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Power Moves

by Joe Newton

I have a history of dating men I’m not attracted to physically or emotionally. I always found it weirdly comforting to know my boyfriend was obsessed with me while I had minimal feelings for him. I have explored this in therapy and chalk it up to lack of self-confidence. But a month ago I started hanging out with this guy and it’s the first relationship I’ve been that isn’t one sided. It’s also the first relationship I’ve been in where the guy wasn’t pushing me to “define the relationship” after a month. This has led to me feeling quite vulnerable and afraid. For the first time in a long time, I’m dating a guy that I not only like but find very attractive and now I’m terrified it will end. This fear has led me to keep my feelings to myself. In previous relationships...

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...gs to myself. In previous relationships where I was the one with the upper hand, I found it easier to speak up because I felt in control and didn’t really care if it ended. I am now in a place where I’m afraid to speak for fear of saying the wrong thing. I want to know what his intentions are, but I don’t want to place undue pressure him either. I’m craving more validation than I’m getting from him because I got used to being smothered with validation in all my previous relationships, but I don’t know how to bring this up without making it seem like I am trying to DTR. Any advice? Naked And Afraid I wouldn’t chalk up the choices you’ve made in the past — only dating men you weren’t attracted to, only dating men you could take or leave, only dating men you held in what sure sounds like contempt — to a lack of self-confidence. Frankly, I’m a little mystified your therapist endorsed that interpretation. Maybe you had one of those therapists who thinks it’s their job to help clients construct self-serving rationalizations for shitty behavior — explanations that never fail to center the client as the victim — or maybe you came up with that rationalization on your own and your therapist was just about to challenge you on it when you stopped scheduling new sessions. So, I’m going to challenge you. I don’t think you have self-confidence issues, NAA, I think you have control issues. You only dated men you didn’t care about — you only dated men you weren’t attracted to physically or emotionally — because you wanted to have the upper hand. You wanted all the power, all the leverage, and all the control. So, you not only dated men you could take or leave exclusively, NAA, you seemed to go out of your way to find men who had to have you. That’s not the weak-ass move of a person who lacks self-confidence, NAA, that’s the cold-hearted power play of a control freak. I’m glad you got into therapy and it seems to have done you some good — you’re currently dating someone you’re attracted to and for the first time experiencing human feelings — and if that shallow pseudo-epiphany you had in therapy (“I lack self-confidence!”) helped you make different and better choices, NAA, then it did you some good. But I think you have more to unpack, NAA, perhaps with a different therapist. Zooming out for a second: A lot of us have been there. We’re dating someone we could take or leave and we realize that person is falling for us. When that happens — when someone we could take or leave is a lot more invested in the relationship (and wants to have those DTR convos) — we need to resist abusing the power that gives us over that person by ending things as quickly and considerately as possible. But if we only date people we could take or leave, one after another, then we need to recognize that… we’re being shitty and/or toxic and/or both. Because we’re not just leading people on, we’re stealing from them. We’re stealing time and energy they could’ve invested in finding someone and/or dating someone who wanted to, well, take them. A good person doesn’t do that sort of shit — not to people they care about, not to people they don’t care about, not to anyone. Alright, NAA, what’s gonna happen with this new guy? It’s only been a month, so you don’t know him that well, and most new relationships peter out after a month or two without anyone saying or doing the wrong thing. There’s not much at stake here, at least not yet. Mostly you have hope: you like this guy, you hope he likes you, you hope the mutual liking continues as you get to know each other better. But if it doesn’t go anywhere — if you have that DTR convo a month from now and he’s not interested in defining or pursuing a relationship with you — you may wind up with a broken heart. But look on the bright side: getting your heart broken proves you have one. Whatever happens, NAA, don’t revert to your shitty and heartless modus operandi. You weren’t being fair to the men you dated… and you weren’t being fair to yourself either. Because you not only cheated those men out of love, NAA, you also cheated yourself out of love. Being open to love means being open to pain. You’re open now. Stay open. It’s better this way. You’re better this way. Trust me. My boyfriend, who is a 72-year-old man, wants to gift our personal trainer, who is younger and hotter than me, an expensive piece of jewelry. I felt jealous and insecure when he brought this up and I voiced my concerns to her. She told me that she sees the gift as a token of friendship and nothing more and then added that, as her friend, I should want what’s best for her. My boyfriend is a multimillionaire many times over and maybe I don’t understand how rich people give gifts, as I’m not “from” money, but it seems strange. My boyfriend told me to think of it as a bequest — he’s making bequests in his will to fifty or so people after he dies — but the thought of him asking for her permission to give this gift to her without first asking me makes me uncomfortable. It makes me wonder how long he was fantasizing about giving her this gift and why exactly he wants to give it to her so badly. I need a second opinion here. Girlfriendly Instinct Flagging This This man is not your husband, he’s your boyfriend; his millions are not your millions, they’re his millions. I can see why this gift makes you uncomfortable, GIFT, but I don’t see how you talk your boyfriend out of giving his personal trainer a gift he’s already promised her without harming your relationship. Basically, GIFT, the only leverage you have over him is the threat of a breakup. But where will issuing that threat get you? Best-case scenario, your boyfriend rescinds the offer but resents you and your personal trainer, who once considered you a friend, feels jerked around by both of you and distances herself; worst-case scenario, you wind up single and written out of the will — assuming you’re among the fortunate fifty or so — and your personal trainer gets that expensive piece of jewelry and possibly more. If I may, GIFT, I’d like to address the elephant in the room/question/gym: you’re worried your boyfriend is only making this gesture — he’s only giving this woman this extravagant gift — because he wants to fuck her. I can confidently assure you that your boyfriend absolutely, positively, and without a doubt wants to fuck his personal trainer. Because no one in the long, sordid history of personal trainers has ever hired a personal trainer they didn’t kindasorta wanna fuck. But just because someone wants to fuck their personal trainer doesn’t mean they would fuck their personal trainer. Your boyfriend can wanna fuck his personal trainer and can wanna give her a gift that essentially says, “I would if I could,” and still wanna honor the monogamous commitment he’s (presumably) made to you. These two things — your boyfriend signaling to someone else that he would fuck ’em if he could fuck ’em and your boyfriend remaining faithful to you — are not mutually exclusive. While personal trainers sometimes ingratiate themselves to clients by engaging in harmless flirtation, very few personal trainers wanna fuck their clients — especially their elderly and/or monogamously partnered clients — and far fewer actually do fuck their clients. And based on what your personal trainer said during that gift-block convo, GIFT, it doesn’t sound she’s interested in your boyfriend that way, gift or no gift. So, while your boyfriend may get a little thrill out of giving this woman a piece of jewelry he probably shouldn’t, she almost certainly regards this gift — a gift that, again, was already promised her — as a very generous tip from a very wealthy client that she very much does not wanna see naked. My GF and I are great in the sack together — and the floor, and the stairs, and the lawn, and the tent, and the fireside… …and it feels like we’ve been doing this all our lives, since the moment we took our first breath, and by the time we finally drift off we’re tranced out in a post orgasmic love bubble of such cosmic-eternal elasticity it feels as though our connection has no beginning and no end. The other night in the shower she said I have a “Rolls Royce cock.” Can I put that on my anonymous Feeld profile with her permission? I mean, she’s right. It works a treat. But I feel a bit weird bragging about my own dick like this. Partly because for many years I had what we might kindly refer to as a rapid climax problem. Now that I’ve gotten a little older, those days are behind me, and everything is coming together. So, can I put “Rolls Royce Cock” in my Feeld profile? I got as far as typing it in but then I thought, ugh, seems a bit self-involved. What do you think? Rapturously Received Compliment There are places a man shouldn’t brag about his cock — on Zoom calls, on international flights, on main — but if a man can’t brag about his cock on his anonymous Feeld profile, where can he brag about his cock? Got problems? Email your question to Dan here! Or record your question for the Lovecast here! Follow Dan on Instagram and Threads @DanSavage. Follow Dan on BlueSky @DanSavage. HUMP! Part One is playing in cities across North America and Europe! Go to HUMP! Film Fest to check out the new films and get your HUMP! 2024 tickets now!  

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