Savage Love

Double Trouble


Just wanted to congratulate you on the It Gets Better Project! Did you see that Hillary Clinton has now contributed? THANK YOU from my bottom of my heart.
Dan rocks. So does cake.
Awesome column as usual, Dan. Bravo.
Hey SUB -- Are you reading this? If so, are you East Coast, West Coast, or in the middle?
~ Unicorn
To PTSD, I gotta say that I do believe that you feel bad and I can believe you aren't doing this on purpose. However I also think you have earned the verbal lashing Dan has given you. The fact that you are making yourself feel miserable for what you know are cruel behaviors does not make those behaviors any less cruel or your husband suffer any less.

Let's review. You were assaulted. This is terrible, no doubt about it. You elected to not seek help. This is monumentally stupid, but not terrible on its own. You then proceded to punish your own husband for the ensuing trauma. Had you become unreceptive to sex generally it would have been bad but understandable, as long as you comitted to getting help. However you are effectively telling your husband "Sex is disgusting. With you. With my boyfriend it's awesome!" This is not OK, assault or no assault.

Either divorce your husband so he doesn't have to put up with your emotional abuse or put bf on hold and get therapy.
We didn't get a lot of details in PTSD's letter (as I understand is necessary due to editing), but it's entirely possible that the husband is doing something differently (probably not his fault!) that is resulting in her being triggered, but it isn't happening with the boyfriend for whatever reason.

If she kicks the boyfriend out of her life, she's losing out on a source of support AND a potential answer to solving this problem. It's possible that with therapy she can work out why it is that sex with the boyfriend does not trigger memories of the assault, but sex with the husband does--and the answer is almost definitely NOT that she has stopped loving her husband and wants out of the marriage.

Just because her boyfriend is her secondary (from what it sounds like) doesn't mean that their relationship isn't important, or that it should be dropped just because the husband is having problems. The husband should realize that his wife's reaction is likely due to the complicated and confusing ways that our brains react to trauma, not something personal. They should see her healthy sex life with her boyfriend as a path to healing and returning to having emotionally-safe sex with her husband.
addendum: reading your response to TMF, I immediately thought of "Tiny Hats"…
Ever kiss the the tip of a parasitic twin's nose?
Nope, just doesn't quite have that ring to it.

@5: First of all, it's not "monumentally stupid" that she hasn't sought help before. Many assault survivors have a hard time telling people, at least partially because of victim-blaming reactions. I'm not accusing you or Dan of victim-blaming, but the "verbal lashing" is not helpful, because it implies that she has control over how she's reacting, and that isn't the case.

Something is triggering her when she's with her husband, but not with her boyfriend. We don't know what that is, and she might not know what that is, but her different reactions are not her fault. I may have PTSD (in the process of finding out) from a trauma, but whether or not either of us meet the official criteria, I do have triggers and it sounds like that's exactly what she's experiencing. Triggers are weird, and it can be hard to figure out--especially right after it happens--why some things are triggering and others are not. I've been triggered by a pillow.

It could be that her husband reminds her of her assailant. If he has a similar body type, or smell, or personality in any way, that could be it. If they're having sex in their home and that's where she was assaulted (or even where she used to have consensual sex with that partner), that could be it. In her letter she mentions trying to go ahead and have sex with her husband anyway--because that's what she thought she was supposed to do--and being triggered. It's possible that her well-meaning attempts set her back with her husband because now when she thinks of sex with him it reminds her of that, which reminds her of her assault.

It's an incredibly good sign that she is able to have sex with her boyfriend. It's completely understandable that her husband is taking that personally, but they all need to understand that it's not about him... it's just about the way our brains develop memories in response to trauma, and how that can be strange and unpredictable and incredibly hard to conquer. If she breaks up with her boyfriend--especially if she does it out of some sense of obligation to her husband, but doesn't really want to--it will just create further resentment and trauma. They all need to work together to support her and her husband through this, not start cutting people out of their lives.

It may be a good idea to scale back sex with the boyfriend for the time being, but that's a conversation he should be involved in. Cutting him off unilaterally (whether that's just sex or in an emotional capacity, too... but I don't think the husband would be satisfied if he stayed on in an emotional capacity, because he's feeling hurt and jealous...) isn't fair to anyone involved.
You may have a "bifurcated clitoral glans" (it's not common, but it's not abnormal either), but you don't have two clits (your clit is actually as large in volume as an average penis, and includes a heck of a lot of stuff that you can't see.

Is it possible that she blames the husband on some level? If it was his idea to open things then some part of her could be thinking it's his fault that she got hurt.
@6, I can't believe you're blaming the husband! It is horrible that the woman was a victim of sexual assualt, but like Dan said, that does not give her a right to treat her husband like shit and continue to have fun loving sex with the boyfriend!! What about his needs and feelings? There is such a thing as being to feminist, and it sounds like you are willing to give anybody who was assualted a free pass to treat ANYBODY badly. I wonder if you would feel the same way if the genders are reversed? As Dan always says, your 1st responsibilty is to your primary partner. She shoudl stop seeing the boyfriend right now, because now she is just perpetuating the cycle of abuse by emotionally abusing her poor husband.I have known plenty victims of abuse, my mother being ome of them, and sometimes you just have to call them out on their hypocritical bullshit.
If SUB is in the Vegas area, I am currently available. >>
And to PTSD, here is a resource for poly-friendly professionals so you can get help from a therapist who won't jump to conclusions about your open relationship:…
@12: I'm not blaming the husband, and I'm not taking her side just because she's a woman, or trying to give her a free pass. But I think she already does recognize that she is hurting her husband (albeit unintentionally), so I don't feel the need to browbeat her on that. And I don't think that what she's doing to her husband is emotional abuse. This isn't a case where you have to pick one side and say that person is to blame, either the husband, the wife or the boyfriend. If we're going to blame anyone, it should be her assailant.

I want her husband's pain to stop, and I want her pain to stop, and I want that to happen without causing additional pain to her and her boyfriend if possible. I just don't think that her reactions to sex are her fault, or that stopping things with her boyfriend will make things better--I think it will just make things worse. I think they all need to come together and (with the help of a therapist) figure out how to be mutually supportive.

Dan's reaction is something he's done a few times... his idea of an open relationship is one where the primary partner gets to call everything off and force the other primary to break up with their other partners at a moment's notice. I don't think that's fair, or healthy, or stable. There are ways to resolve this without forcing this woman who has already gone through so much to lose someone she loves.
Look at you SUB, getting all this attention...looks like you won't have a problem nailing one of us down - or rather getting one of us to nail YOU down...
I read TMF's letter and the first thing I thought was "man I wish I had two working penises, that would be awesome." I have no idea how that would work biologically speaking, but it would make getting laid a lot more interesting.

I have spent too much time thinking about this already.
SUB, if you find a vanilla who says she'll be perverted for you, please make sure she will actually do it BEFORE you fall in love/marry her. It would have saved me a lot of heartache if I hadn't beleived my bf when he said that a wedding ring was a prerequisite for tying him up.

-Chained Unicorn
@15: Yes, what she is doing is emotional abuse. It's reprehensible and her being attacked does not, as Dan put it, give her a "get out of being a human free" card. She is knowingly causing her husband distress and she is knowingly doing something he has expressly told her he is not comfortable with and rather than getting therapy and trying to actually work through her own issues and the issues of her marriage, she's just ignoring her husband and his wishes and running off to fuck her boyfriend. That's not helpful to anyone, that's just being avoidant and making a bad situation even worse.

If the boyfriend isn't a completely terrible person, he will understand when she says "we need to cool it for now because it's ruining my marriage." If PTSD isn't a completely terrible person, she'll cool things off with her boyfriend until she gets her head in gear because what she's doing is killing her marriage and if I were the husband in this I would already be talking to my lawyer.

It's a *relationship*, kids. That means you put at least a modicum of thought towards each other's feelings and wishes once in a while. If you can't do that, then you shouldn't be married - open or not.
or trying to give her a free pass.

Yes, you are, when you write--

her reactions (are) not her fault

First off, assigning blame is useless, and usually leads to the various hard feelings present in PSTD's situation. Second, taking responsibility and assigning blame are two completely different things. PSTD's reactions are her own, and there's no fault involved.

I had my own reactions to PSTD's letter, and found them in Dan's 2nd & 3rd paragraphs. PSTD writes like she really *wants* to love her husband like she used to, but she's not feeling it, and is acting on those feelings. She has two choices: she chooses to act on her desires to love her husband, or admits that the love simply isn't there anymore & takes steps accordingly. Either way, it's up to her.

And this is actually quite healing, because it takes her out of the victim mode, and puts her back where she truly belongs: In the driver's seat of her own life.
@sacculina -- It'd be helpful if we knew what was going on with the boyfriend, exactly -- does he even know about the assault, does he know about the state of PTSD's relationship with her husband, etc.? It feels like a good secondary partner should be more considerate/aware of the whole situation. Yes, the writer needs comfort in a time like this, but the point of a secondary partner is the fact that they're the secondary partner. Sure, generally that means less of the responsibility but it sounds like this is rapidly reaching the point where all three of these people need to sit down and have a chat (possibly with one of the therapists your mentioned) about how this triangle is balanced.

And if it comes to it, if this boyfriend is someone worth having in this relationship, he should be willing to back off for a bit if he is in fact part of the problem.

I'm not arguing with you, but like you I feel like that something's been left out -- not as much from editing, but possibly something that PTSD didn't think was important or vital to add. (Maybe her husband wants her to press charges/speak to a counselor and her boyfriend isn't asking her to confront what happened.)
@9 (aka Junior Therapist):Yes it is monumentally stupid that she hasn't sought help. Her marriage is falling apart. She's rejecting her husband and mourning the loss of the man who assaulted her. I doubt that hubby is as cheered as you are that "It's an incredibly good sign that she is able to have sex with her boyfriend."

Dan's right... she's using this event as an excuse for her cruel and thoughtless behavior. Doing that helps no one, especially herself. She'll be stuck there as longs as she continues to wallow in it. No one says she HAS to have sex with her husband, but she should at least work through it with at therapist and figger out what to do.
Best odds: Pay for it, already.

I am *so* glad I wasn't drinking something at that point.
I'd say she can't help how she feels about sleeping with one and not the other, BUT Dan is absolutely right overall because she *can* help what she actually *does* about it.

She *can* talk to both of them, outline the problem, and get herself into some kind of therapy if she wants to keep the relationship she has with her husband. Not doing that is the cruel and thoughtless part. And shoot, if I were the boyfriend and saw her dumping her husband like that I'd haul my ass out of there too.
PTSD's reactions may not be her fault, but WHAT SHE DOES ABOUT THEM 100% absolutely is.

Part of them is to recognize that this source of support is a source of pain for her husband.

Now you can argue that he should be more open, more accepting, whatever.

But when you commit to marriage, you commit to holding THAT PERSON'S desires and feelings equal to your own, and treating them with respect.

And what that means is that when the problem is *yours*, and part of what you had before is broken - whether it's your fault or not - you get yourself help, and you place primary importance on fixing that part.

What's that you say? She needs to fix herself first before she fixes her marriage? EXACTLY. Fixing herself will be PART of what helps to fix her marriage.

She does not get to treat her husband and his desires and feelings as disposable in the meantime. She committed to more than that when she married him.

On the BS radar btw - nobody here, not the husband, not Dan, told PTSD to give her boyfriend up. They said "stop sleeping with him - for now". She can still see him. He's still there. But he probably has to backburner because he is distracting from the primary issue she has to solve.

I would be much more willing to accept PTSD's argument that the sexual portion of her relationship with her BF is too important a support to give up right now if AS SOON AS she figured out that fucking her husband was making her skin crawl, and fucking her boyfriend wasn't, she ran her butt into therapy, and was working on processing it. If she was asking her husband to come to therapy with her. If she had a therapist backing her up in any way shape or form based on intimate knowledge of what was going on in her life.

But she doesn't have any of these things. Why not?

Because she discovered she had a problem. And instead of looking for help - from the obvious sources - to solve it, she has allowed it to continue and asked everybody around her to allow it to continue while she does nothing ACTIVE to help her get past it.

That's a form of unreasonable entitlement and it's pure bullshit.

She doesn't get to ask ANYBODY to put up with that. Not and realistically expect them to go along with it.
@21: I'm intrigued by the point that maybe the BF doesn't even know about her assault. Maybe that's colouring her experiences with him (and away from her husband) ... he's someone who can representative the world outside that painful sphere (which her husband, informed, unfortunately occupies).

I agree with comments that believe she's not communicating enough with ANY of them, and certainly not doing herself any favours by not hauling her ass NOW into therapy (with her husband, and potentially, with her boyfriend too ... all together, or not).

I think it's a very good sign she still wants sex with anyone, but I do sympathize with the husband: He didn't suffer any assault, but he has been witness to her pain, and now he's also suffered a treatment that basically puts him on the level of the man who caused her that.

LW needs to get to therapy now. Once she's there, maybe she'll find she won't need to rely on her BF sex so much as her outlet, her source of support. It sounds like right now because she doesn't have any other avenues, this BF's help is becoming disproportionately important.
What I thought was most telling was the last paragraph of PTSD's letter, where she equates the loss of her husband with the loss of the THE GUY WHO ASSAULTED HER.

I'm guessing that's why she hasn't sought counseling/pressed charges, etc - In a situation like hers, many victims feel conflicted and guilty for still having feelings for the person who violated them. It sounds like she's lumped her husband in with that situation/emotion, for a variety of possible reasons.

Either way, to PTSD: Dick therapy with the boyfriend might be healing, but it's intentionally, unacceptably cruel to a person you allegedly love.

Cut the husband loose (there's no indication you actually WANT to heal things with him in your letter, just that you're sorry he's sad), get therapy. Maybe try being single entirely while doing so. Being assaulted doesn't mean you have to be alone, but it doesn't sound like the sex you're having is helping you deal with it in a healthy way.

@15, the thing is, relationships are hard. All relationships, and I understand that. I realize she feels horrible too. Actions speak louder than words though, so by emotionally and physically rejecting her husband she is causing emotional damage to their relationship. The husband has actually communicated to her that he would like her to pay attention to HIM, focus on their relationship. She is married to him, so yes, she should do as he asks and stop being so self involved. I agree they should go to therapy, but I think the husband and wife need to work on their problems first with the therapist, because otherwise there could be ganging up on the husband from her and the boyfriend. So either she should focus on her misused husband that did not sexually assualt her, and therefore deserves the respect of HIS wife or she should get a divorce and leave the man alone. She is showing no consideration for his feelings, and that is emotional abuse. Especially the the way she fails to attempt to handle anything in any sort of respectful way.
Re PTSD: the first thing that occurs to me is that maybe sex with the husband feels somehow obligatory, and this sense of obligation is linked to being forced, i.e., assaulted. The boyfriend is entirely optional, so it doesn't trigger the same reaction.

That said, PTSD, what you are doing to your husband is indeed abusive to him, and if you continue the way you are going now, you WILL lose him. Dan laid out the two things you need to do, if you don't want that to happen:

1) Fucking Get Help. NOW.
2) Drop the boyfriend until you are no longer revolted by your husband. You may not be able yet to have sex with him without being triggered for a while yet. But I guarantee that his hurt and anger about you continuing with the boyfriend while shutting him out will only fester and prevent the healing between you.

You claim to want both of them. You may eventually get both of them back. But there is no good way to hold onto both of them right now. If you don't give up the boyfriend for the time being, for the sake of the husband, you WILL lose one of them.
I'm 100% with Dan on PTSD. I also echo other comments: she doesn't have to give up the boyfriend FOREVER AND EVER OMG. Just cool it down for a bit, work on herself/her marriage, and when she is feeling less skin-crawly and her husband less jealous, the arrangement can be re-negotiated.

However, I have this sneaking suspicion if PTSD were a good poly, this would have already occurred to her. There is no excuse ever for assault, but it feels as if she's using it as an excuse to become further involved with the secondary and drift from the husband. Frankly, while reading Dan's response, I was impressed, because I probably would have been even harsher on the LW.
Thanks for the answer Dan, you're a swell guy.

@4 Middle.
@13 Nowhere near there :[
I'm surprised nobody's mentioned the best option for WPOS - find an anti-gay politician. Or preacher. Whichever.
@32 Yabbut... them guys were covered here: Please don't say, "Settle for a very straight-acting and straight-looking gay guy."
PTSD's story is so sad. Everybody's posting on this like it can be fixed--and maybe it can't. No husband could not take personally, "I can't have sex with you because you remind me of my rapist". The loss of trust and intimacy for both of them is pure poison. Add the fun poly wrinkle of I can still have amazing sex with my boyfriend and you've got a house burning down to the foundation.

Life sure ain't fair.
"Dan's ... idea of an open relationship is one where the primary partner gets to call everything off and force the other primary to break up with their other partners at a moment's notice."

What exactly about the word "primary" don't you understand?

If you run into a rough patch, and keeping the relationship with one or more "secondaries" is more important than the feelings of the "primary" then the "primary" has become the lesser of the two considerations. That's the definition of "secondary."

"Primary" is not synonymous with "can be trusted to put up with my shit more reliably than anyone else."
I agree with many posters in this thread, that while PTSD may be not be able to control her feelings, she can control her actions. And right now her actions are putting her spouse into quite the personal hell.
I'm kinda surprised that her reaction to her spouse hasn't bothered her so much that she hasn't made fixing it top priority in her life, and instead keeps bonking the boyfriend. When either my SO or I have serious stress, grief, trauma, health problems or depression in our lives, the other person puts sex on hold if that is necessary while the problem gets worked through. I would hope most truly committed couples would have similar priorities.
@ 18 - My heart goes out to you - but why are you still there?

You're supposed to be the one putting the chains on, not the one wearing them.
@32 Yabbut... them guys were covered here: Please don't say, "Settle for a very straight-acting and straight-looking gay guy."
@ 34 - You're right. It may not be possible to fix her marriage. Maybe fixing herself pulls herself away from a marriage that wasn't or no longer is right for her.

But she damn sure won't know until she tries. Until she starts thinking from the mentality of a Survivor rather than a Victim.

Because a Survivor legitimately gets to say - "This incident affected me badly and changed my life. Even though I tried *my best*, I couldn't recapture what it was before and I had to let it go."

"Victims" don't.
Dan is exactly right about PTSD, and that marriage needs to end now.

WPOS: I'm a straight guy here. I don't really need my boots cleaned, but I am frequently in desperate need of someone to clean my floors, do my dishes, or clean my bathroom. I'm sure there are plenty of straight guys who would love free cleaning help and some of them would be willing to degrade you. Thought about posting ads offering to work as a housekeeper?
Sorry about the duplicate! It hung for ages and when I refreshed, after coming back to the computer, it posted it again, apparently...
@34, I couldn't agree more with you. It's really sad an unfair.

Here's my take: PTSD isn't guilty of her reaction to her husband and boyfriend. But (and again perhaps because of the abuse) she's avoiding the difficult, hard, yet necessary look at her life; she's avoiding the responsibility of confronting the situation and deciding what it is that she wants to do, and why. She should try to get some therapy, preferably together with her husband (and maybe even her boyfriend, if she can find a sufficiently open-minded therapist) and work through these issues.

Is this difficult because of the trauma of having been assaulted? Well, this trauma is precisely one of the best reasons why she should seek counseling. She is avoiding a problem, pretending it doesn't exist or will somehow solve itself spontaneously. Contacting Dan and asking for advice is already a step in the good direction; at least she isn't just running away from the situation. The next step indeed has to be to get help. Counseling.

It may be too late already. Maybe because of the assault; maybe because of issues that existed before but were painfully brought to the surface by the assault; it feels like she doesn't want to be her husband's wife anymore. Maybe I'm wrong (hell, she's the one who should be asking herself this question, not me), but it does seem to be a plausible explanation. If that's the case -- if what she really wants now is to have her boyfriend as her husband and to leave her current husband -- then that's what she should do. For herself, so that she isn't in such a guilt-and-blame-ridden situation that tears hearts apart. And for her husband, so that he can start the slow and painful process of healing and have another go at finding happiness with some other women.

Please, PSTD and hubby: get your asses into a therapist's office, and start communicating. I don't know if your relationship can be salvaged; maybe it's indeed too late. But you have to understand what is going on, so that you can make the best decisions for your lives. Do that as soon as possible, or else the resulting emotional catastrophe will be much worse, for both of you, and for much longer.
@34: Well, she did write in asking for advice, after all. The presumption is that she wants to at least try to save it.

On the whole, though, I agree: it sounds pretty damned doomed to me. Even if she takes Dan's advice, she is going to resent it.

My honest reaction is that the husband should change the locks and tell her it's time for her to earn a place in his life. Their existing marriage is, if not dead, certainly lying in a crumpled, twitching, heap, vomiting blood. It's time for a hard reset. If she wants a life with him, she can damned well pursue him. Whether she steps up to that challenge, or feels a huge relief to be set free, will tell both of them all they need to know.
Dear TMF child,
Look up "bifid clitoris" on Google. You will find that "two clits" is often a result of horrible birth defects affecting daily issues such as taking a normal pee or worse. Not really funny anymore, is it?
Dear TMF child,
Look up "bifid clitoris" on Google. You will find that "two clits" is often a result of horrible birth defects affecting daily issues such as taking a normal pee or worse. Not really funny anymore, is it?
PTSD made me wonder if her issue with her husband is a semi-unconscious feeling that he should have somehow protected her from the assault, a "responsibility" none of her secondaries would have, and since the husband "failed" there are resentment issues messing up their sex life that don't apply to her boyfriend. just a thought
@45 Symptoms of a bifid clitoris do not include constant orgasms brought on by movement. It is a physical anomaly which is usually accompanied by other deformations and defects. It isn't particularly "funny" but the letter writer's supposition that having bifid clitoris means constant sexual arousal is kind of hilarious.

Sacculina wrote:
"Dan's ... idea of an open relationship is one where the primary partner gets to call everything off and force the other primary to break up with their other partners at a moment's notice."

This isn't just Dan's view. It is the ONLY arrangement that I, and many others I know, would accept as a foundation for an open relationship. Sex is fraught with emotional danger. Open relationships are inherently dangerous, and in my experience they work only when there is absolute security in the primary relationship. Each partner knowing that they can go back to the security of monogamy whenever they feel that need is what mitigates the dangers of the open relationship, and allows it to happen.

I would not be involved in an open relationship that did not have that "instant veto" clause built in, and I have seen, over and over again, the misery that results when that sort of rule is not present and taken very seriously.

If PTSD was truly serious about maintaining a "healthy" relationship with her husband (yes, "healthy" does imply a sexual component), she would have gone to therapy (*any* sort of therapy, well, besides getting her dick needs met by her BF) long ago. I think that the posters who mentioned the idea of her revulsion being tied into an underlying resentment for her husband are correct. She should either move forward or start cutting ties.

Sacculina wrote:
"Dan's ... idea of an open relationship is one where the primary partner gets to call everything off and force the other primary to break up with their other partners at a moment's notice."

This isn't just Dan's view. It is the ONLY arrangement that I, and many others I know, would accept as a foundation for an open relationship. Sex is fraught with emotional danger. Open relationships are inherently dangerous, and in my experience they work only when there is absolute security in the primary relationship. Each partner knowing that they can go back to the security of monogamy whenever they feel that need is what mitigates the dangers of the open relationship, and allows it to happen.

I would never be involved in an open relationship that did not have that "instant veto" clause built in, and I have seen, over and over again, the misery that results when that sort of agreement is not taken very seriously.

Oops... please forgive the double post. It was done by mistake.
It's curious. Women are actually almost dominant: they pretend they don't make choices, or they don't participate, but mostly are manipulative bitches. Men often are too busy looking at their egos to notice that.
Sorry, my gayness made me a bit misogynous xD
You guys are not focusing on the real problem here AT ALL.

Today was fun! Feels like it's been a while since we had a good, no-holds-barred plain old vanilla Savage kink advice.
?? What is this FetLife of which you speak?


PPS: I figure that, since the clitoris is homologous to the penis, having two clits is about as common as having two penises. How many of those have you heard of, TMF? Outside of, I mean.
The plurality of 'clitoris' is technically 'clitores' but since we're speaking English here 'clitorises' does fine.
I'm not a psychological expert of any kind, but PTSD's email seems inconsistent. Wouldn't being traumatized by a sexual assault by a man make sex creepy for her for all men? If not, why her husband but not her boyfriend.

In the absence of that information her husband is justified in feeling jerked around, should divorce her and move on with his life.
@ Sevendaughters:

"Clitorides" is the proper Latin plural, I believe.

@ Lechugo:

Well, you're gay, so of course you have every right to denigrate half of the entire human race. After all, why go through all the hassle of pretending women are real people unless you're trying to get in their lady-parts? Sure, some women might say that it's awfully ironic to see this kind of blatant bigotry from a gay man, who would presumably know how vicious stereotypes can be -- but don't listen to them! They're just a bunch of manipulative bitches!
Ummm, hello? I'm a 32 year old domme who isn't pro and into lifestyle D/s. It's out there--on Fetlife, on Collarme (which is where I met my sub) and other places. Just gotta keep looking...

@53, you should be sorry for that sexist screed. Being gay doesn't excuse you for being a dick.
PTSD, Your pussy had rejected your husband long before the assault and now it wants Vitamin-D only from the boyfriend. The best thing for you to do is acknowledge this reality and free your husband to move on with his life. What you are doing is cruel and unusual punishment much like an execution - only slower, more painful and more traumatic!!
@52 -- you can't blame it on your gayness. Many, *many* het men are equally misogynistic. Nice try, though!
I think Dan was too hard on PTSD. My ex-boyfriend raped me. Since the rape, I have been able to enjoy casual sex. Committed-relationship sex can still trigger me, two and a half years later. Loving someone makes you vulnerable, and feeling vulnerable can trigger flashbacks. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is especially difficult after you've been raped by someone you trusted. I predict that if PTSD continues sleeping with her boyfriend, sex with him will also trigger her. PTSD is sabotaging her marriage, but I suspect that is because she cannot tolerate closeness so soon after the rape.

Five months--so soon? Yes. Don't get me wrong: PTSD needs to see a rape therapist ASAP. I couldn't feel anything or admit that I had been raped until six months after the assault. Then one night the emotional tsunami hit, and I drove 400 miles to my sister's house crying.

PTSD is making poor choices while she dodges some terrible emotions. But please don't gang up on her. A rape flashback is like being bound and gagged and held underwater as all the light is extinguished from the universe.

I love the word: Misogynistic. Ooooh. He hates women. No, it's not that we hate women, we are merely frustrated by their petty drama bullshit, changing moods from day to day with no apparent rhyme or reason and the way they use sex as a weapon.

PTSD (I will just bet) is being defended on this board by the same people who use that weapon to great effect. She (like them I am sure) is playing emotional games and destroying a man's life through a deliberate (or perhaps subconscious but nevertheless pleasing on many levels) sexual game of titillation and denial.

Problem is they don't need the 'I was raped get out of being human card in order to use that inhuman tactic. Standard Operating Procedure for almost all of them.

I love the word: Misogynistic. Ooooh. He hates women. No, it's not that we hate women, we are merely frustrated by their petty drama bullshit, changing moods from day to day with no apparent rhyme or reason and the way they use sex as a weapon.

PTSD (I will just bet) is being defended on this board by the same people who use that weapon to great effect. She (like them I am sure) is playing emotional games and destroying a man's life through a deliberate (or perhaps subconscious but nevertheless pleasing on many levels) sexual game of titillation and denial.

Problem is they don't need the 'I was raped get out of being human card in order to use that inhuman tactic. Standard Operating Procedure for almost all of them.

I would have been even harsher with this manipulative shrew.
Once the husband says stop and you don't stop, you're cheating openly.

It's up to him if he calls you on it and divorces you (he should!) but you will have to accept that your husband divorced you because you couldn't be faithful to him.

In time, this might hurt more than the assault.
I'd tend to get behind the two main "practical" points of the advice to PTSD -- 1) get therapy so you can start getting to a place where that horrible experience won't control you, and 2) at least consider putting the sexual relationship with the BF on hold while starting to pursue #1. OTOH, I just can't get behind the tone of Dan's response -- dude, deal with the trauma first, *then* start sorting out everyone else's reaction to the traumatized person's experience.

As for SUB -- if he were gay, I'd be all over that. I know I can't be the only dom who finds sub professionals hot, if for no other reason than professionals having such disproportionate social power these days. (If SUB has a certain amount of social power and SUB's dom exerts total control over SUB...well, you see how it works.) There are definitely women who are looking for someone just like him.
66: "OTOH, I just can't get behind the tone of Dan's response -- dude, deal with the trauma first, *then* start sorting out everyone else's reaction to the traumatized person's experience."

Dude, the way she is going about it, she's traumatizing other people herself. If she waits until she gets her shit figured out before taking the husband into account, there won't be a marriage left to save.

Refusing to give up the boyfriend IS selfish and cruel. She knows that breaks her husband's heart, and she chooses to keep doing it anyway.

Repeat: She knows that breaks her husband's heart, and she chooses to keep doing it anyway.

One more time: She knows that breaks her husband's heart, and she chooses to keep doing it anyway.

That concept cannot be overemphasized. Personally, I think she ought to write it out on the chalkboard five hundred times until it sinks in: "I know that this choice breaks my husband's heart, and I choose to do it anyway."

Not "I just can't do that, I need that outlet." It's, "I know that this choice breaks my husband's heart, and I choose to do it anyway."

Getting traumatized does not confer a license to willfully traumatize the other people in turn -- least of all the ones that you claim to love.
"I feel like I've already lost my former partner (fucked-up though that may seem) and my husband. It kills me to think about cutting out the one positive relationship remaining."

This, more than anything else, indicates to me that the Letter Writer checked out of the marriage long ago. I don't understand what weirdness is tangled up between the rapist ex-partner and the husband, but of the three men that she mentions, not only is hubby clearly last in line in her emotions (she considers the rapist a loss? Seriously?), he is already cut loose in her mind. The only relationship she considers viable is with the new boyfriend.

As a straight Dom, I gotta say slapping around WPOS and making him lick my boots, etc. sounds like a lot of fun. As long as I don't have to have any skin-to-skin contact with him, it would allow me to show off my Dom cred in (what for me would be) a safe environment. Check out some BDSM clubs or groups, you're bound to get lucky.
I sit here in tears after looking at the It Gets Better web site and videos. I wish this existed when i was 12

THANK YOU to everyone who became involved. It got better for me, it WILL get better for you. Reach out, dont be alone cos youre NOT. school only feels like forever, it ends and youre free to be yourself. I have great friends who accept me just as i am. I love them for it. I have a good life. We matter, we make a difference when we reach out to help, and reach out to get help. together we are strong. never forget that. dont let the bullies win, we deserve a life of happiness.

Wait...who uses sex as a weapon again?
Rapists? no wait, women- those manipulative bitches living in the context of male sexual violence with their oh so annoying feelings- withold sex as a weapon. Because not having sex with a man is an act of violence.

Freak. Laughable. Dig up your Mommy and Dr. Freud; you've got work to do.

(LOL! my antispambot text was "MAGNUM")
Soooo, the predomninate opinion on PTSD is that she should just see a therapist (aka "get over it") and give her husband the kind of sex he wants, regardless of her issues?

Kinda surprised to see that here.
Without confirmation from the husband, I question the validity of PTSD's statement that the open marriage was working beautifully (for her husband). Altough supposition on my part, it seems apparent that at some point the importance of her relationship with the boyfriend superceded the importance of her marriage and relationship with her husband. I don't pretend to possess any great knowledge about open relationships/marriages, but my understanding is that this would represent a material breach of the type of ground rules (re: emotional involvement with other parties) that are supposed to be agreed upon before openning a marriage/relationship. I would not be surprised by any of the following scenarios 1) the husband only grudging agreed to openning the marriage 2) he quickly became dissatisfied with the open marriage 3) he expressed his unhappiness (maybe not verbally), but the wife was having a great time and ignored his concerns/change in behavior 4) the husband has felt neglected for quite some time and his depression predates the current situation 5) she deluded herself or didn't care that her husband wasn't happy. Once again, without comment from the husband no reader can discern the what was actually going on. People believe what they want to believe, when it suits them, and justifies their actions or validate their desires. Many people will only face reality when they are forced to by a crisis. As a result of the assault and its aftermath, the husband is clearly stating his feelings and unhappiness and the wife can't ignore them.

PTSD does not say how long they have been married, what motivated/who proposed openning the marriage, what their sex life was like before openning the marriage or before the sexual assault. If such information was provided, it should not have been left out.
@50: That's ridiculous. If you want an open relationship where both people have total veto power, fine, but to say it's the only workable kind of relationship is silly. It seems very extreme to me. Not everyone is like you. For some of us who are non-monogamous, having our partner have that kind of control over our sex lives would be scary and feel confining.

And if you don't want a monogamous relationship in the first place, it doesn't make a lot of sense to say that your partner can make you go back to monogamy. Wouldn't that effectively end the relationship for someone who doesn't want monogamy? Seems like that's just another way of breaking up, which anyone can do at any time anyway.
73: "Soooo, the predomninate opinion on PTSD is that she should just see a therapist (aka "get over it") and give her husband the kind of sex he wants, regardless of her issues? "

Close, but no. Read it again. She should recognize that, under the circumstances, her stance with regard to the boyfriend is killing her relationship with her husband. If you can't grasp how, perhaps your partner needs to tell you for several months that he/she finds you viscerally repulsive, but meanwhile is more than happy to go fuck a different "friend."

She should be willing to give up the boyfriend and focus on her relationship with the husband until she gets her marriage back on track. It is assumed that sex is off the table for HIM for the duration of the healing process. That ain't exactly giving "her husband the kind of sex he wants, regardless of her issues." Frankly, being able to run away and blow off steam with the boyfriend has been allowing her to avoid those issues.

And yes, she should see a therapist. To hear you talk, "getting over it" is a bad thing.
While true for any marriage/relationship/person, PTSD's letter illustrates that these risks increase with open marriages/relationships simply because of the additional individuals involved. People who think they can control their emotions when sex is involved are only kidding themselves. Everyone runs the risk of a former partner reacting badly (gross understatement in this case) after breaking up.

PTSD does not provide any information about her relationship with the former partner or the circumstances that lead to the former partner becoming a former partner. (I assume it was a man). Did he become a former partner before or after the assault.

I'm confused, what did she mean when she said she felt like she'd already lost her former partner. Why would that be an issue if he already was a former partner before the assault. It sounds like she formed emotional attachments to/with her other partners. Isn't that supposed to be avoided?
75: He didn't say that was the only workable kind of relationship. He said that was the only kind of workable relationship FOR HIM. And for others that feel the same way he does. Obviously that doesn't include you, but you can count me among those who agree with him. As far as I am concerned, instant veto power is to open relationships what a safe-word is to exploring a kink.

How many words out of that post did you skip?

"Wouldn't that effectively end the relationship for someone who doesn't want monogamy?"

Only if you don't give a shit about your partner's feelings, which is pretty much what refusing to call even a temporary time-out when your partner is unhappy tends to communicate.
@9 Your statement about PTSD having difficulty telling people about the assault is absurd. It is obvious that she has has told her husband, her boyfriend, and the world at large through a letter to this public forum (granted she has a generally understanding/accepting audience and the benefit of anonymity). Her husband would be a complete asshole if didn't get her immediate medical attention following the assault, which would result in her having to talk about the assault with medical staff and possibly the police.

No competent therapist would engage in victim blaming, if only to avoid a medical malpractice lawsuit. That has no bearing on her decision not to get counseling up to this point.

However, I do wonder about the husband's reaction and whether he is consciously or subconsciously blaming her. Rarely are women responsible for being sexually assaulted (if making bad or stupid decisions can be said to make one complicit or responsible/admittedly it is a poor analogy, but you are responsible for the consequences of drunken driving). Nothing ever justifies sexual assault or abuse (unless that is a woman's kink). However, it was ultimately her decision to have voluntary sex at some point with her assailant that culminated in the assault. Would the assault have occurred without that decision, probably not. Is the husband blaming her for that decision? I repeat, nothing justifies sexual and I am not blaimg the wife for it. I am speculating on how the husband may have reacted and how it may have differed from the boyfriend's reaction. The husband is more likely than the boyfriend to also feel violated since he by definition has more invested in their relationship. While she is the principal victim, she is not the only victim of the assault. All family members are more or less affected by a tragedy and have to deal with their feelings/emotions.
At some level does the wife blame the husband for openning the marriage and therefore the assault?

How and through whom did the wife become involved with her assailant?

Who was the assailant, a friend of her husband, one of his co-workers, his superior or boss, a member of his family?
PTSD needs professional help now. Unless he is a trained pyscho-therapist, her relationship with the boyfriend is not beneficial to her mental health. She is not going to get that help as long as she can rely on him as a crutch. All the time, energy, and emotions she devotes to the boyfriend is robbed from from her marriage and her husband.

As with any situation with limited resources, tihs is very much a zero sum situation.
PSTD should set aside a quiet night with her husband, each take 120mg of pure MDMA together and talk the matter out. MDMA was found to be gold for couples' counseling when used by Leo Ziff and other psychotherapists back in the 70s, and also what guys like Rick Doblin over at MAPS is trying to pave the way to bring back.

Almost guaranteed to either bring the couple back together or allow them to see clearly and non-judmentally that its not going to work.
I doubt the sincerity of WPOS, too. I know that being a Sub is a legitimate kink (and I respect that), but just when the "It Gets Better" project is taking off, someone writes a letter to Dan saying that he's a gay man who WANTS to be abused and humiliated by straights? To say that it's ironic would be overlooking the obvious.

I think PSTD has a right to feel grief over the loss of her former partner. That's a huge loss of trust and there is a lot of grief involved in that. I felt a lot of grief when I was raped by someone I knew. Because I thought he was my friend. I'm sure she thought her former partner was her friend. That's a pretty huge betrayal and I think a lot of you are overlooking that.

I don't know what is triggering her and obviously she doesn't either, but trust could be involved. Or perhaps she's not able to give herself emotionally to her husband like she was able to in the past. I'm sure she consciously trusts her husband, but subconsciously, maybe not so much.

Her relationship with her boyfriend might just be on a superficial level. If it's just physical and with very little emotion then that might be why she's connecting with him differently than with her husband.

She needs serious therapy, and yes she needs to put the boyfriend aside. She's stuck in a cycle of abuse and it's including two innocent men.
@75 (WordyGrrl), no, you got it wrong. The predominant opinion is that she should get therapy (aka 'therapy') to solve her issues, only one of which is her problem with her husband. Whether or not they end up together or not is entirely up to her (and him).

My heart really goes out to you PTSD. I have had a very difficult time myself after being savagely raped by a 'friend', and then finding that the trauma was totally triggered by my husband, and that I was simply unable to turn off the sexual freeze. It was certainly not a matter of choice. Who would live with the horror of PTSD if they actually did have a choice? Anyway, it has taken a lot of therapy to get to the point where I am no longer triggered by his touch - hopefully sex will be next.

Besides therapy and an understanding husband, what has helped me the most has been to research PTSD, so I could understand why I was acting the way I was, and also to read the stories of other rape survivors. I highly recommend 'Denial' by Jessica Stern-really helpful.

Dan, I hope you might also get some more info about rape PTSD. In my experience it's a different order of difficulty than the usual relationship difficulties, because it's mediated by a primitive part of the brain that's not under conscious control. I thought you were kinda harsh on PTSD. If anyone had accused me of being cruel to my husband it would have only added to the trauma, shame and guilt I was already feeling. It would have added another layer to what was already a really difficult recovery.

@15 & @62 & @73: You guys summarize my opinion pretty nicely. I'm really disappointed in Dan's response.

@50: That's funny, all the open relationships that I know that haven't crashed and burned don't have a veto. Not having a veto means that you actually have to deal with the inevitable snags and problems, and treat your partners like human beings, not like masturbation toys that can be thrown away when they become inconvenient. Dealing with these problems, by addressing them and talking through them like adults instead of just freaking out and running away, strengthens all the relationships. Your position seems kind of craven.

Seriously? You're going paint an entire group of people with one brush and pretend like you AREN'T a misogynist?

You need to grow up. YES some women are manipulative. But so are some men. And there's a whole spectrum of personalities in between.

Men like you are disgusting. You've found an easy way to justify your prejudice and allow yourself to keep hating on ALL women when the problem is really in your own head.
As a survivor of incest, I have a hard time initiating sex with a regular partner - because such a person would end up *being family*. Knowing it's irrational doesn't help.

I lead a monogamous sex life, and I love my 2-years partner. Ever since the relationship hit about 6 months I've been triggered every time I want sex. So I make myself initiate sex ; for now on, it works, after 10-15 min of fooling around the bad feelings subside and I can start enjoying the sex, and fully participate. I'm not gonna change partners every 2 months because of a damn trigger.

And that's after years of therapy, and more than 20 years after the actual events... I wouldn't blame PTSD for what she's living through.

Get yourself into therapy - while you're not to blame for what you feel, it makes you hurt your husband now. Don't let this rape destroy all your life. And press charges ; don't let the rapist steal other lives.
you know what i see no mention of in PTSD's letter? a girlfriend the husband can go to for relief during this, or any mention of him ever having a girlfriend on the side. you'd think PTSD would mention it if he had one. "I told him to go fuck his girlfriend to feel better, but he said he wasn't in the mood anymore."

maybe, as some of the comments have theorized, their marriage is only opened one way. not that this is a problem, if the husband's cool with it and agreed to it, but that might be why he's taking this so badly even though sexual assault was involved. if they had set some rules about this, what she's doing would be straight-up cheating if the sexual assault hadn't been the impetus behind the current predicament.

however, since they had an open marriage before, the actual act of her fucking this other guy shouldn't bother him that much, it's the fact that it's no longer happening within the confines of their agreement on the openess of their marriage. and the husband said he just wants her to stop until they can get help for their problem. i can see this working out for them if they get some counseling or something.
@73: Um, what? Nobody, not even Dan, is saying, "Get over it, go back and fuck your husband the way he needs it."

We're saying, "Maybe you should put rushing back into a 'normal' life on hold -- on HOLD -- because clearly it's *not normal anymore*." The LW is basically dealing with this situation by doing whatever just glosses over the pain and ignoring what might actually serve to resolve it, at its core.

Therapy IS "getting over it" -- but constructively, while addressing and confronting as much of the problem as possible. It isn't the snarky, flippant dismissal you're using.

Considering the husband and either working through this with him and/or ending his misery isn't "go fuck him while you cry in your soul." Nobody's demanded this -- not even the husband. Jesus.
I can completely relate to PTSD. I am a man in an open marriage, and after an emotional trauma I just couldn't stand having sex with my wife. My wife didn't understand why I could have tender, loving sex with my girlfriend, but not her. She is unwilling to be patient while I slowly heal, in the loving warm embrace of my girlfriend. I wish she could read PTSD's letter so she could realize how selfish she is being, and attempt to truly understand my point of view.
Dear SEB:

Hark, for I am what you claim to crave, a younger female dominant! And I have a bit of advice for you:

Fetlife is NOT a dating website. It was built specifically to discourage that. While it is possible to meet people through it, if you're cold messaging female tops I sort of see your problem, in that we she-doms, who are not there to be picked up, generally ignore or reject the steady flow of "want mistress plz!" messages in our inboxes.

Not craven, just aware of the emotional dangers. Been there in good situations and bad, and seen what works for me and what doesn't.

Avast2006 (#78) has captured my response to you. I am not saying that this is how it MUST be for everyone, but I would never be in an open relationship without it.

Avast2006 - Your analogy is perfect. Veto power over secondaries is exactly like safewords in BDSM. They make a potentially dangerous situation safer.

OK, some of you out there may be so emotionally and spiritually advanced that you can do without this. Good for you. But don't look down on us mortals who want a little security.

I am a firespinner, and always spin with a safety. I ride motorcycles only with a helmet on. I shoot guns with eye and ear protection. I jump out of airplanes, but only after checks to make sure my chute is packed correctly. It's the same with BDSM and non-monogamy. I enjoy the edge more when I know I've got security. Others are welcome to follow their own hearts/genitals/risk profiles.
Dan's comments are entirely, 100% consistent with ethical points he's made in the past.

How PTSD or anyone else feels doesn't waive her responsibilities to other people. Quite frankly, PTSD is taking advantage of her husband's sympathy. She's replacing her primary partner, and he's letting her get away with it because of circumstances.

Here's a thought experiment. Ignore the poly part for a second. Substitute "fucking the boyfriend" with "injecting heroin". How many of you think she's completely justified now, hmm?

Last but not least, PTSD is also attempting to get Dan to validate a course of action which she knows is wrong. There's no moral dilemma here and PTSD knows it.
@93 I haven't actually sent any messages, I was merely lurking to get a sense of the demographics. Like I said, I'm looking for a real relationship (including friendship!), so "want mistress plz" isn't really in my vocabulary either.
I would really like to hear what the nature of the sexual assault was. Any unwanted touching for the sexual gratification of the toucher is a sexual assault. There's a huge continuum. You can't assume PTSD was raped. And something about her letter makes me wonder just how serious the assault was. Getting groped is not as serious as getting raped, but they are both sexual assaults.
I can't believe you could say that to PTSD. Not only does she get raped, but afterwards her husband pressures her into sex? If he knows he's distressing her and yet he doesn't step away and let her heal, then he's the jerk in the relationship. Getting over sexual assault is far, far from easy. You can stay shell-shocked, confused for ages, and it's incredibly naive to think that after that, someone can just make a to-do list and get over it after they've crossed out all the items on it.
To summarize, she's dealing with rape, he's dealing with minor jealousy. Yet his feelings are more important, because in Dan Savage's mind, this is 1950, except with less homophobia.
I take it next week you'll be back saying "OMG I was drunk, don't take it personally, kthxbye!" Who do you think you are, Ernest Hemingway?
Just wanted to comment on the amazing project "It Gets Better". Google employees have added their voices now (on Youtube, a Google product) at…
@78: If one person wants monogamy and the other person doesn't, that seems like a sexual incompatibility. If the relationship doesn't work for you, or if you're incompatible, ending it doesn't mean that you "don't give a shit about your partner's feelings."

If you don't want or can't deal with a monogamous relationship, it doesn't make a lot of sense for your partner to be able to demand one on a whim, and in such a situation, where your partner can't handle it, the reasonable thing to do is recognize that you're no longer compatible and end things.

@94: That's totally cool that the veto makes you feel safe, and I have no problem with that. The original post made it sound like you were saying "THIS IS IMPORTANT FOR SAFETY IN GENERAL," like a safe word is, which I strongly disagree with (at least for me personally).

See, I would actually feel very unsafe in a relationship where I had the obligation to terminate existing sexual relationships if my partner asked. That seems incredibly controlling. While I understand the desire for security, the veto system wouldn't really give me that: not because I'm emotionally or spiritually advanced, but because I find security in different places.
Good for you, Dan, to print a letter that was such obvious horseshit (Two clits? Give me a break ...)

It's a great way to signal to the anonymous adolescent who wrote it 1) You are on to them 2) You know crap when you read it, and 3) You aren't impressed.

Hopefully, printing the occasional dumb-ass fake letter will serve as a deterrent to the other emotionally retarded types who seek to waste your time.