Savage Love | Opinion | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Savage Love

All of us have had our hearts broken or, even worse, ignored.

I'm a 34-year-old straight female. I've been morbidly obese for most of my life. I've been on a couple of dates, and only when I asked the guy out. I am aware that some men are attracted to fat women. But since I never received real sexual attention as a teen/twentysomething, I don't know how to deal with men sexually or in a way that would develop into a relationship. I also think my lack of experience has made me bitter. How do I stop being bitter and learn to develop a romantic relationship?

Fat And Bitter

Romantic and/or sexual relationships are something you learn by doing, so you'll have to start doing them — you'll have to start doing men — to learn how they're done. There are men who are into BBW, a.k.a. big beautiful women, but folks on Twitter recommended staying away from BBW-focused websites (which tend to be overrun by fetishists) and go with mainstream sites like OKCupid instead.

But maybe dating sites aren't the place to start.

"More important than worrying about finding people who love your size is making sure YOU love your size," says Jolene Parton, a fat dancer, sex worker and activist. "Self-love can be the hardest thing in the world for a fat woman, but it's the best way to inspire others to love you and your body. Getting plugged into a fat-positive community might help you find friends and lovers who love the whole you. and are great places to start."

What to do about the bitterness? Let it go. Yes, men suck. But women can be sucky and judge people on appearances alone, too. (Ask any short guy.) All of us have had our hearts broken or, even worse, ignored, and every one of us has cause to feel bitter. Most people let it go, and you can, too.

One other bit of advice: Be open about being inexperienced. That will attract some guys and scare others off. Good riddance to those it scares off, but don't assume that guys who are interested are necessarily nice guys. Some might be manipulators who want to take advantage of your inexperience or perceived desperation. To help sort the good ones from the bad, convene a small panel of friends to serve as bullshit detectors. Your own bullshit detectors don't develop until you start dating, so ask your panel to point out any red flags you've missed. Good luck!

I'm a 30ish woman in a GGG relationship. I'm submissive and masochistic; he's dominant and willing to inflict some pain. Neither of us has tons of BDSM experience. My question: My boyfriend is into belly punching. I'm happy to indulge him. He likes it when I relax my abdominal muscles. Is this safe? What precautions should we take? Does the fact that I have an IUD factor in? And if I ever get pregnant, should we stop?

Belly Erects Long Lovely Youknowwhat

"There certainly are consensual boundaries that only the person and their partner can know how to navigate," says Dr. Leah Torres, an obstetrician/gynecologist with a focus on family planning, "but I encourage safety first always."

And Dr. Torres sees danger in what you're doing, BELLY. "Abdominal muscles protect and hold our intestines, liver, spleen, pancreas, etc. in place, and there can be risk involved in blunt trauma such as punches in the abdomen, especially if the muscles are ‘relaxed,'" says Dr. Torres. "For example, if someone has an infection like cytomegalovirus (‘mono'), the spleen can be more susceptible to injury. Blunt trauma could cause splenic rupture and internal bleeding that could be life-threatening. While that is uncommon, it is an example of how something that appears ‘not dangerous' could become so."

One precaution you could take? Stop relaxing your abdominal muscles, and use your tensed, flexed abdominal muscles to protect your internal organs. "There is no risk to the IUD, as it is inside a very small uterus that is in the lower pelvis," says Dr. Torres. "But when someone is pregnant (!), I would recommend no belly punching under any circumstances!"

I'm a gay man in a relationship with a great guy. But he seems to be "feminizing" me. I've spent the last decade in grad school. I stayed in shape, but there was no time for significant exercise. I've started working out, but I weigh about 20 pounds less than my boyfriend and can't match his aggression in bed. He has even joked about me being "the woman" in our relationship — and I don't like that. However, it's not like I can toss him into bed and have my way with him. I want him to see me as another man in bed. It'll be another year or two before I reach his level of athleticism. Any ideas in the meantime?

Not One To Feel Entirely Masculine

Just one: Get over yourself.

Watching a man wring his hands about his fragile manliness hardly makes him seem more masculine. (And it doesn't make him seem more feminine. It just makes him look ridiculous.) And 20 pounds of muscle do not "make the man." Being comfortable in your own skin makes you a man. No, scratch that: Being comfortable in your own skin makes you a person — a decent, tolerable, secure and attractive person. (And a man who's passive in bed is still a man! Christ!)

If your boyfriend says something that annoys you, tell him to knock it off. But your boyfriend could be "joking" about you being the passive one because he prefers it that way. If he would rather be the tosser, you'll need to either find a different boyfriend or stop grounding your sense of masculinity in something so arbitrary as a game of who-tossed-who-farther.

Jolene Parton burns up Twitter @jolenestarshine. Dr. Leah Torres regularly posts about women's health issues and smacks down antichoice trolls on Twitter @LeahNTorres and blogs at

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

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