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I was recently advised to begin reading your column by my therapist. I am a 21-year-old male and a senior at an Ivy League school. Despite my academic success, I’ve battled a lot of stuff in the past few years: anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and porn addiction. It’s quite a load of shit to try to wade through, but I honestly feel I’m getting better.

About sex: Before I even knew what I was really doing, my fantasies involved being subjected to the erotic whims of a powerful female. I’ve tried to hide my interest in “submission” from everyone, including potential and sometimes briefly sexual partners. Only recently have I begun to address this directly. I feel it is, broadly, an issue of sexual orientation that requires something like a “coming out” process. But while there are resources out there for gay people who are coming out, I have no road map. I have told a few...

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...But while there are resources out there for gay people who are coming out, I have no road map. I have told a few friends but don’t think it’s necessary to reveal all this to my family. I cannot have a fulfilling sexual experience unless my desire to have a tilted power dynamic is understood and indulged, and I don’t think romantic love is possible for me without this part of me being accepted and appreciated. What I would like to do is seek out sexual partners who would be compatible. But when do I bring it up? I have this dread of that moment on a date, perhaps a first kiss, or whatever, when things are becoming unambiguously physical. WTF do I say? Should I try to get involved in a BDSM “scene”? Date “normal” people? Online personals? I don’t want to try to have sex again without it being known or understood. It feels like pretending and it sucks. Seeks Understanding Baba Generally, SUB, if it’s something that gay, straight, or bisexual people can all do—like erotic power exchange (bondage, D/s, BDSM, etc.)—then I consider it a sexual activity, not a sexual orientation. Which is not to say that submission and/or BDSM can’t be hugely important to an individual, SUB, as much about self-conception as it is about sexual expression. But you don’t have to come out to friends and family about being submissive—you don’t have to tell them about the stuff that turns you on—in order to fully accept yourself, get out there and date and find a nice girl who wants to subject you to her erotic whims. Now, I’m not saying you can’t or shouldn’t tell people other than the women you date that you’re submissive. You can be as open as you wanna be—say, with friends you feel comfortable telling everything—but the only people who absolutely, positively need to know about your desires, SUB, are your sex partners. So how do you find a partner? Date vanilla girls? Trawl online personals? Get involved in the BDSM scene in your area? Yes, yes, and yes. Get involved in the BDSM scene and take out a kinky personal ad, and maybe you’ll meet a nice, dominant girl who wants a sexually submissive—and Ivy League–educated—boyfriend. At the same time, SUB, date girls you meet during the normal course of your daily life, like any other single guy. After she gets a chance to know you, but before she’s too invested and/or smitten, discuss your kinks with her. This is not a tearful confession, SUB. Your kinks are a selling point; they’re something that makes you a more interesting sex partner. If you open up to a vanilla girl after a few weeks—and some good vanilla sex—and she runs screaming, she wasn’t the right girl for you. (And if she blabs to her friends about you, SUB, you may get a call from a friend of your ex who is the right girl for you.) Don’t marry the first dominant woman you play with, SUB, or bail on the first strictly vanilla girl with whom you hit it off. A dominant woman you don’t enjoy spending time with outside the bedroom isn’t someone you can realistically spend the rest of your life with; a vanilla girl who really likes you may get there—she may discover that she gets off on being in charge—if you’re patient and attentive to her sexual interests. Finally, SUB, if you do want to come out to friends and family about being kinky, here’s a great short video on the subject: tinyurl.com/comingoutkinky. I am a 21-year-old gay male. For the past six months, I have been having an affair with a man in his mid-40s. After our first hookup, he told me he was married and had three children. I was shocked at this. However, we continued to meet up for sex. I have come to the conclusion that I am fine with this man keeping me a secret. I have fallen for him and he has fallen for me, but I have no desire to break up his family. His wife was his high-school sweetheart, and he says she is his best friend. He also tells me that if I were to quit our sexcapades, which happen to be the best sex I have ever had, he would find another man, or other men, because he is attracted to men. We hook up every week in discreet locations where he would never get caught. I don’t plan on telling anyone. I am torn, because we both acknowledge that if the situation were different, we would make excellent life partners. I am deeply in love with this guy and want more out of our relationship, however, I do respect him and would never out him. I just want to know if I should continue our relationship. His Secret Love No. I usually love your advice and first wanna say thanks for supporting the monogamish. I’m one of the many who is happier with a little freedom—and the occasional threesome or foursome—but who also values ground rules, respect, and honesty. Bummer some guys seem to think deceit is the only way to play. So thanks for so many years of great advice. But… WOW! Sometimes you really show your limits as a gay man. Someone writes to you about having sex with his girl during her period and what to do about the bloody sheets they’re going to leave behind in their hotel room, and you don’t even mention the Instead Softcup! No woman has to bloody sheets or towels—or her man or her lady or her toys—just by sticking a cup up there! Maybe I should go easy on you, Dan, because most ladies are unaware of this awesome option. (Most ladies aren’t sex columnists, however!) It tucks up inside, it works for 12 hours, and you can’t feel it when you have sex. (My man is hung, and we actively tried all sorts of angles, speeds, pressure, etc., and he can’t tell it’s in there.) Put one in and you don’t get messy! And ladies? Don’t tell me you’re squeamish about sticking your fingers up there. Get freakin’ comfortable with your own damn bodies already! Stainless In San Francisco Sometimes my readers learn from me, SISF, sometimes I learn from my readers. This is one of the latter times. Ladies who want to learn more about the Instead Softcup can go to the website: www.softcup.com. Thanks for sharing, SISF! Find the Savage Lovecast (my weekly podcast) every Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage. mail@savagelove.net @fakedansavage on Twitter