Savage Love




Re: Tits: there i was thinking 'Here's where I can dunk on Andrew Cuomo...'


Hey baby.. you wanna get together for drinks.. dinner? Don't worry, I'll let you "view the premises" first !


The lady with the boyfriend hanging out with the ex could reach out to the ex if she really likes him. You'll at least get a more complete vision of what's going on that way - if the ex is happy to see you then it's his thing, if she's tweaked out then she wants him back and he's either too stupid to see it or keeping his options open. The relationship is going to be over anyways but if you're someone who is going to be bothered by not knowing, that's an option.


Not that interesting related personal story:

When I first started dating my now partner, she didn't like one of my exes. Had known her in a seperate context earlier in life and didn't trust her at all. Told me she felt uncomfortable with the two of us hanging out and wanted us to only hang out all together. I wasn't super committed to the ex so I manned up and called her and explained the situation and said we probably wouldn't be hanging any more. The ex took it well. I felt a little weird like my now-wife didn't trust me but it didn't seem worth breaking up a promising new relationship over. My now-wife was cool with another one of my exes so I didn't see it as a harbinger of control issues or anything.

Probably not super relevant but reading that letter reminded me of that. It's a fine line when it comes to being friends with exes and integrating new relationships. I think it's the old "I can't define pornography but I know it when I see it" maxim.


I agree with larrystone007 @3 -- if EGLOE (LW3) wants to meet the ex-gf, she can reach out directly. She doesn't need her bf's permission to get in touch, and they don't need the guy to be there when they meet.

This is a five year relationship that's amazing except that EGLOE is weirded out by his friendship with his ex and nervous that he wants to be in his ex's son's life. But if EGLOE meets and likes the ex, then maybe this will all work out well.

It's hard to know how to interpret this:
"I’m having trouble believing him when he says he wants me to meet her. When I bring this up, he gets angry and says I’m being too emotional."

A lot depends on whether he's just irritated that she expects him to arrange the meeting or actually angry that she has feelings. The former seems fine to me; the latter a good reason to end the relationship.


Re LW4 -- NOTPOLY mentions "getting approached a lot by people who want a romantic/sexual connection" and wondering why no one seems to want to just be friends. Maybe NOTPOLY should do more of the approaching.

Invite people to do friend-like activities, and say specifically "I've been trying to make new friends recently and you seem really cool. Want to go for a hike / play video games / watch this Zoom talk / phonebank with me?


@1 saxfanatic: WA-HOOOOOOOO!!!!! Congratulations on scoring this week's highly sought after FIRDT Award Honors! Savor the glory of leading the Savage Love: Quickies column comment thread, and bask in the envied glow. :)


"View the premises"?? That letter was odd. Usually photographs accompany those sorts of stories and accusations, no?


If I’m dating a John Smith, google “John Smith” and assume that every single hit is that particular guy I’m dating... I’m not very bright and might not be worth dating.

If I’m John Smith and a felon and I think that having a common name means that no matter what the accusation is I can just say “it was another John Smith” and thereby get away with anything... then not only am I not very bright, I’m a felon. Definitely not worth dating.



“I’m in a monogamish relationship that isn’t poly.”

“It seems like the only people who want me around lately want in my pants.”

“My biggest issue is that I don’t understand why people want to date/fuck me but don’t want to be my friend.“

When someone says “monogamish but not poly,” I think threeways, swinging, hookup sex. Not warm friendships with a sexual component.

If NOTPOLY’s friend circle (possibly actually NOTPOLY’s partner’s friend circle?) thinks that NOTPOLY is into hookup sex, it’s not surprising that they approach NOTPOLY for hookup sex.

I’m not sure I understand what’s going on.

Is NOTPOLY being approached for hookup sex? Then the issue is not that they are assumed to be poly, but that they are known to be monogamish.

Is NOTPOLY being offered warm friendship with a sexual component? Then the solution would seem to be to accept the warm friendship unconditionally and accept the sexusl offer conditional on it being threeways with NOTPOLY’s partner.

If there’s ambiguity, perhaps it’s because NOTPOLY’s partner is known by their friends to be very nonmonogamous and NOTPOLY is the last to know.


@9 Alison Cummins: For the John Smith thread WIN! Well said. :)


"Do people notice this sort of thing on men?"
...yes? I don't understand the implication that people would notice it on women and not on men. If anything, I'd think it'd be less noticeable on women because more of them are wearing bras that might provide coverage.


LW1: Even with an ex who is well meaning, who legitimately wants you to be in his life as a friend, sometimes it's just too hard on you in the short term.

As Dan recommended, take a break.

However, Dan wasn't clear about how to take that break.

Assuming that the ex isn't a jerk (or worse), then I recommend that you be up front: just tell him that you need a break: no contact for x time (a minimum of six months? one year? some other time period?). Set a time and means for reestablishing contact after that period of time, but also make it clear that it may or may not happen.

If he's at all understanding, he'll grant it to you.

Of course, if he is a jerk, or even if he's not a jerk but also not supportive or understanding of your needs (which isn't necessarily the same, although there's a lot of overlap), then just cut it off for good, as Dan recommended.

LW2: move on. I started to try to construct a way for you to reach out to her. Then I realized that it's basically pointless, as Dan suggested. Unless there is some important reason why she needs to know the facts (you're about to be sued or arrested on false charges? it affects your job? your social circle? etc.), just move on.

LW3: I suppose you could reach out directly to the ex. Perhaps you're calling his bluff, or perhaps you're taking the step that he wants you to take. But you're probably better off just moving on.

LW4: A detail question: are all these people hitting on you coming from within the social circle, or outside of it? Also, in this time of COVID, how is it that this dynamic is playing out in this way? Heck, I went out for a socially-distanced supper for the first time since March with someone who isn't in my immediate circle. And that was just Indian food and socializing with an old friend, nothing else!

LW5: Be proud of them in public! Or, wear an undershirt and heavy shirts, wear band-aids if needed (Mozart in the Jungle [the book] reference), and be proud of them in private! Your choice. (My choice would be the latter, but that's just me.)


LW #3, I was the ex in a situation sort of similar to the one you're in now. I had been (very briefly) romantically entangled with a guy, who was now in a new relationship, and his new partner was very insecure about his desire to keep me in his life. "The three of us should talk!" I kept saying, but it kept not happening because they were weird about it, and he was very nervous. This went on for years, and ended badly. I wish I had put my foot down, early, and said "if we don't address these feelings they're going to get worse." I think you should do that. Go into it with an open mind. Afterward, take some real time to think about what you've learned. If the meeting brings up even MORE tangled feelings, then it might be time for couples counseling, or moving on. But if it's been five otherwise great years with your guy, it's worth putting a little work in to understand this situation better.


TITS, I think most of us would be truly shocked to understand how little other people, especially strangers, notice and think about the physical features that make us feel self-conscious.

I’m willing to bet very few people are paying attention to your nipples, and that those who are are unlikely to ridicule you behind your back.

Practice telling yourself that no part of your body is shameful! You deserve to treat yourself with the same kindness and respect you receive from others.


SHATTERED, if he gets to walk away from you because "he needs to be selfish right now," then you get to be selfish right now too. Stop letting him have his cake and eat it; listen to your friends, lean on them, and cut off contact with him. Perhaps not for a year, but give it three months and see how you feel. Good luck.

NTG: "We met at my house and she viewed the premises without incident." OK, you may not be a principal puncher but you sound a bit weird. Are you a date or a realtor? Why did you meet at your house? Sounds like you had one date with this woman, so it's no loss. Either shrug it off and move on, or shrug it off, change your name and move on.

EGLOE, everything could have been down to scheduling difficulty except for this: "When I bring this up, he gets angry and says I’m being too emotional." Presuming you are indeed just asking, "so when can we all have dinner?", he's gaslighting you. Do you know who the child's father is? I would agree with Dan, cut your losses, this guy sounds like a tool.

NOTPOLY, everyone has at some point ended up on a date they weren't aware they were going on because someone didn't want to risk the rejection of "will you go on a date with me" and asked instead if we want to "hang out" (which, btw, is two words, you're welcome). You're in your early 30s, not 20. Ask them, "Do you mean a date?" As to your question, why do people want to date/have sex with you but not be friends with you, your friends group is a bunch of polyam folks, correct? There is less of a line between friendship and dating in a crowd like that. Also, while for polyam folks "love is not finite," time is finite; they are probably prioritising actual/potential dates over platonic friends in their limited social calendars. Also, polyam folks may place less emphasis on looks. Lastly, I would say that you are in the majority in having trouble making platonic friends post-university. Perhaps join a more organised group that focuses on a shared hobby, rather than the shared experience of being queer, since that would intuitively seem more geared towards sexual/romantic connections. Lastly, I know this wasn't your question, but you describe yourself as monogamish -- so why would "dates" with some of these people be out of the question, so long as the "date" is understood to lead to a hookup at most, rather than a relationship? If you're openly monogamish, you can't blame your friends for thinking you may be fair game for hookups. If this is not the case, if you have some sort of rule like no hooking up with friends, you may want to clarify this to the group.


Larry @4, there's a difference between wanting a partner to cut off ties with exes simply because they're exes and a partner having issues with one particular person. And your now-wife didn't say you couldn't spend time with Ex, just that she wanted to be there. So she handled it very well, I'd say, and I'm glad your ex took the request well too.

Erica @5, why would it be unreasonable to expect BF to arrange the meeting? He's the only one who knows them both; he should be taking the lead in introducing these two strangers instead of relying (yet again) on a woman to do the emotional labour and admin. They both want to meet; what's his problem? Either explanation is a red flag to me. She might try putting her foot down and saying, if you don't initiate a message thread between the three of us to arrange a meetup within the next 48 hours, I will do it myself, but she's already thinking about the "bail" option which suggests to me that it's the right one.

Erica @6, good suggestion, except that it sounds likely that the potential friends she approaches may see these as invitations to dates too, so she still needs to be specific about the nature of these hangouts. (One word when a noun.)

Alison @9 and @10, excellent observations both. Glad you're back!

Ankyl @12, exactly. If I were to notice a man's protruding nipples, which could well be likely if he were tall and his chest at eye level, the most I would think is "he must be cold" and then immediately forget about it. If he were attractive and had protruding nipples, I might enjoy the view -- and then, most likely, also immediately forget about it. TITS, nobody cares, go about your day.

Bouncing @14, if the five years have otherwise been great, I don't think "bail" would be on her mind. She "feels that uncomfortable" -- she should go with her gut.


@16, whoops, that was two lastlys.


In regards to TITS, I find nipples peeking through the cloth of a man's shirt are, shall we say, sexy and a turn-on. Nothing to be alarmed or embarrassed about. I would much rather to meet man with nipples that are large and get erect than the little ones that barely poke above the skin. Much better to suck on, or play with, or anything else that will give you pleasure! So giver yourself a break, learn to appreciate that which you were blessed with, then the out and enjoy then!


Nipples, why are we all so scared of them and want them hidden. And if we don’t hide them, the world falls apart, sex under every desk.
Lucky you don’t have to wear a bra out, KinkyMan. Nipples are very beautiful, so let people enjoy yours.


Hashtag free the nipples!


EGLOE: If you really want to be sure, get ahold of the ex. If she knows about you, then your BF is probably a decent guy who she's willing to be friends with and have around her kid. Not a bad reference all things considered. Maybe he doesn't want you to meet his ex, but then having one's current girlfriend meet your ex isn't exactly something most guys look forward to. Of course if her answer is something like "Huh? I didn't know he was seeing anyone" then it's time to bail.

TITS, the only people thinking about your nipples are those who are turned on by them.


TITS - If it bothers you, then there are pasties/stick-ons you can put over them to cover up.


NOTPOLY seems a bit passive. She either is not communicating her relationship status effectively or failing to pickup on signs. It may be pretty common to find yourself an unwitting accomplice in a date -- once. But multiple times? That seems like its on NOTPOLY.

Also, I know Dan was being funny, but I'm a bit bothered by his implication that maybe the source of NOTPOLY's problem is that she is hotter than she thinks. All things being equal, are poly people less likely to observe good manners and cross boundaries just because someone is hot? BiDanFan @16 indicates no, and I would agree,


L1 reminds me of the ending to Lady Susan when she marries her distant third choice, the foolish Sir James Martin. The narrator wonders whether Sir James has drawn a harder lot than he deserves, but concludes that, for her own part, she can pity only Miss Mainwaring (from whom Lady Susan had detached Sir James while simultaneously carrying on an affair with Miss M's married brother), "who coming to town and putting herself to an expense in clothes, which impoverished her for two years, in order to secure him, was defrauded of her due by a woman ten years older than herself." I'm not at all sure why the reader is expected to feel more strongly for LW1 after reading the postscript, which just makes me feel much more sorry for the dumped TYP1. Such an indignity.


LW1: I know a number of people who maintain good relationships with their exes. Almost none of them did it as a continuous transition, though. You need that space to heal. Take a year or two off, and then you can always send a, "Hey, how've you been?" note and let a potential friendship grow from there. If this guy throws a wobbly over it when you say you need to back away for your own emotional health, then he's a douche and you don't want a friendship anyway.

Re LW3, I see two options: your man and his ex are genuinely good platonic friends, he's a genuinely good guy who really does want to be a part of that kid's life for good, avuncular reasons. Or else something weird is up. I'm sorry to be the sort of person who thinks the second option more likely.

LW4: Alison @10 nailed this one.
Also, @Bi, re: "...and asked instead if we want to "hang out" (which, btw, is two words, you're welcome)."
Heheh. I do enjoy you.

LW5: Yes, people probably notice. People notice other people's bodies, it's a thing. They may even notice and think it slightly odd. But many people have something slightly odd about them, and although it may engender the occasional comment later on ("Did you see X's nipples? Huh!") it's unlikely to matter much. And people get used to all manner of things when they spend time together. I very much doubt any regular acquaintances of yours even notice anymore.

I don't mean to be too snarky here, but I can't resist a little "Welcome to the club, women have been having this problem for, um, all time." My breasts aren't large enough to require a bra for comfort, and in fact I find them pretty uncomfortable. Nonetheless, I wore them consistently for about twenty years in order to save others the potential discomfort or distraction of noticing my nipples. And then I decided my comfort was more important. Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke. I suspect it causes a slight uptick in how sexualized I am by men I meet, but my career is already established and so it doesn't matter to me. I ignore it when I want and take advantage of it when I want. You should do the same.


BiDanFan @16:

“Also, while for polyam folks "love is not finite," time is finite; they are probably prioritising actual/potential dates over platonic friends in their limited social calendars.”

Excellent point.

“I would say that you are in the majority in having trouble making platonic friends post-university. Perhaps join a more organised group that focuses on a shared hobby, rather than the shared experience of being queer, since that would intuitively seem more geared towards sexual/romantic connections.”

Another excellent point, paired with excellent advice.



Nobody cares nearly as much about your tits as you do. Really, they don’t. Unless they have a nipple fetish, in which case they might care—but still not as much as you do.

You know the old chestnut?

“When I was young, I worried about what other people thought of me.

“When I reached middle age, I stopped caring what other people thought of me.

“Now that I am old, I realize that they had never been thinking about me in the first place.”

Meditate on that. (One of the almost universal gifts of being a middle-aged woman is that we don’t give a fuck any more. It’s not bravado, we just don’t.)

As Dan says, you’re self-conscious because you know your prominent nipples are a result of your kink. Only other kinksters care about your kink and they aren’t judging you.

And like the women upthread have been saying — sexualized body? Welcome to the club and get over yourself. My body has been sexualized by other people since I was ten and I didn’t have an advice columnist to write to. If a ten-year-old can figure out how to cope, you can too.


BDF @17 -- "why would it be unreasonable to expect BF to arrange the meeting?"

Because he's been asked to, and hasn't done it. He doesn't seem to care if it happens (which is different from opposing it), so why nag him instead of just reaching out herself? It's not like nagging is less exhausting than just sending the invitation herself.



FetLife is where you need to be. It’s brimming with men very conscious of their sexualized bodies. You can exchange concerns, tips, pics and fantasies.


Ciods @26: Thank you! And returning the praise, good point that being friends with an ex does require a break, in nearly all cases. Definitely when there is a clear dumper and dumpee. As for the length of time, it's a general rule of thumb that it takes half the length of the relationship to get over the person, which would put SHATTERED at five months (she should include the time they spent hanging out post-breakup in the length-of-relationship calculation). But that is a rule of thumb; if she still feels too hurt to see him at five months, or a year, or five years then she shouldn't feel obligated to pursue a friendship.

Erica @29: Because she does not know this person. They have never met. It is unreasonable to expect her to contact a stranger. If anyone is going to initiate the contact, that responsibility falls to the mutual point of contact. Okay, fair point about her adjusting this reasonable expectation that he will arrange an introduction based on the fact that he's dodging it. But his dodging it neither makes the responsibility fall to her nor does it make it OK for him to get "irritated" and gaslight her when she brings it up. He's told her that the ex girlfriend wants to meet too; he needs to piss or get off the pot about it, ie, arrange a meet already or be honest with her about why he's avoiding it. I agree she should stop nagging, but she shouldn't stop nagging and invite Ex herself; she should stop nagging and accept that they'll never meet and/or DTMFA.


I also suspect, based on his dodginess and his reaction to being asked this perfectly reasonable question, that if she did reach out directly to Ex he'd have a shit fit. He wants to keep these two apart. Contacting her directly will not solve that problem. Though it might solve the problem of her being in a relationship with this guy.


@17 BDF Agreed, nice summary. At the time it seemed like a big deal but I'd been out of serious relationships for most of my young life and I think it was more being worried that I was being given what felt like an ultimatum pretty early on. The friendship itself wasn't that big a deal - I didn't see myself being friends with the ex for long as it was already starting to peter out as friendships with exes normally do when you don't share many friends. It wasn't a big loss. And now we send the occasional Happy Birthday text but don't hang out. Which is good, that ex was kind of into her drama. Don't miss that. Point wife.


Anyone who says "I need to be selfish now" should be avoided at all costs!


Correcting myself @31, he's not getting "irritated," he's getting "angry." Bigger, redder flag.

Wayne @33, forehead slap. Yes, that pretty much says it all. Dump the selfish ex already!


L2: While I agree with the spirit of A2, I'll go the other way and suggest that there was a poster of Sen Sanders on the wall and Ms Searcher was a diehard fan of Mrs C.


Okay--now in the States it's official.
Happy Birthday, Dan the Man! Wishing you and your family a particularly kickass day. :)


"I need to be selfish now" = "Now I'm going to exploit you extra-shittily because I will feel no twinge of conscience."

At best this guy likes being adored without having to commit anything for it. Downhill from there is if he actively likes wielding power. At least he hasn't moved in for sex yet.


TITS: I have a friend (wink) who goes commando for the thrill and also to meet new sexual partners. After several decades of this, I can tell you that straight men don't notice at all, and the odds of meeting new fuck buddies is much higher than you'd think. The only people who probably think anything of your enormous beautiful nipples are men who'd like to bite them.

POLY ANNA Honestly, you young people create more drama with all your self-defined terminology. If you know Patrick is poly and he asks you to "hang out" and you just want to be friends... then hang out with your pants on. Why is this so hard? Gay men have been doing this forever. Just because two people are sexually aligned doesn't mean they want to bang. It does get problematic when you're invited over for "dinner" only to discover that it was really an invitation for a three way that you're not feeling. Equally disappointing is when you're invited over for "dinner" and you wanted a three way that doesn't materialize. LOL


LW3 - Keep selecting partners like this and, while you may not become A better person, you'll at least be THE better person. (I mis-remembered the letter as saying "bigger" and was about to invoke John Isner, but luckily checked in time.)


You may Not be That Gut, LW, but you’re the guy who talks funny about a date.
‘Honestly officer, I didn’t touch her. She was here without incident! ‘
Re her confusion, haven’t you told her you’re not that guy? That’s all you can do. Something set her off, and she is gone.
I get it that these days especially, men need to be extra careful. Making sure no incidents happen which might blow back on them and there are some nasty women out there who lie, and men need to be mindful as women do, if for different reasons and some the same.


It’s always reassuring when Dan, The Birthday Man, makes typos.


SHATTERED “needs to be selfish” right now too.

I'm not sure what the mention of having ended a 10-year relationship is supposed to mean. Does it speak to the awesomeness of the most recent ex, or some kind of entitlement?

Ex-GLOE needs to bail, but Dan could've elaborated. It doesn't sound like he's being honest with her, but regardless, getting angry and calling her "too emotional" sounds like gaslighting. He could have a relationship with his ex's son by including his current girlfriend.

NOTPOLY says they're not poly, and then wonders why people want to date/fuck, but don’t want to be friends. That definitely sounds like not poly.

TITS: "I’m somewhat embarrassed by them." Dr. Bob Newhart: "Stop it! That will be five dollars."


I'm curious to know how you make your nipple more prominent with BDSM play. Can someone give me the step by step? 😅


*nipples. Sorry for typo!


BDF @34, I agree that if EGLOE's BF is actually getting angry at her for having feelings, that's reason enough to end the relationship. I'm just not sure if she's rounding irritation ("Stop pestering me about that!") up to anger.

But, re your claim @31 that "it is unreasonable to expect her to contact a stranger" -- it might be unreasonable of me to suggest it, if EGLOE hadn't mentioned she was thinking of doing so:

"Should I reach out to his ex-girlfriend directly since my boyfriend refuses to make it happen?"

I'm just giving my opinion in response to her question: Yes, in EGLOE's place, I would contact the ex-gf.


Happy Birthday to our gracious host and resident deviant, Dan Savage. Many happy returns!


E-GLOM-- "When I bring this up, he gets angry and says I'm being too emotional."

Beginner's lesson: Anger is an emotion. It tends to be a strong one. Whenever a man accuses you of being too emotional, you can translate that as he's being too emotional. Whenever a man dismisses what you're saying as too emotional, even if you say it in a somewhat emotional way, like say you're crying when you want to discuss it, if he dismisses you without listening, get out of there. Think of that as shortcut or a pro tip.

There's this idea that rational is good and emotional is bad. Don't buy it. I've noticed over the years that men have a thousand rational reasons for why women should do things they don't want to, and if a woman has a single emotional reason to want to make up her own mind about something that's hers to decide, the men get to accuse her of being too emotional and therefore wrong. Ergo, the men win. It's enough to make me revert to man-bashing mode when I don't normally like to spend too much time there.


A question for SHATTERED, though I think I know the answer. What did your relationship look like before he dumped you?

Let me guess. You saw each other often, spoke daily, shared numerous dinners, and went on hikes. During this time you spent together, because you were officially dating and not broken up, you felt entitled to have some of your needs met. He sometimes picked up a bill, you thought about and talked about a future together, and you expected him to listen to you, be supportive of you, take care of you some of the time. Now that you're broken up, his selfishness means that it's all about him and his needs, nothing about you and yours. Am I right? Sweet deal for him. The break up means he gets to pick and choose what he wants from the old relationship while rejecting everything he didn't want.

You need to be on your own for a while. I suggest getting a dog. Dogs make great hiking companions. You don't have to worry about social distancing with them, and they're a great balm for loneliness.


@13. musicbiker. My supposition would be that SHATTERED's ex is still hanging out with her not out of selfishness (i.e. he's getting his emotional needs met, she's not--I'm going with 'she' here) so much, perhaps, out of a sense of obligation. He possibly thought that SHATTERED would be in such a bad way that he needed to ease the transition to their being exes. Or, e.g., that she had few other sources of support.

It turns out that it's more painful to her (him/them) to see her ex than go cold turkey on him. She should just say--in those terms would be fine--and extricate herself, The dinners and hikes are not going to get him back. He's been unequivocal about not wanting to be with her. Nor, really is she jeopardising her chance of a long-term friendship by making clear that she needs time to get over the romance.

@16. Bi. I don't know where the 'at least a year' came from either. I thought Dan talked about the situation as if it were a more MM than a FM dynamic (that could be just me thinking; he could know something we don't; I could have 'off' assumptions about the possibility of het exes remaining friends post-breakup). Contra ciods, I know lots of het couples who remained close continuously through breakup and their finding new partners.


Ms Fichu - Eh, the weather seems to suit you and you do it with spirit.


LM @44: Oh, where to begin? Nipple torture, for starters. Clamps. Suspension. Hooks. If you can imagine it (even if you can't) someone is doing it, and loving it.


Harriett @50: Many couples who remain close through breakup and finding new partners do so because children or pets are involved. Sans children or pets, what's the point?


M?? Harriet - I don't know why you'd think an MM break would have to be longer than an FM. The circles in which gays move is so much smaller than those of the DS that we haven't room for such niceties.


Re EGLOE, I'd think that if her bf wanted to be with her, he would want her to be in his ex / close friend's child's life as well. Two adults in the godparents- or mother's friends-sort-of capacity are usually better than one. Either could e.g. babysit or pick up a child from school in extremis. Her, EGLOE's, bf wants a relationship with his ex that excludes her. Inauspicious.

@16. Bi. My surmise wasn't so much that the bf was, or could be, the father of her child, so much as she was already a mother when they were together. It was too big a commitment for him at the time to co-parent. Now he's reassessing; or he feels guilty about the past decision, and is looking for a halfway house. Of course, we don't have the details of the circumstances with his ex's child to know quite how the situation stacks up.

@51. venn. Is there any particular cue for your comments?


@53. Fubar. Because they like each other in a friendship way but are wrong for each other romantically? I could almost think, on the basis of your comments, that hets don't value friendship. However, in fact the couples I was thinking of mostly had kids.

@54. venn. It was that I thought Dan discussed the break as if 1) it was wounding, really crushing, or had the potential to impair the lw's ability to function or self-image long-term, and 2) she could readily find other partners for the walks, dinners and bedroom. Both conjectures, but 2) more than 1), seemed more characteristic to me of the gay world than straight dating.


He sought for a divorce. Odidi. Three het kids. Beautiful.

Boon between the sheets, bane on the streets, boner between the teats. Otherwise "downer"! Cuomo. 25,000. No biggie.

Strung out for a date, hungout for eyeballs. Microsoft. Social dilemma, personal dilemma. Het salad. In the questions, the comments.


L4: I shall recuse myself, as otherwise I'd agree with Ms Fan and advise LW4 to take up bridge, in anticipation of eventually being over 80.


M?? Harriet - Then everything seems to have turned out for the best.


L5: The only man I ever knew so bountifully endowed was our town's tennis director, who had absolutely no self-consciousness about it. Nobody I knew ever seemed to think of it twice.

The one thing the letter made me wonder was what patterns LW5 considered outrageous. It would be a bit 7%ish to ask what designers he wears, but many people seriously into kink do seem to be 7%ers. Perhaps it's just that expensive an interest.


Ok Harriet @58. I see the poet in you is bursting thru. Great.
I had this image of a poster with pictures of multiple peoples’ nipples on it. Now I want to see KinkMan’s nipples. They as big as mine after nursing six babies? Still pink? I love nipples.
Then I remembered a poster a bf had in the early seventies. This man was carrying a watering can, and watering the hills which weren’t hills at all!
They were luscious breasts with beautiful nipples.


It’s coming into winter over in the Nth Hem, so wear a waistcoat. Bit of Nipple Bragging going on too, as well as fear he’s being laughed at. People who laugh at other people behind their backs aren’t real friends, and who cares what randoms think.


SHATTERED - "I’m trying to be mature about the breakup and match his level of “coolness” but it’s destroying me."
Being able to act calm and reserved enough not to emotionally explode around other people is good, socially skilled and mature. Hiding how you feel from your close friends is not good or mature or skillful. So it's mature to be able to act cool around him, but immature to pretend that you like being "just friends". You could say that you would prefer to keep going out, but you are trying to respect his choice and get onto the same page.. so you'd like to spend some time apart until you stop missing him as a lover, and can think of him as just another friend, too.

"But the thought of losing him is almost has bad as the thought of keeping him in my life."
It doesn't sound like you respect the fact that he rejected you and you've already lost him. It's usually not personal. It doesn't sound like you did anything very confusing or hurtful to him. It's confusing that he wanted to stop going out but still wanted to speak every day. The reasons that he gave to break up are also confusing, like he wants to be able to deprioritize you but he doesn't want you to deprioritize him, selfishly. If he broke up with you maturely, he's just not into you, so he'd also try to create relationship distance.

If he still wants to be with you and this is a power play, you are showing him that you're willing to wait around and put your dating life on hold for him, and I don't think you should communicate that unless you accept it and don't feel bad about yourself or him, like maybe you have compassion for whatever issues caused his insecure or controlling behavior. If you aren't comfortable putting your dating life on hold for him, refusing to speak with him after you break up is the most effective way to prevent this type of power play from repeating itself, by showing your absolute intolerance to being deprioritized by your lovers. It's mature to be honest about yourself to the important people in your life, it can take a lot of courage when you're afraid of rejection or uncomfortable with your independence. But I think it's much more important than acting calm or agreeable. If someone rejects you when you're honest with them, maybe they are not actually worth your time.

It sounds like you have some regrets from your last relationship too, with that PS. Maybe you need some solo time to work through your own relationship history and figure out what you really want, too.

NTG - Arguing isn't going to fix your relationship problems, only make them worse. If this is a repetitive problem for you, you could run a background check on yourself to show to any new dates who google your name. Otherwise, just accept that she wasn't that into you and people rarely tell you their negative feelings directly.

EGLOE - Call her, ask to hang out, and make sure their stories match. Then ask bf to get counseling for his anger issues. "You're too emotional" doesn't help in any way, it's just a mean, intolerant thing to say. I don't like it when people tell me how I feel, I like it when they listen to how I feel and respond to my words rather than their assumptions, as if they respected my humanity. (Your relationship isn't 'perfect except for the ex')

NOTPOLY - If you're not open to finding new lovers, don't tell them you're monogamish, just tell them that you're dating someone. If they hit on you anyway because they assume that you are open to new lovers, that sounds disrespectful to your partner.. but if that's normal in your circle, maybe just tell them what you are looking for instead, an activity partner, or whatever reason you feel you need more or closer platonic friends. Or the two of you could try to find another couple that is looking for friendship.

TITS - I think it's the material more than the pattern that hides hard nipples. (They don't show through baggy sweatshirts). You can find soft thicker t-shirts that might look better to you.


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


NOTPOLY, forgot to note your age. If you’re young, then it’s par for the course, as I remember my youth. People hitting on each other all the time, just say no. And if this whole date thing has got confusing, you too are involved, so be clearer in what you’re offering.
I told a man once that I knew he wanted to fuck me but I didn’t want to fuck him. We were heading to an island house, alone, as I was was pursuing another man, friend of him. So much energy for love.. He and the boys giggled about this one. Sometimes heading them off at the pass saves a lot of time. And words.


Fubar @43: "I'm not sure what the mention of having ended a 10-year relationship is supposed to mean." I took it as meaning she feels he owes her more, that she feels cheated because she ended a long-term relationship and got dumped after less than a year.

Erica @46, fair enough. My opinion is that the shouldn't contact the ex-girlfriend, but I suppose she hasn't got much to lose. Even so, even if he is merely "irritated" by being reminded to do something he said he would do -- and which he knows is important to his partner of five years -- that does not speak well to his character.

Fichu @48, you're correct that accusations of getting "emotional" are often used by men to shut women down. Hypocritically because the man is angry and that too is an emotion. This is why I hope EGLOE dumps the motherfucker instead of trying to resolve the issue that she hasn't met the girlfriend.

Anyone else going to opine about whether Mr EGLOE might be the father, and that's why he is keeping these two apart?

Harriet @50: "My supposition would be that SHATTERED's ex is still hanging out with her not out of selfishness"
He literally says he "needs to be selfish right now." That is exactly what he's doing. Anyone who's ever been broken up with knows that one needs space to heal, and he is not giving this to her. Granted, she is faking being okay with the breakup. She needs to advocate for her need for time apart and he needs to respect that. If he doesn't, block him. And agree with Fichu, get a dog (or cat).

Fubar @53, if both people realise that they have grown to see each other as good friends, a relationship can transition seamlessly to a friendship. This happens (it happened to my partner and their ex-wife) but is rare; most breakups seem to have a dumper and a dumpee, and in that case, the dumpee will almost inevitably have hurt feelings (including anger) they need to work through without their dumper stoking them constantly.

Venn @54, that confused me as well. Harriet, nothing about Dan's advice jumped out at me as not het-relevant.

Harriet @56, so do you think that he is the father or he isn't? Your use of the word "co-parent" indicates that you think he fathered this child with her before they split up. If that's the case, it seems odd that EGLOE wouldn't have phrased her letter as "he wants to be in HIS son’s life." There seems no reason to lie about having fathered a child in a previous relationship; if Mr EGLOE is pretending this more-than-five-year-old child isn't his, that's very strange indeed, and evidence of DTMFA-worthy levels of dishonesty. (My suspicion is that the child is less than five.)
If by "co-parent" you mean "step-parent," the kid would have to be more than, let's say, eight? I suppose it's possible that he was unable to relate to a child that young and feels more equipped to do so now. Still though, it seems an odd timeline to get involved with a single mother, have little time for her child, break up, get involved with someone else, and four-ish years into -that- relationship decide he wants to be more of a father figure to a kid he's not related to. This would seem to indicate he wants to distance himself from his current family, ie his current childless relationship, and connect himself to a different one. No scenario I can see looks particularly good for EGLOE. She should leave them to each other.

Harriet @57, I took the other people Dan was advising SHATTERED to socialise with to mean friends, ie these friends who are telling her to stop seeing her ex. Whether it's more or less common for gays than straights to have friends -- a strange thing to assert -- is irrelevant; SHATTERED herself makes mention of her friends, so we know they exist. And why indeed would it be more difficult for SHATTERED to find dates, if that's what Dan meant, than a gay man? And why would a breakup be damaging to a gay man but not a straight (or bi) woman? Your gender comparisons are feeling unnecessary and regressive, if not flat out offensive.

Phi @64: Great advice for SHATTERED, particularly the advice to work through her feelings about her last two relationships. Re EGLOE, "Your relationship isn't 'perfect except for the ex'" - exactly!


Another theory re EGLOE that would make Harriet's timeline make sense: Four years into this current relationship, Mr EGLOE has reached a point in his life when he is ready to settle down and have kids, but EGLOE does not want children. Instead of breaking up with her, Mr EGLOE decides to fill that need by spending time with his ex's son. He's blowing off EGLOE's request to meet the ex as a passive-aggressive way of punishing her for not wanting to be a mother. Not very mature, but understandable. If this is the case, Mr EGLOE needs to recognise that he's sabotaging his relationship, deal with his resentment of EGLOE and either make peace with it or break up with her. It's still unreasonable for him to dodge her request and to get angry and gaslight her; he owes her an apology for that.


I had to get out a pen and paper and draw several venn diagrams to figure out what the fuck notpoly was talking about. Who wants a life that’s so fucking complicated?


@62. Lava. I guess I got a bit irritated and thought that some of the problems were 'het salad' (or people salad) in being unnecessary imbroglios that should be easy to cut through. Can there be anyone, for instance, who thinks NOTPOLY has a problem that's hard to solve? Or TITS--doesn't he have a purely imaginary problem? Maybe any problem that anyone might have is 'in their head', is imaginary or readily soluble.

@67. Bi. He thinks he's being 'selfish' in breaking up with her to work on himself, not selfish in continuing to spend so much time with her when they want different things.

We don't know why he still spends so much time with her. Some commenters, like Fichu and Mt Beaver, have hypothesised that it's convenient for him: he gets what he wants from the relationship e.g. attention and moral support, while not giving her what she wants, e.g. commitment. But we don't know this. It was at least possible to me that she was too difficult to date--e.g. she kept reminding him she had called time on a 10-yr relationship to be with him, and demanded a level of reassurance he couldn't give. But he sees her as emotionally vulnerable and continues to offer support. This is surmise--but not more surmise to me than e.g. supposing that next he'll ask for casual.

If, however, she's told him that it's painful for her to have such close contact with him, and he hasn't backed off or asked her what she thinks would be best, then he's flat-out selfish: selfishly exploiting her feelings.

@67. Bi. I had in the back of my mind that it was easier for gay men to have rebound, get-over-it sex than for straight women. (Both 'easier' psychologically and in terms of the availability of sufficiently attractive people). However, this is a lightly-held assumption, since the getting over/getting under is also possible for straight women.


@69. Mike. Being monogamish but not poly isn't that hard to understand. And there aren't many named individuals in the story; there are just a lot of friends who, professing friendship as a pretext for getting together, want to get into NOTPOLY's pants. She just needs to say, e.g., 'for like a date? Or to hang out?'

@68. Bi. By 'co-parent' I meant 'step-parent'. When a step-parent changes a baby's diaper, the experience is the same: the smell is not sweeter or more muted to spare the step-parent's sensibilities. I don't think the child is his.

I guess there are two possible time-lines: his ex already had the child, and he likely found it too much of a biggie to commit; or she went off and had a baby after they split, and he has now come back more into his ex's life, following her break-up with the father of her child. There are circumstances in the latter case that may suggest
he always wanted to be with her--more than he wants to be with the lw.

This is a case where we agree--you and me and Dan. Her bf does not at bottom want to be with her, does not put her first, if he can't broker her meeting, getting to know, his ex. She has other doubts about the relationship. She should probably split. However, Dan gave her a one-word answer; and I think her case maybe calls for a longer, more reasoned answer than (say) SHATTERED's.


Mike @69, that's a lot of words for "I wish I had that problem."

Harriet @70, it's just as easy for anyone to have sex with a man as it is for anyone else to have sex with a man. If what she wants is not hikes but the horizontal mambo, she'll be fine.


@72. Bi. I think I was interpolating Dan's standard 'get over your ex by getting under someone else' advice into his actual words, which were more limited. Yes, SHATTERED, go on a hike with a friend--that's failsafe advice.

I agree with every word of your @72. Incidentally, if you considered taking offence at my gender and sexuality comparisons, I reacted badly to the suggestions, variously, that: a man and woman could have no reason to maintain a friendship if they weren't sexual/romantic partners or parents; that it is selfish, as a default, to try to continue to offer friendship to your ex, and that the only reason a woman might go on a hike with a guy was in the expectation that he would offer her commitment.


Harriet @73, I read none of these suggestions. Fubar @53 said that he, PERSONALLY, didn't see a reason to stay friends with an ex (not any old man and woman; not even necessarily a man and woman, correct?) unless children or pets were involved. He did not say men and women have no reason to be friends. I @67 did not say it is selfish "as a default" to want to stay friends with an ex; I said this particular ex is being selfish and that my evidence for this conclusion is that he himself said he is being selfish. I can't find a claim that the only reason a woman might go on a hike with a guy was in the expectation that he would offer her commitment; please point it out, I suspect you may have misread this one as well.


BiDan-67-- A cat!!? Gosh no. Nothing spells lonely bitter crazy cat lady better than a cat. (Exception: 2 cats.) I'm not saying that all women with cats are lonely, crazy, and bitter, only that that's the image that gets projected to the world. If you want to project the image of a confident, intelligent, fun, affectionate person, keep away from cats. (Exception: If the man question himself has a cat.)

Dogs, however. Dogs pay attention to you. Dogs get you outside. (Ever walk a cat? That's just weird.) Dogs strike up conversations. Dogs, even when they're not around, provide something to talk about. Dogs say fun and funny, happy go lucky outlook on life. Note: this only applies to medium size to large dogs. Anything under 15 pounds and you might as well get a cat.


@69 Mikesquared: WA-HOOOOOOOOO!!!! Congratulations on scoring this week's Savage Love Lucky @69 Award! Savor the much envied decadence and bask in its glory. :)

@75: Fichu: Cats know how to communicate. You just have to know how to communicate with them. But I agree---it is indeed, a rare feline that will tolerate being on a leash or harness.


Excuse me Fichu, @75, speaking on behalf of cats everywhere, those stereotypes are offensive.
People who like cats are different to people who like animals who are in your face..
Guinea pigs, go for one of those, not a lot is known about guinea pig owners, except that they are usually eight years old. Still. Non offensive stereotypes re their owners, are attached to them.


Harriet @57: I can't speak for all hets, but I certainly value friendship... with my friends. I've had precisely one romantic relationship morph into a friendship, and neither of us had feelings for the other. Even then, we weren't in touch for a while. These days, we get in touch about once a year, if that, and "like" one another's travel pictures on FB, so not much of a friendship.

BiDan @74: Indeed. Women friends are the best. Every man should have several.

Fichu @75: Let me tell you about my new puppy!


@75 Fichu: Dogs, however, are also prone to roll in nasty, smelly things and stick their noses up human crotches uninvited. Cats know better. They're smarter than we are.
And I am NOT a "lonely, bitter, crazy cat lady", thank you very little. Are you by chance a dateless incel, unhappily confined to your mom's basement?
Stereotypes aren't fun, are they?

@77 LavaGirl: Thank you. Agreed and seconded re cats.


@78 fubar: Bless you for your shout out to having numerous women friends, and congratulations on your new puppy! I still owe you a beer. :)

Cats and dogs...cats and dogs....

Awwwwwwww, Jesus. Now I'm reminded again about the old college friend-turned-stalker who, for biological clock reasons, was SO desperate to get married and start a family by age 40 that he kept openly fantasizing about a wedding that would never happen. To add insult to injury, he tastelessly likened himself to my abusive ex, claiming,
'I can just see our wedding. We'd fight like cats and dogs!', giggling hysterically as if he'd said the funniest one-liner and should host on SNL. Yuck.

I miss my last beloved cat, who lived to 17 years and 8 months (in human years). But what to do when one lives in a studio apartment of 16 years + with suddenly no spare room to sufficiently house a feline (I have a piano in the middle of my room, at the foot of my bed)? My successful answer: cat-sit! I feel like I have the best of both worlds.

The Big Hunsky (@100) is drawing nigh......tick....tick...tick....


@78 fubar: I apologize about the cats and dogs comment @80. Memories from that sad, weird old aforementioned episode in my past suddenly resurfaced. I'm grateful to have since moved on. :)


Fichu @75, I hope that was a joke! Having a cat does not scream crazy, bitter, any of those things. Having six cats, perhaps. Not everyone has the space or the spoons for a dog, or can tolerate their smell, their constant need for attention, the frequent walks, the chewed shoes, the cleaning of poop and vomit... she may as well have a baby. (Joking as I hope you were!) Cats are wonderful companions, the perfect balance of affectionate and independent. Cats don't need to be walked, so you can go out on your own, even stay out overnight if that comes up, a cat will be fine. Cats can sleep in the bed and still leave room for you and a guest.You might come second in a dog owner's life, if you're lucky. Cats give something to talk about and say independent and sorted, capable of nurturing without smothering. If a man doesn't like cats, he's not worth dating. Dogs are fine for some, but they are a much bigger commitment than a cat and shouldn't be adopted on a whim just because someone is feeling lonely.

Fubar @78: Let me tell you about my new kitten! She's so adorable I wouldn't actually care if I ever had a date again. (Perhaps that's why [some] men dislike cats, they know cats are the superior creature.) And she's so energetic at the moment I may as well have a puppy. A litter-trained puppy. ;)

Griz @80, I'm so sorry about the loss of your cat. I lost my grumpy old lady in this lockdown as well. Like you, I wouldn't have space for a dog if I wanted one. Giving other dogs pets in the park is enough for me. Perhaps you could foster another older cat, one that doesn't have as much energy as my new furbaby? Cats make a house a home. Or indeed a smaller pet like a guinea pig or perhaps an iguana.


Possibly the lesson is that dog people and cat people are all very well and good on their own, but ought to mix only with great care.
M?? Harriet - Psychologically easier? That's really a type-by-type thing rather than something true across the board, true for certain well-known types (I'd agree with regard to some), but for others I'd say it's psychologically harder. Do you realize how damaging it would be if it were generally accurate? It's often disturbing seeing your ongoing raising and trying to universalize or at least generalize so many of the old stereotypes we began to overcome thirty to thirty-five years ago. Why take us back to the Reagan years? I wonder if it's all part of some accelerationist tactic to sabotage our quality of life to such an extent that joining your revolution would be our best option.


@74. Bi. Well, for 'the only reason she went on hikes was that she hoped he would offer her commitment', how about:

[comment 49]: You saw each other often [...], went on hikes. During this time you spent together [...] you felt entitled to have some of your needs met. He sometimes ... talked about a future together, and you expected him to ... be supportive. [...] [G]et[] a dog.

Fichu, maybe some women just like hikes?

He: I feel the call of the outdoors! C'mon, where's your all-weather jacket? Let's go for a hike!
She: I don't really feel like it.
He: C'mon! I'll talk about a future together.
She: [...]
He: [...]
She: There's an hour between re-runs of Will and Grace. Can't we talk about a future then, right here?
He: It has to be the hike.
She: I'll get my boots.

Lots of people have presumed the reason they're still friends is that he's leaning on her exploitatively for emotional or practical support. But in his mind he could be offering support, more than the other way round. We don't know. (If, e.g., she's cooking him dinners regularly, then he's a user).

The impression I've formed from people's presumptions is that, once you're a little bit misandrist (e.g. thinking he'll want casual next)--and this from people who are not generally misandrist, misogynous or extremist in any way--then the next step, almost inevitably, is being a little bit misogynistic (e.g. thinking that the only thing a woman could want from a new relationship post- the breakup of a 10yo connection is long-term commitment).


Venn @83: "It's often disturbing seeing your ongoing raising and trying to universalize or at least generalize so many of the old stereotypes we began to overcome thirty to thirty-five years ago." Yes, thank you! I'm wondering why Harriet, who themself is an advocate of blurring the lines between male and female, between gay and straight, who themself does not fall neatly into categories, is taking up the mantle of Sportlandia and inserting stereotypes into these discussions, often apropos of nothing (as in, men have better taste than women in music? Where did that come from?). Glad I'm not the only one who's bothered by this.

Harriet @84, what a massive leap indeed from Fichu's repeating SHATTERED's description of their current interactions to "women expect hikes to turn into a commitment." What a massive leap from Dan's suggesting that she replace this man with other people -- other people, plural -- not "a new partner" -- while doing these activities in order to get him off her mind. What a massive leap to presume Fichu's suggestion that she could even do these things on her own, for instance taking a hike with a dog, to an impression that Fichu agrees (!) that hikes mean commitment. Honestly I am shaking my head. I guess some of this bizarreness goes back to you baselessly interpreting Dan's "other people" to necessarily mean "lovers," but indeed, one need not be a lover to go on a hike. One need not even be -human-, was the point I think Fichu was trying to make. Certainly not that there is any direct connection between hikes and commitment; just that if hikes are one of the things tying her to this one-sided relationship, she can keep the hikes but lose the guy.


@74. Bi. You're right about Fubar's comment, which wasn't about men and women, but about why exes would still want to be friends just after breakup. (Arguably the remark was heteronormative). Anyway, there was no difference in spirit between your response to it and mine.

One remark of SHATTERED's ex's that has gone down badly is 'I need to be selfish'. But he's saying he needs to work on himself, which is something that you, and the broader commentariat, would typically be on the same page with, yes? You, especially, often say that someone shouldn't date unless they're in good working order. We don't know what he means--e.g. that he blows hot and cold, withdrawing from her then running to her again; that he feels he's in no position to offer commitment or unstinting support (both those are plausible to me, in context). but ... supposing it's not just a pretext for getting her out his hair, then isn't it good that someone sees they have to take time out to work on themselves?

@83. venn. It isn't true across the board. There are women who fairly readily get over their ex by getting under a new guy, and gay guys who are inconsolable in the sense of having to take time out from sex. What I meant to add was that it was more socially legible for a gay man on a big college-town or city scene to be heartbroken and keep fucking. That is, it would attract more notice in a woman, or more easily be read as pathological or disordered. If this isn't still true, it was true for the circles in which I was first out (which for people during their period of greatest sexual activity or promiscuity is often college).

I thought that Dan said, to the effect of, get over your ex by dating new men; in fact, he only said go on hikes and have dinners with other people, not other dates.

A last note is that everyone has presumed SHATTERED is a woman, including me; but my original comment to you suggested that maybe he's a man (and that Dan might know this).


@85. Bi. It was women having better taste than men in music.

But I think everyone else has done the same! Has drawn, that is, on norms, on generalities, on a picture of what men and women and het dating are usually like, in making their comments! I've illustrated how.

Is there one person, for instance, who's thought, 'hmm, well, maybe she's said to him (more than once) that she left her last partner of ten years for him, and that they have to make it work; and that it's too much pressure too soon, and he's broken it off--but he knows she's burned her bridges with her last friendship group, and is sticking round giving her emotional support while she gets back on her feet?'. No one's considered that possibility but me. Yes? And it's because of unstated, unexamined (this time) priors about hets and het dating.


Harriet @86, if you are querying my reaction to the ex Mr SHATTERED's remark, please go back to the first comment I made before reading anyone else's:

"SHATTERED, if he gets to walk away from you because "he needs to be selfish right now," then you get to be selfish right now too. Stop letting him have his cake and eat it; listen to your friends, lean on them, and cut off contact with him. Perhaps not for a year, but give it three months and see how you feel. Good luck."
That comment can stand on its own regarding my own personal thoughts about the ex Mr SHATTERED's self confessed selfishness.

You are correct that neither SHATTERED nor Dan specified SHATTERED's gender. Perhaps commenters are reading them as female because the way it is written sounds more like a female voice, or perhaps just because numerically far more people who date men are female than male. Swap all the "she's" for "he's" in the comments and I think you will see no difference in the substance of the advice. And therefore, no analysis via application of gender stereotypes is necessary or helpful.


Harriet @87, and I've debunked your "illustrations." If everyone were making gender- and orientation-based generalities, why are you the one who's being critiqued for it? Personally, I admit that unless someone specifies a relationship is same-gender, I presume it is opposite-gender, since straight people are usually the ones who would not think to specify, but I do not read each letter with an eye to whether advice would, should or could differ based on the genders involved, and indeed, if it does, I would question its veracity, unless there is something definitely gendered going on, such as actual or potential pregnancy.


@85. Bi. Obviously Fichu does not think hikes signal commitment. You are misreading what I said @73: 'that the only reason a woman might go on a hike with a guy was in the expectation that he would offer her commitment'. If you can't see this as an apposite parody of Fichu's comment @49, then I'd say you're not reading it closely.

This is all largely 'noises off' since there seems to be universal agreement that she should go on hikes with friends. (Maybe they're still hanging out so much because they're each other's COVID bubble, and that her friends, possibly friends with families, are no-go areas for in-person socialising?).


Harriet @90, there was no suggestion in your comment @73, which I'll reprint:
"I reacted badly to the suggestions, variously, that: a man and woman could have no reason to maintain a friendship if they weren't sexual/romantic partners or parents; that it is selfish, as a default, to try to continue to offer friendship to your ex, and that the only reason a woman might go on a hike with a guy was in the expectation that he would offer her commitment."
that you were "parodying" or deliberately misstating any of the original comments. If you didn't read the comments as you characterised them, why did you react badly to them? Either you are being disingenuous, or you're fucking with us all, which I have no time for, and I wonder why I bother responding when your meaning keeps changing at your whim.

The Covid bubble theory is a good one. Still though, while she may be safe from Covid this relationship is doing her mental health no good at all. She could have distanced meets or zoom chats with friends and still spend no more time with this guy.


@89. Bi. Why am I the one being critiqued for it? 1) Because mine are explicit (and, by that token, tentative), and 2) because other people's are all the same, in being low-grade or very lightly misandrist, and people can't see it. What fact or circumstance is there in the letter that rules my 'hmm, maybe' conjecture (only a conjecture) @87 out of court--that makes it untrue?

Everything you say after your question @89 I agree with. Further, your initial response to SHATTERED @16, if you look at it again, understood that his being 'selfish' could refer to his breaking up with her (rather than e.g. sticking around to work out work-arounds for their difficulties), not to his continuing to rely on her company (or dinners). Or do you think he is conceding that he is being 'selfish' in wanting to 'have his cake and eat it'?

I understand that, in characterising groups of people across sex, gender, sexuality and other lines, unlike in math and logic, generalisations fail. Of course. Sure, there are gf s out there begging their boyfs to roger them, and bf s who are a bit grossed out by it. Maybe 20% of anything is not covered by any generalisation in human life--then again only 4% of Black women are planning on voting Trump, so I don't know where I've gotten the 20% from (e.g. male readership of literary fiction, women doing corporate law, etc.) I think a generalisation is worth making if it's comprehensible, recognisable, and captures something like a 65/35 split (so, e.g., 65% of women wanting one thing, 35% of men wanting a contrary thing). I don't see how we could talk about culture without making, and examining, those kinds of generalisation.

As to why I, as a bigendered/NB person, find generalisations interesting, surely you can imagine or enter into that? I have to have more explicit theories than other people for navigating the genders.


@88. Bi. When you say:

Swap all the "she's" for "he's" in the comments and I think you will see no difference in the substance of the advice. And therefore, no analysis via application of gender stereotypes is necessary or helpful...

the first sentence is correct, only because the advice, from Dan's down, is butt-obvious ('hike with your friends'). The 'therefore' or inference is not correct. Would you agree there has been an element, an undertone, of, 'men like hikes, women like emotional commitment; men like hot dinners, women like emotional commitment; men like e.g. telescopes, women like emotional commitment; men like gridiron ... etc.' in the advice? That, in making the slightly misandrist assumption that he's exploiting her emotional availability, commenters have incurred a slightly misogynistic assumption--that she could only want something stereotyped from their hikes and dinners? I'd say that you would either be disingenuous to deny this, or slightly misandrist yourself not to see it.

In speaking @ 73 of the 'suggestion[] ... that the only reason a woman might go on a hike with a guy was in the expectation that he would offer her commitment', I was gesturing to the undertow or subtext of a comment; the expression the 'only reason' and content itself of the suggestion flag up that I'm saying something hyperbolic. And 'suggestion' does not mean 'statement' or 'assertion'; these aren't terms I use interchangeably. When you say I'm 'fucking with' you, you mean something like I'm presuming on an ability to read closely and imaginatively and a sense of humor. Fucking with? Overestimating, perhaps.


@78. Fubar. I think it's more common for recent exes in the gay world to remain close friends. One explanation is that the reason for the relationship foundering was no more than sexual incompatibility--quickly understood as no-fault by both parties. As to how many male and female exes stay close friends, you would probably have a better idea than me (in that I would know an unrepresentative sample, or possibly a less representative sample than you).

Btw, I agree with Fichu about the signal sent out by a single straight woman who has a cat. Or cats. Or especially eight cats. But I see one cat as a more dilute version of eight cats. Sorry in advance for this contentious view.


Harriet @92, which "hmm, maybe" conjecture was that?
"hmm, well, maybe she's said to him (more than once) that she left her last partner of ten years for him, and that they have to make it work"
Is it possible she's said that directly to him? Yes. Is it impossible that a man would have said that? No. Has anyone besides you thought that? Possibly. Has anyone else typed it? No. Did that prove that they didn't think it? No, they just didn't extrapolate that far nor consider it relevant to the advice, namely, stop hanging out with this guy.
"that it's too much pressure too soon, and he's broken it off--"
Yes, also possible.
"but he knows she's burned her bridges with her last friendship group, and is sticking round giving her emotional support while she gets back on her feet?'. No one's considered that possibility but me. Yes? And it's because of unstated, unexamined (this time) priors about hets and het dating."
No, it's because this is a FLIGHT OF FANCY. No one else but you has thought about this because no one else but you goes this far off the trail, to use a hiking metaphor. Where on earth does your theory about burned bridges come in? It's easily disproven by her having multiple friends who are advising her to stay away from him. So, no, I doubt anyone has theorised this, and I am certain that this has nothing to do with comparative ideas about straight vs gay friendships, because nobody but you is even thinking along those lines.

"Or do you think he is conceding that he is being 'selfish' in wanting to 'have his cake and eat it'?" That's exactly what I said, is it not? He has said he needs to be selfish. Then he has behaved selfishly. Why even are we debating by whether he meant "an apple" when he said "an apple"? Did he mean something else by needing to be selfish? Who knows and who cares? His words match his deeds, ergo there is nothing to debate.

"I have to have more explicit theories than other people for navigating the genders." Perhaps you think you have to have them, but you don't necessarily need to share them. As you say, everyone else has kept their assumptions implicit. And no, that's not intuitive -- what's intuitive to me is that someone who rejects traditional ideas about gender would reject stereotypes about it as well.

Harriet @93: "Would you agree there has been an element, an undertone, of, 'men like hikes, women like emotional commitment; men like hot dinners, women like emotional commitment; men like e.g. telescopes, women like emotional commitment; men like gridiron ... etc.' in the advice?" I absolutely would not. Of course this woman likes hikes; she said so; no one but you seems to be disputing that. There was Fichu's assertion that men don't like cat owners, and there was her mention of men stereotypically dismissing women for getting "emotional" which does not relate to this particular letter, but other than that and yours, I do not see any gendered stereotyping in these comments. She is spending time with him because she is in love with him; he is spending time with her because he enjoys her company but only on a friendly level. This is the problem and this quite often happens between any combination of genders so I don't know why you are throwing a bunch of stereotypes into the mix.

And yeah, your flights of fancy and gender stereotyping do tend to kill my sense of humour, so perhaps one thing you have read right.


My assumptions about SHATTERED are,
they wanted to nest with this guy very badly and are willing to give a lot of time&energy,
they left a 10yr for something that looked like life long love but was just shiny new grass,
unless he really loves them and just has trust issues and maybe they want to work through it.

I think many people are assuming that he was just the shiny greener grass.

Harriet, I don't think anyone supposed he was generously filling a vital 'friend' role, because she said she had friends that gave her good advice. I don't think people fall out of love spontaneously. He must have tried to work on his problems as hard as he was committed to the relationship before giving up. Either he wasn't very committed to the relationship, or she's blind to his real problems with himself or her. They both sound like they have problems. I think people are trying to be polite in advice to the LW and assume the best, that she was committed to him and listened to him and that he had no big complaints.. he just wasn't that into her (or has trust issues or some other problem to explain why he could be in love with her but breaking up with her).

I also don't understand why you're accusing commenters of being misogynist and misandrist wrt to this letter. I hope you're doing ok.


Harriet @86: If my remark @53 was heteronormative, then there's not really much I can ever say that would not be heteronormative. Any couple can have children or pets. Without such ties that bind, I don't see the point in attempting to maintain a friendship. That's simply my opinion, based on the time and emotional energy that friendships take.

Harriet @94: I wouldn't condescend to claim to have the slightest clue as to how many MF exes stay close friends, not having a representative sample myself. As I said @78, I can't speak for all hets. That applies to all matters.


I can't keep up with all of the back and forth between Harriet and BDF, but I did want to comment that in the lesbian community, due to its size, staying friends with exes is more necessary than in the het world. I think that was Harriet's point before it got twisted around in the ongoing quasi-gender war with BDF... Gay women simply don't enjoy the population size to allow us that luxury. [Think of the relationship chart on The L Word (OG)]


JibeHo @98: I'm scratching my head at the idea that lesbians, or anyone else, can only have friendships within their sexual-identity community. Or perhaps you mean y'all have to get along with exes because of the relatively small dating community? The kink community is somewhat similar. One is going to run into one's exes, but one doesn't have to be friends with them.




Is Joe’s drawing a boxing kangaroo? Harriet, I haven’t read thru the discussion, I’m avoiding stress.. the thing is, only important issue with this woman is it’s breaking her fucking heart to hang out with him. The gender/ sexual politics are inconsequential.
Stop seeing the guy, only waY to break such intense emotion.
Break the attachment, and she can look back, once she gains some perspective, and ask herself wtf that was all about. Yeah, he is out of love and out of sex with her, he still enjoys her company. Compliment, really. Who knows or cares why he’s behaving this way, maybe later the LW can ask him.