I think Dan was right that this pooch is unscrewable... but I also think he missed the mark (though it’s hinted at in the “damn her timing” comment). I don’t think this guy has magically resolved his issues, I think her walking out made him start looking for excuses. In three months time he’s going to be fantasizing about giving men head again, and if he gets back with this gal or finds another, he’s going to be just as thoughtless and inconsiderate as he was then.
Also, I don’t believe he’s as straight as he’s telling himself he is, now, in a vain attempt to get the girl back.
What @1 said. He isn't a straight man. He's a bi or pan sexual, genderfluid male. But he's got the "dichotomy paradigm" firmly planted in his mind and he thinks he MUST be one thing or the other. So he's picked the bits that he leans most strongly towards and pretended to discard the rest. And as sincere as his pretense may be (because he's trying to fool himself, too), it just. isn't. real. If it were, he never would have gone through any of this "torment" in the first place, because he's settled on what society would have judged him as by default. It never takes effort to determine you /fit/ the default; it takes effort to determine that you don't, and why. He's missed on both points, and will have to do the homework again. Preferably /without/ a commitment he's incapable of fulfilling at the same time.
You ain't Robinson Crusoe there LW. Realising after the breakup that the woman you were with is Not Your Mother.
Mutuality is an important part, you give some she gives some and all share the washing up after the meal. Except the cook of course.
Thank you Dan. I never envisioned that when someone "screwed the pooch", it was in the pooch's ASS. So thank you Dan for that vivid visual. (Not that pooch PIV is any better a visual, I simply don't visualize sayings, and never relish it being done for me.)
I feel for the LW's regret. It sounds like the LW would feel better if he could apologize (maybe by simply sending her a copy of his letter).
But I agree with Dan and @1 and @2, I think he still has work to do. Maybe if he just said (and did) that, and added only the apology part, that would have been good for both their peace.
Now 6 years later I bet this is water light-years under the bridge, and (as Dan implied) he has entirely newissues he's either overcome or still plague him (sadly I think at least a little of the later).
There are so many more fish in the sea. I don't see LW's ex needing to get back with this limp mackerel. He doesn't want her back because she's his Dover soulmate, he wants her back because it's easier than finding someone new. Dan's right, that pooch is not unscrewable.
Blah, blah, blah. As in too much talking (oh, all that navel-gazing) and boring. Not sure how the timelines align (5 years gender issues vs 3 years in relationship). In any case, LW, if you want to apologize to your ex for being an insensitive [fill-in-the-blank], let that be your only goal. (Yes, I know this letter is ancient.) Just don't tie an apology into hoping you can reconcile. You figured you could press the RESET button and get a do-over. But I'm sure your ex wasn't sitting at home, wondering whether you'd ever find yourself and then get back together. Take the lessons gleaned from your fucked-up years together and apply them going forward.
LW, your recent 'revelations' are dubious. Having sex with men is not a "kink," how disrespectful! Don't call attraction to people a 'kink' again. Don't ask me to believe you're straight if you still think about men. Having said that, do not do what you are not prepared to accept responsibility for. Specifically, don't have sex with men while you call yourself straight.
Lingere does not make you female. Plenty of men wear lingere and suck cocks while still being male/masculine, I know this from helping them do both those things as men. If you questioned your gender identity over sissy porn, that is something that comes from you, not on your kinks, not from porn, and not from masculinity or lack thereof. You describe how "your sexual kinks got the best of you," which is a nonsense phrase designed to deflect responsibility. Kinks aren't independent, they're part of you.
Your sissy side is strong, find a woman who will enjoy it. Your ex girlfriend is not that woman after her time with you, you made sure of that. The best course of action is to apologize to her, tell her you know what you did wrong, wish her well, and leave it. Three years is a long time to audition for a part in the rest of her life, you did not get that part. Take responsibility for what you did, mend the wounds you can mend in that moment, then move on.
Oh, this letter is from 2012, my mistake. Let's hope LW really did move on and sort his shit out because lord, what a mess.
@1, @2, and @7 hit a number of points that I think needed to be raised. Additionally, I think this letter falls into the category of those in which the writers reach out to Dan seeking absolution, like Dan is the Sex Pope and can slip into a phallic shaped mitre and leather vestments and issue a decree which wipes away some sin, when in fact, the person from whom they need to seek forgiveness is the person they wronged. For the reason stated by others above, I do not believe that at the point this letter was written, LW could genuinely apologize to his ex, as he is fundamentally still more concerned about his own guilty feeling than his ex's pain. LW wants to be perceived as being a good person, rather than do the hard work of being a good person. Getting his ex-girlfriend back would allow LW to feel like he was a good person, but he would at the writing of the letter, not be able to be a good relationship partner, so he would continue hurting his girlfriend as before.
I hope FML got over this girlfriend, and that his next girlfriend had a kink for wearing strap-ons and guys in lingerie. And ideally that in between, he got some therapy.
I agree with Sublime @9. LW wants to be perceived as being a good person, rather than do the hard work of being a good person. He's pretending like his insecurities were some sort of magic mind control that made him a selfish, shitty boyfriend, but in reality, he was just a selfish shitty boyfriend who also had insecurity issues. Even if the insecurity went away (which I doubt - he's just got blue balls now that he's not got a regular GF) he'd still be selfish and shitty.
Ms Fan - I'd be tempted to send him into a Covenant Marriage with the young woman whose gender studies class was what Miss Brodie would call true education, as it led out of her the realization that her sexuality revolved around abusing men.
I may have made the same point six years ago, but this jumped out at me:
"her fears of me transitioning into a woman"
That suggests that Ex-GF was making things worse by, instead of supporting FML's kinks, freaking out and saying "you're wearing my lingerie, omg do you want to be a woman!? You're a freak!" Actual words may have varied, but misunderstanding FML's kink (cross dressers are not trans women) and "fearing" its potential outcome may have led her to kink-shame FML, which would have contributed heavily to his shutting down in bed. In other words: FML, this wasn't the woman for you, and you don't want her back.
MOVE ON, remorseful pooch-screwer. There are plenty of other dogs in the kennel. She probably wasn't "the one" anyway. If you don't want the Cocker, get a Bichon.
If you go back and read the original comments, the lw chimed in, as did his ex-girlfriend.
"She saw me as someone who couldn't do the things she needed, when in reality I was just paralyzed by my insecurities."
Those are the same thing.
SPAM ON AISLE 12!!!
Euw. No wonder she fled from this self-absorbed creep. Find a new woman to ruin. It will probably take you a few more failures to get your head out of your butt.
@16 His ex sounds like she has a good head on her shoulders. Here's hoping she's now doing well.
@1 also it's a pooch that doesn't really need unscrewing. There are more fish in the sea. "Finally" getting your shit together at age 26 is ahead of the game for a lot of people, this dude is in his dating prime now, odds are that everything is fine and he's moved on.
Thanks for that. In case anyone (like me) only has time to read the posts by the LW and his ex, they are
and I'm glad I've seen 'em!
Letter writers ex here. Still a reader of this column. Blast from the past to see it come up again as a letter of the day after all these years. Happy to report I am doing very well, and last time I saw them, FML is doing well also. We remained good friends after all these years. I am now very happily married to someone else. I moved to a new town, so it's been a while since I last talked to my ex about any serious life stuff though. Maybe they still read here too and will chime in. But my ex found a new girlfriend who fits them well and they do seem very happy together. I did my best to be supportive of my ex and his gender issues and kinks. Their full gender transition was something that they were strongly considering at the time though. As accepting as I tried to be, my lifelong dreams of having a mostly vanilla/hetero life and children made us better friends than partners. I still wish only the best for FML. Thanks for running the letter Dan, I do think it helped us heal.
Thank you very much for checking in. I'm so happy that y'all are both happy! I was also delighted to see your pricelessly touching reply to the original column at https://www.thestranger.com/columns/savage-love/2012/05/09/13599292/savage-love/comments/75
@23. WeBothMovedOn. The very best to you.
As a sidenote, I find the idea of a man 'secure in his masculinity' pretty toxic. Bonding with friends over sports and ducking self-revelation or emotional intimacy, other than in the most crabbed ways? Shinning up a hill in combat gear in the company of other men, in fatigues with grenades on your belt and bayonets at the ready? Cheering when an ovoid piece of pigskin is kicked between two uprights? Nothing wrong with any of this, of course ... but shouldn't it be more niche? Wouldn't the world be better if it were recognized as charmingly, forgivably niche? Why should anyone be 'secure' in it, rather than apologetic and good-humored?
Secure? Who in life is secure? Who doesn't feel they are being laughed at? That they're on the verge of being found out? That they live on the brow of a hellmouth, that their bum looks big in this? It is the common lot. Existential assurance skates on ice. Let us be frank with one another about our insecurities. Our ambivalence. Let us live up to our commitments in the same spirit with which we deal with each other as citizens or counterparties to a business deal. Forget about men and women.
I don't know. It really is sort of cool (for a certain kind of kid) to have gender or sexuality issues these days. This is not to discount the fact that people also really do have those issues, so don't jump on me about that. Young people have always been angsty and enjoy feeling special and misunderstood- it's part of the process of growing up and discovering you're just another person in the world. The form this discovery takes depends a lot on setting, and right now there are a lot of young people putting LOADS of energy into figuring out their own unique genders and sexualities. Surely you guys have been around or read some of this? It can be exhausting to be around naval gazers. You get the sense sometimes that if the person just had a hobby, their issues would disappear.
Again, this is not to dismiss the people who really are struggling with gender issues or sexuality- but I don't see why we need to second guess the LW when he says that after years of focusing on these issues, he's realized he's just another straight dude. Thing is, Dan is correct. Whether or not he's a straight dude isn't the problem. The problem is the obsessive focus on self that caused him to ignore his relationship and the needs of his partner. Now that she's gone, he's got another issue to compare it to. It's like how you think you have a problem and then you get another problem that takes your mind off your first, and you realize that your first actually wasn't that big of a deal. I don't think this means the LW is wrong to say he's straight and cis.
Part of the flip side to the current gender bender stuff is that it reinforces gender roles to a certain extent. The whole "transmen are men, transwomen are women" thing assumes at the beginning that gender - being women or being men- is real in the first place, so then you can go down a rabbit hole trying to define what it means to be a man or a woman, and I think this can really give a certain self-centered type of angsty person a way to try to categorize and define every aspect of their self. Same with rigid definitions of sexuality- he's actually worrying himself about the implications to his personal identity of the things he fantasizes about to the point that he is apathetic and distant to his partner. To me, this doesn't sound like an actual struggle with sexuality or gender, but rather just a young man overly focused on himself and not realizing it until he loses a woman, and even then just believing that his resolution of his own issues will be enough to get her back, etc. It's a much older trope than the one of a bi or gay kid who is denying his sexuality due to shame or whatever. So I don't see any reason to disbelieve him when he says he realizes he's a straight guy.
@Lionface, he didn't say having sex with men is a kink. He says he likes to fantasize about sucking cock but doesn't actually want to do it and that he brings this fantasy into the bedroom. He said nothing about fucking men and did not specify what his kink is, but I wonder if he just needs his gf to get a strapon and role play out that fantasy with a woman.
@BDF- it's possible that the GF was freaking out, but that's not what he says. He says she had fears that he might transition based on the LW's own distracted focus on his own self-admitted gender issues. It's normal that a woman who wants to continue to be in a relationship with a man would be afraid that the man might transition if he repeatedly talks about how he has gender issues. From this, you create a scenario in which the LW's gf shames him for his kinks and freaks out about how he dresses and makes his confusion worse- again none of this was in the letter, it is your projection, and again while we might all speculate endlessly (that's the point here) you are creating a situation for which there is no evidence to blame a woman for a man's behavior.
@23 Ah, nice to hear an update! Glad things worked out for both of you! Glad to hear also that you and your ex found Dan's advice helpful. I wish more people would write in afterwards, it's nice to read the updates.
WeBothMovedOn @23: Thanks for checking in! I notice you using the pronoun "they" for your ex. Sounds like they did protest too much with the "I'm a straight man!" in the original letter. Glad you've both found more compatible partners.
Harriet @24: Agree completely about the concept of being secure in one's masculinity. I think we'd all be better off if we were just people, doing what we wanted, without having to fit some concept of what our assigned -- or otherwise -- gender "should" be doing. But then you and I are the choir on this one, I think! :-)
Emma @28: I defer to WeBothMovedOn @23, who says that FML was indeed considering transitioning, so her fears were based not on prejudices but on FML's own words. Sometimes clues are red herrings. I am neither "projecting" (I would be thrilled if my partner were a gender bender) nor am I a misogynist, and I don't really appreciate your hinting at such. The phrase just jumped out at me as something that might be revelatory of an underlying dynamic, which turned out not to be the case, and I'm glad one of the people involved clarified.
I think LW’s confusion at the time stems from the binary outlook on gender and corresponding sexuality. If you have any desire to dress up or show your feminine side you were expected to be either gay or should take hormones and have an operation.
(I’m sure female-born face different challenges, I only touched on what I know and assume shared experience with LW .)
Eight years ago non-binary was still in its’ infancy. I only learned about it two years prior and thing started making sense. I hope youngsters have it easier these days.
@25: I always read 'secure in his masculinity' as someone who is not fussed about wearing pink, or playing Valkyrie in Gauntlet, is not troubled by a gay man making a pass at him, etc. He might do some of the things that are cultural trappings of masculinity, but he's not hung up on them. He doesn't much care how others see him (in that sense), and he just doesn't put a lot of stock in such things.
Yes, clashfan @ 32
Once again, coming from a male-born: sadly, one often feels the need to prove their masculinity to self and others while figuring things out.
CMD @31: The understanding that gender is not binary certainly has come a long way. At the risk of misreading another clue, I wonder if FML's ex referring to FML as "they" indicates that FML too has decided to stop trying to feel "secure in his masculinity" and embraced the masculine and feminine sides of themself. Understanding gender certainly is a journey; I was wondering if I was the only one with sympathy for FML's struggle to figure it out.
@31. CMDWannabe. Exactly. Many men are, or would be most happily, femme straights. (Some could incline to genderqueerness, genderfluidity or 'be' or take steps to becoming women). Equally, I assigned myself to homosexuality when I was younger when perhaps a readier assignation would have been to a sort of psychic femininity. As a 'woman', my sexuality would have been more unproblematic, easier to understand, than it was to me as a gay man: I like letting go, being dominated, usually with feelings of tenderness towards my lover, but always with excitement, submitting. But I'm not sub-by in other accepted ways; and lovers' attempt to humiliate, mindfuck, introduce various kinks or spice it up haven't usually worked.
@32. clashfan. Sure, wear pink in the country club. Wear pink in your just-about-white-collar, just-about-don't-need-another-job hardscrabble clerical gig and get a load of (for a straight guy) unnecessary grief.
@33. Bi. I'm sympathetic, but he tries that sympathy by flinging back so defensively, vehemently and manipulatively! into a gender identity that is only a partial fit. Accept you want to wear pink pants. Could mean femme, could mean gay; only an issue if it's non-negotiable to your partner. And let's not castigate straight women for wanting a cis man, a monogamous marriage and a vanilla'n'tutti-frutti topping sex life.
@34 and others... These are all great points. While I am very hesitant to speak for FML since it has been awhile since I talked to them, I will say that during our relationship this binary thinking was a big part of what was causing them so much distress. Back then there wasn't nearly as much out there for gender exploration in this regard and I am very happy to see that has changed so much in recent years. I did spend a lot of time trying to support them, experimenting with going out on dates with them in varying degrees of "girl mode" states to see how FML felt. I also spent time encouraging them to be more comfortable with the idea of being gender neutral or non binary and tried to show them pictures and videos of people who were comfortable with themselves in that way. But while at the time FML often expressed that if born correctly they would want to have been an androgynous or tomboyish cisfemale, they were also very hesitant to consder being anything but a fully straight male or a fully transitioned mtf who would pass perfectly. I think this did heavily contribute to their emotional pain. While I genuinely wanted to help them become whoever they wanted to be, in the end I felt the added dynamic of us being in a relationship and having my own desires was holding them back. I also had to process at the time, that me being straight/vanilla and wanting a family, was something I wasn't able to change either. Ultimatley there was a slim chance we would be happy together. They needed a chance to figure things out and I needed to find someone who would be naturally happiest with me. I use the pronoun "they" because I don't really know what gender they consider themselves these days. Last I talked to them they were still presenting male to the public but undergoing hrt and exploring where in the gender spectrum they lie with their new partner. I am not sure where they have settled these days. Hopefully I will get a chance to see them again sometime soon and we can catch up.
So rare to hear from the LW, wish more would join the comments! Thanks, WeBoth!
Well done, Ms Moved. Well deduced, Ms Fan.
A 26 yr old straight guy somewhat insecure in his masculinity with occasional issues in the bedroom who has some fantasies about wearing lingerie and giving head to a guy that are distracting but not sufficiently compelling to act upon.
Seems pretty ordinary to me. Who told him this constituted "gender identity" issues and why did he buy into it is the real question - one I find it very hard to believe Mr Savage didn't see, doesn't have an opinion on and wouldn't have called him on in any other circumstance. JFC, please tell me Savage Love is afraid of the TERF label, please...
@27 A penis is usually attached to a person. Another person isn't a kink. A whole class of people isn't a kink.
What? Lionface, all body parts are attached to people and plenty of people have kinks around body parts. There's plenty of straight dudes with kinks that revolve around sissy play or forced cock sucking or role play that they are with a dude, etc, obviously.
@41 People can be into body parts--for example, straight men into penises on girls (ex. futanari). It simply sounds odd to say "man my kink where I'm attracted to other men has been intense lately." Generally, that says something about orientation*. To the LW's credit, the letter clearly indicates this caused a considerable degree of confusion around LW's sexual orientation, so whatever we may think of LW's conclusion, I think LW correctly concluded that maybe, just maybe, there was a chance he was into men. That does, I admit, tend to be one of the major indicators of such a thing.
It does raise a good question, though. Where do we draw the line between kinks and sexuality? Just a week or two ago Dan got a letter from a distraught gay man whose gay-identified 'gold star' partner had been fantasizing about having a MMF threesome and had been sending strong signals that his fantasies featured women's bodies on occasion. Dan's response was that it was very likely--is very likely--that this guy is "bi or so homoflexible he could be in Cirque Du Soleil." Are there grounds to disagree with Dan and say that this guy being into women is a kink? Certainly he has as much ground to claim that as a guy into forced bi or sissification, since his voiced fantasies always involve his boyfriend.
In this particular letter's case, though, it doesn't matter. This letter is ancient, both the LW and the LW's ex have moved on, and if I had known as much, I probably wouldn't have written the response I did. No use in telling someone a thing they said back in 2012 was disrespectfully phrased.
*There are 'faggot' humiliation materials produced by femdoms aimed at submissive bisexual (and some gay) men, usually as a branch of sissification, and that could be called a kink, and forced bi can be called a kink, though in that case 'bi' is right in the name, and they are actually fantasies involving other males, so...
It simply sounds odd to say "man my kink where I'm attracted to other men has been intense lately."
Yes, that would sound odd. Only the LW didn't say that. You did. What the LW said was:
"I now realize I was allowing my sexual kinks to get the best of me. I get very turned on by the idea of giving head to a guy, but in reality it is not something that I enjoy. I also find lingerie to be very arousing. "
The rest of it, you'll have to talk to people more experienced with sissy fetishes in general.
I was giving a paraphrasing of what was said, slightly exaggerated to illustrate my point. "I was allowing my sexual kinks to get the best of me" implies the next sentence will be about his sexual kinks. "I get very turned on by the idea of giving head to a guy" is then read within the context of the sentence before it. We all get why he said it though, so it's not really an issue.
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