Q: I'm a 20-year-old straight male, but this isn't really about me.
I was recently back home for a family event while my younger brother, age 14, was away on a mission trip with his church. My iPad died while I was home and my mother told me to look in the kitchen drawers for a charger. I couldn't find one there, so she told me to check my brother's bedside table. I opened the drawer and, with a little digging, found a charger.
I also found a few pictures of gay porn and a couple of pictures of male celebrities with their shirts off that had been clipped from magazines. It isn't the gay porn I have a problem with, I fully support him coming into his sexuality, whatever it might be, but then I found a few things that were a bit more disturbing: I found a picture of our father in his swim trunks, and another one of a fully naked man with a cutout photo of my father's face glued over the original model's face. Needless to say, I was freaked out. I put everything back where I had found it, including the charger, and haven't said anything to him about it. Now I'm in a tough spot. I know that telling my brother I found the pictures would mortify him, and I feel like telling my father would be a complete dick move.
Any help you can offer me would be a big help. —Concerned And Scared
A: I can appreciate why those pictures squicked you out — a family member lusting after a family member? Ughers — but I don't understand exactly what it is you're afraid of, CAS. While your brother appears to have an inappropriate and — fingers crossed — fleeting sexual obsession with your father, can you picture a scenario in which your brother's desires, however devoutly wished, could be consummated?
Unless something much, much squickier is going on back home, your brother isn't a danger to your father, CAS, nor is your father a danger to your brother. The only danger I can see is in the false choice you've laid out in your letter. Saying something to your brother will only poison your relationship with him; saying something to your father will certainly kill his relationship with his son. And destroying either relationship over what is most likely a temporary bonerstorm of puberty-induced obsession — an obsession that will soon be a distant and unpleasant memory for your brother — seems a bit extreme.
If those pictures weren't in a place where your parents might also find them, CAS, I would advise you to stuff this one way down the ol' memory hole. But there they are, in a place where Mom and Dad — but especially Dad — might find 'em. So you're going to memorize this and say it your brother ASAP: "Hey, kiddo, Mom told me to look in your nightstand drawer for an iPad power cord. I found one — along with what looked like gay porn. I didn't peruse your porn collection too closely because I wanted to respect your privacy. But you need to get that stuff out of the house before Mom or Dad finds it. It's cool with me if you're gay, and I love you and it makes no difference — but leaving porn around is not how you want to come out to Mom and Dad, OK?"
Then tell him that grown-ups don't keep porn in their bedside tables anymore: The Internet is for porn, and he can access all the porn he likes safely and discreetly on his iPad.
Q: —Extremely Humiliated
A: Only your husband knows the real reason, EH, but if I were to hazard a couple of guesses: Either this woman is extremely wealthy or your husband is a gerontophile. Sadly, neither makes this situation any less humiliating for you. But try to look at the bright side: No one who hears what your husband has done — and no one who knows you both personally — is going to think there's something wrong with you.
Q: I am a 43-year-old mother of three, married for almost 20 years. Three years and one child in, my husband confessed that he had a penchant for being a BDSM sub. My reaction was, "OK, I'll try it, but if you want to explore that with pro doms, be my guest." Which he did.
Fast-forward a dozen years. I'm going bonkers because my husband is impotent. And don't tell me ED can be fixed, because in our case it couldn't. And don't tell me there are alternatives (oral, manual, toys), because all of those are just not the same for me. My body needs a fully functioning and capable man. So my husband gives me his "blessing" to take a lover. I didn't even have to ask! I just needed to be miserable and depressed for a dozen years!
Now I have two lovers. One lives far away, and I see him a few times a year; the other is local. The problem is that they are both married to spouses who don't know. Like me, neither of my lovers is interested in divorce. That's the good news. The bad news is that I'm not happy with the integrity of these situations. I know that what I am doing is considered despicable by many people, despite the fact that I'm probably a marriage-saving device for both of these women. (Their husbands are happier, I'm not trying to steal their husbands, and I'm not a financial burden on either of them.) I would love to find someone in an honest open relationship, but this has so far eluded me. So I guess my question is: How do I set up a situation with more integrity when the world isn't really ready for people like me? —Normal Soccer Mom From Afar
A: The answer NSMFA seeks is obvious — there are hard-up single men out there, married men in honest open relationships, men in the organized swinging movement, and she should go fuck some of them — but I'm including NSMFA's problem in the column for all the smug monogamists sending me angry letters in the wake of Mark Oppenheimer's recent feature about monogamy and its discontents in the New York Times Magazine ("Married, with Infidelities," June 30, 2011). While regular readers of Savage Love know where I stand on monogamy — with the realists, monogamous or not — not many readers of the New York Times knew where I stood.
Anyway, smugsters, here's what I think is interesting about NSMFA's letter: Everyone involved is perceived to be in a monogamous relationship, by their friends, family members, neighbors, bosses, co-workers, elected representatives, etc.; two of the women involved — the duped wives of the men that NSMFA is seeing on the side — may actually believe themselves to be in monogamous relationships. But not one of these three couples — not one of these six "traditionally married" straight people — is actually in a monogamous relationship.
Just something to keep in mind, monogamists, before you hit "send" on your e-mail to me about your beautiful, deep and meaningful monogamous relationship, about how your parents never cheated on each other, about how none of your married friends would ever cheat on their spouses, and about how people like me have no idea what real love means because we're not in monogamous relationships, etc., etc., etc.
Because you just never know, do you?