Whiny asshole. By the way, this isn't a "gay" thing - lots of hetero relationships have this kind of dynamic also. Either blow him off or accept that this is the way it's going to be. Your call.
This guy lost me with "single dad to a dog".
"I'm a single dad to a dog in Brooklyn"

Oh for fuck's sake.
@Christy O you beat me to it.
You're 30 years old? Really? Could of fooled me.
My relationship with my beloved-but-shy wife started out this way. I couldn't figure out if she liked me because she NEVER asked me out. But she kept saying yes when I asked, and eventually we figured things out by taking the radical step of talking about it.
Nobody with this particular insecurity could survive as a straight man.
Don't try to change him because you can't. Change yourself. That means either accept him as he is or find someone else.
I have to say I'm the invite bottom.

Some people are just wired that way.
a) what about teh gay secks? how the heck am I supposed to care about this issue if I don't hear about two cute guys getting it on?

b) Harlem guy is totally having sex with other invite tops in Harlem. Hope he writes in about the secks.

c) WBA is not having sex with other Brooklyn gays, although they get together at the coffee shops and discuss brands of doggie treats.
@1 - Bingo.

Shorter Dan Savage advice: Man up, Nancy.
Or just go see the fucking movie yourself.
single dad to a dog...what a cliche gayfaggy thing to say. Sad, really...that he's thirty yet sounds like an obese terminally single gay man in his fifties or sixties.

When people say or write shit like that, the cock punch midget/fairy (as a midget fairy couldn't be seen with the naked eye...yeah, a midget fairy couldn't be seen vs. the human sized fairies) should magically appear and head butt them in the crotch before disappearing. The battle roar precipitating the cock violence could be "douchebag". Dunno, though...this particular needy bastard might enjoy it too much. No midget/fairy for you, needy gayfag.


LW: The problem isn't that he doesn't ask you out, it's that you don't know if he really is that into you. Dan's right, as usual. If you like him, keep dating him. He either is or isn't that into you; you'll figure it out eventually, probably by talking to him about it at some point.

Get over this insecurity about equivalency and wanting to be asked out. Insecurity is a turnoff. Also, please stop describing yourself as dad to a dog. Please.
Maybe his kid is butt-ugly?
@6 and @8 have it dead-on.
Um, welcome to the dynamic that most straight guys have dealt with since, well, forever.

I feel a little sorry for you, Dan, that you have to wade through these drivelly letters about problems that aren't. How many letters could be answered with the advice "Chill out, relax your overly-clenched sphincter, and live your life already."?
Maybe Harlem-guy thinks your dog is entitled to parents who put their relationship above their role as parents -- to set the example for its happiness -- and you aren't willing to do that.
Adults with high school problems.
I horrible at this. If someone asks me to go on a date/booty call/whatever, I'm invariably up for it.

Otherwise I'm doing my own thing. I encounter 3 responses to this. 1. They are fine with it, and I hear from them once every few weeks/months. and its A-okay. I'm always thrilled to hear from them.

2. They don't like it and stop calling on me. We usually keep in touch but not for hookups. Usually they just find someone they can see as frequently as they desire.

or 3. Drama about it. Not taking the initiative is the same as ignoring them. In these cases, I tend to start the ignoring right around then. Just so its clear what the difference is.
Hahahahaha! This is me and the last guy I was messing around with -- I hated always feeling like the invite top. (Though I'm a cat person and do not describe myself as my pets' mother, which makes me at least one notch less pathetic than the LW!) I was the top in general, so you'd think this wouldn't be an issue, but it really bugged me.

After totally imploding last year we're tentatively talking again and there still seems to be some attraction on both sides. So do I forward him this column? Hmm.
First-world problems, man, I tell you.

Anyway, this could be indicative of a general preference on his part to be passive. Does he initiate sex, or do you do all of that, too? It sounds, from your whinge, like you might have passive tendencies. And two passive people in a relationship don't tend to do well together, in my experience.

RL example: I'm a passive person. I don't do much asking out, but I'm always happy to be asked out (with friends, family, or significant others). My successful relationships have always been with a more dominant partner, one who enjoys making the decisions and plans. I'm terribly indecisive and lazy, and left to my own devices I would just sit at home all the time. If I dated another passive person, we would never go anywhere!
"Invite tops" and "invite bottoms" -- god I love this column!

About the only time my sister and I (both "invite bottoms") blew up at each other was over this -- we each kept trying to defer to the other on what we were going to do that day when we went on a trip to Europe. Oops.

Anyway, this is a surprisingly common issue -- and really at 30, I'd expect ppl to have kind of figured that out (my sister and I were 20 & 24 at the above incident), but yeah "single dad to a dog" (and I *love* dogs) made me roll my eyes.

Ditch the passive-aggressive crap: the best thing is to just talk about it clearly up front and the other person can decide if that's going to bug them too much or not. I may be an "invite bottom" but I'm almost always up for going out somewhere when asked. (I am also INT* so there's probably that, and functioning as a deaf person in a hearing world probably further exacerbates all of that). But I understand that sometimes it's nice to be invited as well. Like Dan said, maybe this is a great complementarity, rather than a liability.

That all said, I've slowly -- slowly! -- learned to find things to ask people to go to.
At the risk of being called a whiny, insecure, immature, douche (but at least not a single mother to a dog), I will say that I understand exactly what this letter writer is upset about.
I've been in relationships like this before; I'm in one that is a bit like it now, although the guy I'm seeing probably wouldn't see it that way. The issue is probably only mine (and the letter writer's).

I tend to over-analyze in general, and I hate game-playing and anything that smacks of the ol' "mixed signals," which is how this feels/sounds to some of us. But the way I see it, when there is an initiation inequality like this, it's a power-thing, which is why Dan's use of "invite bottoms and tops" is kind of funny but also sort of apt and frustrating, because as much as I like power exchange in sex, I prefer egalitarian relationships outside the bedroom. When stuff like this happens, I feel as though I'm tipping my hand, and exposing my vulnerability, while he's inscrutable and safely covered. That power imbalance can drive me crazy.
Since I'm a straight woman, this dynamic subverts the cultural norm of the woman being pursued, and makes me feel less desirable--even if I get plenty of proof that he desires me. If I were a gay man, I imagine that the issue would be even more complicated by the fact that we are much more culturally equal.

It isn't difficult to start asking yourself questions like these:
Does he like me or does he just not have anything better to do? What would happen if I didn't initiate contact--would it be weeks before he'd call? Is he playing some kind of game here, some kind of "chicken," and does he see himself as winning, if I always initiate?

It helps a bit to see Dan's and a few other perspectives on this passivity.
I can relate to the confusiion. For me it's not about the inequality, it's about knowing if it's really a signal of "not interested" and I hate to be the guy who can't take a hint. Plus I've gotten the "needy" lable slapped on me once so I'm kinda sensitive to that.

Some of us are young and inexperienced for various reasons. Cut us a little slack. We are doing the best we can.
Thanks nocutename. "Does he like me or does he just not have anything better to do?" describes this issue perfectly.
Ditto 27. Having dated quiet, passive/aggressive types, their lack of feedback can be un-settling. But, his need to be validated by return invites seems a bit immature.
Six weeks. I'm reminded of the debate between Elizabeth Bennet and Charlotte Lucas about whether Jane should even be certain of her own degree of interest in Bingley after dancing with him twice and dining in company (and spending the evening afterwards) four times, let alone already have secured him.
Agreed. Some people just aren't "initiative" types. If you like him, don't play that game and arbitrarily ruin a good thing. If he keeps accepting invitations, he wants to see you.
Does anyone else remember the scene in the movie Awakenings where giving her the bowl of crumpled-paper unfreezes the sleeping-sickness/Parkinson patient, because it gives her the opportunity to drop them, and "borrow the will" of the falling paper to allow her to follow them to cross the room?

That was a real thing in the book. Sack's also devoted a chapter in another book to a patient who was dormant when left alone, but was "awakened" by the interaction of others.

What if Harlem-guy is something like that? We're all mental patients to some degree. What mental-patienty thing is too severe? Not all of us get mesmerized by all the options in the cereal aisle, but is that really so alien?
Yeah, gotta go with the -talk about it- option, here. I've been in relationships with guys like the LW's boyfriend. In all cases, being the assertive, outspoken individual that I am (read: bitchy), I have initiated a serious discussion about the issue. In some cases, that discussion resulted in the end of the relationship because it really was that they guys were just that bored. In several other cases, including that of my husband, the discussion revealed that the guys just didn't have much planning ability. Hubby still doesn't, although he has gotten much better in the intervening 6 years. Dan's advice here is spot on. If you like the person, keep asking him/ her out. You'll figure it out, either through discussion or through other signs, that "he's just not that into you."
@30 vennominon

What would Charlotte be advising in today's permissive society? If she thought Jane should be pressing her case back then, perhaps today she might suggest slipping out of the dance to sit on Mr. Bingley's penis in the back of a car. "You know Elizabeth, Jane would do well to give up her anus sooner rather than later in this case..."
"I'm always the one asking him out and making the plans. When I do this he's pretty much always available and down to do whatever it is that I'm suggesting."

This describes me and my husband perfectly. It bothered me a little when we first started dating, but I quickly realized he just wanted to see me no matter what and that planning activities is not his thing. Now that we're married, I always make the plans because I like to do it and he doesn't. If this is important to you, perhaps this guy is just not right for you. That's a call you'll have to make.
DTMFA. Why? In my experience, the "invite bottom" is:

1) Not that into you, but hoping something *might* develop. (This is the *best* possible scenario.)

2) Not that into you, but you're OK 'til something better comes along. (They may not realize this themselves, especially at first. Bad news for you.)

3) Passive-aggressive, especially if you've already shared your concerns/insecurities about not wanting to do all the asking. (Run like a mother-fucker!)
I haven't read any of the comments above yet, and I'm sorry if someone already said that, but let me just say this: boo-fucking-hoo!!!!! What a whiny little bitch!!!

I wish I had some cutie across town who would be happy to hear from me whenever I call and go out with me whenever I invite him to. Seriously, just shut the fuck up!!!!
This sounds like me at 18.
I, too, am an invite bottom. For me, it's mostly about not wanting to impose, which I know is silly. The guy might also be feeling some strain in terms of this relationship being so new... if you've been taking him out on awesome dates, he might feel the pressure's on to take YOU out somewhere amazing, and he's having trouble coming up with something. Or maybe he is just freaked out by you calling yourself a "single dad" to a dog??? Because eww?

Anyway, for Maud's sake, quit with the "partly in jest" passive-aggression, and just keep dating the guy! Or don't. Whatever.
#34 FTW!
And this is why I never write or call-in to the podcast or column. All of my questions/issues are usually addressed by someone else. :-)
Is it possible the letter writer's schedule is just that much more hectic and their time committed? I have friends who I never call to make plans with, because I can never anticipate when they will be available. They know to call me when they have some free time. Sometimes that is just how the dynamic needs to work.
Mr J - Well, by example, Charlotte herself is a fast worker once she sets her mind to it. In a less restrictive age, someone who does not have much regard for either men or matrimony would not need to make opposite-sex marriage her object. But her philosophy that, in nine cases out of ten, a woman should show more affection than she feels might still apply, if less urgently. However, while we might adapt this to Charlotte advising that Jane return consent more enthusiastic than she might yet feel to Bingley's propositions, the one grey area is that Charlotte might still respect relationships. As quick as she is to snatch at her one chance of marriage, one can at least make the case that she does not attempt to secure Mr Collins' regard until after Eliza rejects him. At least, we are told that this is her object when Charlotte spends the second of two days after the proposal listening to his laments and diverting his attention and reproaches from the Bennets and Eliza. We are not informed whether the idea was already in her thoughts at the Netherfield ball. There Elizabeth's enjoyment was blighted by Mr Collins' refusal to leave her, but Charlotte joined them as often as possible. I have tended to infer that she did not really formulate her scheme to marry Mr Collins until after Eliza refused him.
Maybe this conflict gives insight into the story of Job.

In the story, Job argues with his community why God allowed him, as an innocent man, to suffer so severely. His adversaries insist Job must have done something wrong to warrant punishment. Then God intervenes and tells them to back the fuck up, because Job is the only one talking anything like sense. Then God rattles off an inventory of His accomplishments. Even Job's wife told him to go ahead and curse God and die, and still the story ends with Job bowing to God.

Even Carl Jung said the events of this story don't make sense. But now we live in an age where discussing the distress of some single-parent to a dog in Brooklyn allows us to make sense of the story of Job.

One of the firsts of Judaism is that the holy laws prescribed are centered not on man's relationship with God, but on man's relationship with each other. God doesn't say don't steal from Him, but don't steal from each other, don't steal from each other, etc. Don't cling to your idols.

So it makes perfect sense in the frame of that theme that Job bowing to God is his relief from the kind of self-consciousness WBA is wondering what it takes to take a break from.

It's like in the subtext of McCarthy's the Road (which wasn't really addressed in the movie). They live in the wasteland of a nuclear winter, but the wife has no relief from her self-consciousness. So she kills herself. Taking care of the boy is what little relief from self-consciousness the husband has. So he refers to him as his God, and burns the last picture of his wife. He speaks to the him to minimize the child's worry's, and gives him the story of how they carry the fire. The father still needs access, so he's constantly asking, "Are you still not talking to me?"

"We're talking now."

So today, for those whom religion works as a relief from self-consciousness, they tell people like Dan, "Shut up and obey. You're harshing my zoning-out." To which he's perfectly justified in replying that, by the standards of the story of Job, your religion is a failure.
@43 vennominon

"I have tended to infer that she did not really formulate her scheme to marry Mr Collins until after Eliza refused him. "

That's what I've always thought. Perhaps I should take another look at the earlier events. It always seemed like her attitude towards herself reflected the general estimation of others that her eligibility was limited compared to other ladies in the neighborhood, and so she grew to a ripe old age (absurd!) before making her move on a gentleman. Mr. Collins was an obvious and easy mark for her. Those must be rare.

Elizabeth would wait forever if necessary for love to come along. Charlotte would do the same for an easy, non-competitive target capable of providing her security. More important though is something Miss Austen does not address. Over the course of decades of marriage which approach may we expect to produce greater happiness?
I'm an invite top. Mr Thisbe is an invite bottom. It's not because he doesn't like me as much as I like him. In fact if anything I suspect the reverse might be true my a small margin.
The fact is, I think faster and have more ideas and energy than he does. On vacation for instance, left to his own devices he stares out the window most of the day, eventually finds a place to eat, and goes back to bed. But I have ideas about things to do, I suggest them - and he's always happy to do them!
This dynamic extends (albeit less dramatically) into our daily lives. Usually I suggest the social plans, the concerts, the trips to the woods for the weekend - the projects for home improvement, the movies to watch, the walks to go on.
And he is really appreciative. It's not that he doesn't do ANYthing on his own. It's just that I have quite a bit more motive force. :)

Really this inequality makes the relationship better. We're complementary!
I have found that it can often help to make these sorts of requests explicit, and get over the artificiality that ensues. So, occasionally we have a "focus on EricaP" evening, where I am not allowed to worry about his needs/desires the whole night, and I am supposed to be very aggressive about telling him what I want (sexually and otherwise). Knowing the evening is coming up sets the wheels turning in my mind, and I do end up finding pleasure in being the "date-top", when usually our dynamic is for me to be the submissive.

It is possible, thus, to say: "Are you free next weekend? I'd like to see you. Also, I'd like you to pick what we do, if that's all right. I feel as if I have been making all the plans, and I'd like to be invited to something." But Dog Daddy has to not complain about the results, even if they are eating Chinese food & watching 90210 in the Harlem boy's tiny apartment.
@47 EricaP

That's a great system for your established relationship. At 6 weeks in though I think the LW is rightfully concerned about keeping his emotional involvement on par with his friend's. Getting too far out ahead makes him vulnerable and may even scare off the other guy thus ensuring heartbreak.
I don't think that this is a whiny, high school problem or game-playing. The first few months of dating are indicators of what the relationship might be like if it progresses. There does need to be some balance in a relationship. Someone who doesn't initiate dates or at least call every once in awhile is probably just wasting time until they find someone they like better.

If this was about sex then there would've been an entirely different response, especially if it was a woman. Then it would've been about how she needs to initiate more often and how it's a two-way street, etc., etc. Like, the advice would've been about how she has to make sure his dick is happy.

Well, it's a two-way street when it comes to feelings also. There should be some give and take. Otherwise, if you're that passive and never do any of the asking or calling- only the most aggressive and obnoxious of all people will stick around to keep on pushing down doors to get in.

Most people would start to feel uncomfortable and back off if it seems like all the attention is unrequited. Normal people don't want to feel like "that guy" who is constantly asking and pushing when the other person doesn't seem to be all that interested. I think that if it gets to the point where you have to flat out ask why someone isn't calling you- then it's already over and you're just figuring it out.
@ 28- summed up in one sentence what would've taken me several paragraphs. Thanks.
Mr J - I think the Netherfield ball is all we get. The key seems to be when Charlotte calls at Longbourn just after the proposal. Mrs Bennet is about to commisserate with Mr Collins, who must first make polite inquiries after all the Lucases, and then Charlotte, instead of leaving the room, contents herself with going to the window and pretending not to hear.

I think we have examples enough from several novels that attachment alone does not suffice, both from couples that marry and couples that don't. But for the reverse, I think the most telling example is Lady Susan marrying Sir James Martin with the narratorial summary to the effect of it being pointless to ask her if she were pleased with the match, for who could believe her assurance on either side of the question? She had nothing against her but her husband and her conscience.
Mr. J, I don't know what this means: "Getting too far out ahead makes him vulnerable and may even scare off the other guy thus ensuring heartbreak."

Are you saying that being clear about what he wants -- "It would make me happy if you would make our plans for next Friday" -- the LW risks scaring off his new friend? Perhaps, but he might also find out if the friend gives a shit, or not. If not, then the LW has useful information, since he seems to already be getting way ahead of himself. If the friend can't be bothered to fulfill a clear and simple request, then the LW should not see what they share as a dating kind of relationship.

You know your Savage Love question is pathetic when the comments thread gets derailed into a discussion of Jane Fucking Austen.

It's a fetish. Suck it up.
@52 EricaP

What I mean by "getting too far out ahead" is not paying attention to both of your levels of emotional investment in the relationship. You need to stay at roughly the same level. To do that the person who is inclined to move along faster needs to be the one to slow down.

Yes, speak clearly to each other as you say. If you want to get closer and the other person doesn't then you know that continuing further on your own is only going to make you seem obsessed and scare them off. Give them time and they may come along with you.

If they're incapable of talking about the relationship then it's time to bail out.
What @18 said.

As a straight guy, this fascinates me. Most girls (read: every girl I have dated) want the guy to do the asking AND have a plan. We just accept that role. You get pretty good at gauging female interest by whether they call, text, email in between dates. And by the intensity of the sex. Not sure if that translates into gay relationships.

In a gay relationship, who pays for the date? The top?
@56 - This! I love this! It was only when I got to know a gay couple really well that I began to realize the depth and fuckedupness of my cultural assumptions. It felt weird to me that I couldn't tell which one of them was "supposed" to pay, to be taller, to have the "real" job, to make conversation with me as opposed to my husband. I don't mean that I actually asked them those questions, but that it made me better comprehend the creepy things that went through my head when I met a heterosexual couple (or thought about my own marriage)... Het men & women don't have to obey the social roles any more than gay men & women. In fact this is the threat that social conservatives see in gay marriage: that people begin to understand everything that is weird about gendered expectations.

@57 - Yes! I am always trying to figure those "expectation" questions.

This letter was such a perfect example of expectations. If you changed the passive party here to a female, this would be as boring of a letter as they come.

FWIW, most (many? a lot?) women I know will complain if their boyfriends/husbands aren't the askers/pursuers/payers/date-planners. So while we don't have to obey social roles, I wouldn't recommend a single male friend abandon them unless he wants to really limit his playing field.

For the records, I am still really uncomfortable letting a woman pay for anything. Clearly, therapy is in order....
Yay! This is Savage advice at its best.
I know this has been thoroughly covered but "I'm a single dad to a dog in Brooklyn", I can't get over how lame that is. Please tell me that's not a common phrase.
And this is why I love Dan Savage.
My husband and I have exactly this relationship. He's into planning, into figuring out what's going on any given weekend, and setting us up to do something fun. Me? I'm not much of a planner. He knows this, and I know this. So he plans and we have great fun. We've been doing this for the twelve years we've been together, so it must work for us. We're gay, by the way, if that matters, although I know several hetero couples who have the same dynamic.
@36 PetiteXL hits the nail.

In my 20-some years being out and in the queer social scene, I can pretty much say all gay guys fall into two camps: those who get asked out, and those who do the asking. Those who get asked out tend to be asked out by others, too, not just by you - and fairly frequently at that. If after a couple of dates a dude started contacting me and reaching out on his own, great. If after a couple of dates I was still the one doing all the contacting, there just wouldn't be a third date - I'd moved on. And I would never hear from the guy, either - imagine that. (NOTE: the sex could've been playful and satisfying, or even mind-blowing, but the two date thing still applied) After a couple of years I just accepted this as the natural order of things and went with it. Throughout the years, I did get asked by random guys once or twice, and it always came as a surprise to me, and it always felt weird.

Finally - re the single dad to a dog thing - that's a tres lame way to put it, true. But knowing myself? If there was a guy I really wanted to get close to, and he had a dog, made no diff. But if there were two guys I was interested in, and all things being pretty much equal except one had a dog and the other guy didn't? I'd first approach the guy without the dog. When first getting to know a guy, I'd rather be the sole focus. But hey, I'm selfish that way. And for the record, I grew up with dogs, love dogs, and I have a dog now. But in my single days, living in an apartment on the hill and playing the scene, I wanted to keep things real free and easy.
@58 - There's a middle ground between obeying all social expectations and going on a one-person mission to single-handedly defeat them. We can promote gay marriage and the idea that people are people, not gendered roles. People get options when they believe they have options.

You say: "women... complain if their boyfriends/husbands aren't the askers/pursuers/payers/date-planners" - but you know these women. So, do you call them on this? You're allowed to talk to people about these issues.

I am with @2 and @3. "Single dad to a dog" - it was almost impossible to keep reading after that. If I had an inbox as full as Dan's, there is no way I would have kept reading.
Agree with @36 and @63. The letter writer should move on. The Invite Bottom is just not that into him, especially since he "faux-invited" him for a time he knew the writer could not attend. What an asshole.

The dog thing: what it means is that the writer has the responsibility to be home every day at certain times to properly care for his pet, and would find it difficult to do an over-nighter at the other man's home. Though his choice of words was unfortunate, it is a real situation that needs to be dealt with in the early days of a relationship. It seems to me the other man would not take kindly to always have to be the one commuting, especially if he couldn't even be troubled to extend an invitation to get together.
I proposed to my husband (in the international foods aisle of the local market, no less), have the job, make most of the plans, pay the bills, organize the house, etc. He does all of the cooking, all of the home repair and watches our child full time.

We didn't set out to crash through any gender barriers - this is just the way it happened. I know a lot of people who are threatened by this. So, LW, sack up. Either keep asking him out, have a discussion about why this bugs you, or move on.

Also, you're 30? Really? Sheesh.
I'm relieved to see so many commenters relate to both sides of this conversation (rather than write it off as "whiny"). I was discussing this with my talk therapist just today. I've been seeing a man for about six weeks as well (I'm a straight woman) and I am also the one to do the asking, make the arrangements. She (my therapist) said, "But that's the type of person you are." I added, "Yes, I'm the type of person to rush in to fill a vacuum." NOT that I'm necessarily the type who wants to make all the plans, but if no one else is, I'm going to. I actually rather like going along with someone in his plans, his idea of fun, whatever. In my case, this may be less about me being a top and/or him being a bottom, but I am a DOER and he is a SUPPORTER. Him not asking me out doesn't make me as insecure as it may have in my younger years, but sometimes I really do enjoy the role of SUPPORTER to someone else's DOER.

He may also think his idea of date night/plans wouldn't "compete" with mine. For him, date night would probably be him cooking dinner for us and us sitting on the deck and chatting. Whereas I tend to find things like an exclusive art gallery preview and dinner with friends. Both great evenings, if you ask me!

It's MY job to make sure he knows there's no competition there, and that I very much want to "go along" with his plans now and then, too.

It's also my job not to keep a running tally of how many times I've invited vs. how many times he has, etc.
@58: In my experiences as a single male, refusing to obey the social roles, surprisingly, expands my playing field greatly.

@26, 49: Agree completely. This is a power issue. It's just like the letter with the Japanese girlfriend playing power games and trying to make the guy miserable... same thing in this letter, especially when the Harlem guy "asked" the LW out when he knew the LW was busy.

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