Savage Love

Bliss Con


Savage, you fucking rock my world and I look forward to your column each week.
The best advice I've ever gotten was, "It's okay to say 'No'." Too bad it came too late to save me from the hardships that had happened already.
It was an amazing, profound piece of advice that, as a gay man, I had wished I had received sooner.
the advice to the father of the 14 year old was perfect :)
SMS, I can't imagine what growing up with a parent like you would have been like. For a kid to be ok with telling their parent at 14 that they're gay is just wonderful. What will a gay community look like when fewer and fewer of us our tortured by our communities and families for the first 18-20 years of our lives? I'm excited to find out.
Did I miss something in the letter by "Still my Son" that implied the LW was a man and not a woman? Dan and others assume it was written by a father. Why?
Great advice to SMS. Now I feel old, though. Times have really changed when a newly outed young gay man is not afraid to bring his boyfriend to the school dance. Wow, amazing. Makes me *almost* want to move back there just to see if it's true (had some bad experiences growing up in rural NC, though.) Your column is one of the highlights of my week, Dan.
@ 12--No kidding. I grew up in Canada, went to high school in the mid-90s and to a very liberal school, and the concept of bringing a boy to a dance was absolutely unthinkable. Sigh. Some days I wish I could be 16 again, right now.
So basically, you're telling SMS to behave exactly like my mother. (Or at least, to behave exactly like my mother would have if I'd come out to her at that age -- since, as I discovered when I *did* come out to the family at 19, she'd suspected since I was 5 and was just waiting for me to tell her.)

(And no, I'm not gloating about my *fabulous* gay-supportive mother. Who now works as a psychologist who specializes in giving parents of LGBT people the same advice you give to SMS, at greater length.)

(OK, maybe I *am* gloating. Just a bit.)

(Or a lot.)
Dan, you rock. No seriously... you rock and I think you're the cat's pajamas. (Where in the world did that saying come from, anyway?) MUCH LOVE and thanks for being a wonderful part of my otherwise crazy life as a law student.
@11, I also thought it was a mother writing.
@11, @ 16
Sometimes Dan edits letters for length and clarity. Maybe he accidentally removed the part that identified SMS as a father.
Great advice to SMS Dan. My only addition would be that many cities in North Carolina now have GBLT youth programs, they maybe a little hard to find but the programs certainly exist. For the parents of the young man I would remind them that pflag is active though out North Carolina.
SMS sounds like the true embodiment of the concept of unconditional love. Not everyone feels that from their parents growing up, so his (or her) son is a very lucky kid. I agree totally with Dan's advice - 14 is too young, regardless of sexual orientation, to be in an intense physical relationship. I am a straight 31-year-old woman who lost her virginity at the tender age of 13 and now wish that my Irish Catholic parents were capable of being open about sex in this way. Maybe I would have waited.
Just one question, though - wasn't a big part of this parent's question about whether or not his (or her) son was in danger from the school and/or community? Dan didn't seem to answer that part.
About SMS, I think Dan was right on, 14 is too young to have the full spectrum of sexual activity although pressure and curiosity are important factors. An advice to the parent of the boy to check the age of the elder boy and be there please be there when (and if) the relation fells apart.
HDTH, listen to Dan advice get yourself out of this damaging relationship I am fearing for your life. You can't possibly imagine what harm this man can do to you both mentallly and physically. Seek also advice thru councelling because I suspect that you are attracted to this kind of behavior... it might be a problem of low esteem.
HDTH - I've been EXACTLY there. Take Dan's advice, take your friends' advice, take any mental health professional's advice and get out NOW. The abusive relationship I escaped was only 6 months old and we were just moving in together. It took me lots of therapy and nearly a year of cold-turkey no communication with the abuser to feel extricated from those feelings that "things would be perfect if only..." Now I am 6 months into a completely different, completely AMAZING relationship and I never thought it could be so good -- and I am beyond relieved not to be in an abusive relationship anymore. You have taken the first step and admitted that he is, in fact, abusive. Keep walking -- home to get your stuff, to the therapist to get support -- you can totally do this.
Your first response was a gem, Dan. Being supportive means more than approval of your child's nature, it means giving them structure and ground rules for their own benefit.
Hey Dan, For SMS I would add watching the only show on cable with teenage boy that's gay; The United States of Tara on Showtime. It's great comedy drama and the family dynamic is all about the love. SMS your son hit the jackpot with you as a Dad and make sure you do everything Dan suggests.
Dan, great job.

SMS- Bless you. You sound like a great parent, your son is lucky.

HDTH- DTMFA, and find out what is required to obtain a restraining order (I hope you will not need one). You deserve better.
Awesome advice for HDTH! What I love about Dan's advice is that there's no pussy-footing. He's not afraid to say, "Get the hell out of the relationship," which is great because he's absolutely right and this girl needs an order right now lest she gets sucked into more of this guy's bullshit. And the metaphor of "the dog shit with sprinkles on top" was absolutely perfect too. Makes it crystal clear what this poor girl is dealing with. Advice for SMS great too -- taught me (a straight woman) a lot about seeing things from another perspective. So thanks!

Great column these week, Dan -- keep it up!
Dan hit it out of the park with his first response.
This is the first time I am commenting, because HDTH's letter to you sounds exactly like something I could have written myself when I was younger.

HDTH - Listen to Dan! He is right on the fucking money. I ignored all of my friends' advice - as well as my gut instincts - and stayed with the guy for NINE YEARS. I stayed with him even when he destroyed the front room, even when he threw drinks in my face, even when he ripped up my books for reading when he wanted my attention, even when he sat on my chest and punched me in the face and choked me into unconsciousness. Yet I stayed with him because I thought I loved him, and because I felt like all of his problems with his temper were my fault, were the fault of his childhood, of his ex-girlfriend - everyone pretty much except him.

But then of course, I finally left him, because life is too fucking short to spend it living in terror of an emotional infant, and I ended up meeting someone with whom I was truly in love, and who truly loved me. Because this is the thing - if someone loves you, they respect you as a person. They love you for all of you, not what they want from you. They don't try to scare you or get in your face or disrespect you. Love and fear cannot coexist. You cannot love someone you are afraid of.

And I'll tell you what. Things will not change for as long as you are still with him. He will throw his fits and destroy your stuff, and he'll apologize for it, but he will not change his behavior, because by staying, you are showing him that he CAN do these things and that he will NOT be held accountable for his behavior. He has no incentive to change, because he knows you will always be around no matter how horribly he behaves. Not that it is even your responsibility to change him. Your responsibility is to yourself and no one else.

So please, please, please, get out now. You know this situation is not right. Listen to your gut and leave before it escalates and you find yourself even more entangled than you already are now.
Hopelessly Devoted should leave immediately, before she becomes "hopelessly broken". I left an abusive friendship 3 years ago, but it didn't leave me. There were so many times when she was verbally abusive or she humiliated me in front of our friends and I thought about ditching her and I didn't. Even though I finally walked away, it was too late. It was after the abuse escalated and things had gone seriously wrong. I spent one shitty, scary year living with her. If I had ditched her when it was just verbal abuse I would be much better off.

As it turns out she is in some kind of trouble with the law. I've been under investigation for at least 2.5 years that I know about, possibly longer, simply for being friends with the wrong person. I've been harassed at work, at home, in public and it's probably not going to stop anytime soon. I hope she gets what she deserves someday, even if it takes the rest of my life to see her go to jail. This bitch deserves worse than I could ever give her myself. I hope she gets a life sentence or worse.
Just wanted to say, SMS's letter and Dan's response brought tears to my eyes. I'm not sure if they're tears of joy for the pure unconditional love of a parent, or tears of sadness for all the people I've known who did not have such a supportive experience of coming out. Maybe things are changing for the better -- they are in one house in North Carolina that I know of. Wouldn't it be grand?
Although knowing you are gay and coming out at 14 is truely brave, he will be missing all the sleep overs since the parent thinks they will be sexual. And you know what, they may just be. 14 through 17 were the major years for experimentation with my "straight" buddies. It was ackward, exciting and mind blowing. It's a shame he won't be able to experience most of this. Best of luck to this young man.
@ YAYCBS, why write to someone that you dislike soo much?

DAN I think you do a GREAT FUCKING JOB! I always look forward to reading your articles. You brighten up my week so, Brush those haters off!

BTW- I had also thought the first article was written by a mother too! Guess I was wrong
mmmmm, sprinkles. sprinkles are nice but not if you have to pick them off poo. get the heck out, it's not worth the moments of bliss. so much easier said than done, but you have to. best of luck, HD.
He's right, HDTH. Damn fine advice.
I don't understand how women end up in long term abusive relationships. I grew up the victim of a father like this, and I didn't have any choice in the matter. I also wished with all my heart every day for 11 years that my mother would kill him and get it over with. It's not fair. You don't want to bring children under the command of someone like that.
Your advice to SMS is good and bad.

By 14, I had had sex during sleepovers in the closet. :-) By not allowing sleepovers, you're creating a sex-cautious environment that causes the kids to go fuck like bunnies in the forest or parks. *By fuck, I am not merely referring to the act of anal sex, but oral and masturbation. **By 14, I had had anal sex, so its not out of the question. 14-year-old boys want to fuck, maybe slightly less than their slightly older counter-parts. And, they will find places to do it. You might as well create an appropriate place for it.

On the other hand, I agree that being supportive does not mean letting him do whomever he wants. Just create an environment where he can go to practice safe sex with appropriate people and he will probably make better choices...and, if he doesn't, ground the fucker!
Overall a pretty mainstream column this week. Let's get back to the freaks asking for advice on pegging, scubba-gear fetishes and rape fantasy. And I mean freaks in a good way. :)
Wow. Dan, it has been awhile since I read both letters in your column & was wildly enthusiastic in my agreement with both of your responses. You knocked it outta the park, this week. & you're right, that kid is damn lucky to have this understanding, supportive father.

Hopelessly Devoted: Listen to Dan. That's classic abusive behavior - & you're allowing/enabling it to occur. It doesn't matter if the good times outnumber the bad times. What he's doing to you is violent & one day it'll be you he's hitting, not just your stuff. Get a friend w/ a truck & get out, even if you have to do it when he's not around. & for awhile after that, check in with your friends & family, okay? This guy sounds like the vengeful type.

There's lots of non-asshole men out there, but this ain't one of 'em - he sounds even past therapy help. Go ASAP, protect yourself.
Great work Dan. I always look forward to Wednesdays so I can see the new column. Also, it's so nice to see examples of really great parents.
Hey Dan, I've been reading your column for years, and will continue to do so until one of us dies. Honestly, I thought you were kind of an arrogant bastard at times, and sometimes your columns used to piss me off because you were frequently biased and insensitive...which, fine, maybe you were a little and still are at times. But overall, I've come to appreciate the meaning behind your words, and I think your columns are amazing. Saw you on youtube the other day, shared you with a friend who has troubles reading. Next time I have an insecurity/sex problem, I'm going to youtube so I can listen to tell it like it is. I think you're one of the smartest people alive where it matters. Now I'll end my overly-appreciative fan rant...You rock! Thanks!
"Going between the hedges" should mean the butt-cheek equivalent of "titty fucking," i.e. when a penis (or dildo, I suppose) is slid between the "hedges" of one's butt-cheeks.
"Between the hedges," definition #2...It reminds me of a limerick:

There was a young queen of Bulgaria
Whose bush had grown hairier and hairier
'Till a prince from Peru
Who came up for a screw
Had to hunt for her cunt with a terrier
I've been there. I understand that when the good times are good they are really good and it can be so convincing. But trust Dan on this. I think his sprinkles on a dogshit sundae is a perfect analogy. If you don't leave this guy now, you will wake up 5 years from now wondering why the F you wasted the best years of your young life with him. I know. I did.

Having trouble understanding this guy or why you feel so hooked on him? Read the book "Why Does He Do That?" by Lundy Bancroft. You can get it on Amazon. You can download it on your kindle! I didn't read the book until many years after I'd "gotten out" but it helped me understand what the F was going on all those years he made my life a roller coaster from hell. He wasn't "sensitive," he had Borderline Personality Disorder and the good times were just the calm between his psychological shit storms! Wish I'd read this book when I was 22 and left his ass three years sooner!

Don't waste your life! DTMFA!!
Ahhh, I LOVE Garfunkel and Oates!! Thanks for mentioning them, Dan!
good advice to HDTH dan... too bad she won't listen to you. you're now officially classified as one of those "people who can't stand him" and therefore dismissed. i was there once too. she'll have to hit rock bottom before she leaves, and maybe then she'll find that there are guys out there who will give you the bliss 24/7.
For some reason I'm bothered more than usual about the "men are pigs" generalization, especially since I've put so much work into not being a pig, myself.

I'd say some men are pigs, or that men are sometimes pigs, or that men can be pigs, but I don't think that men are intrinsically pigs, at least no more than are women.

Naked apes, assuredly and unabashedly. Pigs, not necessarily.

Other than that, awesome answers, Dan.
dog shit w/sprinkles best metaphor ever !
HDTH may consider that her partner is suffering Boderline Personality Disorder.
HDTH - I have been in EXACTLY the same situation in the past, and got out and realized it was the best thing I had ever done to leave. I had thought he was the man I would marry. Trust me - we can be 100% sure that someone behaves like that will not change, no matter how good the "good times" seem - and you will be happier and your life will be so much better than you know right now when you're out. I promise!
Listen to Dan, HDTH!!! In my early 20's I met and lived with a woman who was exactly like your boyfriend. The good times were great and the bad times were BAD. She constantly eroded my self worth, belittled me in front of my friends, and threatened to destroy my life if I left. At one point I told my coworkers to call the police if I didn't come to work. I was young and figured that was how normal relationships worked.

She was at a company outing when I had the few friends I had left come over and help me move (4 hours). I ended up moving to another state to get away from her completely. It turned out she was bipolar and had been institutionalized prior to me meeting her.

I look back and hate the fact that she wasted 2 1/2 years of my life. On the upside, I am a better man for having to suffer through it. It did take a long time to recover and rebuild myself.
I almost laughed aloud when I read HDTH's letter. reading it was like reading my last relationship. I wish i'd known of this column when I was in the 3 years of hell. The advice you gave her was perfect. Thank you for always saying what needs to be said and for your sweet and perfect advice to SMS. <3
OMG! To the "people who don't like him" comment! That is EXACTLY how my friend justifies her marriage. Anyone who says boo shit diddly against her obviously fucked up marriage "is against him." Which, ironically is exactly what HE says whenever anyone has the unmitigated temerity to offer an opinion contrary to his (wanna go get pancakes? No, I'm in the mood for omelettes. 2 hours later: they're against me.)

Goddamn. It's so easy to see from the outside and IMPOSSIBLE for the person in the relationship to notice. Like tuning bagpipes, I guess.
@Delta: Dan edits the letters and the details that he sees sometimes don't make it into the final version. The original letter probably had "I'm a dad..." in there somewhere.
@49 I am sorry you ended up in such a crummy relationship. I want to let you know though -- bipolar & institutionalized does not equal abusive and terrifying. Some of we formerly institutionalized bipolar chicks are primarily gentle, loving people. I say this because so many times I hear people blame abusive behavior on craziness, but mentally ill people are usually not abusive. In any case I'm really glad for you that you got out and got over her!
I'm liable to be flamed for this but: Who's the abusive one in HDTH's relationship? We heard her side of the story (eg, he's parinoid that she's cheating on him (does he have a reason to be?), she cries when break-up talk happens, he gets mad and throws her stuff to the curb... etc).

However, who's controling who? It could just as easily be a situation where she's taking advantage of him, cheating on him, etc, then playing the "I'll get better, really I will this time" game when break-up time really happens. I've known women who seem to enjoy the "see what it takes to make the guy angry" game in the past (constantly belittling them, accusing the guy of cheating if he just goes to play pool with the guys (even if she was invited), meanwhile telling the guy it's none of his business what she's doing when she goes out late without him... then blame the guy when he finally get upset and talks back... I've seen guy's lives get ruined by such women. Heck, I've dated such women.

Just because one of the people in the relationship is a guy, it doesn't automatically mean all the problems are solely the guys fault.

Anyway regardless of who's the "bad" one in HDTH's relationship, it's not a healthy one. They should break up.

@45: nah, we're pigs.

While most of us try to be human, if you're going to be a clueless, vulnerable, and easy lay, your danger quotient goes way, WAY up if pursued by a pack of predatory men than a pack of predatory women.

In fact, who in the hell gets pursued by a pack of predatory women?
Garfunkel and Oates are hilarious.
HDTH- you probably know that Dan is right- but just in case you were tempted to keep on trying to make it work, I just want you to know I have been in the very same boat- if I was lucky enough to have known about Dan when I was with this guy I would have written the same letter word for word. Breaking my stuff, the jealousy, the crying, and of course the BLISS.. please break up with this guy- find a way to get away from him and make it difficult for him to contact you- this will not get better I tried for 4 years to make it all the Bliss and none of the other stuff, but it won't work. Get away from him and find the person who treats you well all the time not just when he need to make amends for his abusive behavior...
HDTH, I'm a guy and was dating a girl a few years back. Apart from the gender reversal, the situation was remarkably similar (breaking my stuff, very controlling, all sorts of other crap). My parents said DTMFA, my friends said DTMFA, hell, I wanted to DTMFA (you do too, says your letter). But when I tried: World War Three, and I backed down.

In spite of wanting to end it, I told myself the same lie (I really want to make it work, I have a lot invested in the relationship, blah blah blah). In hindsight, this was some minor feelings of insecurity, blown up by her, making me feel like I was useless if I couldn't make it work.

Tell yourself that it's bullshit, talk to your friends and parents (the ones who are 'against' him), and ditch the asshole. Being single and dating is so much fun that happily married people wish they could do it.

Get yourself single, and have some fun.
I must reply to 54, who asks "who's controling who," suggests that HDTH could be equally at fault, and talks about relationships where the female partner engages in controlling behavior:

Um, 54, go back to the letter that was written, not your unrelated experiences. Throwing things, breaking things, and name calling all amount to one thing--an abuser. Your commentary about "women can be controlling and bad too" has nothing to do with the situation described. For on thing, HDTH could also be a man: Dan may have edited the letter, but there is no indication in the letter that HDTH is necessarily female. And even if HDTH is female, Dan's reply is still spot-on. He does not tell HDTH that all men are abusers: he tells HDTH to DTMFA, which is excellent advice.

HDTH, if you are reading this, please please follow the advice of Dan & the other excellent posts here that are speaking to your situation and get yourself out, NOW.
Dan, you are THE BEST. Thanks for being one of the few advice columnists willing to really GIVE ADVICE. I just gave that exact "abusers are nice some of the time to keep you coming back for more" lecture to my teenaged foster daughter last night, no joke. What great timing. I sent the link on to her just so she knows her dad's not just some old fart with no clue what he's talking about.

And kudoes on the testosterone comment too. Very quotable. Treating a young gay man as if he were a daughter, protection-wise? Brilliant. As someone who began life in another gender without testosterone, and then started taking it in his 20s, I know exactly what it feels like with and without the stuff. I mean we're talking about a substance that can make a died-in-the-wool feminist lesbian start to unconsciously ogle boobs and feel like a barely-restrained grabbypants. I have no idea how 14 year old boys swimming in the stuff manage to be even moderately decent human beings.

All in all a stellar column.
Dan, you are THE BEST. Thanks for being one of the few advice columnists willing to really GIVE ADVICE. I just gave that exact "abusers are nice some of the time to keep you coming back for more" lecture to my teenaged foster daughter last night, no joke. What great timing. I sent the link on to her just so she knows her dad's not just some old fart with no clue what he's talking about.

And kudoes on the testosterone comment too. Very quotable. Treating a young gay man as if he were a daughter, protection-wise? Brilliant. As someone who began life in another gender without testosterone, and then started taking it in his 20s, I know exactly what it feels like with and without the stuff. I mean we're talking about a substance that can make a died-in-the-wool feminist lesbian start to unconsciously ogle boobs and feel like a barely-restrained grabbypants. I have no idea how 14 year old boys swimming in the stuff manage to be even moderately decent human beings.

All in all a stellar column.
Dan, you are THE BEST. Thanks for being one of the few advice columnists willing to really GIVE ADVICE. I just gave that exact "abusers are nice some of the time to keep you coming back for more" lecture to my teenaged foster daughter last night, no joke. What great timing. I sent the link on to her just so she knows her dad's not just some old fart with no clue what he's talking about.

And kudoes on the testosterone comment too. Very quotable. Treating a young gay man as if he were a daughter, protection-wise? Brilliant. As someone who began life in another gender without testosterone, and then started taking it in his 20s, I know exactly what it feels like with and without the stuff. I mean we're talking about a substance that can make a died-in-the-wool feminist lesbian start to unconsciously ogle boobs and feel like a barely-restrained grabbypants. I have no idea how 14 year old boys swimming in the stuff manage to be even moderately decent human beings.

All in all a stellar column.
Woof @55, I'm more bothered about it today than I expect that I'd usually be, but it's sexist to presume a given man is more vulnerable or more predatory than a given woman. Even if the crime stats were to show that men are more often the instigators or perpetrators of domestic violence (which they don't), even then, it doesn't mean we're all pigs. It certainly doesn't mean SMS's son's beau is a pig.

It doesn't mean he's not either, and SMS should certainly give the lad a good sound sniffing over, but it sucks for a guy to be presumed one's a fucker until proven otherwise just as much as it does for gays to be presumed to be pederasts until proven otherwise. Maybe it's naïve of me, but my experience so far has shown that most aren't.
Sprinkles in dog shit, brilliant metaphor!

Sometimes it can be harder to leave a man that is abusive only 50% (or less) of the time because it allows you to consider and appreciate the other 50% of the time that is not abusive.

HDTH you will know when the is right time comes, when you cannot take it anymore and at that time you won’t even care about your friend’s opinion, leaving all your stuff behind or being the target of a revenge.

Write down all the shit he is putting you through so you don’t forget how mean he can be, one tend to forget about the bad episodes when things are going ok, and you gotta remember about that shit when you are packing your stuff and putting his pictures in the trash.
Well, woof, the Bacchae sho nuff went after Pentheus, did they not?
On HDTH's letter - Thank you, Dan! As someone who studies partner abuse I know you are spot on. When one is in the middle of a bad relationship, surviving day by day, it is difficult to piece together the problem and see the patterns. Wonderful advice!
I don't see why you had to name Miss CA a "dumb bitch." If she's a dumb bitch, then you're a dumb prick. I just hate to see it so casually tossed around.
HDTH...your friends aren't telling you to leave because they hate his guts...well, maybe they are, but think of the reason they hate him. They know how he treats you, they love you and they hate the way he treats you. They wouldn't hate him if he was ACTUALLY good for you (and good TO you). GET THE FUCK OUT! There are other men worth much more of your time and attention...who will give it to you in return without abuse. Once you actually commit to leaving and get over the entire relationship, move on with your life, etc. you'll think back and be grateful that you left.
Great column on both issues. Unfortunately, in my small town, my son can't take another guy to a dance. He is the "gay prom escort king" with his good looks and manners. But he is sad- but doesn't want to create problems for others (straights) enjoying the prom with dancing with a boy date. He has created enough conflict just with the "Diversity Clubs" (read GSA) in the community. I treat him just as you say, as a vulnerable daughter. He is always being hit on, even in this small town and I watch him like a hawk. Thanks, Dan , for good stuff and it is really the only place I can find this advice. I hope this generation will be blessed with more self respect. (PFLAG Mom)
Thank you, thank you, thank you Dan for what you said to HDTH! So few people know very much about domestic violence (or know how to talk about it for that matter) that I'm glad you did. This fact is even more surprising considering that 1 in 3 women experiences DV worldwide.
Right on, Dan. Great advice this week - every parent of a gay kid and every man or woman in an abusive relationship better be reading this.

@63 - It definitely sucks to be on the receiving end of unending parental scrutiny, as my poor boyfriend can attest - but it's understandable, to a certain level. Not all men are pervy pricks, but some of them can be. And they can get violent. It's in SMS's best interests, and even more in the best interests of his or her son, to do everything within reason to prevent the kid from getting into, say, HDTH's situation, especially at such a tender young age.

(And yes, women can be violent pervy pricks too - but it's a lot less likely to happen, if statistics are worth anything.)
Mr. Savage, I just saw you on the Larry King show. In my opinion your "stepping" on the statements of the other guest hurt your argument. You were rude, which makes you seem immature.
@72 - Savage is the king of talking over people on television. It's as if he's never had a conversation with anyone before.

Great column though.
Outstanding advice on both counts today, Dan.
@10 - right on. This is one lucky kid. When I was 14 (and having realized that OK, this is not just a phase, I really am gay), the nuclear incident at Three Mile Island happened. My dad's reaction to it was: "That's what they should do with all the queers -- put them to work in nuclear power plants, so if anything happens, nobody has to worry about it." Hmmm... Dad, you know that thing I was going to talk to you about? That can wait.

oh, and @72/73 -- Savage has said before that a favorite tactic on talk shows is to just keep talking until the clock runs out, so if anyone wants to get a word in, they HAVE to interrupt. I guess he _could_ have just sat there saying "yes, but--" until the commercial break.
Garfunkle & Oats = a female Corky & the Juice Pigs
@54: "Just because one of the people in the relationship is a guy, it doesn't automatically mean all the problems are solely the guys fault."

Didn't see Dan say that. It looks like he focused on what the guy's actions -- while you looked at gender. It's a fair point you make, but I'm not sure it's terribly relevant in this particular situation; we could speculate all day on who's doing what to whom, but the fact is only one of them wrote in.
@54: Also, further to my previous post @78, if HDTH does share blame for the boyfriend's behaviour, it still doesn't excuse his throwing and breaking things ... unless we're going to speculate whether HDTH's been threatening him with bodily harm.
Dan, You nailed it on your response to HDTH's problem. That fucktard she's with is an abuser and the relationship is codependent. I have been down that path and it's hard to leave -- but once you get out and have perspective, you can see the forest through the trees. Get out, HDTH. Get your closest guy friends to come help you pack up and move out. Get a plan together over the next several days and pull the trigger. Do it now and don't look back.
Dan's advice and (most of) the comments to HDTH are exactly right. Some additional information for HDTH may be helpful though.
As background, I served as a prosecutor in King County, WA, during the period it was setting up its integrated domestic abuse program that brought together prosecutors, judges, domestic violence advocates and counselors, police, probation and defense attorneys to address a serious problem that needed additional focus and resources. I continue to work as a family law attorney and deal with these issues on a regular basis.

You need to realize that there is a difference between someone with just an anger problem and a real domestic abuser. There are recognized patterns that help identify the abuser, and your letter clearly identifies many of those patterns including control by monitoring and interfering with your daily schedule and activities, isolating you from friends and family both actively and by putting you in a position where you have to choose between them and him, demeaning you to lessen your self-esteem and make you more dependent on him, making you feel responsible for his outbursts because you're not good enough, and a spiral of violence that is increasing in both frequency and destructiveness followed by periods of profuse apologies, promises to change and a "honeymoon" period. None of this because "I can't stand him," but because there is a large and growing body of information on this subject, and because he is demonstrating classic abuser behavior.
You need to get out, get out now, AND get out safely. This last point is very important. The key to abuse is not anger or violence, but control. An abuser feels the greatest loss of control at the point when the relationship is being severed, and at that point is most likely to escalate emotional control and violence. The patterns you have described indicate that your situation is advanced enough that you should create AND FOLLOW a specific safety plan to exit this relationship. A safety plan often involves getting friends and family coordinated and informed with the timing of the exit, close contact with everyone involved, setting aside money, a spare set of keys and an extra no-contract cell phone away from anywhere he has access to. I strongly advise consider getting a restraining order against him and a civil standby to get your belongings. The courts, police, women's shelters and social service agencies have trained domestic violence counselors who can help you develop a safety plan to fit your needs and situation. If you live in a place that doesn't have local resources, go to a friend's house or a public phone and call a city or county that does have counselors. They will talk to you and help even if you don't live nearby. If you can't do any of these things, grab what you can now, and go to an undisclosed place, be it friend, family or shelter. Anything you leave behind is just stuff. You and your safety are more important.
Often, the toughest prosecution cases we had to deal with were choking cases. It is often extremely difficult to determine the difference between a misdemeanor Assault 4 case and Premeditated Attempted Murder. For the victim, the difference between a brief, scary moment and death may be just a few seconds, or a matter of luck. It's not worth the risk! Violence often starts with emotional control, then becomes insults, then damage to physical property, then violence against the person, then serious violence, and there is no telling when an abuser might skip a few steps.
Good luck and be safe. The National Domestic Abuse Hotline is 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224

BTW, To #63 "Even if the crime stats were to show that men are more often the instigators or perpetrators of domestic violence (which they don't). . ." - You're absolutely wrong. Even accounting for under-reporting by male victims, all reasonable analysis consistently documents the vast majority of victims of domestic abuse are female. The American Institute on Domestic Violence states that women are the victims 85-95%.

P.S. If this is too long, please edit as necessary, and forward the entire submission to HDTH, if you can do so safely.
Dan, you've guided me through a minefield in my relationships, I've read your column for years.

This is probably small fries, but the folks on the Equality subreddit are discussing your "men are pigs" paragraph.…

Most contributors on this subreddit are passionate and fair-minded about men and women's rights, and I can see your comment will stir up some useful ideas.

Please, please, please be a part of the discussion.
<3 you dan. you are the best.
Did I miss something? Why did we automatically assume SMS is a dad as opposed to a mom?
i agree that sms's kid needs to be careful, but why subscribe to antiquated gender paradigms when raising your children? maybe the reason "men are pigs" is because they're "raised like men". we need to raise people as people who treat people like people. and what does that mean to be "raised like a girl" anyway? I'm a male and i have a sister and fortunately enough my parent's had the same rules for both of us. She's never been taken advantage of or abused by a man and now is in med school. then again i did turn out gay so maybe they should have raised us differently. just kidding.
I just wanted to tell you that you are fabulous. I discovered your work through a friend who posted some of your stuff on facebook and have been hooked ever since.

I live in Alberta Canada, and I am so glad that (thanks to the internet) I have been able to follow your work. My parents are lesbians and they are absolutely wonderful. I could not have asked for better. However I saw how hard things were for them when I was young. How very little support and understanding they had. It was hard for me too, mostly because I was proud of them and didn't care who knew it.

As times change I am very happy to be raising my children with the full understanding of who my parents are and what homosexuality is. We take them to Pride Parade every year, and they love it. They are surrounded by wonderful straight and gay people alike.

Although there are still battles to be fought and won I feel blessed to live in a time and place where my parents could be married after 27 years together(now 29). They deserved someone like you to hear about and follow years ago.

I think the ways in which you work for and serve not only your gay community, but they worlds gay population is just awesome! Keep on keeping on.

Forever a fan
Hi Dan! Love your column and podcast, and upon visiting your facebook page, discovered that my mom is a fan too. Now I know what to get her for mother's day- one of your books (probably "The Kid" because it sounds extremely touching and as always, funny as hell!) Thanks!
Oh, Savage. You're the best.
My kids are too young to need this advice, but it was so good, I'm going to remember it whether they turn out straight or gay!

Thanks for the pearls.
As the parent of a gay teenager, I am especially thankful for Dan's advice to SMS. One thing he doesn't mention that I struggle with is what to do when my son dates someone who is not out to his parents.

As a parent, I feel bad facilitating a child's lie to their parents. As an open minded person, I rationalize this by saying if their kid could come out to them a lie wouldn't be necessary. I've drawn the line at the other kid's parents have to know where they are and basically what they are doing but am very careful to never in any way imply an activity is a "date" and gloss over details if asked. Is this wrong? Any thoughts?
I didn't read through everyone's comments yet (sorry, guys, I'll get to it), but I just wanted to say that when Dan said "no sleepovers for your gay kid", he meant sleepovers with the boyfriend. Not sleepovers in general. Look back at his response if you don't believe me. Or, to save the trouble, here's the quote:

"No responsible parent would allow his 14-year-old have sleepovers with her slightly older boyfriend, right? So no sleepovers for your gay kid. "

Only the boyfriend sleeping over, not sleepovers in general. The advice to SMS was great, and made me think about parenting in a way I hadn't before. Thanks, Dan!
While most of the column gave great advice, I have a challenge with this statement: "people on the receiving end of male sexual desire/attention are in more danger than people on the receiving end of female sexual desire/attention. (In general—individual results may vary.) Testosterone is the crystal meth of hormones, a badass drug, and men are more likely to be abusive and violent." Statistics show that about 30% of straight or gay/lesbian relationships involve domestic violence (…;). Furthermore, "About 17-45% of lesbians report having been the victim of a least one act of physical violence perpetrated by a lesbian partner" (…;). This means that people involved in women-women intimate partnerships (and their parents, friends, etc.) should be aware that "danger" and abuse and violence can happen just as easily in those relationship. In fact, batterers can use the myth that violence/danger/abuse doesn't happen in same-sex relationships that involve women against the survivor by making them feel crazy or wrong for thinking they could be in an abusive relationship.
Did I miss something in the letter by "Still my Son" that implied the LW was a man and not a woman? Dan and others assume it was written by a father. Why?
Without reading the 91 comments posted to date, I must say I assumed it was the dad because it's a REAL stretch for me to think the mom would have "the sex talk several times" with a son, and a teenage son wouldn't willingly tell his mom much even once, let alone several times. JMTC.
I cried like a baby after reading the letter from SMS and Dan's thoughtful, compassionate reply. I have many gay male friends, now in their 30s and 40s that still don't have the love and support of their families. I believe it lead many times to their seeking love and acceptance in the wrong places (i.e. cruel older gay men that took advantage of their need for a father figure). Thanks Dan, wonderful job!
Spot-on as (almost) always, Dan. Tho I am curious - how did you know the cool dad in the first letter was a dad? It read like a woman's letter, to me...maybe I just wouldn't expect a guy to use the phrase "petting and kissing."

Regardless, that's some seriously loving, well-adjusted parenting going on. If only more parents were that supportive, there would be a lot more loving, well-adjusted kids in the world (gay and straight.)
Sorry to pile on, HDTH, but pleeeease listen to Dan and leave him. I have been there too - in my case gay, but the sickness is the same. It took me years afterward to realize my boyfriend was shrinking me as a human being. He was chipping away my self-confidence and self-esteem, which made me feel smaller, and made him seem bigger and more special in comparison. So of course when he held me in his forgiving arms, and gave me that magic smile, I felt completely redeemed. This erosion of self-confidence is real damage - some would call it psychic violence. Get out of there and start healing yourself back into the complete, strong, self-assured human being you deserve to be.
Dan, the world is a better place for having you in it. I really enjoy reading your straightforward advice.
The first letter and your response need to be framed and hung up in every home.

You're still an asshole, Dan, but you done good here.
Oh wow, I met a lady sporting centaur-like leg extensions and took a picture with her. Thanks to this week's column, I now know that was the artist Kim Graham. Very cool.
Excellent advice to the parent of the gay son. As a former 14-year old who was outed to a not-as-cool parent who banned ALL sleep-overs with straight same-sex friends I urge the parent to make it clear that limits on the son's relationship are not punitive but rather meant to help reinforce age-appropriate interactions with the boyfriend.
Dan, you're awesome. Just a quibble in your otherwise excellent advice to SMS. Women are in fact as likely to be abusive as men are. It's just that men are more likely to get charged and convicted. See Gelles and Steinmetz and plenty other authorities on this subject.
i translated the SMS story into chinese. not sure what i should do with it, so i post it here. hope it can help more people








"Testosterone is the crystal meth of hormones"

Absolutely correct and the cause of both so much
delight and so much grief. Only you could have put it so well. Dan Savage at his best.
Dan, I'm speechless. I think your first letter should be required reading for ALL parents. I wish every kid had protective but caring parents like that...

Thank you for great letters (and perfect responses!) this week, and I laughed at the Garfunkel & Oates thing. :)
Great letters, great advice.

As to the whole question of Dan "assuming" the letter writer was a father, the only evidence I could find of a presumption of maleness was this sentence:

No responsible parent would allow HIS [emphasis mine] 14-year-old daughter—and that's how you should think of him for now (more on that in a moment)—to have sleepovers with her slightly older boyfriend, right?

Thing is, there's no way to write this sentence correctly and expediently without using a gendered pronoun. You could replace the "his" with a "his/her," but that's awkward; you could use "their," which is the lazy, grammatically criminal method most writers use when trying to be inclusive (not to say politically correct) in their pronoun usage.

Aside from that, though, it seems that Dan goes out of his way to refer to the parent as a "parent," rather than as a mother or a father.

I grant that I might be missing something; I'm participating in this conversation from work. :-/