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Savage Love

by Dan Savage on August 31, 2011

I’m in a bad place. I have been in a monogamous marriage for 19 years and have two kids. At least I think we’re still monogamous. My husband is an avid reader of your column and loves to bring up the idea that it is perfectly normal to have outside sexual relationships with other people as long as you stay committed to your spouse.

Here’s the thing: We started our marriage saying that we would always be truthful and faithful to each other. He has changed and I haven’t. I’m GGG, he probably gets more blowjobs than most married men, and I love having sex with him. He is far less likely to initiate sex than I am (which makes me think he is spending time with someone else). If one partner decides that they need outside activity, regardless of how much sex they get at home, is it okay to go ahead and do that without informing the partner who they had previously made a monogamous commitment to? He thinks if my needs are being met, then I have nothing to complain about. My main need is for honesty, and it doesn’t feel like that need is being met.

When I ask him if he is having affairs, he gets angry and accuses me of being insecure and immature. (I would like to know if I’m at risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection.) He says you agree with him that it is okay to lie if the other person has their needs met and doesn’t find out. I am at my wit’s end and am deeply unhappy and think about leaving him, but I don’t want to end a relationship that works in so many other ways.

—Lonely At Home

Before I can answer your question, LAH, give me a second to spit out all the words your husband has stuffed into my mouth.

Haaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhcckk—p’toooo.

Okay, LAH, here’s a little something I recently wrote that sums up my position on outside sexual relationships: “Cheating is permissible when it amounts to the least worst option, i.e., it is allowed for someone who has made a monogamous commitment and isn’t getting any at home (sick or disabled spouse, or withholding-without-cause spouse) and divorce isn’t an option (sick or disabled spouse, or withholding-without-cause-spouse-who-can’t-be-divorced-for-some-karma-imperiling-reason-or-other) and the sex on the side makes it possible for the cheater to stay married and stay sane. (An exception can be made for a married person with a kink that his or her spouse can’t/won’t accommodate, so long as the kink can be taken care of safely and discreetly.)”

As you are not sick, disabled, or withholding without cause, LAH, and as your husband doesn’t have a kink that he’s outsourcing to spare you, please tell your husband on my behalf that I think he’s a cheating piece of shit, a word-stuffing douchebag, and an emotionally abusive asshole. Mr. LAH may read my column avidly, but his behavior and lame rationalizations indicate that he’s also reading it selectively. If your husband walked into my office, LAH, I would be tempted to slap him with my laptop.

It is, of course, perfectly normal for people who’ve made monogamous commitments to want to have outside sexual relationships. It’s perfectly normal to daydream about fucking other people, to masturbate to thoughts of fucking other people, to check out other people who you would be fucking if (1) you weren’t in a monogamous relationship, and (2) they wanted to fuck you. And it’s perfectly ridiculous the way people make themselves miserable scrutinizing their partners for evidence that they want to fuck other people. (Jealous types, please note: Your partner sometimes thinks about fucking other people, just like you sometimes think about fucking other people. Going ballistic over a little discreet and considerate porn use or meaningless flirting is an idiotic waste of your time, it’s unfair to your partner, and I consider it grounds for DTMFA’ing your ass.)

That said, LAH, it is perfectly obnoxious to go ahead and fuck other people in violation of a monogamous commitment unless you have grounds. And while it doesn’t sound like your husband has grounds, it certainly sounds like he’s fucking other people. I suspect that your husband is fucking someone you know—a coworker, a neighbor, a friend, a relative (shudder)—and, realizing that it’s only a matter of time before you find out, he’s bullying you into retroactively giving him permission to fuck other people and unfairly dragging me into it.

In your shoes, LAH, I’d be thinking about DTMFA. Not because of the cheating—monogamy isn’t important to me—but because of the lying and the bullying.

I grew up masturbating in the digital age. So in any given week, I get off on “Wincest,” hypnosis porn, and erotic literature involving cat people. I’m also a young husband who’s gone a few years past your recommended date for laying down his kink cards. I’ve been deliberating whether to out myself to my wife, but there’s a rub: The last time she found out I had masturbated to someone other than her, she hit me. I cried and swore I would never look at porn again. Of course I just became more careful about hiding it.

Is there a limit on the necessitated disclosure of my wet dreams? I don’t have to tell her the one where I’m having sex with her best friend while she, having been turned into a dog, looks on stupidly, right? Can I settle for “I masturbate to women who aren’t you”?

—Wife Abusive, Not Kinky

Fuck full disclosure, WANK. Your wife can’t deal with you masturbating about others and she hits you? DTMFA.

I’m a 50-year-old married man with adult children. My wife and I live under the same roof but sleep in separate bedrooms. We have become roommates. Perhaps we will stay together, or perhaps we’ll divorce once the housing market improves and we have a slightly bigger pie to cut in half. But we hardly talk and never have sex. Where does a man in my situation find women to have sex with and spend time with? I don’t mean an escort or a hooker. It’s not all about the sex act for me. I tried some websites like AshleyMadison.com and SugarDaddy.com with no luck. Do you think there are women out there who are single or divorced and would enjoy being treated like a queen by a healthy, respectful, decent-looking man who is technically married?

—Please Help Me

I know there are women out there who would be up for what you have to offer, PHM, because I get letters from them all the time. Some of these women are in the same boat you are—married in name only and looking for some companionship and intimacy. If you didn’t find one during your first internet search, my advice is to keep looking.

And Mr. and Mrs. LAH? PHM’s situation is a good example of a circumstance under which cheating is not only permissible, it’s not even cheating. He may be married, technically and legally, but the sexual dimension of his marriage is over. He is in no way betraying his wife, or putting her at risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted infection, when he seeks outside sexual relationships.

Can you see the difference between what you’re doing, Mr. LAH, and what PHM is doing?

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