As I mentioned yesterday, there are a series of things I read online. I forgot to mention that I am a big follower of Slate’s advice column on manners and morals, Dear Prudence.
I find advice columns intriguing and I have even tried to write to Prudie for some advice but my question is never selected. And I’ve been okay with that. In the end, I just forge ahead with what I feel is best for me. Also, I know that a lot of friends come to me for advice so sometimes it helps to see other’s perspectives on similar situations to be sure I’m not entirely off-base. Hardly do I ever disagree with Prudie on the counsel she provides.
But this week I must say that I was deeply disappointed by the response Prudie provided one of her readers.
I began dating a man last summer, and it has slowly turned into something serious. He is a great person, I am head over heels for him, and he indicates he feels the same way about me. We recently said, “I love you.” We have excellent chemistry in the bedroom as well, but recently he brought up that he loves anal sex and that it’s a fetish of his. We have tried a couple of times, but I often shy away and feel uncomfortable. He even told me that it’s a make-or-break for him in a relationship. I’m a pretty open person, but I’m afraid that I’ll never be as into anal sex as he is, if at all. Should I bite the bullet and just go for it or let him know that I’ll probably never enjoy it to the extent he does and let this “break” our relationship?
—Make or Break
You may be head over heels, but if you don’t like what he has to offer, try not to land facedown. Joan Rivers has a line that she loves anal sex because it frees her up to read a book or check her BlackBerry, but I don’t think that’s going to work for you. Your boyfriend is kind of a bum for allowing your relationship to progress so far without letting you know about his fixation. Surely he’s aware that it’s the kind of thing that could make someone want to turn tail and run. There he is, getting that look in his eye, and there you are thinking, It’s time to pick up another tube of Preparation H. I’ve gotten crosswise with the fetish community before, because I disagree with their assertion that if you love someone with a fetish, you should accommodate it. I wonder why they don’t think it’s equally true that if you love someone who has no interest in your fetish, that person should be accommodated—especially if the fetish makes it difficult to sit at your desk the following day. I know that for the gay community, anal sex is not a “fetish” but a standard part of the repertoire, and that it’s also a common variation for many heterosexuals. But your boyfriend is now saying that this is his regular entrée and not just an occasional amuse bouche. You’ve tried to stick it out for his sake, but in the end you just don’t enjoy it. I don’t see that you have much choice except to leave him behind.
Now, I must say that I am so outraged by her response that I emailed it in and I am not breaking a sort of code of semi-silence I made to myself about what I would mention about myself on my blog.
My email to Prudie:
There is a reason you keep getting cross-wise from the fetish community, Prudie, and it’s because you seem to keep missing the point.
We all have interests but some are just more straight forward about what they enjoy. It’s not all sexual but in the case of the person whose letter you responded to this week, I think your response hit off the mark entirely. Foremost I would like to point out that the vast majority of people will read responses like yours and decide to keep hiding their interests for the sake of the people they love. They will suffer much emotional and mental torment for years… likely for the rest of their lives due to their fear of being rejected by the people they love because of some fetishy type quirk. These are the people that don’t talk about it because they are made to feel too ashamed of their interests and decide to compromise on the side of the person who has disinterest for the sake of a relationship. There are few cases where people reach out or are confident enough to actually be honest with the people they feel they love and wish to get close to. Instead of praising them for their honesty and daring to trust someone enough to put themselves out on an emotional limb, it gets a shut down instead.
No wonder so many people stay closeted with their interests.
There are many matters I would like to address. First, an interest in anal isn’t really a fetish. If you read the two part articles on Slate regarding sex statistics you would have seen there is a significant increase in women reporting not only doing but enjoying anal. Here are the links, in case you missed them: Part 1 & Part 2.
The bigger issue I actually have with your response is that the person that wrote in is still in the early stages of a relationship. The other person clearly states that something is “make or break” and she’s clearly on the break end of that equation. Why not actually listen to what the other person is saying and not try to change them? Something I so often read in your responses to letters is how often you marvel that after a couple is married that they begin to see red flags that should have been there when they first started dating. Well, here is a big red flag and he’s waving it, showing that maybe they are not as compatible as she’s dreaming they are. I commend her for trying but if she can’t accommodate his desires and he can’t accommodate hers (although we don’t know if he will feel strongly enough for her to stay with her despite being slightly unfulfilled in the anal context), then maybe they don’t belong together and should seek people who are more compatible with them.
Many people don’t like to admit that but sometimes it needs to be said.
The reason Prudence made the remark about being cross-wise with the fetish community is due to some pretty awful advice she gave a woman who wrote in seeking counsel for her pre-teen son who had an odd interest in latex gloves and worried that he might not be able to someday find a girl who liked him because of this attachment. Prudie said many things but never did she mention that there is in fact a HUGE fetish community and that the child should not be worried about being ostracized and will come to learn acceptance as he matured.. surely there would be a lucky girl in his future who loved men who wear latex gloves.
As part of the “Fetish” lifestyle, we are often very irate with individuals who seem to want to classify and “correct” this behavior. So many have to hide themselves, who they are and what they love just to try and “fit in”. Same way that a gay person feels closeted, so too do the rest of us. Many of us survive because we learn to better define our pleasures and interests in terms that are more conventional and accepted.
Often it isn’t about being accepted on a whole amongst society
but rather just the people we choose to be involved with…
the people we let in and try to love and trust.