Savage Love

Savage Love: Dicks Deluxe

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Dear Dan,

I am a 35-year-old straight guy. I met a nice lady through the normal methods, and we hit it off. I think we are both considering "taking it to the next level." We are on the same intellectual wavelength, enjoy the same social experiences, and have a lot of fun together. So what could be the problem? My friend decided it was the time to inform me that she is transgender, pre-op, and will not be having gender-reassignment surgery. This was quite a shock to me. I'm not homophobic, though I've never had a gay experience. I'm open-minded, yet there is a mental block. I like this person, I like our relationship thus far, and I want to continue this relationship. But I'm in a state of confusion.

— Confused Over Complicating Knowledge

Lemme get this out of way first, COCK: The nice lady isn't a man, so sex with her wouldn't be a "gay experience" and homophobia isn't the relevant term.

Moving on ...

You're a straight guy, you're attracted to women, and some women — as you now know — have dicks. Are you into dick? Could you develop a taste for dick? Could you see yourself making an exception for her dick? It's fine if "no" is the answer to one or all of these questions, and not being into dick doesn't make you transphobic. Evan Urquhart, who writes about trans issues for Slate, argues that in addition to being gay, straight, bi, pan, demi, etc., some people are phallophiles and some are vaginophiles — that is, some people (perhaps most) have a strong preference for either partners with dicks or partners with vaginas. And some people — most people — want their dicks on men and their labia on/vaginas in women.

"There's no shame in it, as long as it doesn't come from a place of ignorance or hate," Urquhart writes. "Mature adults should be able to talk plainly about their sexuality, in a way that doesn't objectify or shame anyone who happens to be packing the non-preferred equipment."

Some straight guys are really into dick (trans women with male partners usually aren't partnered with gay men, and trans women who do sex work typically don't have any gay male clients), some straight guys are willing to make an exception for a particular dick (after falling in love with a woman who has one), but most straight guys aren't into dick (other than their own).

I would encourage you to continue dating this woman, keep an open mind, and keep taking things slow. You've got new information to process before taking this relationship to the next level. But don't drag it out. If you conclude that the dick is a deal breaker, end this relationship. You don't want to keep seeing her "to be nice" if you know a relationship isn't possible. Because letting someone live in false hope is always a dick move.

Dear Dan,

A few months ago, I started dating someone. I made it clear that I didn't feel comfortable being in a nonmonogamous relationship. They said that's not usually what they're into but they weren't interested in seeing anyone else and they had no problem being monogamous. They've never given any indication that they're unhappy with our arrangement, but I can't shake the fears that, though they won't admit it, they'd prefer it if our relationship were more open and I'm taking something important away from them. Can someone who usually doesn't "do" monogamy feel fulfilled in a "closed" relationship? Can it work out, or will they just slowly grow to resent me for this?

­— Deliriously Anxious Monogamist Nervously Inquires Today

If you stay together forever — what most people mean by "work out"—your partner will definitely grow to resent you. All people in long-term relationships resent their partners for something. So if monogamy is the price of admission this person is willing to pay, let them pay it. There are a lot of people out there in closed relationships who would rather be in open ones and vice versa. And remember: What works for you as a couple — and what you want as an individual — can change over time.

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