Sex and the Not-So-Single Member of the Clergy



"We do have a deep connection, ..."

No you don't. Deceitful people are incapable of deep connections.


Raindrop @ 1 - And even more importantly, deceitful people are highly skilled at faking them.


Looking for comfort in someone unavailable and long-distance—these are not the hallmarks of a person who wants to be in a real relationship right now. I'm guessing her therapist told her as much and that's why she's looking for Dan's advice. I hope she listens now.

Also, even if this man were totally available, that credit card is a big red flag.


@2: Indeed they are!


You aren't getting what you need in this relationship. It's not gonna change. Even if it did, he's still a helluva lot closer to the end of his life than you mostt likely are. Time to move on.


Well this took a turn.

I mean, what is left but to start mourning?


He's using you.
don't be a patsy.
And, actually, if you did get with him you would be lucky if he croaks in a few years, more likely you would get to spend a decade changing his diapers.
Are you into that?


@1 lolz, and I hear people who jump turnstiles are incapable of love. I assure you, though it may make you feel better to assume that people with traits you dislike ore incapable of human emotions, they still are. Even Hitler had a girlfriend, and for all we know he felt the same deep connection to her that we feel with our partners.

For the LW: what 7x year old well off person has to keep his job? He could divorce and flip his congregation the bird today and run off with his much younger girlfriend. But he ain't. It ain't happened yet, it's not gonna happen tomorrow.


Life expectancy at birth is 76. Once a male has reached age 70, life expectancy is 85. Think of all the great years you can have changing his diapers, clipping his overgrown toenails and listening to him complain about his hemorrhoids.


The big thing for me is the way LW is clearly shrinking herself in order to be with him... "I'm low maintenance".. No unfortunately you've allowed yourself to become no maintenance which is truly an awful place to be. You've shrunk yourself and he's taking advantage of that.. He will suck you dry, financially, physically and emotionally. He will grind you down to doormat dust if you let him... DTMFA LW... sorry it does suck I know, but believe me (44yr old woman) there are wonderful single men out there in their 40s. Take some time to heal yourself and go enjoy those wonderful men, you deserve much better.


Average life expectancy is declining due to obesity-related health problems, drug overdoses and suicide. So, unless this guy is an obese user of hard drugs with suicidal ideation, he’s likely to be around until 85...or longer.


@8 - That's not what we're referring to. The "deep connection" is not just having a girlfriend, but being true to oneself and honest to the other - regardless of their character. I suppose Adolf and Eva might have even had that, despite everything else.


Good riddance to bad religious trash!


@12 Adolf also had some weird stuff with his niece who ended up killing herself. He may not be the testament to "bad people can have normal feelings" thing that you are indicating.


@14: Okay: Bonnie and Clyde


Oy, Dan! Spoiler warning, please, when the headline gives away the twist in the end of the story!


LW, this man isn’t offering you any life time commitment, by the sound of it. You are a nice adjunct to his settled life, so stop fooling yourself.
Thank him for his help during difficult times, part of his job being clergy, and block him. Don’t let him reel you back in like some helpless fish. Ffs woman, grow up and face the truth.


What kind of religion I’d this guy clergy for? The Church of Satan? Which commandment was “Thou shalt fuck over thy wife, children and 30-year younger girlfriend”?


“is” not “I’d”. Stupid autocorrect, bane of my life.


Donny @18

Nah, just the usual distorted prosperity gospel.

Not to forget that he and his wife are enjoying lavish meals and other perks, so he must have a substantial salary. Not too shabby for a ::coughs:: man of the cloth.

Even worse that he brags about his lifestyle to LW. He's just bad news for her. If she blocks him, then she can't/won't be swayed by his skills at oratory.

It's people such as this man that make the thought of blackmail (exposing him to the flock he's fleecing) so justifiably tempting.


Dear LW, This has been a good relationship: it showed you how much you can mean to someone; it proved that you are desirable. But ultimately, this man can't give you what you want. You're already resenting--as you have every right to--the fact that you are bankrolling it. Move on and leave yourself open to a more fulfilling relationship with someone who has actual availability, both emotionally, socially, logistically, and financially. This isn't enough for you and you shouldn't settle.


It’s not entirely clear if “My lover has also talked me through some of the most difficult times of my life” occurred before or while dating. While probably on the while side, it is still done by a person of authority, trained and experienced in mis/leading people in time of trouble.

Raindrop- that Hitler thing wasn’t funny to begin with. Brushing it aside with a nonchalant Bonnie and Clyde makes it seem worse than probably intended.


@18 Church of the raging narcissist
@21 This is a terrible relationship and this guy does not value the LW at all. It reeks of emotional and financial abuse. DTMFA. And go no contact. He’ll be angry you cut him off from his supply. He might even agree to leave his wife for you once you cut him off. But don’t fall for it. You deserve better.


I believe that @Dan takes the easy way out with his answer by focusing on Mr. Clergy's age, when I think that Mr. Clergy's awful treatment of WTFW is what warrants discussion.

There are broad notions of fairness in the financial aspects of a relationship, but Mr. Clergy is simply using WTFW and that is DTMFA behavior. I wonder whether the money is really Mrs. Clegy's, which is why she is so involved in monitoring their expenses. I am doubtful that people entering second marriages in their 60s or beyond are entirely merging their significant savings so close to retirement. In any event, with money flowing around on a lavish lifestyle, hiding a $100 per week to pay for her expenses shouldn't be too difficult, and in fact, wasn't difficult as he ultimately produced a credit card.

Mr. Clergy is a smooth talker, and he may even have some feelings for WTFW, but her appeal to him is probably the fact that she provides much better sex than his wife, and Mr. Clergy can basically treat her like a discount sex worker. Yes, there may also be an overlay of hypocrisy in wanting to be seen as a man of God while simultaneous carrying on an extramarital affair. Frankly, even if Mr. Clergy was 53 and not 73, these still would be the reasons to DTMFA.


Enough with the ageist and nappy jokes. What age is your POTUS in the States? What ages are the three top Democratic contenders for POTUS.
Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Mick The Lips. Etc.
all in their 70s. Let’s hope you lot are so lucky to grow old/ Er.
Sure, bits start to not work so well. Karma for past sins hits you in the face. Acceptance and adaption are the keys.
Like this Preacher boy here, he’s adapted. Wife in place for stability. Got the bit on the side for you know, wanting to feel young / Er again. She’s way away somewhere else and he spends her money.
Perfect adaptive behaviour. Yet morally wrong. And the LW is being taken for a ride. Just because he talks good and can keep it up every few months.


Drjones @8: if he was capable of being a decent and faithful partner, he'd be faithful to his wife. LW is the standard idiot dating a married person "oh my lover's perfectly happy to betray their spouse but not meeee! I'm special!"


Mr. Wordsmith Mooch McClergy! Dan, you win.

Sounds like WTFW is confusing "low maintenance" with "doormat." You're three years into this affair and he's shown you who he is -- selfish, stingy, hypocritical (I'm sure his god would have something to say about cheating on one's wife -- wives, rather; no doubt cheating is a lifelong habit, and you may not even be his only current mistress), and not gonna leave his wife. And even if he did, how many years would you have with him? Time to move on. You know this, that's why you wrote in, so do it. Don't let him reel you in with his pretty words. He has helped you get over your divorce, and now that you're over it, you don't need him anymore. Find someone who treats you like an equal. It's time to demand better.


Helenka @20, yeah, exactly. And he's probably not even paying taxes on any of this. I do think his congregation might be very interested to find out what he's been using their tithes for...

Sublime @24, agreed. Perhaps Dan focused on the age issue because WTFW walked by all these other red flags and accepted them as a price of admission? Dan, you know, you're not decades away from 70 yourself...


What did you think it was going to be like having a "relationship" with a married guy? You can't expect him to help you financially, he's committed to someone else -his wife! He's perfectly entitled to take her out for lavish dinners and go on trips with her. Of course they have such things as shared bills and credit cards - they are in a legal partnership. You act so hard done by, but you don't have to drive those 8 hours just to eat dinner alone - you are choosing that. Your language is very possessive "my lover, the man I love" but he is not yours, he is his wife's. If you want things to be different, how about finding a husband of your own instead of getting on to someone else's husband behind their back. It will be ever so much nicer for all concerned. Right now you are getting exactly the deal you can expect when cheating and sneaking around. Stop being resentful about things you are not entitled to and wise up. Of course it's a losing situation for you. Because you have continued with it for 3 years it feels normal to you now and you have a very skewed point of view about what it actually is that you're involved in. He isn't yours and he doesn't owe you a thing. Stop being so blind and arrogant, instead go create a life for yourself that has room in it for a man of your own, then you can have all the things you currently resent not having.


WTFW-- Consider that you have this great emotional connection with Wordsmith McMooch BECAUSE he's a deceitful married man who's using you on the downlow. There's nothing so intimate as a shared secret, nothing so exciting, and the jealousy he conjures up in you when he tells you about trips with his wife, gosh I could get wet just at the thought. Behaviorists will tell you that intermittent reinforcement is the strongest kind, and that's what he's giving you with that tantalizing vacillation between you and his wife. Just think of yourself as one of Skinner's pigeons pecking for that grain of corn over and over. Fun!

It would be one thing if you were using him too. Sometimes a safe benefits relationship is what we need to give us the confidence to find a permanent relationship. If you were dating others and ready to dump him when you found something satisfying and committed, that would be one thing, but that's not what you've got here.

What you've got here is an asshole. He's a shiny bright asshole dressed up with glitter and jewels, and you feel lucky to be with him, but an asshole nonetheless.

I'm not in love with him, so I'm imagining scenarios where you get damning photographic evidence and blow his holier-than-thou clergy reputation to smithereens, but if experience and 2000 years of patriarchy is any teacher, that wouldn't end well for you. Male clergy actually gain in reputation when they give tearful apologies about how they've sinned. Congregations eat that stuff up. Meanwhile they castigate the female harlots. Clergy wives gain in reputation when they stand by their men putting up with everything.

Here's an idea. Don't reveal anything about your relationship, but seek out Mrs. Wordsmith and make friends with her. That would make your guy squirm in a way he deserves.

Did you sign "Wanting To Feel Worthy," or did Dan make that up? If you did, it says a lot. (And if Dan did, it shows good insight.) It sure seems to me that this affair, this deep emotional physical connection that surpasses all others, is leaving you feeling like unworthy shit most of the time. You really want that?

Now reading the commenters preceding me. Don't Be A Dummy@7 has a good point. The single great thing about the situation the way you have it is that Mrs. Clergy has to take care of her cheating ass husband as he declines into bedshitting and dementia. Whatever you do, don't volunteer for that.

DonnyKlicious@18 asks a good question. I'm dying to know what denomination this guy is a clergyman with. Not that it makes a huge difference to his hypocritical ass, but I'd still love to know.

And BiDan@27, yes to confusing low maintenance with doormat. Where do women get this idea that putting up with everything isn't just necessary, it's also admirable.


LW can salvage something along Ms Cute's line, which seems about the best she can do.

While I can understand the desire to celebrate declining male life expectancy, I'll just point out that doing so will make it tricky later on to claim that dying early is selfish.

One of the best lines I ever heard Mr McKern recite was when Rumpole was lectured on the evils of smoking by the primary-school-aged Tristan and Isolde Erskine Brown, "There is no pleasure worth sacrificing for the sake of five extra years in the Old People's Home in Weston-super-Mare."


"He’s clergy--—go figure."

This is no surprise.

People's life-pursuit tends to be about what they aren't, not what they are. A person is quite likely to enter clergy for their /lack/ of, not for their having, a good character.

(Not necessarily to hide in plain sight to dupe others, they may genuinely hope that they will become what they pretend to be.)

WTFW he's a liar. (The miraculous materialization of his credit card, etc.) The connection you cherish may only be real on your side, his may be an act.


I am mostly astounded that the LW, who says she’s a single mother, has time in her life for this bullshit. Who’s taking care of the kid while she’s driving 8 hours, spending the night and driving back again? Even if she has reliable and free child care, how is she spending her limited disposable income on getting herself laid with this cheapskate instead of on the child’s needs? I know this comment reeks of judgment but I was a single mother myself and no way could I have managed this. Maybe a visit once a year while the kid was at summer camp, but otherwise the time and money consumption would have been unsustainable.
So LW, DTMFA for logistical as well as the usual relationship issues. Get on the apps or fetlife or whatever is to your taste and find some local men (single, or honest poly) who can pay their own way and treat you with the respect you deserve. At 42, you are in your prime, a sweet younger woman to the old guys, a hot older woman to the younger ones, and who knows maybe you will like some guys your own age! Don’t waste your prime on this doofus.


Another thought to add to my statements @30. What if you found out he wasn't just cheating on his wife with you? What if you discovered that you're one of a harem of women he's cheating with? What if he has so little time and money for you because that suddenly showing up single credit card in his own name has to be used to support the 4 other women he meets in hotels? Would THAT be enough to get you to dump his sorry ass?

I'm coming down strong on you, and I know advice that comes from on high isn't as good as advice that comes from someone who has also made mistakes. So here's my story. (One of several, actually.) He wasn't married. He was in grad school and had a small apartment in a rundown section of town, a place he could afford. I lived in the dorms. I'd accidentally left something at his place, a book or some socks or something. He got on my case about that. I was supposed to be neat. I didn't see a reason I couldn't be forgetful with minor items. Eventually it emerged that he was having sex with a few women, and for that reason, he couldn't risk having items left by one discovered by another. Even after he told me that he was breaking up with me so he could pursue another, I wanted to continue as we'd been. Yup, I was so in love I begged him to keep sleeping with me. I promised to be more careful with my socks. He was a good guy in comparison with the asshole you've got. He did make a clean break with me, and I am able to look back and wonder what was I thinking.


Gold stars to Sandwiches @29 and Squidgie @33. Also to Fichu @30 for calling the sign-off to our attention. WTFW should set her sights higher than feeling "worthy" of a faux-holy CPOS.


You are in the prime of your life, LW, as Squidgie says @33, and this man ‘got’ you when you were at a vulnerable time. He’s a player, and he’s played you. Your children don’t need a mother who debases her self this way, what sort of relationship model are you setting for them.
Piss this guy off and do it strongly and firmly.
Point out his hypocrisy and cheating, which you LW, have been colluding with. Man of God that he pretends to be. Tell him what a cheapskate he has been, lying about money as well. That for three yrs you’ve had blinkers on, and now, you’ve ripped those blinkers off. Tell him to never and you mean never contact you again or you’ll ring his wife and his church superior. That maybe, one night when you’re drunk, you might ring em anyway. This to leave a little fear with the douche. But that you’ll be sure to do it, if he contacts you again.
Then like weaning off a drug, go thru the withdrawals. Over time, you’ll see what a tool this man is, and hopefully the lesson will be that you’ll be more careful choosing lovers in future. Ones who treat you with love and respect.




Squidgie @33: "I am mostly astounded that the LW, who says she’s a single mother, has time in her life for this bullshit. Who’s taking care of the kid while she’s driving 8 hours, spending the night and driving back again?"

Probably her ex (the kids' other parent). I think it's unreasonable to say an adult's disposable income has to be entirely spent on the children rather than her own desires for emotional support and sexual heat with this guy. (Not to say she shouldn't end it -- but her kids aren't why she should end it.)


Lava @36, gold star for you too.
EricaP @38, good catch. Squidgie, you're projecting -- WTFW isn't a single mother, she's a divorced mother, and she never said her ex isn't keeping up his share of custody and support.


She tries to break up with him, and he talks her out of it. He has convinced her that she is not worthy. Can anyone say gaslighting?


@40: not me, BiDanFan. "Gaslighting" refers to a very specific phenomenon; Many people talk their way out of a breakup without convincing the other person that they are wrong to believe what they experience. And I believe that this woman entered this relationship with low self-esteem and historically feels unworthy of more, which is why she settled for a long-distance relationship with a man who is married in the first place.


It occurs to me that you could even take cheating out of the equation and come to the same conclusion. How about:

I'm a 42 year old woman in love with a 72 year old man. We live in different cities and have a great connection, emotional intimacy, great sex. He's single, financially secure, and spends his money only on himself. He takes lavish trips without me, eats out at extravagant meals, and says he can't help me financially. When we go out together, I pay for the meals. When have sex together somewhere between our 2 cities, I pay for the hotel. Sometimes he reimburses me, or he'll pay for the room but not the parking or gas for my 8 hour drive, but mostly it's me treating him. It's like I'm paying him for sex. I really like this guy, and I'd like to move forward in the relationship, but I'm divorced with children, and all my resources really should be going towards them. Do you think we stand a chance given that he can't move since his job is in another city and he's never shown any willingness to spend time or money on me?

See? Phrased like that, you still get a no answer. DTMFA and run!


Am I understanding the credit car thing? He says he can't pay his half of your shared expenses because his wife will notice. But then when it becomes an issue, he suddenly can do so?

To me, I read it as boiling down to this: he wants the affair to cost him as little as possible. I don't know where his line is drawn- at what point does it cost him too much to be worth it? Currently, we see that he's willing to pay the price of being a good listener, sharing deep emotional conversations with you about hard things in your life. And the cost of low risk of discovery by his wife. When pushed, he becomes willing to pay the financial costs of some of the expenses of the affair. So far, that's it.

You could continue pushing and see how much he's really willing to give to the relationship. At some point, you'll hit a wall and you'll know what the boundaries of your affair are. And that will give you some perspective on what role you play in one another's lives.

But that really does just sound exhausting to me and depressing and probably degrading- like why?

My advice is to INSTEAD ask yourself what your boundaries are. Can you afford (financially and emotionally) to continue driving to see him and footing at least half the bill for everything and never having vacations with him and never getting married to him? Because that's the position you are in now. You get to keep the sex & the deep emotional connection in exchange for that.

Or can you find that with someone else? You are not old.

Also, I don't know if this matters to you, but I'd spare a thought or two for his wife as well. If not empathetically, then at least be selfish enough to consider what it says about a person like him to be capable of carrying off such a lie and then reflect on the implications of that to your own deep emotional connection.



I think age is a fair consideration, even moreso in making long term sexual & emotional relationship decisions than in selecting politicians or rock stars.

Let's say the guy is extremely healthy and they get another ten years of hot active sex and deep emotional conversations. She will be in her early 50s. It's worth considering before making lifelong decisions like that. She will become his main caretaker if - by some disaster- he were to leave his wife to live with her.

If I vote for Bernie or Biden or if I attend a Bob Dylan concert, none of these things are a consideration.

If she were asking if she should take out the student loans to go to medical school, let's say, we'd advise her to consider what possible outcomes that would have on her life a decade from now, two decades, etc.

If she wants to continue a loving sexual relationship with him for as long as possible- five years, ten years, fifteen years, things are meaningful & exciting for their own sake and don't need to go on forever, anyway many relationships don't last even that long- then that's fine. But it's a silly idea to consider him leaving his wife to marry her without also considering who is going to take care of him into old age which is rapidly approaching for him and what implications this will have on her own life. My guess is she's assuming he'd be able to pay for his own long term care & retirement. I wonder if she's spared a thought to what his current wife will do if their assets and planning were suddenly disrupted like that. Seems foolish and selfish to me.

@Dr Jones

Some people like their work, dude.


One point that I think hasn't gotten the attention it deserves is the fact that when he does share in the costs she incurs, he leaves the money on the dresser in the hotel. That strikes me like the arm's length transactional payment method for a sex worker. I find that very telling. Whether he sees her as sex worker or not, it clearly suggest that he is creating a barrier between them.


@Squdgie, all she says is she has two children. She doesn't say if they are 5 or 15. Since childcare and finding time for them is not an issue she brought up, I see no reason to assume it is. But just to play along, the most common assumption would be that she shares custody with the other parent and has time to herself when the kids are not with her. And agreed with Erica regarding a parent's use of financial resources. The idea that parents should sacrifice anything and everything for their kids is unhealthy. "Oh so you're struggling financially, but I see you eat more than rice and beans" etc.

@Sublime- this is a very good post. Agreed all around, especially about the smooth talking. It's something that both clergy & people who have affairs both tend to have, but when it's a clergy man lying about his personal life and carrying on a secret affair full of oh-so-deep personal connections, then you know what you are dealing with. Like, it would only be more blatant if he were a literal snake oil salesman.


Small point, but you have to look at age adjusted life expectancy. The average 72 year old male is expected to live another 13 years or so.


EmmaLiz @44.. i have no issue seeing this age gap as being problematic. I was pushing back against the ageism from Dan, and in the comments. This man might be in peak health, cushy job, no problem using women to keep him warm. He could live to ninety.


@Lava, agreed, but I think Dan was pushing back about her speculations about if he'll leave his wife and become a permanent long term figure in her life which is different than if he can keep having affairs. She should view it as a relatively short term affair in the first place unless she's willing to consider the role she'll play in his elderly years while she's still pretty young.

There are loads of fit 72 year olds. There are very few fit 82 year olds. No point in pretending that 10 year stretch of aging isn't what it is, peak health or not. Let's say he lived to 90 or 100 even. What will those years look like for him vs her? She doesn't seem to be considering the possibility of spending all her 50s (and 60s perhaps) taking care of an elderly man.

I think Dan's point is that it gives perspective to her question about how marginal a figure he is in her life (her question) and what she's willing to sacrifice now for a future with him.

Not that that doesn't mean they couldn't enjoy each other sexually for quite some time or that he couldn't afford it etc- sure. Just that when she's asking about longer term, she seems to be missing the point.


Assuming the bit about his not having "his own credit card unattached to her" is true, ever wonder WHY he doesn't? Maybe because his wife has caught on to him? Wife may have figured out that the only way to rein in Hubby's cheating piece of shit ways is to keep him on a financial leash. WTFW makes it sound like Wife is a controlling bitch "emasculating" her poor long suffering husband, but she does have reason.


Good point Fichu.

First off, it's pretty common for people to have shared finances, but I'd guess it's less common for people who get married into their 60s not to have their own separate accounts as well. Though who knows- people plan for their household finances in all sorts of ways, and on it's surface, I wouldn't think it was weird that someone only had shared credit cards with their spouse.

Second, it's not true, that's what I was trying to clarify. He does in fact has his own credit card. He lied to his lover the LW that he didn't. Which is a massive red flag if we are understanding it. It means he deliberately lied to her to avoid paying his part of their shared expenses, which just wow.

Third- the emasculating thing is a red flag too. So if he shared all his accounts with HIS WIFE the LW thinks that's emasculating? The flip side of this is that she think it's masculine to keep independent accounts (I don't know why independent finances must be gendered, but there we are) and to be able to spend money without his wife knowing what he spends it on. Which is fine, except that what he's spending it on is lying and cheating on his wife- which, does that mean this is masculine too? The whole thing just seems a bit toxic, and when you combine it will all the stuff about wanting his financial support and the cash on the dresser and the "low maintenance" stuff- really makes this LW seem hard to feel sorry for.

I mean, let all that aside. This woman drives eight hours- her own money, gas and time- to eat dinner alone, pay for parking & hotel mostly alone, just for some sex and conversation? She's 42. She could find both for free I assume, but if she's going to invest in it, it seems way more efficient (and probably cheaper) just to hire a sex worker and a therapist.


Good catch SA @45. A subtle reminder of what LW’s position is. He sounds a clever manipulator and this would be one of his tricks. When challenged he could deny it meant anything.


I've reread WTFW's last paragraph. She doesn't ask if her lover is a lying piece of shit. She asks for advice. The particular problem is that every time she tries to leave him, he reels her back in. Therefore, the advice is this: Don't ask his permission to break up with him.

Here's the way it works: Stop taking his calls. Block his number. If he contacts you, say one time "It's over. Don't contact me again." Then don't respond to anything he says or does. Go full ghost. Build up the number of friends who know about your addiction. Tell them you may need help. Next time you're tempted to drive 8 hours to see him, call one of these friends the way an alcoholic would call an AA sponsor. You need someone else to talk you through those most difficult times in your life; your therapist is a good candidate. (Or a different therapist if you current one has been unsuccessful in encouraging you to dump this asshole.) Learn how to get your orgasms on your own. You need deep conversation and support from somewhere else. A book group would be my suggestion. Join a health club for regular exercise. Also, get a dog. Dogs are good.


Call me suspicious but where does LW get this information about his life? From him? He could be lying about the "facts" of his life: the controlling wife, his finances, the dinners & trips, etc. And bragging about it all to a struggling mother with two kids who's paying his way - is he a sadist? That said, I'd ask LW to figure out how much she's spent on this guy over three years - thousands? - and then figure out whether that rather large figure was really worth the scrimping & saving & doing without. Whether she could have spent that money on making her financially-strapped day-to-day life better, or on something that doesn't cause her shame & distress. Stop sabotaging yourself, girlfriend.


DTMFA, because what is on offer for this relationship isn't what you want. The guy's not great for cheating, but I'm not really on board with the people saying he's treating LW all that badly. LW says that he does reimburse her for some expenses - her complaint is that he doesn't treat her to lavish meals and vacations (which isn't a reasonable expectation as a non-primary partner, especially given the deceit) and doesn't pay for her solo travel expenses (also an unreasonable expectation IMO - when my FWB went to school in Minnesota while I was in Wisconsin, I always did the six-odd hour drive myself, and it never even occurred to me that she should pay for any part of my solo meals or gas, as I was going to visit her because I wanted to do so, and had it not been worth the time or money, I would have scaled back visits and related expenses to whatever was - had spending less time together been an issue, she could then have noted it and traveled sometimes or paid some of my travel expenses to make it affordable; and meals are something I'm going to pay for traveling or not, so unless one is actually doing sex work where they're an expense incurred as part of the labor for which the person is contracting one, therehs no reason a third party would pay for them, in the same way that, as far as I know, it's not common to buy one's non-live-in partner solo meals if you both happen to live in the same city).

She's unhappy because she's trying, to some extent, to gold-dig a married man 30 years her senior (which is fine if everyone's on board), and it's not going how she wants. It sounds like she wants to be a sugar baby - and that's what I'd suggest she explicitly pursue, assuming there's a market for professional girlfriends in their 40s (and there might be - she's still 30 years younger than her boyfriend, and people hiring professional romantic partners tend to pay a premium for relative youth, though my admittedly limited understanding is that most of the people wishing to hire professional girlfriends are looking at women in their 20s or 30s). This guy is no saint, but she needs to address her own behavior and expectations in order to pursue and get what she actually wants in the future, so I don't know that it's even all that helpful to dwell on what faults he does have, since he's not writing for advice, and she can't actually address his faults (not even to the same degree that someone with whom he has a more serious/permanent connection might, like a relative or his wife).

Yes, cheating is wrong, but not all that interesting: I find the behavior and expectations of the misters/mistresses who resent being of secondary importance as secondary (and secret!) partners much less understandable, and therefore more interesting.


I'm NOT saying this "matters" but does anyone else get the vibe this relationship is a sex-worker (or sex-worker-adjacent) and "former" client, and that much of the confusion rests on an unclear definition between the two of them of what their relationship is?

Dude fucks her in a hotel room, leaves cash on the dresser, and leaves before she is up. What kind of actually-romantic relationship looks like that?


The older guy is not helping her with her day-to-day needs--practically, even if he is there in some ways psychologically. Who is looking after the kids when the lw makes a big eight-hour, two day road trip to see him? Ideally, her new, permanent partner will live in the same place and be hands-on as a helpmeet. Her lover, further, doesn't seem sensitive--in fact, seems studiedly insensitive--to the financial (esp.) and other sacrifices she's making for them to hook up. What she describes, to me, bears the hallmarks of an equal relationship, in which he's using her for sex and companionship while not giving her enough (time, attention, respect, stability, a public standing to their relationship).

Dan's remark about life expectancy is not helpful, imo. The life expectancy of an average 72yo man in the States is between 85 and 86; if this guy is healthy (all those fancy meals), we could add a few more years. That's enough to see all her children into adulthood, maybe her into retirement. But the power dynamics of the relationship, and what he was offering, would have to be different.


Ah no, it bears the hallmarks of an 'unequal' relationship.


@54 makes a great point about the financial situation. If this guy is able to carry on a long-term intense relationship with LW he really should have enough wiggle room to free up a little cash. We know that he's a liar, given his behavior toward his wife, so why should LW believe his excuse for cheapening out on everything? He would not be the first CPOS who lied to his mistress about being the breadwinner while living off an unsuspecting, overworked wife.


I think life expectancy is a silly thing to focus on as opposed to physically active years. Let's say he lives to 86. Unlikely he's going to be down for magnetic sex and deep emotional conversations (the two things she says she likes about him) up until the day he dies. But let's say by some miracle he is- that would put her at 56, not "into retirement" and I don't see what the ages of her children have to do with it at all. Though I agree that it does seem an unequal dynamic. As I said to Lava, his age is relevant to the consideration of his long term position in her life not just because he's going to die decades before her but also because the vast majority of people need help in their elderly years which for him will start very soon, and she needs to ask herself if she wants to spend her 40s and 50s doing that.

I agree with John that there's something that smacks of her seeking financial gifts, and it seems to be tied up into her ideas around gender based on what she sees as emasculating. I disagree with John that it's unreasonable to expect him to pay for her half her commute and other expenses to go see him. The fact that this was not an expectation in your personal relationship is really irrelevant- the default should be that one person does not expend more on a relationship than another though of course it is hard to quantify these things (not all contributions are financial) and of course also people tend to adjust according to the means and priorities of the individuals. In this case, she is spending more in terms of time and money than he is and also has less money so I think it's fair for her to complain about it (in fact I think she's being foolish) and I originally read her descriptions of his lavish dinners and vacations as indications that the lover has so much more disposable income as she does. I still think that's true, but I also think John's right that she seems to want to be wined/dined on someone else's tab entirely.


Also just as an aside, I agree that she wants him to spend more money on her but not the sugar baby gold digger part. What I read is just a desire to be treated as someone who is treated as worthy of anything. Aside from the sex, she likes that he is a good listener, supportive to her emotionally, has an emotional connection with her. She goes on and on about how low maintenance she is. She's driving hours to see the guy, having meals alone, spending money she doesn't really have.

To me, it doesn't read as someone who wants to be a sugar baby but rather the opposite. She wants to believe that he values her for their emotional connection, not just because she's someone he can fuck cheaply, at low risk to his marriage, and with low investment of time/effort on his part. And b/c she's got such backwards ideas around gender, she is hung up on the lavish dinners this man gives his wife vs the bucks on the dresser that he leaves for her.

I mean, any woman who wants to be a sugar baby would not put up with this shit. To me, it sounds like someone who is actually in love with an idea of a relationship and is having trouble facing the reality of it- because the reality means, yeah girl, you are driving 8 hours, eating meals alone, paying most the expenses, just to let an old lying man fuck you, and then you are bragging about how this makes you "low maintenance", and she's not getting much of anything else out of it- no money, no long term connections, not even regular sex, much less a nice meal or vacation. It's grim.

So to me, she's desperately seeking some sign that he would actually put out some effort- anticipate HER interests/desires, make an evening special for her, show her that she's not just easy cheap side pussy, but her backwards gender roles have that tied up in finances so she wants a man that wines and dines her. It's fucked up, but I disagree that her motivations come from a place of wanting to be a sugar baby AT ALL.

To me, it sounds like she wants someone to be in love with her (which is not the same thing as being in love nor with being in a relationship). Note that the things she loves about him? Other than the sex, it's just the emotional support he gives her. Nothing about him actually, his life/character/interests/behavior, etc.

Either the sex is uniquely mind blowing or LW is super lonely.


@44. Emma. I think Bernie's age, and recent heart attack, make his choice of running mate more important if he is the nominee.

@24. Sublime. Agree.

This is an easy case that gives people the chance to wax eloquent and indignant. I wish people found it as easy to be eloquent about difficult cases.


@Harriet, Biden and Bernie are the same age and both have health problems. So regardless, the choice of running mate really matters. And I think it's a legitimate concern that we have a political system in which the two likely nominees are both elderly men- running against an insane old man. I'm a big Bernie supporter, and it's literally the only totally legitimate concern I believe there is to be had with his candidacy- but the alternatives (dementia elderly Biden, insane elderly Trump) are no different so it's a moot point. Besides, I'm in the camp that believes that the national grassroots movement around the Bernie campaign is waaaaayyyyy more important than Bernie himself, and mobilizing that by giving it a national platform, changing the Dem party from the inside (excluding their industry lobby base in favor of a networks of grassroots organizers)- if even for a year and then he drops dead- that's going to be far more powerful long term than 8 years of any other Dem who will just try the same old tired processes, compromise with industry and the GOP and goosestep us right up to oligarchy. Doesn't matter though as it looks like Biden's going to get it.

Nonetheless, none of that has much to do with my point in @44 which is that the way we think about age as it relates to politicians and musicians is totally irrelevant to how we think of age as it relates to our primary partners. I'm not going to be changing Bernie's diapers nor spend my 50s sitting at home with him in the evenings, monitoring his blood pressure and heart medications.


To add to 1 and 2: this guy is using he l33t pastoral care skillz to get laid.

He could have 50 years of practice at faking an interest in other peoples shit then placating them with some magic sky grandad platitudes.


NoCute @41, fair alternate reading.

John @55, I don't see gold digging in WTFW's words. I think anyone would be resentful if someone was clearly better off than oneself, bragged about it regularly, yet made some excuse why they couldn't cough up their half of an expensive trip. The word "emasculating" is weird, I agree. But I too would find it odd that people who only married in their 60s had no individual accounts, far more so than I would a young couple who started out life on a joint financial path. At any rate, we know now (and so does she) that "my wife reviews all my credit card spending" was a lie. So, CPOS is a liar, film at 11. I agree with Fichu @53. All our debate about how bad of a bad guy this guy is, and how much longer he'll live to continue being a bad guy, is moot. He's bad, she knows it, she needs to chuck him to the curb stat.


@9, @44 good points, Dan doesn't read the actuarial tables right. Lifespan has been dropping for the poor and middle class. The rich keep living longer into the "old old" but health problems are ever more likely with each advancing year.


Hmmm, clergy. Is he hypocritical "thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife" preachy clergy? Out him! Is he ethical "judge not lest ye be judged"clergy? Respect him and wind things down.

@42 +1. She could pay a YOUNGER guy for sex and save money. How does she know he has money? He might have 5 women like her in every port and be a total freeloader. As a monstrous homophobic cut-taxes-on-the-1%-while-pretending-to-be-for-the-working-man president once said, Trust but verify.


Ms. “I’m low maintenance, I would never ask for money” clearly expects to be paid for sex and is outraged by being asked to pay even a part of the cost of a date. But, dude, you need to negotiate that in advance. I don’t know why Dan is calling the clergy member a mooch—he’s already paying for more than half of their dates. A man isn’t obligated to give the woman he’s dating money just because he makes more. Some of us women don’t want to be sex workers.

The LW clearly does, but she should explicitly negotiate the arrangement with the next rich older man.


Caryatis @ 68 - "he’s already paying for more than half of their dates"

And where did you get that info? Not in the letter, which states quite the opposite.


65-BiDan-- Right. If the details were changed a bit, I'd be asking if she's better off with him or without him. I'd be counseling her to tally up what she's getting from the relationship against what she's giving. I'd be saying that it's not a matter of who's the good guy versus who's the bad, that it's only a matter of whether they're right for each other. But everything in WTFW's letter is dripping with how unhappy she is. For that reason alone, she needs to get out.

(As an aside, I've had friends where I gladly treated on every meal and never resented it. I've had friends where I wanted it to come out even down to the nickel. My conclusion as I got older was to keep the friends in the first category and spend less and less time with the friends in the 2nd. Maybe I've been taken advantage of. Maybe I've been petty. Who cares?)

Emma Liza@51-- I actually do feel sorry for WTFW. It goes back to my comment @34. I identify with her a bit. Or maybe if I don't feel pity, I do feel sympathy. I know what it's like because I've been there. I get what you're saying about WTFW's situation being of her own making, but I'm going Hamlet here, not Polonius. "If you pay everyone what they deserve, would anyone ever escape a whipping? Treat them with honor and dignity. The less they deserve, the more your generosity is worth."


LW, if you’re still reading comments.... sometimes I think we scare advice seekers away by being so harsh. Everyone here is telling you that your lover doesn’t love you and is a taking-advantage of you POS. That is probably making it hard for you to listen, because if you really feel like he loves you, you get stuck there and dismiss all this “rational”advice that clearly doesn’t understand your relationship.

So I will say this. Your lover probably loves you, and maybe even very deeply. He’s risked a lot (his job, reputation and marriage) on your affair. Surely he cares for you. But. He doesn’t care for you enough.

He doesn’t care for you enough to disrupt his existing life. He’s too old for it, he’ll never do it. He may have if he was younger, but he isn’t, so this is never going to be any better than it is right now, and it will likely just get worse.

People find ways to hide money. If he didn’t even bother with that step, it’s because it was easy to keep you on the side where he always planned to keep you. Can he love two people? Sure. Can he maybe even rather be with you if it was only up to his hearts desire and not his real life? Sure. But that isn’t going to change the results. And even if he did live to be 85, as others have said he is on the verge of at least developing age related medical conditions that will start requiring more care, money, etc.
He is not going to risk a costly divorce or the loss of his legacy at this stage in his life just for love.

So, if you can’t accept that he’s a POS, accept that this is tragic and with all the extenuating circumstances, love is just not enough to save this relationship and you MUST move on to someone closer to your age who can give you the same things without the strings and while giving you the stability and consistency you deserve.


@63. Emma. I don't hold with the idea that reform of the leftist/left-liberal, typically oppositionalist party is more important than winning. The people in charge of the British Labour Party thought that and took their party to its most crushing electoral defeat since 1935. And how many of their reforms will remain in place when the broader membership (in principle, the 3-4% of the country who are politically active and don't want an ever-more-alt-right pandering government) ... when this broader membership decide they want to win?

I will be interested to see what the Democratic party elite do if it looks like Bernie will be the nominee (say, Biden drops the ball and says something really senile).


@71. qapla. That's a good impulse--not to be so harsh.


@Harriet, I know. We've talked about it before, and like I said, I don't think we have much in common politically b/c fundamentally we don't even agree about what politics is. UK had Brexit which was a totally different climate/question, but the second thing you hit on is an issue- what the media does. We did see a trial run for it in UK, are seeing it here too. But whether or not someone can win an election given current conditions is a totally different question as to what can turn back climate change & incoming fascism. We aren't going to be able to procedure our way out of it- see the liberals now saying we should impeach Trump a second time (for what is certainly a more serious crime) but this shit is just going to keep dying in the Senate. We don't own the processes, and probably we can't win the WH through them either. That's exactly why we have to build a movement.

Which has nothing to do with my point which was simply a response to Lava who said there are rock stars and politicians who are old, therefore it's ageist to talk about old lovers, the difference being LWs aren't fucking / providing elder care to rock stars and politicians- though if they are, I definitely want them to dish!


@75. Emma. I don't see why the 'movement'--supposing this to be a coalescing, or coalition, to some degree, of the wide variety of civil-society initiatives that will always be there (communitarian self-help, consciousness-raising among women and minorities, single-issue activism on gun control, immigration reform, women's right to abortion)--needs to have to do much at all with the Democratic Party.

Quite possibly, this understanding of politics not as manipulating the levers of a state apparatus, but as a patchwork of specific efforts is something like your conception.

Corbyn did not (entirely) lose because of a Brexit policy that played badly. He lost because he personally was seen as unpatriotic, aloof, inept, not like most people. He was at the Tunisian rally that honored the killers of the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics--just as Sanders was at the Sandinista rally where the sing-song was 'the Yankee will die' (no doubt nodding along to the tune). He honeymooned in the Soviet Union--like 65% of Texans, right? He truly is a parody of the kind of disengaged internationalist you see in me. Because they agree with him on welfare and the diagnosis of oligarchy, the left will not see how badly he's losing. My fear would be that he'd be a kind of Goldwater on the other side: someone who rendered his ideas unviable for a generation.

As an outsider / expat, admittedly, I don't see why the cause of anti-fascism or progressive socialism wouldn't be served by having a representation of genuinely progressive parties--Greens and socialists--in coastal state legislatures (like New York, California, Washington). Why the obsession with two-party politics? The US is anomalous in that regard.


Harriet, I don't know why you keep talking to me about all this, but I don't have the time or energy to respond to that right now. Even if I did, I'd skip the conversation with you just because of your statements about Nicaragua. This is exactly why I say we have nothing politically in common. You are troubled that Bernie was at a protest where people said things you think are rude or alienating. I've met people from Central America who had family members raped, killed and disappeared, by militias funded and armed by the US- I've been to some of those towns. Interacting with them when I was in college was one of my most formative experiences in a world view way, seeing US imperialism up close. I don't give a single fuck what words they choose to use in their protests against it. If you don't want people to kill American soldiers, mercenaries and contractors, if you don't want them to chant mean things in the streets, then don't send Americans to interfere in their governments in the first place. You are just saying "oh this guy was near some people that said things that I find offended" so the fuck what. You have never known danger or insecurity like that in your entire life and you are criticizing other people's protests, or worse- your anticipation of other people's perceptions of those things, I just can't imagine putting an ounce of energy into that, grow up. I didn't say you were a disengaged internationalist, I said you are a snob.

I have no defense of the US two party system- it's shit. It's also the reality, and the only choices available w/o abolishing the ec and changing finance & funding rules (both of which would require you to be in power which makes it a catch 22) are to run as third party and enable a Trump win or run within a party and try to change it from inside. Given those two choices, I think Bernie has consistently made the right one. State legislation is not the same as national. The campaign is a vehicle for massive networking, with potential for even more mobilization, if you bothered to read about it you would have your answer, as well as what it has already achieved and its origins which really have nothing to do with Bernie at all- he's simply the only candidate who is a part of it and responsive to it. If it was someone else, there'd be the same people behind them. Climate change, imperialism and fascism are going to continue to come down on us, and any one who can't see what's happening and thinks we can fight it outside of mass mobilization and organized disruption is goose-stepping, maybe if I have time later and you still care I'll cool off and try to answer better. I don't know if he's losing or not (or again how much that matters). Right now he's polling first and second everywhere and consistently has polled to win against Trump- beats me if the polls are real or what will happen in the media to knock him down or what the GOP has up there sleeve, but I don't see anyone with any better chance of winning, and he's also literally the only person with any chance of actually mobilizing for change if he does win, so it's a no-brainer to me. Though elections themselves are not the most important thing.

I don't know much about UK elections, don't really care, don't care where people took vacations (but you know it was with a delegation to establish sister cities).


Sorry that this is incoherent, as I said I'm in a hurry this morning, and it really just burns me to hear people say they are offended by the way oppressed people protest against the people who are murdering them. I don't know if it's ignorance or just extreme elitism or an obsession with manners or what. I think of how Americans are still obsessed with 911, years later after killing a million people in response, destroying several countries, and they can't wrap their heads around the fact that people in other countries feel the same way when Americans kill them? The thing that stuck out most in my young mind was seeing the knives the CIA gave the Contras. They used them to gut people, usually, but to behead people too, sometimes in front of their families. It's the little details like that that stick in mind even though of course the bigger picture is more important.

Imagine living through that, trying to stop it, and then have people say bullshit like "oh I'm offended by the language these people used at a protest". It just makes me too depressed and angry to give you a proper response.


@77 EmmaLiz
"US two party system- it's shit. It's also the reality, and the only choices available w/o abolishing the ec and changing finance & funding rules"

Yes, it's the reality. (That pretty much sums up the necessary answer to the question "Why the obsession with two-party politics?")

Yes, abolishing the EC would help a lot. And that would happen /in/practice/ when enough states pass the
(If unlike me you're in one of the US states not shaded green on the map there, please use your voice.)

Another thing I strongly support is Ranked Choice Voting.
It means that instead of voting for the lesser of the two evils, we could each vote for who we like the most. (Actually rank all the options by preference.) I have a dream that if everyone could do that, suddenly we'd find candidates winning that everyone liked more but now no one votes for because we're forced to decide between (a) voting for the lesser of the two traditional evils and (b) 'throwing our vote away'.
There are various methods of implementation
Broadly speaking, if no one gets the majority of 1st preference votes, the candidate with the least 1st preferences votes would get eliminated and have their 2nd-preference votes distributed. Repeat until someone has a majority.

I've always loved Bernie. I remember never missing his weekly appearance on a radio show a quarter-century ago.

"what the GOP has up their sleeve"

Maybe it includes that drivel, that Harriet probably heard in the upper-class circles Harriet tell us about, about the rally Bernie was at that Harriet is happy to claim "no doubt" included Bernie "nodding along to the tune". (If the upper-class didn't fear Bernie and Warren wouldn't advantage them by creating an economy that worked not just for them but for everyone, I wouldn't love Bernie and Warren.)

I hope it's true that Bernie digs tunes enough to nod along them.

A concern I have with Bernie is that voters tend to elect a POTUS with opposite personality of the last one. In that Dubbya helped set the stage for Obama, and Obama helped set the stage for this madman. A madman that I think has left the country a bit traumatized and needing some soothing; and I just see Warren as having a more nurturing manner than Bernie. OK maybe this theory of election psychology is weird, but I also think it had strategic electoral value.

Honestly I love both Bernie and Warren, and figure whichever one doesn't win the nomination will get most of the votes of the other, which would make me very happy by allowing them to beat gropey old Joe.

I've little trust left in Nate Silver, so maybe I don't have to worry that says Joe has the best (38%) chance of getting the nomination. Maybe it's true, but if so I think primary voters would be choosing the person they /think/ could beat Trump (but be wrong), instead of who they actually like the most.
I would hope that people learned in 2016 that they can't trust their 'gut' to tell them who has the best chance to beat Trump.


Oh, Dan, an actuarial table does not define a relationship. This guy is using Wanting To Feel Worthy for sex and money, and his age is irrelevant. FYI my date mate and I are both 76, and few of your readers could keep up with him on a hike or with me on a dance floor!


@80 JoanPrice
Yes but
WTFW says she's "struggling to decide whether or not he is a transitional figure or a permanent partner". Actuarially, a 42-year old would be nuts to think of her relationship with a 72-year old as permanent. I mean everything is temporary, but this relationship is extra temporary, so I found her statement odd and I found it quite reasonable for Dan to address it.

(I have no idea what she meant by "transitional".)


Here's what you do. When you're ready to break up with him, don't discuss it with him. You send him some form of written message to tell him it's over and then immediately block him on all social media.

It's tough, but that's how you avoid being reeled back in. He's an expert manipulator. If you have a discussion with him, he'll find a way to convince you. You need to not give him that chance.

It's not unkind to break up in this way. At least, no more unkind than expecting you to live as his dirty secret, while he lives two lives and gets you to fund the second one.


@77. Emma. You mistake me entirely. I don't think the popular Sandinista chant 'here, there, the Yankee must die' is 'rude or alienating'. It's that I don't think it will play in Peoria. Generally, the mindset, 'can't those folks in Peoria see we're being engulfed by fascism (or imperialism)?' is not helpful, I would say, in getting rid of Trump. It isn't fascism in the same way--in there being more independent arms of the state apparatus, like the law, and in most of the media being independent.

I'm not one of those people, incidentally, who is staunchly against a Sanders candidacy. I do think he gives the other side a lot to run on against him. Perhaps it would work out well if Biden flubbed a bit and Bloomberg strongly entered the race, leveling at Bernie the charge that socialism makes people poorer. It would be good if Sanders were more battle-hardened were he the nominee.


@79. curious. Why do you have little trust left in Nate Silver?


@83 Harriet
"Emma. You mistake me entirely."

I don't think she mistook you. I'm sure she knew that IN PART you were expressing concern for Sanders' electability.

But be honest, that's not all you did @76; you also mocked and insulted Sanders with loaded language.
(You called him "a parody" and projected out of your imagination [as I wrote @79] that he "no doubt" had been "nodding along to the tune" at a rally you said "honored...killers".)

In other words, concern for electability alone does not call for a mocking tone and making things up.

Harriet, you claim not to know why it bugs me to talk with you (even though I keep explaining). This is another example. Here, your tendency to make things up includes trying to re-write your past statement to address EL's response. I think it's shitty to waste people's time by making things up.

@84 Harriet
The 2016 election in general caused Americans to lose faith in polling. One factor in this is the move from landline phones to cell phones.

I figured that part of Nate Silver's job in analyzing polls would be to figure out how to correct for the inaccuracy introduced by the cell phone factor, or if he couldn't correct for it to reflect that with greater uncertainty in his projections.

One reason I'm irritated by this, is that had Nate Silver provided better projections, people would have voted who didn't bother because they didn't realize their votes would be necessary for the orange maniac to lose.

OTOH, I don't think we should ignore polls. Like the ones that said Bernie would beat Trump by more than they said Hillary would. Polls aren't trustworthy but they're better than nothing.


Harriet, yes to everything Curious said.

Beyond that, your hand wringing over what you think other people might think about things that you think other people might care about is, again, just a bunch of arrogance. You have no fucking idea- any more or less than anyone else- what other people care about such things. How about putting half as much energy into worrying over yourself and your concerns and stop worrying over what you think other people might think?

The reason I'm saying this is because I don't for a second believe that your concern here is about your concerns for other people's concerns (re: electability). I think you are using that as an excuse so that you don't have to admit that it's actually YOU that either a) doesn't care about US imperialism or b) thinks it's offensive what these people said. And yes, your mocking tone is evidence of that, in addition to the fact that I did also respond to your stated worries about other people's perceptions. So yes, I understood you perfectly- it's just your own snobbery to assume that "oh you must not understand what I meant", no buddy I got it, it's not that deep.

But let's play devil's advocate for a moment because now we are really getting at the heart of things here. Let's assume you are honest (with yourself and us) and you do in fact genuinely worry that having protested US imperialism in the past could lead to optics (media portrayals) which could alienate voters. What's your point? You are just saying "oh since I think that doing the right thing might not succeed, I'm therefore not even going to try and just give up and go along with the wrong thing".

Go ahead and do that. As I've said repeatedly, we have next to nothing in common politically.


BTW, if Bernie loses the nomination it won't be because of opposition to most US which is an extremely popular position with basically everyone in the country, especially the half the country that identifies as independents, most of the Dems and a shit ton of the Reps who preferred Trump over Cruz or Bush.

And I think any candidate will have a hard time beating Trump and any of them could beat him as well- it could go any way, we're in new terrority. But as I've said consistently, I think Bernie and Biden each have the best chance, and polls (for what their worth and that's controversial) consistently say that's true. Though again, since we have almost nothing in common, it shouldn't be any surprise that I don't happen to think any old dem winning the election is the most important thing this time around. I think we are near a breaking point and it's going to matter much more if a leader (if not Bernie as POTUS then maybe someone else) can mobilize a mass movement against all the stonewalling in Congress and against rising fascism- which is rising to defend the fact that a smaller and smaller number of people are fighting for control of resources/opportunities to create faster and smaller returns at a time that the US is declining in its share of global hegemony at the same time as climate change and a migrant crisis which is going to lead to an increase in imperialism abroad and militarization of the police/ICE at home. This is going to happen under Trump or Biden- they are both caught up in all of it, personally in fact as we see in the impeachment hearings, and neither of them have any bottom up or noncorporate theory of politics.

So sure, given the choice between an all out fascist and the guy that does the same things but more politely, I'll pull the lever for the Dem (unless it's Tulsi in which case I'll vote for niether, both being all out fascists just with different targets). But nothing would change if that happens- the compromise moderate position is done. It's my opinion that it can't even win another general election, but even if it did, it's dead on arrival and they will have as about as much luck as Macron. You are living in the past.


opposition to most US which
opposition to most US wars which


@85. curious. What's at issue in many swing votes isn't the truth narrowly conceived; it's what people, in a thoroughly skewed media environment, find it easiest to believe. It's not whether Hillary's private email server constituted a security breach. It's not whether Hunter Biden was doing something nefarious in Ukraine. It's how these things come over. A purist's concern with the truth on a narrow basis will only seem antipathetic to anyone undecided.

Nate Silver's polling was a lot more accurate than others. His final poll in the Trump-Hillary race had Trump at (if I recall) over 30% chance of winning, while others had him around 10%.

@86. Emma. Your arguing tactic seems to be that I was disingenuous--that I didn't mean what I said. This logic could be extended indefinitely. It would always put you in opposition to your interlocutor, and (it seems) would always rile you up. And you seem to be opting for it even when it's implausible--when, for instance, it has you saying that I find a populist Nicaraguan ditty about a 'Yankee' more offensive than the pre-2001 School of the Americas.

Whenever you say we have nothing in common politically, it turns out we agree on something. We both think that local-level acts of resistance and organising will be more effective in carving out livable lives in the face of a concentration of capital than national-party machine politics. When you said that only Bernie, of any candidate, had put the yards into growing a grassroots movement sharing his analysis of oligarchy, I agreed. When I suggested progressive politics might be better served by having Socialists and Greens elected to coastal legislatures than Dems, you seemed to agree. In temperament, I might be on the side of a coalition-building left, while you're more scorched-earth or radical-apocalyptic in your rhetoric. This shouldn't hide how we're substantially on the same page.

I doubt resources and opportunities are shrinking. Technological advances drive productivity gains--personal computing and the networked office did--creating new goods and new resources. The Internet of Things will be the same.


Harriet, you three times brought up politics and I three times redirected. Then you said something which I think is extremely unethical, just a void of morality, and I got worked up and responded. Also I think to myself, I doubt many people read down this far or care about these topics- most probably skip over- but I should make a case for other readers. As you well know, you and I do not communicate well with each other. So I've already said my bit about what I think of you and your opinions. I'm not going to hash out that part of the conversation again.

Now on to the rest.

I did not say Bernie grew the movement. He is simply a part of it, responsive to it. He also does not have his own an analysis of oligarchy to share- it is not his analysis, it is the movements. The language he uses most direclty comes from Occupy and the DAPL protests, but of course the left is much older than that and they were using language given to them from radicals before them and older analysis, but Bernie did not start the modern talk of the 1% nor of divestment- he simply gave it a national platform. Secondly I never agreed about anything regarding third parties serving a movement. I know some really wonderful indivdual Greens but as a national political party, they are useless IMO. There is no national socialist party. The closest thing we come to it is DSA which is not a party but an organization which has managed to work to put quite a few members in office around the country, all on the Dem ticket as we live in a two-party system. They include rather famous people such as AOC and Tlaib and Khanna. Bernie himself is not a DSA member anyway though they did endorse him. So no, we did not agree on that either.

I have no idea why you keep wanting to insist that we are on the same page. The only thing we have in common politically is a general sense of civil rights for different vulnerable groups- that's it. And even that, I'm not so sure, since your sense of civil rights does not include victims of imperialism apparently.


Alrighty, as to the rest...

I will try to explain briefly what I mean about mobilizaiton of movements and why it's important. Keep in mind that A) this is simplistic, and B) someone with your credentials probably ought to read at least a bit of lefty political theory if you pretend to be interested in this stuff.

Very briefly, I think we can all agree that so long as political parties are responsive to private industry and big donors, then we aren't going to be able to achieve political change through the legislative and judicial processes that conflicts with the interests of private profit. So if you have any faith at all in political change through those proceses, then you have to get money out of politics- this doesn't just include campaign finance but also private lobbying groups- foreign and domestic. Now AFAIK Bernie is the only candidate that has stated that not only will they not take big money in the primary but also not in the general- though if there are others then what I'm about to say applies to them as well. What's important about this is that the party itself has it's own superpacs and fundraising, so an individual candidate can say that they will not raise money themselves from these sources but can still take it from the party- it is a gimmick, a talking point. Warren has wavered on this issue, gone back and forth on what she'd do in the general- it was the first sign that she might not be as good as she originally seemed. Now I have to stress this- the reason this is so important is because if Bernie could get the nom and then refuse the DNC money, it would loosen the grasp of private industries on the only viable opposition party that we have, maybe forever. I can't stress how huge a deal this could be towards restoring our democracy. But moving on from there.

Let's say any Dem managed to win and now they want to pass legislation. Well right now the Republcians control the judiciary at alll levels and the Senate- and if there are any liberals out there still under the impression that any mainstream Democrats are on the side of the people against fascism in the GOP, I highly recommend they take a look at how many of Trump's judicial appointments Schumer and his ilk just waved through in recent years. This aspect is not going to change any time soon- the damage is done. As for the Senate, it's unlikely to flip but even if it did, the Democrat Senators are not going to suddenly transform into a party that is not looking out for special interests. They could not even get all the Democrats in thw House to vote on impeachment, and even as this is going on, they approve Trump's military budgets- they are not real enemies of Republicans because they serve the same masters.

My point here is that no matter who wins the White House, no matter if by some miracle the Dems take the Senate soon (which no one is predicting), then our newly elected POTUS will not be able to pass any legislation. This should not be so hard to imagine- think of the years that they stonewalled Obama. And there is no judicial bypass, the checks and balances are broken down. (In fact in my grimmer hours I think we are already past the point of defeating fascism, but I can't despair that much when there's still a chance).

So what will happen is any Democrat- be it Warren or Biden or Buttigieg or Bernie- will be unable to pass any of the plans they say they want to pass. It will not happen. Just like the Senate will never vote to remove Trump. I honest to fucking god cannot understand why so many liberals- who lived through the Obama years- cannot wrap their brains around this simple fact.

What will happen is that whoever wins will be forced to bend the knee to the Republicans and to industry- they will compromise. And that is exactly what's been going on for decades now, it has put us in the situation we are in now. You can look at Obama's health care reforms and bank bailouts and see exactly how it will go down. They will compromise and we will get nothing.

Therefore, what can be done to force change?

Well the liberal response- even from people like Warren- is to talk about making deals, working with experts, having plans. It's fantasy.

The only person saying anything different is Bernie. His response is to take the forcing of change back to the grassroots, mass mobilization. The idea is simple. If GOP senators will not get on board, you go to their states and mobilize for mass disruption, economically and politically- strikes, work stoppages, people in the streets.

How likely are Americans to do this? I have no idea. It changed a government in weeks in Seoul, the people managed to totally remove their president and replace her with new elections. It's happening in Paris right now, in Bolivia, in Hong Kong (albeit with American aid but that's a different topic). I think Americans tend to be less likely to organize and strike, though it is what ended the government shut down last winter and teachers unions have had some luck lately.

So how optimistic am I that this could happen? Not too much. But the only chance lies with Bernie. He does have already literally millions of people out volunteering, giving money, giving time, very dedicated, all working class. He wouldn't have to grow his base too much bigger to make it work, but he would need to pick up the support of a few more key unions. He already has several, but probably not enough for what he is trying.

But no one else has any of this! They aren't even considering it!

Besides, just giving Bernie a national platform, like the White House would give him, would be radically transformative in a way that nothing else in our lifetimes has been politically. Again- it's not because of him. He didn't come up with any of these ideas himself, he is simply connected on the ground. Picking up the language of the 99%- which as I said, he got from Occupy and DAPL protests- he has managed to popularize that idea for the entire country with a real effect on the Dem party. Imagine if he could do the same with calling out people into the streets to take on the Senate. Even if he doesn't succeed, the political education would be transformative.

Now I'm also fully aware that Bernie is the compromise candidate on the left- and he is a lifelong politician and he very well might disappoint. He might pull an Obama- ride a populist wave to office and then sell out. It's certainly possible. More likely, he might not win the nom in the first place. So I have no idea how much faith to put into Bernie.

More importantly though, there is NOTHING ELSE that will work. So to not reach for the last chance is to just give up.

Or more precisely, no one else is suggesting anything else that might work at least as relates to political change through our current processes. Liberals have no strategies to offer, heads in sand. Republicans offer fascism.


Now I could explain in excrutiating detail what I mean by the movement Bernie is a part of (and why it's different from top-down approaches by others) as well as responding to your mischaracteriztion of (my perhaps confusing) words about the economy, but that will have to wait until another day.


Ah I lied. Couldn't sleep until I typed it out for you.

The first thing- what you've said a few times about grassroots and movement building. To keep things simple, let's talk about the current moment. We had the early days of DAPL and Occupy, in which a generation of young organizers slowly (and with lots of mistakes) cut their teeth- the left was pretty much dormant up until then, at least on a national scale. Then concurrently you had immigrant rights movements and shortly afterwards Black Lives Matter, the former being where I did the few contributions I was capable of in my area. There were likewise localized tenants orgs, various reproductive/lgbt rights orgs, abolitionists, antiimperialists etc all across the country, etc.

(One of the frustrations I have with liberals generally is how much they seem to not care that all these things were going on with Obama- there were ICE raids all over immigrant areas during those years, he deported milllions, there were prisons with kids in them, all of this was happening then too though it has gotten worse and more cruel under Trump.)

Bernie himself was on board with Occupy and DAPL stuff when it was happening- took him a while to come around to BLM (you'll remember famously he was disrupted in Seattle and afterwards started to work with them, he since gained the endorsement of several people affiliated with the movement for black lives and some work for his campaign right now). He likewise needed pressure from antiimperialist and abolitionist and immigrants groups.

All of this preexisted his campaign, but what happened in 15 when he ran is that his campagin became a sort of vehicle to create networks between these groups- including a funding apparatus and a donor list and union connections etc- and it drew in millions of people to these groups who had not previously been engaged. We’re not talking about people who just show up to vote or go to rallies or who attend permitted protests on Saturdays. We’re talking about actual grassroots organizations, people who meet in living rooms, go to meetings, take over their local politics, organize their neighbors/schools/workplaces, striking, disrupting capital, etc.

From that organizing network, the Democrats got most of their progressive wins in the midterms, the squad, Beto's near upset in Texas, and a huge smattering of local candidates and state reps. This shit came out of Bernie's infrastructure in various forms. I did not realize how unaware liberals were that this is happening across the country until I saw their surprise at AOC's endorsement.

He is a part of it and has the best platform and is the most connected- no other candidate (and I mean no one) has anything near these connections or organizing tactics. They are all, every single one of the other candidates including Warren with her big structural change, doing a top down model. Her plan is to reform the institutions through legislative processes, which as I’ve already said, is a fairy tale without a strategy to implement it.

So I'm not sure why you keep talking about alternative grassroots organizing- all this happens with or without Bernie. What Bernie has done is expanded a national platform, a national networking system. His campaign got millions of people more engaged than were previously. It’s not an either/or. It’s how we relate one to the other.

Now to the last thing you brought up:
You are misunderstanding me here, and I'm going to quote it:
"I doubt resources and opportunities are shrinking.”

I didn't say resources were shrinking. There is no shortage of goods or technology. We are not facing a problem of either abundance or production. We are facing a problem of, as I said, a small number of people defending their wealth and needing to keep getting faster and bigger returns on it, and they are the people in power- they own the politicians and they make decisions based on profit, not based on democracy nor even the continued ability to exist on this planet. Fighting for control of resources in an increasingly smaller number of hands doesn't mean resources themselves are shrinking.

The US has an ever-reducing share of global wealth (which is a fact by any measure, it's been declining since its peak right after WW2 when the dollar became the global capitalist currency) and that there are fewer people (call them oligarchs or the 1% or whatever you want) who are fighting to control those resources (reduced opportunities for new profits since their global share of wealth is in decline) and they need to make faster returns (because capitalism requires growth, and we are in a moment in which the returns on your investments must come much faster).

You can see evidence of this everywhere: fictive capital, empty luxury buildings, startups that exist just so that the investors can make money when it company is bought out without it ever producing anything at all, stock market that grows while real wages are stagnant, cities that no working class people can afford to live in, etc. Let's keep in mind that the US never really dealt with what caused the 08 crash- Obama just put interest rates on the floor and did the largest wealth transfer in history between working class people and the very rich, but he made no core reforms. What happens if there is another crash?

Right now, Trump has cut taxes on the very rich, how will we continue to fund any social services- at the same time as the Dems approved him the largest military budget in history. Remember what broke the Soviet Union? You can't fund an imperial project and social services at home with reduced revenue, but at the same time, you can't let the imperial project go when it's the backbone of your economy. But since we don't have an external aggressor ready to become the hegemony in our place (China is not there yet, no time soon) then it's not our economic system (not dollar based capitalism) that is going to collapse. It's our civil society.

You also see this in imperialism. It is no longer profitable to build up a nation, install a dictator, control the resources, etc. It's too expensive and generations of that has caused internal collapse. What they are doing now is simply (small picture) making opportunities for contractors to make money and (big picture) preventing competiting powers from taking opportunities from the US sphere of influence. It's why the US never wins wars, has permanent occupations and also why there are failed states the world over, causing massive refugee crises.

Now add climate change to that mix. Who is going to bear the brunt of it?

What concerns me most of all is that we are getting to a point in which our government is willing to just overlook failed states (if not actively create them) we see it in Puerto Rico, in Central America, in every country we've occupied in the ME & NA. That will be turned home at us. Look at how militarized the police are- look at our full prisons, our borders, the militias marching in VA today, the nazis in the PNW and TX. What I fear more than anything is more violence as institutions collapse, and I at least hope people will be able to see who their real enemies are so that we aren't fighting each other.

You see this at home too. There are only two options- you invest money in a soceity's infrastructure so that people play along nicely by choice or you oppress them with military force and lock them in prisons so that they play along because they have no choice. The US has always chosen which approach to use abroad based on what's cheaper and more practical. I don't think it's hysterical to say it's obvious the same is happening at home- increased militarization of police, of borders, decreased funding for all social infrastructure, more prisons. Do Americans realize we have more people in prison than any other country? Trump didn't create that problem.
There are three candidates responding to this situation: Trump, Yang, Bernie. Bernie is hoping for a national platform to organize people around strategies of to achieve renewed social infrastructure, and talking about which institutions are preventing us from having them (pharmaceutical companies, investment bankers bundling of loans) can help make that distinction. He’s willing to take on the institutions causing the problem, not compromise with them. Yang wants to pay off the discontent with UBI. It will contain it for a while. Trump just wants to respond with fascism- control by military & police- and also by dishing out ketamine. But that's another topic.

So there you go, Harriet.


@86 EmmaLiz
Oh my, that was some beautiful writing.

@87 EmmaLiz
Wow, I think the mass media should be throwing money at EL to be a political pundit.

"I think we are near a breaking point and it's going to matter much more if a leader (if not Bernie as POTUS then maybe someone else) can mobilize a mass movement against all the stonewalling in Congress and against rising fascism"

I'm highlighting this sentence for two reasons
One. Maybe EL is right about the breaking point, I hadn't thought of it but that is scary.
Two. For decades we've politically been in a very deep hole(1) such that what we've needed is "a leader...[who] can mobilize a mass movement". Obama's primary promise was "change", but that was impossible for him to deliver because he was addicted to achieving consensus with opponents pledged to never compromise an inch.

(1) What do I mean by deep hole? I mean a situation which makes positive change very difficult. Districts so gerrymandered that Trump did't lose even though he lose the popular vote by 3 million. Corporate media empowered and committed to undermine leaders that aren't corporate. Etc.

The corporate media is so resistant to non-corporate leaders, that unless one is POTUS they probably can't mobilize a mass movement. (And unless one is extremely skilled, they'll never become POTUS.) Creating such a mass movement is the primary job of a leader promising change: articulating and inspiring people to support their vision. Because down in this hole, change will require the people changing the composition of congress. Ultimately power is technically with the people, and for a POTUS to get us out of this hole will require mobilizing the people to change congress.

(I'm honestly skeptical Bernie can do this, since he couldn't even mobilize enough voters to defeat a quite electorally weak candidate [Hillary] in 2016.)

"the same things but more politely...the compromise moderate position is done"

EL may be correct. I agree with EL that Obama's immense popularity could have mobilized a mass movement and reconstituted congress enough to effect change; OTOH he (and Bill Clinton) was a moderate who didn't really want that much of many of the most important kinds of change.

But now, how is compromise even an option with the two sides (due to the completely different mass media they consume) living in completely different realities?

"the US is declining in its share of global hegemony"

This is vitally important. In the coming decades the USA will no longer have the biggest economy, China's and India's will be bigger. Which will make their militaries (potentially) stronger. So it's vital we start getting along with others now instead of behaving like a bully, unless we want to be asking to get our asses kicked badly later.

Edit: Ah, now reading ahead @91 I see EL has already said this stuff.

@89 Harriet
"Nate Silver's polling"

He doesn't do polling. That's why I wrote @85 "Nate Silver's job in analyzing polls".

In the last couple days before the election his PROJECTIONS (again, not "poll") swung wildly, by something like 40%, which makes citing any specific percentage less meaningful). Naturally projections based upon all polling are gonna be better than individual polls.

@91 EmmaLiz
"If GOP senators will not get on board, you go to their states and mobilize for mass disruption, economically and politically- strikes, work stoppages, people in the streets."

Wow, I dunno if Americans are gonna put down their phones long enough to do that (though it would be great). But again I do think they absolutely could change congress.


@94 p.s.
My own years of experience trying to mobilize people were pretty discouraging. Even decades ago when people's lives were less packed with things clamoring for their time.
I'm thinking that we can't extrapolate from mobilization in other countries. I think once people's social and economic lives become satisfactory enough, they become much more difficult to mobilize. I think a truly skilled communicator would be necessary for it to happen here..


WEll that's all true curious, but that doesn't change the fact that millions more people across the country are being mobilized right now than just four years ago. Also discouraging or not (and I share your pessimissism) I don't see what alternative we have. If someone can come up with some other idea, I'm listening, but just throwing up one's hands and resigning oneself to the way things are without a fight is not an option for many of us- lots of people are fighting for their lives.

My own situation is relatively comfortable though years of my life have been taken from me due to medical debt and the need to provide elder care, none of which would've happened if I lived in a different system. You gotta do what you can.


BTW Curious I'm heading out of town again (super busy) and won't be back until after Super Tuesday so this feels sorta like a time capsule to me- next time we chat about this a lot of this will be known. My bet is that Biden will be in the lead though honestly who fucking knows. We shoudl make a bet though I don't know how to buy or receive virtual beer. lol


@96 EmmaLiz
"resigning oneself to the way things are without a fight is not an option"

I think my hope of reconstituting congress enough to effect change isn't giving up. And now that I think about it, the mass mobilization that you talked about @91:

"...mass disruption, economically and politically- strikes, work stoppages, people in the streets."

was mostly exactly what I had in mind too (to reconstitute congress)! Except, maybe I only despaired with you mentioning "work stoppages". I've read American labor history extensively, dozens of books, and respect the power and need for general stikes more than anything...but I will be astonished (and close to being delirious with joy) if that can happen in modern America. We're to the point where American unions are barely able to strike for their own wages and working conditions; striking for something bigger than themselves would be so wonderful I can barely imagine it without getting emotional.

@97 EmmaLiz
"I'm heading out of town again (super busy) and won't be back until after Super Tuesday"

Thanks for the saying so! Last hiatus I missed you and asked if anyone knew anything and someone said (joked?) you were on tour. (I guess like a rock star?)

Many months ago I promised you I'd work on something (I'm embarrassed to remind you of). Life intervened as it does; I felt less guilty when I wondered if you'd be back anyway. Maybe between now and your return from headlining stadium rock shows I can manage to do what I promised.

I dunno who'll be in the lead. I haven't looked at polling analyses. Biden seems like a good bet; OTOH they're all so close that when one of the pair of Bernie and Warren drops out (and into the others' VP slot in my dreams), seems to me Biden will be far behind.

Did I every mention that when I first loved Warren, that love had one facet that my love of Bernie has never included? She was sexy.


@90. Emma. You 'redirected' to a topic where I agreed with you--as far as I understood. You said, or think, that the pastor's age matters less than how he treats the lw. This is also my view. Why would I pick up where there was agreement? People explore disagreements in the hope of finding common ground (or at least I do).

How can it say anything about me--ie how can it be personal?--when I say that the Republicans would run against Bernie on the grounds of his being un-American, and of his culturally being very unlike the median American? It's the caution anyone would issue. On the matter where you said we disagreed, I was questioning the need for a single movement funneled through the Dems.

@91. Emma. It so happens that I would be in disagreement with your starting-point--that there should be a bar on political parties taking donations from private business. This is probably because of my being Europeanised--collective or corporate bodies ie unions are the backbone of French, British and German labor parties. Possibly there should be campaign finance reform. Certainly there should be transparency with the superPACS. The bigger problem here to me, vis-a-vis private capital skewing our democracy, is that the direction of private business reflects too few stakeholders. (It rarely represents the pension funds who own a share in many businesses adequately).

My view of the gilets jaunes in France is that they're indicative of the willingness of the populist left to get into bed with fascism to ... what? Protect public pensions? Work for two years fewer? The populism on both sides of the Atlantic is problematic in sharpening political antagonisms. And generally, I think, there's a tendency for successful populist movements to succumb to authoritarianism.