Savage Love | Opinion | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Savage Love

“Some people are destined to play man-to-(wo)man.”

Dear Readers: I’m on vacation for the next three weeks, but you won’t be reading old columns while I’m away. You’ll be getting a new column every week, all of them written by Dan Savage, none of them written by me.

Dan Savage is a sports writer and the assistant director of digital content for, and he will be answering your questions this week. Dan has covered six NBA finals and 10 NBA All-Star Games; he’s appeared on CBS, ESPN, NBA TV and First Take; and his writing has been published at,,, and This is Dan’s first time giving sex-and-relationship advice.

“Other sports writers often tell me they enjoyed reading my latest column,” Dan Savage told me in an email, “but when they show me the article, it’s one of your sex-advice columns. The joke is going to be on them this time around when it’s actually my advice!”

I’m a straight guy in my 40s, and I’ve been with my wife for more than 20 years. I’m incredibly attracted to my wife. Recently, I’ve been a bit frustrated with us not having sex as frequently as I’d like. So I broached the subject with her. I tried to be easygoing about it, but maybe I fucked that up. Basically, I told her that I fantasize about her daily and would like to have sex more often. I cited two examples of frustration. Two weeks ago, I came on to her and tried to initiate, but we had a dinner party to go to and she didn’t want to be late. One week ago, I was flirting with her but was rebuffed because we were going out to dinner and … she wanted to go to dinner more than fuck, I guess. I made my wife cry by bringing this up. End result is that she doesn’t want to fuck more than we already do, there’s nothing I can do to make sex more appealing for her, and it hurt her for me to bring the subject up at all. I dropped it, apologized and moved on. I don’t want to coerce her into anything (I want her to want me), so here we are. How can I communicate better in the future?
Using My Words

Communication in any relationship is key. On the basketball court, one of the first things young players are taught is to communicate effectively with their teammates. They’re required to call out plays, offensive assignments and defensive rotations in order to prevent breakdowns and keep the system working smoothly.

In relationships, the same principles hold true. You have to be able to effectively communicate with your partner in order to keep both parties happy. And just like everything else in life, timing is everything.

First, I’d make sure you communicate your needs at a time other than when you’ve just been rebuffed. You’re then likely to be less emotional, think more rationally and more effectively explain your needs without applying added pressure. Second, I’d try making your next move when other plans are not on the table. In both the examples you mention, UMW, the timing of your request appears to have been an issue for her.

Schedule some time for an intimate dinner at home or cap off an exciting evening out on the town with romantic advances. If she does not respond to your improved efforts, then she’s not being a good teammate. A successful relationship is when both members’ needs are met, not just one.

I’m a 36-year-old bisexual female. I’ve been dating my nice Midwestern boyfriend for about four-and-a-half years. Within the first few dates, I brought up nonmonogamy. I was pretty sure from past experiences that long-term monogamy wasn’t going to be for me. I get bored, I like attention and I love the chase. He was against it. I thought, OK, we have a lot of other positive stuff going for us and maybe he would reconsider in the future. I feel like I’ve lost a part of my sexual self — no adventures, no three-ways, I miss girls, etc. I feel that what I want — newness, some kink he isn’t trained in, being with a girl, etc. — he can’t give me. So I brought up opening up the relationship again. My thought is I could get what I need/want and get my engine revving again, and hopefully bring that excitement and spark back to our relationship. He listens to your podcasts now, but he doesn’t think he could handle the idea of me with someone else. I don’t think I can handle the relationship as it is now, though, and this was my suggestion to try to make it stronger. I feel like I’ve already ended the relationship just by bringing this up. Are we doomed?
A Girl Has Needs

I appreciate you having your boyfriend listen to my podcasts — oh wait, that was probably meant for the other Dan Savage. Never mind. My podcasts probably wouldn’t have helped with this issue.
Your question reminds me of a topic that’s currently top of mind in my profession: NBA free agency. In the basketball world, it’s the time of year when teams can go after the best available prospects not under contract and offer them a deal to join their team. Organizations heavily vet these players, talking to their former teammates, coaches and others to make sure that their values match up. There’s nothing worse than being locked into a five-year guaranteed contract with a guy who doesn’t fit with your franchise. Actually, on second thought, there is — getting married to a guy who doesn’t share the same relationship goals and values.

If your boyfriend is someone who has no interest in open relationships — and from all indications, he doesn’t — odds are he’s never going to be happy in that type of situation. And if you’re never going to be happy with monogamy, then you need to find someone whose values match your own.

Unfortunately, some people are destined to play man-to-(wo)man, while others are more satisfied in a 2-3 zone.

Follow Dan Savage, assistant director of digital content for, on Twitter @Dan_Savage.