SL Letter of the Day: She Wasn't Fine—And You Knew It


I feel like you deserve a standing ovation for this answer. And the guilt trip implicit in this guy's letter makes me want to knock his block off.
*standing ovation*

Just reading this guy's letter made ME want to ball up in a corner and feel super guilty for ruining his life. The woman might have used sex negative language to describe her feelings but the guy is using really emotionally manipulative language to describe his.
If she was talking about how dirty and wrong SHE FELT, rather than how dirty and wrong IT WAS, then she doesn't even owe him an apology for that. She should consider DTMFA.
Dan, you're getting pretty good at this. :-) Excellent advice.
Bravo, good sir. Stellar advice. Spot on.
yeah, he's a douche-magoo for sure
Nailed it.
Spot on, indeed. So, so, SO true.

You (LW) knew that she wasn't fine, and you knew that she didn't *want* to disappoint you, which is why she was having a hard time saying, "Let's go home." That's the point where YOU say, "Let's go home."
@4, yeah, if he gets a little better, he might even be able to quit his day job.
Dan, can I get you live streamed, right into my brain? Like my own God I ask questions to? I wouldn't mess up so bad that way.
Mostly agree with you Dan, but consider this: What if he had called it off, then she blamed him for ruining *her* fantasy? She could have said, "Look, I kept telling you I was fine! Why'd you have to make assumptions about how I felt when I *told* you I was okay! Maybe I was cold at first, but you didn't give me a chance to warm up to it."

You're right that she owes no apology for calling it off. But it ain't called off until it's called off. Communication is essential in these arrangements. Give the guy credit for asking 20 times. Don't knock him because he took her words at face value.
I'd like to know how old CIC is. Any older than his 20s and she should run.
@ 11, bzzzt! Wrong.

Not all communication is verbal, and not everyone is capable of being honest under pressure. LW makes it clear that he saw she was uncomfortable. He selfishly plowed ahead. Hell, it's possible that he deliberately asked 20 times because he knew she would say she's fine, thus giving him permission to go ahead.

Now, if he's young (say, 26 or younger) then he's being immature and this should be a learning moment for him. He'd be less of a douchnozzle and more of a dumb kid. (Yes, twenty-somethings, most of you are still not fully mature and you still do dumb things because you don't know any better.) But if he's older than that, then his girlfriend would do well to send him packing.
@11 - While I think you're right in theory, there's something that smells a little off in his letter to make me disagree in practice. Honestly, her obvious discomfort should have made him uncomfortable, giving him a great excuse to call it off without putting any blame directly on her shoulders, and potentially leaving the option open for a revisit later. If they have the kind of relationship, though, where he doesn't care how she feels and she's afraid to tell him, they're probably just fucked. I think I'm leaning into #3's suggestion for the GF to DTMFA.
I agree with @3. Saying the pseudo-foursome was "dirty and wrong" is sex-negative. Saying the pseudo-foursome felt "dirty and wrong" to her is not.

Hell, many sex-positive people get off on activities that feel dirty and wrong to them. ;)
Given how badly this guy wanted this fantasy to happen, I think it's too much to ask of him (or anyone else) to pull the plug based on implicit signals he may have picked up from his girlfriend.

At the same time, why should it matter to him that she pulled the plug later rather than sooner? I don't think that's what's really bothering him. He's just mad that his girlfriend bailed, and he'd be just as mad regardless of when she did it. And he's entitled to his feelings.

Bottom line - she's not the adventurous woman he was hoping she might be, he's disappointed, and now he needs to figure out what that means for their relationship.
Am I the only one who feels she bears some responsibility here? Yes, she might have felt pressured to go along with something that didn't feel right to her; but as an adult it's up to her to say no with words as well as tone of voice. I don't think that she needs to apologize - for what? - and I do think that she was giving plenty of non verbal cues. But if you're saying one thing with your words - and it's what someone really really wants to hear - and then another with your tone and manner... that's really different from a nice healthy "you know, I'm sorry, I know you were counting on this, but I just really don't want to/can't/don't feel comfortable with this."
I'm saying this as someone who has often said yes and no simultaneously in many situations - it's just not cool! It leaves everyone confused and second- guessing. Also saying it as someone who loves that my current S.O. is very responsive to all the non-verbal cues - but I really try not to put him in situations when he has to ignore my words and try to figure out how to make a call on my behalf.
@ 17, he doesn't get a pass because he wanted it badly. It's not his feelings that matter, but the actions he takes.

EVERYONE has selfish feelings. Only the dingleberry acts on them, which is probably why you can relate to the letter writer.
@19 True dat. Even if you want something badly, if you are an adult, you can cool your jets and realize when something is emotionally damaging to your partner. You don't keep going along with it, with the risk that your partner could be traumatized or scarred.

Of course the LW's entitled to feel disappointed, but anger won't solve anything, and he needs to take a step back and look at his role in this debacle. It sounds like this couple has serious communication problems and as such, should not be engaging in more high-stakes sex play.
@ 18, she needs to learn how to say what she means, that is certainly true. But this guy has shown he's capable of understanding her non-verbal cues, and that's why this mess is all on him. If he truly loves her, he'll work with her on communication and she'll have to honestly work on it too, but that assumes that he won't be so selfish about his role in this (I'm thinking of his overreaction - I agree with Dan that it's possible she foresaw it and felt like she needed to go along).
@ 11: You don't say "you're obviously NOT okay, I'm calling it off." You say, "you say you're okay, but you seem really uncomfortable to me - would you rather just go home? It's fine with me, I don't want to do anything unless you're really on board." And *mean* it, which means you listen to their response and don't punish them if it's not the response you were hoping for. Nothing builds confidence in a partner like showing them that you handle disappointment well.
There could have been sooooo many reasons she bailed. She might have (just for an example) taken a dislike to one or the other or both of the other couple when she finally met them in person.

But, hell, that's one whiny letter. And, srsly, 'checking off' all the GGG boxes doesn't make one GGG if one decides to just fucking Ignore the signals. Sheesh.
He definitely should have picked up on it, but holy fuck it's annoying to ask someone a straight question and not get a truthful answer. I've had this sort of thing happen to me - asked an honest question, really not knowing, and then things falling apart the next day because I didn't realize she wasn't being truthful with her feelings. Be an adult.
Dan nails it! What a whiner - "ruined my fantasy"?! Bullshit.

Except, she needs to put on her big girl panties. Yes, it sounds like he was being an insensitive prick, knowing she wasn't cool and going ahead. (I wonder, where exactly during this date did he find time to ask her 20 times if she was ok? In front of the other couple? Because that doesn't count.)

But she's a grown-up, and if she expects him to act like a grown-up (responding to her non-verbal cues despite her verbal contradiction), she has to as well. Which means taking responsibility for her feelings and making some attempt at communicating them clearly.

Get comfortable saying NO. Please. It's a lot less painful than going along with something that makes you feel ashamed and dirty, and requires a lot less therapy later.

Btw, anybody who hooks up with randoms doesn't require an apology when it doesn't go down. That's par for the course.
I'm with @18 here. LW is unarguably in the wrong here, it's true. But I think part of being GGG is being honest about your limits. He absolutely fucked up, but she set him up to fuck up.

Let's imagine a couple of alternate scenarios: one where LW correctly read and acted on her signals, and one where she simply answered him honestly that she was uncomfortable.

Obviously the latter is preferable to the former. In the latter scenario, there are no hard feelings; she gave it a go, and it just wasn't working out. Maybe they could try again, after talking about it, and thinking about it, and just giving it more time. In the former scenario, he's left always doubting how GGG she is about any new thing, and trying to read how she actually feels despite what she's telling him.

Of course, the real outcome is the worst of the three, and it's his fault that it's the one that was realized. He fucked up GGG the worst here. But she wasn't completely GGG herself.

I want to be clear here, I'm not blaming her for this. She may well have had her reasons for not being clear and straightforward. At worst, she was less-than-perfectly GGG out of fear. Being GGG can be scary sometimes. It can be hard sometimes (rimshot). There's no shame in falling short of the GGG ideal because of that kind of thing. But GGG also means that sometimes you don't get what you want. That's why LW fucked up, and that makes him a douche.
I'd be very curious to know how old these two are, because between his "But she said she was fine" jackassery and her passive-aggressiveness (while I do agree with Dan's response, part of being an adult in an adult relationship means actually attempting to communicate), I'd be surprised if either of them is older than 23.
No means no.

Yes means no.

Got it? Because you guys are supposed to read minds, not listen to words.
I would say that her saying that it FELT dirty and wrong is very different from her saying that it WAS dirty and wrong, ergo, she owed absolutely no apology. Especially since this guy seems like a douche and I'm guessing he's just going to glom onto that, ignore everything else Dan said and go, "Oh, and ALSO, you owe me an apology for this and Dan Savage said so!"

Has the definition of GGG changed? I thought the partner who indulges the other's fantasy is the one expected to be GGG.

And asking her 20 times if she's ok is definitely a way of pressuring her, by putting the blame on her shoulders in the presence of the other couple.

Also, the ability to delay gratification is the sign of a higher-functioning human being. If the guy were more patient and willing to spread the whole thing out over several dates, and talk with her about it alone in between them, then he might have gotten what he wanted.

He's either just young and horny, or old and a selfish asshole. (I'll put the cutoff age at 35)
Dan, if it's so "obvious" that you're going to ding him about it then you have to give her at least a little responsibility for being at least a little more forthcoming than repeating "I'm fine." Ignoring body language is unwise, but expecting mind-reading is no foundation for communication either.
@ 18: You're right, she also has some responsibility to express her feelings honestly. OTOH, Dan may be right, she might have been hoping she'd warm up - or she might have been afraid of his reaction. He doesn't seem very interested in how she feels, only in how it affects him.

@19: Nailed it.

@ 26: She definitely made it worse - but given his immature, self-absorbed reaction, it's likely that even an honest answer from her would have elicited a resentful response from him. There's some Newbie Panic here - classic "OMIGOD THE UNICORN GOT AWAY" shit. And some fault on both sides, to be sure. But I think she could tell he was going to react badly. This does not sound like a high-trust relationship, this sounds like manipulative rules lawyering as a substitute for honest communication.

@ 28: If he knew she "was not having fun", then he was already "reading her mind". Yes, she should have told him - but it's not like it was a mystery to him.
Even if she was fine, I want to point something out to this douchenozzle: Even if she waited til the last minute, even if she waited until everyone's clothes were off that's COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT! At ANY POINT she had the right to say "No, this isn't working, we need to go." She doesn't owe ANYONE a fucking apology for realizing she could not go through with it. YOU owe HER a fucking apology for pushing her to do something YOU wanted to do that she was obviously uncomfortable with when finally presented with the reality of it.
When your verbal communication contradicts your nonverbal communication your verbal communication had better be truthful or it at least needs to take you where you want to go. If you're going to misrepresent you should be prepared for people to be mad about it.
I don't expect anyone to read minds. But the LW is clear that he KNEW she wasn't into it, he could tell it wasn't going well:

The minute the date started, it was clear she was having problems. It was nothing the other couple would have noticed, but I could tell she was not having fun.

If she said she was fine and seemed fine and he was totally blown away when she bailed, my response would've been very different. He knew there was a problem, he knew she was unhappy. It seems to me that he was exploiting her desire to either please him or her fear of angering him. Not cool on either score.

Yes, people should communicate, take the opportunity to say no when a yes/no question is asked, if "no" is what they're feeling. But... come on, folks. This isn't a case of "no means no and yes means no." This is a case of someone taking advantage of a person who was having a difficult time saying no. That's different.
Is it wrong to think that they, as a couple, owe the other couple an apology? They didn't say no and bail. They said no and still fucked in the other couple's house. Ew.

Also, it's far more disenheartening to stop things when you get to the destination that it is to be stopped early. A lot more time and energy is involved and a significant portion of the evening has been invested. If she had said she was uncomfortable with it during dinner or whatever, the other couple could have done other things, from dancing to seeing a movie to finding another couple. It's just considerate to be honest with yourself, and with everybody involved long before you reach the fail-safe mode.

I've had and seen many people blow off at the last minute for any number of activities that aren't necessarily sex ( I have had a guy stop a scene as soon as I pulled out the rope, and that was annoying as fuck), and in all situations where there wasn't unforeseen circumstances involved (double booked, kinda didn't want to in the first place, no money, etc), I felt a bit cheated as other plans could have been made. That's the disappointment this guy is expressing.

Yes, he's immature about it, but the situation sucks. The gf should have been more honest about it. And, in a situation like this, communication is key.
Great answer, Dan.
I just wanted to say to everyone who thinks that putting "I feel" on the front of a sentence makes it OK to say anything at all, no matter how hurtful it may be:
I feel like you're all assholes.
I'm not saying you are assholes. This isn't flaming. I'm just talking about my feelings. And I feel like you're complete failures in life and basic reading comprehension.
I agree that the girlfriend needs to speak up when she is uncomfortable. That doesn't absolve him of ignoring the fact that he knew she wasn't comfortable and talking to her about it. It also doesn't absolve him of being a total brat about the fact that she finally did speak up and say she wasn't comfortable fulfilling his fantasy. I also am triggered by the fact that he seems to be hounding her for a REASON why she called it off. "I don't want to do this" should be enough. A little gentle probing about whether or not there was something about the particular encounter that was problematic or if when faced with the reality, she couldn't do it would be appropriate to see if this is still on the table. Saying "the ONLY reason she gives is..." implies that he keeps on asking for a reason that he can fix or dismiss so that he can talk her into giving him his fantasy.

I agree if she said the act was dirty and wrong, she should apologize. If she said SHE felt dirty and wrong doing it, that is a statement of fact and I see no need to apologize for it. If my partner were to ask me to do something that made me feel bad about myself, I should be able to say I don't want to do it, without having to justify myself.

This couple has a lot to work out. Perhaps the LW need a partner who is more in synch with his sexual needs. Perhaps his girlfriend needs to find someone who will not harass her when she finally states her boundaries. Either way, they have a lot to think about before they proceed.
Why were you expected to pull the plug by simply picking up on her tonality and lack of enthusiasm? Er, because she's a girl and you're a guy.

I don't want to be sexist here, but there's a double standard in the genders' expectations: women generally expect men to act on women's non-verbal signals (as their female friends would), whereas men generally do not expect that of women.

I would say that men generally only hold others accountable if things are made clear by being stated bluntly.

That said, the LW was a douche for realizing his girlfriend's discomfort but discounting it. As others said, this does not bode well for the relationship.

So she coasted along all night, telling you what you wanted to hear, hoping she would warm to the idea. And then, at the last possible moment, she bailed.

And that was her right.

To be clear, bailing is fine at any time, even if the night had gone perfectly up until something came up at the last moment. But telling your intimate partner what they want to hear instead of what you actually feel is a recipe for potential immediate disaster and for long-term poisoning of the communication well. What is it you like to say, Dan? Men [people] are stupid.
@37 You are deliberately misrepresenting those of us who believe that adding the words "I feel" excuses any statement. What we are discussing is that stating how you feel about participating in any activity feels to the person involved. For example: "I feel that baseball is a boring sport, so I don't go to baseball games," is very different from saying "I feel baseball is boring and therefore anyone who enjoys it is an idiot,".

That said, I feel that if I made the comment you did, I would be doing it to be insufferably judgmental and superior and I would be incredibly arrogant. I do not know your motivation, although I feel that I can not come up with another explanation.
@ 28

You nailed it, and Dan encourages this cretinous behavior.
Dan, I agree with you almost completely. My only disagreement is that I don't think his girlfriend owes him an apology for saying it felt dirty and wrong to her.

The LW sounds like an abusive asshole. Thanks for sticking up for his girlfriend.
throughout this entire saga, and the accompanying posts, I keep thinking that the girlfriend has an obligation to herself to learn how to use her words and say what she wants, thinks, or feels, particularly when asked directly. That speaks of insecurity and not placing enough value on herself to be able to state outright no, I am not OK, with you or any of this.

This guy is a whiny dick. She doesn't owe him or the other couple a fucking thing. But she owes herself a whole hell of a lot.
@35: Hmm. I guess I see no reason to take sides on this one, let alone trot out the old "big mean man takes advantage of poor helpless little girl" chestnut.
Agree with those who say she has nothing to apologize for. She said it felt wrong and dirty TO HER. Those are her honest feelings and she has nothing to be sorry for.

Otherwise, you nailed it.
@18, you're not alone. Having been in similar situations, I *want* my partner to believe what I say rather than assume he knows better, and I accept the responsibility for protecting myself and articulating my needs.

I think he needs to apologize for his overcranked & insensitive response, and I don't think she owes him any kind of apology for backing out... but I do think she should take responsibility for all of those disingenuous/wishful-thinking "I'm fine"s and note that she's probably not up to taking care of herself in a similar situation anytime soon.

I'm with the poster who suspects these are some very young and immature people we're talking about here.
@28 It's quite possible to read into people's tone, body language, etc. The LW obviously knew his partner was not okay with the situation. He didn't have to "read her mind" to do that.

In all honesty, one should be able to tell if a partner (or a family member, close friend) is uncomfortable even if they don't say so. It's something that generally just gets picked up on by spending time with that person.
@18, you're not alone. Having been in similar situations, I *want* my partner to believe the words I say rather than assume he knows better (i.e. "can tell I'm not having a good time"), and as such I accept the responsibility for protecting myself and articulating my needs.

I think he needs to apologize for his overcranked & shortsighted response, and I don't think she owes him any kind of apology for backing out... but I DO think she needs to take responsibility for all of those disingenuous/wishful-thinking/passive "I'm fine"s. Noting that she's probably not up to taking care of herself in a similar situation anytime soon would be smart, too.

I'm with the poster who suspects these are some very young and immature people we're talking about here.
Damn, sorry for the double-post! Argh.
It seems like a lot of folks want to take sides in this. I don't have much sympathy for either one. Dude, your boner got crushed. So what, grow up. GF, what's w/ demanding your guy read your mind, expecting him to 'know' that he should call it off.

But what I really wonder if the guy's 3rd sentence. What is between them that makes them a match in almost all ways? Sure doesn't sound like it to me. The only thing I can say is that I hope they both grow up a little more before they have any kids, if at all.
@47: these are some very young and immature people we're talking about here

See, that's just it. They are kids. The guy is supposed to be a bit of a pushy, pouty douchebag and the girl is supposed to be a bit of a passive-aggressive crazy-making bitch. All of this falls within the bounds of developmentally appropriate misbehavior for young adults.
People are terrible mind-readers, and it is unfair to expect mind-reading of anyone. I believe they are far better readers of body language, and hers was shouting in capital letters. That still doesn't excuse her from being clear. He screwed up by continuing to expect/demand the "great fantasy" to happen. She screwed up by not using spoken words to convey her growing discomfort.

Note to gentlemen: anytime a woman says "I'm fine," reword your question to get at the truth. Check her body language while you're at it. Note to women: if you say "I'm fine," you run the risk of being taken at your word. Note to LW: by accusing her of ruining your fantasy and demanding an apology, you have effectively ruled out any possibility of it happening in the future with this woman.
Nothing in the letter makes me think either member of this couple really even likes each other.
I would never expect a romantic partner to read minds. The fact that the guy picked up on his girlfriend's nonverbal communication, however, indicates he knew how she felt and pressed on anyway. Asking her 20 times whether she's OK sounds to me like badgering, especially if done in the other couple's presence. It's almost like, the more you ask, the more you expect the same "I'm fine", and the harder it becomes for her to say 'no'. If I were the boyfriend, I'd have pulled her aside and said, "Look, this situation isn't going the way I had hoped. Why don't we go home now and reconsider this idea some other time." That way, it's a neutral and safe way for both of them to go home, and the onus isn't on her to speak up on the spot. Then, when they're in the safety and privacy of home, they can talk about it and revisit the idea if/when both of them are ready.

Dan, good advice.
What this couple needs is what Miss Manners calls "the look." That expression that, unreadable to outsiders, tells your other that something is terribly wrong. "The look" must always be respected, with explanations later in private. An alternative is a sort of safe word or safe phrase. Like, "Oh, hon, we really should go. You remember, I promised Mom." Don't say WHAT you promised Mom. That would be lying.
What #3 said. She said, according to him, that she FELT dirty. She doesn't owe any apology.

This reminds me of the LW who had a nonpenetrative threesome planned and violated the no-p-in-v agreement. If he'd played his cards right, respected his partner's boundaries, he would have eventually gotten there with her, but now, he'll never get another three-way.

Same with this asshole. She came to meet the couple. If he'd respected her boundaries, he'd have gotten there with her eventually. Hope she dumps his ass.
No where in this letter does the LW ever say that his girlfriend blames him for not stopping things. The only thing he says at all about how she feels, was that she says it felt dirty and wrong to her and that's why she bailed. I don't see that she bears any blame here at all. Maybe she thought she could bear through it for him and only at the last moment did she realize she really couldn't go through with it.

The LW on the other hand is a complete asshole. He threw a tantrum and blamed her for "ruining" his fantasy. He doesn't seem to really care about how she feels. You get to call things off at any time, that is how consent works. Should he have stopped things sooner? Maybe, it certainly would have been the considerate thing to do when it was clear she wasn't enjoying herself but I don't blame him for not doing it. Should he have blamed her and berated her for ruining things after she bailed? Hell no, and that is what makes him a complete douche.
I wonder how many times she's said "I'm fine" in the past in the exact same way and he didn't pick up on it because it didn't involve such a big production. I also wonder how he "proposed" this idea and negotiated it out with her. This seems less like an anomalous event and more like a culmination of miscommunications that built to a breaking point.
@30, exactly, this guy torpedoed his own chances at realizing this fantasy later, simply because he insisted on attempting to go through with it all the way at the wrong time. Would he expect his girlfriend to go on a 50 mile ride the first time she got on a bicycle, or make a perfect sweater the first time she picks up a pair of knitting needles?

Slow your roll, dude. What would've been the harm in first meeting this couple for dinner and enjoying some flirty conversation, then getting together at their house and making out on the couch a few weeks later, then progressing to the bedroom once a trusting, sexy vibe has been established? But you couldn't stand to tap the brakes at the right time, and now you done fucked up. So stop trying to hold some GGG ideal over your girlfriend's head.
I'll have to agree that he is an asshole. Something I noticed tho, that no-one has commented on, is that she didn't actually give a complete answer to what he asked. He asked her TWO questions and got ONE answer. An answer that may have actually been completely honest even. He asked if she was alright and got the answer of "I'm fine" which was probably correct. Unless she was feeling ill or something similar she was indeed just fine, physically anyway. Mentally she was probably going thru hell but still she did answer the question. What she never seems to have answered was if she wanted to go home. Personally I would assume that means yes take me home but that is just me. Others might interpret it to be no I want to stay. I've done several things in my life that I was uncomfortable with for various reasons. Some of those reasons I've explained to people and some I haven't. So if I'm doing something and seem uncomfortable it doesn't mean stop. It just means I'm not totally enjoying myself for some reason. I'll let a person know if I want to stop.

You can't always go by the fact a person is uncomfortable to be the ONLY reason to stop something. It is tho grounds to get them aside and privately find out WHY they are uncomfortable. And if they can't explain it to you or don't outright say they want to go thru with whatever it is you call it off. Personally I'm rather uncomfortable with having sex with another guy without a girl also being involved. With her there and involved I'm totally ok with everything right down to doing a guy/guy sex show for her enjoyment. No issues and I'll enjoy myself (and him). If it were to be just me and a guy I'd be rather uncomfortable. If I ended up there I'd still go thru with everything I'd just be somewhat uncomfortable. Nor would I necessarily wish to explain to the guy that it isn't him that is making me uncomfortable, it's memories of my uncle making me his playtoy when I was six that is making me uncomfortable. Since my uncle didn't involve a girl in our "playing" I don't have those memories and I can have unreserved fun.

So while the guy is an asshole, it is because he didn't try to find out why she was uncomfortable and never tried to get the second question answered. Not simply for trying to go thru with it while knowing she wasn't totally comfortable with everything.
@54 has a point, nothing in the letter suggests the couple involved likes one another. They should both cut their losses and just DTMFA.
Three cheers for the advice, Dan! Kudos to those who aim for compassion and understanding in communication.
It's not a question of whether or not the girlfriend "should" have said "no" more clearly. Whatever was going on in her mind, he is a person who would go into a situation believing that his partner is uncomfortable, and still not be bothered or turned off by that.

He doesn't seem to have believed her when she said "I'm fine..." He never says "I wondered whether she was okay," or "I wasn't sure what was going on with her," or anything along those lines. He says that he knew she didn't like it, and that wasn't a problem for him.

That's why he's an asshole.
He was using the idea of GGG to justify being coercive. Dan called him on it.
What a rookie mistake. Wake up brother. "Checking boxes" doesn't work in relationships.
She was nervous, of course who wouldnt be. But she gave the all clear may times. She was interested to see how it turn out. When it became too uncomfortable for her, they stopped.

Where is the problem here?
@39: She did react to his nonverbal signals. His verbal signal was "Hey sweetie, you okay?" and his nonverbal signal was "Because I want this to happen, and if you can't get yourself into it I'll be furious and scathing and demand that you come up with reasons I can tell you don't count, AND you will have disappointed these two innocent people which is impolite, so you won't, right?"

I think 38 has a great point: very reminiscent of the lawyer whose girlfriend thought she could break up with him, but he felt her reasons didn't hold up under cross.

On her communication skills: Look, if she'd written in I'd tell her to work on them. She was going to need to play the No Means No card if no one got food poisoning and a meteor didn't hit. Though I will buy that the first couple of 'it's okays' she might have thought she'd get into it with another glass of wine and a little more conversation. But she didn't write in, so he gets the advice. And his advice is that, as someone up thread noted, he cares about how she's feeling only in terms of how it impacts him.

A great follow-up to the YMY/NMN discussion a couple of weeks ago. Someone who's reluctant to up and say no may well give a nervous consent if their partner checks the box with a verbal "So you're into this?" and a nonverbal "Because you know what happens if you aren't." And The Question tends to fall short of Twilight fanfic, and more into "You're into this, right? Because I will be hurt/disappointed/mad if you're not."
I thought this was mediocre advice from Dan, and I'm surprised so many people agree. Maybe I'm bringing my priors in here, but it drives me up the wall when people say things they don't mean. Here's how I view this situation:

1. LW's girlfriend lied to him, over 20 times;
2. About something she knew was really, really important to him.

I don't think anyone would suggest that the girlfriend had to go along with something she was uncomfortable with, but now she's shown herself to be completely untrustworthy. How on earth is LW supposed to try out new things with her in the future? He could say, "I'm going to stop, even if you say you're fine, if you seem uncomfortable," but what if he's not sure? Doesn't this mean she has to come off as obviously enthusiastic, and whatever she says is irrelevant?

It's not that she needs to "be an adult" or anything other commenters have suggested. She just needs to realize that we use words to communicate to avoid this exact problem.
@ 69, that's an uninformed viewpoint. You must not have grown up in America if you think women are automatically going to contradict their boyfriends and not place their pleasures ahead of their own. You might be enlightened, but traditional gender roles run very deep and it takes a lot to overcome them. Don't blame the victim here.

Also, you're forgetting the big thing - THE GUY READ THE SIGNS CORRECTLY. Some people are too dense to read cues, but this guy was not. He knew she was uncomfortable - that's why he kept asking. If he didn't know that, he might have asked just once, if at all. That's why Dan is right and why most commenters here agree.

Maybe you were lucky and were brought up to communicate clearly. Millions were not and it's a struggle sometimes. Judging these people for not having this skill is a dick move.
@70 That's some embrace of double standards you have there.

Consider also that "not having fun"- "monotone"-"I'm fine" is not the same as "having problems", which is not the same as "dirty" and "wrong". There's room for all sorts of nuance here that 2 monosyllables just don't cover.
@70 I like how you just called the LW's gf a victim.

She asked for it to stop, and they did. He got ticked off, maybe a bit more than acceptable, but she is not a victim.

Or, maybe you're saying she's a victim of traditional gender roles, which completely undermines a woman's own sense of self and their own independence. Maybe I know too many women who buck the trend, but they always earn my respect.

Also, signs aren't everything. When I was a fledgling kinkster as a sub, the first few scenes were with trepidation. Maybe not as much as this girl was exhibiting, but I always said I was fine. And, I'm always grateful for those who listened to my words than my reaction.
I'm one more with @18, but I am sympathetic to @3 and @12 - mostly, they both need to grow up. She does bear some responsibility for learning to speak up about her limits, but that doesn't really make him any less a douche-nozzle who deserves dumping for basically ignoring her obvious-to-him discomfort.
Okay, let's rewrite it. He couldn't read her signs of nervousness at all. And maybe, since this was the first time for this activity, he checked in with her twice anyhow, mid-date and as they left, and she smiled and told him it was good and he believed her. (Maybe she believed herself.) Until they got to the other couple's house, when she realized she really couldn't and it felt wrong for her and she pulled the plug.

Do you imagine he would not have had, well, the exact reaction he had in his letter?

I think he'd still have written, "I feel that, by ... freezing up at the crucial moment, she completely destroyed the fantasy of mine. I think that what she did was enormously unfair to me and the other couple, and she should apologize."

Except that he was reading her body language perfectly well, and rather than do as a number of people suggested--gracefully suggest they take things slower, show he could be trusted to respect her boundaries, thus raising the likelihood this could happen in the future--he provided 20 rounds of what sounds like variations on, "Hey sweetie, in front of these nice strangers who are trying hard to please you, you like them and you're into this, right? You wouldn't destroy my fantasy, right? You wouldn't be unfair to me or this couple, right? Tell me you're 'fine'."
More information would be really helpful. What is her explanation for her lying? Did they have an opportunity in private to discuss the matter in more detail? Why didn't either one of them create one?

I think this guy deserved the dressing down Dan gave him, although without more informaiton, young and desperately horny for his fantasy is probably more accurate a descriptor than douche. I suspect that he will grow from the advice, and become a little more self-aware.

But put me in the group that thinks this woman deserves some serious censure as well. I presume she is an adult. She needs to be honest with her boyfriend. People are not entitled to say one thing, mean another, and create problems by doing so.

It seems they both rushed into this without proper planning and consideration of all the issues associated with it; he due to enthusiasm and her due to her unwillingness. But if this is indicative of their communicaitons in general, they may want to split up.
@ 70, you're not comprehending anything if you detect any double standards here. Probably you didn't read everything I read upthread? Go read those posts and you should see that I advocate for anything but. Let me know if I can clarify anything else after you do that.

@ 72, yes, I meant that she's the victim of our society's expected gender roles. You might restrict your associations to the more enlightened among us, which may be why you find such women to be rare. I too prefer the company of strong, confident women but we're the exception, not the rule.

Keep in mind that a person may appear to be strong and confident but prove to be quite the opposite when you really and truly get to know them. It's pretty common in my experience.
Basically, he's mad because "by... freezing up at the crucial moment, she completely destroyed the fantasy of mine. I think that what she did was enormously unfair to me and the other couple."

He tries to blame it on her because he gave her earlier opportunities to, um, freeze up at the crucial moment, completely destroy his fantasy, and be enormously unfair to him and the other couple.

Dan rightly calls him on this, because he could tell she was upset and not into this as it became an actuality--so much so he asked 20 friggin times!--and he could have tried some other tactics to turn this into a scenario in which she did NOT completely destroy his fantasy. He treated her like a somewhat glitchy element of his fantasy. (Reset. Reset. Reset. You're fine, right?)
@ 75, depends on your definition of "adult." If it's the legal one, you're forgetting that people are still not fully mature in their 20s. (We don't know this couple's age, but it vibes 20s to me.) As such, she deserves slack - a lot more than the guy who (it must be repeated) saw that she wasn't up for it, but let his desire to see this through overrule that.

It ought to be a learning experience for both, but the onus is always on the person who was being inconsiderate, not the one who was trying to be accommodating.
I don't think she should even have to apologize for saying it made her feel dirty and wrong.
@76 The LW can manage his disappointment better. His girlfriend can say better what she feels. They both have a basic skill they can work on.
@70: gender roles run very deep and it takes a lot to overcome them.

Excellent point. That's why whenever a woman makes any kind of an assertion, I always reply "Now, is that what you really think, tootsie, or is that just the gender roles talking again?"
In my early 20's i could have been this girl.. lack of confidence + fear of the consequences of backing out + plus a pushy boyfriend who's built it up to a big, 'this is the one time to try out my hugest fantasy' deal can make it very difficult to turn round and say no, especially if you previously said yes to what seemed hot, or at least, not a huge turn off in fantasy form.. If he was oblivious that's one thing, but he knew well enough that she seemed uncomfortable, he should have known to slow it down. At best, he's cocked up his chances of ever getting her into a similar situation, at worst, he's about to be single. Not because of not reading her non-verbal cues (he should have done if it were that obvious, but she bears some responsibility there too), but for his reaction afterwards. It's his fantasy, therefore he has the responsibility for making it as good as he can for her and ensuring she is comfortable and having fun and that it happens at her pace and to be patient and understanding of her fears. He failed on all counts and showed he can't be trusted to take account of her needs.. dtmfa
@82 How has he, "at best", cocked it up forevah? I think you and the LW are being overly dramatic on that score. And how do you make it as good as you can for her if her feedback consists of "I'm fine"? Also, it's *his* fantasy. It might not be hot for her at all. Her fun might only be vicarious. Or it could be like taking out the garbage.
@83: He's at best cocked it up for ever by being a tremendous asshole afterwards. If he hadn't thrown a shit fit, maybe she would feel safe to try again, but now she knows how he'll respond if she tries again and still can't do it. What sane person would try again if she knew "failure" meant being berated like that?
My own background may be influencing my opinions on this situation, but it seems to me that this guy is emotionally abusive. Such folks are super skilled at making everything the other person's fault. Often so skilled at manipulation that those around them believe it, too. ("Well, it's my fault; I shouldn't have XYZ...") After however many months or years (LW doesn't say) of this guy getting upset when she doesn't do or say exactly what he wants, of *course* she would attempt to avoid rocking the boat, avoid upsetting him in any way. After being trained that speaking up for yourself has miserable consequences, she would learn *not* to be honest about her feelings. She would say she's fine when prompted. She would allow herself to be uncomfortable until the discomfort is greater than than of his inevitable punishment afterward. When he says that "she only talks about how dirty and wrong it felt to her," this probably means that he is making her go through the same conversation, over and over again until she agrees it's her fault.

Girl needs to get out, now.
There was never anything to be gained from observing what humans said to one another – language was just there to hide their thoughts.

Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man (Corgi Paperback edition), p.304
I think 67, 72 and 77 got it right.

Also, everyone who says that she is to blame because she said she was fine: do you think the guy would have reacted differently if she'd really been fine up to the crucial moment to freeze then?
My only advice for this young-sounding couple is: Get used to it. Welcome to reality. Having sex not go exactly as you planned in your masturbation fantasies is NORMAL. Yes, it sucks, sometimes more so than other times. But executing GGG is not as simple and seamless as Dan sometimes makes it out to be; this seems especially true for opposite-sex couples.

Be patient and be keep trying. Sometimes we don't get every sex fantasy realized, but it sounds like you have a creative mind. You and your girlfriend can play in other ways, or if it's a deal breaker, find a woman who shares your same kinks. But don't hold out for the woman who likes everything you like (aka the perfect woman). She doesn't exist, and that's OK.

(and to all the guys complaining about how women expect men to read their minds: Trust me: You are just as confusing to us as we are to you. Get over it.)
@ Matt from Denver's posts.
You're engaged in a fair bit of special pleading there. Yes, people are influenced by their social conditioning, but the way you advance it is more like an excuse, as in yes, I know that she has an obligation to be up-front, but, hey, society made it so that she can't. That sort of thing drives even progressive men insane because it smacks of a cheat code in the hands of one side of the debate.
Count me in with those who think that the LW is being an asshole, and he's probably in the habit of being an asshole. He does rather write and act like somebody who's in constant violation of Wheaton's Law.

I read the event and wonder if she was being passive-aggressive and doing her damnedest to make sure that he didn't do this again. (Let's face it: some people will be dicks that way if they really want to ensure that they don't get asked again.) The problem for LW is that even if I assume the worst of her and assume that she did exactly that I rather think he forged the rod for his own back: everything about the tone and wording of his letter indicates that he's a pushy asshole and that anything short of this sort of behaviour wouldn't stop his being a pushy asshole.
I've been there. I understand feeling simultaneously (a) freaked out and also (b) not wanting to cause the adventure to end. Imagine being on a roller-coaster you've waited all day for, and now the big drop is in front of you and you're terrified. Are you fine? Well, not really. But do you want to get off the roller coaster? No, not really.

In the end, she did want off the roller coaster, and that bummed him out.

Here's what I would do: as soon as my partner started giving off a bad vibe, I would express my discomfort. I'd let him or her know that the evening will end soon if he/she can't cheer up. Who wants a sex adventure with Debbie Downer along?

For those who think she bears the greater burden of responsibility and think it's unfair to expect him to "read her mind" (conveniently ignoring the fact that he did in fact know she was uncomfortable), consider an alternative letter, in which the LW says "I asked my girlfriend throughout the night if she was okay and she always said she was fine, and she certainly seemed to be having fun. So I was caught completely off-guard when we got to their house and suddenly she was NOT fine and called the whole thing off. What did I do wrong?"

In this case the response probably would not have been "you're a douchebag for not reading her mind", but something like "maybe she wasn't being honest, maybe she changed her mind, or maybe the situation changed for her in some way - but you'll have to ask her. Whatever her answer, she has the right to withdraw consent *at any point*, and if you give her a hard time about it, then that's a douchebag move and a good way to lose any shot at a second chance."

I think IPJ @74 has it exactly right: if that was how it went down, he probably would have had a very similar reaction. What made it worse in this case is that she wasn't fine - and he knew it. Which everyone here should know, based on the TITLE of the letter.
@70 "You must not have grown up in America if you think women are automatically going to contradict their boyfriends and not place their pleasures ahead of their own. You might be enlightened, but traditional gender roles run very deep and it takes a lot to overcome them. Don't blame the victim here."

Born and bred, and actually I think that skill is much more common than you seem to (specifically the contradiction part). I've seen it in many women from gender-traditional families, as well as the ones from the so-called "enlightened" families you might expect would be encouraging their girls to speak up. It may be an acquired skill, but it's not rare -- and not having acquired it is a sign to stay out of complicated situations/overly deep water until you learn, NOT a free pass on responsibility for yourself. Labeling her a victim doesn't help.

That's the lesson I really hope she's learning from this debacle. Assuming the LW is still reading, I think the lessons the he'll learn are pretty clear:

GGG --- that acronym doesn't mean what you think it means.
However desperate you are to make a fantasy happen, glossing over signs of trouble is unkind and will come back to bite you in the ass, and may leave you deservedly single.
Don't engage in emotionally risky stuff with someone unless the two of you communicate well -- as in much, MUCH better than you described here. If you can't believe what someone tells you, you should NOT be playing these kinds of games together.

Okay, for the sake of argument only, I'll concede that the girlfriend "lied" about being OK. The problem is when she told the truth, he gets all bent out of shape and wants to blame her for finally telling the truth. She had every right to stop the experience when she decided to stop it. Instead the LW is demanding that his girlfriend come up with an acceptable reason to put an end to this adventure and "I didn't want to do it" is apparently not good enough. He says she doesn't give a good enough reason. The only reason that counts is that she wanted it to stop.

@72 I don't think the letter writer gets props because he didn't force her to live up to her agreement. Not forcing your girlfriend to have sex when she doesn't want to is the way people should behave, not something so unusual that we should applaud the LW for behaving like a decent human being. My objections are to his sense of entitlement that is expressed in this letter. He seems to think that because his girlfriend tried to gut it out, for whatever reason, she was required to continue. She wasn't.

To those that say it drives them crazy when WOMEN act the way the girlfriend did, I was driven crazy when my decidedly male husband said fine when he didn't mean it and my mother-in-law was driven crazy when her male husband did it. Passive-aggressive is not exclusive to women.
This letter pissed me off, but Dan's response was right on.

If anything, I think that HE owes HER an apology. He knew that she wasn't okay with it, yet insisted on going through with things.
I don't think she used shaming language, saying something feels dirty or wrong to you does not mean you think it should feel dirty or wrong to everyone.
It's all right there in the letter, people. You're not paying attention. He said it was obvious she didn't like it and was uncomfortable. The fact that he asks 20 times is not even a necessary clue. He SAID HE KNEW.
To the commenters who say she has no need to apologize for "how dirty and wrong it felt to her" I submit that you're giving the haters of the world an easy out.

"Women who have sex before marriage feel like dirty whores to me."
"I feel like homosexuals are going to hell for all that dirty buttsex"

Do we really want to excuse shaming language because the hater frames it as just feeling wrong and dirty to them?
If someone does not want to engage in sex with an audience, in sex with someone they don't know well, in sex with a partner their bf/gf picked out for them, in sex with thirds and fourths, etc, the reason is going to come down to something like "I'm not okay doing that, whether this particular time or ever, because it feels wrong." You shouldn't have to sex-validate the entire world every time you say something is not your cup of tea.

To recast your examples:
"My having sex outside of marriage would feel wrong." (Extension for insecure friends: I don't care if you fuck the entire bar, but stop whining about how I won't achieve self-actualization until I start having sex in a way that makes you feel secure about your life.)

"I don't want to have sex with another woman. I know guys claim it's hot and they love the idea, but it just feels wrong and icky and I can't get remotely it. No."
When I was about 20 a friend of mine asked me to go with her on a double date with a guy she had this HUGE crush on, and his friend. The minute I met my "date" I knew it wouldn't work. Both guys were fairly drunk, mine was a jerk, and they were trying to get us into their car. I instinctively wanted to bail, but we were young and quite stupid, and my friend was looking at me with those puppy eyes. So off we went. We ended up at a bar, then at my friend's date apartment, quite far from home. I told my friend several times that I wanted to go home and she told me I was ruining her "dream" My friend and her date locked themselves in the bedroom and I was left to fend for myself with my guy. After a long wrestle I ended up giving the guy a blowjob to avoid further advances. I was so disgusted and angry, mostly with myself for not taking better care of me. And with my friend for being a manipulative bitch. It never happened again. Live and learn. But it is true that young people, and women in particular, sometimes have a hard time saying no, and will do stupid things not to "let others down" or because "they already said yes" Abusing that situation is an awful thing to do.
@85, I think you are spot-on about emotional abuse. A jewel of an unregistered comment, in case anyone skipped it.