Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Polyamory, Hair-Pulling, and Responding to Compliments

What is the appropriate response to "you're so pretty" etc., usually said in the context of making out? "Thank you" seems lame. "So are you" sounds weird because dudes aren't "pretty." No response also seems weird. I guess my broader question is how do you accept a compliment about your looks, right? (See also: "you're so hot," "you're so sexy," etc.)

I actually don’t think “thank you” is lame. Most likely he’s not fishing for a compliment. He’s complimenting you in the hope that you’ll make out with him/continue making out with him/make out with him more in the future. Saying thank you and doing any or all of the above will suit him just fine. It’s unnecessary to compliment him back, as that feels perfunctory. If you really want to compliment him on his looks (which guys do appreciate) and have it stick, do it when he hasn’t just said something nice about you.

I’d also argue that what you say is not necessarily more important than the way you say it. Just say whatever you say with earnestness (and maybe a dash of sultriness?) and get back to putting your faces on each others faces.

I'm writing because my oh-so-serious excavation of the last two Ask a Dude columns — yes, I know, my research is super, super-thorough — both turned up questions about dudes apparently cheating, and other men/women who see them apparently cheating and conclude that the guys are evil bags of weeks-old horse sputum.

There's a whole movement out there called "poly" in which people in loving, committed, intimate relationships have permissions from their spouses / partners to also have other loving, committed, intimate relationships at the same time. Like most things, it's a spectrum: some poly people I know are doing "don't ask don't tell" (although that's widely disparaged in the poly community as being borderline-cheating), whereas other poly people disclose everything to their partner including # and type of orgasm with the new partner(s). And there's everything in between. It's a whole movement, including workshops, seminars, estate planning advice, summer camps, and conferences. It's been around for a long time and (although I'm admittedly a bit biased), it is AWESOME.

My husband and I have been dating other people — doing poly, not swinging, they are very different! — for years. We have kids who don't need to know any details, so we need to be respectful and discreet (and manage our time very, very well). Most people we know don't know this about us. We fly under the radar. We have family members who would never, never understand and who don't need to know, which is why we don't tell them.

If those family members were to snoop through my private e-mail, they would find messages from lovers old and new, boyfriends and girlfriends, and kinky stuff that would presumably blow their minds, especially considering how prim-and-proper I typically present myself to be.

That's why people shouldn't snoop. Not unless they're prepared to know that their friend / sister-in-law / whatever is also engaging in BDSM scenes... and that it's not cheating because her husband signed off on it (and is busy getting his own on the side as well).

Short version: Just because a guy (or a girl!) is trolling for new partners doesn't mean you can assume he's an unfaithful cad. The only way to figure out is to ask.

Fair enough! I am totally down with you and your husband doing your thing, even though that’s not my style. In defense of the ladies or gentlemen in previous weeks who were coming down hard on guys they perceived to be cheating: I’m under the impression that polyamory is not a widespread practice, and to assume that someone who’s in a relationship yet seemingly on the prowl is doing so without their partner’s blessing isn’t totally unfounded. But it’s always nice to be reminded that our assumptions are exactly that.

P.S. I kinda wanna know how you meet a fellow polyamorous person. How long do you date someone before you bring that up? How do you bring that up? I assume this is part of the reason y’all have summer camps and conferences and what not.

I'm nearly 30 and and I'm five years into a relationship with someone I care for deeply and believe I am quite compatible with. Trouble is, one year ago I opened my computer and found an email he had left open saying he was thinking of breaking up with me. This was a huge surprise and I panicked. I'm not proud of this, but I then spent the next 20 minutes searching through his email, where I learned that he had shared the following with at least half a dozen male friends, often while we were sitting on the couch together enjoying dinner and a movie:

1) He made negative comments about my appearance and my body.
2) He'd gone out on a date with a random woman who gave him her number.
3) He rated me a '7' compared to her.
4) He commented on how skinny she was (I'm average), her perfect skin, her youth (22).
5) He said he didn't cheat on me, but wished he was single so he could just 'bang her.'

I confronted him about this. He apologized, but his real only response was that he loved me and that he was really depressed. He said that this is just, "how guys talk."

This was all a year ago. We have a nice time together still, but my mind constantly wanders back to the things he said about me, how I have very little confidence in my appearance (I never worried about being fat or old before), and how I don't know if I trust him. I don't really know how to find a sense of resolution. He would prefer to ignore things and move on with our relationship, but that isn't really working for me.

My questions are, can a person behave like this and still be a good guy, or am I just deluding myself into thinking this can work out? Any advice on how to resolve the issues I still have with self-confidence and trust? I feel like an absolute fool when we are around people he said these things to. Is it reasonable to just never go out with them when they are in town?

Good Lord.

OK. Before moving on to the part where I list the reasons your boyfriend is a dick, I am going to get on you, as Past Dudes have, for checking his email. Ladies and gents: Don’t do that. Everyone deserves the right to have private correspondence with their friends. Everyone has doubts about their relationships, and he’s allowed to discuss those doubts with his friends. The bulk of what he wrote is pretty shitty, but the manner in which you discovered it is also not cool.

Nonetheless, you know what you know, so let’s keep movin’.

It’s hard to know when to break up with someone you’ve been dating for years but I’d say you’re approaching that point (if not well past it). Your story is littered with red flags, the most glaring being the fact that HE WENT ON A DATE WITH ANOTHER WOMAN. Different people have different definitions of what constitutes cheating, but I don’t care what label you put on it. It’s a selfish, dishonest, and hurtful thing for him to do. You probably should’ve dumped him then and there.

And bullshit that’s “how guys talk.” Saying “I acted like a piece of shit but it’s no big deal cause boys will be boys” is no excuse. I don’t say things like that about the women I’ve dated and neither do my friends. What kind of asshole says negative things about his girlfriend’s body to his friends? What kind of asshole directly compares his girlfriend’s body to another woman's? Plenty of men manage to talk about the difficulties they’re having with their girlfriend, and even the temptations they feel, without being so flagrantly disrespectful.

Both men and women tend to have slightly racier conversations when alone, and there's honestly nothing wrong with that. But there's a big difference between a nice guy who says something a little crass to his buddy and what your boyfriend said.

My biggest concern might actually be the fact that, when your boyfriend of several years was going through a tough time (he described himself as feeling depressed), he responded by shitting all over you rather than relying on you. And since that time, his preferred way of handling the situation has been to ignore it. These are both selfish, unhealthy responses. The only way you can resolve the trust issues you have with him is by talking about them. Explaining to him why what he did is so unsettling, and the amount of love and reassurance he’ll need to provide in order for you to get back to a place where you’re genuinely comfortable with this relationship. If he’s unwilling to even talk about that, I don’t see how your relationship can survive. Avoiding his friends sure as hell isn’t gonna do the trick.

Do you know about hair pulling? Do you pull ladies' hair? Did you know that a lot of ladies really like that? When their hair is pulled? Not all ladies, but a great, great many of us. Tell me your thoughts about hair-pulling. If I say hair-pulling enough, will someone pull my hair? I mean during sex, obvs. Not like, out.

Hair pulling, huh? Sure, ya, I’ve pulled women’s hair. Plenty of y’all seem to like having your hair pulled! And I get a kick out of it too. (For all the fellas out there, my preferred way of going about this is to give her hair a slight tug while running my hands through it, and then gauge her reaction.)

I tend to think that a lot more people enjoy skirting the line between pleasure and pain (hair pulling, spanking, etc.) than they readily admit. I’d encourage women to be direct when you want something along those lines. Men want to please you (we really do), but have some anxieties about pushing things too far. Clear communication alleviates that. Hair pulling.

By my count, we said some version of the phrase “hair-pulling” eleven times. Has someone pulled your hair yet? If that’s what you’re into, I sure hope so!

Previously: Long Distance Flirting, Lonely Moms, and the Politics of "Dibs."

A Dude is one of several rotating dudes who know everything. Do you have any questions for A Dude?

Photo by Joanna Laznicka, via Shutterstock

363 Comments / Post A Comment




@emilylouise HAIR PULLING. you beat me to it.

Tammy Pajamas

@emilylouise HAIR PULLING. Thirded.


@emilylouise haha emily, i knew i loved you for a reason


OMG YES. Pull the hair.

Hot mayonnaise

@MoonBat: I suppose you women aren't feminists then.


DUH. How about Dear A Dude: How can I get my guy to pull my hair without him being all OMG YOU MEAN YOU WANT ME TO HURT YOU NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO I COULD NEVER. I mean, it's not like he crushes wine glasses because he doesn't know his own strength, you know? And I'm no Anabelle Flowerpants! JUST PULL IT.

Bohemia Pearl

@TyrannosaurusWreck I'm not a dude, but maybe you could leave the classic craigslist post that was linked here a few months ago? "Just fucking fuck me already" lying open on your browser sometime?


Hiroine Protagonist

@Hot mayonnaise Oh shit, feminists can't get their hair pulled? I....need to re-think my life. Are fist-bumps okay? I'm so confused!


@emilylouise http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=186jUh-1woE


@paisami Ha. Full disclosure in this thread: I love hair pulling and I also love Bright Eyes! Owning it! Holla! Can't wait to see them perform at ACL this weekend. Then I'm gonna find Conor Oberst at an afterparty and make him P my H and everythinggg will come full circle.

Nicole Cliffe

AHH, I love this idea, but I also think Conor would say "are you sure you really want me to?" while offering you a cup of chamomile tea and then THERE IS NO POINT.


@emilylouise Hair... pulling? Pull hair. Anus.

(sorry, that one "stick your finger in my butt" ask A Whoever from like 4 months ago still pops into my mind and cracks me up)


@Bohemia Pearl best post ever, perfectly expressed. when i discovered this on hairpin i shared with all my firends and they were all like TRUTH.

fondue with cheddar

@insouciantlover Both of which remind me of "lick your palm" from the hilarious Louis CK bit about the saddest handjob ever (which me brings me to tears every time). http://youtu.be/bO3EP70Jas4


Lady #3, he left the email OPEN ON YOUR COMPUTER. I actually think that any lecture on searching through his email isn't even necessary here, because that was like a big red arrow saying "Please read this, search through my email, and then break up with me." You did all of that but the last thing, when it seems like he wants to break up but is just too chickenshit to do it. Please don't stay in a relationship with a guy who makes you feel terrible about yourself all the time and not incidentally seems like a horrible person.


@thebestjasmine Yeah, that's what I was thinking... unless she's using "found the email open on my computer" as a euphemism for "I was hella snooping through his shit," he had an ulterior motive. Nobody would be that careless with a potentially damaging email unless they wanted it to be read.

And yes, do not stay with someone who says such mean, critical things about you to his friends! That is not just "how guys talk."


@thebestjasmine Oh God I KNOW. The thought of staying with someone who calls me "a 7", "old" and "fat" compared to any another woman just makes me sick to my stomach.


@thebestjasmine Your last sentence just made me cry. Timely words of truth.


@jacqueline @heyits



@thebestjasmine Oooh if it is MY computer, and not HIS computers (yes we each have our own) that is FAIR GAME.
But also that poly lady kind of annoyed me, because yes, I realize polyamory exists, BUT that is something that needs to be mutually agreed to between partners. Like, if you have been dating a long time and all of a sudden he's dating other chicks without your knowledge, that is CHEATING and not a polyamourous relationship. Because the key word here is relationship.


@atipofthehat :*/

Tuna Surprise

@thebestjasmine. Spot on. This guy is wasting your time. As soon as he finds another girlfriend (which trust me, he's still actively looking for), your ass is going to get dumped.


@Megan Patterson@facebook Honestly, the thing that annoyed me about the poly lady is that people who accidentally see some of this (someone you know is married out on a date, a friend's husband on OK Cupid) are terrible for assuming that it's cheating and not that the people are poly. I don't care if someone is poly, but if I see something like that, I'm sure as hell going to tell my friend that it looks like her husband is cheating on her. If not, and they have a relationship code, then great! She doesn't have to tell me anything other than "Thanks for letting me know, but everything's fine." But I'm not going to merrily excuse any potential risk to a friend's emotional or physical health because poly relationships exist -- I think we all know that they exist. But we also know there are a lot of cheaters out there!


@atipofthehat Dear Hairpin editors, can we have Ask A Shakespeare?

Ham Snadwich

@thebestjasmine Maybe the previous dudes were poly and their respective ladies were just unaware of their nonexistent arrangement.


@thebestjasmine Yessss, Ask A Shax! Or more generally, maybe, ask a bunch of early modern poets? Either way, YES.


@thebestjasmine I had a friend who was once seeing someone who flagrantly hit on other dudes every time we went out. She did this in front of my friend, who would look pained and uncomfortable. After I started really disliking her for being so awful to my friend, it came out that their relationship was open. I don't feel like I was the asshole for getting outraged on his behalf. I have no issue with poly people if everyone's on the same page. But expecting everyone to accept and turn a blind eye to what looks like cheating when they don't know the backstory isn't a very realistic expectation.


@ellbeejay Ask a John Donne!


@Lucienne Oh hell yes, Ask a John Donne. I do that every day anyway. Doesn't everybody?!



Ask a Robert Frost!

"...but I have promises to keep..."



Dear Emily Dickinson, I'm a leggy blond and I really love this other person, but she doesn't seem to want to be with me?!?

The Soul selects her own Society —
Then — shuts the Door —
To her divine Majority —
Present no more —

Unmoved — she notes the Chariots — pausing —
At her low Gate —
Unmoved — an Emperor be kneeling
Upon her Mat —

I've known her — from an ample nation —
Choose One —
Then — close the Valves of her attention —
Like Stone —


@atipofthehat Yeah, like that.

And Lord. Jesus. Lady whose schmucky BF leaves email for you to find. Okay, so... I have racy/frank talk with my girlfriends that is racy, not disparaging.

Demeaning comments about anyone's body are just not okay, and it makes me rilly RILLY uncomfortable to hear my friends talk negatively (esp negatively hah hah) about their SO's bodies. Dude cannot, in fact, help the size of his dick. And if you don't like his tummy or whatever, break up with him and discreetly keep your mouth shut.

Same goes for men talking about women. God. You can say you want to bang a 22yo siren of gorgeousness without saying terrible things about your girlfriend's body.

He is not nice or respectful and you deserve to be with someone who is. Even if they are appreciating someone else's assets in a recreational way, your body deserves to be respected.'

God. Who is that juicebox, and can I run him over with my granny bike?


@atipofthehat Ask a Philip Larkin. "I have a really terrible relationship with my parents?"


@ellbeejay @Lucienne My boyfriend's all, come live with me and be my love, but then he gets super creepy and bitter, and sometimes I think I should have just gone with the shepherd guy? ALAS.


This is the best thread ever.

Dalas Verdugo@facebook

@thebestjasmine I think the point of guys having "guy talk" is that obviously we are saying things that you don't approve of. If you approved of it, we'd be saying it in front of you. SORRY ;)

Also, I wouldn't hold it against a lady if she was complaining about her guy's body. Sometimes you just have to say shit out loud to someone so that it's out of your system and you can go back to your otherwise happy relationship. Sometimes your brain thinks awful things, and you don't really believe them, but you need to get them out so you can move on. It's unfortunate that we can generate mean thoughts, but I think suppressing them is worse than venting them to someone you trust (and never saying them to the person it would hurt).


@Dalas Verdugo@facebook Did you think that telling me the definition of "guy talk" was something that was necessary or worthwhile in this thread? Thanks for the smiley face, but it really makes you look even more condescending here. I think we all understand what he was doing. We also understand that he's an asshole for doing it. If you need to complain to your friends about your girlfriend's body, then you're an asshole. Especially if you're doing it in the context of rating her against the girl that you're cheating on. Luckily, most guys I know (and not the Dude) don't think of that as "guy talk."


@thebestjasmine yes. thank you for calling out that smug, passive-aggressive mansplaining. I think we've had quite enough of that around here today. and for the record, Mr. Mansplainer, no one says you have to suppress mean thoughts. choosing to give voice and energy to them through detailed conversations based on negativity is an entirely different matter, though.

Dalas Verdugo@facebook

@thebestjasmine This particular guy is an asshole. I think everyone in the comments agrees on that. However, everyone needs to vent, whether their male or female, and I would rather have my significant other getting things off of her chest to someone she trusts rather than letting it brew and fester in her head. Putting limits on what someone is allowed to vent doesn't seem useful.

It seems like everyone here thinks the way to respond to people is just to insult them a lot. I stated my opinion without calling you a name or saying "Hey, you're just being lady-brained!" I would be open to talk more, but not if you're going to reduce me to some punching bag you can just dump rage on.


@Dalas Verdugo@facebook Talking shit behind someone's back is never a good thing to do. If you are insulting your partner behind his or her back, that's a terrible thing for you to be doing. Insulting and humiliating someone that you purport to care about is the way to damage her and damage your relationship, and the way to show the world that you're a mean person. This isn't just for a significant other, if you talk shit like this about your friends, you're an asshole too.

And if you have a problem with women standing up for themselves against men who talk down to us and condescend to us, then maybe The Hairpin is not the place for you to hang out. If you think that me calling you out in your condescension is name calling, then you probably shouldn't stick around here much if you're going to continue to mansplain (and tell people who politely told you how you were being offensive that we were dumping rage) because people here don't like it much.

Dalas Verdugo@facebook

@thebestjasmine I'm not sure what you classify as "talking shit" but I'm talking about talking honestly with your close friend. Yeah, if every time you were with your friend you were like "Haha, isn't my boyfriend stupid?" that's probably just being mean, but like someone here said, it might be normal for someone to be like "Yeah, I don't know, he's not that smart." as a way to get their trusted friend's opinion. "No, he's fine."

I'm not saying you should date someone who only says horrible things about people all the time. So if that's what you thought I meant, it wasn't.

To your second point: Is your goal to just avoid everyone who has a different opinion from you? To reduce people's opinions to catch-phrases like "man-splaining"? You might end up dismissing someone who you could have had a good conversation with once you got past the initial stage of finding common ground.


@Dalas Verdugo@facebook Do you seriously define telling someone my opinion as "avoiding everyone who has a different opinion"? If you read the letter, he sent emails to his friends calling his girlfriend a 7 as compared to the woman that he cheated with her on, and said nasty things about her appearance and body. If you think that's fine, then you can go ahead and do that, but I sure as hell don't, and I'll be happy to tell anyone whose boyfriend or girlfriend does that to get out.

I have no problem with anyone stating an opinion, but if you need to condescend to everyone here, then you should first google mansplaining and figure out a way to state your opinions without doing that.

Dalas Verdugo@facebook

@thebestjasmine No, I define you telling me to not come here as trying to avoid someone with a different opinion.


@Dalas Verdugo@facebook I said that if you can't handle people calling you on your opinions, you shouldn't come here. But it's even funnier that you call that me saying that I can't deal with differing opinions.


@atipofthehat Amen!


I like this Dude because he says y'all.

Hey letter writer whose boyfriend rated her a 7 - oh my god, dump him. Dump him yesterday and then maybe set his car on fire.

I would rather have a little neck biting than hair pulling but hey.


@likethestore Yes, that Bust Your Windows song seems relevant.


neck biting. YES


@likethestore Seriously! DUMP HIM. More like DTMF! STAT.

And as for biting vs. pulling, I say both!


@likethestore Ear biting? Bite my ear? Please?

fondue with cheddar

@likethestore BOTH PLEASE.

saul "the bear" berenson

@likethestore In my experience, any guy, ANY GUY who rates women by a number system can suck it.

Jolie Kerr

Majorly solid advice on that last Q, A Dude. I like a certain amount of rough play and agree that it's reeeeally important for women to tell their men because so many dudes are trained to be super gentle with the fairer sex. (As well they should be! Hurrah for progress! Let's root for more where that came from. But still... there are some downsides.)(Also please be hairy and grunt at me every now and again.)(*fans self, shimmies in chair*)


@Jolie Kerr Yeah, I'm real hesitant to go there without being asked. Women who tell you what they want are awesome.


I use "pretty" to describe guys on the regular.


@NeenerNeener Me too, hello Taylor Kitsch I'm looking at you!


@nogreeneggs I want to pull Tim Riggin's hair.

so what?

@likethestore i want tim riggin's to pull MY hair. also, when he shelters julie from the tornado... sealed the deal. SHELTER ME FROM THE TORNADO, TIM RIGGINS. TIIIIM.


No. 1: Grabbing it.
No. 2: Unicorns! THEY DO EXIST
No. 3: He's immature & insecure
No. 4: Slight tug to full-on pullback!


# 3 you need to get out now. Sorry - but, not a good sign. Also, you're not "old" at almost 30 - and if he thinks you are, he's an immature asshole who probably won't be able to grow with you in a relationship. Men who leave women in their late 20s for women in their early 20s are the worst kind of scum to me. Ugh.

Not like I'm speaking from experience...I just...a friend...tough time...cough....(slowly backs out of the hairpin)


With regard to the third letter, I generally agree you should never ever read a partner's e-mail but when someone is so careless, heartless, or passive aggressive as to leave that kind of e-mail open on YOUR computer instead of his, that is a lazy invitation to inquire further. People who don't want their e-mail read don't leave terrible e-mail drafts open on their girlfriends' computers. I don't think this guy is very nice Lady 3 and I am certain you deserve better--someone who will appreciate you for who you are, as you are. You are someone's 10 and maybe the sooner you dump this guy, the sooner you can meet that someone.

Hair pulling is awesome.

Anita Ham Sandwich

Ooh, I can help answer the poly question! I'm married and we decided a few months ago to go non-monogamous. There's a local poly support group and we asked about meeting other people...was there a secret handshake??? Turns out a lot of dating happens via OKCupid! I'm a user there, and there's an option for being married but still seeking people to date. Everybody I've had a date with knows right up front that I'm married and am not being a cheating piece of shit, because I've either met them through the poly group or through OKC.


@Anita Ham Sandwich I guess I just don't get the whole poly thing. Like why even get married if you want to date lots of dudes? There's nothing wrong with that but a long-term relationship or marriage generally implies monogamy. I think that's why the poly letter writer is pissing me off so much - none of those girls who wrote in about cheating boyfriends were actually in poly relationships.


@Anita Ham Sandwich That explains a lot of the OkCupid experience. Someone once said "assume at least 25% of people on OkCupid are not single, probably more." If you aren't, disclose that shit. It's not fair to the rest of us.

Anita Ham Sandwich

@likethestore There are a lot of benefits and expectations of marriage beyond sexual monogamy. Beyond the practical examples of tax benefits, sharing a mortgage and having someone who puts up with your family, you get things like the person you want to raise children with. Also, the notion that marriage implies monogamy hasn't always been the case throughout history, cultures, social classes, or genders.


@parallel-lines Yeah, I have known way too many people who started dating someone through OK Cupid or elsewhere and found out later that he was "going through a divorce" which just meant that he was married and cheating. Poly relationships are just fine, when that's what it is and everyone knows about it. But sometimes a lot of people are just cheating.

Anita Ham Sandwich

@thebestjasmine I think it's important to draw a big line between poly relationships and cheating. Anybody who's doing poly "right" would never present herself as single. In my case, having sex with someone else isn't considered cheating because I've talked about it and the specific partner with my husband. But if I had sex with someone else and lied or hid it from my husband, that would be cheating.


@Anita Ham Sandwich I have nothing important to add...but I wanted to say yay happy, healthy, non-monogamy! Squeee!


@Anita Ham Sandwich Yes, I don't want to imply that I think you're cheating/misrepresenting yourself at all, because that was not my intention.


@Anita Ham Sandwich I think that was more directed at the person who wrote in all freaked out because checking their email on some married person's phone, they found out the guy was also on OKC, though disclosing the fact that he is married, and freaked out and decided the guy was cheating. That whole thing smacked much more of being in an agreedly non-monogamous marriage to me.

We're not talking about lying bastards, here. We're talking about knowing when to mind your own damn business if you can't tell from the outside whether someone in a relationship is a lying, cheating bastard OR just discreetly open/poly/whatever.

Anita Ham Sandwich

@SarahDances Well said, thank you.


@SarahDances I totally hear what you're saying. Fact is,the majority of marriages in this country are monogamous. So it's not unusual or wrong for an individual to be upset and confused on how to handle a situation like the one where they didn't know if they should tell their family member about the information they discovered. I know a number of polys, and they have all told their family about their choice, so when you add that to the equation - chances are the individual in question is likely NOT poly, and is likely a cheater. Like thebestjasmine said, I think bringing it up is a good idea. If the couple has an agreement going on re: extramarital activity that the family doesn't know about then it's no harm - no foul. But I don't think an accidental discovery like that means "mind your own damn business" when cheating is definitely more often what's going on in situations like this, not polyamory or swinging.

Anita Ham Sandwich

@teenie Just poking in to play devil's advocate, there are likely a number of people who are poly that you don't know about because they haven't chosen to tell family or friends. If you asked most of my friends or relatives, they would all assume I'm monogamous, so I think it would be safe to say that there are plenty of people in poly relationships who aren't broadcasting.

I totally agree on bringing it up with the other person in this case, however. If their relationship is poly, the wife can acknowledge that. On such a public site like that, it seems inevitable that someone they knew would see the profile, no?


@Anita Ham Sandwich See, yes, this is all I think people were saying -- poly or not, the thing to do in that situation is to bring it up to the spouse if you see potentially cheating behavior. Don't be a nosy bitch and ask for details, but telling the spouse just seems like the right thing to do.


@Anita Ham Sandwich Thanks for addressing this! I also want to reiterate that "polyamory" and "cheating" are NOT synonymous, and that cheating is possible in a polyamorous relationship.

Also, the vast majority of the poly people I know are only "out" about their relationships with their partners (obviously) and their very close friends, but not family. (But yes, in the context of the question, I think the "if you see something, say something" advice stands.)

Ham Snadwich

@Anita Ham Sandwich I don't have anything to add, just wanted to make things confusing.



You guys are making me hnugry.


@Anita Ham Sandwich Ugh, yes, my sister was in an open relationship and had the dude cheat on her. Why? It was such an effed up thing to do (which resulted in a 3 a.m. drunken sobbing call to me on a new year's eve where I was asked to be the moderator in their fight. Awkward.). They broke up shortly after that.

What I wonder about poly, is I am married, I have two kids, we have jobs, we have friends, we have volunteer work. Who has time for ANOTHER relationship? I feel like I don't have enough time for the one I have.


@Ham_Snadwich I came for solidarity.


@Mila- yes, exactly. i am in awe of these poly-folk and their endless supply of energy.

Ham Snadwich

@Hambulance Someday our people will be free from the tyranny of processed cheese.

Aged Cheddar

@Ham_Snadwich @Hambulance
Oh, hello ladies.


@Anita Ham Sandwich @Porporina Hooray, hooray! Happy, healthy, honest non-monogamy has been really fantastic in my short (thus far) experience.


To #3, just want to add that saying "I love you" and not really addressing his own behavior and maybe how he would handle things differently in the future, that's a huge red flag. He's not really trying to explore what happened and why, he's just throwing the nice, cozy comforter of your relationship over a pile of shit.

Trying to ignore what happened and move on is so chickenshit and lame. DTMFA!


I love a little hair pulling, put I had to straight up tell my boyfriend not to pull SO HARD where he was either going to actually pull out my hair or break my neck. He gets excited I guess. Or he is trying to murder me and make it look like an weird accident.




@nogreeneggs - this is an important point for those who are unaccosmtomed to such friskyness. a woman i dated in college wanted me to choke her with a satin ribbon during sex. ok, i said. unfortunately, i gave it a little too much. apparently, there's a fine between a saucy lack of air and a crushed windpipe. she was fine- after a few minutes, but i felt like an ass of elephantine proportions, but...i mean, i didn't really know what to do. proceed with caution, i suppose is the best advice.

fondue with cheddar

@brad SAFE WORD (or gesture, as the situation may require)

elysian fields

I find it hard to understand the appeal of hair pulling. My man friend sometimes pulls at my hair accidentally during various bedroom activities, and it makes me scream (and NOT in a good way) every time, because my God! That hurts! Maybe I have a sensitive scalp but I can't imagine how even gentle pulling could be anything other than straight up painful.


@elysian fields I feel like the hair pulling has to happen closer to the scalp for it to be hot-painful and not just painful-painful.


@elysian fields the feeling of the whole thing (or large handfuls) to me feels very different from just a few pieces getting snagged (which, OW!).

major disaster

@elysian fields I don't know, I don't get it either, but apparently some people get off on pain? I mean, some people like spanking, too, right? I was with a guy once who was into biting, and I was all, OW, WTF, THAT HURTS. Because I am not one who likes pain. But I assume he must have been with people before who liked it, because otherwise why would he assume I would like it?


@elysian fields I'm with you, and I'm fine with some rough stuff, but hair pulling just seems mean to me. And I do have a sensitive scalp, so maybe that's it, but just...OUCH.

@thebestjasmine No no no it's awesome! Like when you're making out with someone and it's getting all steamy and moan-y, their hands are in your hair, and there's just a little bit of pressure/pulling? It's good stuff.


@S. Elizabeth I feel like this needs to be in that thread from last week, but just the IDEA of it is giving me flashbacks to mean girls in elementary school who pulled my braids.

elysian fields

@thebestjasmine oh yeah! well, in my case, more like my little sister yanking on my hair when we got into fights as children. blechhh. do not want to re-live that.

squid v. whale

@elysian fields I adore the above because it feels dirty, taboo, secretive, naughty, etc. which, during some sex sessions, is exactly what I want. Admittedly, I have a loving rom-com sex part of me too. I like sex like I like a damn good buffet -- give me a little of everything.


@major disaster It's not a pain thing for me at all: it's not painful, it's just some pressure on my scalp.

fondue with cheddar

@Ophelia Yeah, large handfuls are the way to go, that way it doesn't hurt.

@major disaster For me it's not about pain, because if done right it doesn't hurt. It's about the roughness of it.


preface: I don't know how to ask this in a way that doesn't sound douchey, but I really want to know. I apologize if I give offense.

What differentiates "in the closet" polyamory with swinging? It seems like a very similar thing to me. The polys who I have met are mostly out of the closet, discuss it with family, friends, etc. That seems different to me, mainly because there is this concept of potentially finding a long-term boyfriend/girlfriend beyond your other committed partner(s) so the family (yes, including kids) is in the know, to some degree. Can someone 'splain?


@teenie I was under the impression that swinging is more of a one night partner swap situation, whereas being poly means whoever/whenever/as long as you wanna-ever.


@teenie Polyamory implies shared love. Swinging is just shared sex. Yes, there are polys who just date for sex, but like serial monogamists, they are not representative of the entire group.

I'm married to my husband and this year I dated a cute boy on the side for about six months. He, my husband and I all got along great and the relationship would have continued indefinitely if we had been looking for the same things. I still hope to meet someone besides my husband with whom I can develop a long-term, intimate relationship. If you want to know how all that might go down, you should look up primary and secondary partners with regards to poly. For me, having a secondary partner is like having a long-term boyfriend with whom you've agreed to only hang out once in a while - you're developing a relationship, but you're not necessarily clinging to him 24/7. If you're doing it right, you get all the benefits of new love without the stress of having to find a FOREVER PARTNER RIGHT NOWWW BEFORE I TURN THIRTY OR WHATEVER etc.

We're not open to our family AT ALL, but it helps we live a few thousand miles away. I'm open to all my friends. I'm not open to my coworkers, because sex is just an off-limits topic there anyway. If I befriend someone and find myself lying about where I'm going and with who, I usually come out then.


@teenie Snobbiness, as far as I can tell. Poly people think swingers are trashy republicans and want to differentiate themselves even though they do the same thing.


Ask A Dude About The Contents Of My Boyfriend's Inbox. Don't worry letter writer 3, it sounds like your boyfriend is just poly. It's a whole movement, did you know? Not a half movement. Is that what you were thinking it was? You were wrong.


@theinvisiblecunt If there's one thing poly people love to talk about it's how they are poly - and it's so awesome and hey, did you know we have sex with people who aren't each other?! Cool! You should try it too! Poly people will talk to you about being poly until you beg them to stop. So chances are unless she's deaf she would have gotten word of this.


@parallel-lines it's right up there with being vegan, and being an atheist in the "things people over explain and preach about" category

so what?

@teenie the whole "preachy vegan/atheist" thing really gets to me. as both a vegan and an atheist, i am VERY conscious to not talk about my beliefs. hell, i've been at my job for nearly a year and no one knows either fact about me. even when people do eventually find out and ask about it, my response tends to just be something along the lines of, "it's just a personal decision and i know it's not right for everyone." meanwhile, many devout/omnivorous folks feel the need to explain to me at great length why my choices are wrong and theirs are right and/or to ridicule my decisions.

this is just a long way to say, can we give up the "so-and-so's are sooo preachy thing" and agree that lots of people are annoying and in-your-face about their beliefs and practices, whatever they may be. vegans! meat-lovers! atheists! pro-lifers! pro-choicers! republicans! democratics! communists! everyone is irritating!


@so what? I totally agree - it's like Americans in England - when I was living there, I was assaulted with opinions about how annoying, loud, and fat Americans are. Meanwhile, I am none of those things (annoying is debatable, but I digress...)

The fact is: the preachy, condescending atheists, vegans, and polys are the ones who are up in our face about it on the reg. we don't notice the quiet awesome ones who do it because they love it but don't have a conversion quota. So, on behalf of monogamous, omnivorous believers and agnostics who make these comments, I apologize (and that really isn't smartass, it just sounds that way). Unfortunately, there are many proponents of your lifestyle (i know you're not poly) who are not so low key, and you will end up getting annoyed by other's generalizations.

So maybe the best thing the low key's can do is talk about it more, on a more relaxed level, to change the dynamic?


@p-l/teenie ugh I wish I could take all the thumbs up my comment got and divvy them between these two posts

@so what? mmmm let's make a deal: swap hippie for vegan and BDSM lifestyler for atheist and call it even?


@so what?: Maybe you wouldn't be so grouchy if you just ate a steak like the Good Lord intended.


@parallel-lines I mean, I agree that poly people can be kind of obnoxious in their cheerleadery conversionness, but I think part of the reason they are like that is because the internet is probably the only place they get to talk about it with people who aren't poly. Like, a vegan can more or less openly bother their work colleagues with why it's wrong to eat meat or wear leather shoes or whatever, but a poly probably can't just chat with their coworkers about their second boyfriend.
So yeah, it's irritating, but I kind of understand why on the internet they tend to be so enthusiastically preachy. Maybe I'm just sheltered, but I've never met any person who talked about polyamorism in real life.


@ormaisonogrande : eehhhh I've met a number IRL who are just as preachy.

so what?

@teenie yeah i got you -- i've definitely experienced my share of annoying vegans that i wish would just shut up already. i do still think that they are the exception rather than the norm, but i get what you're saying. i also think that whenever you're partaking in something that is not widely practiced -- especially when it goes against the ingrained norms of society -- you're going to be ostracized a bit and even vilified (maybe mocked is a better word), as i think it inherently (and often unintentionally) alienates people. it just comes with the territory, i guess!

okay, i think i've said more than enough about this. hair pulling, amirite?!

so what?

@ejcsanfran oh gah, i lol'd at this, prompting questions from my coworkers as to the amusing joke. YOU ALMOST BLEW MY COVER!


@so what? TOTES. and neck biting. mmmmmm....


@so what? o and f-y-i I'm a nonreligious vegetarian and I <3<3<3 (chill) vegans and atheists and you. But I do love mocking even/especially when it applies to my own in-groups, so.


@ormaisonogrande Consider yourself lucky then. I know a few people who won't shut up about it, and if I had a quarter for every time they said "enlightenment" or "open communication" or "transcending jealousy" I could take a private yoga class and skip hearing the same thing at the studio.

dracula's ghost

@parallel-lines How can anyone be MORE ANNOYED with preachy atheists than with the literally preachy religious people our entire society is literally constantly bombarded with in the form of, you know, every elected official in our entire nation? I can't believe preachy atheism is annoying enough/prevalent enough to warrant raging about on the internet when we have shit like MICHELE FUCKING BACHMAN on our front page news stories every goddamn day of the week!!! Seriously?? If you ask me, this world could use A LOT MORE preachy atheism. Holy shit.


@dracula's ghost ...I never said anything about atheism but you're really on a screamy streak about it so continue, if you must.


@dracula's ghost, lolomg as long as I'm getting email notifications for this discussion, I have to reply:
1) dracula's ghost = the screenname I should have chosen
2) it's not that actual advocacy of atheism is annoying or even very prevalent in the irl; I think this brand of douchey is mostly the domain of young men who have nothing going for them physically, intellectually, personality-wise, charisma-wise &c and latch onto atheism as Their One Passion because it's a realllly easy way to declare yourself instantly smarter/better/more rational than huge swaths of the global population without having to actually accomplish things. "That bitch may have a nobel prize but she believes in a bearded man in the sky, heh feh meh what a clearly inferior intellect........ (posts on reddit) (fires up WoW)" it's the self-aggrandizing nonsense, not the actual philosophy that is being gently mocked here

Phil Koesterer

@dracula's ghost It's the cirrrrrrrrcle of life!


@theinvisiblecunt: a quote to live by... Also, heh feh meh? Ha!


Yessssss to hair pulling. It's the one reason I regret I cut all my hair off.

And Lady #3 - DTMFA.


@cherrispryte Yes and Yes.

Roaring Girl

@cherrispryte Ditto to this. I love my pixie, but my sex life is now sadly lacking in the hair-pulling department. Also, Lady #4: the proper way to get someone to pull your hair is to look them dead in the eye and say, "Pull my hair." Growl it, moan it, whisper it, shout it, whatever is appropriate in your particular sexy situation.

Danny boy

@Roaring Girl "Pull my hair, make me roar" ?


I have to agree with @thebestjasmine on this one - the guy left his email open on the screen. Come on. Also, big difference between "I'm in a committed relationship with someone but going through a rough spot" with one friend and "I went on a date with another woman and want to bang her" with all of his friends. Find a really good couples therapist OR pack your bags and find people who make you feel genuinely good and happy about yourself.


LW3, girl, you gotta break up. :( Those are red flags all over the place. I don't think you'll be able to get your self-confidence back if you continue dating this guy, knowing that he's hacking you down in front of his friends. I wouldn't want to be friends with, much less date, someone who said those horrible sorts of things about people they supposedly love. Maybe he could grow up and be a decent person in the future, but not with you, and not right now.


I'm so confused lately... the Dudes are making sense and behaving rationally. It's a world gone mad, is what I'm saying.

Anyway hair pulling is joy and poly can be fun too with the right people. As with anything, if both partners agree and appreciate the arrangement, the world is a better place for it, no matter what it consists of.


Polyamory sounds exhausting. Sorry, enjoy your different strokes, I'm gonna watch some Jersey Shore.

screwball cate

@parallel-lines Bleh...I'd rather by poly than watch Jersey Shore. But yeh, I couldn't manage multiple lovers. It's so nice to focus on one fabulous person and say "fuck the restaya, we're set."


@parallel-lines I have enough of a hard time finding one person who tolerates me the same amount I tolerate them. And now you're telling me there's folks who can find MULTIPLES? At the same time?! How does that even work?!


@parallel-lines Agreed. I read a book on it once, I'd just come out of a long relationship, and was about to begin a new one but wasn't really sure if more monogamy (ha ha I first typed mahogany!) was what my heart/vagina wanted. I learned all kinds of interesting shit - it's where I first heard about dental dams - but the only really useful thing I took away from it was that I'm just too darn lazy to be a proper poly. Or a pretty poly. Coincidentally, being 'too lazy to do it' is how my boyfriend reassured me that he won't cheat, I kinda believe him too.

I've never seen Jersey Shore and am not entirely sure what it is so can't comment on that but I hope you enjoy it :-)


@parallel-lines Ugh. Right? I mean, I got married so I didn't have to date anymore. Marriage w/dating, it sounds like the absolute worst of both worlds.


@heb Man, dating was horrible! So many creepers and jerks and people who don't know how to close e-mail windows or log off properly. I am glad to say goodbye to all of that.


I would like to join you all on the too lazy and possibly too disorganized boat. I am starting a new boat for "not emotionally mature enough" if you want in!


@BlodwynPig: More Mahogany is always the answer! "Do you know where you going to? Do you like the things that life is showing you?"


@parallel-lines Yeah, it's a nice idea but with my job and whatnot, I barely have time to date one guy at a time let alone try and maintain multiple relationships. I respect the stamina of someone who can handle that. Also, I get way too jealous. I know this about myself I accept it. I keep it mostly to myself but I do not care to share.


@parallel-lines Right? I'm finally at the point in my relationship where I barely have to have sex with him at all. I can't imagine going back up to more than once a week.


@insouciantlover Liz Lemon?


@parallel-lines how about being someone's "second" or side relationship? yes, that is JUST what I want, a relationship that has a bunch of limits imposed without my input!


@DrFeelGood Yes! I often say, "thank God I never have to date again!". That is, the meet-cute/internet/email exchanges and "so where'd you grow up" and "where'd you go to school?" and "how many sibs do you have?" and all that trite, job interview-esque b.s. - ugh. Never. again.


@parallel-lines YES! I hate hate hate hate dating. The whole reason to be in a relationship, for me, is to have regular sex without having to date. Poly relationships actually sound like a nightmare.


@parallel-lines Between school and work, I barely have time to see the ONE boyfriend, let alone entertain others! The thought of it is horrifyingly exhausting/exhaustingly horrifying. And how to people avoid getting awfully jealous? B/c I feel like anyone who says, "Oh, I'm not jealous la la la" (like that) is in denial.

Mad Dog

LW#3, I wouldn't even bother trying to work things out. I know you've been together a long time, but this man is NOT a good man. A Dude already covered the whole "he went on a FUCKING DATE!" thing, so I will just say that what your boyfriend said about you was so disrespectful. And wrong. I would never, ever talk about my partner in those terms to anyone because I love him. It breaks my heart just thinking about it. Someone who really loves you would not go on a date with another woman, would not "rate" you, and most certainly would not try to justify his behaviour or ignore how it makes you feel. You deserve so much better than that.


I make it a point to always disclose the poly side of things up front. I don't think it's fair to a new guy or girl I'm talking to to think I'm gonna be their one and only, when I've got someone else. Bringing it up also gives me a peek into how people feel about flirting, jealousy, and similar topics.



Do you mean to suggest there are poly people who are so unethical that they go out and date as if they are totally technically single?! Yech.
Not being up front and offering a single person the option of politely declining the honor of being the bit o' strange for someone who is already committed to another party seems sleazy and disrespectful.


love me some hair-pulling but also am simultaneously convinced that I am going prematurely bald. so torn.


Hair pulling doesn't make any sense to me. I mean, we shampoo, condition, deep condition, blow dry, mousse, smoothing cream, flat iron, curl, tease, and AquaNet the shit out of it, why would we want to subject our tediously manicured coifs to more abuse?

It's not like I have a sensitive scalp or anything. And I promise I like awesome sexy times. Is it the feeling of being dominated? Please explain.

PS please ignore the teasing and AquaNetting. Contrary to what this post may have you believe, I'm not a mom from Toddlers and Tiaras. Or Dolly Parton. Sorry to disappoint.

screwball cate

@giraffelegs I can't speak for everyone, but I don't think it is so much about dominance as it is just rough-housing a bit. Getting treated like a fragile little glass egg (because I am a petite woman I presume) is pretty tiresome.


@giraffelegs Please be Dolly Parton next time you comment here, and do it in Dolly's voice too.


@giraffelegs grabbing a handful of hair at the nape of your neck is awesome. not on the top - that hurts. Its like intensifying, grabbing hold. maybe a little dominating too, depending on context.


@giraffelegs Ask a Dolly Parton?


Dudes and ladies need to learn how to pull hair safely and for maximum effectiveness.

1. Rake your fingers through your partner's hair so your fingertips are against his or her scalp.
2. Ball your hand up into a big fist with your knuckles directly against the scalp. Not too tight, or your partner will be able to hear individual hairs going "ping! ping! ping!" out of his or her scalp (do not ask me how I know this).
3. Tug gently to start. Apply more force if requested.
4. Profit.

Hair pulling is one of the few things Pete Campbell does juuuuuuuuust right. Mmmmf. (Don Draper does not do this well, actually--when he yanks Bobbie Barrett's hair by the bathrooms at Lutece, he grabs it by the ends so her head whips around dangerously.)

Tuna Surprise

@Clare - your tutorial is perfect. Do biting next.


@Clare This should be photocopied and distributed in health class. Especially since you gave illustrative (and perfect) examples!


@Clare I was also about to say, re: Pete Campbell. Oh man.


@Tuna Surprise yesssss, biting. there is this little spot, just below the points of my hairline? you know, on each side the hairline dips down? biting right below that, an open-mouthed slow chomp, firm but not TOO hard, taking in about 1" of skin? ((shudder))


@Clare Wait, does anybody have a clip of Pete Campbell pulling hair? It's...for research. For a friend!


@Tuna Surprise @Lucienne Aw, thanks! I take my hair pulling VERY SERIOUSLY. Unfortunately there are too many variables to do a quick-n-dirty biting tutorial. Do you bruise easily? Do you live in a cold climate that necessitates turtlenecks year round? Does your partner wear dentures?

I guess the Cliffs Notes version would be anything covered by work clothes is fair game; ask permission for anything above the collar?


@Clare I just realized I'm sitting here at my desk, PULLING MY OWN HAIR :/
My coworker just walked by and he goes, "What are you doing and why are you smiling like that?" and I told him not to worry about it.

sarah girl

@Clare I also heard from a friend that if you have a ponytail, pulling right at the base of the ponytail can be really hot.

Speaking of cake, I have cake

@Clare Remind me of when Pete Campbell pulled hair? Also, if anyone has made a GIF of it...?


@Diana @skyandgorse 1.8 "The Hobo Code." It's like the first scene.

up periscope

@Clare Does this mean Jon Hamm as the Draper is ...hamm-fisted when it comes to hair pulling? I HAD TO!!! I registered JUST for this! Ahh, my inaugural Hairpin comment.

a horde of great crab things

@Diana http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVxtgmwSvj4&NR=1 Here is Pete Campbell, doing that thing he does so well. (That other thing he does well, the thing which is neither Bitchface or the Charleston).


@discodamage Is it, um, hot in here?

sarah girl

@discodamage Oh man I didn't even recall this scene before I made my earlier comment. SEE, TRUTH


@emilylouise You could've told him you were giving yourself a scalp massage...

a horde of great crab things

@Melusina I'm fanning myself like a southern belle over here, for real.

a horde of great crab things

@Sarah H. 900% pure truth. And also, isn't it funny that so many of us have no recollection of this ever having happened?

fondue with cheddar

@teenie I've got very well-developed neck/shoulder/back muscles that are always tense, so I love a good, deep bite in the trapezius. Sexy and massagey goodness! :D


I'm surprised at the anti-poly comments by so many Hairpinners! I'm in a monogamous marriage and not poly (but would consider it). I know people that do it poorly, just like there are people that do every other type of relationship poorly. But I also can understand that some folks have the capacity/patience/communication skills/whatever to go for it. And I salute them as long as they do it with ethics and integrity.

The Ethical Slut is the book most often recommended for those interested in polyamory. I haven't read it yet but plan to.

I also think it has been fairly clear that all the Ask A questions to date have been about cheating juiceboxes and not secretly poly situations.

Also, yay hair-pulling.

screwball cate

@misskaz Yeh I agree, I just have a tendency to make "not my style" into "that seems like it would suck" but that's not a great attitude now, is it?

dracula's ghost

@screwball cate Well I do think it is weird to write in to Ask A Dude being like "maybe some of these shitty assholes are actually poly and you just don't know it," because (a) I think actual poly dudes are EXTREMELY LESS COMMON than just shitty asshole cheater dudes and (b) it doesn't really change the responsibility of the friend in question, who, regardless of the hypothetical existence of polyamory in whatever specific circumstance, is still sort of honor-bound to bring up the *potential* cheating with the friend. Like if I saw some random dude rummaging around in somebody's backpack at the coffee shop while said person is in the bathroom, take out their wallet, and run off with it, should my response be "well some people don't believe in the concept of private property so probably what I just witnessed is mellow"??

Letter writer #3, girl, WHAT IN THE HELL. There is literally no conceivable universe in which it is reasonable for you to stay with this awful shitbag of a human. He doesn't love you--girl, he doesn't even LIKE you. Literally any human on earth deserves better than this. George W. Bush deserves better than this!--there is no way this is the best you can do. GET OUT, GET OUT NOW. PACK A BAG AND LEAVE THE HOUSE RIGHT THIS MINUTE, you are free and a grown-ass woman!! YOU CAN DO IT!


@misskaz I read that book! It expanded my vocabulary, possibly improved my overall relationship skills and made me sure I didn't want to become poly, so yeah give it a whirl!


@BlodwynPig Samesies!


@misskaz Oh man, I am so late to the poly discussion. I think most people would agree that you have more responsibility to your friends than to some random person when it comes to sharing suspicions (duh), but I think the point here is looking at how one raises these things. Like, you can go to your friend and be all "STACEY, YOUR HUSBAND IS A LYING CHEATING SACK OF SHIT AND I TOLD HIM OFF AND NOW I'M TELLING YOU" or "STACEY, CAN I TALK TO YOU? I FOUND SUCH AND SUCH ON ROBBIE'S PHONE, DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS?" or anything in between. I think one can share suspicions while also giving someone the benefit of the doubt.

Sidenote: can we please please not use "cheating" so loosely as to mean just sleeping/dating/whatever with someone else and accept that it really just means breaking agreed-upon rules, including unspoken, socially normative ones?

anna to the infinite power

It helps to think of hair pulling, and any "pain" FWIW, as just somewhere along the gradient of sensation. Intense sensation that might be uncomfortable or truly painful can feel really, really good when you are all excited. Our pain thresholds can change based on how far we've ramped up the stimulation. And still, some people just don't find intense sensations pleasurable, and that's ok.

If you want to try it, make sure your partner gets plenty of it close to the roots, untangled, and pulls with steady hand. I don't think anyone likes having it yanked.


I enjoy having my hair pulled by my poly lover whilst we read to each other from our spouses' email inboxes. He tells me I'm pretty, but I know he tells his dude friends I'm a seven. Whatever. POLY HAIR PULLING!! WEEEEE!

No but actually, I love having my hair pulled a little. That's why I put it in braids DUH.


@kayjay: One time I was putting my hair in pigtails and my boyfriend walked by and muttered, "Pigtails. Oh, yeah."


@laurel My boyfriend calls them reigns.


This Dude seems practical. I like that.

I'm a little sad about all the poly/open relationship hate in the comments...but it's maybe made a little better by all the hair-pulling love?


@Porporina read @viola bruise riiiiiight beneath your comment. No one seems upset by polyamory, actually. People seem upset by:

-douchebags who cheat, and then say "but I'm poly, I just never told you about it and now you are repressing meeeeeeeeeeeee" (which, of course, is NOT being poly, since that is all about informed consent).

-poly people who insist on proselytizing about how great and amazing their lives are and monogamy is sooooooooo over. I am sure you are not one of these people. But these people exist, and they TALK A LOT.


@saythisword oh yes, those cheaty douchebags are just that! And I also have a serious distaste for the "recruiter" types that @viola bruise mentioned...smacks of doods who think they can "turn" a lesbian ::shudder::

I just generally want everyone to be accepting of each others life choices (when they don't hurt anyone)!


@saythisword I guess I just wonder where everyone is getting the idea that people cheat and then claim that it's not cheating because "I'm poly and never told you!". Is this a thing that people do?

I am not polyamorous, but my understanding is that someone who is polyamorous is OPEN about it. You can't BE polyamorous if you're not open about it with your partner. That is basically the definition of polyamory: that your partners know about your relationships with other partners. If you are "hiding that you're poly" from someone that you're dating, then you aren't poly. You are just a fucking cheater co-opting an identity that you don't really understand.


@saythisword I don't see a lot of poly "hate" per se...just a lot of, god that sounds like a lot of work, not for me. which isn't the same at all. personally, i like the idea of being poly and i love and respect my poly friends, but since i find dating so devoid of pleasure, i don't really understand it. it's something i joke about with my poly friends, like... Me: ugh, dating! friend: yea, dating! Not such a big deal.

viola bruise

My biggest problem with polyamory is when poly people try to recruit non-poly people over to their way of doing things. Somehow it always gets presented as "we've got the secret to more enlightened human sexual relationships! join us!!" Or, as was presented in my most recent dating experience with a self-proclaimed poly dude- "I want you to love me AND feel cool when you watch me go home with other women!" Which, no thank you. Please go meet each other at your secret clubs and leave me alone at Squaresville Bar to meet other squares.


@viola bruise Squaresville bar is like, my favorite hangout place. Also, is this the new "cool" thing that all the enlightened folks are doing, like canning vegetables and being vocal atheists?

dracula's ghost

@DrFeelGood I can vegetables and am a vocal atheist and am not poly!

viola bruise

@viola bruise I want to clarify that I think being polyamorous is a completely valid choice and way to conduct relationships. From experience, though, it almost always needs to be a choice that people arrive to on their own, and not through the inducement of a partner or potential partner, because there is just too much room for "oh, well, I guess that sounds alright... I really like this person..." which inevitably ends poorly. And a lot of poly rhetoric about how monogamy is restrictive, how polyamory is more "radical," blah di blah, just seems designed to subtly shame people not interested in carrying out a poly affair with someone. This is so prevalent in activist circles, it kinda makes me ill. I'm viola bruise, a confirmed radical activist nutbag, and monogamy works for me!

No Account

@viola bruise
When someone seems like an old-fashioned dick, he or she might acutally just be very enlightened. So it's important to listen patiently to the long explanations, because sometimes that's the only way you can really tell the difference. In fact, sometimes the explanation is the only difference.

viola bruise

@No Account "In fact, sometimes the explanation is the only difference."

This, one million times.


@screwball cate Ahhh.... you just gave me new perspective. I guess guys feel like they can rough me up all they want because I'm kind of a giant. And I am usually the one to dish out the purple nurples.

@parallel-lines "Whaddya'll think of my boozums? Ain't they somethin'? *giggle* "


"And bullshit that’s “how guys talk.” Saying “I acted like a piece of shit but it’s no big deal cause boys will be boys” is no excuse. I don’t say things like that about the women I’ve dated and neither do my friends. What kind of asshole says negative things about his girlfriend’s body to his friends? What kind of asshole directly compares his girlfriend’s body to another woman's? Plenty of men manage to talk about the difficulties they’re having with their girlfriend, and even the temptations they feel, without being so flagrantly disrespectful."

I like this Dude.


@Hooplehead This is totally one of my favorite Dudes.


@Hooplehead You shouldn't really take any of that kind of conversation literally. Depending on the group of guys, a lot of it is done in a certain kind of coded language. Try having a discussion about your emotions without showing any vulnerability. I'm not trying to excuse this guy at all. He seems like an asshole, but what he says to his friends has to be taken in context of how they talk to each other.

@MrComment So the answer to the difficulties of socially constructed masculinity is to give them a break because it's just so hard to be a man?

You realize that most of the time when women dealing with the difficulties of socially constructed femininity have a hard time, the answer is that they're crazy, too emotional, too sensitive, or that they should just work harder to "get over it," right?

Male privilege fail.

dracula's ghost

@S. Elizabeth HEAR HEAR


@MrComment It doesn't matter if I take it literally or figuratively. Dissecting your girlfriend's body, reinforcing her insecurities and rating her against other women to your friends is shitty behavior, regardless. The Dude was right to not give it a pass. Men who care about their girlfriends and don't want to hurt them shouldn't talk about them that way.


@MrComment ...on the same thread on which the joys of hair-pulling are extolled. I personally don't like being around guys like that, but they do exist and some people like to date them.

He's an asshole because he went on a date with some one else while in a monogamous relationship. He's also an asshole because he showed little concern for his girlfriends feelings. He's stupid and inconsiderate because he left it on her computer.

What he says between his friends should be taken in context. It is not at all the same thing as saying it publicly or directly to his girlfriend.

Mad Dog

@MrComment Wait...what? Your comment implies that wanting one's partner to perform a specific sexual act and NOT wanting one's partner to publicly mock your body are contradictory somehow. How is that, again?


@NatashaMcG I don't consider emails between friends to be public. I find it strange to have the male privilege card played at the same time that a conversation is going on that fetishizes male physical dominance.


@MrComment What the fuck about people liking hair pulling fetishizes male physical dominance? And please, stop whining about a male privilege card (a totally offensive phrase, fyi, so don't say it anymore unless you want everyone to recognize that you're being a juicebox) when you're claiming that it's so hard for men to talk to their friends so they have to be assholes when they do it.

@MrComment Whoa, did you really just say that? These are two different topics.

Male privilege has to do with the way society views masculinity, the way men are treated in the world, the preferential treatment of masculinity, the problematic assumptions made about men, and the ways in which gender, race, and class intersect. Male privilege has to do with the ways in which men are allowed to move through the world and the implications of that. Calling out male privilege and calling it what it is has little to do with a woman's sexual proclivities in the context of consensual activity between herself and another adult.

You essentially posit that in order to discuss male privilege and potentially discuss it (on a website for women who are smart and plucky and educated), it essentially requires us to not discuss sex with any sort of power dynamic, not desire sex with any sort of kink, or desire sexual acts that are pretty normal unless we get behind you and pat you on the back blindly without questioning men and male privilege.

I'm a queer chick, so I take my hair pulling without any male dominance, thanks so much.


@MrComment "Fetishizes male physical dominance?" Hair-pulling is the most feminine, frilly and female-coded act of aggression that exists. LITERALLY. Possibly, and I mean possibly, scratching someone's eyes out is more girly, but I fucking doubt it. Asking a dude to pull your hair is one step down from asking him to wear a dress while he fucks you. Down, not up. Read a fucking book sometime, you illiterate ignoramus.

Mad Dog

@MrComment Well, your friends are "public" in terms of your relationship in the sense that everyone outside the relationship is "public." I was using publicly to mean "in front of people." It is extremely humiliating to your partner to mock and deride her appearance in front of people she will have to interact with on a regular basis. Nothing excuses that, especially not "boys will be boys." And complaining that it is so haaaaaard to be a man because you never get to show your vulnerability and so you just have no choice but to dehuamnize your girlfriend instead of discussing relationship issues in a respectful way IS a demonstration of male privilege. Trying to shut down criticisms of that privilege by throwing women's sexual choices and predilections in their faces is another one. I mean, what next? Is it okay for a woman to criticize sexism/misogyny if she likes it man-on-top? Does going down on her knees for a BJ means she forfeits credibility? Fuck that.

And for what it's worth, the idea that hairpulling = fetishizing male dominance, full stop, is extremely reductive. Lesbians do it. Women do it to men. And often, women do it to men who do it to them. How complex!


@S. Elizabeth Well, the question is addressed to a dude asking how to get guy to pull her hair. Apparently it is preferable not to ask for this, which implies that she wants the guy to just do it. It doesn't mention her pulling his hair. I don't think I'm crazy to see a gender dynamic there.

I didn't raise the issue of male privilege and I kind of resent that I was accused of it. My point was that what is said within his support group is said with some kind of expectation of how it would be interpreted. "She's a 7," could be his way of fishing for compliments for her. Not cool, but not the same thing as saying she's ugly. I don't know him or his friends. The same kind of social influence that leads men to relate to each other in this way, leads them to outwardly display aggression. In our current system, which includes but isn't bound by male privilege, aggression helps men achieve social standing.

What happens in a healthy, communicative relationship is it's own story. But, the gist of a lot of the comments seems to be "I just want a guy who will grab me by the hair without me having to ask him." I have a hard time not seeing a power dynamic being played out there.

You may call me names below.


@queenofbithynia I have a stack of books I've been meaning to get to. Should I start with Bukowski or Hunter S. Thompson?

@MrComment "I don't think I'm crazy to see a gender dynamic there." Maybe in that one instance there is (and really, maybe there isn't). But in general, a lot of the "he's not doing it and I want him to" questions are about women who are afraid to ask for what they want in bed, don't know how to ask for what they want in bed, or asked for what they wanted in bed previously and were shot down in a way that made them feel bad/wrong/slutty/weird for wanting it. This is common.

You seem to be missing my point about male privilege vs. a sex act. The way you write drips of male privilege -- you are combative and your words are full of self-important vitriol and it's pissing almost everyone off. You're not engaging in a way that is constructive, mostly because you're being a condescending prick, and my read on that is pretty reasonable.

That power dynamic that's being played out is being played out in the context of sex, and sex only. There's nothing weird about wanting to have a sex life with a certain dynamic and be treated as an equal in all other contexts.

Your understanding of the situation is pretty fucked up. For you to think it's okay leaves me puzzled. Anyone who behaves in that manner is a complete asshole. Anyone who condones it falls into that category.


@MrComment You did indeed raise the issue of male privilege. You raised it by being a male, in this thread, and saying that this guy is justified in being terrible to his girlfriend because he's a man too. You raised it by claiming that someone played a "male privilege card" as if that's something that has to be played or is a bad thing to bring up. And your offense at being accused of having male privilege is the most male privileged thing even possible.

And it's a huge misreading of the comments to claim that hairpulling is about male dominance and that women want men to just do it without asking, when most of the comments on that are either saying "Yay, I love that!" or "I hate that, he should ask first!" And it's particularly hilarious that you continue to claim that when multiple lesbians post about how much they like it.


@S. Elizabeth I don't think it's ok, I hate this kind of male dynamic. I wish it would go away. I do my best to avoid it. But, it does exist and I'm a little more sympathetic to a guy who feels he has to participate in it. I don't think it automatically makes a guy an asshole (this guy seems to be).

I'm totally with you on asking for it, and I think that's the key point. I saw the heart of the question as being disappointed that she didn't get something she didn't ask for. This rewards the men that are willing to take the risk of doing that. For the record, I now see that the association with dominance is more in my head than others and will adjust accordingly.

"The way you write drips of male privilege..." I don't know what to say about that. I tried to make my point as clearly and as succinctly as I could. I don't think I was specifically insulting to anyone.


@S. Elizabeth, thebestjasmine, and others responding to MrComment... you guys are brilliant... I <3 Hairpinners!!

@MrComment I find it kind of appalling that you can feel sympathy toward this behavior. I understand that societal expectations of masculinity are problematic, but I don't think that insulting women to make one's self look better is a reasonable, justifiable, or healthy way to respond to that. I also don't think that giving unacceptable and troubling behavior a pass is the answer. Sympathy toward people who feel the need to engage in this behavior in the form of treating it like a little oopsie is pretty fucked up.

I think what you're getting at is consent. Consent is sexy and lovely. While there might be "rewards" (why are you using language of conquest?) for men who do it spontaneously, that's not really what's on the table. The question being asked is most likely "How do I get a guy to pull my hair the way I want when I'm most likely embarrassed by the thought of asking?"

Look, you've toned it down a bit, but essentially you jumped into a conversation and made assertions that were based upon assumption. When multiple people questioned you, told you that your assertions were flawed, problematic, and pretty douchey (yes, you come across this way), you continued to be defensive, combative, and incredibly stubborn in a way that is not necessarily admirable. Instead of writing, read how comments on The Hairpin work -- not logistically, but how women respond to one another. We ask a lot of questions, most opinions are phrased with notable curiosity that comes across as genuine. Even comments that are full of opinion are not necessarily polarizing because they take into account that there are other perspectives.

There's something that happens when the world looks like it's your oyster, but it's not -- that even when you're as smart, well-educated, quick, witty, and driven as the men in your life, it takes you twice as much work to get ahead. It's not because of us, because women "aren't aggressive enough," it's because the world is a big, bad place and life isn't fair. So you learn to question it, you learn that not everyone will respect your opinion. The flip side to privilege is that those who don't have it recognize it really, really well.

By the way, it's infuriating when women talk about male privilege and some guy responds with "women should work harder" or says something about maternity leave, women's issues, etc. Discussing male privilege isn't about individuals -- it's about a culture that permits certain individuals and certain groups to obtain unchecked and unquestioned power, and the reproduction of a hierarchy that is reproduced because it benefits those with the most power to change it.


@thebestjasmine I pretty much love the hairpinistas for this thread. I was all "someone needs to explain that privilege= unearned or deserved social advantage and the baggage that comes with it, and consensual sex is consensual sex" and yea verily... the smart plucky writers here do just that.

Also, if my boyfriend tried to justify talking about me the way the juicebox up there in the letter did, I would feel pretty fucking crushed. And I am, most of the time, a person who has what a friend calls an "india-rubber ego." So it has to be pretty fucking bad, if it upsets me, is what I am saying.


@thebestjasmine I pretty much love the hairpinistas for this thread. I was all "someone needs to explain that privilege= unearned or deserved social advantage and the baggage that comes with it, and consensual sex is consensual sex" and yea verily... the smart plucky writers here do just that.

Also, if my boyfriend tried to justify talking about me the way the juicebox up there in the letter did, I would feel pretty fucking crushed. And I am, most of the time, a person who has what a friend calls an "india-rubber ego." So it has to be pretty fucking bad, if it upsets me, is what I am saying.

Dalas Verdugo@facebook

@MrComment While your opinion might not have been the "right" one here, you attempted to explain yourself and give more insight into your perspective. The people who disagreed with you here seemed to just take it as an excuse to hurl a bunch of mean names at you, as if that's the proper way to have a discussion. Then everyone else patted them on the back for being so great.

Folks, I totally understand you disagreeing with this guy, but you could leave all of the hate speech out and still make your point. He seemed more than willing to have a discussion, even if you thought his opinion was misguided.


@Dalas Verdugo@facebook Hate speech! Can you please point out the hate speech in the comments above?

Dalas Verdugo@facebook

@thebestjasmine Based on this one, and our conversation above, it's pretty clear to me that you just want to channel anger into discussions. I don't want to participate in that.


@Dalas Verdugo@facebook Oh man, now you are literally saying that people who disagree with you are just angry! And are channeling their anger into discussions! It's like you are male privilege and mansplaning come to life. When people question you about your statements, you refuse to answer and just say that it's just women being angry and that negates our opinions. Do you even see what you're doing here? You call something hate speech, I call you out on it, and you call me an angry woman, this is amazing.

Dalas Verdugo@facebook

@thebestjasmine I don't think it's WOMEN being angry. I think it's you. I don't think being a woman makes you angry, but I do think that you, as a person, keep reducing me to "MALE" and then punching on that MALE punching bag.

If you don't see all the anger in the thread up above, I'm not sure how me copying and pasting it all over again is going to make it clear.

It's not "women being angry" for people to disagree, but your choice of words, your delivery, and your constant reduction of me to "EVERYMAN" says to me that you're more interested in raging than talking.


@Dalas Verdugo@facebook You told me that I was angry right after I called you out for saying that there was hate speech, because you couldn't point to any, and now you can't point to any anger! Oh, this is hilarious. I'm not pointing to you as everyman (but that's even more funny that you felt the need to say that) I'm pointing to you who is consistently being condescending and derailing. Is this some kind of Derailing for Dummies http://www.derailingfordummies.com/ bingo card that you are filling out?

If you are genuinely interested in having a conversation here, you need to stop attacking people and condescending to people, and start listening when people tell you that everything about the way that you're talking is offensive. But when people did that, you leapt so quickly derailing that it's unclear that you want to have a real conversation. I attempted to engage you to ask you how you found hate speech, and to define why so many people here find discussions behind someone's bad offensive, but instead of responding, you called me angry, and raging (!). Wow.

Dalas Verdugo@facebook

@thebestjasmine Ok, I'm not trying to avoid your earlier questions. The tone seems extremely combative and unbalanced from MrComment's tone:

"What the fuck..."

"please, stop whining"

"don't say it anymore unless you want everyone to recognize that you're being a juicebox"

"Read a fucking book sometime, you illiterate ignoramus."

"You're not engaging in a way that is constructive, mostly because you're being a condescending prick"

"Sympathy toward people who feel the need to engage in this behavior in the form of treating it like a little oopsie is pretty fucked up."

"When multiple people questioned you, told you that your assertions were flawed, problematic, and pretty douchey"

Hiroine Protagonist

@Dalas Verdugo@facebook http://www.derailingfordummies.com/#hostile

Mad Dog

@Dalas Verdugo@facebook Look, you're putting "right" in sarcastic quotes like you don't actually think the prevailing opinion of women on this thread is right. But I have to tell you, telling women they should just accept their boyfriend mocking their appearance behind their back because it's "guy talk" or hard to be a man who expresses his feelings or whatever - that is not right. And telling women they are not allowed to call out that kind of assholish behaviour because they might want their hair pulled during sex - that is really not right. And finally, you sweeping in here and trying to ignore the very valid arguments being made here by pulling the "tone" accusation - that isn't right, either. There is plenty of disagreement that happens here, but when said disagreements include some very problematic and sexist assumptions about what women are or are not allowed to say based on their sexual proclivities, you are damn straight that people are going to get angry.


@MrComment I bet the lady who wrote the letter felt that email to her horrible partner's friends was a pretty bloody public forum for degrading her and that relationship.


@Dalas Verdugo@facebook Wait, so now we're not allowed to express ourselves in a way you find angry? Should we write like we're mocking up invitations to a children's birthday party? The word 'whining' is hate speech? What world do you live in?

Also, points for jumping in to comment on a thread that you then say you don't want to participate in it. Logic fail.


@MrComment FWIW, I don't think you were mansplaining. I disagreed with some of your earlier points, but I don't think you've been disrespectful or condescending in the slightest. It's legitimate to raise the issue of communicative context, even if it doesn't lead me to sympathize with or justify the guy's behavior.


@S. Elizabeth and @thebestjasmine - Excellent points made by both of you. I would stand up and applaud, were such a thing possible on the internet.

girl wearing glasses

@MrComment super late to the conversation but i feel like you are getting a bit destroyed here.
1. i like when guys pull my hair, and it is completely about dominance for me. so i saw it that way too. but i guess it's not that for everyone.
2. his conversation was private inasmuch as it was between his friends. i don't think he is an asshole for saying this stuff to his friends, he would be an asshole for saying it to his girlfriend. and saying emails or conversations between close friends aren't private or some topics should be discussed sounds like the thought police to me. so now i can't talk to my confidantes about confidential things?
...sure the way he put it was awful. but most people are a bit more crass with close friends or exaggerate a bit. it's being taken way out of context.

he is an asshole for going out on a date and wanting to be single but not having the balls to break up with this girl. and he is an asshole for leaving it open on her computer for her to find so she would break up with him (i agree with that theory others have suggested).

and she should break up with him. and never look through another boyfriend's emails unless she is prepared for what she might find.

I'm Not Rufus

Ok, I'm really late to this party. I completely disagree with Mr. Comment that there's any inconsistency between wanting to have your hair pulled in bed and wanting, in general, to be treated as an individual and not as a stereotype of your gender.

I have to say I'm also really bugged though by some of the responses to Mr. Comment. His original comment was that the boyfriend's email had to be taken in context of how the boyfriend generally interacts with his friends. Then, simply by virtue of Mr. Comment being male, several commenters made the presumption that Mr. Comment would not extend the same courtesy to someone who was female. I think making that assumption is bullshit and unfair, regardless of whether you feel subsequent comments validated it or not.

For the record, I think A Dude's advice was sound and letter writer should definitely dump the guy.

@I'm Not Rufus
a. First of all, there really isn't any context in which telling your friends that your significant other isn't attractive or desirable. That's just... horrible. No. Sorry. Context is definitely everything, but I just cannot imagine that the situation described in the original question can be interpreted as a matter of being taken out of context. Those are harsh, biting, demeaning things to say about the person with whom you're in a relationship.

b. "You shouldn't really take any of that kind of conversation literally. Depending on the group of guys, a lot of it is done in a certain kind of coded language. Try having a discussion about your emotions without showing any vulnerability." The gendered twist that Mr Comment put on this is why this has to do with gender and male behavior and male privilege. Essentially, this statement boils down to "boys will be boys" and "it's so hard to show our feelings, we have secret guy code for everything!" as a means of justifying shitty behavior when it's done by men. And giving someone a pass on that and not calling it what it is, and not questioning the gendered implications of that statement is pretty problematic.

The way the boyfriend interacts with his friends isn't the issue; it's the way the boyfriend interacts. His behavior is horrible and there is little to no way to find a reasonable excuse for it.


@S. Elizabeth I guess this is our fundamental disagreement on this one. I really think that discussion between friends should be a safe zone where you can say anything. I've always assumed that any of my ex-girlfriends' friends were well aware of any and all of my faults. But, I think the talk between friends is often the beginning of the thought process. This guy's behavior reveals him to be generally shitty, but I could see the same conversation as the start of a guy coming to the conclusion that life's not all about nailing the hottest girl he can find.


@MrComment I just fundamentally think that talking shit behind someone's back, someone who you claim to love, is terrible behavior. I don't think it's a boyfriend/girlfriend thing -- there was a letter to Ask a Lady a few months ago about a woman whose girlfriends were talking shit about her, and I view this as exactly the same. I think that if there's something that you have to say about your friend/girlfriend/boyfriend that you would feel really ashamed of saying to them (not, like "I hate it when he works too late" or "we had a big fight because he did x" but "she has a terrible body" or "Isn't that funny how she said she looked good in that dress but she looked like shit!") then it's just mean and wrong.

I'm Not Rufus

Generic brand of question that crops up on Ask A Lady and Ask A Dude constantly: "I love my boyfriend as a person, but he doesn't give me that wow-sparks! physical attraction and he smells bad/wears stupid shirts/supports Hezbollah and I met a cute guy last week and went on a date with him (though nothing happened) and now I'm wondering if I should break up with my boyfriend. I've asked my friends but want an outside opinion."

Go back and read the email correspondence as described by the LW and you'll see it's actually not so different in content, though notably it's couched in the language of objectification and seemingly absent any qualifiers about liking the girl as a person. My memory isn't perfect, but I can't recall hearing criticism here before of people who wished to discuss their personal issues with their friends. In short, the emails described in the letter are just like many of the letters we see here regularly, only apparently (and problematically) written with substantially less kind language.

MrComment basically made a remark saying that, because of gender roles, groups of males and females will express the same sentiment in language that sounds more or less harsh to outsiders, and so to the extent that the issue is the language used in the emails rather than the principle of discussing misgivings about your relationship with your friends, people should discount accordingly. S. Elizabeth interpreted this as an unfair advantage for males over females, since pleading "gender roles" might be used to let men get away with anything in this context. I'm not sure I put much weight on that argument, in part because I really do think it's the underlying thought (and how the thought is interpreted by the friends) that matters, and in part because I actually think the alternative -- judging behavior while pretending gender roles don't exist -- is also unfair as a general rule, and, when broadly applied, increases privilege.

Am I understanding everyone correctly?


@I'm Not Rufus Yes, I agree with all of that, and I think that the less kind language is the point, and the problem that I have. And I think that the people who had a problem with Mr. Comment's gendered statement haven't liked gendered statements in general -- anyone who would have said "Oh honey, that's okay that your friends talked shit about you, that's just how girls talk!" would have gotten the same level of pushback.


@I'm Not Rufus

"you'll see it's actually not so different in content, though notably it's couched in the language of objectification and seemingly absent any qualifiers about liking the girl as a person."

Speaking of understanding people correctly -- you are saying that whether or not you like your partner as a person, whether you are kind or unkind about them, respectful or disrespectful, whether you objectify them or not:

these, to you, are not issues of content, substance, meaning?

That's pretty much the most objectionable thing I've seen in this whole discussion. I'm fairly confident that the more vociferous commenters in this thread would agree with me that whether or not you like someone and whether or not you respect them is in fact incredibly important -- it really does mean something. Everything, even.


@queenofbithynia and I have to add that there is no distinction to be made between respecting someone in one's mind and talking about them respectfully -- respect is an action (people say the same about love, but that's debatable; this isn't.) You can't respect someone in your mind and talk about them like this any more than you can respect them in your mind and slap them in the face.

I'm Not Rufus

@thebestjasmine I think that's fair.

@queenofbithynia I agree with you, personal respect is most certainly an issue of substance. It's a little hard to judge the LW's boyfriend on whether he said nice things about her personality because we don't actually get to see the emails. It's totally crass to assign your girlfriend a number, but if they've been dating for five years and he didn't just ditch her for the 22-year old, he probably actually does like her and enjoys her company on some level. He might well be an ass too. Actually, I'd bet he probably is. But we don't know for sure.

Anyhow, if he'd written in with that letter, we'd all tell him to break up with her out of respect for her, and I think the LW in this case should break up with her boyfriend regardless of whether he's an asshole or not.


LW #3, "My biggest concern might actually be the fact that, when your boyfriend of several years was going through a tough time (he described himself as feeling depressed), he responded by shitting all over you rather than relying on you. And since that time, his preferred way of handling the situation has been to ignore it. These are both selfish, unhealthy responses."

SO IMPORTANT. I learned this the hard way. I thought I was taking care of a guy who said he was a juicebox to me because he was depressed but actually I was just allowing him to keep treating me like an asshole for another few years. Trust me, it will not get better. It will only get worse. You are not crazy for feeling insecure because he did something that really sucked! Don't listen to his shit and dump his stupid ass.


@fourdayweekend True. They can be depressed AND be assholes. They are not mutually exclusive! A diagnosis cannot be whipped out like a doctor's note to excuse you from How Not to Be a Douche 101!

Not that I speak from experience or anything...


Okay, related to number one: What about when people say, "You look younger than that!" or, "You seem older!" both of which I've gotten within the past month. It's worse than "You're pretty!" because it's not really a compliment at all. I want to be like, "Yeah, okay...but I'm not? I'm the age I told you I was." Like they say it in this positive tone, like it could be a compliment, so what is the appropriate, friendly response?


@Marzipan I really like "I'm the age I told you I was" but I can see how maybe you'd want to be able to respond differently. Maybe, "I get that all the time!" Or...in your case..."Really? Just yesterday I heard the opposite!"

a horde of great crab things

@Marzipan I go with Gloria Steinem's* response to 'You look younger than that!'- 'Well, this is what (insert age here) looks like'. I like it because it sounds dignified, rather than all 'FUCKYOUFUCKYOUFUCKYOU!', but you can accessorise it with a little bit of unsmiling eye action if you feel like the other person is just being obnoxious.

* maybe it was Susan Sarandon? It's from an interview with one of them in Bust about a million years ago. I can confirm this because I am 36, which is so old as to be practically dessicating before your very eyes, apparently.


@Marzipan I am told I look younger than I am a lot, and it just translates into "The age you actually are seems horrifyingly old to me."


LW#3, I know all too well what it's like to be in a relationship with someone who has dragged your self-confidence down to a level where you are sad and confused and justifying his shit-ass behavior. Please, love yourself enough to get out. You've wasted enough time on this juicebox.


I'm a little bit disappointed with the first answer! (I was not the querent, but I read A Dude's answer with great interest anyway.) Maybe you gals and germs can help me. My boyfriend of a year-and-three-months STILL does not know what to say to me ever, except for when I feel really ugly. At those unique times, he somehow intuits that I may need reassurance, and he stares at me for a long time and whispers, "You're so pretty." It's so sweet! And what do I do? I stare at him stupidly. Or I do as the querent does: "Thanks??" If I keep being an idiot like this, he might stop believing that I am oh so pretty. Or maybe he doesn't believe it at all! Waaahh! :(

Estrogen Farm.


@jennatar I usually reply with something like "You are the best" *nuzzle nuzzle* - which is true!


@Diana Ooh! I am writing this down. Thanks! (You're the best! *nuzzle*) Gah, I like that.


@jennatar Seriously. Just say "thank you!"

I wish your boyfriend wouldn't feel like reminding you he thinks you are pretty is something you do for self esteem triage! It would probably be so much nicer for him if he told you so when you clearly feel good so your "thanks" is not "thanks for comforting me" all the time, but also "thanks! I am glad you agree with me that I am pretty; that makes me feel good!"

Maybe tell him so? He may not even be aware?

Also, LW, A Dude is so right. Just say thanks and let it be about you.

If making out, say "thank you!" and then kiss with more enthusiasm.

If snuggling, say "thank you!" and snuggle closer, perhaps with sleepy mumble-giggle.

If feeling banter-ish and in the midst of sexytimes say "thank you! I chalk it up to a regimen of regular good sex!"

If on the street and someone says your hair/shoes/self are pretty and you are in the mood to be responsive (although you owe no one any response if you don't want to), say "thanks! I am glad you like it/them/think so!"

Just as that A Lady said a while ago about saying to your ex "hi there, thanks, 'kay bye now!" just practice saying thanks under all appropriate circumstances.

Maybe the issue with "thank you" is that we ladies often seem to spend a lot of time saying "aw no I am not/ what this old thing/ hah, you generous person" instead of saying "thanks" in an "I know and it makes me feel good that you agree" kind of way. So how are we supposed to know what to do whence making out and someone gives us a compliment?



Smile, hug, kiss—that sort of thing.


@AnthroK8 No problem! Take care!

Mad Dog

@jennatar This sounds super-corny, but I often find that a well-placed noise before a thank-you is effective. Like a "Mmmmmm, thank you" or an "Awwww, thank you!" depending on the tone of the situation. Also direct, semi-prolonged (but not crazy!) eye contact makes the thank you seem more meaningful.


@NatashaMcG The "awww" preceding the thank you is exactly what I do, it's corny but it makes it feel less like a formal exchange of pleasantries. Also, I usually follow up with "YOU'RE so handsome!" Which is true, I think he's very handsome so I think it seems sincere, not just to be polite. I used to feel uncomfortable with getting compliments in general but I've learned to embrace it with a smile and a thanks and just get over any more complicated worries. They are LUCKY to get a thanks, they already get to look at my stunning beauty, right?


@jennatar I make it a habit in life to approach people who have something beautiful and fabulous going on with them, and give them a nice casual "Hi, I just had to let you know your (eyes/smile/hair/shoes/style/exuberance/lifeforce) is just amazing! Thank you for it!" and then usually they'll stumble out a surprised thank you, and I smile and walk on. (walking on is what keeps it from being creepy). Often later they'll seek me out or I'll run into them at another event, and they'll remember me as the fly-by compliment lady and we end up having a nice chat and sometimes friendships are born. But even if I never see them again, I still think it is nice for folks to get a compliment from someone who isn't intending to make a sexual play for them, so they can be appreciated for just being themselves.


"can a person behave like this and still be a good guy"

I don't know your first name so: Girl. GIRL! Giiiiiiiiirl.

What on earth is your definition of a good guy? How on earth is somebody who talks shit about his own girlfriend not the absolute opposite of a good guy? His behavior is the definition of "not a good guy." If you looked up "good guy" in the dictionary, he would be listed as an antonym. So that is problem one: you are dating a Bad Guy. One of the worst, really. He's not looking to turn you into a lampshade so things could technically go downhill from here, but things are pretty bad.

And now for the second problem, which A Dude did not really address (though his answer was great): why on earth did you put up with his bullshit for a YEAR? The first problem, which is your dude's, is that he sucks. That's for him to deal with and resolve, not you. The second problem, which is yours, is that your standards are not even high enough for you to demand common courtesy and the barest minimum of respect from the person you love! You deserve better than this guy! And not even a tiny bit better, but WAAAAYYYY better. Your absolute bare essential requirement for anyone you date should be this:

"There is a test to determine whether someone is toxic or nourishing in your relationship with them. Here is the test: You have spent some time with this person, either you have a drink or go for dinner or you go to a ball game. It doesn’t matter very much but at the end of that time you observe whether you are more energised or less energised. Whether you are tired or whether you are exhilarated. If you are more tired then you have been poisoned. If you have more energy you have been nourished. The test is almost infallible and I suggest that you use it for the rest of your life. " - Milton Glaser

In short, your relationships - with anybody but especially your romantic partner - should improve the quality of your life. This guy has significantly eroded the quality of your life. He has failed the one fundamental test needed to be in your life.

So, dear Lady, please take this as a wake-up call to a) dump this loser and b) get whatever help you need, in whatever form necessary, to be able to recognize your self-worth so that you never waste time on another loser again. The odds are high that you are an awesome lady (you read the Hairpin, duhh) and the idea that you would put up with somebody so awful for an entire year makes me think that you don't realize how awesome you are.

TL;DR: No, you don't want no scrubs. A scrub is a guy that can't get no love from you.


@Diana xoxoxoxo Diana. And we are trying to plan a SF Pinup, I hope you come.


@thebestjasmine Yes, yes, yes! I am still new to SF proper so I need new friends! I went to the Rumpus reading at the Make Out Room last night and thought, "if I can have this much fun at THIS awesome website's get together, imagine how much fun the Hairpin get together would be!"

For the record, you guys should attend the next Rumpus reading.


@Diana WAIT WAIT. Did Sugar OUT herself? Was it the same Make Out Room meetup?

Is it gross to cross my Rumpus stream over a Hairpin?!



@Hambulance Wait, what?! Nobody outed themselves as Sugar, though I wish. They were giving away "Write like a MOTHERFUCKER" mugs during the raffle. It was just this awesome reading they organized with some great writers and there was lots of other entertainment. Though now that I think about it I drank a lot of chocolate martinis so if Sugar outed herself it's possible I wouldn't have noticed.


@Diana In an interview she did with the Awl (of awl people...) she said this:

"TA: What was the plan for coming out? When were you going to come out?

DS: I’m going to San Francisco, and I’m going to come out at one of The Monthly Rumpus events.

TA: The Monthly Rumpus. What’s that?

DS: The second Monday of every month they do a big thing at The Makeout Room. And the plan is my next book– one I've written under my own name– will be a Rumpus book club pick, and I’m going to announce that Sugar’s book is going to be the book club pick and Sugar’s going to have a coming out party in San Francisco."

So I guess I just got a little excited.

But I bet you she was THERE. Just sugarin' around in silence.

The correct term is babes, sir

@Diana (I think I'm way late on commenting here but oh well)...Oh man, I wish I knew about that Milton Glaser quote before. It's such an obvious thing - be with people who make you feel good. Forget the ones who don't. And yet, it took me SO LONG to figure it out. (In fact, I think I'm still working on applying it in life).


@Hambulance I cannot wait to know the real Sugar and read all of her other writings and of course she and I will become best friends immediately because she just touches my heart so.

The book isn't going to be released for a while (6 month? 12 months) but when it is, oh the Sugar unveiling, it will be mighty!


@Diana @thebestjasmine I would so so so be delighted to attend a SF PinUp. I'm a bit of a lurker - reading things a day or so late and all the good comments are in already, so I only chime in now and then, but I feel like I know and like so many people here. Plus I know SF very well and would be happy to advice newbies on exciting adventures. Keep me posted if something gets planned!


We are not another species. We meet other poly people in the same places mono people meet partners: bars, parks, social gatherings, the Internet. Okcupid has stated that poly people are welcome, so that has naturally become a great place to get matched with fellow polys.

The reason you don't think we're large in numbers is because we don't tell you. Obviously it's not to the same degree as LGBTQ people coming out, but still we DO have to "come out" every time we tell someone new. I'm terrified to do so because people will go on to make assumptions about my sex life, sexual appetite, gender identity, mental state, relationships, household, career, marriage, and essentially everything about me.

Some people have stopped talking to me. Some have insulted me to my face, some behind my back. Others have tons of questions. Still others come out in response. My husband and I are open to the people we date and our close friends, but not our family or anyone from our hometowns.

Anyway, we're here. Hello. I don't put a name to my poly identity on the internet because I'm afraid to come out. That's why your poly friends who aren't close enough to talk sex haven't told you.

Rant over.


@charizard I could rant about how basically you're defrauding the modern, culturally accepted idea of marriage by being poly, I mean - why not just live with someone and be their common law spouse and be poly? No one gives a crap that you are sleeping with multiple partners, but why do you need to get MARRIED? As a married person I think that kind-of goes against the whole reason to, get married? One person - standing by them for all of eternity?

No one was even asking about what poly people are like and what they do. As for the original question, chances are, it was cheating that was occurring, because from what you're all telling us you are very careful about not revealing your lifestyles to people whom you don't want to tell. For example, If I had friends over to my house, I wouldn't leave hard core pornography up on my computer with the screen turned off - because god knows what might happen?! What if someone was like hey going to quick check my email? So the original guy is probably just a cheating moron.

Ugh is this being poly the new atheism/vegan-ism/Hezbollah like faction group around town where you have to all smugly tell us how you are all just waay more evolved than us cretins down here.

@charizard Amen! (me too!)

@DrFeelGood There are lots of reasons to get married besides monogamy. There are also quite a few poly people who aren't married for whatever reason.


@DrFeelGood I got married because there are very obvious legal benefits. And before you continue to make judgements there, I do stand by my husband for all eternity. The decisions we make together trump decisions I've made with any secondary partners. Everyone prioritizes their relationships - except with polyamory, everyone tries to be open about their priorities. Maybe mono folks who freak out about cheating nonstop should be a little more open with their partners about their expectations. Perhaps then cheating wouldn't be among the number one reasons for divorce.

I won't leave hardcore porn around, but if my friend opens my laptop and sees hardcore porn, then the way he reacts is completely up to him. I'm not going to clear my screen every time I shut my computer just because one rando might get vengeful or weird. That is an unsustainable lifestyle.

I've seen so much non-mono hate on the Hairpin lately that it's getting pretty gross to enter any thread on the topic. I'm not easily offended, but the sheer amount of ignorance on the topic is nuts. Get the fuck out of my bedroom and let me consensually love and fuck whoever I want.


@DrFeelGood Also:
"No one was even asking about what poly people are like and what they do."

Uh, yes they did. Re-read A Dude's answer:

"P.S. I kinda wanna know how you meet a fellow polyamorous person. How long do you date someone before you bring that up? How do you bring that up? I assume this is part of the reason y’all have summer camps and conferences and what not."


@S. Elizabeth I don't disagree. But this was in the context of married people being poly - I believe the non-monogamy rate in marriages is reported in the US anywhere between 10 - 40% percent (can't find a source at the moment) so we can assume that a majority of people do get married to remain monogamous, amongst other things.

dracula's ghost

@DrFeelGood maybe take a hit of your own medicine and stop bizarrely bringing up "the new atheism/veganism" and comparing it to HEZBOLLAH? The way to respond to feeling judged by poly people is not to compare them to terrorists. The way to win friends to your tender feelings is not to cast a wide net of terrorist accusations across vast portions of the populace.

Atheism has been around for fucking hundreds of years dude, deal with it. Believe in whatever you want. Nobody's taking your baby Jesus away from you or forcing you to think for two seconds about what you put in your mouth to eat, DON'T WORRY OMG.


@charizard I meant her writing in was immediately on the defense about polyandry, whereas chances are, the guy was cheating in a "monogamous" relationship, and polyandry wasn't really part of the question.

dracula's ghost

@dracula's ghost although I do agree with you that most of the dudes written-in about are probably cheating, rather than in poly relationships, and so I agree it seems silly to get defensive about "what if they are actually poly and you just don't know and thus are a judgmental dickweed?"


@dracula's ghost Sorry - it's a joke from Anthony Bourdain... I do not think that they are actually terrorists (duh), I am a struggling vegetarian, and an atheist, but don't like people getting on soap boxes for no apparent reason. I am also usually 50% serious and 50% joking, so take it with a grain of salt.


@charizard ha. I'm not the one who started the rant... just had to jump in and throw some gasoline on the issue for some personal beliefs that I won't get into here (children, marriage, stability?) Whatever. Do whatever you want. I also take serious fucking umbrage at the idea that since I'm monogamous with my spouse, we will most likely end up divorced. Nice. Prejudice goes both ways.

dracula's ghost

@DrFeelGood Fair enough!!! For the record, I did not literally think you believed vegans were fundamentalist Islamic terrorists.

For secret/petty reasons I kind of like a good ol' atheist soapbox bible-thumping (so to speak) but the better side of me knows you're right about soap boxes generally.


@DrFeelGood I don't think it's obvious the guy was cheating. If he was cheating, he'd be hiding the evidence. He wasn't hiding the evidence. Probably because he wasn't doing anything "wrong". Also, he was on Okcupid - a dating site, not a sex site - with a fleshed out profile. If he was looking for random tail, he wouldn't have a profile, and therefore wouldn't be on Okcupid, where you get flagged if you don't have an identifying profile photo. They are strict about that.

And if you're wondering why I'm smug and defensive, it's because people like you take an explanation meant to give context to "polyamory" as a personal fucking insult. Hezbollah? Really? Take it down a notch.


@DrFeelGood " I also take serious fucking umbrage at the idea that since I'm monogamous with my spouse, we will most likely end up divorced. Nice. Prejudice goes both ways."

Read what I wrote again. "mono folks who freak out about cheating nonstop". Are you one of those people? If so, then perhaps I have a reason to be predjudiced. That's just as bad as the homophobes who assume gay people are all out to turn you gay. I'm not here to make you polyamorous. I'm here to dispel some of the crap said about us.


@DrFeelGood, I laughed at ".../Hezbollah" so goddamn hard and feel a little bit better about future plans to steal it now that I know it was stolen in the first place


@charizard Wait, sorry, I'm in the wrong blog - I thought this was the Hairpin, not the Polyamorous Place... You coming in and ranting about your beliefs... ok so there are others who feel differently here, and some who feel the same? OMG different opinions?!


@theinvisiblecunt I love being a bitch! Muahaha. Especially since there is no sacrasm-o-meter for many, apparently. If you like that, you so have to read "No Reservations" by Bourdain, fucking hilarious.


@DrFeelGood Your definition of marriage may differ from other peoples. Our "modern, culturally accepted" idea of marriage is shifting and continues to shift constantly. Unless you also have a problem with same sex marriage? The old one man one woman adage? That's not what you're getting at...is it?


@DrFeelGood Yeah... why do they have to go do it in front of ussssss...??

I am sorry, but no. Poly relationships are not just sexual. They can be social and emotional and all sorts, and therefore there are appropriate reasons for people to be public about these things.

One reason (among others) I try to be understanding about the Supposedly Smug Polyvangelism I see around is because people in those kinds of relationships are at the societal disadvantage. No matter what attitude they take, someone will freely telling them They Are Doing It Wrong.

I find being pleasantly supportive and no-big-deal about any sub/countercultural thing a person I meet has tends to roll back the evangelism and allows us to move on to other mutual interests. Such as where did they get those shoes? Or whatever.

Being on the receiving end of hostility means you have to be the person bringing ALL the positive to the table, which can seem Like It's Wrong because that is not normally how the world works. Having to deal with that stress is probably a whole lot more annoying to the poly person in the room than it will ever be for you.


I don't know why you feel the need to defend the institution of marriage here, but that's your business. But FYI, not all states recognize "common law marriages" and they don't come with the same benefits as signing a marriage certificate does.

I fail to see the logic that someone is probably cheating because they don't tell people who aren't involved in the relationships that they're polyamorous.

This comment just struck me as really hateful.


@DrFeelGood What is with all your anger here? I have reread charizard's comment multiple times now, and unless she ninja-edited it and I didn't notice, where exactly did she threaten monogamous relationships through her very existence as a poly person? A Dude very specifically requested more information about poly lifestyles, and charizard provided it. She also talked about why it is difficult to let other people know about her poly lifestyle - about how even people close to her might not know about what she does behind closed doors. All of this is relevant to the topic at hand and was presented in an exasperated, but not aggressive or challenging manner. Also? Nowhere in that comment does charizard express any of the prosetylizing you accuse her of. Yes, I have also encountered poly people who try to claim they are more advanced/evolved or whatever. But charizard didn't do that.

But you responded with a really ridiculous amount of vitriol and bullshit, like where on earth did that come from? The rudeness of your angry-ass accusation that she's somehow undermining the institution of marriage? What is your DEAL? Do you say the same shit to gay people? You've only gotten called out for your Hezbollah comment, when you should really be called out for being inexplicably rude to somebody because you disagree with their lifestyle.


@NeenerNeener I am also confused because there is some KEEP YOUR POLYAMORY OUT OF MY MONOGOMOUS SANCTITY along with BUT TELL PEOPLE IN A SOCIALLY APPROPRIATE WAY WHAT I FEEL THEY ARE ENTITLED TO KNOW going on here. Or I am missing something?

Whatever it is, it sounds like no one will ever do married polyamory right because DrFeelGood has decided it is wrong? It's nice to know someone died and made them arbiter of right.

Also, and I say this all the time, socially accepted by whom? Because globally speaking wise, polygyny wins as the most commonly Most Preferred Form of Marriage.

@DrFeelGood Are you always so combative?


@DrFeelGood This bit struck me as painfully close to what folks who are against gay marriage say. Just substitute "gay" for "poly", and it starts to sound sadly familiar:

"I could rant about how basically you're defrauding the modern, culturally accepted idea of marriage by being poly [gay], I mean - why not just live with someone and be their common law spouse and be poly [gay]? No one gives a crap that you are sleeping with multiple partners [gay partners], but why do you need to get MARRIED? As a married [straight] person I think that kind-of goes against the whole reason to, get married? One [straight] person - standing by them for all of eternity?"

And for the record, I'm not a huge proponent of a poly lifestyle for myself, but how does it hurt me / my relationship if someone else chooses to be poly in their relationship?


Responding directly to @charizard's first post and not any of the other subsequent stuff (yeesh! also, my feelings!): I was hoping that someone would answer A Dude's question, so thanks! And sorry to hear about the insults, whatadrag.


@Diana You're really on today!


@josiah It's cool. She "loves to be a bitch". She's one of those people.


@wee_ramekin: Nailed it.

I'm Not Rufus

@charizard I just wanted to chime in and say thank you for posting here, and that there are many Hairpinners who are not only ok with you being poly but who embrace the idea that you and your partner should be able to make whatever kind of relationship makes you feel happiest and most fulfilled.


@I'm Not Rufus Aw, it's cool. And thanks. Hairpinners in general are on a path to radical acceptance. Relationship orientations aside, these are my people!

:Cinnamon Girl:



Am I the only one who saw the headline and thought, "Whoa, a piece on the Hairpin about trichotillomania! Neato!"…?

::hangs head in abnormal-psych-nerd shame::


@Kivrin: I immediately thought about my friend who has no eyebrows. :(


Dear Lady #3 who's dating the douche,

Run away.


Hair pulling?! Why have I not tried this before? Now I'm really looking forward to the weekend!


I've never had a guy pull my hair during, y'know, stuff. If my husband ever tried it, I'd probably freak out and be like, "WTF, dude? Oh, wait, you were trying to be sexy? Oops, sorry, carry on," thereby killing the mood. Perhaps this is why no guys have tried it with me.

Hot mayonnaise

@Kivrin: Are you poly?


Have your hair up and let it down while you're in action. Many dudes take this as an invitation.


Seriously? Hair pulling? If someone pulled my hair I would punch them in the face, I'm not even kidding. I routinely got my hair pulled as a means of discipline as a child, and I can still remember the feeling of being lifted off my feet by my ponytail. So, yeah. Just NO. Even thinking about it makes me feel a little nauseated, I think that was buried.

Anyway, to each his or her own, but you should be very careful with that one.


@punkahontas My parents used wake me up by pulling my hair.

I can't remember how they woke me up before I hit puberty.


@saythatscool Okay, that's gross, but I appreciate you lightening up my depressing comment. ;)


@punkahontas: The other posts in this thread that are down on hair pulling also had negative experiences with it as kids. So that would seem to be a big factor, eenteresting.


@punkahontas AGREED. I don't know if having my hair pulled hurts-in-a-BAD-way because I have a sensitive scalp, or if my sensitive scalp made it an especially easy way to bully me when I was a child, but I can't stand having my hair pulled. More power to those who love it, but it would be a huge turn-off for me.


@punkahontas Me too. My mom used to pick me up by the hair when she was angry. I would assuredly flip out of someone randomly pulled my hair.

Bohemia Pearl

Mmm, yes yes yes to hair-pulling. Especially when they're gripping close to your scalp and pulling back so your neck is exposed, and then nibbling/kissing up from your collarbone and all along your jawline.

Hot mayonnaise

@Bohemia Pearl: [CTRL-P]

Bohemia Pearl

@Hot mayonnaise With the last guy I was seeing, it basically triggered a Pavlovian response - he'd reach for my hair and I'd start to melt before he even did anything. :P

/firm advocate of the hair-pull + dominant yet tender gestures.


@Bohemia Pearl: Is it warm in here?


@Bohemia Pearl ohhhhhhhhhhhhh yeeesssssssssssss.

I'll just, um... Agh. *does the Jolie Kerr seat shimmie*... Okay. Ugh. Gotta just, um. *fans self*


LW 1: I agree with the Dude's advice, and thinking about this back in the day used to help me just say "thank you" and move on -

Compliments are not ping pong balls.

(except sometimes my friends and I are all "I love your shoes" "I love your hair!" "I love your eye makeup!!!", which I have decided is legit)

@MissMushkila LR1's question is one I have all the time... I would hope that if someone's tongue is down my throat, that person thinks I'm pretty.


@S. Elizabeth I think this too. It's like your old comp teacher said. Show me, don't tell me. So I am not usually the first to say "how attractive!" because I figure... Provide evidence, then maybe provide the exposition.


@S. Elizabeth Unless you're dating a man of LW3's boyfriend's breed!

I agree in regards to the pingpong ball. I felt a little frustrated when I'd tell a previous boyfriend he was beautiful, and he'd immediately respond "YOU'RE beautiful!" It felt like he wasn't accepting or absorbing the compliment! Argh your eyes are like forgotten ponds, takeittakeit.


I totally had the same problem as LW1! I would get all caught up in thinking, crap! What am I supposed to say? So I would get weirdly specific. Like, Oh I like your eyes. lol. what a doofus.


I dated a [insert adjective of choice here] Frenchman who wouldn't pull my hair.

What a waste of time!


@amusedgirl That's because he was judging you when you were pronouncing the vowels in "cheveux" wrong. He probably stopped everything to mansplain the proper way, too. That's what I would have done.


I am poly. I am part of local organizations of poly people. I also have a profile on okcupid and fetlife. Other poly people introduce you to other poly people. Poly people are often part of other activities considered "liberal" (bicycle activism, feminism, food activism, etc). I always tell potential dates up front, before even going on a single date, that I'm in a committed relationship, and what my version of polyamory is like. I never want to "surprise" anymore.




OH #3!!! I've dated this same exact guy (well, not the literal exact guy, I think). This relationship WILL end. It's doomed. And if you are not the one to end it, you will kick yourself for the rest of your life. Take it from me!

I was engaged, had moved across the country, been with him for 4 years, etc. etc. I found basically the same email except I was a "6" and he'd "always imagined marrying someone prettier" and just once he "wanted to know what it was like to bang a real babe." Honey, GET OUT!

I gave that boy chance after chance, but in the end it he left me to date vacant models and I still kick myself for not having the balls to stick up for myself and get out. It doesn't matter that the email incident was a while ago. Just get out.

Most men do not talk that way. And you do not want to be with anyone who does. He's insecure. He's looking for so-called "hot girls" (whatever, he's clearly a poor judge) to boost his ego. He's a douche. Get out. Get out. Get out!


Also, as others have said, he's totally giving you signs because HE doesn't have the balls to end it. Not only is he a douche, he's a coward.


Dear LW #3:

You have a small window of opportunity to do something that will change your life, your self-esteem, and your general life trajectory. And you desperately need this change and shot of confidence after dating a juicebox fuckwad.

Break up with him bluntly, and without regard for making it easy on him. Tell him that he doesn't do it for you, that he doesn't turn you on. Rely on the "doesn't turn you on" if, in the course of the conversation, you start to panic and can't think of what to say.

Tell him that you aren't attracted to him physically, and never really have been, and that you just don't have any sexual chemistry with him whatsoever.

Tell him that you were never that into him, and that you apologize for ever giving him the impression that you were in it for the long haul.

Tell him that he deserves a girl who thinks the sun rises and sets in his general direction, and that you are not that girl.

And then wish him good luck - give him a really weak and disinterested hug, then walk out the door and never, ever give him the time of day again.


LW#3: Advice is what you ask for when you already know the answer but wish you didn't. In short, you know you need to dump him.


As hot and heaviness was starting to happen, a girl tugged *my* hair and warned me about visible hickeys.

It was... kind of hot?


Dear A Cou g ara dot ( 0 M,

Boys think I'm pretty! I couldn't think of a way to phrase that in the form of a question.
But also? My boyfriend is a juicebox but I'm afraid of being alone. Do you think I could become a cougar? (you should know I am a 7)
Also, once I become a cougar may I feel justified in comparing any perceived criticisms of my lifestyle to the ongoing persecution of the gays?
Ok, slap me! No, harder. HARDER!


If you're reading this, I just want to go on record that if I had to rank you, you would be an eleven.

Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it's louder? Is it any louder?
Nigel Tufnel: Well, it's one louder, isn't it? It's not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?
Marty DiBergi: I don't know.
Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.
Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.
Marty DiBergi: Why don't you make ten a little louder, make that the top number and make that a little louder?
Nigel Tufnel: [pauses] These go to eleven.


These comments have only reinforced the love I have for hairpinners. I'm not a frequent commenter, but I lurk quite a bit.

Also-- hair-pulling!!!
Also, also-- this particular dude is a winner!


I like this dude. I feel like he would get a beer with me and it wouldn't be weird.

@charizard I applaud your poly lifestyle! You and your partner go on expressing love and openness and honesty in the way that works for you two. I'm not poly myself but I'm a big Dan Savage reader and have a bit of a crush on the people who are able to pull off the open relationship. Ignore the haters.

#1 A grin and a humble "Thank you" will get you lots of places in life. Also, find ways to compliment said person later. And yeah. Make out.

#2. Yay Poly! Do your thing!

#3. Dick. My heart breaks for you. This isn't just "how guys talk" this is "how guys who don't want to be with you anymore but that's really scary for them and/or they're worried the 22 year old won't fuck them" talk. You read Hairpin! YOU DESERVE SMARTER AND BETTER!

#4. Pull the hair! I'm so glad there is hair pulling love here. Hair pulling....mmm....wrap the fingers through the scalp and firmly tug while kissing and I will do anything you say.

Okay. I have to go do stuff now. Like get my hair pulled.

Danny boy

Mono, poly, LGBTQ or whatever, as a long time single I hate all y'all with a (or several) SO you get to hair pull or get hair pulled by :D D: *comedy/tragedy masks*

PS I don't really hate you. I wish there was more love in this world, and if possible a lot more for me ;)


Whenever you hear the word "privileged," a privileged person is saying it.

Hey, let's channel our resentment into the hard work of helping people who are actually desperate and suffering, and don't even have the privilege of reading the Hairpin! Who's with me? Who's already doing this and needs our support?


@atipofthehat Ask A Bob Geldof



We are the 'Pin
We are the children....


@atipofthehat Thanks! Just like whenever you hear someone say "I hate hipsters" they are, like, the queen of hipsters.


Wow, this thread got real y'all.


@redheadedandcrazy um, yes. can we all go back to talking about Qream now?


My lovelies...there is NO POINT in engaging people like "MrComment" or that obnoxious dude from fb. They are simply looking for a reaction; if they really /were/ male readers interested in learning more about lady business, they would just SHUT UP AND LISTEN instead of succumbing to vaguely misogynistic logorrhea. Bluntly, these guys are just trolls in 'Pin clothing, and they do not deserve even the tiniest amount of your precious time or effort.


@D.@twitter Agreed-to-a-point. Yes, the trolls here are a complete waste of time and effort, but the LURKERS - such as myself - are here too. And my socks are well and truly rocked by how smart, compassionate and sexy this thread has been.

In fact, this is my inaugural comment! Yay! Yay for all of you! (Except the trolls!)

Princess Slaya

@ #3rd I know I'm late, but Woman who accidentally found her boyfriend's email. DTMFA!!! (dump the motherfucker already)


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Rosy Roselin@facebook

@redheadedandcrazy um, yes. can we all go back to talking about Qream now? Amazon Promotional Code August 2014


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