Savage Love Sep 1, 2020 at 1:43 pm

Fantasy Figures






Dear me. Am I "firdt"?

I thought the obvious answer was DTMFA--it sounds as if neither of them respect or like each other, although the actual guilt is on his side. So why is she still there? He's still there because he's an asshole and he gets something out of the relationship (including complaining about her), but wouldn't she be better off somewhere--anywhere--else?


I always wonder, when we get a letter like the first one, what it is about their financial circumstances that makes it inconceivable to them that they could leave and be okay. I know finances are a real issue, and I don't mean to diminish that, and yet, the world is full of single people surviving. Thirty years into a marriage, I suspect kids are grown and gone. Most people do have some skills, even if they wouldn't qualify them for a dream job. It is really so much worse to work a low-wage job and live alone in a less-than-ideal apartment than it is to put up with that type of controlling sexless bullshit?

I mean, maybe! I suppose it could be. Sounds awful, though.

(Of course the pandemic has complicated all of this in numerous ways. But in normal times?)


Did anyone else wonder if the 'sadistic asshole' was actually her husband catfishing her?


4 I do think the "sadistic asshole" was her husband. It was the first thing that came to mind.

3 It's possible (and maybe even likely) that her husband has gaslighted her into believing that she can't survive on her own, but I also know that people trying to live on minimum wage probably can't make it if they don't have both incomes. I would recommend that she scrape together a few hundred dollars to talk to an attorney to figure out what financial arrangements would be made if she got a divorce, instead of just assuming that is how it is.


@ 4, 5. I also suspected the husband was the online partner, which would make this scenario the much darker cousin of "the Pina Colada Song."

I can't disagree with Dan in recommending LW1 seek an online sexual relationship if she wants to, but very little in her letter suggested she does. Sure, she did mention that hubby hadn't been fucking her, but I didn't sense and real regret from LW about that. The online relationship she had seemed more emotional. She shared "private things" yes, but it was more about having someone to vent to about her many tribulations. Which must have made it doubly painful for her when she was betrayed.


LW1 omfg. Stockholm syndrome much? Truly consider a divorce attorney if what you said is accurate in many jurisdictions you’ll get the house, alimony and can have a chance at happiness. Good luck!


It is so sad that LW1 chooses to be trapped with an abusive, controlling husband rather than take a financial hit and DTMFA.

Poverty sucks but living with an abusive controlling husband in a sexless marriage surely must suck more!

What if her abusive husband finds out about her new "discrete" affair and chokes her out again, but this time she's older and more frail and she doesn't survive? Abusers don't change they generally escalate. How can this possibly end well? Dan gave a best possible scenario: the abuser husband dies first.

I don't get why people stay married in situations like this. Nobody is happy or likes each other and neither party trusts the other or is sexually fulfilled. What is the point? I join with a chorus of other comment writers: leave! get out of there! go! There are nicer men to date out there.


Ms Ods - It reminds me of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Francie's discontent with the melodrama and the heroine who can't pay the rent until the hero steps in with the rent money just in time. Francie, then about age ten, gamed out what would have happened and concluded that it would have been serious or even drastic but not fatal, ending on the thought, "It takes a lot of doing to die".


I can imagine a lot of people for whom it really would be unworkable. I can also imagine people for whom it would be okay--but they themselves can't imagine taking the step down, financially, that would be involved. It's a lot easier to level up with money than to cut back. But it can be done.


@1 ciods: WA-HOOOOOOO!!!!! Congratulations on scoring this week's Savage Love FIRDT Award honors! Bask in the glory of leading the comment threads. :)
@2 Woofb: WA-HOOOOOOOO!!!!!! While you're not this week's FIRDT honoree, big congrats on scoring SECNOD honors, savored only here in Savage Love Land. :)

Jack Chandelier hasn't joined the party yet?


@3: ciods. Points regarding DISCORD well taken, agreed, and seconded. I know of someone in LW1's situation, who was unhappily married, realized the anger issue / hypocrisy bullshit going on, battled her ass off during a toxic relationship of twelve years too long to remain childless, knowing he would have made a shitty father.
Yes, it IS hard to leave an abusive situation, especially when money is an issue. But for many of us out there breaking away and getting out on one's own can work out for the infinitely better.


I also thought the sadistic asshole could be her husband, but you'd think he'd have admitted it. He'd probably be proud and wouldn't wanna miss his "gotcha!" moment. But then, if it weren't her husband, how the hell did the guy contact the husband so quickly and easily? Did she really share all that information with this random online guy? Yikes!

And yeah regarding being stuck due to finances - it's rarely actually true, but people get comfortable and / or afraid of reentering the real world / work place / dating scene / etc.. and so they just put up with a crappy relationship forever. I mean, that's the american dream, isn't it? God forbid you should hold out for what you actually want, despite the fact that never finding it is often better than trapping yourself with something you don't want..

Oh hey Griz.. Otis Redding fan yea? I run a classic soul band for a living! (Well, I used to.. certainly not this year). We do so much Otis! He's the best!


@13 jack chandelier: I just LOVE Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay, by Otis Redding! How tragic that he got killed in a plane crash at age 26 on December 10, 1967. Another classic soul artist who went too soon.
I checked out your website--the Highsteppers are HOT!
I have a website, I'm a musician (piccolo, C & alto flutes, piano) and composer. I did a lot of new works last year, and need to update my website. :)


Don't usually disagree with Dan, but it happens. DV relationship where the controlling, abusive husband catfished his wife so he could control her AND feel justified in his own cheating


Is it just me, or does anyone else feel that cheating on and emotionally detaching from LW1's husband might not be safe for her? He will escalate. And he's already got her in a position where she feels (and may be) financially dependent on him, and he's assaulted her. He could endanger her job, destroy/threaten anything that matters to her (especially pets, but also friendships), limit her access to the internet, and demand blackmail material from her. Assuming he doesn't do things that are convenient 'accidents' like 'misplacing' her medications or swapping them out; sabotaging her car, etc.

I've been there for a lot of things like this.


LW1- sorry for the situation you are in. A dynamic that was set over decades is hard to undo overnight, and the current pandemic doesn’t make things any easier. As others have already suggested, I also suspect it was your husband who correspondent with you all along, and it is unsafe for you to stay with him no matter what.

If you decide to stay and feel safe enough then Dan’s D-cord sounds reasonable, fair, and workable. I already moved out when I started my online career and after few mishaps got to understand the scene a little better. I learned to be more cautious at first contacts, not disclosing too many details and no pictures that revealed my face. I also got better at assessing responses, how genuine they are and where this is going to go if any at all.

Some things that may help in your situation: create a play email if you haven’t already and try and avoid any machines or internet connections that may disclose your identity.
If you meet in person don’t do so for the first time at anyone’s place nor motel room. Choose a public place like a coffee shop in a neighborhood where you feel safe, and no later than a certain hour. Be clear as for no sex on the first time and the possibility of exchanging ID’s.
If phone verification is required, then have the other party provide their number and hide your number when you call them.

Don’t hesitate to cut off any connection you deem unwanted or suspicious for whatever reason. Just disengage, you don’t owe anyone an explanation as to why you did it nor reply to any follow up emails.
Let a relation go exclusively online if you so choose and allow all involved enough space for anonymity.

You may feel safer in the future once you gain experience, yet considering your situation and rookie status you should probably start slow if going this route.


I divorced my cheating, abusive spouse. I was afraid, like LW, of ending up destitute so I stayed longer than I should have.

Maybe you can't afford a lawyer right now but does your employer offer an Employee Assistance Plan? If so, take advantage and get some free legal advice. You may not be in as bad of shape as you fear. If not, there is probably a legal aid service in your area. While you're exploring your options, look into some counseling too. Sounds like your husband has really gotten into your head.

And let me tell you something, having him gone and being able to just breathe while I untangled the years-long knot in my stomach, is worth my significantly reduced means. At some point, financial security comes at too high a price.


Ok. Let’s assume LW1 really DID meet A) a random asshole online or 2) even her own husband. It would take a staggering, almost deliberate amount of stupidity to share your real name and contact information with an Internet somebody. I wouldn’t even share an actual face photo of “ myself”... in case you don’t know you can Google search photos and end up with actual Facebook, etc profiles, or news stories you’ve been tagged in (think church picnic). Just post a NON-LOCATION SPECIFIC photo with your face blurred or cropped out and promise to send a real one after vetting your contact. DO post a few photos, because most people search for only profiles with photos. I realize not everyone is Internet savvy, maybe especially “older” people who have only come lately to this land of endless possibilities (and endless perils). And, if it WAS her own husband, double demerits for making it so easy for him to find her out of the hoard. If you live in a small town, it makes the search that much easier, so, for crying out loud DON’T list your actual town, at the very least choose one 20 miles away! And don’t even do that if all you’re interested in is an online chat. If you’re gonna cheat, eventually you’re probably gonna get’s exceptionally hard to keep up the secret spy stuff, but at least make it as hard as possible before you stick your hand in the cookie jar.


I guess I'll take LW 1's word for it that divorce is truly impossible due to financial constraints. I find it a little hard to believe, as she said that she works full time. So even if she makes very little money, it seems like renting a room somewhere would be preferable to continuing living in this horrible situation. But whatever. Again, I'll take her word for it. It may just be the 30 years of being abused that are speaking though. Either way, I don't know that this was great advice: "And then, DISCORD, just like your husband, go and do whatever and whoever you want." I probably wouldn't have advised someone who is in an abusive marriage to cheat on their husband, just for their own safety, even if under any other circumstance I would have given this advice.


This might be an out-of-favor, pathologizing definition, but I thought that a “fetish” is a fixation on a single image/scenario/act such that one is unable to have gratifying sex without the presence of the fetish; whereas a fantasy is just a pleasant sexual daydream - recurrent, maybe, but not so insistent that it’s actually required during every sex act. A person who fantasizes about, say, being spanked, isn’t in the same boat as a person who can’t ever get off without being spanked. Or whatever.


LW1 could also consider gently poisoning her husband.


Yes ciods @3, I saw the thirty years and anger issues and groaned. Run, LW1.. Now


Stockholm syndrome in L1. Who wants to bet that her previous online "friend" was a catfisher hired by the husband? This guy scares me. "I still work full time but if I lose this job or retire, Dan, I will have nothing." That applies to nearly everyone. DISCORD: get out! This guy is abusive and controlling and a hit to your standard of living will be better than what he is capable of. He's not a reasonable person with whom you can work out an amicable companionate marriage. Let the next person you speak to discreetly online be a lawyer. Especially if he has guns in the house. What about your son, is he in a position to provide you with a temporary place to live? You can do this, you are not trapped. Get out now.


Did anyone else notice Dan's typo "Discard" toward the end of his response? That said something to me, and it could say something to you LW1. I think it's very apt, and that discarding your marriage would be a wonderful and very empowering thing to do for yourself.

It would be helpful to get some counselling and support from a women's refuge centre if such a place exists where you live. I agree that it's not too late for you to find a better life without your husband, but you will need support to plan for this and to then excecute your plan. 30 years of being abused is a lot to recover from but the inner peace will be so worth it. Tell yourself you deserve it.


Ciods @3, yes. "I can't afford to leave" often means "I don't want to live in a smaller apartment or drive a cheaper car." In the US, health insurance is a real issue but she said she works full time, so she should have it through her job. A lawyer should be able to help her see her real financial picture. If they don't divorce, for tax or health insurance reasons, they should at least live separately so that they can at least each live their own lives.

Krissf @4: Yes. The other possibility is that the person was real but the husband had installed an app that recorded her every keystroke and forwarded it to him. An ex did that to me once, and pretended that "someone" had forwarded him the inevitable information he didn't really want to see. For this reason DISCORD should not take Dan's advice of staying and finding a new online confidant. She should change all her passwords and only use her phone, not a shared PC, for all future communications she has with anyone.

Ens @6, yes. This letter was not, "My husband won't have sex with me and is cheating on me, may I have your permission to cheat too?" It's, "I want a divorce but I don't think I can afford it."

Miss @8, even being single for the rest of her life would be better than staying married to an abuser!

Jack @13, my ex never admitted he'd installed spyware on my PC, even when a future similarly technically inclined partner discovered it on my hard drive. Mr DISCORD probably wants her to think she can't trust anyone, or that she's the bad guy for "betraying" marriage confidences.
And it may well have been easier for her to share intimacies with a random online guy than with anyone she knows, with whom she's cultivated the appearance of a happy marriage over 30 years.

Mirea @18, as well as Griz, well done on getting out. DISCORD, you can do it too.

Donny @19: "It would take a staggering, almost deliberate amount of stupidity to share your real name and contact information with an Internet somebody." Shaming isn't helpful here. This woman is a boomer and sounds naive in the ways of the web, if it didn't occur to her that her internet friend was either her husband catfishing her or that he was spying on all her communications (probably the former). Her husband probably didn't "find" her, he sought her out posing as a stranger, or he was recording her communications. CMD's advice is along the same lines and much more helpful than calling this woman stupid.

Nyker @20: Agree. "Go give a violent abuser something to REALLY get pissed off about" is terrible advice. Shame on you, Dan.

Gueralinda @21, my understanding of a fetish is the same as yours.


Thirty minutes until DISCORD's husband "found out"? I agree with earlier commenters: he was catfishing her, and no doubt claimed the online "friend" had forwarded everything rather than admit to being a scumbag. Scumbags can be like that.

And erectile dysfunction is almost 100% treatable, barring physical injury or nerve damage. He lies.

30 years is a long time to put up with such bullshit, and I wring my hands at the idea that nothing can be done. I hope DISCORD can get some counselling.


I suppose Dan is right to answer the question DISCORD asked and not the one we wish she'd asked. She asked what to do since she can't divorce. I wish she'd asked how to get away from the abusive asshole. Others have pointed out what I was going to: Even with financial constraints, there are ways out. Call a domestic abuse hotline. Get advice from a social worker there.

Dan brought up something I hadn't thought of. You're likely to survive him. Imagine that he dropped dead tomorrow. (I'll bet that's a fantasy you've thought of but haven't revealed.) Would you be able to make it on your own then? Because you'd have to, and it would work out. Let's say he doesn't drop dead from being run over by a truck as in some Michael O'Donoghue scenario. Let's say he dies of an illness or accident typical of his age and demographic. Are you sure you'd inherit? Are you sure you get his social security? He sounds like the sort of asshole to screw you one last time from beyond the grave. You stay faithful to him and take care of him when he's down, and you do it in exchange for eventual financial security. He fixes it so you don't even get that.

Be sure to bring that up when you talk to the social worker.

You say that neither of you can make it on your own. Right here and now, stop worrying about whether he could make it without you. Your only concern is whether you can make it without him, how you can make it without him.

I agree with the others who have said the asshole husband was catfishing you. It's the only explanation for how the online fantasy sharer could know how to contact the husband, the only explanation for the incredible odds of running into two controlling abusive assholes like that.


@Fichu: Bang on. I saw a description of two people who don't even like each other. She's probably been dealing in more-or-less good faith in terms of making it work (not being unfaithful, being somewhat prepared to be in the relationship), but there seems to be nothing really there.


And another thing, DISCORD, you haven't dealt with his tantrums, his screaming, his fits, and his anger management issues. You've put up with them or ignored them or carried on as though they weren't happening. Dealing with them would suggest that you'd been somehow instrumental in making stop. Deciding you'll leave a man if he strangled you a second time is an awfully low bar. You deserve far far better than that. You need to know that when men like their wives even a little, they don't have tantrums, screaming and fits directed at them. You're making this sound like a matter of infidelity, like if he can see other women, you ought to be able to see other men. No, this is about a man who has you living in fear on a daily basis and who is breaking laws. Social worker, lawyer, get to a place of safety.


Obviously, from an outsider's perspective, it is painfully obvious that l-dub 1 should walk... no wait, run(!)... away from her husband. But that's not where she's at. And that's not what she asked. I agree with Dan's overall autonomy and independence recommendation. However, I do think the l-dub pursuing sexual autonomy while still in her marriage carries a high probability of retaliation, both physical and emotional.

Start with pursuing non-sexual autonomy. Hopefully that will set you on a path out of your marriage and/or prepare both you and your husband (who's indefensibly awful) for you pursuing sexual autonomy eventually. But even if not, it will be a positive improvement in your life.

Good luck, l-dub. You are in the toughest of places... knowing that you are in an abusive situation, but not having the means (emotional, financial etc.) to get out. I recommend not worrying about your final destination right now, but instead just focus on taking step number 1 to improve your situation. Once you've done that, it will change you, and then other steps may become possible for you that seem inconceivable right now.

And we all hope that these steps lead you to freedom from this awful man, but if not that, then at least some marked improvement in your quality of life.


Fichu, only Dan is restrained by the question asked, because it’s to him they ask the question. Nobody asks me.. so I don’t feel constrained by what they ask Dan.
LW1, I didn’t read thru your whole letter, the thirty years of living with anger was enough info for me.
The others here are giving you solid advice.
The situation re being around AnGry people, is that they don’t only control one when they are angry, it’s the rest of the time too. Because one always is on guard, in defence mode.
It’s only with much time away from this person, who controls with anger, that the mind changes and starts to see how controlled one was, under this dynamic.
Your life, your story, your choices.
My suggestion, after not reading all your blah blah blah is that this is you, after thirty years of walking on eggshells, caught in the swirl of control and defence.
Leave such an environment, then seek therapeutic help, and start to feel what peace is like.


A quick aside: has anybody got book suggestions for an 11 yr old cis girl, who won’t take any direct advice because @ 11 you know it all, right.


@LavaGirl @33: Anything by Roald Dahl, esp. Matilda. Anything in Gary Paulsen's YA writings, esp. Hatchet. The Secret Garden is great for some types of girls. I remember also being pretty struck by Bridge to Terebithia and Island of the Blue Dolphins at that age.


The Tiffany Aching books by Terry Pratchett are great, and likely in the right age range.


Fichu @30, gold star.

Lava @32, even Dan isn't constrained by the question he's asked. Remember many years ago when he refused to answer that week's questions because they all began "My wife" or "My husband" and instead he chewed them all out for having the gall to be able to get legally married when he couldn't? Dan chooses the letters and Dan chooses how to answer them. He could have said, Girl, get out, but he didn't -- I don't think he understands the danger of an abusive man and he answered the question, "What would Dan do?" "When your husband is being an asshole or just generally getting on your nerves" -- what an understatement of the situation. Catfishing one's own wife, cheating, anger issues, that's not "getting on one's nerves," that's abuse. Dan can use whatever words he wants and that includes the mighty DTMFA even when that wasn't the question.

Lava @33, dunno, but you might want to read them too because some 68-year-olds never outgrow that phase. -ducks-


36- BiDan-- Yeah, it's hard for me to see how Dan could give that sort of answer to a letter with "anger management issues" and "he strangled me once" in it.


Lavagirl @33, what kind of books are you thinking of? When I was that age, Judy Blume books were highly recommended (Blubber and Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret particularly made an impression on me; the first because it's about bullying amongst fifth graders and the second because it's about puberty). I was also very into Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, the Chronicles of Narnia, and the Five books by Enid Blyton, purely because I loved the old-fashioned adventure and mystery-solving. Anne of Green Gables and Little Women are also classics for young girls with good reason. I personally got very heavily into Greek/Roman mythology around that age as well - it was a perfect combination of adventure, romance, and fantasy. And I still occasionally re-read old favorites like Beverly Cleary's Dear Mr. Henshaw and The Secret Garden.

I also second nartweag's suggestion of the Tiffany Aching books, as well as Pratchett's award-winning YA book, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. Neil Gaiman also has some great children/YA books like Coraline and The Graveyard Book, if you're looking for something more horror-related. Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas manga series also isn't too bad - the Odd Thomas novels are meant for adults, but he created a YA manga prequel to the books for younger readers.

I'd also recommend Reader's Digest, even though it's not nearly as good as it used to be. I started reading it when I was 6 or 7, and even though I didn't always understand the stories and jokes, it gave me glimpses of a bigger world out there and what kind of issues other people face.


@16 Gamebird and @18 Mirea: I agree and can well relate. All I can say is, I survived and am both grateful and relieved to be out of the terrible mess I was in and free of him.


@26 BiDanFan: Many thanks for your kind support. As Gamebird (@16), Mirea (@18), and others can tell you, it wasn't easy.


@14 Composer? That's awesome! I checked out your site.. wanted to hear your stuff but only one video on that youtube channel? You gotta get more recent stuff up there!


I'm normally just a lurker, but I had to respond about one thing here. Assuming the LW is in the US, the health insurance issue isn't something that can be ignored. It definitely sounds from the letter like she is making pretty poor wages. The current administration has essentially eliminated as many regulations and penalties as they possibly could with respect to the ACA. This means she could have very poor, or no employer coverage. If she does, at the minimum requirement under the ACA, her deductible could be ~2k, with a maximum out of pocket in the ~8k range. And one of the things that the crappy plans do is shove as many copays and coinsurances into that "out of pocket" bucket" as they can. If you combine that with the anxiety she expresses about losing her job, I don't think there is anything implausible about her financial worries. I recently had a health issue that required me to hit my maximum out of pocket, and it was financially devastating, and I have a good job! Anyone in a low wage job, with poor health coverage, and a chronic health condition, is extremely vulnerable in this stupid country.

That said, I agree that Dan almost completely ignored the very real danger she's in. She is absolutely entitled to bang anyone she wants, whenever she wants, without discussing it or asking for permission. But he's shown that doing so might be literally dangerous (literally "literally", not figuratively "literally).


Ms Lava - I recommend the Readers Digest Best Loved Books for Young Readers, which I think I received as they were coming out originally in the later 1960's. They're all condensed, but cover a fairly wide range of classics, ranging even to Miss Austen and the Brontes, and one can always go on to read the full text later. There were a number of unexpected treats among the titles that were a treat to encounter in later years - I recall particularly Precious Bane.


LW1 shelter for women / intimate partner violence might help you safely exit.


@41 jack chandelier: I know---I need to update my website. I have a lot of newly composed works since my WWU senior recital in 2007. I have been a homebody since the pandemic, and really miss not being able to rehearse and perform live.


@41 jack chandelier: In keeping with the subject of DISCORD's situation, my first orchestral work, Symphony No. 1 in d minor, The Drowning Pool, (on YouTube on my website, live from March 15, 2007 in the Performing Arts Center, Western Washington University) musically retells my personal story of leaving a toxic marriage, addressing what I faced and overcame. The music is written for chamber orchestra, with members from the WWU Flute Choir among soloists--all portraying people in the story.
Six years after I had enrolled in the Displaced Homemakers Program at Skagit Valley College, I was invited back to share my music with women currently in the transitional program. Luckily for me there were plenty of boxes of Kleenex tissues. I had forgotten that the women in the program were still dealing with their health and safety issues concerning domestic violence. Things got quite emotional. Consequently, I did not play my CD recording all the way through. But the feedback!---women came up to me in tears, saying, 'Yes!! That is what I'm going through!' One woman came up to me, saying that she had played the flute back in high school.
Symphony no. 1 in d minor, The Drowning Pool has proven to be among my most powerful work.


@44 delta35: Excellent advice for DISCORD and everyone currently in her shoes! Agreed, seconded, and kudos!


@42. My thoughts exactly. I'm sure we all share disgust for DISCORD's hubby and desire for her to make a quick exit from a toxic situation, but the vulnerability that comes with poverty in this country is nothing to gloss over. It is more than just putting up with a less comfortable lifestyle. One sees so many elderly people working in low-paying, low-respect service jobs in my part of the nation. Every time I see someone (usually a women) who is older than I am and pushing a broom or holding a tray or leaning on a register, I wonder what brought this person here, and what is the way out for them?


@38 Have you read The Chronicles of Prydain? My favourite books growing up and I revisit them often. Highly recommended.


Okay. So Griz has now officially celebrated her Regan-Carrie party, complete with Cabernet Sauvignon, gluten-free chocolate cake, and raspberries. Kick ass, Linda Blair--you are braver than Griz (it's the spinal-MRI- crapola that one quack who insisted upon before Chris McNeil's seeing a psychiatrist regarding Regan)!! And I didn't vomit once. All hail Sissy Spacek--kick prom ass and take names!
Meanwhile, my beloved and sainted OB-GYN is laughing her head off, even after successfully performing an exorcism on Griz. After 43 years, the curse has been lifted. :)


@50: One true blessing during the Err of Trump / Pence: nobody is pressuring ME to having a baby. ;)


Red, red wine works wonders----it's 1 a.m. and no typos.


Lava @ 33
I’d like to endorse any of Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five, aka “The Secret Five” where I grew up. Jina @ 38 also mentioned those books because of “the old-fashioned adventure and mystery-solving.” In addition to old-fashioned mystery I was attracted to those books because one of the two girls- there were two girls, two boys, and a dog in that “five”- insisted on having a short hair, wearing pants at all times, and go by the name of “George.”
Other than my very own random actions which I didn’t know what to make of back then, those books are very likely to be my very first intro to queerness some 50 years ago, way before David Bowie and St. Laurie Anderson appeared in my life.


It's not clear to me, with DISCORD, whether her husband is actually having sex in hotel rooms with other women. Does he have erectile dysfunction or not? Is ED just the excuse he gives for not having sex with her? Wouldn't she know whether he has it? As in, if she shares a bed with him, she would know whether he, from time to time, got an involuntary hard-on and seemed capable of fucking on a physical basis.

If he doesn't have debilitating ED, what is going on in their marriage from his point of view? In his head? Does he find her so unattractive that he doesn't want to have sex with her--but won't, it seems, try to leave her? Does he think no one else could live with his meltdowns?

There are four main issues on which DISCORD needs resolution--though I'd say that, more than this, she needs to know the truth:

1) the marriage's sexlessness;
2) her husband's screaming fits;
3) his cheating;
4) his forbidding her all other dating, even online, despite the marriage's sexlessness.

Why is her husband making these demands? Behaving in this way?

Other people have said she should just leave him, whatever her degree of poverty--and I don't disagree with that. But her letter leaves me with the question, or multiple questions, 'why?'


@16. Gamebird. Well, I think Dan's advice is wrong. It's basically 'wait for him to die' and 'cheat on him emotionally online'. There must be something better for her than that.

@26. Bi. I didn't get the sense that she knew she should divorce but found the prospect financially daunting. Her letter to me was more of the 'what do I do now?' kind.


I find it hard to square her husband's temper tantrums with any sense of his being utterly controlling, almost malevolently controlling--as in people's suggestion that he was the guy who catfished DISCORD online. The meltdowns suggest a loss of self-control. If he's controlling, it would seem to be in a pathetic, fingernails-on-cliffedge kind of way. But I'd of course defer to others' judgment here--particularly of those who have been in similar 'captive'-type situations. Can someone lose it on a regular basis and still exert a Svengali-like control?

For me, the crux is her freedom, that is, his denial of her freedom, to have sex with other guys, just as he has sex with other women. If he can't grant this, straightforwardly and unproblematically, then she should just pack her bags.


Thank you for book recommendations, kind people. I’ll make a list and go book seeking.


@32. Lava. I don't understand why Dan is constrained by the question asked.

Dan didn't say 'get out'. Further--and if he's under any ethical obligations at all--supposing he thinks that her husband might be dangerously violent, he would have to say, 'get out--and get out so well he can't find you'.

It also doesn't seem to have occurred to him that the online guy is the husband.


@36. Bi.

"I don't think he understands the danger of an abusive man...".

Or he doesn't think Mr DISCORD is abusive. A controlling asshole, maybe, but not abusive.

I didn't think, reading the letter, that he was physically violent. DISCORD says he put her hands round her neck maybe around 25 years ago. So either he is shouty, but not violent, or he's potentially violent, and has a hold on her through the threat of violence--and she downplays this, in a way characteristic of Stockholm syndrome. The latter would be very bad--certainly cause to leave.

I don't think it's good, in principle, to diagnose Stockholm syndrome in lw s. It undermines their autonomy, in suggesting that their understanding of their lives is defective, tendentially gaslit, tendentially wrong; it erodes their capacity for making sense of their own life, making changes off their own bat. They're liable to fall back into a state of dependence in which it will be hard for them to be proactive.


Harriet @55, yes. The question was not fully formed. But divorce had already occurred to her, and she ruled it out for financial reasons. Dan should have told her to rule it back in.

Harriet @58, indeed, the obvious probability that the online friend was the husband or someone hired by the husband went over Dan's head as well. I wonder if he has read these comments and is kicking himself for missing this? Without this information, the husband -is- just an asshole who has blown his entitlement to fidelity by cheating himself. It's the catfishing and/or spying that makes him controlling and her unsafe in the relationship, particularly if she tries again to pursue outside connections of any type.

Harriet @59, she doesn't say he "put his hands round her neck," she says he STRANGLED her. That is physically violent. Tantrums, screaming and fits are abuse as well. As is, at minimum, spying on someone's private communications, and controlling what sorts of online communications she is even allowed to have. I guess we disagree on whether "controlling asshole" and "abusive" are synonyms. I also disagree that "diagnosing" Stockholm Syndrome is bad. Surely someone must be made aware of the situation they're in before they can do anything about it? Surely someone in this position is unaware that they are, and becoming aware is the first step in breaking those bonds, as Joe's illustration says much better than Dan's words?


I was wondering how the on line boy friend got her husband's email.


Here's the thing about being physically violent once. In the eyes of the Law, there's a difference between someone beating you to bloody pulp once and someone doing it twice. Once is one crime, twice is two. But if you're living with someone, there's not much difference between being strangled once, being strangled twice, and living in constant fear that you might be strangled again.

42-Dr.Van-- You're not wrong. Worries about losing health insurance are a huge concern. That's a big factor for anyone thinking about their financial circumstances whether it's a healthy happy young adult appropriately moving out of their parents' home or a couple merging finances or an individual considering divorce. DISCORD should take health insurance into account just as she should take having a roof over head into account when she considers getting the hell out of there.

However, health insurance shouldn't be a limiting factor. There are people who get divorced and keep their health insurance because of their own full time jobs. There are people who stay married, get out of the abusive home, and keep their health insurance. There are people who think they're covered by their health insurance and can't get health care or health care coverage anyway because our system is that fucked.

It would seem that DISCORD has decided to stay in the bad marriage because of it's the only way she can stay financially afloat, the only way she thinks she can get insurance. I'd maintain that no one is saying getting out will be easy, but it is preferable to what she's got.


One of the critical pieces of info in the letter is the strangling. It matters more than anything else LW says. It matters more than anything anyone else here is commenting on.

Strangling and biting are major indicators of someone who would get violent enough to torture or kill. They are very, very different than hitting someone. You have to get up close and person to bite or strangle. You have to mean it. You have to want to hurt the person and see the damage. One strangulation incident is more serious than a year of being smacked around.

I’ve worked a lot with victims of child abuse and domestic violence. There are some studies that show that strangulation v. Abuse through striking the person = 700% increased risk the abuser will kill the victim. Or higher. Fatalities are the rule, not the exception.

Whatever else anyone thinks about her ability to leave or any other matter she raises, fine. But Dan seriously needs to read more on intimate partner violence between heterosexual couples. He missed a major warning sign here. His advice is likely to get her killed.

I don’t expect the other commenters to know this. It’s not something. You know until you’ve worked with people int he community. But if you are giving advice, you need to know this.

If LW does anything to change the status quo, she’s at risk to be killed. Emotionally cheating on her husband or seeking external attention WILL get her killed unless this man is a unicorn riding a dinosaur.

For anyone who is interested, you can google strangulation + escalation + marker + fatality

She needs to be calling a DV hotline and working through this.



I don’t know if you have any experience in DV courts. As someone who does (in 3 states since the early 00s), there is a HUGE difference between being beaten once or twice and being strangled once.

One strangling is enough to get a restraining order. One beating, probably not.

The fact that it is strangling is critical. I cannot understate this. Strangling matters. It’s a red flag large enough to cover China. It’s the reddest of red flags.

Study after study shows it’s a marker for escalation to the point of killing the victim. There is a lot of work being done to update the criminal codes to make strangulation a specific form of DV that gets a higher level punishment because of this.

Again, I cannot possible understate how dangerous ONE strangulation incident is in the context of her safety.

In terms of how DV is viewed by the courts and those who work with victims, strangulation and biting are very, very different than simply beating someone with fists.

This is sorta like children lighting fires and torturing animals v. Just being abusive bullying jerks. There are some acts that are indicative of something deeper and more dangerous.

This man is a ticking time bomb who has the potential to kill and the desire to control. Of that I have zero doubt. He’s already shown it.

Please, other members of the commentariat, understand that this is a serious incident even though it was only once and “in the past.” Not just for this case, but going forward.

If any of you think I’m exaggerating or overblowing this, understand this: since 2010, something like 40 + states have updated their criminal codes in light of what we now know about strangulation. It’s being taught to first responders, cops, and care workers. Judges are telling attorneys not to use the term “choke” in court, as it diminishes the act in the mind’s of juries.


PS I don’t know if Dan or LW will read this. If either do, the LW needs to speak with some DV counselors about the strangulation and what that entails. Any group that works with victims will put her to the top of the queue because of that. There are resources to help her get out and have a life.

She has two choices: First, to stay in this as it is and learn to live with it somehow. Second, to try and escape.

What she should not to is stay, but seek external validation elsewhere. That works in non-abusive situations or in some abusive ones where there’s not such a risk of death.

in this case, the strangulation shows he can and would kill her.

I agree with the posters who think he catfishes her to prove to her she couldn’t get away with it. I think if she tries again to go online and seek comfort, he’s likely to find out. I would assume all the tech she has access to has a keylogger, location tractor, or worse.

I’d assume he’s spying on her to the greatest extent possible.

Assume he’s dangerous and assume he’s watching.


@60. Bi. I didn't think either, after reading the letter, that DISCORD's husband was, or was alternately pulling the strings of, the man to whom she was writing and sharing her private thoughts online. Dan's explanation as to why the husband found out so soon after she confected an imaginary affair was that the online 'friend' was a sadist; and mine that he, the online guy, had some sort of crisis of conscience. But, while not inconceivable, these are less plausible explanations than the spyware one or the catfishing one, as fichu @28 correctly says.

One thing to add... there's another context in which someone, a rich person, a privileged person, or a person who has made their own money, is apt to over-think things, to second-guess themselves--and that is in believing that somebody's financial situation binds them to a suboptimal or painful romantic/living arrangement. No. It's always possible to take the hit and find a better life. Let's say that DISCORD gets out with e.g. 35% of their joint wealth. I would think that freedom, including the freedom to have sex with other people, or find a new romantic partner, would be worth such straitened circumstances.

I don't think, in cases like this, that it's always about the financial losses for those in DISCORD's boat. It's about awkwardness; embarrassment; the shame of admitting your marriage was a sham, a failure; difficult circumstances and uncertainty during the period of separation, and sometimes the fear of your abusive or violent partner's potential reprisals.

@60. Bi. But how many people in the world have Stockholm syndrome? Suppose that the Savagista commentariat are in the top 15-20% of affluence and cultural capital. In the eyes of almost everyone else, we think they have Stockholm syndrome. We think all middle-class and blue-collar Trump-voters suffer from a sort of Stockholm syndrome. And I would say, too, that our attitudes to Trump-voters voting contrary to their own economic interests and people in unhappily pinched or conventional, religion-determined het marriages are actually very similar.

And what do we want to happen when we tell someone they have Stockholm syndrome? 'You have Stockholm syndrome; everything you've been doing for the last 30 years is wrong; do this instead'--do we hope they'll do this instead? Are we happy for people to be so pliable, to have so little sense of their own interests, beliefs and values--so long as we're the people dictating to them?


@63. slowpokey. This incident was something like 28 years ago.

There is a big difference, in tone and apparent moderation, between Dan's advice, which did not say, 'get away from this violent man', and your:

Emotionally cheating on her husband or seeking external attention WILL get her killed unless this man is a unicorn riding a dinosaur.

I'm not sure you're making an accurate fine-grained characterisation of her case. And, in saying that Dan, who will receive lots of letters from people in abusive relationships, missed the signs of impending murderous violence, you come out with the old canard of a gay man not understanding the violence that can be incubated in heterosexual relationships.

To me, there are circumstances where the fight-of-flight instinct is triggered, and the possibility of fine-grained case-specific attention or characterisation goes out the window. One such circumstance, for very many, is the possibility of male violence, maybe life-threatening violence, towards women.

Of course, you could be right, and he could pose a real threat to her safety. DISCORD knows this better than we do. If this is true, she should go--go safely, and possibly through a women's refuge or DV charity. The cause should not be his affairs or cheating, or his prohibiting her from having outside affairs. It should be the threat of strangulation, the constant coercive threat posed by his anger, and his longrunning abusive screaming.

Probably she should go anyway.



Do you have ANY real world experience with this? I do. I have worked in the courts.

The time of 28 years ago is nothing. Once a strangler, always a risk without intensive therapy. There’s no evidence he’s gotten any help on it.

You say she knows better than we do. That’s not necessarily true. Having worked with a lot of abuse victims, some of them really don’t see how in danger they are.

Some do, some don’t.

If I’m wrong, she gets a divorce she doesn’t need. If Dan’s wrong. She’s dead.

I’m basing this on a lot of experience. The number of child abuse and DV cases I have worked on is in the hundreds. Not just 100 either. Likely somewhere between 300-500. I have seen this. I have seen cases where people like you have said “It was 40 years ago.” Then the spouse is dead when she tries to leave. So I know the passage of time doesn’t mean he’s ok now.

It’s not a canard to say Dan likely doesn’t see the world in the same way an abused woman might. I’m not saying he can’t. But he often doesn’t seem to get how women navigate the world.

Again, I’m basing this on a lot of experience representing victims in the court system. What are you basing your POV on?

Also, again, if I’m wrong, the harm is a lot less than if Dan is wrong.




@68. slowpokey. I'm basing my remarks on a reading of the letter, esp. what it chooses to highlight (namely, his cheating, his lies about his erectile dysfunction, and her vexation at not getting to have sex with him) and its tone.

I'm not saying that DISCORD's husband is, assuredly, NOT violent, not a threat to her safety. I'm saying I don't know.

Let me ask you, just as a matter of fact: What difference would her allegation of strangling, almost certainly from far back in their relationship, make to a court's ruling? This will be in a case where she alleges one thing; and he denies it point blank, alleges something else, or says he doesn't remember. I think you're implying that a court would grant a restraining order. But wouldn't she have to come forward with an application for divorce, or to have an order taken out against her husband? It would seem that she is very far from this.

You say that 'Dan likely doesn’t see the world in the same way an abused woman might'. Well, the abused woman, as may be, in this case sees her situation in terms much closer to Dan's than yours, which she might view (on a reading of her letter) as preemptive, immoderate or outrageous, or unnecessarily escalating. I don't disagree with you that many women 'navigate the world', or have to, by treading on eggshells, striving not to disturb scary partners--but this doesn't seem the kind of thing that is beyond the imagination of a gay man to conceptualise.

It would seem to me that many advice columnists, police officers, psychiatrists and counselors, see cases where there isn't a risk of life-threatening violence, in their judgment, and then cases where there is such a risk. The first set of cases could invite a range of advice and be receptive to a variety of ways of understanding their situations. But in the second set of cases, of course, and quite overwhelmingly, the moral and professional imperative for those in responsible professions would seem to be to say, 'get the hell out!'. What is it in DISCORD's letter that makes you think this case one of those where violence is impending? It seems to be the isolated incident of strangulation coming from someone who, since then, has apparently been verbally but not physically abusive.

@69. fubar. Well done! It's good when the magic number isn't taken by a hot button 'gays aren't misogynistic!' / 'don't leave women to be murdered!' button, erm, issue.


JodoKast @49 - I've never heard of those, but they definitely sound like the kind of thing I would enjoy! I've requested the first book from the library, thanks for the recommendation. :)

CMDwannabe @53 - ha, I never thought of George that way, but that's an interesting point! I always just thought she was an unapologetic tomboy, especially since I was one myself. I loved how she was always competing with the boys and could keep up with them, even though Julian always tried to keep her away from the more physical activity. Funny how "George" was the go-to name of choice for characters like that - Nancy Drew also had an friend and sidekick named George who had short hair, coached a girls' volleyball team, and never seemed interested in dating in any of the books I read (unlike Nancy, who had a steady boyfriend and occasionally flirted with other guys, and Bess, who was constantly seeing someone new).

@LavaGirl - just remembered a couple of other recommendations if you think fantasy novels might be her jam: Howl's Moving Castle and Tales of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin (both of with were turned into animated movies by Studio Ghibli, but neither movie is as good as the books), and Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey.


Harriet @66, you make no sense. First of all, I am not a licensed therapist so I cannot "diagnose" Stockholm syndrome or anything else. I can't even tell you whether "Stockholm syndrome" is even a recognised mental disorder. I suspect it is not. It is just a pop culture-derived term for developing loyalty to one's captor, which she seems to fit by stating that she does not want to leave someone who has physically and emotionally abused her, cheated on her, and is a hypocrite with regard to what she can or can't do online. What I think happens in many of these letters is that they are written so soon after the "last straw" is experienced that the LWs are in a state of shock, and with that comes denial. Of course DISCORD doesn't want to upend her marriage. She wants the marriage she thought she had. Pointing out that the marriage she thought she had isn't the marriage she has isn't "dictating" to them. And at any rate, she wrote in for advice! So it is absolutely appropriate to say "you should do this," and to say "this is the reality you can't see because you are too close to it."


@55 Harriet-by-the-bulrushes

It is absolutely possible for coercive control to be exercised by a man (usually) who presents as having issues with self-control, temper-tantrums, and a fragile ego.

As well as Trumplethinskin and his combination of extreme and fragile self-esteem (where he cannot bear to be thought badly of, despite his boastfulness) a few months ago I read a memoir with the telling title "Look what you made me do!". Frank, the domestic threat in question, was "lovely" and "romantic" and handsome and French. But unfortunately he cut off his mistress from her family and friends, and every so often something...would happen. He started out being terribly apologetic and explaining he never meant to hit her. Later on, he would quasi-lovingly explain how hideous she was, and how lucky she was to have met what was likely to be the only man who could put up with her. And every so often, without apparent warning, she would feel the sudden pain of her head hitting the wall or his fist slamming her face.

Without apparent warning, but he would always be "kind" enough to explain which particular infraction she'd been guilty of. Always "Look what you made me do!" And he wrote her tormented love letters, and she wrote tormentedly back. It took some distance from the relationship for her to realise it was anything but love.


@73 women are just as likely to control with tantrums as men. but that's ok, because this is a mostly safe place to hate on men with no supporting evidence.


@74: Who's hating on men with no supporting evidence? Everyone here is hating on this particular LW's husband, with plenty of supporting evidence.

Since you occasionally pop in with some logic--appropriate, for one who studied philosophy--I'll point out the rather obvious fact that "some men abusively control women using this pattern" does not imply "all men abusively control women," nor does it imply "no women abusively control men," so maybe calm down a bit.


dropout @74, I was thinking along similar lines, not that we here just hate on men. God no.
My mother who died @98 just over a year ago, didn’t use physical forms, her psychological ones still did damage, which reverberates thru the generations.
Yes, women throw tantrums, etc. Manipulating others, by any means, and there are many hidden clever ones, is counter to giving other’s room to be. A balance in intimate relationships need to be reached, between what is a shared space.. and what is a private one.


BiDanFan @72: The dictionary defines a syndrome as a collection of symptoms, or a combination of behaviours. A quick Google reveals that Stockholm Syndrome is not a mental illness, but is thought to be a coping mechanism. Your use of the term is accurate.


Dan has a blind spot on this one. Every detail here adds up to a dangerous relationship. There was violence in the beginning and total control throughout the marriage. The husband definitely was spying on her online activities (control) and I'd bet her devices have trackers. Meanwhile the narcissist is fulfilling his own needs, and she is just one of them. If she takes away control, I would bet that any domestic violence counselor would warn of physical harm. The only advice to this reader should have been to seek out a domestic violence counseling to talk through the situation. Very typical of someone be so deep in this abuse that they don't see the bigger picture. She's clearly struggling to rationally talk about an irrational and abusive partner.


This woman writer, dropout, is caught in a crazy world, with a man who manipulates her, thru anger. She has stayed these thirty years, colluding with his nonsense.
Then that is culturally the story we women get fed. Hard as we push back against the notions of Patriarchy, they come back stronger and more insistent.
What people are doing here, is feedback.
“ Hey, you caught in there in crazy land with a mad man, take our hands and we can bring you out to see other worlds.”
Yes it hurts and yes before one does it, get some ducks in a row, so when one walks.. it’s not an economic cliff one falls over. Because emotionally it is one. All those tangles of madness have to be cut. Grief over damaged people, will still be there.
Trouble is, this woman didn’t ask Dan should she leave him. No. Some other drama has her attention. If she wants another thirty years of this noise, go for it.
Dan is right, such bullshit behaviour will probably lead to an early death, for one of them.


@33 LavaGirl, if you're still looking for more ideas for your 11-year-old?

Anne McCaffrey, the Dragonriders of Pern series
T.H. White, The Once and Future King
Richard Adams, Watership Down

If she's on the younger end of 11 emotionally, these might suit:

Zilpha Keatly Snyder, Black and Blue Magic, or The Egypt Game
Joan Aiken, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

And finally, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsberg is a classic for a reason.


CUTTING THE CORD- So her husband isn't sexually attracted to her anymore but wants to stay anyway because they need each other. He owns responsibility for the sexlessness by claiming that he has ED, but it seems they both want it to continue if she is not trying to persuade him to be treated or try a sex life without erections. So she isn't very sexually attracted to him anymore either, but doesn't own it. He's caught her testing out the waters of cheating, and now she's pretty much caught him cheating. Does he know she wants an open relationship, did she ever try directly telling him that she'd prefer an open relationship, did she ever try directly asking him what he thought of open relationships in general, and if it could ever work with their marriage, or did she just assume that he was cheating because he wanted her to be faithful? Maybe he was afraid to bring it up and used the excuse "she'd never go for it" like most spouses who write to Dan. So first she should tell him that she wants an open relationship. It's scary that she seems to be mad that he's not fucking her, but also doesn't seem to particularly want to fuck him. Maybe she should tell him that she's noticed that they don't have sex anymore, so she thinks they should have sex with other people. "Why wouldn’t he want an open relationship?" Well, what did he say when you asked?
It seems possible that he only started cheating on him after she told him, I'm sorry after she told her "e-confidante", that she had already had an awesome affair! It seems like they already told each other that they were untrustworthy! Sorry, she told her e-confidante who had her husband's phone number or email, that she was a cpos. Maybe they can apologize to each other, maybe not.
In short, I advise direct conversation. If she's too afraid of him to have a direct conversation about their sex, how could she trust him to be fair and supportive financially either? Once she starts shutting down in fear, if he refuses to reassure her fears of sexlessness and hypocrisy/cheating, there's no healthy relationship to save imo.

I believe that CATMAN wanted to use the word fetish to emphasize that he needed the idea to get off. But he couldn't get off at all for months before he got the idea a few weeks beforehand. So it could have been a temporary strong fixation. But he didn't really seem to like or appreciate anyone, so calling his particular need a "fetish" may have implied that he tended to engage in objectification and dissociation and self gratification rather than sharing and appreciation and mutual pleasure.. Which I'm glad Dan addressed.


M?? Harriet - Not a brief I'd want to take at present, as I can only imagine who'd get to be Humpty Dumpty, which probably makes the question nearly as much of a tautology as "Why is stealing wrong?" (apologies for invoking Dame Iris, whom you despise).


I have a habit of leaving music on in my studio/ bedroom, as I go into the house etc, and just now as I walked back in, the line which straight away came out of Tom Petty’s mouth was.. “ It’s over before you know it..”


@75 commenter heal thyself.


As has been pointed out, there seems to be plenty of supporting evidence unless we take the approach it's a flat-out lie.

The average difference is that women are more likely to "control" with tears, threats of possible suicide, threats that no-one will believe that she's in the wrong because the women are more likely to be victims. This sucks, yes, but men are more likely to control with stuff that leads into physical threat.

I was specifically discussing the book "Look what you made me do!" because that sort of coercive control--the sort which includes the attitude "Look what you made me do!", and violence that appears rare and random and shocking--appears to me overwhelmingly likely to have a male perpetrator and a female victim, partly because of the difference between male and female roles in society.

I would expect a male victim of a woman's emotional coercive control to be deeply upset and maybe traumatised because women are more likely to threaten to hurt themselves than others. The woman may end up in mental hospital.

I would expect a female victim of a man's coercive control to be seriously at risk of being hurt or killed, if he's taken it as far as physical violence. And then the man would think "Look what you made me do!"

It's not impossible that a woman could do this, it's just relatively unusual, and there are many examples of the male-abuser/female-victim pattern.

At least one person on this thread thinks strangulation is a massive red flag, which I agree with. In terms of consensual kink, many medically-inclined people say that they advise against breathplay because it's so easy to kill your partner even when trying to play safe. Knowing that, I'd be more inclined to forgive one random slap than one random act of strangulation even if it was years ago.


Fubar @77, thank you. And congrats on this week's lucky number!

Ciods, Woof, don't feed the troll.


Jina @ 71
I read the “Famous Five” books with a small group of elementary school friends, two girls two boys, and we all sensed “something” about George but couldn’t point to anything we knew back in those days.

One of my own George-related takeaways as a child was that society is more likely to accept tomboys easier than tomgirls. It felt as if girls are considered “better” or at least elevated to some degree if they show masculine-associated traits. Those were not exclusively physical as they also included confidence and leadership skills.
I’m aware that my next statement is very generalized, yet this is something I have also noticed to some degree or another later in life in regard to acceptance- or not- of lesbians and gay men, as well as trans men and trans women.
Obviously, experiences may vary and I’m not minimizing anyone’s challenges and backgrounds yet acts of violence and murder cases should also be a factor.

A quick search on the writer, Enid Blyton, suggesting she didn’t really like children outside of her books, was a horrible mother to at least to one of her daughters, very possibly had a lesbian affair with one of the daughters’ nannies, and was picking up men on occasion after bridge games.
Venn- is this a thing?

That said I thought Blyton’s books were empowering children as they grow and navigate their way in the world despite suspicious and often hostile adults, as well as an idiot local policeman. (Nowadays researchers believe the character to be based on her husband.)
In fact, so empowering that at the age of 9 or 10 I teamed up with the other boy in the sub-group as we plotted to make our way to the big city, a three-hour bus ride from our very small village, and solve a petty crime incident we learned about from the local paper.
Our rightfully suspicious adult parents declined to provide us the bus fare.


@72. Bi. It is quite appropriate to tell a lw, 'you should do this', to give them a heads-up; but it may be counterproductive to tell them they have Stockholm syndrome, in that it will likely run down their trust in themselves and capacity for independent judgment.

I think the expression 'Stockholm syndrome' is overused just as an expression of reprobation aimed at someone in a worse relationship, perhaps a less loving or equal relationship, than the speaker would accept being in for themself. I'd guess it's resisted, or found patronising, by people who hear it.


CMD @87, what a great story!

Harriet @88, funnily enough Stockholm syndrome is doing the rounds on my Facebook feed today:
As debunked by the author of the above referenced "You Made Me Do It."

Secondly, why are you assuming that if this LW were a friend coming to me for advice, I would say "You have Stockholm syndrome"? I would say to her, "Your husband is controlling and abusive. I fear for your safety, leave that shitbag and come crash with me until you find a new place." And I guess the phrase is overused, since Delta @7 seized upon it as well, AS DID YOU @59: "So either he is shouty, but not violent, or he's potentially violent, and has a hold on her through the threat of violence--and she downplays this, in a way characteristic of Stockholm syndrome," before going on to chide me for using that same phrase. SMH.


@73. woofb. Yes. You are right; you're persuading me. Male fragility, spilling over into violence, can exert a coercive control. The fact that a woman sees it as weak, even contemptibly weak, does not prevent it from exerting control.


I have dealt with his tantrums, his screaming, and his fits. He’s always had anger management issues exerts


For thirty years he's kept me walking on eggshells with temper tantrums and the threat of a renewal of violence.

To me, this makes a difference. If the second is more or less what she meant, then it's all the more reason for her to go. As everyone has said, it seems right she should go anyway.

@74. philosophy school dropout. The question is whether he's violent, whether his tantrums lead to violence. Presumptively there would be a strong reason to fear male anger more than female, since male violence is more dangerous to women than the other way round. I didn't think he was violent; but it was persuasively put to me that if he could be violent once, he could be again.


@89. Bi. Well, when I used it, I was trying to find common ground :)

I hope she has friends. I hope he's allowed her to keep or make some--that his anger or shitty controlling behavior haven't chased them all away.


@82. venn. I had a lot of questions about this case, like 'why is there some doubt as to whether he has ED or not?'. Most people don't have these questions; they just think she should get out, no questions asked.

@81. philophile. The consensus view on the thread, if you read it, is that he's always been scarily controlling and manipulative. Your comment raises some questions I was also turning over in my mind, like 'why didn't she suggest he got his ED treated?'.


What difference does it make whether the husband genuinely has erectile dysfunction or not?

He's scary; he's threatening; he's controlling. Either he deliberately posed as someone else in an elaborate and long-running attempt to get her to do something for which he could blame her later and justify punishing her (or a test like those which Patient Grizelda was put to), or he installed some sort of spyware on her computer and/or phone so he could read her private conversations, again with the apparent purpose of punishing her.

He's strangled her; I don't know anything about the possibility that this will lead to his killing her, but I do know that strangulation is a method of homicide, and should anyone strangle me, I'd be gone within hours. You, of course, are free to decide that it was just once, long ago, no big deal, and you could stay in that marriage. Obviously, she considers that strangulation to be a big deal because she mentioned it--and it happened long ago.

I re-read the letter, and the ONLY reason she gives for staying in this marriage is financial. Some here are dismissing this as a reason to stay in a marriage, but I am going to assume she knows their financial situation better than any of us do, and I'm going to take her at her word that they both the dual income to make it. If she's making minimum wage, or really, anything less than $20 per hour, it's going to be hard going. It's not necessarily a simple matter of reducing her lifestyle. If she's worked the duration of the marriage, or at least has a job when they separate, she may not be entitled to much spousal support. Presumably, after 30 years together, there aren't young children to be supported. Staying together for financial reasons shouldn't be the reason to endure what sounds like a miserable marriage, not to mention one to a man who sounds angry and vengeful, who lies and cheats and FUCKING STRANGLED his wife. But unfortunately, for many people, it's simply not feasible to run two households on the same money (minus the legal fees associated with getting divorced) that it used take to run one.

I hope she leaves--this sounds like a terrible situation, but it might really not be possible. And Dan gave absolutely terrible--if not downright dangerous--advice.


It may well be an artefact of the broken American health system (aka "wallet biopsy")--people without much money can sometimes take several badly-paid jobs just to try to keep their heads above water, and if she has the dreaded "pre-existing condition" that may seem enough of a reason to stay (with the "sunk costs" fallacy where if you've spent enough of your time on something you don't want to give up).

I do think she should leave if she possibly can: there are worse things than being alone, and she's married to one of them. It would be safer to get out while she can.

I found it very difficult to see why she's at all bothered that he's unfaithful. Neither of them seem to like each other, they're not having sex anyway, and she gives remarkably little idea of why on earth she should find him attractive. She's not discussing them being emotionally close either: she's doing the emotional labour of dealing with his moods while he doesn't do anything to help her. He's bothered at the idea that she's unfaithful because he's controlling, but she gives every hint that if she were thinking clearly she would want to do what Dan suggested and detach, preparatory to DTMFA.


I'm wondering if blackmail might be an option here.

She says neither of them can make it on their own. So let's say this is true or close to it, for joint health insurance reasons. She should take a page from his book and get proof of these affairs. Hire a cyber sleuth. Then threaten him with divorce unless he agrees to her terms. Those would be living separately but using the same official address and staying legally married, which should ensure they can keep their health insurance. He needs to be the one to move out, so if he ends up in a hovel that's his problem. She should do this in the safety of a lawyer's office, in a meeting that is being filmed. (And she should ensure all future meetings with him are in the presence of a third party.) If he doesn't cooperate she takes him to court and leaves him destitute. A gamble, but surely better than taking Dan's advice and poking the hornet's nest while living in it.


I’d like to go back to a moment in DISCORD’s online “affair” that in retrospect is even more depressing than it was at first reading. She says her online partner keep pressuring her to have an affair and that she finally felt so put-upon that she conjured one up and said it was wonderful just to get cyberguy off her back. I know most of us think online dude was the husband all along, but let’s put ourselves in the situation as DISCORD understood it at the time: She finds someone whom she thinks she can lean on, someone who hears her and empathizes with her and whom she trusts. And after she’s made herself vulnerable to him he takes opportunity to browbeat her into having an affair. And she’s desperate enough to keep the connection that she tells him about an imaginary torrid encounter so she can continue to have the emotional relationship she appeared to want. This just seems so sad to me, in addition to all the other terrible things she’s endured.


Ms Woof - Curiously, "Look what you made me do!" or something quite like it was what my mother was screaming after she broke a dinner platter over my father's head with the dinner on it. Dr Schlessinger and her three As would have made serious bank on them - he was a serial adulterer while she took up alcohol and abuse. Of course the usual pattern is the substantial majority and deserves that proportion of the attention and resources. I have, though, I've come across way too many people who've had the idea that my mother couldn't have been THAT bad. And they were neither of them really evil; they just should have had a brief affair and parted young. She was also much the more anti-gay. Which reminds me...
Ms Fan - I had a relatively civil exchange recently with someone in the UK who insisted that the working class is much the best on GRSM issues, which struck me as highly peculiar. We seemed to have different ideas of what constituted WC, but even then, the only thing I could think of was that, barring casual misunderstandings (he could have been interpreting data with benign presumptions that were specious), maybe things have just gotten that much better in the UK, at least in that quarter.


Dadddy @98, I don't think she is that unusual.


@96: Ens. Pulver, spot on. I was disturbed by that, too. The woman sounds very needy, not only materially, but emotionally, as well. I don't mean this in a "blame the victim" way, but to say she seems very vulnerable and easily manipulated based on her need.

@95:BiDanFan, given how volatile the husband seems, I would definitely NOT recommend she try to blackmail him.


Yes.. Ill take it. Spring has Sprung here


BiDanFan @95: "I'm wondering if blackmail might be an option here."

I like to think that blackmail is always an option.

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