Savage Love




Another viewing of Thelma & Louise, followed by The Big Chill has been rewarding for Griz. It's after 1 a.m., red, red wine, and no typos! Wheeee! The Bad Bitches are officially out of Griz at long last!!


This might be my childfree bias showing, but I truly don’t get why the childless people in these letters are involved with the parents. The first one sounds like she has an untreated personality disorder, the second sounds like a dime-a-dozen basic “my kids are my world” controlling dude. Your life is better by not having procreated with these people. Leave, and seek people with similar weight of baggage.


Dashing @89, so you're not a troll, you're a selfish, abusive, shitty excuse for a human being. Really? You don't see staying with someone you don't love and manipulating them into sex acts they may not want to do because they're too desperate and needy to say no to, all while knowing you're going to dump them anyway, rather than cutting the cord so they'll be less invested and can begin the healing process sooner -- not to mention have the opportunity to find someone who DOES care about her -- as a horrible way to treat a person? Using someone for sex is not a favour or a kindness to them. You are exactly the kind of man women are talking about when we say men are selfish assholes. Seriously dude, grow a conscience.

Lava @90, I'm talking about your post @69: "‘Ok who farted, Jesus can you go outside..’ The smell of farts like the smell of shit informs the health of someone. I wouldn’t brush this off as crude only." I was agreeing that if you or your partner drops stink bombs like this, their diet, not their manners, is to blame.

Ankyl @94, agree. It just means "person I am in a sexual/romantic relationship with," seriousness or duration or legality of the relationship is unspecified.

Congrats on the hunsky, Griz! And I join you in sending thoughts and concern to the people in the Pacific Northwest who are choked by smoke and hope it clears soon.


Dashing, "I see it as a win/win for both sides. He keeps getting that good sex and she keeps her relationship going"
Except he already tried to fake it through another weekend and it seems to have traumatized him. And her. I think she wants a marriage and more kids, and he does not, and it's good for them to be honest with each other, whether they keep fucking or not.

JoeB, "it’s not “literally crazy” to wonder whether she is hiding something"
I said " He wants to treat his girlfriend badly and accuse her of cheating because of his paranoia, not because of any proof of cheating, he's not in good working order enough to give the benefit of the doubt anymore." It's not crazy to wonder about your fears, it is crazy to bother other people about them with no proof. Snooping would be better, although his complaints don't seem suspicious to me.

"Sometimes I get vague answers or no answers about where she is or who she’s with. She often tells me she “accidentally” turned off her notifications."
I disagree this is any sort of proof of cheating. Apparently she doesn't want to be very clear with him but we can only guess why.. because she's not that into him, because she'd like them both to have some independence, because she's hiding something like an underground boxing ring...


Phi @108, I disagree that snooping would be better than talking to her about his suspicions! No, there is no "proof" of cheating; most times there is no "proof" of cheating, and it does not make sense to state that one cannot confront someone without having proof. He should put the conclusion he's jumped to aside and state that he is concerned because she seems evasive. She can then either state her need for more space and privacy, say she's being evasive because he's being too nosy and it makes her uncomfortable, or she can issue reassurances which he may or may not find plausible. If after talking he still suspects she is cheating, he still should not go snooping! If he doesn't trust her he should break up with her. If trust does not exist, proof is not needed because the doubt will undermine the relationship. His suspicions will lead him to pry even more, and she will understandably feel insulted by his accusations. She may go as far as to conclude that if he already thinks she's cheating, she may as well go ahead and do it, or dump him for thinking she is capable of such a thing when all she wants is to have a night out without having to check in as if he's her dad. She -is- being evasive, and evasiveness -can- be a sign of cheating, so I would not call his suspicions paranoia. I would call them failure to respect her need for "me time," which he doesn't seem to have much need for himself.


Joeburner2 @ 92 I think you're right that her reluctance to meet his expectations of transparency is the root of his suspicion, but I think it's also likely that both the expectation and the suspicion come out of his unspoken assumption that a (possibly exclusive?) dating relationship is as interdependent as a married/co-parenting relationship... there's a slightly defensive air to that tacked-on reference to what's good for the children.


@109 cont, he should also use this conversation to state, if he hasn't done so already, that he interprets "Facebook official" as meaning their relationship is exclusive. If she had not agreed to this and is in fact still dating other people, that would allow them to clear the air regarding their expectations.


@107 BiDanFan I guess most of humanity is like me and it's acceptable behaviour. If you think everyone has sex with someone they loved you need to wake up to the real world. Grow the hell up and get out of your fantasy world.
@108 Philophile the LW couldn't get away from that good sex. He didn't fake it he loved that pussy. There's a reason he couldn't. That "trauma" is cause he is weak. He needs to build some mental toughness too. I can't even take that shit seriously.


No, Dashing, most of humanity is not like you and it is absolutely not acceptable behaviour. Seriously? No, I don't think love is necessary for all sexual relationships but if one person is aware the other person loves them, is aware the person is psychologically damaged, is aware that he can never return her feelings, and is literally using someone they know will be hurt by their departure as an excuse to get more sex, this is not good sexual ethics. You need to wake up to what it is to be a decent person. Yes, a lot of people behave this way; yes, a lot of people voted for Trump. Doesn't make either one of them even remotely okay. Grow the hell up and get out of your toxic masculinity world.


OMG with the Fart Wars! Can’t we all just agree to disagree? Chances are your partner (sensu lato), if compatible in other ways, will be on board with your preference. If not, one of you is just going to have to pay the price of emission.


@78. Bi. I don't think he wants to be in a relationship with her, is obliged to be, or, really, that he should be (perhaps, ultimately, for either of their sakes).

I would agree with the norm of the breaker-up telling the other person face-to-face, supposing this other person has not been abusive, threatening or behaved appallingly. In this case, my construction is that PRESSURE said he was leaving, was talked back and had sex with his gf again. These are circumstances that would call, morally, for me for his doing the breakup properly in person. Then, as Fichu @70 says, withdrawing. His exceptional reasons for his not wanting to break in-person seem to be that he's weak-willed and dislikes confrontation. That's not really good enough for me.

But if the only way he can get it done is over the phone, well, o.k.--I won't disagree with you.

Something that might strengthen his nerve is understanding that she expects it. Every day, every week, that passes with his not having gone through on his break-up threat is a week in which she becomes more confident she can pull the same 'you promised' / abandonment stuff the next time.


@88. Erica. None of these expressions would offend me. If someone told me to 'grow a pair', I'd happily twirl my top half.

@97. Dadddy. We know that she turns 'notifications' off on her phone--not much more than that. If she's reluctant to fill him on her girls' nights out, maybe it's because he's possessive...? He's clutching at 'FB official', which doesn't obviously mean the same thing to her as to him. He should have the conversation about how much autonomy each of them is happy with the other having in their relationship.


@113. Dashing. We aren't talking here about two tough, worldly people having mutually pleasuring casual sex. She's vulnerable--she fears abandonment from any sexual partner; she manages her dating so that any partner meets the important people in her life early on, and she's come to believe in her partner's assurances that he loves her and will be in it, implicitly, for the long haul. The correct thing to do for PRESSURE, dating someone like that, with whom he does not see a long term future, is humanely to set her right and to withdraw.

She doesn't have the understanding he's looking behind her back for someone better--so you're advising the lowest form of cheating.

It's a 'no foul' if he does duly leave her--even in a small community, with a norm of sex in relationships leading to marriage--and actually damnable if he doesn't.

@78. Bi. Is her behavior in the 'range of normal'? I don't think it would be for the Savagista fanbase; we would think she was not 'in good working order'. It might be, perhaps, in a close smalltown community. Her family seem to be looking out for her. Her ex has maintained a human, but not a sexual, relationship, perhaps because he cared and did not want to 'abandon' her entirely. He seems to be part of the small group of people 'on her side'. Her talking about her 'abandonment issues' so early on could be designed, for reasons of self-preservation, to repel anyone not prepared to give it a good-faith attempt. In many 'no-sex-before-LTRs / marriage' contexts, someone could well advert to their flaws and peculiarities before having sex; and it's not that clear to me that, after just two weeks, this isn't something that PRESSURE's gf has done, as a test of potential commitment.

So I'm not sure that she's unreasonable, or unaccountably, stand-out 'crazy', in her own context.

@95. Griz. I'm very pleased that it's not the big C.

@108. Philophile. Good point that going through the motions in a relationship he wants to leave is bad for him too.

@109. Bi. Completely correct all the way down the line.

It's not as if TAG has said something like, 'do you think I'm trespassing on your autonomy by asking who you were with on Friday night?' (Granted, he does not speak like that--but you can understand the thought). The answer, as far as I'm able to reconstruct it, would be along the lines of, 'sort-of, yeah. I've just come out of a, like, eight-year marriage. I don't have kids, like you do'. TAG doesn't want to hear this, so he can't bring himself to put the question.


Mr Dashing - That's very adversarial and eye-for-an-eye. GF1 may well have acted in such a way that deserves unpleasant recompense of some sort, but it won't do LW1's character any good to dish it out.


BDF, I guess you'd like to get accused of cheating before being snooped on. I'd want my partner to bother me less with their baseless paranoid suspicions and would rather they snoop than accuse or even hint around that I'm cheating on them. When a partner tells me to my face that they don't trust me, it seems like a good time for the relationship to end, I'm not going to argue anyone into trusting me. Snooping will either quiet his suspicions or he'll keep doing it and get caught and end it.. or he might find out she's been cheating and not waste so much time on a bad relationship!


BDF, "No, there is no "proof" of cheating; most times there is no "proof" of cheating, and it does not make sense to state that one cannot confront someone without having proof."

?? We might have different ideas of what exactly paranoia is, or if it's ok to act paranoid? So here's the first few definitions from google...

"Paranoia is the feeling that you're being threatened in some way, such as people watching you or acting against you, even though there's no proof that it's true. It happens to a lot of people at some point. Even when you know that your concerns aren't based in reality, they can be troubling if they happen too often."
"Paranoia is thinking and feeling like you are being threatened in some way, even if there is no evidence, or very little evidence, that you are."
"Paranoia is an instinct or thought process which is believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of delusion and irrationality."

1."mental illness characterized by systematized delusions of persecution or grandeur usually without hallucinations"
2."a tendency on the part of an individual or group toward excessive or irrational suspiciousness and distrustfulness of others"
-Merriam Webster

It really seems to be important whether the fear you are bothering others with is rational and based on proof or evidence, or if it's irrational and based on little or no evidence, in the English understanding of 'paranoia' and mental illness.


"If not, one of you is just going to have to pay the price of emission."

Well played, lild!


Aren’t you a parent Mr D @122?
As a parent, to small children, our letter writer is coming from a totally, as a parent would know, different angle.
She is childless and child free. Eight months in, and this man is not seeing straight. Obviously this young woman is into playing families, or she’d be doing it with him.
Watch and see should be his position, see who this woman is and what she’s really offering, and go from there. Maybe they will have a serious fling. Him turning into mr jealous and asking where were you and why was your phone turned off.. piss off mate.. my phone my business. Jesus. As Lesley Gore, ... who I only recently found out was a lesbian, guess that’s why she sang the song with such power... sang “You Don’t Own Me..”, and might be time this young man, our letter writer, understood these sentiments.
You Mr D, prove over and over how much anger you have for women. Trust or don’t trust, all any of us have got. If he doesn’t trust her, for whatever reason, he needs to tell her that. Trust is the basis of any intimacy.


*Not into playing families.


TAG, she’s asserting herself against your needs for a home for your babies. A childless woman is perhaps not your best choice, as there are many mothers out there, who, like you, are looking for a mate to set a home up with.
Your gf doesn’t sound like that’s her path, at the moment. Having drinks and having fun, part of being a newly divorced young single person’s life.
You trying to put a bridle round her neck, will maybe lead to her cheating if she can’t throw you off with words. You have to be pragmatic as well here, children to rear make this so. Enjoy your time with this young woman, and hold off ticking her as the one.


@107 BiDanFan: Many thanks. I teared up last night after returning to playing my piccolo and both C flutes--after being unable to do so for over a month. Oh, the joys of playing music again! My viewing of Thelma & Louise and The Big Chill afterward were in celebration of my 6-week (already!) follow up at my OB-GYN's. No restrictions (other than sadly, because of my right shoulder and upper arm, no alto flute playing, as yet). And my beloved Love Beetle and I are embarking on another road trip again soon. Hopefully we'll still have some nice weather left before monsoon season starts again. :)

@115 lild: Well summarized! At least, if nothing else, this week's commentary helps clear the air, however sometimes foul (lol). :)

@118 Harriet_by_the_Bulrushes: I am, too. I feel SO much better! It has been a long awaited procedure, correcting 43 years' worth of monthly incapacitating misery. :)
I wish my poor mother could have been blessed with today's modern medicinal advances. Otherwise, perhaps she wouldn't have been so dead set against my having a hysterectomy in my 40s. Her operation way back when not only didn't fully correct what she needed mending after bearing four children, but compounded her frustrations overall afterward with a collapsed bladder to deal with later in life.

@124 EricaP: Agreed and seconded. :)


TAG, I feel for you, being a single parent is emotionally a very hard task. Being any parent is, no matter how many help. Be careful, and deal with this now, because your children need you strong not torn by a woman’s mixed messages. Good luck.


@118 Harriet_by_the_Bulrushes: In retrospect, the only really crazy thing about my recent hysterectomy was one particular pre-op nurse who all but insisted that I get a pregnancy test (?!?!?!?) first BEFORE surgery back on August 4th. It was like she didn't even bother to read my chart. Whether it is a Catholically run hospital or not, Griz is 56, happily single and asexual for over 19 years and counting, with zero likelihood of being pregnant. Anyway----any eggs I might still have had within me pre-surgery had to have become long fossilized since my sexually active years. Honestly, if I had a crisp hunsky for everybody who had pressured me to bear children I clearly didn't want (and have no regrets for not having now) during my 20s and 30s I'd have a nice big, gorgeous house on beachfront property with a heated two car garage, home theatre, music conservatory, cat atrium. and a year-round swimming pool with surrounding acres of protected, unspoiled pristine forest land. This is why I drink red, red wine and keep a good supply on hand. Nonetheless, the Devil is finally out of Grizelda. :)


@100 Griz congrats on 100.

And +1 on Brad Pitt circa Themla and Louise, what a twunk! Peak Pitt!

Enjoy the red, red wine (in moderation / all booze is a neurotoxin).


auntie grizelda@104
Thanks for your concern, but apart from breathing smoke for weeks, we were lucky compared to the people east here who had to flee for their lives as their homes burned to the ground. Apparently I slept through the heavy rain last night and woke to the freshest air we’ve had in a long time. While I missed what I was going to do during the first good air clearing rain, I made do with the second one when we got another heavy downpour today. I ran out in our yard naked and, standing with my arms and face raised to the heavens, got a ritualistic bathing in the cleansing rain. After a few minutes, I began to realize that although it was a cleansing rain, it wasn’t a very warm one. As I retreated, shivering and dripping, I was confronted by my wife, who while rolling her eyes and shaking her head, gave me a swat as I passed her on the way to the bathroom.


I know what everyone is thinking about now, so I’ll just put it out there. In a huge blow to civil liberties, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is dead.


subhubby @133: Indeed. Fuck. It's a shame that the shitshow about to unfold will obscure the person that just passed.


What a woman. Ruth, thank you for being a warrior.


Lild @115: Price of emission! Gold star for that one!

Harriet @116, he's broken up with her -twice-. "I tried to end things again after speaking to my therapist but she won't take no for an answer and constantly brings up the promises I made her about really loving her." She's not the only one here with baggage. She managed to sucker him in -because- he dislikes confrontation; anyone who is, themself, in good working order to date would have run at week two. He did break up with her in person; he's not required to go back to her house every time she doesn't accept it.

Dadddy @119, what's clearly coming across to him as making conversation is coming across to her as a grilling. We don't have her perspective so we don't know which it is, but their communication styles are obviously different. He even says as much, even stating that he finds her independence refreshing, but in the next breath he complains about it. Remember, "sometimes" she is vague; she is talking about her social life with him, she's just not giving him every single detail, like texting him at 9:30pm when she decides to go out after all or when they decide to move from Bar A to Diner B. Yes, it's possible they haven't had the exclusivity conversation; yes, if she suspects he expects her to be exclusive she should have spoken up if she doesn't want to be. Without placing blame, it's obvious that at this stage of their post-divorce lives she wants a less committed relationship than he does, and they need to figure out what to do about that.

Phi @121, and when I discover someone's been snooping, THAT is a good place for a relationship to end. I did not suggest he jump in with accusations; quite the opposite, I suggested he voice his -concerns-. You would really rather someone violate your privacy than talk to you? The relationship is already bad if he thinks snooping is a reasonable next step. If she's cheating, unless she's a great actress, she will probably give herself away when he brings it up. If he doesn't believe her, he can end the relationship without being the asshole who snooped.

Phi @123, proof is not evidence. He has some evidence. It may be flimsy, but her not answering direct questions and turning off her phone notifications MAY constitute evidence of cheating. Not definitive evidence for sure, but sufficient to have raised his suspicions; the fact that his suspicions are based on her behaviour makes them suspicions and not paranoia. We disagree that evasiveness is nothing. He does have reason to suspect her. In my view, he is probably off base, but "off base" is not "paranoid." You think she's 100% not cheating; Dadddy thinks she 100% is, so the odds are somewhere in the middle and enough to justify bringing it up. But in my view, the evidence is absolutely not strong enough to justify violating her privacy. If he's going to do that, he may as well just dump his controlling self in advance and save the drama.

Lava @125, applause.

Sub @133, yes, that was the news I woke up to this morning. Sad news indeed. Thank you, RBG, for everything you have done for us.


@88 EricaP

"Re the "man up" / "person up" / "Vulcan up" debate.
I switched at some point to saying "grow up" instead, and then some poster here objected, saying it was ageist, if I recall correctly.

Potentiallly sizeist against littles / persons with dwarfism?

Now I'm liking LavaGirl's "grow a spine" and considering adopting it as my go-to idiom.

Vertebrate-ist! :)

@133. I literally screamed "NOOOOO" when I heard.


Ooh. I feel for the woman in Premies, because that is who I was on track to be without a lot of therapy, and the terror still rears its head at times but gets less of an airing these days.
There are vast gulfs of pain there and she’ll sabotage every relationship she goes near if she doesn’t get professional help. She doesn’t seem to have much insight and the lines between her and you are too blurred for this to work.
There’s nothing you can do to fix this - this is a long term endeavour she has to embark on alone (with professional support). Meanwhile, your body is telling you to leave. I’m wondering what’s stopping you from respecting those very clear signals. You can’t sacrifice your well-being by staying. She’s drowning and doesn’t yet realise an intimate partner can’t save her. Unfortunately, she’ll pull you down with her. She doesn’t sound like a malevolent person, but one who is tormented by those abandonment fears, which unfortunately are so raw and unfettered that she is incapable of turning up as an adult to a healthy relationship at this point in her life.
It will be devastating for her, but this is an ancient tragedy haunting her. You’re just the newest configuration.
That said, I think you’ve been rather passive in all this. Instead of just registering discomfort, act on it if this situation arises with a new person: “I’d rather not meet your child just yet; it feels too early and introducing a child is a serious thing”... “I’m flattered that you’re into me when you say you love me, but we’ve only been dating for two weeks and getting this intense this early is making me nervous”. Use your words. If you don’t have the language to express those feelings, seek counsel from someone who does. You will keep attracting women with a lot of unprocessed childhood trauma if you don’t start setting boundaries.
I wish you all the best in what must be a painful situation.


BDF, "Yeah, she could be cheating on him, or running an underground boxing ring, or being deceitful or maybe harming him in ways he can't see yet.. but there's no evidence of any of this. "
"You think she's 100% not cheating"
Some nuance is definitely being lost here.

"You would really rather someone violate your privacy than talk to you?"
No. I would rather someone snoop on me than accuse me of cheating on them, or even tell me that they are worried that I'm cheating on them. I might break up with them for snooping, but I'd feel a much much stronger need to break up or get away from them if they accused me of cheating or lying or stealing without proof. At least they were trying to address their suspicions without bothering me with accusations.

"My question is when does suspicion—suspicion of cheating—become something you should bring up?"
When you have proof of cheating. Bringing up suspicions without proof is paranoid.

If you are suspicious without proof, it seems normal to talk about whatever made you suspicious.. he's said that he wants her to reply quickly and tell him everything she's doing and he isn't being a hypocrite, he's apparently being an open book and very available for her too... But it's not ok to get mad at her because she won't promise him what he wants, that's just a part of life and respecting others' free will. He's certainly free to break up with her if his suspicions bother him too much, it looks like she wants a more casual relationship than he does, anyway. Or snoop and maybe confirm she is cheating, but it sounds really unlikely if cheating wasn't part of her 10 year marriage. He might have better luck dating a mother, so he can offer to support her kids and give her more reason to maintain a close supportive relationship with his family..


Phi @140, OK, you don't 100% think she's cheating. To me, the only way to justify snooping is if one were 100% convinced someone was cheating, so when you said he should snoop I retroactively applied that to your position. Apologies for that.

"I would rather someone snoop on me than accuse me of cheating on them, or even tell me that they are worried that I'm cheating on them." So you want them to be the bad guy so that you have better "grounds" for dumping them? Are you just saying that being accused of cheating (which again, I never said he should do) is the worst possible thing, so bad that even snooping would be less offensive to you?

"If you are suspicious without proof, it seems normal to talk about whatever made you suspicious." Yes, exactly! That's what I'm saying. He's suspicious and has no proof. He should talk to her about what made him suspicious, ie her evasiveness when asked about her comings and goings. I never said it was OK for him to get mad at her, of course he shouldn't get mad at her, and neither should he try to impose his perspective on sharing on her. He's definitely not within his rights to snoop, when his only "evidence" is that she's not sharing as many details as he would, which he already knows is because she is more independent and just not used to conducting her relationships this way. There should be a very high bar for violating someone's privacy and vague suspicions don't come near to clearing it. If he simply wants more information than she wants to give, he either needs to accept that her style is different and decide to trust her, or break up and look for someone who's as much of a sharer as he is.


@141 amended, "OK, so you don't 100% think she's not cheating." But you don't think she is, which makes your position that he should snoop even more difficult for me to fathom. You think he should snoop to prove a negative? A suspicious person will not have their mind set at ease if they don't find evidence, they will just think the evidence is well hidden. And in the meantime, -he- ruins the "good relationship" if she discovers he's been snooping instead of either trusting her or talking to her. So in essence your advice amounts to "sabotage the relationship," and if that's your strategy it's better for him to just end it than leave her a victim of snooping and unable to trust the next person she dates.


Phi, perhaps I'm just misunderstanding what you mean by snoop. If all you mean is look at her Facebook posts, that's not snooping, that's information that's publicly available. I would think most of us look at the social media posts of people we're dating, out of interest, not suspicion. If you meant more active snooping like following her, reading her texts when she leaves her phone unattended, or hacking into her accounts, those are DTMFA offenses.


@119. Dadddy. Can he ask whether they're monogamous in a light, no-pressure way? Can he say, 'I know we're Facebook official now, but does that mean monogamous?'. Can he promise not to get mad at any answer, and have her believe this--so that she can tell him, if she's dating other men? Let's say she tells him she's had sex with other guys in the period they were together. He could make an effort not to react adversely, then say, 'well, I have kids and you don't; and right now, I'm really looking for someone who can be monogamous with me, and stably and predictably in my children's life, as a co-parent'. The ball is then in her court; and it's for her to decide whether she wants to be in that kind of relationship or not.

There should be no recriminations if she has been with, or dated, other guys--no anger, nothing other than saying 'oh'. Then he can say his piece. He will have set out his stall clearly and be in a position of strength.

If he has the composure to do that, then, yes, he probably should. Without the drama, without the recriminations, without letting jealousy taint their interactions.

His letter, as I read it, suggests it's going to be very hard for him. He'd rather say something like, 'you know I verbalise my emotions more than you. I'm really frightened that I'm going to lose you and I go out my mind thinking you're dating other guys'. The risk is that she'll humor him to avoid conflict--whoever she's seeing on her nights out; and that they won't have the conversation about what he wants from her. He's fearful she doesn't want to be with him--which is an inducement to him to pull this convo; and he's at risk of coming over as angry and controlling if e.g. she confesses to a kiss or a fling on a girls' night out.

Let him do it the right way, and prepared for some answer like 'I want to have my own kids, before becoming a mother to someone else's'.


BDF, Let's say I believe there is a 5% chance she is cheating, a 50% chance she is chafing at the sort of closeness he wants and asserting a more casual monogamous relationship than he would prefer, a 40% chance that she badly wants to give him the close contact he wants but also has to turn off her notifications for work, and doesn't realize how specific he wants her to be about the company she keeps, and a 5% chance that she is being an open book and he is too deeply paranoid about cheating to realize how much extra seemingly irrelevant information she's already giving him to try to pacify him and is instead obsessed with one time a few months ago when she accidentally bumped her phone and turned off her notifications and then went out without letting him know first.

This is not accurate but it's closer to how I think about the reality of Ms Tag than you are guessing. TAG's only problem seems to be his own fear.

He is suspicious and wants to stop being suspicious that she is cheating.
The possible solutions:
1) He could ask her if she's cheating on him. Tell her about his suspicions and that he's not seeing a therapist for them and that he wants excessive reassurance instead and sabotage the relationship.
2) He could ask her to do something to stop his uncomfortable feelings, but he can't ethically treat her as if she was cheating on him or even intentionally breaking their agreement if she bumps her phone and turns off her notifications by accident. He could say that he needs her to text him the names of everyone she meets without him within 24 hours, I hope she'd break up with him but maybe not...
3) He could directly break up with her since he already asked her for more details of her time apart and her efforts to provide more details didn't satisfy his concerns.
4) He could look for proof by snooping. If he can't stop worrying about it, it's either because it's true or he because has a mental illness, so prove it true or realize you need professional help if you don't find proof.
5) He could talk to a therapist about his paranoia. I don't think that people can choose to stop being paranoid or letting their fears rule their life, only choose to get help for it, that's why his fears are such a big problem that he's writing to Dan.

"To me, the only way to justify snooping is if one were 100% convinced someone was cheating"
To me, the only way to justify "bringing up suspicions" of cheating is if they are 100% convinced that person was cheating, and that's what the letter asked.

"He's definitely not within his rights to snoop, when his only "evidence" is that she's not sharing as many details as he would"
The only time people snoop is when they don't have enough evidence, if they were 100% certain they wouldn't need to snoop. Snoopers just a strong feeling that the other person is hiding something. I think it might be helpful here because it might help him realize he's paranoid and needs professional help.. or as you say, she might be cheating on him and he could stop worrying about it and start addressing it if he had proof.. or he might find proof of an underground boxing ring, you never know.


"Are you just saying that being accused of cheating (which again, I never said he should do) is the worst possible thing, so bad that even snooping would be less offensive to you?"
I've been falsely accused of cheating, and my email looked through without permission.. The first hurt worse, how do you reassure someone when they simply don't trust you, why don't they just leave? The second.. I felt bad for him, but I probably should have broken up with him. The first felt like an attack, the second felt like a cry for help.


@121. Philophile. Why does it have to be a choice between a partner's airing their 'baseless paranoid suspicions' or snooping? Why can't someone just say, 'am I right in thinking we're monogamous?' 'Are you looking for other people to have sex with?'

@122. Dadddy. She was married for ten years from around 20 to around 30, and post-divorce now sometimes goes out with girlfriends to three bars, the last of which she's foggy on. That's all we know. No grounds to call her an asshole.

@128. Griz. I think the 'compulsory gender' or gender enforcement of putting you through monthly agony for 43 years just as misogynist as believing that other women's periods are incapacitating, an illness or impair rationality.

@133. subhubby. Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham, facing close reelection fights, have said they will not endorse any Presidential pick in the run-up to an election.

I'm not sure that, for our side, for the Dems, winning both the Presidency and the Senate is a good trade for a right-wing Supreme Court for the next thirty years.


@137. Bi. I would doubt he tells her what he's told us--the upset stomach, the sleepless nights. 'The thought of us together, of the situation you've put me in, makes me throw up. Literally'. Or 'it gives me the shits'. (One of these is true). 'I can't sleep at night. Is that the kind of person you want to be looking after your child? That you want to be with?'. Say 'I'm sorry, I don't want to be with you. It's over'. Don't engage with the 'what you said' / 'just another chapter'. Then leave or put down the phone--it doesn't matter which.


Harriet, Yes, you are absolutely right, your suggestion is even better than bringing up his suspicions of cheating or snooping. I really liked when Dan said "You obviously need to have a conversation with your girlfriend—if you can get her on the phone—about your expectations and definitions". But there is also the way he put "accidentally" in quotes to illustrate that he doesn't believe her reassurances when she gives them, that makes me think that reasonable reassurance won't quiet his fears. I really like how you emphasized the need for him to stay nonjudgmental while asking for monogamy, if he hasn't done that explicitly yet. Certainly it would be better to ask for monogamy and talk about boundaries and cheating, calmly and civilly, before snooping or raising suspicions. I assumed they had that talk since he expects monogamy and is worried about "cheating". I'm not sure which of us has the more charitable read of TAG, you think he's been acting entitled to monogamy that hasn't been promised, I think he's acting paranoid. If she did already promise him monogamy, asking 'Are you looking for other people to have sex with?' is going to insult her.

I like your approach.


Good question Philo @147, how does one reassure someone if they don’t trust you? For these two, talk will help. She is being cagey and he is being pushy. If both talk their truths, then see if it’s really workable for them.
He doesn’t need to accuse her, best he express his feelings his needs and wants, and she do the same.
Non parents here are forgetting, children are involved. His antenna is active, and being a single parent is new for him too. Every second fortnight, or second week, whatever he’s worked out with his ex wife, he’s a single parent to little children who have already been thru their family of origin splitting up. The children being involved makes this story complex.


The mind is going.. * Every second weekend, or second week..
/ Re LW1, he needs to prepare his words before he goes. Write them out, make it short and very clear, be ready to say his words to her, give her a small kiss on the cheek as she’s taking it in, then turn and walk out.
A simple few sentences,
“ I don’t want to see you anymore, Joanne. Your needs are greater than your ability to see me. I hardly know you, yet you have pushed me into declarations which were false. I hope you find some peace in your life. Good luck and good bye.”


On second thoughts, forget the kiss. Best to take the moment she’s taking it in to turn and head for the exit.
Maybe do it in a public place, where she can’t make too much of a scene.
Tell her also, that he’ll email her a fuller explanation. That it’s goodbye though.
In an email, yes, tell her his truth. How she effected his health, and how he found himself unable to stand up for himself and flick her off.
This is where he needs to do some work on himself.
By emailing her his truth, she has a chance to learn something about herself. A single mother of a seven year old boy, is looking for a man for both of them. Her desperation turns men away.


@131 delta35: Many thanks. I know, right? YOWZA! Can you believe that Brad's breakthrough role of J.D. in Thelma & Louise was half his life ago? Luckily for Brad, he'll probably still be boyish in his 70s+. :)

@132 subhubby: I'm so glad you're okay! I know--the rain is refreshing, isn't it? Six weeks after my surgery I can now take and enjoy long soaks in my bath tub again.
@133 subhubby: I know, and feel just sick for humanity. I am now feeling devastated for my nieces, daughters of close friends, as well as all fellow women and girls everywhere.

@134 fubar: Agreed and seconded. WHY couldn't Donald Jackass Pigfucker Trump, and its lackeys, Mike Pence, Bill Barr, and Mitch McConnell, ad nauseum have dropped dead instead?

@137 BiDanFan: Agreed. Tragically sad news indeed, for all of humanity.

@138 delta35: I second your NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

@147 Harriet_by_the_Bulrushes: What I meant was that I wish we could have had the medical advances we have now back in the 1970s. I'm just so glad that the misery I have endured since age 12 is finally over.

Rest in peace, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. You will always be among my greatest heroes.

DAMN IT. Why couldn't Donald Jackass Trump, Mike Pence, and Mitch McConnell have dropped dead instead?


@136 LavaGirl: Agreed, seconded, and amen. Rest in peace, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I weep for humanity.


auntie grizelda-

My reply to you @132 was going to be longer, but I was too saddened by the news to continue, but I will now. I wanted to agree with Fred Casely@44. I thought your story was engaging and well written. You may have told it before, but I hadn’t heard it. I’m also glad your operation was successful. I was going join in and wish you good luck before you had it, but I was new to the commentariat, and hadn’t interacted with you before.
BTW, many decades ago, I lived in Bellingham for a couple of years. What a great town! I really enjoyed the outdoors- canoeing, bicycling, fishing, hiking, backpacking, and swimming in the lakes in the summer. My wife and I also enjoyed folk music and traditional dancing scene. My wife even worked at the hospital where you had your operation.


Harriet @144, I agree that if they have not had a conversation about whether they are monogamous -- which is both of their fault; dating pairs should have that conversation far earlier than eight months in -- he cannot hold her to an agreement she never made. On the flip side, however, he's made it clear that he wants her to share details of her life, and any other men she may be dating are a pretty important detail. I think that monogamy is still sufficiently a default expectation, especially among heteros, that if one does want to keep one's options open one should specify this when things start to get serious. If they're both going on assumptions rather than discussions they're both to blame for any disconnect in expectations. They should accept their share of this blame instead of blaming each other, and move forward.

TAG should definitely not say that he "goes out [of] his mind thinking she's dating other guys." Yikes, bunny boiler red flag there. He should just ask whether she wants to commit to monogamy with him. If she says yes, that applies going forward; anything that happened prior is past and forgotten.

And I think she's more likely to say something like "I want to act like a kid before becoming a mother to anyone else's." She was married for a decade in her 20s and did not have kids. Either she, her ex, or both did not want kids; if it was her ex, it seems to me she'd be more keen to step into the stepmother role with TAG. I think he should assume she's not a mother because she doesn't want to be one, and accept her as a child-free person who is dating a parent rather than a parent-by-extension herself.

Phi @145, I thought we had already got to the same page when you said:
"If you are suspicious without proof, it seems normal to talk about whatever made you suspicious." Whatever you had in mind by this sentence, I agree with, but I don't see it on your list of his five options. If whatever transpires from this discussion leaves him suspicious, then his options may escalate to one or more of your proposals; I would nominate 3, break up with her, if suspicions of cheating did not plague his other relationships and it really is her actions he can't stomach, or 5, seek therapy if this is a recurring issue or if he was cheated on previously and this left him unable to trust.

People snoop when they FEEL certain and need evidence to support the certainty they feel, to confront someone who has made unconvincing denials. This is when snooping may be justified, but again, snooping makes you the asshole so if you don't have much vested in a relationship, as these two don't, better to take the high road and just end it because the trust is not there.

Phi @146, I too have had both these things happen. The snooping would have been an instant dumping offense if he hadn't dumped me for what he discovered in the e-mails. The former is basically just someone saying, "I feel insecure," so you reassure them. Not every accusation would feel to every person like an attack; not every snooping would feel like a cry for help. Some folks would be more inclined to forgive a one-off punch than verbal abuse, that does not mean it's legitimate to advise anyone to hit somebody when they're angry.

Harriet @148, why indeed would he tell her things like that? I agree, he should apologise for making those early promises which weren't realistic, say that that's on him and he's getting help, but that she too needs to seek help for her issues, and he's not obligated to be there for her to work through them. Then put the phone down and block if need be.

Phi @149: "I assumed they had that talk since he expects monogamy and is worried about "cheating"." Yes, we can't assume that. I suppose that yes, if they have in fact had a discussion and committed to monogamy, his fears that she is cheating are indeed more sinister. They are, however, not baseless. Yes, "are you looking for other people to have sex with" would be insulting. He should give an example or two of her being evasive, state that this makes him uncomfortable, and ask if there is a reason she dodged his questions. That's not insulting. He could even ask if she remains committed to a monogamous relationship; that's not insulting. I think you just had a bad experience of someone coming at this in a hurtful way and that's colouring your take on this situation.

Lava @151, good idea for him to write out his script in advance. Perhaps even rehearse it with his therapist to prepare for the manipulation she's going to throw back at him.


Phi, would it be insulting to ask someone if they are cheating if it turns out that person actually is cheating?


@149. Philo. We are very much on the same page, it turns out, in thinking about the particular case of TAG and his gf. My sense would be that he hasn't had the serious conversation about both of their expectations for their relationship; I'm getting this from this 'if that's still a thing' about being FB official--he knows he's reading something into a sign, or a display. I think he fears hearing something from his partner like 'well, when I started dating you, it was to get over my last husband; it wasn't to find a new one'. Because of this fear--that it's more casual for her than for him--in an unconscious way, he's (I would think) deflecting onto his jealousy.

@148. Bi. The only possible rationale for telling her (that she makes him sick) is to get her to realise that this isn't a good relationship for her, either.

It's not his place to be her counselor, to offer her comfort, to be her friend. Really, he wants to run. He can't avoid hurting her. It's only incumbent on him to avoid hurting her wantonly, and cleanly to end the relationship. (This last para. is more for him, and spoken generally, than for you).

@156. Bi. I agree about his best course of action, even (in loose form) his best words.

My only slight difference of view is that I'm not sure that he could count, in this case, on a 'default expectation' of monogamy after eight months. The presumptions with which they entered the relationship was that they'd both been tied down by burdensome marriages and wanted to have fun. Further, it's likely he would have said to her e.g. 'I've never been with someone so independent before, and I really like that about you'. She could easily have interpreted this other than he meant, e.g. he meant she spontaneously drives 40 miles to go shopping or go to the theater, and she supposed he meant that she struck up unguarded conversations with whomever.

It's open to, proper for, him to have the conversation: 'what I want from you, romantically, has changed...'.


Another point which hasn't been explored much: "It’s refreshing to know that my partner has her own friends." Does he not have his own friends? Perhaps he should take a page from her book and get a life, then he won't be so overly invested in hers.


M?? Harriet/Ms Fan - That line of conduct would be correct if his promises had been spontaneous. They weren't. It would, granted, be nice to put him in a time machine and have him read A Fairly Honourable Defeat before meeting her, so that he might have duplicated Axel's response to Simon's repeated question, "Will you love me always?" of "How on earth do I know?" That would have been better, but he doesn't owe her for having complied with her demands. He may well feel better if he apologizes to her (he seems that type), but the form of an appropriate apology may take numerous billable hours to devise.


Harriet @158, and he is tied down now as a co parent by demands and routines etc of two small children, which his gf isn’t. There is a ‘life choices’ incompatibility here, and our LW doesn’t seem to grasp that.
LW1 owes this sad woman nothing, except compassion. She is a single mother, has a child to take care of, he needs to be kind to her as he ends it. Giving her some honest and authentic feedback re her behaviour could help her in the future.


@62 I have a straight male friend in this situation. One year in the kid (whom he met within weeks) now calls him dad. The girlfriend leverages the connection all it’s worth - Father’s Day card, bed time Skype’s, while his friends and presumably hers can all see he’s not that into her.


Phi & BDF: TAG should not let the word "cheating" pass his lips unless he's previously obtained a monogamous commitment from his girlfriend; an explicit commitment, that is, made with actual words, and not just whatever he has inferred from their "Facebook Official" status after a few months riding the relationship escalator.


@155 subhubby: Many thanks for reading my story early into this week's SL comment thread, from @6, offering feedback, and sharing your stories. As a Gulf War veteran and throughout my life I have definitely been through a lot.
How cool that you and your wife once lived here in Bellingham, and an interesting coincidence that she had worked at St. Joseph Hospital! Yes--there is much to offer by way of nature (or has been, sadly, until the COVID-19 pandemic. Many beaches and parks have restricted access, or are closed altogether nowadays. There is no entry into Canada via the Peace Arch or by Washington State Ferry). I am lucky where I live, however, to be close to the WWU campus and Boulevard Park on Bellingham Bay.
I am very grateful, too, to my amazing gynecologist for her compassionately ending the misery I had endured for over four decades. At 56 I feel better now than I ever did at 36. My surgically assisted ascent into the silver-lined clouds of menopause hasn't been sweeter, and somewhat unsettlingly, with the present dire political environment appears to have come not a second too soon.


@29 BiDanFan: Thank you for responding to my lengthy commentary @6. I'm sorry I didn't catch it sooner. :)


Who's game for this week's Double Whammy honors (@169)? Tick...tick...tick...
Griz opts out as I have already scored the Big Hunsky (@100). The double prize must go to another commenter. :)


Fubar @163, yup. If such a commitment has not been explicitly made, he could ask her, "Are you still seeing other people?"


I'm wondering at some of the comments aimed at PRESSURE - as if he were the ONLY man on earth to have ever been swayed by a woman's neediness.

If he has been unable to break it off with her in person TWICE. then he has precedent for not trying another time. She no longer deserves to have that level of human interaction.

I can also imagine that she would not clamp down on her behaviour if he were to do it in public. Ms, Kling-on would easily dump a plate of food over his head or a cup of coffee in his lap.

As for PRESSURE, he's already experienced one pregnancy scare and she's told him unilaterally that she WILL carry to term; then he'll be stuck with a connection to her through their child forever.

If, after what has happened, he sticks his dick in her again, then HE's the crazy one! Let him email his break-up speech, but only after he's changed his locks.


Helenka @168: "I can also imagine that she would not clamp down on her behaviour if he were to do it in public".

I wouldn't count on it. Shudder.

I agree that having tried and failed to do the decent thing (break up in person), PRESSURE is now entitled to do whatever it takes... including ghosting her. She knows what's up.


My contribution regarding TAG is that he shouldn't even mention cheating - what an insult and deal-breaker if she wasn't and it was ALL paranoia on his part.. He needs to ask his free-spirited partner where she envisions the relationship going. If she baulks at that. then he'll know she won't be assuming the role of step-mom tp jos kids.


@169 fubar: WA-HOOOOOOOO!!!!! Major congrats on scoring the highly sought after Double Whammy (Lucky @69 + Big Hunsky @100 = @169 Double Whammy) honors! Bask in the glow and savor the riches. :)


Helenka @168 and @170, your comments sum up both situations perfectly!


Griz just celebrated another classic movie night, celebrating the birthdays of two celebrities, best-selling author, Stephen King and actor-comedian, Bill Murray on their shared birthday, September 21st. So I watched Carrie and Caddyshack. King and Murray share my older sister's birthday, so I felt it was appropriate to have another movie night.
No typos. Again. Wow. Red wine must do something about editing. Or maybe I'm just drinking the right red wine.


TAG, your gf isn’t absent, she’s not making herself available to you twenty/ four seven, and by the sound of it, less and less is she wanting connection to you. That’s what her behaviour says to me.
Have you looked at why your marriage failed? Spent some time reflecting on how you behaved in the marriage.
People give of themselves freely, and I’m in a non kink world here, keeping tabs on her is creepy. She’s not available to you like a tap to turn on and off.


@168 & @170 Helenka (also a Canuck): I agree and second BiDanFan @172. Bravo and kudos on your comments regarding PRESSURE and TAG. SO well said and summarized! :)


As we now have entered a new Savage Love comment thread for this week (Missed Connections), and because I can't get the catchy Beatles' song, When I'm 64 from the 1967 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts' Club Band out of my head, Griz wrote yet another song parody in response to the letter themes of PRESSURE and TAG, under the title of The Wedding in Your Head. For those interested, it is sung to John Lennon's and Paul McCartney's When I'm 64;

The Wedding in Your Head

When we first met-- back in school-- many years ago
Even if you'd asked for me to marry you, my answer would still have been no.
You were torn between your family and church; I pursued music instead.
Take a vacation from the fixation of the wedding in your head.
Did your right-wing Catholic parents expect you to really marry---in your teens?
Was it to start a race?
And, if you didn't breed
What was their disgrace?

After you'd earned your Nursing degree, then studied to be a priest
I enlisted in the U.S. Navy, to serve up to four years, at least.
Though I survived the trauma of war---I still feel some dread.
So take a vacation from the fixation of the wedding in your head.
Very often I had feelings that you harbored unrealistic views---of me.
Your were jealous of my car,
Claiming that I was your "wife"
And acting quite bizarre!

After I left an abusive spouse, earning my degree
Suddenly you got the crazy i-de-a --that you were my "destiny"!
Your persistent calls to my folks left me seeing red.
Take a vacation from the fixation of the wedding in your head.
Heaven help me, what is it about that nervous giggle only your mom could love.
Scaring scores of women a-way?
Is that why you chased me so---
For giving you the time of day?

What was up with your desperate scheme for filing a paternity suit?
Kidnapping, rape, and sexual assault---all to keep me from playing a flute?
Even if you were seeking my care, lying sick abed,
Take a vacation from the fixation of the wedding in your head.
Just because you got an ultimatum from your family on your fortieth birthday
(still with no wife or kids),
I'm not a dairy cow
At a livestock auction up for bids!

Your memorial service was held on a cold and rainy day.
I'd hate to think your plot for marriage really was---your denying being gay.
I prefer music much more than--any children bred.
I'm now on vacation from the fixation of the wedding in your head.


Apology TAG, I should have said above, why your marriage ended. You produced two beautiful children, yes? That is surely not a fail.


BDF, "He should give an example or two of her being evasive, state that this makes him uncomfortable, and ask if there is a reason she dodged his questions."
If he can do it without anger, while giving her the benefit of the doubt, nonjudgmentally. If he tells her he doesn't believe her that she accidentally turned off her notifications, or labels the behavior that makes him uncomfortable "evasive" and "suspicious" without any proof that she's hiding anything or was dishonest about anything, then he's dumping his paranoia and trust issues onto her.

"would it be insulting to ask someone if they are cheating if it turns out that person actually is cheating?"
Being accused of being dishonest or harmful is generally insulting, but more importantly I think it would be ineffective. If I suspect someone of hiding something, I don't expect them to tell me if I ask. I guess I look harder for behavioral discrepancies.. A long time ago my jealous ex sent me an anonymous email that my current boyfriend was cheating.. in undergrad.. I think the letter said they were in the library either flirting heavily or kissing.. which did cause these sorts of feelings in me, I wanted to explore if my bf was cheating.. I told my boyfriend about the anonymous email and carefully observed his responses, and I was more watchful for maybe a month. The ex confessed a couple months later. I was happy that we rendered the attack fairly ineffective..

Fubar, "TAG should not let the word "cheating" pass his lips unless he's previously obtained a monogamous commitment from his girlfriend"
Thank you. I wish that more people believed that attacking was unfair unless an agreement has been violated.

Venn - "That line of conduct would be correct if his promises had been spontaneous. They weren't. ... he doesn't owe her for having complied with her demands."
It seems like you are saying that his words don't count because she asked for them. She forced him to reassure her, because she asked him to reassure her, so his words are her fault and don't count? I disagree. From your line of reasoning, it would seem that if someone tells me they want me to rob a bank and I comply with their demands and rob a bank, then I'm not responsible for robbing the bank, they forced the circumstances. But that's not how the law really works, asking is not coercion, it can just be annoying if we do it repetitively or with entitlement.

In the gender neutral sense it's called 'complaining' or 'paranoia' or 'trust issues', in misogynist language it's labeled 'nagging' or 'bitching', or, if it's less aggressive, 'using feminine wiles'. 'Controlling' if it's done by a man, or 'manipulative' if it's done by a woman. When two people want different things and can't have a calm civil HONEST discussion about it but they don't want to disagree, I wish there was a better label for this... crazy isn't gender neutral or devoid of blame either..


BDF, "I think you just had a bad experience of someone coming at this in a hurtful way and that's colouring your take on this situation."
I agree.

Harriet, Yes, no one really knows what going steady or facebook official or even being in love really means, only that this other person is very special and romantic and we are willing to put time and effort into their health and happiness and want to keep seeing them.. maybe a lot of time and effort and we want to keep seeing them forever.. but maybe it's not that big of a feeling. Relationship status doesn't say anything about their specific agreements. That's a good reason to believe they haven't talked about what they really want or where they want their relationship to go. Thanks for explaining.


That’s great Grizelda.. sad too.


@180 LavaGirl: Many thanks. My song parody of "When I'm 64" by John Lennon and Paul McCartney really is as sad as it was bizarre in real life, based upon my own shared long past experience.