Savage Love Jul 30, 2019 at 4:00 pm

Hard Truths

Joe Newton



Lava @105, what would gender of the sub have to do with anything? Domination CAN take a lot of time and energy. Speaking as someone who enjoys it, it can be a lot of work to be responsible for setting the scene, gauging the sub's limits, procuring gear, planning what comes next, anticipating how they want to be dominated (see NoCute's order-barking ex). Cocky is right that some subs just want more and more and it can get tedious. That's why I put a suggested time of 20 minutes on the domination play. Any longer than that and it will just feel like work to the reluctant Dom, who won't be keen to repeat the experience.

That said, we don't know exactly what WTHT wants here. What exactly is BDSM? Cocky says "it's role play," but there is no need to enact a "sexy cop/boss" scenario like Dadddy describes. WHTH wants something more than a butt plug and a slap or two, but what? If she just wants five minutes of a spanking that leaves her ass red, or to be tied up and left gagged while her Master goes and does something else, those sound like easy asks. If she wants hours in a dungeon then yes, they should outsource that.


What's wrong with this guy? Who doesn't want to tie up his wife and work out some anger? Am I right?


Tim @110, I'm glad I know you're gay, otherwise your comment would be even less funny.


@107, 108: Thank you, LavaGirl. There was love, but the mutual resentment about the way our sex life went curdled a lot of it. And, to be honest, the fact that I did every bit of housework and all the emotional labor ate away at a lot of my goodwill.

I stopped feeling guilty long ago, and it was a huge--if depressing--relief when I read how common it was for women to lose sexual attraction to their husbands after a few years (obviously, not all women).
But the culture says there are limited reasons to be dissatisfied with one's husband and they, and only they, are:
1) he is physically abusive
2) he hurts or mistreats your kids
3) he cheats on you
4) he is an alcoholic whose drinking is ruining your life
5) he gambles all the money away
6) he leaves you.

When you just stop feeling sexually attracted to an otherwise good guy, who doesn't do anything wrong and whom you used to be attracted to, and he hasn't changed in any significant ways, either in behavior or looks from the way he was when you used to be attracted, it is frustrating and baffling. And culturally, you don't get a lot of sympathy or empathy for it, except in the housework arena, where women will support you on the grounds that doing all the housework creates resentment (it does, in my opinion) and leaves one too tired for sex (it doesn't, in my experience, if you're burning for the other person). You get judged, and reduced to a stereotype when what the husband sees/experiences is a wife uninterested in sex.

That is the stereotype. She's cold and withholding. That is what seems to be in the background of a lot of the straight men who comment here. That also, by the way, reinforces the narrative that women aren't as interested in sex as men are. And it seriously reinforces that (usually male) sense of bait-and-switch, of women using their sexuality and feigning an interest in sex to get a man, to trap him into marriage, whereupon she immediately loses all interest in sex.

Then, the cliché goes, the couple splits up and the formerly libido-less wife, starts becoming a nymphomaniac. And then the narrative changes from "women lose their sex drive after a few years of marriage or kids" to "that bitch: she was never into you, she played you" or some such disparagement. And meanwhile there were years, perhaps decades, of a virtual sex embargo and rejection.

But while recognizing that it's normal and typical for many women to feel a significant loss in their sexual attraction to their mate, may help lessen the guilt of women who struggle with it, and may perhaps, take some of the sting out of the bitterness men feel at the rejection, it doesn't solve the problem.

You can divorce, but if there are kids involved, you are disrupting their lives--and for what? Because mom doesn't want to bone dad anymore? And then what? Mom and dad may go on to find new partners, but is mom just going to want to pull up stakes in another decade or less? And can you afford to separate a dual-income family and turn into two single-income families (or turn a single-income family into two half-an-income families)?

You can try all the "marriage saving" techniques: candles, date night, flowers, help with housework, weekends away--and what if they don't really work?

Our culture used to have an answer for this: an accepted narrative that said wives were chaste, and in general, ladies found sex slightly distasteful, but acquiesced as part of their wifely duties. Men were expected to discreetly visit prostitutes or have mistresses and just not disgrace the family though some sort of public scandal.

But now women want to enjoy sex and know they can and are allowed to; and men want their wives to WANT to have sex with them.

So we don't have a model (not that I'm suggesting we return to that one!). We have bitter, frustrated, guilty people.
Now we're baby-stepping towards Step One: learn to stop blaming and hopefully lessen the guilt. This is an education project that needs to move off the fringes and out of the limited reach of someone like Dan (great as his reach is), and much more into the mainstream.

But Step Two? Clearly, a widespread cultural acceptance of polyamory, or open relationships or extremely short-term pairing becoming not just tolerated but joyfully expected. I also don't mean that all couples are required to break up after a short term; people who are happily or naturally monogamous should not be pressured to change. But I do think that as a culture we would be better off without that expectation of monogamy or life-long partnership or exclusivity. Except that is going to take generations. Which doesn't help people like our letter writer, or Tim Horton, or Late Bloomer, or all the others who love their partners or have children or who have other reasons for not wanting to divorce.


Jesus some of the commenters here need to get over themselves.


There are big risks when people breed. So many women thru out time have died giving birth. The baby might have health issues or a deformity.
Then they have to be tended closely till they grow and you have to educate and love them well, so you’re not sending a psychopath into the world. Or one of them dies.
The culture we live in doesn’t make it easy. We don’t talk about the realities of the experience, so people get this big shock at how having children changes their lives.
I agree nocute, I hope more and more people can work out different and healthier ways to adapt to change other than divorce, honestly, like when sex goes and children are present.
Fan, you’ve been on my case a little too much lately, and the belligerent tone is tiresome.


@113 Who did you have in mind? I'm sure we'd all love to know. :/ >_<


The LW needs to take this problem seriously. Her wish to stay married because of her child is a noble one in the short term, then the truth about her deep sexual unhappiness needs to be shared with her husband, so he hears.
The affair, it’s her burden to carry and it serves as a background reminder to her of what she wants.
Step by step as drjones, sigh, above says.. Tell him how seriously she wants this other experience, and if he also wants to stay married and have a family with her and their child, then he needs to listen.
He has some fear about women, he has to look at that and grow up. Few women want that sort of treatment. Perhaps he could talk to someone about his fears of touching with his fingers and mouth, a woman’s pleasure zone.
Big red flag here that is first off the block to be confronted.
If you’re serious about sticking it out with this man LW, then step by step take him along on a journey. First you’ve got to communicate with him how important this is to you. Allow him his pace as long as he’s moving along to loosen up his weird sexual self / what hetero: bi man doesn’t love the feel of pussy? How many of them are out there/.
LW, the D/s play may or may not be something he can get to, even after he’s tried. Then at that point talk about seeing a non sexual professional as cbu, I think it was, said above.
It’s a process of change, you’ve got to give it a good kick start to get it going. Talk .


Whichever way you go LW, it will involve compromise, for the both of you, now a child is involved. If no child, the two of you could face the music of sexual incompatibility and move on.
Cheating is not the way, especially for people so young. Children do adapt if the parents separate, as long as their needs and feelings are taken care of. It’s a big step, breaking up the family and an expensive one, not insurmountable because lots of people do it. Wonder if it is better on the other side, or if some would have stayed if change had occurred. Good luck LW.


There is not enough information to provide effective advice. Trying to separate sex from the gestalt that is her life and only address that MAY cause more harm than good. They need to see a marriage counsellor who hopefully will see and understand the whole of their relationship before giving advice.

Why does SHE and not THEY have to make their relationship work? Best uninformed guess is that she is financially dependent on her husband, does not have a job, has no marketable skills or work experience. Another reason why marrying young is generally a really bad idea.

Having an affair was the catalyst for her epiphany and dissatisfaction with her marriage. Having more affairs is not going to make their relationship work and POSSIBLY sow the seeds of its destruction. Cheating should be the last resort. As others have suggested, try improving your communication with your husband first.



Ms Cute - If you were in charge, you might be able to pull it off. But most of your allies (and I include Mr Savage) would not be acting in good faith. I honour your frustration with how there appear to be a number of well-intending people unhappily situated through nobody's fault.

I think you'd likely need to adopt Mme Sissou's model of parenting or something close to it. While eliminating blame would presumably reduce guilt, an unintended consequence would be playing into MGTOW hands by granting what they'll use as evidence that partnering with a woman is extremely high risk. There would probably have to be some change to the divorce structure as well. Would it be a plus if parenting (in forming a viable parenting unit around the expectation of loss of interest) became nearly as difficult for the OS as for Ls and Gs? I don't feel qualified to opine.

Your second step I could only see working if everyone were like yourself. In the real world, monogamous people would be shamed, bullied and pathologized, especially by those who, unlike you, didn't want to make everyone happy but only entered the project to create a world favouring one sort of person over another. But you have given me inspiration for the following:

"Of the Brodie Set, only Eunice Gardiner stood out to be monogamous. This was because she wanted the extra scope for athletics that monogamy allowed..."


Sorry to be so late in the comment thread again. It has been quite a week for Griz.

@61 BiDanFan: I turned 55 on Tuesday.
@69 LavaGirl: WA-HOOO!! Congrats for scoring this week's sumptuous Lucky @69 Award! Revel in your coveted riches and may true decadence come your way soon. :)
@100 tachycardia: WA-HOOO!! Congratulations for hitting the Lucky Hunsky! Savor the honors and may an abundance of the very best shower upon you soon. :)
@110: Tim, Tim, Tim.......I don't care if you're gay. Not amusing.


HappyBirthday, Griz! You’re just a young pup.


Hopefully you celebrated your birthday the same way you came into it all, naked and screaming!


EricaP 34 and 36: "it's not that hard to turn a GGG vanilla guy into a decent service top." It is not just a matter of Mr. or Ms. Vanilla learning some skills, nor of him/her listening to instructions from Mr./Ms. Kinky. There are (at least) two significant mental/emotional hurdles.

One is that, if you aren't into it -- enjoying pain, or being bound, or whatever -- it can be very hard to believe that your partner really does want to be treated that way. Of course you wouldn't do such things to your partner if they didn't want them. And, despite their saying so clearly, it can be very hard to believe, or understand and accept, that they really do want them.

The other mental/emotional challenge or hurdle (even harder IMO) is dealing with "if I do those things to my partner, then I'm horrible, I'm a monster," because we've been taught for years and years that anyone who ties someone up, hits them, intentionally causes them pain, and so on, is a monster.

These challenges can be dealt with, and your prescription in 36 to read, discuss, and think, is the way. But it takes time, both task time to do the reading, and passage of time to process it and let it sink in.


Ms. Lava@ 103, I too wondered how long the lack of foreplay had been going on and when it became problematic. I feel like she tossed that off casually and that it is only a big deal to her coupled with the lack of bdsm and overall dissatisfaction.
Ms. Cute @ 112, Very well put. There have been times at various points in history, at least among the upper classes, where affairs and intrigues were the norm and the level of discretion varied in different times and places. When marriages were made for wealth, property, social standing, or to strengthen political ties, an heir was essential, and divorce was not an option. So maybe we just need to go back to a slightly older model than the one you are referring to. Maybe the 1750s, instead of the 1950s? (I'm guesstimating the time period, any historians should feel free to correct me with more precise timelines.)
Ms. Griz@121 Thank you! It's the first time I've ever hit a lucky number! Likely because although I have been following for a decade, I don't comment often enough. It seems like a core group covers everything I would have said before I get to there.


I was being cheeky Fan, and it’s true the LW is a woman. Who is to say whether sex/ gender differences doesn’t carry over to D/s bedroom play, with male subs being more demanding.


NoCute @112, you should pitch your story (changed name of course) to some of the bigger national magazines. Or at least Salon. You have such important things to say and such wise insights. I think I learn more from you and EmmaLiz than anyone else on this forum, perhaps even Dan himself.


Dadddy: "Whoever figures out how to identify the abnormal women is going to make a lot of money from book and speaking tours."
BDF: -identifies the abnormal women-
Dadddy: "No, not like that." OK...


Nocute, you were in a difficult situation and made a difficult decision. To admit that your interest in the man you married, the father of your children, has flatlined, is not an easy thing to do. But you were honest, you made the decision, and you’re living with the consequences, good or bad. It was sad, but life is sad sometimes, and I think you acted with integrity. I appreciate your honesty in saying (and having said) that you can still love a husband and have no sexual desire for him. And I hope that my cranky comments don’t add to your guilt in any way—they are certainly not directed at you.

What bothers me are the very popular stands that there must be something your husband did (or that one’s husband did) to bring about the change, ergo there must be something he can do to bring it back; or that the problem is overblown; or that it’s just the way marriages go and that’s normal; or that men have unreasonable standards; or whatever. Kicking the responsibility over to the man allows a woman/wife to avoid taking ownership of what is essentially a shared problem. It’s too easy to come up with excuses, especially when for some reason women seem more willing than men to settle into a routine of sexless domesticity. They’ll continue in a relationship where passion has cratered, without addressing it as the relationship killer it is. These women do not write in to Savage Love.

I’m sure that dad bods, insensitivity, impatience, entitlement, and etc have all killed more than a few sex lives. But the problem seems to be that, no matter what kind of a husband one is, it’s the inevitable circumstances of marriage that do as much damage. Time and familiarity are antithetical to desire, more so for women than for men apparently. And it’s easy to say that men are just lazy, insensitive fucks and no wonder a woman’s interest dies. But for my part, I’ve given it my level best, playing whack-a-mole with all the reasons one gives for not being interested in sex anymore—the reasons aren’t the reasons. They’re just the reason on any given day. What they add up to is the real reason: marriage itself is the libido killer. And the sooner you accept that, the sooner you can move on without mutual resentment or guilt—or shredded self-esteem—and come up with reasonable solutions.

So I appreciate you (and Dan) for making it clear that sometimes there is no problem to be solved and nothing to be done. That sometimes women just lose their hard-ons for the husband they love, and there’s not much anyone can do other than make tough decisions and move on.


Bi@94–My wife is no stranger to orgasms. Your theory is invalid.

Again, pretty tired of the “Must be something the husband is doing wrong.”


addendum to nocute: “But I do think that as a culture we would be better off without that expectation of monogamy or life-long partnership or exclusivity.”

It’s a nice thought, but as long as “Sex just isn’t that important to me, unless it’s sex you’re having with someone else, in which case it will end our marriage” remains a viable position, it’s going to be uphill work.


Did the study that Dan cites control for childbirth/child-rearing? That one variable can change everything, and I have to wonder whether the arc of sexual desire looks far more similar in childless LTRs.

@112: "And it seriously reinforces that (usually male) sense of bait-and-switch, of women using their sexuality and feigning an interest in sex to get a man, to trap him into marriage, whereupon she immediately loses all interest in sex."

On behalf of multiple people I know who have been through exactly this -- where the woman literally concealed her revulsion towards sex until they got married and she became pregnant, and then freely acknowledged that was her CONSCIOUS plan -- let's be very, VERY careful not to imply that this bait-and-switch isn't a real thing, because it certainly is.

We sometimes act as if all male resentments and concerns come out of patriarchy or misogyny, but that sells women short -- as if their agency, or any harm they do, can all be reduced to manifestations of cultural dysfunction.

There are asexual and low-libido women, probably more of them than men*, and a significant number of them deliberately conceal it because of how unattractive that quality is on the dating market, until they get what they want and can drop the charade. It's no different from, and is just another entry in, the long HUMAN history of concealing information to get what one wants.


Split off the footnote since my comment kept getting timed out:

*I profoundly doubt the constant claim that women COLLECTIVELY want sex as much as men do. Even the highest-libido women I've known can set sex aside when it becomes inconvenient, and go weeks or months without masturbating. I've literally never known a man with a libido higher than nil who can do the same.

To me, it's a claim made for ideological reasons -- so that the conversation always becomes "She'd want sex with you if only you were somehow better!" (see @130) or "She'd want sex with you if only the WORLD were somehow better!", instead of asking tougher questions about the complex, multivariate nature of power, objectification, and whether the way those things work for many women isn't entirely eusocial...

...which is a very roundabout way of wondering whether seeing their sex partner as a person is the real boner-killer -- many men AND WOMEN want sex NOT with a three-dimensional human being, but with some sort of weird imago from their subconscious that dutifully supplies their turn-ons, and has no inconvenient needs or complexities of its own.


@131: "It’s a nice thought, but as long as “Sex just isn’t that important to me, unless it’s sex you’re having with someone else, in which case it will end our marriage” remains a viable position, it’s going to be uphill work." LateBloomer, I agree completely that my idea of turning into a culture that doesn't expect or valorize life-long partnership and monogamy is either utterly impossible or at least not possible for generations, if at all.

LateBloomer @130: ("What bothers me are the very popular stands that there must be something your husband did (or that one’s husband did) to bring about the change, ergo there must be something he can do to bring it back; or that the problem is overblown; or that it’s just the way marriages go and that’s normal; or that men have unreasonable standards; or whatever. Kicking the responsibility over to the man allows a woman/wife to avoid taking ownership of what is essentially a shared problem. It’s too easy to come up with excuses, especially when for some reason women seem more willing than men to settle into a routine of sexless domesticity. They’ll continue in a relationship where passion has cratered, without addressing it as the relationship killer it is. These women do not write in to Savage Love.

I’m sure that dad bods, insensitivity, impatience, entitlement, and etc have all killed more than a few sex lives. But the problem seems to be that, no matter what kind of a husband one is, it’s the inevitable circumstances of marriage that do as much damage. Time and familiarity are antithetical to desire, more so for women than for men apparently. And it’s easy to say that men are just lazy, insensitive fucks and no wonder a woman’s interest dies. But for my part, I’ve given it my level best, playing whack-a-mole with all the reasons one gives for not being interested in sex anymore—the reasons aren’t the reasons. They’re just the reason on any given day. What they add up to is the real reason: marriage itself is the libido killer. And the sooner you accept that, the sooner you can move on without mutual resentment or guilt—or shredded self-esteem—and come up with reasonable solutions.")

I agree, with one difference. I think that all those attitudes don't help anyone, and not only do they suggest that if a wife loses sexual interest in her husband, it's somehow his fault, but they also only give permission to women to lose sexual interest in their husbands for specific reasons that can be easily fixed. I mean, if it were only a matter of husband does more dishes = husband gets enthusiastically laid, every married man in the country would be cheerfully doing dishes all the time. I think we cling to those easy explanations and correspondingly easy solutions, because acknowledging that the problem is more complex, more random, and less easily or happily solved is disturbing and frightening to us--I mean, what if that happens to me?--and so we like to come up with "rules" that we pretend if followed perfectly, will spare us this dilemma. I daresay you bought into them yourself, until your experience showed you that following the rules perfectly is no guarantee of the happy solution the culture tells you should be your reward.


@Ytterby Be Mine (#s132 & 133): @ 133, you say, "I profoundly doubt the constant claim that women COLLECTIVELY want sex as much as men do. Even the highest-libido women I've known can set sex aside when it becomes inconvenient, and go weeks or months without masturbating. I've literally never known a man with a libido higher than nil who can do the same." I agree that men seem to be more driven by sex than women (I'm one of those women with a pretty high libido who can nevertheless turn if off when circumstances won't allow for sex), and I think it's disingenuous for women to claim that as a general rule, they are as sexually driven as men (all the YMMD qualifiers here).

@132, you reply to my take on the gendered stereotype that women bait-and-switch men, by saying, "multiple people I know who have been through exactly this -- where the woman literally concealed her revulsion towards sex until they got married and she became pregnant, and then freely acknowledged that was her CONSCIOUS plan -- let's be very, VERY careful not to imply that this bait-and-switch isn't a real thing, because it certainly is."

No doubt there are scheming women who pretend to be interested in sex to "get" a man, and cool down as soon as the marriage paperwork is filed; there are also women who get pregnant intentionally, as a way of trying to force a relationship. For that matter, there are plenty of men who misrepresent themselves so as to get women to be in relationships with them, and the more common trope may be the man who will say anything--tell any lie--to get into a woman's pants. Certainly such men exist. But they don't represent the entire gender, and when we generalize in gendered ways and reduce all complex behavior to the simplest, most malignant motives grounded in negative gendered stereotypes, no one wins. No understanding is achieved, so no solution can ever be attempted. Because it's far easier to gripe about the gender one is not than to try to deal with the depressing reality which is that people often end up being poorly suited to each other, while still perhaps loving each other, or at least being a good working unit in many ways, and there are a fuckton of reasons why breaking up a shared life is difficult and unsatisfying.

I'm no sociologist or sexologist, but I talk with my friends, and I can say that I know many women whose interest in sex (at least with their long-term partners) has waned and who lament that loss of desire, because they used to love having sex with their partner. I don't know a single woman who has confessed to using sex as a ploy to trap a man into marriage when she actually didn't ever want to have sex, but I know more than one who, these days, say that if they never had sex again, it would be fine with them. And, alas, I suspect, though I don't know for sure, that they'd be opposed to opening up their marriages and that if they found out that their husbands had had sex with someone else, the marriage would be over.

I have issues though with your conclusion that the reason that people claim that collectively, women have as great an interest in sex as men, is that "it's a claim made for ideological reasons -- so that the conversation always becomes 'She'd want sex with you if only you were somehow better!" (see @130) or "She'd want sex with you if only the WORLD were somehow better!'"

I think that some people, indeed, use that understanding that women like sex, too, as a way to shift all the blame for a sexless marriage's sexlessness onto the man, but I think that the more common reason for that claim is to start to level the gendered differences precisely so that we can get to a place where rather than falling back on gendered stereotypes as a way of bitterly shrugging off the problem and perpetuating harmful stereotypes, we can begin to try to do the much harder work of considering the sexless marriage in light of human complexities, and think about ways to address it that might be more creative or nuanced.


@127: Thanks, BiDanFan! What a nice compliment!




Bi @127, I second that, and nominate you and Fichu to the the list as well. I love hopping on here and seeing what the older than me women have to say. Especially since you aren’t that much older and I’m now close to the age you were when I started reading SL.


@122 & @123 DonnyKlicious: Thank you---it was quite an amazing birthday. I just got full VA disability benefits awarded and am still feeling a little dazed. Actually, I have been naked and screaming (at least, in my apartment). Red wine and dark chocolate have proven to be a lovely combo. :)
@127 BiDanFan: I third tachycardia on your wonderful compliment to nocutename, and agree that Fichu should be added to the list. I have learned so much form all of you. :)
@136 nocutename: Keep on rocking the house! :)
@138 tachycardia: Agreed and thirded. :)


Late @130, it "must" be something the husband is doing to the extent that it "must" be "just the way women are." In other words, there's no must about it. Every couple, every relationship is different; in some cases men are being lazy and selfish, in other cases they are not; in some cases, women remain just as happy with sex-by-numbers as their husbands do; in some cases it's the husband who goes mad wanting some variety. There's no one-size-fits-all cause or solution. My words were specific to Dadddy's attitude of "well, that's just how women are," which is just as pointless and dismissive as saying "well, the man must be a bad lover." This phenomenon hasn't happened to me, it hasn't happened to Lava, it doesn't happen to everyone. So saying it's "inevitable" seems to me like saying, why should I bother to brush my teeth when I might get a cavity anyway? Why should I treat my wife well in and out of bed when she's just going to get bored and stop having sex with me anyway, since that's what women do? That's what Dadddy's view appears to boil down to, and I think we can see what the results would be if everyone chose to approach this phenomenon with that attitude.

Griz @121, happy birthday!

Thank you, Tachy @138! Glad my ageing is helping someone ;)


@131. Late. You're adopting a feminist position without announcing it as such. The people imposed upon by 'sex isn't that important to me but we have an otherwise strong marriage' are wives as much as husbands.


@132. Ytterby. The male/female distinction is too crude to correlate with 'wants a lot of sex/wants less sex' or 'can't go without sex/can go without sex'. What about all the everyday, less easily theorised differences--being busy or not, having a crunch work or career deadline or not, being otherwise preoccupied, having an older relative needing help, a sibling or lover or friend being seriously ill or dying: All these things are drains. They (usually) sap the libido; and a relationship rides them like a ship rides the waves.

Crude concepts like gender, as I see them, offer not so much diagnostic or explanatory accuracy, as a form of symbolic compensation to people who feel hard-done by. Like when they're not getting enough sex or don't feel listened to in a relationship. In a real situation, instead of saying, 'it's gender and so e.g. 'the feminists are wrong'' or 'men are just insensitive', it's likely to be better to work with one's partner on turning it around, getting a better deal, getting more mutual satisfaction.

I see that Bi's most informative commentators are two out of the three people--the three transphobic battleaxes, I say with a smile on my face--who took such aggravated exception to me, despite my politeness, that they emotionally asked me to refrain from addressing them and have made a point of declaring they don't read my posts. 25 years ago, it was groundbreaking for a gay man to presume to offer advice ecumenically on the travails of straights, bis and gays (and others). My reflection is that we're still not at the stage re transphobia and exclusively-felt cis-identification where a trans person (an expert, someone eminently more qualified than me) would be accepted as giving across-the-board advice.


@142 Harriet_by_the_bulrushes
A point resting upon that some women "took such aggravated exception to [you]...that they emotionally asked [you] to refrain from addressing them" isn't strengthened by your calling them "battleaxes" (regardless of your facial expression).
"A woman, who is nasty, overbearing, mean, pompous, arrogant, a selfish busybody, aggressive, disagreeable, or any combination of these. A battleaxe is usually an older woman, and often somewhat unattractive. The standard dictionary definition does not address looks, but one seldom hears a beautiful woman being called a battleaxe, no matter how disagreeable she is."


Harriet, I have no dog in this fight and I'm only chiming in b/c I wondered if I'm the third of your 2/3 (since I have emotionally told you to fuck off)- but regardless of who you are referring to, your politeness is irrelevant to the discussion here. It's just useless decorum. I don't know why you keep talking about it as if it's a universal virtue. I personally don't give a fuck about your politeness or rudeness- I'd rather have blatant clear honest statements that are rude than passive aggression any day. Manners are way overrated and when you talk about them, you usually just come across like a snob.


Excuse me Harriet. I did read you because of curious’ post. I’m a transphobic battleaxe now.
oh poor poor you, thinking others automatically listen to what you say because..
Most of the time you seem to talk thru your arse, that’s why usually I don’t bother reading what you say. And fuck you.


Seconded that I would purchase and read a book written by No Cute Name.

Curious' misplaced post brought me back here too. I'd stopped following mid way through the first page, but I'm glad I came back or I'd have missed No Cute's posts. So a happy accident.


I take offence at you calling me transphobic Harriet. Battleaxe is just ageist. Not in line with such a liberated person as you proclaim to be.
I’m transphobic why.. Is it because I don’t indulge you playing at jumping genders and orientations whenever you choose?


BTW, given the above discussion about changing the default societal expectations (the model as No Cute says), I think the biggest hurdles are the expectations that each individual person finds work that can provide for all their material needs for their entire lives as well as the expectation that a couple raise a child in a nuclear family- both of these things turn us back to long term monogamy (traditional marriage, even if a person has a couple in a lifetime) as the default because they are all tied together. Which is why I think we need more utopian brainstorming that considers these issues within their larger structural contexts. Which I bring up because of Venn's comment. If it seems out of Dan's reach (which is not a criticism btw, Dan is a social activist second and relationship advice columnist first, not a philosopher or radical and that's fine) but if it seems out of Dan's reach, it's because he very obviously wants to reform the default expectations of relationships (more acceptance of monogamish, more expectations of mutual sexual pleasure, marriage equality, etc) without altering the larger structure in which these models or defaults have arisen. Dan's worldview is more traditionalist, and as the status quo has worked for him, he pretty frequently seems a defender of it. I'm not attacking him for this stance btw, just saying that this is what I think is behind Venn's observation about Dan and also the answer to the conundrum presented in his walking the second step through to its oppressive conclusion.

Sorry if I'm not being super clear. I'm pretty busy right now and planned to spend today catching up on housework and working out, but all the news has me down and it's so much more relaxing to read y'all.


Is there a fight EmmaLiz. Was I in it, I pulled out a while back.


@147 LavaGirl
"Battleaxe is just ageist."

And a gendered insult. Which, Harriet, is not a good luck for anyone let alone someone who, as I understand it, has rightfully chosen not to be gendered themself. (By which I mean how convenient it appears to sling a type of mud one is immune to.)


"good look"


I probably shouldn't have said fight. Just a good analogy- no dog in this fight. I just meant it's a conversation that I have not been participating in, but after Curious's post brought me here, I saw that Harriet said the conversation included 2/3 people... and I wondered if I was the third. So I jumped in even though I had not been participating. However, it turned out to be a good thing, because I got to read the very interesting discussion up above. If I were a wiser person with more self-control, I'd have just read that part and ignored the other, but alas I'm a petty bitch often enough.


LavaGirl @145 "Most of the time you seem to talk thru your arse, that’s why usually I don’t bother reading what you say"

Quoted for truth.


OK I've caught up now with the whole thread. Here's my little contribution, most of which has been said before above but I don't know how to make my point without reviewing it a bit.

So... You start with the biological reality that people are going to require care from other people, especially during childhood, illness, pregnancy, injury and old age. You combine this with the biological realities of various drives (hunger, sex) and the biological fact that sex causes pregnancy in the female sex. All around the world and all throughout time, humans have organized their societies around these biological realities. Though the form changes bit across cultures and over the years and in different economies, the fact remains that humans have to organize themselves around these facts. And as a result, we get various conceptions of kinship, marriage and gender.

Alrighty, so you add capitalism and Western individualism to this to complicate everything, and for a while the dominate model in most of the cultures that we (the commenters) come from was some form of nuclear family- or even an extended family- that included the expectation of lifelong partnership and (for the women at least) monogamy. Most of these arrangements also required women to do most of the domestic labor and did not have the expectation for men to be monogamous- NoCute talks in some detail about that, how this led to the idea that women don't like sex but indulge their husbands, etc. Most of these arrangements also required financial aspects of marriage- a way to deal with property/debt inheritance, financial dependence of women/children/elderly, etc. And the expectation that unless you are born into generational wealth, someone (usually the man) must go out and earn enough money to provide for all the material needs of the family.

So we have a correction - enabled by wealth and the existence of reliable contraception- that allows for more equality WITHIN this system. This includes women having financial freedom now- she too can earn money, she too can support herself and her family, she too can provide for her and her family's material needs by earning money or by inheriting it. It's a bit trickier for her because since most women are also of the female sex class, they are mostly the ones also getting pregnant and raising children which causes common conflicts we see here frequently enough. But there is equality on this front too which includes the expectation now that men also share domestic labor and take an active role in parenting and elder care, not just women.

And as we go on, we see that this move towards equality likewise includes expectations of sexual equality, that the woman should likewise receive pleasure not just be a vessel for the man to receive it. That both should be GGG (thanks to Dan for his contributions), etc. That it's unacceptable for men to step out with mistresses while women are expected to be chaste, etc.

Enter LGBT rights and this is where our own interest in the conversation really picks up IMO and also where I think the movement for marriage equality (though necessary in itself since we live in the world we live in) also fell short of its radical potential in the same way that the movement for women's equality did so and in the way that I believe the trans rights movement does as well in its insistence on upholding gender norms as opposed to doing away with them altogether.

So in our evolving narrative, we now say that sexual equality includes the pleasure and individual preferences of people who are not het in the first place or not monogamous- as well it should- and so we end up with things like gay marriage and poly acceptance and monogamish and open marriage and people who decide to remain single and just date or live together or asexuals and the whole kit and caboodle that has always existed out there but used to be hammered into the tight little hetnorm (recently nuclear family) narrow boxes.

So we are in a world in which anyone (supposedly) can be free to live the way they wish sexually and personally, but we have no solutions for the problems that caused these earlier models to exist in the first place. Who is to raise the children? Who is to pay for it? Who is to provide for the elderly? Who pays for that? We are eliminating the traditional family altogether (hooray for that) without replacing it with anything else so that we have an answer to how people belong. What happens if the entire of our society is just a bunch of individuals who- from cradle to grave- must provide entirely for themselves and never depend (long term) on anyone else, never have a guaranteed place to belong in the world? Now to be clear, I'm not saying that older models were better- they required the oppression and suppression of many people (mostly women, mostly people who are not het nor cis, but also men- the side of patriarchy that the MRA types always over look - or express resentment for and somehow blame feminists for- is the extreme burden of being a patriarch) so I'm not romanticizing here. But I also don't think a lot of (especially Western) people really understand the difference in being from a culture in which you are born into a place and born into a role. Most people are going to fail at going out and blazing their own individual path and tending to all their lifelong financial and emotional needs independently with no model and no guarantees.

We are in the process of tearing down one model (good) without also doing the work to rebuild a new one. Those needs are still there- who takes care of kids? Who takes care of the elderly? Who pays for it? How does one build a place in the world?

In short, it's the problem of whether or not culture is upstream of politics or downstream. It's fine and well to say that monogamous marriage shouldn't be the model and that the nuclear family is stifling and that gender is a social construct that is often oppressive, etc etc- it's easy on a case by case basis to say that someone who does not want monogamy should build a relationship with someone else who is likewise open, etc. But unless you deal likewise with the actual material conditions, the structure in which people live their lives, they are going to keep coming up against those basic needs and conflicts that created the heteronormative family in the first place. I'm definitely on the side of culture being downstream of politics, but I also know that these things influence one another and it's not really an either/or.

Anyway, this is why Dan can go on all he wants about being monogamish and we can extend various rights to every conceivable group out there, but if we are going to actually have liberation for everyone, then we are going to have to answer questions about childcare, eldercare, material needs, etc in a way that makes sense for people who don't thrive under hyperindividualist systems like this (neither emotionally nor financially)- and by that I mean basically the majority of people on the planet.


M?? Harriet - You assume relationships are co-operative instead of competitive. But, if you intend to stick to commenting as a trans person, then I shall find you largely as innoxious as Anne Elliot found Lady Dalrymple and Miss Carteret at the end of Persuasion, except for your wanting to bring about the death of gay.

Ms Fan - I think people want to push It's Probable into It's Inevitable when it suits them. It comes perhaps from not playing enough bridge, where sooner or later one will bid a grand slam only to find that the wrong opponent holds all four of the missing trumps (about a 5% chance) and the contract fails. Now, some Inevitables are close enough as to make almost no difference - if one's OS marriage fails because one's partner is exclusively SS, I will not chide anyone OS in that situation who calls such failure "inevitable". Usually, though, it's just a convenience.

"Joyfully expecting" open relationships seemed at first as if it would be just on a level with convincing Mr Woodhouse to agree to Emma's and Mr Knightley's marriage - not due to some evolution in his fearful way of thinking, but because of his fears operating in a different direction. But I am rethinking whether that was too strict an assessment.

Ms Ods - It's tempting to go through and evaluate which Austenian couples will run into this experience. Of the long-married couples, for the top five wives who seem to have retained affection for their husbands I'd select Mrs Croft, Lady Bertram, Mrs Harville, Mrs Musgrove and I suppose Mrs Dashwood. In the other camp, we have Mrs Norris, Lady Elliot, Mrs Woodhouse and Mrs Tilney, with Mrs Price a probable. I exclude Mrs Bennet, as I shall hopefully suggest that Mr Bennet lost interest first. I retain the slight suspicion that Mr John Knightley at least was tempted elsewhere, however that resolved itself. Of the couples of just about the usual duration or about to reach it, we have the John Dashwoods, the Middletons and the Charles Musgroves. I'd say the Middletons would seem to be coping the best. Then we have all those couples just starting out. Who would be closest to Ms Cute - perhaps Mrs Churchill?


I'm sorry that happened to you at the seven-year mark Dadddy. I've been in a monogamous relationship for 25 years and the sex is better than ever. What we do and how we do it keeps evolving.
We discovered about a year and a half ago that my husband massively gets off on calling me mummy during sex and being made to be a good boy, which was something I would have thought a huge turnoff even five years ago, but it turns out it's incredibly hot and fun. I expect in another couple of years we'll be playing in some other way. There's no downturn in mojo yet (hate that word for some reason).
it might help that he tells me how hot I am all the time which, objectively, is not true (being 50 and somewhat overweight).


No "foreplay" (hate that word; as noted, it IS sex, and framing any not-PIV sexual activities as a prelude to PIV is a problem) i.e. most possible sexual activities? Husband doesn't recognize WTHT's interest in BDSM as serious/important enough to step up for her sake, but does recognize as serious/important enough to (try to) stop her from doing it with others? Husband sounds kind of selfish; it's definitely ultimatum time. He's welcome to prefer sex without foreplay all he wants, but if he wants to stay married to and keep having sex with YOU, WTHT, he's going to have to prioritize your pleasure above his preference.

I'm still very clearly missing some insight about how a lot of people make sexual/romantic relationship decisions. Why are there so many letters from people who have partnered for years with or even married people who clearly haven't been invested in their pleasure from early in the relationship? Why is there ever a next date with someone who doesn't focus on doing things that feel good for oneself (I'm not even talking BDSM, in which WTHT says she wasn't interested until her affair, rather "foreplay"), or after that happens a few times, establishing a pattern of behavior (I could see giving someone another try or two if e.g. one didn't actually or clearly vocalize one's desires, in case the person IS willing/interested but just didn't know what one wanted). WTHT thought this guy was worth staying with for seven years, marrying at some point in there, and procreating with, despite his preference to not do anything to facilitate her pleasure; what made staying with someone like that a good idea, as I imagine it must have seemed to WTHT at some point? At 21, we're not even looking at a situation where WTHT may have decided she was running out of time to have a kid and settled for the best man she could find with whom to procreate; there must have been something that made an unsatisfying sexual relationship more appealing than an alternative like friendship, where she could enjoy social aspects of this guy while being free to have the kinds of sex she wants with one or more casual or serious partners who are actually interested and not this guy. What was it?!


@113: Yes, "BigSteve," your wisdom is wise and the Internet exalts that you shared those eleven incisive words with us. The commenters without self-aggrandizing handles who are discussing the topic of the letter in a forum intended exactly for that are SO CLEARLY the ones who need to get over themselves that it seems almost incomprehensible in retrospect that they have lacked awareness of such evident truth. But for the grace of Steven the Large, we may have gone on in self-absorbed abandon for the remainders of our absurd lives, like some tortured Samuel Beckett avatar of the human condition; rejoice, gentle commentariat, for WE ARE SAVED!


Being a Dom/Master when your heart really isn't into it requires a lot energy (no adrenaline rush or surge of endorphins) and becomes drudgery after awhile. There is also the danger of negative feedback into the real world (such as contempt)


EmmaLiz @154: "What happens if the entire of our society is just a bunch of individuals who- from cradle to grave- must provide entirely for themselves and never depend (long term) on anyone else, never have a guaranteed place to belong in the world?" That's the view I developed when my second til-death-do-us-part relationship ended. A lifelong relationship? Can't count on that. Relationships will last as long as they last and no longer. You can't predict the future, you can't count on still being compatible with this person in 10 years or 20 or 50. Live your life and enjoy what you have when you have it. Now, unfortunately this model does fall apart when children are in the picture; it's one thing to go into a relationship expecting that it might last six months or five years and either is okay, but it's another to scramble DNA, since that's committing to 18+ years of that person being in your life in some way, shape or form, and it seems fair to say that it's a minority of couples who will still love/desire each other that much for that long. Getting rid of expectations around having children would help, but for those who truly want them, I guess all that can be done is expect that one's lovers and one's co-parent don't have to be the same person and that's actually fine?

Dadddy @156, no, if I "don't get it" it's because I haven't experienced it myself. I have long observed that my libido seems to work more similarly to men's than to women's -- ie, I will feel horny even when there is no one in my life inspiring such feelings; I have sought out casual sex to relieve frustration, and though it is not my preference, I'm sure I would resort to it again if I didn't have regular partners. However, unlike yourself, I'm capable of listening to the experiences of others rather than assuming everyone else experiences the world the way I do.
Perhaps you could avoid the fate of women who get bored by not pre-emptively pissing off women who are like me? In other words, women who have sex because they like sex. I'm sorry you seem to be a seven-year-itch statistic, and that does explain your attitude that all men are faultless and this outcome inevitable Because Women AmIRite, but again, just as I'm not everyone, neither are you and your ex. It's clear this experience has indeed left a mark, but bitterness and stereotyping won't help you have better luck next time.

(Oddly enough, we seem to have had similar experiences in that relationships we expected to last didn't, but perhaps because I had two which ended for different reasons, neither of them sexual, I haven't concluded that All Relationships Will End The Same Way, just that Most Relationships Will End.)

Busy @157, thank you for providing a useful data point.

John @158, I know, right? If the sex isn't mind-blowing I get bored in a couple of weeks. People must be terrified of ending up alone or something.

John @159, I just took Mr Steve's comment as self-referential. :)


Hey busy. You turning up and updating us on your marriage, points to why some monogamous marriages do last the distance, emotionally and sexually. It’s the couple’s ability to evolve and adapt to each other, and to play well together.
Can the LW’s husband change gears and learn how to play.
Grizelda.. Happy Birthday.


Bit of a contradiction, learn how to play. I wonder if it would help to go do some drama classes, loosen him up.


If you’re still here LW, have you read Esther Perel or listened to her podcast. She has a lot of wise words to help couples who are going thru sexual issues.


@BDF it's not just children though. It's also old age. And it's finances. The majority of people cannot survive decades and decades of life with no help from others in our current system. What to do when you break your leg? What to do when you can't afford the rent? What to do when you get lyme disease or can't boil water without burning down your house anymore due to dementia? How to keep up with home repairs? When you can't drive anymore and the subway is too far to walk? And this is before we consider the emotional impact of having to exist as an individual for decades, always trying to carve out a path for yourself and staying relevant in an ever-changing world. Most people can't do it.

If we get rid of the family, we have to replace it with something.


EmmaLiz @165: the one-word answer to all your questions is socialism. Who's going to take care of me when I'm old? The NHS. (People with children can't count on them, really -- what if you fall out, what if your children have their own financial issues that take precedence?) Not having had children means I've been able to put money away towards my retirement. I'm planning to retire in a community of friends, Golden Girls style. And I'm not sure couplehood is the solution to all the questions you raise -- how is an equally old and feeble partner supposed to fill all those needs you mentioned? If we get rid of the family, we replace it with chosen families. My friends and I will pool our resources and take care of ourselves collectively.


Mizz Liz - I did only come around to marriage equality as the most workable American solution; it would not have been my first choice, as I always maintained that Team SS could have come up with something better. But there were always those of us for whom marriage would work best anyway (for a variety of reasons, not all complimentary).

I shall have to think about how fair it seems to expect trans people to push for the abolition of gender norms; I suspect I could take a brief for either side, though it isn't (as Rumpole would say) my specialite de la maison. But I do thank you for restricting the abolition to gender norms and not gender entirely.


BDF, I agree - my point was only that these questions used to be answered by "family" (not exclusively couple hood or parent hood, but by the extended networks of kinship, inheritance and mutual aid that families consisted of) and now there is not really an answer. What works for you is great- its' similar to my own plan. It's not possible for most people, however, so individual planning is not a solution large scale for the whole society. I agree some sort of socialism like project is required, but the wealth that is redistributed within current socialist models (like in Europe) is still dependent upon global capitalism which requires the poverty and oppression of most of the world, so the answer is more complicated than that, though of course this is a necessary first step. Also just to be clear, I was not defending the family as the preferable model to answering these questions- I think it is mostly an oppressive institution itself as I said. I'm just saying that removing the family as the answer to these questions (which tends to happen in all capitalist societies within three generations) leaves a big void for most people who cannot do what you are doing- and we can look about to see what happens if we don't deliberately fill it with a better alternative. I don't know what that is going to be- we have to create it. The natural conclusion if we don't is a minority of people, like Dan, who are able to make enough money to pay for everything and create their own families while most people are left out, alienated and on the cusps of poverty- gangs, cartels, fundamentalism, generational poverty and the violence associated with it, etc.


skeptic @160

"Being a Dom/Master when your heart really isn't into it ... becomes drudgery after awhile."

If one's partner is greedy and inattentive to reciprocating, sure. Much of the discussion this week is about how vanilla sex also becomes drudgery.

If one's partner is obviously appreciative of one's efforts, then one can feed off their sexual excitement, plus enjoying their creative attention to one's own sexual preferences.

BDSM doesn't solve the problem of boredom, but it doesn't cause it either.

Openness to new things (kinks, locations, time of day, special guest stars, etc.) is a better path to ward off boredom than refusing to indulge one's partner's sexual requests because they don't sound fun.

As busy_quilting says @157 --- "it turns out [mummy/boy play is] incredibly hot and fun."

And also: "I expect in another couple of years we'll be playing in some other way."


BTW BDF, I'm not up to date on your politics across the pond since it's been such a lot to keep up with here, but I remember reading that the recent trade deal will open your NHS up to US private health care interference right?

As you know, no such thing exists here in the first place, and even if we get a president who pushes for Medicare for All, it will be impossible to pass that legislation. The only chance we have of pushing for such a thing resides in the slim chance that we might mobilize a huge broad based mass movement- unions and interference with capital until we get it. There is no possible way it will come about through Congress. This is what (mostly wealthier) liberals don't seem to understand is the difference between Bernie and Warren. I like both of them somewhat, but Warren's plans are irrelevant since they will die in the Senate anyway and since lobbyists will never get on board, period. The focus must be on building a mass movement, mobilizing people, working with unions and grassroots organizations, not on policies that will never see the light of day or else will get watered down to nothing. And she's not putting her energies where Bernie is- though as a united force I think they'd be unstoppable.


@busy_quilting: Thank you for being an inspiration! It's good to read. Also, EricaP--you are very inspiring in how you suggest people change their frame of reference and expectations, in very practical ways.


Nocute, I want to thank you for your comments to this thread. Especially that at 112. It's a good summary of the most common problem in otherwise good marriages like my own. On one hand, that no one is at fault is both reassuring in that no one should take it personally. On the other hand, I long for the so-called good old days when men like me were expected to have their needs discreetly met while not embarrassing the family.

It seems so pointless to break up a family and my heart breaks for those who can see no alternative. FWIW, Mrs. Horton and I have had some more recent talks that sound a bit like your narrative, including her guilt over loss of libido and her kinda sorta tacit understanding that I might find sexual fulfillment elsewhere.


Thanks, nocutename! And I second the comments above that you are a great storyteller and your experiences could help people in similar, difficult circumstances, if you're pulled to that sort of longform writing.


Thanks Dadddy!
This is going to sound really weird but having teenage children who are beginning to be out in the world and developing their adolescent sexuality seems to have brought some different and new sexual energy to our relationship. I wouldn't tell any of my friends though, it sounds icky. But it's not!
It's like they're talking about relationships and dating and sexuality and it's so novel to them (neither of them has been very involved with anyone, or been dumped yet of course), and it's quite freeing. I sometimes wonder if I'm going to feel envious of this further down the line. I also worry about losing my libido when menopause hits (anytime soon).


It’s not inevitably busy, that you lose your libido, with menopause. I think that’s another generalisation about women and their sexuality.
During the transition there was a dip for me, now after being post menopause for several years my libido is still pumping along. I expected it to go, because like you I believed the stories, and it hasn’t happened.


You kinda sorta finding sexual fulfillment elsewhere, Tim Horton, might arouse Ms Horton.
You’ve given it a good few years of trying, and being honest with her is best.


@140 BiDanFan: Thank you, Bi. It was quite a celebration this year. :) and
@166 BiDanFan: Great idea! Never having had children either, I have the same plans myself.
@169 EricaP: WA-HOOOO!!! Big congrats for scoring the highly coveted Double Whammy (@100 + @69 = @169, or Hunsky plus Lucky @69 )! May a shower of riches rain upon with delicious decadence.
Anyone up for the Two Hunsky?


@176 LavaGirl: Thank you. That is good to know. I am currently transitioning into menopause.


EmmaLiz @168, can you clarify why you don't think "most people" can take the route I am taking, namely planning a communal retirement by pooling resources with my "chosen family"? Is it because most people don't live in socialist countries? (Even America has Medicare, so if it doesn't care whether its younger poor people starve in the streets it seems at least to recognise that the elderly can't work.) And yeah -- thanks for the reminder @170 that we now have what amounts to conservative Republicans in power who want to kill the best thing this country has, the NHS, and my revised plan is going to have to include self euthanasia when I run out of money. :-(

EricaP @169: I agree that vanilla sex with someone you don't desire can also feel like drudgery, but BDSM is (usually) far more time and energy consuming than lying back and thinking of England while a man like Mr WHTH uses one like a fleshlight. I agree that Dan's advice to be GGG should be taken as an opportunity, with the Dom focusing on their partner's excitement as the turn-on rather than the acts themselves.

Dadddy @171: "That's awesome, and important to hear. Not everyone is doomed! I recall a study from several years ago in which about 1/3rd of the couples maintained robust and lasting sex lives." At last!! Whew! So, we have a third of couples escaping this fate entirely, and among the two thirds who don't, some break up for non-sex-related reasons, others experience the phenomenon that would be called lesbian bed death if their partners were female, and some situations, like WTHT's, where it IS the man's fault. Many are unlucky, but indeed, not everyone is doomed. I'm glad you've moved on from blaming yourself; perhaps you'll now move on from blaming women?

Tim @173, that sounds encouraging. So she's happy to give you a hall pass? I'm glad to hear that, and if I were she, I would admire you all the more for not having used this option yet, and encourage you to do so.

Lava @176, thanks for that reassurance.


I neglected to include in my list that small subset of couples where the man has a lower libido, and -both- of them get bored of sex and settle into a companionate relationship, where they have sex infrequently but both are fine with that.


@143. curious. Look at what these people said about me and judge who's been milder. By 'battleax' I meant a woman who holds resolutely to limited views (in some sphere)--not 'nasty, pompous, mean, unattractive' etc.


Bi@180 I don't know that I would call it an explicit hall pass, and truthfully have been trying to figure out exactly what is in Mrs. Hortons headspace. I am fairly certain we aren't where NoCute was - the idea of me touching Mrs. H isn't repulsive to her and she does finish when we do it about 2.5x per month. I am also certain that if I had a low libido we would sink into the companionate marriage with both of us missing the idea of sex - and her missing the idea of being desired by her husband - but not actually feeling the need to do anything about it.

She's actually quite sure I have cheated, chalking it up to being a conventionally attractive man in a position of power who travels for work. Who's sexually frustrated. She has made it clear from day one she absolutely does not want to know what has or may go on. The difference lately is her responding that she doesn't like feeling like she is the reason I don't and won't get to do any of the things I suggest to mix it up in the bedroom and if I need to experience that, then don't tell her if it happens with someone else.

It doesn't sound like a hall pass freely given but also I admittedly don't understand women.

Also, in her mind the 2.5 x per month is pretty good for a near 20 year relationship. Her friends are doing less and have definitely confided in her what NoCute reported upthread: they would be fine with a frequency of never with their husbands.

Now if only I could send the wife away on a weekend with you and the wise women of SL....


@144. Emma. My point above was to wonder why two of the people Bi had learned from most (you and Nocute) were sound, interesting, detailed, thoughtful, self-reflexive and so on (this would roughly be my characterisation) on every issue but trans; why the only person (perhaps apart from Hunter), and notwithstanding the presence of misogynists and stirrers among the contributors, you both had taken such exception to that at one time you both vetoed communication was me, a bigendered but MTF person of strong fourth-generation feminist and antiheteronormative views. When somebody is a homophobe, even though they are imaginative, tolerant, humane, good-humoured about matters within the compass with which they are familiar, we would usually call them a homophobe, then make allowances or exceptions for them--or grant their insights within a more limited context. Why isn't it the same for transphobia? And when will it be? This is all I was asking.

Further, the two of you from whom Bi has learned most are not the same race as her (Asian) or same orientation (bisexual). You three just about share a cisgender. When you and nocute and I have interacted on the subject of gender, Bi has been sympathetic to me--on occasion pulling nocute up on her cisnormativity. So how is it that she can overlook this, and just this, in nominating her most enlightening commentators? What is the hold birth- and cis-gender has on people? This is a genuine question I felt I had to voice.

@147. Lava. I felt safe in making a brief, vivid characterisation--safe it would not cause offence--in the knowledge you do not read my comments.


So you haven’t ventured out then Tim..Mmm.. be careful. You have a good and soft heart, and sex often leads to the heart.
That’s rough, two and a half times a month. What does the half entail?
Once you embark on your adventures, Ms Horton will sniff it out... because you’ll be different. /
Yes Fan and Grizelda, my clit refused to be silenced.. I was very put out, thinking I could finally be free of men and the stuff that went with them.


@150. curious. Lava, nocute and EmmaLiz are all my generation (all possibly a bit older than me, but none more than fifteen years; and not a generation older). I'd regard myself as fair game for e.g. 'old queen', 'old dear', 'old sport'. I am bigendered, not agendered.


Did you see the daily letter Fan. A gay man who loves eating pussy. Obviously not a gold star, bronze maybe.


Not the letter.. in the comments.


@148. Emma. Interesting about Dan being a defender of the status quo. How about five-year marriage contracts being the norm? With a parenting-responsibilities annex if the couple have a child, and a standard-form extension? I'd see that as an improvement.

@155. Venn. If a partnership is too competitive, surely, it falls apart? One resents the other's success, and so on. I have nothing to say whatsoever about some people feeling uniquely MM attraction. I'd guess there will always be people like this. Some of the milieux in which they move will increasingly become queer, rather than gay--but this is a different question.

@153. Erica. Eh? What is this, a transphobic pile-on? Why do the columns of Dan Savage, a nontransphobe, attract so many transphobic commentators?

@156. Dadddy. Playing whack-a-mole in the sense of eliminating the purported reason for refraining from sex e.g. no date nights, an unequal division of childcare, only to find sex being withheld again for another reason. I'm not sure you understood that? Maybe--and you wanted to get your joke in anyways.

@167. Venn. Some trans folk are invested in gender norms and some want to elide, queer or transgress them. Most of us both, in different ways.


Tim @183, I was with you up until "I don't understand women." Read this letter for an example of how "I wouldn't want to know" can be misinterpreted even when there are no mysterious women about:

Two and a half times per month (is the half a blowjob or something, or is it five times every two months?) isn't nothing; it's not close enough to sexless that I would give a hall pass, not sure about Dan. But is it close enough to sexless that your wife would, is the question. Perhaps you could show her the above column and ask her, do you really mean that sex is unimportant enough to you that you would be OK with my doing it with other people, so long as I'm discreet and always use condoms? That she assumes you have cheated and hasn't left you, or accused you, is a good sign; that bolsters her claim that she would not in fact dump you for looking elsewhere. Sounds like she is giving you an alternative to 2.5 times per month for the rest of your life. (In her support, from this column it does seem like 2.5 times per month is far better than average for a 20-year relationship. But who wants to be average?)

Harriet @184, OMG, get over yourself. EmmaLiz and NoCute are the most thoughtful and articulate people on this forum. They don't speak about the straight cis female experience; they speak about the HUMAN experience. They observe and they express what they observe in a way that resonates with me, to the point that if they state their experience and it is unfamiliar to me, I can understand exactly where they are coming from. They just make sense. Very little of what you say makes sense; quite often you go on flights of fancy, talking ONLY about your own experience, layering it over those of LWs who have nothing in common with you, failing to understand why people entirely unlike your very unique self don't think the way you do. I can't recall any homophobic or transphobic comments from either of them, and you know I'm one of the first one to jump on any -phobic remarks I see around here. Where EmmaLiz and NoCute don't share demographics with LWs, I see genuine effort to empathise and understand; where you don't, I see an obtuse refusal to even consider that you're the one who's outside the norm. So, it's nothing to do with birth gender, everything to do with empathy and good writing ability.

Lava @187, I saw that and unsurprisingly added my two cents! :)


Harriet @189 re Erica @153: there is nothing transphobic about that comment! Are you really playing the victim card, claiming that people only disagree with you because of your gender? It's nothing to do with your gender, dudeperson. It's everything to do with your cockamamie projections that are completely unsupported by, and irrelevant to, the letters being discussed. Case in point, CMD is also genderqueer and doesn't get the same reaction. Please provide evidence of ANY transphobia in EricaP's, or anyone else's for that matter, comments.


@170. Emma. The fear is that a UK-US trade deal would split open the NHS; but such a trade deal is a long way away from being signed, and Britain isn't a slamdunk to leave the EU without a deal with its European partners. Or even at all.


Fan @190, what.. except late in pregnancy and for six odd weeks after and during periods, I had sex pretty much every two to three nights. For thirty years.
Couple of times a month, for a couple of forty odd year olds.
Yeah, Ms Horton thinks Tim has already done the deed, and nothing has changed, so she thinks all is ok. It’s Not Going To Be A Problem.
Wish you luck Tim, see in a while with updates.


Fan, this person has become a troll.. and/ or a little unhinged.


@190. Bi. I agree with you that Nocute and EmmaLiz are two of the most 'articulate and thoughtful' people on the forum (for Emma, you could have added 'voluminous'). They've also had transphobic blind spots. Could you not have added a rider e.g. 'the people I've learned from most ... about cis-femininity' or 'on almost all issues, perhaps excluding the most contemporary themes of trans politics'?

@191. Bi. I would maintain that Erica's remark @174--'oh, thank you, nocute, thank you for your moving and stirring and opinion-shaping story'--is implicitly transphobic. (The story is of how nocute's marriage foundered when she lost all sexual desire for her husband, despite her still loving him and his continuing to behave irreproachably towards her in all the basic ways). Transphobic because a similar story of mine caused nary a ripple. (I described how the monogamous marriage-like relationship I entered, with me as the 'wife', proved unworkable because my partner was constitutionally incapable of fidelity). Both stories were a comparable way down their threads. Nocute's story was understood as emotionally resonant, and as lending a credibility and heft to her tentative prescriptions for a reform of relationship norms ... and mine? The only person who responded to mine was you; and you saw it as a form of gender tourism, that underscored the presumptuousness of my thinking I could sometimes characterise the attitudes of monogamous women. Eh? So when you married monogamously, it was a good-faith attempt to make the arrangement work; but when I tried this relationship-form (for seven years), it was a pantomime, it was a scene, a kink, a freak.... And you ask to be directed to the transphobia...

The reasons nocute's story got more play than mine was that it's more visible, more comprehensible, to cispeople. It fits closer to an understood template narrative. It solicits identification more readily on the basis of cisness (also femininity). To identify with me, to see it as legitimately funding my views on relationship politics and dynamics, you'd have to count yourself marginal--or, indeed, identify on a basis of the merely and indifferently human. The lower visibility of trans, the lower comprehensibility and generalisability, the availability of 'that's-trans-so-I-won't-listen, has-nothing-to-do-with-me'--all this is transphobia. It's as if you need a primer on prejudice.

I have no idea whether Erica, like you, thinks I project my feelings onto lw s' situations. CMD says little to nothing about how he/they/she has sex, so may escape some prejudice that way.


Add narcissist to that. What a wanker you are Harriet. This is not your private therapy session. Go pay someone to deal with you.


Anyway Tim, it’s always nice when you drop by. Give us a catch up. Can’t understand Ms Horton letting a man like you stray, but there you go.


Maybe it’s something in the water.


I was speechless last week when Harriet mentioned being a lawyer last week.

@191 BiDanFan

@195 Harriet_by_the_bulrushes
"The reasons nocute's story got more play than mine was that it's more visible, more comprehensible, to cispeople."

Did you ever consider that your story might not be able to get as much play simply because fewer people read your Comments? Oh, and why they don't has less than nothing to do with who you are. I love people and I've been fascinated to hear every other trans voice relate their realities. But though you are clearly smart, I have not been fascinated to hear you talk about much of anything. Why exactly I'm not sure. Maybe as BiDanFan said @190 it's your "writing ability"; maybe it deeper, maybe it's your way of thinking. I only know your Comments read so muddy, insubstantial, and odd that they don't click for me. And don't think it's about who you are WRT trans/gender/etc; I'm guessing it's the way you write or the way you think. Oh, and you be you, think how you think...but don't dismiss that as a factor and attack everyone as transphobic.


Just a note of encouragement from "the other side" about female libido post-menopause. At 69, after 17 years, I've found I'm just as horny and ready as ever. I've discovered unexpectedly overwhelming orgasms coming (yeah, I know) much too quickly when I didn't want the feeling to be over. And then I began having multiples! So, no problem. The only downside was needing lube where penetration was involved and a tiny bit of tightness until I adjusted.

But, back to the column at hand. I've always found the best partnered sex to be a combination of selfishness (wanting only what I want) and altruism (wanting my partner to have the most pleasure), with the best episodes being those where we were both on the same page. That's why this LW's story enrages me. I can see how the BDSM aspect would be a surprise once it evolved but, seriously, NO foreplay before PIV and rejecting other things as too complicated!!! Gee, I wonder what they were: different positions, perhaps? What an imposition on HIS sexual autonomy. If, as Dan has often said, "oral comes standard." then it's high time we get another aspiration, namely that "individual and mutual pleasure are the only goal that matters"!


Harriet @195, I agree with Lava. Unhinged.
How do your story and NoCute's story differ, other than her being cis and you being, well, something else?
One. NoCute posted her story during an active thread. You didn't post yours until after the week's thread had been superseded by a new column, and only saddos like me continued to return to the discussion.
Two. This week's column is about how cis women in long-term monogamous relationships lose desire for their spouses for no apparent reason. NoCute's story was about how she, a cis woman in a long-term monogamous relationship, lost desire for her spouse for no apparent reason. Relevance to the column: 100%. Your comment, on the other hand, was regarding a straight cis man whose straight cis wife no longer wanted to indulge his cucking kink after marriage and two small children. Your story was about how you, a childless, non-monogamous, often self-described "gay man," had once been involved in a relationship where you role-played a monogamous wife. Relevance to the column: 0%.
Three. Your comment came after several tone-deaf ones demonstrating that you had no idea how the wife in said scenario would find indulging a cucking kink a hardship, and persisting in this misconception after several women -- including some who HAD been involved in a cuck relationship -- gave detailed accounts as to why. Most people, except, again, for my long-suffering self, had tuned out by that point, believing that you had shown yourself as having nothing of value to contribute.
So, no transphobia. Relevance and sense are the two differences between your contribution and NoCute's. It wasn't "that's trans so I won't listen"; it's "that makes no sense and is all about you (and I'm not even reading these comments anymore) so I won't listen."


H_b_t_b @195 "The reasons nocute's story got more play than mine was that it's more visible, more comprehensible, to cispeople."

No. The reason that nocute's story got more response than yours is because nocute writes a lot better than you.


Harriet: You're not Humpty Dumpty; you don't just get to use words any old way you decide they mean, if that's not what they mean and then get upset when other people react to the actual meaning of the words you used.

Here are some dictionary definitions. Please look at the usage examples the Oxford English Dictionary provides:

a broadax formerly used as a weapon of war.
Slang. a domineering, aggressive, sharp-tempered person, especially a woman.

Synonyms: shrew, virago, nag, fury, scold, harpy, hag, harridan, termagant, fishwife

Merriam Webster Dictionary:
1: a broadax formerly used as a weapon of war
2: a usually older woman who is sharp-tongued, domineering, or combative

Oxford English Dictionary:
4 fig. A formidable or domineering woman. Orig. U.S. slang, now colloquial
1896 ADE--Artie ix. 81: “Say, there was a battle-ax if ever you see one. She had a face on her that’d fade flowers.” 1938--E. Queen Four of Hearts I. ii. 25: “These old female battle-axes don’t feaze me.” 1957--C. Brooke-Rose Languages of Love 8: “D I look like a female novelist? I thought they were all battle-axes.” 1959--Punch 21 Jan. 135/3: “Though slim as an arrow, a girl can wax in the course of time to a battle-axe.”


@203 Registered European
"...nocute writes a lot better than you."

While that couldn't be more true (Harriet's Comments and their paragraphs both are jumbles), even in a properly formed phrase or sentence it's more than just the writing, I think for me it's also the way Harriet thinks (as I elaborated upon @199) that I can't be interested in.


At this point in my life, I've been choosing to deal with this phenomenon by conducting myself polyamorously (is that a word?) while avoiding cohabitation and other types of traditional relationship escalation. For the most part, this has worked well for me. But I say this from a position of privilege and recognize there are greater obstacles for most younger people who wish to start families yet live in places in which marital status and/or domestic partner status and/or shared finances can be a necessary means of accessing adequate parental leave, health insurance, child care, credit that influences housing options, a variety of tax breaks, and a contract to enforce sharing responsibility of children if the marriage should dissolve. Of course marriage and polyamory can work together, but nearly everyone grows up steeped in the notion that marriages should be monogamous and sometimes it takes actually experiencing marriage or long-term monogamy to learn that it may not be the best choice for an individual or a couple. By the time that happens, there can be an entrenched dynamic that is difficult or even impossible to deprogram or reset.

It's my understanding that marriage is viewed as less necessary and less universally appealing in many places that have better services in place for all, and therefore fewer benefits to married people and lesser burdens for single parents, but I have no idea if polyamory and/or other types of ethical non-monogamy are more common in those same places. Would be an interesting thing to research. I would assume there are many factors that influence interest in polyamory and general acceptance of non-traditional relationship styles.

As for the comments about imbalanced housekeeping being a red herring, I would both agree and disagree. Generally speaking (or perhaps overgenerally speaking), I think it's more common for women's sexual desire to be highly partner specific and more sensitive to interpersonal dynamics and more sensitive to context. So this can mean that perhaps 25 things have changed from one point in a relationship to another, so addressing one of the 25 is not going to magically resolve the issue. And maybe one of the 25 things is something like the excitement of partner novelty or sensitivity to routine or resistance to ever having sex outside of mutual desire, things that just generally align poorly with long-term monogamy. In those cases, the housekeeping thing can be just as much a red herring for the woman who is not necessarily aware of all 25 things that have changed since the beginning of the relationship and how much each of those things has contributed to the issue at hand. And then there's the thing where the desire gap can create a dynamic that is unpleasant, furthering widening the gap and adding another possible red herring.

I'll also say that it absolutely happens that people lose desire for polyamorous partners. Non-monogamy by itself doesn't make individuals or couples immune to this. However, among polyamorous people I know, I generally see greater acceptance of this phenomenon when it happens, and greater openness to shift the relationship such that there can still be valuable elements without sex and/'or romance being involved. There is also sometimes greater acceptance of desire waxing and waning which I personally think can sometimes prevent an initial discrepancy of desire from becoming a battleground and therefore entrenched or intractable.


I'll add that I've also found ethical non-monogamy helpful in cases of incomplete sexual compatibility or just enjoyment of a variety of sexual dynamics. For example, I may have a partner who is very dominant and satisfying to me in that way, yet rarely tender in a way I also find satisfying. And I may have another partner uncomfortable with power play but very sensual and satisfying that way. Rather than feeling either deprived of one or the other type of sexual connection, or like I must convert one or the other partner, I can enjoy each partner as he is. Even if I'm only seeing one of them for a stretch, I focus more on enjoying them for who they are rather than future tripping about never experiencing x again.


There are too many reasons to name right now BDF though hopefully we can return to the topic later (I'm back working until the weekend) but it's not my opinion but a matter of fact. Look at how most elderly people live in the US- half of them are in poverty. And this is the Boomer generation, the wealthiest in history. It will be worse for us. Personally, it is my experience with the elderly and with caregiving. IMO it's very easy to say that you will surround yourself with a community of friends who will take care of each other- in real life I can think of very few examples of this working out. When you need your diapers changed, when you break your hip, when you have dementia, your friends are unlikely to be able to (even if they are willing) to care for you, and state services are currently inadequate for those without quite a bit of money to do the job in such a way as to make you comfortable if you do not have someone to advocate for you constantly and monitor everything. But also just because most people cannot manage to provide for all their material needs and save money for decades and maintain long term friendships and community- the forces of modernity work against them.


Harriet, I'm not reading all your bullshit right now. My objections to you have nothing to do with you being trans, an identity which I have never seen you embrace btw, and everything to do with you being myopic, passive aggressive, self-absorbed and also claiming to have knowledge of things you know nothing at all about. I apologized last time for telling you to fuck off because I thought there was a possibility that you were more honest than you are now. This time, I've not lost my temper and so I say to clearly and with no malice: from what I know of you online, I don't like you on a personal level, I disagree with you on a political/worldview level, and I don't value your opinion on anything. This is an across the board dismissal of you and everything you say, and it has nothing to do with any of your various identities more generally and instead a very specific personal dismissal of YOU as an individual that I find tedious, dishonest and offensive. And yet again I tell you, that I don't give even one fuck what you think of me, so I don't know why you keep bringing me up in conversations in which I'm not even participating.


@EmmaLiz I think there are also many factors that contribute to whether a person is better off in their old age with a spouse/partner, one or more supportive friends, or even solitary. One factor is how much joy or misery those networks bring them, another is their existing financial resources and societal safety net, another is the relative health and resources of their partner(s)/friend(s) and the longevity, care giving orientation and care receiving needs of same.

Personally, I have found myself in the care giving role 100% of the time in my adult life so far, so it may well be in my better interest to be unpartnered in my older age. Few of us die while holding hands with our partner after a lifetime of reciprocal support. And often people in decades long partnerships find themselves alone as a result of a partner's death. There are so many nuances, most of which are beyond our control.


FutureCat @206-@207, seconding everything you've said. Poly people do lose passion for each other. But they have other people in their lives, new lovers who may drift in and out for a short period of time while the primary relationship becomes more companionate. If we accept that passion fades far more quickly than love, and not expect the same person to provide both for decades on end, more people may be able to get their needs met without painful breakups.

EmmaLiz @208, you're right, I admit that I'm wearing rose-coloured glasses here. For my plan to work I have to be confident that it will work, and indeed there is a strong element of easier said than done, along with, indeed, an assumption that somehow sanity will prevail and either the UK will come to its senses soon enough to stop the privatisation of healthcare or that my friends and I will be able to find a different country to move to. Your post highlights the down side of increased longevity: who is going to pay for 30 years of someone's retirement? In rare cases can it be their own savings; in rare cases can adult children afford it; and if the answer is taxpayers, which seems the only answer that will ensure everyone gets care, who's going to vote in governments who will commit to such a thing? Will my communal care home need to employ younger people carrying on a side business with profits to support all of this? Is voluntary self-euthanasia less a joke than I implied? It's easy to say one would rather pass along in a timely manner than have to endure poverty and misery when one is young(ish) and healthy. All any of us can do, I suppose, is plan the best we can and see what happens.


@BiDanFan @211 And then there are poly people who don't do "primary relationships" or rarely have primary partners and prefer lack of hierarchy. I mention this only to raise visibility as I think most people assume poly always includes primary partnerships. I realize it's outside of the main issue we're discussing.

    Please wait...

    Comments are closed.

    Commenting on this item is available only to members of the site. You can sign in here or create an account here.

    Add a comment

    By posting this comment, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use.