Savage Love: Fans step up with questions about polyamory, sexting, a lover's hygiene, and a marriage proposal
Instagram saves the day after Dan Savage's laptop goes on the fritz
My laptop died last week.
My laptop couldn’t die when I was in the office, with capable tech-support people close by. Oh, no. My laptop lost its will to live when I was thousands of miles away, in a country where I don’t speak the language. So I wasn’t able to access my Savage Love email—which is a problem, since no questions means no column.
So, I put out an SOS on Instagram, asking my followers there to send me their quick-and-dirty questions. I wrote my responses on my phone… which I dropped at one point, shattering the screen, because of course I did. So, my laptop is dead, my phone is broken, and my thumbs are bloodied. But I got this week’s column done with the help of my followers on Instagram. Thanks, gang.
Question: In the mountain-climbing community there is a backlash against a route at a particular climbing site that’s named Gangbang. Critics say it refers to a nonconsensual sex act. Your thoughts?
Dan: Missionary position in the absence of consent is not sex; it’s rape. A gangbang with consent is not rape; it’s sex. That said, most representations of gangbangs in film, porn, literature, et cetera, portray nonconsensual scenarios with women as the victims, and it’s understandable why some would want the name of that route changed. So change it.
Question: What do you do when you’ve told someone who is supposed to be a friend to stop making sexual comments but they keep saying sexually charged things?
Dan: You realize this person isn’t a friend and hang out with your actual friends instead.
Question: British fag here. (I mean, cis gay guy in his mid-30s in the U.K.) I am living in Germany. My question: you had a British caller living in the USA on the Savage Lovecast a few episodes back and he said his accent alone unbuckled belts there. Is it true? German guys do not find my accent sexy. But if I moved to the States, would I be drowning in cock?
Dan: Cock is a solid (ideally), not a liquid (although with a powerful enough blender, anything is possible), so you would be choking on cock over here, not drowning in it. And, yes, a British accent is a plus in the USA—because unlike Europeans, Americans don’t have to put up with mobs of English tourists hopping on cheap flights, terrorizing our city centres with their drunken bachelor/bachelorette parties, and puking on our doorsteps.
Question: How do I tell my friends and family that I’m poly now?
Dan: Use your words.
Question: Best way to tell your hubby his armpits have started to smell? (He’s never needed deodorant before!)
Dan: Use your words!
Question: How do I tell my boyfriend nicely that he needs to brush his teeth more often? He’s very sensitive to this kind of feedback, but I don’t want him to have stinky breath in a work meeting!
Dan: USE YOUR WORDS! When my breath stinks or I need to take a shower or use some deodorant, I’m grateful when my partner says something to me—because I’m a grownup. If your partner can’t handle this kind of feedback, you need to ask yourself why you’re wasting your time on someone who isn’t a grownup.
Question: I’m a 40-year-old woman. I was sexting with a guy (29) who started sending me nude/sex pics (including face shots) of another woman he had been with, without her consent. He thought it was sexy, but I was repulsed. Teachable moment or trash him?
Dan: If you ghost him, he’s likely to assume the photos he shared (and the massive consent violation they represent) weren’t the issue or even an issue. He needs to know. So teach, then trash.
Question: Can you please explain the difference between transgender and transsexual? A lot of arguments happen online about the semantics of these foundational definitions, so some clarity would be appreciated. Thank you!
Dan: Definitions and redefinitions come at us so fast these days—to say nothing of redefining old definitions as hate speech—that there’s no point in attempting to answer this question. Because by the time this column is published, odds are good that whatever I write today will be out of date and/or a cancellable offence.
But so far as I know right now, all transsexual people are transgender but not all transgender people are transsexual. I hope that clears things up.
Question: Do you think we will keep seeing significant changes in sexual-orientation self-labelling in the future?
Dan: In the future everyone will have their own niche sexual orientation for 15 minutes—and their own neo-pronoun and their own pride flag. And it’s going to be even more confusing than it is now, and everybody is going to get everybody else’s orientations, pronouns, and flags wrong all the time, and absolutely everybody is going to be upset with absolutely everyone else, all the time.
The oceans will rise and the planet will bake and we will be arguing about whether “cake” can be a pronoun as the meteor hurtles toward Earth.
Question: How much time do bottoms really douche?
Dan: “You can douche all of the bottoms some of the time, and some of the bottoms all of the time, but you can’t douche all of the bottoms all of the time.”
– Abraham Lincoln
Question: Will you marry me?
Dan: I will not—while I am sure you’re lovely, I already have a husband, and a boyfriend in the on-dick circle. (That is a baseball pun just for my older brother. Hey there, Billy!)
Question: My S.O. is good friends with a number of their exes. I know it’s probably a good sign that they are mature, but it makes me jealous and paranoid. How to get over that?
Dan: Keep telling yourself that being friends with exes is a good sign about your SO, and then carry that thought to its logical conclusion: being jealous and paranoid about your current being friends with his exes is a bad sign about you—not a fatal sign for this relationship, but definitely something you should work through with a shrink.
Question: I’m that rare thing, the one-minute woman. How do I delay orgasms?
Dan: Every time this subject comes up, someone recommends low-dose SSRIs.
Ask your doctor if they’re right for you.
Question: I’m on antidepressants and my libido has been zapped! How to brainstorm sexy time when you don’t feel sexy?
Dan: Talk with your doctor about adjusting your meds—that’s the first step.
While you work on finding the right dosage, e.g., the dosage that alleviates your depression without killing your libido, a little going-through-the-motions with your partner will keep you in the groove and may even help you catch a groove.
Question: At what age would you recommend I point my teenager to your column and your podcast?
Dan: I think 15-16 is a good age to start reading and listening—but if you really want your teenager to read my column and listen to my podcast, don’t point them toward Savage Love and the Savage Lovecast. Forbid them from listening and reading!
Question: We are moving to a new house next month and looking forward to making new sex memories. If you were moving to a new place, what would your first sex act be to break in the new place and what room? We can’t decide where to start.
Dan: For me, it would be a toss-up between the conservatory with the candlestick and the library with the lead pipe.
Question: Parenting young children during the pandemic has not resulted in much sexy time in my marriage. How do we get the sexy back? So far, exercise and time apart seems to be helping. Any other ideas?
Dan: Exercise and time apart will definitely help. One additional suggestion: time together in a place (a bar, a club, a party) where people routinely flirt with strangers. The point isn’t to go home with someone else or to take someone home together but to see your spouse through other people’s eyes. Seeing someone who wants to fuck your spouse will remind you of all the reasons why you wanted to fuck your spouse…
Question: Fun things to do with balls? Sucking ‘em, caressing ‘em… what else is there? I worry my testicular game is getting stale.
Dan: Pressure—gentle to start—can feel great, so add squeezing and tugging to your game. (Tugging does not mean yanking! Yanking is not recommended!)
Question: Husband recently discovered he likes to be punched in the balls. How to do it safely?
Dan: Punching and kicking—more fun things to do with balls. But when it comes to balls and impact play, a little impact goes a long way. Balls can and do rupture, and the risk of doing real harm can’t be eliminated. So, you’ll wanna pull those punches and make those kicks more symbolic than they are forceful.
Question: The most important thing to remember when you’re starting a new relationship?
Dan: New relationships rarely “work out” in the together-for-the-rest-of-your-lives sense of “working out”. And while LTRs are great, and while LTRs are what most people are looking for (but not all people), STRs—short-term relationships—are what we usually get. We’re likelier to feel good about them—we’re likelier to look back at them and regard them as great—if we don’t think of them as failed LTRs but as successful STRs.