the past few years, my husband and I have realized that he
has needs that I cannot meet. I do not begrudge him these
needs, and I would fill them if I could. I want him to be
a happy and satisfied person, not just for him, but for myself
as well. We discussed opening our relationship, but our therapist
recoiled at the idea. If I can’t help him and we can’t have
someone else help him, what can we do? We can’t imagine breaking
up, but if we’re both unhappy, then I can only assume that
we will split eventually or one of us will act out in resentment.
We have been together for over a decade and love each other
deeply. I am physically sick over this situation, and I don’t
know what to do. I don’t know that I fully trust our therapist,
and I would like to hear an informed second opinion. I value
an informed second opinion: Fuck your asshole therapist. And
here’s a better-informed bonus third opinion:
incredibly unfortunate that some therapists either aren’t
educated about open relationships or buy into common myths
about them,” says Tristan Taormino, activist, author, pornographer,
and author of Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining
Open Relationships. Way too many therapists, she says,
“pathologize people who want to open their relationships and
try to convince them that they have intimacy or commitment
issues. The truth is you can be both intimate with and fully
committed to more than one partner, or be committed to one
partner and have sex with others.”
Tristan interviewed scores of couples in successful open relationships,
and she found that many initially opened their relationships
because of an issue of sexual incompatibility.
scenario you present is not uncommon,” she continues. “If
both of you really are committed to giving it a go, I’d advise
you to find a new therapist, one who has experience with—and
not a prejudice against—nonmonogamous clients. The right therapist
can help you figure out your limits, set boundaries, and make
an agreement about this new type of relationship that works
for both of you.”
You can also check out the stories, advice, and references
at Tristan’s website, openingup.net. Good luck, LD.
I’ve read and enjoyed your column for years and always
found you to be well reasoned and kind. That’s why your agreement
with Perez Hilton (and your reiteration of his comments) on
Miss California was so shocking. I’m a straight guy with a
lifelong gay best friend. I’m totally for gay rights in all
respects. Still, it’s beneath you to call someone who disagrees
with your position a “dumb bitch.” You’re better then that,
Dan! Though Christian conservatives are either too scared
or too puritanical to accept gay marriage at this time, it
doesn’t mean these millions of people are dumb. Change takes
time. Don’t you see that what you and Mr. Hilton are promulgating
is hatred against a person for that individual’s beliefs,
something you both claim to abhor?
On Your Side
don’t think Miss California is a dumb bitch for her beliefs,
BOYS, but for her actions. (“Love the sinner/dumb bitch, hate
the sin/dumb bitchery.”) For the record: There are lots of
reasonable folks out there who oppose same-sex marriage, and
I can interact with them in a civil fashion. Heck, I voted
for an opponent of marriage equality back in November.
What sets Miss CA apart from reasonable opponents of marriage
equality, BOYS, is her opportunism coupled with her stupidity.
I thought Perez Hilton went too far when he called Miss CA
a “dumb bitch” after the pageant—and said so on my blog. But
I started to come around to Hilton’s POV after Miss CA, despite
having said at the pageant that she thought it was “great
that Americans are able to choose” gay marriage or “opposite
marriage,” joined a political campaign to deny marriage rights
to gays and lesbians. Miss CA is leveraging her spat with
Hilton for her own personal financial gain. Ghostwritten books,
speaking gigs at evangelical churches, a potential guest-host
gig on The View—beats work, huh? And so what if it
oppresses gays and lesbians?
And that’s when I thought, “Hmm, I guess she is a bitch.”
And then came her interview on Fox News: “You know what, Greta?
I don’t have the answers to everything,” Miss CA told Greta
Van Susteren when she was asked about her position on civil
unions. “I’m not running for political office. I don’t have
the answers to everything, you know, in the world out there.”
And when Van Susteren followed up by asking Miss CA “what
[she] thinks” about civil unions and gay people adopting
children, Miss CA responded, “I’m not a politician, so I can’t
give you an answer to that.” So seeing as she’s not a politician,
Miss CA can’t be expected to know what she herself thinks
about adoptions and civil unions.
And that’s when I thought, gawd, she’s dumb, too—and that’s
when I had to concede that Hilton was right.
I’m a 17-year-old girl who just became sexually active.
My 16-year-old boyfriend doesn’t like condoms, and I don’t
like what birth control pills do to my emotions and my skin.
Now what do we do?
Isn’t Looking Likely
be with you in a minute, PILL. But first . . .
More stupidity and opportunism: Bristol Palin is now a spokesperson
for an organization that encourages teenagers to abstain from
having sex. “Regardless of what I did personally,” Bristol
advised America’s youth last week, “I just think that abstinence
is the only . . . 100 percent foolproof way you can prevent
Here are a few other 100 percent foolproof ways to prevent
pregnancy, Bristol, right off the top of my head: mutual masturbation,
oral sex, anal sex (aka “saddlebacking” when practiced by
Christian teens), outercourse, sex toys your partner can insert
into you, sex toys you can insert your partner into, cybersex,
phone sex, gay sex. There are actually lots of “foolproof”
ways for teenagers (and adults) to be sexual and intimate
without risking an unplanned pregnancy. It’s possible for
a teenager to have fulfilling sex, and the intimacy and closeness
and connection that comes along with it, without risking the
“24-hour job and . . . huge responsibility” that having a
Instead of telling teenagers to say no to sex—which will work
about as well as telling them to say no to drugs—we should
tell them there are ways to be sexual that carry no risk of
pregnancy. But if they do decide to have sex, of course, they’re
going to need to know about and have access to contraception
and the “morning after” pill—and, yes, abortion services.
But if we continue to present being sexually active as either/or—either
abstinence or vaginal intercourse—we’re going to see more
outcomes like yours, Bristol.
When you explain to nervous, inexperienced teenagers that
they don’t have to jump right into full intercourse—that there
are degrees of intimacy, and risk, and they can have enjoyable
sexual experiences without vaginal (or anal) penetration—they’re
often relieved. (And just imagine what we could have been
spared—all of us, Bristol, from your family to Levi’s family
to the McCain campaign—if Levi had limited himself to inseminating
So, PILL, here’s what you do: Enjoy outercourse, oral, masturbation,
and sex toys—and tell your boyfriend that these aren’t consolation
prizes for teenagers, but honest-to-God sex acts that adults
enjoy—until you and your boyfriend find the condoms and lube
that work for you.
a new Savage Love podcast every Tuesday at www.thestranger.com/savage.