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Savage Love 

"This could happen to anyone," says Debra Lieberman, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Miami.

A quick clarification: Lieberman means this could happen to anyone who meets a sibling under similar circumstances.

Co-residence throughout childhood creates sexual aversion in adulthood, explains Lieberman, who has studied "sibling incest avoidance" extensively. It's a phenomenon called the "Westermarck Effect."

"TSA and her half-brother were not raised throughout childhood together and neither observed his or her mother caring for the other as an infant," explains Lieberman. "These are the two cues that have been shown to lead to the categorization of another as a sibling. … Without these cues, no natural sexual aversion will develop."

(So everybody who read TSA's letter and thought, "What a sicko!" needs to back the fuck off. If your parents had surprised you with a long-lost sibling when you were 14, you, too, could be facing an extremely awkward conversation with your fiancé.)

So what should you tell the man you're about to marry?

"If it were me," says Lieberman, "I would explain the situation and the science. Unfortunately, this might gross out her fiancé, especially if he has sisters. But living with this stress" -- the fear that he'll find out -- "does not seem like a happy life."

I agree: Tell your fiancé what happened. Emphasize that you were young, confused and Westermarck-Effect-deprived. You can also refer him to Lieberman's website -- -- where he can peruse the research. Good luck.


I'm a 23-year-old female in a monogamish relationship -- thank you for that word! -- with my wonderful boyfriend of two years. I moved away last year to attend graduate school, and we agreed it was OK to sleep with other people while we're apart. My question is, if I'm just looking for casual sex, should I make it clear that I'm not interested in dating? How much should I tell the person I'm trying to pick up about a significant other they won't ever meet?

Full Disclosure Necessary, Yathink?


If you meet a guy in a bar, exchange four words with him (and two of them are "Open up!" right before he spits a Jäger shot into your mouth), and you wind up back at your place, the person you're about to fuck can reasonably make two assumptions: (1) you're a slut (in the sex-positive, reclaiming-that-word, drink-Jäger-out-of-a-hot-guy's-mouth sense of the term); and (2) he's unlikely to see you again. Under circumstances like these, the only things you're obligated to disclose are the kind of clitoral stimulation you require and the time you'll need him out of your apartment.

But if a nice boy asks you out on something that your parents and steampunks call a "date," and he explains that you're really special, you are obligated to disclose your relationship status, lest he make the entirely reasonable assumption that you're single and interested in him.


I am in love. She is what I've always wanted: smart, independent and friggin' beautiful. The thing is, we fight constantly. I say the wrong thing or use the wrong tone, and she blows up. In these fights, I am required to remain calm, but she can yell, scream, mock or ridicule. These fights sometimes end in physical confrontations that she instigates. The therapist we're seeing takes my side, but nothing gets better: Her feelings are the only ones that matter. I'm afraid to read the advice you're going to give me.

Confused, Pissed and Sad


You don't mention your own looks, but I'm guessing that your girlfriend is objectively hot, while you fall somewhere between "Ron Jeremy" and "unconventionally attractive." She knows that you think you're unlikely to do better than her, looks-wise, and that allows her to be as psycho as she wants to be.

Here's the advice you were afraid of: Go somewhere, anywhere, that she isn't. You wouldn't be putting up with this shit if this woman's outsides were as ugly as her insides.



What happened to your column? It's all about the philosophy of what loving relationships should entail. I miss the old Dan, who would coach readers on how to put large things inside themselves and recount funny/titillating anecdotes.

Where's My Dirt?


Google happened to my column.

Back in the getting-large-things-inside-my-readers days, people would ask, "How do I get this large thing inside of me?" Now people with large things can turn to Google. Another question I used to get all the time: "What's a cock ring?" Now cock rings have their own Wiki page.

There's just so much good, basic info about sex online that people don't have to ask for basic information. So most of the questions I get nowadays are about relationships.

But it has been a long time since I filled a column with titillating sex anecdotes. I'm on vacation, so … wow me with your best/kinkiest/craziest vacation-sex stories, dear readers, and I'll fill next week's column with 'em.


Find the Savage Lovecast (my weekly podcast) every Tuesday at


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