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New Savage Love: Letter Rip

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JOE NEWTON
I’m a female in my late twenties. I broke up with a toxic ex about a year ago and I’ve been walking around (my house!) thinking I was over it. I never missed him and rarely thought about him. A brief backstory: In the final months of us living together, we started having more discussions about children and making lifelong commitment. He told me he wanted both, yet at this exact time his moderate depression became more severe and he refused to get help. I tolerated his cruel behavior because I knew how badly he was hurting. This ranged from icing me out to berating me and demanding I leave the home that we shared—MY HOUSE—citing his need for “alone” time. One time he demanded I get up and leave in the middle of the night and go to a friend’s house! It’s worth noting the sex was mediocre at best, which I chalked it up to him being a decade older. My self-esteem suffered. I finally left.

Fast forward to now. I find out he’s been dating a man. I can barely cope with the anger I feel about this. I feel like a casualty of his shame. We have progressive friends! His sister has dated women! His parents are accepting! None of the reasons you list as appropriate ones for staying closeted apply to him, Dan! His inability to accept himself caused me the most severe emotional trauma of my life and I just feel enraged. I logically know this is not about me. It’s about him. So why does this retroactively bother me so much? Part of me wants to say something to him but I’m not sure that would make me feel better. I’d be very appreciative of any guidance you may have. Not sure what to think.

Bitterly Enraged And Really Distressed

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Savage Love: Concessions

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Joe Newton
I’m a 29-year-old straight male. I’ve been with my 25-year-old partner for six years. I love her and think that we are perfect for each other. We have all the things that make existing with someone wonderful. But about two years into our relationship I had a two-week-long affair while I was out of the country. I fucked up. I came clean to my partner and we’ve done our best to work through this over the last four years, but it has obviously caused some trust issues between us. I’ve never cheated it again and I try every day to work through these issues I caused in our relationship.

There’s also been two recent instances of me breaking her trust. On a particularly stressful day I was caught sneaking a cigarette—the sneaking part is the issue—and on another occasion I did drugs in our communal back garden with a friend after she had gone to bed. I owned up to both straight away. I view both of these as being a symptom of the lockdown/pandemic prompting me to break with my “normal” behavior. But partner is no longer comfortable allowing me to have the freedom to go out with my friends and partake in drugs without her express permission, which she already said she’s unlikely to grant me. The other element to this is, we want kids in three years. We’ve agreed that I will fully abstain from all drugs after we become parents.

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New Savage Love: Fuck Around and Find Out

JOE NEWTON
JOE NEWTON

I've been with my boyfriend for 2.5 years and we have a great relationship—or so I thought. Last week, I snooped on my boyfriend's browser history and I don't know what to do with what I found. I'm a longtime reader and Savage Lovecast listener SO I KNOW WHAT I DID WAS WRONG. I believe my actions were driven by 1. lingering trust issues (a while ago, I found out my boyfriend had been looking at Tinder since we'd been together, though I don't believe he ever messaged or intended to meet anyone) and 2. my general anxiety/depression, which seems particularly high one year into the pandemic. Now, to what I found: my boyfriend has been looking at random women on Facebook—not people he's friends with, or people in his immediate network, so far as I know. And then he clears his activity log. What do you think this means? Where is he finding these names/women? Is he using these pictures to masturbate? Should I raise the issue with him or just feel shitty about invading his privacy? He gives me no other reason to not trust him, I should say, and he seems like a pretty open book. (Everyone in my life who knows him agrees.) However, I can't shake the fear/paranoia that he's living a double life and I don't want to be blindsided. I would appreciate your insight.

Sincerely Nervous Over Online Pattern

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Savage Love: Livestream

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JOE NEWTON
I want to thank everyone who attended our third Savage Love Livestream last Saturday night. Mistress Matisse was our very special guest and we tackled a lot of questions about BDSM over a very lively ninety minutes. We didn’t get to every question—there were so many—but I will now, as promised, power through as many livestream leftovers as I can in this week’s column…



You say people need to be in “good working order” to be in a relationship. What if you will never be in “good working order” because you cope with a mental health condition?


Having a mental health condition isn’t proof a person isn’t or can’t be in good working order; likewise, not having a mental health condition isn’t proof a person is in good working order. I mean, we all know people without mental health conditions who are walking disasters. Now someone with a mental health condition who refuses to get help or to stay on their meds might not be in good enough working order to be in or sustain a relationship. But taking care of ourselves is one of the most important ways we demonstrate that we are, in actual fact, in good enough working order to fuck, date, or marry. Or all three. So far from proving you’re not fit to be in a relationship, having a mental health condition that you’re doing something about—having one or more that you’re actively coping with—is evidence you are good working order.

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Savage Love: The Phone Job

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Joe Newton

A male friend—not my best friend but a close one—told me his wife was really attracted to me, another male, and asked if I was attracted to her. His wife is an incredibly hot woman and I thought it was a trick question. I read your column and listen to the Savage Lovecast, Dan, so I know there are guys out there who want other men to sleep with their wives, of course, but I didn’t want to risk offending this friend by saying “FUCK YEAH” too quickly. After he convinced me it wasn’t a trick, I told him that of course I wanted to have sex with his wife. She’s incredibly beautiful and a really great person. I told him was that I not at the least bit bisexual and not into MMF threesomes, and he told me he wouldn’t even be there. He just wanted to hear all the details later—and hear them from me, not her.

I’ve slept with his wife four times since, and the sex we’ve been having is phenomenal for both of us. But the talks I have afterwards with my friend make me uncomfortable. We’ve gotten on the phone later in the day or the next day and I give him the details and insult him a little, which he likes, and honestly none of that is the problem. What makes me uncomfortable is that I can hear him beating off during these phone calls, which makes me feel like I’m having phone sex with a guy. I’m not comfortable with this and I feel like our friendship has become sexualized in a way that just feels unnatural for me. The one time we met in person to talk after I fucked his wife he was visibly aroused throughout our entire conversation. I would like to keep fucking my friend’s wife, and she wants to keep fucking me, but I don’t want to talk with my friend about it afterwards. Shouldn’t it be enough for him to just know I’m fucking her?

Distressed Aussie Chafes Under Cringe Kink

P.S. This is his thing, not hers. She loves having sex with me but the calls to her husband don’t do anything for her.

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Savage Love: Cutting Remarks

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Joe Newton

I’m having a problem advising a friend. She’s been through a divorce and now the breaking off of an engagement. To put it simply, both relationships ended because she was cheated on and she has a zero-tolerance policy around infidelity. To complicate matters, in each relationship we—her friends—have witnessed her being very cutting to the point of being downright insulting to her former partners. She has a tendency to tease her partners about their deepest insecurities in public and to express her extreme disdain for their family members openly. I had a chance to speak to each of her former partners after the breakup and they expressed to me that they felt emasculated by her and that their self-esteem was shot and they had essentially “had enough.” However, neither have given her this feedback directly.

My friends and I have hinted to her about this pattern in the hopes of helping her see what her role might be in these breakups. But she takes extreme offense to any criticism and insists she’s the victim. I’m sympathetic to her plight, but her unwillingness to accept any responsibility makes it difficult to offer her any useful advice. I’ve been there for her, calling her daily, and stopping by when I could in a COVID-safe way. But every conversation turns into a three-hour-long rehashing of these relationships with all blame assigned to her exes. I've let a few weeks go by without reaching out because I don’t want to have another one of these conversations. I'm curious what you would do here. Our entire friend group is now debating whether we should share our actual opinions with her at the risk her being angry with us. The other option is to leave it alone and hope she comes to her own conclusions. I wish her exes had the courage to tell her their true feelings.

No Brainpower For Clever Signoff

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Savage Love: Devastation

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JOE NEWTON
I am at a loss. I am devastated. I just found out my husband has been sexting with another woman. As if that wasn’t not bad enough, this woman is his first cousin! And this has been going on for years!

I’ll give you a moment to recover from that jaw drop.

Okay, now the background. We’ve been married for almost thirty years. Our relationship is not all wine and roses but we had counseling years ago and decided we wanted to grow old together. We have similar interests, we love spending time together, and it’s just not the same when one of us is gone. Our sex life was never “off the charts” and, yes, this was one of our main problems. He wanted a lot of sex and I was content with very little. I came to believe he was content too and that he long ago accepted that spending his life with me meant this would be how it was. And I truly believed that our marriage was monogamous. Now I know that only I was monogamous.

If it was any other women than his cousin I might be able to deal with this! I wish it was someone else! I feel trapped! I feel like I can’t talk to anyone! All I can think of is how disgusting and disappointed my children, who are in their 20’s, and his family would be if they found out. This cousin has had many ups and downs. And years ago when my children were small I noticed some flirtatious behavior between her and my husband. I confronted him and demanded to know what the hell was going on! I thought that was the end of it! I was wrong!

I was on my husband’s iPad when I found their explicit chats along with requests for “visuals.” I went to my husband and asked if they had ever gotten together physically. He told me no. A few days later we were on our way to a big family event and this cousin was supposed to be there. With me standing next to him he called her and left a message disinviting her. She called him back and he answered on speaker and I said hello and then asked her if she was fucking my husband. She sounded surprised and caught off guard but she said no. We are about to move to new place to retire! Now what?!?

Insane News: Cousins Erotic Sexting Trouble!

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New Savage Love: De-Kinked

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JOE NEWTON
I know you and other sexperts say that kinks are ingrained and not something you can get rid of, but mine have all vanished! Ever since I started on antidepressants my relationship with my body and how it reacts to pain, both physical and mental, has completely changed. I used to love getting bit and spanked and beat black and blue, but now all that just hurts. I used to love getting humiliated and spit on, commanded to do dirty things, but none of that holds much appeal anywhere. So what gives? Were these even kinks in the first place if they could vanish so easily with one little pill? Or were these coping mechanisms for emotional problems I no longer have? I know my libido is suppressed due to the meds. Did my kinks just follow my libido out the door?

The Missing Kink

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Savage Love: Pandemic Pressures

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JOE NEWTON
I'm a gay guy living in New York in his late twenties. My boyfriend has really been emotionally impacted by the pandemic having been a frontline worker. I think he is suffering from some mild depression or at the very least some intense anxiety so I just want to preface this by saying I completely sympathize with what he's going through. Before the pandemic we had a really good sex life, but lately he hasn't been interested in sex at all besides a few assisted masturbation sessions. While I know that these aren't usual times, I can't help feeling rejected. Normally, I would suggest opening up the relationship, for the sake of both myself and him, and I think that he might benefit from having sex with some guys where there isn't an emotional investment. Of course, right now that isn't an option. I want to be there for him and we otherwise have a solid relationship, but this issue has been making me feel hurt. I've encouraged him to masturbate without me but I do wish he could include me more in his sexual life. Do you have any other thoughts or advice?

Thanks For Reading

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Savage Love: Toy Boy

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JOE NEWTON
I’m positive you’ve written something about this in the past. I have searched your archives but have only managed to find people arguing in the comments about this topic when what I want is your advice. My sixteen-year-old son is stealing our sex toys. My son took my husband's handheld toy a several months ago. I found it where it shouldn't have been and let my husband know. He talked to our son and told him these are personal items, like a toothbrush, and that he needed to stop taking them. A few weeks ago I noticed my dildo was missing. I thought I had misplaced it or that my husband hid it somewhere. As it turns out, our son took it. We talked with him again and stressed that these are personal items and not something to be shared. I want to get him his own toy so he stops taking ours. My husband is squicked out about it and I agree it's weird to have your parents buy a toy for you but he clearly wants one. I don't want to pick it out. I want to give him a prepaid gift card and have him pick out what he wants from the website a reputable shop. Is there a better way to handle this?

Mama In Houston

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New Savage Love: Quickies

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JOE NEWTON
I'm a 30-year-old straight woman in a three-year relationship with my live-in partner, who is also 30. I love him and he loves me and he wants to make a life with me. However, in this pandemic, the stress is so great that I have lost all desire to have sex. I don't want anyone touching me right now, not even myself. I feel like I'm in survival mode. I lost the career I love and I’m working four different jobs to make up for it. I have also been coming to terms in therapy with a sexual trauma I suffered, which is making me want to be touched even less. He's been extremely patient, and says that we can work through it, but I'm really worried that this is the death knell for our relationship. I'm really trying to figure out ways to get myself back in good working order, Dan, but honestly I'm just trying to survive every day right now. Help?

Witty Acronym Here

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New Savage Love: The Boyfriend Experience

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JOE NEWTON

Sex-positive bi woman here. I have recommended your column to many people over the years to help them feel normal and human in their kinks, fantasies, sexuality, etc. But I’m having a more difficult time extending similar acceptance to myself. I was in a three-year relationship with a cis straight man. I recently moved across the country for graduate school and this was the catalyst for me to put my foot down about opening the relationship in order to get my sexual needs met. He agreed and we tried being open but he found it too emotionally challenging, so now we are on a “break.”

When we were together he showed me love in many ways, Dan, but he would not eat my pussy or finger me or use a vibrator or any other sex toys on me. He quit his own therapy for depressive symptoms and anxiety after just three sessions; he won’t do couple’s therapy; he won’t even have a conversation with me about why, exactly, my pussy and sexual pleasure are aversive to him. Even hearing me moan in pleasure or arousal seemed to make him recoil. All he wanted was blow jobs and occasional sessions of intercourse. He had some ED issues that he felt bad about but I told him multiple times that erections are not a big deal for me—what I like about sex is the intimacy, the play, and mutual pleasure. He is not a bastard, but the sex remained phallocentric. Writing this, I know that I made a reasonable decision for myself. Yet I continue to be wracked with guilt over pursuing (pandemic-safe) sex when I know this guy, who I love very much and care about very deeply, still has feelings for me and still wants to us be together, exclusively.

Two questions: Do you have any idea of what gives, based on your experience? I’ve been trying to understand and open the lines of communication for years. And, how do I stop beating myself up for hurting his feelings when my friends keep telling me I gave the relationship my all and I know that my soul couldn’t stand any more one-sided sex?

Feminist Under Compulsive, Kink-Induced Nauseous Guilt

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We've Got a New, Sexy HUMP Trailer!


2021 HUMP! Trailer from Index Media on Vimeo.

After fifteen years of bringing HUMP! to movie theaters—after fifteen years of making it possible for people to be porn stars for a weekend in a movie theater without becoming porn stars on the Internet for life, after fifteen years of getting people together in theaters to watch porn the way their grandparents did—we faced a tough choice after the pandemic hit early last year. We obviously couldn't pack people into theaters. That meant we could either cancel HUMP! 2020 or make HUMP! 2020 available—for the first time—on the dreaded Internet. Last year's HUMP! Film Festival started before the pandemic hit so we reached out to the filmmakers and performers and asked them what they wanted to do. They'd made their films to be shown in theaters, not streamed on the Internet, and we were willing to cancel the festival. But the filmmakers wanted their films to be seen! So thanks to them—thanks to HUMP! filmmakers and performers—the show went on and HUMP! fans were able to enjoy HUMP! 2020 in the comfort and safety of their own homes!

And that's how HUMP! fans will enjoy HUMP! 2021: in the comfort and safety of their own homes! And we've got a great new lineup of fun and hot and sexy and crazy and interesting and moving HUMP! films, all made during the quarantine, all streaming online starting January 30th. More than 120 films were submitted for HUMP! 2021 and being locked up for the last ten months really inspired people to make some amazing dirty movies for this year's festival. This is not only going to be one of the best HUMP!s ever, it's also the most diverse HUMP!s ever and one of the most visually interesting and entertaining HUMP!s ever! Check out that trailer! (Trailer by Shane Wahlund, music by Erik Blood.)

We've added a number of special viewing parties to the lineup—I'm hosting the opening night viewing party on January 30th—and tickets are on sale now!

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New Savage Love: Case Disclosed

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JOE NEWTON
I could really use your advice. I recently found my boyfriend's HIV meds while I was house sitting for him and went into his cupboard for a multivitamin. We've been dating for a year and I had assumed he was negative. I'm negative myself and on PrEP and he is undetectable, so I know there is essentially zero risk of me getting infected, but we agreed to some degree of "openness" at the start of the relationship—having threesomes together—and I recently found a guy we'd like to invite over. I'm trying to get over the feeling of betrayal from the fact that my boyfriend hid his status from me for so long but I'm fine with continuing the relationship knowing his status now. The thing is, he told me that only five people on earth know and his mother, who he talks to almost every day, isn't one of them. He says being poz has really fucked with his self-esteem and that he has had suicidal thoughts because of his status. Is it unreasonable for me to expect him to disclose his status to guys who join us in bed? What about asking him to share with a therapist or "come out" as poz to his mother? I really love him and just want him to be happy and healthy.

Wannabe Ethical And Supportive Slut

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New Savage Love: Cum Again

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As you can see by my signature, Dan, I'm a linguist. On your podcast you frequently ask researchers "whatchyougot" on all kinds of sex- and romance-related questions, I thought maybe you'd be interested in some expertise on linguistic matters too. And I have some on "cum," "cumming," and (shudder) "cummed."

The technical term here used among linguists for this kind of phenomenon is "peeve." Let me clarify, it's not the "cum," "cumming," and "cummed” that's a peeve but the shuddering. You see, the snide sound there is due to the fact that causes peevers to shudder causes linguists to get interested. The point is language always changes, and linguists are interested in these changes however much they horrify normal people. (That's our technical term for non-linguists.) Grandparents are forever lamenting about how their grandchildren's generation is ruining the language. Documentation of this phenomenon goes back to the Roman times. And indeed generations upon generations of grandchildren turned Latin into Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Catalan and host of lesser known forms of ruination.

In terms of the sticky substance at hand (or on hand), cum as a verb and cumming are just alternative spellings, which are common enough for slang. It's slang! You really gonna insist slang follow uptight and buttoned-down spelling rules, Dan? That's just stoopid. Cummed is more interesting—and also causes peevers to shudder—because it's a real change in the language. But why shudder? Why not appreciate it instead? "Cummed” shows us how creative we are with our language, how we play with it, and in this case do something useful, differentiating the sublime "got off" (climaxed) from the banal "got there" (arrived).

Don't fall into useless peeving, Dan! You've famously instigated language change. Just ask Rick Santorum, your former college roommate, or the men who've cummed and cummed hard while a nice vagina-haver pegged their ass.


Michael Newman
Professor of Linguistics and Chair
Department of Linguistics and Communication Disorders
Queens College/CUNY

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