Savage Love

Sick and Easy


Hope you feel better soon, Dan.
THLH: It's absolutely shitty to have a partner who only cares about their own pleasure, but... it sounds like you're approaching PIV as an act that's done for the dude's pleasure ("Instead, she was only interested in sex that directly pleasured her.", etc) rather than for mutual enjoyment. And for some couples, it can be, since PIV doesn't do it for every woman and some of those women want to do it anyway... but then you're ALSO approaching it as a mandatory thing she has to do for your sake. That's a little messed up. Yes, PIV is the quintessential "normal" sex act, but not everybody likes it, and not everybody wants to do it, and that's okay. It's one sex act out of the many sex acts that exist. I think most people can agree that someone who doesn't like pegging shouldn't have to do pegging, even if their partner really really wants them to (and the partner can choose to leave, talk about outsourcing the kink, or accept the lack of pegging, and neither of these things are wrong, but neither is the first partner's decision not to get pegged.) Shouldn't it be the same for any sex act, even the standard ones?

I'm going to assume she wasn't giving you oral/handjobs back, but that makes the problem a general lack of reciprocity, not her not being into this specific act. If she was giving you oral/handjobs back, though... that IS reciprocity. It might not be the sex act you want, but she's interacting with your penis, you're interacting with her vagina, she's getting an orgasm, you're getting an orgasm... that's what reciprocity is.

Of course, it's okay not to want to be with someone who isn't into a sex act you'd be unhappy without. You meet a girl who doesn't like PIV, you love PIV and don't think sex is complete without it, you move the heck on and look for a girl who's into PIV just as much as you are. Maybe if you approach PIV as a thing that should be fun for both parties rather than something a woman owes a man who gave her a bj, you'll have better luck with that.
@GOTM: You totally nailed it: he is lying to you about the real reason he doesn't want to date you. If you want to know the real reason, it's right here:

"I think a dude telling you he's too busy for you is bullshit—because boobs"

Keep reading that to yourself, and contemplate what it means to be the sort of person who would write -- let alone believe -- such a thing, and his reasons for not wanting to date you will become clear.
@THTL: "My two questions: (1) Does she have another man? (2) Is our relationship over?"
1) Who the hell cares if she has another man or not? The governing principle here is that she has no sexual interest in you any more. Her reasons WHY are irrelevant. It doesn't matter whether she wants another man. She doesn't want YOU. You two are done, move on, already.
2) See #1.
2b) You should be glad you are done, given her response to you -- both the old lack of interest in your pleasure, and the new lack of interest in you entirely. Spend a little while hanging out in and you will come away realizing you've dodged a bullet.
@COB: Don't push for more. It's obnoxious enough when straight boys do it to girls they want to be romantic with. It's going to be at least that obnoxious, probably more so, for you to probe for romantic interest by pushing on his professed orientation. If he is telling you that he is straight, he is sending you the signal that dating you is, for whatever his actual reasons, a non-starter.
@3 avast2006 You totally nailed it: I also felt uncomfortable with GOTM letter, thanks for clarifying the reason.
@3, 6: Jesus, I'm pretty sure that was a joke. You know, a humorous way of pointing out that if you're really into someone (and/or their anatomy) you MAKE time to be with them.
That said, the "why" in these cases is usually the patented He's Just Not That Into You. No one big thing just...
GOTM: He’s probably not lying. He is that busy, distant etc. that he doesn’t have the time or energy for you. However, he would make time and bring the energy for someone he was totally smitten with.

He’s not totally smitten with you. Not surprising — most people aren’t totally smitten with most people. Boobs might be enough to entertain a person who doesn’t have anything better to do but if you want someone to disrupt their life for you, you gotta be bringing more than boobs.
@7 chi_type
I wasn't joking, and I assume avast wasn't either. Looks like @9 Allison Cummins is also on our side. You're still entitled to your own opinion and welcome to explain your position.
There's a wonderful Maya Angelou quote: "When someone shows you who they are, believe them-- the first time."

GOTM-- The guy may have been lying about WHY he doesn't want a relationship with you, but he's shown you quite clearly that he DOESN'T want a relationship with you. Believe him. I'm sympathetic with you because wanting to know why and trying to eliminate his reasons gives you the illusion of control where admitting that you've been dumped hurts like hell. Heartbreak is a particular sort of pain, and I don't blame you for wanting to do anything you can to ameliorate it, but honestly, the only way to get over this guy's rejection is going to be finding someone who isn't giving you excuses, whether they're true or false excuses, not to be with you.

That's the theme this week. THTL is being rejected by someone that the rest of us would say wasn't that great a catch in the first place. COB is being rejected too. We all may question their motives, but the point is that their reasons don't matter. Coming to terms with not getting the thing we think we want is.

(35 years ago I broke it off with a man (boy, we were scarcely out of our teens) with a ridiculously bad premature ejaculation problem. He teased me about not liking to give blowjobs. He was terribly hurt when I broke up with him. I said I no longer loved him and would give no more reason than that. Should I have explained?)
@10 I'm pretty sure @7 meant the "boobs" comment was a joke. I agree, I don't think the "boobs" joke is an indication that the LW is...whatever you were implying. I do agree with you that she needs to re-read what she says because you and the other commenters are right - the "too busy" thing means "too busy for you"
11 nailed it: "That's the theme this week. THTL is being rejected by someone that the rest of us would say wasn't that great a catch in the first place. COB is being rejected too. We all may question their motives, but the point is that their reasons don't matter. Coming to terms with not getting the thing we think we want is."

If someone lies about the reasons why they "can't" date you, it's because they're really, really confident that you really, really don't want to hear the real reason they don't want to date you. People are usually correct about that kind of thing.
The implication in GOTM's letter is that no man-- or this man in particular-- is too busy for good sex. His attraction to boobs-- or her boobs in particular-- is too great for him to turn them down. This is contradicted later in her letter when she talks about an emotional and sexual connection. It's entirely possible (likely) that GOTM is assuming an emotional attachment because when they have sex-- and even when they're not-- he's so completely totally into her boobs.

Again, I'm sympathetic because that's an easy mistake for women to make. Sometimes the moment is so intense, so lovely, so complete, that it's hard to realize that it's not a spillover to every aspect of your life sort of thing. It's taken me a while to learn that what I'm experiencing as a psychic connection might to him be nothing more than a good time with a nice but forgettable person.

GOTM originally says that can't understand why her ex is turning down sex, then at the end of her letter says that she's hoping for an emotional connection-- thus the contradiction.
Off topic, I found this column in the NYT really interesting, and thought it might be
Off topic, I found this column in the NYT interesting, and thought it might be so to other DanFans.…

It's a single case which intrigued me, and by posting it I am in no way suggesting it might be generally applicable.

And, #9, great comment!
Dan, it seems you're getting sick a lot. Are you getting enough Vit D? Basically, the immune system doesn't function properly without adequate D, and living in SEattle, it's impossible that you're getting enough unless you're taking supplements (not enough sunlight, and sun too low in the sky for most of the year). You probably need about 3000 IU/day. Here are two sources of info:…
good summary but numbers too low…
Excellent info from the National Institutes of Health, probably more than you want to know
@17, Crinoline, I interpreted GOTM's letter to be saying they had not yet had sex.

"I fee like I could connect with him emotionally and sexually in a really blissful way."- emphasis on could.

This quote and the boobs comment indicate to me someone very young and inexperienced in the world making assumptions based on fantasy. Totally agree with everything else you said, especially @11.

Agree with Hunter78 it would have been good to tell your young lover that his PE was a problem, but boy that is tough to do and tough to hear at 18 or 19. Don't know if I could have done it.
@21: correction-
tough to do and tough to hear at 20 or 21.
GOTM hasn't actually met the guy who "dumped" her (she's the one who used the quote marks); they met online and live thousands of miles apart ("halfway across the country from me"). In this instance the "because boobs" is especially odd and clueless, because he hasn't had access to hers.

There are a million reasons, why he's lost interest. Perhaps he met someone else, someone who lives closer to him.

But ultimately, it doesn't matter why he lost interest, and finding out the reason won't make the lw feel better. It never does. There is nothing anyone can say to explain why they don't like you as much as you like them or as much as you want them to like you that will make them like you as much as you want them to that will make you say, "oh, then, that's okay! Carry on."

GOTM: eat some ice cream and move on.
"I think a dude telling you he's too busy for you is bullshit—because boobs"

So you'd want his only reason to date you to be because you have boobs...?

He's just not that into you. If he were, he'd make time, or at least ask you to give him some time to get past his 'busy' time.
Your reply to BAD is exactly why you are amazing and wonderful and we love you. Keep up the good work and get well soon.
Or publish more Nyquil fuled responses to dingbats. We love those too!
+1 @11 & @3

Also, that book is wrong...I know at least a few women (vanilla, non-masochist) who really lile what seems to me (a sometimes sadist) too hard and painful to be tolerable. I'm sure the person who is following a manual is just a wonderful lover...
21, 23- Gonzo and Nocute-- By golly, you're right! I didn't see it before, but they haven't actually met. That possibility must have seemed so bizarre to me that I didn't consider it. Okay, now I have more contradictions in my mind to try to make sense of. The sort of magical thinking in which a girl is convinced that she has a great future with someone she's never met goes together better with someone who's 9 or 10 years old, maybe 14 at the the oldest. That's the age when you fall in love with teen idol/ movie star/ rock star, dream about him at night, and become convinced that he feels the same way too. If you're old enough to move across country in pursuit of a job, you're at least in your early 20s, probably older. I can see that things are complicated by the way the internet makes it possible to talk to people you're crushing on when you've never actually met, but my distinctions for when you should have outgrown those sorts of fantasies hold. Also my advice on suffering a rejection and moving on.
nocutename @23, yes, I was surprised Dan didn't point out that she has no idea what the chemistry would be like in person. Really people shouldn't get so invested in someone before meeting them.
@23: Yikes! Major editing fail. First take out the comma after "million reasons."
Next, that gobbledygook should have read "There is nothing anyone can say to explain why they don't like you as much as you like them or as much as you want them to like you that will make you say, "oh, then, that's okay! Carry on." And there is nothing you can do to make someone who doesn't like you as much as you like them or as much as you want them to like you, either.
@19 - You're right, that was an interesting read. The insights about attachment type were new to me, and the rest was confirmation bias of what I've long suspected about open relationships, marriage and polyamory: for most people, monogamy or the pretense/illusion of it - monogamish - is necessary for longer term drama free stability.
Just want to say thanks to Dan, and to the universe for no mentions of puke in this article. Crap, I just ruined it didn't I?

I didn't understand the "Because Boobs" aside. Boobs are great, I love em. I have no doubt done some odd things for the opportunity to touch them. But it's not enough reason to stay with someone who is not working for you, there are after all literally billions of boobs in the world to chose from.
@33 lol. No, I don't think so.

I think she believes he really fell for her particular boobs; in their cam sessions, he loved to see her fondle her boobs, and he fantasized aloud about what he would do with them if he ever got to touch them. She seems to think that's enough of a basis for a relationship, if distance weren't an obstacle. I don't think she's correct, although I will say that I know some men who really do seem to have a relationship with the boobs more than with the woman attached to them.
@31: "Just want to say thanks to Dan, and to the universe for no mentions of puke in this article. Crap, I just ruined it didn't I?"

Dammit, and we were doing so well.

@34: "I will say that I know some men who really do seem to have a relationship with the boobs more than with the woman attached to them."

Yes. Sadly, not enough of us know that when you're more attached to a body part than to the person, it's time to leave, because you're really not that into her. We should all get a note, when we hit dating age: "If her boobs are the only thing worth keeping, that means you don't like her and shouldn't keep dating her."
@19 / 30, naturally, I didn't care so much for that piece. The therapist never met Neal, yet he acted like he knew all about what went on in Neal's marriage. Therapists ought to understand better than anyone that you can never judge a marriage from the outside -- particularly if your only access is through the eyes of someone having an affair with one spouse.

Also, the argument the author makes about monogamy also applies to pornography. Many people have uncomfortable feelings around their partner's use of pornography (or fantasy in general, if they find out about it).

>> when it comes to our spouses, it seems most of us never outgrow being fundamentally childlike in our possessiveness. At our best we learn to refrain from doing things that would make our spouses jealous and insecure, despite our temptations >>

By that reasoning, people should refrain from using porn if it bothers their spouse, rather than encouraging the uncomfortable spouse to really evaluate if they are being harmed by the porn, or just made to face their insecurities.

Cybersex is also something that does not literally harm one's spouse, even if our culture encourages spouses to feel they've been harmed by it. The spouse may feel that cybersex takes away from the marital sexual relationship, but to me, that logic applies just as well to porn.
Anyone who touched my clit with the lightest possible touch would most assuredly not have me coming again and again. Whatever book you're reading is predicated on what *some* women like. Some women, like me, appreciate the g-spot. I suggest you familiarize yourself with this part of the anatomy and clear the "one size fits all" approach out of your mind, where women's pleasure is concerned.
@15 One piece of advice I've heard is that 'why did you break up with me/why don't you want to date me' are questions you REALLY don't want answered.

I mean would the LW feel better if she heard the reason this guy doesn't want her is that her boobs are two small, her ass is too big, her toes and wonky, and he's got something brewing with the hottie in the next cubicle. No? Then as the song says let it go.
@36 - I actually edited before hitting post to change from "vast majority" to "most". I do think it takes a lot of maturity and self-knowledge to be able to knowingly watch your spouse be intimate with someone else without those feelings creeping in and I don't think that's a bar a lot of people achieve. I tried to distinguish between DADT-style "monogamish" relationships where you can just engage in some healthy denial to combat the jealousy and those where both partners openly have extra partners in full view. I know that's not the best/most accurate use of "monogamish". I also know there are a lot of people who do this very successfully, and noting that most people can't handle it doesn't negate their existence. I do agree that the therapist was winging it a little on Neal.

I dunno, I base my opinions more on some time I spent between committed relationships hanging out with a poly crowd - nice, smart, thoughtful people. No personality disorders that I ran into, but there was a fair bit of drama, much of it driven by hopelessly complicated "triangles" (dodecahedrons I couldn't always work out). Fun people to have a potluck with! i did get to observe four divorces. I'm not sayin' it's data, but anecdote.
@Alison: if you want someone to disrupt their life for you, you gotta be bringing more than boobs

Right. Unless we're talking, like, really really big boobs.
@AFinch: Thanks for your comments @30 and 39--although I haven't had your exact experiences, my own put me in agreement with you.

@19--David Holzman: Thanks for the read. I thought it was interesting, in part because it revealed the biases of its author. It's funny; when I first read this part from the intro ("In recent years I have noticed that when potential patients Google me, they discover my university faculty profile, where I list as a research interest the psychology of infidelity. They also find a YouTube clip of an interview with me from a documentary on infidelity. Thanks to Google I am getting more patients looking for someone they think of as an infidelity expert") I assumed he meant he was more poly positive or sex positive or non-monogamy positive. The fact that this woman, his client, wanted to see him to mourn the death of her secret extra-marital lover confirmed that. But his responses were so non-monogamy-positive that I thought "hypocrite." Upon reading those sentences again, however, I think I may have misunderstood him.

But there were some intriguing parts and I wish there had been more to it.
@39, well, okay, but... (a) monogamous people get divorced too, and (b) getting divorced isn't a sign of failure, but a sign of recognizing that the relationship isn't meeting both people's needs anymore.

Not sure what you mean by "knowingly watch your spouse be intimate with someone else." Many "monogamous" people enjoy threesomes, and many poly people keep their sex lives private (so the only people in the room are the two people having sex). As far as dealing with knowing your partner has sex with other people, yes, that's hard for a lot of us at first, but you get used to it over time. Just as you get used to the idea that your partner enjoys porn and fantasizes about other people.
@seandr: I thought you were more into gamines . . .
I have a now sister-in-law that when we first met she would lean on me, put her legs on my lap, She rubbed my feet once, very huggy. She's straight, she's madly in love with my brother, they've now been married for 8 years with 3 kids. But she's touchy and loves people.
1.) @45: I think that kind of behavior is more culturally accepted and even perhaps a bit expected from straight women towards other women. This is a little more unusual. If the lw's friend never behaved like that before and only started after the lw came out, it's even more intriguing. Your future sister-in-law's actions seem overly-friendly, but as you've said, she' a touchy people-loving person, and maybe she was trying to forge a family-intimacy with you. Unless she's straight and you're a lesbian (and she knew that), in which case it's a little more interesting to contemplate.

2.) This format is terrible. When a commenter doesn't refer to a specific letter, as was the case with PennyLady up @45, I can't just scroll up to see the details or even see which not-yet discussed letter she's referring to. I have to open a whole new window. Pain. In. The. Ass.

3.) @45, and Glitterati @37--please make it clear what you're responding to, whether it's an earlier comment or one of the original letters--this new format makes it hard to figure out, let alone to see, the original letters. I initially thought both of you were engaged in established conversations with other commentors.
COB: For the love of God, do yourself a favor- assume the boy is straight unless HE makes a move on you (which may not happen). Focus on getting comfortable with yourself and being out in your day-to-day life. Otherwise, you have much better shot at fucking up a friendship than getting laid (or falling in love).
@EricaP: Therapists ought to understand better than anyone that you can never judge a marriage from the outside

It was Cynthia who judged Neal's marriage from the outside, not the therapist. The therapist simply questioned that judgment along with her rather questionable assumptions about Neal, and that's exactly his job to do. In my opinion, it was to her benefit, which is the therapist's ultimate obligation.

Neal's statements about lying and infidelity and old-fashioned values sound like the cheesy sophistry of a man trying to maintain a source of free, no-strings-attached sex. I doubt he cared as much about Cynthia as she seems to think (and I'm guessing the therapist had his doubts as well). Had she been the one to die on the treadmill (why do I find that hilarious?), Neal would already be telling some other woman over lunch that her misgivings about cheating on her husband were naïve.
@46 Ooops, sorry. I didn't realize the new format did this. Next time I will specify which letter I am referring to.
@48 I'm not defending Neal. It just seems weird for the therapist to call him a " a compulsive womanizer" and a narcissist, based only on Cynthia's stories. I would think the time would be better spent getting Cynthia to look critically at her own choices, rather than blame everything on her affair partner and assume that she'll be fine now that Neal is out of the picture.
@46 (In reference to the 4th letter, COB) I agree that this stuff is more acceptable, for better or worse, for women than men. I think the younger generation of men might be inclined to see what they are missing with the closeness of female relationships, physically and emotionally. I do think my sister-in-law was trying to bond with me. I am bisexual but I'm in a straight monogamous marriage so she had (has) no idea, no was I attracted to her anyway. (I don't think I could be attracted to any woman who liked my brother, terrible taste! lol)
@EricaP: It just seems weird for the therapist to call him a " a compulsive womanizer" and a narcissist, based only on Cynthia's stories.
I have had two married lovers who, based 100 percent on their own stories about themselves they told me, I would and could call "compulsive womanizers." What's more, they'd both agree. Not so sure I would be ready to call the "narcissist" card on either of them--though it sure fits a different ex-boyfriend--and if I did, it's doubtful they'd agree. But I can easily believe that someone else, hearing the stories I could repeat about them, coupled with hearing some of things they said and did to me when we were together, would be pretty able to see them as narcissists, and that person would likely be right.
Here's another issue I have with that piece:
>> Months went by and Cynthia’s grief was unabated.... Her husband had recently said to her, seemingly out of the blue, that he could understand if she had an affair, given how uninspired their sex life was...He had subtly indicated that he knew about the affair >>

His words don't show that he knew about her affair with Neal (which ended months ago), but rather than he sees his wife is depressed (all that 'unabated' grief), and uninterested in sex, and wonders if she might benefit from outside sex. (Or, less charitably, he's hinting that he is having, or is interested in having, outside sex, due to their uninspired sex life.)

I hope the couples counseling worked out well for Cynthia and her husband. But I'm not optimistic,based on the fact that she always viewed their sex life as mediocre, and that careers & children led them to stop talking to each other. I'm not sure there's enough of a foundation there on which to rebuild a strong connection.
edit @53 rather that he sees his wife is depressed
@EricaP: While I disagree with you about some of the earlier statements you made, I thought the same thing when I read this part--or mostly the same.
The "because boobs" comment in the first letter is a sentiment I see a lot on websites like Reddit, Imgur, Tumblr all the time. It's short hand for guys will do anything to fuck a woman. That a woman doesn't have to be interesting, or more than mildly attractive. It's used equally by men and women who are very young and inexperienced.
@46, nocutename: like you I was all torqued about the new format that separates the column from the comments, but when you open another tab for the column it actually makes it easier to refer back to when the comment thread becomes long. Saves a lot of scrolling.
@nocutename: True, but I felt called upon to make that joke anyway.

Truth be told, I do think gamines are sexy, but I'm not one of those guys who fixates on a certain type or shape of woman.

Ok, I might have a thing for Jewish girls, but it's more of a "soft spot" than a "fixation". After watching all episodes of Broad City while sick in bed last week, I've got a serious crush on Ilana.
Flu season indeed sucks. Hope you're feeling better soon, Dan the Man.
Despite your being under the weather, though, I think you hit another grand salami
with spot on responses this week.
Kudos, and all the best.
Thanks for your words of wisdom in general. As a token of appreciation I'll make a sincere effort to behave so that no one ever blames you for my mischief.
@58 seandr
I watched the first few episodes of “Transparent” and now I’m fixated on the younger daughter. I think her name is Ali and she’s superbly acted by Gabby Hoffmann.
@seandr: Considering that I'm a Jewish girl, I completely understand your affinity. Though it was probably unfortunate for you to include the words "soft" and "thing" when talking about them.
@EricaP: call him a " a compulsive womanizer" and a narcissist

I think there's some confusion about what he said as a therapist and what he's saying as a journalist. To be clear, I'm referring his therapy, not his journalism. As for whether journalists should just marriages from the outside, maybe not, but then again that's the entire premise of Dan's column.

From what I can tell, all the therapist said to Cynthia was that Neal seemed, based on her own description of his actions and words, "deficient in empathy". (He's being far more candid about his opinions with us, the readers.) I think his challenge was fair and strategic, the goal being to help her move on and deal with her life.

I agree that the husband may not have known about the affair, but either way, I think her husband's statement was likely an act of caring, and the therapist was correct to call it out as such. (The only plausible counter-scenario is that he's suspicious and fishing for a confession.)

She hasn't indicated that she wants to divorce her husband, so the therapist's role is to help her be in her marriage, not break it up (situations of abuse, notwithstanding). If the husband really is ok with her having extramarital sex, this marriage could work.
I think GOTM said "please tell him to date me" but meant "please tie him up and deliver him to my doorstep without violating him too much". Your Good Samaritan work is not done Dan.

BAD is good. You can tickle the clit through an inner wall, that place on the vaginal wall is called the gspot.

THTL - Only she knows. You could ask her if you're curious or dump her if the relationship is over for you.

COB - Perfect advice. Show respect for what people say about their feelings and opinions. Although it's natural to check if their actions match, to check their sanity or integrity or whatever you call it. It's disrespectful to assume they are lying.

I know a man who is very tactile, offers massages and hugs to men and women and is into fun physical things (glowstick dancing, parkour etc) and just very open with his feelings, like Lava. People seem to eat it up. I've never doubted his straightness.
@EP (et al actually) - a couple of things, just for clarity (not argument)

I completely (as a divorced person!) think divorce isn't unique to poly folks nor a sign of failure necessarily. By the straight up numbers, "monogamous" divorces (including those who cheat) probably way outnumber poly divorces; I have no idea about the rate though, and I would expect that people who knowingly choose polyamory (or ethical non-monogamy, I'm conflating them here) to have a lower rate based on jealousy or falling in love with new partners and abandoning old ones.

Yes, I was very inarticulate, and you said it much more succinctly when you said, "As far as dealing with knowing your partner has sex with other people, yes, that's hard for a lot of us at first, but you get used to it over time. Just as you get used to the idea that your partner enjoys porn and fantasizes about other people." To further clarify, I don't see porn the same way at all - to me it's fantasy, versus a living breathing real person. I don't deny that it's comparable for some people, but I think most people see it as fantasy and in a different class from a real person.

A final thought on narcissim versus narcissistic traits - lots of people - healthy well adjusted people - have traits and behaviors - need to have them to be well adjusted - which are narcissitic. Even having a lot of them - a disproportionate amount - doesn't make you a narcissist clinically. As seandr notes, the therapist was merely reflecting back to her a different take on her own presentation of the person - not claiming it's the real person, but the person she was describing. I think that's pretty classic therapist method. Clearly the therapist had a pile of his own confirmation bias going.

I know you are an ethical non-monogamist and I seriously admire and tip my hat to you - I'm definitely not pathologizing you or ethical non-monogamy. Cynthia ain't you - she is a woman who was in love with an image - an unreal person, unlike her very real, flawed and human husband. The affair partner was flawed too, but she didn't have to share a bathroom with him daily (speaking metaphorically, not literally). Cheers!
AFinch, I agree that Cynthia was in love with an idealized version of Neal. And I agree that most people in our society see a huge difference between asking a spouse to get over their insecurities and accept regular porn use, versus asking a spouse to get over their insecurities and accept extramarital sex or cybersex.
"Your best friend could be gay, COB, or he could be one of those New Model Straight Boys."

...or he could be one of those shitty human beings who, while not attracted to someone that's crushing on them, still enjoys the power they have over them. (I have a hard time believing that the friend was unaware of COB's interest pre-coming out.)

If that is the case, COB--not saying it is for sure--but if it is the case, unless you're able to just enjoy the game without resentment, the best solution is to find the off switch to your attraction and firmly put a stop to the flirty bullshit.

Mr. Holzman -- Interesting article, thanks for that.
Just to clarify -- you're never going to find the off switch to someone you're attracted to, not really. But you can switch off the unrealistic hopes and wishes, give your head a shake and move on.
@67: LateBloomer, good advice.
Btw, I'm driving that Lexus now . . .
@whoever: whether she was making a joke or not, she clearly believes that her opinion that they ought to date trumps his opinion that they shouldn't, and that his stated reasons for not wanting to date her are bullshit. If she didn't believe that, she wouldn't be asking Dan to tell him to date her. Reverse the genders and you have an instantly recognizable stalker.

Also, reverse the gender equipment and you have a first class douchebag. "I think a girl telling you she's too busy for you is bullshit—because cock—so I encouraged her to tell me the truth." A guy who thinks a woman couldn't possibly be so serious about her career/schooling/whatever that she had no time for him, because of the serious meat he's swinging, would be a ... well, a complete dick.
16 & 21-- Isn't that a contradiction to the general advice not to tell someone why you're breaking up with them? I've been back and forth on this issue ever since. On the one hand, it drove me nuts when my first boyfriend gave only the vaguest reasons for dumping me. (It's not you; it's me-- INYIM.) With the vacuum created from not knowing, I created all sorts of ideas in my head including that I was no good in bed. (After all, he split shortly after first sex.) As the years went by, and as I've kept in touch with him peripherally, I've realized how true his INYIM excuse was. The problem was that for all our purported intimacy, he didn't feel comfortable telling me what was going on. I've often felt that I would have been better off knowing instead of being left with that level of self-blame.

Which is why I wonder whether it would have been better to tell a later boyfriend that I was dumping him because of his premature ejaculation problem. I didn't because, as gonzo so elegantly states, boy is that tough to do-- although I still think that some part of it should have been, if not obvious, at least a little something in the way of a clue. He seemed genuinely not to know that there was something wrong and that other men managed to thrust. But would it have made a difference? Would he have been glad to know?

Thus the contradiction in my own mind. I still steadfastly believe that it's best, as a rule, NOT to say why you don't want to date someone or continue a relationship, and yet I keep coming up with all these arguments to the contrary.

(And avast in 70-- Yes! You nailed it!)
@Crinoline (71): I don't think there is ever any reason a dumper can give that would make the dumpee feel better. I speak from the perspective of someone who has been dumped--more than once--and wanted to know why. No answer soothes. Either you get a totally honest, devastating answer, or you get a vague answer that makes you think "well, that's not a good enough reason! Why couldn't/wouldn't s/he work through that with me? Why wasn't s/he willing to?"
I also speak from the perspective of the person doing the dumping. What would be the point of saying, "you're physically repulsive to me" or "I hate your sense of humor," or "you're terrible in bed."? I suppose if it was an easily changeable thing, but most of the time, I think we break things off because we feel it is an unchangeable feature that we just don't want to deal with. If it can't be changed, or if it would be unreasonable to ask someone to change something so essential to himself or herself, why make them feel terrible and self-conscious about that thing or attribute which may either not bother the next person, or may even be something the next person likes?

I hate "It's not you; it's me." Everyone knows that means it's obviously you. It really means "it's you for me--I can't like/love/want to be with/something about you," but it's a cliché and it never soothes anyone. I prefer the honest and yet vague "It just isn't working for me." After all, when all's said and done, that's what it comes down to.

As for telling a partner about your unhappiness with his premature ejaculation, I'd assume that he knows that he's doing it and is already self-conscious and anxious about it. Telling someone that that's why you broke up with him is unlikely to help him get over his anxiety. It may help start a negative-thought cycle and make things worse. It seems that the time to tell a premature ejaculator that that's a problem is when you're in a relationship and you are clear that you want to stay in that relationship. Approach it as a problem you two are going to tackle together. Make it clear that although you want it to change, you're not going to dump him over this (if that's indeed how you feel).
But saying to someone you just dumped: "I broke up with you because you ejaculate prematurely and I was never sexually satisfied," seems unlikely to help in any way.
@avast2006: because boobs...because cock

This analogy is obviously flawed. Boobs are soft and a great place to bury your face, but whipping out your cock in a roomful of women is like whipping out a laser pen in a room full of cats. Women instinctively go for it. They can't help themselves, it's just how they're wired.

With cock comes with tremendous power. And responsibility. This is why we'll never see true gender equality.
@seandr: I happen to have been at this party and can assure you that these cats are responding to a bobbing cock.
@seandr: Ah, if only he'd used his cock for good instead of for evil--the plot of a zillion nineteenth-century novels. Because all that power and responsibility: use it wisely, Grasshopper . . .
Crinoline @71 "my first boyfriend gave only the vaguest reasons for dumping me. (It's not you; it's me-- INYIM.)...As the years went by, and as I've kept in touch with him peripherally, I've realized how true his INYIM excuse was."

A lot of hard-earned wisdom there.
For COB, i have another angle on what's happening re: foot rubs.

I am gay with a foot fetish and am active in the community. You would be surprised how many straight identified men come to our parties and are on the websites and in the chatrooms. I've played with a few of them and they are not interested in any sex; they just want to massage, worship or tickle a man's feet or have their feet massaged, worshipped or tickled. Some don't mind if you get off, and some don't want any hint of eroticism. In fact, some of the M/M sites are conspicuously non sexual (see:JasonStrongTickling). I usually shy away from these guys because for me feet and tickling are just a part of larger sex play.
nocute @69 -- Aw YEA! Congratulations.
I think my teen self may have written that last letter back in 1995, and it's been lost in the mail for 20 years.
@76: No. It's not the responsibility of the dumper to tell the dumpee what it is that the dumpee did to drive away the dumper and then to suggest that there were steps that dumpee could have taken that might have changed the outcome.

Let the next boy/girlfriend address the coming-too-quickly-here-are-some-exercises issue.

I also don't think that under the circumstances, the dumpee could hear that part about exercises so much as "you come too quickly." I'm trying to do a reversal, so if a boyfriend told me, as he was breaking up with me, "you know, your pussy wasn't very tight; there are some exercises you could do to tone and tighten it. If we were staying together, I would appreciate that," all I'd hear is "your pussy is a big, flabby, loose bag."

I'd start keggling like mad, but I'd be really anxious the next time I had sex with someone. I'd feel humiliated. And I'd also be hurt by the breakup.

Or say that as he was leaving he said, "You know, your blow jobs could stand some improvement. If we were staying together, I could work with you on developing more skill and giving you some techniques you could work on." I wouldn't be grateful. I'd wonder why he wasn't willing to stay with me and let me try to improve. I'd interpret that statement, based on the fact that he was still breaking up with me, to just be a way to hurt me. And I'd be terrible that I suck (yes, pun intended) at blow jobs for evermore.
Does the writer of the first letter think she has the only two boobs on the planet? Maybe he got distracted by better boobs. Who knows?

Anyway, It kind of seems like Dan gets this horrible cold that requires he knock himself out with drugs every other week. I think he just really likes cold medicine.
The "because boobs" interjection is influenced by some of the insulting-to-men assumptions in the culture in general. While women get the shitty end of the stick in more obvious ways, men are expected to be incredibly basic in their sexual reactions. Porn is expected to work for all men of the appropriate orientation (or why else is it so similar and without variation?); men are expected to be a threat (see Cliff Pervocracy's article (Google for it) on "The Myth of the Boner Werewolf" for a description of how insulting it is to men to have the assumption they Just Can't Stop); Cosmo-type articles are full of descriptions of how to get what you want from men by what I can only describe as a bizarre form of interpretative dance whose sole purpose appears to be not talking to them.

And, to the point in this case, comedy website Cracked! assumes (at least for the lulz) that straight men and boys can be instantly derailed from whatever they were thinking about by their stock photo of a pair of "sweater melons" in a beige cardie.

*That's* what "because boobs" is all about. She doesn't probably believe her boobs are magic so much as believing, at least for comedy purposes, that a good pair of tits are all she needs to get the guy interested.
Yeah, I think "This is why I'm dumping you" is never going to be helpful. It's not going to be something the person can really change, just because if it was, they probably wouldn't be dumping you in the first place, they'd be saying "hey, do X differently."

The real reason is "I no longer want to be dating you," and nobody really knows why they want what they want--all we have are guesses, and those are more likely to hurt than to help.
@86 You say, "I'm sorry. I'm just not in love with you." Or if you are in love with them, and it's not going to work anyway, you say, "I'm sorry, I love you, but I've learned that we're not compatible in fundamental ways."

It's the truth, and there's nothing to communicate beyond that.
@nocutename, @crinoline: About 3 weeks into a relationship with a woman who's concept of sex was to just lie there while I fucked her, I finally responded to one of her attempts to initiate sex by telling her I was kind of bored with what we'd been doing and wasn't interested unless things got a little more dynamic.

She was definitely hurt, but she hung in there and was game for my suggestions, and things eventually got interesting.
@nocute, @crinoline: About 3 weeks into a relationship with a woman who's concept of sex was to just lie there while I fucked her, I responded to one of her attempts to initiate by telling her, honestly, that I was bored with what we were doing and wasn't up for it unless we mixed things up and she was more of an active participant.

She was definitely hurt, but she hung in there and was game for my suggestions, and eventually the sex heated up.
@seandr: Oh, I'm all about communicating dissatisfaction (tactfully) if you want to try and make a go of the relationship. Your example @90 was a good one, because you two
worked together to find something that improved things for you both, and then even after you broke up (which I assume you did eventually), she had some new skills. That's great.

I am addressing the "I'm breaking up with you and here's the reason why" sex issue. I think under those circumstances it is going to just feel like adding insult to injury to the dumped party.

@Hunter: EricaP's right on it. When I've dated someone briefly and wanted to stop, I've said, "I just don't feel what I should be feeling," or "this just isn't working for me," both of which are true. There's no need to give details. In a relationship of longer duration or one that was already getting more serious, I have said something like, "I love you, but I just see too many incompatibilities for us as a couple." I got my heart stomped on by a man who said, "This has been so great and I think you're wonderful, but we don't really fit into each others lives in the way that I want." It hurt like the dickens, but I kind of knew what he meant--later--and although I would have wished that he could see his way clear to trying to find a way for our lives to fit together more satisfactorily, I couldn't argue with him. You can't make someone love you.

So yes, honesty, but no need to rub salt into wounds or give a detailed reason if you don't want to. It doesn't change the material fact that the dumpee is being dumped anyway.
I wouldn't date someone who said;
Because boobs, either.
Sorry to hear you are still sick Dan. Suggesting my cure all of a swim in the ocean, maybe not a goer for you.
Sense of humour still on board though.
Ms Cute - While one of the things about which I feel some pride is that I helped my PLB become a good dumper (or at least not awful at it), there are probably too many variables to get into this in the short time I have.
Well played by Mr Avast on the first letter and its writer. I'm favourably impressed that only two (?) people so far are taking her side.
As for COB, Mr Trainer has a possible point (depending on how pertinent the feet detail may be rather than just a random detail). Mr Bloomer is dancing on the edge, but is being a little general. The conduct he describes has a particular flavour for straight males who enjoy playing the Hot Jimmy card on purpose in order to elicit The Pass, so that they can retreat into their virtuous heterosexuality. For some, it's just to provide them with confirmation bias about Teh Gayz; for others there may be deeper implications. Mainly, though, I am going to go largely along with Mr Rhone. Sitting around calculating how much each little sign or symbol increases a straight-presenting friend's Kinsey score not only wastes the real good of the relationship but is also dreadfully, drippingly dreary. You can do better than that. To refine Mr Rhone's point somewhat, let him come to you and earn his way into your good graces instead of obsessing over every little gesture.
@(71)Crinoline, (72)nocutename & (76)Hunter78: great posts......One of the questions is "at the point of breaking up with someone, is it possible to tell them anything that would be useful to them?". This statement alone is problematic though, because it implicitly contains many value judgements. Maybe the dumper is an outright fucktard and the last thing the dumpee needs is "enlightenment" from him/her. Still, I think it's at least possible to imagine cases where the dumper could have the dumpee's best interests in mind and find a way to tell them whatever it is. Maybe writing down what he/she wishes to convey would allow the dumpee a better chance to actually consider what is being said. In the first letter (GOTM), the "dude" could honestly say something along the lines of "I'm not dating you, and part of the reason is that you don't seem to hear what I say and it seems like you make assumptions that aren't much connected to me or to reality---" or something like that. (&@32, cockyballsup) I think there are times when the dumpee really is clueless, as Crinoline alludes to when she says:
" He seemed genuinely not to know that there was something wrong and that other men managed to thrust."
A situation like that kind of begs for some help and as per Hunter78, it's a lot about how it is done.
As far as giving any relief or making it easier for the dumpee, well probably not, but is that the only goal? Crinoline asks:

"But would it have made a difference? Would he have been glad to know?"

Probably not right then, but maybe later on. I've learned more from being dumped than from being the dumper (& boy there was a lot to learn!).

In longer term, more mature relationships, nocutename has surely got it right in that whatever the problem was it should have been brought up long before the point of breaking up. Definitely not a one size fits all question.
@73; you right there, Sean?
Got your bounce back.
Hunter @77; problem with that plan; is?
No phallus. Women, just don't have them.
COB - it can also be good to have a sort of physically intimate yet not a sexual relationship.
Nocute@92: in this situation, from the LW's position, it might have been better if the guy had spilled out the truth.
She might have moved on by now.
In Australia, we just say Fuck Off. No confusion there. That's not true, of course. It's Fuck off, Please.

I once got with a guy who came quickly. Pretty sure it was just the once. He tried to tell me, it was all relative.

women are much nicer and far more beautiful than men
Some men respond to this stereotype by learning friendlier habits and taking care of themselves. Perhaps most men do enjoy being meaner and more slovenly than most women, I haven't really thought about it.

I think that people should bring up the things that bother them while they're still invested in a relationship. If you'd rather break up about it than ask your partner to change some perceived flaw, I don't think that shows great character and agree an explanation in that case would be cruel. If you are breaking up with someone because they were unethical, announcing the reason but refusing to work on it seems appropriate.

Esp not if any Mrs. Bloomer(s) are tall, short haired red-heads, just to clairvoyify
Hey Dirtclustit, How you been?
who gives a fuck what she meant by because boobs, the guy isn't likely going to be someone you'll be happy with GOTM (assuming you're not as ignorant as he) you already reminded him that your an adult and he reminded you that he isn't, or doesn't know himself well enough to be honest without ignorantly keeping it attached to offensive.

Honesty, when coming from humans that understand love, can always be right path, and while it may appear he has your feelings at interest, the truth is he's too lazy or concerned that in honestly answering, you'd be made aware of the level of his shallowness (which isn't even a puddle, better described as simply wet pavement)

I know there's a lot of idiot "researchers" and others considered cutting edge in their field on psychology of human beings, but the fact is, if you are a Loving person, genuinely concerned with other's well being, you can separate the offensive from the truth, and if you can't refrain from being a dick about it, it's OK to admit your interest is in disguising your shallowness (as opposed to their feelings) and tell them it's too personal and you aren't close enough to them to disclose such private details of your life.

Yeah, I know it's convenient to lie and claim to the good guy, however in this case GOTM signaled their adulthood and asked, and dude didn't respect your right to be able to decide for yourself what you can and cannot handle, I suspect you already know --- GOTM --- that he was a typical male and you aware your boobs were enough for such an idiot (you know his bullshit wasn't the truth) so I can appreciate the humor in your last sentence, which was obviously a joke (that went above some heads)

BAD I don't think adultery can be committed by real adults, only irresponsible children who are by age alone, legal adults. Real adults practice their sexuality with fully knowledgeable and consenting legally aged adults, they don't waste their time in irresponsible relationships that are ultimately more damaging than they are fulfilling, if for no other reason because the respect other individual's rights, as in the same ones they practice, without trampling, be deciding for them that you are better equipped to make their decision for them (an ignorance so rampant, it should be considered a disease)

So while I don't see my views aligning with more than one or two sloggers, I can't say I would agree with you either BAD, as you sound like you may not fully understand coincepts like non-ignorant-non-monogamy or polyamory
I've been Good L, and had fun when bad, how goes the Southern Hemisphere?
Too High in Low Pass, her Dom was a passive aggressive prick, she conveniently forgot to mention that to you, luckily she won't be hard to forget

Oh COBby, I know it's hard not to get caught up in all the trendy and laughably small view of the big picture we've been tricked into believing regarding sexuality, but don't realize, the world will only remain ignorant by choice, and the voice of ignorance will quietly be drowned out with a better, self-evident understanding of everything, but to date, on this page, I'd listen to LateBloomer and decide you won't put up with emotional abuse or any inconsiderate behaviors unless you enjoy some asshole mindfucking you
It's great Dirt. Still muggy, just hanging for Summer to finish.
Then six months or so of beautiful weather.
"Busyness"?!?!?! EEEEEEEWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!
@gonzo One of the questions is "at the point of breaking up with someone, is it possible to tell them anything that would be useful to them?". This statement alone is problematic though, because it implicitly contains many value judgements. Maybe the dumper is an outright fucktard and the last thing the dumpee needs is "enlightenment" from him/her.

Exactly this. Dumpers are human, like all of us, may say things which are intended to be hurtful. They may also be offering something true which is of absolutely no value - there is nothing the dumpee can do about it.

I think EP @88 has it right, but INYIM is also perfectly acceptable.
@110, Hunter78: Not my place to speak for nocutename, but dang! she stated repeatedly that she strongly favored open communication about problems before any potential break up (@72 & @92).
@112: Yeah. I think if the dumper thought the problem was fixable, they wouldn't be breaking up in the first place. Given that, the question becomes "While dumping someone, should I tell them about their unfixable problems, thus torturing them for an extended period of time for no reason, which may or may not even exist?"

Safest answer seems like a no.
@Hunter: I was only thinking of my (past) real boyfriends in my musings on giving reasons for breaking up, not any of the fwbs. Though, for what it's worth, all my fwbs are indeed friends, and as such, would never be treated with a "shape up or ship out" attitude. Actually, I don't treat anyone that way. And yes, I said repeatedly that communication of a problem should start well before a breakup--if you want to try to keep the relationship. The original question centered around giving reasons for a breakup of a casual relationship of short duration, so that was the point I addressed. In the case of the letter in this week's column, the "couple" in question hadn't even met and he lost interest. I am of the opinion that knowing a "reason" for a rejection isn't helpful in terms of making the dumpee feel better about being rejected. Crinoline raised the premature ejaculator angle, and she raised it specifically at the point of break up, not when the relationship was still vibrant. I don't mean to suggest that I think people, particularly those in romantic couples, shouldn't try to communicate their desires and frustrations and talk through problems and issues in order for them to improve. I thought that was understood. There is a difference between ending a relationship relatively early because some aspect of it just isn't working for one of the people who wants out, and ending, say, a twenty-year marriage. I would hope that in the case of a break up of a long=established quite serious committed relationship, neither partner ever has to wonder what the other one objected to. I was talking about a situation in which the couple has been dating for a relatively brief time, from a couple of weeks to a year or so, without any talk of serious commitment.

Many years ago, when I was very young, I once asked a guy who had cheated on me with my best friend and who was subsequently leaving me for her, if she was prettier, or smarter than me. He told me, "you're smarter," which I discovered in that moment, did not make me feel better, as it said--though he was trying to avoid actually saying it--that I wasn't pretty enough. That did me absolutely no good whatsoever in moving forward with my life. I learned not to ask why, realizing that I probably don't want to hear something hurtful that won't bring the relationship back. More recently, several years ago in a more painful breakup in which the man gave me no real reason, I spent months wondering why: why couldn't he see how good we were together? Why wasn't it enough for him? What did he object to? I had to keep telling myself that why wasn't really important. The bottom line was that he no longer wanted to be my boyfriend. It wasn't as if I was going to be able to argue him into the relationship again by countering all his "whys." Whatever it was, he didn't think it was something that could be changed. And maybe it couldn't.

Not long ago I was in a relationship with someone who had some behaviors (and non behaviors) that were troublesome to me. I told him at one point when I still wanted to try and make things work that these were problems for me. We talked about it. He tried, but was unable to make any changes. About two months later, I broke things off. At the time I said, "this just isn't working for me." He knew what I was talking about and agreed that he couldn't give me what I needed, although in the moment of breaking up I didn't mention the specific things that I was troubled by.

P.S. I actually now have a boyfriend of very recent acquisition. And so far, am also keeping the fwbs, though I'll likely be seeing them (for sex, anyway) much less frequently.