Columns Mar 11, 2015 at 4:00 am

Truth Be Told


BLUEBALLS doesn't comment on whether he considers his marriage happy or functional aside from the lack of sex. If it is, seeking sex outside the marriage in order to maintain his sanity might be a good solution. I somehow doubt that the marriage is otherwise happy and functional though - being in an intimate relationship with someone suffering from serious depression is generally pretty stressful even if they will fuck you.

This really stood out to me:
She's seen doctors but ignores their advice, and tells me she feels bad for me but there's nothing she can do.

I have been there. While that sounds on the surface like she's simply refusing to help herself, it might be that she's not being treated properly/not responding to whatever treatment she's getting, or it might be that she is simply going through the motions of "getting help" but doesn't really believe she's capable of getting better. Depressed people can be really hard to treat simply because they don't believe anything will work (and it can be a long and frustrating process to find treatment that works - anti-depressants and talk therapy are not magic bullets). They may also believe that their depression is their own fault and that they don't deserve to get better.

If this guy is serious about saving his marriage, he needs to support her in getting treatment (and not giving up!). Getting some sanity-saving action on the side seems like a secondary issue.
"tag teaming twunks" is my new favorite tongue teaser ☺
Poor Blueballs. A lot of people will have no sympathy for you. I have sympathy for you. Thank you for being a good dad and a supportive husband.

I've been in a similar situation, but never with a frequency as bad as that. Wow. If you've read Savage before on this topic, you'll know your situation is way beyond the threshold where you have earned a 'pass' to have sex with other people and not tell your wife about it. It's not like you have to worry about spreading disease. You don't have to take out a personals ad yet, but you should open yourself mentally to the idea that if sex 'falls in your lap' you won't turn it down.

I'm guessing that the advice she is ignoring is diet and exercise, which is in theory only addressing the overweight part, but the depressed people I know are also helped by the exercise. Anything you can do to start simple and small: parking farther away from the store, and walking all the way across the lot; taking the stairs instead of the elevator; stopping buying one junk food at a time (and cooking more things yourself), until you have removed sugar and fat from the family diet; start small, and work your way up to taking intentional family hikes in the park.

Good luck. When you can finally find something on the side, you'll be able to be a better person without this preoccupation hanging over you, even if it's only once with a person you never see again.
I agree with #1. Divorce is no longer some horrifying stigma and 30 is too young to resign yourself to a relationship this unsatisfying. He can still easily find someone with whom he has an emotional and sexual connection to spend the NEXT 50 YEARS with.

Btw, having the questions on a different page is very annoying. Couldn't scroll up to confirm his age.
TRUTH wrote:
>> The only problem is my wife is very proud of the fact that we were each other's "first and only" sex partners. >>

I wonder if the wife has some secrets of her own. If so, would TRUTH want to know them? I agree with Dan, let sleeping dogs lie.
I sincerely doubt that BLUEBALLS' wife will accept his ultimatum with relief. She won't see it as his taking the pressure off, she'll feel distraught and betrayed and take it as further proof of her failure and be even more miserable. It's just a thing. A natural, inarguable, socially sanctioned emotional double standard, even amongst healthy partners: the intense distress a person feels at the thought of their partner with someone else is rarely matched by the passion they are willing to put into making sure it doesn't happen.

Eh, folks is weird, even when they're not depressed.
While I think Mr Savage gives a little too much of a pass to the malicious intent of the groomer in the first letter, I can agree with the tone of the response but find it incomplete. What's missing is what LW1's wife does with her great pride. Maybe it's relatively harmless, but that's the sort of pride that I've seen lead people to shame or shun those who have fallen short of their ideal. If Wife #1 mistreats others who have had more than one partner (or whose partners have), then there's a case against maintaining the illusion.

The second response is fine until it reaches the point of telling Daddy what he wants to hear. That is a Bad Idea. He'll think he influenced LW2 for the better, and the next thing is that he'll try to talk LW2 out of marrying someone of the *wrong* gender (*here's* the case of absolute power corrupting absolutely).

I don't get a sense that LW3 is put out that Mumsy likes her straight children better (which usually happens). He should be thankful that she's shown her true colours and figure out some other way to avoid losing prestige with his siblings.

I'd advise LW4 to figure out why he attracts sex-abandoning partners and how to change that before he finds himself in a third marriage that duplicates the first two.

@ven: malicious intent of the groomer

Malicious intent? This woman is a hero! Thanks to her, LW1 will have died having fucked twice as many woman.

what LW1's wife does with her great pride

Being your partner's best lover, or the only one to make her come? Those are things to be proud of. Being the only person your partner has ever fucked? That's embarrassing.

I do think being the "only" or "best" tends to make a person more possessive. No one likes to be knocked off their throne.
Well, Bluebells (nod to spring) - speaking from experience, depression is a libido-killer, and speaking from reports/observation, feeling like one is unattractive makes one less likely to want to get naked with someone else. But even when I was seriously depressed for a couple of years by the issues that prompted the end of my decade-plus marriage, I still managed to do the dirty deed a couple times a month. If your wife hasn't been able/willing to accept/use help from professionals or friends for as many years as you say, perhaps finding solace safely elsewhere is warranted.
I have to agree with #1 and #5. My main issue with Dan's advice is his belief that any marriage with children must be preserved at all costs. No matter how unhealthy or damaging the relationship is. Getting some on the side might meet the LW's sexual needs, but what about all the other need that are going unmet? What about the emotional needs of his kids that may be going unmet?

Sticking it out may do more harm to the wife too since as long as the LW is willing to put up with her bullshit she has no real motivation to change.
TRUTH's letter is a hoax. No 32-year-old woman was chatting/emailing a 15-year-old boy in 1995. 15 year olds didn't have the internet in 1995, and 32 year-old family friends weren't on the internet either.
@12 the letter writer says he was 15 years old when he had sex with a 32 year old. It doesn't say that he is now 32 himself. He could be 20 years old now, and have had this relationship in 2010 for all we know.

As an aside, there is something weird and squicky about being proud of the fact (or the idea) that you and your partner are each other's one and only. I mean if that's how it worked out and you're happy about it, great. But being proud of it like it's a special accomplishment just strikes me as similar to being proud that you've never read any book other than the bible or something.
@7 I agree, BLUEBALLS' wife is unlikely to respond well to that kind of ultimatum, as most people in monogamous relationships would be. I also feel (and I've said this before) that while making a demand for non-monogamy to a heretofore monogamous relationship might be helpful under some circumstances, it also has the potential to come across as coercive and be very damaging, maybe even more damaging than just leaving. I often feel that Dan fails to take that into account in his answers.

@9 I'm a woman in my 30's and I would NEVER EVER have sex with/hit on/attempt to seduce a 15-year-old. Ew. First, the power imbalance and very real potential for trauma. Second, gross. Teenagers are gross.

Whoops my bad, it did say 20 years later. I had email in 1995 though. Maybe the letter writer did too.
(Apologies to any teenagers out there reading this who have decent standards of hygiene and can string two sentences together. I know you exist.)
@12, e-mail and Internet usage were becoming common in 1995. I'm a little more curious about why they were exchanging e-mails. They lived in the same house. And, @13, I agree -- his wife's taking pride in being each other's first and only is weird, and very likely an important clue that the LW should never, ever bring this up.
Whatevs people, bashing the wife for enjoying their 'exclusivity'. Some folks are sexual homebodies, like myself and my spouse. We thrive on plain old vanilla monogamy. I know it's deeply uncool, but I love my exquisitely well-trained partner, and while I'm able to find others attractive, I've got no interest in seeing anyone else naked in person, probably not even Benedict Cumberbatch. We happened to find one another early in life, and yes, I do rather like being each others' first and only. What the heck? That's the way it worked out, so it doesn't do any harm to like it, right?
I try to form my own opinion before reading Dan's answer, and in BLUEBALLS's letter something jumped out as for me. Let's say Mr. Blue gives the ultimatum to his depressed wife, and she goes for it. Now he's in a marriage with a depressed overweight woman who's not doing anything to get better, feeling sorry for herself, and not being any sort of intellectual or emotional comfort to her husband. It sounds like she's only going through the motions of housework and work and isn't able even to be an enjoyable companion on a vacation. The child is living in a situation where his/her mother isn't fully there as nurturing figure because of his/her mother's depression disease. All of this stays the same except Mr. Blue is now getting sex.

Let's say Mr. Blue gets sex outside the marriage without telling his wife. Nothing in that above paragraph changes. He's still living with and trying to form a relationship with a woman who's overweight, whiny, answers everything with nothing-I-can-do, and not doing anything to get better.

The ultimatum that I'd advise Mr. Blue to give is: Look, I want a marriage that contains everything, not just sex. I want emotional support when *I'm* down, fun, intellectual counterbalance, joy, a terrific mother to our child, shared goals. I want someone who loves me enough to want what's best for me in all aspects of our lives, not someone who shrugs in helplessness and doesn't care about my anger and frustration. And I want sex with that woman. So I'm willing to go with you to counseling and to these doctors, and if I don't see improvement and real willingness to change and get better, I'm divorcing you so I have a chance at finding someone I can be happy with-- and by the way, I think it would be best if I got custody of that kid. It's no picnic for a child to grow up with someone who's that sick/depressed.
SON doesn't need advice on how to convince his father to that love needn't include monogamy. He needs advice on how to convince his father to stay out of his sex life. He can begin by not letting anything "slip". That done, should his father go into screeds, he can go into "I'm sorry I brought it up, but this is really between me and my partner." 30 years old is way too old to be looking for a father's approval on anything so personal. If he wants to let his father off easy, he might ask for the old man's advice pruning rose bushes.
I was confused by VISIT's letter. Is he saying that his mother would let them stay in the spare bedroom together as long as they're married, but not before? Is he saying that his mother has been fine and welcoming of her son's boyfriend as long as they're not sharing a bedroom in her house? For the most part, I agree with Dan, but I'm seeing possibilities for nuance here. I wonder if there are other things that set VISIT's visit with his partner apart from his siblings' visits with theirs.

If it is a matter of plain homophobic discrimination, I'd suggest something along the lines of telling Mother that you're concerned about her in that her personality has changed, that the Christ-y stuff is new and not like her. I'd tell her that she's welcome in my home with my partner any time she wishes to make the trip. I'd resist the temptation to say that she's welcome in the spirit of Christian charity because you believe in being hospitable to the inhospitable and turning the other cheek.
TRUTH certainly shouldn't tell his wife about his earlier relationship. I do wonder how big a deal his wife makes of the "first and only" thing. Does she bring it up often? If so, why? It sounds like something that's important at the beginning of a relationship and that normally would be let drop later on. If she's going on about it, I wonder if maybe this is her way of saying that she's curious or wistful that she never had a chance to play the field. The next time the subject comes up, I'd ask her gently if she's okay with having only one sexual partner and encourage her to talk about dreams, fantasies, implications, etc. I'm not suggesting that running out to have sex with someone else would improve their marriage, but being able to talk about disappointments and what was given up does fall into the "can talk about anything" category.
@8, vennominon Think this is his first marriage. He's 30 now, been together eight years= 22="good-looking guy who spent most of his 20s in a sexless marriage"
Crinoline @19, Yes. Thank you. As a depressive married to a depressive, I say you’re bang on.

Note that the worse a parent’s mental illness is the worse it is for the kid — up to a point. When it becomes obvious even to a child that the problem is the parent things become much easier to deal with. Depression is one of those things that can be bad without being bizarre, so has the potential for really doing a number on a kid.
Wow, BLUEBALLS's letter puts the people who are "devastated" at only getting sex once a week into perspective, doesn't it?

@5: Try "Open link in new tab" when clicking on the comments. Yeah it's a pain having to switch between pages, but better than not being able to review the letters at all.

@7: I agree with this. BLUEBALLS should give one last push to his wife solving her problems through therapy/medical intervention, making it clear that he won't accept "there's nothing I can do."

@8: I think the sexless marriage in LW4's 20s was to the same woman he's still married to now.

@12: I distinctly remember e-mailing and chatting on AOL in 1995. @17: They were exchanging e-mails prior to living in the same house; she was grooming him in advance of seducing him in person.
If TRUTH can't live with the cognitive dissonance of not being his wife's "first and only", he could look at it this way: 15 is below the age of consent. If he couldn't legally consent to the sex, he needn't count it as as sex, so he was in fact his wife's first consensual sex partner. (Bit of a reach of logic there, but if it helps him come to terms with the secret he's been keeping for 20 years, then fine. I agree there's nothing to be gained from telling his wife now.)
@9: "Malicious intent? This woman is a hero! Thanks to her, LW1 will have died having fucked twice as many woman."

It'd be cool if fewer people said this about rapists. I know you're probably not serious, but too many people really are. Pretty sure people shouldn't be saying this about priests who rape kids, either, but in that instance they usually manage not to.

@SON: Try telling your dad "It's different for gay people." I'm told that this works surprisingly often, if the goal is to get him to butt out.
About the sexless marriage situation...I am in a companionate marriage myself; we married before I came out and ended up liking each other too well to really split up. There are pluses and minuses to this - it complicates dating, for one thing - but having someone you really like in your corner for Life Stuff is great.

A thought: women (especially women who struggle with weight stuff, because of all the shame about the mere existence of your "unacceptable" body) are often raised not to be aware of what they want sexually, especially if they're raised in conservative families where sex is coded as bad/very private/embarrassing. (Ask me how I know! Or really, don't; just infer.) It's very easy to end up in a relationship with a perfectly decent guy who you think "attracts" you because you actually have no idea of or experience with sexual attraction ; it's easy to end up in a relationship that is vanilla-when-you-are-not/BDSM-when-you-are-vanilla/very-PIV-focused-when-you-like-other-stuff/etc purely because you've never had the mental space to figure out what you do like. The sheer thrill of dating or "proving" to yourself that you can attract someone can carry you through having sex for a while, but that fades out. And, sexless relationship that is very, very difficult to fix.

To be honest, this is what I always suspect when I encounter sexless straight relationships among people of approximately my generation. (I think this is changing for younger women because the culture is changing, hooray!) It's certainly not the guy's fault - although it's not the woman's fault either.

I think it's really difficult for women in these situations to admit all this, much less share it with a partner - it's the kind of thing that is really, really hurtful, and who wants to hurt someone in that way? My feeling is that often women explain these things to themselves as being primarily about tiredness/housework/depression/weight/"just having a low libido" because those things seem more acceptable and comprehensible - there's already a cultural narrative in place about how many women just don't like sex, or can't want sex if the dishes aren't done, etc.

This, of course, is a problem for a therapist.

Honestly, one thing that would probably help the wife and that might be doable - lots of exercise, especially weight training. Not because of losing weight - losing weight isn't impossible, but it's quite difficult and really doesn't seem to be the core issue. But weight training and cardio together really, really help depression and change your relationship to your body. They're not magic, but sometimes they're easier for people to deal with than therapy/pills/doctor visits. If your local YWCA is anything like mine, it has a bunch of free-to-members classes and that can be motivating.

About companionate marriage: make sure it's what you really want. Do you like living with your wife a lot? Are you good for each other in terms of financial stability, housework, getting-through-crisis, etc? Do you envision getting old together? What you don't want is a "companionate" marriage that blows up in three years when you meet someone you actually want to live with - better to divorce now than divorce in a "I love this other person, not you" situation. Imagine that you get a companionate marriage going and you and your wife are both dating (because I bet she'll date too, eventually). How will you feel about that? How will you handle it if one of you feels jealous? (Because I bet you will - it's worth working through that, though.)

The thing is, companionate marriage is a commitment just like regular marriage. It should not be "prevent-a-divorce" or "I am too flinchy to deal with conflict". Just like regular marriage, it's not a perfect solution to the human condition and it does involve compromises - but sometimes "person I trust and love whose life goals I share and who is good about chores, savings and planning" and "person I want to have sex, care about with and date" are not the same people.

"She's seen doctors but ignores their advice, and tells me she feels bad for me but there's nothing she can do."

This sums it up for me. According to BLUEBALLS, there is something she can do, not ignore her doctors, and she's not doing it. I agree with Sea Otter, though. If she hasn't been treated specifically for depression, she should be, and even then it wouldn't be an easy fix. Also, if she does have a case of depression this serious, it's probably affecting their marriage and her life outside their sex life as well.
@13 Plenty of people are squicked out by the idea multiple partners. You know how sexual experimentation can be an expression of the ideals of freedom, self-knowledge and personal courage? Sexual exclusivity is associated with faithfulness, steadfastness and self-control. Sex is also associated with emotion for most people, so having had sex with only one partner gives that person more of one's emotional focus. Plus there are practical advantages like less risk of disease.
While BLUEBALLS may be within his rights to eventually go outside the marriage for sex, I personally would take one more shot at telling the wife that the current situation is not acceptable. (He's been accepting it for a long time.) Specifically, she no longer has the option of not taking the doctors' advice, of not seeking treatment for her depression (is she clinically depressed, or just sad--he doesn't make that clear), etc. They can seek other doctors or do whatever it takes to get her to try, but simply refusing to change anything and being 'sad' for him is not good enough. It can be done lovingly, and by encouraging her to do it for him and especially for their child, if not for herself. If it still doesn't work, then he can speak on opening the marriage, or divorce if that's what she chooses. But she doesn't get to just hold him hostage the rest of his life.
Hunter78 @29,

Ooh, that’s interesting. Dan uses it to mean loving but sexless, with or without children. I’d never bothered to look up a definition so I wasn’t aware of other uses.
TRUTH has another problem. They sound young. But people I know who have been their SO's one-and-only go from pride in it when they're young and hot to profound regret when they get to be late-30s, early-40s and start to see the effects of time and their youth slipping away. In fact, a friend of mine in this exact situation has indicated a willingness for NSA sex with me just to get some strange. Keep the secret, but prepare yourself for that as you both get older.
I'm not seeing where Blueball's wife has depression, just that she feels depressed, which when worded that way sounds more like a general purpose excuse. Like other people, I'm not really seeing the value in a companionate marriage in this situation. This guy is really young, and is 100% going to meet someone more appealing once he picks himself up and starts looking. If I were this wife, I'd prefer the ultimatim. Its more honest, and has more respect for her agency. Something about the prevailing dialogue on this issue bugs me. True that women of the older generation were raised to beleive that attraction comes from personality and good-husband characteristics like domestic help and wind up married to these guys that are great on paper but that they don't want sex with. But that dosn't mean they'll be relieved to be left alone, with him getting it elsewhere, or are incapeable of learning from mistakes and figuring out how to do better. In any event, if BB's wife loves him, she needs to work harder. Its in her interest, and the kids, too. He shouldn't let her off the hook with less than her best effort.
@34: Personally, I'm less in favor of the ultimatum rather than leaving, but I'm not sure. It seems like the ultimatum is more likely to result in begrudging participation, rather than actually fixing the problems. If she doesn't want to change (and she clearly doesn't), the ultimatum seems like it'd come across as pressure rather than as negotiation. And if it's unlikely to get either of them what they want, they should probably just break up.
I hear that, too @35. I get frequency falling off and all, but for her to go completely sexless on him says she couldn't care less, is a total sad sack, or both. But they do have kids, and owe it their best shot for that reason.
Besides, nobody really wants to change. Most people do it because they have to. Factor is whether staying married to him motivates her. He's got to put that on the line to find out.
@33 -- Pride turning into dismay and regret over time. Oh, so true. Sad but true. There's a fable in there somewhere.

And for those surprised at the pride in being a partner's one and only: either you're hopelessly jaded, or you don't get out much. Welcome to the mainstream ideal of North American romantics and shut-ins. (Not saying it's smart, or realistic, or even healthy, but it sure is heavily marketed.)
It was my crystal ball speaking, making the reasonable assumption that he's going to repeat this marriage at least once.


Dr Sean is now in the lead for MRA of the Month.


Ms Fan and others in the "no gain from telling" camp - It could stop her from S*-shaming. While M? Ias in this comment section sounds happy and grateful to be in that situation, taking great pride in it smacks of being inclined to Shame&Shun or at the very least patronize others who have not been so fortunate.

I wonder what would happen if they suddenly found themselves in a social circle where it was the custom to look down on couples that confirmed their compatibility before the wedding.


Ms Crinoline - Well spotted on the custody point. But that dances over to the question of whether it's ableist to hold her depressed state against a woman in a custody case. I seem to recall having seen a spirited debate or two in more feminist spaces than this on the subject (or so nearly as to make almost no difference)
@Eudaemonic: It'd be cool if fewer people said this about rapists.

Research on statutory rape shows that these relationships are not inherently harmful to the younger person's mental health. The key factor is the younger person's perception of the relationship - if the younger person felt abused, they exhibit the associated mental health issues, otherwise there's no significant distinction between these relationships and normal ones.

I understand the law's goal of protecting teenagers against potential abuse, but the research suggests that many teenagers can, in fact, meaningfully consent to a relationship with an older person. Given that the reality is far more complicated than the law, I believe teens are best served by a "no harm, no foul" approach to enforcement. You're certainly not doing the LW any favors by crying "rape!" simply because you can't resist an opportunity to claim the victim banner for men. And let's be honest, young women are generally better served by these laws than are young men.
@26 I was thinking the same thing, although I was expecting to get lambasted for it (because of the recent letter where the husband tried to call the wife's underage history 'rape' when she didn't. The commenters were roundly against that husband, and I wonder if they'll be as against us here, though the LW here didn't say he objects to calling it rape -- 'grooming' isn't a value-neutral term -- and we're not doing it to his face in a relationship.) Congratulating boys for getting exploited by grown-ups just because their rapist is a woman is gross, and does harm.
@14 “making a demand for non-monogamy to a heretofore monogamous relationship ... [may be] even more damaging than just leaving”

@35 “If [an ultimatum] is unlikely to get either of them what they want, they should probably just break up.”

If Person A has given it a lot of thought and knows that they need X in their life, where X could be living in a big city, or having children, or receiving blow jobs every once in a while, or having sex outside the relationship, and A knows that Partner B has said no to X in the past... it’s not unreasonable to say something like the following:

>> I love you so much, and I really want to grow old with you and continue to have the hot sex and fun conversations and tender moments that we already share. But I also find that I need X to be happy. I hope you can rethink your opposition to X, and talk to me about baby steps we could take to help you feel more comfortable. I’d be happy to go to counseling, or rethink my approach, or compromise on other issues I haven’t compromised on in the past, but X is really important to me. And you are too, and I hope I can find a way to have you and have X too. >>

I really don’t understand how anyone can view it as more compassionate to dump someone you love and want to live with rather than have that conversation. Even if the conversation isn’t very likely to succeed, because A thinks B is really strongly against X. It’s still worth explaining the situation.
34-Allison-- Mrs. Blue has been to doctors and not taken their advice. While that could mean that she's merely feeling depressed, it seems far more likely that she's been given a clinical diagnosis but has not followed through with treatment. Granted, doctors can be wrong (check iron levels! check for sleep apnea!), but from the information we're given, it sure sounds like Mrs. Blue is depressed.

39 Venn--Right. As much as I love the comparison of mental health issues like depression and addiction to physical health issues like diabetes and arthritis, there does come a point where the analogy doesn't hold. At some point, the patient has to want to get well, has to try to get well with depression where intent doesn't really matter as long as there's insulin with diabetes.

As for that spirited debate among feminists (a debate I'm glad I didn't witness; I lose patience with these things quickly), perhaps a comparison with quadriplegia would help. The quadriplegic mother can't help her condition, and the 7 year old child might know that (I chose the age out of a hat), and it may be ableist to give custody to the parent who can toilet himself without help, but in the long run, I think it's in the 7 year old's best interest to come home from school every day to the parent who's been able to make peanut butter cookies and serve them with jam.
@42: "it’s not unreasonable to say something like the following..."

Just to clarify, I don't think it's unreasonable to make that kind of offer, just that--of all of the available options--I'm not confidant it's the best one, particularly in this circumstance. It's not a bad idea, just one that tends to work best for people who are unusually high in emotional health, self-awareness and commitment, and I don't think that's where the LW's partner is.

An extremely unhealthy person is likely to respond to ultimatums in an unhealthy way, and at a certain level of unhealthiness, it seems like they're more likely to respond in the unhealthy way than the healthy one. Personally, I think the LW and his wife are probably at that point.

@41: "Congratulating boys for getting exploited by grown-ups just because their rapist is a woman is gross, and does harm."

Yup. The whole point of having statutory rape laws is because children are easy to convince they're not being harmed, or not going to be harmed, or a thousand other things. Otherwise, drugging someone unconscious and then raping them would be fine... or at least, that's what people would believe if they were being sincere about believing that boys aren't harmed by being raped just because they aren't currently using the R word.

Note: Successfully shaming a boy into claiming he wasn't harmed, and then using his reticence as "proof" that he wasn't really harmed, isn't the same as him not being harmed. Good try, though, seandr; it's at least more creative than just calling him a pussy.

If I rape a woman, and show her that I'll have her children killed if she ever admits it was rape, the fact that she later says she consented is not proof of anything. Coerced consent isn't consent, even after the fact. Particularly when the coercion is still very much present.

I think you do have a point about the weirdly unscientific way those laws are implemented, but I also notice that this is getting brought up only to minimize rape, and not for any other purpose. If it were otherwise, people wouldn't only bring this up when doing so grants an opportunity to police someone's gender role performance. Just like with the women who bring up the danger of false rape accusations--but only and inevitably when it's a woman being accused--the concern is fake.
Oh, my two letters with which I can strongly personally relate.

@BLUEBALLS - I think you should heed the advice of @19. This was me - wasted 18-35 of my prime sexual years on someone who was depressed and had terrible body image and wasn't really interested in sex, but seemed stuck (happy? no, that's just some residual bitterness) being obsessive that the depresion, weight and lack of sex would lead me to cheat and/or leave...which, predictably, the latter happened. I didn't have the complicating matter of children, but I still think, as others in the commentariat have noted, the kiddo is better off with healthy (mentally and physically) parents. Tell her you are ready for a divorce, even though it's really not what you ideally want. Marriage is not a suicide pact, and "in sickness and in health" does not mean that you are required to sacrifice your mental health for your partner's.

@TRUTH - I disagree this is a fake based on email and messaging of various sorts. Plenty of people had access long before Delphi and AOHELL dumped the unwashed hordes upon us, but even so, the hordes were there by '95. Certainly AIM was around. I also had a similar experience with a much older adult, didn't feel traumatized or exploited and was an eager participant. I remain happy and grateful for the experience. The need to label this "grooming" as part of a "predatory" meme is that we all want to string up the >18 year old guy who dares to touch the <18 girl, particularly the 30-something guy who bangs even the willing 15 year old girl. But in the face of recognizing the radical proposition that women are self-empowered humans too (and not eternally juvenile chattel), it gets increasingly difficult to maintain that double-standard. We are uncomfortable with the reality that there may be a fair number of healhty, well adjusted and happy women out there who enthusastically participated in a big age-difference relationship with an older man...but these things are echoes of patriarchal sexism. You really won't find too many men/boys who were unhappy they got to have sex with an older woman or felt they'd been manipulated or taken advantage of.

I won't presume to speak for @TRUTH, but I read his letter and wondered...where exactly is the issue here? What is he really hiding from his wife? Or is the burning need because he is upset/traumatized and wants someone to talk to? Unless there is a compelling reason to bring this up (is OW coming to live with them? Is TRUTH's son crushing on an older neighbor lady?), not only is it OK not to tell her, but it's probably the default correct thing to do. I don't see why he wrote in.

Same for @SON and @VISIT too - sounds like they're both already doing the right thing.
@42 Oh, I'm not talking about making your needs clear to your partner. That is a perfectly reasonable kind of conversation to have, and it leaves the discussion open to multiple options, which may ultimately include staying in the relationship and getting your needs met somewhere else, but hopefully doesn't leave your partner feeling powerless in that decision. I'm talking about giving them a straight-up "I get to fuck other people or I walk" ultimatum, which is sometimes what I feel Dan is recommending. I can't see that ending well for most people.
@Seandr - Just because the victim isn't harmed doesn't mean that a crime wasn't committed. The LW readily admits that he realized the older woman groomed him and acted in a predatory manner. He may not feel that he suffered any ill effects from their relationship, but that is very different than saying she wasn't engaging in criminal behavior by developing that relationship in the first place. Statutory rape is a crime because there is a very real potential that harm will be caused to the victim, not because every victim comes to harm. It can simultaneously be true that she is a rapist and that her victim was not profoundly harmed by his experiences.

(It should be noted that claiming to be unharmed emotionally by an experience is moot, since at the point you were victimized you have no developmental comparison to what you would have been like had the event not occurred at all. All you can say is that you are currently functional and content, which is great and all, but it's still different from saying you are unharmed.)
On statutory rape laws and protecting children from themselves, by a woman who actively sought out sex with adult men when she was 13:…

Hunter78, the LW seems squicked-out by his seduction by a woman over twice his age. You have no business telling him he shouldn’t be.
Am I the only weirdo who gets hornier when depressed? I've suffered from pretty severe depression since I was 12. I learned pretty early on that sex gives me a nice serotonin boost. So does eating. So I'm fat and depressed, but I have a wonderful sex life!
@46: "You really won't find too many men/boys who were unhappy they got to have sex with an older woman or felt they'd been manipulated or taken advantage of."

This means nothing, since people feel so comfortable saying it; you won't find them because you're helping to make it so they know they can't speak up. I mean, look at this: The LW very subtly, very gently, very politely mentioned that it wasn't entirely consensual, and we're already accusing him of overreacting... to being fucking raped.

It is literally not possible to react any less intensely than he has without concealing it completely. But he's still apparently overreacting? Jesus christ.
@52: Bullshit. Grooming is what child-rapists do.
@49 - 13!=15. Not by a long shot. For that matter, 15!=18. We are forced to pick a line somewhere, so we've chosen 18 because (as the super-early marriage promoting SBC has recognized in their announcement next week) trying to delaying longer strays into the absurd. I suspect there are no short supply of women who have legally and willingly done porn at age 18 who later reflect back with more maturity and wish they hadn't...and if only there was a law protecting them from themselves and the predatory porn makers (and I believe a huge swath of them are predatory).

I'm sure that some small percentage of cases of male statutory rape involve boys who grow up to feel abused and traumatized, but that does not mean the majority or even a plurality do. There are a great many things in which some risk/danger exists which remain legal despite a small number of people being exploited.

But thanks for equating me to suicide and child exploitation...try a little harder and I'm sure you can go full on Godwin somehow.
@54 So the crux of your argument is that because some people are lawfully exploited, and some people regret their decisions, we should not strive to protect children and teens from predatory behavior from adults? I don't buy it. There are many crimes where proof of harm is not required to say that a crime was committed, and in the case of statutory rape the potential for harm is immense.
@54: I know a guy who's been shot. He's fine now. That means I can just go around shooting people, right?

How about if I persecute the ones who complain? If I persecute them enough, then they'll stay silent, and then nobody's complaining, so it's fine, right?

"but that does not mean the majority or even a plurality do."

You have no idea if this is true. The only thing we know for certain is that saying this makes it easier for rapists to get away with rape. Why is that your primary objective here?

Since you won't permit rape victims to speak, you don't get to use their silence as proof they don't exist. Jesus fucking christ, what's wrong with you?
@seandr I know you're not really meaning that the groomer is indeed a hero in having groomed a child for her sexual enjoyment, so I'm not going to react with outrage. But really, having had one or two partners only means being very restricted in one's repertoire, and most probably a bad lay. It takes experience to become a good lover, and one and only relationship rarely provides for that, except when both partners are committed to being adventurous in bed.

I think the proud wife should be told she's not the first one. She might come to understand better that sexual skills were taught to her husband and he wasn't that good out of nowhere.
Mr Finch - I called her a groomer because LW said he could tell he'd been groomed. And would you mind specifying *straight* boys at the end of that paragraph? I'll grant that Mr Savage wasn't harmed, but he's a bit of an outlier. I was harmed enough by female attentions when I was fifteen for both of us; had those attentions succeeded, I doubt I'd be alive today.
@27 I'm assuming you and your partner talked about your relationship before agreeing to a companionate marriage. The the decision was mutual. And that's the thing. It has to be mutual. You can't just tell your partner that you're never going to have sex with them again but they also aren't allowed to leave you.

The problem is that BLUEBALLS doesn't want a companionate marriage and it doesn't sound like his wife is bringing a lot of companionship to their relationship. I mean if he said that everything else about his marriage was great except for sex that would be one thing, but I get the feeling the sex is just the tip of the iceberg here. And I don't think it's simply a case of her just not being into him.
@12, TRUTH was 15 in 1980 and dial-up was popular back then. Don't you remember how pervasive CompuServe was in the 80s and 90s with email and chat services.
@54 & @55 - no, I'm implying that we tolerate a great deal of exploitation and other Bad Things (TM) because the numbers are so low. Please go back and re-read what I said. Pretending that every single interaction between someone 18 getting sexy with someone 17 is RAPE!!!111!!!!!11 is about as sensible as claiming that older people never try to exploit younger people. You're engaging in an absurdist argument to avoid nuance. I do think there's a reasonable issue here, as opposed to in cases of other crimes, for empowering the prosecution to procede even without a compliant being filed by a victim. Abuse among adults is another clear case. I'm sorry you don't lke it because you want a black and white aboslutist bright line where you can throw the book at these people, but nuance does exist.

And we do not "know for sure that saying this makes it easier for rapists to get away with rape"...sure, we do know for sure that having a Bill of Rights, or what remains of it, does make it easier for some criminals to get off on "technicalities" I suppose you're saying we should get rid of that pesky Bill of Rights...because there will never be abuse of law enforcement or the courts, right?

The failure in the case in the article linked by Alison - and I remember when that case hit the news and how gobsmacking it was - was not in people saying what I've said: it was in the judge, having ample evidence, not limited to the girl being 13, that this guy deserved a lot more punishment than he got. This is even with the strict consent laws, mind you - it's a failure of application.

@58 Fair enough, he used that word - I would have liked it better if the LW had indicated more than "my feelings were conflicted" - because it would shed some light, even if he didn't say what his feelings were now about this person. However, having attracted the attentions of similarly older gay men when I was but a 15 year old boy washing dishes in a kitchen, I will not restrict this to straight people - I got hit on plenty and it didn't traumatize me; hell, I got a few free drinks out of it, which was pretty decent considering I was underage. I've managed to emerge not an alcoholic.

What is it people are always saying when these day-after questions about consent arise? Oh, right, it's the victims perception which counts. I have a very hard time with being told I must've been raped when I don't feel raped or traumatized and it hasn't resulted in PTSD for the past ~30 years. That approach cuts both ways, you know.
@61 Saying you were the victim of a crime and saying that you were damaged by that victimization are two entirely different things. We can say "he was raped" because, he was, in fact, raped. By the very definitions we as a society have agreed upon, he could have been a willing partner, but that does not give him the legal ability to consent. Likewise we do not count the vote of anyone under age 18, despite the fact that there are informed youths out there who have well-developed views of and understandings of society, economics and politics. So yes. He was raped. But that doesn't mean that he was inherently harmed or that he needs to see himself as such. We can simultaneously despise the actions of the adult party because they took liberties with a minor that they never should have, while acknowledging that the minor may never see themselves as a victim. They were the victim of a crime, but they don't have to feel like a victim. Let's just let the victims of these crimes grow and develop the way they are inclined, cope with their experiences in whatever manner they deem best for themselves, offer help to those in distress, and accept that not everyone handles their experiences in the same way.

There's a vast middle ground between saying "statutory rape should not exist because some children are capable of making informed decisions about their body" and saying "all children are inherently harmed by sexual encounters with adults" where we can admit that adults should never involve themselves in a sexual encounter with a child, EVEN IF that particular child MIGHT turn out alright in the end, because that's never going to be a known ahead of time and the risk is too great to take.
@61: "Pretending that every single interaction between someone 18 getting sexy with someone 17 is RAPE!!!111!!!!!11 is about as sensible as claiming that older people never try to exploit younger people."

I agree; and if anyone was making the argument that you're describing, then I would not be saying you're full of shit. Since literally no one is making the argument you're pretending I am, you are full of shit. As you know, since if you weren't full of shit, you'd be willing to respond to what people did say, instead of lying about it and then responding to your own lie.

Does that need to be clearer? Someone is telling you he was raped as a child. You're accusing him of overreacting. Again: What the fuck is wrong with you?

Why do you keep falsely claiming to know that the numbers are low? Given that this claim is a lie, and we know it, why on Earth do you think we should take it as a reason to pretend it's not rape when a boy gets raped by a woman?

"Fair enough, he used that word - I would have liked it better if the LW had indicated more than "my feelings were conflicted"

This is another lie. You're calling him out for admitting he was raped, and you're claiming that you'd have treated him better if he'd gone into more detail about the rape? Bullshit. He did less than that and you already accused him of overreacting. Imagine what you'd do to him if he had more of a reaction than the absolute minimum possible.

I get that you had some sexual experiences you think were okay. That's fine. That has absolutely nothing to do with how you should treat rape victims, or with whether you should acknowledge that rape is rape. How fucking hard is this to figure out? A guy who's been shot but recovered shouldn't endorse random shooting sprees. Is this like advanced-level moral calculus? Did you flunk out during Moral Algebra?
@43, I thought maybe she went to the doc about her libido and "depression" and the doc probably suggested diet and exercise. But if she does actually have depression, I'd still tend to agree with the consensus that a companionate marriage isn't the answer, here. I like being honest about it and getting the divorce, and maybe the ultimatum will work and maybe not. He's got nothing to really lose by giving it that last shot, though. If she does have depression, she probably gets prescribed a pill. And I hope he does go for at least joint custody, if it doesn't work out.
And if she has been diagnosed with depression and isn't taking her medication, he should bring that up in court when custody is discussed.
Mr Finch - I accept your experience, and that of Mr Savage. I just contend that this isn't one of those concepts that applies equally with genders reversed. That you were hit on by men is not all that relevant to what I'm saying about the effects on gay boys of being hit on by women. And in your first post you were lumping together all boys when considering the effects of being hit on specifically by women, which was heterocentric, as well as misleading if your point really was that the onhitter being cross-orientational for the boy didn't matter or didn't matter much. I don't think I could have been expected to guess from "very few boys will complain about getting to have sex with an older woman" that you meant also that "not many more will complain about being hit on by an older man", especially when the personal experience you cited at the time was OS only.

All I am doing in the LW's case is objecting to the groomer's conduct and intentions. I'm inclined to agree with you that there's a lot to examine in age of consent questions, though in cases outside generally accepted age differences I'm much less sympathetically disposed when the initiative comes from the older party.
@Xilonen03: Just because the victim isn't harmed doesn't mean that a crime wasn't committed.

And just because a crime was technically committed doesn't mean we should grab our torches and pitchforks and form an angry mob.

I was close friends with a clique of girls in high school who, starting at 15 years old, almost exclusively dated guys in their 20's (with a particular focus on members of local punk bands). One lost her virginity during a summer fling with a 30-year old man in France. These were mature, well-placed, worldly young women, arguably more so than the 20-something drummers they dated, certainly more so than my male classmates and I, who were basically unfuckable as far as they were concerned, until around senior year.

I doubt it even occurred to them that all that sex was criminal, and if it had, it wouldn't have stopped them, nor should it have.
Well, I had my first sexual relationship with a 26 year old, when I was eighteen. Was I 'groomed' or seduced? Not really. Were we legal at the time? By several months, though we had been making out since before the Magic Birthday.

But, bluntly, the experience was devastating to me. The legalities are really irrelevant to the personal loss and waste. What she did, that isn't criminal but deserves plenty of scorn, was blatantly violate the campground rule.

We were discrete and careful, delaying 'sex' until legal, making reasonable plans to be intimate when we were safe. NOT planning to ride off into the sunset and get married.

The writer's issues are specific to him. HE felt 'groomed' but he's still in contact, and can assess his reaction as he goes along. His spouse's enthusiasm for their being mutual 'firsts' does sound a bit squicky. He doesn't have to burden her with his details, but it sounds bad that he's kept such a big secret for the duration.
@Eudaemonic: I know a guy who's been shot. He's fine now. That means I can just go around shooting people, right?

Not only have you chosen a poor metaphor, but you've applied it incorrectly.

Nevertheless, let's see if we can extract anything useful from it. If someone really wants to be shot, non-fatally, maybe as part of a performance art project, or to get out of some bullshit obligation, and they ask you to shoot them, and you do, and they end up ok, then charging you with attempted homicide or yelling "murder!" from the comments section of SLOG would be silly.
@sissoucat: I know you're not really meaning that the groomer is indeed a hero in having groomed a child

This is true (although I'd need to hear more from LW before I labeled her a villain).

having had one or two partners only means being very restricted in one's repertoire, and most probably a bad lay.


She might come to understand better that sexual skills were taught to her husband and he wasn't that good out of nowhere.

Possibly, but it's not clear to me she'd take any comfort in that. My sense is that believing you are your partner's "only" or the "best" makes extramarital sex all the more threatening, even if it occurred before you and your partner ever met. I'd sure be bummed to learn that certain special things about my relationship with my wife were in fact not true. That said, I'd get over it, and I'm guessing the wife would as well.
Australia, NZ etc; Happy,
International Women's Day.
I'm not gay and I certainly don't love women. Though your entitlement may make you feel like a majority, you're a minority here, Hunter78.
Depressed persons may be vastly different from one another, and even at different times of their lives. I today think that if the husband tels his wife in a respectful way that he's staying married but outsourcing sex to care for himself, so that he can care for her, it's actually a good thing and the wife might feel better for it. She also might not. As a depressed and treated person, so without symptoms (yeah !), I think Dan's advice has enough concern for both the wife and the husband. Respect is key in looking for extramarital sex.
OK, as a male who had reason to be very grateful for the existence of statutory rape laws when I was 12, I'm going to make 3 observations:

1. We can debate whether or not I was capable of consenting to sex when I was 12. What I certainly WAS NOT capable of doing when I was 12, was convincing a jury of my attacker's peers that I didn't consent, especially under hostile examination by her defence lawyer.

2. There is a huge power imbalance between a child and an adult, and even more so when the adult is in a position of authority over the child (my attacker was my babysitter), and when the attacker can pick the time and circumstances of the attack. The fact that we both knew, and each knew the other knew, that if I went to the police neither the police nor the courts would care what lies she and her attorney might make up about my "consent", did an enormous amount to compensate for that power imbalance.

These are the reasons I think it is extremely important that statutory rape laws continue to assume the minor is not consenting. @62: for these reasons I think that whether or not a minor is capable of making such decisions is only one consideration in deciding how such laws should work. Minors who are genuinely consenting can generally arrange for their dalliances with older partners to go unnoticed by the authorities e.g. post 68.

@67: Statutory rape is neither about "consent" nor "partners". (If someone physically assaults you, are you their "partner" in assault?) The parties in a statutory rape may or may not consider themselves to have been consenting: the law doesn't care. That is the point.

3. People who think male minors are being done a favor by adult women forcing them to have sex are extremely deficient in imagination.
you should be able to tell each other everything

You don't have to tell each other everything. Protecting your spouse from the truth, allowing your spouse to have their illusions, is often the more loving choice. some deceptions are harmless

I would not call the second a "marriage ideal". I think feelings are worth protecting, but delusions are not except in the most temporary, end of life circumstances.

It sounds like what our government is trying to do about climate change, even American history. Preserve illusions in the supposed interest of public peace and detriment of our children. Some feelings, based in delusion, should not be protected. That said.

This guy based his marriage on a lie and I think he should keep it to himself until his kid is independent. The time to tell was before getting married and pregnant. The only person who can't advocate for themselves here is the kid, they deserve the least harm from this. I bet wife would be grateful that he waited until the kid was independent too.

I suspect he wants to spill because of the chance his wife could find out from this woman. It may make him insecure to know part of wife's attraction to him is based on a lie, further that he's her first and only, but she is not his first nor his only. Or perhaps because he's started to put what happened in perspective, with a kid of his own, having recently been his attacker's age, and perhaps noticed that 15 year olds should seem gross for a reason. The developmental difference should be huge. Grooming them is bad, let them develop with their peer group. If LW had hit on the older woman I wouldn't feel much differently. Who knows how many lovers he would have had in the absence of grooming.

I also don't find it unusual for a spouse to be sentimental about being first and only lovers. Attraction is different for everyone, many kinks are much stranger to me. But I do think the wife is currently making a big deal out of it because she's curious about others, protesteth too much, total hunch.
LW4; you are 30 yrs old and haven't had sex for a year?
Please. Leave this story. And take your child with you.
Whatever is going on for you and your wife, it is a bad dynamic for the both of you.
She just sits in her depression, unable or unwilling to move. You indulge her.
Your poor child, watching such dysfunction.
@78: That sucks. Glad the law was there.

" People who think male minors are being done a favor by adult women forcing them to have sex are extremely deficient in imagination."

And extremely deficient in morality.

@79: Phil, I think this is the first long post of yours I can remember seeing in which I've agreed with every paragraph. Heartily endorsed. This must be a sign of the apocalypse. Somewhere, Hell just froze over.

@70: "Not only have you chosen a poor metaphor, but you've applied it incorrectly."

No. Children's wants aren't the same as an adult's wants, which is why they are children.
It should be illegal for me to feed battery acid to your children, even if I can get your kids to say they really want it. Or even if I can convince them it's not battery acid.

Shit, even if they do really want it, it should still be illegal for me to force-feed them the stuff. It doesn't matter what they say, or what I can make them say, or what I can convince other adults that they said.

Even if some kids survive drinking battery acid without serious injury, that changes nothing.

AFinch was having an attack of thinking that since someone shot at him and missed, or shot him nonfatally, we should start thinking it's okay to shoot people. This is irrational to the point where it's hard to imagine that he actually believes it, which suggests that it's cover for some other belief that's harder to defend.

@67: "Why are you so hysterical about this statutory rape?"

What's it like to be scum? Did you have to get surgery to get the moral fiber removed, or was a moral fiber-free diet enough? I guess it should be no surprise that it resulted in moral diarrhea, but jeeze, dude, at least remember to wipe.


You are against illusions, but you want him to preserve the fiction
Why did Truth write in, when everything is hunky-dory

Thank you for the name! And I can simultaneously be against delusions, and against destabilizing this kid's family. I suspect these illusions are adding stability the kid might need. But I can appreciate your reasoning too, yes. And you're probably right that there is maybe more than having just passed 32. Wish we could get a follow up.

Hunter or Huntsman? Or?
Eud - I might agree with your message some times. Maybe most times. But not your methods. Can't give you more than that.

I'm in my 50's and struggled with increasing sexual rejection from my wife for years. I mixed the advice from Dan Savage, Adam Carolla and Athol Kay. Yall know what Dan says. Adam says to look at sex as another chore that has to get done, I am expected to mow the lawn and I do it. Athol says to improve yourself and get the alpha/beta balance back in your life. You don't trade chores for sex, sex and chores are part of marriage.

I gave my wife 4 options. Start having sex agreeably, approve me to quietly cheat, accept monogomish, or we divorce.

My wife is no pushover. She voices her demands of a husband and I try to meet them. She has threatened divorce for my shortcomings and I, upon reflection, corrected my actions accordingly. Sex, agreeably, without eye rolling or pushback, and with a reasonable frequency is a demand of mine.

Also, as an atheist, I cannot suffer in this life expecting reward in the next. I have to pursue happiness now.
Ooo options. Ok Hun, glad you sound happier this week.
I’m totally with Eudaemonic on this one.

By the way, where are statutory rape laws set at 18? Aren’t they 16 most places with various age-discrepancy exceptions written in?
Everyone should read the article that Alison Cummins recommended: One of the milder sentences reads, Later, I couldn't understand why he never called me again, why he didn't want to be my boyfriend.

People who want something often tell lies, half-truths or things that they've convinced themselves are true to get it. An adult can be expected to weigh "I love you," "I'm getting divorced from my spouse because I'd rather be with you," "if your parents kick you out I'll help you" and a million other things in context and figure out how much salt to add. Kids usually can't. Statutory rape laws are a way of leveling the playing field and making sure those inclined to pick stick to people remotely close to their own size.

There may be studies showing that many teenagers are not damaged by sexual relationships with adults, but there are also studies showing that teenagers are not as good as weighing risk as adults. Remember that sex involves risk, risk of emotional damage yes but also pregnancy and disease. Do you think it would be easier for an thirty-year-old to convince a fifteen-year-old that they don't really need a condom than to convince a twenty-five-year-old? Heck yes.

An nineteen-year-old should be allowed to date a seventeen-year-old. In fact, this is how it works in many states.

Old Crow, that completely sucks. Thanks for telling us about it.
@89: They're set at 18 in California, which is where the movies come from, and hence the public perception. I've heard most places have "Romeo and Juliet" exemptions, where it's not illegal if the age difference is small enough--to avoid the horror stories where someone's life gets ruined because she and her 17-year-old boyfriend had sex the day after her 18th birthday.
TRUTH seems to be caught between 2 opposing views of what happened when he was 15. If he had a consensual, non-harmful relationship with an older woman, then his current wife is not his first-and-only, and he wonders if he should tell her that truth. (Dan and I think not.) If he was groomed and raped, then it's his responsibility to tell because that older woman is probably doing the same to other boys, some of whom may not come through the experience as well. They may be hurting, wondering why no one believes them, or wondering why they can't be like TRUTH and shrugging it off. For that reason, I hope TRUTH does tell. It's not for him. It would hurt his wife a little. It might help other boys a lot.
@63 I agree; and if anyone was making the argument that you're describing, then I would not be saying you're full of shit. Since literally no one is making the argument you're pretending I am, you are full of shit. As you know, since if you weren't full of shit, you'd be willing to respond to what people did say, instead of lying about it and then responding to your own lie.

First, nothing I posted is a "lie" - please explain the "lie". What did I falsely aver?

Second, that is in fact exactly the argument you are making - that is the definition of statutory rape. There is an "age of consent" - people over it are not permitted to have sex with people under it because people under it have been deemed incapable of giving consent, and therefore any sexual intercourse is without consent and by definition rape. It's really that simple. You are, repeatedly, and with nothing more than increasing vehemence (and a bit of ad-hominem) offering nothing more than proof-by-assertion that any notion ot the contrary is engaging in rape apologia and rapist sheltering. My argument, from the get-go, has been that it's complicated and there are edge cases, which make this bright-line definition complicated. I'm curious to hear what you think of the Kaitlyn Hunt case?

On that note...@62, we are actually pretty strongly in agreement. My original point about all this was that until very recently, charging adult women with statutory rape was non-existent. I suspect that's because the perceived level of damage wasn't nearly as great. I know that when I was a horny young teenager the idea of having sex with an adult woman was a kind of holy grail (really, having sex with any woman willing to have sex), and that was an attitude shared broadly. No doubt there were some guys who, under peer pressure, professed to feel this way out of bravado, when they really didn't. I still don't buy that many felt that way. My original point was about why we now pursue those cases against women.

What little, and poor, statistical evidence exists for this, suggests that the "problem" is overwhelmingly one of older men pursuing underage women, and that's what these laws were created to address, particularly because most of the perceived burden fell on the (younger) women. I don't have time to go google scholar up the scientific literature on psychological damage to minors, or to how it varies by sex|gender. Perhaps Dan will do a "What You Got" on the lovecast with one of the many sex researchers he has on. He's been willing to touch the topic of pedophilia, so this might be in a doable zone.

Which leads to...@66. With all due respect, I really don't see how orientation makes any difference: being hit on or "groomed" or seduced when you are emotionally unprepared (due to immaturity) to deal with the implications of sex is traumatic. I don't think being gay and pressured into having sex by a straight woman is any more damaging than being straight and persuaded to let an older gay man do sexual things with you. Yes, my description above is hetero-centric, but based on what I have observed about younger, under-age gay males I have known, they are just as horny and eager for sex as the straight males.

I don't advocate for repeal of age-of-consent laws. I believe they need to exist. However, if you look at this issue in the long term, the age has been a moving target. Judaism deals with this pretty explicitly, and men (and now women, though I don't know how long the bat-mitzvah tradition has really existed) were recognized as having achieved sexual majority at age 13. That's because physiologically, that's when (give or take) it happens.

Our society has evolved and people have longer life spans; "maturity" has moved later and later, for a variety of reasons (ie, it's not great for your life to start a family at 15). Our physiology has not changed. 15 year old boys were getting married (to peers), having babies and ruling the world until the past few centuries; yes, perhaps this is why the Middle Ages were the Dark Ages, so I'm not advocating a return to that. But like it or not, there are people under the age of consent who are emotionally and intellectually capable of making mature consent, regardless of the arbitrary age of consent (which is still 16 in a number of places). I find it really intersting that every example raised here - every clear cut case nobody is arguing about - involves children thirteen and under.

Why do I think this "nuance" matters? Maybe just because I'm 'scum' and I want more 'scumminess' in the world. Or maybe because I think there is also some damage done to otherwise perfectly mentally healthy, nice and good people - "normal" people - for being told they've been deemed a victim of abuse. I think you risk doing damage to people by telling them they might be messed up, only they just don't see it, so they should look a little harder. If you really want to go all-in on "for the children" - how about those kids who get coerced into describing false memories of abuse?

I do not think people who seek out or are even willing to engage in sexual activities with someone where such an incredible maturity gap exists are quite...right. I think they need some therapy - there's something either supremely looser-ish or really messed up about picking partners who are that much younger. When I reflect back on those people with whom I was involved, I think there was something quesitonable about their own maturity. But I don't believe they raped me.
@89 - I got into this pissing match on reddit once (as the person advising against sex with young people! I know, I'm scummy like that), and was schooled that 18 is actually rarer - a majority are below that. IIRC, the more traditionally 'backward" (socially conservative) states had stricter laws, I suspect in response to worse problems. Teen brides were a real problem in the south for a very long time.
I wish Dan had advised TRUTH to tell his wife the truth. If it's crushing to her naïveté, that need not be a bad thing and is unlikely to break them up. For me the most sacred thing about marriage has nothing to do with sexual exclusivity but with the privilege of intimacy, getting to know, really know, one other human being, without veils or distortions or bullshit. Like most ideals, it may not be fully attainable, but it's worth striving toward. After eight years of marriage, I'd feel more loved to have my husband confess a lie he told when we met than to have him perpetuate it.
BLUEBALLS might want to look for an actual, licensed Sex Therapist and see if his wife would want to try hearing the advice given there. ( Assuming that's one doctor she hasn't seen, and they can afford it.)
In my experience, the average primary care physician has NO CLUE how to handle issues of low libido in females. Nor do most OB/GYN's. I complained of low sex drive for years and was told that I was depressed...and if I just took anti-depressants the clouds would part and the sun would shine and I'd be "back to normal". (Wrong! We also know that anti-depressants can actually contribute to low libidos. Not only did they not help, they made things worse!) I didn't have a low sex drive because I was depressed, I was depressed *because* I had a low sex drive and very much missed enjoying lovemaking like I had before. I was depressed because my husband was frustrated and unhappy, too. There were no other health issues, weight issues, etc. to point to as a physical source of the problem. And other than being bummed about lack of sex, I was generally happy, if equally as frustrated as he was.
So I tried talking to my OB/GYN about it and got brushed off as "perimenopausal". Changed OB/GYNs and tried again...again I got a shrug and was told to talk to my regular doctor. I finally browbeat that OB/GYN into at least checking my hormone levels. Weeks later when I called for results, I was told that everything was "within normal limits", but they wouldn't specify, and they had no intention of scheduling an appointment to go into those lab results in detail. It was just "There's nothing more we can do for you."
Long story short, I finally got good and pissed off and decided to figure it out for myself. Did a lot of research online (no sex therapist was affordable for us) and didn't give up. We'll likely never be hot-and-heavy every night youngsters again, but we aren't in a sex desert anymore either. Yay!
BLUEBALLS, you wouldn't expect a podiatrist to perform successful brain surgery, would you? Don't expect libido issues to be resolved by the family doctor, general therapist, or run of the mill OB/GYN. You say she has seen doctors but "ignores their advice"...well, if that advice is anything like the advice I got, I can understand why. Just food for thought....

@91 You do realize the "romeo and juliet" exceptions don't actually work like that don't you? Or shall I google that for you so I can tell more "lies". There are several recent cases where charges were filed (at the behest of parents) immediately upon the older child (generally an African American male - cases in Floriduh and Gaawga leap to mind) turning 18. Kaitlyn Hunt also fit in this category (and surprise, surprise, lives in FL).

And while we're talking about "lies"...please show me the line in @54 where I said anything about shooting, guns, murder or anything other than statutory rape or porn (the latter being directly on point as a form of sexual exploitation). You introduced shooting @56, which you later then morphed into homicide.

I know, I know, I'm the real idiot...arguing with you on the internet.
@99 c) Because the fuckers need to be contained.
I don't know what is the 'age of consent' in France, because we don't have statutory rape laws. Sexual attack of a minor is very much a punishable offense, but I don't hear about 18 years olds being sent to jail because of sex with their girlfriends. As far as the legislation was when I was a teenager, 'age of consent' meant 'age at which one can marry', not statutory rape threshold.
@93: "First, nothing I posted is a "lie" - please explain the "lie". What did I falsely aver?"

Excellent question! Let's see if you helpfully illustrate exactly which statement I meant, say by repeating it in the very next line

"Second, that is in fact exactly the argument you are making."

Ah, you did! That was helpful of you. Let's go over this again, since you seem to be having trouble with it: You said that people are claiming the age difference between a 17 and an 18 year old makes it morally rape. Literally no one said this, as you know. Since you said this, despite knowing that it's not true, that's what a lie is.

In other places, you make more sense:

"My original point about all this was that until very recently, charging adult women with statutory rape was non-existent."

Thanks in no small part to people like you providing constant cover for child-rapists, this is true.

" I suspect that's because the perceived level of damage wasn't nearly as great."

That is correct! Thanks to people like you falsely claiming that the kids who don't enjoy being raped are rare, the perceived level of damage was (and continues to be) very low. The services of people like you are invaluable to rapists; without the effort of you and your fellow pro-rape activists, they might get prosecuted for what they do, or even be deterred from raping in the first place. Why this seems like a bad thing to you I don't know, though it gives me total certainty that you should be kept away from children.

"I know that when I was a horny young teenager the idea of having sex with an adult woman was a kind of holy grail (really, having sex with any woman willing to have sex), and that was an attitude shared broadly."

Lots of women have had rape (or "force") fantasies at some point. Either you think this means it's okay to rape all women because some of them will admit to having rape fantasies, or you're a hypocrite. Which is it?

"No doubt there were some guys who, under peer pressure, professed to feel this way out of bravado, when they really didn't."

Indeed. Under the constant, omnipresent pressure from people like you, there doubtless were. Also, you're still pretending not to know that having a fantasy does not make it okay to rape you.

Let's be clear again: There is no fantasy that makes it okay to rape anyone. There is no gender that makes it okay to rape anyone. There is no combination of genders that makes it okay to rape anyone. I'm not sure why this seems so complicated to you.

"I still don't buy that many felt that way."

Thanks for telling us about the bullshit belief you have, and how strongly you believe in the bullshit. I'm glad you stopped claiming that it was a fact you know, rather than just an irrational and immoral belief that you inexplicably hold, but you're still the liar who did claim to know it.

You keep repeating this belief, which serves no purpose other than to tell some rape victims that they don't count. For some reason, this is really important to you. Otherwise, you'd have stopped repeating it by now.

"My original point was about why we now pursue those cases against women."

Yes, and it seems to bother you a lot that, now, there are some cases in which raping a boy isn't completely consequence-free.

Why would that bother you?

Let's look further into your post to see if you explain it:

"I don't think being gay and pressured into having sex by a straight woman is any more damaging than being straight and persuaded to let an older gay man do sexual things with you. Yes, my description above is hetero-centric, but based on what I have observed about younger, under-age gay males I have known, they are just as horny and eager for sex as the straight males."

I see. So your claim is first that boys aren't harmed by being raped by women, and then that being raped by a man isn't more harmful than being raped by a woman, as long as the victim is male. And you're a man. I think we can see where this is going.

Stay away from kids. And try to work on yourself until you understand that raping them isn't okay, even if they're male. No matter what you believe about boys, it's still not okay to rape them. There is nothing that makes it okay to rape children. What the fuck is wrong with you.

@27: Chiark, that was so informative and illuminating and valuable. You asked real, good questions that BLUEBALLS (and anyone/everyone else in a relationship with these elements) should carefully consider.

I'm glad that outsourcing all sexual contact in a companionate marriage works for some, but it's not a one-size-fits-all solution to the problem of sexless marriage, which can be sexless for a variety of reasons. I think we here on Savage Love tend to offer it as solution far too quickly and we don't generally think to ask the dissatisfied partner to consider some of these issues when we blithely tell them to get their sexual needs met elsewhere and stay in a companoniate marriage.
@95; agree. Nice post.
Really TRUTH, what is that
We are each others' only lovers, shit, really about? Some sort of weird control
And contain play.
Tell your wife. She'll process it, she's a big girl. And you won't have to have this thing between you. A Lie.
I don't feel partners have to tell everything to each other. Just empty oneself into another? Loose the individuals in the story.
Think people in relationships do know what needs to be told, to keep the truth open and real.
Your wife holds this to be dear to her. Yet, it isn't the truth. She needs to have the truth. She'll understand.
Your reasons for not saying at the time, perfectly reasonable. Easy to just let it all slide, as time goes on.
Obviously, an issue for you now. Cause here you are.
And lies tie up our energies.
Re @104; Oh shit: I've done it again. Lose, not loose. Obviously a woman with word choice issues.
@29, 32: I always thought that "companionate marriage" was distinguished from arranged marriage--the marriage of those who chose to be companions through life together--and I used to think Dan was using it wrong. but he's closer than I was. The Oxford English Dictionary defines companionate and the phrase "companionate marriage" like this:

comˈpanionate, a.

[f. as prec. + -ate2.]

†1.1 Companioned, accompanied. Obs.

1657 S. W. Schism Dispach't 470 A rationally-companionate minde.

2.2 Phr. companionate marriage (occas. companionate mating), a form of marriage which provides for divorce by mutual consent and in which neither partner has any legal responsibilites towards the other; = cohabitation 2. Also ellipt.

1924 M. M. Knight in Jrnl. Social Hygiene X. 257 (heading) The companionate and the family—the undeserved division of an historical institution. 1926 E. R. Groves Drifting Home ix. 210 In recent years a rival of the orthodox family has appeared in what is well termed the companionate. Ibid. 211 The great majority of the companionate matings are from the first attempts at permanent childlessness. 1927 Lindsey & Evans Companionate Marriage (1928) p.v, Companionate Marriage is legal marriage, with legalized Birth Control, and with the right to divorce by mutual consent for childless couples, usually without payment of alimony. 1927 Weekly Disp. 26 June 1 There has arisen a group within the Church in America which sanctions an ‘open mind’ on the subject of relations between the sexes without marriage, provided birth control is exercised. This group employs the high-sounding phrase of ‘companionate marriage’. 1932 B. Russell Educ. & Social Order ix. 125 Continence during the years of adolescence would impose no intolerable burden if there were a prospect that the necessity for it would ease at about‥twenty. This could be secured by Judge Lindsey's system of companionate marriage.

So Dan was way closer, though it seems as though a companionate marriage is one that the law thinks is likely to end in divorce, without children to either keep the couple together or have a custody battle over.

96 is right. He should make an effort to learn about depression so he can really support her in dealing with it. A depressed person is only going to feel worse knowing their partner wants to look elsewhere. She might well wish her sex drive would come back, but will he be motivated to rekindle things together if he's getting off with someone else? She's also bound to be afraid of losing him to this other person(s), especially as her self-esteem is probably faltering.
He needs to realise that she is dealing with a chronic illness- a situation at least as difficult and painful as not getting any sex. The depression makes her feel unmotivated and unhopeful of things improving, so he will need to be positive for her sometimes.
"She's seen doctors but ignores their advice, and tells me she feels bad for me but there's nothing she can do."

This is *his* interpretation of things and probably a misinterpretation. Sick people are almost always misunderstood by even their nearest and dearest. GPs are not that helpful with depression, they don't have the time or specialist knowledge.. But there ways through it..the person themself needs to learn as much as they can, and their partner can support them by doing the same.

Lastly, it's worth noticing that so many straight relationships are more focused on the man's pleasure than the woman's.. often men who feel they're not getting enough feel they're entitled to at least an occasional blow job or quickie, but when do you ever hear of a guy going down on a woman and not expecting anything in return? If you want to rekindle someone's libido or just make a depressed person feel better and loved..wouldn't that be a great way to start? Sadly I find it difficult to imagine a straight guy being so generous.
Ms Lava - At least you're getting better.


Mr Finch - We yield to unwanted cross-oriented advanced more often than you do, and the harm done by non-beneficial encounters that actually occur tends to stay with us longer. I won't comment on the assumption that eagerness trumps orientation, but I do suspect that, if you had tried to complain to authorities about your erstwhile male seducers, your complaints would have been treated more sympathetically than mine about female advances were.
@102, clearly this is deeply personal for you, to the point that a further abstract and academic discussion is pointless. HAND.

For anyone else still reading...

There is, apparently, some academic literature to suggest that there are sex differences in how adolescent (not CSA) sexual experiences with adults affect those adolescents. This paper is a meta-study, which isn't great, but the abstract comes away with "...reactions and outcomes for boys are more likely to be neutral or positive" as contrasted with girls (the literature suggests the standard view that all such contact is harmful for girls). Another (same author evidently, so I see this critically) evaluates "ADSRs" for gay and bisexual adolescents, and comes away with a similar conclusion. This paints a less rosy picture - for gay and bisexual men who had experienced "CSA" as defined by being under 17 with a five year age difference, only 50% perceived it neutrally or positively.

This is just a quick skim of the lit via google scholar - it might really be skewed or discredited. I'd be interested in what some of Dan's expert guests have to offer on this.
@108 - the thing that occured to me after I'd hit post is that cross-orientation experiences, regardless, will be more traumatizing. So, point taken, higher probability of issues.
Mr Hunter - Thankfully not. Sorry to disappoint those who hoped otherwise.
I don't know anybody who would hope that any further harm had come to you, vennominon. I wish that you'd endured a lot less harm. We posters like you.
I know of a male OS who was assaulted by a fellow 15 year old girl who had decided to forcefully kiss him. He successfully fought it, but he's still bothered by it, in part because as a hetero male society suppose he should have welcome the assault.
I'm sorry that women assaulted you, vennominon.

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