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Family Ties

Joe Newton

I’m a 25-year-old gay man. My parents have been divorced most of my life, and my dad came out to me as gay when I was 15. I came out to him and everyone else when I was 18. We’ve always had a good relationship, but we don’t see each other that often because we live on different coasts. We’re probably more open with each other about sex than most fathers and sons, but not in ways that I think are inappropriate. For example, on a recent visit we shared which hookup apps we were on so we could block each other. He’s also made sure I’m being safe about things like casual sex, drugs, and PrEP. As a result of these conversations, I know he’s kind of kinky and into bondage, but don’t have details on what he enjoys.

On my latest trip to see him, a friend of my dad’s came over to...

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...he enjoys. On my latest trip to see him, a friend of my dad’s came over to pick him up. My dad didn’t refer to it as a hookup beforehand but when the guy arrived, I could tell that’s what they were planning. Before they left for the other guy’s place, my dad’s friend started to flirt with me, which I didn’t take seriously. But as they were leaving the friend said it would be hot if I joined them for an incest scene. Then my dad made a joke about how it be “father/son bondage time — I mean bonding time!” I didn’t think that was funny, but I laughed and then said I wasn’t interested, and they left. I stayed for two more days, and my dad never said anything else that made me uncomfortable, and we never discussed this guy again or the joke. I really don’t think my dad wants to fuck me and he probably would have freaked out if I acted like he was serious and said yes. I know it was just a bad joke, but ever since I’ve been dealing with intrusive thoughts and trying to not think about it only makes me think about it more. I like light bondage and want to continue doing it, but now I can’t even think about it without thinking about my dad tying me up, something I do not want and do not want to think about. There are a couple of older guys in my life that I regularly meet up with for casual sex that I like to call “daddy.” That word has never made me think of my own dad until now. The last time I said it during sex I lost my erection and told my fuck buddy I didn’t feel well and left. How do I get over this? Should I say something to my dad? Or would that make it worse? I’m sure he’d apologize, but since he didn’t intentionally put these thoughts in my head then I don’t think an apology would make them go away. I don’t want to give up bondage, which I enjoy, and “daddy” is such a common term in gay circles that I’ll never get away from it even if I stopped using it myself. I’ve never been in therapy, but is that what it takes to get rid of unwanted thoughts? Stupid Humorous Remark Involving Nasty Kink “I definitely think SHRINK should talk to his father about what happened,” said Dr. Joe Kort, a sex and relationship therapist and the author of Cracking the Erotic Code: Helping Gay Men Understand Their Sexual Fantasies. “From what SHRINK writes here, it sounds like his father has been appropriate and protected him from the inner workings of his sex life, just as he has protected his father from the inner workings of his own sex life. They’ve both done a great job.” Until your last visit. “I think SHRINK’s dad most likely felt just as awkward as SHRINK did when his dad’s friend said what he said,” said Dr. Kort, “and then his dad made that unfortunate joke.” You think your dad made a stupid joke, Dr. Kort thinks your dad made an unfortunate joke, and I think your dad made an almost unforgivable joke. But why would your father make a joke like that? Your father was probably trying to avoid embarrassing his friend. Your dad’s fuck buddy said something wildly inappropriate, SHRINK, and instead of prioritizing your feelings by shutting his fuck buddy down — which is absolutely what your father should have done — your dad opted to make the worst dad joke in the long, sordid history of dad jokes. To spare his friend the embarrassment of being made to feel like the creep he is, SHRINK, your dad lunged at a stupid play on words (bondage/bonding). He could have made that same joke without implicitly endorsing his fuck buddy’s suggestion of an incestuous threesome (“Sorry, but that’s not the kind of father/son bonding we’re interested in”), but the tension of the moment led your dad — and I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt here — to go with the first (and worst) version of the joke that popped into his head. And in that moment your dad put you — his own son — in the awkward position of either having to confront him or laugh it off. “SHRINK needs to let his father know how he felt when it happened and that he didn’t care for it and that it made him feel uneasy,” said Dr. Kort. “It isn’t about getting his dad to apologize or explain, it’s about SHRINK letting this go, at least metaphorically. SHRINK has been carrying this since it first happened, and he should imagine that by telling his father how this made him feel, SHRINK will be freeing himself from having to carry this around any longer.” I disagree with Dr. Kort. I think your dad owes you an explanation and an apology. Even if you’re sure your dad didn’t approve of what his fuck buddy was doing (and here’s hoping he didn’t), and even if you’re absolutely sure your dad wasn’t being serious (and here’s hoping he wasn’t), you need to hear that from your father. There’s some unfinished business between you and your father — there are things you need to say to him, there are things he needs to say to you — and you’re going to be be plagued by  these intrusive thoughts until you finish that business. And while you don’t mention being turned on by these thoughts — indeed, they seem to have cost at least one erection — things that shock us or gross us out sometimes creep into our sexual fantasies in ways that can feel like an additional violation. “It isn’t uncommon for something that causes us anxiety to become eroticized,” said Dr. Kort. “Sometimes an idea is so gross and disgusting that our minds create a turn-on to cope with how uncomfortable we were. And then, the harder we fight thoughts of this fantasy, the more it comes to dominate our thoughts.” So, whether these thoughts are turning you on (and I don’t think they are) or turning you off (ding, ding, ding), SHRINK, don’t blame yourself. You didn’t invite these thoughts into your head; your dad’s idiot fuck buddy and your dad’s idiotic response crammed them in there. Whatever you do, they’ll very likely to fade with time, but I promise you they’ll fade faster after you get the explanation and apology you’re owed. “SHRINK needs to have a little compassion for himself,” said Dr. Kort. “He was faced with something very cringy and these intrusive thoughts are the understandable result. He shouldn’t have to give up bondage or dirty ‘daddy’ talk during sex as a result. It might help if he thinks about all the other guys out there, with and without ‘daddy’ issues, who are still saying ‘daddy’ to their partners. Calling an older man ‘daddy’ doesn’t mean anything incestual. It’s not about anyone’s real dad.” As for therapy, SHRINK, a little could go a long way. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been proven to help people who struggle with intrusive thoughts. After a few sessions you may find yourself enjoying light bondage and non-biological fathers again. P.S. If there had been a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist Barbie in Barbie Land — along with President Barbie and Doctor Barbie and Weird Barbie — then Stereotypical Barbie wouldn’t have had to go to the Real World to get over her intrusive thoughts of death and the Kens wouldn’t have wound up in a dance battle and Ben Shapiro wouldn’t have ended up crying in the lobby after the movie and then having to set fire to a bunch of innocent dolls. Something to think about that isn’t your dad’s dumb joke. P.P.S. By the logic in the Barbie universe, there’s now a burn ward in Barbie Land because of what Ben Shapiro did— not as terrible to contemplate as a bondage threesome with your own dad, but still pretty terrible! P.P.P.S. People who call their adult sex partners “daddy” don’t secretly wish they were fucking their actual dads any more than people who call their adult sex partners “baby” secretly wish they were fucking their actual infants. Follow Dr. Joe Kort on Twitter @DrJoeKort and learn more about his work at www.joekort.com. I had back surgery (my third) in 2022, and I’ve been on an anti-inflammatory drug ever since to help deal with the pain. I’m a gay man, and I’m ready to start having sex again. But when I looked into starting up on PrEP, I learned that there is a potential for a drug interaction impacting the kidneys if you combine PrEP with the anti-inflammatory drugs I’ve been prescribed. So, they will not permit me to take these two drugs together. I know that the anti-inflammatory drug really does help ease the pain, so I’ve decided to remain on that medication. My question is how to deal with the issue of PrEP on the online dating sites. Do I leave that question blank and let the other person guess or should I add an explanation? I was thinking of something like, “Can’t take PrEP due to potential negative drug interaction with medication I’m taking for back issues. Would if I could and I hope you are!” Anxious to hear your thoughts. Pain In The Back PrEP is a daily medication that HIV-negative gay and bi men can take — it’s a daily medication the Centers for Disease Control urges all sexually-active gay and bi men to take — that significantly reduces the risk of HIV infection. PrEP doesn’t protect against other sexually transmitted infections (syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, etc.), and gay and bi men should consider using condoms with casual sex partners — particularly now. Rates of syphilis are way up among gay and bi men, and there’s a nationwide shortage of the drug used to treat syphilis. So, guys… it’s time to stop considering using condoms and actually start using them, at least until the drug shortage is resolved. While PrEP isn’t a vaccine, the principles of herd immunity — which are usually discussed in relationship to vaccination campaigns — more than apply. When everyone who can get vaccinated does, people who can’t get vaccinated for legitimate reasons , e.g., life-threating allergies, currently undergoing chemotherapy, etc., are protected from the disease. So, even though you can’t take PrEP, PITB, it’s a good idea for you to seek out partners who are on PrEP, and putting a line that explaining that you’re not on PrEP and why — and indicating that you would be on PrEP if you could be on PrEP — helps to normalize the use of PrEP and that makes everyone safer, yourself included. (Look at me, normalizing PrEP by using it six times in one sentence!) Got a problem? Everyone does! Submit your written question for “Savage Love” now! Or…

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