Q: I recently ended a relationship that lasted a year and five months. While I loved this woman, for much of the relationship she was, to varying degrees, depressed. I tried to be as helpful and patient as possible with the hope and expectation that she would get better. We went to couples counseling together. She got on medication. I encouraged her to eat well (I cooked her many healthy meals) and exercise daily (which she was never able to do). I tried to get her out into nature. I tried to listen and practice strong communication skills. I encouraged her to explore the benefits of a fulfilling and GGG relationship, but our sex life faltered because of the depression and her low libido. I kept helping and waiting, but she was simply unable to assert herself to make healthy changes (both physical and mental). I felt trapped dating someone who couldn’t take control of her life, and the patterns kept repeating. I eventually ended the relationship, which was the right decision for me, but she was crushed. I’m hoping we can be friends in the future. Do you have any advice for dating someone with depression? Can relationships and depression work? I found it to be soul-crushing.
—Serious About Depression
A: “I think SAD did the right thing,” said Rob Delaney, the comedian, Twitter supernova, and author of the new book Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage. “And not only ‘the’ right thing, but a series of right things.”
Delaney’s book is a collection of personal essays — most of them hilarious — in which he writes about his own struggle with depression so crippling, it almost took his life. Delaney is now the official spokesperson for all people everywhere who struggle with depression.
“This guy went above and beyond, motivated by his obvious love for this woman and his decency as a person,” Delaney continued. “One might ‘suck it up’ for a bit longer if there are kids involved or if you’ve been together for years and years and this depressive state is an anomaly, but this guy can’t be expected to weld himself to someone he’s been dating for less than a year-and-a-half when there are people out there he’d truly enjoy himself with.”
Delaney not only felt that you had done right by this woman, but that your actions could serve as a template for other readers dating people struggling with depression.
“SAD was kind, patient and proactive, and when that didn’t work, he ended the relationship,” said Delaney. “He didn’t assume that she would implode without him around. He seems to have a manageable enough ego to realize that he’s not the sun and the air and the only doorway through which this woman can walk to happiness; he’s merely another human being (albeit a kind one) whose happiness has value too. And maybe this breakup will provide the jolt she needs to recalibrate her approach to her depression and really get better. He also showed her another person taking care of himself. I sincerely hope she develops this skill herself, but as anyone who’s been around for a while and witnessed trouble and had troubles of their own knows, you cannot will that behavior into people. That does not mean you don’t love them.”
Not following @RobDelaney on Twitter? You’re the only one. Go to robdelaney.com to buy his new book.
Q: Setting sexually transmitted infections aside, is it safer for a woman planning to have a one-night stand to take the guy back to her place or to go to his place? Does this apply if both are staying in hotels? —Reader Is Seeking Knowledge
A: When you’re having sex with a stranger, RISK, it’s generally considered safer — some would argue only marginally so — to go back to his place. The reason for this is kinda depressing: A stranger is less likely to murder you at his place because then he has to dispose of your body, which is apparently a real pain in the ass. But if he murders you at your place, RISK, he can jet in the morning and stick your landlord and loved ones with disposal duties.
Q: I’m a 21-year-old gay male who loves listening to the Savage Lovecast as I bike to school. My question: Can someone grow out of or “quit” a fetish? For me, I’m an ABDL, which stands for “adult baby/diaper lover.” I get turned on by putting other guys into diapers or having other, usually older, guys put me in diapers. I can have normal sex and have had a few decent relationships, or at least as decent as most gay guys still in college have, with guys I’ve met through kink sites like Fetlife or through the normal means of meeting guys. I’ve met a great guy who has helped me mix ABDL with bondage for some REAL fun, and I’m pretty OK with knowing that there’s nothing particularly wrong with having a kink like mine. I had a perfectly normal childhood, and it’s not like I suffered a diaper-related trauma or something. Unfortunately, this particular fetish creeps most people out and is closely associated with pedophilia, even though members of the ABDL community have no interest in kids. However, the idea of being into this kink when I’m in my 40s really grosses me out. I’ve gone through the binge-and-purge cycle most guys go through when they realize they’re into diapers. But is there any way to retrain your brain to not get off on a particular fetish? —Another Boy Diaper Lover
A: The consensus in the sex-and-science research crowd is this: Your kinks will always be your kinks — a brain cannot be retrained where kinks are concerned — so you might as well enjoy your kinks. But that’s only if your kinks can be enjoyed consensually, ABDL, which yours happily can be. And while it’s true that some people have taken drugs to “treat” disturbing kinks, these drugs — mostly SSRIs — suppress libido generally; they do not target (nor can they eradicate) one kink in particular. (Are you willing to give up sex to get over diapers? I didn’t think so.)
That said, ABDL, kinks have certain narratives — kinks have broad themes — and figuring out your kink’s narratives may help you tap into and enjoy other kinks with similar N’s and T’s but lower creep factors. If what you enjoy about diapers is the helplessness and loss of control they symbolize, mixed with your submission to an affectionate and caring authority figure, you might find fetish puppy play similarly arousing, ABDL. That kink also has themes of helplessness, dependence and affection. And while most people don’t find fucking a person who is pretending to be a baby dog any less creepy than fucking a person who’s pretending to be a baby baby, there seem to be a lot more puppy players out there than diaper fans.
But honestly, ABDL, I think you should keep looking for a guy who’s into the same things you are. If for some reason you can’t date the great guy who helped you mix diaper play with bondage, you should take his existence as proof that there are other guys like him, i.e., guys who will like you and like what you like.
Find Dan Savage’s weekly podcast every Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @fakedansavage on Twitter.