Tuesday, December 28, 2010

How Dan Savage ruined my sex life (aka the Savage effect)

I started reading sex advice columns before you did.  And not the Carrie Bradshaw kind – the out of the closet/angry at heterosexuals column written by Dan Savage (of Savage Love infamy).  His column was in the back of The Onion when it was still a tiny hard copy newspaper published in Madison, WI.  I started reading every column he ever wrote at the age of 13.  (This was mid-1990s when HBO’s Real Sex was the main source of pornography for teenagers.)

In my early teenage years Dan was my window of choice into adult sexuality. And what a weird effing window it was!  His appeal is his ability to simultaneously criticize readers if he feels their concerns are bullshit but also give sound advice if you ever discover an elderly parent touching a pet parrot in an extra curricular way.  Every week there was a different, off the wall concern from a different gay or straight couple living a very modest life publically and inwardly getting their jollies off wearing animal costumes. 

Now, truthfully Dan has helped the world over discover that they’re not alone in their love of latex and balloon animals.  However, for a young Midwestern girl I perhaps took the message too literally.  Cue my first boyfriend.  After months of sucking face in public and declaring our undying love to one another I felt it was only appropriate to share our inner secrets.  When two teenagers fall in love it seems only right that you would share EVERYTHING, no matter how repulsive.  And I was determined to be the open, non judging girlfriend, ready to share and partake in whatever that boyfriend was “into.”  (Dan Savage had taught me so). 

So throughout the course of my first relationship I’d lie in bed, next to boyfriend and try to ferret out his darkest sexual yearnings.

Me:  So do you want to pee on me?
Him: No.

Me:  Maybe you are bisexual?
Him: No.

Me:  Tie me up?
Him:  Maybe. 

I’d stay up all night worrying he was withholding. What could it possibly be? Water sports?  Massage parlors? Then I thought, maybe he’s into something Dan Savage hasn’t even DISCOVERED YET.  A humiliating attraction to phone booths? 

Over the course our entire relationship I kept searching, convinced that with enough prodding and unconditional love, he would reveal all. There would be Valentine’s Day, tears and my constant plea “just admit it you love ball gags!” The less he had to reveal, the more I was convinced that he didn’t love me enough to speak the truth.

Tragically, the relationship ended.  But my quest to determine his sexual deviance is unwavering.  Because after all, strap ons aren’t just for breakfast. 


  1. Excellent story. Oy vey!
    Also, this: http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2010/12/29/reading-savage-love-can-be-hazardous-to-your-relatonship

  2. I don't get it. You were immature, idealistic, and insecure. Dan Savage turned you into a teenager?

  3. Fools gonna be fools and miss the point.

  4. Oh my, so you were an insecure little girl and you are going to blame that on Mr Savage? I submit that if you hadn't fretted about him hiding his kinks, you'd have fretted about him hiding something else. Ever hear of personal responsibility?

  5. Thank you for voicing what has been going through my head for years.

    Me: "What's your kink?"
    Victim: "Uh... vagina."
    Victim: "No, I just... never mind."

  6. Isn't it one of Dan's points that everyone is a little bit different in the bedroom? Some people are into some kinks, others are into other kinks, and plenty of people aren't into any kinks at all. Don't blame him because you found this concept so difficult and didn't respect her partner enough to take him on his word.

  7. You are such a fuckin Idiot!

  8. Great way to bring up your own personal kinks (i.e., interests) - pin them on his lack of response. No wonder the guy buggered off.

  9. Good lord...

    I think you were trying to be a good girlfriend, and the flood of Anonymous posters here are being critical jackasses.

    You're not seriously blaming your failed relationship on Dan, obviously. It was your over-zealous reaction to it that ended your relationship. Time, maturity, and tact will fix that.

    10 to 1, the boyfriend has some kink, but didn't realize it at the time. Teenaged boys who are getting regular, satisfying orgasms don't generally look any deeper into the situation, lest the scare off the provider of said orgasms.

    If you'd both been older, and if you'd pushed less, you'd probably have found he likes a bit of hair pulling, maybe some spanking.

  10. I think part of the problem is you weren't listening.

    He said he was vanilla. If you didn't hear/believe him at the time, it's because youngsters generally suck at listening (which is a huge part of being actually GGG with an actual partner).

    But I'm not seeing how that's the fault of Dan filling his columns with stuff about other people with other problems.

  11. God people on the internet are assholes. Perhaps at the front of your blog you should have a warning:

    This blog may contain irony. If you're mature enough to appreciate irony, click below.

    - I literally - | No, I am earnest, take
    die for irony | me to Sarah Palin's blog

    Though it's possible people on both sides wouldn't know which one to click...

    It's a cute story, keep telling them, ignore the trolls.

  12. You sincerely sound like fun (and no doubt have your sex-life together by now). Nice post.

  13. If you're trying to be self-deprecating and ironic with this post, I kind of like it. (That is, 'wasn't I being a foolish young person to refuse to listen to and believe my vanilla first boyfriend since I took Savage's published letters to be a statistically valid distribution of sexual behavior?').

    On the other hand, if you genuinely believe your particular obtuseness and immaturity as a young person means teens in general shouldn't be exposed to the broad spectrum of human sexuality found in columns like Savage Love, then I think you should stick your head further up your ass so we don't have to listen to you ever again.

  14. The intention (besides an excuse to write "strap ons for breakfast") was self-deprecation and irony.

    The world is a much better place with Dan Savage in it.

  15. That was a funny blog entry! Thank you. I'm sorry some people don't get the joke.

  16. I completely get what you went through, although I was a bit at the other end of the spectrum when it happened to me. As a kinky 23-year-old woman dating a much older man who was not being forthcoming in conversations about sex, a completely well meaning me took a long look through his browser history. I broke out into tears when I finally accepted that he liked boring porn. He wasn't withholding or lying to me. The porn he liked was dull as dirt, and only barely classified as porn at all. Female nude reclining #3 was what he went for and all he looked at.

    Despite no longer speaking to him at all, I remain convinced he is suffering from a deeply repressed need to be dominated by a strict mistress in leather (and I bet Dan would agree with me!)

  17. Sorry, it didn't really come across as especially ironic because of a couple of passages in the beginning of the piece - specifically, "out of the closet/angry at heterosexuals column" and "what a weird effing window it was!" If you find yourself needing to explain that you've been ironic, you've done a poor job of it.

  18. Wow, some people will take anything seriously, if it gives them an excuse to be pissed off.

  19. The pictures make it so much funnier. Paint pro, I like!

    You should consider writing him a letter once a week until you get an answer! it worked for andy in shawshank redemption

  20. ha ha ha! This made me laugh.

    My husband is from Ethiopia. When we were closed to married we had the talk about stuff like that. I wanted to make sure if he had some weird fantasy of our wedding night, that it would be fulfilled.

    the more we talked, the more I realized- He just doesn't think of sex like that.

    Which was a shift from other people I had dated, and a major shift from US culture.

    I imagine in a few years the hidden freak he didn't know about might come out.

    Or not...either way =)

  21. Unfortunately, Dan cannot advise teenage clumsiness away. Cute drawings ^_^

  22. This would be funnier if you'd done your research by actually reading Dan Savage columns. He's done dozens on how there are no bisexuals - no Dan Savage fangirl would ever consider the possibility that her boyfriend was anything but straight or gay.

  23. ^^

    Um, no. Dan is plenty happy to admit there are bisexuals. Fewer trolls, please?

  24. Hahaha... oh, I love it. This kind of describes my first relationship, except that we are still together.

  25. Wow, I'm amazed at how idiotic some of the commenters are. You seriously think she's blaming Dan Savage for the end of the relationship? It is flagrantly obvious that this is self-effacing.

  26. Oh god wtf this comment thread.

    I'm sorry that the internet has no theory of mind, reading comprehension or sense of humor.

  27. haha i just randomly found this post for some reason. cute!