Savage Love Apr 16, 2019 at 4:00 pm


Joe Newton



For a second there, I thought Dan had fallen in love with one of his good friends from grad school ;)


For NTKOS -- It's not so difficult to let someone down after you eventually see their pics. You can just say, "Turns out I'm not feeling it. Thanks for the fun chats; good luck with the dating process." I don't think that would hurt anyone so badly that they'd rather you didn't even take the chance of it working out.

Re GRADS - I would say "I'd like to ask you out on a date; how does Friday night look?" It's too early to say "I would like to date you," since you don't know how kissing, etc. will go.


Re NTKOS - what I meant @2 is that I don't think you need Dan's preamble when talking to kinky folks with no pics.


I was using a dating site for a while and didn't post pics for a variety of reason. Once I had a sense that the person I was chatting with could be a good match, I would send photos. I always understood that this could lead to the other person not feeling me, which happened from time to time. That's life. Usually the person had a kind explanation: looking for someone with a beard or darker hair or something else that made sense. Reasonable people understand that a fit won't always happen and one's looks might be attractive to some people and not others. I think the LW should probably dump the no pic rule for kinky people but then be kind if the looks don't match their needs. If the other person gets pissy after that then that's on the other person.


For GRADS I think the idea of waiting until the end of the program (or maybe a break if the program is longer) is a good one. I also agree with Dan's advice to be straightforward and clear, and to let them know you are perfectly happy if they want to remain friends without exploring a romantic angle. Think about what has been good to hear (or what you'd want to hear) when a friend was interested in you that was good for when you were interested and when you were not.


Here's how I've been turned down on dating apps once they saw my profile: they claimed I looked just like their dentist, and it would just be too weird. I suspected it probably wasn't true, but thought it was a nice way of saying they weren't attracted to me, and it made me laugh.


NTKOS~ “Thanks for chatting, but life is taking me in a different direction. Best wishes for your search.”...OR... “Sorry, once I saw your photo I realized you look like your face was on fire and somebody put it out with a golf shoe. Best wishes for your search.”

GRADS~ “We seem to have a lot in common, and lately I’ve been wondering if you would like to do a little more than just sharing pencils.” For god’s sake, don’t say anything about your infatuation (that’s what it is, NOT LOVE). I also suggest a marathon of cold showers and repeated emulation of Cher slapping Nicolas Cage’s face, saying, “SNAP OUT OF IT!”


Have we started again?

We discussed SAAD;s letter a few days ago, and the commentary was horrible. I hope it's better this time.


NTKOS--I'm a kinkster, I'm on OKC, I don't have a face picture. When I start chatting with someone, I'm happy to send a face picture as soon as one is requested. And no, I don't mind at all being rejected at that point because someone doesn't like the way I look. It's all part of the search process.


@tech-savvy-at-risk-youth: Formatting problem alert! The letter from GRADS begins after Dan's reply to NTKOS without delineation.


Donny don’t ever become a dating coach.
I gave up on dating sites altogether. It’s a jungle out there: agree with others, be polite yet truthful.


Do you think Dan puts his columns past the very efficient TechPeople, fubar? He’s testing us, and being his usual slack bastard self around editing. Probably drinking while he typed. Heavens knows what else was going on around.


NTKOS: I spent lots of time looking for and writing submissive women on OkC. For obvious reasons, submissive women typically do not post face pics, although most did post body shots. However, many submissive women (I presume men too) typically have a vanilla profile, so they simply direct the dominant person to check them out there if they were interested in the dominant's profile. That allows for a natural break if the dominant person is uninterested for any reason.

Perhaps more to your point, you are assuming that people are going to be crushed if you are not interested in them, and that they need some explanation. Personally, I find getting some apology and best wishes more irritating than no response. Not delivering a meaningless "thanks, but no thanks" is not the same as ghosting someone after going out on a few dates with them.

I should add that I have met submissive women at kink venues after not clicking with them online, and it has never been awkward, and I have enjoyed hanging out with them in that environment.


GRADS, please fuck the living daylights out of your friend. You'll regret not going for it.


GRADS, you mention that you were not interested in this person for a period of years, but found yourself more interested during the course of your academic program. I have found when working in intensive organizations or academic setting, which make dating challenging, people often develop romantic feeling for someone close by, which seems to be a reaction to not being able to find someone outside the environment in which they are forced to spend so much time. If you have not had any sex partners recently, and have not been able to do much dating, you might to carve out some time away from your academic program (and this person) to meet potential romantic partners other than your crush.

If that is not the case, there is a good chance that you are going to blow up your friendship - at least temporarily - with your classmate, and future professional colleague if you express romantic feelings for them. That is not necessarily a reason to avoid asking them out on a date, but the reality of the situation, and the fall out from them rejecting your advance, could impact your studies and theirs. On your end, at least be mentally prepared for them to say no, and be gracious about their decision.

If you are trying to gauge whether they might have romantic feelings for you or be open to romantic possibilities, think about the following. Do they try to have any one-on-one time with you outside the library / lab / classroom where you are spending the majority of your time. Do the two of you ever to do anything together outside the confines of your program? Does this person ever text you random or funny things? Do they reach out to you during holidays or vacations when you are apart for a period of time? Have they introduced you to their friends outside of the program or from other points in their life? If the answers to these questions are "No," then they are probably not viewing you as a potential partner.

After all that, if you do decide to ask them out, be direct and brief. Over a coffee in a neutral setting, tell them that you have enjoyed getting to know them over the course of your program, and that over the past month you have recognized you enjoy spending time together and were interested to know whether they would be interested in going out on a date.


Kindness @1: Yes. Hello, Stranger staff, you're missing some key formatting!

NTKOS, there's nothing wrong with saying "I'm sorry, but you're not my type." People know they are taking this risk when they don't post pics, and if that "hurts them in a bad way" then they are too fragile to date anyway. Chat a bit, but not for too long, then ask for a pic. Or do your shopping for kinksters on Fetlife.

Aww, it's Doogie Howser! Has GRADS made it this far without having fallen in love? I agree with Dan: Wait until after the intensive joint co-working is finished before asking them out, because you don't want awkwardness spoiling the project if they don't return your feelings -- or complete distraction from it if they do! Wait til the project is finished, ask them out for a celebratory drink, then tell them you really fancy them and would like to keep seeing them romantically. (Perhaps inquire as to whether they are single/available first.) Good luck, GRADS.


Sublime @15: Ding ding ding. I had this thought too. GRADS wasn't attracted but then a bond was forged in the crucible of this intensive project, which may or may not last beyond it. So, they should proceed with caution. Don't profess undying love; express interest in dating, and give it that three key months before committing to boyfriend/girlfriend (or boyfriend/boyfriend, or girlfriend/enbyfriend etc). Feelings are confusing; what feels like love now can often feel like "what was I thinking!?" in retrospect. Again, good luck to GRADS.


The question I like--the old-fashioned one--was hard to see, because of no italicization, as @1 & @11 have pointed out.

I say, 'flirt!'. We don't know the gender of either person; but there's no situation in which natural flirting, like smiling, eye contact, eye contact then looking away, increased attention to someone's wellbeing or opinions, is unwelcome or intrusive--by itself ... failing to back off, to read the signs, when these things turn out grate can of course be rude. It’s perhaps also unlikely that the LW's feelings are entirely buttoned-up, entirely hidden from their crush or coworkers. Dwelling on them too much can be a way of shutting out the person they've fallen for; always think of what he/she/they, the person you 'love', wants and feels, and prioritise that, soberly and realistically, over whatever's going on in your own head. And a good way of finding out what they feel is to speak to them. Ask them out on a drink! What's the worst that could happen? If you're going to be rejected, get rejected sooner rather than later, so that 1) you can say that you did well; you didn't flake on yourself; you put yourself out there, and 2) you can get on with your life after getting your degree without backward thoughts, without any concern you should be with this guy/woman/person.


On some sites profiles without a face picture don't show up, or are downgraded, on searches. In these cases daters needing privacy should have pics that show them (in the far distance, maybe) anonymously.


Harriet @18: In this case, "what's the worst that could happen" is that the entire project and their degrees are at risk if things go wrong between them, hence why Dan said wait.


@13. Sublime. Oh, idk--I've always liked the low-level back-and-fro online--to the effect that 'you're not my cup of tea sexually, but I appreciate the time and effort you've put into your message and profile'. The occasional hat-tip to being smart and funny but about as erotically alluring as a sack of seed potatoes has always been affirming for me, rather than otherwise. This may be a difference between queers and straights. Now I'll only go onto the apps if I want to get fucked, once in a blue moon--though there was a time, perhaps more confusing and unsatisfactory in my use of the apps, where I was more open-minded about what I was looking for.


Sublime @13: I disagree, I would be far more irked by an online ghosting than a "thanks but no thanks." At least be decent enough to let them know you're not interested and they should move on.


@20. Bi. Yes--but not if all that GRADS does is ask their crush out for a drink, or e.g. offer to go up onto the roof of the science building for a picnic.

The degree is either a form of pre-professional accreditation examined by tests or a multi-person research project. In the first case, both persons involved, especially GRADS, will not be prevented from getting their heads down and passing out of their program; in the second, there are these kind of undercurrents and embarrassments in every bio- and computer science workplace. Teams work round them. The reason I'd encourage GRADS to put it out there now is that the crush lives in her (his, their) own head and may be coming to refer less and less to what their love-object feels or is like. That part about their mind being brilliant and outstanding? It's not likely, or rather not likely that their mind is so far superior to GRADS's own (they're on the same program)--this is magnifying idealisation in the absence of real contact. Break this self-feeding cycle of idealisation by initiating something real and low-stakes. And can it really be the case that GRADS doesn't know how her (his, their) crush would respond to her overtures? (GRADS says there's no sign of interest). You can put out feelers without committing yourself to a declaration. Do that.

I guess the letter is timely in that lots of people in their 20s approach those they're interested in, by preference, online. I'd want to say that flirting is a genuine life-skill; and that it's something other than flirting that amounts to harassment.


@21/Harriet: If these message actually express something like you write - you're profile and messages are smart and funny, but I don't feel chemistry with you - I might agree with you, but typically they are no more thoughtful than, "Thanks, not interested. Good luck to you." Something so perfunctory just does nothing for me.

@22/BiDanFan: "I would be far more irked by an online ghosting than a 'thanks but no thanks.'" We might be think about different scenarios. I recently had a long back-and-forth with a woman on OkC, we're both traveling a lot over the this month and next, but after a number of exchanges we had agreed to meet in mid-May. The next day, she disconnected from me without explanation. I do find that strange, and would have accepted some explanation. Did she notice my responses to some questions? At any rate, I am not upset that she did not message, but I do understand the perspective that if you have had a substantive exchange, acknowledging that you are not interested in pursuing something is not unreasonable, and that some people would prefer that closure. What I find more irritating is messaging someone, and receiving a "thanks, but no thanks" reply. It does not come after any substantive exchange, nor does it acknowledge that something about me peaked their interest, as @Harriet writes.

I would note that you write about this as purely hypothetical consideration, and not something that you experience, and you might feel differently to get excited about receiving messages only to be told "sorry, not interested."


Sublime @24: I was thinking about the scenario as proposed in the letter: Some messages have been exchanged, a photo is requested, person sends photo and gets either a "thanks but no thanks" (or a "sorry, you're not my type," my proffered phrasing) or no reply at all. In this situation it seems rude to not reply. (But then again, perhaps it's better to end a potential connection thinking the person is rude and you've dodged a bullet than that you've missed out on a great person by not being attractive enough... Then again again, an insecure person will deem themself not good enough regardless of being replied to or not. So I'm sticking with be polite, as that person may become a friend or you might run into them at a fetish club or something, as you've described @13.)

In the alternate scenario when a single introductory message is sent and the recipient is not interested, I agree that no response is better, A, because no response is owed, and B, if the recipient is female it's a sad fact that even a polite no thanks is likely to result in an abusive reply. :-(


BiDan@22~ "...I would be far more irked by an online ghosting than a "thanks but no thanks."..."
I agree. Sad to say, this world is profgressively losing it's interest in BASIC HUMAN DECENCY, (thanks in no small part to a certain orange-haired public figure, his henchmen and his KKK-like affiliated supporters). How much trouble is it to say, "Thanks for chatting, but I don't feel like we're clicking. Good luck." ?


If grad program = PhD, they have years together still.

Ask them out on a date. Nothing serious and don't call it a date. Just see if they want to get dinner sometime. See where things go. If they don't seem interested, then you have your answer and you haven't made things overly awkward. Find someone else to date and talk about said dates with them to let them know that you aren't hung up on anything. This is only a big deal if you make it one.

RE Face pics - you could stipulate in your request for a face pic that you are very particular about who you are attracted to. If you take a pass, tell them they are objectively attractive but not your type.


Also, "Bitch Ditch"


Oops, wrong comment section :)


Sublime @24: Let me also correct your assumption that I've never messaged anyone and received a "thanks but no thanks" reply. Normally it is some excuse/reason like "I should have updated my profile, I'm in a monogamous relationship now" or "I've moved out of the country." Yes, they're disappointing, but they still leave me with a positive impression of that person. (Note that these are individual responses to individually crafted messages to people who are a high match percentage, which seems not to be the strategy of a large number of men who've messaged me.) Women get turned down too, film at 11.


GRADS is sweet. Intoxicating beauty.. my guess it’s a man writing. If the other person hasn’t shown any indication they wish to take it forward, this could get awkward, and if there are no signs what is GRADS hoping will happen? If GRADS is so bewitched, the other person probably knows already.
People doing their work well can be very attractive, and falling in love with their competence around certain behaviours is not that hard. I feel for this person, falling in love can be disruptive.
Go with your gut GRADS, and if you share your feelings, do it in a way where you don’t slam the friendship, you don’t expect them to return the feelings. Take a ‘no thank you’ well, and resume your prior friendship. If feelings aren’t fed, they do die off. Perhaps cut back on time spent together. Find a new love interest.


@24. Sublime. When people decide 'er, no' online and drop off their side of an exchange, it's always about them ... for some reason we don't know (they've embraced a vow of celibacy, they haven't got over an ex; they want to upgrade a fuckbuddy; they're pretending to be someone they're not). Even when there's no hooking-up because of something they've noticed about us (e.g. we think opening doors for women is 'unnecessary but appreciated'), it's still about them--because they could have asked us about this before breaking off e.g. 'do you really like long camping trips? I want to go to an away break to Paris--would you really rather take me birdwatching? Is it really so important for you to receive pain during sex?' The right mindset is to accept deflation gracefully and not invest too much in messages.


In practice, the burden of having to say 'thanks but no thanks' would fall disproportionately on straight women--and it would be an unreasonable one to ask of daters just receiving an off-the-bat casual message. Either it's entirely pro forma or empty, or we'd be asking women to research the profile of guys they just don't have the hots for to say something nice. It's needless. It would waste their time. One reason why I was a poor, or unintended, romantic user of the sites (rather than a joe looking for 'this guy will fuck you up the ass') was that I read all the profiles and messaged or responded based on people's interests and self-presentation in-the-round. I'm not sure every straight woman does that. There are so many men expressing an interest in having sex with them their first cut can very legitimately be on the basis of whom they find attractive.


"Don't shit where you eat" is timeless wisdom for a reason. I 100% support Dan's advice for GRADS to wait until after the program is done, or at least until the two are no longer working so closely together, to ask their colleague out on a date. Because if you are not already seeing signs of interest (per Harriet's lovely description of flirting), chances are the answer is no and you're just going to make things supremely awkward. For the love of mercy, do not ask the person out for an unspecified "drink" or "dinner" in the hopes it will feel like a date. I have been on the receiving end of that and it totally sucks to be a friendly friend and realize that the other person has unrealistic expectations.

Also, don't just look for signs that might confirm the other person is interested in you, GRADS. Look for disconfirming evidence too. Do they look away unsmiling when you make too much eye contact? Are they polite but professional / impersonal? Do they leave on time rather than linger when you would be happy to stay longer and chat? Do they redirect the conversation when you make personal disclosures? Take a hint.


Oh GRADS, I’m on your side. Falling in love sucks and is so delicious as well. Looks like the adults have spoken, and you might need to keep this on the back burner till the shared work is done.


When I was dating, if I wasn't into someone, I'd just say thanks but it's not a match for me. If they ask for reasons, I'd say it doesn't matter what my reasons are. Someone else will love what I don't. There were guys that got a no from me because they were too proud of their cars, too embarrassed about dropping food in their lap, or wanted to spend too much time with their parents. Someone else might have found the car guy ambitious and successful, the food-dropper sweet and adorkable, or loved hanging out in RV parks barbecuing and listening to dad jokes. "Not a match" is just exactly that.

Re: profile photos, I always posted face pics, but then I wasn't posting as a kinkster. If I had waited until chatting to share them, I definitely would not have been offended if someone who was initially interested took a pass after seeing my face. I have strong facial features that some people think are striking and others think are ugly. I would never want to be with someone who might have loved my brain or sense of humor but not my face. Not into it? Great, good to know it, best of luck to you finding what you like.


I disagree with Dan’s advice on OKC, and apparently, most other commenters. The LW’s problem is real enough, and stems from the fact that the app is not designed to be a hookup app like Grindr or even Tinder. It’s an app that is/was primarily designed for people looking for romantic partners, kinky or no, even if it sometimes leads to hookups (and allows people to specify that’s what they’re looking for).

The LW shouldn’t drag out those online chats — the LW should meet these people sooner rather than later, and insist on a safe, nonsexual space. That way, all that’s risked is a cup of coffee or whatever. After pleasant conversation, LW can later text the person to say that meeting was nice but that he/she “didn’t feel a romantic spark” or that, while open to a friendship (if that’s true), he/she “didn’t feel much chemistry.” That’s purposefully vague — and a much easier pill to swallow.

Asking for someone’s face picture and then telling them you aren’t attracted (or suddenly waffling, which amounts to the same thing) — that’s a shitty thing to say and hear. Risking a coffee with somebody you might not want to pursue — that’s par for the course, kinky or no, and the type of investment that a person should expect to make when using these services.


I dunno, pythag3. There's only so much time and energy for coffee dates. The less investment and face time, the less headspace a person can take up too. I'm all about efficiency.


I agree, Strange@38, I am a veteran of years of online dating, and even as a guy, received way more responses than I could have responded to with coffee dates (and guys only get about 1/8 as many contacts as women do on average). You gotta do some serious weeding-out before face-to-face.


While I generally agree with Dans advice about inviting the 'no' when asking people out, and when I was dating I did that as well I'm just not sure it's always that easy. Some people really want A. to be the one who is asked out and B. want the person doing it to display confidence and desire, even cockiness so long as they are attractive. Yeah, no one wants a pushy person they are not attracted to to hit on them, or to feel coerced. But some people would consider offering a disclaimer before you hit on them to be unimpressive sign of weakness. Just looking at the small sample size of our middle aged single friends in a college town, I hear more complaints about men being too emo, too beta or not having an 'edge' than I hear about them being too aggressive.


@38, @39 I anticipated this criticism when I wrote that comment and probably should gave addressed it in my post, but I thought I’d err on the side of brevity (by my standards 😉).

I say this as somebody who has used OKC quite frequently — while kinksters and people looking for a hookup are welcome to use OKC, the platform was clearly not designed with them in mind. (I mean, its whole shtick was asking deeply personal and sometimes creatively weird questions and then matching on compatibility. (Rudder’s book Dataclysm is worth a read.)

There are definitely people who place profiles openly stating their kinks, but the percentage is MINUTE compared to regular profiles. And of those ads by kinksters, some show their faces while others don’t. I’m not saying she should go have coffee with every single person she interacts with. I’m saying that, in the relatively small number of cases involving 1) kinksters who 2) don’t have pictures posted for reasons that are probably legitimate but that she is 3) interested in pursuing, meeting up for a cup of coffee or a walk in a public place is a negligible investment and far more humane then a demand for face pics followed by a swift rejection. I don’t care how successful you are with online dating — most messages don’t turn into first dates, most first dates don’t go anywhere. I’d say my success rate is average; people I regard as wildly successful say pretty much the same thing.

It’s true that this more humane policy might mean that she has to go on fewer dates, but so what? The total number of dates will still be higher than they were without the app. Being considerate of other people’s feelings is worthwhile, even if it somewhat reduces the total number of dates a person gets.

If she’s really interested in exploring the kink scene (more power to her!), to the point where that advice is impractical, she should consider exploring other platforms (and real life spaces) that cater to those interests, where people presumably feel less inhibited (yay, face pics!), or at least have more experience navigating those kinds of issues.

If I choose to respond to a profile without face pictures, that’s on me. I would NEVER make the woman send me face pictures as a condition of meeting up, only to then renege. And I wouldn’t want someone to do that to me.


They dated for 9 years? Dang, she should have dumped him for his inability to commit.


Hot take on an initial "Thanks but no thanks": Harriet is right; most women seeking men on dating apps are flooded with messages, the overwhelming majority of which either appear to have been written by 7-year-olds, are sexually inappropriate or are obviously copied and pasted by desperate losers who didn't even bother to read your profile. A message that shows real interest is a breath of fresh air. So I can see why a recipient of a quality message would feel its sender deserved a reply, unlike all the crappy messages which she just ignores. Sublime is right, though, that the unforeseen effect is to get the sender's hopes up. I'd suggest taking "thanks but no thanks" messages as compliments -- your message merited a reply, that sets you apart from the rabble!

Strange @34: Particularly if these two are not opposite genders, I completely agree that if GRADS means date, they should say date. If Mx GRADS agrees to what they think is a friendly after-work drink but then learns GRADS meant it as more, that could cause confusion and resentment.

Pythag @37: I agree with those who say why waste an hour or more on a coffee date when you could waste a minute on looking at someone's photo. Asking to see a face pic and then saying you're not interested is much kinder than asking someone to make time for a date and then saying you're not interested! "You're not my type" is equally vague and does not require a time investment as a setup for a "kind" rejection. No, I don't expect that people who aren't into me will first require me to go on a date with them before telling me. I expect that only people who think they might be into me will take that step.

DrJones @40: Where does Dan say GRADS should invite the no BEFORE "hitting on" their crush? His advice to me reads like the opposite. "Just be honest, direct, and unambiguous." Adding that no is okay is a good idea given that they work closely together; Mx GRADS may feel that if they say no, things will be awkward.

Pythag @41: You don't think kinksters want a relationship?? And wouldn't your "humane" policy require her to go on MORE dates, as your stated prerequisite to a rejection?


Also, Pythag @41, how is she supposed to recognise her date in a coffee shop if she has no idea what they look like?


It just floors me that some people think being in a relationship for nine years isn't commitment.


BiDanFan @45: Except that he doesn't say that they were "in a relationship", he says that they were "dating for nine years". I did think that sounds a little odd; after nine years, I wouldn't still be calling it "dating", and I would call this person "my partner", not "my girlfriend".


As someone who learned nearly everything I needed to know about the pay gap from the episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show in which Lou Grant baldly told Mary that of course he paid her equally qualified/experienced predecessor more because, "He was a man; he had a wife and children to support," I offer up a salute to the recently deceased Georgia Engel.


Dadddy @46: Feelings like, "I feel like snooping"? I agree, staying broken up is a valid choice, and the choice I hope he makes, for her sake. Think everyone is agreed at least on that.


Dusk @48: Hmm, now you mention it, he does sound very cold, in addition to being judgmental. This poor woman and her terrible taste in men.


Dadddy @46: Wrong.

Dadddy @47: Exactly right. This situation is why alcohol exists.

GRADS needs to ask the object of his affections out for drinks. (He writes like a dude pining over a lady, so I going to use those pronouns.) If she says no, there's your answer. If she says yes, have a couple drinks, get a couple in her, and start flirting heavily/coming on to her. If she responds positively, follow up on it. If she seems uncomfortable, back off and later you can blame the alcohol for your inappropriate behavior. Alcohol doesn't generally make people come on to people they're not actually interested in fucking, but most of us engage in the convenient fiction that it does. That way she can pretend that she doesn't know that you're pining for her, which really helps with the awkwardness.

As an added bonus, if she has even a little interest, alcohol makes it less likely that she'll feel uncomfortable.

OTOH, unless she's a very socially awkward nerd (my background)she's probably not interested. If she were, unless she's a socially awkward nerd, she would have made it obvious and you'd be dating.


Crap. Where's the edit button?


@46. Dadddy. She was constructively ambiguous because she feared the fallout. (And, yes, she hadn't met the right person yet, so it wasn't a flatout lie). I'd think she was with an unsuitable person too long.

@52. cdp123. Yes--on the 'right' and 'wrong' I would think just the same as you.


Dadddy, we did this letter already, on the daily thread, with follow ups. This man did snoop, which is a lousy tactic, and he found out his princess was really a wicked witch. Why she’s reached out to him, after months, is the issue here. She is better off without such a man in her life. Not the LW’s business what and who she did before she even met him. Such controlling behaviour about her past is unacceptable and she should stay gone.


Yeah well she didn’t trust him with her truth, and wasn’t her judgement sound, as things turned out.
Sure if people want to share their sexual pasts with current partners. As shared life stories and as one feels ok to disclose. Some parts are not for public consumption, or forgotten, and anyone who thinks their SO’s past lived experiences are their property, is a jerk.


WOW--Griz is late into the game! I've got a lot of reading and comments to catch up with.
It's getting close to the Lucky @69 Award again! Tick...tick...tick...

@11 LavaGirl: Frankly, after one online visit out of sheer curiosity, I'm glad I never pursued dating sites any further and don't ever plan to. Ugh--just the term 'dating coach' alone leaves me queasy. To me, it sounds equivalent to an over-enthusiastic midwife, ecstatic about witnessing a screaming woman's agony of labor, childbirth, and delivery.
and @31 LavaGirl: Good comments for GRADS. I especially agree with your advice to GRADS to back off if his intoxicating beauty just says 'thanks, but no thanks', and he moves onto another love interest. I am hopeful that GRADS doesn't become so transfixed upon his fellow grad student of interest that if it doesn't become anything more, they can't stay friends (akin to a past relevant personal story I have shared in previous Savage Love installments).


BiDan@44~ “ is she supposed to recognise her date in a coffee shop if she has no idea what they look like?”...
You do it like we did in the olden days, “I’ll be the one with my dick hanging out, try not to step on it... (or the red shirt if you prefer)...”


@57. Dadddy. But presumably you don't either require or strongly expect virginity of your new partners?

The LW being a 'bad' person is your language; but I'd say he was an unsuitable partner and acted badly in going through her emails. First, his demeanor is such that she didn't think she could tell him about her affair. Clearly he never said anything to her like: 'You know I'm all for abstinence until you're in a long-term relationship, then for sticking together and trying to make it work. But people find their way to that lifestyle by different routes. If we want to put it in religious terms, people sin and find God. I want you to know that I wouldn't judge you if you found your way to a stable relationship after trying other things first'. Had he said anything like that, it's unlikely to me his ex would have persisted in her deception.

His first reaction of anger and disgust at her ex's affair hasn't subsided months after the event. He doesn't even seemed to have asked her basic questions like 'why did you have the affair? How did you feel for your lover?'. His reaction is immoderate in every sense. I wonder why, of all advice columnists, he's found Dan to write to?


@57. Dadddy. 'Why is she coming back for more?'. It would seem the only two guys she's been in multi-year romantic relationships with have been the husband and the LW. I'm going to go with 'she can do better'. As for knowing someone's interests better than they do themselves, that's the premiss of seeking and commenting on advice. It doesn't always hold up--but we're doing no more than giving an opinion...?

I don't think I am one degree of erotic separation away from Denzel Washington.... ;) But you never know. A Californian is in the forefront of everything and can be no more than ten degrees of separation away from everyone on the planet. What am I saying...? Essentially I know someone who knows someone who founded any startup on the planet--and the rest of the world is thoroughly alien and incomprehensible to me.


DCP123 @52: They're grad students. There's a very good chance she's a socially awkward nerd. Or she has a "don't shit where you eat" rule and for that reason has never considered GRADS as a romantic prospect, but might be open to that suggestion after the project has come to a close.

Dadddy @54: Dead wrong. Dan wrote: "Finding out about a past boyfriend doesn't give you the right to invade your partner's privacy and dig through their ancient e-mails. Your girlfriend was right to break up with you for snooping through her e-mails and judging her so harshly."

Dadddy @57: I agree she was cowardly and that she should have told him, to save wasting nine years on someone who was so judgmental. But we have all done things in our distant past that we regret, that we've learned from, and that aren't relevant to who we are today because we would not do those things again. A relationship should not be an interrogation. This was ancient history; surely anyone can see the good reasons she had for not wanting to talk about it?
"Then why is she coming back for more?" She had an affair with her boss for three years, and then she spent nine years with a judgmental jerk she was afraid to be fully herself with. She's coming back for more because she has terrible self-esteem. She should be reaching out to a therapist instead.

Harriet @61: "Bad person" is the LW's language.


Now, I am not saying that SAAD has no right to be upset. Of course he does. But he had no right to snoop through decade-old e-mails. What about talking to her? Getting her side of the story? He presumably loves her; shouldn't he have approached this news with an open mind and forgiveness in his heart? Let he who is without sin, etc?
I'll try to drop this thread because we have already discussed it to death in the SLLOTD, which is here for Dadddy's benefit:


"You should swap out prayer for masturbation." I am going to embroider that on a sampler and hang it over my bed.


What is he upset by, Fan? That the man was married or she had a three year affair she didn’t tell him about. Either way, I disagree. I don’t feel he has any right to be upset about her life before him, unless she was a criminal. Surprised yes, or confused, angry and upset, No.
These two didn’t connect deeply enough for her to share her story, maybe that’s why they were still dating after nine years.


Lava @66, I would be upset if someone I loved didn't feel they could share something like that with me. As Dadddy says, after nine years you'd think something that significant would have come up. In this case, though, as you say, the answer to "why didn't you trust me with this information" is self evident. He needs to work on himself if he wants to be the kind of person people feel they can open up to. These two need to work on themselves separately.


BiDanFan @43 -44:

Feel free to respond (of course), but I won’t be able to invest more time in this conversation. (Not trying to be shitty or dismissive, just slammed.)

1) Of course kinksters want relationships, too, and as I said before, they’re welcome (and active) on OKC, but when they use that platform, they are being catered to (by design) as people looking for a relationship, not as kinksters per se. Granted, I don’t have much time to invest in internet forums and my comments are hastily crafted, but looking over what I wrote, I think my meaning was clear enough when read in context. I try not to infer malign intent, but your characterization feels like a deliberate misreading.

2) How will they know who to look for? Really?!? Maybe the exact same way that blind dates knew who to look for in the decades before OKC? How about, “I’ll be the one standing outside the coffee shop with the gray scarf.”

3) If face pics are important to you, then you should only pursue profiles that have face pics.

We have a fundamental difference of opinion. From my POV, it’s obvious that “I had a good time, but I didn’t feel the right chemistry” ABSOLUTELY IS NOT as vague as “Can I see your face? Oh, sorry. You’re not my type.” The latter is a far harsher rejection. I’d much rather have a pleasant cup of coffee with somebody in a date that doesn’t go anywhere than have somebody basically say they aren’t interested in me now that they’ve seen my face. From my perspective, you’re trying to rationalize being inconsiderate for the time that it saves. It strikes me as a little callous.


Pythag @68: Thanks for the disclaimer. I never deliberately misread comments, because how does that further a conversation? We're all clear as day in our own heads. I guess we will agree to differ, because it strikes me as more than a little callous to string someone along by asking them on an actual date and then give them a vague dismissal than to ask them for a photo -- which is standard practice on dating apps -- and them give them a vague dismissal. Going back to Sublime's point, if someone asks me on an actual date I take that as an indication of potential interest. It's far more disappointing to put the investment of time into even a coffee date, and to get one's hopes up, and then to be dismissed with a vague "I didn't feel the right chemistry" which could come across as a cop-out. So yes, a fundamental difference of opinion as to whether it's crueler to be tactfully honest than to waste someone's time. I will agree with your point 3. If, indeed, you're approaching this as someone to whom shared kinks are far more important than looks, your approach may make sense. This is clearly not the case with NTKOS so it's not good advice for her.


By the way, the "how will they recognise their date" comment was tongue in cheek. Just seems weird to have to use pre-internet strategies of "I'll be the one in the grey scarf" when we now have the technology to just, you know, send a photo.


@27 No person in the history of PhD programs has ever said that they were in grad school. They always tell you they're in a PHD program, which is very different than grad school. That's like a rule of nature.


@71: I beg to differ.
When I was in my PhD program, I said "PhD program" and "grad school" interchangeably. I have heard plenty of people refer to their doctoral program as "grad school."

@63: Very few people in my program were socially awkward nerds. Maybe it was because we were in English, rather than in STEM, but I dislike perpetuating that STEM=nerd stereotype.

@Dan: my grad school / PhD program had a normative time of 6-7 years, meaning that it was considered normal and average to finish the program in 6-7 years; it was not unheard of for people to take 9-10 years to finish and defend their dissertations. It could be that these two have a lot longer to be in school together.


I'd just like to point out a seeming double standard when you pass on those who talk about your looks in the first message while also passing on those who don't give you a look at them.


For GRADS, the only advice I'd add to Dan's comment, is to keep things casual. Don't lead with "I'm madly in love with you and every time I see your face, I hear angels singing." If your feelings are not returned, things will get extremely awkward. So start out with something more low stakes. Maybe something like "I'd really like to take you out on a date sometime. Is that something you'd be interested in? If not, I understand and I'm happy to continue our friendship." (Only include that last bit if it's true, however. )

If they say yes, then you can date for a bit before expressing the depth of your feelings. If they say no, then be gracious, don't bring it up again, and do what you need to do in order to move on.


As a woman on OKC who does not have face pics (non monogamous/poly reasons) I really don't understand what the big deal is.
If I get into a conversation with someone and we have a couple back and forths, I will offer to send a pic or two... Why waste any more time? Certainly not coffee type date!!! If they are not interested, totally fine. Respond with a " you don't look to be my type" or " I am not feeling it in the looks department". Ghosting is stupid, but I find it cowardly in all circumstances except for abusive situations.

Just last month I chatted (and hit it off fairly well) with a guy who also didn't have face pics on his profile.
We exchanged pics.
As I was figuring out what wording I wanted to use to let him down he sent me a message, "Well I am sad to say I'm not feeling the spark of attraction".
Messaged him back that " I wasn't feeling it either, no harm no foul".
Fucking easy!

If someone doesn't have face/body pics up on a dating site they expect to not be everyone's cup of tea.


@46 He dumped HER, not the other way around. No one is saying they should stay together- hell, most of us are glad the woman is now free. I don't think he broke up with her just because she had a relationship with her boss, but because she'd had any relationship at ALL. After all, he did go snooping until he found out she'd had a different boyfriend (one that wasn't her boss). If this guy wants to date virgins, that's his prerogative. But acting as if the parameters of their relationship are one way and then for him to go "No, THESE have been the real rules all along!" while conveniently never tell your S.O the rules. I'm certain this isn't the first time he's changed a rule without letting her know, or set up an entirely false rule as a trap. Hopefully she'll do better with her next relationship.


“ their intelligence and beauty are simply intoxicating” How can this man wait, what, another half a decade maybe to declare himself?
If I was the object of such sweet devotion, I’d want to know. Long as he can resume as co students if his feelings aren’t returned, I don’t see what the problem is. They are both high achievers, solid ego strength on them.
Wish some man still found my beauty intoxicating. Those days are long gone, so he should grab it, and good luck to him.


"Most graduate programs are two years (some are less!)"

Oh sweet summer child.


@69 BiDanFan: Congratulations on scoring this week's highly coveted Lucky @69 Award!! May an endless cache of sweets and surprises delight you to no end soon.


Deep @76: Read the letter. "She broke up with me for looking and for judging her." We also don't know how he found out about the relationship with the boss; he said he discovered the past relationship and then he snooped, not that he discovered it by snooping. Not that it makes much difference, but if you want your opinion given weight it helps if you get your facts right.

Griz @79: Thank you!

Dadddy @80: I agree her judgment sucks. She had an affair with her married boss, she chose not to be honest, and now she's trying to re-establish ties with an asshole. Therapy, woman! Don't date anyone until you figure out why you're making these bad choices.


Dadddy@80, you don’t know they have wasted nine years. Her judgement about her life before him is her business, it wasn’t his past, it has no relevance to their time together, it should not freak him out, if he loved her. Which he obviously doesn’t.


Happy Easter everyone. Don't forget to go out and get nailed!


I am fuming at those people with a total lack of foresight who gave the manufacturer of that badly-conceived shirt announcing support for

BBQ (seriously? apparently, though, it was a publicity stunt of a barbecue restaurant in Kentucky)

the backlash the right wants. Same-sexer rights will be gone in a decade at this rate. The real killer is that I'll bet most of the uproar came from straight people, and of course they won't have to pay for it.


@85 fubar: Happy Easter, fubar! Big hugs, positrons, and VW beeps!
@86 vennominon: I agree. That is a truly awful t-shirt slogan (unfortunately, what can you expect from Kentucky, home of Senior Senate Leader, Mooch McDumbbell?). I must concur with commenter Catalina Vel-DuRay---Republicans are horrible people.


Not sure if wishing happy Easter is applicable.
Happy Resurection, a time for renewal and rebirth.


@88 LavaGirl: I like your thinking about renewal and rebirth. While we're getting closer to the next lucky number, I hope you win this week's Lucky Hunsky (@100). Your studly mountain man awaits!


Dragon @73: Let me rephrase: "I'd like to point out the seeming double standard of people who don't include a photo in their profile yet talk about people's looks in the first message they send." There, fixed it. Looks are part of a package in dating; either they're important or they're not.


Dragon @73: Apologies, I was conflating the two groups of respondents -- those who mentioned her looks and those without pics. You will see from her question that she rules out people who ONLY mention her looks, not people who mention them. So my point that looks are part of a package stands, and she's not being inconsistent when wanting her suitors to notice both looks and personality and wanting a photo so that she can do the same.


Dragon @73b: Apologies if this posts twice, I got an error message. I stand corrected -- I was conflating people who commented on her looks with people who had no pics. However, note she said she rules out people who ONLY comment on her looks. This supports my point that looks are part of a package; she wants someone to notice her looks and personality and she wants to be able to evaluate theirs. No double standard.


Whoops, it did post twice, but at least they are both numbered 91. :P


BiDan~ “...but at least they are both numbered 91...”

What kind of Easter shenanigans are going on around here?


GRADS...congratulations! You’ve been Peace Corps-ed!!!

Peace Corps volunteers assigned to a project together either fall in love/partner off at disproportionate rates (relative to background) or become lifelong friends (if not compatible sexual orientations). You have people in a stressful environment who are comparatively isolated coming to rely strongly on each other for comfort, support, and solidarity in the face of challenges. Emotional bonds are chemistry, like everything else. With a lack of other people with that shared background around, that chemistry often can turn sexual. (Yes, living in a foreign culture is challenging. I’ve done it multiple times, including grad school, and the culture shock was perhaps more difficult than the studying.)

Also, GRADS, I’ve noticed that male-identified people—who are socialized from an early age to hold their emotions close to their vests and that the only acceptable outlet is with a female friend or lover—fall into the Peace Corps trap A LOT. That need for emotional support plus physical proximity in a challenging environment morphs into physical attraction. If you’re a male-identified person whose object of affection is a female/femme, again, this is super common.

In your academic environment, telling someone of your crush is like a fart: once you’ve let it out you can’t take it back, and it smells up the room. At the same time, if you only quietly hover around the object of your attraction without saying anything, eventually they start to pick up on the silent-but-deadly farts around them. It’s awkward as hell for everyone.

The solution that will help you focus on your studies and not blow up your productive academic environment (as awkward crushes can do) is to GET OUT MORE. Expand your social circle with people who are not in your grad program.

Join the intramural kickball league. Find some people (who are not in your grad program) for pub quiz Thursdays. Find and attend a Meetup for that foreign language you’ve been practicing. Go to Saturday morning yoga. Make an effort for social, mental, and emotional interaction that’s outside of your academic environment. (Bonus: this may help manage the stress level of grad school, and doesn’t have to cost a dime.)

TL;DR, back off a bit, and make sure you’re not transferring challenge and proximity into intimacy FIRST.


Hunter78 @94: Haha. Good work. When they make trolling a university subject, or an Oscar category, you'll be a legend.


@96 fubar: Agreed and seconded that Hunter is indeed a trolling legend forever off his meds.

And the lucky Hunsky winner this week IS........!!!


Oh I hope it works out for grad and/or that he has a good sense of humor and doesn't take himself too seriously. This ended badly for me some time ago and even after a lot therapy provided a lot of pain and has turned out to define a good portion of who I turned out to be.


I can answer this from experience...been on both sides.

I highly recommend waiting until the program is finished. This was about 7 years ago. I was in Grad program and developed strong feelings for my classmate, we got along great and great laughs and banter throughout the program. I waited till the last day of the program and told her how I felt. Turns out, she never really saw me in that way and never had any sort of feelings of love or attraction to me whatsoever. Everything has been awkward since then between us to the point of no casual conversation. Luckily the program was over, we went our separate ways. whenever we met at conferences, it was just a hello and then we walk away from each other. Yes, super awkward.

Fast forward to this year, currently working as a professional, my unhappily married coworker developed feelings for me, she confessed her feelings and came on very strong one night when we were out drinking. I was pretty drunk and impaired (which she knew), so didn't really know what to think of it and she made out with me and things were getting hot and heavy very fast (no intercourse, just oral). luckily within 45 minutes, I was getting a little sober, came to my senses and stopped it right then and there. Told her explicitly that I am drunk, I don't want to do this and I have no interest in her because I never saw her that way and she is married. Then I bolted and ran home. I called her next morning reassuring her that I was drunk and I don't share the same feelings. We chatted and she said that she wasn't interested in me either and she was just trying to have some fun on the "side" as she is in an unhappy marriage. We came to mutual agreement that this was a drunken mistake and we should forget and move on with our normal work interaction and never talk about this or do this again. The work environment proceeded as normal and few weeks later I find out that she is divorcing her husband. Another couple of weeks go by, I get a call from her saying that she has strong feelings for me and she wanted that 'drunken' night to happen. She wanted me to know that her feelings were true, however, she is not expecting any reciprocation from me. I reassured her that I don't share the same feelings and this will never happen again even if she wants to. She has agreed to back off but the work environment is super awkward. I feel horrible about that drunken night even though it was aborted. And I have become a little antisocial at work, which people are starting to notice. Not sure what is going to happen, but I think I may have to find a new job. Sucks because I worked so hard last 3 years at this job setting my professional career.

In the movies, there is a fairy tale ending. But in real life, so often, there is nothing but awkwardness and social consequences that are difficult to deal with. I guess it is important to mention your feelings to someone, but the timing has to be right. Because there is always a chance that other person may not be on the same page. Being on both sides, I can imagine the emotional pain that my coworker is going through and sadly, I don't share the same feelings as her.


@100 NotASaint: Congratulations on scoring this week's Lucky Hunsky Award (@100)! May vast riches come your way in a lovely April shower soon.


Fubar @96, I'm never sure whether Hunter is actually trolling. It's completely in character for him to earnestly believe that "people have the right to fuck their bosses." Several years back he shared a story about how he shouted across the bar at his favourite barmaid, "You must be ovulating!" and could not understand why everyone thought that was inappropriate. He also believes everything women wear is a seduction attempt. There's no reasoning with "logic" like that -- I've tried -- so choosing to see it as trolling is probably better for your long-term mental health, no meds required.

NotASaint @100: Thank you for sharing your excellent examples of not shitting where one eats as a good life strategy.


NotaSaint@100~ Congrats on the century mark. My question is why is it so awkward at work? You have someone who is/was into you, that's a compliment. Accept it gracefully, and unless she just won't let it drop, things will cool off with a bit of time. Honesty is always the best policy, unless someone is going to get hurt. I've had feelings a couple times that weren't returned and while I was bummed out it didn't work out at least I knew where I stood and was able to move on from there. Nobody "owes" you a liking back. that's life. Sometimes it clicks, most of the times it doesn't. The nice thing to do is to let her know you may not have expressed yourself correctly, that you're not embarrassed by what happened ('cause that's life), it doesn't have to stay buried in a hole like a dirty bone, and you want to stay friendly work buddies 'cause you do like her, just not romantically.

A note: In my day, men were generally socialized to make the first move and (hopefully!) learned early how to take rejection. Judging by my college-age daughters, that is still kind of the expectation, though maybe not so iron-clad anymore. Still, a woman that is confident enough to make the first move is a big plus in my book, give her the props she deserves.

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