Friday, July 27, 2012


Baggage, "Bed Death," and Suspected Infidelity Triangles

1.  I am an unmarried mom lady, age 39, with no romantic prospects. Apparently this is a horrible thing, but for the most part I am a happy individual. Maybe I'm kidding myself, but I love my life: I have friends, I read books, I have a smart kid, and I have the means to meet our needs. 

Two years after my (collaborative, friendly) divorce, my ex-husband got sick. Very sick. He has literally weeks to live with terminal brain cancer. Needless to say, we're all freaking out. I am trying to keep a calm front for everyone, but it's only so-so. I have panic attacks in the car and after I put my kid to bed. And I really can't understand why my brain keeps returning to a (probably false) insistence that NO ONE WILL EVER LOVE ME AGAIN and I am going to SPEND THE REST OF MY LIFE ALONE. I tried dating, but I have so much baggage I can barely get out the door. The last guy I was kind of seeing seemed happy for a few months but then excused himself because he "couldn't be the man I needed" or something silly like that. Something about my situation induces automatic guilt in dudes. Or else they just like women with fewer complications and more attention to pay to them.

Am I totally hosed here? Should I shelve myself until the kiddo is in college and hope that I can get back in the game in my mid- to late-forties? (HA.) I'm about to have no free time whatsoever. It scares me so much to think that my life is over, too, that I'm probably obsessing on it to avoid feeling grief and fear. But I can't pretend that my life isn't what it is in order to make a dude like me. Despite my divorce and recent dumping, I actually do think I make an okay partner, and it might be nice to be in love again someday. Any thoughts?

Thoughts? I have too many, starting with how sorry I am. A few years ago, my wife was diagnosed with cancer. For about a month there, it looked like she was going to die, leaving me to raise our toddler-age son alone. Although she’s now (touch wood) doing well, I spent too many days wearing the rictus grin of optimism, too many nights shaking with despair.

I dodged my bullet. Yours hit. Still, I know that the fear and sadness comes in layers and waves, layers and waves of shit. I understand that you’re not only grieving the imminent loss of a man you loved, the man who’s still your kid’s dad. You’re suffering from private losses, including the death – or so it sometimes seems – of love itself. And none of this is your fault. You got divorced, and you didn’t just survive: you made it work. It wasn’t you that got sick, but it’s you that gets left behind. 

I don’t have any easy words; nor do I have new ones. But I absolutely do not think you’re hosed. You come across as smart and strong and funny. You seem impervious to bullshit, even your own. You sound awesome. Besides, I don’t believe that being a single mom is a romantic death sentence. Yes, it’s true that most men (and women) prefer less emotional baggage to more. But I know some fabulous moms, including one dear friend, who’ve fallen in love and gotten married in their late thirties or forties. The thing is, they weren’t struggling under the weight of raw emotions at the time.

You worry that, in fixing on your romantic prospects, you might just be trying “to avoid feeling grief and fear.” I think you’re right. To put it bluntly, I think there will be better times to focus on relationships with men you haven’t yet met.

I don’t mean you shouldn’t think about love. After all, your fear of loneliness isn’t just a distraction from your grief about death, divorce, and being dumped. (It doesn’t take Freud to see how these experiences are linked, emotionally if not in actual fact.) What I mean is that there’s a difference between giving yourself a break and putting yourself on the shelf until your kid goes to college. Don’t give up: that would be a loss to mankind, as well as yourself. But don’t be so driven by fear of solitude that you forget to care for yourself, too. If you do, you’ll only keep being dumped by emotionally shallow dudes who run away when they glimpse the terror and pain beneath your stoic exterior. Even worse, you’ll be taken advantage of by creeps who are attracted to you simply because you’re vulnerable. That’s a thing. Gross, right?

It’ll be better for everyone – for you, your kid, and the guys who’ll love you – if you take a little time to look after yourself. Good luck. I’m sorry you have to be so brave.

2. I am very nearly positive that one of my best friends (Person A) is cheating on his wife (Person B, also one of my best friends), with Person C, who is ALSO one of my best friends. I don't have proof (nor have I been searching for it), but I spend a good amount of time with them, so I have overheard and seen some things that lead me to be PRETTY DAMN SURE that something's going on. I also know them well enough to be positive that they are monogamous, not open, not swinging, and that Person C is not an accepted Special Guest Star in their marriage.

First, the obvious question: should I say something? It’s worth mentioning that the couple has children. I have thought about just confronting Person C with something along the lines of "I don't know exactly what's happening, nor do I want to, but its obvious to me and please cut that shit out." Or, sometimes I think I should tell Person B, because a friend should tell another friend when someone is doing something harmful to them. Right? On the other hand, I really want to keep my mouth shut and mind my own business. I do not want to be the catalyst to divorce and ruined lives, and there is a remote chance nothing is going on, or the wife is OK with it all.

My second question is about dealing with Person C, the interloper. She's probably noticed the increased distance between us lately. I've known her the longest out of all these people, so I guess her role in this disappoints me more than the husband's, although of course I know that they are both to blame equally. And yet, I don't really want to NOT be friends with any of these people, because regardless of their bad decisions, they have a lot of redeeming and awesome qualities. Advice, please?

Oh, this is a hard one, too. (Hey, editors! Where are my questions about cargo shorts?)

Are your friends having an affair? Yes! Perhaps. I don’t know? You sound about as certain as a non-snooping person can be. (And congrats on the not-snooping!) That’s probably good enough, but good enough for what?

You face two dilemmas. There’s the urge to do something, without making things worse. That’s hard. Worse is that you’re torn between incompatible friendship obligations.

Quick example: in a recent NYT “The Ethicist” column, a woman wrote in asking whether she should snitch on her girlfriend, who was having an affair with the husband of a mutual acquaintance. The Ethicist said no. Even though she disapproved of the affair, the LW’s bond of friendship to her girlfriend trumped her abstract duty to the acquaintance. People do stupid things, especially when they’re lonely or horny, and if we can’t forgive our friends the harm they do to others, what good are we anyway? The Ethicist recommended that the LW instead confront her girlfriend, much as you’ve considered talking to Person C. The LW could rant and rage at her girlfriend, even end their friendship, but she had no right to visit ruination on the acquaintance’s marriage.

I thought this was solid advice. Problem is: which person here has the right to expect your support? You describe everyone in this triangle – from the wronged wife to the woman you’ve known longest – as a “best friend.” Is that true?

Let’s assume there really is no one here with a superior claim on your loyalty. How do you keep faith with your friends and try not to damage a marriage based on what’s really just a solid hunch?

The simplest answer is to do nothing. Maybe start looking for some new best friends.

But you seem like you've already decided to speak up. And, in any case, being silent definitely means breaking faith with Person B.

This is what I think you should do: meet with Person C, like you suggest. Stay cool. If she thinks you're only trying to shame her, she'll clam up or counter-attack. If she cares about B at all, you might persuade her to end the affair before it does irreparable damage.

Still, that rather lets Person A off the hook. Why do you never propose talking to him? Unless there’s some reason it’s impossible (e.g., his skin sparkles, he controls his own militia), you should talk to this best friend, too. He took a vow. To my mind, he’s even more responsible than the “interloper.”

So, talk to them, together or apart. You decide. Maybe they persuade you there’ve been no shenanigans. Sweet-but-unlikely relief! But if they admit the affair, be their friend and encourage them to take responsibility. Is this just a fling? If so, WTF?! Is it more than that? If so, WTF?!

After that, I think you're done. You can encourage C and A to stop the affair, even ask them to confess. You can threaten them with the loss of your friendship if they don’t make things right. But that’s all. No going to B. That responsibility lies with the cheaters.

I know some readers will disagree. They’ll say it’s wrong to keep B in the dark. I get that. I can only speak for myself. And I think there’s a bright, if narrow, line between trying to protect a friend by encouraging the people hurting her to do right thing and assuming the role of relationship judge and jury. We’re talking about lust, here; maybe even love. This is some occult stuff. More than anything, we’re dealing with the precious and fragile lives that people have built together, stuck together as they are with compromise and promises, white lies and closed eyes and the rust of good intentions.

BUT BUT BUT … If they deny everything, and it turns out they’re lying, they’ve betrayed you too. This goes double if they promise to stop and then exploit your discretion as a way to keep cheating. FTS. You know now where your loyalty lies.

Altogether now: burn them with fire!

3. I've been with my current significant other for approximately three years now. We've lived together for two of those years, and we've started to hit the point where we're acting more like roommates than romantic/sexual partners. We hang out all the time and watch TV and go for walks and stuff, but our sex life has gone downhill somewhat in recent months. We both want to keep things spicy, but we've kind of hit a wall. I mean, we try to have sex regularly and mix things up in the bedroom, but it turns out that neither of us is very imaginative, despite our best efforts. Plus, we're both hyper-aware and self-conscious, so buying into the absurdity of sexual situations can be difficult. For example, we've had lengthy discussions about how impractical the idea of sex on the beach is, and dirty talk usually ends with us dissolving into giggles rather than heading to the bedroom.

I suggested that we start watching porn together, and he was amenable to the idea. I've never really seen much porn, and the porn that he watches on his own doesn't do much for me. So, I guess my question is: where do we start? I would prefer that it be non-exploitative and non-hokey (so no pizza deliveries or leopard print sheets), as well as stuff that could conceivably help get both of us off (so, appealing to both men and women). It doesn't even have to be porn, per se. Erotically charged movies or TV shows would probably be fine. A more general question is "What are some things we can do to keep the fire alive?"

Bed death. Ugh. My first real love died of bed death. Actually, there were lots of problems, but none caused me more pain than our waning passions.

If you’d asked twenty-something me, I would’ve told you to cut your losses. Even now, I could never stay with a partner who didn’t want to jump my bones on the regular. But I’m older now. I’ve been with the same astonishing woman for more than a decade and she’s helped me learn that desire is a tidal system, not a cataract. You love one another, you’re talking, and you’re laughing. There’s a way back, even if you haven’t found it yet.

Anyway, porn ahoy! The world is full of it. And maybe it’s even what you need to break through the wall of your self-consciousness. Given your inexperience, I reckon you need to do some solo research before breaking out the laptop in company. You’ll feel more confident about sharing smut if you first of all discover what works for you. Also, if he’s anything like me, your dude gets so turned on by brazen expressions of female desire that it won’t much matter what you choose.

As it happens, the Hairpin has published a bunch of excellent posts on woman-friendly pornography and erotica. Typing “porn” in the little search bar above brings up a lot of stuff that’s, uh, relevant to your interests. Make sure to check out this post on porn and female desire. Don’t neglect the comments, which include tons of great suggestions, including a bunch of naughty tumblrs that showcase the variety of dirt that’s out there, from cheesecake to hardcore BDSM. I’m also betting that the comments to this column will quickly fill up with recommendations. You won’t let LW3 down will you, you fucking filthy fuckers?

To be honest, though, I don’t think porn’s the answer, no matter how fun it is. Nor do I have much faith in any of the standard “keep the flame alive” fun-’n’-games. (Pretend you’re strangers! Masturbate for each other! Have sex every night for a month! Abstain for a month! Stick your finger in his ass!)

These things are all aces in and of themselves. But, really, I was struck by two phrases in your letter: “we hang out all the time” and “we’re both hyper-aware and self-conscious.” I might be wrong, but if you really do hang out all the time, you might find that it helps to create a little distance. Do things alone. Make sure you get emotional and imaginative sustenance via friendships with other people. Don’t let yourself always fall back into a space of familiar companionship. I’ve recently taken up an outdoor sport. I did it for myself but, lucky for me, Mrs. Dude gets hot when I battle the elements, however amateurishly. I’m taking full advantage of this happy accident – and I don’t need to throw her down on an itchy sandy beach to do so.

When you do spend time together, don’t just schedule the proverbial quality time. Try activities that might jolt you out of your physical self-consciousness and into a more visceral, more sensual orientation to each other and the world. I’m at risk of coming across all gross here, so let me just say that these things don’t need to be sexual. I’m not talking about swinging. You could do anything: get wasted and go dancing, build something together, get inked, get lost, get fit, get fat … The only rule is that you do it together, that it has a physical element, and that the idea of it makes you a bit anxious or excited.  Remind you of anything?

4. One last question: how do you feel about cargo shorts?

Cargo shorts are horrid. Everyone knows that.

A Married Dude is one of several rotating Married Dudes who don't claim to know everything about marriage. Do you have a question for A Married Dude?

Photo by Andrea Slatter, via Shutterstock

224 Comments / Post A Comment


yay! a married dude is back. And with some really solid and empathic advice!


@liverwortlaura This A Married Dude has RESTORED MY FAITH in Ask A Married Dude.


Gorgeous and amazing!!@y

Katie Walsh

Just a small note to say that re: LW1, no man should ever say he "couldn't be the man I needed"/ "I can't give you what you want" to a woman because it is fucking patronizing and blame shifting and FUCK YOU MENS NEVER EVER SAY THIS AGAIN.

Roxanne Rholes



@Katie Walsh Hmm. I agree on the "I can't be the person you need" thing, but "I can't give you what you want (right now)" can be a pretty realistic assessment. You do need to make sure "what you want" doesn't come off as judgey, though, because the moral value of what someone wants is a non-starter in a conversation about how you are just not on the same relationship page as them.

@Katie Walsh Oops, i've definitely said that to a guy during a breakup. What do you suggest a person should say if their partner is emotionally needy and draining and needs more of a therapist than a girlfriend? (Not insinuating that LW #1 is any of those things.)


@Katie Walsh Is this some sort of new-fangled version of the old standby, "I'm just not good enough for you" crap? Or is it like, "You have actual expectations and emotional needs I cannot/do not care to meet" ? I am confused.

Oh wait - that confusion is the whole point, right?

Katie Walsh

@all This has been said to me a couple of times, obviously it depends on the situation but I just think it is a fucked up thing to say because it turns it back on the person who is being dumped and makes it seem like it is their fault, that their emotional needs are what is ending this relationship and not the other person's lack of desire to fulfill those needs. Which is totally a legit thing! It just really sucks to hear :( Maybe there is no better alternative, and can be totally appropriate in some situations. Just feel like it can be an easy cop out for guys to shift the blame. I DIDNT EVEN WANT THAT MUCH FROM YOU ANYWAY, GAHD.

saul "the bear" berenson

@saraphonic How about something like, "I feel like I've been trying to provide ____ for you, and it makes me feel ____ to try to do that," something like that? Putting things in terms of the speaker's experience of them feels more like an ownership of the appropriate amount of responsibility, and when someone talks to me that way, it's easier for me to hear it and accept it and not feel quite so bad about myself.


@Moxie I always preferred the nice, vague, "We want different things." Obviously you can't leave it at that, but getting too specific is never a good idea when you are absolutely 100% dead set on ending the relationship. Getting into specifics forces the person initiating the break up to be mean, and just prolongs an agonizing conversation no one enjoys having. In my experience, anything too specific can make the person you are breaking up with think, "We can save this! I can change!" and then everyone's dignity just goes right out the window.

Katie Walsh

@Moxie You are a genius.

fuck fuck fuck

@saraphonic I have had this conversation with my fiance in the context of relationship maintenance, rather than a break-up. I said pretty much that I could not be his therapist, I couldn't bear the burden of his emotional problems that way, especially when I was working on my shit at the same time, but I would be happy to step back and just be his girlfriend. This meant I started just listening and being supportive, and holding back on the advice. That way he wasn't an emotional drain on me, and I didn't feel guilty and responsible for his sadness or anger (which from the outset were not my fault).

Super Nintendo Chalmers

@Katie Walsh I think it can also depend on what point in the relationship we're talking about as well. Like I definitely heard it once from a dude where we'd gone out TWICE and I was sort of like "juicebox you don't even KNOW what I want." And this is why I no longer go out with men who work on Capitol Hill.


@Katie Walsh God, I missed this whole column. But you got it. The person who gets to decide if they can give you what you want is YOU. Leave them if you aren't giving them what they want, and don't want to. Leave them if you aren't happy to be there. Don't use that excuse.

1) Oh, LW, I am so sorry.

2) Dude, I am glad your wife is OK.

Also, way to knock it out of the park dude.


@i'm a self-rolled man Well, thought about it while in the shower. I think "I can't be the man you need = You need too much/ I am not enough into you to bother/ I am trying to make it about me being nice to you and not me being responsible for my feelings."

It can also be "you want things that, if I am going to be responsible for my own well-being/needs I can't give you. Kids/be your therapist/ open up the relationship/ whatever."

The first isn't taking responsibility for your part in initiating a breakup. The second is. You don't have to justify why you want to leave but you shouldn't explain it as looking out for the other person. The other person can look out for themselves."

"I have a drinking problem and I am going to saaaaave you from it."


"I have a drinking problem and can't be responsible to you in the way you want when dealing with my substance abuse."

Speaking of cake, I have cake

@Katie Walsh Bob Dylan was the original offender here, in that masterpiece of passive-aggressive blame-dodging 'It Ain't Me Babe'. You've got a lot to answer for, Zimmy.


@Katie Walsh I don't know. What does it matter what someone says when he's breaking up with me? Mostly these "reasons" are just bullshit. It's not working out, he just doesn't want to be with me. Personally, unless he's cruel, I don't care what he says. Why does it matter? Do I really need to know he thinks I'm needy or annoying? It's over. I move on. I let him off the hook.
And when I have to break up with someone and I give them a bullshit reason so I don't hurt their feelings, it's awesome when they do the same for me.

Nicole Cliffe

Hey, LW#1, I will straight-up get divorced and marry you, as long as you live in one of three states that would recognize our union and don't mind me watching RHoNY.

Reginal T. Squirge

For serious. I was just about to say, "Hey, LW#1, call me!"


Thirded! LW1 I want to give you a big hug and buy you a drink.

Oh, squiggles

Yesssss. She seriously sounds like she has her shit together, even in the middle of very challenging times. She is awesome, clearly, and deserves a good dude.


@Nicole Cliffe No kidding, she sounds freakin' awesome and someone I would have regular drinks with and try to hook up with my single dude friends.

every tomorrow@twitter

@Nicole Cliffe srsly LW1 is like "NO ONE WILL EVER LOVE ME AGAIN" and I'm like, no, but I love you and I am just from the internet!

srsly though LW1 if you're even half as thoughtful and have-your-shit-together and a cool person as you sound in your letter, you will definitely not be alone forever because you're too neat for people to not love.

sarah girl

This Married Dude is a good Married Dude.

Nicole Cliffe

Yes! He understands about the cleansing power of Fire.


@Sarah H. This Married Dude is a GREAT married dude. Kudos to your wife for catching YOU, Dude!

sarah girl

@MoonBat Also real talk, I really love his writing style; I know it would break the anonymity thing, but I'm curious to see if he writes elsewhere!

Reginal T. Squirge

@Nicole Cliffe

I thought it was really funny when Slate just did an article about this the other day. Guess how mass murderers used to kill people before guns. (Hint: It was fire)

dj pomegranate

@MoonBat I MEAN, REALLY: "I’ve been with the same astonishing woman for more than a decade and she’s helped me learn that desire is a tidal system, not a cataract."


@Sarah H. He totally had me at "you fucking filthy fuckers"!


@Sarah H. YES. Can we keep him? Can we keep him?


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher So much empathy! Like Dear Sugar, only male and with a heartier helping of humor!


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher - We'll feed him and take him for walks and he can live in a box under our bed and you won't have to clean up after him. PROMISE.


@Reginal T. Squirge What! I have to read that. I always thought arson and mass murder came from different sorts of personalities.


@Reginal T. Squirge And the mass murder with the fire was totally intentional and not just because fire spread like a motherfucker in the olden days?

Reginal T. Squirge

Kind of both, it seems? There are examples in the article.


@dj pomegranate Seriously, the tidal system thing turned me a little bit hetero for a minute.

Sam I am

@alannaofdoom The Hairpin's boyfriend? Like the winter boyfriend? Though I hope he doesnt run away.


YES!!! Ask A Someone is BACK.


@iceberg pharrell

Super Nintendo Chalmers

@iceberg I have missed it intensely! I can't just keep refreshing Captain Awkward's blog over and over.

New Hoarder

Off topic: Olympic gymnastics, Bargain Bin, AND Ask A _____, all in one day?! Holy triumvirate, Hope Solo!


@New Hoarder I know, it's like your birthday, Christmas, and a really good G&T all rolled into one.


Alas, I am wearing cargo shorts right now.



I have seen the moment of cargo greatness flicker
And I have seen the EternalFootwoman wear the shorts and snicker,
And of those shorts, I was afraid.


@EternalFootwoman Hmmm, I never really thought much about cargo shorts one way or the other; they just seem like a fairly standard form of boywear to me, and my man (who is by no means any kind of fashionista type) looks cute enough in them.

Derbel McDillet

@EternalFootwoman I am wearing camo men's cargo shorts right now. Luckily I am married to a man who has accepted that tank tops and men's cargo shorts are my at-home summer wardrobe. The shorts may be his, actually.


Yea, my husband lives in cargo shorts or pants, depending on the season. He has an odd aversion to jeans.
And I really don't fucking care? And if someone does, I really don't fucking care that they care.
Use your time wisely, people.


Friends don't let friends cheat!
I've been in that situation, sorta, I only knew two of the people well, the main cheater being my best friend. I felt really horrible about knowing what was going on and I would occasionally drop hints about how awful what she was doing was, but I never got the courage to get in her face about it.Ironically enough, their relationship ended because she was paranoid he was cheating.

Don't cheat!


@avoidmadness I liked that he included the part where, if either person A or C lies to LW2, they have made her complicit and deserve to be burned with fire. This too often gets left out. And I've been friends with friends who cheated on other friends, swore they would end it, and then didn't. I think that may be the most common response in these sort of scenarios. So look out!


@avoidmadness I just broke up with a friend of 15+ years because she will NOT STOP CHEATING, on all of her relationships. I can't watch this anymore. Nope.

Miss Kitty Fantastico

@MoonBat I logged in JUST to tell you that I did this too, and people thought I was the bad guy (what?!?!)! I'm so glad to hear that other people break up with friends over bad behavior. In my case it was drinking AND cheating AND repeated interventions (a year after our "break-up", she's only gotten worse)


@orangeyorange And why is this so hard??? Why are we expected to save the people from their own bad choices, or tolerate them? I got to the point of recognizing that if I met this person today, and saw just the current behaviors, I would most certainly not want to develop a friendship with her. So it made no sense to continue one, simply based upon having known her for years and years.
Okay, that's a modification of the "sunk cost" economic theory, but still....


@avoidmadness I don't know if this is good of me or bad or indifferent, but I think it would depend on which friend was being the cheater and/or cheatee for me to get involved. I'd probably stay out of it altogether with acquaintances, but with close friends I'd have to consider their individual personalities and attitudes and expected reactions, etc. Ugh, I hope I never have to worry about this.

Lee Van Queef

A Married Dude, your advice, particularly to LW 1, was genuinely touching! Best Married Dude in a while!

LW1, my mom and stepdad both were seeking "no-baggage" partners without kids when they met - she had me, and he had 3, ranging from toddler to teenager-aged. But they are both good, loving, kind people, gave it a chance, and fell in love and are still making it work almost 15 years later. I agree with Married Dude that now would be a particularly difficult time, but you're definitely not automatically hosed until the bird's out of the nest.


@Woman Laughing Alone With Boas My dad is in his mid fifties and is happily dating another divorcée. I've watched his social life re-blossom since he and my mom divorced five years ago. My 14 year old brother still lives at home while my sister and I have been in school- no reason to shelve dating prospects until your kid is in college, LW1!

Quinn A@twitter

Good A Married Dude! I like this Married Dude.

I will admit to having been slightly disappointed, though, because when I saw "Bed Death" in the subject line I thought we were getting an A Queer Chick column.

Still! Good job, A Married Dude.


@Quinn A@twitter
I thought it was gonna be a murder mystery, in which the LW's friend died in her sleep and LW was gonna be like "is this really a thing or was she murdered?"

Cat named Virtute

@Quinn A@twitter Hahahaha, I totally did the same thing.

Cat named Virtute

@Inkling Lesbian bed death! It is less a thing than a "thing."


@Quinn A@twitter I was relieved, because I thought there was going to be a SIDS question, and that would be fucking depressing.


@gobblegirl Meeeeeee too. Thank god.



(*edited, why oh why am I so terrible at making these links?)


@Inkling I had Downton Abbey on the brain. Mr. Pamuk!


Wow this Married Dude was awesome! Don't have time to fully process yet, but way to go, Dude!

I especially liked the advice for the Bed Death one. My husband and I have recently found ourselves bored with how we just hang out all the time at home, so we decided to take up a class or pick an activity to learn together. Good to know it works for other married couples!

ETA: Actually, does anyone have any good suggestions for a good/fun activity to learn/do with my husband? He hates dancing and doesn't drink, fwiw.

Lily Rowan

@olivebee I don't know from spousal activities, but I took a cooking class recently and liked it a lot! I am already a good cook, but it gave me some new ideas and it was just a fun thing to do.


@olivebee You could both make a list of all the stuff you've been interested in/wanted to do for a while and see what appeals to both of you. There's also one-time stuff like figuring out what local parks, museums, attractions, etc. you haven't visited and checking them out. Like, basically pretend you're tourists on weekends for a little while.


@olivebee Some of my friends took a pottery class together - it can be surprisingly physical. I would maybe want to do something sporty/outdoorsy myself - learn to rock climb, go river rafting, etc.


@olivebee travel? we always feel great/more connected/sexier with each other after we travel somewhere new together.


@olivebee Agree with those who said something hands-on.... cooking or an art class.... if you have the money & time, weekend trips to places nearby that you've never been....

sarah girl

@olivebee This is super cheesy, but those little pottery painting places (Color Me Mine and such) are surprisingly fun. You can each sit at a little table and paint, you can chat or just make fun of each other as you fumble through, and in a week or so you have cute shiny pottery to take home and display!


@olivebee VIDEOGAMES

...just me?


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher (Videogames not recommended for trash-talkers or the overly-competitive.)


When looking down from the 'L,' the people kayaking on the river always look like they are having a great time and not contracting E. Coli at all! So you could try that!

miss buenos aires

@olivebee I keep trying to get my husband to take ASL classes with me. Please do it and report back!

cecil hungry

@olivebee OK. This is going to sound like a weird one, and may not be a perfect fit if your husband doesn't drink, but hang with me here.

Try the Hash House Harriers. They're an international "running-and-drinking club" (sometimes more running, sometimes more drinking) based off the English hare-and-hounds race. They'll meet, have some low-point beer (or water), and then be led on a trail throughout the city or countryside. Afterward--more beer (or water) and filthy songs!

There's a kennel (or two, or seven) in almost every midsized city, and each one is different. It's a great way to get out of the house, get some exercise (again, some of these will be balls-to-the-wall let's run every hill in San Francisco types, while others will be more like my kennel where there are some runners, but I tend to walk at the back and gossip), exercise your dirty wit, and meet some new, fun people. Even if you try it and it's not for you (too much drinking, too much running, too offensive), you'll definitely see some parts of your city that you've never seen before and possibly get a new friend or two out of it. Worth a try. On on (ask more questions as needed, hashing is the best but difficult to explain). Any other 'Pinner hashers out there?



Thanks a million for all the suggestions! All of these sound awesome, so I am thinking maybe we should alternate. Like one month do outdoorsy things, then cook the next month, then make crafts after that, etc etc. Man, Hairpinners really are just the best.


@cecil hungry No, but the pub I ran in San Diego had a hash group. They'd always start and end at my bar, so I've witnessed the drinking/singing part. It's funny!

saul "the bear" berenson

@cecil hungry This sounds awesome! I'm totally checking it out.

Also, I've recently found that hiking is pretty sexifying. Go somewhere fresh, breathe a lot, take in beautiful views, eat some snacks, come home and get. it. on.


@olivebee What about picking Everyone's Favorite Relative and researching/writing a book of their life? You guys like to hang at home, and you could do a lot of this from there. From interviewing friends and other relatives to scanning photos, this could be something for indoors wet days as well. Apple has great templates for books within iPhoto so you can combine pics and text, and there are many other companies that offer these. Let us know what you do!


@olivebee If you live near / can afford a regular pass to a good climbing gym: Intellectually stimulating, actually very social, and bonus, you get ripped!


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher

Not just you!!
my dude and I play video games all the time together.

Good suggestions: Rayman Origins (LOVE THE SOUNDTRACK), Kirby's Epic Yarn, and Donkey Kong Returns (although the better player should play as Donkey Kong cuz Diddy has that little jetpack that helps a lot)


@olivebee rock climbing!


@cecil hungry 'Pinner Hasher here! I took it up while overseas in a country with basically nothing else to do, but haven't tried any of the local (DC) kennels since getting back. I am not a naturally extroverted person, and not a runner, so have been a little scared to go. Which is just my personal issue, since hashers are generally lovely and friendly.


@cecil hungry Another 'Pin Hasher here, although right now I feel like an erstwhile hasher because I got burned out on my local kennel's social hierarchy and haven't been back in a year or so. Someday I'll pick it up again! I would definitely not recommend hashing to someone who really doesn't drink AT ALL, though... unless they don't mind being in the company of goofy drunks?

I second/third/etc. the rock climbing rec. It seems like a great activity to get out of your physical comfort zone and do something exhilarating.

cecil hungry

@bloodorange & @SarahDances, yay 'Pinner Hashers! Sad y'all aren't current, although I totally get being burned out on it. I have to take a few weeks off because it is too effing hot outside and no matter how much water I drink, I end up dehydrated after trail. In regards to not drinking--I think it depends. We actually have a hasher who's in AA in our kennel, and we have a lot of people who drink only/mostly water in the summer (we have our fair share of stupid drunks, too), to the point that, as Hash Cash for the kennel, I've declared that nondrinkers hash for free. I think it's about mentality--if you're fine around drunks, you'll like hashing. If you find drunks annoying, you'll probably dislike hash no matter how much you personally drink.


@cecil hungry I keep thinking I'd like to try one of the many local hashes, but again, I am a little scared to go alone. There are several in the area, at least one of them has to be to my liking, right?


LW#3, do you guys still do the make-out-type stuff you used to when you first got together? Give each other shoulder rubs/foot rubs? Take showers together? Sometimes going back to all the stuff that you did when you were first finding your couple groove, but tend to drop off a bit as your life-life together starts sucking up more relationship-oxygen than your sex-life, can help.


@wharrgarbl I second this! The most stomach butterflies happen in early stages of relationships because all those moments you just mentioned are often unexpected and infrequent (due to not living together), and so they totally get the warm tinglies going.


@wharrgarbl: Agree. I have found massage to be of great help in keeping things intimate during low tides. How great is it when someone who loves you, even if passions are at an ebb, says, Hey, why don't you go lie down nekkid while I rub oil all over your body. Usually, in my experience, things evolve into happy endings (my second 'happy ending' reference on the Hairpin of the day, will there be a third?) but even if not, it's exquisite friendlytimes and hopefully reciprocation happens readily.


@wharrgarbl MAKE OUT. Seriously. Mr.Keynes and I haven't been dating long enough to have this issue, but we had successive head colds/sinus issues last week and this week so neither of us wanted to do anything sexy and all of a sudden last night when I was feeling a little better I was realized we hadn't REALLY kissed in close to week. Real, deep kisses can solve a are super sexy!


@wharrgarbl Oh gosh, last week I initiated some making out, something that we honestly haven't done in probably almost a year, and it was so hot! I told him "we need to do that at least once a week."


@wharrgarbl or even just touching more generally--I don't know, I guess there could be a relationship with a lot of platonic touching but no sex, but I have a hard time picturing it. I feel like things are easier when you're just generally physically intimate, so there's a blurrier line between "I like rubbing your leg" & "I am rubbing your leg because I WANT THE SEX" (or whatever).


LW1, this is not good advice or constructive anything, but you're awesome.


@elsbels Right? I thought all these LWs were awesome.




dj pomegranate

I have not read it yet, I just wanted to say: Dude with sleeping baby = Ask A... photo WIN.

sarah girl

@dj pomegranate My ovaries...


I love this married dude!

Passion Fruit

Yes, what a great Married Dude! I hope to one day have married a dude as compassionate and down to earth as you. (Is this too creepy? Or just creepy enough?)


@Passion Fruit It might be creepy, but I was going to say the exact same thing. I was all, yay, there are great dudes out there for the marrying! Although this one is already married. But whatever.

Lily Rowan

Oh LW#1, I am so sorry. What a terribly hard time this must be. You take care of yourself and your kid for a while and you'll be ready to date later. I'm sure of it. PS: I would like to hang out with you and sometimes babysit if you have a date.


@Lily Rowan YES! This is it, in a nutshell. Also I can add to your list of volunteer babysitters!


@Lily Rowan Seconded! I was just thinking I would be happy to volunteer for be LW#1's new BFF because she sounds awesome!

dj pomegranate

@romastrega 'PINUP: LW1 Version. Episode: NEW BFFs

sarah girl

Is it okay to not hate cargo shorts? I think they're pretty cute on guys, as long as they're not hugely baggy (or jorts). :\



which is to say, I actually agree with you that they can be not-awful, sometimes even cute, but largely are gross because of the aforementioned baggy/jorts issue.


@Sarah H. I like them when they are properly sized!

Jorts, however, are the devil's work.


@Sarah H. My boyfriend changes into cargo shorts every day in the summer when he gets home from lab. I think he is mad sexy. So it goes. (they are not hugely baggy, and he wears neither jeans nor jorts)


@Sarah H. Yeah, I like cargo shorts on guys, certain guys at least. Also I like for guys to hold my phone and stuff so that I can wear cute sundresses and not carry a purse. So, there's that.


@MissMushkila Same here. Summer cargo shorts, I have grown to love them. Then he switches back to pants for the winter and a part of me is like, "Yes, that's classically sexy." and another part of me goes, "hmm, but I miss those cargo shorts..."

sarah girl

@MoonBat Yes! The other day I had to buy some emergency tampons at a fair when I had no pockets/purse with me, and my boy graciously carried the little box in one of his cargo pockets. So useful!


@Sarah H. any that go below the knee because man-knees ugh. so knobbly.

Reginal T. Squirge

The pockets argument kind of strikes me as a little ridiculous. Pants have pockets also and if you're wearing a suit you also have all those extra pockets inside the jacket. Even more if it's a three-piece!


@Reginal T. Squirge I'm basically automatically attracted to men in 3-piece suits, so I endorse this comment whole-heartedly. that said, sometimes the weather is more suited (haha see what I did there??) to shorts than long pants and 2-3 layers on top.


@Reginal T. Squirge Yes but my getting-ready process would increase exponentially if my boy wore a three-piece suit on the regular

Reginal T. Squirge


Linen suits! Cotton suits! There are ways around this.


@Sarah H. It seems like a lot of the shorts I see on men are cargo shorts, so I just don't really care about them. My boyfriend has a couple of pairs and I wish I felt free to be quite that practical in the summer. Or could wear something like that to work, which he can, and which would make it seem like a better investment.

Really only ogle the guys in the tight pants-shorts like the last guy in the linked article was wearing though.


@Reginal T. Squirge Not many wear a three-piece in shorts weather.

Reginal T. Squirge

True. It is an art reserved for the fly.


@Reginal T. Squirge god, basically if any cute guy with a beard has a 3-piece linen suit on, I'm going to drag him away to my bedroom and tie him to the bed. well, actually, preferably he will tie me to the bed. BUT STILL.


@Reginal T. Squirge Mr. Bebe is southern. I have attended many sweltering hot outdoor weddings dressed in a slip dress, chugging water, and sweating bullets, while Mr. Bebe and his fellow southern gentleman calmly hang out, wearing suits, ties, undershirts, socks, and leather dress shoes. They never, ever sweat, remove their jackets or even loosen their ties. How is this possible? I must know the secret before the next New Orleans summer wedding!

Oh, and if you say "just don't think about it," I will scream. Granted, you won't hear it, but still.

fondue with cheddar

@Sarah H. My biggest problem with cargo shorts is that they're lumpy and they make snuggling on the couch really uncomfortable.


Ok but everyone hates plaid shorts, right?


@themmases I can't help it, men generally just look like little boys to me when they wear shorts. Short pants!

But I am clearly out of step with the times.

fondue with cheddar

@theharpoon Plaid shorts remind me of my Grandpa, and he recently died so I think I like them more on guys now.

I do like plaid shorts for myself, though. Long, guy-type shorts (but cut to fit a lady).


@Sarah H. No one should knock cargo shorts until they have had to stick hammers, nails, wrenches, etc. into the waistband of pants that don't have enough pockets. Try building a set with no cargo pockets. You'll regret it, I promise you!

Reginal T. Squirge


I don't know. I was born in New Orleans so I think it's just something you're born with? Also, I'm really skinny and have poor circulation so I tend to run pretty cold anyway.


@Scandyhoovian I am confused by "jorts." Does it mean jeans that have been ripped or cut off, or the ones that are neatly hemmed when you buy them, which I've always thought of as "dad shorts." For the record, I don't like the latter and would not want my BF to wear them but, on a dad, it just seems... dadlike.

I'm asking because, a couple of summers ago, my BF was painting and had on old, faded jeans that he'd cut off at the now-frayed knees. He thought he looked crazy but I thought it looked like the summer version of his usual jeans-and t-shirt self, and would not have cared if he'd gone out in public like that. I thought he looked cute. I'm also partial to my own cut-off jeans, which I don't often wear outside of my apartment, but have on occasion.


@Sarah H. Scrubby dude just back from canoe trip with scruffy beard and cargo shorts that have taken a beating on the trail= melts my icy heart.

@theharpoon My very butch Ladyfriend wears madras shorts and they are AMAZING. Plaid shorts 4 everrrr.


PORN! I definitely agree that you need to find what turns YOU on first - as a bisexual lady, I am more into queer porn than straight porn because so much of straight porn is so exploitative/not about female desire. SO if queer porn is at all your thing, the obvious starting place is the Crash Pad series. But generally I've had better luck with erotica - well-written sex scenes are better for me than filmed sex scenes.


@realtalk I just wanna chime in as a straight lady (mostly straight, with an open mind and some queer experiences under my belt) and say that queer porn really turns me on. Even if the sexual situation is one that I would not participate in, I love how the performers look like they are enjoying themselves and their partners. Porn, for me, is a starting point for my imagination and not a model for what I want my sex life to look like. It is totally worth a little exploration—try the Feminist Porn Awards website for good recos.
I also second the erotica idea.. I've enjoyed almost any anthology edited by Susie Bright or Rachael Kramer Bussel.
Lastly, I've totally been there with the bed-death thing. I think it's good that you're addressing it—when it happened to me and my ex, we just waited for it to magically get better by itself, and by the time we got around to trying to fix it, I was too full of resentment and he was afraid of provoking me, to the point where I didn't even want to do it anymore and I couldn't get the desire to return. Sex is such a charged topic and if you and your partner are able to talk about it, I think that's half that battle. Good luck!


@planforamiracle I suspected this might be the case for straight women too, but I'm glad to have it anecdotally confirmed by at least one person! yay :)


@realtalk @planforamiracle Alternately, if you don't want to venture into full-on porn territory, you could always get into The L-Word. Seriously...the sex scenes in that show are enough to light many a queer-friendly fire, plus, the plot is fun.

Sea Ermine

@realtalk I think it's pretty common especially when so much (SO MUCH) straight porn doesn't show things that women like or has women obviously faking it. I'm straight but I almost exclusively watch lesbian porn because I have a frame of reference for what is being done and I could imagine how it might feel because it's all women's bodies.

In real life, if I'm into someone things like blowjobs and sex with men totally turn me on but in a video its very boring because I don't know the guy and don't know what it feels like to, say, receive a hand job and so I can't put myself in that frame of mine.

Whereas with lesbian porn (with actual queer women not straight women pretending to be gay) even though in real life I wouldn't be in that situation I can guarantee that what's happening involves acts I've experienced, so it's easy to imagine how good that would feel and put me in the right mental place.


@Sea Ermine Yes! This is exactly why I love lesbian porn. Porn that focuses on desire and mutual satisfaction and tingly naughty bits that I can relate to!

Queer porn is The Best Porn.

Also, thank you, 'Pin, for giving me my second reason to talk to Dudefriend about porn today.


LW2: I had a situation like yours... essentially, Mr. A was married to Mrs. B - Ms. C came into the equation, she was a mutual friend with all of us, but then ended up needing a place to crash because she left her husband, and Mr. A let her in. We all kinda knew that Ms. C had a "thing" for Mr. A, but he always joked about it. Still this seemed to cross a line. I sat down with Mr. A and was like "WTF? your wife was just diagnosed with MS (true story), and this beautiful young woman is living with you guys and you think it's ok? take some time, ask her to find another place to stay, and give your wife the care she needs right now"

...the day after this he went to the hospital for chest pains. Turns out he was having a severe panic attack and ended up fessing up that he's been schtupping Ms. C for 5 YEARS. FIVE. YEARS.

So, yeah. saying something. it's a tough gig, but sometimes someones gotta do it.


@teenie FIVE YEARS!!???


@teenie ohhhhhhh myyyy goddddddddddddddddddddd he brought her into their HOUSE.


@teenie fuck. that is all I can say.



Yeah - this was a year before I broke up with my awful fuckface ex, who was Mr. A's bff. A few months after it all went down (during which time my ex and I were basically taking over Mr. A's business - A KENNEL very hard work - and helping to take care of his two children) my ex told me he wanted to start hanging out with Mr. A again - I was all OVER MY COLD DEAD BODY.

Mr. A recently married Ms. C, and GUESS WHO HIS BEST MAN WAS. what a fustercluck of assholes.


@iceberg Seriously. You've been banging this woman for five years, she leaves her husband, and you decide to move her right into your own house with your wife who just found out she has MS? I feel like the first clue might have been the wheelbarrow he needed to cart his balls around in.


...I feel like we need a patented RH&C "oh nooooo" in here...



That is just all kinds of terrible.


@teenie That is appalling on all fronts. I am so glad you have Mr. Teenie now, and that you are away from that whole mad mess.
But mad props for introducing the amazing "fustercluck" into my vocabulary.


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher

...is that why you're called "the everpresent wordsnatcher"? did you just snatch my word?


@teenie Only if it's okay for sharing!


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher but of course!


@iceberg This could easily be from the recent AaCP about cockroaches and it is perfect that way.

miss buenos aires

@bitzy Also the "joking" about it chills my soul. It's like he got off on deceiving everyone.


@teenie There is no emoticon that can adequately convey the expression my face is making right now. Appalled x one billion.


@miss buenos aires So many level of fucked-up.


@wharrgarbl Wait, I think this is ALMOST the exact plot of "The Crimson Petal and the White" except Ms. C is actually a prostitute.


@wharrgarbl This situation sucks but I love you for that Bill Hicks reference.


@teenie That's some wicked kismet slap- down on that guy. Like.


@Megano! Yeah, but Sugar got the fuck out and took the kid with her and (potentially) sent Agnes to her convent away from her terrible husband, so that one kind of had a happier ending than Ms. C marrying the douche.


So, uh, LW1, you are amazing, and A Married Dude, you are amazing as well, and I, uh... I need some tissues.


...and LW3. you say you're having sex pretty regularly, are you both getting off? I guess I read it and my "was married for 10 years and is now in another long-term relationship" mind thinks "enh, long-term relationships tend to have less spiceh sex than flings or what not."

Your self-conscious/self-aware descriptor also encourages me to ask: maybe you both feel like you SHOULD be having mind-numbing sex that is on par with what you had when you started? When - you generally get more comfortable with your partner and so that level of heat becomes replaced with gentle exploration and increased number of orgasms (for those of us who need a partner we're comfortable with to orgasm)

just some food for thought I guess.


That's been my experience. I'm going on seven years in my relationship and things have most definitely cooled. But I've come to terms with the fact that it doesn't bother him any more than it bothers me, which was hard to accept because there are all these "Shoulds" shoved down our collective throats about sex.
On the other hand, however, it does always pay off when we do force the issue a bit and get sexy even if we're not totally feeling it.
Finally, they couple times we've watched porn together have served us very well. Personally though, I've found I don't even need porn to get me going. I'm interested in becoming a sex educator and have been regularly immersing myself in sexy topics, which has done more for my sex drive than anything. Even when it's not eroticised having sex on my mind makes for more sex drive.


LW1: I'm so sorry--that sounds really hard. You sound like an amazing person.

LW2: Ugh, this is hard. My gut reaction is to say I think you should stay out of it (don't know if I could/would). If it's as totally obvious as you think it is, either the wife knows/suspects or soon will. You also don't know for sure if there is anything going on.

But, I also think it's terrible to be the last person to know something like that. So, this A Dude's advice sounds solid--confront Person C (not to accuse though, since you don't know for sure if anything's going on).


@dtowngirl I don't know. It's easier and less scary to confront Person C, but isn't Person A the one who really needs to be confronted? in terms of fairness?


@harebell Yeah, I can see that. I guess I just think Person C is less likely to deny, seeing as she has less to lose (in terms of marriage). This, of course, also depends highly on Person A and Person C's personalities/characters--there's not as much point confronting a pathological liar, for example.


that sleeping backpack baby! it makes me want to go home and cuddle with my little baby right now!

dj pomegranate

@ba-na-nas I keep scrolling up to re-read the letters so as to make informed comments, but then I keep seeing the Sleeping Backpack Baby and it derails all my thought processes!


@dj pomegranate Ohhhh, I knooooowwww.


@ba-na-nas my baby is in the office. sleeping on a Boppy. i am not looking forward to this little honeymoon ending.


@heyladies that sounds so lovely! enjoy!


@MoonBat I WISHES I STILL HAD A BABEH TO NOM. *sobs, hugs 9-year-old*


I will have one in about six weeks. She will be available to nom!


@Bittersweet My babiest baby is EIGHT now, and still nom-able when he's tired enough to tolerate my nommings. But I would happily have another, if I could find a Dude like this Dude.


@Bittersweet 9-year olds are a delicious nom. Just nom around the dirt patches.


I could nom this Dude, a squirmy, dirty nine-year-old, and an enormous meatball sandwich today, seriously.


OH! For sexy movies that excellently explore 'different' points of view and still leave you wanting, and not in giggles is Secretary with Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader. That man turns me on so hard and this movie always titillates.

Atheist Watermelon

@gemjay oh god, yes... and sex, lies and videotape, he is soooooooo beeaaauuuutiiifffuuullll

Lily Rowan

@gemjay Yeah, I'm not even into BDSM, and that movie was hot as hell.

Roaring Girl

@Didldidi Yes to both of these movies, jesus fucking christ. I am so happy to know I'm not the only one who goes wobbly for James Spader.


Good Married Dude!
I think he's right on the nose with LW#1. I think the fear of being alone forever is common and easier to think about and more "solvable" than the fear of losing someone that's close to you, and the father of your child.
I wish you and your kid the best of luck, LW#1, both with the upcoming sad events, and their aftermath. Don't be afraid to take time to grieve (no matter what form that grief takes).


I like to think that these responses were collaborative, between Backpack Baby and Dude.


LW1: I would like to say that when you are ready, there will be men of the same age as you with kids and other obligations. Some will want someone younger and less-attached, but not all. Some will want a lovely person like you who is working to strike a balance between attending to her own established life and making time for hot sweetness with someone great. Lots of people in the grown-up phases of their lives want a real connection with someone but also some independence.


@laurel word


So do people agree with him that LW2 shouldn't go to person B? What if persons A and C own up to it but won't tell B and won't stop? Wouldn't she then be complicit by knowing but allowing it to go on? I would probably end up doing a "You fess up or I'll do it for you" scenario, although I do see how that could potentially be ill advised. Hmmmm.


@paddlepickle It's hard either way. If she goes to Person B, and it turns out nothing is going on, she jeopardizes all three relationships. If she goes to A and C, they can deny or confess, and she jeopardizes those relationships. If they confess but won't stop/won't tell Person B, then she's in the position of being complicit or telling Person B herself, again jeopardizing all three relationships. If she doesn't say anything to anyone, it could implode on its own, or A and C could continue their affair, and B could stay in the dark forever.

I guess it begs the question of which relationships she's willing to sacrifice if they are having an affair and she decides to involve herself.


@paddlepickle - I think, particularly in this case where there is suspicion but no proof, it's better to confront the cheating parties rather than tell on them. At least at first. And in a situation where you do unfortunately have proof, I think I'd say, "You need to shape up and come clean. I'm not going to tell on you, but I'm not going to cover for you in any way." The truth will out eventually. (Of course if the cheating party is also endangering a partner's health by having unprotected sex, for example, I think that changes the calculation considerably.)


@alannaofdoom Oh yeah, I definitely think they need to be confronted first. But if they won't come clean, I at least would feel really uncomfortable knowing for sure they're having an affair and not telling person B about it. Although that might be a selfish impulse to get it off my conscience, since you're right- the truth WILL come out.

I wish we knew more what the evidence she has is. It sounds like she's just getting a vibe when the three of them hang out together, but then how is Person B not picking up on those vibes too, ya know?


@paddlepickle I, personally, would never be able to be friends with someone who knew this was going on and didn't tell me. If they chose not to tell me, it would say to me that they had chosen those other relationships over their relationship with me, despite having evidence that they had behaved badly with no evidence to suggest I had. I definitely have weird stuff about needing to know absolutely everything but I just think it is more important that everyone knows what is going on and can make their own decisions from there.

And if I were cheating and a friend told my bf? I might be embarrassed and not talk to her for a while, but I could never justify to myself being mad at that person. Having information (even suspected information) and not sharing it makes you complicit in my book.


@paddlepickle That's probably what I would do. Because if they're being that indiscreet pretty sure it's going to make it's way back to the wife anyway.


@simalie But what if that person did not know, and only had suspicions or "weird vibes" that they did not share with you? Would you still want someone to say, "I have no idea if this is true, but it totally seems to me that your spouse is sleeping with your close friend behind your back."? Without any direct knowledge that something is definitely going on, it seems kind of shitty to pass your suspicions on to the innocent party.

Now, if that person said, "Do you ever get a weird vibe about my spouse and my close friend? I feel like something is going on there. Am I crazy?" - I could totally see trying to (tactfully, gently) find a way to agree with her, and then support her through whatever the fallout was.


@simalie Yeah, if I knew for SURE that this was happening, there was no way that I could live with myself if I didn't tell my friend who was being cheated on, if they were a good friend. Like, I think of my closest friends, and I know that they would do anything for me, and there is just no way that I could know something so devastating to them and not tell them. I think the key in this issue is a) she isn't positive, and b) it's unclear how close of friends she is to the wife getting cheated on here. Because if she and the wife are good but not great friends, it's possible that she doesn't know how the wife would react and maybe the wife wouldn't believe her and would get mad at her? I might still probably tell in that instance, but I'm not sure. But I think knowing for sure that they were having an affair is necessary first.


@Bebe @thebestjasmine
I'm totally with you that you don't want to be going around telling everyone that their spouses are cheating on them b/c you saw some seriously over-the-top glances, or they were hanging out with a mixed group of friends and you didn't overhear the conversation, or they were wearing the same color t-shirt (planned by text before? ALL SIGNS POINT TO YES). But if you honestly think there is more than a 50% chance that something is going on, even if you don't have any evidence other than intuition, if you were my friend I would rather that you tell me. Some of my friends would rather not know without actual evidence, so I wouldn't tell them if I suspected--only if I saw him out with a girl when I knew she thought he was working, or something.

But the LW wrote "so I have overheard and seen some things that lead me to be PRETTY DAMN SURE that something's going on" which to me means a lot more than vague suspicions". If you are 'pretty damn sure' that it's going on, please, please, just tell me. I would be devastated to find out that people, anyone really, even strangers, knew when I didn't.

I would probably also tell an acquaintance that a friend of mine was cheating on them, or at least hint, but that probably has a lot to do with me liking to stick my nose where it doesn't belong (it's a Dutch thing, I think? maybe I'm just excusing my bad behavior) and also being very, very afraid of being cheated on.


I've never understood the appeal of watching porn with your significant other. Anytime I've done it, we've both just erupted in giggles and decided to go get sushi. It's never led to sex. Am I doing porn watching wrong?


@Slutface For me it has only lead to sexytimes if I have also had a couple drinks. I personally find books way hotter.


@Slutface I don't think you're doing it wrong. Do you watch porn on your own? I have a theory that it feels strange with a partner for people that don't watch it on the regular on their own because there is some inherent weirdness with most male-centered/directed porn that's just hard to get over, so unless you are a) used to it and past the awkwardness or b) watching legitimately Good Porn, it's just kind of weird, no matter how sexually open and comfortable you are with your partner.


Best married dude yet. Thank you.


decent cache of porn like by the ladies, http://www.reddit.com/r/chickflixxx ! sort by most popular all time!


Oh my god, can I just say, I am in THE EXACT SITUATION as LW2 and EVERYBODY INVOLVED is part of a particular social organization I frequent and it is FUCKING TERRIBLE. Just, you know, some advice to people having love rhomboids in tight-knit group situations: YOU ARE NEVER SUBTLE. EVERYBODY KNOWS. And we all hate it. HAAATE. Seriously, it's harshing our good time to watch you cheat on your spouses.

I have contemplated the "I don't know EXACTLY what is going on here, but it looks terrible, we all see it, so SORT THAT SHIT OUT, GOD" conversation but there's just really no good way to broach that. Eventually I had to just go with the nuclear option and avoid that social circle entirely. I really hope it blows over soon...

the little c

LW 3, you might want to consider porn comics. They're hilarious, educational, totally fun, and often written by awesome lady artists. Check out The Smut Peddler, which is a forthcoming comics porn anthology that you might want to look out for. Jess Fink and Erika Moen (both contributors to The Smut Peddler) are a few good artists to start with.


LW2 should just up and tell Person B, not because it's the right thing to do (it definitely is not) but because she's already decided on it, as married dude says.

Keeping mum's clearly off the table, since it bothers her to do so, and confronting Person A or Person C only brings her closer to tattling - if they deny it, whatever, her intuition belies their protest. If they confirm an affair then she's definitely up shit creek and will run screaming to Person B.

I mean, being in that spot is hard. I know it, I assume most of us do. But for all her talk of knowing, she does not know, she has only her gut feeling and now desires to take that volatile substance and make it explode.

When I found out my best friend was cheating on my other best friend, it was because the Other Man just straight up told me, and I had to make a choice. Despite the actual knowledge that I had, I didn't say anything, and it wasn't because I didn't love my cheated-on friend, it was because the relationship was clearly doomed and I served no one but myself for getting involved in it. It was a question of letting things play out or performing the coup de grace myself, and ultimately I recognized that doing the latter was only really motivated by my resentment at being actively drawn into the deceit, and my guilt over complicity, a complicity that LW2 does not actually have but still feels acutely.

Don't be a drama llama, y'all, not if you can help it. Unless people are involved in risky behaviors or jeopardizing the health and well-being of their ostensible partners, stay the fuck out of peoples' intimate relationships. For real. You are not doing anyone any favors otherwise, except yourself. If you want to feel like a good friend, arrange to be a pillow when the breakup inevitably happens.


@Danzig! I can understand not wanting to tell someone, but actually I disagree that it is selfish to do so. I think it's actually more selfish not to--you don't want to be the bringer of bad news, and get more involved, etc. But my friends who have been cheated on all wondered why no one told them after it went on for months and months (I didn't know myself, or I would have said something). If all 3 people involved are your friends, I think it's self-preservation (selfish) to not say anything. Understandable, sure, and if you know they are on imminent breakup alert already then maybe it's a different story, but if the cheatee is unaware then I absolutely think she should at least be given a hint.


Also, doesn't dirty talk happen when you're actually in the bedroom? And who doesn't mind a bit of nude giggling?

Has sex ever not been ridiculous

Katie Walsh

@Danzig! I like the lack of question mark here at the end.


I kind of think LW2 should tell Person B. Because she's not saying "this is happening," she's saying, "some shit looks fishy to me, and I'm not going to get too close to it, but maybe you want to look into it." If it's not true, then A & C need to stop making it seem true. If it is true, and she jeopardizes her relationships with A &C, fuck them.

Wouldn't everyone in B's situation want one of their "best friends" to share this information. Including A & C if the tables were turned?


@vunder I have to reply to myself to also say that one of the worst things about being cheated on is when you know that everyone else knows but you. Feeling like an oblivious idiot is almost worse than being cheated on in the first place. It's different if it's a well kept secret, but A & C aren't keeping their secret well.


@vunder: I so picture LW2 and Person B sitting on the sofa, observing Person A and Person C together. LW2 nudges Person B and says, "So, what's up with those two?" Person B might say, "What do you mean?" All LW2 would have to say is, "They just seem different, together, lately." If I were Person B, that would be enough to get my attention that there is at least the appearance of impropriety and LW2 wouldn't have to level any accusations or offer evidence or anything. The rest would be PB's responsibility.


@vunder yeah, I am totally on Team Tell Person B. Probably b/c that's what I would want someone to do for me (total stranger coming up to me on the street and telling me they think they saw the guy I am with kissing another girl at a bar the other night? I would really appreciate it!). I think I would be able to calmly (or jokingly) as my SO about it, or be on the lookout for signs. But I get that there are others who maybe don't want to know every little suspicious thing. Also, that inserting yourself in others' business can be really, really messy, and that some people have firmer boundaries than I do. It's so hard.


I'm late to this party, but I wanted to tell A Married Dude that your advice to Unmarried Mom Lady made me cry (in a totally good way). My opinion of men lately has gotten dangerously low and this lifted it up a bit.


Holy crap, this Married Dude just. made. my. day.


LW1, I just have to echo everyone else's assessment of you sounding smart and awesome. This shit sucks, and there is no way to go around it. Going through it has got to be incredibly challenging. I'm a little younger than you, with a kid and an ex-spouse (who is now my dear friend). I don't have to deal with anything as life-altering as the death of my son's father, but I totally understand those haunting feelings of oh-my-god-i-have-so-much-baggage-no-one-is-ever-going-to-want-me-ever-again. In addition to Married Dude's excellent advice, I have this to offer: when you do find an awesome dude who is perfect for you and the timing is right, get in therapy and stay there. I'm 8 months into a relationship with my awesome dude, and I'm still having the hardest time with abandonment and self-sabotaging issues, which I never had before my divorce. I wish you the best, because you sound lovely.


This Married Dude is so wonderful, and the question and the answer to number one made me well up with tears. LW1, I am so sorry, and I'm hoping for the best for you.

Porn Peddler

LW3: You can probably tell from my name that I could say a lot about porn, sex, and relationships, but all I will say is that distance is probably the most important thing in my partnership. It's so easy to sink into domestic comfort where you hang all the goddamn time but be people, apart, and physical and adventurous as often as you can.


@Porn Peddler This is great advice.

Snood Mood

::wild applause:: Seriously one of the best advice columns I've read in ages, giving Sugar a run for her money.


A Married Dude, I hope my Dudefriend ends up being as awesome as you in 10+ years.


This Married Dude is The Best.


Letter #2: Some questions to think about, if it turns out your friends are cheating on your other friend.
What is the endgame for you when the truth comes out? Are you going to be everyone's shoulder to cry on (not likely)?
Are you going to be close to the married woman who didn't know what was going on, while you did know (probably not)?
Are you going to have to "choose sides" when the shit hits the fan (probably)?
Seriously, cut the cheaters loose as soon as you find out - put some distance between yourselves. If the married woman asks you why you don't hang out with them anymore, you can let her know the truth.
Sorry if this is harsh, but having lived through this scenario I can tell you it's going to get ugly. FUGLY.


In case no one else has (so many comments!), just want to point out that:
"We’re talking about lust, here; maybe even love. This is some occult stuff. More than anything, we’re dealing with the precious and fragile lives that people have built together, stuck together as they are with compromise and promises, white lies and closed eyes and the rust of good intentions."
...is some beautiful, delicious writing. And your advice to LW1 is wonderful. Thank you for being you.


Here's a perspective I don't see us looking at: WHY are A & C cheating? Who are they as people? Is C lonely? Does she think this is the best she can do? I would talk to her first, and ask her why she's putting herself in that situation. Then A, and point out that if there's something unsatisfying about his marriage, cheating is NOT the way to fix it. I'm not saying that cheating is totally awesome and acceptable behavior, but I think as a culture we are awfully quick to condemn all people who engage in infidelity as horrible people, when it's more complicated than that. Good people make bad choices, and if we are their friends, shouldn't we try to help them identify those bad choices and make better ones?
(Which is part of why I like A Married Dude's advice so much - the acknowledgement that this is a complicated situation for the involved parties and that emotions are actually probably in play)


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