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COLUMN

Savage Love

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A crowd of smart, engaged students packed a theater for Savage Love Live at Centenary College of Louisiana last week. Students submitted more Qs than I could possibly A in the 90 minutes I had with them. So here are some bonus answers to questions I didn’t get to during my time there.

How does a young person learning to accept their sexuality come to terms with losing the unconditional love of their family?

You can’t lose something you never had.
You weren’t aware of the conditional nature of your family’s love until you accepted yourself and asked your family to do the same. That’s how you discovered their love for you came with at least one condition: You had to be straight or be closeted. Now here’s a paradox for you: You lost the illusion of your family’s unconditional love when you came out, but coming out could win you their unconditional love in the end. Stand your ground, demand their love and respect – and your family, like the families of so many other queers, may grow to love and accept you for who you really are. It could take some time. But one day, you may be able to look back and see that your sexuality didn’t cost you your family’s unconditional love – it won it for you.

How can we be sure that having an “open” relationship won’t hurt our relationship?

You can’t be sure that openness won’t hurt your relationship. But you can’t be sure that closedness won’t hurt your relationship, either. Yes, sometimes relationships end after people open them up – and openness gets the blame, even if it had nothing to do with the breakup. But plenty of tightly closed/strictly monogamous relationships end every day. It’s possible that many of those failed monogamous relationships could’ve been saved by some openness, a little leeway or embracing monogamishamy.

I have been in a relationship with a married woman for five years. What are the odds that she will leave her spouse to be in a committed relationship with me instead?

I put the odds at zero. Unless this woman is in an honest open relationship with her husband, and LTRs with other men are allowed, her relationship with you is proof that she’s not much good at this commitment stuff. By which I mean to say: Even if she did leave her husband for you, it would be foolish of you to expect to have a committed relationship with her as she’s currently not committed to the man to whom she’s committed. What makes you think she’ll commit to you?

Can it hurt a long-term, monogamous relationship if you had multiple sexual partners/experiences before? Or rather, how do you feel about sleeping around before marriage?

People who marry young – people who are likelier to have married without having had multiple partners/experiences – divorce at much higher rates than more experienced people who marry later in life. Sleeping around before marriage seems to help people figure out what they want. Or it helps them figure out whether what they were taught to want is actually what they do want. And someone who knows what they want is likelier to keep any long-term, monogamous commitments that they make.

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