Savage Love

Bluff Calls

Comments

1

Where does LASS's husband's anxiety end and his selfishness begin? It's hard to know, and I wouldn't for a moment suggest his anxiety isn't genuine; but I think the issue here is that there has to be a point, there has to be /some/ border somewhere where he could start to make more of an effort. But he's not trying--he's not open or genuinely receptive to LASS. How is it that he can do PIV sex without the fear of 'getting it wrong'? (Because he is getting it wrong at the moment, if 'getting it wrong' means doing something that's not enjoyable for his wife--that she's come to dread). Not getting it wrong here happens to mean doing it so it's gratifying for him. An old, and robust, way of putting this (leaving more gentle, psychology-informed talk to one side) is that he's a selfish fuck. When is he going to stop being a selfish fuck? Is it his view that his anxiety will make him a selfish, an unrewarding, fuck in perpetuity?

Could LASS actually put this question to him? It sounds like she couldn't, at the moment. He would be on the ceiling for days, or else melted into a puddle on the floor. I guess she has to win his agreement intellectually before she sees any movement in behavior, and that they have to take baby steps, like Dan says. I'd find it hard to believe that he's willing, on principle, to deny her sexual satisfaction. Sex is not usually something that couples perform on point, in an always exemplary way--it's not a double axle they pull off. 'Getting it right' tends to mean getting it a bit wrong about the edges, going slightly too far--e.g. slapping your partner's ass, in a vanilla-plus way, when she didn't quite expect or solicit it; it can have a few imperfections and reaches and bits of messiness thrown in. It's hard to predict the shape of satisfying sex in advance. Could LASS's husband at least accept that in theory? Accept that she's not going to bawl him out, or be mortally offended, if he gets it wrong? (Indeed, be more offended than by what he's doing at the moment--not trying?). My advice for him is not to fear failure, whatever his anxiety, and my advice for her to be more confident in her demand for more fulfilling sex, however well-grooved her empathy for his difficulties.

2

Anxiety is really hard. I can speak to that. However, if you're so anxious about sex that you can't even consider a single one of your partner's simple requests, I don't think you're in good enough shape to be in a relationship in the first place. (My anxiety is one of the many reasons I don't want to date right now -- even though my depression is under control, my social anxiety is through the roof a lot of the time. Not something I want to dump on someone else. Being a virgin and getting embarrassed around men doesn't help.) What that means for someone already in a relationship, I'm not sure. Dan's suggestions are good. If the dude isn't willing to push himself even a little bit, I don't think he's worth the LW's energy.

Not that he's a bad person for being unable to overcome his symptoms (assuming he's being honest and his depressive spirals are legit), but it's always important to at least TRY with things that make you anxious, even if you go very, very slowly. Exposure therapy, people. Start small, but PUSH YOURSELF. At the peak of my social anxiety, when I was basically talking to no one but my therapist and my family, one of my assignments from my therapist was literally just to buy a cup of coffee and say three extra sentences to the barista about the weather or whatever (at a time with no line, of course). By now I'm texting, having old friends over for lunch, and making new friends with my lab partner. I think Dan's suggestion of snuggling seems like the sexual equivalent of chatting up the barista, kind of. If the husband can't even do that, he's either too lazy or currently too broken to be in a relationship.

3

Texting with old friends, not the barista. I didn't befriend the barista, in case that was unclear. I just mentioned the weather.

4

In terms of the other letter, I think the love interest was overreacting. Even if she had a point, the explanation, apology, and promise to never do it again should have been enough to give the relationship another shot. If the LW kept saying stuff that made the love interest feel put down, that would be another thing. But assuming everything in the relationship was copacetic up to this point, she really couldn't roll with a little misunderstanding? It's not even like the LW insisted on her terms (which don't seem so unreasonable to me, but really, what do I know?) after the love interest took offense. She immediately backtracked. I don't know, sounds like the love interest might be too reactive to be in a relationship with a human person -- that is, someone who doesn't say the absolute right thing 100% of the time.

5

LASS: Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy are you "in a monogamous marriage" with somebody so sexually boring and selfish that it's causing problems for you? His anxiety isn't new, so presumably neither is the problem resulting from it. I think you have work to do on yourself to figure out why you decided, "Our sex life sucks, therefore let's get married," was a good idea.

And Dan's wrong here, because of this: "Talking to him about this sends him into a depressive episode where I then have to spend hours telling him he's not a bad person, so I've stopped bringing it up." That's some serious manipulation, which could turn into (or could be already) emotionally abuse. Your husband has an anxiety disorder, depression, whatever; irrespective of that, HE'S A MANIPULATIVE, SELFISH ASSHOLE. Divorce his ass and find a partner, not a relationship where you play nursemaid to someone who melts down at the first hint of conflict.

People in intimate contact - even people in casual contact on an ongoing basis - inevitably have conflicts. Therefore, being able to resolve conflicts productively is key for a healthy relationship (this is the basis of the badly mutated trope that couples who don't fight are doomed; "fighting" is actually a bad sign, because humans who aren't already assholes can usually resolve conflict in good faith without hostility, but NEVER addressing or resolving conflict is indeed a serious problem). Your husband is not in good enough working order for dating, let alone marriage; divorce ASAP.

On a side note, regarding this: "I've tried to talk to therapists about navigating this issue, but most change the subject. One actually told me that it was good that we don't have good sex, because if we did, we wouldn't have good communication in other areas. (I never went back to that one.)" You should report ALL of those therapists to your state licensing board. The last one is worse, but refusing to try to deal with a client's problems (without, say, recusing themselves entirely or offering a referral for specific issues they're unable to address) is professional malpractice (and sometimes legal malpractice - a therapist dismissing suicidal ideation, sexual abuse of a minor, or a credible threat to harm others, for example).

6

To add to one of Dan's suggestions: If making an appointment with a couples' counselor before which to bring this up is unworkable for any reason, you could bring it up before his regularly scheduled therapy appointment and suggest he use that time to work out his adverse reaction so he can show up for you afterward to talk. If this isn't something he's already working on in therapy, it should be. At least, if he wants the relationship to continue.

7

CalliopeMuse @2: I'm really enjoying reading your posts. Welcome to this corner of the interwebs.

8

Comments @ 1, 2, & 5 are all better than Dan's response to the first letter.
And poor TEEGIRL: she's been beyond understanding and making good faith attempts and the girlfriend (ex-girlfriend?) is a drama queen, too-easily-offended, manipulative person, or that's how it looks from here. TEEGIRL is well rid of her and shouldn't respond in more than a cursory way--and several days later--to these attention-seeking messages.

9

Ugh, everybody's partner sounds awful this week. Is it too trite to issue a blanket DTMFA?

10

LASS, I noticed that one of your fantasies is staying in bed on a Sunday for sex. This suggests that you do not have children. First, maintain that state of affairs. Second, I would recommend you consider separating from your husband and setting up your own apartment, as a last step before leaving the relationship altogether. Let him know that you are willing to date him, but only so long as the sex he provides improves dramatically. Write out your list of sexual demands as non-negotiables. Do not reenter your marriage fully until he has demonstrated that he can fulfill your sexual interests. As a period of adjustment, if he proves unwilling to provide you with a minimum of good sex, start dating and fucking other men, and when you feel that your husband is unlikely to ever change, file for divorce.

11

"Talking about fantasies" sounds like a minefield. What if LW1's husband has the "wrong" kind of fantasies according to his wife? I can completely understand his anxiety.

12

Yeah, Mr LASS sounds like a selfish manipulator who's hiding behind "anxiety" as an excuse to get what he wants and never do what she wants. I agree that support and sympathy have only served to maintain the status quo, so she really doesn't seem to have much to lose by switching to tough love. Perhaps when he tries to have sex, she can say no because "I'm afraid I won't do it right" and see how long it takes for the penny to drop. Or instead of telling him he's not a bad person, tell him that he IS a bad person because a good person would want to satisfy his wife. Perhaps there is some amateur porn with "mistakes" included. I think LASS needs to make this a time-limited ultimatum. Right now she's given him no incentive whatsoever to change.

TEEGRL should person up and say, either you forgive my mild gaffe or you don't, and if you don't, that TEEGRL is too afraid of getting hurt to respond to her texts. I agree with Dan: if she can't work through a minor misunderstanding like that, she's not a keeper. Let her go.

13

RE @11, good point. Talking about fantasies and role play DO sound pretty challenging, particularly for someone who is anxious. LASS should definitely start with the Sunday-in-bed idea, and perhaps activities which are, indeed, harder to get wrong. Is oral sex happening? Is "fantasy talk" something she wants to happen during foreplay or is it a means to discover things they would like to enact? If the latter, they should have those talks fully clothed and out of bed. Being asked to role play or talk dirty would make many people, anxious and not, feel a bit ridiculous and unsexy. LASS, do you have other "boring" interests that perhaps aren't so imagination based?

14

LW2; I agree with Dan, that you should respond, because being a sex worker she is sensitive, even though you did explain yourself and apologise.. so tread carefully.
I’d suggest you ask her straight up why is she texting you as it’s stirring your heart because you care a lot for her. That you’re not up for casual chatting, at this time, playing at friends.
It’s only a few months old connection LW, so be wary going forward with this woman. One chance to show her authentic interest in you or cut her loose.

15

Hey LASS, tell your manipulative shithead of a husband that he HAS been "doing it wrong" this whole time, and that he IS a bad person.

16

I often get the impression that there a far more people making a living as therapists than people improving the lives of others as therapists.

17

The comments section is on point this week!

LW2's method of "spending a few days drinking in bed" as the initial response to a breakup was fabulous too. Note to self to try this next time (if I ever have that misfortune again).

As for poor LW1, honey get out as soon as you can. This guy ain't gonna change. You may love him but the way he's treating you is appalling. Put your energy into loving yourself instead and stop enabling him.

I hope one day, sooner rather than later, you will have sex with someone that enthusiatically engages with meeting your needs and brings you a revelation when you remember how sex is supposed to feel. Hint - it's the opposite of dreading it.

I felt trapped in a marriage for years where I dreaded sex because of a selfish, inconsiderate, unhygienic husband. When I finally got to do it with someone else that was into bathing, really, really into me, into women and their bodies and into female pleasure it was seriously like getting out of prison and ending up in a heavenly place I had forgotten existed.

Don't spend too many more years of your precious life in this losing and so sad situation, it's not worth the personal cost to you.

18

LW1: well this is an easy one, leave this man and regroup yourself. Enough with the self sacrifice already. How many years is this and on you plod hoping for miracles. This man and his anxiety are never going to change so cut your losses while you’ve still got breath.

19

LW1, time for the Sheelebub Principal: how long are you willing to stay without change? A week? A month? A year? Five years?

If the thought of staying in a relationship where you are a legally bound care worker to this person for five years makes you want to weep, then DO NOT WAIT THAT LONG. Get out.

You have been in therapy and been through therapists for how long now? Can you continue to go to therapy like you have been for another year with no improvement? Or does THAT thought make you want to weep, too? If it does, get out before then.

Right now, you are well on the road of resentment and that leads to the Walled City Of Contempt. Your husband, even though he has the power to change this, has not taken any steps however small to change anything. He will pick up on the resentment and contempt and spiral further into his anxiety, which will make things worse. You have the power to change things, too: you can lay down a House Rule like Dan said, end the marriage (which tbh looks like it’s headed that way sooner or later), you can find someone for fun on the side, or you can keep going down Resentment Road. If you choose House Rule I would give it ONE try, and if it’s not successful, leave. Your life has value, and you will not get what you want or need staying with your husband. I mean, if he’s too anxious to stay and cuddle after sex...what happens when YOU are sick and need help yourself and he is too anxious to drive you to the doctor?

Oh, and make sure you have ironclad birth control for when you do have sex. Do not have kids with this man. Again, if he’s too anxious to cuddle after sex, he is not inspiring confidence that he will be able to parent even at the bare minimum level.

20

Agree with Dan in his advice to LASS.
Agree with Harriet with the question on when anxiety ends and selfishness begins.
Agree with Slinky in citing the sheelzebub principle.

I can only add that it's the nature of the beast with depression that a symptom of the disease is an inability/lack of desire to treat it.

I can also add something on manipulation. We usually think of the manipulative person's conscious thought processes as going: I want x so I'll say/act y, and then my opponent will be forced to give me what I want.

I believe it's far more likely to be an unconscious thing. No one planned it. It's just that a particular behavior (x) has reliably led to desired outcome (y) until engaging in x becomes something that you do without knowing you're doing it. Also, while I've stated x as an action, x can also be an emotion. Also, the desired outcome isn't a conscious thing either. It can be a buried subconscious thing too that makes no sense either to the onlookers or the one experiencing it. A good example is alcohol abuse. The alcoholic knows the alcohol makes her miserable and hungover and is hurting her life in a hundred ways. The payoff is hard to define, some avoidance of difficult to face realities. Thus with depression/anxiety the way it's depicted in the letter. Mr. LASS's depression/anxiety is hurting him, but it's also helping him avoid sex with LASS.

21

I think TEEGRL's ex's behavior - refusing to hear out a reasonable explanation, guilting her, pulling away, and then restarting communication - is a red flag. I agree with Dan's advice that there's only one way to find out, but TEEGRL should be ready to leave if this is the start of a pattern

22

LASS, from your letter it's not clear whether you've asked yourself why you got into "a monogamous marriage" with someone with your husband's issues, but this is an important problem /you/ need to work on yourself. (There are no shortage of possible answers to that question. One common one is that someone might be so insecure as to choose someone less likely to leave them because of the problems that someone has [as a way to address fear-of-being-left].)

Next, for all we know LASS' husband's problem is purely mental health, not asshole-ness. (I think this is important, please re-read the last sentence.)

LASS, has he tried meds? If so, has he tried experimenting with /different/ meds (meds for depression can dramatically impair [and even can eliminate] one's sex drive, which would of course complicate and contribute to such issues).

23

Y U MARRY HIM LW1

24

There's another way to look at LASS's letter. If we really believe that depression/anxiety is an illness/injury akin to any other, then we could treat it like any other. If Mr. LASS had been in a car wreck that left him in a wheelchair and incapable of having sex with his wife, she might say "I have every intention of staying loyal to you and living with you and being a friend to you, but I'm going to get my sexual needs discretely met elsewhere." This should be presented as a solution to a joint problem, something that could make them both happy, not an ultimatum. Then she goes off to find a sex partner who will give her some foreplay and aftercuddle. There should be a million of them available.

25

LASS, get a sex positive therapist! Going to a therapist that is uncomfortable even talking about sex when that is the core issue is not helpful. AASECT.org

26

RegisteredEuropean, left you a comment on last week's thread.

27

LASS, at best, you and your husband are allowing his depression and anxiety to control your lives. Stop doing that. At worst, you’ve allowed your husband to use his condition to control you. Notice how he’s not consumed with anxiety about getting PIV wrong? How convenient for him.

29

@24 Fichu
Thank you very much for the brilliant comment.

It is sad that people don't properly regard "depression/anxiety [a]s an illness". Even those with them often feel bad about themselves because while physical illnesses are regarded as things people /have/, mental illness feels to the person more like something they /are/.

Oh and in Fichu's hypothetical of the "car wreck", the analogy is truest if the wreck occurred before LASS ever met him.

30

Fichu @24 & Curious2 @29: I'd been thinking the same thing.

LASS might do well to regard the depression/anxiety as a debilitating injury that occurred prior to the relationship, and then find a sex-positive therapist to help her unpack why she married this man, when he was clearly not in good working order, and has resolutely declined to attempt to meet her basic needs.

There's no way for us to know what LASS was and is getting out of this relationship, but she should figure it out, learn to stand up for herself, and take steps to get her needs met. And that includes no more deplorable sex with her husband.

31

@24, @29, @30 - I suffer from depression and anxiety that are always present and sometimes debilitating. I know they are real things, and I have no doubt that LASS's husband genuinely suffers from them too. But I speak from personal experience when I say that there's a stark difference between the depression/anxiety itself, which are out of my control, and any shitty behavior that may spring from my depression/anxiety, which remains under my control. And I, and people like me, are done no favors in life by people who make excuses and fail to recognize that distinction. LASS says that her husband is in therapy but it doesn't seem to be halping much. For him not to make the effort to find a new therapist is shitty behavior. LASS says every conversation she attempts to have with her husband about expanding their sexual repertoire ends with him acting out and her feeling forced to go into caregiver mode. For him not to grit his teeth and power through that conversation - or, if he honestly can't do that, for him not to conclude that he's unable to be in a sexual relationship and exit gracefully - is shitty behavior. Shitty behavior that is fully within his control. Yes, he has hurdles to jump over that people without depression/anxiety don't. No, it's not fair. But there's not much in life that's fair and complaining about one's lot in life solves nothing.

32

nocutename @26 I saw it, thank you for the indeed beautiful explanation. (I keep checking SL comment sections until there haven't been new comments for three days, so normally I won't miss any comments.)

33

@28 Zapotec. I am a whore, as I am a lot of great things. I will use that word proudly. I've used sex work to help people who had crippling social anxieties around sex. I've compassionately helped people lose their virginities. Sex work can be healing.

Now, as it stands your post reads as being overly simplistic about an undeniably complicated topic. It also looks judgmental, when no judgment is needed. Where are these things coming from? I'd encourage you to think again.

34

I see that was deleted, awesome <3

36

nocute @26–I’ve added an essay.

37

@31 UpAndOver
"not to make the effort to find a new therapist is shitty behavior"

As I said @22 neither we nor you know that. I'm sorry for what you go through, but as you must know depression can keep people from doing...anything. Maybe you can always make that effort but maybe he can't.

38

fubar @7 I've been commenting regularly since June, but I guess that's not very long here. I appreciate the welcome.

39

curious2 @22 Mental health issues and asshole-ness are not mutually exclusive. Yes, depression and anxiety make seeking and carrying through with treatment difficult. Extremely difficult in many cases (me!). But someone can also hide behind their issues to avoid working on themselves. We can't possibly know which is the case here, but even as someone intimately familiar with both anxiety and depression, I wouldn't dismiss the possibility that the husband is mentally ill and also an asshole. Making NO EFFORT at all to even attempt to overcome your anxieties -- presumably after years of being asked -- is not okay. It's not like he's trying and failing -- HE'S NOT EVEN TRYING. Sorry for the all caps and everything, but people avoiding even trying to improve their functionality annoys me, especially after living with several people who did just that month after month that for a full year in residential treatment. For all the years I spent basically non-functional, I never ever stopped trying to improve, and pretty much my number one goal was to minimize the impact of my issues on my family. I often did not succeed in that, but I always tried. Granted, I'm not married, but people in relationships (romantic, familial, or otherwise) still have an obligation to those around them.

40

ScandaliciousHobo @33 Any chance you're in the NY area? ;)

...

(KIDDING.)

41

@35 I have severe anxiety so, er, thanks for that.

42

@39 CalliopeMuse "It's not like he's trying and failing -- HE'S NOT EVEN TRYING."

Slow clap. Single person rising to his feet and picking up the speed--slow clap. Big, dramatic, turning point and climax of the story--slow clap. One by one, a large crowd gradually joining into a deafening roar with swelling orchestral music--SLOW CLAP!

43

@2. Calliope. The thing is, PIV is not anxiety-inducing for him. He persists with it even though it's been amply flagged up by LASS that the marital sex they have in toto isn't ringing her bells. Whether he's anxious or not, he hasn't backed off and acknowledged, 'whoa. There is a problem. What's the way we, as husband and wife, tackle this problem'?

I'm not sure their underlying issue is sex. It's that their established dynamic in the marriage--one she lives with, one's she's signed up for and would appear happy with in every area of the marriage but this--is to spend hours talking him down from the ceiling whenever there's something he fails at on account of his anxiety. It's no use to say, as @5 JohnHorstman does, why are you married to this guy? She would have married the guy, in part, because this role sat well on her. (Maybe only in part). Let's leave sex out of the equation. (In fact, I think she should withdraw from the 'I'm-the-receptacle'-kind of sex she dreads, leaving them celibate for a while). How will LASS be able to wean herself off her role of reassuring her husband that all is well with him, morally, when he becomes overwhelmed? I'd guess she has to do this little by little. There are patterns of codependency here (her dependency as much as his) that will not vanish overnight.

@10. Sublime. You are not considering why she married this guy and not any other guy. She is suited to helping him with his anxieties. It is in some way psychologically convenient for her. (Of course, it may cease to be, have ceased to be, or she could be at breaking point). She could have snapped, be snapping, over the sex, but have many other issues with the relationship--although it does seem the lousy sex is the thing she can't deal with at the moment.

@12. BiDanFan. I'm not sure you can play games, or the kind of moral switcheroo you're suggesting, with someone with anxiety. Likewise, you can't really spring something on them--because it could freak them out; you don't know how they'll react to it. It sounds like right now that there's only conventional het penetrative sex in the marriage--not even oral. I'd think that oral could be something for LASS to aim for.

But she probably can't chance her arm and go down on him the next time they have sex, because there's no foreplay at all and it could genuinely disturb the guy.

44

@19. slinky. Very good point about being able to be tactile and parenting.

@20. Fichu. The first step, for someone in Mr LASS's position, is to accept that there's a problem. Maybe he thought, at some level, that he had got over his anxiety with sex because he could perform PIV proficiently. Not so. He still has problems with sex in that he can't satisfy LASS (doesn't have the creativity to share fantasies, or the vulnerability or playfulness to be slightly experimental or warm in the bedroom). More precisely, they have a problem. Why can't he acknowledge it?

And has he acknowledged it in therapy? Their relationship sounds like one where he does everything wrong; and in those circumstances, a couples therapist will be very inclined to reject any simplistic characterisation of it, and 'side' with, or look for the viewpoint of, the piece's 'villain'. Still, what does he say to the counsellor? Does he feel so browbeaten he grants he's been crap but is unable to do anything about it? They've clearly been to couples therapy, but I feel LASS should go to therapy alone. She would have to deal with the question, why this guy? Why is she in a marriage where all the emotional labor is consigned to her? ( I see now that I am agreeing with curious @22).

45

@2, 39. Calliope. I'd think that any decent person you might brush up against romantically would want to appease your anxieties--once he understood something of their scope, Like, if you said e.g. 'well, walking 100 yards hand-in-hand with someone is a pretty big thing for me now', he would not press you to hold hands. Or you'd walk 100 yds hand-in-hand and that would be it, if necessary, for the evening. This would be your understanding of human decency, too, surely? The qualities we look for in romantic partners are often and substantially just the same we seek out in friends; and dating is very much like non-sexual human relationships in its norms and principles. This is what I've found, anyways, and would like to think.

@30. fubar. Yes, also agree.

46

@2 and @39 CalliopeMuse: Bravo!! Very well said and summarized about LASS and her husband with anxiety issues. I nominate you winner of the LASS thread. I also agree with @9 Roseanne and @22 curious2. I agree, too, that it would be wise for LASS to seek individual therapy, herself. Definitely someone sex-positive.

That said, I have anxiety issues, myself (military service-connected PTSD), but am dealing with them. It's as Dan says---I am taking baby steps on a daily basis, working on resolving my own issues. What to do, however, when one's brain says chill out and one's body remains wired? Waking up from bad dreams with tears down my cheeks and not remembering what I dreamt? I try diversion--music, my best, must healing source of therapy possible--long, hot soaks in the tub, walks outside, good movies. These are good for relieving triggers, and I have been getting better at what sets them off. Some days are better than others.

47

What happened to my post?

48

@46: Okay--there it is. Thanks! :)

Who's up for this week's decadent Lucky @69 Award? Tick..tick...tick...

Griz is back in the pit orchestra at our local Bellingham Theater Guild production of Crazy For You. A fabulous orchestral score and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin. Music, cats, and my beloved Love Beetle (currently in winter hibernation) keep me busy and happy.

Happy Thanksgiving, Dan and everyone!

49

Happy Thanksgiving to you Grizelda, and to all.

50

auntie grizelda @46 Thank you -- I'm honored. @48 What instrument do you play?

51

I like Dan's suggestion that LASS try baby steps.

I'd ask the husband (outside the bedroom) to suggest some baby steps; maybe things to try in bed beyond the same-old-same-old.

If he won't even make a list of activities he thinks he could try in bed besides the usual position, then baby steps aren't possible.

In that case I'd end the sexual relationship, leaving both people free to explore on their own. And if that doesn't help, I'd start talking about ending the marriage.

52

@46 I'm glad to hear you're managing your anxiety. It's tough work. From my friends in treatment, I learned that PTSD can be especially damaging. It's wonderful you have coping mechanisms that work. Keep going -- you deserve it.

53

I know this isn't addressing the real problem -- his reaction when she tries to get him to talk about her unhappiness -- but one suggestion for the side problem of she wants him to talk about his fantasies but he thinks he'll "do it wrong" is, she could select some of her favourite passages of erotica and he could read them aloud to her? He can't accidentally share a fantasy that turns her off if she has curated the "fantasies." With time he may learn the pattern of what turns her on and be able to improvise his own dirty talk without fearing she'll go "eww."

54

Fichu @20, I agree that Mr LASS is probably not consciously manipulating/emotionally blackmailing LASS to get out of a difficult conversation. He reacted that way and got the result he wanted, so his subconscious learned that this is what you do when someone asks you a difficult question. He needs to be made unequivocally aware that what he is doing is emotional blackmail and will no longer be tolerated; that if he needs to have a freakout about something, he should go away, freak out privately, compose himself, and come back and have the difficult conversation, like a grownup.

UpandOver @31, thank you for sharing. I hope Mr LASS reads your comment.

Happy Thanksgiving to all those who are celebrating today. May you survive any bigoted relatives and still leave room for pie!

55

I've now reread LASS's letter. How to navigate the subject? Tell your husband that GOD wants you to have a good sex life. I'm being only half facetious. If you left out the anxiety diagnosis, everything you describe about your husband sounds like someone brought up with fundamentalist ideas about sex. The bit about only PIV, not talking about it, being afraid to stay in on Sunday mornings, thinking it's okay for the man to get what he wants without regard to what his wife wants, accepting that it's normal for a woman to lose her interest in sex. Tell your husband how important it is to GOD that you stay married and how what he's doing is against GOD's will.

Harriet-- I agree with all you say about what Mr. LASS should be doing about acknowledging a problem and what he should bring up in therapy. Alas, Mr. LASS didn't write in.

56

Ms Cute - GF2 and LW2 remind me of Edmund Bertram and Mary Crawford - not well-suited to each other, but perhaps bound by increasing attachment. I'm recalling a passage in a co-authored book in which the authors pronounced themselves much less shocked by Mary's naval pun and her attitude towards the Admiral than by Edmund's and Fanny's clinical dissection of her conduct.

57

On the other hand (adding to my post @55), God is famous for nothing if not inducing anxiety.

58

@39 CalliopeMuse
"Mental health issues and asshole-ness are not mutually exclusive..."

I didn't say they are, I just said exactly what you said, that:

"We can't possibly know which is the case here"

You say "HE'S NOT EVEN TRYING", but I don't think we know he can do more. But let's say he can; can we infer that the LW would have related his (failed) attempts?

59

Fichu @55,57: God's reputation for psychological torture is exceeded only by His renown for sex negativity. The husband would be certain that LASS was making it all up.

61

I just thought of a related distinction. I used to know someone with a mixture of issues: depression and anxiety that were essentially incapacitating when untreated, plus I realized in time the complicating factor of narcissistic personality disorder.

I would say while unlikely to be improved by any means, narcissistic personality disorder can most assuredly make people assholes. Because IIRC personality disorders don't primarily result from physical brain issues, but are instead a product of one's environment. (In other words I do go out on a limb to say that President Dump is an asshole.)

62

@49 LavaGirl: Happy Thanksgiving, with big hugs, positrons, and VW beeps coming back atcha! :) Hit the beaches for my beloved Love Bug and me (my sweet little car officially turns 46 on Saturday).

@50 and @52 CalliopeMuse: Thanks so much! Happy Thanksgiving. I am playing piccolo and C flute for this show. I also play alto flute, as well, in our local flute choir, and piano.

@54 BiDanFan: Now that my local food co-op offers gluten-free pumpkin pie with whipped cream among its vast assortment of delectable GF goodies, I am definitely saving room! Happy Thanksgiving--and yes, for me it is one as I peacefully avoid dysfunctional family arguments, political battles and media (propaganda/ political messages, spam, etc.) s :)

63

@61 curious2: I would indeed love to see Trumpty Dumpty fed to the alligators, but that would be mean to the alligators. After consuming toxic waste that horrible, their insides would never again be the same. However, another favorite vision of poetic justice is for a straitjacketed Trumpty Dumpty being carried out of the White Trash House on a gurney, kicking and screaming like Ethel Merman (see It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World from 1963, in the film's final scene).

Who wants the Lucky @69 Award for dessert?

64

auntie grizelda @62 My mom is also a flutist! She's a professional classical musician. She, too, plays piccolo and alto flute. I grew up hearing lots of classical flute music being practiced and taught. I usually love it, but the piccolo can be quite ear-piercing.

65

@64 CalliopeMuse: That's so cool! It sounds like we have a lot in common. Piccolos can indeed be very shrill due to their high pitch, but also have their merits. There is nice music featuring the piccolo as a solo instrument. The first movement in my second composed symphony showcases two piccolos, depicting the building up of typhoon winds in the South Pacific. With the winds reaching 125 mph, pitch is not meant to be an issue. Nonetheless, I wear ear plugs when practicing, and have had to also wear them during our performance in the pit orchestra in the show, because I sit in front of the brass. Trumpets in particular can get pretty loud.

67

auntie grizelda @65 The piccolo is indeed a beautiful instrument. It's just that hearing it practiced for multiple hours can get old, even from the next room. My mom actually uses the piccolo sometimes to get the cat to quit hiding behind the bed and leave my parents' room (the cat really really doesn't like the piccolo). When I go to a concert where my mom is playing the piccolo, though, it's always easy to pick out her sound from the orchestra.

68

I am very surprised that Doctor Piccolo cured me of the herpes and returned my boyfriend to me after he strayed with other woman. Only cure that works for herpes diabetes HIV cancer runny nose back pains ears falling off boyfriends that actually hate you. Call Skype 1234567890 at he help you too.

69

I just learned that some female Adelie penguins effectively practice prostitution. More info forthcoming.

70

Okay: Adélie penguins build their nest out of hundreds of small stones to keep their eggs and chicks off the frozen ground and to protect them from possible floodwaters. The stones are often fought over and become a hot commodity. Adélies are socially monogamous, but, as I've mentioned before is the case with most socially monogamous birds, they are not sexually monogamous. In addition to other flavors of extra-pair copulation (including a lot of homosexual behavior and male-female coercion) a "very few percent" of paired female penguins will seek out unmated males who have built nests without a partner and solicit copulation in exchange for a stone or two. (One female penguin was actually observed going to the nest of an unpaired male, assuming the pose for copulation, then grabbing a stone and taking it back to her nest without mating with him, and going back and doing the same thing again multiple times.) While mating in exchange for food items is relatively common in the animal world, including with invertebrates (examples I know of off the top of my head include fireflies and some spiders), this is the only observed example of copulation in exchange for non-food items.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/06/penguin-prostitutes/559133/

71

*build their nests

72

@69 CalliopeMuse: WA_HOOOOO!!!! Congrats on scoring the delectable Lucky @69 Award for Thanksgiving Dessert! :)

73

@70 CalliopeMuse: I wonder if the unpaired male Adelie penguin could have been Opus from Berkeley Breathed's comic strip, Bloom County? (I have a feeling that DonnyKlicious might know, because of his Bill the Cat avatar). :) Poor guy---she just wanted him for his rocks?

74

Interesting Muse. Wasn’t he a dumb penguin.

75

Calliope @68: LOL! Congrats on the magic number, that post earned it.
Griz @73, gives new meaning to the phrase "getting one's rocks off." Interesting, Calliope! We humans think we invented everything. Nope.

76

@1 Harriet_by-the_Bulrushes: This is long overdue, so please accept my humble apologies.
WA-HOOO!! Congratulations on being "FIRDT" this Thanksgiving week! :)

77

LASS: DTMFA.

78

Normal people don't enjoy being sloppy seconds. Some do, but most don't. TEEGRL, your partner isn't in a position to look gift horses in the mouth - sex work has drawbacks.

79

Didn’t take you long to return to form.. don’t push your luck.
So, how many women have you fucked Sportlandia, ball park figure. They getting sloppy seconds then.
Keep your anti sex work bile off these pages, you’d know that, you troublemaker.

80

Why is my question, Sportlandia, why do you need to start fights and alienate people?
Thanksgiving has just finished, have you nothing to be thankful for. You have life yet you waste it on being an unpleasant conversationalist.
This was a slimy comment and you who bang the drum of discrimination should be ashamed.

82

Did I ask your opinion Hunter? No. So butt out.

83

I see the usual Thanksgiving turkeys (@78 & @81) are trolling again. Tsk tsk. Cheer up, l'il buckaroos--there's always SuperFriends on channel 4. :)

84

Nobody asked me either, but I think LavaGirl deserves some extra latitude because she has advocated for Sportlandia. (Though he might not like being advised too.)

The first phrase @78, "Normal people", might not have been intended to be loaded, maybe he meant "Most people" or "Normally people", in other words maybe he meant to simply comment on how statistically likely it was for people to like "enjoy being sloppy seconds". (Oops, once again /that/ phrase is loaded; maybe he was simply using the common language.)

But I wouldn't--one shouldn't--tell a trans woman about what "normal" people want using that word; that is trans-negative in today's sadly transphobic atmosphere.

And other stuff @78 was sex-negative, such as the derogatory tone of the phrase "sloppy seconds".

Then there's saying that a sex worker "isn't in a position to look gift horses in the mouth"; though it's unclear which sex-worker-negative gift horse Sportlandia means: that the sex worker is gifted with a client, or that they are gifted with partner who is sex-worker positive? (Neither one, in reality, being a gift horse they aren't in a position to look in the mouth.)

85

Hunter is a good lesson for you Sportlandia. An old guy, he lurks round the corridors here waiting for an opportunity to troll.. you want that fate, cause you’re heading that way if you don’t pull your head in.
We all have things where we can lay the blame elsewhere. I was born a woman ffs, reared a Catholic on top of that. I had no chance. No point in blaming, because it’s Life itself which is the treasure.
Stop wasting yours.

86

Curious @84, of course Sporty's comment was intended to be loaded. He's pissed off that he was banned, so he's back and pushing his luck. It's a joke that he thinks he can speak for what "normal people" want. And his comment is flagrantly slut shaming, which this misogynist well knows. Lava, keep telling him off, someone needs to. Put those maternal skills to work.

As for Hunter, there is seldom any way of knowing what or whom his quips are addressed to. Lava, your comment @80 gets a round of applause from me.

87

People can be sex workers if they want. Others aren't obligated to like it. There's nothing 'anti sex worker' about that.

88

Sportlandia @87: Nobody is obligated to like anything, but it's hard to see how a comment such as yours @78 is anything but absolutely 'anti sex worker' in this context, and flagrantly slut shaming. It's also ignorant, and completely bereft of thought, reason, or compassion. You should try to do better.

89

Dad's advice was sound, as it usually is. I only note that LW1 wrote she and her hubby struggled to connect sexually from the start of their relationship. So this is yet another sad case of "don't get into a long-term sexually monogamous relationship (especially marriage) with someone you aren't sexually compatible with."

90

@88 fubar
"ignorant, and completely bereft of thought, reason, or compassion"

Purely as a fan of writing, fubar, I must say that was a doozy of a line. I've seen criticism, I've tried to do criticism myself, but never have I seen criticism like /that/ aimed at something written with more intention than a tree branch scratches into a snowbank on a windy day.

91

Oh, and I tried not to be too harsh @84, to give Sportlandia a chance to shift gears.

But maybe Calli was right that he won't because that would he feels "Let them win" (in his thought bubble). Just from admitting he did even one thing he wished he didn't.

But honestly, never being willing to admit an error isn't a strength, it's a weakness. I've heard it's not an uncommon one for Americans; I was even told once to never apologize. I think that's the worst advice ever. If no one ever moves off their original position just on that principle, communication isn't even occurring. And probably growth isn't either.

I've seen Sportlandia accuse BiDanFan of never admitting an error, but he's wrong. Of all the things she's great at, I admire that she's big enough to move off her original position as much any of the other things.

Minds are like umbrellas, they only function when open.

92

I don’t seem to stop saying sorry to my children, curious, as they remind me of my sins as a mother of young children. It’s a bum wrap being a parent, sometimes.
I get where Mr S is coming from, we are mostly maybe a bunch of white folk here, and our assumptions must be irksome to some non whites. However.. I demand the right to find good and do good, amidst the horrors, and despite MrS’s belief to the contrary, that’s mostly what is done here. Dan is Mr compassion, so what is Mr S on about? I don’t feel guilty for being white, or educated or any of the other ways my life has gone. And I’ve had my share of grief. So he can stfu already with his crap or go away.
Talk to the hand bro.

93

Who's going to score the Big Hunsky? Tick....tick....tick....

94

Curious @91, thank you. Believe it or not, I am here to learn as well as contribute! And yes, one of Sportlandia's many annoying habits is that he accuses others of committing the sins he himself is guilty of. I have seldom seen less self awareness.

Lava @92, Sportlandia is just playing the race card to try to get a rise out of us. It is often said, on the internet nobody knows you're a dog.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Internet,nobodyknows_you%27re_a_dog
And on the internet, nobody knows what race you are, and nobody cares. The only person who's ever made an issue out of Sporty's race is Sporty, when he decides to throw "you're white" at someone as an insult. I can't think of any example of when it's been relevant; the only times race has been a factor in some letters is, for instance, when cultural norms affect immigrant communities in ways that would not occur to Westerners, and we have people like Jina, Ricardo, EmmaLiz and CMD, not to mention one-time commenters, to clue us in.

95

Ms Cute - If you've never seen the brief television series of TPoMJB, the episodes are up on YouTube at present. I had actually seen part of the final episode years before on A&E - the addition of Miss Brodie's explaining to the rest of her set that Mary MacGregor had become a woman. The fourth episode is weirdly topical today - an anti-Mussolini Italian parent who'd left Italy out of his love for freedom of expression tells Miss Brodie he'll be withdrawing his daughter from the school and informing the headmistress of her political teachings, to which Miss B counters with a question about her freedom of expression. Quite uncanny.

96

@35. Dadddy. I don't know whether you're right or wrong about this particular case; but the question LASS asked wasn't quite the one you're proposing to answer. She was asking, 'how can I have better sex with my husband?', even 'am I entitled to press for better sex with my husband?', not 'should I leave' the guy or 'would I be justified in leaving' the guy?. So possibly saying 'leave' altogether is jumping the gun. It may also be that LASS has written to Dan only seeing him as a sex columnist, and that her concerns about the viability of her marriage go wider than what's going on (or not) in the bedroom.

I'd think the circumstances in which someone with anxiety does best are when they feel implicitly supported--when they know they can't fuck up or drop the ball, especially if they are following a close routine. This is hard--the routine part--in sex; what's good about sex is that it flouts norms and routine. LASS could maybe be very explicit in adding things to their repertoire and taking things step-by-step, at the cost of spontaneity.

@76. Griz. Thank you! You know, Thanksgiving entirely passed me by this year. When I was growing up, my father wanted to mark it but my mother thought the food absurd e.g. pumpkin pie. Some of the people I'm around now are expats, too--who must be deliberately turning a blind eye?

@80. Sportlandia. I thought that the transwoman sort-of-dating a sex worker apologised for herself unnecessarily. But is a partner having sex with a sex worker after the sex worker has been working getting 'sloppy seconds'? Not really. An unwilling secondary, who wants to be in a more RA-style or -structured relationship, having sex in the only time their partner can squeeze in, given commitments to a primary, may be getting 'sloppy seconds' ... but this is significantly different to the situation under consideration.

97

I just read the first letter again and it's so sad. * Sigh * Sometimes you just want to reach out and give the LW a hug, you know? She's not asking for so much.

101

Fuck off with your insufferable scolds, D. You like hunter are beyond repair. Sportlandia may, as a young man, still have a chance.

102

I dunno why I thought D was younger than Sportlandia.

103

Who knows who anybody really is, curious. I go on my intuition. Defending such a foul comment about sloppy seconds. Why are these men here if they have such punitive attitudes, to women, to sex workers. Like they don’t or haven’t spent most of their sex lives slopping over every woman who will have ‘em.
Sportlandia will be scolded until he stops being a jerk. Or I get really bored. Whichever comes first.

104

@100: WA-HOOO! Congrats, Dadddy, for hitting tis week's Big Hunsky. Savor your good fortune wisely.

105

I thought "sloppy seconds" referred to having sex with a second person after not showering/washing post the first person. Otherwise, anyone who isn't a virgin would be "sloppy seconds," and that's everyone but Calliope. If you are not fine with having sex with someone who isn't a virgin, you don't deserve sex.

And Lava @101, fuck sake, Sporty is pushing 40. He is not a young man who is learning. The brain finishes developing at 25. I'm sure you'll get bored or Dan will retire before Sporty changes. Dadddy is in his mid 40s, IIRC. They are both middle-aged but Sporty has the bitter attitude of an old man.

106

@100. Dadddy. I'm not with you re what 'seconds' mean. This implication of the word is that your partner should be devoting, or have reserved, his (her or their) best emotional energy for you, but hasn't--because they've spent or frittered this elsewhere.

Sex between partners is usually thought of as intimate, emotionally invested or fraught, perhaps self-revealing or exploratory. Someone who has sex for work, for me, is not having this tenor of sex professionally; they genuinely are reserving it privately for their partner. I think hard for my job (and am thinking a little now, during my lunch break), but I'm not engaging the same quality of absolute attention and openness I'd need if my partner told me something he wanted in life. Neither he, in that case, nor the theoretical lover of the sex worker is getting 'seconds'.

I would guess, with LASS's letter, that her husband's anxiety does cause her difficulties in other, non-sexual areas of life, just as you say.

107

@105. Bi. Reading the thread, I formed the view that the time period that needed to elapse before a sloppy lover reverted to unsloppy was a night.

108

BiDanFan @105 While certain areas of the brain are indeed fully developed by approximately that age, even the adult human brain has incredible plasticity. New research is showing all the time that the adult human brain develops further throughout one's life and is capable of undergoing amazing changes and compensations for certain types of losses well into adulthood. While it's true the younger you are the more plasticity your brain has, I wouldn't say that the brain finishes developing by 25. One's decision-making abilities and other functions are fully developed by that age, sure, but the adult brain continues developing on some level for as long as it is alive. Sorry if I'm nitpicking you a little, but I do enjoy an opportunity to talk about the most complex thing in the universe (the human brain). And since I'm young enough that my brain is certainly still developing, thank you all (well, most) for your largely positive influence on my brain development.

(This is to say nothing on whether Sportlandia is young or not or whether he is capable of change. I will recuse myself from that topic except to say that brain plasticity can only do so much, and, in my opinion, stubbornness is the enemy of development.)