America’s longest-running sex-advice column!

STRUGGLE SESSION: Literal Headaches, Figurative Menus, Erotic Memories and More!

On Thursdays I respond to comments from readers and listeners. These posts are for Magnum Subs exclusively. So, if you’re already a sub, thank you and read on! If you’d like to become a sub, do it now! Magnum Subs get the Magnum Lovecast (more guests! more calls! no ads!), the Maxi Savage Love (more Q! more A!), Sex & Politics, invites to Savage Love Live, Struggle Session, and bragging rights: you’re one of my subs!

BlueVert didn’t appreciate my awareness-raising reference to National Headache and Migraine Awareness Month at the top of this week’s show

Literally why are you mocking people with headaches or migraines?!?

First, literally didn’t make a joke made at the expense of people who suffer from headaches or migraines. When I said, “Hey, it’s June — a very special month — how are you celebrating?,” every single one of my listeners thought I was referring to Pride Month. If there’s a joke here, it’s on Pride and the way Pride...

Want to read the rest? Subscribe now to get every question, every week, the complete Savage Love archives, special events, and much more!

...le with headaches or migraines?!? First, literally didn’t make a joke made at the expense of people who suffer from headaches or migraines. When I said, “Hey, it’s June — a very special month — how are you celebrating?,” every single one of my listeners thought I was referring to Pride Month. If there’s a joke here, it’s on Pride and the way Pride Month steamrolls over everything else that happens in June. And second… Literally suffer from migraines myself — I never go anywhere without Sumatriptan — and seeing as no one who listens to my podcast (or pretty much any non-migraine related podcast) was aware that June is National Headache and Migraine Awareness Month in addition to Pride Month, my joking reference to this awareness campaign — and not, again, a joke at its expense or the expense of my fellow migraine/headache sufferers — did what the campaign itself is trying (and failing) to do: raising awareness about headaches and migraines. So, BlueVert, from one headache sufferer to (presumably) another, you’re welcome! Says Julia about this week’s guest… I had to check Jared Goldstein out at some point — not after Dan urged us to do so about three times, weirdly enough, but after he said he was blocked more than eleven times on Grindr after showing men his face and I legit stopped dead on the trail, looked at my screen, and shouted “WHAT?!” to the rest of the nodding forest. How any gay man could look at Jared’s face and not immediately want him to sit down on theirs… I don’t understand. And he’s fucking funny too! Says Muriel… Speaking of blow jobs (#5): poet Sharon Olds, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, wrote a poem, “Blow Job Ode,” that starts out, “I never thought of it as a line/of work. I did not think of myself with my/lunch pail going to my profession and punching/the time clock in and out.” It goes on from there, exploring the “job” part of the term, tongue-in-cheek, and concludes with, “At least blow is not a word from commerce/but the golden rule of music: know/as you would be known, blow as you would be blown.” This is from her fabulous poetry collection, Odes. It also includes such poems as, “Ode to the Clitoris,” “Ode to the Penis,” “Ode to the Condom,” “Ode of Withered Cleavage,” and many more! Thank you, Muriel! Ordering a copy of Odes now! And while we’re on the subject of blowjobs: Curious objected to a little Savage Love boilerplate that made an appearance in the P.P.S. at the tail end of my advice for LW#5 in this week’s Quickies column… Why for Dan is staying married a goal worth cheating for? Why is the choice not between, say, settling for no BJs and getting a divorce? They’ve been married for 24 years, so if they ever had kids they’re probably grown. (Not that it would change my position if they had kids,) Honor and integrity do not allow lying to get one’s way without the other person knowing. In the age of Trump, a syndicated columnist should be better than this, and would lose fewer readers doing so. BiDanFan seconded Curious… Yes, I agree. Isn’t Dan always saying that sex is sex? Presumably this guy is getting PIV. Lack of BJs specifically is not a cause of insanity, so I would go with ask/negotiate, but not deem this marriage sexless for the purpose of justifying cheating. Ken K, weighing in on the same question, gave to me with both barrels… LW#5. “P.S. If you want a BJ, ask the wife for one. If she won’t give you a BJ, ask the wife for permission to get a BJ elsewhere. If she won’t give you a BJ or let you get a BJ elsewhere, do what you need to do to stay married and stay sane.” WTF, Dan. If I don’t get a specific sex act checked off, I have a license to cheat? No. No. No. There is no universe in which is it OK to just go cheat because your partner won’t do what you want them to do. Even after you have asked nicely and told them how important it is. Even if it’s a really really common thing you need. Cheating, as I’ve said again and again, is sometimes the least worst option for all involved — which means, essentially, that I believe there are times when staying married and cheating is a better option than doing the “right thing” and abandoning a spouse. Going without, of course, is also an option, and it’s one that many people embrace — indeed, many people thinking about cheating have made the choice to go without, sometimes for decades. But if LW#5 is getting tons of PIV in his presumably monogamous 24-year marriage — if it’s only oral sex that was fell off menu after nearly a decade of marriage — he may not clear my exhaustively articulated bar for justifiable cheating. If he’s not in a sexless relationship, just a BJ-less relationship, LW#5’s will just have to suck it up and go without BJs for the rest of his life. Now, as I’ve told other readers who were “going without” something they wanted, going without a specific sex act or acts — anal or oral or threesomes or all of the above — is sometimes the price of admission you have pay. You may not get anal, you may not get threesomes, but if you’re getting other things you want and need, e.g., intimacy, security, support, and an active sex life that includes a lot of mutually pleasurable activities, then pay the price of admission — go without anal, go without threesomes, go without. BJs — and shut the fuck up. No one gets everything they want. With that said — and what I’m saying here, to be clear, is that I shouldn’t have added that “do what you need to do” boilerplate to the end of that P.P.S. (you guys are right!) — when something falls off the menu after a decade because one person in a closed relationship no longer interested in that thing, the other person in that closed relationship is allowed to have feelings about the change. Ideally, the relationship is functional enough that changes to the menu can be discussed in a loving and constructive way… but discussions aren’t magic; they don’t always lead to tidy resolutions that leave both parties feeling good about the revisions, the relationship, or the state of their sex life. I tried to find the letter but couldn’t — I really wish I had a cross-referenced Savage Love archive — but I answered a question a decade or more ago from an older married woman whose husband still provided her with plenty of PIV, but the sex they had wasn’t great and she wanted — just once — to have really great sex with someone who knew what he was doing. She’d asked her husband nicely to make changes, she’d bought the books, she’d made appointments with a sex therapist, but after years of trying — after decades of negotiating their sex life — she was done trying. Nothing had changed, nothing would change. She didn’t wanna leave her husband but she wanted — just once before she was too old to enjoy it — to get fucked by someone who knew what he was doing. But, again, she didn’t want to leave her husband or hurt him. Or cheat on him. My advice for her was, essentially, to do what she needed to do to stay married and stay sane — which doesn’t necessary mean cheating. (Sophistry, I realize, since that’s what I mean by it.) Having an affair can be stressful; even if you never get caught, you’re always worried you might. So, for some, honoring a monogamous commitment and swallowing their frustration, resentment, and regret (or grieving it and getting over it) is how they stay sane. I wish I could find this specific question and my response because I didn’t tell the woman to cheat. But I urged her to give herself permission, if a safe and discreet opportunity should ever present itself, to consider seizing it. I argued that, paradoxically, sometimes giving yourself permission to do something you shouldn’t — under the right circumstances, under safe and discreet circumstances, under very rare circumstances — makes it easier to resist  lunging at the first opportunity to do that thing. Or engineering those opportunities. Because living in hope is easier than living with nope. So, I told this letter writer — again, an older married woman in a monogamous relationship that was still sexual — that living in hope (for the right guy/set of circumstances) might help her let go of the resentment she was feeling for her spouse even if the right guy/set of circumstances never came along. There was a lot of support for the LW in the comment thread, if I remember correctly, and a lot of people seconding my advice for her. Reading the comments about my response to LW#5, I found myself wondering what would’ve happened if I’d given the same advice to him that I did to that older married woman a couple of decades ago. (Live in hope!) Would my readers would’ve have objected to this advice in his case? Or in other words: Is a straight married man who hasn’t had dick sucked for 14 years and may never get his dick sucked ever again less sympathetic than a straight married woman who’s never had good sex and would like to someday? Moving on… And BiDanFan grumbled about the one question I passed on… LW11: Not sure why Dan included this question just to decline to answer it? :-/ The question in question: “What’s the most erotic thing you’ve watched IRL in a room?” My answer one-word response — “pass” — was initially a placeholder. I mean, not to brag or anything, but I’ve witnessed a lot of hot things over the years and I needed a moment to think about it. When I went back over the column… which was a Quickies column… there were a lot of long responses and not many of the one-word responses that keep a Quickies column clipping along. So, I left it there. But I don’t wanna disappoint BiDanFan more than I already have this week, so I will answer the question. (This one’s for you, BDF!) The most erotic thing I’ve ever watched IRL in a room may have been another man fucking my then-boyfriend/now-husband after we’d been monogamous for four years at the insistence of TBNH. In that moment… yeah. Something was done that could not be undone. And we have no regrets! Says Thingamajig… I don’t really have any advice for the caller whose fiancé was arrested child porn, but I do take some small objection to Dan’s claim that his lack of reaction to their break-up was evidence of a skeleton in his closet. For one thing, hindsight is 20/20 and these kinds of post-hoc explanations are easy to make and nigh impossible to test. It’s just bad science. More importantly though, isn’t accepting a break up with grace what we want people to do? Do we really want to tell men that you better throw a fit when a woman breaks up with you lest everybody think something’s wrong with you. Good point, Thing. And there’s tons of great advice for that caller from GG, Pentatonic, LazyFemme, Mar, and Cleo in the comment thread on that episode. I love the way Savage Lovecast listeners really show up for each other in the comments. Thank you all! Says JayHook at BlueSky… Nearly choked on coffee during the Froggacino discussion today, good work! Thank you! And some practical advice from Jonathan for the wannabe-but-can’t piss top… For the pee-shy caller, in addition to closing your eyes or following Dan’s advise of using the glass as an intermediary, just… have a few beers. You’ll need to blast him soon enough. Okay, that’s it for Struggle Session this week — which is a day late, sorry about that — and one last item of business before I go: Our Muppet-Faced Man of the Week is… Jared Goldstein! Which kind of gives away the game about this whole Muppet-Faced-Man-of-the-Week thing, doesn’t it? Spot a typo? Let me know in the comments! And if you’re interested in arguing about “tolyamory,” there’s an argument going on in the comment thread on this Instagram post and I’ve jumped in personally. Join me!

Comments on STRUGGLE SESSION: Literal Headaches, Figurative Menus, Erotic Memories and More!