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I am a 26-year-old lesbian in a relationship with a 21-year-old. We’ve been together for five years. She is a brilliant student with a bright future. I love her, but I feel that we need to part.
I am worried about how she would get along financially without me. I make good money, and while I don’t totally support her, she couldn’t pay rent and bills on her own without being fiscally miserable. She doesn’t have friends she could move in with, and her only source of income is a work-study job. She could just get a regular job like most college students, but then she’d have to give up many of the opportunities that she’s earned by being a hard-working student.
Would it be wrong to want to help support her if I were to move out? Like I said, I love her very much, but I want to be on my own for a while.
—Good Friend, Bad Girlfriend?
I’ll get shitloads of angry e-mails if I don’t make this point, so let’s get it out of the way: She’s 21, you’re 26, and you’ve been together for five years? That means she was—oh the humanity!—16 and you were 21 when you met. While red-blooded Americans love their barely legal lesbian porn, they frown mightily on barely legal, honest-to-God lesbian love. For shame, tut-tut, how do you sleep at night, etc.
Okay, GFBG, if she’s really that brilliant an undergrad, then your girlfriend can figure out how to take care of herself. A little fiscal misery, like a little barely legal lesbian action, is a cherished part of the college experience—and putting your own ass through college can be every bit as educational as those other opportunities she’s earned through her hard work.
So split, GFBG—unless…
You know, something about your letter sticks in my craw. What 21-year-old college student doesn’t “have friends she could move in with”? If she has college-age friends, then she surely has friends or friends-of-friends looking for roommates. I’m concerned that she may have no friends at all other than you. If that’s the case, GFBG, then you have been a very, very bad girlfriend. As the older and wiser woman in this relationship, it was your responsibility to encourage your then-teenage lover to have a well-rounded social life—in other words, friends in addition to a girlfriend. If you didn’t do that, GFBG, if you consciously or subconsciously attempted to isolate your young girlfriend, if you discouraged her from making friends she could rely on if, say, you ever dumped her, then you are in large part responsible for her predicament. If that’s the case, then you’re morally obligated to offer her short-term financial support once you split. Enough money to cover rent for six months would give her the time to find a job, make some friends, and get on her feet.—Dan
Here’s one for you: My girlfriend and I had been living together for two years, and we’d talked about marriage and kids. Like all relationships, ours wasn’t perfect. But what really bothered me was my girlfriend’s relationship with her brother. They were touchy-feely in a way that felt inappropriate. Two weeks ago, I came home and found my girlfriend in her brother’s arms on the couch. They freaked at my sudden arrival and jumped up, providing me with a clear view of the outline of the boner in his pants. Guilt was on their faces. After he left, I demanded to know what was going on. At first, my girlfriend insisted that I had a dirty mind. I told her that I recognize a boner when I see one, and she confessed that they had been having incestuous relations since they were teenagers—and didn’t think it was a big deal! I told her it was a huge deal to me because (a) she’s cheating on me, (b) she’s cheating on me with her brother, and (c) EWWW.
I asked her to move out, which she took very badly. Of course, everyone—family, friends, neighbors—is asking what happened. I’m also seriously missing the woman I thought would be my wife. Am I forcing my morality on her, as she insists? Or is ditching her a no-brainer? I can’t even think clearly anymore. Is this a case of DTBFA—dump the brotherfucker already?
—Serious Incest Since Teens Appalled Him
What is with the incest letters lately? Was the incest taboo rescinded, and only SISTAH and I failed to get the memo? Motherfuckers, brotherfuckers, fatherfuckers—just reading the subject lines on my e-mails is giving me screaming nightmares. Eesh.
Listen, SISTAH: Dumping the brotherfucker was the right thing to do—a no-brainer, a definite case of DTBFA. Would you want the future mother of your children to regard incest as anything other than the taboo-to-the-10th-power that it is and, if I have anything to say about it, always will be? And don’t worry about your ex-girlfriend’s future prospects—there’s a guy besides her brother out there for her somewhere. Google can help her find a guy who has both a cuckold and an incest fetish—that is, the kind of guy who not only is turned on by the thought of his mate being unfaithful but also would find it extra-special nifty if his wife were cheating on him with her own brother. That guy ain’t you.
As for your family, friends, and neighbors, refrain from telling them the whole truth—your ex has enough problems without everyone knowing she’s a brotherfucker. But when you’re asked why the two of you broke up, SISTAH, you have every right to say that she was cheating on you with another man.—Dan
There’s nobody else I can ask about this, so I hope you can reply. I’m a straight woman in my mid-40s. I’ve been married more than two decades. Ten years ago, my husband’s already low sex drive disappeared altogether. He won’t talk about it. I know he’s not having an affair.
I ran into an old lover, and we had an amazing one-afternoon fling.
Realizing I couldn’t live without sex any longer, I told my husband (nicely—it is hard to say things like this to someone you love) that I didn’t think he cared what I did, and he didn’t disagree. (I didn’t tell him about the fling.) Now I’ve met a gentleman who is sweet and kind and attentive. He is married and in the same situation I am. Discretion is absolute, and we play safe. When we make love, I can’t believe I waited so long.
This relationship has made me happier than I’ve been in years. I feel alive and healthier, and all those little daily annoyances bother me less. Co-workers have remarked on how “well” I look. Is there anything wrong with what I’m doing? Is there anything wrong with me that I am not feeling guilty?
—Frustrated No More
You have nothing to feel guilty about, FNM.
Your infidelity, your discretion, and your compassion are saving not one but two marriages. While your actions fall short of the romantic ideal of marriage, your marriage falls short of that ideal—and so does your lover’s marriage. You’ve both accepted your imperfect spouses for who they are, and your imperfect marriages for what they are, and you’ve made the kind of imperfect accommodation that allows many passionless but otherwise valuable marriages to survive. In a case like yours, FNM, infidelity can be the loving, responsible, marriage-salvaging choice. Stop feeling guilty. Enjoy.—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.