Recent Savage Love Letters of the Day: She thought he was perfect—then she checked out the girls he was checking out; he's been out for years—so where's his boyfriend and when does it get better; when does she get to meet the man she met on Tinder; and a letter that's more than a mouthful. And, as always, last week's column and Savage Lovecast.
Usually I agree with you, mostly because I think you are right, (duh), and I usually admire your compassion. However, I think you missed the boat on Boyfriend Always Wailing Loudly. You framed the issue as a person being consciously manipulative, which of course is possible. Another possibility is that the boyfriend is getting ashamed, not because she is being shaming, but because he is hypersensitive for any clue that another person is viewing him the way he already thinks about himself. "I'm not good enough. I can't do anything right. I'm not lovable." As a psychotherapist who treats people who have experienced early childhood trauma (not petty bullshit disappointments, but beatings, sexual assaults, and witnessing murders), I see this dynamic all the time. It is irrational, but real for the person experiencing it. I hope next time you will have more compassion for both people in situations similar to this one, because you based told her that her boyfriends is a childish snot, and she shouldn't put up with his shit. I don't think either of them benefited from your advice.
I'm tempted to dig in my heels and drag out my razor because, um, what seems like the simpler answer/possibility here: BAWL's boyfriend is being kinda run-of-the-mill manipulative or BAWL's boyfriend WITNESSED MURDERS IN CHILDHOOD (info he hasn't shared with his girlfriend; or, if he did and he has, info she didn't think to share with me). You allow that my theory is possible, which I honestly appreciate (most people with alt theories want to rule mine out), and I'll allow that yours is likewise possible. But whose theory is more probable?
More on BAWL...
In your response to BAWL's letter about a boyfriend reacting irrationally to minor criticisms, you chalk this behavior up to nothing more than a manipulative tantrum for a "selfish, shitty, or inconsiderate thing he's done." While this observation might be reasonable in some cases, this is also standard fare for adults who suffered emotional neglect or abuse as children. A fear of abandonment, conflict avoidance, a constant need for reassurance, shame, being overly apologetic and being terrified of not living up to expectations can be the result of unhealthy parent/child relationships. These are issues that can be remedied with therapy (and it sounds like BAWL's BF might not be finding the help he needs) and so I expected a bit more empathy in your reply. Sure, this guy could simply be nothing more than a grade A dick, but it might also be worth exploring why and how this behavior has come to be. Your thoughtfulness is one of the many reasons I've been reading your column for years. But to regard BAWL's BF as nothing more than unhinged man-child isn't doing any favors—especially if there's a serious discussion about mental health to be had.
Perhaps I shouldn't have answered BAWL's question in a Quickies column. Perhaps I should've been more empathetic—and maybe I would've been, had I responded to BAWL in a regular column and at greater length. I'll make sure BAWL sees today's SLLOTD, so that she knows therapy is an option—if her boyfriend is willing to see a therapist. But there's only so long someone is required to stay with a person who is being a Grade-A dick, regardless of the source of their Grade-A dickishness.
These perspectives of "I only do the slightest thing and they go ballistic" are often very one-sided. Isn't there a chance BAWL might be underselling their severity and/or frequency if criticism? If so, it's the boyfriend that should be dumping, not BAWL.
Also possible! So many possible possibilities!
Regarding SIS, the gay 24-year-old wondering when it gets better (and where his first boyfriend is):
I'd like to add to your excellent advice to SIS in your recent column, which I read on Twitter. I'm a 68-year-old gay man who has never been in a relationship, something that I was once desperate about, to the point of seriously considering suicide in my 30s. The central characteristic of my situation, which I shared with SIS, was the sense that something was wrong and I did not know what it was; that there was some piece of the puzzle that I was missing.
About ten years ago, I suspected, and then confirmed, that I had Asperger's Syndrome, now referred to as high-functioning autism. It explained pretty much everything about me, and made me understand that my failure to find a relationship partner has not been my fault. Such a realization doesn't sound on its surface to be a big deal, but I can assure you that it has been transformative. I fully accept my life situation, recognize that I've accomplished a lot, and had many wonderful experiences over the years. While I haven't completely given up, I accept that I'm not likely to find a relationship partner in my remaining years.
You did recommend that SIS consult with a therapist, however I can state from experience that not all therapists are familiar with high-functioning autism. I'd suggest that SIS be sure that his therapist is considering such a possibility, and further that he/she be knowledgeable about treating it. It's a bit late for me, but SIS is young enough that if this is indeed his condition, there are therapeutic approaches that can be very helpful.
More for SIS:
Superb advice, applicable to everyone, LGBQT and straight . Some people hinge their happiness on finding a partner, and it seems a selfish reason for dating. My x broke up with me because I didn't make him happy enough. And he did the same to his next boyfriend— Nosferoctopus (@sasquatchtango) February 6, 2019
The dating pool gets smaller and smaller as one gets older, be one gay or straight. One can be single and happy. But a partner certainly enhances life if there is chemistry. An incompatible or abusive partner can make life feel like a prison.I'm 50, gay & single, and ok with it— Nosferoctopus (@sasquatchtango) February 6, 2019
On the 50-something woman whose 50-something man was looking at pictures of teenagers:
i kinda have a problem with the 50-yr-old looking at pictures of “hot” teenagers. it’s this behavior that allows roy more and jeffrey epstein to walk around free. it emboldens ideas like “getting away with that.” (& btw, wtf, man?) and if you’re a white dude, chances are you can get away with it... why hasn’t anyone said anything about child pornography? if these kids are minors, that’s a felony. And I would have a fucking problem with that. as this man’s partner, I’d’ve been gone before he knew I checked his browser history. as for his “reptile brain,” i really think that, by the time he’s typing “hot brunette teenagers” in his search engine, he’s had more than enough time for his “higher brain” to tell him not to do it.also, noticing an attractive young person in a coffee shop is not the same thing as browsing for hot teenagers on the Internet. at all.
I asked Mom In Angst, the original letter writer, if her 50-something boyfriend was looking at pictures of adult women—images of women over the age of 18—or at pictures of minors:
Teenagers, yes, but not minors. We have discussed it BTW and I will show him our communication as well. Your input has greatly helped me to reframe my thinking. I think I can put it down now. Thank you again.
There were a lot of thoughtful comments on the original post—certainly more thoughtful than, "I’d’ve been gone before he knew I checked his browser history." For instance:
MIA, your partner enjoys watching twenty-something year-old women have sex, that doesn't mean he would rather be partnered with your daughter or your daughter's friends. Comparing yourself to your daughter or daughter's friends will be maddening. Let this go. Absent troubling behavior in someone's day-to-day interactions, I think there is little value in unpacking their erotic imagination. Even if the erotic images we watch could be used a predictive tool to our behavior, which they are not, anyone person's viewing habits are skewed by the porn that is most easily accessible. Pertinent to this case, many women in the adult film industry get into that business between ages 18 and 21, and will exit the business after a few years. So there are fewer actresses who have the longevity to be filming scenes at age 30, let alone age 40 or above. But there are some women who did get into the adult film industry at age 18, and have continuously filmed scenes for the past 20 years, so there is evidence that people will continue to be attracted to these performers as they age.
I'm not sure which letter or call this email came in response to—maybe this one?—but it's an evergreen email:
I found your article today about my husband. Maybe you should let this loser know she can have the bastard. I am leaving him. He is a habitual cheater, sucks in bed, and has fantasized about sex with a, well, never mind. It's not worth it.
1. Inserting one’s fist in the butt as you fuck your guy—or having your top do that to you! 👌👌👌
2. After shooting your juice (either orifice) taking a piss before pulling out—or having that done to you! 😳😳😳
3. Deep tongue kissing while fucking in the missionary position! 😍😍😍
4. Being double-penetrated! 😊😊😊
5. A typical gang-bang where you bottom for more that 10 guys? 😳😳😳
A word of warning for I'm Understandably Distressed, the woman thinking about lying to her sex partners about having an IUD (in the hopes that they'll stop asking to go bare):
Some guys will a larger cock might notice the IUD (I could feel my ex's, at times), but I mostly agree with your answer.
And a note about #FuckFirst, which may be the single best (and most actionable) piece of advice I ever gave...
As Valentine’s Day is coming up, I thought it would be a good time to write: I only just recently started dating (thanks in no small part to reading your column over the years), and by far the most useful piece of advice has been to #fuckfirst. After going out for dinner and a few drinks, the last thing I’m in the mood for is sex, much less the whole process of getting cleaned out, etc., beforehand. When my boyfriend comes over, we get right to it, enjoy the rest of the night, and go to bed happy. Thanks!
You're welcome! Okay, that's it! Have a great weekend everybody!