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I’m a 42-year-old straight guy, married 15 years, no kids. I love my wife, and I have remained faithful. Recently, I opened a Second Life (SL) account and created an avatar/alter ego for myself. I created an SL account with a female avatar because, although I’m straight and comfortable with my gender and sexuality, I’ve always fantasized about being transformed into a beautiful woman and having sex with other beautiful women. SL allows me an opportunity to explore this fantasy of being a lesbian and also lets me engage in types of fantasy sex-play I would not normally do in real life (RL), such as BDSM, multiple partners, and anonymous sex.
I laid down some ground rules for myself: (1) I would not form a partnership in SL. (2) I would not, under any circumstances, discuss or reveal any details of my RL with anyone. (3) I would not form emotional relationships with other avatars. I have followed these rules to the letter.
My wife knows I have an SL account, but that’s it. She’s made it clear that she considers sex in SL to be adultery. I disagree. I see it as a form of user-controlled porn—so long as I follow the three rules above. I go on SL only when she is not at home, and I do not spend time in SL when I could be with her. We have a normal sex life, although she’s not as GGG as she was when we were first married. She’s grown more conservative—personally and sexually, not politically—as she’s grown older. I love my wife very much, and I want my marriage to last. But sexually I’m more adventurous than my wife, and SL allows me to express that side of myself without any RL adultery.
Nevertheless, Dan, I feel guilty. My wife would not be happy (understatement of the young century) if she knew of my SL activities. And I hate lying to my wife. Yet, at the same time, I’m having so much fun—I am exploring fantasies I never could in real life, with a smoking-hot female avatar I’ll never be. Should I come clean? Close down my SL account? —Second Lifer in Need of Real Life Advice
First, SLINORLA: This is a marriage, not a deposition. You don’t have to tell your wife the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God. No marriage—no civil union, no domestic partnership, no semiregular hookup—would survive long if each partner made a full confession of the previous day’s minor betrayals at breakfast.
Second, SLINORLA: You have a right to your fantasies. It’s a shame your wife can’t see that and give your SL avatar her blessing. (“Some of your fantasies are nuts, honey—but, hey, go have your fun on the computer.”) But like a lot of spouses, male and female, your wife seems to believe that marriage obligates you to round your libido down to match hers. It’s not enough that you’ve stayed physically faithful as she’s become more conservative and less GGG (good, giving, game); by declaring sex in SL to be adultery, your wife is attempting to deny you a necessary outlet for your sexual energy. So what do you do? You do what spouses have done since spouses were invented: Tell her what she wants to hear and go right on doing what you’re doing. “No sex in SL, honey, promise” is simply “Of course I don’t think of anyone else when we make love” updated for the technology age.—Dan
I’m a 17-year-old male with a tickling fetish, and I don’t have a problem with it. It just gets me off to tickle women. So why am I writing to you? My parents divorced when I was 13, and I live with my dad since my mom moved away. Six months ago, my dad married a 29-year-old woman. A few months ago, I tickled her armpit when she reached up into a cupboard. She didn’t pull away and seemed to enjoy it. Surprisingly, she also has a tickling fetish on the opposite end. She loves it when a man tickles her. She now walks around the house barefoot and with skimpy clothing so that her stomach and ribs are exposed so I can tickle her whenever I want.
However, we always do it behind my dad’s back. I would never do this with my real mother (that’s sick). But with a stepmom, is it OK? I’m starting to feel guilty about doing this without my dad’s knowledge. —Lusting After Father’s Fresh Spouse
Ever since Oedipus gouged out his eyes, LAFFS, conventional wisdom has held that it’s better to err on the side of not fucking your father’s wife. Oedipus’ dad was married to Oedipus’ mom, granted, but if Sophocles were writing plays about today’s blended families—and it’s a shame that he’s not—a 17-year-old Oedipus with a tickling fetish and a cocktease for a stepmom would doubtless come to a bad end.
Let me be your Cassandra here, LAFFS: Keep the tickling up and you will shortly be fucking your stepmom. Now, to a horny 17-year-old that may not sound like a compelling reason to stop tickling his stepmom, but pause to consider the stakes. You’ve already concluded that your father would be furious about the tickling alone (why hide it from him otherwise?); have you contemplated the tragedy that would unfold if he found out you were fucking his wife? The stakes are lower for your stepmom; she doesn’t have to be your father’s wife forever. You and your dad, however, are stuck with each other for life, LAFFS, so you would be well-advised to keep your hands off your stepmom’s feet, ribs, pits, and soon-to-be-proffered twat. —Dan
My workplace in the Bay Area is a heterosexual scene, except for Ricardo. Ricardo is smart, cool, and professional. It’s generally known that he’s into bondage and hairy men. Ricardo is our buddy and our bro. Nobody’s weirded out by his kinks.
Along comes Milton: well- groomed, built, somewhat effeminate, and weirdly reserved about sex. We conclude he may be that rarest of species: the San Francisco Closet Case. Then, last week Milton suddenly resigns and goes to HR claiming that Ricardo made him feel so uncomfortable that he had to leave. Ricardo freaked out Milton with a simple IM exchange: Milton: “What did you do today?” Ricardo: “I did my laundry and masturbated.” It’s the kind of flippantly transgressive banter that everyone in our office engages in. But Milton’s resignation has provoked a spasm of administrative wrath that has impacted everyone, not in the least poor Ricardo, who may lose his job.
Then we learn something else: Milton left his previous job under similar circumstances. What’s going on here, Dan?—Names Have Been Changed
Milton may be a closet case, but Ricardo engaged in flippantly transgressive banter with the wrong co-worker. Why would he mention masturbation to a co-worker who’s clearly fucked up about sex? You and Ricardo’s other “bros” can still save his job, however. Just walk into HR en masse and pull an “I am Spartacus!” Tell HR that you’re all guilty, each and every one of you, of sending flippantly transgressive IMs to one another. HR won’t be able to crucify all of you at once—they can’t fire everyone, right?—and will opt for extracting an HR-face-saving/Ricardo-job-saving promise that the transgressive banter will stop.
Dan Savage’s books, The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family, are on sale now. Send your Savage Love questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. A new Savage Love podcast is available for download every Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage.