Savage Love



Dan is absolutely right about not making "unenforceable rules" with a teenager. That just makes them become stereotypically secretive. They keep doing what they want, and the parent looses the ability to give advice. A parent can be a prison guard or a councilor, not both.
I think NPNH and Dan are being a little hard on the boyfriend. He's not grabbing asses in front of grandma. He's doing it in front of the 25-year-old brother. He has no way to know that the brother is sexually uptight and overprotective. One might be expected to assume that of biological parents who are 25 years older, but not a brother who's only 10 years older.

Also, mentioning that the boyfriend's family has money and he drives a nice car obviously indicates that NPNH has more of a problem with entitlement in general than with the boyfriend's behavior.
NPNH-- As I was reading your letter, all I could think was that you need general parenting advice that could cover all sorts of issues from the sex talk to the gay sex talk to what to do when your brother comes home with a failing grade or refuses to do the dishes.

Start with the library and check out every book on bringing up teenagers there is. Then ask your doctor or the social worker that arranged for you to have custody if they know of a support group; I'm thinking of the equivalent of the group of young mothers who get together at the playground and chat while the pre-schoolers play on the swings.

Can you get involved in a parents' group at the highschool? I know this is asking a lot, but it might be easier in the long run if you had a supportive group of parents to talk to even if they have children your age.

Mostly though, I'm thinking about whether I really think your brother's boyfriend is a sleazeball. I'm doing my usual test of asking myself if my opinion would remain the same if I reversed the sexes and the orientations. What would I think if this was a boy with a BMW and a starry eyed 9th grade girl in love with him.

I'm not coming up with anything too terrible. It's not the boy's fault that his parents have money. It's pretty ordinary for an 18 year old to talk about money, to be impressed with himself, and to think about sex all the time. I'd look to things like how this guy treats my child. In addition to thinking "sex-object," is there any sign of kindness? Does any of that money get spent on doing enjoyable things that don't involve sex? I'm thinking of nice dates that young people might do together, things like movies, sports events, meals out. Do these two have anything in common?

One way to kill the relationship is to make the objectionable young man welcome in your home under circumstances for YOU to get to know him. Serve meals and insist that he eat at the table when it's all 3 of you. Talk to him in the evenings. Ask about his school work. Play ping pong with him. Treat him as you would treat any of your brother's friends. Hopefully that's with genuine interest for their well being.

And also-- What do you know about this boy's parents? Invite THEM over for a meal. Talk to them about boring stuff like their investments and country club. Given enough information, your brother may start making better relationship choices on his own.
LW1. I know that feel, but you gotta reign it in, take it from someone who knows.

LW2. Ughn... good luck getting through it.

LW3. Amen.
@2: "He has no way to know that the brother is sexually uptight and overprotective."

His brother is a parent, not a prude. To say his brother's boyfriend has some serious boundary issues (grabbing his ass and calling him fuckable IN FRONT OF HIS FAMILY? WTF?) is the most charitable way to characterize his behavior. Knowing when to rein it in isn't just a matter of propriety; in the case of gay kids, it can be a matter of survival, as fucked up as that is. Regardless, he doesn't want his kid dating an entitled asshole. What parent would?
BB-- Whenever I'm in that situation where I'm hearing more about sex than I care to hear, my usual line is "DETAILS" while holding my hands over my ears.

Alternately, you could start asking a series of questions about how nice the young lady is, how much they have in common, and whether your brother thinks she might be "the one." When he answers instead about how big her boobs are and how easy it was to get her in bed, you look sad and wistful and murmur "oh, I'm sorry to hear that."
I feel so bad for the 25 year old brother. I am also 25 and can't imagine suddenly being the guardian of a 15 year old. I actually agree with Dan's advice -- the relationship seems healthy but they need to cut the shit in front of you the same way a straight couple would be expected to. Your 15 year old brother probably loves the attention and I don't think it's unhealthy, but it IS inappropriate in front of you and that needs to change. You need to be respected as a parental authority and that isn't occurring.
@5: The 17-year-old BF is not being crude "in front of his family." He's being crude in front of a 25-year-old guy. Do you honestly think it's fair to call this kid an asshole because his family has money and he doesn't understand that the older brother feels like a parent to his younger brother?

It's also possible that the BF has picked up on the older brother's disapproval, assumed it was about the homosexuality, and is intentionally fucking with him.
I'm surprised that neither Dan nor the comments addressed the fact that NPNH's brother is also dealing with their parents' death. Teenagers can be self-destructive when they aren't handling their emotions well, which makes me more concerned about the relationship. I hope both brothers find a therapist who can help them adjust to such a major change in their lives (there is no way brother-turned-parent can be easy on either of them), in addition to their tremendous loss.
@8 He's being crude in front of his boyfriend's parent/guardian. His age has nothing to do with his role and a role the BF has no respect for. If this kid was a girl, a lot of people would be all about DTMFA. But, oh right... gay boy with another boy. It's somehow okay this for this asshole to behave as so?

And if he's doing it to "intentionally fuck" with the brother... all the more of a bigger red flag. Frankly, I agree the brother needs to back off on forbidding people to date and instead talk about what makes a healthy and safe relationship with his younger brother.

Make it clear he's concern that his brother is NOT being treated as an equal and cherished boyfriend. And the guardian should be preaching that his brother is a good guy who deserves to be treated with respect.

And worse comes to worse, he could have a word with the parents of little asshole. Let them know he needs to be respectful of his role as a parent and adult. Because apparently, they also might need to re-address their parenting as well.
Maybe New Parent should switch to a regimen of, "You know you deserve to be with someone who treats you right, right?"

Whether seventeen-year-old jerk grows out of being a jerk or fifteen-year-old doormat grows out of being a doormat, this situation is likely to end on its own. NP is right that the issue here is about his brother not losing his accomplishments, getting badly mistreated or getting his heart broken.
@8: His brother IS his family, not just a 25 year old guy. You keep the explicitly sexual stuff out of earshot of relatives, gay or straight. You respect your boyfriend and the house he grew up in. Otherwise, you will come off like a disrespectful, entitled prick who doesn't deserve them. I say all this as a very liberal gay man; the LW says all this as a parent.
A brother having to step into a parental role has the bad luck of not being able to wave a magic wand and erase 14+ years of brotherhood. One cannot just decree fraternal comradeship into filial respect. As far as age goes, the LW is in a similar position to that of a youngish stepparent, which would be my original hypothesis for the basis of the dubious boyfriend's treatment of him. I say this as an explanation, not an excuse (the reverse of Poirot's opinion of Mrs Mercado staring intently at Nurse Leatheran all through tea and deeming Nurse's judgement that Mrs M isn't a lady to be an excuse rather than an explanation). It seems plausible that the brother has yet to perfect the adjustment to treating his sibling as his guardian; expecting that of the brother's friends, while understandable, feels a bit of a push.

I shall pay Mr Rhone the compliment of believing that he'd be just as outraged (I have to recuse myself; I maintain a profanity-free household, and thus tend to file this under Sheep-Lamb) if this conduct were emanating from the brother's hypothetical GIRLfriend, but I am not prepared to extend that compliment to the LW. I feel sorry for the two brothers inn that their relationship has undergone an enforced change; perhaps they can put up with different roles for 2+ years and then resume being brothers (I'm not sure what the ideal is). But mainly I feel sorry for the younger brother, who has gone from having what appear to have been gay-positive parents to a gay-tolerant guardian (possibly gay-accepting if he's better than he comes across).

Ground rules for the boyfriend, certainly. As for his character, I find it equally plausible that the boyfriend is Veruco Salt in full flood, and that the boyfriend just reminds the LW of the more attractive suitor for whom his own HS GF dumped him. Cross-examination all round is called for.

If the columnist were anyone other than Mr Savage, I'd be inclined to wonder whether the remark about the authorities were genuine advice not to waste his time or a subtle attempt to put the idea into his head. Thankfully, Mr Savage would not wish even a genuine A* to suffer such a fate; if anything, it might be a partial bluff if the LW can just wait for birthday #18 and then cause trouble.

"I don't know what he's doing with a guy like that. My brother is smart, plays lots of sports, and is really involved at school. I'm afraid this loser is going to destroy all that." Oh, dear. This reminds me of those straight people who fear that relaxing their vigilant stances against any sort of recognition of non-straights as human beings will automatically lead to the recruitment and destruction of their little angels with mouths that couldn't melt butter.

[NB: I refrained from dropping the H bomb out of admiration for the style of Mr Savage's response.]

Now for [HA]:

This one's easy. Having ten years' advantage in practising the arts of seduction, the LW should have no trouble at all in diverting the attentions of a narcissistic boyfriend from a mere child to himself (much more of a catch). This can easily be done without even resorting to open flirtation, and even by people who have not studied the methods of Julius King. When the inevitable move is made, decline it with all possible show of virtue, and console little brother as best as possible, secure in the knowledge that that's one loser he won't be seeing again.
First off, I think Dan is dead wrong on the age difference being no big deal between the teenager with the 17 year old (good as 18) boyfriend. Washington has some hairy consent laws and he's right that they can't get into legal hot water, but if the younger brother is a new-minted 15 year old, that's nearly a three year stretch, and I'm sorry.... there's a big difference between the boys mentally/sexually and all that jazz. Not to be harsh here, but unless fifteen year old boys have changed a LOT since I was part of a roving herd of them -- smart about sex isn't really part of the picture. Without the risk of pregnancy, protection seems pointless. Even if they've had the 'put a helmet on your soldier' talk, I doubt there's a lot of remembering to do so. Helloooo, been there.... no one really worries about STDs, they worry about babies -- two boys can't make a baby. And, just to get anvilicious here -- patchy protection is basically no protection.

Secondly, the older brother doesn't strike me as uptight -- he knows trouble when he sees it, and the older boyfriend has trouble written ALL over him. While I agree with Dan's advice to not create rules that can't be enforced (and if the older bro is working a full time job, he can't enforce the younger brother not seeing this guy) I don't think his advice about getting to know the guy is all that good. See, the problem is, he can already see all the red flags, they aren't going to go away, not usually anyway.

I think that the older brother needs to sit his younger brother down and talk about all the red flags, what they mean, why it's an issue and ask the younger brother to imagine his older brother treating a girl the way his boyfriend treats him. In fact, if the younger brother has a best girl, force that into the picture -- if his older brother treated her that way, how would the younger brother feel. I think the younger brother is going to get skeeved out when he gets some objectivity on the issue.

Finally, I think probably that the younger brother is looking for validation, since losing your parents tends to be a huge loss of validation. Some solutions: join a gay straight alliance so he can be among friends and allies. Take him to go do fun stuff for him. I know, I know, some of it might be sitting through lame chick-flicks. Or shopping (ew). It might be hard to come up with the money, but if he's getting validation at home, he's probably not going to try to find it from Sleazeball the Scrub (or his many clones.)

Actaully, one more key thing -- I'd agree with Dan and other posters that this situation will probably end, but I'm worried your brother will have or already has something that will stick with him -- if he's unwilling to go in for testing or takes that mental excercise really poorly that says that he already knows something ain't right. In that case, it might be, however much of a pain it is, worthwhile to pick up and move far enough away to complicate efforts to date.
Mr. Ven @13:

I believe the older brother is a new parent under the worst circumstance possible. His less than subtle or productive methods of guidance have more to do with inexperience, role reversal and grief than prejudice. I simply don't hear homophobia in his response; I hear an understandable recoil at the boyfriend's lack of boundaries and respect. Is he currently handling it badly? Yes. But give him a break; he's barely an adult himself and he's been handed an enormous responsibility he couldn't have been prepared for.
@12 -- thank you, well stated.

"I told him to stop that behavior, and he just replied, 'Sorry, I can't keep my hands off such a hottie.'"

When I told my little sister's boyfriend (just about the right age gap too, actually) I didn't want to see them making out, he blushed and they stopped. This guy has been told "It makes me uncomfortable when you play grab-ass in front of me, cut it out" and the bf escalates things. It's not a good sign. Everything else is something that can be written off, which Dan did a good job of pointing out.
It sounds like the boyfriend is counting on NPNH's fear of appearing homophobic to see what he can get away with. He's playing some kind of fucked up game, and it's not cool - especially given what these two brothers just went through. Where's the sensitivity to the face that these guys just lost their parents?!
I don't know if this remark will be helpful to TBG or not, but it might be worth noting that I've never lived through any sort of sexual abuse, and I have from time to time throughout my life awakened from every sort of inappropriate sexual dream. That includes being turned on by father, brothers, mother, children, and violence. In each case, I awaken feeling turned on, still lost in the dream, still wishing the dream could be true, wondering if the dream could be true, and icked out all at the same time. As I come back to my right mind, the icky feeling becomes stronger at the same time as my knowledge that it was only a dream.

That's my way of saying that I agree with Dr. Cantor. A dream by itself doesn't necessarily mean anything. If lots of stuff is coming up in general as a reaction to stress and circumstances, there's a need to work through it.
As for the first letter, I would worry as the 25 year old brother that my concerns would come across as homophobic. Then I would realize that if someone grabbed my 15 year old sister's ass in front of me I'd punch him in the fucking mouth.
last bro is a chode. if he dealt it beforehand, he should smell it now. sounds like ”mature” = bitter that he's lost game. it happens to many people who get around in HS: burnout.
TBG should go and see an abuse therapist, both of them independently.

Such dreams are not to be disclosed to friends - not because the friends are straight and could misindentify that for gayness, but because it's not fair to heap abuse burden unto unsuspecting friends. They did not abuse you, you don't go hurting them by telling them what you're living. The dreaming brother has a good gut reaction.

As for knowing whether it's real or not : those dreams are what his brain thinks about, now. Whether it's remembered or dreaded stuff is hard to know, unless one knows the particulars of this family.

1 - Have the brothers just learned the father was a pedophile because he abused other children but was blameless and lustless towards them, so that the things they remember and feel bad about now, are his behavior towards other children, not towards them ?
2 - Or have they always known he was a pedophile, because they were victims of overt incest ?
3 - Or have they always felt something was off with him, without there being actual instances of identifyable sexual abuse, because he was lusting after them, which is covert but incestuous behaviour nonetheless, and also falls under childhood sexual abuse, because it ruins a child's life all the same ?

I don't know if case 1 exists in actual pedophiles. But if it does, then in case 1 it could be that the dreams had previously nothing to do with the pedophilia, and that they've been associated with pedophilia ever since the brothers learned of it, and now in the turmoil, they happen more often. In case 2, the dreams could be something that did happen, more or less in that form. In case 3, the dreams could be something that the child's mind felt as going on inside the parent's mind and feared would happen to his body.
@19 "still wishing the dream could be true" is maybe where the difference lies, in non-abused vs abused experience ?

In my own recurring nightmares (survivor here), the 'icky factor' is present throughout hellish dreaming and waking up - with no desire whatsoever that it could ever be true.

Does the dreaming brother wake up with "yay, delicious cock" on his mind, or with "huurgh, can't breathe, horrible cock" ? We don't know.

Feeling turned on is not a sign. It's a given with dreams about sex - it doesn't mean the dreamer is enjoying the dream.

Most times my dreams start off with stuff I did experience, and go from there into a lot worse, which I didn't experience, thankfully.

Such dreams cannot be eliminated, one has to live with knowing they'll never totally go away. But they're a lot easier to bear, once one stops fighting them and feeling guilty and dirty for having them, and once one has accepted that they can and will always come back.

I've decided to make peace with my brain, to allow my brain to dream on without chastising myself for it, and be to happy whenever it happens that "wow, that was a horrible experience I just had, thanks Brain for the ride, but good that it didn't really happen in reality". But I do consider their coming back as a warning bell from my brain, of there being danger or problems around, in real life..
Mr Rhone - Non-causation is not necessarily non-correlation. I'll agree that this reaction was entirely due to inappropriate behaviour. (I probably think it's more inappropriate than you do.) The conduct involved was sufficiently bad that no homophobia was required for the LW's response. I'm reasonably content with having placed the LW as gay-tolerant, with option to round to gay-accepting.

(side note - you've previously called yourself personally conservative, haven't you - or am I confusing you with somebody else?)

I think I'm giving everyone involved a bit of a break. If I'm a little inclined at the moment to think the BF isn't likely to be a good choice, it's more because the younger brother has chosen him at a time when his chooser is likely to be in less than sterling condition, not because of the case presented by the LW, which I'm sure you could cross-examine as well as I could if your client were on the other side. I give the LW a break over not having perfected a non-confrontational parental style. He did have this thrust upon him and he's not a natural at parenting. If he doesn't pick it up quickly, he could well make a fully equal share contribution to a possible train wreck. I give the YB a break by not expecting him to be able to make wise choices at a stressful time and by not expecting him to have made a seamless transition into responding to his brother the way he responded to his parents - or in whatever hybrid of the two relationships you'll find acceptable for people thrust into this unfortunate position. And I'll give the BF a break by being willing to accept the possibility that his treatment of LW is influenced by YB's treatment of LW, which quite understandably might well be far from perfect.

Going through the letter carefully, what do we have? YB got the Same-Sexer Sex Talk, which puts the (tragically) dead parents ten miles ahead of the vast majority of parents on the planet. YB has chosen a likely Veruco Salt for his BF. LW's case against BF boils down to "susceptible to environment", "spoiled by parents", general handsiness and one genuine incident of offensive conduct. Not a brother-turned-guardian's first choice - fine, and no homophobia required. But hardly the depraved monster who is going single-handedly to ruin LW's perfect little angel (or, if so, not because of the LW's case against him).

As for the incident itself: BF crossed a line, LW told him to stop, and BF made what seems like a dubious continuation bet in the World Series of Poker but not what the LW appears to be making of it. One or two posters appear to infer that LW explained himself to be uncomfortable or BF's conduct to be inappropriate, but those posters are assuming facts not in evidence. LW's own testimony is that he told BF to "stop that behaviour". And the only other evidence we have about LW's style in disagreements is his later testimony that "I laid down the law," which a far less skilled advocate than Phyllida Erskine Brown can argue effectively to be suggestive of a confrontational or at the very least heavy-handed style. Not a crime, not a necessary indicator of anti-gay attitudes, but not the best, and one can probably reach the standard of reasonable doubt for the line that LW's Cut That Out was delivered in a way that incited BF's continuation bet. Correlational less-than-gay-positivity might have been in the mix as well (and, to flip this, I can entirely accept that BF's conduct in the conflict, even if not deemed caused by bad character once circumstances be known, could still correlate with bad character quite easily).

I could easily believe that YB's level of maturity might not be what one would find desirable for a young same-sexer in a sexual relationship, but LW just tosses out an unsubstantiated (and general) cliche. It is a point in LW's favour that he acknowledges with reasonably clear eyes the lack of success in his laying down an unenforceable "law", and I entirely accept that he wants to do better (but, sorry, he only gets a stepping-up-as-guardian cookie; no second cookie for wanting to improve, but maybe if he delivers). Then comes the train wreck of the conclusion to that paragraph, and the hysterical beginning to the last paragraph - "I know that he can't continue to see this person".

I'll cut LW a break about feeling hysteria, though I'll ding the way he thinks for the stereotypical presentation of YB as the Picture of Perfection about to be Ruined by the Wicked Seducer. Perhaps we might adopt it as a general maxim that someone permanently brought down by someone as flimsy as BF couldn't have had the substantial character LW tries to imply for YB in the first place.

As a sort of corollary to Mr Savage's conclusion, I'll suggest that it could well be far better for YB to date a shallow materialist at a young age when the stakes are low and perhaps get beyond whatever it is that attracts him to them while he's still young enough to reap the lifelong benefit of seeing through that type. Also, LW's trying to come to an understanding with BF about co-existing even if they don't like each other seems much more likely to result in (if his intentions are bad) BF's opting for the next cutie.

Mr Savage seems to be picking up vibrations more than usual (editing?), and he picks up the Call (or Threaten BF With) the Police Vibration, as well as other vibrations that seem to coincide reasonably well with putting LW as not better than gay-tolerant. Mr Savage's greater-than-usual subtlety in his response I take as a tribute to what is good and noble in LW's conduct. I have, perhaps similarly, held back a bit about the less-than-gay-positive angle. YB will need a gay-positive influence in his life (ideally multiple such) more than most people after having and losing gay-positive parents, and that is much more my concern than whether LW gets one cookie or two. Maybe he can't make himself gay-positive in time to be effective in doing so, but he can see to it that YB has gay-positive influences available. It may be too late or perhaps their outlooks are too dissimilar for LW to be the person in whom YB can confide fully, but that's all the more reason for his getting YB the outside means for getting his needs met.
@sissoucat: I have always admired your ability to move beyond what sounds like a hellish childhood. Your careful and considered response @ 24, 25, to the lw whose newly deceased father has been (recently?) revealed to be a pedophile sounds good and will hopefully be helpful.
Vennominon, I'm sorry, but I just don't see it. It's common to the point of being a stereotype for fathers to feel protective of their daughters and highly dislike those daughters' boyfriends. NPNH may be his brother's sibling, but he's in a parental role now. And his brother may not be a girl, but his boyfriend sounds a lot like the kind of disrespectful asshole any father would dislike.

"Help, my kid's asshole boyfriend is going to ruin my kid's bright future!" is a time-honored complaint. I see nothing homophobic--or even merely "gay-tolerant"--about it. Exaggerating the boy's age, even, sounds exactly like how a father would think of any of his kids' almost-too-old boyfriends.

The boyfriend might not see the LW as a father figure in his boyfriend's life. That doesn't mean the LW doesn't take his own role seriously and genuinely expect to be treated like a father. In that context, the boyfriend is more than a little rude. And the LW's concerns, even if over-protective, are understandable. Not homophobic.
Allen @2 and @8: No, he's being as asshole, and the sexuality is irrelevant. Grabbing the ass in front of the brother25 and trash-talking is pure, arrogant, confrontational territoriality. It's a vivid assertion of (a) his "ownership" (if you will) of the boy and (b) rubbing the brother's nose in it that there's nothing he can do about it. The LW is right: he is being pig about it. And brother15 is accepting it, saying in effect to his brother, "yes, I'm his bitch", and to the bf, "yes, you may grossly disrespect my brother in front of me, nor need you show courtesy or respect to me".

The boyfriend deserves punches in the face until he learns some manners. Sadly, both in law and in fact he will get neither. And folks like you will pat him on the head and let your open-mindedness blind you to the fact that he's being a pig.
Just as a follow-up to @29:
I have started to feel over the years that as we have winnowed out what we can call low-level social violence (i.e. punch-ups between rough equals that don't hurt or kill anybody) we have also eliminated the sole restraint on rude pigs being ruder and ruder. (Let's not call it the Broken Windows Theory, call it the Broken Nose Theory.) Used to be that if you wanted to be a rude, pushy, inconsiderate jerkwad you could only do so with the implicit acceptance that sooner rather than later you might have to pay for that behaviour with an ass-whooping. Now? No disincentive. The cops can arrest somebody who puts you on your rude, entitled, disrespectful ass but

I'm not arguing for public ass-whoopings, but we have to accept as a fact that's a bit like foregoing spraying the crops: it may or may not be a net good ... but there's way more vermin than there were.
Okay, I f*ed up @30. The first paragraph should end thusly:

... but they can't arrest you for making people's lives grottier and more miserable than they were before, nor can they touch you for making society just a shittier than it was before you arrived, millimetre by millimetre.
sissoucat @24 and @25 provides reasoned counsel. I would add one, and only one thing: carefully research any abuse therapist before committing to them: google the crap out of them, research their name in legal dbases, read any papers that they've published. Dealing with a pedo parent is going to be enough of a painful, heavy burden without having some McMartin-style hack convincing them that they were abused when they weren't. The LW and siblings deserve the truth and a better life and healing, and I wish them the best of it.
@32: I would add asking any potential on an initial interview if he or she is familiar with the book "The Courage to Heal." If s/he says s/he uses it, or praises it, or recommends it, I would advise not working with that therapist.
All new parents go through this. They begin by thinking they can control their children, and since most new parents get infants, to a great extent they can. In time, however, parents learn that

a) They can't control everything, and
b) It's better anyway to teach children to make good decisions for themselves thus allowing the parents to cede control while still not needing to worry.

Meanwhile, teenagers tend to see everything in terms of control. They see their parents as wanting to control their every move without wondering why the parents are making the decisions they make. If they do think about the reasons behind the parents' decisions, they usually think along the lines of

a) My parents don't like me, or
b) My parents just want me to do what they would do, not what I want to do.

Unfortunately, that's too often the case with the parents of gay kids. Too often, the parents really are basing their decisions on what they'd like for themselves and not what's right for their children.

I'm a little forgiving of Asshole boyfriend because I see him as just a rebellious adolescent himself. I'm glad to give Older Brother a pass for past bad decisions because I see him as a new parent. Also, at 25, he's not too far away from being an adolescent who sees the world in terms of control himself. He may be old enough to have an infant, but he's also old enough to still be arguing with and rebelling against his parents-- if they hadn't been killed when they were.

I see 3 adolescents here all rebelling and trying to take control of their young lives as appropriate. I see everyone as inexperienced in their roles. I see it most with Older Brother because he's the one stepping into the role most different from the one he previously played. This is why I suggested that he read up on parenting and meet other parents. He has the most catching up to do.
Since almost everyone is talking about the first two letters, I'll address the third. I think the older brother needs to calm down a bit. He admits he talked a lot about his "triumphs" when they were in high school, but I don't think he realizes how much of an effect this had on his brother.

I was a late bloomer, never even dated in high school, and believe me, it sucks hearing about all the fun other people are having. It would suck even worse to be hearing it from an older brother, someone you look up to as a role model. Odds are the younger brother felt like he was failing as a man, since his cool older brother was telling him about all the sex that he could have been having if he was just a little cooler and more confident.

So yeah, maybe the present oversharing sucks. But it sounds like the behavior is being informed by the history the brothers share. So LW needs to chill out a bit and try to understand that there are probably deeper issues being worked out on his brother's side.
@27 Thanks for your kindness...

It feels a bit strange that anyone would admire little me for anything, but thanks for mentionning it all the same. Have a great day.
@34: If we are to define a twenty-five year old man entrusted with custody of his brother as an "adolescent" then that presents two problems:

First, (and micro) it insults the living crap out of the LW. And what "mistakes" has he made? I can't see any. Not wanting your 15 year old brother to be dating a shit like this speaks to his good sense, even if his ban was a tad unsound.

Second, (and macro) it is a good example of something I have noticed over the past few decades: the age at which we consider people to be "adults" (and thus can be held to adult responsibilities or given adult rights, either legally or socially) seems to be heading ever upward, unless it's necessary to give it to somebody in the neck. When does he get to be a man in your eyes? 32? 40? 79 and a half? That sort of increasingly accepted moving goalpost shit is one of the things infantilizing adults and thus allowing people to waive off treating them as they deserve. It's also paradoxical. If we're going to (say) impose child support on a fifteen year old on the receiving end of a statutory rape or send juveniles to jail for life then it seems damned odd to tell a 25 year old man who has custody of his brother that he should just shut the fuck up because he's just a kid.
@35: "I was a late bloomer, never even dated in high school, and believe me, it sucks hearing about all the fun other people are having. It would suck even worse to be hearing it from an older brother, someone you look up to as a role model. Odds are the younger brother felt like he was failing as a man, since his cool older brother was telling him about all the sex that he could have been having if he was just a little cooler and more confident." This. Teenagers really don't need any help in thinking "you should be better ... there's something wrong with you" ... most of them are there naturally.
@36 (sissoucat): From what I remember of your story, you were horribly abused as a child, yet you appear to be a loving mother. You also, if I recall correctly, had an unhappy marriage (I think with a man who was emotionally and verbally abusive, but I could be mis-remembering), yet you extricated yourself and your children from it and have gone on to live your life, in terms of relationships and sexual entanglements, on your terms, to your satisfaction. I find all that admirable.
Sounds to me like #1 is dealing with a lot. Instead of the discussion being about whether this guy is appropriate for the younger brother or whether the LW did the right thing as a parent, perhaps the question, or part of it, should be 'what role does the LW want to have in his brother's life?'

He's an older brother, so he's already in a position where he's able to give advice, be a sounding board. Does he really need to be a parent as well? Maybe the LW needs to approach his brother and say something like 'okay, you're not responding to me, we're not talking anymore, what's happened, what do you need from me?' and they decide what kind of relationship they have. The death of a parent does not mean someone else has to step in as a parent, or that that will be accepted. Maybe what's happened here is the the younger brother is reacting to the LW's sudden use of authority, and adjusting his behaviour accordingly. Maybe he feels like he's lost his older brother, whom he's spent his entire life looking up to or being compared against, as well as his parents. Of course that's going to make him vulnerable, whether the boyfriend is a predator/immature/bad match or not.

In short: LW, fix your relationship with your brother first, then worry about who he's dating.
LW2 - straight guy here. Once in a blue moon I've had dreams that could be described as homoerotic as well as sexual dreams with women I wouldn't otherwise find attractive or available.

I've chalked it up to the brain free-associating and processing ideas without our regular filters. I'm sure most people have some similar experiences.

If you're not interested sexually in men's bodies when awake then you're not gay.
kallibean's advice @40 is kindly meant and seems sensible. But do you notice how @40 and @34 fit together? The older, responsible adult is the one characterized as just another adolescent, and the 15 year old with terrible taste in boyfriends is, in effect, in the driver's seat.

Look, there's a reason we don't let 15 year olds vote and why it's both illegal (with some exceptions) and immoral to have sex with them: because your average fifteen year old doesn't know shit and has terrible judgment. It's one of the reasons that the therapy culture can drive such huge wedges into families: because the views of a 15 year old kid are treated as every bit as reasoned and worthy (and sometimes more valuable and important) than the adult, and the adults are sent running in circles in service to immature judgment.

That said, I'm not dissing kallibean. In the context, it's sound advice. In context ... but the context is fucked up, isn't it? The 15 year old kid and the sneering fucker bf are able to do whatever they want and the adult who's trying to do the best for his family can do exactly jack shit except ask the kid how he feels and hope that something works out.
I guess part of what I'm trying to say with that last post is a bit meta:
Every single just social contract rests on reciprocity: authority, responsibility and rights must be in reasonable balance. (That was always one of the most compelling, inarguable truths of the gay rights movement: they had complete social responsibilities but far fewer social rights and that was manifestly unjust.) The LW has responsibility, but zero rights or authority. Sorry, but no society can survive that sort of nonsense. No family or society can survive leaving 15 year olds in charge of what's right and sensible.
37Seeker-- The only mistake on NPNH's part that I was referring to was forbidding his brother from seeing the boyfriend. A better plan would have been talking together about the relationship, maturity, and what would constitute sensible limits.

40kallibean-- Does NPNH really need to be a parent as well? YES! This poor kid's parents died. He needs someone to step into that role. Perhaps if you think of parents as people who only order their children around, punish, and judge, then the boy doesn't need that, but if you think of parents as offering loving guidance and protection, yes, a 15 year old needs plenty.
I've read everything above and I stand by my position. We've heard only the older brother's version of things. He's the 25-year-old brother, not the family nor the parents.

The boyfriend's motive may be to torment what he sees as an anti-gay bigot authoritarian with little justification to be so sure he knows better. (Probably a mistake, but an understandable one.)

Both brothers have lost their parents, so that doesn't demand extra consideration for one brother over the other. Some of you are quick to sympathize with the difficulties of the older brother with his new responsibility, but what about the 15-year-old who suddenly finds himself under the legal authority of his brother?

And anybody who would punch their sister's boyfriend for playfully grabbing her ass in front of him... well, I think we've found the true asshole.
@45: First, brother25 is brother15's legal guardian: the legal term is in loco parentis, which means standing in the place of a parent, with all of the attendant responsibilities.

Second, I think that you're playing a get-out-of-decency free card for the BF based solely on his sexuality. Brother15 is gay, ergo his choice of boyfriend is sound, ergo the BF is good for him, ergo the BF's douchebag territoriality, discourtesy and disrespect are all a noble struggle against homophobia (cue heroic music), ergo brother25's dislike of the jerkwad with no manners is, in fact, nasty homophobia and all his other concerns are of no consequence because, hey, he's bad (cue music from Deliverance).

You're basically arguing that this douchebag should have a free and uninterrupted fuck-run at a fifteen year old who just lost his parents while he and his brother try and figure out their new and fragile relationship during that period of grief and difficult adjustment. That's not noble, AG, that's peeling out a weak and vulnerable member of the herd and running interference on the one moving to protect him. That has exactly fuck all to do with gay or straight, and a lot to do with self-centered lust that verges on predatory. If you think that a young man's being able to fuck an emotionally vulnerable boy under the age of consent is more important than that boy's family who cares about him, however imperfectly handled, then you are seriously, seriously fucked up and beneath contempt.

Start with having your brother, and possibly the boyfriend, read this thread.

Dating assholes and being burned by them is how one learns not to date assholes, generally. (Some people never learn, though).

Dan was right. Brother should not have laid down an unenforceable ultimatum. He should have offered caution, sensible advice, and encouragement to develop and heed appropriate boundaries.
@47: Sound advice. Brother15 needs to know that Brother25 cares about him and why he's worried. There's a world of difference between "I disapprove of your sexuality" and "your BF is a jerk who's using you".

Brother15: I think that your brother is the latter, but I'd bet good money that your BF is doing his damnedest to sell you on the former. Why? Because if you buy that then he gets to fuck you: it's that simple. If you listen to your brother's concerns then he doesn't get to fuck you, so naturally he's going to try and convince you of whatever he needs to in order to peel you away from your brother. And listening to some variant of Allen Gilliam's "oh, he's not `family'" [@8] or dismissing his new responsibilities with what is, in effect "he's not your real dad so you don't have to listen!" are both tools to that end.

Look, your brother becoming your de facto "dad" is tremendously difficult and you have my sympathy and best wishes, along with, no doubt, pretty much everybody on this thread. Well, almost everybody.
oh, and brother15, one other thing, if I may (and if you're reading this). Have you ever heard the Latin phrase cui bono? It means "who benefits?", and, in a wider sense, "who gets what out of what is happening?"

What does your BF get? Unrestricted access to a 15 year old emotionally vulnerable "hottie" who he can fuck without interference. What does your brother get? More responsibility and possibly more conflict with you as he tries to do the right thing. Who do YOU think gives a shit about you and who do you think is serving their own ends? And if any of this goes south or gets ugly, who do you think will be there for you?
"Dating assholes and being burned by them is how one learns not to date assholes, generally."

Generally. And brother15 is entitled to that. He's also entitled to do it at a less vulnerable time, and without the asshole driving a wedge between him and the one family member that he's got left.

Tell your brother that you really are in TMI range about his sexual exploits, and if you were as obnoxious in detailing your own exploits then you apologize.


Perhaps some familial counseling may also be in order. Perhaps you and your brother, and separately your brother and his spouse.

"Dating assholes and being burned by them is how one learns not to date assholes, generally." Oh, that, but listening to people around you who are better at asshole-spotting is an even better way. Problem is, most of us (myself included and especially) suck at that for those formative years. ;)

It's one of the reasons why I have such a soft spot for brother15, Alanmt, and and such a distaste for the BF: went through a variant of this myself once, and would have saved myself a lot of grief if I had listened to the folks who cared about me rather than the sexual partner with a selfish agenda. Same sort of dynamic, too, just in a het rather than gay context: I saw the accurate criticisms of the sex partner as a criticism of my sexuality and my right to it and the rightness of it rather than being clear-eyed about the Whom of it all.
@46: I'm only "beneath contempt" if you make a huge set of unjustified assumptions which you seem to be doing.

@49: You're very talented at putting words into people's mouths. You should look into a career at Fox News.

@50: It's a mistake to assume that family is always on your side. Sometimes family is selfish, judgmental, ignorant, or on a power trip.
@54 - Really? I would have thought it was a mistake to assume noble motives in someone who wants to fuck an underage boy when that boy is still mourning the death of his parents.

Hey, maybe I'm wrong. But if I'm wrong the lad loses out on one sexual partner. If you're wrong then you've let the wolf in the fold.

And, no, I'm not making assumptions. As with every other poster in every other thread, ever, I am going with what the LW says unless there's a reason to doubt. And I'm going with over twenty years professional experience in shitbags and liars and families good and bad and that experience is lighting up my warning panel like a fucking christmas tree.

Look, take a moment from handing condoms and best wishes to the boyfriend and use your loaf for one minute. You think that the LW is homophobic. How likely is that when the LW chose to seek out for advice one of the best known gay men in North America, a man who got famous by advocating for the widest possible sexual freedom? Seriously, Allen, use your fucking head. You're the one making the assumptions here, and in the face of the obvious.
Agreed, seeker. One of my concerns is that brother25's rigid stance has made it less likely that brother25 will listen to him and that as a result brother25's valid criticisms will be less likely to sink in.

I saw an example of how this can go wrong recently. A naïve young lady of 19 fell in love with a guy just as he was moving to another city. They had dated for only three weeks before he moved and she then made plans to move there to be with him a couple of months in the future. Those friends who pointed out that she was perhaps being impetuous and that he wasn't behaving as a typical boyfriend would after he moved were defriended and attacked as doubting her ability to make adult decisions and not believing in her. The friends who could see the trainwreck coming but said nothing were declared by her to be her true friends, for being supportive. And when the guy broke up with her the day before she was to move, she was devastated, although no one else was surprised. Sadly though, she never apologized or admitted that the friends who tried to warn her were right. Instead, she preemptively announced that anyone who said "I told you" so was being a jerk and she didn't need that negativity in her life. Maybe, in part, because her mom supported her skewed view. Funny. The people who warned her she was walking off a cliff were reviled. The ones who knew and said nothing and then rushed to console her after she hit the bottom, crushed, were treated like saints.

"@50: It's a mistake to assume that family is always on your side. Sometimes family is selfish, judgmental, ignorant, or on a power trip"...

And the possibility that the BF isn't being selfish, judgmental, ignorant, or on a power trip is greater, given the LW's experience??? In my experience the way a potential lover treats your family is a good test for how they'll deal with you. If your family wasn't supportive of you, sorry. But don't assume that the LW is the same.

"One of my concerns is that brother25's rigid stance has made it less likely that brother25 will listen to him and that as a result brother25's valid criticisms will be less likely to sink in." On that we are in full agreement. One of the pardoxes in dealing with a teenager is that when we most clearly see a pit opening up in front of them we are at our most assertive in trying to yell them away from it, and that assertiveness just causes them to speed up rather than listen. It isn't helped by the fact that the pop- and meta-cultures for the most part encourage teenagers to believe that their parents (or elders in general) are complete idiots who will be proven wrong in the end.
@54: "I'm only "beneath contempt" if you make a huge set of unjustified assumptions which you seem to be doing"

This is certainly the pot calling the kettle black. You are making up an entire narrative for the BF that you have absolutely no justification for, and expecting everyone to accept it as fact.

True, we don't have the BF's side of the story. That doesn't mean you get to make it up. Some people are making judgments based on what we've been told. You are making them based on what you want to be true. Could the LW being giving false info? Sure, but unless you can show some evidence that that is the case, why should anyone assume it? I found nothing in the letter that threw up red flags that he might be lying or that he was homophobic about his brother. If you did, please point it out. Otherwise your assumption that families don't always have one's best interests at heart is a much bigger assumption than anyone else has made.
Maybe, in part, because her mom supported her skewed view. Funny. The people who warned her she was walking off a cliff were reviled. The ones who knew and said nothing and then rushed to console her after she hit the bottom, crushed, were treated like saints.
That's fairly common to the parental alienation cases that I've seen, Alanmt. Such conduct reinforces the bond between the enablers and the child, and the parent who tries to help is portrayed as uncaring of their feelings or pushy or demanding. It's a very effective technique, and it is very frequently reinforced by therapists because they tend to over-value the parent who listens, consoles and talks, and under-value the parent who points out a binary choice set or wants linear thinking or direct problem-solving. It's one of the reasons that men tend to fare so badly at the hands of marital or family therapists or court-appointed assessors. Put bluntly, if the issue is whether the tub is too hot or not therapists love the folks who talk about how hot the tub should be and how it feels, and hate those who say, "either get in or out of the tub" or "hey, maybe you'd be happier in the shower".
"This is certainly the pot calling the kettle black. ..."

I know I'm biased procrastibator (heh, great name) but to me it felt like the iron pot calling the chrome kettle black: I at least tried to stick with what the LW told us.
Mr. Ven @26:

You're thinking of someone else; I am far from personally conservative (I just haven't done varsity-level BDSM, as we covered last week). I'm giving the younger brother a break as well, seeing as how trauma and puberty can be an emotionally crippling combination (I know from experience) and the need to escape the pain in someone else (not to mention the hormones) can be all-consuming. But, aside from youth, the boyfriend has no such excuse. As for the older brother, I'll just refer you back to @15.

@54: While I'm certainly familiar with selfish, judgmental, ignorant and power-tripping family members, the LW simply does not seem like one to me. He's seems like a caring brother who's been overwhelmed with grief and responsibility and is trying to navigate his new role the best he can. I doubt he would be writing in to Dan for advice about his little brother if his reticence w/r/t the boyfriend was motivated by prejudice.

@55: I'm not assuming noble motives in anyone. And now he's a "wolf in the fold" who's fucking an "under age boy"? You're making it sound like the guy's 45! We're talking about a 15-year-old dating a 17-year-old. We don't even know they're having sex! You've twisted this thing into a fantasy that supports your preconceived notions.

And as for why he wrote to Dan, he may have simply wanted ammunition to use against his brother: "Look, this well-known gay guy agrees with me." It doesn't mean he's cool with his little brother liking cock. More assumptions on your part.
@57: Which possibility is greater is a judgement call. I never said the boyfriend was a great guy. But others have (without doubt or qualification) called him an asshole, douche bag, indecent, and bordering on predatory. All I've done is argue the possibilities on the other side.

I'd put my money on the boyfriend being a typical 17-year-old and the older brother being overly authoritarian and not as comfortable with his brother's sexuality as he implies.
@62: I was responding to a comment, not the letter.
I found it interesting that NPNH described his little brother's boyfriend as an, "entitled, narcissistic LA type,(who) drives a BMW paid for by his rich parents." Substitute, "Texas redneck," for, "LA type," and you could have a chunk of my high school described (then there was the faction that drove pickup trucks.) NPNH clearly doesn't like the guy and the his behavior doesn't make matters better.

As far as the immediate issue, NPNH uck fuped when he told his little brother he couldn't date the guy. Of course the little brother is doing it behind NPNH's back and now is more likely to do something stupid than if NPNH took the approach of voicing his concerns and letting nature take its course. I agree with Dan that this is an issue that just might solve itself by the first half of the boyfriend's freshman year away at college via the younger brother being Turkey Dropped if not sooner. NPNH now (and counseling would help here) needs to figure out how to effectively be there for the little brother when that happens (along with the resentment by the little brother of NPNH for prior actions that led up to that point.)

Now, the bigger issue. NPNH and his little brother probably could use some help in navigating the waters of NPNH being both the big brother and the guardian of the little brother. I wish them success in that endeavor.
I'd give the boyfriend the benefit of the doubt because the guy is his boyfriend's brother. Yeah, I know, he's family, he's a legal guardian, a parent, etc. But my best friend used to talk about sex around my dad whenever he came over til I told him to cut it out, and it's not because he's at all disrespectful. It's because he speaks to his dad about those things and he made the assumption I did too. He's 19, like me. Is that stupid? Yes. But it happens.
@66, I was trying to keep it brief and thought it would be obvious, but since you didn't seem to get it let me clarity. I would tell the bf to knock off the ass grabbing, it's innapropriate. If his response was "I can't help it", I would tell him that I couldn't help but punch him in the head. Hopefully that would make it clear what the boundaries are, but I'm not actually going to assualt someone.

And just curious, you really would let someone treat your fifteen year old sister like that?
NPNH, you are not a parent, but a guardian. Play to your strengths, be an older brother, not a parent. Be supportive w/ loads of advice, and set only the rules required so lil' bro doesn't end up dead or in a hospital.

Tell him straight up you think his bf is a major douchebag & that he can do better. Describe to him what cool bfs do, like respecting boundaries, treating him as a person in front of his family, instead of an underage sex doll. Tell him you know he's still seeing him, so it doesn't matter what you say & call the 'dump him' rule off. His sex life is his sex life. But be clear about the boundaries in your home. Any and all of bro's bfs will act respectful and treat everyone present like humans.

And even tho your parents had "the talk," don't assume it covered everything. Always insist on condoms (offer to keep him supplied if necessary). Most of all, teach him self-respect by respecting him.
Ms Chimera - That ding wasn't related to sexuality. Any parent, guardian or semi-authority figure who plays the MY kid/sibling is so pure/perfect/innocent/immaculately conceived Card gets dinged for Hand Overplaying. Yes, parents and parental figures understandably don't want their little darlings dating Bad Influences (I could include a reference to JEM, but I won't), but half(?) the time a Bad Influence is anyone who isn't [insert parental definition of the ideal child-in-law]. (Now I'll probably spend hours trying to calculate the exact proportion.)

I am content to go with the same less-than-gay-positive aspects pointed out by Mr Savage.

I'd give the LW a favourable adjustment if there were more evidence before us supporting such. We have no context provided about how LW handled YB's sexuality and reacted to his boyfriends before he had to be YB's guardian.
@3, a 25-year-old is not going to read every book on parenting there is. Neither will most 35-year-olds who CHOSE to be parents. He needs help, for sure, though. It would be great for both the boys to go to a good therapist together, an impartial referee who could help them set up some ground rules.
I really don't think this big brother is doing so badly. He sounds like he cares tremendously, and he's right, the senior is an asshole. He just came down a little too hard, like many of us do, because he can't stand to see his brother get used. Thank God the kid has his big bro on his side.
NPNH, just call a do-over. Promise him you won't ban the asshole if little bro promises to keep talking to you.
Mr Rhone - I wonder who the "politically liberal/personally conservative" person is, then. Oh, dear.

I have enough fellow feeling for LW, who has to do a good deal more than I did for my sisters, and he's a good deal better than my parents - not that that would be so hard - but I don't really look much farther or prioritize much other than YB getting what he needs. I'll even respect LW if he comes to an understanding of what he can't provide and gets it for YB elsewhere.
@69: If you go back and read the letter, and you substitute a girl, it does change the dynamic a little. Men are more protective of females in our culture.

I'd want to be sure my sister knew about safe sex. I'd think the kid was a little too demonstrative. I might suggest to her that some people might interpret his behavior as disrespectful to her rather than complimentary or playful, and she may want to tell him to tone it down when they're around others.

But I certainly wouldn't forbid her to see him, or call him a "fucking sleazeball" and an "asshole." Remember this is her chosen boyfriend, not some stranger on the street.

How you react to his behavior is very culturally dependent. Seeing it as disrespectful seems to require a significantly sex-negative attitude.
We have this one friend who likes to overshare about his sex life. We are/consort with a lot of kinky, poly queermos and sex workers, very sexually open people as you can imagine, and so we're all quite comfortable having explicit discussions about sex. But this guy still manages to do it in a way that is pointless and makes everyone uncomfortable.

One day recently my wife said to him, "Why did you tell me that? Listen, I'm going to give you some advice: next time you feel compelled to volunteer details of your sex life, ask yourself two questions: Is it gross, and is it funny? If it's not gross or it's not funny, there's no entertainment value and no reason for you to share that with people."

I hope he takes it to heart. (And yes, he def falls into the not getting laid very often category.)
Dan has often said that parents of gay sons need to approach their dating the same way parents of girls do. I think that older brothers of younger gay guys also should approach their brothers boyfriends the same way older brothers of girls do.

If some 17 year old grabbed my younger sisters ass in front of me and called her fuckable in front of me I would have laid him out before he knew what hit him.

If my younger brother were gay and had a boyfriend who did it I'd do the same thing.

Parent or brother, you don't talk to someone in front of their family that way. It is inherently inappropriate.
Mr Hunter - That doesn't tell us anything about the pre-mortem interactions between LW, YB and any BFs YB might have had. We can't say whether or not LW was fine with YB's being gay, reacted badly, or where he was in between. We have no clue how LW treated YB's boyfriends as a brother. Maybe he always found some reason to object to them and this time he just happens to have a perfectly legitimate objection. Maybe this is YB's first boyfriend he's disliked.

(My personal experience of the wealthy suggests that there's a strong chance Age might not necessarily inspire sufficient respect to overcome the tendency of the wealthy young to treat those financially less well off as The Help. The experience of others may well differ; this is not my Hill of Death.)
@77 -- I'd thought of that too. His advice here seems off from that stance, doesn't it?
Dan's comment to Brotherly boundaries about the difference between talking about pussy and getting pussy applies to numerous other areas of life. In general if you're doin' something like sex or drugs or making a lot of money, you don't need to talk about it. If you're talkin' 'bout it, you're probably not doing it.
@portland scribe

"a 25-year-old is not going to read every book on parenting there is. Neither will most 35-year-olds who CHOSE to be parents."

I'm under 25 and have read multiple parenting books as well as more articles than you could shake a stick at. I read my first one when I was probably about 8.

Don't be assumin'.
@82 mydriasis,

I think he was inferring 25-35 year old males, but, of course, you have a point.

@77, Agreed. My experience with guys that grab asses and talk about fuckability in front of parents (or in this case brother's) are the same type that commit sexual assault.

NPNH: Since forbidding the relationship will not work, sit your brother down and have a few more "the talks" with him, this time on healthy relationships:

Consent - I know that it is scary thinking about it, but making sure that your brother is solid on his right to with-hold consent.

Science of relationships - A few articles were just published describing how oxytocin (the hormone) is related to women staying in abusive relationships. SLOG had a post but I cannot find it, so here is another one.…
Granted, the article states that estrogen amplifies the effect, but since hormones run stronger during teen years, the principle may be the same: assholish/abusive behavior creates an oxytocin high, confused as love, and abuse continues.
NPNH: I am so sorry to hear of the loss of both your parents.
My condolences to you and your brother.
@39 nocutename You do remember well, I'm very humbled that you would have paid such attention to my various rants over the years... Thanks for your encouragements.

NPNH : very good advice has been given to you so far. I think a conversation with your brother is in order, along the lines of :

"I'm deeply sorry I overreacted in forbidding you to see your boyfriend, that was so stupid, please forgive me about it. We're in less than ideal circumstances and I feel very protective of you, otherwise I wouldn't have said such stuff. That was me treating you like a 10-year-old, sorry about that. I do trust you to make good choices in boyfriends, or to learn to make them, eventually. You know I think this one is not a keeper, but you're only 15, so enjoy the experience, and know that I'm here for you, on your side, whatever happens. I just want you to promise me you'll have safe sex, and to promise you'll call me, for me to take you home, no questions asked, if you feel unsafe at any point, with this guy or with any others."

The goal is to restore the relationship between you two brothers. Your child brother must know he has your back, and he can go to you without fear in case of trouble, because trouble is heading his way and you're now his only help. Asking for his forgiveness is very important too : showing that you're vulnerable, that you're ready to admit you can make mistakes, and that you're not afraid of assuming a humble position in front of him, will restore his belief in you as a valid caretaker, and in himself as someone worthy of being well treated - and that is your fight, right ?
@77 I agree with the feelings, not with the means. Physical violence never solved much, and makes a martyr out of the recipient - you don't want your loved one to rush to Baby Abuser's rescue, do you ?

If anybody was behaving that way towards one of my children in front of me, supposing I could recover fast from the shock of seeing my child disrespected, I would say to my child "Er, darling, is it usual for him to treat you that bad, and to blame you for it ? I have litterature about abusive people somewhere, I think you're gonna need it."
Hit publish too soon, darn.

[...] I would say to my child right in front of the punk [...]
BB needs to suck it up. He had his turn flaunting his conquests in his brother's face; just because his brother is a bit older than he was at the time doesn't negate Bro's right to payback.
Vennominion- your points are always well thought out but your style is overly ornate bordering on pompous bordering on insane.
"I agree with the feelings, not with the means. Physical violence never solved much, and makes a martyr out of the recipient - you don't want your loved one to rush to Baby Abuser's rescue, do you ?"

I have two brothers and five sisters. There have been a couple of beatings laid down during my younger years on guys who didn't know how to treat my sisters.

These days I wouldn't resort to violence, but at the time it WAS quite effective.

Actually it probably saved one life. My oldest sister's boyfriend hit her. My brothers and I gave him a good lesson on how not to treat people. When our father found out he was so mad that I am convinced he was going to go kill the kid, until he found out me and my brothers already took care of it. He calmed down enough to just threaten the guy to stay away. And trust me, people didn't take my father lightly. He was a Harley riding, tattooed, 6'4" bearded mountain of a man. He could put the fear of God in anyone.
@91 Oh, allright, I can live with a brother beating on his sister's beater :-)
Mr Fortunate - As sometimes only violence stops violence, I shan't say you didn't do the right thing. Still, I congratulate you for not becoming after the fact the sort of person who thinks everything he dislikes deserves a fist. The power of exercising private judgement can be intoxicating; I may have no worries for the recipient, but I've seen people who escalate after solving problems that way.
Fortunate-- I have to ask. Did the guy who hit your sister give any indication that he was the kind of guy to hit girlfriends before he actually hit her?

Was your sister ready to stay with the guy who'd hit her such that the only thing that broke them up was your father's threat and warning him to stay away?

I'll bet you can tell where my questions are going. I do think that if there were ever a justification for violence, you've provided a good example, but for me to truly be behind what you and your brothers did, I'd want to see evidence that your sister became such a good judge of character that she was able to avoid people who would hit her in the future.

And thus demonstrating a learning curve away from being naive. Expecting only compliance from a 15 year old, in the face of "experience", is brother25's concern. I hope when (if??) brother15 reads this it can reestablish the younger's faith that the older is doing his best to act out of prudence.

@94 - Sorry, I'm not looking for your approval. And to base your judgement of what my brothers and I did on my sister's ability to judge character makes no sense. She made her decisions and we made ours.

Personally I'm pleased with how my sister turned out. I admire her a lot. But I don't really care what anyone else thinks of her, and your opinions on the matter have no bearing on a brother's decisions regarding his siblings.
Being a younger sister myself, I really dislike that you and your brothers did this- unless your sister asked for your help.

Older brothers resolving younger sisters' problems with physical violence perpetuates in my opinion the infantilisation of women.

I am NOT against family members helping each other out. But the one helped should have a say in if they want that help.

@Crinoline: You make a good point.
@98 I assumed Fortunate's sister did complain of having been hit, otherwise her brothers wouldn't have known what happened. Telling about having suffered physical violence to a sibling equates consent for the sibling to "help" about it, in my mind.

Now if they had not been told of the violence by the sister, that's a bit more tricky. But solidarity inside a family should not be put down to any infantilization of females. The sister probably didn't have the physical strength to beat on him ; it could also have been a gang of older sisters with good fighting abilities, who had done the beating up.

Besides, some women really yearn to be infantilized. My own mother regrets that her brothers didn't beat on her husband. She never did ask them to, and she never complained much to them about him, but in her opinion, had they been good brothers, they would have hit him without waiting for her to ask them.

Had she openly asked them, they wouldn't have hit him anyways - there is absolutely no solidarity to be expected from one and the other is pretty non-violent. But she never took the step of asking for what she wanted (she's a christian and they're atheists, so maybe that was part of her reluctance).
I disagree: if I am venting to my brother or my sisters about something that certainly does not mean I want them to fix it for me.

If my sister complains about her husband to me (pretty minor stuff) I am not going to him to fix it for her- unless she'd ask me for my help. But I do give her advice what she should do in my opinion.
To those who think Mr Savage was too mild in his response, I shall guess that a physical response to the situation presented in this letter is the sort of conduct that might be the subject of one of his rants about S-shaming.

It evokes a time when young women were supposed to become Virgin Brides. If a young woman succumbed to the attentions of a vile seducer who was then beaten up by her father or older brother, how were the participants seen? The pugilist was lauded for defending what was seen as essentially his property, the seducer was perhaps taken down a peg or two, but the bulk of the shame attached to any young woman admitting overtly or covertly to enjoying it.

[Example: Widow's Peak when Maddy O'Hare eavesdrops on a confession. What scandalizes the priest? Not coerced adultery {am I recalling correctly?}; not the number of times the woman admits it happened; not that it was her sister's husband; but that her answer to the question, "Did ye take pleasure in it?" is, "I didn't mind."]

This is also where I think there may be a difference in OS vs SS relationships. Frightening off an undesirable suitor may remain approximately the same. But in an opposite-sex relationship there was the long-term assumption that the woman would, even if not immediately, regard a beaten-up suitor as Less of a Man and Incapable of Protecting (and Providing For) Her. This may be down to remnants of what it once was, but remnants linger. In the case of LW and YB, it takes a rather heterocentric view of SS relationships to expect that YB would have the classic reaction to a beaten-up BF.
@100 migration,

Just to be clear: If your SO is hitting you, it is your business and your sibs have no buiness intervening unless you ask them to?

94-96-- I'm drawing the comparison back to the original letter. Let's imagine that NPNH actually were in a position to forbid his younger brother from seeing Asshole. Imagine that he had the wherewithal to break the guys up and he did so because he, NPNH, looked Asshole over and decided he was no good for Younger Brother.

What happens? A few years go by, and YB grows up, gains independence, and is now able to choose boyfriends and life partners for himself. But he still has no ability to recognize assholes or to know how he should be treated in a relationship. All he knows how to do is how to get into a bad situation and then, if he's lucky, come back to NPNH to extricate him.

Granted the two situations are not exactly parallel. The biggest difference is that it is not always possible to distinguish which boyfriend will turn out to be someone who hits women any more than it's possible to distinguish which stranger on a busy street is a mugger. That's why I asked if the guy who hit your sister give any indication that he was the kind of guy to hit girlfriends before he actually did it.

(I agree that you don't need my approval to do what you did.)
@102/ Married:
It depends what you consider "intervening".

My siblings should intervene by trying to get me to see that my spouse is an asshole and that I should press charges and leave him.

If my siblings beat up my spouse, but I still think it was my fault that he beats me, and I am just so in love with him and stay with him, they will just alienate me, but not really help me.

Just consider if I was a guy and being beaten by my wife (which happens more often than people want to admit). Would you condone my brothers beating up my wife? Or wouldn't you think it more appropriate that my brothers advise me to leave her?
Leave it to the slog posters to politicized a brother standing up for his sister.

It wasn't a political statement. It wasn't an attempt to infantalize a woman. It was my sister getting hit by an asshole and me giving that asshole a black eye and an indication of what would happen if he tried that again.

She isn't the subject of some women' study course. She's my sister. The fact that she's my sister and not my brother is irrelevant. If some punk who was bigger than one of my brothers tried that shit with them I'd have done the same thing for them. And any of my siblings would have done the same for me.

Don't know how anyone else was raised, but I was raised to defend and protect my family. Even the one brother I think is an asshole, I would have his back if he needed me there because that's what family does.

And how the hell do I know if he gave indication that he would do that before he did it? I wasn't dating him, my sister was. As a general rule I don't stick my nose into my sisters' personal lives unless they are in danger or something occurs to put it in front of my face. And if they are in danger then I don't care one whit about the political / sociological ramifications. I'm going to step in, period.

My sisters can date what ever assholes they want. But when that asshole gets physically violent I am going to do something about it. And I don't really care if the guy gave indication or not before hand that he would do something like that. I'm not going to let some guy beat on my sister just because she should have known better than to have gone out with him in the first place.

Seriously? Some of you would actually let your sibling be abused by someone they are dating and not do something about it because they should have known better?
@105: Seconded (like a motherfucker). Family is beyond gender politics; anyone who lays a hand on my mother or brother is going to regret it. That's not ego-inflating for my brother and me; that's not infantilizing for my mother. That's simply what we do for each other in this world. Your blood should have your back.


You REALLY don't want to piss off my mom.