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October 26, 2011

My boyfriend and I are in college and doing the long-distance thing until June 2013. Over the years, he's granted me increasing amounts of freedom to be intimate with women—I'm female, and date women while we're apart—but I still don't have full autonomy. It's much better than it used to be, but lately another one of my "needs" has been eating at me: my masochism. He's repeatedly refused me permission to let someone lay into me with a flogger. That's all I ask!

I don't even want to have anything sexual with the person who flogs me! I just want them to beat me! And this might be relevant: He has the freedom to do whatever he wishes but—God only knows why—he never indulges in anything more than the odd vanilla woman here and there. Also, I'm not allowed to attend fetish clubs because he knows I'll make bad choices if I do (I'll play!), but the burner and fetish scenes are converging here in Los Angeles and I'm going to get in trouble soon!

University Pain Slut

You've given your boyfriend permission to do who he wants, what he wants, when he wants. But you're not allowed to do half of humanity—the male half—or get your ass beat at a BDSM club?

That hardly seems fair, UPS.

But my knees don't automatically jerk when I hear about a couple with an arrangement that appears to be "unfair" on its face. If Person A enjoys more "freedom" than Person B, it doesn't necessarily follow that Person B is being wronged. Some people get off on the tension that an erotic power imbalance creates, and nothing says "you're in charge" quite like your partner having the freedom to do people and things that you're not allowed to do. Or maybe the idea of you being with other men makes the boyfriend feel threatened and insecure, while the idea of him being with other women turns you on. If that's the case, UPS, then you're not doing something that makes him unhappy (sleeping with other men) while he's doing something that makes you happy (sleeping with other women).

For me, UPS, it comes down to this: If you're happy—if you're getting off on your unfair deal—then I'm happy.

But are you happy? Or are you still happy? If this deal isn't working anymore, UPS, then it's time to negotiate a new, perhaps slightly fairer deal. His insistence that you mess around only with other girls while you're apart is understandable—I don't think it's fair, UPS, but I can understand it—but the "no flogging" rule seems ridiculously arbitrary. Battle your sexual submissiveness and negotiate from a position of strength: Tell your boyfriend that you'll continue to stick to his no-other-dudes rule on the condition that he lift his silly flogging ban.

I'm a 21-year-old college student living in San Diego. I have some sex-related issues/questions that I'd like to talk with a counselor about. These issues are complicated—porn consumption, sex work, ability to orgasm, etc.—but I hesitate to go through my insurance; since I'm still on my parents' plan, that would involve me talking to my parents about this. They are very nosy and also very traditional, so I can only imagine the shitstorm. Is my university health care something that would cover this? Would my university report back to my parents about what I was seeking counseling about?

Uneasy Collegian Seeks Discretion

Rules about patient confidentiality apply even to college students, UCSD, so your student health center is not going to rat you out to mom and dad. But you don't have to take my word for it.

"I want your reader to know that care provided at UCSD Student Health Services and the Counseling and Psychological Services is confidential," writes Regina Fleming, director of Student Health Services at the University of California, San Diego. "We don't bill insurance for visits to Student Health, though sometimes the cost of lab tests are put on the student's account; these charges do not specify what type of tests were done. [And] all services at our Counseling and Psychological Services are free."

My girlfriend of four years cheated on me. I'm in college now; we've been dating since high school. She and a male friend hooked up four times when they were both drunk. This guy was supposed to be her best friend, and it turns out he was into her. I asked her once about their relationship, and she assured me that nothing had or ever would happen between them. That was a few weeks after she cheated on me. She rationalizes the events in a manner that makes her seem like she's not to blame and she constantly tells me how much she really loves me. Do I hook up with another girl and tell her about it?

Cucked Over College Kid

No, COCK, you don't hook up with another girl. You ask yourself this question: How many adults—people over 30—do you know who are still with and/or married to their high-school sweethearts? The answer is either zero or approaching zero. A breakup was inevitable-ish all along, COCK, and now seems like a pretty good time to pull the plug. And while your girlfriend is telling you she loves you, and while she may still have feelings for you, she's slamming her hand down on the self-destruct button because—consciously or not—she wants out, too.

In your advice to The Straight Best Man, you suggested that the first gay couples to legally wed in both Canada and the United States ended up divorcing, and that this fact was largely unknown because anti-divorce and anti–gay marriage evangelical Christians have essentially dodged the issue in a bid to divert attention from their own spectacularly high rates of marriage implosion.

While the first American same-sex marriage ended in divorce, I can happily report that the first legal same-sex marriages in Canada are still going strong 10 years later. A gay couple, Joe Varnell and Kevin Bourassa, and a lesbian couple, Anne and Elaine Vautour, were married in a joint ceremony on January 14, 2001, at Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto (MCCT). At that time, the government was still refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. To solve this problem, the church, on advice from their legal team, did an end run around the pre-authorized license requirement, using the ancient, but perfectly legal, Christian tradition of proclaiming the banns of marriage. While the government refused to register the marriages as valid, on June 10, 2003, the Ontario Court of Appeal declared that the marriages had been legally performed, and ordered the Province of Ontario to register them immediately. The court also ruled that a ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional and ordered the province to begin issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples that same day.

Both couples remain happily married, having renewed their vows in a public ceremony at MCCT on the occasion of their joint 10-year anniversaries earlier this year.

Nice Thing To Be Wrong About, Eh?

I'm happy to stand corrected—I'm delighted—and I'd like to send my belated congrats to Joe & Kevin and Anne & Elaine on the occasion of their 10th anniversaries. Here's to many, many more happy years together!

Find the Savage Lovecast (my weekly podcast) every Tuesday at


Comments (139) RSS

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To UCSD, regardless of who the insurance policy goes through, confidentiality in your sessions still holds 100%. Unless you're a minor, there is absolutely no way, no how your parents could be notified about what goes on your counseling sessions unless you tell them, or give your counselor written permission to release the information. Even insurance companies don't know what goes on in your sessions, they only receive notification of a specific diagnosis (and that's only if they require it to pay for the therapy sessions).

If you still do need information about your insurance policy from your parents, it's honestly really easy to just tell them you're going through normal life problems (existential, where am I going with my life, etc.) that you would like to talk about with a professional. Honestly, that's a "normal" reason to seek counseling. What you really cover in your sessions though, that's up to you - and nobody else has to know about it except you and your licensed professional counselor.
Posted by fdgaf on October 25, 2011 at 7:37 PM · Report this
Ah, this is why I love it around here! It's a peek into a world SO different than my own generally much more boring-ass one. Like how Dan dismisses the flogging ban as "silly," like everyone already knows that. "What, you still have a flogging ban at your house? WTF?"

Posted by inbed on October 25, 2011 at 8:10 PM · Report this
Can you PLEASE bring Lucy back to the lovecast? I really love the co-anchor banter dynamic you had going, you should hire her full time.
Posted by smackles on October 25, 2011 at 8:14 PM · Report this
Please bring Lucy back on the lovecast again! I really loved the co-anchor banter thing you had going, you should employ her full time somehow.
Posted by smackles on October 25, 2011 at 8:20 PM · Report this
TheLando 5
The only time a counselor/therapist will violate confidentiality is if the patient makes a credible threat to harm themselves or others, but even in that case, they're not going to run directly to your to your parents: they'd talk to cops or a hospital. Sure, your parents would probably find out if either of those things happened, but just don't threaten to injure yourself or anyone else, and you will be totally fine.
Posted by TheLando on October 25, 2011 at 9:11 PM · Report this
Kind of boring stuff today, although I am pleased Dan was wrong about the Canadian marriages.

I don't know who Lucy is, but I do think Dan, you seem understandably, either burned out or over-extended (probably both).

I see no shame in getting some help doing this column and would welcome the possibility of more letters, different POVs and the possibility of your assistants finding better letters.

Posted by Xweatie on October 25, 2011 at 9:23 PM · Report this
Jill (#2) just made my day.
Posted by adam.smith on October 25, 2011 at 9:25 PM · Report this

seriously, please have her back again ASAP, she was hilarious and i loved the interaction between you two!
Posted by the-romp on October 25, 2011 at 10:33 PM · Report this
I love Lucy! Please have her back all the time- she's hilarious!
Posted by the-romp on October 25, 2011 at 10:43 PM · Report this
@ 3, 4, 8 and 9 - totally. Lucy was awesome and made the (already good) Lovecast that much better.
Posted by UnoriginalAndrew on October 26, 2011 at 12:57 AM · Report this
I remember Matisse, the anti-douche lady, the Planned Parenthood lady, the woman who says everyone is a squirter, the one who said Dan should have been more skeptical about the one who said everyone is a squirter...which one was Lucy? And why are all the cohosts--except Adam Corolla, who was treated pretty harshly and Dr. Barak--women?
Posted by repete on October 26, 2011 at 6:30 AM · Report this
I feel like Dan was a little quick to write off the relationship of the college kid whose girlfriend cheated. Not to minimize her cheating, but it seems a little hasty to say "you guys should break up" when neither of them has said they want to break up.
Posted by shf on October 26, 2011 at 6:59 AM · Report this
Hey Dan: Congratulations. You're today's's icon. [Insert cheering crowd soundbite here] :)
Posted by GDannyboy on October 26, 2011 at 7:12 AM · Report this
Lucy. Lucy. Lucy.

So funny.

More please.
Posted by danstag on October 26, 2011 at 7:18 AM · Report this
Lucy! Lucy!

So Hilarious.

More, please?
Posted by danstag on October 26, 2011 at 7:22 AM · Report this
Dan, have you seen this?… IF ANYONE GOES TO THIS SITE AND RESPONDS, PLEASE-PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL. Don't hand them any ammo.
Posted by GDannyboy on October 26, 2011 at 7:24 AM · Report this
I'm glad the University of California is so adamant and public about its confidentiality laws, but I would like to counsel UCSD that just because something is a law doesn't mean everyone follows it. From what I can tell, the patient confidentiality laws have created a nightmare of paperwork for health care providers without doing much more for actual confidentiality than some common sense educational seminars would do.

It comes down to what your options are if someone who works in the college's counseling center's office runs into your parents and happily babbles away about your frequent visits there and how your file says something about orgasm and porn. What are you going to do, sue? You can go on and on about how that's not professional behavior, but the person who leaks the information is not a professional. That person is a receptionist or a data entry secretary.

More than that, the laws say that confidentiality is off if there's any reason to think the patient is a danger to him/herself or others. That sounds great on the surface, but it creates a loophole. One patient confides that she fantasizes about being spanked, and another says that he sometimes thinks about raping someone, and the therapist misinterprets and gets to tell everyone. I don't know how to screen a professional to make sure they're on the same page as far as sexuality goes.

That said, I hope I'm not starting a "let's hate on psychologists" session. I believe some of them can be helpful. I had an excellent experience with one once, something I'm still grateful for. But I'm not sure how to find out about the bad ones ahead of time.
Posted by Crinoline on October 26, 2011 at 7:27 AM · Report this
@17, I think you're seriously overplaying the risk to both the LW and to patients in general. First, the LW sounds like San Diego is not her hometown--the medical transcriptionist is not going to run into Mom at church.

Secondly, confidentiality is a *strong* emphasis of training in counseling and therapy centers. It's not just the clinicians who get that training--it's everyone. If nothing else, the fear of getting fired and/or personally sued will keep folks' mouths shut.

As far as the 'danger to self/others' (a Tarasoff warning), there has to be a specific, credible threat for a practitioner to break confidentiality. Someone saying they fantasize about rape might ring alarm bells, but a decent therapist would then ask more about that fantasy, and what it means to the client. (As they would about any violent thoughts.) It's a risk assessment. I'm not sure what your hypothetical about a patient who wants to be spanked has to do with anything--any counselor who thought this was evidence of self-harm is a wackjob who wouldn't hold a license for long.

There may be a few horror stories about broken confidentiality, but the risk is SO tiny. I think it's a real disservice to dwell on it, especially without any red flags about a particular clinic you can cite.
Posted by clashfan on October 26, 2011 at 8:10 AM · Report this
mixy 19
Lucy was great, but Mary Martone is still my hands down favorite cohost. I think I've listened to episode 101 of the Lovecast about 25 times! Can Mary please be my best friend!?
Posted by mixy on October 26, 2011 at 8:24 AM · Report this
Blech - first letter seems immature & pushy. Boyfriend isn't comfortable w/ you being sexual w/ a lot of other people. period. but he's okay w/ chicks because you'll never be in a relationship w/ them & it seems harmless/sweet/hot.

So are you really right for each other? I can see you guys in a relationship where you're always pushing his boundaries, because seems like you like to. Be on your own & explore your own boundaries or find a guy who is also wild & free.
Posted by Ms.11 on October 26, 2011 at 8:53 AM · Report this
ShifterCat 21
Re. COCK's letter: my response to that would have had the same conclusion, but slightly different logic.

First of all, no, you don't find someone to cheat with to get back at her because two wrongs don't make a right.

Second, while it is possible to make it work with your high-school sweetheart (I married mine), that won't be the case if said sweetheart talks out of both sides of her mouth. DTMFA.
Posted by ShifterCat on October 26, 2011 at 9:02 AM · Report this
Re her male friend:
Kid, didn't you ever hear Chris Rock's routine on women's platonic friends?…
Posted by seeker6079 on October 26, 2011 at 9:24 AM · Report this
Re counselling:
A greater concern that somebody ratting you out might be the chance of it coming out in family law proceedings such as support or custody or related matters. Most states have provisions in their codes of civil procedure maintaining the confidentiality of counseling records, and most state appellate courts have strongly reinforced the importance of that confidentiality ... and most trial and motions judges just blow right past them to rape the privacy of litigants in family law cases. If mom and dad start arguing over custody of the LW, or who should pay for her education, she should be prepared to have those records come out.
Posted by seeker6079 on October 26, 2011 at 9:36 AM · Report this
following up on my @23:
If she gets into a relationship and it results in court action, out it will come. If she gets into a beef with her university (say,an allegation of harassment or assault) then her records will "leak".

I'm not saying that counselling's a bad thing: it is often helpful and sometimes vital. All I'm saying is that courts and bureaucracies don't give a tiny shivering rat fuck about our privacy or what the law says. Until people -- including judges -- are fired for privacy breaches as fast as they are for other serious misconduct then such nonsense will continue and grow.
Posted by seeker6079 on October 26, 2011 at 9:42 AM · Report this
@23 & 24, citation needed for the kind of situation the LW is in.
Posted by clashfan on October 26, 2011 at 9:45 AM · Report this
Generalized knowledge of (through American lawyers) and personal experience in one state. If I'm wrong I'd be surprised, but I'm open to data. I've never heard Yank lawyers complain that judges are too strict on personal medical privacy; quite the opposite, in fact, given that generally American discovery rules mandate disclosure THEN determination of relevance. (In a non-medical context, see Clinton, Bill: pretty much every question he was humiliated on in the Jones lawsuit was later determined by the Arkansas court to be irrelevant ... after it was all public, of course.)
Posted by seeker6079 on October 26, 2011 at 9:57 AM · Report this
@16 I'd love to respond on that page, but I'm fairly certain it's futile. Having a discussion with 1 or 2 close minded people is one thing, trying to get hundreds to even care what you have to say while the rest are trying to tear your points apart is another.

@17 Actually, medical professionals are not the only ones held by HIPAA laws. I work for a company that deals with medications and everyone that has access to the building (cleaning people and construction included)have to sign confidentiality statements and can be held accountable for any information they may share about a customer/patient. Also, loopholes for disclosure still restrict the people you can disclose to. I can disclose things to a patient's doctor, not their best friend.
Posted by KateRose on October 26, 2011 at 9:59 AM · Report this
UPS and her boyfriend seem poorly matched. She puts up with his control (while longing for 'full autonomy') because he flogs her when they're together. But she wants to be flogged regularly, and he's not providing that. He doesn't seem very into BDSM at all (his other interactions are vanilla), except insofar it lets him control her sexuality. She seems on the point of rebellion, and she should be encouraged to just honestly break it off with him first.
Posted by EricaP on October 26, 2011 at 10:00 AM · Report this
And, hey, Tech-Savvy, At-Risk Youth, or whoever's in charge -- why does this week's SL column have the exact same title as last week's column ("Pathological")?
Posted by EricaP on October 26, 2011 at 10:05 AM · Report this

I think it is *really important* that we remember that many kinds of kink require trust or at least a very explicit agreement which both parties keep in mind
UPS - - I understand the flogging ban. Think of it this way: You boyfriend is far away, he doesn't know what level of trust or communication or friendship you have with a potential flogger. If it's your roommate, ok. But if it's a stranger you meet somewhere, esp in LA (some people worry about cities), and let's say they're not as into flogging as you are, but more into sex (consensual or otherwise), or have another agenda. Your boyfriend could just be very worried about you getting hurt-- you should have a conversation about whether it's a safety concern or a control thing.

Also, allowing someone to get violent with you on any level requires a certain amount of trust and maybe that's what your boyfriend wants to keep exclusive to the two of you.
Posted by JustSayin22 on October 26, 2011 at 10:17 AM · Report this
18-Clashfan-- Thanks for the reassurances. This is one of those situations where I'd be glad to be wrong. I hope confidentiality is as strong as you say it is.

Many years ago I saw a therapist who ran her practice out of the same office as my regular physician. This is the psychologist I spoke highly of as being so helpful. When I was injured in a car wreck, I signed papers giving the office permission to share my medical record with my lawyer so we could sue for damages. The office workers dutifully photocopied every page of my psychological record. This had nothing to do with the car wreck, but my chances of winning a penny were down to nil because all the other lawyer had to do was say that I was crazy. My lawyer made that clear.

I asked my parents' physician for the name of a specialist when my own primary care proved unsatisfactory in that regard. I specifically asked for confidentiality as I know my parents cannot be trusted with any personal information about me. The doctor was terrific about it and asked someone in her own office to help make the referral and set up the appointment. When the specialist's receptionist wanted to get in touch with me, she ignored the phone number I'd emailed to her and called my parents' doctor for my number. She was cheerfully given my parents' home phone. Disaster ensued. What was I going to do, sue?
Posted by Crinoline on October 26, 2011 at 10:25 AM · Report this

COCK says that his girlfriend cheats on him and tries to rationalize it away, and his immediate response is cheat on her and then tell her about it? Presumably to really hurt her feelings? Sounds like two people who need to break up in a hurry.
Posted by chicago girl on October 26, 2011 at 10:38 AM · Report this
The first letter writer needs to work on her self-esteem and with that work, she will grow up a bit. So dreary these "self abusers." Work through that malarcky, child.
Posted by Frederica Bimble on October 26, 2011 at 10:38 AM · Report this
I don't see how UPS's current arrangement is unfair, since both can sleep with other people. Also, where does the letter say that he is limiting her to women?
Posted by cockyballsup on October 26, 2011 at 10:50 AM · Report this
@ #16 They don't need any ammo, those wing-nuts are self-loading.
Posted by MD man on October 26, 2011 at 10:55 AM · Report this
Two letters about permission, of a sort.

Re: UPS: Clearly you gave him all that freedom (which he doesn't want) as a bid to extract the same level of freedom from him (which he doesn't want to give). This isn't "unfair," it was a lousy bargain. To play the "look how unequal this is" card now, in order to force new concessions (or as Dan ever so diplomatically terms it, "negotiate a new, perhaps slightly fairer deal"), be prepared for resentment and possible loss of the relationship. (Which might not be such a bad thing. You two don't sound ideally suited for each other.)

Re: COCK: No, revenge sex would be wrong. If cheating is wrong for her to do to you, then it's wrong for you to do to her. On the other hand, people who cheat pretty much give up the right to complain about being cheated on. If you want to get drunk and hook up with another girl four times, hey, that's exactly what she did, so obviously she has no problem with it as a concept. However, sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If you do this, you are implicitly saying the same thing, that you agree that it's no big deal. If that isn't true for you, then don't do it. If you think cheating is wrong, and you cheat anyway to show her how it feels, that would make you a) just in it to punish her, (in other words, an asshole), and b) a hypocrite.

Be that all as it may, the real question is, can you have a successful relationship with someone who has shown that she is willing to cheat, lie, and rationalize? FOUR TIMES? This guy wasn't just a mistake. Your choice at this point is to either accept her as she is (i.e. open the relationship) or to not accept her, and end it.
Posted by avast2006 on October 26, 2011 at 11:03 AM · Report this
If I were COCK, I'd cheat on her first, have her find out, and only then break up with her. Sometimes selfish and egotistical people need to be taught a lesson they won't forget.
Posted by cockyballsup on October 26, 2011 at 11:18 AM · Report this
this is all great but you're totally manipulating people in your interviews at rhodes this week, dan.
Posted by rhodesstudent on October 26, 2011 at 11:19 AM · Report this
@33 - you're saying all people who get off on getting flogged have low self-esteem? Do you say that to marathoners?

@34 As Dan says, it's not about what's fair. Sounds to me like this long distance relationship is not fulfilling their needs -- his for security, and hers for floggings.
Posted by EricaP on October 26, 2011 at 11:21 AM · Report this
nocutename 40
Wow, Crinoline, your story is terrible. (Although even if your own lawyer was given access to your psychological file, something sounds awry here: how would an opposing lawyer have access to the records, what defines "crazy," and what does anyone's psychological health have to do with who is at fault in a car accident?)

But USCD, most of the time, records stay confidential. The custody issues that were raised by seeker6079 wouldn't seem to apply to a 21-year-old.
Your parents might be nosy and traditional, but they are unlikely to try to find out everything you discuss in therapy, especially if you tell them that you're going for help with anxiety and stress--typical side effects of being a college student!

And if they do find out that you talked about--gasp--orgasms, what can they really do? How big a deal is that, really? You are an adult. Becoming a sex worker is slightly different, in that they may disapprove and may cut off financial support, but presumably part of the reason for becoming a sex worker is for money, anyway.
If you're old enough to want to work some of these issues out through therapy, you're old enough to not care what mommy and daddy would think if they found out.
Good luck.
Posted by nocutename on October 26, 2011 at 11:25 AM · Report this
Here's what stands out for me in COCK's letter: She cheated on him when she was drunk, then rationalized that she wasn't to blame. As far as I'm concerned, you don't want any sort of relationship with anyone who blames anything on being drunk. If you can't take responsibility for your actions when drunk, then don't get drunk.
Posted by Crinoline on October 26, 2011 at 11:32 AM · Report this
COCK: don't hook up for revenge but think long and hard about your relationship.

Dan's right that many high school relationships do not last "forever" but some actually do work out much longer term and some of those are actually healthy. I would not recommend breaking up simply because you're young and will likely break up sometime but I would recommend giving each other space to grow - individually - even as your relationship does. I have not been commenting much (just signed up last week!) but my first comment (I think) was how my wife and I had a don't ask/don't tell type of understanding when we were in college - the deal was that when one wanted out or when one got involved with someone in a way that would impact our relationship, we'd let the other know. She may have slept with many and she has no idea how many I slept with but we are the sum of our parts (and experiences) so when we decided to get married, the people we were at that time worked as a couple (we celebrate 20 years of marriage next week) (and, especially at that time, I had no desire to know her history as I was in love with the person she had become).

In your case, COCK, maybe 4 times with the same guy is a message to you (and to her) that THAT is the more important relationship or at least that your relationship matters less to her right now. You have to decide whether right now is a period for each of you to screw others, date others and/or maybe even date/fuck each other. Or maybe you need a break from each other and then maybe you'll get back together later on. There's a lot of growth that you both need right now - we all do, at all times, but none as much as when in college - and if you stiffle each other (or allow a gross asymmetry to prevail) and you DO end up together, both of you will have missed a great period of maturation and, if like many relationships I have seen that have followed that pattern, you will forever be like in HS. And a 40-year-old HS boy (or girl) is just depressing.
Posted by From the South (as in CA) on October 26, 2011 at 11:39 AM · Report this
mydriasis 43
@Erica re: 33

No, I got the impression she sensed low self esteem from the way her letter is written and the fact that she's letting her boyfriend prevent her from indulging in her kink, etc.
Posted by mydriasis on October 26, 2011 at 11:45 AM · Report this
I love Lucy!!! Awesome job on the podcast. BrIng Lucy back!
Posted by Norma rae on October 26, 2011 at 12:01 PM · Report this
mydriasis, UPS just seems young to me. (So many exclamation marks! So excited that she will get beaten soon, regardless of her boyfriend's wishes! -- 'I'm going to get in trouble soon!') Bratty, certainly, but not lacking in self esteem.

I didn't much care for Frederica's quip: "So dreary these 'self abusers.'" Dreary? To each her own, I suppose.
Posted by EricaP on October 26, 2011 at 12:11 PM · Report this
COCK: The lady has very kindly told you by direct action that "you aren't important enough to me to stop fucking this guy ... I will continue to do so". Do you want to stay?
Posted by seeker6079 on October 26, 2011 at 12:20 PM · Report this
COCK, if you are wondering whether she's going to cheat on you again with this guy, you might want to consider this: one occurrence of an event is happenstance; twice is coincidence; third is direct action; fourth is status quo.*

* - Shamelessly stolen, paraphrased and added to from the original in the novel "Goldfinger".
Posted by seeker6079 on October 26, 2011 at 12:23 PM · Report this
ScienceNerd 48
It may be true that confidentiality will keep the parents from finding out why the insurance was billed, if the UCSD doesn't just go to the free mental clinic on campus, but it doesn't keep the parents from finding out that the student went to the doctor.

When I was 25 I was on my parents' insurance while in college. I ended up in the ER one silly friday night and the insurance bill was sent to my parents. It didn't list WHY I was in the ER, but it did say I was there. They wanted to know why...and I had to not tell them or lie. Hard choice when it's their insurance you are using.
Posted by ScienceNerd on October 26, 2011 at 12:35 PM · Report this
@29 EricaP: Good question. I was wondering about that, too.

@NTTBWAE: Although it's not the same thing, this year I'm happily celebrating a 10 year anniversary too--- my divorce from a bad marriage! Congrats to Joe & Kevin and Anne & Elaine!
Posted by auntie grizelda on October 26, 2011 at 1:01 PM · Report this
I have never understood why beating the shit out of someone is hunky dory long as it's for orgasms, but if a couple decides infractions in their relationship will result in beatings, and protests any concerns with "I just need to be a better wife/not make her mad/I deserved it" everyone cries "omg low self esteem/abuse!"

And that's from someone who used to be into being smacked around during sex, for the record.
Posted by wendykh on October 26, 2011 at 1:35 PM · Report this
@50 can you explain a little? are you saying beatings are appropriate punishment for someone who doesn't like them, as long as it's consensual?

If I felt that the couple was happy together, I'd leave it alone. But one can certainly consent to unsafe situations. If my friend was in that situation, and unhappy about the beatings, I would try to talk her/him into leaving...
Posted by EricaP on October 26, 2011 at 2:12 PM · Report this
@50: The person who is trying to be a "better wife/not make her mad/I deserved it" does not actually want to be beaten, does not enjoy being beaten, and is modifying her behavior (albeit unsuccessfully) to AVOID getting beaten.

The person who wants to be flogged...uh, WANTS to be flogged.

See the difference there?
Posted by avast2006 on October 26, 2011 at 2:26 PM · Report this
UCSD: If you bill your insurance through your parents' coverage, the explanation of benefits statement after the claim processes will be sent to their house. It will be addressed to you, but it will typically be sent to the address of the primary member on the account. It won't have tons of details but they would be able to see the provider's name on it. Just some food for thought.
Posted by ktron on October 26, 2011 at 3:14 PM · Report this
GQbd 54
I am wondering what UPS and her boyfriend have agreed that their relationship will be like after they are geographically united. Monogamous? Monogamish? I may be wrong but I sense that he is afraid of the competition from her kinks. If he is not into BDSM then maybe he is afraid that if she indulges now she won't be able to give it up later and he will feel inadequate. Similarly, if she can do girls in his absence but not guys, what is the distinction in his mind? Does he understand her well enough to know that she can put girls aside, assuming that that is what they've agreed to, or he is just assuming that? Or maybe he can share with a girl and not with a dude. It seems that they both need to have a conversation about what their future expectations are and I suspect that UPS needs to decide whether she can abide by that in the long term.
Posted by GQbd on October 26, 2011 at 3:18 PM · Report this
singing cynic 55
Hate to burst everyone's bubble, but the Dr/patient confidentiality thong does not work perfectly in college. In my sophomore year, I started dating a new guy. Trying to establish good sexual habits, I suggested that we both get STD tests. When I asked about payment at the school's health center, they said that I "didn't owe them anything".

Then, a few weeks later, my dad called and said, "I've got good news and bad news. The good news is you're negative for HIV, chlamydia, and gonhorrea. The bad news is you have some explaining to do." They sent my test results -- and the bill -- to my parents! Thankfully they're cool, and conceded that I was being smart (though I paid the bill, naturally). But I can only imagine what could have happened to another student whose parents were less liberal!
Posted by singing cynic on October 26, 2011 at 3:28 PM · Report this
@50, in my experience masochists have the opposite of low self esteem. They tend to have a stratospheric sense of entitlement - see UPS's letter for a good example. They are selfish lovers who are only happy when sex is all about them, expecting their partner to tirelessly indulge their kink for hours while contributing nothing, and tend to use the old emotional blackmail and manipulative complaints that they are being repressed to justify their entitlement to have whatever they want, as UPS does. I have learned to steer clear of them - they are just too much thankless work in bed. I would hope UPS's boyfriend would have the sense to dump her manipulative motherfucking ass already.
Posted by cockyballsup on October 26, 2011 at 3:28 PM · Report this
singing cynic 57
Er, thing, not thong.
Posted by singing cynic on October 26, 2011 at 3:30 PM · Report this
Dr. Moriarty 58
there is zero point in having any conversation with the Newsbusters crowd. I just went over there, and those are some of the stupidest, most violent comments I've seen in a while.
Posted by Dr. Moriarty on October 26, 2011 at 3:34 PM · Report this
I already posted my comments on Lucy where they belong - the podcast comments page - but I just want to repeat it here since so many other people thought this was the place to post:

I don't need advice from a random inexperienced 22 year old when Dan could be talking. And Dan doesn't need someone to laugh at his jokes and gab about doing his fucking laundry. Please, no more Lucy.

Sorry, Lucy, you sound like a nice person but I download for Dan.
Posted by bliffer on October 26, 2011 at 4:10 PM · Report this
UCSD Several years ago while attending a major university I felt the need to work through some issues with a counselor/therapist at the university health center. It was free to students and I found it to be much less uncomfortable than I imagined it might be. The problem I encountered was in no way related to confidentiality. My problem was that I was assigned arbitrarily to the next counselor available, who, as it turns out, was a graduate student at the same university working towards his degree as a psychologist. I wasn't concerned about running into him at a party, but that could certainly have been an outcome I might have had to face. He was a nice young man, very professional, and earnest. However, as he was also younger than me and "wet behind the ears," he didn't have much useful input to offer. I don't fault him for this. We all have to cut our teeth somewhere. My point is, if you decide to go this route, you may end up with a similarly young counselor at your health center and if you don't feel they are up to the task, do not hesitate to ask for a different counselor. You're there to get help. A good counselor or therapist will not take offense at your request to change therapists, and in fact may be able to recommend someone more suited to your situation. Good Luck!
Posted by bugdog on October 26, 2011 at 4:33 PM · Report this
Noadi 61
@56 As a masochist: Fuck you. I don't manipulate my partner, deny him his kinks, or fail to contribute in scenes (or bed), nor do any masochists I know.
Posted by Noadi on October 26, 2011 at 4:41 PM · Report this
The letter from UCSD is so compelling, intriguing, unique and fresh, it ALMOST makes up for the humdrum, unoriginal somnabulence of the letter from (ironically named) UPS.
Posted by wayne on October 26, 2011 at 6:26 PM · Report this
40-nocutename-- Your statement about being old enough to want to work out issues in therapy means being old enough not to care what Mommy and Daddy think is one of the meanest things I've seen. People get into therapy precisely because they have issues to work out, because they have irrational thoughts, and because they care what people think. It does not help to cajole them into getting over their irrationality. It does not help to tell them they're being irrational and to get over it. It certainly does not help to make fun of them by telling them they're being childish, so childish they still think of their parents as "mommmy" and "daddy."

Imagine it was a young adult who was going through agony coming out. AFTER he's worked through the issues, it might seem silly to him that he had so much trouble, but during it, he's going to be worried about his parents' opinion, and he deserves understanding and compassion, not ridicule.
Posted by Crinoline on October 26, 2011 at 7:11 PM · Report this
To UCSD- not sure if anyone has mentioned this yet, but if you receive services through your parents' health insurance, your parents will be able to see the Explanation of Benefits. The EOBs won't identify what you talked about, but they will identify the therapist or practice you are seeing. So if you see someone who specializes in sex therapy, your nosy parents will probably be able to figure that out with a Google search. So definitely seek help, but try the university first.
Posted by SunGirl on October 27, 2011 at 12:14 AM · Report this
More Lucy!
Posted by Cannoli on October 27, 2011 at 3:33 AM · Report this
Dan - I know plenty of high school sweethearts that are still together decades after school. Don't let your own bias show. The GF may or may not want out, but at the very least she wants to see what else is out there ... a reasonable interest even for someone who is basically satisfied. Alcohol provides the excuse, but GF wants to experience more than one guy's sexual approach. It might or might not be the end of their relationship. BF needs to have a non-judgmental talk with GF and see what is best FOR THEM, not for the fictitious everyone else that you seem to be alluding to.
Posted by High School Sweetie on October 27, 2011 at 7:27 AM · Report this
@Crinoline: I've had the same thing happen to me with doctor's offices. Luckily, it wasn't a major issue and I'm very open with my parents. But, I did call the doctor in charge of the practice and ream him. He needs to hire people who can read instructions and call preferred phone numbers, and NOT discuss my medical issues with my mother when she answers the phone. And, frankly, I might have filed a complaint with the state board (or whichever governing body) if I were you.

That being said, that was one issue out of many good experiences at doctor's offices. My university health center is AWESOME about confidentiality (they now send e-mails through the health center system separate from the university e-mail system) both from the medical side and the counseling side. I've learned that a lot of mistakes can be corrected if at every visit (assuming you're not there a whole lot) I confirm my information. Now, the only numbers listed in my files are MINE and not my parents, which gives me a good way to know if HIPPA is being violated.
Posted by AgLee16 on October 27, 2011 at 7:36 AM · Report this
On the subject of patient confidentiality -… - that's the official HIPAA FAQ. If you have more questions, you might ask the prospective practitioner's office what their HIPAA compliance policies are. I worked as a low-level lackey (filing charts) at a multi-physician office and as an operator at an after-hours answering service for doctors in the early 2000s ('02? '03? idk), and both places made me sign HIPAA compliance and confidentiality agreements. Unless we had specific written instructions from an *adult* patient (or a patient's legal guardian), we couldn't even confirm that someone was or was not a patient, let alone anything at all about why they were being seen. Transgressions meant termination, and almost no chance of getting hired anywhere else that required HIPAA compliance. (this was in rural SE Ohio btw, but I can't imagine we hillbillies were significantly more careful than average.)

As far as lab results and whatnot being sent to your parents' address instead of your local one at school... Definitely make sure you spell out for them which address to use for correspondence. If they send things to the wrong address even after you've specified the right one, that is a HIPAA violation. But then, it would also be a HIPAA violation for an adult's parents to open correspondence from a doctor addressed to that adult (and not the parents). I doubt many people would sue their parents for violating their HIPAA-protected rights, but if you think your parents will open mail with your name on it, don't give their address to anyone who might send sensitive information - open a PO box if you have to and use that exclusively.
Posted by MarleyBarley on October 27, 2011 at 7:51 AM · Report this
@67's comment about confirming your contact information with the doctor's office at every visit is a REALLY, REALLY, *REALLY* good idea.
Posted by MarleyBarley on October 27, 2011 at 7:54 AM · Report this
UCSD, a therapist has discretion about how detailed to make the notes. You may wish to discuss with the therapist at the outset the possibility of entering honest but only general and neutral notes concerning "relationship issues" or "reproductive health" rather than the more specific terms you use in your letter. That way, in the very unlikely event that confidentiality is breached in unfortunate ways that other commenters have shared, unintended readers will not know the specifics of your concerns.
Posted by Helpful Therapist on October 27, 2011 at 8:33 AM · Report this
I know people are just trying to help, but if I were UCSD, I'd be very much scared off from going within a mile of a therapist's office by the overall message of the posts here.
Posted by cockyballsup on October 27, 2011 at 9:10 AM · Report this
COCK, instead of making a destructive move of retribution, why not just make an end and start fresh with freedom. Keeping a long distance relationship is difficult, one with someone you don't trust, impossible (and that would be a convenient argument during the breakup). If you were meant to be together, you can always try over again when you have the time and presence to devote to it (don't count on it, there are a world's worth of partners out there!).

The final LW is news that shouldn't surprise the LTR crowd. ANY LTR is a work in process. Here's to hoping we get it more right than wrong!

Posted by Married in MA on October 27, 2011 at 10:03 AM · Report this

Oops, it doesn't say long distance (I was placing my own experience in the way). Still, it is true of any LTR, if you don't trust her, find someone you can.

UCSD, I hope that your parents can accept, without intrusion, that you wouldn't ask for help if you didn't really need it. Besides, even if it is their dime, it isn't under their roof. No matter what, you all will be facing independence soon enough. Break a leg!

Posted by Married in MA on October 27, 2011 at 10:17 AM · Report this
@37: I'm wondering why cheating on her first and then dumping her is a harsher lesson than simply dumping her unceremoniously for cheating?

I understand the emotional impact of discovering that you have been cheated on. I understand the idea of wanting to let her know how it feels. I'm just not sure that the impact will be quite what you expect with this particular girl. She is still in the mindset of "Gosh, it was just a silly mistake that we can work through." For him to cheat would give her more ammo to claim, "See, it isn't all that bad, is it?"

I'm just thinking it will be plenty stern a lesson to give her the straightforward message, "You cheated, you lied to my face about it, and you still aren't taking responsibility for your part in it. Your stuff is in a box on my porch. Don't contact me again."

For him to cheat on her undermines the credibility of that message, because he would be engaging in the very activity that he said wasn't okay. Also, to involve another woman would make it sound more like "I'm leaving you for her" (which would allow her to make him the bad guy in her head) rather than "I'm dumping you because you cheated on me."
Posted by avast2006 on October 27, 2011 at 11:03 AM · Report this
The other thing that's worth mentioning is that COCK's hypothetical revenge-cheat hookup has feelings too. It's not nice to involve an unsuspecting third party in your drama.
Posted by avast2006 on October 27, 2011 at 11:14 AM · Report this
@63, you are SO right with that. It's a shame that so many people think that everyone should be ready to stand up to their parents at the same age. There are so many factors that go into making that decision. I had a friend in high school who was out to all of his peers, and none of his family. The biggest reason for not telling them? Concern that, if they were upset, he wouldn't be able to afford his college education without them.
It's great to say, "Who cares what they think?" When it's not your issue. There are plenty of things that it's taken time to work up the courage to discuss with my parents, and I have parents that are pretty open minded. When it's the person that's raised and supported you your whole life, its scary to think that something about you might take away that support. Would it be fair for a parent to abandon their child for doing or believing something they didn't agree with? Of course not. Does it happen? Absolutely.
Posted by KateRose on October 27, 2011 at 11:24 AM · Report this
COCK, my High School girlfriend cheated on me during college. . . repeatedly. I found out while we were engaged (6 months before we actually got married). She had some crazy explanation as to why it made her love me more and that it was related to her insecurity which she was working on and had overcome with the help of a therapist. We got married, probably because I was too scared to just walk away after investing so much time and energy in the relationship. She never cheated on me again, but the marriage was miserable and ended up in a divorce. There was always something missing and we had grown apart even when she was cheating and when I found out. But there was just something so comfortable about that relationship and scary about going back out there to try again. If the people she cheated with floated her boat a little more, she probably would have left me back then. Dan's answer was a bit glib. There is a lot of inertia in these High School romances, families become entangled with each other and there are a lot of expectations. You get stunted a bit and the idea of dating on the college scene seems very intimidating. But, pay attention to her actions rather than what she is saying. If there is something missing in the relationship now, it will seem more gaping in the future. Oh, and if you didn't cheat, you will never forgive her. And when you meet someone who seems interesting, the answer to the question, "what would my girlfriend (wife) do in this situation has already been answered?"
Posted by koplaw on October 27, 2011 at 12:11 PM · Report this

I hope, as a parent, that almost all parents are willing to accept a "black box" assurance that their child is being taken care of. OTOH there are comparatively few things that would make me MORE upset than not seeking help because of being afraid of what I might think about it. The saying goes that it is easier to seek forgiveness, and if the process is certified therapy, why wait for permission?

Posted by Married in MA on October 27, 2011 at 12:58 PM · Report this
Ms Erica @28 - Perhaps Your Ladyship ought to recuse herself on UPS' case? (joking) At any rate, I submit to the Jury that the boyfriend in question might well reserve any sadistic activities for when the two of them are together. I know several couples who find that the reservation of their favourite or most meaningful activity serves as an excellent way to produce a semi-closed relationship.

That "she wants to be flogged regularly and he's not providing that" would carry more weight if they weren't already some way along in a long-distance relationship. Granted, perhaps the desire has increased in her as the relationship has progressed, but to present it in a way to suggest fault on his part is the trick of a born cross-examiner. (You should read for the Bar.) This is not to say that just because she went in with her eyes open she should be denied a reasonable re-negotiation.

One thing I have not yet seen addressed is her "God only knows why" in regard to his choosing only vanilla outside encounters. I forget in which post you call her bratty; I'd call her contemptuous, and urge an immediate split.

Of course, were I briefed for the Prosecution, I'd call her naive. I might still urge an immediate split, though, but then, it increasingly seems that most couples really ought to split up.
Posted by vennominon on October 27, 2011 at 1:20 PM · Report this
> it increasingly seems that most couples really ought to split up. >

LOL. Yes, here on SL it does seem that way.

Posted by EricaP on October 27, 2011 at 1:23 PM · Report this
@80 EricaP: Oh, God--how do you stay so right on??
Posted by auntie grizelda on October 27, 2011 at 1:55 PM · Report this
As a divorce attorney, I can only repeat what so many of my clients have told me: They wish they had broken up with the #*()(#@)) a long time ago! There are other people out there who will treat you just as badly, and maybe at least one who will treat you right. You must break off the old, tired relationships to move forward. Yes, I take my own advice - I've had two calls from old boyfriends this year, and deleted both messages without a return call.
Posted by marilynsue on October 27, 2011 at 2:34 PM · Report this
USD needs to be careful, despite what others have said. I had a therapist trick me into letting her reveal my suicide attempt to my mom. It was in the distant past, I was no longer suicidal, and I was over 18, but she said, "Oh, well, you know I'm allowed to reveal this to your mom and there's nothing you can do to stop me, right?" Not knowing any better and not wanting to look stupid, I made an unintelligible grunt that she took as assent.
Posted by joejoejoe on October 27, 2011 at 3:15 PM · Report this
@56, yup.
Posted by Ms.11 on October 27, 2011 at 5:49 PM · Report this
I'm in grad school studying psychology, not the counseling kind. So I haven't paid a great deal of attention to the exact letter of the law, but the APA ethical guidelines are extremely stringent on what constitutes violation of confidentiality, to the extent where even if UCSD was 16 years old, his parents would not be granted privilege to information regarding his treatment without his consent. I can dig for the exact regulations, but the fact of the matter is, his treatment is his business and no one elses.

Speaking as a parent of a college student: my daughter attends Montana State, we as her parents are not entitled to her grades, regardless of who is signing the checks for her tuition. When I sent her off to school, I gave her insurance cards and told her to use them as needed, and that anything that the insurance doesn't pay should be billed to me. I am financially responsible, but she has the choice of telling me as much or as little as she chooses.
Posted by catballou on October 27, 2011 at 6:36 PM · Report this
@82 marilynsue: I heard that! I've been happily divorced, celebrating 10 years of independence, finished college---at least what I started--- and hope to God I don't ever make the same stupid mistakes again.
Posted by auntie grizelda on October 28, 2011 at 2:31 AM · Report this
Those who have quoted how stringent the confidentiality rules are concerning psychological counseling are missing the point. The laws concerning murder, theft, and corruption in this country are quite stringent also, but they happen. Victims might not be happy, but they do have recourse. With breaches of confidentiality, there's not much patients can do no matter how wronged they feel. All I'm saying is that a young college student might keep that in mind when opening up to a stranger.
Posted by Crinoline on October 28, 2011 at 10:41 AM · Report this
XiaoGui17 88
Is it just me, or does it seem that the "flogging ban" is spurred by the "no other men" ban--i.e., the fear that other men will be doing the flogging? In that case, stick to Dommes instead of Doms and problem solved, right?
Posted by XiaoGui17 on October 28, 2011 at 7:40 PM · Report this
XiaoGui17 89
@50: Consent is the deciding factor in either case. That's like saying, "Why is it OK to have sex for fun, but cowing oneself for dressing too provocatively when raped is somehow low self-esteem?" I find myself scratching my head and thinking, HUH?
Posted by XiaoGui17 on October 28, 2011 at 7:43 PM · Report this
XiaoGui17 90
@56: Masochists, like vanilla folks and sadists, come in all flavors, ranging from sweet, to normal, to flaming asshole. There are perfectly vanilla and dominant folks who have an incredible sense of self-entitlement, and there are masochists who are genuinely fair or even extra accommodating.
Posted by XiaoGui17 on October 28, 2011 at 7:46 PM · Report this
GymGoth 91
Your advice to COCK should have been the same advice to UPS. These stupid kids are deluding themselves if they think they can go to different colleges miles apart and stay together. Maybe when everyone married at 22 it was.

UPS clearly is doing what every young adult desires to do: experiment romantically, physically, and sexually. When she is actively bisexual and BDSM-curious, does she really think permanence is in the cards with her "boyfriend"?

Forget the power play kinks. Accept the fact that you are young and curious and will be physically apart from your "boyfriend" for two long years and just end it already! You can end it nicely and maybe see him occassionally back home but why maintain this fiction of boyfriend/girlfriend?
Posted by GymGoth on October 29, 2011 at 7:39 AM · Report this
@UCSD - Kudos on proper and appropriate usage of a semi-colon. The semi-colon has become a lost art.

That's all.
Posted by SRG on October 29, 2011 at 11:21 AM · Report this
The first letter's language was kinda bizarre. "Not allowed"? Excuse me? You say, "hey this ain't workin' for me; I want to do X, too." and he says "I can live with X" or "I can't live with X." At the latter point, you decide what's more important, relationship or activity, but in any case, it's your choice. You sound like a teenager bitchin' about the house rules, but your boyfriend isn't your father.

COCK, two wrongs don't make a right. Do you want to be a cheater? It doesn't matter what she does; it matters who you are. If she's not up to your standards, then dump her, but don't let her drag you down where she is.
Posted by GG1000 on October 29, 2011 at 12:14 PM · Report this
Sorry, am I the only one who is sofa king sick of EricaP and her endless comments? Get your own column, already! Oh wait, you can't, you have NOTHING original to say.
Posted by soxfan23 on October 30, 2011 at 1:36 AM · Report this
Re Dan's advice to COCK, I know two adults - people approaching 50 - who met in high school and are still with, and married to each other (the husband is also with his third or fourth secondary partner, and has kinky sex with a variety of other people; the wife enjoys the additional free time to run marathons. But they are very much together). I also know a couple who met in their freshman year of college without any prior high school relationships, and are married and still together 32 years later, completely monogamously to the best of my knowledge... and all of them are liberal-ish atheist/agnostic engineers/scientists/CPAs, not religious nuts of any flavour. I don't think it's nearly so rare as Dan would have it.
Posted by Jon1234 on October 30, 2011 at 4:19 AM · Report this
I'm glad we don't have a flogging ban at our house. But is there some reason UPS's boyfriend can't do the job himself?
Posted by ksst on October 30, 2011 at 7:23 AM · Report this
Soxfan, maybe you can find a way to block her comments. I enjoy reading them, myself.

Possibly if you engaged her politely and directly, you might make a little more headway.

No one's forcing you to read the comments.
Posted by clashfan on October 30, 2011 at 8:37 AM · Report this
I loved Lucy in this week's podcast too. Please bring her back. Loved her perspective and laugh.
Posted by SRS on October 30, 2011 at 9:22 AM · Report this
@97 "you might make a little more headway."
I'm a stubborn cuss, and I like it here, so not likely :-)
Posted by EricaP on October 30, 2011 at 10:48 AM · Report this
I believe the college I graduated from was the same as UCSD is attending (unless he's one of them there Catholic types at USD and understandably trying to throw us all out off the scent), and I used their Psych/Counseling services, so I think I'm somewhat qualified to offer an opinion. Not to disrepect anyone else's horror stories over revealed confidentiality, but I think their usefulness to UCSD is zero. Actually, because most of them involve some aspect of private insurance providers, they're almost irrelevant.

My experience at UCSD was years ago, but I'd be surprised if the way they generally provide these services has changed much; and specific changes probably work in his favor.

For one, althought this was before HIPPA, there was never any information about my use of these services that ever showed up on any sort of student record available to my parents or other third-party. My psychologist and the office staff explicitly reassured me that they held the highest respect as professional for the confidential nature and content of my sessions. There was never any communication from that office to anyone in my personal or academic life except that which I was consulted to allow (my psychologist intervened, with my permission, with Finanacial Aid regarding family matters impeding my academic progress). As it relates to the comment of one contributor, UCSD is a huge school; no one from the relatively microscopic world of Student Psych services is ever going to just bump into someones parents at some sort of intimate mixer where merlot and mental health confessions flow freely.

Second, most public colleges/Universities in California charge as an optional, but in many cases mandated fee for Student Health Services, which is generally inclusive of the type of psychiatric offering UCSD would be requesting. There is no private insurance component to this service; the student has already paid, so there isn't any billing involved for services the school is providing as a part of their student health program. Specific services proferred by the student aren't itemized in financial records that reflect tuition and fees payments that a parent would be privy to.

The hardest part about receiving Student Psych services was the most public part: walking in the door. It's still considered a social stigma for many to request counseling, and nothing feels more self-consciously nerve wracking than entering an office that might as well have a sign depicting Lucy from "Peanuts" with lettering informing the campus universe that Porn-Concerned, Trade-Curious, Orgasm-Challenged advice is available within for 5 cents. UCSD: get over the anxiety ASAP. It's like buying porn in a sex shop; nervousness is misplaced because the only people aware that you're doing what you're doing either work there or are doing the same thing.

UCSD Student Psych/Counseling Services were excellent. I saw a full-time, licensed psychologist with years of experience, not an intern. The support staff was amazingly friendly and understanding and helpful. It literally saved my life, and made other (later) psychiatric needs much less anxiety provoking to seek out when I needed them.

Do confidentiality errors/catastrophes happen, and may they have happened at UCSD? Of course this is a possibility. Anecdotally, I'm sure the next contributor from UCSD could post some horror story. But is it likely? Less than likely? So, like, totally unlikely? Dude, WAY un-the-fuck-likely. And that's because the service is provided in a way that makes any form of communication regarding specifics of your specific student health issue in any way a matter of public record or personal correspondence/documentation. The chances are marginally more likely that I'll run into Ray Stevenson from "The Three Musketeers" at the Eagle this weekend and he'll apologize for the $8.50 I spent on that piece of crap movie by buying me a cold MGD and fucking me silly, the comparative likeliness of which is solely a way of publicly getting a chance to expound upon my complete and irrational infatuation with the ungodly offering of pulchritudinous manhood that is Ray Stevenson. Where he has been, I do not know. Where he is now, I am thinking of him. Where he is going, I will follow. Woof.

Good luck, UCSD! Go, Tritons!
Posted by Mug on October 30, 2011 at 7:07 PM · Report this
@94 Soxfan23: I'm with @97.
Nobody's aiming a gun at your head, dude.
If you can't relate, don't bother to read what EricaP has to say.
I think she's pretty right on, myself.

Oh, and one more thing----this is a blog. B-L-O-G. Anybody--including you--can post a comment. Erica's not trying to get her own column; she's just responding and expressing her opinions. We all are.
So relax, take a deep breath, and Heel. Sit. Stay, Sofa King.
Good boy.
Posted by auntie grizelda on October 31, 2011 at 12:05 AM · Report this

You aren't the only one who thinks Erica would be more interesting if she were less voluminous. You cannot suggest this in any way to her. She enormously self-identifies with this column.

Posted by Hunter78 on October 31, 2011 at 4:08 PM · Report this
Yeah I find Erica's comments interesting but almost certainly not in the way she intends. It seems unlikely that her advice could be relevant to the kind of relationship most of us want and have, but that doesn't slow her down in offering it, even a little bit. Which is fine, but amusing. I guess if you can't get an advice column of one's own (because honestly, how many of us want or would take advice from someone who is entirely submissive to another person?) there is no reason not to give unsolicited advice in the comments section of someone else's. Although it seems more than alittle sad that she doesn't have anything better to do so much of the time.
Posted by tau on November 1, 2011 at 8:28 AM · Report this
I love Lucy! I really enjoyed her on the podcast, come back any time!
Posted by huskygrrl on November 1, 2011 at 8:51 AM · Report this
@103 - if you don't agree with my advice, why not engage me and show how I'm wrong?
Posted by EricaP on November 1, 2011 at 9:49 AM · Report this
shw3nn 106
I keep leaving for extended periods. I get bored, I come here, I read the comments on the most recent Savage Love and it's a whole "EricaP posts too much" discussion.

This can't be happening every week.

That's not what I wanted to say, though.

@19, mixy, is Mary Martone Dan's former cohost on his other show? If that's her, I have to say that, not only is she my favorite cohost, but Dan w/ Mary is my favorite Dan.
Posted by shw3nn on November 1, 2011 at 10:14 AM · Report this
It's so ridiculous to state how much a person should or should not post. And if a person states a problem they're having in the thread, its a fairly safe assumption that they'd like advice about it.
Unfortunately, a person is only able to give advice based on their own experiences or the experiences of people around them. Even an advice columnist grows over the years because the more questions they're asked, and the more scenarios they're offered, the better they are able to hone their answers.
No one is required to take the advice of anyone who posts here. It's offered as an option. Sure. it may not apply to everyone who reads it, but there may be some who can find what they need. And if several people are giving advice, it's possible to piece together what you need from the various answers.
It's so easy to avoid someone's posts if you don't like them. I've seen the back and forth between EricaP and Hunter78 in almost every thread. It's a shame that it had to come to that. Instead of looking @ Hunter as a troll, I prefer to think of him as playing devil's advocate. And, actually, I've seen him give what I'd consider to be good advice, though it's usually more short and "sweet" than Erica. She's given good advice as well. I've seen the thread where the feud started, and I'd agree that some posts were uncalled for, but isn't the point here for us to be able to discuss the issues in the letters and that others post in the thread. Picking at each other doesn't really accomplish anything other than taking up space.
Posted by KateRose on November 1, 2011 at 10:31 AM · Report this
My, my there are so many regulars here and yet it's always Ms. EricP who is expected to justify her continued presence. That seems like quite a compliment to her considering that the trolls don't even garner that much push back.
Posted by Mr. J on November 1, 2011 at 2:11 PM · Report this
GQbd 109
Me, I like EricaP's posts. She is a consistent voice of reason, insight, compassion, experience and maybe a little of whatever it is that makes some of us say, "Oh yeah, baby; that's what I'm talking about!"

For some people (too many, in fact) their first post is one too many. EricaP has never worn out her welcome in my mind.
Posted by GQbd on November 1, 2011 at 3:04 PM · Report this
@108 By that little bit of logic Rick Santorum is a f--kin' rock star. Sorry, EricaP. That was probably an unfair comparison, but it was the easiest one to make.

Anyways, she does give some good advice. My tiff is the sheer inconsistency of her general attitude, though its improved lately. Sometimes she's advocating her own lifestyle choices other times she's very vocally blaming those same choices for some ill going on in her life. It's like going on a comment board to discuss legalizing mary jane to have someone say one week "It totally got me thru chemo! Everyone should try it!" to the same person saying "OMG! Pot made me run over my dog!" a week later.
Posted by mygash on November 1, 2011 at 3:17 PM · Report this
Keeping with your analogy, you don't hear some GOP candidate griping every week that Santorum shouldn't be making speeches. Santorum would get that kind of attention only if he was the front-runner.
Posted by Mr. J on November 1, 2011 at 3:53 PM · Report this
@111 True, but that's a competition. I hope the comment thread isn't slowly morphing into a popularity contest or some kind of bid for the best amatuer sex columnist since the whole reason I come here is to get some perspective on relationships, sex, and etc.
Posted by mygash on November 1, 2011 at 4:17 PM · Report this
@110: pot has pros and cons -- gets you through chemo, but can make you late to work. Non-monogamy too: if one partner is frustrated with monogamy, yes, I think opening up can be a better option than undermining/ending an otherwise strong marriage through lies and/or divorce. But that doesn't make it a painless option. At that point, there are no painless options.
Posted by EricaP on November 1, 2011 at 4:27 PM · Report this
@105 - because I don't have that kind of time?

You know, if any given person wants to hold court in the comments section of a popular blog, that is totally fine. No skin off my back, and I am generally entertained.

From my point of view, there is no such thing as someone else Posting Too Much. There probably is, though, posting too much for it to be consistent with a healthy and joyful life, and I know a lot of people get into that territory. It is a little sad, but I guess not as sad as if people didn't have social networking at all. Maybe?
Posted by tau on November 1, 2011 at 5:02 PM · Report this

Posted by Hunter78 on November 1, 2011 at 5:16 PM · Report this
@113 I understand that there's pros and cons to every choice. I also understand that there's no such thing as a painless life and that your lifestyle takes a lot out of you at times, but I still think that the inconsistency you displayed before (one moment the mentor, the next minute the victim) just lends ammo to your critics and makes you come off as disfunctional especially when you describe your lifestyle less as a choice and more as a last ditch effort. Though for awhile now you've been more even handed, really sound and rational. I bear you no disrespect or ill will, so please don't take any offense.
Posted by mygash on November 1, 2011 at 5:24 PM · Report this
Thanks, everyone, for the overall kindness of the remarks today. Hope that tomorrow we can talk about something else :-)
Posted by EricaP on November 1, 2011 at 6:55 PM · Report this
mydriasis 118
@ Erica: "an otherwise strong marriage"

This is the unstated premise right here.
As if a desire to be unmonogamous exists in a magical vacuum. If I were married and my husband spontaenously decided that he should be allowed to fuck other girls? I would not consider that marriage to be "otherwise strong"* I would consider that not strong at all, in any way.

I have no interest in a man who is either

a. too stupid to know that he can't handle monogamy and gets in a monogamous relationship without realizing that he's going to fuck it up.

or b. a lying asshole.

It's like how Dan talks to the men who come in whining about how their girlfriends were bangers when they started dating but now they've gotten fat. You go into a relationship with a certain expectation that your partner will (within reason) maintain the qualities that made them desirable in the first place. To do otherwise is false advertising. If a guy tried to pull a monogamy bait n' switch on me I would show him the door. Period.

* This is assuming that two people are in a relationship where there has been a conversation about monogamous/polygamous tendancies and both partners have agreed that they are monogamous types and want that in a relationship. This is the case with me, but if people enter a relationship without confirming this, what I said doesn't really apply.
Posted by mydriasis on November 1, 2011 at 7:40 PM · Report this
@118, Over decades, people change. Either you change together, or you separate. It's not complicated in theory, but living through either one (changing together or ending a long marriage) is definitely hard, painful work.
Posted by EricaP on November 1, 2011 at 9:02 PM · Report this
@119 EricaP: I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

Oh, God, how do you stay so right on??

Thanks for your great advice and insights and God bless!
Posted by auntie grizelda on November 1, 2011 at 9:22 PM · Report this
And tomorrow is another blog!!!
Posted by auntie grizelda on November 1, 2011 at 9:23 PM · Report this
mydriasis 122
Sure people change as they age, but often these are subtle maturational changes not massive shifts in a person's values and personality.

Personality is fairly stable throughout lifetime.

I think a larger problem isn't people changing, it's people not knowing themselves well enough.
Posted by mydriasis on November 2, 2011 at 5:39 AM · Report this
shw3nn 123
@119 I do not think this describes your situation very well. "Change together" implies both partners grow and change and accommodate each others changes.

Wasn't your situation more that your husband went through a sea change and you accommodated it by enduring considerable stress and pain, through panic attacks and tears.

But, it is not just the pain of opening the relationship. It was sprung on you and demanded of you, wasn't it?

I don't even know how you would ever remove the stress of not knowing when or with what huge, painful, stressful change your husband will suddenly redefine your relationship AGAIN.

Do you have any reassurance the he won't do such a thing? Unless you have a compelling reason to believe he won't do it to you a third time (or fourth, I have been gone a while) I do not see how you could describe such a state of pain, stress, fear and uncertainty as an "otherwise strong relationship".

What could possibly happen otherwise? What rebar is there that could possibly reinforce concrete that brittle?
Posted by shw3nn on November 2, 2011 at 10:55 AM · Report this
@123 you want details? I've known the guy since we were both 18, we started dating at 24 and got married at 26. And now we're 42, with two kids and a mortgage.

When we were first dating, he asked if I'd be okay if he saw an exgirlfriend, who was in town for just the weekend. That was really tough on me, hearing about how he fisted her and how amazing that was, but I coped. Maybe that was a test; in any case, it did provide a context -- his desire to open up our marriage didn't erupt out of nowhere.

In our first years as a married couple, we went to tons of strip clubs and BDSM sex parties together. That stopped for about five years when career and kids became the focus of our lives. But when he hit his midlife crisis 2 years ago and wanted to open the marriage, I can see how from his perspective it was more like returning to our old ways (and stepping things up so they'd feel new and exciting.)

Life provides everyone with stress and uncertainty. Which of our parents will we have to take care of first? What if our kids don't find jobs or fall in with a bad crowd? What if one of us falls in love with someone else? What about unemployment, or illness, or death, which comes for us all?

I wrote to Dan, in the depths of my pain, and he wrote back (privately) that, in his view, my husband hadn't done anything worth of "DTMFA." This was a normal marital crisis we could weather together as a team.

So I remembered how lucky I was to find a partner whose touch and smile still enchant me, decades later. Neither of us is perfect, but we don't walk away from each other when the hard times come. Our way of helping each other through life may not satisfy your vision of a happy relationship. It works for us.

Oh, and take a look at this, for another example of learning to love more deeply by getting through infidelity:…
Posted by EricaP on November 2, 2011 at 12:41 PM · Report this
mydriasis 125
I guess I'm just gambling that I can find better...
Posted by mydriasis on November 2, 2011 at 1:27 PM · Report this
Wishing you all the best, mydriasis.
Posted by EricaP on November 2, 2011 at 2:20 PM · Report this
My Dry,

You've been monogamous, what, 2 yrs now?
Posted by Hunter78 on November 2, 2011 at 4:51 PM · Report this
mydriasis 128

No troll feeding today, thanks.
Posted by mydriasis on November 2, 2011 at 5:35 PM · Report this
@124: Wow. Thanks for sharing, Erica.
@126: You, too, mydriasis.
Posted by auntie grizelda on November 2, 2011 at 6:18 PM · Report this
Spikeygrrl 130
Re LW1: There's a way to get everything you want and nothing you don't from just one person: Pairbond with a person who wants everything you want and nothing you don't.

The INSTANT you let in "exceptions" you're in an untenable position similar to (though not necessarily identical to) LW1.

Once those sharp lines are blurred, at the end of the day EVERYTHING blurs. Which may be just fine for one partner -- like the bf here -- but is NEVER OK with BOTH partners.

Skip this shit. Enumerate your deal breakers VERY early on: on the first date is prolly too soon, on the fifth date is almost certainly too late. Yeah, you'll go on a lot of 1st-5th dates that go nowhere -- at least nowhere you WANT -- but you WON'T end up married for five or ten years to someone who has a need you never even suspected (and might even have accomodated had you only known).
Posted by Spikeygrrl on November 2, 2011 at 6:54 PM · Report this
Spikeygrrl 131
When you're adult/responsible enough to pay your own health care bills, THEN go ahead and have any kind of sex you want.

As long as you still rely on your parents'/guardians'/government's dime to clean up the health messes you are very likely to make with blithe promiscuity, SHUT THE FUCK UP AND GET OVER IT. When you're adult enough to pay your own way, you're old enough for potentially harmful sex. I'll defend (almost) to the death your right to have almost any kind of legal sex you long as you don't selfishly expect somebody else to pay for the risks that YOU choose to incur.
Posted by Spikeygrrl on November 2, 2011 at 7:19 PM · Report this
mydriasis 132

I think I just threw up in my mouth.
Posted by mydriasis on November 3, 2011 at 5:26 PM · Report this
Careful about the health stuff. I've had medical situations that were supposed to be confidential, but then summaries were sent to me at my parents' address (at the time it was my permanent address) and my mom opened my mail. Get a po box or have it sent to a friend.
Posted by NicoleK on November 5, 2011 at 12:59 PM · Report this
Lord have mercy people if you think a post's too long or not relevant to you, then activate your scrolling function. And get a life.
Posted by GG1000 on November 6, 2011 at 7:26 AM · Report this
@31 Crinoline, hearing your story I can understand your concerns about privacy. The current regulations are such that even when you sign a release of information from a medical center where you have medical and psychological records, only your medical records will be released unless you specifically request psychological records to be released. Even then, usually only an initial assessment or discharge summary would be released.

As for people being fired for accessing or disclosing private health information, it has definitely happened. Can't recall off the top of my head which hospital this was, but someplace in LA several staff were fired for accessing records they did not need to access to provide care.
Posted by rain&coffee on November 6, 2011 at 7:26 PM · Report this
Also, I should add that psychologists usually try to keep their notes really vague, as the kind of info that needs to be documented for billing purposes is pretty minimal, and beyond that, it's no one's business what you are being seen for unless there is imminent threat of you killing or seriously harming yourself or someone else.
Posted by rain&coffee on November 6, 2011 at 7:31 PM · Report this
My wife and I were married in Ontario just after same-sex marriage became legal throughout Canada. We're approaching our 12th year together, in our 7th year of legal marriage.

I'm sure some same-sex couples divorce, but I think we're set for the long haul.
Posted by Granny & Nanny on November 17, 2011 at 12:06 PM · Report this
My wife and I were married in Ontario just after same-sex marriage became legal throughout Canada. We're approaching our 12th year together, in our 7th year of legal marriage.

I'm sure some same-sex couples divorce, but I think we're set for the long haul.
Posted by Jan & Paula on November 17, 2011 at 12:06 PM · Report this
I know this comment string is long past finished, but still, I think this is worth saying: patient confidentiality in our system is nearly iron-clad. So much so that it can actually be hazardous for some of us (a truly small number, more relevant to prove a point than anything else).

My Bipolar disorder came out with a vengeance when I was a student at UCSC. I have a supportive family and was lucky to have medical staff who were sympathetic and trustworthy. But getting the legal permission for them to talk to each other in a meaningful way (i.e. not through me, I was not dependable) was nearly impossible.
Thanks to strict confidentiality, my own health was not sufficiently protected.

All of which is to say: unless people are breaking the law in a big way, your confidentiality with your mental health provider is truly confidential.
Posted by sparrows on May 24, 2012 at 7:54 AM · Report this

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