CVIndependent

Sun09222019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

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

I’m a 43-year-old straight woman, and I spent the majority of my 30s celibate. At 40, I realized that while I wasn’t interested in dating, I was tired of my vibrator. I also realized that it was time to go forth and fuck with the body I had instead of waiting for the idealized body I was going to have someday.

Over the past three years—despite being as fat as ever—I’ve consistently had fun, satisfying, exciting, creative, sometimes weird, occasionally scary but mostly awesome sex. One guy I met on Craigslist was particularly great: awesome kisser, amazing dick. He came over; we fucked; it was excellent; we chatted; he left. This happened about four times. And then CL shut down the personals section. The only contact info I have for the guy is the anonymous CL address, and it no longer works. He has my Gmail address (the one I use for dating sites), but he has not e-mailed me.

I’m not a crazy stalker (I swear!), but he once told me he teaches at a university in our area, and I managed to find his photo and contact info on the school website. So I know how to reach him—but that’s a spectacularly bad idea, right? Unless you think it isn’t? If a dude I’d fucked a few times tracked me down at my job, I would freak out. But I keep thinking: Would it really be SUCH a bad idea to send him ONE e-mail? Should I just accept that it was great while it lasted? Or should I e-mail him and run the risk of pissing off/freaking out a nice guy?

Can Really Envision Every Possibility

Don’t do it, CREEP—don’t do that thing you already know you shouldn’t, that thing you wouldn’t want some dude to do to you, that thing you were probably hoping I’d give you permission to do.

That thing? Don’t do it.

You’re engaged in what’s called “dickful thinking” when guys do it—at least that’s what I call it, CREEP. It’s like wishful thinking, but with dicks. Men convince themselves of something improbable (“I bet she’s one of those women who like unsolicited dick pics!”) or unlikely (“Showing up at her workplace will convince her to take me back!”) because it’s what they want. Think of all the guys you’ve ever known who said, “She wants me!” when in reality, he was the one who wanted her. Clitful thinking may be rarer than dickful thinking—women being less likely to think with their genitals and/or being more risk-averse due to socialization, slut-shaming and the ever-present threat of gendered violence—but it’s not unheard of for a woman to rationalize unacceptable behavior (contacting this man at work) or deploy a self-serving justification (it’s just ONE e-mail) or solicit a, “You go, girl!” from a sex-advice columnist when what she needs to hear is, “Hell no, girl!”

Again, don’t do it. This guy has your e-mail address, and he knows how to reach you. And since you didn’t have all that fun, satisfying, exciting, creative sex over the last few years with only him, CREEP, I shouldn’t have to tell you to focus on your other options. But since your clit is doing your thinking for you right now, I must: Leave this dude alone, and go fuck some other dudes.


I have a desperate question for you. I’ve worked with a vivacious 30-year-old for five years. For 3 1/2 years, she had a live-in boyfriend. She had a different boyfriend recently. I’m 58 years old and not good-looking. She is always sweet to me and always compliments me. She’s said that I’m a genius and a gentleman, that I’m a hoot, and that I have a confident walk. I’ve also overheard her say that she likes older men. However, a few months ago, she walked up to me out of the blue and said that she just wants platonic relationships with co-workers. Then I overheard her say to another co-worker: “I put out a sign; he will figure it out eventually.” But which sign did she mean? The “platonic” thing or the constant kindness?

Wondering On Reciprocated Kindnesses

This probably isn’t what you wanted to hear, either, WORK, but this woman isn’t interested in you—and if you weren’t engaged in dickful thinking, you’d know that. But your dick has somehow managed to convince you that you’re the “he” she was referring to when she talked about sending someone a sign. But you need to ask yourself—and it’s best to ask right after you masturbate, as that’s when we’re least prone to dickful thinking—which is likelier: She went out of her way to let you know she’s not interested in dating anyone at work, yet you’re the “he” she was referring to … or the “he” she was referring to was one of the roughly 4 billion other men on the planet and not a co-worker?

I don’t mean to be cruel, WORK; I just want to stop you from doing something that could get you fired or screw up what has, up to now, been a pleasant work relationship. While kindness can sometimes signal romantic interest, the full weight of the evidence here—including the fact that she didn’t send an unambiguous signal when she was briefly single—indicates otherwise.


I’m a cis, white, gay male—partnered 15 years, monogamous for the first 14. About a year ago, my partner agreed to let me play on my own outside of the relationship. The rules: not when he’s in town; no one comes home; no regulars. I’ve taken good care of myself (sexual frustration + gym)—and at 50, I find that I’m attracting guys half my age. Sometimes, in the heat of passion, they call me “daddy.” This took a LOT of getting used to, but am I going to stop what we’re doing to discuss nomenclature? Anyway, I refuse to call them “son,” because I find that creepy. “Baby” doesn’t really work for me, either—it’s what I call my partner. That leaves “boy.” Which is fine if they’re white. The problem is, some of the jaw-droppers calling me “daddy” have been black. And I absolutely refuse to call a black guy “boy.” I want to leave them feeling amazing, not brooding on race relations and power imbalances.

So what does a beautiful, dark-skinned, daddy-loving young man want to be called by the older white guy pounding him?

Daddy’s Uncomfortable Race Relations

Good for you for being able to think clearly even when your dick is hard—even when it’s buried in some hot guy—but I need to fault you for not reasoning your way to the obvious answer.

You’re a white guy who doesn’t feel comfortable calling a black sex partner “boy,” which is usually what gay guys who call older partners “daddy” want to hear. But instead of asking the black guys you’re fucking what they want to be called, DURR, you opted to ask some other old white dude what he thinks the black guys you’re fucking might want to be called.

Do you see the problem here? The guys you should be asking about this … are the guys you’re fucking. And you don’t even have to call a halt to the action in order to ask them! Next time you’re balls-deep in some hot guy, and he says, “Fuck me, daddy,” growl and say, “That’s right, I’m your daddy—and what are you?” If he says, “I’m your boy,” then that’s obviously what he wants to be called.

On the Lovecast, is it time for a gay homeland? 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’ve been with my boyfriend for a few months. Prior to dating, I was clear with him that I would need to open our relationship at some point. He initially hesitated to respond, but then agreed we could do that when the time came. That time has come much quicker than I anticipated, but I feel like he’ll renege on his end of things because of many comments he’s made recently—comments like not understanding or liking nonmonogamy, and how “his woman” sleeping around is a deal-breaker. Is this a DTMFA situation?

Specified Open Relationship Early

Early on, you let your boyfriend know that openness “at some point” was your price of admission—the price he’d have to pay to be with you—and now he’s letting you know that monogamy is his price of admission. What’s going on here? Well, sometimes Person A tells Person B what Person A knows Person B wants to hear regarding Topic X in the hopes that Person B will feel differently about Topic X after the passage of time or after Person B has made a large emotional investment in Person A. In many cases, Person A has the best intentions—by which I mean Person A isn’t being consciously manipulative, but rather Person A sincerely hopes Person B will come to feel differently about Topic X, or that they, Person A themselves, will. But considering how little time has passed, SORE—it hasn’t even been three months, and he’s saying shitty/judgy things to you about nonmonogamy and sexist/controlling things about “his woman”—it seems clear that your boyfriend wasn’t being sincere; he was being manipulative. DTMFA.


This is another request for a kinky neologism. How about those of us who like the idea of our significant other having sex with somebody else, but who aren’t into full-on cuckold-style humiliation? “Cuckold” implies a level of subordination that just isn’t my thing, and “hotwifing,” besides sounding incredibly sleazy, assumes that it’s a couple that is opposite-sex and married, and the guy is only interested in watching. Can you or the hive mind solve this problem?

Cuck In Name Only

I don’t think the term “hotwifing” is inherently heterosexist, as there are gay men and straight women out there into “hothusbanding.” (They get off on sharing their hot spouses with others, aren’t necessarily interested in getting with anyone else themselves, and don’t, à la cuckolds, get off on humiliation.) But if that term doesn’t appeal to you, CINO, there’s already an alternative: stags (a man who may or may not be dominant who likes to share his partner and may or may not participate) and vixens (a woman who may or may not be submissive who enjoys having sex with others in front of her partner and may or may not share them with others, too).


I’ve experienced anal itching in the past, and I’m not ashamed to say I enjoyed it. It felt so insanely good to satisfy that itching inside. I can find lots of information about relieving anal itching, but I can’t find anything about inducing it for pleasure.

Into Tormenting Clean Heinie

According to the Mayo Clinic, keeping your ass too clean or letting it get too dirty can induce anal itching, as can pinworms, diabetes and anal tumors. Seeing as you probably don’t want diabetes or rectal cancer, and since pinworms aren’t for sale at your local bait shop, ITCH, you could try scrubbing your ass with harsh soaps, which is what the Mayo Clinic urges people who don’t want itchy anuses to avoid. (I reversed engineered their advice for you. You’re welcome.) Good luck, and please don’t write back to let us know how you’re progressing, OK?


I am a 24-year-old pansexual trans woman, and I feel sexually broken. Hormones have made it nearly impossible for me to top a partner. I’m able to do it once in a while, but not as much or as reliably as I would like. Additionally, hormones have messed up my digestive system and made bottoming difficult. I’m also relatively sexually inexperienced, which means I’m enthusiastic about oral but not very good at it. This leaves me feeling like I bring nothing to the table.

Horny But Sex Is Thorny

Getting good at oral—like getting good at anything—takes a little practice. Let your prospective partners know you’re relatively inexperienced, and you’ll be far likelier to wind up in bed with patient and supportive people who will let you practice on them. As for bottoming, hopefully your guts will settle down in time. As for topping, well, lots of women use strap-on dildos for penetration. Having a strap-on at the ready and actively seeking out partners who don’t regard strap-on sex as a consolation prize (or a fail) will allow you to experiment with penetration without the pressure of having to produce or sustain an erection. You can switch back and forth between your dick and the dildo as needed, and being able to make it happen for your lover—using whatever tools you need—will build your confidence.

And you’re not broken, HBSIT. You are, like all of us, a work in progress. Good luck.


I’m a college professor. Several female students have confided in me they’re having trouble finding guys. (They’re not hitting on me—and even if they were, no way am I dating a student.) These girls are smart, nice, interesting, and usually obese. You and I both know that in this imperfect world, many (most?) people place importance on looks. But how do I tell them that? A straight, single, male professor telling a female student, even gently, that dropping 20 pounds might help her dating prospects is extremely risky.

Professionally Risky Observation Flummoxes

Oh my god. Keep your mouth shut. First, because it’s an asshole thing to say—never mind the professional risk—and second, because it’s not true. (Welcome to America, PROF, where most people are overweight or obese, and most people are partnered or married.)

The likelier culprit here (besides a skewed sample size and confirmation bias) is the scarcity of available male partners. Women now significantly outnumber men on college campuses: “Where men once went to college in proportions far higher than women—58 percent to 42 percent as recently as the 1970s—the ratio has now almost exactly reversed,” Jon Marcus wrote in the Atlantic. Graduating will probably do more to improve their romantic prospects than dropping 20 pounds.


I recently broke up with a girl because she didn’t know what plate tectonics was. We dated for three months. Great sex! Loved cooking together! Enjoyed spending time with her! But she was raised Mormon—and more important than that, she was simply NOT CURIOUS about science and the world. In all honesty, I think she’s a little dumb, although she doesn’t come off that way.

Science! Politics! Philosophy! All of these things are important in my life! Am I wrong for breaking up with her?

Date Tectonics

No! You did her a favor! I knew nothing about classical music before I fell in love with someone who’s passionate about classical music. I know a lot about it now, and I actually enjoy it—but I didn’t get there in three months. My husband didn’t follow the news closely until he fell in love with a news junkie. Now he’s a daily reader of The New York Times and The Washington Post—but he didn’t get there in three months. The more time we spent together, the more interest we took in each other’s interests.

There’s a lesson in here for you somewhere, DT, but I’m going to let you tease it out—because you’re CURIOUS and SMART, right?

On the Lovecast, Dan interviews sociologist and author Nicholas A. Christakis: 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 best friend’s father is an avid user of social media. He’s retired and spends most of his day posting memes on Facebook and Instagram. Recently, I realized he might not know how Instagram works: I noticed over the past week or so that he has been following, liking and commenting on a lot of Instagram pictures of young gay men. I don’t think he realizes that anyone who follows him can see that activity.

At first, I was worried—not because he might be gay or bisexual, but because he may still be “in the closet.” He’s married, with a son (my friend), and to my knowledge, if he is bisexual or gay, nobody knows. I thought about warning him that his activity is public, but then I saw more. Not only has he been liking pictures of younger-looking men; he’s also been liking and following accounts of very young boy models. Underage boys.

I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but the evidence is there. So now I’ve gone from wanting to warn this guy that he may be accidentally outing himself by not knowing how apps work to feeling morally obligated to tell my friend that his dad is into dudes and might be a pedophile. I can only imagine the ramifications this news would have on him and his family.

Best Friend’s Dad

“I’m sympathetic to BFD’s concerns,” said Michael Seto, director of forensic rehabilitation research at the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group and an expert on pedophilia and sexual offending. “I know many people wonder what to do if they suspect someone is sexually attracted to children. And I understand how much of a burden it can feel like to keep a big secret, especially from a best friend.”

But before we discuss your options and responsibilities here, BFD, let’s get our terms straight: If by “young boy models” you mean teenage boys past puberty but under the age of consent, then your friend’s father’s behavior is icky and inappropriate—but it is not, by itself, evidence that he’s a pedophile.

“Clinically, pedophilia refers to attraction to prepubescent children,” said Dr. Seto, “though I know it’s still commonly used in public to refer to attraction to anyone underage.”

Actually, the term “pedophile” gets tossed around so indiscriminately these days that some of my own readers have used it to describe (or condemn) people in their 40s or 50s who are attracted to (or fucking) grown men and women in their 20s and 30s. For the record: An attraction to younger/youngish adults does not make someone a pedophile. If that were the case, almost everyone on Earth could be described (and condemned) as a pedophile. Dr. Seto estimates that just 1 percent of men are, in fact, attracted to prepubescent children. So depending on your point of view—depending on whether you’re a glass 99 percent empty or 1 percent full kind of guy—pedophilia is either exceedingly rare or alarmingly common.

“Attraction to underage teens—boys or girls—is more common,” said Dr. Seto, “though it’s hard to estimate how common, because it’s a taboo subject. We get hints from the popularity of certain porn genres like ‘schoolgirl,’ ‘twink,’ ‘barely legal’ and so on. We also have a hint from how so many fashion models begin working in their teens.”

But Dr. Seto emphasizes that sexual attraction does not equal sexual behavior.

“The Instagram follows and likes may indeed suggest an attraction to underage boys,” said Dr. Seto. “And it may even be pedophilia if the models are that young. But that doesn’t mean his friend’s father is going to do anything beyond following or liking.”

Understanding what separates pedophiles who’ve offended against children (read: pedophiles who’ve sexually abused children) from pedophiles who’ve never inappropriately touched a child is an important focus of Dr. Seto’s research, BFD, and his insights could inform your course of action.

“One thing we know is that people who are low in self-control are more likely to act on sexual as well as nonsexual impulses,” said Dr. Seto. “That low self-control shows up in other ways, including addictions, problems holding down a job, problems in adult relationships, unreliability and criminal behavior. My hypothesis is that someone who doesn’t show these signs is unlikely to offend against a child. They might look at child pornography, though, which is illegal and problematic, or they might look at legal images of children—like on social media—as a sexual outlet.”

Viewing child pornography is hugely problematic, because it creates demand for more child pornography, which leads to more children being abused. But even if no new child porn were ever created, sharing images of the rape of a child is itself a violation of that child. And while it may not be pleasant to contemplate what might be going through a pedophile’s mind when they look at innocent images of children, it’s not against the law for someone with a sexual interest in children to dink around on Instagram.

“Returning to BFD’s question about whether to disclose, I don’t think it’s an easy yes-or-no answer,” said Dr. Seto. “It depends on what else BFD knows about the father. I’m required by law and professional ethics to report (someone) if I believe an identifiable child is at imminent risk. This mandatory reporting requirement is NOT triggered simply by knowing whether someone is sexually attracted to children. Instead, I have to consider information like whether the person has ever expressed fantasies or urges about a specific child, whether they work with children regularly, whether they live with children who are in their attraction category, or whether they have ever engaged in suspicious behavior, like direct messaging with a child.”

Does your friend’s dad work with underage boys? Does he sometimes look after underage boys—say, grandsons? Do they have sleepovers with friends at grandpa’s house? Has he ever behaved in an inappropriate manner around underage boys—e.g., inventing reasons to be alone with them, offering them booze or drugs, or making suggestive comments offline or online?

“In the absence of these kinds of red flags, what we have here is someone who might be sexually attracted to underage boys but who might not pose a serious risk to children,” explained Dr. Seto. “So while not disclosing might mean some risk of a child being harmed, disclosing could definitely cause harm to the best friend, to the father, and to their relationship.”

You’re in an agonizing position, BFD. You essentially have to weigh the chance—most likely very remote—that your friend’s dad would harm a child against the near certainty that telling your friend about his father’s behavior would do irrevocable harm to their relationship. Your relationship with your friend would also be at risk; this is definitely one of those circumstances where the messenger risks being shot. Figuratively speaking. I hope.

Personally, BFD, in your shoes, I would err on the side of protecting even a hypothetical child. I would say something to the dad, perhaps via direct message (you could create a throwaway account and reach out anonymously), and I would also say something to my friend. But I would emphasize what the best available research tells us about pedophilia: It’s not something a person chooses, and most pedophiles never sexually abuse children. (And not everyone who sexually abuses a child is a pedophile.) So even if your best friend’s father is attracted to prepubescent boys—if he’s looking at prepubescent children and not teenagers who happen to be just under the age of consent—that doesn’t mean he’s harmed a child or would ever harm a child. He may need help to avoid offending—if, worst-case scenario, he actually is attracted to children—and being held accountable by loved ones is one way pedophiles avoid offending.

Seto is the author of Pedophilia and Sexual Offending Against Children: Theory, Assessment, and Intervention and more. Follow him on Twitter @MCSeto.

Listen to the Savage Lovecast every week 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

When I first started dating my girlfriend, I asked her about past boyfriends, and she said she hadn’t met the right guy yet. After dating for nine years, I found out about a past boyfriend and looked through her e-mails. I found out she dated her married boss for three years. She broke up with me for looking and for judging her. I feel like she lied, and she thinks it was none of my business.

We’ve been broken up for five months. She’s reached out, but I can’t get over my anger or disgust that she was someone’s mistress. Am I a bad person?

Still Angry And Disgusted

Yup.

“Haven’t met the right guy yet” ≠ “Haven’t met any guys ever.”

Almost everyone has done something and/or someone they regret doing—although it’s possible your ex-girlfriend doesn’t regret fucking her married boss for three years, SAAD, and it’s possible there’s no need for regret. Sometimes people have affairs for all the right reasons. Sometimes abandoning a spouse and/or breaking up a home with kids in it, aka “doing the right thing” and divorcing, is the worse choice. Life is long and complicated, and it’s possible for a person to demonstrate loyalty and commitment with something other than their genitals. Sometimes people do what they must to stay married and stay sane, and their affair partners are doing good by being “bad.”

It’s also possible—and perhaps likelier—that your ex-girlfriend made an impulsive, shitty, selfish choice to fuck someone else’s husband. It’s possible he’s a serial philanderer, a cheating piece of shit, and then, after fucking him that one time, your girlfriend felt pressured to keep fucking him and wound up having a years-long affair with her married boss. And then, when it was all over, she stuffed it down the memory hole because she wasn’t proud of it and wanted to forget it.

It’s also possible she didn’t tell you about this relationship when you asked because she intuited—correctly, as it turned out—that you are, in your own words, a bad person, i.e., the kind of guy who would punish his girlfriend for having a sexual history, for making her fair share of mistakes, and for deciding to keep some things private. (Not secret, SAAD. Private.) In other words, she correctly intuited that you would punish her for being human.

Finding out about a past boyfriend doesn’t give you the right to invade your partner’s privacy and dig through their ancient e-mails. Your girlfriend was right to break up with you for snooping through her e-mails and judging her so harshly. And she didn’t even lie to you, dude! Her boss clearly wasn’t “the right guy,” seeing as he was married and her boss, and the relationship ended before you two even first laid thighs on each other nine years ago.

And from where I’m sitting, SAAD, it looks like she still hasn’t met the right guy.

To be perfectly frank, I don’t want to help you get over your anger and disgust—not that you asked me to help you get past those feelings. It kind of sounds like you want your anger and disgust affirmed … and I’m going to go with that and affirm the shit out of those feelings: Stay angry! Stay disgusted! Not because those feeling are valid—they’re not—but because those feelings prevented you from taking your ex back when she reached out. She may not know it yet, but she’s better off without you, SAAD, and here’s hoping you stay angry and disgusted long enough for her to realize it.


I’m a few months into OkCupid dating, and it’s going well! I’ve stuck to two “automatic pass” rules: anyone who mentions my looks and nothing else in the first message, and anyone with no face pic. It’s worked out great so far. But I’ve noticed that most kinksters on OKC don’t post face pics. I can understand this. I once came across a co-worker on the site—didn’t look, passed immediately—and I can imagine nobody wants their boss or co-workers to know they’re looking for puppy play and CBT. Not everyone has the luxury of taking a risk like that. So I’m tempted to drop my “no face pic = pass” rule for kinksters. But then I imagine how that would go: “Chat, chat, chat. ‘Hey, can I see a face pic?’ Oh no, I’m not physically attracted to this person!” Then I have to awkwardly un-match and feel terribly shallow and guilty for a while.

So do I keep my rule and pass on some very promising profiles without face pics to avoid hurting someone’s feelings? Or do I bend the rules? I’m just not looking to hurt anyone in a bad way.

Not That Kind Of Sadist

Lead with your truth, NTKOS: “Hey, we share a lot of common interests—BDSM, CBT, TT—but I usually require face pics before I chat. I understand why you may not be able to post your pics, and why you would want to chat for a bit and establish trust before sharing pics with me privately. So I’m happy to chat so long as you’re OK with the risk that I might pass after seeing your face pic. Still, even if we’re not ultimately a sexual or romantic match, every kinkster needs some kinky friends!”


So I’ve fallen in love with one of my good friends. I am in grad school, and we met because we are in the same intensive program, and we spend a lot of time together. When we first met, I had no interest in this person. And for the majority of the first year we worked together, that feeling maintained. However, over the past few months, I’ve found myself falling in love with this person. Their intelligence and beauty is simply intoxicating. I love our friendship, but at times it is a bit overwhelming being in their company, because I’ve developed strong feelings for them. I don’t think they share these feelings, or at least I haven’t been given any indication that they share the same feelings.

How do I go about telling them? I’d like them to know this is how I feel, but I also don’t want to lay the weight of my feelings on them or ruin our friendship.

Growing Romantic Attachment Disrupts Studies

You have two options: You can be honest with this person, or you can be that unsettling “friend” with an ulterior motive. Personally, GRADS, I think fessing up is better than shutting up—sublimated/unexpressed desire has a way of souring a friendship—but if your grad program is ending soon, I’d encourage you to wait. Most graduate programs are two years (some are less!), and you’ve been working together for more than a year. So there should already be a light at the end of that intensive tunnel. In the meantime, savor the agony and “pray on it,” as Mike Pence would say. (Only you should swap out prayer for masturbation.) And, hey, you didn’t have feelings for them until recently. So who knows? They may develop feelings for you by the time your intensive grad program ends.

And, yes, telling a friend you have a crush on them is always a risk—it could ruin the friendship or make things awkward for a while. Just be honest, direct and unambiguous (“I would like to date you,” not, “I hope we can hang out sometime”), and explicitly invite your crush to say no if the answer is no.

On the Lovecast, Dan chats with Boing Boing’s Cory Doctorow: savagelovecast.com.

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

Published in Savage Love