This week's Savage Love Letters of the Day: Fifty-year-old straight married dude wants to experience inescapable bondage so badly he's thinking about letting a guy tie him up. Nearly thirty-year-old bisexual woman with commitment issues doesn't know what to do about a boyfriend who occasionally repulses her. Twenty-six-year-old scientist can't break up with her unemployed and unemployable hypnotist boyfriend because she loves him. Twenty-three-year old foot fetishist's "amazing" girlfriend won't let him anywhere near her feet. And, of course, this week's Savage Love and this week's Savage Lovecast.

First up, a reader argues that my response to Wannabe Cuckold Growing Frustrated, the, er, wannabe cuckold who's growing increasingly frustrated, revealed my ignorance about cuckolding...

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I enjoy reading your weekly articles, the letters to you and your always helpful responses. However, I feel you miss a basic aspect of the behavior of cuckolded men. When a man asked his female partner, wife or by any other title, to let other men fuck her while he watches he is seeking, at the deepest level, confirmation that the female he is with is one which other men find “Hot”. So hot they want to fuck her. Since men know that other men fabricate and fantasies about almost everything related to sex, a cuckolded man wants and needs to have complete unquestioned confirmation that other men find “his woman” so hot and mean it. He wants to see for himself and want/needs other men to indeed fuck “his woman." Read the words written to you. The wording is of the nature—I asked her to let other men fuck her. Not for her to fuck the other man but for another man to be so aroused that he will fuck her and do it while the lucky main man watches. And the more other men who fuck his woman the more confirmation he receives that he is the luckiest man around. Why is it even more erotic for some cuckolded men to have his super hot woman talk dirty to him? Some need to have the hottest woman even to confirm that she is with him when she can have any man she wants. “Making him watch” as she lets other men fuck her and she still “keeps” him is the confirmation he needs. This need must also be unquestionably confirmed by watching.

Damn it. I've written dozens if not more than a hundred columns on cuckolding—and co-authored one study published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal—and I still don't get it. Oh, well. I tried. Guess I'll stick to writing columns about things I have a better feel for... like cunnilingus and period sex. (What you describe sounds a lot more like hotwifing than cuckolding to me. But what do I know?)

Regarding my advice for Widow Is Ready And Needs Advice...

I read this piece verging on tears for the reassuring kindness and thoughtfulness of you note to this woman. I hope she reads and rereads it and works on taking to heart the wisdom presented. What you presented so compassionately is a collection of tightly packed lessons in plain and very consumable language that in therapy would cover many hour visits. Not into sports, but a sports analogy is most appropriate here: you “knocked it out of the park,” Dan, and helped someone.

And Widow Is Ready And Needs Advice wrote back...

Wow, thank you so much for the response. It’s funny, I actually have never felt guilt about the idea of moving forward with a new relationship or encounter. I just really missed having his body next to mine, and that’s what first held me back. He was the love of my life, the first and only so far. But there is room for more love and more people in my heart, more loves of my life. I’m comfortable being a widow, but not with what the term implies to our culture (sad, alone, needy, maybe even a little scary).

The comments are interesting, because many people seem shocked that I’m not looking for casual sex in more “conventional” ways, like apps and dating. But... dating is talking and organizing and planning. It’s getting to know people that I don’t really want to know much about. It’s bringing strangers into my home (or going to theirs), which is is inherently more intimate and honestly more dangerous. You get it. I’m confident in what I’m doing and will look at all the recommendations you and your commenters came up with. And I’m open to meeting someone special along the way if it happens. But right now my body is ahead of my heart. Thank you for supporting my choice and offering some guidance. I really, really appreciate you taking the time.

Regarding my advice for The Cam Girl's Mom...

Sex work DOES fuck with your head. I edited a porn magazine in the late '90s when it still came in hardcopy, and it took a long while before even my woke/consciousness-raised ass stopped objectifying women in day-to-day life... and believe me, women know when you're looking at them like a piece of meat, even if you don't say anything and are on your best behavior. Similarly, I have a friend who was a male stripper and is now old(er) and busted and not only can't relate to women, but is surprised that he doesn't get the attention he once did. In short, and not to be a prude, internalizing the norms of sex work hurts our ability to navigate real-life fields of power and privilege. It also rips off the mask that we're not all actually a bunch of horny apes, which similarly hurts social interactions.

I dunno. Seems to me there are a lot of men out there who didn't edit porn magazines—remember porn magazines?—and still look at women like they're pieces of meat. Similarly, there are a lot of once hot/currently busted people out there who weren't strippers but, like your friend, can't figure out why they don't get the attention they once did.

The Cam Girl's Mom also wrote back...

Of course you and several commenters are right: men do a hell of a lot of things much worse than objectifying women while jerking off. But it does feel awful—at least it felt awful to me—to be looked at as if I weren't a real person, and that’s how most of the customers at the Lusty Lady looked at the girls. The few men who made eye contact, smiled, and let it show that they were interacting with the girls like human beings quickly became favorites. Also, I wish I had said that my daughter knows about my past work and we have talked about it, though not since she told me about her job. I think she understands my feelings, but I know she feels judged. And I worry a lot about her dad knowing because I think will have a harder time with it. Of course he knows about my past job but I'd quit before I met him. He probably wouldn’t have dated a woman working in the industry. That makes him sound like a jerk, but he isn’t. He’s just a guy who believes sexuality is something private and special between partners. (Which is probably why monogamy has worked so well for us!) I guess all I can do is be in her corner and try to stay available to her for anything she needs from me. And hope that the culture has shifted enough in twenty five years that the repercussions will be less now, and there will be fewer or no negative consequences to her public life and inner life. I really appreciate your answering me and giving me a bit of a reality check. It’s easy to go down the rabbit hole of anxiety and start imagining worst-case scenarios.

My mom used to say, "There are things a mother has a right not to know.” But it applied equally to both parents; there were things she felt my dad had a right not to know. We weren't big on secrets in my family, but I shared things things with my mom that I didn’t share with my dad and vice-versa. So I don’t think it’s wrong to keep this from your husband. Sometimes holding something back is the loving and considerate thing to do—so long as holding whatever-it-is back doesn't stop us from asking for the help or support we might need.

And Wishing My Boyfriend Had A Job wrote back too...

THANK YOU. Fuck, that is some really hard advice to read, but that probably means I needed to hear it all the more. We actually had a giant fight about another issue in our relationship last night (him constantly pressuring me to have a threesome, even though I'm not into it) and almost broke up. Guess I should just pull the trigger for real this weekend. I super appreciate it, and thank you for everything you do! You're the best!

OH MY GOD. Please break up with him. HE IS AWFUL. And I say this as someone whose husband was a stay-at-home dad and as someone who LOVES threesomes. But just because that shit worked and was right for us doesn't mean it'll work or is right for you. Face it: this guy is a jerk. Too many women think falling in love with a jerk is a trap—if you love him, you can't leave him, even if you want radically different things out of life, even he pressures you to do things you don't want to do sexually, even if he's unemployed or unemployable. No, no, no. You can love someone and break up with him because you love (and respect yourself) MORE. If you break up with him now, WMBHAJ, you can break up more in sadness than in anger. If you wait... it'll be an angrier, uglier, more protracted breakup. So don't wait.

John H in the comments had some thoughts about my advice for HEATHEN...

This one is WAY above Dan's pay grade. LW needs a sex-positive sex therapist to work through sexuality and intimacy issues with trained guidance. Take it from someone who (clearly) has sometimes extreme reactions thanks in part to personal sexual trauma (though I think cultural trauma due to fucked up norms concerning sexuality has been more damaging). Revulsion for sex partners is a rather serious problem, sometimes even a dangerous one. It underlies a lot of violence directed towards sex partners—misogynistic, homophobic, and transphobic (and potentially but more rarely misandristic). Figuring out the root triggers and coping mechanisms to deal with them is going to be absolutely necessary for LW to have partnered sexual relationships in the future, if that's of interest (and it sounds like it is), so, again, trained help is going to be much more useful than a one-off letter to a columnist.

My advice amounted to a suggested coping mechanism. But I'll concede that in almost all instances therapy is going to be a lot more useful than a one-off letter to an advice columnist. But in every instance—in every SLLOTD and column—I'm responding to a letter that was sent to an advice columnist. If all I said in response was, "You should talk to someone about that," I wouldn't be doing my job. And since I'm constantly encouraging people to seek therapy, I think "get additional help" could be taken for granted around here.

A couple of comments on my response to BOUND. First up, Corydon...

I love bondage myself, but there is really good reason to have some big time trust concerns. Those concerns keep me from trotting over to some rando's house off Recon and letting him tie me up. We just went through a nightmare scenario in Toronto where a serial killer was taking advantage of men looking for kinky sex who also needed some discretion due to family concerns, etc. That sort of thing is rare, but it does happen, and advertising "Straight discreet male looking for bondage scene-tie me up!" will be like catnip to a guy like Bruce McArthur.

And there was this from Traffic Spiral...

So... Dan's solution is to lie by omission to both his wife AND his potential play partners, in order to deceive them into giving him what he wants (marriage and bondage) because screw it, if the Almighty Dan thinks a dealbreaker is stupid, well, just use deception to get around the deal breaker? Sorry, that's bullshit. If he doesn't want to be married to his wife, he can divorce her or lay his cards on the table and see if she wants to divorce him. If he doesn't want to rule out play partners ethically opposed to helping cheaters, then he can decide not to cheat. Alternatively, he can just accept that he has a smaller pool of options. But no, "lie to get consent from others" is not a valid ethical option. Also, "inescapable bondage" isn't quite something you want to do with a completely anonymous rando, so there IS going to be a "get to know you" phase.

Recon isn't merely a hookup site. It's a social media platform. People post their likes, dislikes, interests, photos, and, importantly, links to the profiles of their friends and play partners. So while someone you find on Recon be unknown to you, they aren't unknown. You can (and should!) reach out to their current and former play partners. Also, people can (and should) use their common sense. If someone claims to be an expert at rope bondage or mummification or suspension, take a look at their photos, send messages to a few of their friends. And the photos reveal a lot: If someone's profile doesn't include any photos, that's a red flag. If all their photos are clearly lifted from porn, that's a red flag. But if they post a lot of photos of their own play sessions, that's a good sign—particularly if you see the same guys coming back again and again.

There are no guarantees, of course, and people do to get murdered by randos. But people sometimes get murdered by people they know well; women, in fact, are far likelier to be murdered by a boyfriend or a husband than by a stranger. I don't say this to minimize the horror of monsters like Bruce McArthur or Luka Magnotta. But unless we have kinky friends who overshare, we rarely hear about all the people out there who got tied up over a given weekend and weren't murdered.

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Also, Traffic Spiral seemed to miss the part of my response to BOUND where I suggested he come clean to the wife. But as I've stated time and time again, there are cases where cheating—and BOUND's case hardly seemed like it would constitute cheating to me—is the least worst option for all involved. BOUND and his wife could have kids, BOUND's wife could be economically dependent on him, or she could have a chronic illness. Or they might have a decent enough marriage, truly enjoy each other's company, and avoiding the disruption and displacement of divorce would be better for both of them.

And while we're on the subject, I want to endorse all the common sense safety precautions Corydon shared with BOUND:

Ideally, you live in a bigger city where there are fetish groups who meet up in a public venue of some kind. For instance, here in Toronto, the Black Eagle has a monthly Kink 101 night. You can get tied up by someone who knows what he's doing in a place where there are lots of people around who will ensure that everyone is on their best behavior. Also if you go to such an event in a bar, just drink non-alcoholic drinks. You do not want your judgment impaired. (This is encouraged by the people running the event, BTW.) At a bare minimum, you should be meeting any potential hookup in a public place first (coffee shop, whatever) so you can talk about the scene and gauge how comfortable you feel. If and when you decide that there is someone you want to experience this with at his place, make absolutely sure that you provide his name, phone number, address, and time when you expect to be done to someone who can look out for you. That might be your wife, but doesn't have to be. A trusted close friend or family member is fine too.

And finally... I like to say that my sample is hopelessly skewed toward hurt feelings, bad breakups, shit shows, etc., meaning I rarely hear from people who, say, revealed their kinks to a new partner and weren't rejected or shamed. So it was nice to get this letter...

A decade ago I was one of those gazillion people emailing you in despair about my sexually incompatible "but I love him!" relationships. I just wanted to express my gratitude for all of your advice over the years—your guidance helped me see the dysfunction in (and end) that sexless relationship, kept me from repeating this and other patterns in future relationships, and now I am overjoyed to share that I am in a—holy shit!—fun, communicative, healthy, GGG, sexually-compatible relationship!

Within the first month my sweetie laid out his fetish, and I had to contain myself from screaming YAHTZEE in his face. This person's kinks align with mine in a super cool collaborative way—things that I've fantasized about since I was like five years old fit shockingly well into his. What is this dream?!? I'd been content with my kinks floating around in fantasy/porn/masturbatory-land, but then this person revealed his kinks to me, which allowed me to share mine for the first time, and now we both get to explore this wild new world IRL and I couldn't be happier. So many layers of gratitude!

It's nice to know that the advice I gave to a gay gymnast who (in line with today's theme) liked to get tied up...

You never know: You could disclose your kink to a presumed-to-be-vanilla boyfriend and discover that he's as kinky as or kinkier than you are.

...does occasionally comes true. (And because I'm an insanely nosy person I emailed this letter writer back and asked what kinks she was talking about. And she wrote back and... wow. It really is a Yahtzee! They're that rarest of things: an almost perfect kink match.)

Okay, we're going to leave it there. I hope everyone has a good weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday!


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