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Joe Newton

I’m a man in his 40s and my partner is in their 30s and non-binary. We’ve been together for three years and officially living together for about a year. Things have been a little tumultuous during that time, due to issues with my kids, my kids’ mom, and my own fears about compatibility and commitment. She (my partner) is demanding “relationship milestones” that signify my commitment to her. Previous significant milestones, like becoming official, moving in together, her meeting my kids, etc., were “sullied” (and are therefore invalidated somehow) because they weren’t executed with enough “enthusiasm” or “careful planning.” I would very much like to give her the milestones she craves, but aside from popping the question — and I’m definitely not ready for that — I’m struggling to come up with “milestones” that would be of sufficient significance. And when I ask for examples, all I get are ideas I’m not ready for, like getting married or getting a...

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...l I get are ideas I’m not ready for, like getting married or getting a cat. Moving In Lacked Emotional Significance First and most importantly: the pronoun situation. You open by identifying your partner as non-binary but then go on to use she/her pronouns in reference to your partner throughout the rest of your letter. Since you’ve been seeing this person for three years — and since this non-binary person doesn’t strike me as the kind of non-binary person who would let misgendering slide — I’m gonna assume your partner is one of those non-binary AFAB persons who uses she/her pronouns. They’re out there, they’re totally valid, they like to keep us binaries on our toes. With that out of the way… The person you’re dating — the person you’re living with — doesn’t sound like someone who is easily satisfied. Becoming official fell short of her expectations, meeting your kids wasn’t magical enough, there wasn’t a 21-gun salute or whatever she expected when you moved in together… there’s definitely a pattern here, MILES, and it’s a worrying one. So, I have a hunch your marriage proposal, if and when you decide to propose, will be another disappointment. The setting won’t be romantic enough, the diamond won’t be big enough, the choreography for the flash mob won’t be flashy enough. Then something will go wrong at the wedding, she’ll find a reason to be disappointed by the honeymoon, the cat won’t be the right color, and on and on and on. The sullies will keep coming. Actual life experiences rarely live up to our idealized fantasies and someone who can’t focus on the good — someone who can’t take almost or close enough for an answer, someone who can’t remember the good and forget the bad — will never be satisfied. And there are some people out there who don’t wanna be satisfied, MILES, and I suspect your new partner is one of those people. If finding fault and expressing disappointment means you’re always be in the position of having to make things up to her, MILES, why would she ever be satisfied? In fairness to your partner, MILES, there’s nothing unreasonable about wanting to be married after three years. But life is messy and chaotic, and life with a divorced man with children from a previous relationship comes with more mess and more chaos, and an understandable reluctance to remarry on the part of the recently divorced partner. Consequently, a divorced man with kids may not be the ideal partner for someone who requires perfectly executed grand romantic gestures to be made happy — assuming they can be made happy — and someone who requires perfectly executed grand romantic gestures may not be an ideal partner for a divorced man with kids. P.S. Another hunch… if she’s the kind of person who talks about her “birthday week” or, God forbid, her “birthday month,” run. There’s no pleasing those people. I have a sexting partner and we’re about to go from just texts to actually meeting up in real life. But in our text exchanges, we don’t discuss things like condoms, protection, personal hygiene, etc., as everything is strictly fantasy. How do I start incorporating real life concerns and questions into these fantasies? Fantasies Erotic And Realities Serious Instead of attempting to do the impossible — and incorporating condoms, protection, personal hygiene, etc., into fantasy text exchange is impossible — you should send your sexting partner a stand-alone, not-trying-to-be-sexy “concerns and logistics” message after your next sexting session. Let them know there are some practical matters you would like to discuss prior to your first face-to-face meeting. Then bring up condoms, other protections, your expectations around personal hygiene, and anything else you want to discuss before that first meeting. Additionally, FEARS, if you’ve expressed interest in something during your sext exchanges that you don’t wanna experience in real life — not now, not ever — or if you’ve played along with something your sexting partner was fantasizing about that you’re not interested in doing with or for them, now’s the time to walk that shit back. I know you usually get questions about sex, but I’ve got one about dating. I’m a 41-year-old cis gay man who lives in a large metropolitan area, but for some reason, I cannot establish a dating life. I have tried the dating apps and sites, but the only men who seem to want to talk to me are the BBC chasers (I’m a tall Black man) or guys just looking to hook up. I’m not interested in hooking up, as I’m demisexual and I’m not really interested in someone who’s just after sex. What I want is to find a guy to get to know. I’ve been putting a lot of work into myself over the last few years. I’ve got a life coach and I’ve been seeing a therapist several times a month to help me work through some things from my past. But I can’t help but feel like there’s something I’m either missing or not doing right. I know a lot of guys are just looking for fun, but I don’t want to have to give up the dick just to get to know someone. What advice can you give me regarding finding guys who would be interested in getting to know me? Dateless In Detroit There are definitely gay men on hookup apps who wanna take it slow and get to know someone first — I mean, you’re one of those men, right? That said, every gay couple I know — to say nothing of every gay Burner polycules I know — are one-night stands that stuck. You obviously shouldn’t waste time on BBC chasers, if being objectified like that turns you off. But closing yourself off to guys who are looking for a hookup might be interfering for your search for a date, to say nothing of a partner. Now, you say you identify as demisexual, and I want to respect that, DID. But some people use “demi” to mean, “I experience no feelings of sexual attraction in the absence of an emotional connection,” while others use “demi” to mean, “I wanna take things slow.” If you fall into the former camp, the advice Ann Landers was giving her single readers in the 1960s still applies: volunteer on political campaigns, join clubs, sign up for kickball leagues. Organized group activities for gay and bi men — the fully-clothed kind or organized group activities — will give you a chance to get to know people you might wanna date. But if you fall into the latter camp, DID, you can have the kind of one-night stands that seem to get most gay relationships off the ground while taking things slow. Tell the men you meet online that you wanna hookup, sure, but that you’re only interested in some light messing around, e.g., some mutual masturbation, maybe some oral, but anything serious/penetrative will have to wait until you’ve gotten to know them a little better. Guys who don’t like the sound of that will pass, but guys who are open to getting to know you — guys who are willing to work for that dick — will show up. P.S. You can meet guys on apps and volunteer, join, kick balls, etc., at the same time. You don’t have to pick one. And if you spot a guy from your kickball league on Grindr one night, DID, there’s your opening. My husband has neurological memory problems. Not Alzheimer’s, but similar in some ways, and it does require me to do a fair amount for him. I have to remind him of every little thing, fix tons of “problems,” accompany him everywhere (because otherwise he gets lost), etc., etc., etc. The end result is, I feel more like his parent or his nurse or live-in tech support than his spouse. We love each other, but it’s not the same as it was, and never can be again. This is very frustrating for him to go through, but it’s also very frustrating for me. He’s the one with a memory problem, but I can’t even remember the last time we did anything more than hug or share a goodbye kiss. Probably not in at least 10 years or more. I’ve basically had to give up a huge part of myself, and I don’t know how to get that back. I feel starved. I feel dead inside. How can I bring myself back to life? Frustrated And Resentful You’re his caretaker now, not his romantic partner, FAR, and you demonstrate your loyalty to your husband by staying, by being at his side whenever he leaves the house, by reminding him to take his meds, etc., etc., etc. As a caretaker, you’re under a tremendous amount of pressure and, if you’re an American, you live in a country that provides zero support for people taking care of chronically ill or disabled loved ones. So, you need to take care of yourself, FAR, and if discreetly meeting up with a lover or hiring a sex worker makes it possible for you to stay married and stay sane — if it makes it possible for you to be the partner your husband needs now — do what you need to do. Got a problem? Everyone does! Submit your written question for “Savage Love” now! Or…

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