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Savage Love

I am a happily married, happily nonmonogamous male. We are not wild swinger types. For us it's more about the fact that monogamy does not work than about nailing everything that walks by. Anyway, I have encountered an odd situation a few times now, where I'll be flirting with a potential fling and she knows I'm married and she's very interested. But when she finds out my marriage is nonmonogamous, she suddenly backs out. Case in point, a coworker: We have been flirting since I started my new job a few months ago. Today she asked me what my wife would do if she found out I was sneaking around on her. When I told her my situation, that was the end of our flirtation.

Any idea why women find the idea of cheating with me OK, but once they find out I have a free go of things, they walk?

No Figuring Women


Try to look at it from this woman's perspective: When she thought you were willing to cheat on your wife to be with her, that meant you found her so attractive, so utterly irresistible, that you would break your marriage vows and risk everything to get into her pants. Sleeping with her with your wife's permission? Where's the ego-boost in that?


I am a 40-ish married straight woman living in New York. I have been happily married in a monogamous relationship for 11 years. My husband and I met when we were in our early 20s. After listening to all of the Savage Lovecasts together, we started to talk about the idea of "some degree of openness," as you put it.

In the past year, I have had a crush on a coworker. My husband is OK with me having something on the side with this coworker. This coworker is single (last I heard) and 17 years younger (yikes!), and he knows I am married. We had a great working relationship while we were assigned to a project together, but now he's in another department. My question is, how to go from here? After having a few good talks with my husband, I am excited about this idea and terrified. I'm having a private lunch with my coworker soon. What can you tell me to calm me the hell down and not be so stressed? After being conditioned my whole life that monogamy is the way to go, I am having a hard time shifting!

Newly Open Couple Lacks Understanding & Education


Have that lunch, and tell your coworker that you and the husband are beginning to explore the idea of openness. For all you know, your much-younger coworker may not be interested in being your piece on the side. If he is, take things very, very slowly and keep your husband fully informed. But even if I could relieve you of your stress and anxiety with a few words, NOCLUE, I wouldn't. It's appropriate to be anxious and stressed out. Your nervousness is prompting you to take things slowly and to be careful about your husband's feelings. If this works out -- for you, for your coworker, for your husband -- it will be in large part thanks to the stress, not despite it.


I work in marketing and sales. It is a high-stress, fast-paced job, and everyone has a short fuse. I have a coworker who is losing business to a competitor who happens to be gay. In her fits of anger, she keeps calling him a faggot. I hate it. The thing is, I am not gay. And if anyone in our office is, they are in the closet. She has used the word in front of other coworkers and our boss, and no one seems to be bothered.

I am torn about what I should do. I am black, and if she was using the word "nigger," I would call her on it. Can I file a complaint on behalf of a group I do not belong to? If she found out I complained, it could lead to a decidedly hostile workplace. But if it was a racial slur, I would not let that deter me. How would you handle the situation?

Not My Problem?


If someone at my office were tossing the word "nigger" around, I would lodge a complaint. I would resent the assumption on my coworker's part that since I'm white she can use racist speech in my presence, because, hey, all us white people are racist POS, right? And I would complain because a workplace that tolerates racist remarks is a workplace that tolerates homophobic remarks. If people are using "nigger" when there aren't any black people in the room, they're doubtless using "faggot" when there aren't any gay people in the room. And vice versa.


I have a new coworker, a young man who is gay and quite effeminate. He's slim, wears makeup, has boyish/feminine features, and has done some modeling work as a woman. He said in a lunchroom discussion today that he prefers to wear women's clothes. He said he had worn women's clothes at a previous workplace, and no one had been offended. I suggested he talk to HR to protect his job before coming to work dressed in women's clothing. Good advice or should I just mind my own business? One coworker suggested that he work up to it, while another said he should just do it and let the chips fall where they may. The question of what restroom he should use when dressed as a woman came up. I'm not 100 percent comfortable sharing the ladies' room with him. Though I am certain most of the men won't be comfortable sharing the men's room with him, either.

Do you have any suggestions on how to handle situations where I might find myself in the same restroom as my newest coworker?

She Knows It's Really Trivial


If your coworker identifies as female, she should use the women's room. If he identifies as male, he should use the men's room. And seeing as he's using the men's room now -- despite his wearing makeup and being openly gay -- I don't see how the addition of a dress should change things for his male coworkers. And from the way you describe that lunchroom conversation, SKIRT, it sounds like your effeminate new coworker has at least some support at work. But yes, he should have a talk with HR.

As for "handl[ing] situations" where you find yourself in the same restroom with your newest coworker, unless you routinely offer to zip up your coworkers or wipe their asses for them, I don't see how his presence -- or his attire or the particular brand of genitalia tucked into his panties -- impacts you at all.


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