Columns Apr 8, 2010 at 4:00 am

Give and Take



I most certainly was part of the problem: I was picking very insecure people. I was drawn to people where that was the dynamic. It was not healthy (a kind of co-dependent dance), and it was as much my problem as theirs - it always takes two to tango. After a couple of years of therapy and some hard looking at myself, I now watch carefully for those red flags.

You are quite right: if you are in a relationship with someone, you need to accept them for who they are, warts and all, or move along. I now choose move along when I come up against that dynamic.

All of these people defending snooping keep circling back to this fundamental rationale: "I found something and that justified the snooping". The ends do not justify the means. Dumping your partner because they are a slimeball/cheat/whatever has NOTHING to do with how you find out they are a slimeball/cheat/whatever. There is no "retroactive" vindication. If you have a reason to be suspicious, then you should directly confront your partner with it. If you think they are calling someone on the side, ask to see their call logs/IMs/emails/etc....tell them you think they are cheating...their response will tell you all you need to know.

I'm saying this: snooping is never needed. If you suspect your partner is being dishonest, drag it out in the open. If they are a liar, and cannot/will not come clean, decide whether or not you want to put up with their lying. This is hard, especially if you are married; especially if you have kids. I'm not being glib, or minimizing the misery that people whose lives are intertwined with someone like this go through.

The process of doing this may - gasp - break up the relationship! Are you trying to say you want a relationship with someone who is a liar, or rather, leaves you FEELING like they are? What's going on there? You afraid to show your doubt to your partner? Is it better to let the innocent partner keep behaving in ways that leave you doubt them? Are you afraid to face that you are insecure, or to tell them to shape up and quit behaving like a jerk (I may well have been the problem in this way too).

For those conflating the issue of children with partners: they aren't the same thing! There are a different set of expectations of privacy with children and partners! The parent/child relationship starts out about a 'lopsided' as it can get, and there is zero notion of privacy of any kind. You don't generally start out your relationship with a PEER partner by changing their diapers. Children earn privacy as they grow and demonstrate their ability to become independent, healthy, functioning adults.

Yes I agree with Dan: we are all human, and we are all weak and we all do things that are less than "perfect" all the time. So he's right: people WILL snoop. That does not make it OK. I disagree with Dan, because snooping is a form of avoidance of uncomfortable things and I find it sad that an evangelist for out-of-the-closet is tolerating it - perhaps his theme of acceptance of human frailty is bumping up against the value of living openly, the former being in the service of the latter.

And yes, I've been cheated on too. I knew it, even when I didn't want to admit it to myself, and stuck around until I was forced to admit it (seeing the evidence first hand, no snooping needed). It was miserable, and I wish I'd grown the balls to confront much earlier. That's what snooping is all about: lack of balls.
Ohhh, FRF. I wish you'd trade places with my feminist boyfriend.

I'm an activist/feminist/queer woman & pretty GGG. Unfortunately, my feminist boyfriend, even after years of open communication and exchange of kinky fantasies is still pretty vanilla. I'm sick of being asked, "Is this okay?" if I scream in bed. I'd rather he pull my hair, grab my throat and do things that would go on a police report if anyone else did them to me.

Dan, I love you but you f*ed up big time on the snooping advice. It isn't just about violating your partner's trust--what about the trust and the privacy of all their correspondents?

When my sister, mother, girlfriends, colleagues etc. write to me they aren't writing to MY HUSBAND. And the same goes for his friends, colleagues, brother, colleagues, etc.

Several of my friends share email accounts with their husbands and that totally squicks me out and inhibits what I write to them.

This is equivalent to listening in surreptitiously on someone's phone conversation. When you do that, you are not just violating the privacy of the person in question but the persont they are speaking to, which is why this is illegal in many states.

It is unethical behavior. Period.

Finally, people in relationships--ESPECIALLY married people -- need space. My husband already owns access to a huge chunk of my brain and vice versa, but I need places/spaces -- and so does he--where I can express myself WITHOUT thinking about its impact on him in areas that have nothing to do with him.

I don't need to read his e-mail and don't want to and vice versa--we each have to let some part of ourselves exist apart from the other. I can't imagine any relationship lasting for any period of time without some space for autonomy.
SANA, my boyfriend and I are similar, especially my boyfriend. We both take more pleasure out of giving pleasure. My boyfriend is really frustrating and says a lot after he gets me off that I don't have to do anything for him. In response I let him continue pleasuring me and let him know it feels good with lots of moaning and verbal responses. This generally helps turn him on enough that he'll ket me near his junk. At which point I start giving him an awesome blow job (you can find good tips online), and we all go home happy. Also, for the couple who loves giving each other pleasure I recommend sixty nineing.
Dan: That is totally fucked up that you snoop in your BF's email. Period, end of story. I would dump your ass so fast your dick would fall off.
@204... may i suggest that 69-ing is best done in a side-to-side position, where no one has to balance on top, thereby allowing greater comfort. It's an awesome 69 and it is the only time i cum when i've done 69 that way.
I don't know when it comes to "snooping" I don't think that constanly snooping looking to catch something becuase you or your partner don't trust each other is something that I expect nor is it something that I think is good. But then again I don't think that a boyfreind of mine would never snoop and scroll threw my text or emails if I left them open if I was distarnt or cuased them consern enough to do so, just like I would not expect them to never take a peak at a letter or pice of paper work I leave laying about the house. I kind of figuer if its not protected or out of site out of mind then yes at some point they will probly take a peak, it's just part of human nature.
i TOTALLY agree with Dan on snooping. it is simply going to happen; trying to point a finger and say "BUT BUT, HE/SHE SNOOPED!!" is completely beside the point when their snooping is justified. People lie. People come off as trustworthy but are actually doing horrible things behind your back: cheating/prostitution/drugs/etc. If you have nothing to hide, it isn't a problem, and the snooper will come away feeling like they had a concrete experience to justify their trust, and they will feel a little guilty for snooping and it probably won't happen again.

If intuition or circumstance or any other number of things lead someone to snoop and something horrible is found, then you're a lying bastard/whore, and that is a much bigger problem than reading an email. Quit defensively getting angry because someone is upset with you and take responsibility for the fact that you were trying to hide something, and got caught. If you aren't trustworthy, don't get into relationships built on the premise that you are. Grow up, people!
Totally on your side regarding FRF.

I'm a feminist. My husband of nearly 20 years is a feminist. We both get turned on by sex in which he is the dominating partner. He dominates during sex most of the time. I submit.

But guess what? As Dan says, it's *consensual.* Plus, sex accounts for a rather small percentage of even the friskiest couple's time together. For the vast majority of our time together, interactions are perfectly egalitarian.

He sounds nice. She doesn't. Dump her, FRF.
Going to support Dan on the snooping, too.

I believe that liars invite snooping. They're fucking with their partners' reality. That's a major, major betrayal - much worse than the extra-curricular sex itself.

But people whose realities are being fucked with can't be fooled for long. At least not on the gut level. They know something's wrong. They try to ask about it and their partner will jack up the mental manipulation to new heights. The betrayed partner starts to feel like he or she is crazy.

This is a form of mental torture and the victim has EVERY RIGHT to put an end to it. He or she has a right to know what is real and what is a lie.

What would snooping-is-always-wrong people have them do? Ask again if they've been cheated on? How stupid can you get?

If you feel you're being driven mad, nothing is more right. Snoop! The truth will set you free.
So far 184 has been the most spot-on about the whole feminism issue.

"Socialism" can refer to great places like modern-day Sweden (or even, arguably, Germany) or it can refer to Stalinist Russia and Maoist China. Sane people tend to recognize the spectrum that exists. Moron right-wingers just obsess over Stalin to discredit the whole philosophy and justify the injustices and inequalities inherent in unfettered capitalism.

"Environmentalism" can be a simple belief in humankind's obligation to conduct our affairs in a manner that is sustainable and harmless to the environment, or it can be the belief that the entire human race is a virus in need of extinction. Sane people recognize the spectrum that exists. Moron right-wingers focus on the nuts in a desperate attempt to discredit the movement and justify gross levels of consumption and waste.

Same thing with racial rights. You can have people who believe in racial equality and admit where we still have racial inequality, or you can have people who believe that whites (or whoever) are evil and need to be killed off. Idiot right-wingers like Glen Beck prefer to exaggerate the number and influence of the latter as a means of denying the racial inequalities that still exist, in an effort to justify their own racism.

It's the same thing with feminism. Everyone should know by now that feminism is a word that is used both by people who believe that biological differences should not dictate social standing, and by people who believe that men are all pigs and that women should all move to an island to be without men. I, for one, have never met anyone who believed the latter; let alone an entire organized movement of such people. Most people who use the word "feminist" (according to my observations) use it as a declaration that yes, they believe that the sexes should be equal and that gender stereotypes are invalid. Sounds pretty sane to me. Yes, women's rights are not the ONLY worthy cause; that's why many people who call themselves feminist can ALSO be environmentalists, AND anti-racist, AND pro-gay, AND anti-poverty. These things aren't antithetical to each other.

I guess that if someone wants to have some other word ("egalitarianism?") that claims to focus (and keep track of) all possible causes rather than owning more than one label at a time, fine. But even most egalitarianists are still going to see feminism as a valid sub-category of the causes that they believe in. They are not going to try and discredit feminism based their own exaggerations of its most extreme fringes. That's more likely to be done by, you guessed it: Moron right wingers who feel like they have to discredit the entire philosophy in order to justify their own out-dated opposition to its ACTUAL, basic, sane core tenets. After all, its much easier to go on blaming rape victims, or believing in long-disproven gender stereotypes, or voting to ban abortion (etc) when all the people who oppose these things are combat-boot-wearing, penis-severing man-haters. The problem is that it's just as stupid and just as unrealistic and still makes you look like just as much of an insecure pussy of a man. Or woman.
Fuck this feminist bashing. Pathetic wimps, go find yourself the rest of the internet where you'll be met with open arms when you talk about all your frigid liberal exes, or conversely talk about the fuckability of Palin and Coulter. Please. Then reveal something about yourself – your race, sexual preferences, religion (or lack thereof), that you listen to Dan Savage – and wait for your own lame, half-assed critiques used against you.
Pretty sure that adorable lesbian from Chicago is my soulmate. I'm 24 from Milwaukee, moving to Chicago. I love comedy/improv,and have a real hard time finding girls like me.
a male feminist with a rape fantasy...there is nothing more paradoxical in this world
Jesus H. Christ, I thought Savage Love was a column that was about reducing shame and encouraging communication. But say the dirty "f-word" and you get a raft of "progressives dumping a shit-load of shame on the "ball-less", etc FRF dude. And a shit load of blame on the girlfriend of the guy who wants to pretend to rape her.

Dan, your response blows (and of course, if there was not an inherent cuturally-based power dynamic, a shaming, in being penetrated in any way by a cock, that term would not have any meaning in this sentence).

You give some quick lip-service to the fact that some women may be "squicked-out" by playing rape victim. HEY DAN, MAYBE IT REMINDS HER OF BEING RAPED, which is not, believe me, the same as feeling "squick-y". Given the stats on sexual assault, there is a decent chance that this women has already actually been raped, has not yet been able to talk about it and that deserves consideration.

Maybe this young man misrepresented his girlfriend's reaction, as many dudes do when they are contradicted, so maybe, just maybe, she wanted to COMMUNICATE with him about this stuff and figure out where he is coming from in order to feel safe.

Based on this letter and your advice, it would seem that GGG applies only if it leads to some form of fucking, but if it's about actually looking at the what is underneath a desire or kink, if it is about going deeper in your dialogue with your significant other, the to hell with GGG; shame and punish the person for wanting to talk instead of playing "assaulted in public".

Bad job Dan.
There are feminists with rape fantasies though it might be hard to find them. That's what the internet is for I think.
Hey dan, this is in response to your podcast 180 in which a guy's looking for mystery porn.
Well, he can log in to and get a list of porn from any random site (search for stumbleupon porn) and then with each click, he can have new and custom totally random porn! Mystery porn is now free and much more wide ranging.
The internet does not in fact ruin everything :p
Right on the mark, Dan, about snooping.

I'm more for cuddling anyway.
Reading through the comments, I realize that my definition of snooping is different than most people's. In my seven year relationship, we don't consider reading each other's texts/emails/logs snooping- there's no account of his I don't have the ability to access and vice versa.

But that's the status quo that evolved early in our relationship. He needs more detail on a party we're invited to and the info is in my email? Just go check it yourself, dude. A friend IMed him directions to the restaurant we're meeting up at? I just pull it up. Same with texts, browsing history, whatever. It's all transparent and I can't imagine it any other way. It doesn't mean I comb through his shit or he examines mine in detail. There's just no expectation of "my personal life is none of your business".

Except the one year I actually thought of a good birthday present for him. I hid the email receipt for that one. :D
@203: "It isn't just about violating your partner's trust--what about the trust and the privacy of all their correspondents?"

Guess what? I am higher on my wife's hierarchy of trust and loyalty than her friends, family and associates. Likewise she to me. If I didn't rate higher than the rest of you, I wouldn't have married her. I would have stayed just a friend, just like the rest of her friends. I'm not merely her friend, I'm her partner. As partners, we have less right to hide things from each other than we have to hide things from you, who are not our partner, or to hide the secrets of our friends from each other.

Rank has its privileges. Get over it.

"Several of my friends share email accounts with their husbands and that totally squicks me out and inhibits what I write to them."

Good. You're learning.

"Finally, people in relationships--ESPECIALLY married people -- need space. "

I give her plenty of space. For the record, I have never felt the need to go snooping in my wife's email. However, there have been occasions where I have had to deal with something in her inbox. If you really need private space that you can vent into and be sure that your husband will never, ever need to see, buy a diary.

"I can't imagine any relationship lasting for any period of time without some space for autonomy."

Imagine a little harder. Or more accurately, take a harder look at your black-and-white definitions.
Hardcore position: CPOS have no right to privacy they gave it up when they betrayed their partner. A person who can't be open and honest about their sexual needs should not be in a relationship. Any partner has the right to decide whether they want to be in a relationship and if the CPOS isn't willing to be honest then the partner has right to determine the true state of affairs by any means necessary. Of course the above only applies when there has been an actual breach of trust. If you're still dissatisfied with your relationship after discussing your sexual needs then just end it.
@221 Never but anything in writing (hard copy or electronic) that will damage or hurt your partner. There is always the possibility that your partner will read it, whether it be while your living or after you're dead. You should also consider the impact it would have if your parents, siblings, children, or grandchildren read whatever you wrote. If you really must vent, write it down and then destroy it. Venting to someone else puts you in their power and gives them control over your life.
@221 Never but anything in writing (hard copy or electronic) that will damage or hurt your partner. There is always the possibility that your partner will read it, whether it be while you're living or after you're dead. You should also consider the impact it would have if your parents, siblings, children, or grandchildren read whatever you wrote. If really must vent, write it down and then destroy it. Venting to someone else puts you in their power and gives them control over your life.
For 4 years I never ever thought to look at my boyfriend's emails or text messages. I wouldn't even go into his closet! But after enduring a total lack of affection and numerous nights out with his "girl friends from school" and one entire weekend away at his parents, well, I looked. I found an entire history of deceit and betrayal and dishonesty. For the last 6 months he's been seeing numerous guys, for God knows what. I told him I looked and kicked his ass to the curb. He said I violated his privacy!! Good one! He made no mention of totally taking advantage of my trust, generosity, love and affection AND TOTAL MONOGAMY!
I'm right with 220 (and a few others here): relationships are absolutely about trust, but that trust just HAS to go both ways. If one person wants privacy, they also have to be worthy of it.

My girlfriend doesn't lock out her email, and the lock-code on her phone, she gave me. My texts aren't locked, and my email stays open. Do we snoop? Not yet.
Will we? Maybe.

There is an expectation of privacy, absolutely. People need to be able to have their space and a place to put discussions that they don't want to include the other person in.
However there is also the expectation of sharing.

Where's that fine, nigh-unto invisible line?

I'd say it's in the realm of "just cause". Not "just cause I wanna look", but if something has happened that has caught your partner's attention... they're going to snoop.
In a healthy relationship, people talk before they snoop. If things get unhealthy and someone snoops and finds nothing, odds are they'll talk.
If they snoop and find something, there's going to be a reaction.

He looked because something caused him to. What that was, we don't know, but given what he found, I agree with Dan that he is retroactively justified. You simply do not open up a previously-monogamous relationship without consulting your partner, and really listening to them, first.

She cost herself a relationship. Good or bad is pretty much irrelevant at this point, because odds are it's done.
All snooping is wrong. I don't snoop and would shitcan a woman who snooped on me, even if she had a gold-trimmed pussy.
I was once hyper-sensitive about snooping. Some feminist bullshit about how no dude, not even one I was fucking, could possibly understand all the deep meaningful shit I talked on the internet.

Now I know most of my deep meaningful shit is actually pretty shallow and that my only purpose in life is to let him fuck me whenever and however he feels like it. Rape is nonexistent in this state of perfect surrender. Unless he wants it to exist.

I've finally found peace. He can look through my internet history, my facebook account, my emails, my reproductive organs. Anytime day or night.

Thanks Debi Pearl, and thanks Dan Savage!

--ex feminist
Anyway, I really do agree with the general principle of openness in a relationship. Having no-go zones allows problems to get pushed into those zones where is FESTERS instead of being dealt with in the open.

If you are feeling dissatisfied, it's all too tempting to seek out easy sympathy and build relationships that start to supplant your partnership... and then when the partner gets suspicious and digs into your "private" business, you have a rough-and-ready "YOU'RE SNOOPING" defense. Ugly.

If you've seen that play out once, you've seen it a hundred times.
I'm a cute lesbian in Chicagoland too. Where the fuck are the femme-y girls? Also I'm similarly only interested in less typically queer girls. Please tell me t-shirts are not the only option.
My husband never farts.
To LFL - From what I've seen, usually something as tiny as a rainbow friendship bracelet is enough to clue girls in, without having to go the billboard route of a tshirt. After all, if a girl is checking you out, she's going to notice the bracelet and at least be curious - but if she ogles your boobs (and the t-shirt catch phrase) she runs a chance of getting branded (and maced!) as one of the creeps.
To the "adorable" les who wants to wear a T-shirt to attract a date, here's the problem: When you show up at a club and hope to be approached, you're focusing on being seen and not at all on noticing others in return. Instead, try paying attention to the people around you too, find out who they are, what they are like. When when you find one you are attracted to, if it seems to be mutual, ask them out. What to wear? The best accessory to look approachable is still a smile.

RFR - your gf has turned you into one of her BFF's and doesn't see you as a man. Grown-up sexual "Consent" lets a powerful man submit at times and is just as hot when he dominates. Find out if a real trauma poisoned her perspective and if so, be kind, she's been damaged and needs healing. If not, then she's just spouting rhetoric that has nothing to do with hot power exchanges in a safe, committed, long-term GGG relationship. She's young, you may have shocked her, maybe you used too many words. She sounds like she retreats into words when uncomfortable. Try acting out parts of the fantasy with her, without sharing what's in your head. If she's okay with brief glimpses at your more dominant acts, show her a little more. She might surprise herself and like it. If she doesn't warm up enough to let you add your voice to it and begin to play along, I'm with Dan, find someone else who will love it.
Dan I agree 100% about the "snooping"... they're supposed to be your best friend and life partner; you're interested in everything they do all day; wouldn't anyone be INTERESTED to see who they text, what's going on in their email? And if they're completely trustworthy, they won't care if you look once in a while, because there's nothing to hide. A guy who keeps his phone glued to his side and won't let you see what's in his wallet? RUN. And I say that from extremely painful experience.

I was in love with a guy for years, and he told me his email password once while he was in the other room so I could check something for him. I kept checking sporadically from then on. I was the first to know when he lied about being at a party, then about kissing someone, and finally the big blow: when he actually had a side booty call situation going on. It killed me. I forgave the first two lies, and when I still checked he would call me "psycho" because of my insecurities. It gave me trust issues for years.

However I'm so glad I found that stuff out rather than wasting more time with that dickwad. Now I'm with a guy who couldn't care less if I have his password or his phone is unattended.. he's a real man, thank God. :)
The 24 year old girl needs to find a guy that she's super, super hot for. He needs to be a little bit of an asshole. He'll demand a few naughty things and she'll do it because she's infatuated. Shell learn two things from the experience: 1 - Some guys are hot and give you some hot sex even when they are dickish and wrong for you, and 2 - You'll start to learn what turns you on when you have an adventurous and demanding sexual partner. You need to learn to be adventurous and demanding in bed too.

As for the first two PC douchbags, you should stay together so that you don't make two other people miserable by dating them.
Maybe SANA should consider taking her boyfriend's word for it that he's happy with vanilla sex?

If they're both happy with what they're getting, and their only problem is wanting to do more for each other, maybe they should just relax and enjoy it.

If she is really, truly convinced that her boyfriend wants more in spite of what he's telling her, then I think this is a couple for whom reading some porn together would work wonders. Maybe they'll run across something that just never occurred to either of them before.

Or, maybe they're simply lucky enough to have found partners whose sex drives match, even if neither one of them is red-hot.
I can't believe it but I disagree with Dan.

Snooping in someone computer is like reading their journal. NOT acceptable.

Dan, if you were my boyfriend you'd be out on your ass for doing that.
Dear Dan,

Please ask your readers to support Ed Case. You have come to the conclusion that it is a violation of our rights to allow the majority to vote to take away the right to marry from a minority. Ed Case was way ahead of you. You may recall that the current wave of marriage activity began when the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that it was a violation of equal protection to deny same sex couples the right to marry, but they returned the case to the lower court. Before the case was decided and the plaintiffs could marry, certain legislators drafted a bill to let the citizens vote to amend the state constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman. On January 21, 1997, in the Hawaii House Judiciary Committee, Case cast the lone nay vote against advancing HB117, the bill that would allow a referendum to effectively, constitutionally ban gay marriage. Ed Case went on to represent Hawaii in the US House of Representatives, but gave up that seat to run for the Senate. He lost that race and is now trying to regain a seat in the house created by a special election (so there is no party primary). He is neck and neck with a “family values” Republican with the solid Democratic majority in the district being divided by another Democrat (who supports domestic partnerships, gee, thanks).

Let’s support a candidate who not only says he supports gay marriage, but actually cast a brave vote long before anyone else was doing so. He stood by us; lets not forget him. Please donate at

Robert La Mont
Hey, FRF, just wanted to say that Dan's advice sounds exactly right. As a still-sort-of-young feminist, I would have been tickled pink if my last feminist-friendly boyfriend had shared your mild kink (he didn't and, despite the fact that rape fantasies are extremely common among women, he thought there was something pathological about my interest). Being aware of imbalances in gender power dynamics in the real world is part of what gives playing with them in private, consensual ways a little kick.
@131 I don't have an example for you, but then, I haven't spent much time in feminist bloglandia myself. Personally, I'm more familiar with feminist discussion in an academic setting.

However, I completely understand what you're saying. I think I'm repeating myself, but I hate it when "feminists" are anti-men. Men are not responsible for patriarchy, and it harms them as well. I can easily see why such views make lots of people reluctant to call themselves feminists. For any given viewpoint, there will be extremists, so I don't know if there's a way to get rid of the toxicity. It just annoys me when people equate radical views with all feminists. That's a stereotype, just like any other. And there will probably always be those who fit the stereotype.
@everyone who says snooping is evil/bad/wrong: The main point is the witch was a hooker! Sex workers fine. Sex workers who knowingly expose their partners to dick rot? Unforgivable. I really don't understand why that guy even had to write in, "umm well Dan, my gals renting out the old vag, how should I feel?" Rarely is hitting is justified. This is that time.
We all snoop, in one way or another. It's human nature to be curious. It has nothing to do with the trust. Given the chance, we all kind of want to know what the person we love is like when we aren't looking. Read The Odyssey. When Odysseus gets a magical identity change, he deliberately questions his wife about life since he left. Can you really blame him?
I read a partner's email exactly once in my life. As we were breaking up, I realized she was never going to tell me the truth about some shit, and I needed to know, so I went and confirmed what I already suspected. I don't regret it.

Relationships are all about shades of gray.

But in general, I'm very protective of my email/phone, and hope that my sigoes will be too. Adults need to be allowed private space, including private digital space. Or, at least, I do.
Everyone is saying that snooping is a violation of trust and privacy. But if marriages, and relationships more generally, are built on and constituted by trust, then would not the best relationship--and the one with the most evident trust--be the one in which each partner has total access to everything about the other, including texts, emails, etc.?

The best relationships aren't the ones that have no one "snooping," but those in which "snooping" isn't even a possibility because complete access is presupposed. If you think reading your husband's emails or your girlfriend's texts as snooping, then maybe you don't have as much trust in your relationship as you think. Privacy is one of those things that, in my opinion, you should have together--not apart.

And if snooping ISN'T always okay, Dan is completely correct to say that it can be retroactively justified. If you're being played and your partner hasn't disclosed the other relationships, the chances of them suddenly deciding to do so now are slim to none. Snooping, in that case, is the only way to know. It may not be pretty, but as much as everyone has a right to privacy, everyone also has a right for others' privacy not to injure or humiliate them in some way too.
Dan was right to tell the guy in letter #1 to DTFMA.

From the letter:

"I asked her to imagine that I fantasized about feeling up women on the subway and wanted her to simulate and help realize that fantasy scenario with me. Her response was that I needed to be "cured" of my desires, and that she would help me figure out and work through the psychological gender-power issues behind it, and to that end she would try to show me how enjoyable consensual sex could be."

Anyone as uptight as that girlfriend appears to be is probably no fun in bed in the first place. She sounds about as attractive as Ann Coulter on a meth binge. Eesh.

By the way, the same would be true for uptight boyfriends as well.
@244: Yep, sounds like your typical unfun college leftist. If something is not in complete harmony with a simplistic if well-intentioned sense of justice, then it must be wrong and in need of "fixing."
@215: Dan is not psychic. He gives advice based upon what people write. He must assume that the guy was correctly documenting this conversation, at least to a certain degree.
I didn’t get the impression that she was a rape victim, of course this is my opinion and I might be wrong. However, if I was a rape victim that had not yet started dealing with the repercussions and someone I was involved with said that they wanted to role-play a sexual assault with me, my first instinct would be to run. Not to “work through the psychological gender-power issues behind it”. Of course, I am not this woman, so I cannot say whether or not she has ever been raped, but that was not the impression I got.
I have no problem with snooping in special circumstances such as, say, suspecting that your partner is cheating on you/a sex worker.

Seriously, the right to privacy is not absolute, particularly between sexual/romantic partners. This secretive partners actions have the potential to saddle the boyfriend with a life-threatening illness.

I'm not going to be with someone whom I don't want checking up on me. I really hope that my girlfriend has my back, including protecting me from myself, and I trust myself not to have any secrets that would really hurt her. If she reads my emails, she's not going to find evidence of anything because I haven't done anything wrong. No problem for me. If she reads my emails and goes psycho on me despite my innocence, I reserve the right to dump her paranoid ass, and I would expect the same treatment. People raise the trust issue when vilifying snoopers, but you have to trust your partner to only snoop on you when it is really needed, and in the case of NORTH, she definitely needed it, even if it ended up costing her a relationship.
I can't believe I actually agree with Dan! ;)

I agree that snooping happens. I don't think you should steam open and reseal mail or low-jack their car without their knowledge or put hidden nanny cams over the house, but if you live with someone you are going to come across a logged in gmail, cached internet visits or peek at texts while looking a phone number.
While I don't usually read my husbands emails, I also don't expect them to be verboten like he is a total stranger. Same thing with kids. I don't snoop through their room, but I am always free to put away laundry, pick up cloths and remove tableware that migrates upstairs. If I come across anything incriminating then they will hear about it. I am not bound to ignore it because it is fruit of a poisoned tree.
To suggest that reading an email is morally the same as violating monogamy and well, being a whore- is the worst sort of perversion of moral equivalence. She put her partner at risk of all kinds of diseases without his consent. I don't have a problem with someone choosing to do sex work if they want to, but that is absolutely a conversation you need to have with someone before you include them in that lifestyle.
Hmm. I suspect you are just trying to get a rise out of us with that snooping opinion. Bottom line is that you and your BF have obviously consented to this snooping (perhaps a subconscious consent... or implied?). It's obvious to me that within a long-term, committed relationship this implied consent is valuable. Nonetheless, it needs to be there before people go looking through other people's communication. So he still violated boundaries. Nonetheless, it's lucky for him because he discovered what an obnoxious freak she is and was able to dump her before he contracted any fatal diseases (hopefully). This is another example of grey areas in relationships... which is the reason we need someone like you to help us all clarify our thoughts on it.
This is for Looking for Lesbifriends.

Why not go for a shirt with a little more subtlety than the whole "Single. Lesbian. Interested?" bit and instead just something that indicated that you are out and that you're pretty alright with being so.

You can find some awesome sweatshirts/tanks through Lezgo's website.
If you have nothing to hide, you have noting to worry about.
My husband and I have one computer at home that we share, and we also check our email and facebook on our phones. Despite this, we do not read each other's emails or FB PMs as soon as the other person leaves their phone or the computer unattended. We both respect each other's privacy enough not to violate it.

I have nothing to hide from him though. Most of the things I've written in emails or FB messages are things he has already heard from my mouth first, so it's not the content but the principle of the matter.

We have been together sixteen years and although we share a lot, we realize that we still have to respect each other's privacy. The house we live in has one bathroom with a sliding door that doesn't lock so theoretically we could walk in when the other person is taking a dump, but we don't. When the door is closed, we stay outside. We treat the computer, our phones, and emails/texts the same way - we know that we CAN be intrusive but we choose not to be. Just because you're in a LTR doesn't mean that you get to be an asshole and do whatever you want.

I'm not stupid or naive - I have been cheated on so I understand having suspicions and wanting to confirm them, but if you don't trust the other person, then why be with them in the first place? I would not be able to stay with someone if I spent all my time worrying that they were cheating and trying to find proof.

Similarly, I had a boyfriend who was ridiculously jealous and hated when anyone even looked at me. It was so tiresome, and when it got to the point where he read my journal (you know, those old books you write in with a pen), I dumped his ass. It's one thing to get cranky because some guy looked at me, but it's another thing to read my journal. The best part is that he was stupid enough to admit that he had read my journal but hadn't found any incriminating information. Idiot!
Snooping. Here's a page from my ho-hum, uninteresting existence, some 5 years ago: Married w/2 kids. Sex frequency down to 1/month, wife claims uninterested in sex, kids supposedly being the reason. Any reason is good for an argument, last 5 months are a welter of roiling arguments, drunken aggression ( on her part) & declarations that "we have problems". Wife demands freedom, god knows to do what or from what, does not specify.

To elucidate wife's position: educated, actively professional, well earning, not financially or emotionally strapped. Spends lots of time at the pc, out on the town, chatting, meeting friends, etc. I snooped. Oh, I know, evil me, how dare I not trust her! how dare I...she's cheating. I find evidence not only of cyber entanglements or explicit letters, but evidence that she's been meeting people offline for sex.

I felt like a heel for snooping, for about 5 minutes.

Ps. 5 years later we're still in a cold-dead marriage. No easy closure here, even though we hate each other now.
I've only snooped on a boyfriend two times in my life (different guys). I found out one was cheating on me, the other actively trying to cheat on me, but getting turned down. Don't know which was worse, being betrayed or being in love with someone who couldn't betray me despite his best efforts.

Only once did I fess up to the reason why I was dumping him... that I found out what he was doing surreptitiously. Wow, what a load of angry shit did I get from him! You'd have thought *I* was cheating and lying about it to *him*! And, yes I did question him before going snooping, but the whole point of cheating is having your cake and eating it to. He wasn't going to admit to cheating because he wanted me to be faithful to him without the complications of returning the favor.

I have no regrets, and learned a LOT about trusting my own instincts. Now I know how to avoid people like that and have a relationship based on mutually-agreed upon terms. I can tell my partner when I'm feeling insecure and he responds with love and reassurance, instead of making me feel like a paranoid bitch for wanting more access to his life.

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