Savage Love: What Happened

Dear Dan,

I used to be a fan of your column, Dan, but something happened to you. Maybe it's stress, the current political climate, or some other issue — I don't know. I used to look forward to your columns because they were fun, smart, and helpful — but I don't enjoy what I'm seeing now. If something did happen to you, reach out for help. You're on the verge of losing a loyal reader.

— Reader Enquiring About Dan's Enervating Responses

I've been getting letters like yours — what happened to you, Dan, you used to be more fun — at this time of year, every year, for the last 25 years, READER. Maybe I get moody when the weather gets gloomy and that spills into my column annually. And perhaps the current political climate — a rather reserved way to describe the destruction of our democracy — is making my seasonal grumping worse. Another possible factor ...

I don't know how long you've been reading, READER, but I've been writing this column for a long time. And back before the internet came along and ruined everything for everyone, I used to get a lot of how-to/what's-that questions about sex acts and sex toys. A column explaining butt plugs to readers who knew nothing about them — and lacked easy access to butt plug info — was as much fun to read as it was to write. But every sex act and every sex toy has its own Wiki page now, which means I don't get to write fun columns about butt plugs anymore, READER, and you don't get to read them. Now the questions all revolve around someone being deeply shitty or someone deluding themselves about how deeply shitty they're being. Columns filled with questions about and from people behaving badly are never going to be as delightsome as those butt plug columns of yore.

But thank you for writing in to share your concern, READER, and rest assured that nothing truly terrible has happened to me — besides Trump, of course, but Trump happened to all of us, not just me. Still, I don't want to lose you as a reader, so I'm going to make an effort to sunny things up a bit over the next few weeks.

Okay! Let's see what else came in the mail today! Hopefully something fun!

Dear Dan,

My significant other and I rarely have sex. A while ago, I had a sexual encounter with her daughter. We continued to have sexual encounters for some time. Now my significant other and I may be getting married. Her daughter and I broke it off, but it started up again after a week. I am attempting to break things off with my significant other's daughter again, but I'm having a hard time. Please advise.

— Restraining Urges Is Necessary

Ugh. Do you see what I mean, READER? It's hard to come through with jokes, erudition, and uplift when you're responding to questions like this one.

Okay, RUIN. Marrying a woman whose adult daughter you can't keep your dick out of ... yeah, that's a bad idea. (And her daughter is an adult, right?!? You're not Roy Moore'ing it, are you?) Sooner or later, your significant other is going to discover what's been going on, and your relationship with both of these women will be destroyed. You'll be able to move out and move on, RUIN, but your former significant other isn't going to be so lucky. Because while you won't always be her SO, and hopefully won't ever be her husband, her daughter is always going to be her child. So while you may get out from this relationship with some light scarring, your ex and her daughter will be left with open, gaping wounds for the rest of their lives. My advice: Pull up your pants, cancel the wedding, and get as far away from your SO and her daughter as possible.

Dear Dan,

I'm a middle-aged married dude. Sex life with my wife is good, but I also masturbate because, you know, I'm a person. Sometimes I masturbate while surfing through pictures on Facebook of attractive women I know. These aren't stolen nudes off of someone's phone; they're public pictures. I'm progressive when it comes to politics and gender issues. Face-to-face, I'm respectful and would never do anything to make these women — or any other woman — feel uncomfortable. I don't leer, and I'm not a creeper. I know what I'm doing is pervy, but is it pervy bad? Am I crossing a line?

— Peering Is Creepy, Sometimes

This one's a little better, READER. It's a little squicky, sure, but it's boil-your-eyes-after-reading squicky.

Okay, PICS. Masturbating to someone is fine; masturbating at someone is not. (To be clear: Masturbating to thoughts of someone without their knowledge is fine; masturbating at someone who does not wish to be masturbated at is not.) Our erotic imaginations are free to roam — and that includes roaming through Facebook. No one needs our permission to fantasize about us or anything else, and we can't control when, where, and how the pics we share on social media will be enjoyed. Provided you aren't doing or saying anything to make your Facebook "friends" uncomfortable (no supposedly-friendly-but-transparently-thirsty comments, no tongue-hanging-out emojis), you're doing something no one wants to think about, PICS, but you're not crossing a line.

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