Savage Love Apr 30, 2019 at 4:00 pm


Joe Newton



Giving PROF the benefit of the doubt (on the question being real, on him not wanting to be an asshole):

The single most useful piece of advice for women in general who wish to date men but aren't going on dates is to ask out men in whom they're interested, because in general, they simply don't. They flirt, drop hints, etc. but overwhelmingly will not directly tell a man they are interested or ask him out on a date. (See this, for example - )

Because flirting is ambiguous - even when the target can and does accurately recognize it, lots of people flirt without interest in anything other than the flirting itself - it's going to be less and less functional as a sole strategy for attracting men as more and more men assume a default of sexual DISinterest in response to our ongoing cultural reckoning with sexual harassment, particularly in contexts where receptiveness to romantic or sexual overaturesis not an assumed norm (with the rise of online dating apps/services, this may include all of meatspace, even places like bars and clubs that were previously understood as places for single to meet and hit on each other).

Sample script, since apparently lots of women have literally zero experience asking men out: "Hey, I think you're really [cute, funny, kind, smart, etc. - pick a virtue that attracts you to the person and compliment it], and I'm into you [or "I fancy you" or whatever the term of art is for people in your region and age bracket - you want to be unambiguous, so avoid phrases with primarily non-sexual interpretations]. Would you like to go on a date with me [again, you want to avoid ambiguity, so phrases like "hang out," even as they've picked up additional, specifically sexual meanings, are a bad choice] next Thursday? Drinks at Sal's?" Pick a day you're free and suggest a specific place/activity. This avoids the passive declaration of wanting to do something without anyone ever making an actual plan, gives the person an out if they're not interested - busy! - and allows zir to suggest an alternative day or activity/location if ze actually does alreadyhave plans rather than not veing interested.

In PROF's case, the advice to ask out men in whom they're interested (before changing the subject to something safer) also resolves the question of whether they're hitting on him - say that to a woman who's flirting, and you've just explicitly instructed her to be direct if she's actually interested (in which case he can then explain why dating a student is inappropriate and suggest asking out people who aren't grading her papers). In the case they're not flirting, it's useful advice, doesn't cross boundaries, and highlights their agency, which is unlikely to cause professional problems (compared to, say, commenting on a student's body or even attire).


I wish Dan had also told PROF that offering "Just do this and your problem will be fixed!" advice to people sharing frustration about their love lives is rarely welcome.

Had PROF offered another fixer-ist strategy like "Smile more!" or "Go to more parties!" it would have been less shaming but equally callous and dismissive.


Also "stag" and "vixen" were hella weak efforts, Dan. These words already have sexual/romantic meanings, and the meaning of "stag" is not just different from but opposite to the one you propose here for cuck-but-not-cuck.


John @110: Excellent advice! I hope PROF is reading. As someone who, due to specific preferences, does take the initiative, I can add that the men they ask out will be thrilled to have the burden of asking lifted from them and pleased to meet a forthright woman. And men who don't want confident, liberated women, well, should be consigned to the trash heap anyway.

Hexprone @111: You're correct as well. What they want is either to express interest in PROF in an easily deniable way, or commiseration. They definitely do not want to be told that they are fat.


I'm always fascinated by larger people suggesting they can't find love... between people who can see the "inner self" and other bigger people whats the problem? Discuss.


Good idea John. Then straight after, he could say
‘ it’s not appropriate you young women share these sorts of details with me. Perhaps the student centre would be much better a place to take these concern.’
Fair or not, this is not the climate to be ambiguous with young women, particularly. While we focus a lot on men’s problems, the women seem to get a pass. Many a young woman, slighted by a man, may get nasty. This man has a good job, he needs to be mindful to protect it.
Appropriate distance from students, will help him achieve that.


Dan’s right, there are a lot of obese people in our culture now. Nobody walks anymore and many eat terrible terrible food. Capitalism serves the so few.


Yes Fan, I went after men in my youth.
I remember one time, must have been twenty four or so, I went with one guy to a Uni ball.. it was a very new connection with this guy. So at the ball, I fell for this young man, a newly minted Dr. The next day the first boy and I went to the Dr’s house, and I wrote down his phone number.
Later I rang him and we had a delicious time together.
Not excusing myself, can see the difficulty in my young woman behaviour.



"the question is not whether the girls in question would have more dating success if they lost 20 pounds"

I would respectfully note that Dan forced this question upon us when he asserted "it's not true" that "dropping 20 pounds might help [one's] dating prospects".

That's a pretty unequivocal example of Saying What You're Supposed to Say, rather than Speaking the Truth. And in this case, choosing not to speak the truth is denying one hell of a lot of experience lived by people who have been both fat and thin, and who can attest to the way the world changes in each case.

Note that I'm NOT claiming "Just drop 20 pounds and they'll practically be knocking down your door!" I'll grant that a significant number of people look better when they're overweight or even obese; some people have a harsh, angular "thin face". And things like facial symmetry, hygiene, fashion sense, etc. are also surface-level disqualifiers.

But it's just not honest of Dan to assert there's no correlation between a person's obesity and their odds in the dating pool, especially when you're talking about people under 25. When you're over 35, that equation starts to shift in favor of fat acceptance, sure -- but not at college age.


Professor, don’t take your cues from young women, they can get dangerous.
You are the Adult here.


Sorry, my post #118 should have been @101.


Lava @ 94/5
BDF @ 97
I felt we were a bit harsh on LW1, maybe yet another mild sporty. I rest my case.

Many others- thanks for the thoughtful prof advice.

Nancy may@ 121
Great prose and a fairly fertile ground for erasure poetry:
Today i was a subject i took in the first time. my my I want all the women out there


@98 BiDanFan: I did, in @74. @69, ciods, has been properly congratulated. AND
@100 LavaGirl: WHA-HOOOOOO!!!! Major congratulations to LavaGirl @100 for scoring the highly coveted Hunsky Award! It couldn't go to a more deserving gal. Savor the riches!

Is anybody up for the Double Whammy (Lucky @69 + Hunsky= @169 Award, provided we get that far)?


@103 LavaGirl: At long last! Congratulations, Lava---I was hoping you'd nail it sooner or later.


WE, CMD? I don’t think I was harsh. He needs to wake up to himself before he lands in trouble and loses his job. Thanks anyway for your policing.


Thanks Grizelda. Hugs to you.


Lava @117: I don't see how you did anything that needs excusing. You were 20. You were not in a committed relationship with this guy, far from it. If you'd kept seeing them both while claiming to be exclusive, that would have been wrong, but that does not seem the case. You behaved like a person who was single, and good for you.

CMD @122: The first LW is female. Surely if people were harsh towards her, that would disprove Sporty's argument? A few, including myself, did give "constructive criticism" type advice, but only John @107 (and Dadddy of course) were harsh towards her. If you see that a LW made a misstep, surely it is pointless to falsely tell them they've done nothing wrong, far better to offer suggestions for improvement? Lava @95 offers the very epitome of a balanced comment -- both parties assigned part of the blame. If you mean people were harsh on PROF, I think we'd have been equally unkind, if not more so, to a woman who wondered if she should tell friends asking for dating advice that they should lose weight. I doubt many women would think such a thing, though, as we have direct experience of body shaming and don't have to ask whether it's a shitty thing to do.

What I hope we don't see here is people feeling they should hold back on their comments lest they incur the wrath of Sportlandia by giving their true thoughts about LWs who happen to be both male and misguided. Fortunately I am not seeing that, because he's off base with his accusations.


Lava, BDF
Looks like I got lost in explanation, so here is take 2:
By “we” I meant the vast majority of commenters. And while I thought LW1 got an easier ride compared to the to other writers this week your said posts indicated otherwise, which made me think I pulled my very own mild sporty and decided to drop the case.


Dan's advice to PROF is solid -- err on the side of shutting the hell up -- but his statement about the reasons these women are single seems uncharacteristically naive.

Just as a majority of women have a preference for tall men, many / most men have a preference for thinner women (or women who are fit). For that matter, in the past I think Dan has himself mentioned that he made his husband staying in shape a condition of their relationship. (Though I could be misremembering.)

Short men and overweight women are not doomed, but they pay a hefty price in the dating market. A woman who is overweight will indeed substantially improve her prospects by losing weight. Not by going for "heroin chic," but by adopting healthy eating habits and exercising regularly. That's true for men as well, but especially for women.

I don't think the gender imbalance in college explains the lack of dates. Presumably these women also have access to dating apps, bars, and part-time jobs staffed by young adults. Things will only get worse as they get older. They'll find jobs in fields with a more equal gender ratio, maybe. But unlike college, their coworkers are less likely to be single and in the right age range. (And it's often a bad idea to date coworkers, anyway.)

Encouraging these women to lose weight is a terrible idea: it's not his place. But here's how he can sneak it in. He could say: "Dating sucks, and it doesn't seem to get any easier. But you can improve your odds by treating yourself well, by being physically and emotionally healthy. Go out and do interesting things, and try to avoid becoming bitter -- that's an unattractive quality. And remember, don't ever let yourself wind up with someone who mistreats you or puts you down. At first it might seem better than being alone, but in the end it's far worse."


For HBSIT, presuming that spirolactone is causing her intestinal distress (common side effect), she might want to explore changing to a spiro alternative, such as finasteride or dutasteride. A number of my trans female/femme friends quite dislike spiro, and have found finasteride to be much better. Its more expensive than spiro, and most providers dont mention it unless the patient brings it up. For more info:

Yeah, and practice, practice, practice!


ITCH reminded me of this video.


@129: "Dan's advice to PROF is solid...but his statement about the reasons these women are single seems uncharacteristically naive."

I don't see it as naive, quite the opposite. Dan's weathered some serious shitstorms from the fat acceptance movement before, so I think he's saying whatever he thinks will keep them at bay.

That is: to say that their weight is harming their chances would be (wrongly) seen as implying that it's their fault, so the whole thing is better avoided like the third rail that it is.

It's understandable, but it's also untruthful, IMHO.


The fat acceptance movement doesn't represent fat people and they do not represent the real life problems fat people face. If they all moved to Samoa and stayed there nobody would complain.


@104 LavaGirl: You just nailed reason #1 why I had to leave my one toxic marriage. My ex-husband had unresolved anger issues. He couldn't love me or anyone else because he was so full of self-loathing. The ugly cycle from his upbringing was repeating itself, passed down from his father and grandfather.
I have never planned on bearing children and knew damned well even then that having any kids with so damaged a man would have been an irreparably fatal mistake.


Good Call Grizelda. Since my marriage ended, and he took his anger elsewhere, I’ve insisted that the family no longer use anger to express themselves. One can get one’s point across without yelling and saying abusive things.
Our property is an Anger Free Zone.


It’s taken years though, to retrain my sons, my daughter is out doing her family elsewhere. A couple of them still try it on when they get home.


Mx Wanna - I didn't think people were necessarily being too easy on LW1, although I would have leaned more to Ms Lava's side had I had sufficient interest in L1 to comment about the participants. The only interesting thing to me about that letter was that Mr Savage thought BF1 qualified for a DTMFA on such slight evidence, which made me wish this column had its own version of Greg Sharko (statistician supreme who could tell you in a quarter of a minute whether, say, John Isner or Ivo Karlovic hit more aces in 2014.


Venn @137: In fairness, it was SORE herself who asked "should I DTMFA?" Dan might not have used that term otherwise, or he might have. If there is any bias in Dan's advice (and some folks' reactions, including my own), it's a bias toward the idea that non-monogamous people are entitled to non-monogamy. So the boyfriend is "manipulative" and an "MF" rather than confused about what he wants, whereas SORE herself got no flak (from Dan, though several commenters picked up on it) for being unclear. Lava @95 did a good job apportioning the blame between the two.


Ooooo--we're getting closer to the highly coveted Double Whammy Award (@169= @100 + @69)! Tick...tick...tick....


@135 LavaGirl: I'm so glad to be out of such a nightmare situation. And my beloved Love Beetle, cats, and music bring me so much peace.


Ms Fan - True, it was LW's term, but there was no need to give it an unqualified agreement. I'll agree that the far clearer bias is in favour of non-monogamy. I still wish this column had a version of Mr Sharko, though.

Now that I think of it, BF1 reminds me of Lady Middleton in Sense and Sensibility, resigning herself to the impending visit of the Miss Steeles (in whose gentility she could have no confidence) by giving Sir John a gentle reprimand on the subject five or six times every day. Such once comprised "all the philosophy of a well-bred woman". Lady Bertram in Mansfield Park, who never goes to the trouble of raising her voice, might be considered a variation. BF1 acts in a similar manner, but qualifies for an MF.

Mr Hunter - Oh, the snide tone was excellent. It might not have been deserved, but, to revive my favourite Serena Williams quote about Elena Dementieva, Mr Savage should play like that more often.


Re: fat acceptance movement extremists- If a person wrote in asking if losing weight were likely to help them with their dating prospects, it would be relevant and interesting for us to consider how the criticism Dan has faced in the past affects his response. But this is an entirely hypothetical scenario since that's not what happened. The question is if the prof should comment on his students' weight and the answer is obviously no. As for Dan inserting the issue about whether or not being overweight actually affects their dating prospects, again he is correct here. Most Americans are overweight. Most of them manage to date and marry anyway. That's all he said. Is it easier to date if you are conventionally attractive? I'm sure it is. It is also likely easier to date if you are wealthy, if you have a lot of free time, if you are an interesting or charismatic or sociable person, if you are involved in a lot of social activities where you meet lots of people, if you live in a city instead of an isolated rural area, if you are neurotypical, if you put yourself out there more, etc. There is an endless number of things that make dating easier or harder for someone and the prof here is talking about "several" different people. So he literally has no fucking idea what it is that is making it difficult for them to find dates (or even if this is true- they might just be flirting with him or it might be something he's doing that is encouraging this conversation b/c it's weird that it's happened with "several" students). Therefore, regardless of whether or not being overweight is one of hundreds of things that make dating more difficult for some people, there might likewise be other things that make it difficult or other things that make it easier for them, and these things will be different for each student. Since most Americans are overweight (which means most of the potential partners are overweight as well) and since most overweight Americans do find partners, it is wrong for the prof to conclude that what's standing between each of these "several" students and partnership is 20 pounds. The conversation about how Dan would respond to an overweight person of any gender who had, themselves, identified their physical appearance as an issue in their dating prospects is irrelevant here.


Lava #117 - first read that as "I went after one guy with a UniBall,' and pictured you chasing down some dude while riding something that looked like BB-8 from Star Wars.
"Stop running, you boundah!"
Re the Fat Thing, which, like several other topics comes 'round here every year or so, like a comet, this is totally the most civil discourse I've seen on it yet on a SL thread. Cheers, all.
My readings echo what #104 said - I've been a pro trainer for not quite 30 years now, so reading people who say "If you're fat, you're stuck, and you'll never change" is like being a very experienced swim coach reading that nobody can swim, it's impossible, and to prove it I once jumped in the deep end of a pool with no training and almost drowned (not a bad analogy for how most people go about it, but...)
Lindy has her meal ticket, and part of it is outrage. Susan Powter, another Seattle native, had an opposite-but-same rap, "...and everyone's trying to shut me up, but you can't shut me up, and by the way send some money this way."
Whether she'll ride it 'till she augers in, or do a Camryn Mannheim and spend years telling people that fat is awesome then use some of her considerable wealth to get said fat hoovered off, an option not open to many of her devotees, I guess we'll all see.
I always like when Ricardo jumps on this particular comet; he's gay and into chubby dudes, which makes him immune, when he talks about the US having an obesity problem, to most of the common rejoinders.

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