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

Comments

103
Agreed. Posted by Seenitbefore @ 85:

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.
104
@18 I think you're absolutely right that she does have a responsibility to just say what she wants, rather than making him ask her repeatedly. However, this guy seems like the worse offender in the situation, so I think that's why people are being hard on him. He comes across as a manipulative jerk. It seems like she's a prop in his fantasy rather than someone he genuinely cares about.
105
Pretty much agree w/ what most posters have said: they sound young, & this kinda thing - a saucy night out involving other people - can be a huge learning experience, both as regards that evening, & how the couple thinks of each other.

Should she have "UYW" - Use Your Words (remember that)? Yes, definitely. As an adult, she has every responsibility to speak the truth & represent herself, especially on something so intimate & important as this adventure was to her mate. That's something you don't learn until you've done it, IMO.

BUT, as many have noted, he bears the burden of responsibility here. It was *his* fantasy; he seems to resent the fact it didn't work out, but most importantly, he was able to tell that things weren't okay for his girlfriend, was able to read her feelings, & pressed on. Fulfillment of this fantasy was more important, in that moment, than whether she was genuinely okay or not.

And for those of you not seeing it..really? You're in this delicate situation with other people around, & your horny S.O. keeps asking you.."Are you sure you're okay? Are you sure? How about now?" I bet some of the times he asked *were* in front of the other couple, too. How is that *not* manipulative? That's a lot of pressure, & clearly blames her for things not working out, as opposed to appearing to the folks they were visiting like a team.

& then to write Dan & say she needs to apologize? What for? She didn't say - 'your fantasy is dirty'. She said..'this makes me *feel* dirty & wrong'. At which point things shoulda been tabled, whatever graceful out needed to be offered to the other players should have been offered, & they could have talked about it later, found out if that dirty feeling was a forever-no, or a boundary to explore later.

CIC: Someone willing to push the boundaries with you - to try something with which you know they aren't comfortable, to make you happy - is like a rare jewel. You don't have to kiss anyone's ass 24/7, but in moments where such adventures are being had, your mate needs to know that they come first - so to speak - always. You should never involve guest stars in the movie that is you & them, without feeling certain of their comfort. If the foundation isn't 100% solid, anyone else stepping in can shake it.

I dunno. Without a major attitude reset from him, & getting her to -v (verbose command) I don't think they look likely to last. Their communication as presented here sounds hella unhealthy.

106
This strikes me as a poster child case for Yes Means Yes -- in that anything short of an enthusiastic "Yes!" (in this case, a monotone "I'm fine") might as well be a No.

107
Yes, bailing is absolutely everyone's right at any time, including right in the middle. You want to stop, then things stop. If they don't stop after you've made it clear that you want them to stop, that's rape. (I do, however, think you have no business calling it rape if you make your desire to stop known solely through nonverbal cues that only your partner would pick up on but anyone else present would miss, all the while saying "No, I'm fine." )

That said, if you call a halt and the halt happens in a reasonable fashion, I don't think it's out of line to apologize for messing up the evening. That apology is appropriate even if you bail at the bar within the first five minutes of meeting them. You say, "Sorry, I just don't think this is a good idea." The longer the evening goes on, the more appropriate it is to apologize for cutting things off. It's called being polite. You don't just say, "Nope, don't feel like doing it." and nothing else.

From over here, it looks like Dan is reacting to Letter Writer trying to dun the apology out of his girlfriend after the fact. No, under those circumstances an apology is not warranted -- the moment is long gone -- and indeed is not owed in response to the bullying at all.

But an apology would be appropriate at the moment you bail out.
108
@95: "He seems to think that because his girlfriend tried to gut it out, for whatever reason, she was required to continue."

That's not what the letter says. He didn't say he expected her to go through with it. He says he gave her twenty separate chances to back out, and she didn't take him up on any of them, but waited until the most embarrassing, most highly charged moment to yank the emergency brake. At least by his words, he would have been a lot more comfortable ending the evening at any one of twenty prior moments, all of which involved less embarrassment. (There are any number of commenters that doubt that would actually be the case, but that is getting into speculative territory. I don't intend to tell Letter Writer what he actually thinks.)

He's being pretty stupid, if that's what he thinks. The most embarrassing, most highly charged moment is EXACTLY the one most likely to provoke pulling the plug. That's basically how safewords work. If you can't be gracious about calling an instant halt, with no hard feelings, you shouldn't be playing those sort of high-stakes games.

And that's what he really did that was the most wrong -- threw a fit and gave her shit after the fact, rather than being graceful about it and grateful that she tried as hard as she did.

Imagine the situation with everything except the fights afterwards: he sets things up, checking in with her constantly during all the prep work; they go; she appears to be uncomfortable; he gives her every conceivable chance to back out, but she tries really hard to go through with it; in the clinch, no, she can't go through with it. They go home...the end. Maybe they will try again some other time (okay, probably not), but no hard feelings.

Sounds pretty textbook to me. Would people be jumping up and down on his head if this was how it played out? If he had been gracious when she backed out? I doubt it.
109
First off, I stopped reading after #60 or so... so this may have been said.

I am always amused at the efforts of commenters, and Dan in this case, to apportion the 100 percentage points of blame. So let me do so and say I feel he was 83.5% to blame, She was 11.5% to blame and 5% was sales tax.

In our late 40s my wife and I reached a point where I needed to have my kinks fulfilled in a way they were not being fulfilled. There was a lot of talk, arguments, trips to the internet to read Dan on GGG and Tristan Taromino on how to negotiate 3 ways. There was even a hole in the wall from the time I lost it completely when she told me my needs were not being fulfilled because her were. Not me at my shining best.

But eventually we negotiated that we would go to a Dominatrix together and she would watch me be Dommed. Then came an evening spent playing with a guy who owned a Sybian. Then a wonderful three way. We now have been to house parties and swing clubs and continue to pursue dates with either single guys or other couples.

In all of these cases, we have been successful because we have pre negotiated as much as we could think of, been nimble enough to deal with what came up that we didn't think of (her offering me her lover's cock when she was tired of giving him a BJ and my helping her out, not planned).

We still check in all the time. We still deliver honest answers as best we can. We still double check when the answer in word we hear doesn't seem to match what is going on. ARE YOU SURE? Actually not said shouting, just quietly.

So LW, its your fantasy, you didn't get it and you probably drove her to a point where your hill to climb now looks like one of the killer stages of the Tour de France. But you GF does need to learn to tell you whats up. If you had just taken the time to get private with er the first time her words didn't match her body language, she would probably have felt a lot of trust in you. More than she does now. Yes she should have told you her feelings... assuming that her feelings were something other than I'm fine up till the point where she realized that the butterflys in her stomach were feeling of revulsion at how dirty she was behaving, a possibility.

So in a final analysis, here is my blame-o-meter....

Him 93% He tried but his dock got in the way of his reasoning and his after response sucked.
Her more than 50%. Tell the truth. Of course she gets 100% credit for bailing before going through with something that felt wrong. So no need to apologize.

If the other couple are ethical swingers, they know that no means no, that sex isn't guaranteed no matter how close you are to getting it, etc. I have been told no after giving a partner an orgasm and a full body massage when she simply changed her mind. Fucked up? Well I did masturbate to the image of her cumming for weeks afterwards.
110
@100 your recast examples are still using shame language.

It's perfectly fine if one isn't attracted to women for example, that boobs or vaginas are yucky, but how one expresses those feelings matters.

Someone saying "penises are gross" even if they soften it with "for me" are still shaming penises publicly.

I support free speech over political correctness but words do have meaning. If people want to express themselves that way fine but then we can't whine as a supposedly sex-positive community when other haters use the same language to describe why we (whatever we are) are gross and wrong.
111
Re the discussion of shame language:

Polite people don't go around publicly expressing their personal opinions about the ickiness of other people's parts or practices.

It's different if you're communicating your preferences to your partner, in private. That's important. She doesn't have to apologize for saying that she felt "dirty and wrong." But he should decide if he wants to stay with someone who feels that way. I recommend that he evaluate whether her use of the word "dirty" means that she is completely turned off, or (a little) turned on. People come in both flavors, and but usually people in the latter camp are better prospects for becoming more adventurous over time. If you can talk about these issues in bed, with a finger gently stroking her pussy, you can learn a lot more about what she might be open to in time than if she is only willing to talk fully clothed, or curled up with her arms around herself protectively.
112
CIC definitely deserves the lashing he's getting here. He needs to be more respectful of his partner and learn how to fairly negotiate these things.

I think his girlfriend does owe just a tiny little bit of apology - not for any "shaming" language, but for not properly speaking up for herself. Now, granted, CIC doesn't inspire any sympathy here; his storytelling hardly convinces us that he _encouraged_ her to be assertive, and he clearly could tell how she really felt. Still, dealing with people who won't just say "no" when they want/need to, and are then ready to hold it against you later when you take them at their word, can be incredibly frustrating and exhausting. She needs to learn to do that.

I'm well aware some will defend her by saying "But women are socialized to please in our society! You can't blame her for that!" Okay, perhaps, but it just seems entirely too easy to deprive women of all agency with talk like that. Once you accept that, how do you draw the line such that you can ever trust his girlfriend's consent at all? What if CIC had been entirely non-douchey about his approach to the subject and it went badly? Would you still blame him? ("She just couldn't say no once he said he wanted it! Socialization!") At some point, you just have to trust adult human beings to look out for themselves, or there's just no way to function.
113
@111 I agree, although even in private you need to consider the feelings of your audience. Part of GGG is not putting a judgement on what your partner(s) are into even if it doesn't do it for you or you just can't go there.

But I think we're on the same page common-sense wise. I was bringing it up more for the interesting conversation it may bring over any strong feelings.
114
@86: "B- He asks how she is; she says fine; he can tell that she's not fine and calls off the date; they go home and fight. He blames her for ruining it by not being honest about her feelings; she says "why did you call it off? I said I was fine" (I'd bet $100 that if [he] did call it off, she wouldn't have admitted that she actually wasn't fine, let alone thank him for ending his fantasy")."

I'd bet $1000 that if he did call if off, she WOULD have admitted that she actually was not fine, and she WOULD have thank him for ending his fantasy, for being sensitive enough to see she was not ok and for putting both their feelings above the fantasy. I'd also bet another $1000 that she'd trust him enough to try again.

I'd also bet yet another k that she would not fight with him when the got home from the date for his having ending it. See above.

115
@112 "I'm well aware some will defend her by saying "But women are socialized to please in our society! You can't blame her for that!" Okay, perhaps, but it just seems entirely too easy to deprive women of all agency with talk like that."

First of all, reading between the lines of your comment, "some will defend her;" it seems like you think she shouldn't be defended and should definitely be blamed. But, being a widdle-wady like me, that's just how it FEELS to me. That said, let's move on.

"Deprive women of all agency?"
That IS NOT what is happening here, and if you think that, then you have no comprehension of what socialization like this means and how it manifests.

No one said that gender role socialization deprives women of ALL agency, only that it influences their behavior in heterosexual SEXUAL-specific situations. It's telling, though, that you think it does; that comment, to me, shows that you do not sympathize with women or understand their side of the equation at all, if you jump so quickly to zero-sum assumptions. Also, "perhaps"? No, sir, it is fact.

As a woman born and raised in the US, who is now 27 and a radical fucking feminist, thank you very much re: that upbringing, I can tell you that this socialization in NO WAY saps you of ALL agency, for fuck's sake, man.

What it DOES mean is that your behavior in a heterosexual relationship can be colored by this socialization--it is not conscious and it in no way means that every decision is colored by it. As mentioned up-thread, some guys only really socialize with women like me, women who have come out on the other side of this BS who can and will stand up for themselves and won't take misogynist bullshit. Also pointed out up-thread, is that women like me are NOT the norm. It can take time to get here, if one ever even begins the journey at all. Some don't. Deal with it. Entitled dick. That's also the norm, entitled dicks, enlightened ones are hard (snark) and few between. Oh, and those entitled dicks? SOCIALIZED TO BE ENTITLED. Sing it.

"Once you accept that, how do you draw the line such that you can ever trust his girlfriend's consent at all? What if CIC had been entirely non-douchey about his approach to the subject and it went badly? Would you still blame him? ("She just couldn't say no once he said he wanted it! Socialization!") At some point, you just have to trust adult human beings to look out for themselves, or there's just no way to function."

Wah wah wah, what if something happened that didn't, straw argument, blah blah, wah wah baby dicks.

Say it with me like another up-threader: enthusiastic, unmistakable YES = Full steam ahead.
116
@110:
Okay. A has suggested to B that an audience would really turn A on. B considers this (for 2 seconds, for a week of careful consideration, through the initial negotiations until it starts feeling too real, whichever), realizes he or she absolutely hates the idea, and pulls the plug. (For the first, A and B needn't even be long-term partners: maybe they just met at the bar.) I think the message behind the most politically correct essay on 'why I am saying no to you' would be "because this just feels wrong for me." That tends to be why people decide not to engage in various sex acts when they have the opportunity. What words are acceptable to turn down your partner's suggestion, given the reality that one of you is into something and the other is not? Whether that suggestion is some varsity level nonmonogamy, or a routine disinterest in fucking the next person at the bar.

@112: I would point out she did in the end use her words and match them to her body language, and boy was he furious when she did.
117
@116's comment to @112: BURN. IPJ FTW
118
IPJ @ 116 - well, yes, and that's why (like I actually said in @112, for those who actually read it) I don't have any sympathy for CIC. I speak only to the general principle that people need to learn to speak up for themselves - and not just for their own good, but for their partners' good as well. If CIC's girlfriend can't do that, then her future lovers will also find that frustrating, even if they're more respectful and sensitive to her feelings than this guy is.
119
@118 Oh, Morosoph, telling those who comment on your comment that they should actually "read it"...talk about fucking patronizing. And, well, seems you're quick to try to undo what you've done. Trust me, if we're commenting on your comment: we've READ IT. You should read your own comment again. Then we can talk.

We all agree she needs to grow up (thus the discussion of socialization), however, one does not learn such things overnight, but through experience. Undoubtedly, she's learned from this experience, though we can't know, because it's not her letter. I would hope she's learned that she shouldn't date manipulative, entitled little boys dressed in men's clothing. We can hope that, but, again, NOT THE ISSUE HERE. The issue is how her boyfriend, who actually wrote the letter, needs the advice, but wants the A-Okay to tell her SHE's the only one at fault here, when what he needs is to be told how he should have acted and or how he could redeem himself through future actions. HE thinks SHE needs to apologize for his abysmal treatment of his own fantasy. THAT is the issue.

I'm curious about your take on the guy's reaction and actions, without talking about the chica except as a third party (as he did, really, just as an aside almost). Ah...unenlightened straight men; they'd be funny if they weren't so dang destructive.
120
You know, these sorts of issues are clear to me: A clear yes means yes, a clear no means no, and anything else is a no (at least for now). And a monotone "I'm fine" (especially in public or in front of strangers where she might not be comfortable telling you to go to hell) falls into "anything else".

I might not have as much sex by following those rules, but when I get the opportunity to get it on I know that I'm not hurting somebody I care about.
121
@120: right the fuck on. And yes, fuck the fuck on ^_^
122
I agree with others that it probably wasn't fair (or wise) to tell LW he has a "legit beef" with his partner's expressed feelings, qualifiers notwithstanding.

If LW had a good indication that his GF was expressing feelings for the purpose of humiliating him, or without regard to his own feelings, that would be another matter. As it is, LW doesn't give enough evidence to support that conclusion, and Dan (who is kind and wants to sympathize with everyone at least a little bit, especially when the sympathy helps them to hear the less pleasant things Dan needs to say) has just thrown LW a bone that LW will probably just use to beat his GF some more.

That said, this response was definitely another win for Dan. He saw through the BS right away and responded appropriately.

123
Dan tweaks his advice here:

http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archive…
124
@28 Yes, because there is no such thing as body language, or tone, when one is speaking. After all, he had NO IDEA she was not enjoying it. And the many reasons why a woman in that situation might try to disguise the feelings that she is hoping her significant other will man enough to pick up on, simply don't exist!

You're a fucking genius!
125
@70 people are way too comfortable with the idea that he should be responsible for making her decisions for her because gender roles blah blah blah... That shit doesn't absole you from the responsibility/challenge in life of being your own person. It seems like a real white girl cop out, and it's actually pretty sad how comfortable people are with the idea of her lying to herself, and abandoning her resopnsibility to herself to get Alain without a daddy making her decisions for her. "want to fuck in a room with another couple" ? "Nope, I think it's foul" THATS ALL SHE HAD TO SAY. If I were him, I would seriously consider dumping the passive aggressive bitch already. She seems like a child... Forget standing up for herself just on the night in question, there was obviously discussion leading up to that, so she knew where they were going with this. Its not so much her thoughts on it rather than her lack of integrity on the whole that I find irritating I guess.... They just seem like they are together for their own fucked up reasons... Maybe young or whatever, but the/any relationship can't survive shit without everyone being able to communicate simple truths. Final thought, why does his responsibility to make this decision for her supers red her responsibility to make his decision for herself ?
126
But it's true that he should have been a man about it and got her out of there, Gou has suggested a way of handling it that I can't disagree with... I am not into watching/being watched but in a general sense we can all understand that we should protect our partners first than talk later, well, before and after, it seems obvious that its the quality not the quantity of care and communication that was exposed. Also... Even of you are in the middle of fucking she can say stop, whatever whatever, this isn't for me, done. So why not before hand, while this couple is giving her the creeps ? The point of no return is much later on (in reality there is not point of no return) an the more I think about it she might be childish and passive aggressive, he really was not very respectful.
127
I think the intelligent solution for him would have been - on the third "I'm fine," to say, "Well, maybe you are, but I don't feel safe with this right now."

Not putting the decision on her at that point, since she was still CHOOSING to go with it, despite how she may have actually felt. But honestly on himself. "Something here doesn't feel right, hon, let's go home and talk about it."

Then maybe at home, "You know, if you don't enjoy it, I'm not going to enjoy it. And I feel you're not happy about this. So can you please be honest with me? Or is something else wrong?"

In other words, call her on her dishonesty....and remove the pressure that makes her think it's necessary. Also perhaps removing her martyr-under-fire status. "See how noble I was trying to do this dirty wrong thing you want so much (you pervert)?"

Why do I suspect he knew she wasn't fine with this before they ever went on the date? Why do I equally suspect she was trying to guilt the decision off on him the whole time, and only fessed up when it became obvious he wasn't going to cave in to it?

He was being pushy and insensitive. She was being dishonest and manipulative. This ain't about sex, it's about power.
128
@89 - Mitten you win the internet!

If you - generic "you", male or female - are so immature that you don't understand that your first attempt at realizing a fantasy that involves four people has a pretty good chance of being less than stellar... well, then you aren't ready to try it out.

Please realize, people, that trying to make fantasy reality is scary. It's scary for the person who is being vulnerable enough to reveal their fantasies; it's scary for the person who wants to please their partner and tries to act out a fantasy they most likely don't share. And involving third and fourth parties increases the scariness exponentially.

I think it's wonderful that folks feel more freedom these days to express fantasies and try to get their partners to go along. That's a net plus from the days when all sexual fantasies were dirty, dark secrets and never left the confines of your own skull. Lots more good sex is being had as a result of Dan's (and other's) efforts to promote the idea of "GGG."

BUT I'm afraid the younger generation, especially males, raised on the concept of GGG and internet porn maybe takes it WAY too for granted that they have some sort of "right" to expect that their partners will do just about anything in the name of good sex. And the younger generation of girls has been led to believe that they have some sort of OBLIGATION to do just about anything their partner asks in the name of their satisfaction.

I know that Dan promotes both partners being equally GGG, but the plain facts are that in the real world, it's more often men doing the expecting and women doing the fulfilling.
129
To me the key is that he apparently asked his wife how she was doing IN FRONT OF THE OTHER COUPLE!! Of course she's not going to say she's not having fun. That would be basically saying to the other couple's face that she doesn't like them, which is rude. A GGG partner would not put his wife on the spot like that. If you really think she wants to bail, speak to her privately and you may find her more willing to open up.
130
Dan, for the first time, I seriously disagree with you. Not on most of the points you made, but on the fact that she's using "slut shaming and sex negative" language in the aftermath. She said that it felt dirty and wrong TO HER. That's not saying that enjoying it is dirty or wrong, but that it made HER PERSONALLY feel that way.

I have friends who swap and I'm not only fine with it, I've helped out with kids so they can indulge. But the idea of sleeping with another man with my husband's knowledge and consent would feel incredibly wrong -- because it would make me feel like I was being loaned out like a sweatshirt. I would feel like my husband didn't value me or think of me as a person who has the right to say who she sleeps with, but an unimportant possession.

Now, do I think that 99% of men who swap with their wives feel that way about their spouse? No. In fact, I know without a doubt that the men I know who do it love their wives very much and don't ever try to push their wives to someone that the wife isn't interested in. Would that be MY husband's reasoning? No. If we ever did it, he'd only be doing it for me, and I know it. But for me, that would be my gut reaction every time and I think it's crazy that I can't say that about my personal feeling, as long as I also make it clear that it's only a feeling for myself and not a judgment on others.