Dear Dan: If I first met someone on a hookup site or at a sex party and then we start seeing each other, what’s the best way to explain how we met when we’re at a social event and people ask?
— Torrid Revelations Undermining Totally Honesty
Dear TRUTH: The truth is always nice — and in your case, TRUTH, telling the truth about your relationship could be constructive.
There are a lot of people out there in loving committed relationships (LCR) that had crazy sleazy starts (CSS). But very few people in a LCR with a CSS tell the truth when asked how they met. A couple who met at a sex party will say they met at a dinner party; a couple that met inside a cage in a sex dungeon will say they met doing a team-building exercise at a work retreat; a couple that met during an impulsive, drunken threesome will say they met at a riotous protest outside a Trump rally.
These lies are understandable: People don’t want to be judged or shamed. But when a CSS couple lies about how they met, TRUTH, they reinforce the very shame and stigma that made them feel like they had to lie in the first place. And they play into the sex-negative, self-defeating and super-hypocritical assumption made by singles who attend sex parties, spend time in cages and have impulsive threesomes — these single people who do sleazy things often refuse to date the people they meet at sex parties, etc., because they believe no LCR ever had a CSS. If couples that had sleazy starts told the truth about themselves, single people would be less likely to rule out dating people they met sleazily.
Dear Dan: I despised your advice to LIBIDOS, the poly married woman who you counseled to have sex with her husband even though she has zero desire to do so. You came close to telling her to throw away her consent. Somewhere between a third and half of women have been sexually assaulted. Would it be possible for most of them to suck it up and sleep with someone they had no desire for without ending up resenting or hating that person? Even if LIBIDOS won life’s coin toss on sexual assault, she would most likely come to resent her husband if she had passionless sex with him. From the husband’s perspective — assuming he’s not a piece of shit who thinks he’s entitled to sex but rather just wants a sexual connection with his wife — wouldn’t being lied to in this way ruin him? I also don’t think you would’ve given this advice to a gay man — to let his husband fuck him in the ass, even if he didn’t want to get fucked. The truth is really the only solution here. The road you set this woman down leads only to bitterness and divorce.
— Seriously Horrified About That
Dear SHAT: LIBIDOS, a poly woman with a boyfriend (who she’s fucking) and a husband (who no one is fucking), asked me if she should “force” herself to fuck her husband. She also mentioned having a kid and not wanting to get divorced. And it was my opinion — an opinion she sought out — that she might wanna fuck her husband once in a while. Advice isn’t binding arbitration, SHAT, and if fucking her husband is a traumatizing ordeal, as opposed to a dispiriting chore, she should ignore my advice and keep not fucking her husband. And seeing as LIBIDOS asked me if she should fuck her husband, it seemed safe to assume that she was open to the idea.
You weren’t the only reader to take me to task for my advice to LIBIDOS. Apparently, there are lots of people out there who don’t realize how many long-marrieds — men and women, gay and straight, poly and mono — fuck their spouses out of a grim sense of duty. It seems a bit extreme to describe that kind of sex as a consent-free/sexual-assault-adjacent trauma. Choosing in the absence of coercion to go through the marital motions to keep your spouse happy is rarely great sex — for either party — but slapping the nonconsensual label on joyless-but-trauma-free marital sex is neither helpful nor accurate.
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