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Sometimes The Damage Is Too Great

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Originally published on March 11, 2010.

I am a girl who sabotaged my relationship. I was angry; I had complaints. But my real issue was a store of repressed childhood trauma, and I was working it out on the closest person to me, my BF. We had something magical, and I destroyed it. I am now willing to give 110 percent to fix it.

We no longer have sex. We are hardly on speaking terms. I know now that my relationship skills are stunted—more childhood baggage—but I want to save my relationship. Do you have any tips on initiating sex with someone whom I have traumatized or on improving communication with someone who is so resentful? I am willing to give it time and effort, accept my faults, and breathe deeply rather than react in anger when we talk through things.

Saboteur Addressing Dysfunctions

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Woman Shocked to Discover She Was Seeing a Pedophile (Spoiler: She Wasn't Seeing a Pedophile)

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Longtime reader in Colorado. For the last few months, I've been casually seeing a man, about my same age, who is in an open marriage. We met via Craigslist Personals, back before that ended. Started off as a massage client before our mutual attraction and friendship turned into him coming over, having great sex, pillow talk for a bit before he leaves. Some evenings coming over for drinks and ending having sex. It’s unspoken that we are both seeing others and this is just casual sex with some growing feelings between us. I’d get very sweet texts from him, regularly, about him missing me and general caring, friendly texts. I have been fine with what our relationship consisted of. I would consider myself to be GGG, not jealous and very cool with casual relationships. My problem came up a couple mornings ago, when I was looking around on Fetlife. He and I have both been on there, off and on. By sheer coincidence, I ran across a four-month-old post from him stating: "45yo professor and 18yo girlfriend looking for play with couples. She is hot, amazing tits and just loves sex. Would love to go to Mon Chalet as well. Send info and a pic."

Many emotions came over me...

1. He is 45 and dating a just-recently-graduated high-school-age teenager!
2. Eighteen is one number away from him being considered a pedophile.
3. He is completely exploiting this young girl via this Fetlife ad.
4. He’s a college professor and this is probably one of his students.
5. He is taking advantage of this young, naïve girl who obviously has daddy issues if she’s interested in a man that much older.

I immediately sent him a text including a screen shot of the ad and told him that although obviously very open minded about a lot of things, him fucking a teenager is fucked up and I’m done with him. His response: “Sorry, I am not perfect.” This also brings up for me that I’m grossed out that I’ve been fucking a pedophile for months now. Am I wrong to believe this situation is not right or am I not as open minded as I think I am? Am I making much more of this than I should?

Creeped Out By Old Prof

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This week:


Thousands of Missing Units

Well, this is good news:

Taller buildings in the hearts of more than two dozen neighborhoods, denser housing on some nearby blocks and requirements that developers help create affordable housing. That’s what Seattle is getting after the City Council voted unanimously Monday to approve some of the most sweeping zoning changes in the city’s recent history. Getting there took a number of years, as the policy was subjected to community conversations, analysis and legal wrangling. During that time, Seattle witnessed a record-breaking boom.

But as Mike Rosenberg points out...


I think about the thousands of the other units—affordable and otherwise—that could've been built in Seattle every time I walk past this Capitol Hill apartment building...

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Her Proposal Prompted Him to Issue a Counterproposal

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I'm a 33 year old cis-hetero female in a committed monogamous relationship of about ten years. We've been living together for about seven years and speak in terms of "we" when we discuss our future (retirement and beyond). But we both have concerns about marriage that have led us to leave the question alone for the bulk of our relationship. Over the last few months we've started to explore it, discussing pros and cons and what it might look like for us. Last time we talked about it a few weeks ago, we had a positive, objective conversation that ended with him saying, "It isn't important to me, but if it's important to you, then we will." Based on that conversation, I felt like he was essentially leaving it up to me. Over the last few weeks, several things have come together to make me realize I definitely want to get married. It was like all the hesitation I've been feeling for years just evaporated, and suddenly it just felt right. The revelation was freeing and joyful for me, and I was excited to talk to him about it. So this weekend I essentially proposed to him.

He didn't give a clear answer. Then he said the reason he's been hesitant about marriage is largely because he's interested in exploring poly.

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Readers and Twitterers Have Thoughts About Buying Sex Toys for Teenagers

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Recent Savage Love Letters of the Day: this woman's son asked his mom for a Fleshlight (on his birthday!), this kid is using the family plunger as a dildo (and that ain't right!), this woman's boyfriend is using a dirty dildo on himself and neglecting her (also not right!), and this gay guy's most-likely-closeted coworker is acting like a dildo (and annoying the shit out of his friends!). And, as always, last week's column and Savage Lovecast.

Regarding my advice for WOE...

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The Touchy-Feely, Messy-Handsy, Drinky-Drunky Straight Guy From Work

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I have a friend/coworker. Let’s call him “Randy.” Randy likes to hangout with me and all of my gay friends at the gay bars and clubs. Randy has wife and son. Randy has said (while massaging my back), “I’m not gay. I just appreciate the male body. And I really appreciate your body.” Randy’s highly educated and very successful. We live in very liberal place so he could come out here no problem. He gets blacked out messy drunk frequently at the bars. He’s in his 40s. Part of me wants to pull him aside and tell him he’s gay. I feel bad for his wife since she is often upset and/or confused when we all hang out. It’s all so awkward, because he’s my coworker, and I feel bad for him, his wife, and his kid. I assume it’s best to just "butt out."

Oddly, I have another friend who is just like Randy. We will call him “Andy.” Andy doesn’t have kids or a wife. Andy is 20s. Andy works with my best friend. The two of us are trying to figure out what to do about Randy and Andy.

Do I Lecture Friends?

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Dirty Secret Discovered After Sexless Weekend

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I've been listening to your podcast for a couple of hours now. Coincidentally I happen to be in the midst of a problem myself and I'm not sure how to approach this. I'm a 28-year-old woman and I’ve been seeing this 26-year-old man for about three months now. Although I know this is extremely early and we have a long way to go in regards to sex and knowing what we like/are comfortable with, I've noticed that he isn’t enthusiastic about having sex with me. In my past experiences sex wasn't an issue in the early stages of a relationship. He has mentioned liking ass play before, which I am totally open to and would like to explore with him, and I've expressed this to him. Despite this he doesn’t seem open to it. This past weekend I spent a couple of days with him and we didn’t actually have sex at all. He was really emotionally effected by the fact that I was clearly effected by this fact and we had a conversation but he just couldn’t seem to come up with an explanation. I wrote it off as stress (he has been going through some stressful things lately) and I decided to wait this out and hope that it isn’t a permanent issue. Then today he left for work and I was left alone in his room and I know this isn’t good but I ended up finding his dildo that he uses on himself. I knew he had this and I’ve seen it before and I don’t have a problem with it. But I noticed it was very noticeably used a LOT. There was debris on it. That was kind of gross, of course, but I also couldn’t help but feel offended. So he is feeling sexual just not when it comes to having sex with me? I know masturbation is a unique and personal experience for people and I shouldn’t take it personally but I can’t wrap my head around him wanting to put this dick-shaped toy in his ass but not wanting to put his dick in me.

Do you have any insight about this?

Dude Likes Dildo Over Sex

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Straight Boy Takes the Plunger

Originally publshed October 22, 2009.

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I'm a straight teenage male, but I can't climax unless I am stimulating my anus or rectum. I use various objects like cucumbers. The reason I don't buy a toy is that I live in a very religious household and my parents would disown me if they found a sex toy in my room.

I take a toilet plunger and wrap the handle with toilet paper and tissues. Then I take a plastic bag and put it over the top. After that, I wrap a rubber band around the bottom part of the bag so it can't slide off, lube it up, and fuck away! I really like this: I can put the suction part on the floor, sit on the handle part, and basically ride it while I use my hands to stroke my dick/balls.

I know you're thinking, "Gross! Do you realize that thing's been in the toilet?!" But I sterilize the handle with Lysol, then put soap on it before wrapping it with toilet paper. I also put disinfectant on the plastic bag, then wash it off with water. After I'm done, I put more disinfectant/­soap on the handle and wash it off so people who are using the plunger for its normal use don't get my ass germs. I've been doing this for about five years and haven't felt any bad symptoms except the occasional trace bleeding (I think due to not enough lube—or it may be due to the ridges of the bag). A few times I actually bled a lot (about the same amount as a medium cut on your finger) for two or three days, but I didn't feel it in my butt and only knew that I was bleeding when I took a shit.

Are homemade dildos a bad idea? Am I putting my family at risk by getting my ass germs on the plunger?

Always Nervous Until Sanitized

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Her Son Wants Just One Thing For His Birthday...

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I am in a quandary about a birthday request from my 15 year old son.

Quick back story: When my son was ten some kids on the bus told him that a French kiss was when you transfer chewed food from your mouth to another's. Gross! After correcting this misinformation I decided it was time to educate him myself. A friend recommended “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health.” It was the right book and the right time, and my son and I can communicate opening and easily about anything. But wasn’t expecting him ask for a sex toy for his birthday—specifically, he asked I would purchase him a “Fleshlight” for his 16th birthday. WOW! I told him that seemed pretty varsity/advanced for him and should get some some mileage using his hand and maybe have partnered sex before thinking about toys.

I have no idea what it's like to be a teenage boy and I'm glad (if slightly horrified) that he feels comfortable talking to me. But I worry that if he were to use a Fleshlight before having partnered sex it could negatively impact his experience. But I keep thinking about your male callers who used the "death grip" growing up and then wound up having problems getting off with a partner later in life. I purchased him “Drawn To Sex: The Basics” by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan, which feels like a more appropriate sex positive gift.

Sex Positive Mom

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We Heard From Many Satisfied Customers This Week...

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Recent Savage Love Letters of the Day: Should she listen to her gut and leave her boyfriend with the anger issues? How should he react to the news that the woman he repeatedly cheated on is now cheating on him? What should she do about the boyfriend who doesn't want to have sex with her (but does want to masturbate) and refuses to talk about it? And how should she feel about finding proof that her mother was sleeping with her own father, a man who also happens to have abused her? And, as always, last week's column and Savage Lovecast.

Distrusted And Mulling Nervously wrote in after her letter appeared as the SLOTTD...

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Why Did Her Ailing Mother Save Polaroids Taken By The Man Who Sexually Abused Them Both?

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My maternal grandfather was a pillar of the community, beloved by his family. He was also sexually abusive. He died when I was a child. I only remember one incident happening to me—during a cuddle session he encouraged me to put my mouth on his penis, and then told me to let it be our little secret. I've always remembered that. I feel like more happened, but no additional memories have ever surfaced. There were rumors I heard as an adult that he molested other kids in the neighborhood. And he had a sexual relationship with my mother.

She says nothing happened as a child but as an adult he started telling her he loved her in a romantic way. My godmother told me he was "all over her" at parties. My mother told me she fully realized his intentions when he said he wanted to take nude polaroids of her. And she let him. All she'll really say about how she felt about his attentions is that they "made her very uncomfortable." And she loved him—she and her sisters all pretty much idolized him. My one aunt knew (she said nothing happened to her), and I asked her how she reconciled that. And she said she guessed she compartmentalized it—she loved him, thought he was a wonderful father, and didn't really think about the other stuff—and when she did, she just wished he wasn't "that way."

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He's Not Emotionally Available and They Aren't Sexually Compatible and He Doesn't Want to Talk About It and He's Not Going to Change and What Should She Dooooooo?

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I guess I am now in the modern world as my boyfriend of two years who I live with admitted last night that he masturbates to porn 3-4 times per week. We are very sweet together, but the sex has always been just okay, and in the past he told me he was simply not as not as into sex as I am. I thought he was just wired differently and I had a higher-than-average sex drive. Part of me thinks I should be relieved that he does actually have a sex drive, Dan, but I am pretty angry. But should I be more understanding? It took a lot for him to tell me, and I don't want to embarrass him—he asked for privacy, that I don't talk to my friends about it.

Part of it came up because many many times I have verbalized to him that I wish he complimented me in general. He grew up with no sisters, no friends that are girls, and barely talks about his feelings. He says he doesn't see much benefit in talking about feelings, and has told me not to expect him to change, so that will make this harder to navigate. I'm not sure what my goal is.

I had sort of tried to accept that we don't have a rawr kind of thing, and I know that it's hard to get every single box checked when it comes to a romantic partner. How should I behave? I'm more mad than insulted, which is a nice change from my usual weepy state in relationships.

Sad Lass Absolutely Perplexed

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Savage Love: Loaded Question

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Joe Newton
Let's say my kink is edging and I edge myself for a few days leading up to a date. Is it my responsibility to tell my potential partner? There are a few variables here that are important to note. This is a first/Tinder date, and it's just a coffee date, BUT she and I have talked about our expectations and there will likely be a physical aspect in whatever potential relationship may ensue. I understand that it's never cool to involve someone in your kink without their consent, but what are the rules here? On one hand, if I don't divulge this information, I could see how my production of an unexpectedly large amount of ejaculate could be upsetting, depending on the circumstances/activity. But on the other hand, at least some amount of come is expected, right? If I randomly had massive loads every single time through no effort of my own, would I be responsible for letting a partner know? Perhaps it would be the polite thing to do. I guess I'd feel comfortable saying, "Hey, by the way, I produce very large loads," if sex was imminent. But when you add the kink factor into the mix, I think something like that should be talked about before sex is "imminent." So what responsibility do I have to divulge this information? And if I do have a responsibility to divulge this, when would be the appropriate time to bring it up? I feel like it could be sexy to be so open about a taboo, given that we've already discussed the desire for a physical aspect to the relationship. But at what point between sex being "not off-limits" and "my parts are going to be interacting with your parts as soon as our clothes are off" is the right moment to disclose my kink?

What Ought One Do?

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Cheater Shocked to Learn Spouse Also Cheating

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Originally published November 14, 2014.

My wife has been reading a lot about open marriages and she recently decided that it was the best move for our marriage.

Quick background: we have been married for over ten years. During this time I have cheated on her numerous times. It started with online sex chats and running up hundreds of dollars on credit cards. She first found out about it by finding the charges. We had been married only 1 year at this point. She told me I had a problem and needed to get help. I told her I could stop and apologized over and over. I didn't get help and several years later she finds out I have been doing it again. At this point we started to see a counselor. We worked on things for a while, but slowly we stopped going and I ended up back where I was before. When she caught me the third time, about two years later, we went to a new counselor. She admitted that she had at this point cheated on me with someone. We both wanted to stop and we continued seeing the counselor together as well as me seeing one on my own. Again, this lasted for a while, but at some point we stopped going. This past April she found out I had been talking with someone for a while and meeting up with her. She confronted me and I said I would stop. I did and although I didn't get help, I continue to have no contact with the woman and haven't had contact with anyone new.

Just last month, I happened to see a strange message on her phone. I found out then that she was seeing someone else and things quickly snowballed from there. I confronted her and she told me she wanted an open marriage. I was shocked but I should have seen it coming. As we talked about things I found out she was actually seeing two people. One had been ongoing for three years. I told her I didn't want to do this and I was going to get the help I should have gotten ten years ago. I started by seeing a new counselor. I now realize I have issues I need to work on in order to be a better person.

My wife as agreed to hold off on meeting up with anyone, although she does still want an open marriage. I don't blame her at this point. I don't even trust myself at this point. How can I ask her to give me another chance? She has already said she will probably resent me for forcing her to stop seeing the men she's been seeing. She says I was able to choose when I wanted to do what I did and now I am taking that right away from her. I really don't think she wants an open marriage. I think she landed on this option given my actions. We both do love each other and do not want to end the marriage. (We also have children and don't want to be apart from them.) I really don't want to have an open marriage but at this point I feel I need to give her what she needs.

Please share any advice you have on how to move forward with an open marriage or any suggestions on how to prove to her I really do want to stop.

A Sorry Soul

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Should She Stay or Should She Go?

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I'm a 24-year-old female, currently pursing the first year of a masters degree. Healthy, independent, strong network of family and friends. I have been with my partner exclusively for almost seven years—we started dating at the end of high school! I moved to a different town for school, so for four years we were long distance. After that, I moved back home. We have lived together for almost two years now.

My partner is a wonderful person. He's a hard worker, passionate, completely dedicated and committed to living life with me. But, I’m not sure that’s what I want. Since our relationship took a more serious turn when we moved in together I’ve been fearful of commitment. Wondering if we’re foolish for not exploring other relationships or just being on our own. This is a doubt that has flooded my mind recently but is not shared by my partner. My partner also has some anger issues that recently nearly cost him his job. I don’t take this lightly.

It is hard to explain seven years of history in a concise email. As per the aforementioned incident with my partner’s work, we are currently struggle to figure out where we stand. I guess my question to you is, making the decision to move on from a relationship is hard. How do I know if I need to do this for myself? Can I ignore these nagging thoughts? Can I work to change my mindset and see my relationship in a more positive light? When I think about being single, I feel happy and good—is this just a “grass seems greener” kinda thought after seven years in a relationship? You should also know that these thoughts have been progressively increasing in prevalence for about a year now.

Wondering About Need To Sort Out Unnerving Thoughts

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