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Savage Love

"You trusted the wrong person and you don't have anything to say you're sorry for."

I am a bi male in my early 20s who until recently was in the closet. I have been exploring my sexuality for the past year, and I didn't want to label myself and open a Pandora's box of oppression in the American South before I knew who I was for sure. I learned through my exploration that I have a few kinks and I have been acting on those kinks, seeing what I am and am not into. I may have been too trusting, because someone I interacted with decided that he was having none of me. This person took it upon himself to find all the info he could about me, regarding kinks as well as my career and other aspects of my life, and compile it on a website. He then sent links to several of my friends and family members. He never gave an explanation for why he was doing this. My family has been very supportive, and the few close friends I've spoken to have been great. But how do I talk to other friends when I see them? My life is out in the open now. I am trying my best to roll with it and become more comfortable with myself, but it is a struggle. These people are close to me, and I value their friendship. I don't believe they think poorly of me, but I am uncomfortable knowing that they have seen a part of me that I was trying to keep somewhat compartmentalized. How can I approach the situation without making it more uncomfortable and awkward?

Outed And Unsure

You're in your early 20s, OAU, which means that way back in 1998, you would've been all of 7 or 8 years old. So the first thing I want you to do — before you talk to anyone about what happened — is google "Bill and Monica" and then read the first few stories that pop up.

Here's the takeaway from the Bill-and-Monica story: An out-of-control special prosecutor appointed to investigate the suicide of a White House aide wound up "exposing" a series of blowjobs that President Bill Clinton got from a White House intern. Problematic power differential, yes, but consenting adults just the same. Politicians and pundits and editorial boards called on Clinton to resign after the affair was made public, because the American people, they insisted, had lost all respect for Clinton. Clinton refused to resign and wound up getting impeached by a GOP-controlled Congress. But guess what? The American people weren't pissed at Clinton. People looked at what was being done to Clinton and thought, "Jesus fucking Christ, I would hate to have my privacy invaded like that." People's sympathies were with Clinton.

I promise you this, OAU: Everyone in your life who has seen the website where that malicious piece of shit made your private and consensual sexual conduct public had the same reaction. Their sympathies are with you.

So how do you address this without making things more uncomfortable and awkward than they already are? By acknowledging the discomfort and awkwardness (D&A) that has already been created while simultaneously and subtly drawing attention to the fact that said D&A are not of your creation. The conversations you're going to have with friends start with this premise: You've been victimized by this asshole and so have they. Practice saying this: "You know more about my private life than you ever wanted to. I'm going to stuff it down the memory hole and pretend it didn't happen. I hope you will too." You also might want to memorize and riff on these wise words from two other people who have been similarly victimized:

"I started to [make] an apology, but I don't have anything to say I'm sorry for." — Jennifer Lawrence

"The real problem here was not me sending my pictures to someone, but rather, sending them to the WRONG someone." — Dylan Sprouse

You trusted the wrong person, OAU, and you don't have anything to say you're sorry for. Look people in the eye when you speak about it — when you speak briefly about it — then change the subject.

Finally: Check to see if you live in a state that has laws against revenge porn. If you do, lawyer up, call the cops and press charges.

I'm a straight 20-year-old woman in a relationship with a straight 30-year-old male. We have been dating for a year and living together for seven months. There is a lot of love but there has also been a lot of arguing. Our conflicts stem from issues of abuse and abandonment on his part and issues of poor self-esteem and anger on my part. We have started to go to couples counseling. About a week ago, we got in a screaming match that resulted in me slapping him. I really didn't mean to. It just came out of my body, and I immediately regretted it. He asked me to leave the apartment, and I have been staying with my mom. We agreed to stay away from each other until our next therapy session. I guess what my question really boils down to is: Am I the female equivalent of a "wife beater"? Is there anything I can do to prove my regret and willingness to change? I love him with everything I have inside of me and I don't want to lose him over such a stupid mistake.

Lost And Confused, Knowing I Need Guidance

Couples who wind up in counseling before their first year together is up are, in my opinion, better off being counseled singly. By which I mean to say: being counseled as singles, not as a couple.

We don't have to be perfect to date, LACKING, but we do have to be in good working order. It doesn't sound like either of you qualifies. I think you both should address your issues in counseling — with separate counselors — for your own sakes, not for the sake of this relationship. And finally, LACKING: One slap at age 20 — one that was instantly regretted, one that the slapper has taken full responsibility for — does not a lifelong abuser make.

On the Lovecast, Erika Moen and her sex-toy comics: