and those standards are shaped by our rabidly racist culture. A person socialized to only recognize the beauty of men or women of European descent may not even consider—they may not even be able to perceive—the attractiveness of people who aren’t white. And then when someone of a different race does manage to make a blip on their sex radar, it comes as a surprise. But instead of reconsidering their ideas about attractiveness, a dumb fucking white person—even one from a liberal background—is likelier to say something stupid like, “I don’t usually find Asian guys hot, but your Korean friend is attractive,” rather than rethinking their assumptions about their desires. Declaring one Asian guy an exception allows someone like your girlfriend to have her racist cake (“I don’t find Asian guys hot”) and eat it too (“But this Asian guy is hot”).

It’s a shame your girlfriend reacted defensively when you tried to bring all this up, STINGS, but sometimes people react defensively in the moment and then keep thinking about it. My advice: Keep bringing it up—but it would help if you owned your own shit during these conversations (and you have some shit of your own) rather than just self-righteously going after your girlfriend for her shit.

I have to say, though, I disagree with you on one thing: People do have types, and there’s nothing wrong with having types. It’s a good idea to ask ourselves whether our “types” are actually ours and not just assigned to us by conventional standards of beauty (white, slim, young) or a thoughtless/fetishizing reaction to those standards (a desire to transgress with nonwhite, larger or older folks).


I’m a middle-aged African-American man. I’m single. I dress well; I’m fit; I cycle to work; I eat healthy, etc. I live in a basement apartment on a narrow street in a large city. My only window faces the street.

After showering, and pretty much whenever I’m home, I’m naked while walking around my apartment. A young white couple moved in across the street, and they have an unobstructed view into my apartment. At first, I would notice the woman standing at the window looking my way as I toweled off. Then the male as well. And when I masturbate, which I sometimes do after a shower, I noticed them both making several passes by their windows to look. Later, I noticed the male coming out late in the evening when the view into my apartment is at its optimum to watch me masturbate. He seems very interested. The woman will come outside and sit on the steps in the morning and look directly into my apartment at me while drinking her coffee. More than once, she has run her hand up the inside of her thigh as she’s watching. Also I’ve noticed that their shades, which used to be closed most of the time, are always wide open with lights on so I can clearly see them in their apartment.

I’m sure the woman knows that I want her—and the male seems to be exhibiting bi tendencies (something I’m not interested in at all). In your opinion, are these two a voyeur couple or a submissive cuckold couple? How should I approach to seduce? If she’s sitting on her steps, can I go over and say, “Good morning,” to break the ice? The other day, I left just as she was going out, and we walked past each other. I thought about saying something, but I don’t want to appear to be chasing her.

And what’s up with the guy?

Display Attracts Neighbors’ Glazed Looks Everyday

I once dated a guy who was arrested in his own apartment at 10 in the morning for masturbating in front of an open window. Granted, he lived across the street from a school (a university, not a middle school), and that may have had something to do with it. But he was a white guy, DANGLE, and considering all the ways African-American men are targeted by the police, I feel obligated to warn you—well, I feel obligated to warn you about something you already know: Cops are always looking for an excuse to arrest or harass a black man, and your exhibitionism could attract the attentions not just of horny neighbors, but also the authorities.

That said, DANGLE, if everything is as you describe it—if this isn’t a case of dickful thinking on your part—it sounds like this couple is interested. “Interest” is a spectrum, of course, and they could find it interesting to live across the street from a hot, in-shape exhibitionist, and difficult to look away, without actually wanting to be fucked (her) or be cuckolded (him) by you. But if they’re staring into your apartment while you walk around naked and throwing open the curtains so you can stare into theirs, I’d say the ice has already been broken. So say hello the next time you run into them on the street. Keep that first convo light, neighborly and nonsexual, and see where it leads. But if during that first convo, they invite you over for a beer sometime … well, that’s a Yahtzee. But even then, don’t make any assumptions or sudden moves: Use your words; draw them out; make sure everyone is on the same page.

As for the guy: Maybe he’s bi. Maybe he’s a cuck. Maybe he’s the woman’s gay roommate. There’s only one way to find out what’s up with him: Say hello, and get to know them.

On the Lovecast, it’s the one-minute-wonder show: savagelovecast.com.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; @fakedansavage on Twitter; ITMFA.org.

Published in Savage Love

I’m a single gay guy in my late 30s. I’m quite introverted and a bit shy, yet I have a big sexual drive and a rich libido. I’ve always found the gay scene overwhelming, and my several attempts at online dating were not very successful. I feel my quiet ways tend to put people off, and I hardly ever get the chance to show my more playful or crazy sides, as it takes me a bit to feel comfortable to show those. Whenever I was able to, my partners were usually pleasantly surprised, and we could enjoy plenty of fun, but I can count these occasions on the fingers of one hand. I feel most guys just stop at my gentle disposition and assume I must be a bit boring if not a prude altogether.

Turns out I actually have quite a few kinks—bondage being one of them—but so far, I have hardly been able to explore them with a partner. Often those drawn to me haven’t really been of the sexually adventurous kind. By my looks, I don’t really fit into any of the “tribes” that a lot of gay men identify with. Part of me doesn’t care, but at the same time, I find myself on the outside looking in when searching for a nice guy for a date or more.

Would you have any kind of advice to crack this shell of mine open?

Always Looked Over, Never Embraced

The next time you find yourself on the outside looking in, ALONE, take a moment to look around. Because that small scrum of guys who fit neatly into whatever gay tribe happens to be dominating the bar/ pool/whatever—the guys on the inside looking at themselves or looking at their phones or looking at themselves on their phones—are usually surrounded by a much larger group of guys who don’t fit neatly into that particular tribe or any other obvious tribe. And if the guys looking longingly at the easy-and-obvious tribe would look around, they’d see a whole lot of guys like them—guys who might be feeling a little awkward or out of place, guys who are attractive in perhaps less-conventional or immediately apparent ways, guys with hidden depths, etc. In other words, ALONE, guys like you.

And speaking of guys like you, did you know you have a motherfucking superpower that makes you a member of all gay tribes and your own unique tribe?

“Bondage is the great unifier among kinksters,” said Joshua Boyd, a gay bondage “enthusiast,” as they say, in his mid-30s who lives and ties in the Seattle area. “Bondage guys are from all walks of life, and they range from twinks to muscle guys to bears, cubs, jocks and average Joes.”

So just as you’ll find gay guys in every race, ethnic group, economic class, faith community, etc., bondage guys can be found in every gay tribe, and bondage guys make up their own unique tribe.

“ALONE should put any search for a long-term relationship on hold and look for more casual, kinky fun,” said Boyd. “Recon (recon.com) has always been a good place for me to start conversations with fun guys—I even met my husband there. The bottom line is there are others who share his interests, and they are waiting to connect with him.”

But you’re shy! You’re introverted! Connecting is hard! Boyd describes himself the same way—shy, introverted, with difficultly connecting—and not only is he married, ALONE; he doesn’t lack for casual play partners, and he’s got play pics all over the internet to prove it.

Tyger Yoshi also describes himself as shy and introverted—and I recently watched shy, introverted Yoshi do a bondage demo at Trade, a gay leather bar in Denver, where he suspended a guy from the ceiling.

“When I first started exploring my interest in bondage, I was lucky enough to be in a city where opportunities were plentiful, even for a shy, introverted person like me,” said Yoshi, who’s also in his mid-30s. “There were people who wanted to mentor me, but I struggled taking that first step of accepting help.”

The kind of help Yoshi is referring to—the kind of help he eventually accepted—can most easily be found at munches, i.e., casual meet-ups where kinky people, both queer and straight, socialize and connect with other like-minded kinksters. (Munches ≠ play parties.) Spend five seconds on Google, ALONE, and you’ll also find kinky educational organizations that offer classes for people who want to hone their bondage skills while learning about consent, safety and other best practices. And whether you’re a bondage top (you want to tie) or a bondage bottom (you want to be tied) or a switch (tie and be tied), you’ll make friends in bondage classes. And if you wind up clicking with someone, that person isn’t going to assume you’re a prude (they met you at a bondage class), and that person will definitely be sexually adventurous (you met them at a bondage class). And unlike gay bars or clubs, a person’s skills are just as important as their looks at gay bondage parties and events.

“After you start making connections and building your circle, find local fetish/kink events that are happening around you—you may need to reach out to the pansexual community—and see if one of your new friends from the munch or the class or Recon is willing to go with you to check it out,” said Yoshi. “And as you start exploring more of your kink side, consider the possibility of separating kink and sex at first. Let people know that you are interested in bondage but haven’t tried much and you want to practice. Having an exploratory or practice session is much different than having a bondage-sex session, and people may be more willing to facilitate that exploration. And from my experience, if you’re able to get up the courage to go out to a kink play party (with a friend for support), the likelihood of finding someone who’s willing to assist in new or first-time experiences increases.”

So, ALONE, that thing you’ve been holding back until you get to know someone? Your interest in bondage? Lead with that. Get involved in the kink scene; work on your skill set; be friendly and open—be the nice guy—and you’ll meet lots of men you have something in common with. Trust me: Your tribe is out there.

You can follow Joshua Boyd on Twitter @seabndgsadist. You can find Tyger Yoshi on Twitter and Instagram @tygeryoshi.


Is having sex with multiple partners something prevalent in the gay community? If so, why? It seems that having sex is a pretty big deal with gay men. Why?

You Won’t Answer

Gay men are men, YWA, and let’s not kid ourselves: Yes, the average gay guy has more sex partners than the average straight guy. But straight men would do everything gay men do if straight men could, but straight men can’t, because women won’t. It’s not that straight guys are any less interested in sex than gay guys are or that sex is any less of a “big deal” for straight men. And you know what? Women are just as horny and just as interested in sex as men—gay, straight or bi—and that includes sex with multiple partners. But women have to weigh every choice they make and every truth they tell against the very real threat of sexual violence at the hands of straight men and the lesser threat of being slut-shamed by straight men and other women. (Shout-out to the asexual gay, straight and bi men and women out there who aren’t interested in sex with anyone—I don’t mean to erase you, but I’m talking averages here—the centers of various bell curves, not deviations.)

On the Lovecast, this show is soooo gay: savagelovecast.com.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; @fakedansavage on Twitter; ITMFA.org.

Published in Savage Love

I found your column after a Google search. I saw your e-mail address at the bottom and was hoping for some insight.

My issue is this: Two years into our 23-year marriage, my wife declared that she didn’t want to kiss me or perform oral on me. Several years ago, she had an affair and confessed that she not only kissed this other person but performed oral on them as well.

Why them and not me? Should I just go find someone willing to do what I want? I have a high sex drive, but I find that I don’t want to sleep with my wife anymore, because there is never any foreplay, and a few minutes into it, she’s telling me to hurry up. I don’t feel wanted, and honestly, I no longer desire her. What do you make of this?

Hurting Unwanted Husband

Before telling you what I make of your e-mail, HUH, I want to tell you what I wish I could make out of your e-mail: a time machine. If I could turn all those pixels and code and whatever else into a working time machine, I’d drag your ass back to 1996 (and try to talk you out of marrying your wife) or 1998 (and try to talk you into leaving her after two years of marriage). But since time machines aren’t a thing—at least not yet—we’ll have to talk about the here and now.

Your wife isn’t attracted to you, and never was, or hasn’t been for a long, long time. And now the feeling is mutual—you aren’t attracted to her anymore, either. And if you’re seriously wondering why she kissed and blew that other person—the person with whom she had an affair—when she hasn’t wanted to kiss or blow you for 20-plus years (“Why them and not me?”), HUH, the answer is as painful as it is obvious: Your wife was attracted to her affair partner (that’s why them) and she’s not attracted to you (that’s why not you).

Now, it’s possible your wife was attracted to you a long time ago; I assume she was kissing and blowing you while you were dating and during the couple dozen months of marriage. (She wouldn’t have to announce she was going to stop doing those things if she’d never started.) But at some point relatively early in your marriage, HUH, your wife’s desire to swallow your spit and inhale your dick evaporated. It’s possible her desire to swallow/inhale the spit/dick of her affair partner would have evaporated in roughly the same amount of time, and she would have lost interest in him and his dick and his spit as well. Some people have a hard time sustaining desire over time—and contrary to popular belief, women have a harder time sustaining desire in committed, romantic relationships than men do. (Wednesday Martin wrote an entire New York Times best-selling book about it, Untrue: Why Nearly Everything We Believe About Women, Lust, and Infidelity Is Wrong and How the New Science Can Set Us Free.)

Of course, it’s possible your wife isn’t the problem. You may have said or done something that extinguished your wife’s desire for you. Or, hey, maybe your personal hygiene leaves everything to be desired. (I’ve received countless letters over the years from women whose husbands refuse to brush their teeth and/or can’t wipe their asses properly.) Or maybe you’re emotionally distant or cold or contemptuous or incredibly shitty in bed. Or maybe you’re not the problem! I don’t know you, HUH, and other than the very few details you included your very brief letter, I don’t know what’s going on in your marriage.

But I do know this: If you can leave, HUH, you most likely should. But if you decide to stay because you want to stay, or because leaving is unthinkable for cultural or religious or financial reasons … well, since your wife hasn’t wanted to fuck you for decades, and since you no longer want to fuck your wife, you should release each other from the monogamous commitment you made more than two decades ago. If you can adjust your expectations—if you can both agree to define your marriage as companionate, i.e., you’re friends and life partners, not romantic or sexual partners—you may be able to appreciate your marriage for what it is. But to do that, you’ll have to let go of the anger and disappointment you feel over what it’s not.

And to be clear: If your marriage is companionate, you should both be free to seek sex with outside partners.


Simple question, probably not a simple answer: How do you keep things exciting once the shiny, new phase of a relationship is over? Is it normal to reach a stage where you know someone so well that they’ve become boring? Isn’t that just the fucking worst?

Same Old, Same Old

Recognizing that some people actually enjoy boring—I have it on good authority that some people can get a thrill knitting sweaters and sitting still—there is something the rest of us can do to keep things exciting once the shiny, new phase of a relationship is over: Go on strange and exciting new adventures together. Early on in the relationship, SOSO, your new partner was your exciting new adventure, and you were theirs. But now instead of being the exciting new adventure, you have to figure out what exciting new adventures you’d like to go on together—and then get out there, and go on them.


I’m a young, nonbinary ethical slut, and I have a question about a kink that one of my partners is discovering. We are very close, although we are not sexually active with each other at this point. (We are currently long-distance.) She has another partner with whom she is currently exploring “little” play. I feel personally uncomfortable with age-regression play, but I obviously want to be supportive and understanding. We have fairly good communication, and I am able to tell her when I feel uncomfortable and that I still love and support her, but I just can’t talk about “little” play at the time. I would love to be able to talk about it with her and be supportive, and at the very least make sure I don’t say anything ignorant or hurtful to her.

My question is this: How can I stretch my zone of comfort and learn about this kink in a healthy and educated way?

A Little Uncomfortable

If you want to get more comfortable discussing “little” play, i.e., adults pretending to be small children with other consenting adults, the Dream a Little podcast is a good place to start. It’s hosted by Lo, an AB/DL (adult baby/diaper lover) who has been a guest on my own podcast and who recently made an appearance in the column offering advice to a sad and lonely AB/DL.

That said, ALU, you aren’t obligated to listen to your partner talk about this kink if the topic makes you uncomfortable—or just bores you senseless. Tell her that you support her and you know it’s exciting to explore a new kink, and while she doesn’t have to hide this from you, it’s not something you’re comfortable—at least for now—discussing at length.

On the Lovecast, Stéphane Deschênes on living the nudist life: savagelovecast.com.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; @fakedansavage on Twitter; ITMFA.org.

Published in Savage Love

I’m a straight cis woman in my early 40s and a single mother. I have not dated or hooked up with anyone in years. While I miss dating, the biggest issue right now is that my sex drive is off the charts. While watching porn and masturbating once my child goes to sleep helps, I really want to get well and truly fucked by a guy who knows what he’s doing.

I could likely go to a bar or on Tinder and find a man for a one-night stand, but I’m hesitant to do that. To add to my complicated backstory, I have a history of childhood sexual abuse and have had only two partners in my whole life, one of whom was abusive. My past sexual forays have not been particularly satisfying, in part due to my lack of experience and comfort indicating what I do/do not like, as well as some dissociation during the actual act. I keep thinking it would be easier to find a sex worker to “scratch the itch,” as presumably, a male sex worker would be more open, sex-positive and skilled. But I have no idea how I might go about it or what the procedure or etiquette is, and I am fearful that I could get arrested, given the illegality of soliciting in my conservative Southern state. Getting in trouble could have devastating effects on my life, and I would definitely lose my job. I am trying to weigh the pros and cons, but I feel out of my depth.

Any advice for a gal who wants to get fucked but is not sure how to make that happen in a safe-ish space?

Single Mom Absolutely Stupid Horny

“In the recent past, the answer would have been ‘Google,’” said John Oh, a Sydney-based male sex worker for women. “But in a post-SESTA/FOSTA world, that route is now unreliable—especially in the United States, where advertising on the web is far more difficult.”

SESTA/FOSTA—the “Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act/Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act”—is a 2018 law that was crafted, backers said (backers lied), to fight sex trafficking. It made it a crime for web platforms to knowingly or unknowingly allow someone to post a sex ad. The law is so vague that platforms like Craigslist, Tumblr and Facebook purged sexually explicit content in an effort to prevent sex workers from basically being online at all. SESTA/FOSTA’s backers claim they want to protect women—and only women—but in reality, pushing sex workers out of online spaces (where they could more effectively screen clients, share safety tips with each other and organize politically) made sex work more dangerous, not less, and has led to more sex trafficking, not less.

But one platform—one pilloried but still popular platform—is bucking the anti-sex-worker/anti-sexually-explicit-content trend.

“Twitter is still a (mostly) safe place for sex workers, and I have not heard of law enforcement using it to entrap potential clients,” said John. “So I believe that it is a reasonably safe place to anonymously research male sex workers. Many of us advertise there.”

Since no one knows how long Twitter will allow sex workers to use its platform, you might want to get started on that search now, SMASH. And while sex work is work, and it’s work many people freely choose to do, not everyone is good at their job. Since your experiences with unpaid sex weren’t that great, I asked John for some tips on increasing your odds of finding a skilled male sex worker.

“Sadly, in places where sex work is criminalized, it’s harder to find a suitable male sex worker,” said John, “especially for someone who needs extra special care due to trauma. I expect that for SMASH, traveling to a place where sex work is not criminalized would not be practical, but that might be an option for others.”

If traveling to Australia, where John lives and where he’s been doing sex work for nine years (legally, as sex work is decriminalized in his state of New South Wales, and legalized in much of the rest of Australia), is unrealistic, John suggests chatting with sex workers in your area—but not, at least at first, the male ones.

“Her best option may be to talk to female sex workers on Twitter and ask them for a recommendation,” said John. “This has two benefits—the first is that female workers in her general area will have local knowledge. The second is that female workers are generally very careful about endorsing male workers. So if a few female workers suggest a male sex worker, there is a high likelihood that he will be safe, capable and professional. But if SMASH goes this route, tipping the female workers who help her out would be polite—otherwise, this would amount to asking for unpaid labor.”

You can find John Oh on Twitter @JohnOhOfSydney.


An older guy at my gym tentatively inquired if he could ask me an “inappropriate question.” I told him he could. I’m straight; he’s pretty obviously gay; and I figured he was going to hit on me. Then he said the question was “sexual in nature” and asked if I was sure it was OK. I said yes. He asked if he could buy the shoes I wear to the gym once they’re worn out.

I know why someone would want my old shoes—he’s obviously masturbating with them—and that’s fine; everyone’s got their weird thing (myself included). Two quick questions: Isn’t what he did risky? (I could easily see some other guy reacting badly.) And how much should I charge?

Smelling Nikes Entertains A Kinky Senior

It was definitely a risky ask, SNEAKS, but you’re probably not the first guy he’s approached. I imagine he has a hard-earned feel for who’s likely to react positively and who’s not (and a few canceled gym memberships along the way to show for it). And I’d say $20 would be fair. It’s not the full cost of replacing the shoes—he’s a shoe perv, not a fin sub—but it’s enough to be worth your while, and it reflects the value of your old shoes. Not on the open market, but to him.


A straight couple I know that “dabbles” in kink recently visited a famous leather/fetish/bondage store with deep ties to San Francisco’s gay community. (Mr. S Leather, not that it’s important.) They purchased some simple bondage implements that they could just have easily ordered online from any number of stores that aren’t institutions in the gay BDSM subculture.

I don’t think straight people should be barging into spaces that aren’t theirs to purchase items that were not created for them. I am not gay myself, but I try to be a good ally, and part of being a good ally is holding other straight people accountable.

Respect Queer Space

You’ve got to be kidding me with this shit, RQS. Donald Trump banned trans people from the military; the Trump administration has made it legal for doctors and EMTs to refuse to treat queer people; they’re allowing federally funded adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples; and they just shut down promising research into a cure for HIV (much to the delight of religious conservatives, who have always and still want us dead). And heaping insult on injury, RQS, Donald Fucking Trump “celebrated” Pride Month with a tweet—and you’re not only worried about a straight couple buying a little gear in a gay leather/fetish/bondage shop, but you’re coming to me with this shit expecting praise?

If a couple of straight people wandering into a gay-owned business that’s legally obligated not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation—a law that protects queer people, too—is what you’re wasting your time on right now, RQS, with everything that’s going on, you’re a shit ally and a worse human being. Just to make sure it was OK with Mr. S, I shared your letter with general manager Jonathan Schroder, who said: “We are owned by gay men and very explicitly market to gay men. But everyone is welcome here. We’re happy there are straight people who feel comfortable shopping here.”

On the Lovecast, Mistress Matisse commands you to listen to the S&M show: savagelovecast.com.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; @fakedansavage on Twitter; ITMFA.org.

Published in Savage Love

Savage Love Live swooped into Seattle’s Egyptian Theater and Denver’s Oriental Theater recently. I couldn’t get to everyone’s questions at these sold-out shows—there were so many great questions, and I’m just one lousy advice columnist—so I’m going to power through as many as I can in this week’s column.

Weddings are terrible. I attended “Dueling Dallas Lesbian Weddings,” and both couples are pressuring me to tell them whose wedding was better (or better in the eyes of social media). Am I obligated to “rat” these couples out to each other?

Weddings aren’t terrible; people are—some of them, not all of them. But you certainly aren’t obligated to “rat” these couples out to each other. You aren’t even obligated to speak to any of these terrible people again.

What is the best relationship advice you’ve ever received?

Cup the balls.

I’ve been talking to a guy for four months, and we still haven’t met in person. He’s recently divorced, and I find it odd that he is all into me with sexting, etc., but doesn’t want to meet. What do I do?

Stop wasting your time.

I have always loved anal sex with my partner of more than a decade. He loves it, too. We’ve noticed a trend over the years where he gets melancholy after we have anal sex. He doesn’t know why. Do you have any ideas or theories about why?

Nope.

How do I make sure I enjoy my upcoming wedding instead of worrying about how it will go?

Elope.

I’m a woman, and I’ve been in a relationship for two years. My partner is not able to make me orgasm. He is my first lover. HELP.

If you can make yourself come, show your partner how you do it. If you can’t make yourself come—if you’re one of those people who have never masturbated—start masturbating; learn how to make yourself come; and then show him how you do it.

My boyfriend is a cuckold and very into the humiliation aspect of cuckolding. I’ve been hooking up with one guy who is so into humiliating my boyfriend that it’s kind of freaking me out. They message each other so much; I feel like I’m the one being cheated on!

You get the D. Let your boyfriend have the DMs.

We are married 10 years, monogamish, pansexual. My friends are opening up their relationship, and so are we. Any good reason I shouldn’t have sex with my friends?

Only the most obvious one: If someone gets hurt, these friendships could end. But friendships end all the time without anyone getting off, so …

I’m 31; he’s 44. I know how you feel about splitting the rent in proportion to income, but my higher-earning boyfriend points out that I’ve opted for more leisure time and less stress with my lower-paying job. How should we split the rent?

Someone making two or three times as much money as their partner should be willing to pay more of the rent. Splitting the rent 50/50 wouldn’t be fair, particularly if the higher earner wants a larger and/or nicer space, because then the partner making more money is effectively having their lifestyle subsidized by the one making less. But if someone chooses to make less money because they want more leisure time, they shouldn’t expect to have that choice underwritten by a partner making more money. I don’t think they should pay half the rent—but a higher percentage of their income should go toward the rent.

How can I nicely convince my girlfriend to have anal sex?

By using your words—your best noncoercive, nonthreatening, willing-to-take-no-for-an-answer words. And it will help if you tell her you’re willing to take it slow and willing to take turns.

My boyfriend of 1.5 years doesn’t feel it is “appropriate” to tell me he is in love with me. I want so bad to have our “I love you” moment. What should I do?

Say it to him—and if he doesn’t hit you with an “I love you, too,” then either he’s not in love with you, or he’s in love with you and knows how badly you want to hear him say “I love you,” but he won’t say it because he likes to torture you.

My partner discovered—with someone else—that she loves BDSM, including pain and humiliation. I’m trying, but she’s not impressed. What do I do?

Presumably your partner doesn’t love BDSM to the exclusion of all the hot vanilla sex she’d been having with you previous to this discovery. So instead of trying to be something or someone you’re not, let your partner enjoy BDSM with others while making sure you two maintain your sexual connection by continuing to explore your shared sexual interests.

Blair says all blowjobs should end with a swallow. Thoughts?

Blair is entitled to Blair’s opinion, but Blair isn’t the boss of blowjobs.

I’ve been with my partner for two years. We love each other and have no real issues—except family. I’m out of the closet to everyone in my life. My partner is, too. Her mom “accepts” her being gay, except around extended family. At family gatherings, her mom pretends my partner is heterosexual and interested in men, as if our two-year relationship doesn’t exist. Is it OK that I think this is not OK?

It’s OK that you don’t find this at all OK. But I’m curious what your partner thinks. Presumably your partner isn’t a houseplant—which means she must have feelings about this, and presumably she’s capable of communicating those feelings to her mother.

How do you introduce BDSM into your sexual relationship?

Suddenly and without warning—trust me, the element of surprise is crucial when it comes to kinky sex. Joking! For the record: You introduce BDSM into your sexual relationship by first initiating a conversation about your sexual interests, and if there’s interest on both sides, gradually and slowly introducing JV BDSM play into your relationship.

I ran into a co-worker at a fetish party, and he was wearing a “URINAL” T-shirt. Does that mean what I think it means?

It means you don’t have to leave your workstation when you need to take a piss.

Thanks to everyone who came to Savage Love Live in Seattle and Denver! Savage Love Live is coming to San Francisco (with Stormy Daniels!), Chicago, Madison, Minneapolis (with Stormy Daniels!), Toronto and Somerville. For more info and tickets, go to savagelovecast.com/events.

On the Lovecast, Dan chats with sex workers’ rights advocate Alex Andrews: savagelovecast.com.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; @fakedansavage on Twitter; ITMFA.org.

Published in Savage Love

I keep running into the same issue with my best friend of five years. (She’s also my maid of honor at my upcoming wedding.) We’re both empaths—most of my friends are—and we’re both in therapy working on how to cope with that. I have severe anxiety that impacts my physical health, so one of the empath-related issues I’m working on is not following through with plans when I need to take time alone. My friend claims she understands this, but my actions severely impact her mood. Example: We’ll make tentative plans to get together; I’ll feel too sick to follow through, and then she’s in a negative emotional spiral for days. The final straw came when she called me late this past Friday night—just once, with no subsequent voice mail, text message or follow-up call. On Monday morning, I sent her a text message asking how her weekend was and got an icy reply. Evidently, something happened to her on Friday; she called me for support; and my failure to return her call left her feeling very upset. I apologized for the accidental trigger and tried to lay down some protocols for reaching out in an emergency situation (leave me a voice mail, and send a follow-up text) so I know it’s urgent. She hasn’t replied.

I’m really frustrated. She has a lot of baggage around being shamed for being emotional, so I try to be careful not to invalidate her feelings, but I don’t know if that’s even making a difference. We’ve had several conflicts over the last year, always triggered by something I did or said, almost always accidentally, that caused her to “take a step back.” She insists she understands I’m doing my best to be a good friend while also working through my own emotional shit. But that’s not the sense I’m getting. I’m feeling increasingly like it’s impossible to be a human being AND her friend. Until recently, I had zero emotional boundaries and made myself available to her at a moment’s notice to help shoulder her emotional burden. But now that I’m trying to be more conservative with my abundance and take better care of myself, it seems like all I do is hurt her.

What the fuck do I do? I’ve tried to be open-minded and patient with her dramatic mood swings, but she seems unable to give me the benefit of the doubt, which I always try to give her. This rocky ground between us is adding more stress to the whole wedding situation. (You’re supposed to be able to rely on your maid of honor, right?) This thing we have is not sustainable as it is, although I love her deeply. Help me figure this out?

Emotions Making Personal Affection Too Hard

Being so attuned to other people’s emotional states that you feel their pain—being an empath—sounds exhausting. But Lori Gottlieb, a psychotherapist in private practice, isn’t convinced your empath superpowers are the problem here.

“EMPATH’s moods seem overly dependent on what the other person does,” said Gottlieb. “That’s not being ‘an empath.’ Most people are empathetic, which isn’t the same as what these two are doing. They’re drowning in each other’s feelings. This is what pop culture might call codependency, and what in therapy we’d call an attachment issue.”

From your letter, EMPATH, it sounds like you might be ready to detach from your friend—you mentioned a final straw and described the relationship as not sustainable—and detaching would resolve this attachment issue.

“This feels less like a friendship and more like a psychodrama where they’re each playing out their respective issues,” said Gottlieb. “A friendship isn’t about solving another person’s emotional issues or being the container for them. It isn’t about being devastated by another person’s feelings or boundaries. It should be a mutually fulfilling relationship, not being co-therapists to each other. In a strong friendship, each person can handle her own emotions rather than relying on the friend to regulate them for her.”

Gottlieb started writing an advice column because, unlike psychotherapists, advice columnists are supposed to tell people what to do. I’m guessing your therapist mostly asks questions and gently nudges, EMPATH, but since Gottlieb has her advice-columnist hat on today and not her psychotherapist hat, I asked her to tell you what to do.

“She should act more like a friend than a therapist/caretaker,” said Gottlieb. “She shouldn’t treat her friend or herself as if they’re too fragile to handle basic communication or boundaries. And they should both be working out their issues with their respective therapists, not with each other.”

If you decide to keep this woman in your life (and your wedding party), EMPATH, you’ll both have to work on—sigh—your communication skills.

“Right now, they don’t seem to know how to communicate directly with each other,” said Gottlieb. “It’s either an icy text or complaining to outside parties about each other. But when it comes to how they interact with each other, they’re so careful, as if one or both might break if they simply said, ‘Hey, I really care about you, and I know sometimes you want to talk about stuff, but sometimes it feels like too much and maybe something you can talk to your therapist about.’”

Lori Gottlieb’s new book, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, is a New York Times best seller. Follow her on Twitter @LoriGottlieb1.


I will be driving to New Orleans from Toronto. It’s almost impossible to drive from Ontario to Louisiana without stopping for fuel/food/hotel in Ohio, Georgia or Alabama. But I want to boycott Handmaid states during my trip. Even then, I feel I have to check the news every day to see what state is next.

Do you have any practical advice for me? Or should I just stay home until your democratic systems and your courts are fixed, and your Electoral College is abolished?

Canadian Avoids Nearing Terrible Georgia, Ohio …

Why head south, CANTGO? Even if you’ve lived in Canada all your life, you couldn’t possibly have explored every corner of your beautiful country. But if you absolutely, positively must board the Titanic—excuse me, if you must visit the United States—take a hard right after you cross the border and head west instead. Enjoy Michigan’s Upper Peninsula; check out some of those lakes they’re always talking about in Minnesota; speed through the Dakotas, Montana and the skinniest part of Idaho; and pretty soon, you’ll be in Washington state, where a woman’s right to choose is enshrined in the state Constitution. The summers are lovely; we’ve got hiking trails that will take you to mountain lakes; and Democrats control both houses of the state Legislature and the governor’s mansion, so you won’t have to check the news every day when you’re in Seattle.


CONFIDENTIAL TO EVERYONE

Anti-choice, anti-woman, anti-sex bills have been rammed through Republican-controlled state legislatures in Ohio, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, Utah, Mississippi and Alabama. “The new wave of anti-abortion laws suggests that a post-Roe America won’t look like the country did before 1973, when the court case was decided,” Michelle Goldberg wrote in The New York Times. “It will probably be worse.”

If these bills are declared constitutional—a real possibility now—doctors will be jailed; women who have miscarriages will be prosecuted; and many forms of birth control will be banned. If you’re as pissed off as I am—and anyone who isn’t can piss right off—please make sure you and all your friends are registered to vote so you can vote out anti-choice state legislators and governors in 2020.

To be clear: Right now, abortion remains legal in all 50 states. So you don’t have to wait until next November to send a “fuck you” to red-state Republicans pushing these laws. Make a donation to an organization that helps women obtain abortions in red states—like The Yellowhammer Fund in Alabama (yellowhammerfund.org), Gateway Women’s Access Fund in Missouri (gwaf.org), and Women Have Options in Ohio (womenhaveoptions.org).

On the Lovecast, Dan chats with actor Maddie Corman: savagelovecast.com.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; @fakedansavage on Twitter; ITMFA.org.

Published in Savage Love

Garbage human here. I’ve had herpes for about 15 years. The first five years, I was in a relationship with a guy who also had it. The last 10 years, I haven’t been in a serious relationship. I’ve been a (rare, drunk) one-night-stand type of gal, and I don’t usually tell the guy, because, like, everyone has herpes. (I get that one in five isn’t everyone, but if you count HSV-1? I’ve seen numbers as high as 80 percent.) Frankly, it seems about as significant medically as minimally contagious mild acne. (Some risks to pregnancies and immunosuppressed people exist, and I know logically it’s not my call to determine what may be serious for someone else.) I justify nondisclosure to myself these ways, even though I know it’s not ethical. On the occasions where I have disclosed, I’ve been made to feel like a leper by dudes who 10 minutes before were begging me not to have to use a condom. I obviously have a lot of resentment over having this stupid thing and over the guilt I have around nondisclosure, and I suspect my history of casual sex is influenced by not wanting to deal with this conversation.

Which brings us to now: What I thought was a one-night stand has turned into a months-long affair, and I’m amazed to report I find myself liking and respecting this guy. (I know, I know: If I really respected him, I’d have told him before I ever knew I respected him.) What do I do? I have to tell him. But how? Is there any justification for what I’ve done? Can I just say, “Oh man, I noticed a thing and went and got tested, and guess what?” That just adds to the lie.

There’s no way I can have a relationship with this guy based on trust going forward, is there? I’ve fucked this up, and I have to bail, don’t I? Am I going to be alone for the rest of my life?

Deserves To Be Alone

You’re not a garbage human, DTBA. You didn’t share something you should’ve—the fact that you, like upwards of 50 percent of everyone, have herpes—but weren’t obligated to. The problem with not disclosing, as you now know, is that casual sex partners have a way of becoming potential long-term partners. And by the time you recognize someone’s long-term potential, the stakes are so high that bailing looks like an easier option.

“We don’t think DTBA needs to bail,” Momo and Felix wrote in a joint e-mail after reading your letter. “And we don’t think she’s destined to be alone for the rest of her life.”

Momo and Felix are the cocreators of My Boyfriend Has Herpes (instagram.com/my_boyfriend_has_herpes), an Instagram account that has amassed more than 15,000 followers in just a few months. Using simple, direct prose and Momo’s charming illustrations, Momo and Felix educate others about herpes while sharing the story of their relationship—from how they met, to Felix’s disclosure, to Momo’s initial hesitation to get involved with someone who has herpes.

“Our stance is pro-disclosure, always, but we know this isn’t possible for everyone living with HSV,” said Momo and Felix. “Unfortunately, one of the significant pitfalls of (not disclosing early on) is the difficulty it adds to the potential of a long-term relationship. And while we don’t agree with DTBA’s choice to not disclose to her partners, we understand why she might have made those choices. The stigma against herpes is terrible.”

Momo and Felix both feel—and I’m with them—that you need to be completely honest with this guy, even if it means the relationship could end. But it might not end, DTBA. He might have a disclosure of his own to make—he could have herpes, too—or the relationship could end for other reasons. You’ve been dating this guy for only a few months, and he could decide to end things for reasons that have nothing to do with the disclosure you’re about to make and/or your failure to make it sooner. Or you might learn something about him down the road that’s a deal-breaker. (Have you searched his place for MAGA hats?)

So how do you broach this topic?

“She obviously cares about this person,” wrote Momo and Felix. “She made a mistake, and she wants to make it right. DTBA needs to acknowledge her actions (opting for nondisclosure) and their impact (putting her partner at risk without his informed consent). DTBA’s partner may very likely feel betrayed or deceived. He might want to end the relationship, and his feelings would be valid. Unfortunately, all that DTBA can do is acknowledge her mistake, make herself vulnerable, and accept his reaction.”

“But whatever happens, she doesn’t deserve to be alone,” they said. “We all make mistakes, and we all have the opportunity to do better.”


I’m a 24-year-old bisexual female, and the new person I’m dating just disclosed their HSV-2 status. I really like them and was all set to get intimate with them. But their disclosure made me change my mind. They are understanding but sad. But I feel terrible about it! They did the right, honest thing, and now they’re getting punished for it. Herpes isn’t dangerous; it’s usually not even symptomatic, and the social stigma (the chances of someone like ME saying no) is the worst part. I get all that, intellectually. And I’d still rather … just … not take the risk of becoming someone who has to have a slightly harder dating life, because of the stress of disclosing to judgmental people like myself.

Have I perpetuated the stigma of having herpes because I’m scared of ending up in the “life is harder now” group?

Help A Reluctant Miss

I shared your letter with Momo and Felix, HARM, and they wanted to respond to you individually. But first, a quick download: Herpes is caused by two different viruses: HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 is commonly called “oral herpes” and HSV-2 is called “genital herpes,” even though both are transmitted in similar ways—vaginal, anal and oral sex, as well as simple skin-to-skin contact—and both can cause sores on the mouth or genitals. Herpes is incredibly common: Some studies have found that more than two out of every three people have herpes. But most people who have herpes don’t know they do—which means that you could already have herpes yourself, HARM.

“It’s HARM’s right to choose not to sleep with anyone for any reason,” said Momo. “But I do think that she’s perpetuating the stigma by rejecting someone just because they have HSV. I totally understand her concerns, and I had the same concerns before deciding to be intimate with Felix. But after doing my research and contemplating, I decided that I’d rather contract HSV than feed into the stigma. I don’t expect everyone to share the same feelings as me, but that was my choice. Plus, if she walks away from this person and keeps on dating, there’s a very good chance that a future partner might have HSV and not know it. So, really, is she taking less risk by not dating them?”

“Like Momo said, everyone has the right to choose who they do or don’t sleep with, regardless of their reasons,” said Felix. “Is HARM perpetuating the stigma against HSV? A bit. But I think her feelings are super-understandable. It’s important for people to educate themselves and take action toward dismantling the stigma, but to potentially take on the burden of living with the stigma is a huge leap. I don’t know if being concerned about becoming a victim of the stigma is the same as perpetuating it. But while HARM fears that contracting HSV will limit her dating life in the future, if she walks away from a relationship with potential, then her feelings have already limited her dating life.”

On the Lovecast, listen and learn about vasectomies!: savagelovecast.com.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; @fakedansavage; ITMFA.org.

Published in Savage Love