L-dub #1, stop dating monogamously inclined people monogamously who you plan on switching to open. Yes, you fully disclosed so you passed the internet ethics test, but you are just setting up the other person to feel terribly in the future. If open is what you need, start and keep your relationships open.
LW1- what @ 1 said. Also, what is “That time has come much quicker than I anticipated” all about? Was it his initiative or something he was forced to accept too soon for his itching digestive system? Is it something you could have done slower, together, and also help him find female partners in a territory where you are much more likely to find yours?
Pulling a mild sportlandia, if last LW’s girlfriend should have allowed more time to recognize his greatness then why not wait a little longer till your bf is reading the New York Times?
I've had a similar question as LW2, since I do enjoy thinking about my husband having sex with others as well as hearing about it and seeing him flirt. I don't necessarily want to watch though and I don't feel cuckolded at all, and I've always wondered what word works for this. I love "hot husbanding" as it sums up pretty well how I feel about it- “look how fucking hot this man is.”
Date Tectonics, it's fine if you break up with anyone for whatever reason and if you feel this makes you incompatible then good enough. I wouldn't seriously date someone who was a picky eater for example. But it would be pretty shitty if you told her you were breaking up with her because she is a dumb Mormon or whatever. People have different interests in life and have different backgrounds and different opportunities. That's all fine, nothing wrong with that, it just means you aren't compatible. Hope you found a nice way to say there was no future. So I disagree with Dan slightly here. Just as you have every right to go out and date someone with interests and curiosities of your own, she has every right to not be curious about the things you like. It just means you are incompatible not that you did her a favor.
Professor- First off, they are either hitting on you or seeking validation from a male authority or enjoying the whining and gossiping. No way they are actually seeking objective dating advice.
Second don't comment on either their dating lives or their body shapes. Ethics aside, my dude, your professional reputation is on the line. What happens if these students get their panties in a wad over what you say?
Third even if their weight is a factor, do you really think there are college aged women who don't know how much they weigh? That it's never occurred to them to drop a few pounds?
Fourth you have no idea why they're having trouble finding dates- it could be literally anything- their looks, their habits, their personal lives, the numbers game Dan mentions- or it could be a lie and they are toying with you.
My guess is you've encouraged this sort of talk with students since “several” of them have come to you with their dating frustrations, but on the off-chance that you are socially awkward and genuinely concerned (and not just looking for a way to tell them they are fat), I'm going to give you actual advice about what to say when this comes up again. Practice it, my man:
"It's hard for people of all ages to be lonely. I recommend that young people focus on their studies, professional goals and hobbies instead of being in a hurry to date. Life is an adventure, and who knows where it will take you or who you will meet. What do you want to do after you graduate?" If the conversation does not immediately switch to their career/academic plans, you tell them directly "As your professor, I do not feel comfortable talking to you about your dating prospects."
BTW, you can use this formula for just about any inappropriate conversation started by a young person with whom you have a professional relationship. I’ll break it down for you because you appear to need it:
1. Validate with distant empathy which is not personal or specific.
2. Give some generalized wholesome cliched life advice that mostly avoids the specific inappropriate topic.
3. Ask a question that returns the conversation to appropriate topics.
4. If the young person returns to the inappropriate topic after this, shut the conversation down directly.
Date Tectonics, Hell no, not you... Other people reading: when someone doesn't know something that is cool (ie the ground we live on is mong versy slowly over the earth as it floats on the mantle) don't be a dick about it. They get to learn something real cool that day. I had a adult friend (a molecular biologist) who didn't know what a Beluga was from the Raffi song "Baby Beluga". Guess what, he got to learn about a really cool arctic animal.
There is much more in the world than you dream of in your philosophy and you clearly have lost all sense of joy in discovering it.
Go spend three weeks learning about something of which you now know nothing. Get some joy and some humility back. Only then re-enter the dating pool.
Date Tectonics, I would imagine that the majority of women - and men - wouldn't be able to discuss plate tectonics with you. (I've got a master's degree, and I barely know what they are.) Even more problematic, the majority of women don't want to date condescending assholes. Enjoy your tiny dating pool.
Date Techtonics - A lot of people here, and Dan, are assuming that you were being snotty about having superior knowledge - but I re-read your letter and no, you're put off by someone who's fundamentally incurious.
If that's the case, she's not the person for you, for sure. Ignorance is one thing - there's just too much interesting stuff in the world for anyone to learn more than a tiny fraction of it. Lack of curiosity about how things work, however, condemns people to a life without much thinking. Which is fine if that's what they want, but it's a nightmare for people who are perpetually curious about the world to be stuck with someone who just doesn't care about any of it. Like getting stuck with Mrs. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. Gives me the creeps thinking about it.
I think the prof should just refer the students to the letter that Dan uses re: the high school guys and tell them to substitute their lives for the teenage boy: focus on school so you're smart and interesting/interested in smart things, work out so you feel good about yourself, make friends, etc. Then the dates will come.
I'm on the fence about breaking up with someone because they don't know something. As Dan said, everyone doesn't know something so this is an opportunity to discuss/share. At the same time, if the woman was not curious at all (basically a reality TV watcher who spends her free time swiping through celebrity gossip sites while she checks for split ends) then moving on is the way to go.
Really?! Do we need to be telling a supposed COLLEGE PROFESSOR that passing out advice to girls on how better to get laid may not be the smartest move A COLLEGE PROFESSOR could make? And really?! Do we believe that “SEVERAL female students have confided in (him) they're having trouble finding guys...”?
I’m smelling a bit of the bullshit here...
Really?! A COLLEGE PROFESSOR is using knowledge of plate tectonics as well as Science! Politics! Philosophy! As his measuring stick for satisfactorily (sp?) getting his dick wet, but is baffled about what to do when the ladies don’t measure up? Are all these COLLEGE PROFESSORS employed by Faber College?
Really?! A letter on how to INCREASE anal itching?! Geez, just do what every farm boy does and stick a thistle up your ass.
Apologies to Seth and Amy...
The word LW2 could be looking for is "compersion". Wiktionary defines compersion as "The feeling of joy associated with seeing a loved one love another; contrasted with jealousy." It's more about being really happy that your partner is getting some, rather than getting your rocks off at the thought of them having sex with someone else, but it's related.
If Mr. Tectonics is correctly addressing "not curious", that is a pretty stable personality trait, not something you'd learn your way out of in months or a year, and how long do you want to gamble on it for?
(Common exception: if someone is recently out of a mentally restrictive environment or upbringing. Not clear how recently this one was Mormon-raised.)
Literal "because she didn't know what plate tectonics was", though, is a clear eyeroll move.
Whatever, you're best broken up with her, whether she's incurious or you're a prat or both, because you don't respect her.
Date Tectonics, as a geologist I loved your by-line. Over the years, I've found that while the exterior package may be hot and the sex great, a lack of intelligence and curiosity in a person becomes a deal breaker for me. An intelligent mind goes a long, long way in making the person sexy and interesting, even if the exterior is "average'. Can't tell you how many astrophysicists and theoretical physicists rock my boat in a big way! Or psychologists, chemists, other geologists, etc.
ITCH—Use artist's soap, the kind that has sand in it, to get paint (and skin) off hands. Or just use sand.
Date Tectonics! Ye Gods! Tone down the exclamation points!
Where has PROF been? I'd say he's part of the PROB.
@10 DonnyKlicious for the WIN.
@12 Her lack of knowledge about plate tectonics was an example, not really the cause. His main problem is that she is a person who is lacking in basic curiosity about the physical world and how it works. That's fine - the majority of people are oblivious to the fundamentals of existence, don't care, and are perfectly happy with that. But for some, that's a major mismatch.
Basic plate tectonics serves as a good stand in for that kind of knowledge about the physical world, because it is one of the fundamental pieces of the puzzle; it's effects have, among other things, probably provided the environment needed for the beginnings of life, where the plates pull apart in the deep sea - which is more interesting to some people than which Kardashian is in the news right now or what Cristiano Ronaldo is up to. Plate tectonics is important for understanding how mountains happen, how the monsoons move, how mineral deposits form - lots of things. It's like other major pieces of the puzzle of how the world works which are also interesting (to some of us). How water cycles through the biosphere is fascinating - and critical for the future of humans - but it's just boring geeky stuff for a lot of people.
If, over time, you find that the person you're with is completely uninterested in such things and spends his or her time happily following current cultural memes and worrying about neti pots or football or shoes, that's a serious mismatch if understanding the basics of our physical world is important and pleasurable to you.
When there's a mismatch of basic curiosity about the world, it's more respectful to leave someone who's criteria for moving through life are so different from yours, if that difference has become painful. I'd say to the LW, go find someone who's fascinated by fluid dynamics or forest floor mycelia, and glory in the wonders of the universe together.
I've watched the de-evolution of the American body from afar for the last 30 years or so. It's ... disheartening. More disturbing is that, in the last 15 years or so, it's crept in over here.
I do understand it's not politically correct that, um, young people should not be, um, fat. So I'll, um, refrain, from speaking my mind.
For Horny But Sex Is Thorny -- Dan's advice was solid.
I'll just add that hand jobs and frottage (rubbing on each other) can also be very fun for both people. And kink! If you haven't tried light impact play (like spanking), it's easy, harmless and gratifying (for those who are into that sort of thing).
SORE, another example of the 90-day money-back guarantee period. In future, don't tell prospective partners that you will want to open your relationship "at some point." The point is now. There will not be a period of monogamy followed by non-monogamy. You are non-monogamous and there will not be a second date unless they accept that. Hint, get an OKCupid profile where you can limit your search to other non-monogamous people. Works like a charm.
"Stags and vixens" still implies that it's the woman who's (mainly) doing the banging of others. It gets the implication of marriage out of the picture, but is nowhere near unisex/pan-orientation. To take a word from the poly community, what about "compersion fetish"? Or just plain old swinging?
HBSIT, speak to your doctor. If hormones are interfering with both your sexual and digestive functions, you may be on the wrong mix of hormones. Yes, you may need to make a compromise between a more feminine appearance and more reliable use of your penis. Also, the number one factor in being good at oral is being enthusiastic about it -- so you're probably better than you think! Ask your partners what they like and for feedback; remember that everyone's preferences are different and let them guide you. Good luck.
Wow, PROF, no wonder you're single. Dan's right: loads of guys like "obese" women (if these women need to lose just 20 pounds, they are not "obese"). They just aren't in class with these women. Girls mature faster than boys, meaning that most undergraduate guys are too immature for undergraduate gals. I have no idea why these women are confiding in you, but tell them that it's not them, it's the guys (which they no doubt already know), and reassure them that there are decent men off campus.
DT, to come full circle, no one is ever wrong for taking advantage of the 90-day money-back guarantee period. You weren't feeling it, so you ended it. Maybe you should get PROF to hook you up with some of his students.
CMD @3: I took "That time has come much quicker than I anticipated" to mean she met someone else she fancies sooner than she usually does when she is in a period of NRE (new relationship energy). Also, ixnay to the idea that people need to match-make their partners. Boyfriend is an adult, he can source his own women. The most poly people owe their partners is consideration and as much information as the partner wants/needs about one's other relationships. Noting that if what one person needs is incompatible with what the other wants to share, they may not be right for each other.
EmmaLiz @4: Would "hotspousing" be a good word? I think that the popularity of "hotwifing" means it's clear that the couple does not need to literally be married.
EmmaLiz @5: Amen to all of your points. If PROF is single, there is a good chance what these women are hinting at is "All my peers are so immature, why can't I find a mature guy with a good job... like, I dunno, you for instance?" Or they just want sympathy from a mature man. Shame PROF doesn't qualify. ;-)
Phas @11: Close -- see my comment @21. Compersion means feeling happy, not aroused, by your partner's other relationships -- hence my suggestion of "compersion fetish" or possibly "compersion kink" to give it the element of turn-on.
plate tectonics, can bedroom talk get any dirtier?
Professor, c’mon you can’t be that ignorant. Do not talk with women students about intimate issues, it can lead to trouble.
PROF is tempted by the thought of sex with his students but douses this urge in cold water by allowing himself to think they're unattractive because they're fat. If his letter represents the standards of self-knowledge among college professors, then really ... well, I'm glad I didn't go into the profession. The reason his students can't find a boyfriend isn't because they're overweight. There's a whole bundle of reasons--like they're not proactively looking--could be busy working; they're casting their net too narrowly; they've internalised gender roles that make them wait to be chosen, not choose themselves, etc. And maybe 'fat' intreacts with these--but geez! there are scads of men who date smart, fat women. Is the LW prof secretly one of them? Should he try kik for fat people?
It would be impossible to dump someone for not knowing what 'plate tectonics' are without getting into a dynamic where 'you're' smart and your partner is appallingly ignorant. This is perhaps what the LW likes--the dominance, a sort of roleplay dominance. And he's thrown it away...!? Of course if she's genuinely incurious or wants to fall back on religious or moral certainties ('I don't care about plate tectonics because I think ultimately God made the world. And He has a plan for us'), then they're unlikely to have a future.
Plate tectonics ... the earth moved.
LW1: Yeah, chiming in with everyone else to say that you shouldn't enter a monogamous relationship if you don't want to be monogamous (even if you tell the person that there's a limited time-period on the monogamy). That being said, he was also kinda a dumbass who set himself up for grief - though in fairness maybe he thought he'd change his mind later on. However, this is all pretty irrelevant - as is your letter to Dan. Why are you wondering about (and writing letters about) what his reaction will be like? Just tell him and then deal with what happens - probably a breakup, but still, get on with it already.
Not-Cuck: Just say you're swingers who like swinging?
Itchy Butt Guy: wow, you finally wrote a letter that made Dan go "please don't tell me more." Impressive.
TransGirl: Many girls make do with hands and toys - I'm sure you can too.
Prof: Tell them to focus on themselves, their friends, and their studies - and stop worrying about the boys.
DT: If you didn't like her, you didn't like her. Just don't go whining that your next girlfriend is too smart and makes you feel dumb.
My god, my love life I now see has been deficient. No lover and I have ever talked about plate tectonics. There’s still time.
Yes, it’s good to find a partner who has a similar intelligence to oneself, isn’t that plain common sense. Which this self important doofus seems to be lacking. Rude man.
The first LW, the woman wanting to open her relationship after just a few months, needs to say, 'you agreed in principle. Now are you going to stick to it or is it the end for us?'. At the moment she hasn't (apparently) told her bf she wants sex with someone else. Is it with a particular person? Does she still want to be with her current partner? Even if she's by identification or self-understanding nonmonogamous, there should be no embarrassment in changing from one partner to another (somehow more attractive or 'better') after a few months' dating.
What TransGirl brings to sex is herself--her character, her personality, her imagination. That's a lot. Almost everything. It's sad she thinks she's 'broken'. But this is not an issue of fundamental incapacity. That's rare in sex. One does get better at oral with practice. Dan is right about subbing out your dick for a dido. A trans or nonbinary person will likely have no problem with this. It's always come to me as a relief.
@5. Emma. Yes, I thought it possible his students were hitting on him.
@10. Donny. Yes, 'satisfactorily'. I can imagine some of the LWs share the same issues. Like the plate tectonics guy might have an itchy ass.
@14. Wordwizard. Excellent suggestion!
@17. Marty. 'Fat' and 'fit' are two different things. And he's talking about 20lbs. Someone could be 20lbs heavier and fitter.
Echoing what others have said about Prof. Something weird is going on if "several" female students have confided in him. Dan tells him what not to say but doesn't offer advice on what to say. The right thing to say is that the campus has a counseling center and their questions are better directed there.
There's also the thing about 20 pounds overweight being obese. It's not at all unusual for students to go from a home where they have access to cooking their own meals to a dorm/campus food center where they're essentially eating out all the time. Students put on weight. It's such a common phenomenon it's called the "freshman fifteen." Normally I'm the first to say that dieting doesn't work, but in this specific instance, it often does. If it's someone who has always been on the zaftig side, then cutting calories isn't going to work. If it's someone who has always been one weight, has spent 4 months getting more than the usual calories and has therefore gained, then going back to getting fewer calories (i.e. dieting) will generally result in losing the extra pounds.
But that's an aside and has little to do with PROF's question.
With Date Tectonics I'm going with both. There is an incompatibility problem if science and learning are important to him but not to her. But he also sounds like an insufferable snob. I don't know anything about plate tectonics but I could probably feign interest, particularly during the early stages of a relationship. Haha. They should both find other people they're better matched with intellectually.
Lack of knowledge or interest any particular subject in not a deal breaker. Lack of intellectual curiosity is.
@5 EmmaLiz advice to PROF is spot on.
Also: how weird is it that a college professor sends this question to a sex advice columnist? Telling a young woman she's fat sounds like standard negging behaviour to try to get into her pants, and I have the nagging feeling that's what PROF's question is all about.
If PROF is sincerely worried about his students' well being, and things obesity is a problem in his campus, he should be directing his energy to help in more structural ways, like campaigning to ensure that are affordable places to eat healthy food in campus, good cycling lanes, fun outdoor activities...
I think the LW is correct that being obese at college can be a problem. I went to a college where everyone was skinny except for me. Statistics about the majority of Americans being overweight have no relevance in small environments like college. That's like saying most Americans are at a certain income level, it doesn't help in a school for rich kids. Unless something was edited out we don't even know if the college is American either.
Date Tectonics- I don't know if science guy came across as a snob or not. If LW is older then I'll go with snobby, but if they are young, I'm going with inexperienced. A lot of people who grow up in a certain kind of way are often shocked to find out that other people around them have had an entirely different set of experiences, especially if you grew up in a way that's considered the 'norm' or 'successful'- like middle class, good in school, professional prospects, etc- especially if they are young. Lots of young people think smart = good in school. People like that can sometimes get well into adulthood before they learn that there are a million ways to be smart and interesting. I agree that it's the lack of curiosity - not the lack of knowledge- they're referring to, but there are people who want to teach you things and who go on about their own interests a lot, and they can be a bore if you don't share their passions. She might be a curious person, just not about the stuff he's into.
Dieting- Years of consistent physical activity combined with avoiding certain foods (not dieting but not eating sugary stuff or deep friend stuff or sodas or fast food / instant meals etc) definitely works to keep people fit. It may not make them thin since people have different body shapes, but unless someone has some health problem, they should not become obese if they are physically active and eat well. Not to blame people- We live in a society where it's not the norm to get into healthy routines- it's an exception and a lot of work depending on where/how you live- and once you get big, it's hard to lose it, and some are big as kids. The problem is lifestyle not a particular diet and that's hard to change individually. But I do think it's a little defeating to tell people that there's nothing we can do about obesity, that nothing works and some people are just going to be fat- in my 40s now and my truly obese friends can no longer walk a mile even much less get up and down off the floor without pulling up on something so I don't know how they will possibly manage old age. But regarding the prof's letter: the women didn't ask him about weight loss (though he should stay out of that conversation too unless he's in some field where it might be relevant) and the women are not obese.
Hotspousing- I think the word "wife" and "husband" resonate because it's gendered and old-fashioned and therefore has an element of possessiveness or pride to it? Like, this man is so fucking hot and he's my husband. But it's not possessiveness alone because there's also a sense of pride- like when you see a person you really love doing something that brings them joy and you are happy for them but also proud they are with you. Only also there's a raw raunchy element since we're talking about fucking. "Spouse" might work too for some but I don't think it resonates with quite the same feeling- seems too modern and clinical. And I don't know about hotboyfriending or hot partnering or whatever. Doesn't have the same 'This amazing hot sexy person is in my life forevah' feel.
BDF @ 22
You’re right in principle re LW1’s long-term approach.
Yet knowing bf was reluctant to have an open relationship she could have taken some slower steps to make it easier on all involved, which is what I alluded to.
Boyfriend agreed to “When the time came.” Maybe "much quicker" was too soon for him and influenced his current attitude. Not necessarily justifying his behavior, just pointing out to a possible approach that could have made it smoother.
Here’s the first part of the letter:
I've been with my boyfriend for a few months. Prior to dating, I was clear with him that I would need to open our relationship at some point. He initially hesitated to respond, but then agreed we could do that when the time came. That time has come much quicker than I anticipated…”
FAT and DATING. I've noted an odd trend... people are either really super fit, or frankly, fat. A very wonderful chunky girl I used to work with finally found her chunky prince charming in her late 30s. They're happily married with two little girls. So love comes in all sizes.
PAN person. Pharmaceuticals that impact your hormones have a million side effects, including emotional issues. It seems like many people entering transition have been given a somewhat polly anna overview of how this is all going to work. Perhaps once things are settled they're better? Frankly, if I thought my future life would be sexless because I felt a need to be pan / trans / whatever... well... I might rethink things.
OPEN GF. If I started dating someone who said they may eventually want an open relationship, and they came back after THREE MONTHS... then I would think this isn't a "relationship" at all
@8 Yeah, while I agree with Dan and others that this guy is a know-it-all douche (and definitely like 22, this screams "just out of college, haven't yet realized that my degree doesn't make me a better person"), there is something underneath it.
I dated a very nice girl who I had a lot of fun with who just wasn't very curious about the world. She'd regurgitate things other people posted on Facebook but wasn't interested in really thinking about anything - an uninformed faux-social-justice-warrior if you will. It wasn't the only reason we broke up (and we were never headed to the altar anyways) but it played a role. And that's fine. She's happily married and is a fine person, just not someone I'd want to shack up with for the long haul.
We'd all be a lot better off if we realized that not everyone needs to be us.
@39 Agree with all of this with one quibble. You're right about dieting and obesity but it needs the caveat for-most-people. There are medical conditions and glandular problems that can make obesity biologically based. They're significantly less common than people claim but they do exist. For most people diet and exercise will keep you relatively fit but there are some people who are just a little screwed.
Men think they are smarter than women, and especially younger men. When I met my wife, I fancied myself an intellectual and well read and was snooty about the "level" of my then gf's intellectual life. We had so much fun together though, and she was the kindest, most ethical person I'd ever met. It takes a bit of growing up to realize how many types and variables of "intelligence" there are, and how often differences make for great compatibility. I now know that my wife, although not as "well read" etc. (I'm a college prof) is totally my equal if not my better in terms of mental skills. She, like Dan suggested happens, has become more interested in the sort of things I like for mental stimulation, and I understand her capabilities and strengths and totally lean on her for guidance and perspective.
Every couple is different and who am I to judge, but the idea of being in a claustrophobic prof/prof marriage or something similar is a real turn off for me. We're still having fun 30 years on.
And we're totally into fantasizing together about sex with guys that AREN'T like me--so no problems there!
@larry, here's what I said:
"...unless someone has some health problem, they should not become obese if they are physically active and eat well."
Cocky @34: I disagree. SORE told him -before they started dating- that she would want to be open at some point. Before one starts dating is exactly the time to "lose" someone with fundamental incompatibilities. If he knew he didn't want to be open at any point, he should have walked away.
Cocky @35: That's pedantic. If someone wouldn't want to date a person who is "obese," they also wouldn't want to date someone who was "very overweight." In other words, if an "obese" person lost 20lbs, they'd still be too big for a person who didn't like big people. And if someone lost 20lbs and was therefore attractive enough for someone who likes thin people, they weren't "obese" in the first place. They were average.
CMD @40: I'm recalling the woman who spent ten years with a man who wanted an open relationship, and couldn't commit to being ready in the next five years. Like this boyfriend, in theory she's ready to explore non-monogamy "when the time comes," but in reality, let's face it, it's not gonna happen. Perhaps Boyfriend indeed used wishful thinking to rationalise that "when the time comes" could be five years down the road. But this letter does not suggest that the time has come for her, and she's mentioned that to him. It only reads as if two things are happening concurrently: 1. She met someone else she'd like to date and 2. He's making anti-non-monogamous comments. "I feel like he'll [he WILL] renege on his end of things" when she brings up opening their relationship, because of these comments.
Clearly, it's important for her and a dealbreaker for him, so yes, she needs to DTPNPA.
Tim @41: Wow, where do I even start. Being pansexual is not the same as being transgender. Being pansexual means you are attracted to people of all genders, so if anything, that would increase one's sexual options. And neither being pansexual nor transgender is something one "feels the need to be," they are things one IS. You can't tell someone to not transition if they want to get more sex. Trust me, every trans person knows cis people have more luck on the dating front. This is not making a choice between two options; this is being one's genuine self. Clearly having a sex life IS important to HBSIT, otherwise she wouldn't have written to Dan. I hope she speaks to her doctor as well because a happy sex life is possible, even for "whatevers" like herself. (Ugh.)
I'm reminded of the comedy they added when David Suchet and company filmed Evil Under the Sun (murder set in a seaside hotel) by making the hotel a sort of health spa and sending Poirot there for obesity. ("Hercule Poirot, he is not obese!" "Medically obese, Mr Poirot; it's not the same thing." and that was just for starters)
It would have been helpful were we given whom the young women resemble. I have no clue whether they're twenty pounds from fashion magazine standard or whether twenty was a polite euphemism meaning fifty or a hundred. But my crystal ball does tell me it's highly plausible that at least one of the Seekers wants to be called fat, and very likely in order to have a grievance. One might also wonder what it is about Mr Prof that elicits such confidences from young women. Perhaps it's something he could change; perhaps his Would-Never-Date-a-Student attitude is widely discerned and serves as an incentive; the pieces don't fit easily. As for what to do, I'd relate generally by recalling (or inventing) a time of being in a similar odds-against environment and making it gently clear that that's where the conversation ends.
An assessment of the last LW almost has to depend on how serious the opening sentence is. As someone who, having taught myself bridge from a book at age five when I was barred from reading chess books for a week, I can recollect being required to pantomime an activity at age six for classmates and thinking that everyone else would at least know what bridge was even if they themselves didn't play. If the first sentence was dead serious, that's something LW should have gotten over years ago. It struck me as a joke, but I wish I knew how much of one - which reminds me of the time I tried to institute a system of putting a symbol at the end of a phrase or sentence to indicate how serious it was - say, ($) for something about 40% serious. My difficulty was that it took me far too long to decide how seriously I meant things - rather like Mr Wilde taking the whole morning to insert a comma and then the whole afternoon to remove it. Expecting someone to pick up something in three months , especially in the midst of abundant sex, seems something one can hardly take seriously, but detecting someone who, to resort to a Brodieism, opted to join the Senior School on the Modern side instead of the Classical (or vice versa) seems a perfectly valid reason for an ardent proponent of either to break up.
As an example of the sort of thing that could take me ages to decide how seriously I'm saying it, I shall float the idea that it was a grave tactical error on the last LW's part not to tell Mr Savage that Ms Mormon voted for Mr Trump. Either he would have received an immediate DTMFA to balance out the one given to the first LW (which seems less than blindingly obvious) or there would have been various grounds for interesting discussion.
Y'all are being too hard on PROF.
First of all, it's not at all unusual for professors to have personal conversations with students. It’s part of the larger process that students and professors—at least the good ones, the ones who really care about their students—go through. College kids are (generally) young adults coming into their own, and they will seek out profs with whom they feel comfortable to work out things in their lives, including both academic and personal things. College is one of the few times when young adults have access to a large number of older adults who are not family but implicitly care about them, and the freedom to choose from their professors the ones they feel comfortable with, to talk to or bounce ideas off, is one of the most valuable things about the whole process. Arguably more valuable than any class. It’s absolutely part of the profession to foster these relationships—it’s a type of mentoring—and to label it unprofessional shows very little understanding, in my opinion, of what college is about. The fact that students do occasionally develop crushes on professors is irrelevant. The vast majority of profs will not take advantage of that, and telling them they mustn’t engage in any personal conversation with students would deprive a lot of students of important relationships. Students don’t want to go to counseling, and besides, this isn’t that type of thing. They want to talk to someone they know, trust, and respect.
Secondly, both Dan and the prof are right. The current male/female ratios in colleges make the dating scene harder on girls. This is especially true in liberal arts colleges (as opposed to places with more emphasis on STEM fields). So yeah, Dan is right. However, that age group of boys is often a bit less mature (as the girls are) and more subject to perceived peer pressure about who they date—so yes, the thinner girls get more attention and are more likely to have boyfriends. So the prof is right, too, losing 20 pounds would almost certainly help these girls get a boyfriend (whether it would help them get a worthwhile one is another question)—especially since, as EmmaLiz points out, the Freshman 15 is a real thing, and many students go through a period where they are heavier than they would normally be. It’s not about their innate natural size, it’s about leaving home and eating nothing but pizza at midnight for a year. It tends to disproportionately affect the girls, who are slightly less likely to also be playing a collegiate sport or after-class ultimate frisbee or whatever. Of course, Dan is right again that there’s no good way to say that. Prof is SOL there.
I wish we could get off this wagon where when anything with even the whiff of a chance of a possibility of impropriety goes by, everyone gets up in arms or claims someone is creepy or whatever. I used to think that the issue with Republicans was they were uninterested in nuance; they wanted everything black and white. And then when Dems came along and tried to admit issues were complicated, they got slammed in the sound bites. But these days I’m starting to feel Dems are just as bad. And although I am nowhere near his position, at moments like this I see where Sporty is coming from. A dude asks a reasonable question, and everyone jumps all over his circumstances and acts like he shouldn’t be in the situation he’s in to begin with. (And it’s a perfectly reasonable situation!)
@47 I have been various forms of fat during my life, from overweight to morbidly obese, and I'm very confident in saying there is a difference between overweight and obese. Most people aren't attracted to either every body type or skinnies only. For most people there is a limit and that limit is somewhere around the "obese" range but they are fine with a chubby person. 20 pounds can make a big difference depending on where that 20 pounds is lost. Some people lose weight on their face or belly first, which would dramatically alter their appearance.
Disagree with the response to PROF
Dan, you frequently rationalize (fairly, I might add!) that you're qualified to give advice simply because people ask you for it - even if they have some separate identity from you. This is PROF's scenario. He's not a rando passerby telling women to "smile more" - he's being asked a question. He's allowed to answer, and he's under no obligation to tell these students the answer they want to hear. I don't understand why you'd hold him to a different ethical standard on answering questions than you hold yourself too.
You also routinely advise men to lose weight, dress better, and read more as a way to attract more women. Why wouldn't you suggest the same to a woman? Are they less capable of change? More deserving of love regardless of their attraction levels? Clearly there is some kind of fundamental difference you are referencing here. Given that there's a lack of available men, you'd imagine that superficial signifiers (looks) would matter even more for women than men; yet the advice you give assumes the opposite. What's up with that?
Ciods, I can only answer for myself but in my experience current college profs now have to keep a distance between themselves and their students (not grad students) to avoid the tediousness and real consequences of students (and their parents) who stir up drama and accusations, especially if the prof has no tenure -and the vast majority do not these days and are often just poorly paid adjuncts who can be cut loose with no real reason. It's not that I am offended by interactions between professors and students (in my day, we met profs at the bar and had socials at their homes). My own advice was 90% CYA.
The 10% of my post that was judgmental comes not from a personal opinion that it's improper for a prof to have personal conversations with students but rather from a suspicion that the LW is just looking for an excuse to call these women fat and tell them that they need to lose weight to get a man.
Not to beat a dead horse, but I continue not to understand the pansexual trans woman. Help me with my nomenclature, but if she's a woman... why is she "topping" or "bottoming"? I'm a bi man, and those terms are used to describe what two men do in the sack. Women, sort of by definition, "bottom". So if she is "topping" I'd suggest shes not a woman. Call me crazy. Apparently she still has a penis, but I'd imagine her female hormones prevent her from all sorts of male things.
Sporty, you might notice upon a second reading that he was not providing advice to the women in question. The letter was not from a woman writing in for advice on how to find dates. It was from these women's professor- his version of their woes- and he was asking for advice as to whether or not he should tell them to lose weight.
50- ciods. Ahem.
You're mixing up your articulate sensible regular posters. Emma Liz did not comment on the "freshman 15."
More to the point. The science of weight loss and weight gain and what's healthy and what's fashionable and what's attractive to young men is far too complex to be covered here with a few tips. It may be true that if you eat less and exercise more, you will lose weight. Why one person is satisfied with just a salad and loves going for a run every morning, and why the next person hates such a regimen and could follow it only with a great deal of hunger and self discipline, that's where the mystery lies.
Your next point about professors mentoring students to the point of talking to them personally. Sure, but not when the prof knows nothing about the subject, and this prof knows nothing about how to help his young female students attract boyfriends-- not if he's thinking of telling them to lose weight.
Also - you don't need a Masters Degree to understand plate techntonics. Literally they teach that in second grade (and anyone who has ever looked at a world map can see how obvious a theory it is)
That being said, some people are dumb. I was once given an 'intern' (a parking control officer with a foot injury who needed an alternative assignment). It turned out she literally didn't know which direction was north on a map. This was a mid-twenties adult.
Honestly, I broke up with a girl because when I put Marvin Gaye on the stereo, she said "Oh, it's the raisin song!" (she also bragged about being the best at 'timesing' in her GED class...)
Also I just gotta laugh at this:
"I don't understand why you'd hold him to a different ethical standard on answering questions than you hold yourself too."
Oh, I don't know, because it's Dan's fucking job to provide advice to people who ask them? And it's not the professor's job to comment on the body shapes and dating lives of his students? In fact he could get himself into trouble if they get offended or twist his words?
Sporty back when you made the comparison between BDF and slaveowners you stepped into full time troll mode, and you've been doing nothing but that since.
BDF @ 47
Fine, she can dump him if she wants to. She still asked whether she should which indicates some uncertainty. I also wanted to give her some pointers as to what could have worked better in this case and possibly beyond.
I agree that open relationship is slightly heavier duty than reading the New York Times while floating on plates, but if we allow others time to adopt and appreciate some of their lovers’ interests then why not apply some of it to this case?
@55 I think it's fair to read between the lines, but what's the point of responding at all if you think the LW is just lying? We have to take them at -some version- of face value.
Anywho, fundamentally it's a question that will plague our civilization as long as it exists: Wither tough love?
Intellectual curiosity is HUGE for me. I don't care where or if someone went to school but I do care that they want to keep learning. But also, I don't want to be the teacher and primarily responsible for getting them up to speed, I am looking for an equal in a relationship in that we have a similar base level knowledge and then compatible strengths and blind spots. If LW didn't think she seemed like she cared to fill in the gaps of her education at all on her own then I know I'd find that to be a dealbreaker, too.
Even as a professor who has spent countless hours in my office with students telling me all kinds of personal stories or coming with problems, I have not had--even when I was younger and cuter--male students tell me that they are "having trouble finding" women. And I have had male students with obvious crushes on me (and female ones, as well); Student crushes often go with the territory. I am not sure that PROF isn't doing something out of the norm for these young women to flirt with him--because that's what they're doing. He says, "They're not hitting on me--and even if they were, there's no way I'm dating a student," but either he's clueless or because HE isn't attracted to them, he's not willing to see this as flirtation or as putting out feelers. I'm assuming he's young and has had little experience being a college prof, because this situation should be clear--the girls are dropping hints that they're not interested or not getting attention from guys their age, and they're trying to imply that they and the prof are more suited to each other. And the way to respond to it is pretty easy, too: make sympathetic clucking sounds, while vaguely assuring the students that they have a long life full of potential--for everything, including fulfilling relationships--ahead of them. Then drop the subject and steer into less dangerous territory.
"Never close your office door when a student is in your office" is a good rule. It signals to the student that nothing untoward is going to happen and it helps to protect you if a student makes a claim of inappropriate behavior, especially if it's a well-known policy and if your office is near other faculty offices where there's a good change colleagues have seen you always follow it. (I admit to having broken this rule a few times, when students came to me with very, very sensitive issues and were going to be sobbing, but I always feel nervous about doing so.)
As far as advising women to lose weight--don't. Whether the woman in question is your student, or your teacher, or your employee, boss, mother, sister, daughter, wife, girlfriend, babysitter, dogwalker, barista, grocery checkout clerk, you name it. It will not go over well.
Overweight, fat, or morbidly obese people know they're fat. Telling fat people to lose weight leads to weight gain, or at least unhealthy binge eating. More importantly, this is unasked-for "advice," and likely to make the students extremely uncomfortable, which is not good for fostering student trust and respect. Trust me, the "fact" that "Prof. X said I was fat" will make the rounds--it will be on Rate My Professor, it will be in the student evaluation, it will be repeated to friends, and maybe to the student's advisor, and possibly the Department Chair or Dean. Don't get into this trap.
The only time it is appropriate to talk about someone's weight is if they initiate the conversation topic directly and explicitly; they are asking for diet tips, or mentioning an article on weight that they read. This applies to everyone in all situations.
Not to mention that PROF is making a really big assumption and leap that the reason these two women "can't get" a guy is because they need to lose 20 pounds. Maybe they're obnoxious or have awful breath or are not outgoing or are not into the things that the other people around them are. But I promise that when a young female student tells her male professor that she "can't get a guy," she is not expecting the response to be "well, lose 20 pounds."
Sportlandia calls this "tough love," but tough love is something that is supposed to come from family or close friends or other intimates, not professors or employers. Not to mention that "tough love" which originally referred to not "enabling" your child's drug use, doesn't work.
The advice to tell this professor to give inappropriate, unasked-for advice when a student either flirts or confides her lovelornness to her instructor is wrong.
@62 I suppose the issue is whether or not your areas of interest intersect. I consider myself well educated and knowledgeable in some areas... but I know very little about Plate Techtonics, beyond it having something to do with the Earth's crust and earthquakes, and couldn't care less. Hard sciences aren't my thing.
@56: Ack, Fichu, I apologize. I wrote my response offline and then posted it when I was back on wifi without checking back to make sure I had things right. Sorry!
@nocute @64: I agree with your overall advice about how to handle this sort of thing. I definitely don't think he should comment on their weight, even if that was known to be the issue—I mean, as their prof, he’d know about bad breath, obnoxiousness, etc., right?--but whatever, that's not a path to go down.
However, I do think the assumption they are flirting is not necessarily true, especially since he seems to think they aren't, and as you and I know, you can usually tell when a student has a crush on you.
I have had both male and female students speak with me about relationships issues, including everything from abusive relationships to coming out, unwanted pregnancies to crushes, and even occasionally sexual assault; and yes, I've had male students express frustration about not having a girlfriend. (I'm going to guess, nocute, that this could be a result of having far more male students in general, since I taught in STEM.) In some of those listed instances I advised counseling, of course, but in many cases they just needed someone to talk to who they trusted. It's possible to listen and advise gently (a lot like what nocute recommends as a possible response in @64).
As to Emma's point @53: I agree, the atmosphere now is more complicated. However, I think somewhat personal conversations are still important--for one thing, there's a lot of pedagogical data showing students work harder and learn more in classes where they feel some connection to the professor--and I think those conversations are perfectly possible to do without crossing lines. Just be thoughtful.
I know right now the advice is "never close your office door" as nocute says. I think this is unfortunate and I ignored it completely. I have been in my office alone with students, with the door closed, countless times. It's not my default--mostly the door is open--but it happens not infrequently. I am not going to talk to someone about their failing grade when the whole line of people waiting to see me can hear the conversation, not because there's some infinitesimal chance that later on someone might accuse me of something (for which they would have zero proof). But then, I'm female. Male profs may feel more nervous, and I would understand that, although I think it's too bad.
(I apologize if this posts multiple times, I'm getting weird server errors...)
Sporty who said the prof is lying? My point is that Dan is giving THE PROF advice about what to do- since it's the prof, not the women, who wrote to him. It would be stupid for Dan to give the women advice- they didn't ask for it. They asked the prof and the prof asked Dan if he should comment on their weight and Dan said no which is the right advice to give. Seriously I can't tell if you are just making shit up at this point.
I have had both male and female students speak with me about relationships issues, including everything from abusive relationships to coming out, unwanted pregnancies to crushes, and even occasionally sexual assault; and yes, I've had male students express frustration about not having a girlfriend. (Nocute, I conjecture this is due to having a lot more male students to begin with, since I was in a STEM field.) In some of those listed instances I advised counseling, of course, but in many cases they just needed someone to talk to who they trusted. It's possible to listen and advise gently (a lot like what nocute recommends as a possible response in @64).
As to Emma's point @53: I agree, the atmosphere now is more complicated. However, I think somewhat personal conversations are still important—for one thing, there’s plenty of pedagogical data that indicates students work harder and learn more in classes where they feel some connection to the professor—and I think those conversations are perfectly possible to have without crossing lines.
I know right now the advice is "never close your office door" as nocute mentions. I think this is unfortunate and I ignored it completely. I have been in my office alone with students, with the door closed, countless times. It's not my default--mostly the door is open--but it happens not infrequently. I am not going to talk to someone about their failing grade when the whole line of people waiting to see me can hear the conversation—not because there's some infinitesimal chance that later on someone might accuse me of something. But then, I'm female. Male profs may feel more nervous, and I would understand that, although I think it's too bad.
Oh, bugger, it did post twice after all. Sorry all!
I worry about the signals PROF is sending out to his students. Granted I'm not a full-time, tenured professor, but I have been an adjunct instructor off and on for 25 years. Never. I mean not one time has a student ever confided in me about their dating life or ability to find a boyfriend/girlfriend. I would find such a conversation awkward and highly inappropriate.
Did LW1 promise monogamy? Did he ask for monogamy, and she agreed to be monogamous for 6 months and it is now 3 months but she feels she can't be happy without sleeping around?
Did Mr LW1 promise the sort of nonmonogamy LW1 seems to want? Did he promise that he could deal with her sleeping with someone else if she wanted, whenever and under whatever circumstances presented themselves?
It sounds like something in between happened. When agreements are not clear and enthusiastic the ground is ripe for misunderstanding and betrayal. If she thought the second case happened then she should address his complaints about non-monogamy to determine if he is immaturely asking for some reasonable modification she can accept or if this is his way of underhandedly demanding complete monogamy as Dan believes, of course then Dump the Monogamist Already (dtma?). If the first case happened then she is underhandedly trying to change their deal and should take responsibility for breaking up with him nicely if she needs to sleep around right now instead.
Whatever the etiquette is around Professor/ Lecturer/ Tutor/ Student; this guy is clueless.
As is the one getting all rejecting because a woman didn’t chat with him about T plates.
Sportlandia, did you say that to Fan, I missed that. Heavy.
@69 ciods: Nonetheless, heartfelt congrats on scoring this week's Lucky @69 Award!! Happy May Day, and may massive sunshine smile upon you (it should, by local weather forecasts, through next week!) :)
WOW----only Wednesday, and we're up to comment @74 (including me)?
@68 EmmaLliz and @73 LavaGirl: Methinks PROF's letter and Dan's response hit a little too close to home for the usual trolls.
Comment #8, I couldn't have said it better. Spot on.
tim browne @54: I'm so glad the commentariat has been discussing the value of curiosity and learning new things, because today is your lucky day! Check out https://www.autostraddle.com/what-does-it-mean-to-be-a-top-or-a-dominant-in-lesbian-sex-425912/ and https://www.autostraddle.com/what-does-it-mean-to-be-a-bottom-or-submissive-in-lesbian-sex-424288/
Autostraddle has plenty more on that topic if you're interested. Have a good day and may the earth move for all of us ;)
tim browne @54 – I see that iwasmadscientist already answered @77, but here's my version.
HBSIT has a girl-penis, which works “once in a while,” but not “as reliably” as she would like. That’s true for many bio-penis-owners. Some bio-penis-owners take Viagra/Cialis, but that may be counter-indicated with the hormones HBSIT takes. That’s why Dan suggested dildos.
You should know, by the way, that women can totally top: by strapping on a dildo but also by using her fingers or fist in someone else’s holes.
And (as a side note, since it’s not relevant to HBSIT’s point), I’ll mention that topping & bottoming also can refer to who holds the flogger/whip/paddle/etc. in a kink scene. And women can totally top in that sense too!
It's obviously stupid for a professor to even consider commenting on a student's weight, but I also don't think it's helpful to pretend that it isn't a likely cause if someone is struggling to find a relationship (or a sex partner) and they're clearly overweight.
Anyone who's ever lost a lot of weight can almost certainly confirm that people treated them differently afterward, and just about everyone I know who've been through that -- including me -- has had a LOT more interest after the weight loss. And some of us have even had people tell us directly that the weight loss made the difference so, no, it's not coincidental, thank you very much.
(We're usually talking about more than 20 lbs., of course, especially if the person was "obese" and was anything over 5 feet tall. The LW's 20-pound number is either polite understatement, or represents the minimum number needed to make a visible difference, or is just cluelessness about women's actual weights and what constitutes obesity.)
It feels like the motivation here has more to do with making an implicit fat-positive political statement than anything that would actually help the student -- which the LW can't do, because it would be career suicide, but Dan could have helped indirectly instead of just circling his wagons.
And it's also not helpful to talk about whether "most people" are overweight or obese, because heterosexual college-age women aren't dating "most people". The relevant demographic is persons under 25 or so, where the overweight + obesity rate is more like 30% from what I can find.
Most of the fat acceptance I'm seeing from people that age -- in other words, people who aren't overweight dating people who clearly are -- is in cross-racial relationships. That's partly because some cultures are more accepting, and partly because "objective" attractiveness gets kind of scrambled for some people when racial difference is involved.
But if you're a person of size, you are at a disadvantage, and the weight is the reason. Please don't claim it's not the case, and thereby deny the lived experience of many, many people in order to prove a political point.
One other thought about Prof's situation, prompted by @71 @My Bumhole's comment, which may alter how people are picturing him--
The prof/student dynamic varies greatly between schools with large classes, like big state schools, and smaller schools. Not only the class size matters, but also the frequency with which one professor will interact with the same students; e.g., even within small schools, the dynamic will change between a class which is a core course, where many students are taking it for a general requirement and never intend to dip toe in that subject again, and a class which is directed at majors. When I taught at a smaller school I had some of the same students in class for six of their eight total semesters of undergrad. That means I saw them a minimum of three times a week (more, if they came to office hours, which most did), 16 or 32 weeks a year, for four years. Some of those kids I got to know pretty well.
That said, if this dude is teaching gen ed classes in the 50-300 size and he's got girls coming and talking about how they can't get a boyfriend, then yeah, I'll agree with nocute that that's flirtation on their part.
I have occasionally had female students sometimes lament about dating, but not male students--and I have an equal number of both visit me in my office. Frequently, I am hearing about students who are homeless, or have to parent their parents, or whose boyfriend was shot, or whose drug-addict father has made life difficult for the whole family. I hear about accidental pregnancies, abortions, and sexual assaults. I hear "what do I want to do after graduation?" or "can you recommend a grad program?" or "I didn't understand what you said yesterday in class." I hear, "I'm sorry I've screwed up: I think I'm depressed" or "I was diagnoses with ------, but my medication ran out and I haven't figured out to get more. I hear about a lot of dead grandparents, godparents, friends, cousins.
So while it isn't out of the realm of possibility that multiple female students are talking to their male professor about their unsatisfying love lives, it's pretty atypical. Maybe he appears to be especially approachable.
I work at a small institution, so like ciods, I get to know a lot of my students intimately, even those in the general education classes I teach.
I think that unless the prof is a much older fellow, who assumes an elder-statesman, great-avuncular role, straight female students are unlikely to talk about their dating lives unprompted to their male faculty members as a way of really getting advice or perspectives. The fact that PROF says he wouldn't date one of his students makes it seem as though this was a possible outcome, which is one of the reasons I think he is young. So if he's a young male prof, and female students are visiting him and talking about their dating prospects, I think it's quite likely that they are trying to, if not flirt, have him see them as on his wavelength and available.
And no doubt, if they are overweight that is an impediment to their dating lives. But it is not the professor's job, nor is it appropriate, to point that out.
Date Tectonics! Oh Dan! You're brutal.
Date Tectonics reminds me of Ross from Friends and how he looked down on anyone who didn't share his passion for science and paleontology (for example, his need to DEFINITIVELY PROVE evolution to Phoebe, or when he made fun of Rachel or put her down for working in fashion).
While I agree that lack of intellectual curiosity in general would be a dealbreaker for me, it sounds like DT's ex was simply not interested in science/the world (whatever that means? Clearly she had some interests if it was fun to cook and hang out with her?). Is that such a terrible thing? I mean, I have a degree in biology, and I'm still quite interested in many scientific subjects, but even I'm not interested in every single branch of science. I probably couldn't figure out mechanical engineering to save my life, and it's consequently not something I would care to spend a lot of time on.
Plus, what is wrong with having interests that you don't share? Isn't it healthy to have your own interests and not need your partner to be everything to you and fulfill your every need?
I agree with Dan that DT was right to break up with her because it's obvious he doesn't respect her and needs someone more like-minded. And there's nothing wrong with that; if you are passionate about something and need a partner who shares that passion, that's a perfectly valid reason to break up. But he shouldn't pride himself that it's because she's just too dumb for him and he can do better.
Eh Tectonics is ok as is. It's alright to not date someone just because you think they are a little dumb and/or uninterested in being smarter. You are going to be spending a lot more of your time together talking than fucking, compatibility here is something that's fine to prioritize, and you don't have to give someone a few year tryout just to be fair. You can walk away as soon as you feel like it.
Personally, all the ladies I dated who were intellectually disinterested ended up with much more mediocre un-fun lives now that we are old. My wife is smart but was not super educated when we met, people do change and grow. But that does not mean that someone is an asshole just because they don't want to take on the pet project of teaching someone basic science.
Lava @ 73
“…getting all rejecting because a woman didn’t chat with him about T plates.”
She was not rejected because of being a woman, but because he felt- whether right or wrong- that she didn’t demonstrate much interest in learning new things, as few other posters have pointed out.
Assuming disinterested was not the first person LW dated it is very likely that he indeed had some science-related conversations with other women.
Many thanks to Ms Ods and Ms Cute for their Expert Witness testimony. Back when I was giving playing lessons, I also received some out-of-left-field confidences, particularly from one woman old enough to be my grandmother.
@52. Sportlandia. But the advice that PROF has in his head--'lose some weight'--is wrong. It's almost definitely wrong in isolation. Sure--it's going to be true that 'some guy would go for you if you were thinner'. It will also be true that 'if you were a bit more assertive, you would be able to find someone by putting yourself out there', and likewise 'if you socialised more widely with the students of male-dominated subjects, you'd likely find someone' and 'if you knew more older men, someone would go for your character and intelligence'. But are any of those going to be an adequate characterisation of the situation of any individual? If PROF has a strong enough personal relationship with any of these young women, he could consider saying something balanced and possibly specific to the person he's talking to--e.g. 'I guess you've got to get your head down with your studies--and you're doing very well, but then study isn't everything'. But what's running through his mind--and the same with all these women--is wrong; it's one-note, one-size-fits-all; almost certainly it smears over personal circumstances and differences. It would be an awful thing to bring up just by itself.
@51. ciods. I agree about the human side of mentoring and being someone's professor. I certainly wouldn't say to PROF--unless he genuinely has personal and professional anxieties about non-school-subject conversations with his female students--that he should give them the brush-off, should respond with a rote 'I'm not comfortable having personal conversations...'. He's done something well to present a relatable figure to these students (whether they're undergrad advisees or grad students). I did feel his motivations were impure or confused. Like, why tell us he's single? It's irrelevant to how he advises these women. It would seem he needs, implicitly or subconsciously, the counsel not to respond sexually to the women's overtures (if that's what they are). And his concern with obesity is over-invested--he has an insistently monocausal explanation of what he should know (if he has any knowledge of his students at all) is a more complex issue.
@54. tim browne. 'So if she's topping, she's by definition not a woman'. No. She's a woman by virtue of transitioning. She (still) has a penis, perhaps will always have a penis; this dick becomes erect (though less so now) and she can have penetrative sex by using it to top. This doesn't make the LW any less a woman. The hormone treatment she's having in the course of her transitioning has the effect that she finds it harder to maintain her erections. Some transwomen welcome this; some regret it, as it's the way they're used to having sex (one of the ways). The LW feels a bit lost sexually. Well, of course--but she can carry on having sex as a woman either by making do with reduced penile functions topping or by doing something else.
I know that you have no personal animus against trans people--but it does occur to me that this comments page doesn't have representatives of many of the voices that follow Dan closely as an imaginary mentor or guide, especially young people. My hunch might be that they're scared off by the transphobic or trans-ignorant battleaxes of an older generation.
@78. Erica. Well said--completely clear and ecumenical. As a bio-penis-haver whose equipment works 'once in a while' or 'not as reliably' as I'd like, I recognise your descriptions and would suggest, in fact, a wide sphere of applicability across (self-)identifications for them (including cis men, transwomen and other transfolk).
Thank you, Harriet, but to be more accurate I should have specified that "women without bio-cocks can totally top..."
Maybe this was said already but it's possible Plate Tectonic's ex is overwhelmed by the amount that she doesn't know. As a PhD student, I see this with undergrads or new grad students (I was there myself once too). If she has no science education, she may be embarrassed or overwhelmed and not sure where to even start. If that's the case, I think she would be best suited to find a partner who she feels comfortable opening up to about these questions.
Alternatively, maybe she's inquisitive about aspects of the world that are not science-based. She has a strong religious background and maybe would be more engaged in conversations about ideas around morals, ethics, and world religions. If this was one of only a few "science" conversations, it would be unfair to judge her curiosity or lack thereof. TBH if a partner brought up plate plate tectonics with me, I'd probably zone out of that convo real fast.
@52 Dan Savage is paid to give people advice. Professors are not paid to give advice, they are paid to teach. I think Dan would be just as out of place to advise someone to lose weight he is in a position of power over, like a younger relative or an employee. We have the luxury of writing to an advice columnist anonymously, so the advice columnist has no true power over us unless we give it to them by choosing to care about what they think. I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on where professors should draw the line with students and I think many college environments encourage blurring boundaries in a way that makes it difficult. But I think it's obvious that handing out opinions on the sexual desirability of students is not a position any professor should ever find themselves in. Kids can sort that out among themselves without any help from authority figures.
Also, weight loss is often much more a matter of health than it is a matter of desirability. It can be difficult to lose weight for all kinds of medical and psychological reasons. So the advice to lose weight should be given out carefully if it is given out at all. I resent the HAES movement and their denial of the strong scientific evidence in favor of the benefits of weight loss, and I believe there is a healthy and shame free path to weight loss, but most people who tell other people to lose weight don't have a clue of what they are talking about it would be safer to say nothing. I never made much progress with weight loss personally until I started going to a hospital staffed with experts at helping morbidly obese people lose weight. Some random person who knows nothing telling me more boys would like me if I was thinner doesn't help.
CMD@85; I did t say she was rejected because she was a woman. He rejected her and she was a woman, one he had great sex with for three months. Took him that long to realise they didn’t have similar interests? Bit bloody slow to work that out.
Lots of areas in life to be interested in, doesn’t mean she was Dumb because she didn’t share his interests.
You do jump to conclusions, CMD.
The LW said he thinks she’s dumb because she’s not interested in how the world works, ie, the T plates. He didn’t say anything about her not wanting to learn new things.
You know how many areas of human and animal and plant and earth and universe studies there are? Lots. Untold. Nobody can know it all.
Might suit this man’s purpose better if he learnt some kinder social skills, before worrying about who does and doesn’t know about those T Plates.
LW1 sounds very trippy.
Oh at some point, decided by me, the relationship will open. He says, oh yeah right, of course. Then bingo, she goes, I’m ready now.
This is a one way relationship, in terms of timing, and it’s the LW’s way. As has been stated, by Fan I think and maybe others. If you have open relationships, start off that way, and pick partners into the same relationship model from day one.
From his side, he wasn’t listening. The LW was pretty clear she would not be interested in being ‘his woman’ for long.
@90. Erica. Both women with bio-cocks and women without bio-cocks can totally top. The second point has historically been more central to lesbian self-definition--it's more 'basic' and more the substance of what you were saying to tim. Many lesbians might feel their lesbianism compromised (or suspended) in being topped by a biocock. And without wading too deep into queer or trans politics, I'd think they were utterly entitled to feel so, at a level of personal inclination or attraction.
Still, it is not the cock that maketh the man. Nor the absence thereof that maketh Madame. Thinking this would be to give altogether too much importance to a comically ragged piece of flesh.
Venn @48: I agree, something sounds fishy about the allegation that multiple young women, unprompted, are confiding in this guy about their love lives. And Date Tectonics just thought of a snappy signoff and matched his opening sentence to it, or that was the straw that broke the intellectually stifled camel's back.
Traffic @49: Dump The Perfectly Nice Person Already. For when a breakup is necessary but no one has been a motherfucker.
Tim @54: Women can top. Women with penises can top using their penises (hormones do not completely kill the functionality; I'd suggest you seek out some trans porn), and women without penises can top using strap-ons. Ever seen references in this column to "pegging"? Now you know.
CMD @60: A lot of letters read as if they are from people who already know they should DTPNPA, but feel bad about dumping a person who is perfectly nice, but write to Dan to ask permission. This is phrased as one of them. Not sure what your second paragraph means -- are you saying that SORE should pass up on her new interest until the boyfriend is ready to be open? If he'd indicated an actual desire to move towards openness I might agree, but his comments are revealing that he doesn't want to be open. They are only a few months in; why consign themselves to a fate like the PPUPs' when the alternative is to walk away now and find compatible partners? As you say, polyamory isn't a hobby like baseball that one partner can do on one's own while hoping one's partner learns an appreciation over time. Question, are you arguing these two should stay together? Why do you think so?
Ytterby @79: Great post on a tricky subject. People who are overweight KNOW they are overweight. There is absolutely nothing to be gained by telling them, it only makes you an asshole.
Harriet @88: "I know that you have no personal animus against trans people" -- Really? That's awfully generous of you.
Lava @93: "Bit bloody slow to work that out." Actually, three months seems to be right on time, in my experience, to come to the conclusion that this person who seemed so promising at first in terms of looks, charm, and great sex actually doesn't provide the kind of connection you need to sustain a relationship. The 90-day money-back guarantee is that number of days for a reason.
Lava @94: DT absolutely did talk about his ex-girlfriend not wanting to learn new things: "more important than that, she was simply NOT CURIOUS about science and the world." The tectonic plates were just one example, probably the one that made things in his head click that she wasn't the one.
Has no one congratulated ciods for the Lucky 69? Congratulations, Ciods!
Not in the letter I read Fan. He didn’t say anything about her not wanting to learn new things. She might be learning lots of new things.
The world to him is the science of the world. The world to zillions of others means cultural activities, like music and art and books and computers and cars and architecture, etc etc.
He says it in the first sentence, he broke up with her because she didn’t know what T Plates were.
BiDanFan re: DTPNPA: Ah. Gotcha. I think in this situation she should at least talk to him first, as opposed to just make assumptions about what he'll do when faced with an imminent open relationship. I mean, yeah, it probably will end in DTPNPA, but like, at least have the conversation.
As for Sportlandia's whining (and honestly, I'm not sure that I shouldn't just put a 'Don't Feed The Troll' policy on that one): the question is not whether the girls in question would have more dating success if they lost 20 pounds - the question is whether their professor should tell them that. The answer is no.
A.) Because women already get told to lose weight from pretty every media source out there, so he's not giving them any new information.
B.) Because wearing sexy underwear or getting better at blow jobs might also help them get a man, but as their professor, there are some things he should not talk about with them.
look at that! I got meself a Hunsky.
The best part of being a mother to sons, is they can’t get pregnant. The worst part is trying to read how they are going in life without going over that imaginary line which separates a mother from her adult sons.
One of whom is now going thru heartache, and hiding it. Or not feeling it. Maybe it was done for both of them. He was ready to move on. He doesn’t share any of this with me.
Texted his older brother, and he rang him and they talked.
I’ll keep an eye on him and push thru a little if I have to. Being a mother never bloody ends.
Sportlandia, if you’re there. This is an area of pain for a lot of men. How to clear more vulnerable emotion, before it turns to anger.
Anger that is either directed outward, hurting others or inward, hurting self.
Lava @99, I quoted the letter. Direct quote.
Traffic @101: Agree, as it doesn't sound like she's mentioned her current desire to open the relationship. She should speak to him but, as Cocky said @34, he initially agreed to a theoretically-open-in-the-distant-future because "he didn't want to lose her so kill him." If that were the case before they started dating, surely he's more vested now, and might again say what she wants to hear? And then take it out on her in passive aggressive ways once she does start dating someone else. I think this relationship is fundamentally doomed so better to cut the cord now.
Agree with your comments re PROF.
This was laugh-out-loud funny: "Good luck, and please don't write back to let us know how you're progressing, okay?" I love you, Dan!
SORE is/was being almost as shitty and manipulative as her boyfriend. She won't do monogamous relationships for any considerable amount of time, and she knows this. Under those circumstances, the effect of pursuing monogamy for a short period initially is to pull the same trick Boyfriend tried: in the most virtuous framing, hope that her pro-monogamy boyfriends will change their minds by the time she's bored and qants to fuck around; in the least virtuous framing, gain emotional leverage initially that she can ply to coerce her boyfriends to agree to her ultimatum.
SORE, if you're acting in good faith, make an open relationship your relationship model without being monogamous at all. That way your boyfriends will have to be okay with it, because they will be in an open relationship right from the start, not anticipating a change (or not) at some indefinite point in the future, which they may be hoping never arrives. Assuming you are acting in good faith, you're probably still subconsciously doing this because you know that you'll scare away the majority of people in our fulture who do want monogamy. Scaring off incompatible people right away is actually a good thing overall - you don't waste time with people with whom you're fundamentally incompatible, missing potential opportunities to find people with whom you are compatible. So tell your subconscious to fuck off with its suboptimal maximin startegy, and instead make a conscious decision to pursue a better dating strategy.
@102 Lindy West is an extremist thinker. It's valid for her to complain about Dan Savage or anyone else expressing disgust about fat but she used this to launch a career where she advocated the view that nobody should lose weight. For example, in her article in the Guardian "My hot tips for parents with a fat kid: feed them fun, kindness and dignity" she says parents should never encourage their children to lose weight, even morbidly obese children. She also promotes the nonsensical view that parents should discuss weight issues with the childs doctor and never bring it up to the child themselves. As somebody who was a morbidly obese child, I feel I would be much better off if my doctors or anybody would have taken my problem seriously. At the time, the prevailing attitude was that little girls should eat as much as they want because telling them to lose weight might make them anorexic. (Don't get me wrong, anorexia is a very serious problem but obesity is a much common problem and is ALSO very serious.) The idea that parents these days are ignoring their childs obesity and feeding them as much as their appetite demands is immensely depressing to me.
The Health At Every Size movement seems reasonable at first glance. Like most extremist movements, it's designed to seem reasonable at first and you have to dig deeper to find their truly dangerous ideas. It seems perfectly reasonable to think it's bad to bully fat people and that health care for fat people should focus on more than weight loss. However, if you follow the HAES people you quickly realize they are against weight loss for anybody, even those who desperately need to lose weight. Even children, who are so vulnerable to adult influence and who are in a unique position to be saved from a lifetime of obesity because it's so much easier to form good habits in a child than it is to reverse those habits once you are grown up enough to be at risk for diabetes. HAES advocates believe fat shaming is akin to racism and sexism. They believe fat people cannot change and should not change. I have even, no joke, heard HAES advocates describe weight loss as erasing the existence of fat people, or as some have called it "genocide." Although they see themselves as a feminist movement, telling women not to lose weight takes away their agency and control over their own bodies. The left often sees HAES as brave but they should be seen as medical and scientific denialism like anti-vaxxers. We should be thinking about how our culture celebrates these people who are so hostile to our health.
For ITCH, using something with a slightly abrasive surface (even a toy designed to not be abrasive might do the trick without sufficient lube) as an anal dildo could induce microtearing/small fissures, which I imagine would itch until healed. Or just keep the anus too dry ("clean" in Dan's words), and the mucosa will tear and itch. If you have any contact allergies, you may be able to induce anal itching by introducting an allergen to the area. There are also various plant fibers that are hooked or prickly that humans make into powders to induce itching, commonly called "itching powders"; you could try one of those.
I was going to be snarky and suggest Google should have answered this one, but I get pages of results for preventing itching when I search for "how to cause itching," so I understand why ITCH might have trouble finding useful information without sufficient knowledge initially.
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