Savage Love 

Affairs sometimes kick-start a couple's sex life. The couple starts going at it like they have nothing to lose -- because they don't have anything to lose.

I'm a man who recently started seeing a wonderful woman. Like me, she's divorced, and her ex-husband was controlling and abusive. 

Here's the thing: His abusive behavior is my kink -- spanking. In my past relationships, spanking was playful and consensual; with her ex, it was about pain and humiliation. She knows about my kink and understands that my motivations around spanking are completely different from her ex's, but she has zero interest in fetish play -- and that's fine, because I feel so connected to her that I don't need my kink indulged to feel fulfilled. But I find myself feeling guilty for having the kink in the first place. How do I get past this?

Lacking A Clever Acronym


If your girlfriend's ex-husband had manipulated or bullied her into vaginal intercourse -- if he had repeatedly and brutally raped her vaginally during their terrible, awful, no good, very bad marriage -- would you feel guilty about an interest in consensual, vanilla, missionary intercourse? No. You would hopefully have reacted in a similarly compassionate manner. You would have been willing to stick to oral, mutual masturbation and whatever else your new girlfriend was comfortable exploring. And you would have looked forward to the day when she felt ready to enjoy sensuous, consensual, vaginal intercourse again. And if that day never arrived, perhaps you would have been willing to forgo vaginal intercourse for the rest of your life.

But you wouldn't be feeling like some sort of monster for being aroused by consensual, vanilla, missionary intercourse with other women.

Your willingness to drop your harmless kink is evidence that your priorities are in order, your heart is in the right place, etc. Any time you start feeling bad about your kink, just remind yourself that consensual kink isn't abuse for the same reason consensual vaginal intercourse isn't rape: because it's consensual. You can love this woman, and make this relatively small sacrifice (spanking ain't vaginal), without having to retroactively define past spanking experiences as abusive.


My boyfriend of five years had a one-night stand with a much younger woman. In some ways, it's a good thing -- we're having conversations we should have had a long time ago, he's seeing a therapist to deal with his issues (his idea, not mine), and somehow I know more than ever that I want to be with him. Two questions:

1. I recently hit the age where I've started to worry about looking older, and it's been devastating to know that he cheated on me with a much younger woman. He assures me he's attracted to me, but how can I believe that now?

2. The younger woman sent me -- and other people in our lives -- an explicit e-mail detailing everything they did. It's not how I found out, but it certainly hasn't helped. Ironically, our sex life has only gotten better since I found out exactly what they did -- it turns out that we are both far more GGG than the other ever knew. But sometimes we're in bed, and I'll flash on something she wrote and the vivid images her letter cooked up in my head, and it sears me. Dealing with that pain out of the bedroom has been hard enough. It's devastating that it's with me in the bedroom as well. How can I deal with this?

Salve It, Please


1. LTRs are possible only if we're willing take "yes" for an answer. He says yes he loves you, and you will yourself to believe him; he says yes he's attracted to you, and you will yourself to believe him; he says he is sorry and won't do it again … and you will yourself to believe him. And while the passage of time makes monsters of us all, it can strengthen a sexual connection even as sex itself becomes less important when weighed against everything else your LTR is about. 

2. Angry cheated-on partner: "You did what with that person? I would've done that with you! And I have kinks and fantasies, too, you know!"

Contrite cheating partner: "I was afraid to ask you to do that! Wait, you have kinks and fantasies? What are they?"

Conversations like that are why affairs sometimes kick-start a couple's sex life. With all the kink-and-whatever-else cards on the table, the couple starts going at it like they have nothing to lose -- because when breaking up is on the table, they don't have anything to lose.

As for those troubling mental images: The passage of time is your enemy on the physical-perfection front -- and his, too -- but it's your best friend on the searing-mental-images front. The more time you two spend enjoying X, Y and Z sex acts, the more X, Y and Z becomes about you two. The mental images will come to you less often, they'll be less vivid, and gradually they'll cease. Give it time.


A letter in a recent column was from a guy who's trying to figure out how to get into gay BDSM. You suggested some advice from a gay BDSM blogger -- Ben In Leather Land (tinyurl.com/bensten) -- and it was awesome. Do you have suggestions of similar blogs for women into BDSM?

Looking Lady


Sex writer, blogger, thinker and haver Tristan Taormino, who is publishing a new book about BDSM and kinky sex (The Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play and the Erotic Edge), recommends fetish icon Midori's column in SexIs magazine (tinyurl.com/edenmidori) for women who are just beginning to explore kink.


HEY, EVERYBODY: We're seeking sordid stories of holiday sex for an upcoming episode of the Savage Lovecast. Ever been caught having sex at Mom and Dad's over the holidays? Ever put a "For Grandma, from Santa!" card on a box that contained a sex toy you bought for someone else? Call and record your story at 206-201-2720! Please keep it under three minutes, if possible!


Find the Savage Lovecast (my weekly podcast) every Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage.


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