savage-love1

I am a twenty-three-year-old male who has been in a relationship with a great woman for four years now. She is an amazing person, and we oftentimes talk about marriage. The issue is this: I have a foot fetish and she is fully aware of it. She doesn’t like the idea of me kissing her feet or indulging my fetish in any way. We have sex quite often, and I’ve always let it slide that she doesn’t want any part of my fetish. I don’t know what to do, because I’m at a stage in my sexual growth where I need to experience my fetish. I’m getting mixed advice from different people and I just want a straight answer. The sex we have is amazing, but I would enjoy it so much more if I could act on my desires once in a while. — Sexually Frustrated Fetishist

Here’s a straight answer: your amazing girlfriend is an amazingly selfish lover, and I’m amazed that you’ve put up with her bullshit for as long as you have. A foot fetish is not uncommon or outrageous; as fetishes go, SFF, yours is the least taxing for a nonkinky partner. It’s not like you’re into shit or choking or Christian side hugs. Any amazing woman who truly loved you would regard indulging you as a no-brainer.

Share time: I have a good friend who’s not kinky at all — unless you count being gay — and he’s a runner who goes for long runs every Saturday morning. When he gets home, he handcuffs his boyfriend to a chair in his kitchen, duct-tapes one of his sweaty sneakers over the boyfriend’s face, and leaves him there while he has breakfast. My friend — who came to me for advice when his boyfriend confessed his fetish — isn’t really into guys with sneakers duct-taped to their faces. But it gets his lover off, and isn’t that what lovers are for?

Your lover has had things — she’s had you — on her terms for four years, SFF, which means you’re going to have to play the breakup card. It’s the only leverage you have. Tell her that if she can indulge your fetish — happily and regularly — and take some pleasure in giving you pleasure, she might be “the one.” If she can’t or won’t, she obviously isn’t. (Not that “the one” is anything other than a destructive myth, but for the sake of winning this argument, go ahead and use it.)

Finally, SFF, don’t let the girlfriend — or anyone else — tell you that you’re threatening to end this relationship over something trivial. Sexual fulfillment is important, particularly if your relationship is exclusive. And the “triviality” of your kink cuts both ways: If your kink is so trivial, why not just indulge you then? And in a long-term relationship — or a marriage — one partner’s sexual selfishness and another’s sexual frustration rarely prove trivial over the long haul. They’re more often grounds for divorce.

I am a thirty-five-year-old partnered gay man, but I’ve been having an online conversation with a married bisexual man that has become an ongoing game of sexual dares. It’s a safe form of sexual adventurism for both of us. None of our dares has involved sexual contact with another person, but some of our dares have begun to involve other people at the edges. For example, we’ve posted ads to Craigslist as submissives and responded to some of the replies from dominant men. None of these interactions with third parties will result in actual contact. It feels a little like we are exploiting the “flakes” aspect of Craigslist, i.e., it’s common to hear from someone a few times after making contact on Craigslist and then never hear from them again. But it also feels a little like we are using these folks. Is this expansion of our game to involve other people ethical? Concerned About Harming Craigslist Fellas

P.S. By the way, this letter is itself part of a dare. If you publish it and include a dare in the published reply, I will have to fulfill that dare.

The expansion of your game to Craigslist will annoy those guys on CL who are looking for actual contact, CAHCF, but as those guys amount to something less than 0.02 percent of the men trawling Craigslist at any given moment, I wouldn’t worry about it. Everyone knows that CL is overrun with flakes and game players and picture collectors; the odds that the “dominant men” you’ve chatted with on CL are interested in actual contact are pretty damn slim. (Guys interested in real-time BDSM play are likelier to be lurking on Recon.com or in your local hardware store.) So post at will.

P.S. I dare you to go to www.tinyurl.com/ye3otsh and take the pledge.

I’m a straight guy in my late twenties. I have a girlfriend of several years whom I live with and I love very much. I just read your most recent column, in which you used the acronyms HND (honest nonmonogamous dude) and CPOS (cheating piece of shit), and it struck a nerve. I have never been an HND; I have in the past been a CPOS (though not in this relationship). My girlfriend is lovely, supportive, and generally GGG, and though the sex is good, I have a significantly higher libido than she does and I would like to have a little more variety in my sex life. I want to be an HND, but I don’t know how to broach the subject with the girlfriend without ruining our relationship. We are very open about our sex life and our relationship in general, but I think this is probably a “next level” topic that may not go over very well. How do I bring this up without screwing up our relationship beyond repair? Aspiring Honest Nonmonogamous Dude

Based on what you’ve learned about yourself in past relationships, AHND, i.e., that you’re a CPOS waiting to happen, I would encourage you to err on the side of screwing up your current relationship with an honest conversation about your mismatched libidos and your natural and normal desire for a little variety. Lies, damn lies, and statistics all demonstrate that, in time, one or the other or both of you will cheat. Better to toss that out there now, even at the risk of calmly winding down this relationship before you revert to form/CPOS, than to see the relationship explode after someone, most likely you, winds up cheating.

And while we’re on the subject of cheating…

I suppose I’m obligated to say a few words about Tiger Woods. First, let’s pretend that Elin Nordegren cheated on Tiger and that Tiger went after Elin with a golf club. Would Elin be viewed as the sole transgressor in the marriage then? Probably not. And second, daily papers and cable-news outfits reacted to Tiger’s “transgressions” by changing the names in the same “Why do powerful men cheat?” stories they’ve been pimping since Bill Clinton blew a load on a White House intern. For the millionth time: men cheat for the same reasons women cheat, i.e., because they’re bored or horny or unfulfilled or desperate to see someone else naked for a change. People cheat because monogamy isn’t natural and we are wired to cheat. That doesn’t make cheating right, of course; people should honor their commitments, and blah-de-nine-iron-blah. But we shouldn’t encourage people to make commitments we all know they’re unlikely to keep. The end.

AUCTION NOTICE: Want to answer a question or two in an upcoming column? I’m auctioning off a chance to give advice in this space to raise money for some worthy charities. Go to www.tinyurl.com/SLauction for details and to bid.

Find the Savage Lovecast (my weekly podcast) every Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage.

mail@savagelove.net

Commentarium (21 Comments)

Dec 09 09 - 10:24am
NN

Uhhh cheating is not inevitable Dan. Some of us see value in monogamy and, even if mistakes are made, there is a huge difference between cheating and regretting it and getting the green light to go out and get yours. One makes you a normal, if flawed, human being the other makes you a short-sighted slut who can't see the value of commitment and being other-regarding. And gay men wonder why the public is so suspicious of their getting married!

Dec 09 09 - 12:00pm
AlanK

You're both mostly wrong. We're wired for both monogamy and [something else--choose own name]. Monogamy actually works better--compare the number of monogamous vs the number of [other] cultures and relationships we know of. (Yeah--polygamy is also stable if you figure out a way to kill off about 2/3 of your male population.)

Although Dan is right about the problems of monogamy--and so incredibly right about "the one" that I want to give him a big fat kiss--open relationships don't work when women have economic equality. Really. Things that happen a lot are obvious; how many open relationships do you see?

Anyway, an unusually brilliant article, once published in the deeply-missed ezine "Suck," can still be found at
www.suck.com/daily/2000/05/22/daily.html

The author is a charming man and very witty. I know him intimately.
PS: Although he's too modest to say it, a play based on one of his books is opening soon in NYC. Buy your tickets now.

Dec 09 09 - 12:17pm
EJ

NN - How did you make the jump to gay marriage? As far as Dan's advice goes, I agree that AHND should bring it up with his girlfriend. She may be willing to allow him to explore more knowing her libido doesn't match his. Trust me, she worries about this too.

Dec 09 09 - 2:30pm
fiascochips

We're not WIRED. We're people who make choices and have a will. Gay, straight, bi, beastial, WHATEVER. Do who and what you like but be prepared to face any and all consequences at all times.

Dec 09 09 - 2:38pm
JA

@NN - Wait a minute, so as far as you are concerned, someone who makes a commitment to their partner, and then lies to them, cheats on them, screws around behind their back - THAT person has the moral high ground over someone who is honest with their partner and who behaves according to whatever degree of openness they both agreed on?!? And you wonder why our country is so screwed up.

Dec 09 09 - 3:03pm
darren

Everyone always get so excited about cheating! What about Craigslist dares? I totally disagree - I think the people who are just on Craigslist to fake message people, collect photos and generally mess around suck. Plus, most of them are probably secretly dying to do whatever it is they're toying with, just a bit too frightened.

Dec 09 09 - 4:44pm
KJ

I agree with Dan that we're not wired to be monogamous. Just look at our primate cousins! Chimps and bonobos? Definitely NOT monogamous. Our culture may value monogamy, but biology and society don't always match up.

Dec 09 09 - 5:10pm
PF

JA- The "moral high ground" is an interesting concept--much like "the one". I've never seen it give someone a better life. How about just having a wonderful life? I've got an open marriage (married 23 years), and it's wonderful. Some friends shunned us at first--they were literally seeking the moral high ground--but they're not notably happy or satisfied in their words. In other words, the moral high ground is what you're left with when you don't have a great life. The opposite of the high ground IS NOT the low ground. The opposite of the high ground IS a great life--now! Leave moral high grounds to the Pope and to losers and cheaters. As I recall, almost every one of the politicians who bad-mouthed Clinton over Lewinsky have been caught since then having illicit affairs. Follow Dan's advice and you probably won't waste any more time with the high ground. ENJOY LIFE AND BE HONEST!

Dec 09 09 - 6:06pm
K

Oh please, fiasco. You didn't choose to be straight, and I didn't choose to be gay. A person can choose to deny their sexuality, but they can't choose who they are attracted to.

Dec 09 09 - 7:35pm
@ja

NO! The person who makes a mistake and regrets it has the moral high ground over someone who asks for a little something on the side. It seems right to point out that that is just what I wrote. I wouldn't want to call anyone illiterate, but you seem to have a certain affinity for that label...

Dec 10 09 - 12:02am
chapluqa

@NN WTF?? You're arguing that it's better to be dishonest and knowingly break a commitment to your partner by cheating (as long as you regret it later) than to have an open and honest discussion with one's partner about the desire to experience other people sexually?
Since when is lying and cheating better than being honest??

Dec 10 09 - 2:47pm
NN

Of course! Regret carries with it the beginnings of atonement. that is much better than perverting the very nature of a romantic relationship by treating one's own total sexual satisfaction and desire for a little strange as what the factor on which your commitment is contingent.

Dec 11 09 - 11:18am
Kt

I agree with NN completely. To each their own, but in my eyes there is nothing so honest about 'committing' to a partner, while sleeping around with everyone else you want, even if they know about it. That's the opposite a relationship - it's each person selfishly taking all they want, without regard for the nature of commitment. And I know I'm going to get a lot of negative comments for this, but so be it.

Dec 12 09 - 2:54am
JA

Thank you, PF, I totally agree. Every relationship is different - it is up to the people who are IN the relationship to agree upon the terms and decide what works for them. And NN - I'm not illiterate, I think I understood your point completely, I just disagree.

Dec 12 09 - 11:54am
whatev

The "we're not wired to be monogamous because look at apes and chimpanzees" argument falls flat. That would also mean we aren't wired to wear clothing, live in houses, drive cars, seek medical treatment when we are injured, and that we should all be flinging poo at eachother in the treetops. The "But look at our animal ancestors" argument is only ever pulled out when it suits someone's point of view.

Dec 12 09 - 3:05pm
sb

guess i'm just really crazy, but i'm not sure that we are wired for wearing clothing, living in houses, driving cars or seeking medical treatment. however it does seem like we spend a lot of time flinging poo at each other. kt mentions the "nature of the commitment" as if kt gets to define it for all of us. those discussing open sexuality in their relationship are just deciding, together, what the nature of their commitment is. kt shouldn't get to pick that "nature" for all of us.

Dec 12 09 - 3:21pm
sb

i have been in many open relationships and have never "taken all i want" without "regard for the nature of the relationship". i have always carefully considered any sexual involvement outside of my main relationship, and usually discussed it with my partner in advance with the expectation that if this particular person or circumstance is upsetting to my partner then i will refrain. people in open relationships are not automatically indiscriminate, unromantic sluts. i have met many romantic, empathetic, community-minded, playful, egalitarian and just damn fun folks over the years with hundreds of radically different sets of honestly negotiated relationship boundaries. we can argue all we want about what we each choose to decided for our own relationships, but the subtle name-calling and moral high-ground style preachiness of this discussion just doesn't seem very nerve-like. what about a little playful and honest discussion about successes and failings of our own sex lives instead of so much knee-jerk judgement. intelligent and honest playfulness is so much sexier than thinly-veiled name-calling.

Dec 13 09 - 4:45am
Ricochet

Someone(nn)has been reading a little too much of the bible and believing it literally. I do agree with the person that monogamous societies(that attempt monogamy)are far more successful than polyamorous/polygamist whatever you want to call it. And it all goes back to what all civilized societies have always recognized as the social contract of humanity:that #1 man(and woman)is by nature an acquisitive animal.) Leave morals out of it. You'd be hard pressed to find a less moral book than the bible anyway.

Dec 13 09 - 4:49am
Ricochet

Atonement?!?!? Atonement with whom? Lying and cheating is just that. Lying and cheating. Said like any modern christian or politician, it's better to ask for forgiveness that permission. Especially when you know the answer to the question. Hah! Higher moral ground. What a joke.

Dec 13 09 - 10:53am
NN

I am an atheist but thanks for playing Richochet. I guess anyone articulating a conservative position could only be motivated by old tyme superstition: it makes them so easy to dismiss!

Dec 13 09 - 10:54am
NN

You atone with the person you hurt, duh!