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Savage Love

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More than a thousand people showed up for a recent Savage Love Live event at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It goes without saying that the students submitted more questions than I could answer in 90 minutes. As promised, Madison, here are some bonus answers to questions that I didn't get to during our time together …

Can an open relationship work if it's this type: dating two people, separately, both serious, neither relationship is the "primary" one?

Most people define "work," in the context of a relationship, as "a loving, lasting, long-term relationship that ends only with the death of one or both parties." But I define "work" as "a loving relationship that makes the people in it happy, whether that relationship lasts for the rest of their lives or whether both parties – or all parties, if we're talking about a poly or open scenario – decide at some point to end the relationship amicably." So, yes, I do think the relationship you've described can work. Whether you'll be in this relationship – or these relationships – for the rest of your life remains to be seen. You may wind up getting more serious about one person, or you may move on from both and find someone else – or a couple of someone elses – but if you're happy right now, and if they're happy right now, then your relationship is working.

I know you lived in Madison for a while. Got any great Mad Town stories?

Savage Love got its start in Madison: I wrote my first columns on a computer in the back office of Four Star Fiction and Video, where I worked as a night manager/VHS-tape-slingin' clerk. I did other things in the storeroom of Four Star. Those things are known only to me, an insanely sexy guy named Roger and one of the bartenders at the Plaza who one night overheard us talking about the things we'd just done to each other in that storeroom.

What would you say to Ann Coulter, who said that if her son told her he was gay, she'd "tell him he was adopted?"

Parental rejection of a gay child (which doubles a gay kid's already quadrupled risk for suicide), the implication that adopted parents are less emotionally invested in their children and that adopted children are loved conditionally – only Ann Coulter could pack so much hatred, malice and emotional violence into a single "quip." I'm not sure what I would say to Coulter – I've never had the pleasure of meeting her – but I can't imagine that any child of Coulter's, gay or straight, would be on speaking terms with her anyway, so I'd probably tell her that her feelings about her hypothetical children are irrelevant.

I have been treated badly in several past relationships. I am now in a great one, but I have a hard time believing/trusting that nothing bad will happen. How can I get over this dread?

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