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Savage Love – 2/3/2011

by Dan Savage on February 2, 2011

I read your column every week, mostly out of abstract interest. My thoughts reading your advice are usually some variation on “Wow, that’s a lot of work to do, just to have a sex life.” So reading you, I came to the conclusion that I was asexual. I liked this conclusion, as it was a sexual identity that made sense for me.

Then I joined an asexual community. I soon realized that I was unlike those people, too. It turns out that they have no sexual attractions either way, whereas I comfortably identify as a straight male. I look when a pretty girl walks past (much to the chagrin of an asexual I dated for a short time), I like to kiss, and I enjoy some genital contact—but I’m in the mood for penetration very rarely. Asexuals seemed to be turned off by physical intimacy.
I soon realized that asexual was the wrong label for me. In reality, what I am is minimally sexual.

Here’s the question: How do normally sexual persons feel about being with someone who can perform but doesn’t particularly want to? I know that being in a relationship means making compromises, but will a normally sexual person accept a partner who is able to have sex but does not wish to for certain reasons, e.g., a lack of confidence or stamina. Can a person please a partner without pleasing said partner in the euphemistic sense?
—Not Sexual, Not Asexual

It should come as no shock to someone who reads my column every week—or any other advice column—that there are lots of people out there who want to be in relationships but don’t particularly want to have sex. We don’t usually hear directly from these “minimally sexual” types. Instead, we hear from their maximally unhappy partners, i.e., the “normally sexual persons” who find themselves unhappily married to and/or otherwise stuck with minimally sexual persons.

With all the minimally sexuals out there making normally sexuals miserable, NSNA, it should be obvious to all regular readers that there’s not exactly a shortage of people who aren’t interested in sex. With that being the case, why would you even contemplate inflicting yourself on a normally sexual person? Why not go find another minimally sexual person? You’ll be doing your minimally sexual self a favor, you’ll be doing your future minimally sexual partner a favor, and you’ll be doing all normally sexual persons everywhere a favor by removing two minimals—you and your future partner—from the dating pool.

Unless you’re more interested in sex than you let on, NSNA, and you find the idea of a normally sexual partner appealing because a normal might be able to help you build your confidence and learn to enjoy sex. I certainly hope you’re not another asexual/minimally sexual person who wants a normally sexual partner because you take a perverse pleasure in depriving someone else of sex, constantly rejecting that person’s advances, and ultimately destroying their confidence.

I’m a 22-year-old queer chick who came out only a couple years ago. Right when I was starting to talk honestly with my friends about my sexuality, I met a girl with whom I got along great. Fairly quickly, we both realized that she wanted the relationship to go further—she says this was the first time she had ever been attracted to another girl. I was not at all attracted to her, so I said something about being too unstable myself in the coming-out process to date someone who’s also just coming out. It worked, she dropped it, and we have since become extremely close friends. She began identifying openly as bi, and identifies me as the reason.

Here’s the problem: Yesterday, out of the blue, she told me that she still really likes me and thinks we should be together. Dan, this girl is really important to me, but I am still not at all physically attracted to her. Am I a totally superficial a-hole? What can I tell her that won’t ruin this friendship? How can I make it clear that I don’t feel the same way without giving the actual reason?
—Can’t We Just Be Friends

“I’m too unstable in the coming-out process to date someone who’s also just coming out,” is a baby-dyke variation on “I’m just not ready for a relationship right now.” Unfortunately, CWJBF, not everyone on the receiving end of that white lie is smart enough to realize that their white liar actually means “I’m not interested in being in a relationship with you and I never will be.”

This poor girl waited until you were further along in the coming-out process to ask you out again because she was foolish enough to believe you when you blamed bad timing. Now you’re going to have to tell her the truth—yes, you’re going to have to give her the actual reason—and the hurt is going to be worse when she realizes what a fool she was to wait.

Apologize for not being direct when she first asked you out. Tell her you love her as a friend but you’re not attracted to her sexually or romantically and never will be. Leveling with her won’t make you an a-hole, CWJBF, but it could cost you this friendship.

CONFIDENTIAL TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: I was supposed to speak on your campus last Thursday night, but God had other plans. I was at the Cornerstone bar when the blizzard really started slamming and power lines started catching fire and all hell broke loose. The evening’s most distressing development: The bar had to stop serving once the power went out.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to coming back to your campus—the Savage Love Live event/shoot is being rescheduled and may take place this week—and when I return, I’d really like to meet the person responsible for some graffiti I spotted in the men’s room at the Cornerstone: “Don’t Raw Dog a Random.”

That has to be the most effective peer-to-peer safer-sex message I’ve ever read while taking a piss in Maryland. It did take me a second to work out exactly what it meant, as I’m old, so here’s a quick translation for other olds: “Don’t raw dog a random” means “For heaven’s sake, don’t engage in unprotected vaginal intercourse—don’t have sex without a condom—with a woman you’ve only just met, particularly if you met her in this drinking establishment. Bro.”

It’s not a fail-safe strategy for avoiding sexually transmitted infections—people can get very specific STIs from completely nonrandom sex partners—but the number of STIs could be cut dramatically if all male college students everywhere refrained from raw-dogging those lovely lady randoms and vice versa. (I realize that “random” is not gendered . . . but if you saw this bar, you would know that an exclusively heterosexual clientele can be safely assumed. A straight boy wrote that message, and he was addressing other straight boys, and “random” refers to female pickups, not male pickups.)

I want to add that I was particularly impressed by the use of the word “random” in place of, say, “bitch,” “slut,” “whore,” or any of the other sexist/hostile/demeaning terms that college-town-bathroom-stall-graffitiing types typically use in place of “woman,” “female,” or “young lady coed.” Well done, DIY safe-sex educator!