Savage Love

Give and Take

Comments

1
I've read that first letter already. Is it a repeat?
2
Wow, first time I completely disagree with Dan. I don't see how snooping can be interpreted as something else than distrust. I don't find it acceptable in parent/child situations, so in an equal (i.e. couple) relationship? No way. Relationships need trust and respect to thrive, and snooping is incompatible with both.
3
lol @ FRF:
"I'm a young, straight feminist male, and I've been dating my feminist girlfriend monogamously"

That was all I need to read to know this poor bastard was a ball-less pussy with an unfulfilling sex life. The irony is he's alrady in a dom-sub relationship, and he's the bitch.

Another casuality of PC indoctrination ...
4
SANA, how is he ever going to figure out what you like if you don't teach him how? And how are you going to teach him if you're not at least a little selfish, keeping the focus on YOU and YOUR orgasm and not on him?

Once you've gotten him doing the right things, then hopefully he'll open up a bit more with you about what he wants.
5
FRF's gal may believe there's something wrong with someone who fantasizes about violating other people; that's a legit perspective. Maybe he does need reeducation. That it would be consensual play doesn't mean it's not rooted in "sexist" philosophy. Maybe this is wacko talk, but they're both feminists, so what do you expect? People who merely support equality don't call themselves feminists anymore.
6
@1 Dan posted the first letter on Slog as a SLLOTD (Savage Love Letter of the Day). It happens, and I have no problem with it, but several people will complain. In anticipation of that, I'll just get this out of the way: That’s the whole point of a blog; a blog is not a finished record. The whole point of a blog is to be an informal record of the stuff that’s going to go into the publication.
7
I agree with Dan about snooping. In any relationship, trust fluctuates. A habit of snooping - that shows a fundamental lack of trust; but the desire to confirm or allay fears is different from relationship-busting, privacy-violating invasion. If my partner starts getting distant and keeps furtively checking her e-mail, would I want to snoop? Yes. If I thought my kid was in suicidal, would I not snoop so that I could claim at his funeral, "I respected his privacy"? Hell no. Reading partners', friends', or childrens' secret thoughts for pleasure or titillation is wrong (that is why we have Savage Love) - but sometimes it is necessary for piece of mind.
8
I honestly don't believe that "Expecting your partner not to snoop is like expecting your partner not to fart or fantasize about other people." I've never read my husband's e-mails or texts, and I believe he respects my privacy and hasn't read my e-mails or texts. I have no desire to. I'm completely serious here. Am I really in the minority?
9
@5 "People who merely support equality don't call themselves feminists anymore."

Some of us do. Can name several dozen from among my family and friends alone. But it's nice that you've presumed to speak for everyone.
10
I definitely don't consider snooping normal or acceptable. But I guess this is the minority speaking. Wow. I mean, I know he "fart[s] and fantasize[s] about other people," ...that's one of the reasons I don't need to snoop.
11
@8- Not from my perspective. I destroyed a relationship by invading a friend's privacy, and once-burned is plenty here. Privacy within marriage is crucial to survival.
Neither did I violate my kids' privacy as teens, even tho I knew drugs were involved- too much trust is lost to be worth it.
12
Sorry if I post this twice: I honestly don't believe that "Expecting your partner not to snoop is like expecting your partner not to fart or fantasize about other people." I've never read my husband's e-mails or texts, and I believe he respects my privacy and hasn't read my e-mails or texts. I have no desire to. I'm completely serious here. Am I really in the minority?

@7 I like your handle. But I can't shake the feeling that your logic is faulty. It's hard to argue with anyone using a theoretical child's suicide as an example. I'm only thinking about this snooping thing in the situation Dan is talking about, with a romantic partner, not a parent/child relationship. I just think you can't stop your partner from betraying you by betraying their right to privacy. A better first step, if your partner starts getting distant and seems to be hiding something via e-mail, is to use your words, talk, ask questions. Why is it necessary to jump straight to reading their e-mail without their knowledge?

I think @2 nailed it: "Relationships need trust and respect to thrive, and snooping is incompatible with both."
13
Zergling -- dude's girl was secretly a hooker! How's that for trust and respect on her part? Obviously he felt something was fishy, and he was right. He shouldn't feel guilty about following his instincts because he was a respectful enough guy to write to an advice columnist before slapping her silly and leaving on the spot.
14
At least DTMFA's gf is giving it him straight before he gets married - so he can run right now.

I'm married to someone who acquired feminism in marriage - turned out to be a terribly convenient justification to get what she wanted (or more to the point, what she didn't want). All about power and control - hers.

Has taken a while & pain to get back to a humane, equal marriage.
15
@ 8
you have no desire to read your husband email- NOW.
Would that change if he started looking sideways at you, adjusting the moniter away from you when he checked his email, evasive about how he spends his time, and generally displaying suspicious behaviour?
16
@3: I'm a young, straight feminist male too. And dating my feminist girlfriend always worked out for me just fine--sex life definitely included. Yeah, and I'm a liberal. Who's laughing now, Alleged?
17
@11,8, etc.
I agree. I've snooped and been snooped on, and it's never been a healthy experience. One time a boyfriend read an email in which I was rejecting someone's advances (a sort of delicate situation), and thought I was coming on to him. Why? Because in his haste not to get caught, he only skimmed it, and totally missed the point. He could have just talked to me, but it instead exploded.

Snooping is not healthy, Dan.
18
ok i'm a douche - i should have read her letter first.
19
Oh, crap. Farting, fantasizing about other people, watching really cheesy porn: all things I totally expect my partner to be doing behind my back. But reading my private e-mails? I sure hope not. Ick.
20
@15 Trying to imagine him acting that way cracks me up, but no, I would definitely talk to him about his suspicious behavior. If that didn't work, there are still many options before violating his privacy.
21
@16 - I wonder if you know that many women in long-term-relationships become less interested in sex. If they also have the attitude that "my body is my own, I only have sex when I desire it", you may not get much in future. If you're happy with that, or this is a short-term thing, fine; if not - run. I wouldn't be so cocky.
22
I'm sad to see that FRF's letter is spawning anti-feminist rhetoric. I'd like to say that I'm surprised to see such talk in the comments section of an inclusive, sex-positive column but unfortunately I'm not. There are plenty of feminist-identified women that won't be offended by the suggestion of a little power play (like me) and plenty of non-feminist-identified women that will be. And there are plenty of feminist men who don't feel guilty over their sexual desires and who are confident and well-adjusted enough to not put up with partners that make them feel cowed and ashamed. Really people, it's the 21st century.

To SANA--Yes, be selfish! It will make sex better for both of you. For you obviously, because you'll be getting your needs met. And for him because he'll be getting off on the awesome feeling of pleasing one's partner. Nothing is hotter. And once he feels confident that he can give you what you want, he'll probably feel more comfortable asking for what he wants, and then you too can experience the high of rocking your partner's world. There are no negatives here. Trust me, I've gone through all this. ;-)
23
oh man, i had that same sort of "I only care about pleasing him" attitude for a long time, until i slept with someone who I had no interest in impressing, who i frankly didn't care if i ever saw again. That night I had my first ever orgasm during penetration, because i was in it for me, just enjoying myself, completely out of my head and the endless "does he like me? do I like him? Am I hot enough for him? am i doing it right?" inner dialogue. I realize that's perverse, but I am now completely over dating guys who I think are hot shit- it paralyzes me with self-consciousness. While more average, run of the mill guys make ME feel like hot shit, which is way more fun, with a lot more cuming involved. yes, that makes me neurotic, but i'm okay with that. yay!
24
As far as "snooping" goes... It is totally acceptable for your partner to justify his trust in you by checking email and text. I gave my bf my email password and my facebook password. that way if he ever wants to "justify" his trust in me he can. I check his phone when i feel like it to see who he is talking to and to also just keep up with his thoughts and what is going on with him. Guys can sometimes be clearer with their thoughts when talking through text and to other people. haha. I do think it should be told up front:
25
As far as "snooping" goes... It is totally acceptable for your partner to justify his trust in you by checking email and text. I gave my bf my email password and my facebook password. that way if he ever wants to "justify" his trust in me he can. I check his phone when i feel like it to see who he is talking to and to also just keep up with his thoughts and what is going on with him. Guys can sometimes be clearer with their thoughts when talking through text and to other people. haha. I do think it should be told up front.
26
Awesome lesbo tees:
"I'm just pretending to be gay for all the social benefits it brings"
http://shop.poseurink.com/products/prete…

"Nobody Knows I'm a Lesbian"
http://www.lushtshirts.co.uk/nobody-know…

More subtle, but still got some girl-on-girl (plus a bonus trekkie reference): "Never fall in love with a redshirt"
http://shop.poseurink.com/products/never…
27
maybe our friend the chicagoan should be more subtle and classy and wear a bikini kill shirt. it'd get the idea across.
28
FRF: your gf sounds like a controlling word-that-rhymes-with-witch (or possibly an overeager psych or women's-studies student). And I say this as a woman who considers herself to be a feminist.

Mild power games of some sort are so common as to barely qualify as an actual proper kink nowadays, imho. And, barring one of my few Ethical Squicks (basically, kids, corpses, and critters), I think my worst response to a partner's kink, even one that completely and totally disgusted me (like, say, coprophilia), would be "Not in a million years", or possibly "Ew, yuck", not "You need therapy".

However... I wouldn't advise dumping her without talking to her about it first. It's possible she... never considered the other side of things, or was having a bad day, or whatever. Or is an Overeager Psych Student or the like, and sees Problems Needing Therapy under every bush. But, if she doesn't, upon reflection, realize that she was being at least a little harsh to you, *then* dump her.

And look for someone like me instead [g].
29
@22 spawning anti-feminist rhetoric: ooh - I think I've been told off - how delicious! Doubtless you'd prefer comments that didn't agree with your "self-identification" to be censored. My comments are factual and intended to help FRF. I was once young, idealistic and believed feminism meant equality and fairness. But now I'm just an unreconstituted dinosaur who does not identify myself with anything except an imperfect human who shares equality and love with another human. I can tell you for sure, ideology doesn't keep you warm in bed at night.
30
To FRF: I don't know your girlfriend, but such a strong reaction to your harmless little role-play idea sounds like she's had a bad experience with it before- not cute role-playing but the real non-consensual version of what's getting you all excited. Maybe she was felt-up by some pervert, maybe some guy touched her against her will, maybe worse.

If my speculations are correct, I doubt that she will ever react well to what you really want to do... so yes, DTMFA! Find someone who doesn't find your secret fantasy degrading or emotionally painful but actually hot, and then you can both be happy getting your kink on
31
From what I see in the comment thread, Dan is definitely in the minority regarding the "snooping is okay" thing. I would NEVER snoop on my boyfriend, and I expect him to do the same.
@24: it's a totally different thing if you both do it consensually. Then, it isn't snooping at all! It's like with cheating: sleeping with other people isn't cheating if you both agree that it's okay. But the consent needs to be explicit! Implicitly, monogamy is always assumed. Similarly, there is an implicit assumption about not checking each other's emails & texts -- and breaking it is a very serious violation.

In my book, reading someone else's letters without their consent is as wrong as stealing.
32
I'm with Dan.

"Secretly sucks cocks for cash" completely trumps "Snooped in email to confirm it" on any reasonable scale of sleaze.
33
Fuck the snooping thing. If anyone did that to my gear, they'd be dumped immediately. Of course, that's why god invented passwords.

As for the lesbian who can't figure out how to let the laydeez know she's available, I find that -asking other women out- is an infallible guide. Also, call me curmudgeonly, but someone self-describing as "adorable" certainly doesn't float my boat. But I'm sure there's a market out there for adorable, passive-aggressive, t-shirt wearing lesbians. (That's only a gentle snark, btw - ASK THEM OUT!)
34
Farting and fantasising about other people are things you might wish your partner didn't do that your partner almost certainly does. True. And there are probably quite a few things that fall under that same category in every relationship that you just have to accept as normal things that can't be controlled.

But - and this is a big but - when your partner farts, you might not like it, but ultimately *that is nothing to do with your relationship*. It's a normal bodily function that's pretty much no one's business but theirs. They fantasise about other people? Normal, and nothing to do with you (unless they're stalking their coworkers or something).

I cannot in good conscience accept snooping as belonging to that category. It's not an impulse everybody gets, and it's not nothing to do with your partner being as you're, y'know, looking through their private life. It's acceptable in some situations - if you have reason to be concerned about someone's behaviour (and then it should be a last resort - if your partner shifts the computer screen away from you whenever you walk into the room then I'd call them out on it before trying to hack into their emails) or if, as I'm prepared to accept may be the case with Dan, you have some sort of understanding with your partner that every once in a while this will happen. Whatever keeps it running smoothly, I guess.

But it's not a private thing; it's a conscious decision to interfere in your partner's personal stuff. Should you be doing it? I wouldn't, and I wouldn't want anyone I was with to, but people operate differently and if the person you're snooping on doesn't mind then I guess it's okay. It is not, however, one of those inevitable bits of human nature that you are going to have to face at some point.
35
Snooping isn't always about distrust. Every so often I idly read my boyfriend's texts or email merely because I am interested in him and his life, and don't happen to have anything better to do at the time.

This has nothing to do with checking up on anything he has said (or failed to say) to me. It is more like when you read a really good book and end up missing the characters when you get to the end... you want to read more. Or when you wear his jacket even though your own is right there... it is just getting more of him than you could if you maintained ultra strict boundaries.

(Also, I have received unsolicited permission to read his correspondence and wear his jacket, so I know he won't feel hurt by my doing so. I don't think I would unless I knew that it's not going to bother him.)
36
I find it amusing that people like #2 still exist; i.e. folks who never disagree with Dan. He can be wise and resourceful, but last week's (or maybe it was 2 weeks ago) column was the first time I actually AGREED w/all his answers. Just goes to show ya how subjective this stuff is.

Checking out all the opinions on snooping this time around kinda proves my point. Carry on!
37
Jeez. No wonder people think feminists have no sense of humor.

LFL can make her own T-shirt with iron-on shirt transfers, available at any office supply store, and a word processor. (Oh, and a shirt, of course.) However, I think a button would be better, as it doesn't shout the way a T-shirt with big letters would. Button kits are available at craft stores. They're fun to make, and wearing a button lets only people within personal distance in on the message. Have fun and happy crafting!
38
@ 21,
Uh, regarding "my body is my own, I only have sex when I desire it" attitude, what's wrong with that dude? I am sure it came out wrong, you probably wanted to say that a GGG partner should want to please the other occasionally even if they're not that horny themselves. But it sounds like you said you should be able to have sex with your wife even when she doesn't want it. Or maybe my perception is skewed by a recent shocker I got from a cousin - he basically said that if you're married, then it's not rape. Ugh.
39
The reason for so much anti-feminist rage seems to be because we live in the third-wave feminist world and the word "feminist" in the minds of many conjures images of second-wave feminists, which are understandably laughably outdated, like many other ideas that went the way of the dodo in the 80s
40
@38 "only have sex when I desire it attitude" - what's wrong with that is how you come to define desire or want. Many women report that in long-term relationships they simply do not (or rarely) experience spontaneous desire (e.g. see Rosmary Basson's work). So if you waited for that, you'd be waiting a LONG time.

I'm absolutely up for a consensual GGG marriage, and I don't expect either me or my wife to do so "occasionally". I treat my wife's needs with high priority and expect her to do the same for me. I'm flexible about what I want, how I get it, and expect to negotiate. What I won't tolerate is bringing ideology that I didn't agree to into the marriage or bedroom, and its use to justify self-serving non-negotiable behavior with noxious self-righteousness. It worries me when anyone brings inflexible attitudes, patterns or ideology into personal relationships because I think it leads to some very inappropriate (love that word) inhumane behaviors. If you can just focus on being 2 imperfect humans, you stand a better chance.
41
I'm with Dan on the snooping thing. In fact, I don't even consider it snooping. I have no expectations of privacy in my texts or email and I know my husband has my passwords. Getting mad about him getting into my email would be like getting ,ad about him glancing at the caller ID while I'm on the phone, or looking at the return address when I get mail. I suppose if I felt the need to keep everything from him then I'd be all offended, but why would I care if he knows what's in my email? There's nothing there worth hiding or getting upset over. And it's always seemed to me that when people get mad over the principle, either they make their point and then get over it, or there's something deeper going on.

I don't snoop in my kid's bedroom, but this seems to me that this is more like the kid who screams "Stop snooping" when you walk by the open bedroom door and glance in. And also, you better believe I'd snoop on her if I thought she was doing something illegal or dangerous.
42
I'm really baffled by all this talk of "privacy" in LTRs. How can you have a healthy relationship if you're not sharing everything with your partner? I'm not talking about every sneeze or fleeting fantasy, but if there is anything real going on in your life or your head that you don't want your partner to find out about, that is a BAD sign for your relationship. Do you not trust your partner? Are you doing something you shouldn't? What exactly is so important about your privacy, and why is it more important than an open and trusting relationship? I'm not saying you should necessarily share everything with someone on a first date (though my husband and I knew all of each others' dark secrets in the first month, and I think that is part of why our relationship is so strong- we both knew exactly what we were getting in to from the beginning). But when you are in a long-term, committed relationship with someone, when you live with them and want to share your life with them, that means sharing your WHOLE life.
43
@39 "we live in the third-wave feminist world" - dang, I knew I was missing something, down to me being a Cretaceous Dinosaur and all. Please enlighten me. Is this the new feminism that ends war and poverty, is it a cynical rebranding, or is it like people who predict the end of the world and keep on coming back?

Or could it even be a humane and equality based movement that treated all humans with compassion?
44
Snooping? Have you people every heard of passwords? And separate computer accounts if a computer is shared? With automatic screen locking in case of inactivity? Encrypted home directories? I guess not...

I know for sure my BF wont snoop on me, and I not on him. Or rather, it is exceedingly unlikely, and would require significant hacking efforts. We share everything -- except for data.
45
There's a difference between a habit of snooping, and snooping because you know you're significant other is not being thoroughly honest and open with you. If your SO does not normally snoop, and all of a sudden does, you probably did something to make them think snooping was a good idea. There are some secrets that are just so harmful to a relationship that it's better that they get found out even at the expense of one person's privacy. Or to put it another way, there's a difference between privacy and secrecy. In a marriage or similarly committed relationship, you don't have a right to secrecy.
46
@ 42: I agree in principle with you. The only caveat is if revealing a deep, dark secret will only serve to hurt your partner. For instance, my husband knows that I fantasize about others, but why would I tell him that it's someone I work with? He isn't one to get angry or mistrustful about it, and both of us know that nothing will happen, but it would only hurt him if I told him. Sometimes the details aren't worth the bad feelings.
47
@9: Ditto. I just see it this way: not all Christians, Muslims, Jews, Democrats, Republicans, blah blah, etc. are all the same, so why feminists? I'm OK with defining the label myself. At least until we come up with something less clunky than "gender equalist."

@29: That's ... great? I dunno. Seems to be this is not really ideology, and more just defining a part of what you think you are. If you like something as vague as "a human", then cool. But I'm completely at peace with picking up bits and pieces, and putting all kinds of labels on myself. It's totally cheesy, but I'm not really a blank canvas from day to day, just *being* ... I'm patchwork. So it works for me.
48
@12, you wrote: "A better first step, if your partner starts getting distant and seems to be hiding something via e-mail, is to use your words, talk, ask questions. Why is it necessary to jump straight to reading their e-mail without their knowledge?"

9 times out of 10 if someone has something to hide from someone they love, and they are asked about it, they will deny, deny, deny everything. People are most likely to lie when they have the most to lose from telling the truth. That's just human nature. Worse yet, if you love someone you'll want to believe them. So why put them in the position of having to lie to you again? If the behavior they are engaging in has already shaken your trust, then you need to verify that your trust is justified not encourage them to lie to you again.
49
I don't live in a city with subways, but that fantasy is SO hot, I may consider moving. I'll have to have my husband pretending to be a stranger feel me up on the bus until then, I guess. Then I'll feel HIM up on the next bus, pretending to be a stranger. Then maybe the two of us will get a friend to pretend we don't know her, and I'll hold her wrists while he feels her up on the bus. And so on.....*sizzle*
50
Feminism AND LTR snooping in the same column? Pardon me while I get some popcorn. Carry on!
51
@ 30

I didn't get the impression that FRF's gf was wary because of past abuse (although that could be a possibility, sure), just that she's an over-enthusiastic feminist who wants to bring gender politics into EVERYTHING. She responded to a conversation about kink with a lecture on patriarchy, which suggests that her head is up her ass and she needs to chill out a bit, ideologically. It's a sad trait of anyone who is a little too absorbed in their ideology (any kind, mind you, not just feminists) that they tend to lecture rather than discuss. And there are few things more insulting than having your SO explain at length that your desires are just plain sick, so yeah, DTMFA.
52
Snooping - anecdote! I knew my bf's passwords, he knew mine. I was out late working on a paper and needed a break, so I started rumbling through my email...booring...so I looked at his. There had been no problem signals that I had noticed.
But, there was an email in there where he was soliciting head from someone on craigslist.

So...yeah. I understand the desire for privacy, but being exposed to STIs without consent is a privacy far more valuable, at least to me! So many of you disagree... It's good to be open with your partner about everything and trust them to trust you...but verification can only confirm or invalidate that trust, not destroy it. Go Dan!!
53
Thank you Suzanna (35), charlie (41) and discordia (42). I was starting to think I was the only one out there in a proper, all-sharing relationship. I mean, you can have a relationship with certain parts of your life off-limits - but it's not then by definition not an all-in relationship. I've had some defined-limits relationships, and they were fun, when I was young, but when I was in LTRs and in my marriage, I've always been all in. My emails are open, she's free to answer my phone, she gets to know where I am at any moment of any day.

Whether the woman in the letter was in that type of relationship I don't know, but don't all be so hasty to say that privacy is inviolable. It's not. Having a relationship means letting your guard down, giving the rights to your privacy to someone else.
54
I do read my boyfriend's emails sometimes, not because I distrust him--I don't, at all--but because I love him and want access to all aspects of his life, boring or not. (And his emails ARE boring, for the most part. We're grad students. Two words: department listservs.) I've never found anything incriminating or titillating, and I don't expect to. I just feel a boundless curiosity about the workings of his mind.

Or I'm a creeper. Take your pick.
55
"Expecting your partner not to snoop is like expecting your partner not to fart or fantasize about other people."

WRONG!I've been with my husband for 21 years and I've never snooped and I know he hasn't. I don't go through his desk, his email or his phone. There is nothing I would learn that would be worth poisoning our relationship or losing his trust. And I couldn't live with someone who didn't respect my privacy or trust me. Why would you? Being with someone does not give you the right to unlimited access to every thought they have or every action they take. Jealous, insecure, controlling behavior should not be validated or supported.

Farting and fantasizing about others is a part of our lives, snooping isn't.
56
I want to add that my husband and I are very open with each other. I tell him everything. If he needs something and it's in my purse, I tell him he can go through it and get what he wants, but, very important, he asks my permission. We don't have secrets, so there's no need to snoop. Trust isn't the same thing as unrestricted access to another person's life. We all need some privacy.

Some posters are saying that suspicions are a good enough reason to snoop. I say, if you're suspicious and don't trust your partner, leave. You don't need answers. The distrust is reason enough to end the relationship -it's already trashed.
57
All you people who are so moralistically certain about how snooping is awful and never justified must have lived charmed love lives.

Those of us who have been put through hell, lied to repeatedly to our face, made to question our every instinct and belief, and been emotionally abused into complete lack of self respect...I think we have a better grasp of when "snooping" is and is not justified.

Come back to us on your high horses after you've been through being bound to an emotional manipulator and compulsive lier. Then I'll listen to your opinions.

Snooping in a healthy, happy relationship is one thing. Snooping in the above scenario...is another thing entirely.
58
Girlfriends like FRF's are what keep me single. They are also why I didn't speak with my mother from age 15 to 25. Codependancy is sooo unhealthy. Message to all the people like this out there- people aren't perfect and that's okay. A person can have a heart of gold, care for his/her family, be nice to puppies, and still express the occasional racist/ignorant/ sexist comment and not be Hitler. FRF's GF needs to learn this, that letting her constant vigilance against the forces of evil drop once in a while for the sake of a healthy equal relationship does not make her PM Chamberlain at Munich.
Women deserve equal treatment. They deserve equal rights, pay, recognition, etc. etc. They also deserve to have their hair pulled, their asses slapped and in general to be bent right the F over and drilled for being a naughty naughty girl, if that's what it takes to have a GGG consensual love life with their bf/gf/bobf.
Spot on Dan DTMFA.
59
I'm with Trusting (56). My husband and I are very open and trusting. We'll leave e-mail/IM/Facebook open and hold onto each other's phone when it's convenient, even answer it if someone's driving. But I don't think that actually having boundaries indicates that we don't trust each other. I think it shows respect. If my husband really wanted to look through my e-mail, I would probably let him. But I'd want him to ask me first, and I'd want to know why. I'd probably say yes, but it's the asking that's important and makes it not snooping.
60
FRF is truly an asshole and needs to get over himself, his GF, and lighten the hell up. But, as he admits, he's young. We all take ourselves too seriously until we realize that we aren't going to change the world and that's OK. He'll learn. But, no advice is going to help him in the meantime because he has already (as others have noted) ceded control of sex to someone else because he thinks that's what "feminism" is. No, boy: feminism is about having choices. That's all. You aren't making a choice anymore - she is telling you what you are and what you should do. That makes you a dependent, not a friend of feminism. Try to live as the "real" you and see if that works - it's a hell of a lot more "feminist" than seeking validation from a woman and giving up your desires because you don't want to be blathered to death with silly nonsense about how you're a cog in the patriarchy machine. Or whatever.

As for the last letter - snooping is 100% OK, y'all. Standing over my shoulder and reading as I type emails is not OK, but if you want to read the emails later, fine, as long as you're someone I trust, like a spouse or lover. After all, we've already been naked together, ostensibly, so what do I have to lose? Then again, I am someone who tells his wife everything, including which skanks he has been banging and exactly how they liked it, so perhaps that's why I don't see what more she would want to get from my emails. It's fucking email, people. Use your words if you're really worried about it. And don't be a secret escort and then plead privacy when your SO finds out, however they find out. When you share a life with someone, you have to treat that person like a part of yourself or it just doesn't work.
61
Poor FRF. I stood in his shoes once: I believed being a male feminist meant that the women in my life always knew best, and if I thought they were being jerks, it was my fault for being Part of the Problem.

Some women are just assholes. Some men are just assholes, too. I don't think FRF's girlfriend is an asshole, but I agree with 51. When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail; when you're a college student studying feminist ideology, every time something happens you don't like it's the fault of The Patriarchy.

People eventually learn that they don't know everything, but college students have almost never reached that point yet. I know I was pretty insufferable in college. Nobody should be told their kinks-- especially as tame a kink as copping a feel on the subway-- are sick.
62
I love all these people who say snooping is a serious breach of trust and write of going through private emails or other such communication - etc. If you were truly in an honest relationship - you would have nothing to hide (and therefore shouldn't be offended if a significant other takes a look) just as your significant other would have no real desire or need to look as there wouldn't be a strong incentive to do so. The second you set up barriers, such as declaring something private, you're inviting trouble.

As humans - we're curious about what we can't have or can't know. If there's something taboo, out of reach, or inaccessible to us - most of us instantly have a desire (on some level) to know, do, or read what it is. I'm not saying you can't have your privacy - or that two individuals shouldn't. But declaring something private is the same thing as declaring that you want to hide something from somebody else. This makes even the most banal situations suddenly seem worth checking out.
63
I am continually amazed at the number of parents who boast about puttting their reputation as a "cool" parent above their responsibility to their child.

I am a liberal, feminist, sex-positive woman and when my kid was clearly on trouble, you better believe I looked at things I usually leave alone. Teens, just like adults, often have trouble naming or stating the cause of their distress.

People who claim to never snoop are telling the people who count on them, "don't bother with the non-verbal distress signals.".

Both times I've snooped on my son I found something. Both times he needed help he didn't know how to ask for and both times we reviewed how to keep things private.
64
I find myself endlessly fascinated by all this snoopy trusty stuff. I've learned a lot reading all these comments. I still believe I have the right to my private thoughts and private correspondence with others. But it's pretty shitty if your partner is possibly exposing you to STIs and you have no idea. And that is pretty much what was potentially happening in the original scenario with the letter writer's decision to get back into escort work without telling her boyfriend. And yes, if he had asked her about it, she probably would have lied.

@57 I'm really sorry you've been through hell in relationships. I was in a relationship for three years with a guy who had undiagnosed bipolar disorder (diagnosed right after our relationship ended). He emotionally abused me, hurt himself regularly in front of me, drove like a maniac (and almost killed us both), would threaten to commit suicide when I would try to break up with him, and just generally made my life difficult until I finally found the strength to leave him. When we got together we were both 15; we were 18 and had just started college when I broke up with him. He lied to me. But we didn't have e-mail or texting back then, so I only found out about his lies from him. I'm now wondering whether I would have read his e-mails or texts if they existed. I'm pretty certain he would've read mine, because he never trusted me.
65
"Some posters are saying that suspicions are a good enough reason to snoop. I say, if you're suspicious and don't trust your partner, leave. You don't need answers. The distrust is reason enough to end the relationship -it's already trashed."

Sure, better to end a relationship than have one conversation that could clear up confusion.

Perhaps Dan is in the minority on this issue because he is a grown-up. I often disagree with Dan but it's this kind of childish rubbish that is embraced as the ideal that reminds me how much good Dan does.
66
I agree with Dan about snooping. Human beings are inherently untrustworthy. Snooping often is bad. Making unfounded accusations is bad. Being offended at stuff that is none of your business that you discovered while snooping is bad. If you snoop, be prepared that your partner might occasionally vent to friends about how annoying you are, how much you snore, how much your BMs stink, etc. If you discover those vents, ignore them.
67
Okay I'm curious. Say a person has a past drug problem, needle use, but it was years ago and today this person is clean, sober, & 100% disease free. Is that a full disclosure before any sexual activity can take place type thing, and if it wasn't disclosed but the partner discovered it later, is it grounds for that partner going ballistic over the potential endangerment or trust issues it brings up?
68
Just FYI to all of you charmed "we share everything" people (ok, mostly naive wives). I am fucking a "we share everything" husband, and have been for 7 years. His wife has ALL his passwords, and checks all his accounts; his email, his facebook, even his cell phone. She knows his whereabouts virtually at all times and calls ALL the time....but you know what? "We share everything" get a little fucking toxic, and there is a way around that shit....it is called a secret email account. He calls me from his work phone or his landline to leave no trace and we tend to get together at his house, so when Ms. Control calls to check up on him, sometimes he has to pull out to answer. Jesus, no wonder the poor dude needs a piece on the side.

Just because you snoopers have the passwords, doesn't mean there is not a secret hotmail or yahoo account set up somewhere. Too much closeness is TOXIC.

I know I am going to get slammed for being a homewrecker or whatever, but its just really a warning. I am married too, I am not trying to steal him away, just enjoying fucking him. Just, his wife thinks they are soulmates and 100% honest with each other too, and she calls all the time when I am lying naked in his bed.
69
Just a thought. I wonder if there aren't two separate arguments going on here about snooping. To me, the resolution lies in context.

There is a big difference between being controlling and mistrusting in a relationship--i.e. monitoring your partner's every move--and to me this would include reading said partner's emails, trying to distance your partner from other people, or even (and this specific one always knocks me out) girls who claim that porn viewing or masturbation constitutes cheating. Said folks are pathologically mistrustful, independent of a partner's actual behavior. In other words, there is no justifiable cause for the suspicion.

That is entirely different from a scenario in which one partner's behavior suddenly changes, they deny or try to hide those changes, and the other partner tries to talk about it and instead gets nowhere and as a result begins to entertain all these worries about what's really going on, whether it's an addiction, an affair, whatever. The snooping is without question a violation of trust, but it seems to me in said instances the trust was already violated and, of course, that the fun is just beginning.
70
@68 homewrecker!!!!!!......can I have you #?
71
Gotta go with all the snoopers. Especially if you're a woman. I have no idea why, but men have what seems like a biological imperative to lie even as they're getting caught. It's kind of astounding. "OMG why are you denying that--I JUST saw you do it!"
I just so happen to be one of those rare super-honest individuals--I don't lie to anyone, for any reason, ever. I don't see the utility of being deceptive. That said, most people lie on a fairly regular basis to avoid conflict or consequences. And I agree with one of the previous posters who said that relationships don't work unless you consider your partner as part of--or an extension of--yourself. If I have nothing to hide, then I have nothing to keep private. You can't say you have trust in a relationship if you feel the need to hide a part of your life from your partner. The only way to have and keep trust is to be 100% transparent, and that means I should be able to check anything I want and not find anything surprising.
72
I don't agree with the response to SANA. Selfless sex partners are perfect for selfish lovers, and there are millions of guys like that out there. Right now she's just with the wrong guy, they're like two subs or two doms. Break up and let each one find their opposite.
73
There is no One Right Way to have a relationship. Some people may want privacy, that's okay; and their relationships are strong and loving. Some people want to share everything, that's okay; and their relationships are strong and loving. People are different, and need different things from their partners; in privacy just like sex.

Trouble arises when you have partners with different boundary and privacy needs, such as in the relationship of 68's lover and his wife. That relationship is sailing for a world of pain; and 68 seems to revel in it, which is pitiable.
74
Sorry if I missed a similar comment but it seems like the obvious answer to LFL is to wear lesbian and feminist band's concert t's. A Team Dresch or Scream Club t will go unnoticed by hateful assholes, will look better, and will likely attract more adorable women than a 'come lick me' t.
75
What about snooping when there has been a history/pattern of behavior and the other person has made promises to stop the behavior? If the person is truly sincere, shouldn't the person be willing to be totally open? Depending on the behavior and length of time they engaged in the behavior, shouldn't the person expect to be monitored, possibly for a prolonged period.

Doesn't the person proves themself, does that person have an expect
76
Stormcrow: lol!! The sex is otherworldly! ;) I swear, I can see through the space/time continuum sometimes...I swear, I orgasm when I GIVE him head.

And still....the women continue to advocate for transparnecy....
77
I've always lived by the rule: Never write anything in an email you wouldn't want your mother to read on the front page of the newspaper. That applies to text messages and facebook, too. As long as I follow this rule (and I think all of you should, too!), snooping will never be an issue.

Let's be honest, kids. Emails aren't particularly private. They are easily hacked into, and those of us with corporate emails are often explicitly told that nothing we write is private. Let's stop pretending that our partners have no right to troll our inboxes when our bosses do just that all the time.
78
I am not a snoop and I don't justify it. However, like jealousy, I find that sometimes these things are a result from a partners LACK of information or their actions. I would never be with someone I didn't trust but if they gave me a reason not to trust I would absolutely go through their things. Self preservation is normal. If you disagree, how nice for you to have never been deceived.
79
badgirl, if you were bi and lived in Portland, I'd want your number too. Putting aside the snooping topic, I love sex. I think orgasms are a gift from god that we should all enjoy with whoever we want to (consensually, of course) which is only a small part of why I am in an open relationship.
80
71: so you pride yourself on being 100% honest (an utter impossibility) and you also assume that all men cheat and lie? That sounds to me like a lifelong recipe for unhappiness. To be more blunt, it strikes me as both extreme and very self-convenient, because you've authorized yourself a monitor of others' behaviors while telling yourself that you're righteous as you do so.

I am a straight-woman who once became friends with a bisexual woman who, in one of our first hangout sessions, gave me this spiel about how she is 100% honest about everything and how her previous relationships suffered from "dishonest people."

Well, what followed was one of the most abusive friendships I've ever experienced, as what she really meant was that she *demanded* 100% honesty, which meant that she constantly pried into my childhood and then psychoanalyzed me as a means to, as she put it so often, "help me become a better person." It was one of the most crazy self-manipulations I had ever witnessed, let alone suffered under. She had convinced herself that she was the noble and righteous one. When I began lying or evading to avoid her ongoing interrogations, I became a "dishonest person" who needed therapy in order to be worthy of her time. When I told her to back off when she got too invasive about my past or my feelings or opinions, she replied that I had "too many boundaries" and "trust issues." When I got angry when she would lecture me about myself, I had to apologize to her for "being defensive." She would not back down, no matter how I tried to protect myself, and I became a nervous wreck around her, to the point where I had a full blown anxiety attack while driving with her in the car (the end result of that incident was her yelling at me about how much I needed therapy). It took months for me to realize that I was being manipulated, controlled and abused, and that even if all this woman's psychological analysis was true--i.e. I was indeed as damaged as she claimed--a true friend would not "demand" my fixing as a condition of friendship, nor would a good friend constantly remind you of you pathetic and damaged she presume you are as some means to help you.

This was a big lesson for me that friendships can be just as fucked up as romantic relationships. But, more specifically, for the first time, I truly understood why some men characterize women as manipulative shrews; I understood for the first time why men complain when women try to psychoanalyze them in order to change them, and how dishonest, mistrusting, insecure and hateful such attempts are.

So, forgive me, but I call self-deluding bullshit when I hear a woman declare she's "100% honest." That's a major red flag of a controlling and self-righteous person. The real truth is that sometimes people lie for good reasons--sell protection and/or to spare people they love unnecessary pain. To say that it's always wrong to lie, and to actually claim that you never lie, is to live in a fairy tale world...in your own friggin' head.
81
Looks like Dan didn't read the comments to his advice to FRF when he posted the letter the first time. Not only did most of us think he was being overhasty in advising FRF to dump his girlfriend based on one HYPOTHETICAL conversation, but even FRF came on to agree that he'd broached the topic poorly. FRF needs to have an honest, straightforward conversation with his girlfriend about his desires, and see where that leads.

And as for snooping -- when I want to read my husband's email, I *ask him* if I can. When I want to rummage through his stuff, I announce, "Hey honey, I'm rummaging through your stuff now." That way we can have a conversation about why exactly I'm feeling so insecure and what kind of reassurance I'm looking for. This is what works for us; I'm sure other relationships work differently, and I don't think there's "one right answer" as far as this issue goes -- but I do think that couples should probably talk about what the expectations for privacy are, and abide by whatever rules they set for themselves.
82
just a thought for SANA: try masturbating. Together, separately and discover what it is you fantasize about. What gets you off? Then share and talk talk talk. Watch some porn. Go outside your comfort zone and discover what gets you wet and him hard and send you both/individually over the top with desire. It's a lovely journey if you decide to do it together. Cheers.
83
I agree with Maddy811 @69. When is it snooping, vs. "snooping"? She leaves her phone on the kitchen counter while you are mixing a couple of martinis. It hums announcing an incoming message. You glance at it: WTF? Who is this "buffcock" she just got a message from trying to set up a hookup? Or, you want to check a recipe, and you use his computer because it's in the family room off the kitchen, and yours is upstairs in your office. You wake up the screen, and he's left his email up and WTF? Sexually explicit messages from what appears to be his side dish boyfriend? So, is that snooping, or "snooping". It's going to happen at some point, so expect it to happen, and don't have unrealistic expectations of absolute privacy all the time.
84
I agree with Maddy811 @69. When is it snooping, vs. "snooping"? She leaves her phone on the kitchen counter while you are mixing a couple of martinis. It hums announcing an incoming message. You glance at it: WTF? Who is this "buffcock" she just got a message from trying to set up a hookup? Or, you want to check a recipe, and you use his computer because it's in the family room off the kitchen, and yours is upstairs in your office. You wake up the screen, and he's left his email up and WTF? Sexually explicit messages from what appears to be his side dish boyfriend? So, is that snooping, or "snooping". It's going to happen at some point, so expect it to happen, and don't have unrealistic expectations of absolute privacy all the time.
85
in my marriage there is complete trust because we are completely open about everything that affects the other person. so no snooping is necessary. where as in my last secondary relationship, my gut told me something was wrong, so I snooped and found I was right. my boyfriend (now ex) had broken the first rules of open relationship....hiding/not communicating about other sexual partners.

sometimes snooping is necessary to protect yourself and others close to you.
86
WTF is a "feminist male"? A boy whose balls have dried up due to an over dose of political correctness? How sad he allows himself to be so thoroughtly dominated by someone who sees him as a second class person in need of correction. Stand like a man, boy! Be proud of who you are.
87
Snooping is human nature and not necessarily indicative of distrust...I try not to snoop becuase it makes me feel guilty to be going through someone elses stuff without permission but I have done it for no other reason than curiosity and boredom.
88
Oh, Mr. Savage! As much as I love your sound advice, I MUST take exception to your stance that snooping through a loved one's electronic (or otherwise) things is okie-doakie. It is not.

José and I have been together since 1984 and we got (legally) married in San Francisco in September of 2008. Because of a court ruling, we are STILL legally married, much to the distress of religious nut-bags everywhere. All that is to say that I have NEVER snooped on him and he has NEVER snooped on me.

It's called TRUST, Dan. And, proudly, our trust has led neither of us to bad things to each other's sense of privacy and security in our things.
89
Once I snooped on my boyfriends computer and OOPS!! Discovered he was bi-sexual. I could have lived without that experience, i.e., running for an HIV test, wondering what else was going on.... and it turns out he was cheating on me with both sexes. Douchbag-ola!
90
Regarding the snooping issue ... would you open the mail of your significant other? Outdated example, perhaps, but ... w/no passwords or other protections involved (other than getting an unknown (to the other) P.O. Box) I was under the impression that mail addressed to someone else was theirs - not yours to decide to read or not. Couples where one was snooping into this 20th century communication form was invariably trying to control the other. Curious? Then ask about the email your partner is getting - get into a discussion if warranted. Sharing everything is, frankly, impossible ("what did you just think about THIS second!! Come on spill I must know - we share EVERYTHING! If you won't share, then YOU DON'T LOVE ME!") And really sharing everything isn't particularly helpful as some things/people just aren't equally interesting to both partners, so allowing the other space to indulge isn't a bad solution in many cases. Clearly, some accommodation is needed here, so that one can understand (even if not agree with) what the other is into and agree to participate in it from time to time. The point is that trust means you don't have to look for evidence of whatever and are secure enough to know that you won't find it. Yeah, of course you can get taken for a ride, but when it works, it removes a whole lot of mind games, false expectations and other psychological bullshit that gets in the way of two people really enjoying being with and learning about each other. Some mystery is always intriguing.
91
Oooh, I wish my young, straight feminist male had rough fantasies.
92
Regarding the snooping issue ... would you open the mail of your significant other? Outdated example, perhaps, but ... w/no passwords or other protections involved (other than getting an unknown (to the other) P.O. Box) I was under the impression that mail addressed to someone else was theirs - not yours to decide to read or not. Couples where one was snooping into this 20th century communication form was invariably trying to control the other. Curious? Then ask about the email your partner is getting - get into a discussion if warranted. Sharing everything is, frankly, impossible ("what did you just think about THIS second!! Come on spill I must know - we share EVERYTHING! If you won't share, then YOU DON'T LOVE ME!") And really sharing everything isn't particularly helpful as some things/people just aren't equally interesting to both partners, so allowing the other space to indulge isn't a bad solution in many cases. Clearly, some accommodation is needed here, so that one can understand (even if not agree with) what the other is into and agree to participate in it from time to time. The point is that trust means you don't have to look for evidence of whatever and are secure enough to know that you won't find it. Yeah, of course you can get taken for a ride, but when it works, it removes a whole lot of mind games, false expectations and other psychological bullshit that gets in the way of two people really enjoying being with and learning about each other. Some mystery is always intriguing.
93
I don't believe snooping around in someone else's private business is ever justified. If you have questions about their behavior, ask them! Privacy is a very big deal to me, and no it's not because I have anything to hide. I like feeling a mutual sense of trust and respect in my relationships, and I have never snooped in my partner's emails, phone, or otherwise. Nor will I ever. And yes, the situation about questionable behavior has already come up, been addressed as I described, and is now completely taken care of. It's amazing what a little trust and honesty will do.
94
I don't believe snooping around in someone else's private business is ever justified. If you have questions about their behavior, ask them! Privacy is a very big deal to me, and no it's not because I have anything to hide. I like feeling a mutual sense of trust and respect in my relationships, and I have never snooped in my partner's emails, phone, or otherwise. Nor will I ever. And yes, the situation about questionable behavior has already come up, been addressed as I described, and is now completely taken care of. It's amazing what a little trust and honesty will do.
95
Dear FRF,

I disagree with Dan on this one. Don't DTMFA on your girlfriend, yet.

It sounds like both of you are trying to communicate with each other. Show her your letter and Dan's reply, and search the net for other feminists who enjoy fantasy play. There are lots of us out there.

I used to have your girlfriend's attitude, a long time ago. I changed my mind, eventually. Why not give her the chance to think about it and perhaps change her mind, as well? You both might even find that talking this out can lead you to a closer relationship.

I'd just hate to see you DTMFA too soon, and lose a relationship that could possibly be healed. Love is hard to find -- it is worth trying to keep it if you possibly can.
96
On the topic of NORTH and snooping:

I think a quick definition of "snooping" is first in order. When I hear "snoop" I assume that the act was done in search of a fault... And that's not always the case!

I look through my girlfriends email every once in a while (as she looks through mine), but it's more about staying connected and up to date in each others lives... not searching for missteps and breaches of trust. No matter how much time you spend together, you never get told every last detail of your partners day to day life, and simply having an open invitation to access everything your partner owns can really help to bridge that final gap.

So let's entertain the idea that NORTH's boyfriend was not looking SPECIFICALLY for incriminating information, but was instead - as is far more likely the case - was simply curious about some things his partner had been up to. After all, if she had been going to the movies with an old friend instead of sleeping around for money, the sharing of that information would merely have made the boyfriend happy to be more a part of her life. It only is, after the fact, considered snooping because, well... he had a reason to snoop!

So, Dan, I ultimately agree with you in writing but not in spirit. Yes, "snooping" is ok, but I would never do so in an attempt to catch my girlfriend in the act. Because honestly... if the relationship has gotten to the point where you even need to ask "are you fucking someone else behind my back", then it's probably time to move on anyway.
97
@5- Yes I do call myself a feminist.

@54- You are a creep.
98
I've never snooped in my boyfriend's e-mail or looked at his text messages. I don't want to (wouldn't enjoy spying on conversations that weren't intended for me), & I don't think it's acceptable. I would be pretty pissed if I found out he was looking through my stuff without my permission; there's nothing bad in there (& he probably wouldn't enjoy looking at my 1,736 unread e-mails from Sephora), but it would be a bit like if he hid outside my house & peered at my through the window: weird.

Agree with all the other advice, though.
99
does checking the computer history count as snooping?
100
Snooping on your kids is not only acceptable, it should be required - just don't bust them for everything you find out. They're smoking pot? No big deal. Using meth? Fuck yes - call them on it RIGHT NOW! Romantic same sex emails? No problem. Telling the youth pastor to leave them alone? Discuss - not harangue - them about it, and then call the police. Being a parent is hard - and totally different than being in a relationship.