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A few years ago, my dad was busted by the cops for using an online forum to solicit escorts. The arrest and infidelity destroyed his marriage to my mom. My brother and I were in our mid-teens at the time and were angry enough with him that we asked him to not seek custody. He obliged, and neither of us has seen him since. I miss my dad—or the man I thought he was. I know part of my anger comes from how badly he hurt my mom. As I mature, I’m wondering if I was unfair to my dad by cutting off all contact. I don’t think sex work is immoral. I don’t think people who see sex workers are bad. But because my dad was involved in this bust, and because I had to become aware of the double life he led, I felt uncomfortable around him. It doesn’t help that some of the girls were not much older than I was at the time. I think I’d like to get to know my dad again, but I’m not sure what kind of relationship I’m ready to have. He was a wonderful father—and on some level, I recognize I cut him off when he showed me he was human. How do I reach out to him? —Please Help
Each of us is a writhing mass of contradictions, PH. We all have public personas and private personas, and there are always gaps between the two. And while those gaps, when exposed, can be mutually negating, that’s not always the case. It is possible for someone to be a good dad and a shitty husband. The good dad you knew your dad to be? That wasn’t a lie. It was one of your father’s truths. That he failed as a husband and hurt your mom—with an assist from laws criminalizing sex work—is another of your father’s truths.
You don’t say why your dad was seeking sex outside the marriage, PH. I can’t imagine that was a conversation you wanted to have with your dad in your mid-teens, and it may not be one you ever want to have. But it’s possible your parents’ marriage was more complicated than you know. (“The victim of an affair is not always the victim of the marriage,” as Esther Perel says.) But you’re not an awful daughter for refusing to see your dad during a contentious, confusing, and most likely humiliating time. (I imagine there was press.)
As for how to reach out, I think email is the best way to reestablish contact after an estrangement. You can take your time crafting what you want to say, and your dad can take his time crafting a response. And you’ve already written a good opening line for your first email to your dad: “I’d like to get to know my dad again, but I’m not sure what kind of relationship I’m ready to have. But I’d like to start talking—via email, for now.”
Give your mother a heads up, PH, so she doesn’t feel blindsided. Good luck. —Dan Savage
I’m a female masochist and super subby—I see nothing wrong with that. For the last couple of months, I’ve been pursuing “death wish” fantasies. When I start feeling low, I seek out guys on hookup sites who are sadistic enough that they might potentially help me carry it out. I’ve even gone so far as to put together a “blackmail package” for them, in case they start feeling like I might tell on them. I honestly wouldn’t want anyone to get in trouble just because I’m not thinking right. My therapist knows about the masochist end of things, but I’m afraid to tell her this other part because I don’t want to be put on any crazy pills. Is there a way for me to switch my brain from thinking about this and somehow find my way back to normal BDSM or something else entirely without turning off my sexuality completely?—Rather Not Say My Name
There are fantasies that are simply too dangerous to realize, RNSMN, even with a willing victim/sub and a reckless perp/Dom. And any person who pushes a woman’s “death wish” fantasy into potentially-carrying-it-out territory deserves whatever trouble comes their way. Murder is wrong, even if the person wants it. And taking advantage of someone who clearly isn’t in their right mind doesn’t magically make manslaughter not criminal—“blackmail package” or no “blackmail package.”
You must open up to your therapist about the risks you’re taking, RNSMN. Some people with extreme and/or dangerous sexual obsessions have been successfully treated with talk therapy and low-dose antidepressants—meds, not “crazy pills.” A good therapist and/or the right low-dose medication could help you find your way back to safer and saner BDSM practices without shutting off your sexuality completely. —DS
I’m a woman in my early 30s having sex with a guy in his early 20s. The sex is more than casual, and we really care about each other. My concern is this guy has some alt-right sympathies that reveal themselves in our political discussions. He’s a Trump guy, but hesitates to admit it because he knows I’m anti-Trump. He shares memes created by Mike Cernovich and Milo Yiannopoulos, he gets his news from hard-right publications, and his sister and brother-in-law are Holocaust deniers. This concerns and confuses me because he’s such a sweet guy and, honestly, so goddamn good in bed. He might be the best lay I’ve ever had. I can’t reconcile these two sides of him, but I also can’t help trying to enlighten him a little bit. One of his best features is his open-mindedness. He’s read books and watched documentaries I’ve recommended. I feel a responsibility to this young, confused, and frankly not-too-bright person who’s surrounded by bad influences. I want to be understanding and gently guide him in a better direction, but sometimes his ignorance is aggravating. I can also sense that he’s beginning to feel a little judged, which can only make things worse. I keep thinking of your Campsite Rule, and I wonder at what point does one give up throwing logic and articles at someone who thought Hillary Clinton ran a child sex ring out of a pizza parlor? Can I continue to have sex with someone who thinks the left is conspiring to turn everyone communist?—Conflicted Lover
Don’t fuck Nazis.
If someone you just met tells you they’re a Nazi, don’t fuck that Nazi. If you’re already fucking someone and they reveal themselves to be a Nazi, stop fucking that Nazi. If someone tells you they’re a Nazi and you fuck that Nazi anyway and keep fucking that Nazi because they’re good at sex (for a Nazi), your effort to “gently guide” that Nazi away from being a Nazi doesn’t make it okay for you to fuck that Nazi.
Okay, okay: This guy might not be a Nazi at all—although it sure as fuck sounds like his family is, and they probably have more influence over him than you do. It’s possible this young, confused, and not-too-bright boy is merely a Trump-supporting conspiracy theorist and maybe I’m still too upset about Charlottesville to be impartial. Or, hey, maybe this guy is already a Nazi and hasn’t revealed the full extent of his odious political beliefs to you, CL, because the sex is good and he’s hoping to fuck the Nazi into you before you can fuck the Nazi out of him.
Finally, good people don’t worry about making Nazis “feel judged.” Nazis should be judged—à la Judgment at Nuremberg, an old film with a feel-good ending that’s worth watching right about now. Another thing good people don’t do? They don’t fuck Nazis. —DS