Q: I am a 28-year-old, post-op transsexual woman. I met a great 31-year-old guy. We have been dating for a year, and he recently told me that he didn't think he was sure he was in love with me. He said that he didn't know if he could give me any sort of commitment, that he is afraid of what his peers would think if they knew my medical past. I can't say that I'm sure I'm in love with him either, but I do know that we thoroughly enjoy each other's company and miss each other immensely when we are not together. However, he asked to take a step back and re-evaluate the relationship.
I transitioned in my late teenage years. I blend in very well, and few people know that I am trans. I am like any other woman in that I want a husband and children, and he says he wants a wife and kids. I asked him a few days ago if he could give me an answer as to whether I should move on or if he wanted me to wait. He couldn't give me an answer. I have my own life. I am a full-time student training to become a nurse. I made time for him because he became important to me, but am I beating a dead horse here? —Transitions And Crossroads
A: You enjoy spending time together, you miss each other when you're apart, you want similar things (commitment, kids) — that sure sounds like love to me. And if it's not quite love, TAC, it's close enough to round up to love.
A (longish) aside: The way many people in long-term relationships talk about their relationships — the way I sometimes talk about mine — can do a real disservice to the single or dating. The further the early stages of an LTR recede into the past, the likelier the coupled are to blithely toss off bullshit like "Oh, I knew the minute I met him/her that he/she was the one. I was sure." In reality, of course, we didn't know, we weren't sure, we had doubts, insecurities, issues, etc.
Truth is, no one in a successful LTR knew for sure that it was true and lasting love until it lasted. And after the passage of time proves that we bet on the right person, we stuff those early doubts, insecurities, and issues down the ol' memory hole and start telling people how "sure" we were right from the start. (For the record: There are lots of smug married people out there yammering on about how "sure" they were right from the start who have divorce proceedings in their futures.)
Anyway: There are too many smugly coupled-up people out there paying our partners — and ourselves — the false compliment of a backdated certainty. And that would be fine if single people within earshot weren't forced to listen to our smug bullshit, some of whom go home thinking, "Well, this person I'm seeing — this person I enjoy spending time with, this person I miss terribly when we're apart — she must not be 'the one' because ... I'm not sure."
Back to you, TAC: I'm glad you have a life and goals, TAC, because that will make it easier to do what you must. Go and tell this guy that there are no sure things, but that you're as confident as a person can be that you two are a match. (But he's not your only potential match — just as no one is really "sure," no one is "the one," only one of many potential possible ones.) Then tell him you're not going to wait forever while he "re-evaluates" and stresses out about things that neither of you can control. And finish by telling him to give you a call when he's ready to make at least a mini-commitment: going steady, on a track toward engagement and ultimately marriage and (adopted) children.
Then — and this is the most important part — go back to living your life, TAC, go back to school and career goals. Move on without waiting for him to tell you to move on. Don't call him, don't e-mail him, don't text him. Don't pass up other dating opportunities in the hopes that he'll get his shit together. If you're still single if and when he calls, great. See him again. If not, well, it's his loss.
Q: I'm a twentysomething freelancer, and I have a barter relationship with a facility that lets me work there for free. I've become friends with the guys who run the facility. Recently, one of my girlfriend's best friends had sex with one of these guys a few times. I recently found out that one time, postcoitus, he secretly filmed my girlfriend's friend naked using his iPhone. He's shown the video to a few mutual friends but didn't tell me or show me.
I think this is some super-vile shit, and I'm horrified that someone I considered a friend would be such an asshole. I'd like to tell him how I feel about this, but at the same time, I can't afford for my relationship with him to sour. I've heard that he deleted the video, so maybe what my girlfriend's friend doesn't know can't hurt her. One potentially pertinent piece of information is that my girlfriend's first sex partner secretly filmed her and showed it to everyone in her high school, and it scarred her. I think she would be super upset to find out about what this guy did to her friend. I want to do the right thing here, but it's not obvious what that is. Help! —Video Is Defining Ethical Obligations
A: What your friend did to your girlfriend's friend is vile, VIDEO, potentially illegal, and — most importantly — not a very nice way to treat someone who was kind enough to fuck his brains out.
You do have to do something, VIDEO, but your options aren't limited to either beating him nearly to death with a baseball bat or beating him all the way to death with a baseball bat. It's possible to confront someone in a friendly-ish way, employing a tone that at once communicates your affections for him even as you chide him for doing something that undermined those affections.
"Dude, I heard about that little video," you say to him, perhaps over a drink. "And I was glad to hear you deleted it — you did delete it, right? — because that's a shitty thing to do and you're not a shitty guy. It's also an illegal thing to do, and people have gotten busted for doing that kind of shit. Be careful, man, you could really fuck up your life."
If you can tamp down your righteous fury long enough to put it to him that way, VIDEO, and you will have reinforced what should be communitywide, specieswide social norms — no dirty pictures or videos without the consent of all involved — without nuking your professional relationship with the guy. Good luck.
Q: My roommate and I were wondering why the "tech savvy" youth who work on your podcast are "at risk." He says your podcast is a community-service program for at-risk kids; I say that they're at risk working for a sex columnist. Which is it? We would love to call, but we live in Canada. —Canadian Fans
A: There are no phones in Canada?
One or two TSARY are on work-release programs or doing community service, CF, but it's the 90 minutes they spend with me every week that represents their primary risk. It's not that I would put the moves on any of them — I'm a stickler about personal hygiene — it's just that they come in for rather more advice, most of it unsolicited, than the average Savage Lovecast listener.Download the Savage Lovecast (my weekly podcast) every Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage. Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org