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Savage Love

By Dan Savage

 

I’m a 23-year-old guy and I have been dating my 21-year-old girlfriend for about two years. We did the long-distance thing for a year, and after she graduated she moved from the East Coast to the Midwest to be with me while I finish my degree. Everything was great until she moved in with me. She has a 9-to-5 job and pays her bills. After work, though, all she wants to do is get high, drink, and watch TV. I want to study, talk, or go do things. I find myself cooking every meal, cleaning up after her, and doing all the laundry. On top of this, a very mean side of her has emerged. I love this girl, or at least I loved her before we moved in together.

I know that we all have our shitty qualities and that I am a complete shitbag for thinking this stuff, let alone writing to you about it, but what should I do? If I stay with her, then I’m neglecting my own future happiness. But if I dump her, then I break her heart, which is something I don’t want to do. Plus, she moved halfway across the country for me.

—Shitty Boyfriend In The Midwest

This is inelegantly put, I realize, but it came to mind when I read your letter and my particular blend of dyslexia and Tourette’s requires me to put it in print: If not break her heart now, SBITM, then when? And if not you, SBITM, then who? Some guy she isn’t treating like shit?

Look, darlin’, people get dumped all the time. With the exception of the 12-year-old “brides” of creepy “fundamentalist” Mormon fucksticks, a little getting dumped into each life must fall. And you know what? Most of us require dumping in our 20s; getting dumped is good for us. Yeah, yeah: hearts break. But very few run-of-the-mill dumps at 21 cause hearts to break irreparably. She will get over it. Which is another way of saying that one day, believe it or not, she will get over you.

Now, here’s why being dumped is often good for us: After a person is done wallowing in a pain that no one else has ever experienced or can possibly comprehend—although others’ inability to comprehend never seems to stop a dumped person from yammering on and on—the person begins to examine the failed relationship for clues. Why did it end? Whose fault was it? If the dumped person determines that fault lies with the asshole ex, the dumped person resolves to be on the lookout for telltale signs of assholery in the future. Thus does being dumped inspire a person to date smarter and more defensively.

But often a little voice in the back of the dumped person’s head tells the dumped person that the fault is theirs—that she, in this instance, was a stoned, drunk, inconsiderate, mean-spirited sack of shit—and the dumped person resolves to change or date only people attracted to stoners and drunks and slobs.

So dump her, SBITM, and tell her why. Then, while she packs and verbally lashes out and fucks your friends, remind yourself that dumping her was the right thing to do for her and for you. There is no other option—unless, of course, you’re willing to spend the next seven decades cleaning up after this inconsiderate piece of shit because she moved to the Midwest.

I’m writing to you not for advice, but to open up a discussion. For five years I had a famous partner and eventually lost him to groupies. I was aware that he might one day be tempted to explore this side effect of his career, to get it out of his system (for good I hope), so I wasn’t too surprised when he finally made the decision to “go there.” However, I am left with some unsettling thoughts, apart from the heartache.

To him, this is a harmless and fun chapter in his life, but I see a darker side. I find it hard to come to terms with seeing the man I loved and who respected me as an equal engaging in sexual relations with girls who, by looking up to him, place themselves beneath him. His relationships now feature a misbalance of power. I feel a healthy adult seeks sex with equals. To me, groupies act like unpaid prostitutes, and my ex has decided it’s OK to use girls who adore him without giving much in return. I can’t see how this can be of benefit to either the girls or to him. He’s learning that it’s OK to receive without having to give, and they learn that it’s OK to be used. I worry that these experiences help form permanent negative patterns. Harmless fun? I don’t think so. Any thoughts?

—Worried Ex

Just one, WE: How is this any of your business?

Yes, groupies are like unpaid prostitutes—but they are compensated, WE, with refracted fame, the dubious perks of being “with the band,” and the human papapapineapple virus (or whatever it’s called). So I hardly see these assignations as necessarily one-way exchanges. The use is mutual. Your ex may be permanently damaged by this kind of attention or he may tire of cheap, meaningless sex and come crawling back to you one day. Or, hell, he may one day star in a squalid and depressing reality show in which he deludes himself into believing that the women who surround him desire his paunchy old body and his surgeon- battered face and not a shot at reality-show fame, such as it is.

But, again, what business is it of yours? He’s your ex and the women he’s sleeping with are, ostensibly, consenting adults. We can tut-tut and conclude that your ex is using these women and that these women are no better than hookers . . . and so what? You’ll still be his ex, he’ll still be banging groupies, and groupies will go on chasing rock stars long after your ex is playing the casino circuit.

In your last column, you said Bi Bi Bridie’s fiancé issued an “irrational ultimatum” because he didn’t want his partner to sleep with another female. He made it clear before they were together that that was his preference. She agreed to those terms.

Yet in a column three weeks ago, you told Confused In Canada, a guy in a long-distance relationship whose woman wanted an open relationship, that his reluctance to open up their relationship didn’t mean he was jealous, just monogamous.

Maybe I’m missing something, but it sounds like both of these guys know what they want and stated their intentions clearly. Why is the first guy irrational for stating his intentions and the second guy “just monogamous”?

—A Bit Confused

Because I said so, ABC. Because, unlike CIC’s girlfriend, BBB is bi and, yes, that detail makes a difference. And, most importantly, because I said so.

BBB shouldn’t make a commitment that she’s already proven herself to be incapable of honoring; that’s just setting her marriage up for failure. But BBB’s fiancé shouldn’t extract a commitment from his girlfriend that he knows she will either be incapable of honoring or will quickly come to resent him greatly for having to honor. He can say, “You can have me or you can have this very important part of your sexuality,” to his fiancé, but by doing so he’s setting his marriage up for failure. That makes his ultimatum irrational.

More letters about last week’s column at www.thestranger.com/savage/bbb.

Download a new Savage Love podcast every Tuesday at www.thestranger.com/savage.

mail@savagelove.net


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