Savage Love

Counseled Culture

Comments

1

Griz?

2

I feel like a little more detail from STRING on what specifically feels frustrating would be helpful here.

But really in the end, there's not a lot of options. If you try to stuff that resentment back where it came from it will just burn hotter. You'd prob be better off using some of that free time you have to really feel your feelings, like just feel the hell out of them, and then maybe choose to do something else. Either something fun and incredibly distracting or something physically hard that'll use up a lot of energy. You need coping strategies to help you process those emotions on your own, because your NSA buddy is not the right person to help you out with that.

3

@1 WA-HOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Congrats to Griz on scoring another FIRDT! and leading this week's Savage Love: Counseled Culture comment thread. I humbly accept my coveted numerical prize, willingly forfeiting THIRDT! honors or any further numerical awards for this week, and bask in my glory. :)

@2 Luluisme: WA-HOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Congratulations on scoring this week's SECNOD! honors. Bask in the glory of being among the first in the SL: Counseled Culture comment thread, and save the accolades. :)

4

SHRINKS- I'd only expect counselors to suggest divorce if it seemed impossible for someone to be happy within the marriage. "Better divorced than unhappily married" seems "normal". Open relationships are awesome when you dislike monogamy. So your wife went het to gay? She lost all attraction to you and other men, and gained an attraction to women, both at the same time? Weird. I'd still think about this as two separate issues. It doesn't make sense that her attraction to you would change suddenly, does she think it's possible to get the spark back anymore? And how do you feel about your wife dating other women without you? Would you need to date other women too to accept her exploration? Then how would you feel if she started dating a different man? If you're not able to talk about how an open relationship might work for your marriage, or get the spark back in monogamy, I don't see how you both can be happy. Unless maybe this is het to bi? Then threesomes might be the easiest solution..

HARDON- it's probably emotional if he hasn't noticed any difference while masturbating. Maybe he really likes you and is nervous. Maybe he is distracted by life problems. Maybe it is physical from masturbating, gorilla grip syndrome. To all of these things, keep switching things up if it's not working (maybe masturbate together or each other or 69 etc).. and don't be afraid to take a break to eat or stop before coming, if sex is feeling awkward. He also might not be into you, maybe distracted by someone else or porny fantasy, if you get this feeling then start looking around for a replacement, if he doesn't really seem into making sure you have a great time..

5

@4 Philophile: WA-HOOOOOOOOO!!!! Congratulations on scoring this week's Savage Love: Counseled Culture THIRDT! honors (I disqualified myself after hitting FIRDT!)! Bask in the glory of being among the first of commenters in this week's Savage Love column and savor your numeric honors. :)

Remember, folks--there are plenty of more Lucky Numbers awards still available--we've just started. The Lucky @69 will be up for grabs next. Good luck! :)

6

Great idea to ask the therapist their stance on open marriage before counseling starts, but I would also make sure to find out where the therapist received their training. If their diploma is from Notre Dame, or Baylor, or SMU, or Brigham Young, or the like, then odds are highly against the therapist thinking that mama and daddy going out separately on Saturday night looking for tail is the answer to saving any marriage.

7

As for HARDON
BF’s current inability to come in you is not going to be eased when you seem to be so stressed about it yourself. There may be things in his head like he said, but also consider what’s in yours. Is coming in you the only indication of him being a healthy, loving, caring partner?
Are there any other sexual activities you enjoy together that may lead to it? Is he reacting positively to certain things you do, wear, different positions, etc?
You can also try and build some momentum. One doesn’t have to come every time you have sex. Few days, maybe even a week or two of no ejaculation can lead to a very meaningful erection.

Dan’s advice about porn is somewhat meaningless though as most gay or straight porn involve a penis shooting its load for viewers to see, but he is right that there’s nothing wrong with enhancing one’s erection manually before penetration.

I’m not sure your otherwise “fit and healthy man who exercises regularly and does not have any underlying health conditions” needs any medications as much as patience by all involved. And you as a UK person residing in the middle east should embrace at least one very positive aspect of living there: the food has flavour!

8

I liked Dan's advice to SHRINKS except this bit:"If you’re happy and the wife’s happy and her future girlfriends and/or your thirds are happy, then that’s awesome."

I would not encourage them to look for "thirds." Especially if his wife is done having hetero sex.

Instead, his wife can look for girlfriends and he can look for his own girlfriends. He can ask his wife if she's up for a threesome, but if not he should plan to find two new women for his threesome (assuming that's his fantasy) rather than pressuring his wife.

9

Yeah, Griz for the firdt!

Re SHRINKS: A friend was going through a rough patch in her marriage and said that the therapists she and her husband saw behaved like "divorce counsellors" rather than marriage counsellors, so yeah, I'm not surprised the therapists SHRINKS saw advised (not "coerced," obviously) divorce. I'm also not surprised, not because I believe therapists are inherently pro-monogamy, but because I imagine by the time most marriages get to the therapy stage, the relationships are beyond salvaging. That like letters to Dan, nine times out of ten the answer is the obvious DTMFA. I'm sure there are exceptions, but thinking like a therapist, "wife does not like men" would not seem an indicator that this marriage can (or should) be saved.

Question two, of course open relationships can be awesome relationships. However, if you are thinking that this is a way to get a threesome, think again. Your wife is a lesbian, not bisexual. Can you even imagine the dynamic of bringing a unicorn into such a relationship? Shudder! If you do go the open-relationship route, you should accept that your own marriage will be a companionate one, because you like women, and she likes women, and therefore each of you will (separately) be dating women. If you manage to hook up with two at a time, mazel tov.

Sadly, since they're in the Middle East, the obvious solution for HARDON being too "in his own head" to come during intercourse doesn't seem available: weed. So I'll go with Dan's: Is he getting you off? Is he getting off? Then you don't have a problem.

STRING, another thing you can do so you won't feel so resentful when your lover is working or parenting is fill that spare time in your life. Not necessarily with a different partner, though that is an option (no strings means no monogamy). You could also get a hobby, join a choir or amateur sports team, etc. Or someone else to fantasise about, which I realise may not be easy when you're awash in NRE for this guy. So go get busy enjoying your life!

10

Phi @4: "So your wife went het to gay? She lost all attraction to you and other men, and gained an attraction to women, both at the same time?" That's not how sexual orientation works. It's more likely she was attracted to women the whole time, but married and had kids with a man because that's what her family and her social group expected, and perhaps what she herself expected -- even in 1991 when they married, there was more stigma against LGBT+ people, particularly if they are from a red state. Now after 30 years, she has finally admitted to both her husband and to herself what her true desires are. Of course, it is indeed possible that she was once attracted to her husband, but I think we can rule out any chance she's attracted to him now, because then she'd be bisexual, not lesbian.

CMD @7: "Dan’s advice about porn is somewhat meaningless though as most gay or straight porn involve a penis shooting its load for viewers to see." Good point that the reason for the visible jacking-off in porn is to film the money shot, not that it's an indication of what is "normal." It could also be a way for the actors to maintain erection when they are not attracted to the other actors they're being paid to bone. The rest of Dan's advice, "Here's how you can help," would have been fine on its own.

Erica @8, yes. In fact, her husband's "you're a lesbian? Yay threesome!" reaction may be one reason she hasn't opened up to him until now. Indeed, no thirds for this couple.

11

Apropos STRING: I am not so sure that the 'no strings' thing is a condition for 'emotional reasons' she set, rather than an integral part of the set-up the guy proposed to her, or which seemed an integral feature of the arrangement they were getting into. She may be finding out that what she wants from regular partnered sex is some kind of relationship--is doing things together; is having a schedule which isn't just imposed on her; is some kind of togetherness and intimacy (whatever emotional intimacy she gets from the fucking). This isn't what the guy signed up to, or what she offered. He signed up to an after-hours fuckbuddy--after parenting and after a busy job.

It is perfectly reasonable for her to try to negotiate a change from 'no strings' to some kind of genuine partnership or companionship. But she won't necessarily get anywhere. It doesn't seem what her younger partner wants. It's also reasonable for her to move on--because she's discovered it's a relationship, after all, that she wants. Then again she says that she values the sex and wants the NSA arrangement.

I'd think it just as likely that STRING has been celibate for ten years because she wanted a relationship that worked on her own terms, with an acceptable or impressive, partner, than that she's been celibate in reaction to past abusive or manipulative partners. Dan's suggestions about her sabotaging herself are good ones, though. She could also take micro-steps, like not attempting to change how often they hook up or how long, but doing more to determine the calendar herself, arranging it around other stuff in her life.

12

Apropos HARDON: the key take-away here for me is that she's thinking of ending a promising relationship with a guy in an apparently unpropitious setting (the Middle East) because he almost never comes inside her. Both of them regard this as normal. They see no problem with it; they have internalised, at a deep level, the idea that their sex is defective, or typically fails, because he is anorgasmic in that way. Dan is right: they, and HARDON in particular, need to take a step back. What can they do (not as 'foreplay', but as full-blown sex, as the main event) to get them both off? How can they take the focus, and the pressure, off his dick? I don't think it's her so much 'pathologising' how his dick works, as both of them having signed up to a damaging cultural script of spurting, of male 'fountainhead', PIV being the definitive expression of het sex.

I think the background to her question has to be what she wants long-term. Lots of British doctors, nurses, engineers and teachers have short-term contracts in e.g. Dubai. HARDON is 36. She could e.g. imagine being in her job for two years, then going back to Britain to find a nesting partner. Only she will know whether she's thinking of throwing over this guy because she can't imagine a long-term future with him on other grounds than sexual compatibility. But she shouldn't say 'no' to him if he's a decent prospect just because he doesn't come inside her.

His orgasms may also be inhibited by Viagra. She could just say-- and then drop it--'if you're taking anything like Viagra, that could be stopping you coming'.

13

STRINGS- "But because I have more time on my hands and a proclivity for fantasizing, I have started to resent the fact that we always follow his schedule."
Presumably he is following your schedule and accepting when you need to spend time working or with other people or pursuits. But you are having trouble? It's important to be able to accept "no" for an answer. If he can't give you what you really want at some moment, then try to get it from other men, isn't that why you wanted "no strings"? Or ask for strings if that's the problem (more time and energy and focus and attention and assurance and commitment?), and accept that if he still wants NSA, that you now need to meet someone else for the strings. Return his honesty and helpfulness and acceptance and respectfulness, even if he isn't doing exactly what you want.

Thanks Griz!

BDF, "That's not how sexual orientation works."
That's how het to gay works.

Maybe you are right and his wife went from bi to gay and is only announcing a lack of attraction to men.. or this is a weird way of announcing that she's just not attracted to her husband anymore.

Or, sometimes people ignore the bisexual label and describe anyone with same-sex attractions as a homo. She may have went from het to bi, and simply developed an attraction to women, but uses the inaccurate label of lesbian.. or maybe her husband chose the label when she announced she wants a girlfriend.

My too-subtle point was that going from one mono orientation to the other involves 2 big changes, both a loss of the old attraction as well as gaining a new gender attraction. So if she went het to homo, both her lack of attraction to men and her gain of attraction to women are important to discuss and resolve.

14

"tell him the sex is still a success if he wants to “finish himself off” at the end like all the gay porn stars and many women do"
It would be so awesome if women finished themselves off in porn as well as in real life!

15

Re SHRINKS: this is not a guy who's spent his life thinking about lesbianism or threesomes (or not seriously thinking about the latter, not thinking about the logistics and emotional hygiene of actually having them). There's something comic and also disturbing in how quickly he equates these two things. Now, it may be that the psychiatrists the couple have spoken to have seen how unprepared they are for negotiating an open marriage, and accommodating SHRINKS's wife's lesbianism, and have just told them to split. But surely SHRINKS would have heard them say something like, 'erm, I'm not sure you're ready for this'. It's more likely these are just shitty therapists, invested in monogamy as Dan suggests.

My personal experience is that there are indeed a tonload of shitty therapists, invested in 'you must be one or the other' thinking e.g. 'you must be monogamously committed or divorced', but this might not be germane.

The boilerplate to SHRINKS has to be that open marriages can work, but require a lot of thinking and talking--almost certainly more than he's accustomed to. If he's staying married, his presumption should be that his wife is having sex with women, that he's not invited--and that she may not even be having sex with him. He's staying for the 'house and kids'. Perhaps, even, he's staying out of now-Platonic love for his wife, to help her with this momentous transition to the next phase of her life.

I also wondered whether he confused the words 'coerced' and 'counseled'.

Vintage Savage Love for me this week: three interesting questions, all of which I felt required Dan's, our, my help and input, with vintage, and I would have thought, for the most part, unimpeachable, answers from Savage.

16

@13. Philophile. I think you are right in all you say this week.

I would guess that part of what's involved on Mrs SHRINKS announcing she's lesbian after thirty years of marriage is her saying that she's no longer attracted to her husband.

17

Harriet @ 11, 13: Sound advice for STRINGS. You can't always help what you're feeling, but you can almost always manage how you act on those feelings. And STRINGS, if you want to keep the tidy, satisfying setup you have going on- which is what I presume you proposed and this man signed on for- venting your resentment and placing demands is not going to come out well for you. If your needs have changed, of course, this isn't something you should repress. You have every right to seek what you want while being prepared to accept that this may not be what this man can or wants to give. But it's not fair, really, to be angry with him. NSA booty call situations are pretty cut and dried, and his work and child-rearing obligations are about as valid reasons as you'll get for his limited availability. From your letter, you seem to possess a good degree of self-awareness. Keep that reflection going, it will serve you well.

18

Phi @13, your point wasn't too subtle. I got it loud and clear. It's just not the way sexual orientation works. Sure, orientation can be somewhat fluid; there are plenty of people who thought they were bisexual and now identify as gay, etc. But do you agree that sexual orientation is, for the most part, fixed? You couldn't just decide you were gay and have that work for you. It's far more likely Mrs SHRINKS was gay all along and hiding her orientation in order to fit in, than that she was once straight and has now made, as you say, two big changes. The only thing that changed was her being honest versus closeted.

It is indeed another possibility that she was bi all along, and is still bi, but after 30 years of monogamy with men is ready to move on. Telling her husband she is bi would only result in a demand from her for threesomes -- I mean look at his reaction to her saying she is gay. So perhaps she was always bi, is still bi, and is saying she's gay because she wants out. But that doesn't square with SHRINKS's claim that they want to stay married. I think we have to take people at their word when it comes to their sexual orientation: Mrs SHRINKS isn't "het to gay," she's gay. That means she doesn't want men, including her husband. And if her husband wants to stay married to her, he first needs to accept that lesbian means a wife who won't fuck him. Perhaps that's what the shrinks are trying to tell him.

19

"Hello! I am a heterosexual man!"
"Hello! I am a gay man!"

(And why are we shouting?!!)

SHRINKS: I love the openness to an open relationship.

(Note: in the next paragraph the terms I use will not be referencing the wife's identification, but her actual sexuality.)

But do you not see the contradiction between her being lesbian and you getting a threesome with her? Have you not heard of bisexuality? And if she's not bi but lesbian, look up 'companionate marriage', because that's likely what you're looking at, not just an open one.

BDF@18
"another possibility...was bi all along...is still bi, but after 30 years of monogamy with men is ready to move on."

If I didn't presume she is quite new to expressing her attraction to women, I'd suggest a sub-cultural effect as another possibility. Because I've heard from bi women, including the wonderful lesbian-identified one I dated, that it isn't always easy for a bi woman to be accepted by lesbians if she identifies as bi.

20

I'm not sure where in the world SHRINKS is located, or what types of "therapists" he and his wife have been seeing, but in my neck of the woods licensed clinical mental health professionals are NOT allowed to give advice/opinions to their clients. They are most definitely not allowed to outright tell their clients "you should get divorced." I hear BDF @9 saying she had a friend who experienced precisely the same thing as SHRINKS, so I'm not saying it doesn't happen. But ethically it's certainly not supposed to. The LW and his wife need to find a higher caliber of therapist (one who is actually licensed, if that has been an issue).

I agree with BDF @10 that Mrs. SHRINKS has been a lesbian all along; she didn't just "turn gay" and I have a hard time believing this is an excuse someone would use to "kindly" tell their spouse they're no longer attracted to them. This phenomenon is not uncommon in the faith my in-laws belong to; people want so badly to believe they're straight so they can do the (straight) marriage-and-kids thing within the faith, only to buckle 20 or so years later when they simply can't do it anymore and can't/won't keep hiding.

SHRINKS's immediate "wahoo, lesbian wife = oodles of threesomes for me!" made my eyes roll. Oh buddy. You are so spectacularly off the mark here. You're thinking very dickfully with porno-colored glasses. You and Mrs. SHRINK need to have many on-going, honest conversations about what an open marriage means to both of you, and what (if any) sex will be occurring between the two of you. It is far more likely that the two of you will be in a companionate marriage (because presumably you still love one another in a platonic way, and to preserve the stability of your home and family [if there is indeed no other reason to break that up, if you both are committed to give one another sufficient space and freedom in the relationship to make this work]) wherein you are both free to get your sexual needs met elsewhere.

One aspect of an open marriage that is glaringly absent in SHRINK's letter is the extent to which either he or Mrs. SHRINK can explore outside relationships. Are they going to be allowed to date others, to have girlfriends? How does SHRINK honestly feel about his wife having a romantic, emotional (not just sexual) relationship with someone else? Are they going to be "kitchen table, " or will they both need to be discrete about their other partners? How will they handle it if someone in their community sees one of them on a date with someone else? What are they going to tell their kids? There is A LOT to sort out here, none of which is "when do I start getting sexy FMF threesomes?"

Presumably my above paragraph contains issues they were hoping to sort out with the help of a good therapist, but I don't see any reason why they can't start discussing it between the two of them now.

21

The other possibility is that LW1 is not a total moron and the shape of their future sexual relationship has thoroughly discussed. Hence the letter doesnt say “ … and we wont be having sex with each other, including threesomes..”

22

Fox@20
"licensed clinical mental health professionals are NOT allowed to give advice/opinions"

While for most patients that's probably good, if it's true where I am I'm personally extremely unhappy about it, because for my purposes if I can't find out what a therapist thinks they're mostly useless to me. (But then I, unlike perhaps most, am eminently capable of knowing when to disregard what anyone thinks.) If that is the law here, thankfully I can find therapists with the good judgement to not be useless to me by adhering to it with me.

xxx

From the contradictory letter we do not know Mrs. SHRINKS is a lesbian. For all we know she already fucked SHRINKS twice this morning (perhaps she wanted to, or perhaps out of a sense of duty), so he had a rational basis for imagining threesomes. She could be bi and identifying as a lesbian.

Or she could be lesbian as regards SHRINKS, but bi as regards everyone else on Earth.

Or SHRINKS, having written a muddled letter, might not have even heard of bisexuality.

When a letter contains such contradictions, it's a waste of my time, and unfounded, to make assumptions relevant to the contradictions. I'd rather just point out the contradiction and wait for clarification before speculating, let alone assuming.

23

For HARDON.
There are therapists available by online video chat. Just be sure that you have a secure connection via VPN.

24

Philo @13: You seem to be assuming that since she was in a long-standing heterosexual relationship, she must have been het at some point. Unfortunately there are still lots of places where people get into het marriages because they feel they have to, and many such people were never het, and are perfectly capable of engaging in years of sex that they don't enjoy with someone they aren't really attracted to. It's also possible to confuse love and attraction, especially if you are trying awfully hard to be "normal." She may have thought that the emotion she felt for her husband was the same thing as attraction. Now, however many years in, she no longer can/wants to lie to herself (and him, by extension).

To me that seems a lot more likely than a sudden orientation shift. Sadly.

25

ciods@24
"To me that seems a lot more likely than a sudden orientation shift."

Ditto.

But we have learned (haven't we?) that women tend to be more fluid in orientation than men. I wonder how much of that is simply a shift though, and how much is a process of discovery that had been hindered by unhealthy cultural pressures.

Perhaps the gender fluidity-gap might even relate to different cultural pressures...but that would seem counterintuitive to me, since it seems to me that SS attraction to men is subjected to more cultural discrimination than SS attraction to women.

26

No, it's not coming out as a lesbian after thirty years of marriage. It's fessing up and telling the truth after thirty years of deceit and selfishness.

When will center-of-the-universe gays and lesbians finally stop robbing the lives of heterosexuals? Why do they think they need to? This is not the era of Rock Hudson anymore.

27

@raindrop: "This is not the era of Rock Hudson anymore."
Maybe not where you live. It still is in lots of places.

28

It is an odd letter. On its face, it seems this guy perhaps isn't too bright, and has misinterpreted "I'm a lesbian, but I don't want to get divorced, I want an open relationship," meaning that they both date other women and not each other, as "I'm bisexual and I want an open relationship that will include sharing women with you." (Even if she had come out as bi rather than lesbian, it's a leap to conclude that "I want an open relationship" means "I want threesomes"; in fact, it might more likely mean "I want to date other men and women.") However, SHRINKS says that they have seen multiple therapists and, crucially, read books on opening their relationship. It seems he would not have persisted in this misinterpretation after reading multiple books about non-monogamy. So, who knows, maybe Mrs SHRINKS has promised to be open to a threesome should one of the other women she likes, or he likes, happens to fancy them both, as the price of openness for her. But he should be prepared that she may be giving lip service to this dickful thinking fantasy of his, and have no solid intention of looking for a unicorn. That instead, she's just gonna be his roommate. In other words, what Dan said.

29

@27: There are, but seriously most nations are wired and Facebook has billions of users all over the planet. The remaining one-off exceptions you can point to are negligible given the readership of this blog.

30

BDF@28
Oh good point that he wrote that letter even after having
"visited some therapists...read some books about opening up a relationship".
(The therapists sound bad, but having myself read some great books about opening up, I would think they learned something from at least one.)

Maybe she's in fact bi and only identifying as a lesbian. Maybe she's actually become (or always been) lesbian, and he's been grandfathered-in by her attraction mechanisms (or force of duty).

SHRINKS, I'm a commenter! I want clarification! Why was your letter contradictory?!!

rainy@26
Cut the repulsive gay-bigotry-and-discrimination-denial bullshit if you don't want those of us to block you who haven't already.

I mostly haven't blocked you already because your crap comments are at least brief, but this is way over the line even for you.

31

rainy@26
Honestly, that was bordering on being bad enough to deserve not just myself blocking you, but for you to be banned from the board.

32

LW1 - I do not see a threesome in this person's future. Even if his gay wife (side note: I strongly suspect this is a straight woman talking about her out-to-her gay husband, but whatever) was good with having threesomes, good luck with a third who wants to share their new girlfriend (and their own pussy) with a dude.

LW2 - It sounds like your partner told you exactly what was up. Men aren't cum machines. Let him stroke himself off, it's fine. Imagine telling a woman to get professional help for her inability to cum on your cock when they were totally happy to masturbate with you. The horror! This one's a bit personal, since I don't come every time and I am fairly tired of being accused of being gay for it, and this is only it's slightly less obnoxious cousin. not coming is just fine!

Regarding Dan's response: Straight porn almost always features the guy finishing himself off as well.

LW3 STRING - It sounds like you're adding some strings. It's been Guy Lore for centuries that there is no such thing as no-strings-attached sex, and not for no reason. We're in a weird era where you're not supposed to want a relationship but... let's just say, do some soul searching about what you actually want. It's A-OK to want more than sex; just be an adult about it if you don't get the answer you want.

33

Sporty @32: "side note: I strongly suspect this is a straight woman talking about her out-to-her gay husband" -- why? It's hardly typical that a woman would respond to her husband coming out as gay by saying "yay, threesome!"

34

Hmmm. Commentariat and Dan seem to have this one covered. Looked and looked for humor in LW’s to no avail, until I saw Ork’s, “Men aren't cum machines…” which led me to think of the latest soda dispensers that offer 50 varieties of beverages in one fountain. Wouldn’t if be fun if men had a “cum” selector? Orange Crush cum. Root beer cum. Strawberry cum. I’ll be sending a letter to Coca-Cola’s delopment team tomorrow.

35

Equating open relationships with threesomes renders LW1 an unreliable witness on its own, even without the interpretation of coercion.

Let's respect the L until it's corrected, even if we may note that LW1 appears to be giving W1 ample reason to round.

It's easy to read anyone SS as having a great deal more or a great deal less pressure to conceal it. We ae headed rapidly in the wrong direction now, which just gets obscured because some conflated groups are going mainly in what for them is the right direction.

Mr Savage did seem rather on point this week.

If I don't get another chance to pop in this week .I'll try to post next week.

36

Just popping in to say BiDanFan was on a roll this week! Loved all their comments :)

Presenting my own personal award:
Nailed It!™

37

String sounds horrible.

38

STRING, sigh. You have what you said you wanted, but now you're not so sure you want what you said you wanted. I suspect you actually want the 'emotional commitment' that comes from a traditional hetero-romantic relationship. I also think you want the non-loneliness that kind of relationship typically entails.

I have a suggestion. You seem to have not had terrible difficulty finding a no strings arrangement with a guy you're interested in seeing over and over again. I think you could make lightning strike twice or three or five times. I suggest you build yourself a modest man-harem, so you never need to be lonely if you don't want to be lonely.

The best cure for you when your current No-Strings guy is busy is for you to be out with a different no-strings guy.

39

If wife is game for threesomes, and that's a big if, it's probably not what SHRINKS is imagining. More likely they'd both interact with the guest and not with each other, like what happens in Two Straight Men and a Lady scenes. So he'd still be having sex with one woman while a second woman has sex with the first, not directly with him.

40

@36 KindnessisKey: The birth of a new Savage Love Award: "Nailed It!" I LOVE it! :)

41

Some personal anecdotes:

I know a man whose wife came out as gay while they had high school age children. They had an open marriage for years—a friendly and by all accounts caring open marriage—and both had girlfriends. When the kids were both finished with university, parents divorced and the man remarried to his long-term girlfriend. I honestly see this as a very happy ending for everyone. They all had emotional and financial security, everything was done on good and kind terms. Although the man eventually divorced his first wife, there was never a peep of ill-feeling that I could see. The marriage ran its course and they moved on.

LW1 might ask his spouse about why they want to stay together and what the expectations are for a cohabiting partnership before anything else. The Straight Spouse Network might help.

As for HARDON, I have run into that a lot in the past. A guy is having trouble keeping it up and gets upset. It doesn’t matter to ME, because hands and tongues and toys exist, but it’s difficult to reassure the man that no, really, it’s fine, let’s have fun some other way. And with one exception (a guy who would enjoy the process but almost never finish), it’s the men who would be upset and break things off, not me.

The best thing to do is something to keep your motor running while he takes care of himself combined with (vibe, etc), when he needs to take care of himself to still be active in the moment. Play with his other hand, kiss him, put his other hand places you want it, etc. Then it’s not an interruption, it’s a continuation of what you’re doing. If you need uninterrupted attention then use toys to get there and cock is the amuse-bouche (or palate cleanser). Unfortunately, if HE can’t accept that you’re happy and that’s how his cock works IME it’s hard to persuade a man that it’s okay with you.

42

Fox @20, I missed out replying to your as-usual-excellent analysis. It sounds like you've put more thought into what their "open relationship" will look like than they have.

Venn @35, thanks for popping in, and hope you are feeling better.

Kindness @36, thank you! We need more kindness, and more Kindness, around here. :)

Adam @38, not necessarily. Unless you consider availability a string. It sounds like she is quite happy with the no-strings sex, but caught up in NRE and only wishes for more of it, that she didn't have to work round his schedule. Perhaps she herself is retired and that's why she has so much more free time than he does. Your suggestion is good but take my word, it is much harder to find hot young men who are good in bed and keep coming back for more than you might think. STRING no doubt knows what a good thing she has going, and a string (sorry) of lame Tinder dates may just confirm how lucky she is to have him. (Note that STRING's gender is not specified, but she reads as female to me -- and no doubt to the commenters who jumped to the female stereotype that she must want a deeper emotional connection after all.) Hence my suggestion of filling her spare time, not necessarily with other men, but with hobbies to distract her from her NRE.

Ankyl @39, yes. They would be FFM threesomes, not FMF. They would take it in turns to focus their attention on the special guest star. And this may lead to jealousy, competition and hurt feelings -- the shudder-worthy dynamic I referred to in my initial comment -- particularly if SHRINKS expects something different. He should be prepared to enjoy a live porn show and not much more.

Slinky @41, thanks for sharing that story. The SHRINKS have kids but after 30 years of marriage, the kids must be grown, and therefore not a consideration in keeping their household together. I hope an open relationship can work for SHRINKS as well as it did for your friends. I'm wondering if the former wife was lucky in love post-marriage, too?

Re HARDON, it sounds like a similar dynamic: "I have tried reassuring him and prolonging foreplay, and we have an open dialogue over what we like sexually ... I feel helpless when HE gets more frustrated." FWIW, this has been the pattern for me as well. The dick doesn't work the way he hoped; I assure him it's okay, no pressure, we can do other things; he remains disappointed with himself. I don't doubt that there are women out there who don't react with such maturity, but this is another casualty of the hetero expectation for PIV to always take centre stage and for masculinity to be defined by the ability to "perform."

43

Lots of men don’t know the difference between lesbian and bisexual.

They understand the word “lesbian” very well. It’s a porn genre. It means very femme women having naked pillow fights and stabbing eachother in the vagina with long stabby fingernails while a man watches through the window. When he can’t stand it any more he walks in on the very femme women, who proceed to fall all over him (presumably anything is better than those stabby, stabby fingernails).

At least, that’s what it meant in the nineties, which was the last time I tried to watch it.

“Bisexual” is also easy. A bisexual woman is someone who will have an FFM threesome with you. That’s the definition. If she won’t, that proves she isn’t really bi.

The definitions are easy, but in practice the difference between a lesbian and a bisexual are subtle. It’s not surprising if LW1 gets them mixed up.

+++ +++ +++

All we really know about LW1’s wife is that she’s married to an unreliable narrator, and she wants out.

44

A "nailed it" award for Alison @43!

45

Re;SHRINKS

I may be the only one but I don't think he was serious when he talked about threesomes. If he read books and went online for more than 10 minutes he is likely very aware of the awful road ahead of him. He's older, likely not in the best of shape, has kids, and has to explain his situation to any new partner(who will bold a lot of the time). The chances his social calendar will have anything more than tumbleweeds is pretty low and he knows it.

Hell, the fact that he made only one dumb joke is pretty miraculous.

46

BDF @ 42
You use only a small portion of HARDON’s letter to deliver your point. Reading it in its entirety again it is clear that she is not happy with the situation either and his initial frustration likely grows as a result of hers.

Yes, she tried reassuring and prolonging foreplay, but it is obvious that it is not for the sake of “don’t worry, let’s do something else,” but rather an attempt to build up momentum for penetration and CIV. Yes, he may view this as the real thing, but he is certainly not the only one in this equation who thinks that way.
Oh, and I sure hope that one day I’ll be able to deliver my point about the food.

Alison @ 43
Not to exonerate SHRINKS, he certainly seems to have his ideas skewed. Just to point out that many more people nowadays come in contact with lesbians and bis, as well as gay men and all other orientations, and can tell the difference between porn and real life.
I would also argue that porn evolved a bit since the 90’s, though agree that one still needs to search harder for authentic or semi-authentic stuff.

48

BDF- "But do you agree that sexual orientation is, for the most part, fixed?"
Mine seems to be pretty fixed. But I hear about orientation changes a lot, and I dislike judging those people as liars. This particular debate with you seems really weird because I thought your marriage ended in part because of your own orientation changes, at least you changed to need to explore sex with women after you married a monogamous man, right? You weren't hiding the fact that you needed to sleep with women when you promised him monogamy, right? I don't think Griz is lying that she changed from het to asexual, due to bad experiences with men. I have an acquaintance who similarly changed from bi to lesbian, because of bad experiences with men, I don't think she was lying. Some guys I've known seem to become bicurious/exploratory and then sometimes stayed bi, after bad experiences with women esp divorce. I don't tell them they were lying about being straight before starting to date men, or that they are lying about being straight after they date a man and decide it isn't for them. Some people change orientation when they transition, like a straight woman becoming a gay man. Both losing and gaining attraction to a gender usually seems to be an extreme reaction to traumatic romantic events. Gaining an attraction to a gender also seems like an act of desperation to find love. Maybe having an attraction to any gender is an act of desperation to find love.. Anyway I think orientation does change even though I haven't personally experienced it.

I always assume that people were attracted to their spouse when they married, unless they tell me otherwise. It seems really rude to assume that anyone lied about feeling attracted or in love, just to get married. I thought it was illegal to get married deceptively or for other reasons, eg faking love to get a green card.

The long winded point is, I'm not going to assume that Mrs SHRINKS had been hiding her true feelings or lying for 30 years, but that her feelings changed, unless she says differently..

I think it's important to ask her what she means by "coming out as lesbian", ask her what exactly has changed and trust her answer. 1) Re losing attraction: Is she saying no more marital sex, that it got bad for her, or was never good? 2) Re gaining attraction: Is she saying that she needs to explore sex with women, or date women, or does she just want to dirty talk about having threesomes with women while in bed with her husband, what exactly has changed about her needs?

Do you really think it's better to simply assume that she won't have sex with her husband anymore, and to assume that she's going to date women and no men in her future, just because she came out as lesbian, even though she is still trying to stay married to a man? I think hubby should ask more questions and figure out what she means, how exactly her feelings changed, to decide if he can adjust and find a new way to be happy together. I hope we can agree to disagree.

49

Donny, I heard some jungle djs raving about "cum selectors" a long time ago. I couldn't find a great link though :
https://youtu.be/8MoXvXbjbn8
https://youtu.be/-nQkgvVE0mU
Jungle djs are even more funny now, thanks!
And while I was searching, I found one of my old favorite music vids, come on my selector by squarepusher: involves little girl karate and brain swaps, and English dubbed over in Japanese and then subtitled in English!!
https://youtu.be/MWCSw_cNxKc

50

Ciods@24, "You seem to be assuming that since she was in a long-standing heterosexual relationship, she must have been het at some point."
@13"Maybe you are right and his wife went from bi to gay and is only announcing a lack of attraction to men.. or this is a weird way of announcing that she's just not attracted to her husband anymore."

51

CMD @46, I was not trying to argue that it was not also frustrating for her. Obviously it is, or she wouldn't have written to Dan. And indeed, her question wasn't "how can I reassure him it's fine," but "how can we solve the problem of him not staying hard enough to come inside me." But it definitely seems that it's his dissatisfaction with the situation that is driving their efforts to solve it. If she were dissatisfied of her own accord, she'd probably break up with him and look for a new lover -- since as Guts has taught us, every woman can go out and magically find a new man in seconds...
"Just to point out that many more people nowadays come in contact with lesbians and bis, as well as gay men and all other orientations, and can tell the difference between porn and real life." But if SHRINKS's reaction is "yay threesome," he's not one of them.

Phi @48: "I dislike judging those people as liars." I am not calling anyone a liar -- and remember, Mrs SHRINKS never stated "I am a heterosexual woman!" She perhaps just let everyone assume so. Straight privilege, as you possess, means that you will never be negatively judged for your sexual orientation. When you will be judged, there is an incentive to hide your orientation, or to try to be a different orientation. So I am not "judging" people who are confused or closeted when I say that being confused or closeted is the probable explanation for Mrs SHRINKS's professed orientation change.

"I thought your marriage ended in part because of your own orientation changes, at least you changed to need to explore sex with women after you married a monogamous man, right?" Wrong. I was always bisexual. I was bisexual before I married, and during, and after. I fell in love with someone who happened to be one of the two genders I am attracted to (apologies for the gender binarism in that statement) before I had had a chance to have sex with the other. I was, as you recall, quite young -- as Mrs SHRINKS probably was when she married. (In fact, this was around the same time the SHRINKS got married.) I was not fully out as bisexual, but I was bisexual. The only change was my becoming certain and ready to fully embrace it, a need which my ill-advised monogamous commitment made impossible.

I don't think any of the people in your examples were lying. I think they were confused, and I'm not surprised they hid their confusion if they thought people might see it as lying. I would also point out that in none of your examples is anyone going from "het to gay" or vice versa, but from some degree of bisexuality to or from straightness or gayness, or from wanting sex to not wanting sex. Remember our Griz is still attracted to men, based on her occasional rhapsodising about Brad Pitt. :)

"It seems really rude to assume that anyone lied about feeling attracted or in love, just to get married." And yet this has happened.

"I thought it was illegal to get married deceptively or for other reasons, eg faking love to get a green card." So you think SHRINKS should report his wife to the police? I don't think she "faked love," but I do think she faked attraction -- or more likely, that she tried to force -herself- to feel an attraction that wasn't there, because she truly liked SHRINKS as a person and wanted to make a life and a family with someone who cared about her and treated her well. She may have faced pressure from her family to marry a man and have kids -- as most of us do. She was neither lying nor faking; she was not confident enough to embrace her true self. She gave a heterosexual lifestyle a go, and she's finally in a place -- kids gone, parents perhaps passed away, better societal attitudes towards LGBT+ folk -- when she can stop pretending.

"The long winded point is, I'm not going to assume that Mrs SHRINKS had been hiding her true feelings or lying for 30 years, but that her feelings changed, unless she says differently." And I'm going to assume that lesbian means lesbian and that that's what she's been this whole time, unless she tells us differently. So indeed, we'll have to agree to differ.

"Do you really think it's better to simply assume that she won't have sex with her husband anymore, and to assume that she's going to date women and no men in her future, just because she came out as lesbian, even though she is still trying to stay married to a man?" Yes. That's what lesbian means, it means a woman who exclusively likes women. Unless she says she's willing to make an exception for him, I go back to lesbian meaning lesbian and open relationship meaning the monogamous expectation is off and they both date women outside the marriage. What do you expect -- that she'll keep having sex with her husband even though she is, at least now if not always, not sexually attracted to him? This doesn't make any sense. If she wanted to keep having sex with him, she'd have told him she was bisexual, not lesbian. As speculated, perhaps she will indeed keep having sex with him in spite of her lack of attraction. I hope for both their sakes that that will be short lived, until he finds a new girlfriend who does desire him sexually.

52

Phi @48 cont: "You weren't hiding the fact that you needed to sleep with women when you promised him monogamy, right?" No, I didn't hide it. In fact I told him I was also attracted to women, prior to our marriage. He got whiny and insecure, so I accepted monogamy as the price of admission. Glad to clear that up for you.

53

I feel like we're being too hard on LW1.

(1) He doesn't seem very experienced in this type of arena. I feel like he's saying lesbian when he means "she's interested in women as well."

(2) Even if she is a lesbian and no longer interested in heterosexual sex, threesomes could still happen. She may find a nice bi girl who is interested in experiencing them both. If she's interested in staying in the relationship, she's presumably not horrified by him. She's likely willing to engage in sexual activity in the same room as him.

54

Slinky @41 FTW (for the Nailed It?) with regards to HARDON. I will echo Slinky's and BDF's (et. al. females who've had sex with men who at some time or another have been frustrated with the performance of their penis) sentiments that often the most frustrating/disappointing aspect of an uncooperative penis is the man's self-fulfilling, boner-killing frustration at his own self. However, HARDON sounds plenty disappointed herself and I imagine she's not really helping the situation as much as she thinks she is. CMD @46 points this out quite nicely, that any attempts at "doing something different" are being done to coax the penis into proper performance, as opposed to taking the focus and stress off the penis entirely. HARDON seems to think there's something terribly wrong with her partner's inability to come inside her (this seems to be her standard for a "normal" or "successful" sexual encounter), insisting that he's "healthy with no underlying conditions" and that she thinks he should seek some kind of mental health counseling while he's on holiday in his home country. That sounds like a lot of pressure and that she's coming at this situation like there is something "wrong." She needs to cool her jets and try to take the pressure off, and have some more self awareness about how she in part is contributing to the situation.

55

@21. Harrison. He may not be a 'moron' exactly, but the wacky and possibly forced levity of his tone could suggest he's in some sort of denial. Or the letter's a spoof of some sort. (People diagnose hoax letters, to me, for far less).

[break]

I would also think Mrs SHRINKS is a formerly closeted lesbian, rather than bi. By the term she seems to be saying that after thirty years of marriage, child-rearing, home-making, 'I'm done'--which he seems to have some trouble hearing.

56

If you are feeling guilty about pulling out and jacking off, you shouldn't. Lots of men, I'm sure, do that. It's fine, but the justification for feeling OK about it being that men do it porn? I'm not so cool with that. Some things in porn are specifically beyond the pale - and viewers find that titillating, and pornographers take that to the bank. Men in porn pull out and come on their partners not out of style or need or technique. They are directed to pull out for the money shot. Porn is pretty phony baloney. If the actors did it solely out of a love for fucking, they'd donate their paychecks to charity.

If you need to finish yourself off, fine. But don't feel fine with it or anything else because it happens in porn.

57

Bau@56
"Lots of men, I'm sure, do that. It's fine, but the justification for feeling OK about it being that men do it porn? I'm not so cool with that."

I hear you. If they do it because they plain dig it, then cool.

But if they dig it because of porn, that's not necessarily optimal for either partner. HARDON isn't loving how frustrated he is, and (unclear but) it seems maybe she'd like him cumming inside her.

And maybe guys who cum outside because of the weird porn programming would too: I know I vastly prefer cumming with the warmth and connection of 'inside'.

58

Regarding SHRINK's level of awareness about the differences between lesbianism and bisexuality, let me float another possible interpretation of his threesome comment. Perhaps he meant that, if they open their relationship, he'll be free to have threesomes with other people? Like maybe he sees opening the relationship as his ticket to pursing all sorts of sexual adventures he couldn't in a long-term monogamous marriage?

I admit this is a very unlikely possibility. The only thing that made me suggest it is that SHRINKS does not seem to be a native speaker (writer?), hence his use of odd terms like "coerce" and his indiscriminate use of exclamation points.

59

LW#1 :
From my own personal experience, YES, therapists do have a tendency to jump to divorce. Or take sides, in the least.
Which after my own anecdotal experience has reveiled the hypocrisy of "counseling". Keep in mind that the person giving advice is a flawed Human as well.

Also, since the counselor is only Human, they may have latent animosity from other clients they put at the feet of your marriage.
Years, upon years of doing exactly the same thing with no controls on the "private advice" they are offering many couples may and quite possibly will lead to complacency disguised as "experience".

I always find it amazing, faults are found with mechanics, plumbers, roofers, engineers, teachers, nurses, etc.. A Marriage or Family therapist, never a negative comment.
Beguiling really.....

60

LW#2:
Find a new boyfriend, if your current boyfriend is going soft inside you during sex, it's his problem, not your's.
Or stay with him and be disappointed.

61

LW#3:
You are the problem, as Dan pointed out.

If you cannot handle the relationship with the younger guy who gives you great sex, end it now so he is free to find someone else who appreciates and not begrudges him for his positive aspects.

62

George@61
'LW#3: You Are The Problem'

Dan needs a new acronym: YATP

63

@41 slinky: Thank you for sharing your wonderful story, and offering an example of how a couple in LW1's situation can part amicably and work everything out lovingly and beautifully.

@43 Allison Cummins: Agreed and seconded with BiDanFan @44: Nailed it!

@61 curious2: Agreed and seconded. YATP should go in the Savage Love Abbreviations Hall of Fame right along with DTMFA.

Who is hungrily salivating for this week's luscious Lucky @69 Award honors drawing nigh? Tick...tick...tick.....

64

Larry @53:
(1) I feel like he's misunderstanding "lesbian." Is it possible she used the word lesbian when she meant bisexual? Doubtful, but I guess we have no way to know.
(2) That's a huge leap. Perhaps they've discussed this, but it seems more likely dickful thinking. Again, no way to know for sure.

Bauhaus @56: "the justification for feeling OK about it being that men do it porn? I'm not so cool with that." Agreed!

George @61, add another acronym: NAHC (not a helpful comment). STRING -knows- she's the problem. She asked for advice on how to deal with the problem. If more folk had this level of self awareness, the world would be a much better place.

66

BDF@64
"I feel like he's misunderstanding "lesbian." Is it possible she used the word lesbian when she meant bisexual? Doubtful"

I agree. While it's not the least bit unlikely that a bi woman would use the word "lesbian" (identified), she probably wouldn't break the news to her husband with the word "lesbian" if sex was still on the table with him. (Even if she was bi WRT every other human in the universe.)

Who knows anything about this looney. We can't put it past the contradictory threesome-seeking "I am a heterosexual man!" to have told us she said "lesbian" when she actually said "bi".

67

I would love to know the nature of STINGS' "fantasizing" that is leading her to be resentful. Their "trysts" revolving around his schedule are due to his outside-the-tryst, real-life obligations: work, and co-parenting his child. Doesn't exactly sound like this guy is livin' it up outside of his time with STRINGS.

I, like BDF upthread, read STRINGS as retired (sorry BDF, the thread has gotten just long enough I'm not keen to go digging around to give you the proper @ number). Or at the very least, her life obligations (or lack thereof) are such that she has a lot of time on her hands and too much time to think. So much so, that she is completely inventing a problem to this perfect arrangement! Is she resentful that her lover has a life outside of her (if so, then no-strings arrangements are not for her)? Or is she resentful that she doesn't have a lot going on in her life outside of * him *? Is she resentful that she doesn't have a schedule that the two of them need to work around?

I agree with BDF again that she should get busy filling her life with meaningful projects and activities (not worry about racking up more toy boys) so she has less time to cook up resentful fantasies, as well as to just having a more fulfilling existence. I'm sure there's no end of volunteer opportunities available that she could get involved with (bonus: she gets to meet new people as well). If she's a creative type, perhaps she could turn her propensity for fantasizing into some writing projects or pick up an art class?

68

BDF, sure, maybe Mrs SHRINKS was completely unattracted to her husband always, and secretly pining away for women, and was always functionally a lesbian in denial suffering through unattractive sex and faking her attractions, or was confused about her attractions, until she finally came out. My point is that's not the only explanation.

And yes, I gathered that you always felt bi. I thought you said that your attraction towards women grew and even that small change caused big marital problems. Even if you didn't change from Kinsey 2 to 3, I think it's possible because others have claimed to change numbers.

If you think that the people who changed numbers were just confused about what they feel, and the last number they identify with is their only true orientation, I don't see any way to prove you wrong, feelings don't have definitive proof. It's hard for me to understand how STRINGS was confused about her attraction to her husband for 30 years and didn't realize she was having sex with someone unattractive instead accidentally thought she was attracted to her husband and even in love with him, but I suppose that level of confusion is possible. Hopefully you will not continue to give me a hard time because I believe that people change numbers when they say they do, since neither of us can prove what other people feel.

And sorry if you were offended that I brought up your stories. I meant no offense.

69

@curios2,
YATP is too long.
YTP, "You're The Problem" works better and flows more freely in this cell phone texting world.

70

Kinda like how STP changed the world of racing back in the 70's and reeled in the money in the 80's.
YTP is gold in the world of advice columnists.
With that said, Dan's his own man and has his own Pitt Crew working like a finely out of tune grammatical typewriter.
So we are left debating YTP vs YATP alone.
Unless Dan wants to weigh in on the "problem".
We can only hope not, I like the imperfect Dan Savage, a refreshing breath of realism in the Advice industry.

71

@Auntie Griz,

"Who is hungrily salivating for this week's luscious Lucky @69 Award honors drawing nigh? Tick...tick...tick....."

I just realized I am the lucky 69, I feel your and all the others hungrily wanting the honor salivating on me.
It's quite an erotic thought, thank you. I feel honored.

Haha, just kidding, keep your saliva to yourself.
But I do appreciate your honors Auntie Griz, you make the comments side fun and interesting.
Thank you.

72

George@69
I am not curios, I am Curious.

p.s. Sure YTP is cool.

73

Wondering if the therapists are advising (not coercing, Jesus Christ) divorce because of grossly mismatched expectations. Like, SHRINKS is all "Yay! Sexy open relationships threesomes sexy sexy sex" while Mrs. SHRINKS is hoping for a platonic marriage to her best friend where they each have their own separate romantic lives.

74

@BDF (too many numbers, lol) I think you're right that Mrs. SHRINKS was always gay. After all, how much of our pop culture is based around the idea that no woman ever wants to have sex with a man, and they have to be bribed or tricked? Or how nobody really wants to get married, it's just what you do, especially if you want kids? Easy to imagine a lesbian growing up against that cultural backdrop convincing herself that having a male best friend was what love is, that this is as good as it gets. Then later in life she falls in love with a woman and realizes what was missing.

75

There's something that feels off about SHRINKS letter and I can't quite put my finger on it.

First, there's the artificial cheeriness: "Hello! I am a heterosexual man!" There's an abundance of exclamation points, which make it read to me as if a 14-year-old girl had written it.
Someone here--sorry, I can't remember who or at what number--thought that that indicated that English isn't the letter writer's first language. I don't see that, but it's definitely odd.

Then there's the debate amongst the commentors over whether or not the wife said she was a lesbian or bi, or is really bi but said "lesbian" because that's what she thought her husband would understand, or is actually a lesbian. I don't see what difference that makes to SHRINKS, except insofar as it means the wife might be open to a threesome with him and a woman. Perhaps Mrs. SHRINKS is simply no longer attracted to her husband, and used the "I'm a lesbian" excuse as a way to spare his feelings. I acknowledge that that has the potential to be painful for other reasons, such as having been duped, and also the cultural sense that to prefer women to men turns the rejected man into an object of ridicule in some social circles.

While I agree with everyone who says that a threesome is not in the cards for this couple (no matter the configuration), I can actually read the "I’ve always wanted a threesome anyway!" bizarre-o comment as an attempt at humor, but I admit that it's plausible he means it seriously.

But I keep coming back to the tone--the cheeriness, the matter-of-factness. And the fact that if we believe SHRINKS, both parties seems so well-adjusted: they love each other and don't want a divorce; they both disagree with the multiple therapists who tried to "coerce" them into divorce; they've read books about opening relationships; hey, free threesomes!
Then there's the fact that there is really no question. Or rather, here are the two questions:
"1. Is it normal for therapists to force a couple to divorce when the couple does not want that?
2. Can open relationships be awesome relationships?"

First of all, how would Dan know whether or not it's "normal" to "force" a couple to divorce? What does this couple care? Therapists can't and don't "force" anyone to do anything; if both members of a couple married 30 years wants to STAY MARRIED, I can't imagine any therapists insisting that they divorce, let alone multiple therapists. Secondly, if the dude knows enough to write to Dan Savage, then he presumably knows that Dan is the world's biggest cheerleader for open relationships: of course he's going to say that "open relationships can be awesome relationships."

So I conclude that either this letter is a hoax, although again, it's hard to tell what the object of it is, if that's the case; or if it's real, that SHRINKS is the most clueless, least self-aware, oblivious person in his neighborhood.

It's easy to imagine the wife wanting to stop having sex with her husband, whether because as a lesbian, she's not attracted to him because he's a man, or because she simply is no longer attracted to him, or never was, but is no longer willing to have sex with him. It's easy to imagine him not wanting to divorce, to upset the status quo (at 30 years of marriage, their kids are likely young adults, so the custody issue is no longer a reason to stay together). It's possible to imagine him dragging her off to a marriage counselor to "save" the marriage, while she is clear that she either wants out or is a lesbian who wants the chance to forge an intimate and exclusive long term relationship with a woman. If this is the case, and he wants the therapist to make the wife see that this marriage can work, while she wants the therapist to facilitate as smooth a breakup as possible, I can see him dragging her to other therapists, in search of one who won't 'take her side' (as he might phrase it) and tell them that his plan can work, while the wife continues to say she wants out and the therapist tries to tell him that. I can easily imagine him reading books on opening relationships and jumping to "we can make this work!" If all that is the case, then he's so deeply in denial, that it's almost painful to read.

Ultimately, I either say, "fake," or feel really sorry for both members of this couple, neither of whom is currently getting what they want.

P.S, I copied and pasted the original letter below, because I find it helpful to go back and look at it as I write about it.

"Hello! I am a heterosexual man! My wife came out as a lesbian after thirty years of marriage. We have children together and we love each other. Therefore, we’ve decided not to divorce. We visited some therapists, and they all coerced us to divorce even though we really do not want that. We believe that an open relationship would satisfy both of us. I’ve always wanted a threesome anyway! We read some books about opening up a relationship and we feel like we could make an open marriage work. And we know there are others out there, so we know it’s possible! Divorce is not in our plan.

My questions are…

Is it normal for therapists to force a couple to divorce when the couple does not want that?
Can open relationships be awesome relationships?"

76

@curios2, #72,

"George@69
I am not curios, I am Curious.

p.s. Sure YTP is cool."

My apologies, but, if we are going to split hairs, you are "curious", not "Curious", per your name.

77

George@76
First, I simply thought being referred to as a collection of 'curios' was funny.

Second, I still might not have said anything except that another commenter less eminent than you has referred to me as 'curios'.

Third, I capitalized it because as I told the board months back, I urge people to capitalize it because my failure to do so, given that it's a common word and communication benefits from a minimum of ambiguity, was a mistake.

78

@69 George_ThunderWeiner: WA-HOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Congratulations on scoring the hotly vied for luscious Lucky @69 Award! Savor your numeric honors and bask in the glory. :) and
@71 George_ThunderWeiner: Fear not--there is no actual saliva involved unless you're so excited about your newfound accolades that you (and possibly a friend) are suddenly overcome with joy. :)

79

George_ThunderWeiner @69, @70, and @76 and curious2 @72: I have an idea for the suggested new inductee into the Savage Love Abbreviation Hall of Fame:
What about "You are problematic" = YAP ? Then both of you, Dan, and the rest of us would be be able to immediately identify with said LW and aptly put on YAP alert.

80

@71 George_ThunderWeiner: I just noticed the image of two swallows in your avatar...!

81

griz@79
No way would I get the same pleasure from telling people they "are problematic" that I would get telling whiny jackhole LWs that "* THEY'RE * the problem". For one it's funnier. And I feel that when it comes to an acronym, "problematic" is problematic, because it's a slightly pricier word.

The best communication is always, when equally clear and specific, the simplest. (I'm sending a smoke signal with that message to someone's distant universe.)

82

@81 curious2: Fair enough. That said, the idea of sending off YAP alerts made me chuckle.
"THEY'RE the problem" ? That would make the abbreviation TTP (YTP?).

83

SHRINKS, you must - MUST - seriously shop around when engaging a therapist/counselor. There are some competent, effective ones out there and there are a lot of duds and worse - some on ego trips and control trips and adulation trips, some wannabe gurus, some just plain incompetent skillwise, some retired-in-place and sleepy, some sociopathic (some (most?) people are attracted to the biz because of their own issues), and a lot with built-in biases and stereotypes as you've found.

Your search must be as comprehensive as a serious job search - it's as or more important. Spend the time on it. You might get some references from the poly community, but that doesn't relieve you of having to do due diligence - poly-friendly isn't necessarily competent or a good fit.

84

Nocute @75, I think you're on the money about all the cheery weirdness in SHRINKS's letter being a sign of deep denial. And thank you for c/p-ing the letter at the end of your comment, as it allowed me to pick up on another tell-tale sign: the massive overuse of "we". SHRINKS talks about himself and the wife as if they were a hive mind and in complete agreement about everything. First person plural pronouns "we", "us" and "our" appear in his short letter THIRTEEN times. Overcompensating much? By contrast, there is only one reference to the wife as an independent agent: "My wife came out as a lesbian after thirty years of marriage". Hm.

The "we" overuse gets discussed in polyamorous circles quite a bit, as it relates to couples privilege, possessiveness, insecurity, and the desire to exercise control over one's partner. It's very common and culturally accepted, of course, but it's loaded language, whether the person speaking realises that or not. And in SHRINKS's case it really is excessive. It's possible that he's just feeling defensive in light of all these therapists "coercing" them to divorce, but then again, if him and the wife really are so in sync and on the same page about their marriage, why waste money on couples' therapists in the first place?

@GhostDog's comment @45 about "the awful road ahead of him" and @FMF's oblique reference to religion @20 also gave me some pause. I'd speculate that SHRINKS hasn't had much sexual experience before getting married, and is now in his 50s and suddenly facing singledom. He's probably scared shitless and digging deeper into denial, and that comes across in his choice of language and tone.

86

@1 Griz congrats! 2 out of 3 weeks this hopefully bodes well for your fortunes improving. It sure is fun after you basically invented the SLOG numbers game!

87

@HARDON I like Dan's advice plenty of ways to finish off! and for a partner to enjoy their partner finishing! He didn't mention many other solutions! You don't always have to have "the man" finish! Viagra can inhibit ejaculation but not in everyone and can help situational ED! That olde tyme and med-free standby, a cock ring!

88

Making up for a busy week with a lot of posts here!

@SHRINKS. Some therapists are trained it's OK to give specific recommendations when asked, take it or leave it. For this to be interpreted as "being forced to divorce" and blaming all the shrinks sure sounds like the client has personality issues. In counselor speak, personality issues = asshole, which SHRINKS sure sounds like.

89

And my last post before back to work won't be able to join in.

@ several regular commenters whose posts read like angry men on a pickup artist subreddit lamenting being loser lonely Normies in a dating marketplace of Chads banging Stacys whilst equally lonely Beckys ignorne them:

Dudes! wow. so unhappy. very misogyny. such self-absorb. much incel.

You are perhaps right cultural monogamy and early forced marriage makes it more likely every male gets paired up with a female, and has sex / children. That is at a substantial cost to many and certainly isn't happy for everyone in the cultures that do this.

The "free market" of hookup apps means there may be people who get laid more than others, and maybe makes getting laid more likely than getting a partner for all genders / orientations.

The issue of frustrated single cis het young men is a problem to be sure.

But the solution isn't to call yourself a loser and get angry or feel disenfranchised. What about exploring brojobs with each other? Seriously. And then helping each other cultivate positive personality traits and interests that would make you genuinely long term attractive rather than trying to game the system pickup artist style or lament disenfranchisement on reddit / SLOG? And advocate for decriminalization of sex work and fair treatment of sex workers, that is an outlet for a human need that could also solve a gender imbalance in sexual activity.

90

I just want to note that
delta@89
seems to mostly be addressing the geyser of incel-hood which erupted in * last * week's comments.

91

I think we may be reading a bit too much into SHRINKS's tone. As we've discovered from some misunderstandings that have occurred among commenters here, it is notoriously difficult to suss out things like sarcasm, tone and implied meaning from text. That's why, for me, the notion that SHRINKS was not a native speaker seemed the most likely reason for his somewhat unusual word and punctuation usage.

SHRINKS's rather sunny, over-earnest style makes some of us think he may be controlling or in denial. But let me offer another interpretation. This couple has had some dissatisfying encounters with therapists and would like Dan to provide them with some affirmation. Perhaps they want some "ammunition" to use with their next therapist, or with friends or family members who might dispute their intent to have an open marriage.

Finally, regarding SHRINKS "we"-ing to much: I use "we" all the time in casual conversation. Didn't realize it could be a loaded word, although I guess I can see Margarita's point if it is used to describe a sexual or romantic relationship that may be on the verge of becoming open.

92

@90 curious2 yes; and, if only I had purchased Dogecoin when it launched, instead of learning to write Doge-speak. I would have been: wow. many happy. very coin. much rich. so retired.

93

Haven't seen too much posted on direct experience with HARDON's issue from the male perspective. My dick works the exact same way with any new partner, and the key to satisfaction for both is understanding and acceptance.

Once I've built trust and connection with a partner, and I'm confident that what I'm doing for their/our pleasure is working, adding some focus to my/our pleasure is a natural transition.

The idea that every man is ready to hammer a six inch spike through a board with his penis as soon as he makes eye contact with his object of desire is truly damaging in terms of setting unrealistic expectations and increasing performance anxiety. What most porn doesn't show you is the fluffing even the men who are selected for their ability to stay hard and ejaculate on queue often require.

94

delta@92
Thank you very much for teaching me what this style of writing you've adopted is called.

But for the love of pete, please fucking stop it, it's a bloody war crime, and I know of at least one person prepared to Block you for it.

95

Curious @94, block if you must, but Delta used this style of writing in exactly ONE post to illustrate the intelligence level he feels was involved in the opinions expressed in last week's comments. You sound like the LW who was recently complaining about Dan's gonnas and wannas. Take a deep breath and have a nice cup of tea!

96

BDF@95
Oh, I thought it might be his new habit. Thanks, I had no idea there was a point to it in his first post doing it, @89. About which I made zero comment. I probably only skimmed it.

"but Delta used this style of writing in exactly ONE post"

Wrong. He again used that style of writing @92 directly responding to me. So @92 he wasn't at all doing what you (thanks again) explained he was doing @89. I didn't say I wanted him banned, I just implied that I wouldn't continue reading that kind of shitty communication. Which to me seems kinder than blocking with no warning.

But for pete's sake, I thought the hyperbole of my @94 ("bloody war crime") would signal that it was not supposed to be taken quite so seriously that it merited scolding.

When I'm actually scolding (like with rainy this week) I wouldn't play like that.

97

For what it's worth, I like a little Doge-speak from time to time (and have been known to use it myself occasionally).

Some good comments from Lost Margarita @84, sensing the fear behind SHRINKS' letter, and rockyboy @83 about searching for a therapist -- good advice for anyone/everyone. And Aleyn, who reminds us of the ways in which what I'm going to shorthand as "toxic masculinity" screws EVERYbody in a culture up.

Interesting that Ens.Pulver mentioned @91 how difficult it is to gauge meaning or intent or sarcasm, a joke through writing, because just 3 comments later, I completely missed the intended humor in Curious' post. I was thinking that he sounded like a cranky old man telling the kids to get off his lawn, and I'm relieved to find out that he wasn't as grumpy as all that.

98

nocute@97
"how difficult it is to gauge meaning or intent or sarcasm, a joke through writing"

I try really hard to be funny, in a dry way that, written, I know is impossible to hear. I guess I shouldn't, I know it must be impossible to tell that I'm not being "a cranky old man....grumpy". Now that I * am * an old man I should probably give up written joking. Particularly since 2021 has seen me be pretty cranky.

Last month I wrote a few doge-phrases somewhere. Actually though maybe just echoing a phrase from the previous sentence. I had no idea telegraphic phrase paragraphs was a whole thing.

Thank goodness delta was just playing, I'm super surprised by how inconvenient it was to read doge-speak!

99

Sometimes I learn the most unexpected things here! I had never even heard of doge-speak before now.

100

Have you folks never seen a doge meme? I suddenly feel like a tech-savvy, at-risk youth. Much fascinate. Such boomer. Wow.

(So sarcasm! Many respect!)

101

Aww, unintentional hunsky! So luck. Many glory. Much honor. Wow. (I swear I'll stop now and never doge again.)

102

Fox@100
I cherish beyond measure that until googling earlier I had never seen a doge meme. I feel so unbelievably lucky for it.

I don't even know where I would go if I did want to see any meme, doge or otherwise. (Perhaps this is because I don't do any kind of social media. Unless this board counts.)

Fox@101
Please do feel free to doge. I don't mind if you do, and I hope you wouldn't mind that I wouldn't be reading it.

103

From the doge memes I briefly read (for the first and only time) today, I guess the joke is that a couple-word phrase is the complexity of thought a dog might have?

I can see how someone would find that funny.

Like I can see how someone would find the dumb-people skits on SNL's Weekend Update the least bit funny. (But I don't in the least: as an American in 2021 I've gotten more than I want of actual dumb people in reality.)