Recent Savage Love Letters of the Day: A married man's married neighbor is a shameless (and intermittent) flirt, there is no God, and three questions about crushes and their discontents. And, as always, last week's column and Lovecast.
Look, I know CAEM was arrogant and insulting ("so-called expert"? Wow.) And I know that "tough love" is one method to break through someone's problematic thinking. The only way I know this is that it's why I left my first therapist who said I was going to feel lonely forever if I became a teacher or an actor. And that's why I'm gonna say you were way too tough on this kid who was afraid of coming out to you as Christian and afraid of coming out to the world as gay. He knows you're not a fan of religion, but he had no other voice of expertise to ask for reassurance, and you let your anger overtake your response to some scared kid.
In spite of my therapist's advice, I became a teacher, and I've put up with arrogance from literally every single one of my students, regardless of their good/bad grades or their good/bad attitude. Arrogance comes with youth, and CAEM's letter sounded like someone who was emotionally-stunted (probably from being stuffed into the closet and told what to believe by his family and community...) and at the arrogance-awareness-level of a high schooler. All this to say, I wish you'd have cooled off before responding, because we both know there's a chance he didn't mean to hurt your feelings.
Kudos for pointing out the enduring scientific history of sex and for pointing out the problematic history of religions. Those are global, God's-eye perspectives that are relevant to CAEM coming to terms with his homosexuality. That part was beautiful and the kind of reassurance that he sought, and the kind of adapting I also had to do as a bisexual person who believes in God. But to close with your opinion on the (non-)existence of God was the trollish cherry on top that may have encouraged him to go back to the life he knew, if only to spite you at best (and out of conviction that you were trying to pull him away from God at worst.) I know you're not one for the soft approach, but damn...!
tl;dr: He asked you for advice on juggling homosexual feelings with Christian ones, and you did a good job there, but he didn't ask you if God exists, so fuck off with your preaching.
People preach at us all day along about how God exists and love us or hates us and believers are emphatic as fuck about what God wants and believers have been popping off at us about God for so long that it's so much background noise. And it's somehow considered the height of rudeness to tell them to fuck off with their preaching despite the countless horrors their preachers and their preaching have loosed on the world. But, my goodness, the griping when someone says—just as emphatically—that God doesn't exist...
CAEM sounds Mormon. Although Catholicism has been similar in it's treatment of gays, Mormonism is even father behind. They keep tabs on members sexual lives as part of "worthiness" interviews where a "bishop" (an untrained adult male) questions and "helps" members confront their sins (read up on Sam Young to learn more about worthiness interviews). These interviews start at a fairly early age and they help give the Mormon church control over its members.
Mormonism creates true believers using the same methods of control as cults. Tell him to start by reading the CES Letter. And tell him that faith is not the only thing that can ground him and get him through dark times. Faith also shouldn't come at the price of your happiness and denial of who you are. You can have both of that's what you want. If he can accept his authentic self without guilt he will start on a path of building friendships, and faith that will carry him through and help him find a kind of happiness he didn't realize was possible.
Regarding that man's married neighbor:
She is jealous of his wife. Period. She doesnt care abt "him" - eeewh. I had to endure this from my neighbor (female) for many years, doing this to my husband. Her and her husband lost their house, or she`d still be doing it today. Wow. We know this because of the fact, she 'only does it when he's with his wife's. Puullleeeezzzzzzz! This young guy neighbor is a narcsissist and disgusting!
After reading your response to the psychotherapist who wrote in regarding BAWL, I felt like I had to respond. Sure, it's unlikely that BAWL's boyfriend witnessed a murder. However, it's extremely likely the BF experienced childhood trauma that has led to this behavior. The therapist knows what they're talking about.
I live this this stuff. My wife has borderline personality disorder. She never witnessed a murder. As a small child, she saw her drunk dad choke her mom. Another time, she watched him bash out the windows in mom's car. When she was a teenager, her dad told her to kill herself. In high school, my wife was raped. Her mom is capricious, and her dad hypercritical and controlling. They've been divorced for decades but have had an on and off relationship the whole time. When my wife was a child, they pulled her into the middle of their conflicts. They're in their seventies and still do this. Dad wants to know if mom is seeing anyone. Mom bitches to my wife about how badly dad mistreats her. My wife never witnessed a murder but there's some pretty bad shit going on. Sometimes my wife's over the top reaction to the mildest conflict is a surreal experience for me. This can't really be happening. Surely, we're in the Twilight Zone. No adult could possibly react in this way. She's gotta be faking this.
Dan, the biggest problem I have with your response to BAWL is the word "fake." You have no idea if he's faking. I doubt he is. Every time I assumed my wife was faking it, the situation went from awful to horrific. Several times, it's ended with her in a psychiatric hold at the hospital.
BAWL, your boyfriend's reactions may seem over the top to you, but there's a reason for these reactions. Dan says your boyfriend wants to avoid accountability. He has a point, but there's another layer. Why is he trying so hard to avoid accountability? You ask your boyfriend to put the cap back on the toothpaste (or some other little thing) and it escalates to him accusing you of hating him. Why on Earth would someone react this way? It can be bewildering. I've been working with and coached by a therapist who specializes in personality disorders for several years now. I've learned that my wife's self esteem was shredded so badly by her childhood experiences, that even the mildest criticism can be soul crushingly painful to her. To her, it can feel like she's being abandoned. Fortunately, my wife is in therapy and is working on her issues. I'm learning strategies for handling conflicts so they don't spiral into a crisis. I have no idea if your boyfriend's issues rise to the level of full on personality disorder. However, if his reactions to mild criticism seem over the top, there's something going on. If you want to stay with him, it will make both of your lives easier if you figure it out and don't just assume he's faking it.
You, sir, are a saint. But I'm with Baby Rae.
Your response to "I'm Understandably Distressed" (IUD) was from another time. She wanted to know if it was OK to lie to men about being on birth control, so that they would wear a condom. You danced a little, but said "Of course you can." I've read the entire answer a few times and no where do you say, "Stop fucking guys who won't wear a condom." In this day and age, why is that not an option? Awesome "strange" is no reason to give up a healthy life.
You're right! I should've mentioned that, as it's definitely an option. But we sometimes go to bed with people we barely know and aren't able to trust—we sometimes take that risk—because we're horny and we wanna fuck someone we barely know and can't trust. (It's not crazy; all trusted sex partners were strangers to us once.) And sometimes guys ask to bare. In IUD's case, it was clear that she was telling them absolutely not—they had to wear condoms or GTFO. So she wasn't fucking guys who wouldn't wear condoms! They were wearing condoms. She just wanted to know if it was okay to lie to these guys about not having an IUD so they'd be extra careful to keep those condoms on.
For those of you who can't get enough of me running my damn mouth, I was a guest on some other people's podcasts this week...
When is the price of admission too high in a relationship? Why are we sometimes just performing misery? And how to deal with that gnawing feeling we are just not enough for our partner? @fakedansavage knows it all 🙌 https://t.co/9McsQQEFJF— The Ersties Podcast (@ErstiesPodcast) February 15, 2019
And finally... hey, it's Friday! Here's hoping everyone has a hoppin' weekend...