Welcome to the Liberal Relationship Advice Column by sex-positive guru and relationship expert Reefer Myst. People of all genders are welcome.
I am a 36 year old woman and I’ve been married to my husband for ten years. These past few years, he’s become violent towards me. At first, it started with telling me how much of a fuckup I am. More recently, he’s started to hit me. Mostly with open hand, but also with his fist, whenever he’s really, really angry and drunk. I want to leave him, but he’s isolated me from all my friends and I don’t have anyone to turn to. What should I do?
Black Eyes in Tuscaloosa
I’m sorry to hear that, Black Eyes. But like it or not, you’ve made a lifelong commitment to this man. You’ve known him for a long time, so think about his feelings. Your message was all about your feelings, and not about his feelings. How does it make him feel? There must be a reason for this escalation. What I am saying is, if you look into it, you’ll find out why he’s being violent and you can resolve this issue together, as a couple. You need to confront your role as an enabler in this situation, okay? It takes two to tango.
For you to stay with him for ten whole years must mean he’s a good person, at least most of the time, otherwise you’d have left a long time ago. Right? If he was that way before, he can be that way again. Also, the fact that there are even better husbands out there means that he too could be like that. All you gotta do is work with him. You can bring about gradual improvements in his character by constantly pestering him until he becomes the man you’ve always wanted. You could nag him to stop drinking, for example.
Divorce is the easy and messy solution. You’re better than that.
My best friend joined some group called Landmark Education. When he came back from his first seminar, which lasted a whole weekend, he told me he was a new man, and was using many words in a different and weird way. I didn’t think there was any harm to it. But after two more seminars, it seems it’s the only thing he can talk about. But what’s more, he left his wife (he’s been with her for 15 years) and their two children, spent all his money on a new car, and is hooked up with a woman from Landmark. He’s telling me he wants to become a trainer himself and tried to recruit me. Help!
Concerned in Cincinnati
Concerned, I don’t understand why you’re being so melodramatic. Sure, your friend may be annoying right now, but don’t you tell your friends when you discover a new cool thing? And this sounds really important to him, so you should try to be nice and at least indulge him. Just be a good friend.
Now, you didn’t mention anything about how the relationship was going, apart from the length (15 years is a long time to be with someone else), so I can’t judge that situation. However, I did notice something while reading your question: everything you told me has been your friend’s personal choice. He chose to attend the seminars, he chose to leave his family, he chose to buy the car. If he really is your best friend, then you should stand behind his choices. Trust them to know what’s best for themselves, like you’d want them to trust you in your own choices. The best and fastest way to lose your friend’s trust would be to deny his agency.
Besides, I see nothing wrong with what he’s doing. More education is always good, and you should be happy that he’s still educating himself. After all, education is what determines a person’s worth in our society, as well as the merit and standard of living they deserve. Without education, we’d be no better than your average neoconservative redneck.
I am a 24 year old straight woman who’s looking for a stable partner. The dating scene in my city has been pretty difficult to deal with. There’s not a lot of eligible bachelors, and the ones I’ve dated have been… works in progress. They don’t know how to talk to women, they have personal hygiene problems, or they’re a little crazy. I don’t know what to do! I’ve heard bad things about online dating, so I don’t really want to have to go there.
Lonely in a Small Town
Lonely? More like bossy! Listen, your attitude really stinks. You can’t just decide you’re never going to date someone who doesn’t fulfill some arbitrary criterion. If, for example, you were white and said you only wanted to date white men, that would be racism. Not wanting to date people because they have hygiene problems or don’t fit your ideal of a “normal” person (way to be neuronormative with that “crazy” comment, by the way) is just as prejudiced. Have you thought about talking to them about it, or are you just using it as an excuse to discriminate against certain men?
What if a man is unable to be decent? Should he be punished for his failings by being unable to be attractive to women? Having a coffee now and then with a man you most likely won’t find attractive is a small price to pay to make the online dating world a less shitty place for men. It’s what a good woman would do. Also, check your privilege, lady. There are many people who’d kill to get as many dates as you do. You should thank your lucky stars.
I am a mother of one boy, Ira, who’s 12 years old. He is such a smart child! But recently he’s started giving me some trouble. At first it was just whining about having to mow the lawn for his allowance, calling it “wage slavery.” But now he just flat out refuses to do his homework, because he says doing his homework “means giving into the indoctrination system which provides a skilled labor force for the capitalist democratic imperialist hegemony and fractures the working class into largely hereditary economic castes,” whatever THAT means. I have no idea where he gets this stuff. How can I get him to do his homework?
Perplexed in Pittsburgh
Perplexed, you probably don’t read my column very often, because I say it all the time: disagreements always stem from ignorance. That is the reason why everyone who disagrees with me is an ignorant fool. So the answer is to educate your child. Clearly he’s been reading too much political stuff on the Internet and needs to be brought back to the real world. You have to sit your child down and calmly and politely explain to him that education is what determines a person’s worth in our society, and that if he wants to live a good life he needs to study and do his homework so he can get good grades. It’s really that simple! Maybe show him some hobos that live in Pittsburgh or take him to a soup kitchen or something. That’ll scare him straight.
If he still refuses to do his homework, then that’s perfectly normal. Children are not yet cooked, and their brains can’t really cope with the long term. They’re kinda dumb that way. So what you have to do it invoke things that he does understand, like guilt. Tell him that if he doesn’t do his homework, then you’ll be really disappointed in him and everyone will think you’re a bad parent. If that doesn’t work, then blackmail him by threatening to take away something he likes. There doesn’t have to be any clear relation between the task and the thing you threaten to take away. That’s why it’s blackmail and not something that makes actual sense.
But don’t ever use physical violence on your child. Violence doesn’t solve anything. Only education (and guilt, and blackmail) does. Always remember that and keep it close to your heart, or at least the part that goes pat pat pat.
I am a 25 years old woman and I have a new boyfriend. I really love him, but recently I caught him watching a pornographic video. I was rather offended by this, but he said it was no big deal and that all men do it. I kept asking him questions and finally he admitted that he’s been watching them all this time we’ve been together. How can he truly respect me if he gets off on videos of women getting called “whores” and getting gagged by penises? Is that really how men see sex, as a violent act done against women, instead of a loving act?
Sad in Singapore
I get these kinds of questions sometimes and it really irks me. You have got to get rid of your backwards, conservative attitude towards porn. Porn is just fantasy, okay? It’s not real. They’re acting. When you watch an action movie, do you complain when a character is captured and tortured for information? It’s all movie magic.
And reality check, Sad: men need porn in order to masturbate. That’s how we get off! Men are visual creatures. So, yes, your boyfriend uses porn. That’s not a big deal at all. All men do it. And access to porn is a basic human right. So basically, you’re saying that you’re against your boyfriend’s human rights. And you say you love him? Really?
If you don’t want to be with someone who looks at porn, if you can’t handle it, then get a woman, get a dog, or get a blind guy. I’m sorry if you think that’s insensitive… no, wait, I’m actually not sorry.
Hi Reefer, I’m a big fan of your advice column! Thank you in advance for answering my question. I am a 32 year old straight woman and I am having trouble with my relationship. My boss at work keeps asking me to do overtime and I have to do it because of a possible promotion coming up. I want to make a good impression. But I work so much now that when I come home, I’m just too tired for sex, even though my husband keeps asking me for it over and over. He says that his sex drive is too high and that he can’t stay with me if I don’t put out. What should I do?
Tired in Toronto
Well Tired, it seems to me, just from your message, that you’re setting yourself up to be the victim. I’m not going to validate your feelings of victimhood, especially since you choose to work late for your own benefit. Your husband is the victim here, not you. This is why it’s important to do the right thing and talk about sexual expectations at the beginning of your relationship, not in the middle of it. You should have known this would happen if you started to work late.
What you need to do is stop pitying yourself and use your hardship to your own advantage. You’re too tired to have sex? Then start roleplaying with your boyfriend: for example, you could be a patient and he could be a doctor, or you could be a corpse and he could be a necrophiliac. Basically, anything that involves you lying down and being limp would work. That way, you can both preserve your choices and satisfy your boyfriend sexually.
I am a 35 year old man. A year ago, I was stabbed in a dispute with a (former) friend. While the physical wounds have healed, the wound to my ego is still painful. I am still traumatized and this has affected my relationship with my friends and family. I can’t trust anyone right now. I need help to deal with my fears.
Slashed in Sarasota
Slashed, this is a delicate psychological issue. One method that’s been very successful in dealing with trauma of that sort is re-enactment. It’s perfectly safe and will help you deal with your feelings. Join a local APRS (Active/Passive Re-enactment Scenes) club and get to know the members. Eventually you’ll be able to participate in one of the Scenes. In order to deal with your stabbing trauma, you would, for example, be stabbed by another person, in a manner similar to what happened to you, but in a safe environment with medical kits available on hand. The stabbing, of course, would be done on areas of your body that are not dangerous.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, getting actually stabbed would not be a good idea, but it’s just play-acting. I mean, yea, the stabbing is real, but it’s within a Scene, which makes it all right. You get comforted afterwards and it helps you. Many people swear by it. It’s definitely more cutting-edge than anything else you might want to try, like therapy or Scientology. I strongly invite you to look into it. You’ll thank me for it later.
NOTE: the “having a coffee now and then” and “If you don’t want to be with someone who looks at porn” parts were lifted pretty much directly from things Dan Savage has said (but with better grammar). This entry was partially inspired by his unqualified, laughable “advice”.