Recent Savage Love Letter of the Day: Learning to trust again after a monogamish relationship blows up, a bi med student contemplates his next move, a man's gayest nephew is about to get married—to a woman, and a woman's demanded a monogamous commitment but describes their marriage as open. And, as always, last week's column and Savage Lovecast.
A reader has a problem with something I said to BLOW:
"And if you and the girlfriend are perceived to be monogamous, and you want to keep it that way, you can allow people to continue to make that assumption." Wait...so polyamorous erasure is okay???
They're not poly. They're open, have the occasional threesome. That ≠ poly.
I had included a paragraph in that response about sexual vs. social monogamy and about how lots of people who are perceived to be monogamous actually aren't—and the stigma against open and/or poly relationships keeps some, but not all, non-monogamous people in the presumed-to-be-monogamous closet and that the only way to fight the stigma is for more people who are open and/or poly to come out. But I had to cut it for space.
I'm really of two minds: coming out as a committed couple who has threesomes kinda falls into the "info about your sexual practices" column. But not being out about that allows the stigma against open relationships to float along, unchallenged. I'd like everyone to be out—kinksters too—but I think there's a gray area here and I don't every couple who has the odd threeway is obligated to be out, even if it would help if they were.
Some readers have thoughts on old columns:
I only recently discovered you, but have been working backward through your column compulsively for the past weeks. Awesome stuff! Here is a reaction I thought I'd share about HISMOM (20 May 2015), the mother concerned that her 5-year-old was putting toys up his butt. This is the first time I ever speak to anyone about this.
I am a 38-year-old straight cis female and I started masturbating around age 5—I know because I remember that year of kindergarten, the naps I had to take in the afternoon, how I hated them, and how I spent the time playing with myself instead. I would invariably place a large eraser between my clenched buttocks and proceed to climax 4-5 times in a couple of hours to an elaborate fantasy about shitting my pants (hence the eraser) and getting spanked for it. I didn't like putting things IN—suppositories frightened me more than anything!—but enjoyed the outer stimulation. You and Amy Lang suggest to HISMOM that someone may have taught the boy to do that. Nobody taught me, and to the very best of my recollection, now and then, the fantasy was also not based on any real occurrence. It is also suggested that "it's on the outer edges of typical sexual behavior," which caught me off guard. I grew up to be decidedly vanilla (if an adventurous one!), and I still don't enjoy penetrative anal sex—just some outer stimulation and very light spanking. Finally, even if I obviously didn't identify the playing as sexual at the time, and it took me a long time to understand those were orgasms and I was in fact masturbating, I had a keen sense of keeping this away from everybody, adults and other kids alike, and was mortified when my mum discovered a discarded eraser in my bed, even if there was no indication of why it was there.
I'm only contributing this to help a better understanding of the phenomenon, which is real, whether HISMOM is or not. Kids are inventive and discover stuff also without anybody having taught them. The boy, especially given his openness about his habit, might not even do it as a sexual act. And I am still pondering how I feel about this being qualified as outlier behavior, rather than the normal getting-to-know-your-body that all children do.
Another reader writes in about a two-year-old column:
I think your advice to SF is too harsh. While I think we both agree it was a mistake not to test the sexual compatibility of their relationship before making a life-long commitment, it seems very likely that his wife has a lot of sexual hang-ups due to her religious upbringing, and therapy could massively benefit her. In fact, unless this woman is genuinely asexual, it would be a shame for those who love her not to push her towards professional help with this. Many religious couples experience similar problems and surely your advice to all of them can't be do dump their loving wives who were damaged by the system of beliefs they were brought up in. Sometimes love, support, and sex-positive therapy can save these relationships. Other times they cannot. But it seems reasonable to at least try therapy before getting a divorce. But thanks for the generally great insight!
Hi! I just wanted you to know that when the world is on fire, I binge read your column! Thanks for letting me unwind to other people’s problems and great advice!
Binge read old Savage Love columns and Savage Love Letters of the Day here!
Another thank-you note...
I just wanted to write to thank you...i used to read your column in the village voice and have continued to online over the years. In a general sort of way I always thought your teachings made me a better partner, GGG as I could be, open to talking and exploring with my former boyfriends and an open-minded supportive friend no matter what a buddy might wanna tell me has been on their minds or going on in their bedrooms etc.
But recently your good influence on my heart has become most obvious and most important. Im dating the kindest man I've ever known, having a happy and fullfilling sex life and emotional life with him. He's a supportive, sexy, smart, sweet person who has a lot of private things that he's not felt comfortable disclosing to other partners both about his own sexuality as well as abusive treatment he's experienced in his past. I know some of what has made him comfortable enough to tell me these things is that I have been very verbal and open with him about all things but especially sex subjects; thanks in many ways to how important your column always made it clear communication with a partner is!
We have always told each other how fortunate we feel to have found each other. But after some stuff that came out recently, things that go deeper into some of his past I had already known only a little bit about—things that someone else might have turned away from—i just really wanted to tell you how fortunate I feel to have found YOU, years ago in The Stranger on a long ago trip to Seattle.
At the moment we are feeling extra lucky; him for having a very understanding partner (more than I think he—or even I—realized I could be) and me for having the tools to cope with some of the new info that might have otherwise overwhelmed me or worse yet scared me away from the most special person and relationship I've ever known. So thank you, Dan, for making us all a little smarter, sweeter, and stronger!
A quick THANK YOU for your response to TMI, the submissive young woman with the relationship with the older, dominant, married man. Your advice was so thoughtful, generous, reasonable and insightful. You used common sense and were not triggered. It was stunningly wonderful! It is a rarity in this world. One of my favorites of many years of reading your column. Thank you for this letter, and decades (!! can you believe it!!) of giving great advice.
I want to comment on a response you offered to IMDONE (Indecisively Married Dame On Nearing Exit). You suggested that she had a third choice of an open relationship. I suggest she has a fourth and very valuable choice: to live on her own for a good length of time—one year or more. It would be a great opportunity to grow some wisdom before starting another relationship.
And finally: in reference to something I said about A.A. on the podcast recently...
You mentioned in podcast Savage Lovecast Episode #611 when answering the guy who had the alcohol-induced rage episode with his girlfriend that AA was a little too “friends in the sky” for your tastes in terms of addiction support. The reason for AA’s emphasis on a “higher power” actually has nothing to do with religion I just found out from reading Michael Pollan’s amazing newest book on psychedelics called How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. Here's the excerpt...
Just some really interesting information that might change your perspective a bit! Keep doing what you do. Love the show!