A close friend of ours is a gay male in his 40s. About seven years ago, our friend met and briefly dated a not-too-bright, conniving guy about 10 years younger. Our friend threw himself into this relationship with his new “trophy husband” and did everything he could for his new boyfriend. He financed his apartment, paid his numerous bills, wrote his papers for school, and even purchased all the boyfriend’s holiday gifts—all the while keeping everything a secret so the boyfriend could keep his big ego intact. After the boyfriend was back on his feet with a new job, new wardrobe, new apartment, and new furniture (courtesy of my friend), he dumped my friend and was having sex with boys 10 to 15 years his junior.
Despite the terrible treatment he received, my friend does everything he can to stay close to his ex. While our friend is doing OK financially, he ended up mortgaging his home several times to help bail his ex out of his self-inflicted financial problems. For a long time, my friend wouldn’t date anyone; he was keeping himself free on the chance that his ex-boyfriend might want him back one day. Years later, when my friend finally met someone and started seriously dating, the old boyfriend quickly swooped in and convinced my friend to end his new relationship.
This appears to be a never-ending cycle. My friend, despite the fact that his ex still owes him thousands of dollars, continues to buy him everything he can, as fast as he can—a new condo, new furniture, and a new car. We love our friend, and we want him to be happy. However, he continues to be in denial about the situation. He’s always defending his ex. How do we help our friend move on from this opportunistic user and finally cut the financial and emotional cords once and for all? —Hard to Watch
How did that “God grant me wisdom” poem go? The one harried moms taped to their refrigerators back in the ’70s? Some 12-steppin’ horseshit about serenity or something? Oh yeah, here it is again, thanks to Google: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change/The courage to change the things I can/And the wisdom to know the difference.”
Good advice in the ’70s—good advice today.
So, HTW, you need to accept that—short of murder—there’s nothing you can do that will convince your idiot friend to cut those financial and emotional cords. Your friend’s behavior is pathetic, his ex is beneath contempt, and you should refuse to play along. When you’re with your friend and his ex comes up, screw your courage to the sticking place and say something like this: “He’s a user, you’re a fool, change the subject.”
And wise up, HTW. The more effort you go to, the more interventions you stage, the more advice columnists you pester, the longer your friend is going to cling to his ex-boyfriend. Your emotional investment in his predicament is, without a doubt, feeding your friend’s delusions. And your efforts to stop him from being this boy’s cash slave are allowing him to mistake this pathetic, self-destructive attachment for a grand, romantic drama—a drama in which he’s playing the hero, not the fool.—Dan
I am addressing this to both ¡Ask a Mexican! and Savage Love, hoping one of you will have an answer to this: Why do Mexican chicks yell for their papi during sex?
—Daddy del Diablo
“Latinas calling men papi (daddy) during sex or in day-to-day conversation is really more of a Caribbean thing,” says Gustavo Arellano, author of ¡Ask a Mexican!, “and my column isn’t called ¡Ask J.Lo! Then again, there was that chilanga chula (hot-ass Mexico City chick) who’d whisper it whenever the Mexican slipped her the chorizo…so let’s answer your pregunta. In Mexico, as in the rest of Latin America, fathers stand atop the machismo mountaintop. They’re the hombres who allow or deny a daughter permission to marry or leave the household, the man that wives must tend to and sons respect, fear, and follow. Dads earned such a place in Mexico through the cultures of Catholicism, the Conquest, and the Aztecs—all governed by males who considered women little more than birth canals. Mix the three societies together, add some Freudian and Oedipal impulses, and you’re left with some fucked-up sexual mores that a half-century of Chicana feminism and modernity have yet to eradicate. But, hey: Better your brown lady yell papi during coitus than ‘¡Ay, chiquito gabacho!’ ¿Qué no?”
It’s a column swap! To read my response to Daddy Del Diablo’s question, swing over to ocweekly.com/columns/ask-a-mexican. Got a questions for Gustavo? You can e-mail him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.—Dan
Well hello there, Mr. Savage. I’m the woman who had that boy tied up in my bedroom during a party this summer. I knew that one of my guests happened upon him before I read your column last week, because he told me about it. I wish I knew which one of my guests it was—I was hosting my firm’s summer barbecue on my deck, and there were a lot of people here—because I would like to thank her for not calling the police!
Do your readers want the rest of the story? I’m sure they do. The boy is not quite half my age: He’s 21; I’m 38. He worked at a Starbucks in my office building. He noticed me noticing him, we flirted a bit, and then one night I ran into him in a bar. We ditched our respective friends and slipped out to get a drink together.
At the next bar, he asked me if I was married. I told him I was recently divorced, having waited way too long to DTMFA. I asked him if he wanted to fool around. He said yes (actually he said “fuck, yeah!”), but our age difference was an issue for him. I promised to obey the “campsite rule,” i.e., I would leave him in better shape than I found him (no broken hearts, no diseases, no unwanted babies). That’s when he told me that he was submissive and into bondage and S&M. He offered to fulfill any fantasies I might have, telling me he was GGG. It was then that we realized we had been speaking entirely in Savage Love code.
He’s been reading your column since he was 15 and says you’re the reason he can be so open about his kinks. I’ve been reading you since I was 29, and you’re the reason I wasn’t shocked by his kinks. We had oodles of fun this summer—which included, yes, me keeping him tied up in my bedroom while other people were in my apartment. And we have you to thank, Dan!
—Budding Fem Dom
P.S. Provided neither of us is seriously dating anyone by then, we’re planning on getting together around Christmas. And no more leaving him tied up alone, I promise! And the woman who “accidentally” found him while looking for the bathroom? She had to walk past two bathrooms before she got to the one nearest my bedroom. She was snooping!
You’re welcome, BFD, and thanks for sharing.—Dan Savage
Dan Savage’s most recent book, The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage,and My Family, is on sale now. Send your Savage Love questions to email@example.com. A new Savage Love podcast is available for download every Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage.