Savage Love

Cutting Remarks

Comments

1

totalY firked

2

"I'm curious what you would do here."

First, NBFCS, /I'm/ Curious, not you. And what I would do here, is first ask myself why I'm such a person's friend. Then if I still wanted to be, I'd sack up and try to /be/ a friend to them. I know that most people are too afraid to try to do anything to help others, because that's hard and what's easy is to do nothing. But being a friend means being willing to be the (perhaps only person in anyone's life) willing to tell them the difficult truth to help them grow.

Re: PLAY
I don't understand why Dan didn't tell her to tell him "the real reason". Just because you're dealing with a liar doesn't mean you can't tell them the truth.

And there's a non-zero chance that he might become a completely different person (towards you at least, perhaps including settling for monogamy if that's what you want) if he heard it (if it meant enough to him not to lose you). Almost certainly not (sorry), but integrity is it's own reward.

@BOOBS
I recommend seeing a hypnotherapist over Zoom. That has a good chance of addressing the unhealthy repulsion you're developed.

3

@2 p.s.
"Then if I still wanted to be"

Wait, make that regardless of whether I still wanted to be. No reason not to be a good friend to her one time just before ending the friendship.

Oh, and I think BOOBS should try hypnotherapy because just explaining that a repulsion is irrational probably won't resolve it.

4

The player sounds like a real douche. She's in college and he seems to communicate electronically. I'd get all my friends together, copy the identical texts he sends girls, and make a post on whatever app college kids are using. This guy could use a little public shaming.

There's no issue with being a player but you have to be honest about who you are. And if you're using the same stupid lines over and over again, you deserve to get called out on that. Gotta put in the time to make things specific!

5

@1, @2, & @3; Triple WA_HOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Congratulations to curious2 on scoring FIRDT! (totally firkt), SECNOD, and THIRDT honors in this week's Savage Love: Cutting Remarks!Savor the glory of again leading the comment thread and bask in the glow.)

6

@NBFCS: your friend sounds like a nightmare. Is her name Dolma? She may be throwing insults at people with whom she's angry, fabricating offences to gain sympathy. Dan's advice is good. Block her and try to forget about her.

7

@ PLAY: "he has feelings for me, but he isn’t sure what they are and so can’t put a label on them".

The label is "Horny." You're making the right move by deleting and blocking.

8

@BOOBS, babies sucking on nipples is a massive mind fuck. Be assured that with the passage of time, the image will fade and the clamps will regain their appeal.

9

@NBFCS: Jesus wept---Single White Female meets Fatal Attraction here!
If you are already cutting ties with this Asserella, don't be at all afraid to state why.
If she is threatening, unfriend her from Facebook, block her number, and hopefully she can get help. It sounds like you and your friends have done all that you can for her.
At this point I'd have to say you've got to move on as her exes have.

@PLAY: Seriously. What Dan said--dump this guy. He's a lying cheating POS. If he's posting on social media on a college campus there's good chance that he's also a stalker. You are wise to end all ties with him. You deserve much better. From your letter you already know you do.

@BOOBS: Again, excellent advice from Dan. Breasts and penises will always have their sexual functions. You just need to give yourself time for your truly non-squicky sexual desire for breast play to return.

10

@6 @7, &@8 fubar: Good shared advice to this week's SL LWs. Sending cyber hugs, positrons, and VW beeps.

@9: I think I came up with a new SL term--"Asserella", to go with Dan's brilliant "Asserole"

11

NBFCS
Maybe unintentionally yet you’re on the right track with avoiding your friend.
Friendships can be downgraded by sending different signals and not contacting her is a good start. If she calls you, wondering where you’ve been, focus on your relationship first. Tell her that those long conversations/monologues about past relationships don’t go anywhere and don’t help anyone, it’s not fun to being around her when all she does is whining and talking about herself for hours. If she tries to shame and hurt you like she did to the men she was with, just tell her gently that this is something you and others have observed her doing all along.

The idea is not to crush her, but rather gently open her eyes as to how her own actions and mistreatment of others may affect relationships of all kind.
She may bolt, she may scream, she may say nasty things. Be patient, but don’t compromise your positions. You may lose this friendship, and it seems like you may not be losing much anyway. You may also make her start thinking about her own behavior. She may not be capable of understanding and accepting it right away, but it may resonate sometime in the future and she will appreciate your help whether you’re still on speaking terms or not.

PLAY
It seems like you have feelings for this guy but not sure if it’s mutual and afraid you might be hurt. If you want to find out you’ll have to make the move, initiating a conversation and indicating how you see things and how you want them to go. A fb friendship invitation may mean different things to different people, and one should not draw any conclusions based on that.
Evaluate the situation and take it from there. If making said move may be too much and not worth it then just leave it at that and go on with your life.

I would stay away from a shaming jihad by you and your friends. The guy is your age and for all we know is likely to be as confused and insecure like many in your age group, and beyond, and acts the way he knows when dealing with his own emotions. And for all we know he wasn’t physically involved with any of your friends behind anyone’s back.

BOOBS
I can relate to your issue from a different angle, as one who was appreciative of ex’s breasts and nipples and turned reluctant once the first baby arrived. It takes some time to disassociate breast feeding from sexual play, yet fun time can be resumed.
I assume formerly lactating mothers had similar issues and could give you their own perspective.

12

I feel sort of bad for the evil emasculator.

She sounds like a pain, yes, but also her friend-group sounds like the kind of friend-group that keeps itself united by secretly designating one of its members anathema every so often.

And the idea that a woman who can’t keep a man must have brought it on herself by being insufficiently girlfriendly seems like a comforting way of convincing ourselves that our boyfriends would NEVER.

I dunno, maybe she actually is a bitch. But I’d rather have a friend with a rough tongue than one with a thin false smile.

13

PLAY: This guy flirts with all your friends yet gets "insanely jealous" when you spend time with other guys? This guy isn't a player, he's an abuser, and probably a narcissist. Run! No, wait - RUN!!!

Agree with Curious @2 that BOOBS could possibly benefit from hypnosis.

Curious @2: "I don't understand why Dan didn't tell her to tell him "the real reason". Just because you're dealing with a liar doesn't mean you can't tell them the truth. And there's a non-zero chance that he might become a completely different person (towards you at least, perhaps including settling for monogamy if that's what you want) if he heard it (if it meant enough to him not to lose you)." Yes, and that's exactly why she SHOULDN'T tell him the real reason! A narcissist can put on many disguises. If she tells him, "I don't want to see you anymore because you do X," he won't stop doing X, he'll hide it better. She can see his true colours now; she shouldn't encourage him to hide them to keep her in his orbit. She needs to get as far away from that orbit as possible, before he does real damage to her psyche. Heed those red flags!

Larry @4, eh, if she can see he's a player, everyone can see he's a player. Let the female players enjoy casual sex with him and the ones, like PLAY, who are looking for someone who values them find someone else who will do that.

Fubar @6, I thought she sounded like my sister! Perhaps NBFCS could suggest therapy, if she hasn't already. Asshole Friend is unlikely to listen to criticism from friends, but might be open if she hears it from a therapist. I highly suspect Asshole will say she doesn't need therapy because she's not the one with the problem, but it's worth a try.

Also, I'd like to challenge the use of the word "emasculating" as a synonym for "verbally abusing" in this situation. Being insulted publicly isn't just damaging to men, right? Constant put-downs would erode anyone's self-esteem. She wasn't "emasculating" her exes, she was abusing them. I don't know why this asshole behaviour or its effects needed to be gendered.

Hex @12, refraining from insulting one's partner or their family in public is a very low bar for being "girlfriendly." Sounds to me like just "not being a bully and an asshole."

14

Larry @4, I change my mind and agree with you, because of this "insanely jealous" double standard. Women need to be warned before they become victims.

15

LW1: "My friend, these people are supposed to be in your life for you to love, not to hurt. Do you think you highlight their flaws just to smokescreen your own?" Seems like common sense, but why bother since the inevitable accusation will be of my own smokescreening as I make this observation? To Hell with that, everybody has to learn the hard way. Also, "Asserole, Asserella," are good, but the prima ballerina equivalent of an opera diva is called "Assoluta," entendre uncoincidental.

16

As someone into cock and into piss, when I think of a pissing cock happily it is a double turn on. Unfortunately for BOOBS, one cannot pick one's kinks, and probably can't un-pick one's squicks. Maybe the unsquick will fade with some mindfulness meditation of being in the moment? Maybe try nipple play solo so you can enjoy the sensation again minus boyfriend's sister?

I've read that some women when they breastfeed have orgasms since the brain chemicals for releasing milk and wiring for nipples are similar to sex. That must be interesting / unnerving for some! Something to consider if BOOBS decides to have a child and breastfeed...

@13 BiDanFan yup surprised Dan didn't warn PLAY's jealousy major red flag he's dangerous / not good even for NSA. Don't reward toxic masculinity with your friendship, attention or your body.

17

@13 BDF
I'm not sure that we know that "narcisist" is the kind of liar that PLAY is dealing with, but I still think you're right. That PLAY had to ask if her liar "is a player" means that she could be fooled exactly as you say. Another very bad sign is that "he gets insanely jealous".

While I'm troubled by not telling people the truth, in this case I should have made an exception. Primarily because that "he gets insanely jealous" might make him dangerous to her. Secondarily because she would need to be sure that she wasn't giving the guy the chance I had in mind to change, but was unalterably committed to ending contact.

18

It seems like I run into variations on NBFCS's problem all the time: I'm in this really awful relationship, but I'm afraid if I leave it, the relationship will be over. It comes up in friend relationships as often as it does in romantic/sexual ones. I wasn't halfway into the letter before the line from "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" began rolling around in my head. "What have you got to lose?" ("Can I tell it like it is? It's my heart that's suffering.")

-You can tell your friend what she's doing wrong. The friendship will be over.
-You can draw away and not contact her so often. The friendship will be over.
-You can talk to her often but get off the phone every time she starts droning on about exes and fault. The friendship will be over.

Take your choice. I usually recommend the third option, the change subject/set boundaries one, before proceeding directly to friendship-over, but if I'm going to be honest, it's never worked for me. The friendship is always over anyway.

Dan is correct that the friend is an asshole and does need help, but I caution against equating the two. Telling someone to get psychiatric help because they're at fault or because they're driving you crazy with the constant complaints isn't the way to go. Much better, if you do suggest therapy, is to make sympathetic noises accompanied by "you're in so much pain, maybe seeing a professional would help you feel better." It's got to be said in a tone of suggesting a doctor's care for a painful sprained ankle or unexplained respiratory symptoms. Make it clear that you're suggesting it because you'd love to help but don't have the professional qualifications to do so. This has the advantage of leaving the possibility open for renewed friendship in the future.

19

I was agreeing with Dan every step of the way with his advice to PLAY until I got to the part about encouraging friends to do the same. Hold on! The friends get to make their own decisions on how they feel about being lied to and told pretty things in exchange for sex (or the possibility of sex) just as PLAY does. PLAY might talk to her friends in terms of the decision she herself made. She might say "I decided that hearing about how I'm so special to him wasn't worth it to me because I always felt good for a moment then horrible over the long run," but then let them come to their own conclusions. This isn't a situation where forming a union for an organized boycott is going to teach the asshole anything, and the women will come out looking the worse for it.

20

Fichu @18, I very much like your proposed script for encouraging the asshole to get therapy.

Fichu @19, did you miss the bit where he gets insanely jealous of her talking to other guys? Warning her friends off him may not teach the asshole anything, but it may protect someone from getting involved with a controlling charmer who is likely to gaslight, cheat, all the red flag things.

21

Ms Fan - LW1's only use of the E-word was in relating what AF1's exes told her they felt. Mr Savage used the word once as an adjective to validate their feelings. Quite probably if AF1 were pansexual (to keep her off your team), her cheating female exes would have felt equally efemulated, which really ought to be an accepted word. As long as it's clear that either E-word is a subset of abuse in general rather than a synonym, it seems at least potentially useful. Going ahead two steps, my first guess is that AF1 detected that emasculating abuse would twist the knife more than infantilizing abuse or other varieties.
xxx
Parallel to Ms Fichu, L2 made me contemplate coining a Benatar Award, as it did seem that P2 has LW2 rather cornered on the battlefield of love. It makes me think of the stage of the Peloponnesian War when Sparta would go out and ravage Attica while Athens just brought everyone behind the walls. But LW2 at least is capable of making a first move - a good sign that she'll be able to avoid becoming a complete damsel. It would be fitting if P2 could be routed in a safe way.

22

It's important to separate the cheating in L1 from the abuse. LW1's friend has every right to be upset by the former, but LW1 has witnessed the latter. One could speculate, as Dan did, that the cheating was in response to the abuse, but that's not really relevant. LW1 and her "friend group" should either address the abuse because it's a shitty thing to witness, or cut the woman loose and tell her why.

Many of us have found ourselves in similarly dysfunctional relationships over and over, until we've either figured it out or had it pointed out by friends.

23

BiDan - 20-- I did miss it. Thanks.

24

NBFCS~ Your “friend” is an asshole. I have a strict “no assholes” policy regarding the people I choose to hang with as I see no point in subjecting myself and others to that kind of negative energy. Just as being a enabler to an alcoholic is NOT helping them, allowing your friend to continue her cutting and insulting ways is doing no one a favor. I guess you haven’t stumbled on the fact that assholes rarely ever see themselves as assholes, it’s always someone else’s fault. Give her a chance to heed your wakeup “stop doing that shit or you’ll lose my friendship as well as every non-masochistic man you’ll ever meet” message, but don’t bet the farm that she’ll listen. She likes and needs this game on a deep level.

PLAY ~ “...How do I know if a guy is a player...” OMG, You already know he is! Dictionary Definition: You’re “constantly finding him with other girls” and he “gets insanely jealous whenever he sees (you) with other guys”. Not only is he a player he’s an abusive asshole to go with it. RUN LIKE THE WIND, BULLSEYE! Then, take a hard look at yourself and try to figure out why the fuck you would even think for a second about choosing someone like that as an intimate partner.

BOOBS~ Human minds work in mysterious ways, so why yours has decided to fixate on seeing nipples (your own previously pleasurable nipples) in this way is probably something you’re not going to be able to just (as Cher so eloquently said) snap out of it! Do yourself and your tits a favor and get some counseling

25

I'm just wondering which one of my sister's friends wrote the first letter.

26

BOOBS... starve those nipples for a while. no attention at all. you mentioned that you could enjoy it a little at the point of orgasm, i believe. after some starvation... start there. and only there. and not every time. teach yourself to re-associate those nipples w/ sex and pleasure. and deny yourself too, don't do it all the time, so that you start to miss it.

continue to proceed gradually from there.

27

I've reread PLAY's letter-- carefully this time. I've learned that anything I put within greater than/less than carets is going to disappear. (Originally I put "slapping my own forehead" within.) Here's my new amended comment.

When you encourage your friends to block the harem owner in the making, the guy who is terrific to many women telling them each that she's special, make sure you don't put it in terms of "I'm dumping him because he's playing the field which is related to cheating on me." That frames the situation in terms of women competing with one another. Don't put it in terms of unfairness either, that he was dating other women while getting jealous when PLAY talked to other guys. Instead, say something along the lines of "He started to scare me. His insane jealousy was the sort of thing you read about abusers doing. They don't start out throwing punches; they get jealous as a means of isolating and control. I saw a dozen red flags. I suppose you saw the same?" Frame it as an inquiry, a conversation. It will go further that way.

28

Speaking from the perspective of someone who LOVES nipple play and breastfed my kids: time. Give it time. The associations of nipples with nursing will fade, either for the person who has the nipples that are being used to nurse, or for those who interact with the person with the nipples.

I had a difficult time initially reconceptualizing my nipples as sexual objects after I gave birth and as I nursed. I don't know how my husband felt, but I remember both of us being aware that having my nipples stimulated while I was breastfeeding could result in a squirt or more of milk. By mutual unspoken agreement, they were absent from any sexual touching until after the kid was weaned. But then, things returned to pre-baby in many ways, and enjoying nipple stimulation was one of them.

Take nipple play off the menu for a time, and limit the position you are in when bf's sister nurses so you don't get reminded.

29

Fichu @18 described people complaining: "I'm in this really awful relationship, but I'm afraid if I leave it, the relationship will be over."

In my experience, people who don't want an awful relationship to end are often abusing their partner.

The problem with recommending therapy to NBFCS's friend is that narcissistic abusers often manipulate their therapists too.

Per this piece: "Only a few narcissists out of thousands are willing to voluntarily self-reflect and are desperate enough to do so."

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/understanding-narcissism/201902/what-type-narcissist-does-well-in-therapy

30

I pulled a Fichu and also read PLAY’s letter again. I’m still not sure what to make of “we started spending a lot time with each other.” Are they dating? Casual sex? Just hanging out?
My initial response was based on the “hang out” assumption and as such I may have been downplaying the “player” factor that seems to tick others.

Yes, “gets insanely jealous whenever he sees me with other guys” is indeed a red flag and she is advised to leave, even if we don’t know the exact nature of their spending a lot time with each other. But even then, I’m not sure it justifies the public outing/shaming that some are advocating.
Not to start another genitalia/gender war but I do wonder if the same advice would have been given to someone whose gf may be cheating/flirting with others. Granted, Mr. PLAY’s behavior does not fall under the “ethical slut” category, yet there are other ways to deal with it and a frank one on one talk could be much more effective.
I would point out again that young Mr PLAY is the same age as PLAY herself and may not know better and/or assumes that this is what guys are supposed to do and don’t realize the harm done to all involved, including himself.

31

NBFCS, "She has a tendency to tease her partners about their deepest insecurities in public and to express her extreme disdain for their family members openly"
Your friend's partners didn't cheat because they wanted to abuse their abuser. They cheated because they didn't want to break up with her or control themselves or otherwise take the high road, and they are able to excuse themselves. She was cheated on because she was attracted to cheaters, because she can't filter them out or because she can't attract a noncheater. And you have a similar problem to her exes, you have excuses for why you can't address her problem behavior when it happens and complain about her behind her back instead. I don't think it's mean, just cowardly to ghost her instead of trying to discuss your complaints civilly with her. But if you choose to talk to her again, don't prescribe therapy or try to force change on her, just practice telling her your feelings as kindly as possible: "I want to stop talking about your partners, you seem to treat each other badly." or "I feel my illness/nail biting/sex history/other embarassing subject is private, please try to respect my feelings and stop bringing it up around others." or "I know you don't like my/their brother, but please stop announcing your disdain for other people, it doesn't help anyone, it just hurts people's feelings." And be open to others telling you to stop complaining about other people and trying to gang up to change them, rather try to work with others to help each other, or just leave them alone. If her behavior is truly a pattern, you'll have another opportunity to address it while it's happening, rather than resurrecting past mistakes.

PLAY, "How do I know if a guy is a player or if he has feelings for me?"
You have to be honest with them about what you really want, and listen to what they want. He seems to be telling you that he wants to date around but he gets mad if you hang out with other guys. It would have been great to ask "Well why are you hanging out with other women?" when he told you that he didn't like you to hang out with other guys, he probably doesn't realize how hypocritically he's acting. If there's some attraction, you could ask him how he feels about dating, monogamy, polyamory, and if he ever cheated on anyone, and ask him out if he seems like he wants the same kind of relationship that you do. If you've judged him as a player and won't trust his answers, then why continue to talk to him? He might have complimented your friend because he wanted to hit on as many women as he could, but it might have been because he wanted your people to like him. If you are conflicted, still attracted yet suspicious, maybe investigating could quench the attraction or the suspicion.

BOOBS, Tell your boyfriend that your nipples are completely off-limits for now. When you start to enjoy them more in solo play, then ask bf to become more involved again too.

32

as someone who used to have sensitive nipples, I have lost most of that sensation post breast-feeding sadly. As far as I know it had nothing to do with a mental block but I think the nerves just stopped working that way. I don’t hate having my nipples sucked or played with, but I could honestly do without it, whereas as a teenager it was a major factor towards orgasm. Not sure what happened, but 12 years later, and I’m still not that into having my boobs played with, but as long as my partner gets pleasure from it he can have at

33

Way too hard on PLAY Dan. He's just a normal horny and confused college kid (as we all were). Give him a break. She should continue the dialog if she's inclined to.

34

"We have witnessed her being very cutting to the point of being downright insulting to her former partners. She has a tendency to tease her partners about their deepest insecurities in public and to express her extreme disdain for their family members openly."

"They felt emasculated by her and that their self-esteem was shot and they had essentially 'had enough.' "

"She takes extreme offense to any criticism and insists she’s the victim."

"Every conversation turns into a three-hour-long rehashing of these relationships with all blame assigned to her exes."

"Our entire friend group is now debating whether we should share our actual opinions with her at the risk her being angry with us."

Did you celebrate when Biden won? Then why are you still friends with this person?

35

Venn @21, it's curious, is it not, that both of them used the word "emasculated"? If she's to be believed that they both literally used that word. If so, perhaps you're correct that the abuse took the particular form of insulting their manhood. Or perhaps they used that word because their response to this verbal abuse was to reassert the manliness they thought she'd taken away by cheating; perhaps "she emasculated me" was more excuse than descriptor. Sounds like both sides in each relationship may have been just as toxic as each other.

EricaP @29, good point that the therapist won't have witnessed this behaviour the way the friends have, and Asshole is unlikely to confess it. Ugh, can't we just tattoo red flags on the foreheads of people like the assholes in Letters 1 and 2?

CMD @30, I was confused about this too. PLAY sounds immature/inexperienced for her age. It is difficult to know how he should be expected to be acting, given that we don't know what their relationship actually is. My guess is that they're shagging but he refuses to put an official label on it. You're correct that Mr PLAY may also just be immature. Absent the "insanely jealous" comment, my advice would be very different. If they aren't official anything, and he's just a flirt, I'd have said no harm, no foul, though flirting with her friends right in front of her is at minimum rude. I'd have advised her to talk to him and clarify the nature of their relationship, and set boundaries based on whether they're dating, FWBs, etc. But this "insanely jealous of other guys" is an immediate DTMFAAWYF (dump the motherfucker already and warn your friends).

36

The "insanely jealous" bit comes in the context where he says he "says I’m special to him and he gets insanely jealous whenever he sees me with other guys." If it's actual insanely jealous behavior that's one thing, if it's just him saying that as part of love bombing her it's another entirely.

I'm not entirely against the idea of her comparing notes with her girlfriends in either case. Comparing notes is a good habit to be in so you're aware if someone has a reputation. But "this guy is just saying what he thinks I want to hear" is different from "this guy is behaving in ways that make me feel unsafe".

37

For Boobs (from a 40something boob-haver who’s nursed a couple of kids):
You may have already considered this, or it may not apply, but it may be worth thinking about whether the ick about the nursing is more about the baby than the boobs. The mindfuck society/family/often partners puts on women around decisions related to having/not having/wanting/not wanting kids seems to really peak in our 30s. It may help (if Boobs hasn’t already done this) to consider if she has unsettled feelings related to these things- the ick about the breastfeeding might be her brain trying to tell her that she needs to dig that out a bit, and doing so might let her get back to enjoying more sexy nipple play. It may be way more visceral than that (breastfeeding is awesome but can definitely be kinda weird to observe, especially if you’re new to it!) but may be worth a try if Boobs hasn’t explored that.

38

@12. Hexprone. Good point that the friend's friends are being bitchy about her behind her back.

@PLAY. He 'cannot put a label to his feelings' because he is avoiding saying anything that might be construed as expressing a commitment, or that might tie him to monogamy. This is the sort of thing a 'player', or rather someone who wants to fuck around, says.

@30. CMD. I thought first they were just hanging out, then the thought crossed my mind that they might be having casual sex.

[break]
As regards the difficult woman, the unfortunate critic of the men she dates and marries who has been called an asshole ... well, I don't think the lw wants to go through another three-hour 'conversation', or monologue, listening to a litany of these guys' faults again. Almost anything she does instead would be preferable. She seems to have said something like, 'and you're sure you played no part in your break-up?', and been shot down. She now needs to say something like, 'you know we don't see eye-to-eye on this', and suggest that the men pushed the self-sabotage button because she had wounded them or shot their self-respect to pieces. I think I'd just say something like 'you know we disagree' at first; and, if the topic of conversation doesn't change, spend less than three hours with the friend. Like ... three minutes?

Does she want to be this woman's friend? She doesn't have to be. It's not some moral test. She's not being judged on her loyalty--and she's anyway shown her loyalty by phoning and showing up when her friend's engagement fell through. If it were a test of whether she's a 'good person'--and this seems to be a motivation that moves her--then she should ask whether a good person would sit in inwardly resisting, not-helping silence to Friend's diatribes. No, they wouldn't--a good person and good friendship group would try to enlighten the difficult person about their awful, impossible behavior.

39

I'm very jealous of NBFCS's friend - despite being a Supreme asshole, convinced two people to want to marry them. I wish I had that much juice

40

PLAY - oh gawd. Continue blocking this guy already. My initial read was "she's getting a bit bent out of shape over a guy she doesn't even have a relationship with" until someone suggested upthread that they've been having casual sex (that sounds awful heavy on the pillow talk) . It makes a world more sense.

Clearly this guy isn't serious about wanting anything serious. PLAY can decide that she enjoys the sex without an official relationship status, and ask this guy to cut it with the "you're so special" bullshit - tell him a casual hookup/FWB situation is fine with her (if indeed it is [I doubt it]), as long as he knocks off the confusing, probably insincere lovey-dovey talk.

Or, PLAY can decide that she's had quite enough of this guy's shit (sure sounds like this is the case), and stick to her guns about not having anymore contact with him. And PLAY, you most assuredly * will * have to unwaveringly, aggressively stick to your guns. Block his number, block his social media if he won't respect you enough to knock it off. You should speak to your friends if he is genuinely making you feel unsafe (tell your friends he is making you feel unsafe, IRL and leave a digital paper trail as well). Don't unprovoked go on blast to your friends if you think he's just a dime a dozen player, but absolutely do let them know if you think he is an unsafe person.

Also, PLAY didn't go into a whole lot of detail (and I kind of wish Dan had let her), but based on a few things she said I would strongly recommend she read some articles about lovebombing and see if it rings any bells

41

I actually have a friend who can be a bit... "abusive". It's not abusive or manipulative really, just mean. He sometimes can't tell between fun "taking the piss" and pushing too hard. There's no particular pattern to it. But sometimes I have to say "dude, stop. I don't enjoy this, this isn't fun". I try to be really direct and simple about my emotions and that works. It doesn't matter who is right or wrong, I just stress that I'm not into it regardless. Usually it works.

42

I read PLAY’s post once more: “…we had our eyes on each other for more than year. I made a move and sent him a friend request on FB and we started…”
We still don’t know when “started” start nor what “spending a lot time with each other” may entail.
(Play- if you read this and comfortable with the idea please provide more details)

I wonder how much of our own experiences and observations come to play while interpreting this somewhat vague situation. I grew up in a small place, way before social media took over the world, so if you were a “player” it would have been known. (And admittedly, sometimes idolized if you’re a man, often vilified if you’re a woman.)
This experience and others like becoming a parent later in life led me to think that public shaming is not the way to go.

And while f_m_f may still qualify to be our rookie of the year I wonder what's in the letter beyond “insanely jealous” keep contacting her which I agree are not good signs yet have seen this happening many times before cell phones took over and made it so much easier, make her think the guy is a potential serial killer as presented @ 40.

43

@39 Fantastic Mrs. Fox: "Love bombing". Thank you for sharing a helpful new term. I, too, have indeed been love bombed (see a previous Savage Love column that goes into further detail about a closeted gay man from a conservative background who I thought I knew after twenty-one years of acquaintance through college). PLAY---look out! RUN, gentle maiden, while there is still time! It was only after his sudden death of natural causes that I learned some rather unsettling facts from my father and mother, later, in private regarding his plot to forcibly commit me into wedlock and a family--just to look good in the eyes of the Catholic Church. Luckily they were on to him before I ended up getting isolated and pushed into another disastrous marriage! It was about the weirdest chapter of my life, besides surviving my one toxic marital relationship. Love bombing for me applies to both bad relationships--not counting a third brief encounter I had foolishly thought was to become something special but instead was what it was, a one night stand that was the product of a fraternity bet.
Long and short:
By my male college acquaintance's 40th birthday, and with no wife and children to add to his large extended clan, and because of being hotly pressured by his doting widowed mother, siblings, and clergymen for the last 15 years of his life he became desperate for a beard. Claiming to have $70,000.00 in the bank (as what? a down payment??) he busied himself by trying to butter up my father long distance behind my back and without my knowledge or consent (if he obtained my parents' approval, I would be "obligated" to marry him??).
And yes, he used to send me weirdly inappropriate gifts while blissfully fantasizing about his dream wedding that would never take fruition--the worst being what looked like a hand-sewn maternity smock and elastic waist pants big enough for me to go hot-air ballooning in--in an unattractive mauve & lime green color scheme--presumably for me to wear during the anticipated exchange of nuptials when I was eight months along with Baby #1 of 6 or More.

And this, along with picking up the pieces mentally and physically 30 years after war time service-connected trauma, is why Griz remains otherwise happily single and asexual, and keeps a good stock of dark chocolate and red wine on hand. I'm a better fit as an auntie, anyway.

44

LW1, your friend sounds a difficult person to have as a friend. Very kind of you and her other friends to help here.. and so patient. My suggestion is to take her out one on one and lay it straight to her, no if’s or buts allowed out of her. Demand she listen. Going in her mind, and reflecting, is her work.
And then when/ if it all goes thru the wringer again, you can tell her to talk to the hand.

45

LW1, you can’t change others. All you got are yours and here others, perceptions about your friend’s self / other destructive behaviour patterns. By constantly joining her in any talk of how hard done by she is, it fans her delusions. Friendship is about truth telling, or like her romances her friendships might also falter.
Her blinkers can’t be removed by others, getting a bit of hard love might start the process where she does it herself.

46

Chi @36, yes, that's a point. It may in fact be the case that he's just saying "oh baby, I get so insanely jealous when you're with other guys" because he's been influenced by toxic monogamy culture to think that's romantic. Puke, but yes, that would be a pale pink flag rather than a red one. These people might be just 19, and thinking back last night to how clueless I was at 19, I'm inclined to cut them a bit more slack. He's still operating under a double standard but he might be open to hearing, "actually, that's not romantic, it's creepy, especially when you're the world's biggest flirt, so cut it out."

Mrs Fox @40, if they weren't having sex or at least dating, the letter doesn't make any sense to me. I actually do want more details, unlike Dan. Maybe PLAY will chime in and share? PLAY, are you reading?

Absent more details, I think we can answer PLAY's narrow question: Yes, he's a player. But if he is in fact 19 or 20, I don't think you can expect much more from a guy. At this age they are thinking with their dicks and their dicks alone. Sure, there are exceptions, but the way this guy is behaving, he's not one of them. Drop him and look for someone a bit more mature, who's had a relationship or two, who's paid rent, who's had his heart broken. This guy, consciously or not, is manipulating you. He seems to only want you because you're now telling him he can't have you. Leave him to his silly games and move on.

Ork @41, this woman seems to have bullied both her friends and her partners into submission. Nobody is speaking up to her and saying "hey, cut it out." Usually that works with your friend, but this asshole "takes extreme offense to any criticism and insists she’s the victim." They have hinted, but hinting is next to useless. NBFCS could try asking her, "Are you open to an observation from a neutral third party?" If she says yes, NBFCS should tell her straight that her belittling remarks are out of order and played a big role in those men wanting out of those relationships. Asshole will of course deny that, but then NBFCS should say, "The next time you do that, I will point it out." And do so. Every time. That's the only hope she has of getting through to her, though I admit, it's far from guaranteed that even being "caught in the act" will clue her in -- and she may well dump NBFCS as a friend far before the next opportunity comes up. But, NBFCS can walk away from that friend-dumping assured that she did all she could.

47

No more details! Good one Dan. LW2: he has feelings for you but doesn’t know what they are. Could he maybe take a guess? Yes. This man is a player. He’s playing with your mind and I suggest you stay away from him until the 12th of never.

48

@46 my buddy gets ultra defensive about criticism too! So do I for that matter but it doesn't occur very often. That's why I focus on the fact that I dislike it, rather than "your being rude". I'm also willing to just bounce sometimes. Like, "I'm not having fun I'm gonna go" - no debate, no argument, I'm out. My experience is that most folks won't actually maintain that boundary. Good fences make good neighbors, yo. I think what's likely unsaid is that people like this have tons of charisma, which is why they have so many chances. I can only look at our ex president as someone who, despite being an asshole to basically everyone, also is very charismatic and people respond. Why are humans built this way? I don't know but it's a reality.

49

I suspect PLAY isn't sleeping with this guy?

My take is, she is fat and play isn't into her at all, but likes having sex and is charming. Gender-flip this one and I can't help but see that PLAY is suffering from Nice-guy syndrome. This dude is, at the end of the day, having sex with people who want to have sex with him, and he doesn't owe PLAY a relationship. LW needs to say what she wants and live with the answer regardless of what it is.

50

"My take is, she is fat"
Wooooow.
I weigh 50kg and men have treated me this way. As have women, come to think of it. Flirted heavily with no intention of putting their emotions where their words are. This guy is saying similar things to PLAY's friends, are they all fat too?
PLAY is young and inexperienced, that's enough to not see through a player's charms. Her size could be anything and is completely irrelevant.

51

Ork@49~ I second BiDan’s “Woooow” that provided a lot more insight about your thinking than the LW’s.

52

Ork @41: "I actually have a friend who can be a bit... 'abusive'. It's not abusive or manipulative really, just mean."

Ork @49: "My take is, she is fat"

Just mean like that?

53

Erica-29-- We've had different experiences. In my experience, the most common scenario of people not leaving a bad relationship is one where they're hurting each other, maybe one more culpable than the other but both clearly to blame. They stay together out of inertia or fear of the unknown or some sense that what they've got is better than what's out there. If it's not that, then it's the abused partner, not the abuser, who is afraid to leave.

I have heard of not recommending therapy for abusers because abusers can charmingly manipulate the therapist, but that's for couples counseling, not individual. In that case, the abused partner convinces the abuser to come to couples counseling with her. (Yes, I know the abused partner could be male, and the couple doesn't have to be man/woman cis and straight. I chose a singular pronoun. Sue me.) She's thinking the relationship can be saved, but the abuser and the therapist end up ganging up on her.

I have not heard it recommended that abusers never seek therapy on their own outside of a relationship.

It really depends on what the goal is. I read the letter as one where NBFCS needed help navigating a relationship with her friend who is mean to the men she's been in a relationship with and mean to her friends whom she has manipulated into listening to her for 3 hours at a stint while she goes on and on about herself and her problems. It's also reasonable to read the letter as a question on what would be best for the friend and whether therapy could do her any good. I'd say it could despite it sure seeming to me that she's more of an abuser than the victim she paints herself to be. In that circumstance, I think a good therapist could see the obfuscation and help her see that her own actions are contributing to her own unhappiness.

I had a look at the Psychology Today article narcissists getting therapy that you linked to. I don't see how it applies. For one thing, we don't if NBFCS's friend is a narcissist.

54

Fubar @52, this is a guy who's jealous of someone who verbally abuses her partners and makes them miserable. Birds of a feather flock together perhaps? Or is Ork's friend a "friend" in the "asking for a friend" sense?

55

Sorry, I stopped proofreading at the end of my post at 53.

I had a look at the Psychology Today article on narcissists getting therapy that you linked to. I don't see how it applies. For one thing, we don't know if NBFCS's friend is a narcissist.

56

@42 CMD - There's nothing specific in the letter that raises safety concerns other than "insanely jealous" and his continued attempts to contact her after she told him she needed space because she was beginning to feel like his attention was too much (which while she said isn't the real reason, it's a shred of the reason). And this could just be clueless young adult behavior and there's nothing more sinister going on that this young man purring in every pretty lady's ear how special she is so he can get in her pants (which is gross and dishonest, but hardly unusual). My point was that if PLAY legit feels unsafe, she needs to let people know. But I had also said if she enjoys the casual sex with this guy she should carry on, but tell him to stop with the ooey-gooey "you're so special to me but I can't define my feelings" nonsense because the mismatch between his words and actions are leaving the LW hurt and confused.

The "insane jealousy" and what that entails is vague, but concerning, especially in light of the fact that they don't have any relationship/dating status. But I detect a hint of jealousy from PLAY as well. The whole thing sounds like a prolonged casual hookup wherein one party wants to make things official and exclusive, but the other is fine with the status quo. But the status quo party is keeping the other one around by feeding her lines and messing with her head, and it's not okay. And maybe the guy is young and dumb and thinks this is how you woo people. If PLAY decides she wants to continue to block this guy and not have any more to do with him, and she thinks this guy's just a player and not purposefully malicious, she should tell him why. That she hears him tell all the other women the same things he's telling her, that she wants a more sincere relationship. Call him out on his crap.

Re: aggressively blocking, some people won't take a hint or a straight up "no," and if this guy's a player, he will see her attempts to stop contact as a challenge, that he must drip even more verbal honey into her ears to woo his way back into her pants. PLAY sounding young and inexperienced, I'm just giving her a heads up that when people won't respect you enough to back off when you've asked them to, your going to have to assertively defend your own boundary.

57

I still think Ork is Sportlandia. I think he's mostly managed to alter his writing style, he slipped and used some Sportlandia-isms a month back; then gave no reply when I asked if he is Sportlandia.

It makes me kind of sad, actually, that he wants to be here so much as to pretend not to be himself (to avoid his expulsion).

Though I can't claim to have paid attention to him since he didn't reply to my question; a question that would have been easy to deny.

58

@57 p.s.
Oh, and the name too.
I saw Lord of the Rings, so the "Ork" seems positively self-aware.
As for the "Endless", in Sportlandia's last incarnation he was crowing about us never being able to get rid of him (as he haunted us from an array of usernames).

59

Regarding PLAY -- there are a lot of red flags there. It's true that some might only be pink if they stood alone, but taken together, they are the reddest of the red. He either claimed extreme jealous and/or acted in a way that displayed it. He was suffocating her (which she said was true, even though that wasn't the real reason she called it off). And then he ignored her stated boundary and continued contacting her after she asked him not to -- that is huge, if he ignores that smaller boundary, there is no guarantee he will respect a larger one. The part about telling her friends the same things, I might have been more inclined to dismiss on its own. It's not clear what, if any, relationship or sexual encounters the LW has had with him, and she was very vague about the initial FB contact. My first thought without taking the other parts into consideration was that either LW wasn't explicit about her interest, and/or that the guy in question became friends with the other women and LW was jealous of him interacting with them. But with all the other red flags, I don't really believe that is the case. And then there's the line about having feelings for her, but not knowing what they are. It's not that that can never be true, but with everything else and with the abscence of a clear, good-faith effort to figure those feelings out while being respectful of her, it just comes off as a line, a manipulation, and one more giant red flag. It sounds like PLAY has jealousy issues and maybe insecurity, too. Again, it depends on what, exactly, he is saying to her friends, and also what finding him with other women means -- if it is friendly, or non-loaded compliments, that's one thing. If he is flirting with her friends, or if she keeps finding him kissing or more with other women, that's very different. And something about the constantly finding him with other women statement made me wonder if she was -- I'm not sure how to put it, not exactly snooping, and definitely not stalking, but not trusting him and seeking out situations to see if she caught him with others. Which may not be the case -- I may be reading too much into it. And even if it is the case, while that isn't great behavior, it may have been in response to him being untrustworthy, which it sounds like he is. But PLAY may also want to look at their own behavior because the whole situation sounds more dramatic than it needs to be. If you know you want monogamy and you experience a lot of jealousy or insecurity, don't get or stay involved with someone who flirts with other people or who won't commit to monogomy. And if you are able to, perhaps seek out therapy, though I realize access to good therapists who are a good fit with you is not always possible in a lot of the world. I agree that everyone does sound really young, and she sounds inexperienced. It's possible that he is, too, but his behavior should not be encouraged. Men (and others, but especially men in our culture) feeling entitled to behave badly does create dangerous situations. So yeah, PLAY, there are lots of red flags. Dump him. Tell him not to contact you. Warn your friends that he suffocated you, claimed to be or acted extremely jealous, and that he told you all the same things. And don't just tell him not to contact you, back it up -- block him on your phone and on social media. Don't seek him out. And stay firm and don't get back involved with him again, no matter what he says. Some people take it as a personal challenge to try to get someone back after they've been dumped, even if they have no interest in anything other than stringing that person along.

Fichu @ 53, I completely agree with your first paragraph, and would also add that sometimes the people involved also actually love each other. One of my exes and I stayed together for all of those reasons, and there was real love there, too. We cared about each other deeply, but we were also mutually abusive. We'd both grown up in abusive environments, and had no idea how to interact in relationships in non-abusive ways. Ultimately, it was something we had to go about learning seperately, and not together. But we got together young, and the other reasons you listed were big factors for us, too. It sounds like both the LW's friend and her exes behaved badly. It's hard to know whether their bad behavior was interrelated or separate, and also how much of the cheating was in response to her behavior, or whether that was just a convenient excuse. It's possible they wanted to hurt her, it's also possible they felt trapped and abused, and it's also possible they just wanted to cheat and got caught. And it's possible she just wants to get catered to by everyone in those long conversations, but it's also possible that she's genuinely upset about the ending of her relationships. But neither of those things makes either the cheating or the critcal remarks/emotional abuse okay.

60

I think it’s quite possible that PLAY and player never had sex beyond, maybe, fully clothed making up sessions.
Lines like “had our eyes on each other for more than a year” and starting their assumed dating only after “I made a move and sent him a friend request on FB” sound so naïve and make me wonder if both are still virgins.
Player in particular comes across as an extremely inexperienced and insecure person, which may explain his reluctance to make a move, (possibly sudden) eagerness to pretend he’s a macho, and desperation once he is dumped.

It seems like many women have had the unfortunate experiences of dealing with players of all sorts, and men have witnessed those interactions or maybe have also been players themselves at some point in their lives as a result of social pressure and expectation, hence player's vilification from all directions.
But it’s also possible that player is nothing more than a player wannabe because he thinks this is what's expected of him and also his way of self reassurance and masking lack of experience.

61

CMD - I get to be rookie of the year?! That's high praise.

@ 60 CMD - read through the lens of mutual naivete, unspoken interests/intentions, and reading too much into insignificant things (what does it really mean to be FB "friends" anyway?), then PLAY's situation is completely different. This is exactly why I wish Dan had let her divulge more info! Is this guy a potentially abusive creep? Or are these young people just fumbling young people-ly through their first awkward "what is this/what are we?" quasi-relationship? If the latter, well, welcome to college. Just have a DTR conversation already (Define The Relationship). This is a great time to learn to use your words to tell people what you want.

62

Ugghhh, I spent such a chunk of time crafting a response to NBFCS then somehow erased it. I shall seek to recreate it, but the devastation is real.

NBFCS - I think Hexprone @12 made a really good point about this friend group and a thread of gossip/bitching/shit-talking seems consistent among them all. Everyone in this scenario is complaining about the toxic behavior of others, but they are having this conversations with everyone but the person in question. Toxic Friend (I'm calling her this for the sake of clarity and brevity as I refer to various friends in this purported friend group) bitches ad nauseum about her awful exes. NBFCS and friend group make themselves available for TF's drama and unconstructive, unending shit-talking about her exes. NBFCS and friend group bitch about how mean and awful TF is to her partners behind TF's back. There's an awful lot of talking shit and zero constructive conversations happening.

Maybe NBFCS and friend group have legit concerns about this pattern of behavior in TF's relationships. But staging an intervention about it now is likely to come across as the group ganging up on TF, especially if TF has a hard time accepting criticism and is wedded to her victim narrative. The time to address TF's shitty behavior to her partners was when it was happening in front of your face, not now.

So NBFCS needs to address what's most relevant to her and it is this: just as TF's behavior contributes to her own unhappiness, so too is NBFCS's behavior contributing to her unhappy friendship with TF. She needs to tell TF that she will no longer engage in these endless, unconstructive conversations about her exes. That these types of conversations have come to dominate the friendship to the point that it's making it hard for NBFCS to want to be around her (and if she's genuinely interested in staying friends with this person, let her know that you don't want to lose her friendship over this and it makes you sad that it's hard to be around her). Might TF fume and cry victim and say NBFCS is just like all those other bad, bad people who let her down? Yes. Might she cut NBFCS out of her life and burn the bridge? Sounds like her MO. But, if that happens, then NBFCS saves herself the bother of having someone like this in her life, and can maybe offer TF a parting "you realize the common denominator in all these situations is you?"

And can the gossip and drama with your other friends, too. That shit is so toxic.

63

NBFCS: The time to confront your terrible friend is not after she’s just broken up with her poor ex-partner, it is rather the moment you witness her bullying behavior. You say your friend makes disparaging comments about her paramours in public. That is the time to call her out. The next time you are all out together with your friend and her next unfortunate victim, step up as soon as she starts ragging on them. Say to her, in public, "I don't think that's a nice thing to say about partner," or "stop picking on partner," or better yet, "you know, partner, if I were you, I'd drop this relationship because she sounds like she's bullying you."

64

NBFCS, that friend sounds like an abusive narcissist. Look up narcissism checklists and see how many fit.

65

Fichu @53

You're right that I don't have the info to diagnose NBFCS's friend as a narcissist. But I suspect therapy also isn't usually successful for unrepentant assholes. The friend doesn't seem interested in changing, so therapy is unlikely to be useful.

You're also right that often both people are harming each other. I didn't mean to suggest that NBFCS's friend was wholly to blame.

But when you say "it's the abused partner, not the abuser, who is afraid to leave" -- I'm confused. The more abusive partner usually makes it difficult for their partner to leave (via financial, emotional, and aggressive points of pressure). Do you disagree with that? In your experience, are victims of DV usually pressuring their partners to stay?

My rubric is that if one person wants to end a relationship they should be encouraged to do so -- in my experience that's not usually the more abusive party.

66

She does sound like a narcissist, Erica, and they never repent and never apologise. Only way to deal with people damaged this way is to say good bye.

67

@65 EricaP
"therapy also isn't usually successful for unrepentant assholes"

That sounds right to me. Because just generally, a person needs to want to change for therapy to be useful.

68

Mrs Fox @56: Of course PLAY was jealous, Mr PLAY seemed intent on engineering exactly that. I wonder if he hasn't read the PUA handbooks. These seem classic moves to make her feel bad about herself while reeling her in with sweet talk. The reddest flag to me was the adjective, "INSANELY jealous." Was that his word or hers? If he were just plain jealous, it would be a double standard which could perhaps be addressed. "Insanely jealous" crosses the line to potential restraining order territory.
Maybe PLAY should read the PUA playbook so that she can recognise these tricks if anyone else tries to pull them on her again.

Curious @57-58, perhaps. His latest admitted alias was spORKlandia. But, there are a lot of sexist assholes in the world, we may be dealing with more than one.

Bivalve @59: "And then he ignored her stated boundary and continued contacting her after she asked him not to." Yes, that is a massive red flag, not respecting her boundaries. I'm less inclined to view him as young, naive and a bit clueless on how to behave around women, and returning to my initial assessment of RUN!!!
In addition to the PUA handbook, PLAY should read Carolyn Hax's oft-recommended "The Gift of Fear."

CMD @60, excellent analysis. Now I'm back to the young-and-naive reading. What seems clear is whether he's a manipulative PUA or a confused, desperate horndog, he's clearly not in good working order to date. Perhaps HE needs someone experienced to show him the ropes. Literally, if that's what he's into. ;)

Mrs Fox @62, I second CMD's nomination for rookie of the year!
"The time to address TF's shitty behavior to her partners was when it was happening in front of your face, not now." Ding ding ding! These friends are complicit to a degree if they never spoke up at the time. Why are they so afraid of this woman? What's she going to do? "Get angry"? Big whoop, people have emotions. Perhaps these gossiping pals can make a pact that the next time Toxic Friend has a partner, as soon as they observe this behaviour they will call it out, and will back each other up in the event TF then turns the verbal abuse on the caller-outer.

69

curious @67: "a person needs to want to change for therapy to be useful."

Or at least realize there's a problem. The "friend group" should speak up.

70

@24 -- You're exactly right! Life is too short to have an asshole "friend", much less one that has managed to destroy both a marriage and an engagement with her assholery. Seriously, has she been a friend for years and years like this? I'm trying to imagine being with a couple when she starts making fun of his family/ insecurities... and then ever ever being in her presence again. And now you spend HOURS listening to her bemoan her bad luck? Yeah, time for new friends.

71

@69 fubar
Congrats on the lucky number!!

"Or at least realize there's a problem. The "friend group" should speak up."

It is important to speak up. I've told the story before of a subconscious issue I had, and would thus (it being unconscious) never have resolved, had a friend not cared enough to do the difficult thing of mentioning it (and were I not someone who is thirsty to take advantage of every potential avenue for growth). So maybe if one knows someone isn't going to want to try to change, there's no chance for therapy to succeed.

Not that I have any idea anymore which letter we're talking about.

72

Ms Fan - Her exes could be toxic, of course, though there's nothing in particular to suggest that unless one holds that it's just a natural characteristic of all men until proven to the contrary. It seems quite plausible that a skilled abuser might well be able to tailor her attacks, working out what each partner in turn holds as his most cherished point of manliness in himself and attack relentlessly on that individual front. It's not as if there's one magic button to push that gets all toxic men to respond the same way.

Can we come up with someone from a recent letter who would be ideal to lock into a Covenant Marriage with AF1?

73

Ms Cute - You may be pleased to hear that our discussion of Mrs Musgrove and the unfair narratorial dig at her yielded an unexpected dividend. It proved to be the missing piece in the puzzle as to why I found Mr Corden's character/performance in that Prom film such a barb. The realization was another of those middle-of-the-night thoughts to which I'm prone. It was not that the character was a massive flamer, which many people are and they deserve representation too, or that it was another case of straight playing gay unflatteringly. It was that Mr Corden is not attractive in either a conventional or a gay way. As an Unattractive Gay myself, I can speak from authority here. When an UG acts the way his character does, there's almost always an element of spite and/or malice involved, which is why, among my many flaws, I was able to avoid that one. When a Cute Gay flames out, it's often/usually quite different.

74

@49 Ork: Don't tell me, let me guess....and you're a dateless trolling incel who, despite weighing in at 350 lbs considers yourself God's gift?
You do sound a lot like Sportlandia in your comments.

@57 curious2: I think you nailed it on Ork. Agreed and seconded.

@61 Fantastic Mrs.Fox: I third it--Fantastic Mrs. Fox for Rookie of the Year! Kudos! :)
By the way, I didn't piss you off in comment @43, however long-winded, did I? The regular commenters know my life story verbatim (I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve).

@69 fubar: WA_HOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Congratulations on scoring this week's Lucky @69 Award honors! Savor the luscious glory and bask in your much-envied aura. :)

75

Venn @72, I think it's reasonably toxic to respond to behaviour you don't like by cheating and then blaming the other person. I don't think this is something "all men" would do; she clearly has a pattern. Either she seeks out men who won't stand up for themselves, or the men she dates who do stand up for themselves have too much self-respect to last long with her.

By Covenant Marriage, do you mean pairing up two people so as to save the rest of the dating pool from them? If so, I nominate Endless Ork.

76

Derp, "insanely" is of course an adverb, not an adjective. My apologies to all the grammarians in attendance. I should not post while listening to DJ streams.

77

@74 Griz- wahoo and thanks for the kudos! I wasn't ignoring you @43 - I've lurked the comments board long enough to be familiar with your story of your marriage and of the of your efforts to avoid getting sucked into another one by your longtime, agenda-obsessed friend (he got you a maternity outfit as a gift? How unbelievably creepy and wildly inappropriate) How you manage to be such an ebullient and cheerful presence is remarkable to me.

78

65- Erica-- We're in basic agreement on who wants to leave abusive relationships.

79

"But she takes extreme offense to any criticism and insists she’s the victim."
I missed this in my response, and it is a great illustration of my point. She IS the victim of cheating. Her "friends" don't seem to care, or think she deserves to be treated disrespectfully, and I think that would disturb any self respecting person. I don't think it would have been a better choice to stay and pretend the cheating wouldn't happen again, I think she made the right decision to leave. As far as taking offense to criticism, that's pretty human, no one wants to think of themselves as a bad person or an asshole.. It's illogical that her friends want her to stop criticizing others and think the solution is to criticize her. It's only when we point out someone's mistakes -while expressing that we know they are trying to be a good person-, and point out ways they can manage their feelings more respectfully, that they can learn from our example. "You are very critical, don't criticize others the way I'm criticizing you," will never work. "I understand that you're upset at your exes, I would be too, but at least you got them out of your life. So I don't want to talk about them anymore because such disrespectful people are not worth any more pain to any of us. Maybe you can attract more respectful partners who don't cheat by trying very hard to treat them very respectfully from the start, that's what I've tried to do," might work.

I like the way that Dan is compassionate to each LW in his responses. I wish that he could also show compassion to the people they were feuding with, and stop calling anyone assholes. But after hearing a bad president do it for years, to foreigners, to immigrants, to American women and minorities and political enemies, I think it will take people awhile to get sick of divisiveness and notice the strength in compassion and cooperation again.

80

"And who can blame them?"
I blame cheaters for cheating, why don't you think they are responsible for their own actions? There's never any reason to punish a partner, that's just the excuse that most abusers use. And I think people can become better and learn to leave relationships before they are "driven to abuse!?!", and I hope her exes have someone in their lives to encourage them to demand respect or leave instead of sinking to revenge abuse. I also don't think that cheating makes men more manly, spreading that idea just gives men a worse reputation, while a lot of them can keep their promises and don't deserve such poor treatment.

81

Phi @79, I admire your compassion but I believe that it is misplaced.

Sure, most of us aren't thrilled by criticism. But this woman takes EXTREME offense and INSISTS that she is THE victim (her exes are victims too). This indicates to me that her friends are merely trying to get her to see the other side of the story and she is refusing to listen. What NBFCS is talking about is trying to give her friend some constructive criticism that will help in her future relationships. What TF did was "tease her partners about their deepest insecurities in public and to express her extreme disdain for their family members openly." These are completely different things with completely different motivations. NBFCS wants to help her friend, while TF, seemingly, wanted to cut her partners down, or perhaps she just didn't realise how mean her "teasing" was. Also, TF is venting to NBFCS, inviting her to be part of her problems. Sure, she is the victim of cheating. And we have no way of knowing whether these men would have cheated regardless of her actions -- whether her bullying is just a convenient excuse. But NBFCS isn't being engaged in conversation by these men, she's being engaged in conversation with TF. And she has an opportunity to give TF some advice that will improve her future relationships, if TF chooses to take it on board. I agree she can offer sympathy that TF was cheated on, but it sounds like she already has done, extensively. So it's completely logical that TF's friends want her to stop, cruelly and needlessly, criticising her partners, but in order to get this message across they need to, kindly and tactfully, criticise her. NBFCS -can- be both compassionate and honest with TF. The alternative is that this toxic cycle continues with the next man she meets. Who may not respond by cheating but by getting violent with her -- this "criticism" could, in fact, save TF's life!

82

Phi @80, I agree. I blame the cheaters for cheating instead of dumping the motherfucker already. Two wrongs don't make a right.

83

Upon another re-reading of PLAY (yeah, I'm bored), I'm now not completely sure that Mr. Player ever actually exhibited any jealous behaviors, but rather fed PLAY a line about feeling jealous to keep his hooks in her. Below is the part of the letter where the one and only mention of "insane jealousy" is made:

"...he kept reaching out to tell me how much he misses me. He even told me he has feelings for me, but he isn’t sure what they are and so can’t put a label on them, and says I’m special to him and he gets insanely jealous whenever he sees me with other guys."

To me, this sounds more like Mr. Player told our LW that he feels jealous when he sees her with other guys, more than PLAY witnessing this supposed jealous behavior. This whole conversation happened after PLAY told this guy to piss off. So Mr. Player gets cut off from PLAY (whether they were sleeping together or not, she was at least a steady supply of ego-boosting attention for him), then all of a sudden he "misses her." Has vague and undefinable feelings for her. Can't stand seeing her with another guy, so he says. Yeah, I'm starting to think this guy is less of an abusive stalker-y creep and just your run-of-the-mill player, or at least a little baby player in training. He's telling PLAY what she wants to hear, while managing to not commit to any sort of official relationship with her, in order to maintain access to her, her attention, and to try to get in her pants.

PLAY asked how you can tell is someone has feelings for you or if they're just being a player. And goodness knows there's no magic formula, and there are some seriously savvy manipulators out there. But perhaps one of the biggest tip-offs is what PLAY herself is already experiencing: there is a marked mismatch between his words and his actions, and that mismatch is making PLAY feel hurt and confused. Players want you hurt and confused because it makes it easier for them to manipulate you and keep you around. PLAY, did he ever tell you he has "feelings" before you cut him off? Or just after? This is how you know he's a player.

84

@79 Philo - I really like your compassionate response that NBFCS could offer TF. And @80 thank you for bringing up the fact that this woman did not "deserve" to be cheated on, even if she was treating her partners terribly. There has been a lot of talk of "deserves to be cheated on" in this week's and last week's letter (the one with the low-libido woman who discovered her husband has been sexting his cousin). It's really stuck in my craw and I'm glad someone finally said it. People make choices, for example choosing to have an affair and choosing not to have honest conversations with your partner about untenable behavior, or choosing to get out of the relationship so you can pursue others ethically.

85

LW3; problems for you, and given your sudden realisation that nipples are just not there to be played with, that some produce milk, then of course you’ll probably need to stop PiV sex too, because that V the P goes into, it’s real purpose is to grow to sizes much much bigger and a bloody baby comes out. Nature and it’s sense of humour.
Nipples are for sex and for breastfeeding. While breastfeeding one gets sensations in the vagina, and what I understand is that is nature’s funny way of helping women’s vaginas get a little shape back. Yes. Breastfeeding also pulls in the Vagina. More dual purpose activities. Swings back to a size small enough so that the P can return and more bloody babies get to come out.
All is connected. Sex and babies. Didn’t you learn biology? And it is a buzz feeding babies, except when they get teeth. Pulling this way and that. Stretching that nipple.
And don’t let them tell you pregnancy isn’t possible while breastfeeding. I breastfed my six children to varying time lengths, the last one for four yrs. by then it’s comfort food and he weaned himself. Only westerners who seem to go the short spell, many ‘primitive’ communities feed for four to six yrs.
It’s here where the cultural work needs greatest repair. How we instruct re pregnancy/ childbirth/ early life, and how as a society we focus on supporting parents during this intense time of physical ( try no good sleeps for months and months & recovering from Birthing. Brutal ), and emotional work.

86

Maybe MrsFox. @84:
To me this guy sounds too stupid to be a player. Players don’t hit on women who will be able to tell the other women he’s moved on, that his moves are exactly the same. Limp Player, this boy.

87

And LW3, in my experience breastfeeding makes the nipples more arousable, during sex, forever after.
Tits drop, sure, nipples grow to size of mt Everest, and it all loses its pretty pink colour to a sort of murky brown one, but the pleasure remains.

88

LW2, you in college, yes, so what’s the game here. You want a bf, yes? This guy ain’t it. He’s overwhelmed by beautiful young women, and wants them all. You all.
In my memory of University, coupling up wasn’t a thing, because too many around who stimulated desire.
This boy may have feelings for you, and Mary and Sue. If it’s an exclusive bf you want, close this boy out and look elsewhere. Adolescence goes on till @25, when the pre frontal cortex finally settles into place. Look for a man over twenty five, is your best bet.

89

Pause with all of it, LW2, as there’s a Pandemic on.

90

Mrs Fox @84, recall though that last week the husband chose -not- to "cheat," instead he directed his excess horn to a non-physical outlet. It was not the outlet the wife expected and she was shocked by it. But you are correct that he had a choice; if he had cheated, he couldn't have claimed "well, I was driven to it by the lack of sex," because he did in fact have other options and he chose one of them. Perhaps not the ideal choice, but in his mind, he stayed faithful.

91

@90 BDF - My comments @84 referred to people in the comments section jumping to talk of someone "deserving" to be cheated on, or "driving" their partner to cheating/sexting. I wasn't talking about what occurred in the letters, more my dismay at the persistence of this attitude of if you get cheated on, you must deserve it or have contributed to it somehow. And that idea is crap because people make their own choices, and it's deflecting to say that other people's behavior is responsible for your choices.

92

Fox@91
"talk of someone "deserving" to be cheated on... that idea is crap..."

I couldn't agree more. I very briefly skimmed somebody saying that, but honestly the people who would say that aren't worth my attention. (Well...I think Dan might have said that a few times, but Dan is obviously worth 30 years of my attention!)

I will note that just last week I scolded INCEST for not proactively addressing her husband's libido imbalance (instead apparently assuming "he was content").

But that scolding was just about /her/ failure to communicate. It doesn't make her husband any less guilty of his /own/ failure.

In other words, what the people who don't merit anyone's attention said was wrong, because these two wrongs didn't make anyone right.

This is what I do once I've become disinterested in a thread. I end up jumping in with some kind of logical argument, even though I don't remember anymore what the letters were about.

/Break/
I feel like Fox's Rookie of the Year award is insufficiently strong praise. Who's her competition? The Ork who Sportlandia is hiding, and trying to bottle up his full and too-identifiable anger, inside?

Still no denial, I note. Just like a month ago when he slipped and used some of Sportlandia's writing style.
He can't say "Yes" as he's learned that that immediately revives his expulsion. He doesn't want to say "No", because it tears at him to not be able to be himself here. So he says nothing, since then at least we might think it's him, so he has that small satisfaction.

93

I've reread PLAY's letter this time and will give an unsatisfactory answer to her reasonable questions. How can you tell if a guy is a player or if he has feelings for you? You can't-- at first. With time, experience and some heartbreak, you can get better at it, but you can never know for sure. Welcome to the human condition. I'm purposely ignoring the specifics of the particular guy and giving the most general answer.

These young people are in university, yes? That makes them 17-22 years old? Correct me if I'm wrong. I man that age, even if he's thinking he will eventually go for monogamy, is going to want to date a lot of young women. To him, at this age, that's going to mean talking them up, saying pretty things, and seeing if he can get in their pants. Same for the woman. She's going to want to talk to a lot of guys to see if some of those talks turn into dates-- and then see if some of those dates, if she likes the guy, turn into enjoyable sex-- taken at her own pace with a guy who's not pressuring her. There's nothing wrong with this!

Well, there could be something wrong with it if the guy never liked the women, if he knew from the start that his intention was to fuck them and leave them as soon as he has. There are guys like that, but you can't necessarily tell the fuckers from the ones who date a lot of women and make love to them and show them a good time. It's hard to tell them apart. They themselves might not know which category they belong to.

Here are some general things to be on the look out for.
- The jealousy thing. That's not a good look.
- Alcohol. A good guy will want to get to know you when you're both sober.
- A general sense of wanting the best for you even if he's not in the picture. For example, a good guy will encourage you to study if you need to study even if he'd rather go out with you that night. A player will try to convince you give up the time you spend on your classes to see if he can get you out partying.
- When it comes to sex, the player is mostly interested in getting his rocks off. (I just know I'm dating myself with that expression.) A guy who's into you will want to get you so turned on that you want to explore further with him. The good guy will never berate you for whatever reticence you show.

94

@77 Fantastic Mrs. Fox: I think a big part of my buoyancy and resilience over a span of four decades comes from having survived what I have, and managing to dodge some otherwise really nasty bullets. My experiences certainly have amply contributed to my offering many stories shared in Savage Love comment threads and retold musically through orchestration, solo, and ensemble works.
My agenda-obsessed acquaintance was extremely frugal for someone so determined to make me his wife. About the only area where he tended to splurge was gabbing long distance. I'm certain that his monthly phone bills, particularly to my father, were astronomical. His gifts, with the rare exception of a few pieces of his own designed "junk jewelry" were pretty tasteless if not outright hideous in color scheme (agreed and seconded that that one weird maternity ensemble was his creepiest and most inappropriate gift of all).
Among his weird "care packages", there was also a fat manila envelope sent to me via USPS stuffed with useless job leads, primarily for part-time, low paying, no benefits, high stress, non-union service positions that had nothing to do with my field of study, passion, or ability. He used to call me up "to check" on my "job search" progress, flying into a rage whenever I honestly told him I wasn't applying for any of the following:

U.S / Canadian Border Patrol Guard at Sumas (he got all excited at the idea of seeing me in a uniform). Not only did I have no interest or experience in such an occupation, getting to and from would have been a pain in the butt. When I lived in La Conner, this would have been a 57.7 mile long commute one way, via SR20 and I-5, and would have been hell on my beloved stick shift SuperBeetle. While my car isn't falling apart, it would not handle well on the freeway in bumper-to-bumper gridlock.
My acquaintance's sole mode of transportation was riding Metro buses across town. When I explained the difficulty he screamed, "Get a newer car!!"
I believe he was insanely jealous of my VW.
Clerk for a dry cleaning business in Mount Vernon (he actually made an aggravated growling noise when I said no, pressing me with a condescending "They TRAIN YOU!")
Cashier at Wal*Mart. I have tried cashiering, hate it, and never again will I apply for it. Not only am I not good at it, the job itself stresses me out. I have had the WORST luck with cash registers. They either go offline, jam up or the print roll runs out, or suddenly there's a major rush of customers, and I get stuck with a system override and a line around the corner when suddenly half the employees just went on break or went home for the day.

Anything in fast food. I honestly think he harbored some bizarre Ned Flanders (from The Simpsons) "Oakilly Doakilly" fascination with seeing me in a uniform, regardless of whether or not the listing actually matched my skills, educational training, or interest.

All this led me to wonder if his ideal vision of me was something like that of actress Miriam Flynn as Cousin Catharine (opposite Randy Quaid as Cousin Eddie) in National Lampoon's Vacation (1983). Gee--after the baby comes, I could quit one of my night jobs.....

Did I mention my wildly celebrated "Regan* / Carrie* " party from last August after my full bilateral hysterectomy? The theme was a combination of my being exorcized of nasty internal demonsm and gleefully wasting the prom, metaphorically speaking. Of course, there was plenty of gluten free Devil's food (chocolate cake) and red wine.
( after * Linda Blair's demonically possessed Ragan McNeil in William Peter Blatty's horror film, The Exorcist (1973), and * Sissy Spacek's cruelly ostracized title character in Carrie (1976), based on Stephen King's first best-selling novel, published in 1974.
And the best part is that, now that I'm over 56 nobody is asking me to have a baby anymore.

95

@94: Oh, rats! Why are the numbers listing the bogus job listings not visible? At least the asterisks are still there.

WOW--we're almost at this week's Big Hunsky! Tick...tick...tick...

96

Follow-up on my post at 93. PLAY's question is how to tell if this young man has feelings for her. I'd like to turn it around and say the question shouldn't be how he feels; it should be how she does.

If her feeling is butterflies whenever he pays attention to her, a soaring great feeling when they spend an evening together, and feeling insecure and unhappy the rest of the time, then that is a bad relationship even if he's a great guy. Someone else might be happy with that amount of contact, but if you're not, you're not. Listen to that.

If her feeling is satisfaction whenever they have sex, and a good feeling going about her business the rest of the time while she talks to other friends, then that is a terrific friends with benefits relationship and something to be valued for as long as it lasts which likely will not be forever. Someone else might not be happy with that sort of commitmentless sex, but if you are, listen to that.

If you get to the point where you do want commitment, listen to that too. Get in the habit now of deciding that your feelings matter.

98

"TF is venting to NBFCS, inviting her to be part of her problems."
I read that NBFCS was calling her friend every day but unable to set boundaries, change the subject or get off the phone, if the exes came up. She was able to stop calling every day but is still criticizing her friend and asking others for help to force the change she wants. But it doesn't help her friend to tell her that she was at all responsible for her exes' cheating, as she said she's been advising. That's victim blaming. The problem is not that she shunned guys who cheated on her. That was a healthy choice if she's not a cheater, so it's not a bad thing that her relationships ended. The problem is that she's unable to attract respectful guys because she treats them disrespectfully, or that she's attracted to guys who will put up with her disrespect because they want a "justification" for their own bad behavior. The problem is that she does not demand a higher degree of respect for herself and her partners, that dumping them once they cheat is not a high enough standard. NBFCS has it backwards when she says her friends' problem is that she takes no responsibility for the end of her relationships. That's fine, but she should be more careful about who she starts relationships with, and end the relationship or at least take the distance she needs before her disrespectful urges become strong enough to act upon. Her relationships may be shorter, but she is much less likely to waste her time with a cheater or experience the pain of a partner's affair. And NBFCS would also be better served to follow her friend's example and be less sympathetic to disrespectful behaviors, I don't get why she wanted to chat up the cheaters or sympathize with them about how they were treated.

"TF's friends want her to stop, cruelly and needlessly, criticising her partners, but in order to get this message across they need to, kindly and tactfully, criticise her."
I disagree, I think that if they want to positively influence their friend, they need to show her an alternative to criticism, ie set a good example.. stop referring to her as toxic or stop referring to her as a friend because it's not friendly to call someone toxic.. To express that they value and try to model respectful behavior and address disrespectful behavior by pointing out how it hurts others and distance themselves from people who express that they want to hurt others. And point out how her own criticism hurts if they witness it again, and point out better ways to help her victims if that was what she was trying to do. And stop talking to her if she says she doesn't care whether or not she hurts others, for NBFCS' own protection. I have given several examples of non-critical help, but I'm not sure what sort of criticism you think would help the friend feel better. What sort of criticism makes you feel better?

"Who may not respond by cheating but by getting violent with her -- this "criticism" could, in fact, save TF's life!"
The series Picard has so many great one liners, here I'm reminded that "fear makes an imperfect teacher." Yes, you may convince someone to stop wearing miniskirts because women who do may technically have a higher chance of being raped, and likewise scare them with victim blaming and that fear may help them a little. I think it serves them much better to discuss general ways of protecting themselves, avoiding dangerous locations and people, and carrying a knife or mace or panic button or something just in case. In the present case, she could avoid cheaters by taking distance at any sign of disrespect from her partners, and rooting out any subconscious disrespect in her own behavior to better attract respectful people. Please notice that I'm not criticizing her, I'm stating my opinion of how she can better get what she wants.

Fichu, "How can you tell if a guy is a player or if he has feelings for you? .. you can never know for sure."
I agree. We can only tell if we are happy with the way they care for us or not. Tell them what we want, ask them what they want, work together when we want the same things, and take distance when their words and actions don't match, if they are not self aware and respectful enough for us. I also loved the way you demonstrated how she can notice and honor her own feelings, so she can make sure her words and actions match. People are just more or less respectful or resourceful or self aware. Grouping people into good and bad, sincere or liars, assholes and angels is not accurate, even if it feels satisfying.

Thanks Fox!

99

Phi @98: "you may convince someone to stop wearing miniskirts".

I read an article today about the police in London telling women not to go out alone while they investigated the abduction murder of Sarah Everard. The writer, a woman, suggested that instead they should put men under a curfew. I think that frames the issue perfectly.

100

With you there cbu. @ 97. This guy sounds normalish for some young men. They all sound very innocent, these young women.
I did recall wrongly re my uni days. Yes people paired up, unpaired and paired again. Given in those days we lived communally in the city, had house meetings too, attractions between people could not be contained. Youth, remember. Much sexual energy.
These young men who know and enjoy one on one intimacy, are thoughtful etc, they still often don’t want to be tied down. As it is with some young women. And others.

101

The Savage Lovecast Live just ended. A few takeaways:

Dan has been writing a new book. Hopefully, this explains his absence from the comments section, the SLLOTD, and the advice roundup.
Dan knows way too much about BDSM not to be KAF. That's Kinky As Fuck.
It may be that Dan got vaccinated. I missed a few minutes, but he's hopped up on painkillers and weed because of something.
Terry is looking good.