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In my 26 years, I’ve had my fair share of relationships. I’m usually the one spooning up advice to friends hungry for wisdom. Sadly, I’m helpless to aid myself in my current situation. I met this girl four months ago, and she’s “the girl of my dreams.” If you met her, you would know that angels exist on Earth. The problem is that she’s married and has four kids. Her cheating husband is abusive to her (verbally, physically, etc.). He’s raped her twice (once using a “date-rape” drug), and he was tried for the rape of a girl in the first year of their marriage. His kids seesaw between loving and fearing him.
She has never reached out to anyone for help until me. If things were different, this would be my wife and kids. I know she feels the same for me as I do for her, but she is unwilling or unable to sever ties with her husband. She says she knows that one day he will kill her, and it seems as if she’s resigned herself to this fate. I have offered to remove this problem, but she fears losing us both. How do I save her from this nightmare before it’s too late?
—Love Is Faithful Eternally
Sometimes the mail is sooooo depressing that I just want to think about other things.
Like Next. Last weekend I was stuck in a hotel room in Portland, Ore., on account of a teensy, weensy hangover, and I caught a marathon of the MTV dating show. Here’s how the show works: One person—say, a boy—goes on a blind date with a girl. If the boy doesn’t like the girl, he says, “Next!” and one of four other girls, all waiting on a bus, takes the first girl’s place. The rejected girl returns to the bus to be cruelly mocked by her rivals. The boy continues barking “Next!” until he finds a girl he likes. Sometimes there are five boys on the bus and a girl barks, “Next!”; every once in a while five gay boys are on the bus and another gay boy barks, “Next!”
While the gay episodes demonstrate to MTV’s impressionable viewers that young gay people are really no different—they’re every bit as shallow, vapid, and crude as their straight counterparts—not one of the gay episodes really worked. Instead of anxiously waiting to see which of the five will be chosen, viewers of the gay installments of Next anxiously wait for the five boys on the bus to strip down and get it on. The gay boys on the Next bus aren’t rivals, MTV, they’re all potential matches, which makes the one guy who isn’t on the bus nearly irrelevant. In all three of the gay episodes I saw, the boys on the bus were more into one another than the boy for whose affections they were supposedly competing; in gay Next, the boy who “won” a second date with the boy-who-wasn’t-on-the-bus declined, preferring to run off with one of the other guys on the bus.
Recreating the “five bitchy rivals” dynamic that makes the hetero episodes of Next so entertaining wouldn’t be that hard, MTV. Here’s all you need to do: Put five hairy bears who are attracted only to pretty twinks on the bus and let them compete for the, er, hand of one pretty twink. Or five white guys who are only into Asian guys competing for an Asian guy. Or five tops and one bottom. Or five Log Cabin Republicans and one CPA. Take a little more care with the casting and preinterviews, MTV, and you’ll be able to solve Next’s gay problem. You’re welcome.
As for your problem, LIFE, I don’t even know where to begin. Maybe I’m just shocked that the girl of your dreams—the girl of any man’s dreams—would be a married woman with four children and what may be the worst taste in men this side of Denise Richards. Can this angel-on-Earth pick ’em or what? She married a bordering-on-homicidal asshole, and now she’s sneaking around with a bordering-on-homicidal dumbass, a guy so stupid that he would threaten the life of his lover’s husband in a newspaper column. (You offered to “remove the problem,” but she fears “losing you both.”) Nice work, LIFE. Let’s hope your lover’s husband doesn’t have a fatal accident anytime soon—an actual accident, not an “accident”—or LIFE isn’t just going to be your acronym.
Since you will probably ignore the only sensible advice I could offer (“Run, LIFE, run!”), I’m not going to bother. Instead I’m going to pour a little poison in your ear: Have you bothered to confirm your lover’s story? Your letter makes this woman’s husband seem monstrous, perfectly monstrous. In fact, he seems a little too perfectly monstrous. Have you entertained the possibility that you’re being fed a massive load of shit, LIFE? Some cheaters invent elaborate tales of woe—the frigid, manipulative shrew of a wife; the abusive, suspicious, but somehow easily fooled husband—because the cheater wants to have her infidelities and her victim status too.
So, LIFE, again, before you run off and kill anyone: Have you bothered to check her story out? If your lover’s husband was tried for rape, then there are records out there somewhere—trial transcripts, newspaper articles. Have you looked them up? It’s something you might want to do before you “remove” anybody.—Dan
I’m an 18-year-old female. My version of senioritis took a psychotic turn and I was hospitalized. After. A. Pitiful. Suicide. Attempt. Now I am pleased to be alive. However, my problem lies in the ever-challenging world of teenage boys. Having formerly been the most prudish of virgins—I’ve. Never. Been. Touched.—I now realize that life is short. I want to get fucked, sir. I’m attractive, but the boys I know have concluded that I am crazy because of my recent history. What. The. Fuck. Do. I. Do?—“Crazied” Unfairly,
Go. To. College. Far. From. Home. Meet. Some. New. Boys.—Dan
I love my husband so, so much. He’s so, so good to me, we have a great life together, and the sex is good. But there’s another man I’m so, so attracted to. I don’t want to jeopardize my marriage or hurt my husband, but I’m afraid I might give in to the attraction in a moment of weakness. At the same time, I don’t want to give up the activity where I see this other man, because the activity (martial-arts study) is a really important part of my life.
—So, So Married
Lordy, what a predicament! The more time you spend with this other man, the likelier it becomes that you’ll cheat. But you can’t stop seeing this other man because you study martial arts with him and that’s such an important part of your life—unlike, say, your marriage—and you couldn’t possibly give it up! And as everyone on earth knows, there’s only one martial-arts school on the whole freakin’ planet, so you’re pretty much condemned to spend time with this other man—what other choice do you have?—until the inevitable inevitability inevitably happens.
Puh-leeze, SSM. If your husband doesn’t rate the supreme sacrifice of switching to some other martial-arts school, then nothing I can say is going to stop you from getting what you so, so desperately want. But after you fuck this other guy, SSM, don’t run around pretending that you were just a victim of cruel circumstance—martial arts made me do it!—and not the so, so guilty instigator.—Dan Savage
Dan Savage’s new book, The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family, is on sale now. Send your Savage Love questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.