Note: All the responses to the letters below were written by Eric Rescorla, a reader who won the right to answer questions in Savage Love in a charity auction. —Dan Savage
Q: I'm in a committed, loving relationship with a man I completely trust. We're very open to each other about our sexual desires and needs and are a GGG couple. Recently during phone sex we both started talking about a rape fantasy and became equally turned on by the idea. In a following conversation, my boyfriend brought up the idea of wielding a knife at me during the scene, which I found kinky and hot.
We want to take this fantasy off the telephone and into real life, but be safe while doing it. We've discussed safe words and limits, but what really has us hung up is the knife. He wants to make sure that I'm safe in any possible situation, as do I. Are there any kinds of props made for these kind of fantasies that don't look like a plastic Halloween nightmare? Any suggestions as to how we could play out this scene without sacrificing the kink but still keeping the safe? —Thinking About Knives
A: "I would suggest first beta-testing the rape scene without the knife," says Eric. "That way you have an opportunity to find out if it's actually kinky and hot or not, without having nervousness over the knife get in the way. Once you're comfortable with the basic scene, you can introduce a knife.
"As far as the knife goes, yeah, you can get realistic rubber martial-arts training knives (just Google for rubber knife). They're semi-stiff, so you wouldn't really enjoy getting stabbed with one, but as long as you're careful about the face and eyes, they're relatively safe.
"Of course, you may eventually find that part of the kink is the risk of the knife itself, but this will give you a chance to practice in a safer, controlled environment first.
Q: I'm a 33-year-old man, in a three-year relationship with a 32-year-old bi woman. My concern in this case comes from your past advice to your readers. Specifically, the recurrent "if you don't satisfy your partner's fantasy, that is eventually going to make your partner unsatisfied/look somewhere else, thus the relationship is threatened." That is indeed if your partner has just ONE fantasy, or a couple, but what happens if lots of fantasies are satisfied but one?
Though my lover has a lot of fantasies that I join in on and enjoy, there is one I am not able to follow to the end: hard sado. It's not that often, not even every three months, and it happens only in some circumstances. In the fantasy, she is the torturer, but the level of the game is too high for me. She wants real screams of pain and gets them through knives and fire. Though I have tried, eventually I find myself unable to endure more pain and must give up. She tells me it's OK, and I tell myself it's just one fantasy among many, but the concern is there: Will it grow to be The Fantasy? Will this turn into unsatisfied sex for her? And if it is so, is there any way to get into this kind of sado so that I can resist my pain or transform it into pleasure like other fantasies? —Our Uses Concern Hurt
A: "No matter how GGG you are, you're not obligated to endure serious pain in order to satisfy your partner," says Eric — and I agree 100 percent. "What you describe sounds very much like it falls into that category. This definitely isn't something you should feel bad about not being willing or able to do for her.
"As for whether this will become a relationship-destroying issue for you two, that's harder to predict. I hope it's not true that all your fantasies need to be satisfied for you to be sexually satisfied. If not, millions of geeks who are never going to sleep with Natalie Portman are going to lead extremely unfulfilled lives. On the other hand, a kink this extreme doesn't come out of nowhere and so 1) it's probably pretty important to her, and 2) there are probably a bunch of related kinks that you won't be able to accommodate, either. So, it may not just be something she can do without. On the other hand, it sounds like you've been far more GGG than average and she knows it and is willing to try living without that one fantasy. You should take her at her word, at least for now."
Q: I'm a 21-year-old female college student whose romantic (and social) life is slowly turning into shit and I need your advice. At the beginning of the fall semester, I signed on to write the sex column in my school's daily, and I made the mistake of using my personal experiences to frame my advice (it's not a Q&A column, it's more like an "I need to tell you all something because this guy did a really poor job of eating me out last weekend" sort of thing). Since I started writing this thing, it seems like everyone I meet either wants to talk to me only about sex, wants to talk to me because they want to have sex with me, or they want to talk to my friends about whether or not they've had sex with me. Nobody has asked me out on a date in god knows how long and I just want to be treated like a normal person. I have one semester left to write this thing — is there anything I can do to get people to respect me a little bit more? —There Are Lots Of Gorges At This School
A: "Your letter complains about two things: that people always want to talk to you about sex, and that nobody wants to date you," says Eric.
"The first sounds to me like an occupational hazard. If you're well-known for writing about something of general interest — and few things are of more general interest than sex — then you need to expect that people who read your column are going to want to talk to you about it. If you don't want people to talk to you about sex, stop writing about it.
"On the other hand, your problem with people not wanting to date you seems like a purely self-inflicted wound. If you're going around writing negative reviews of the performances of people you have sex with, I think you have to appreciate that it's going to have a negative impact on people's interest in having sex with you. You probably should have expected that. If you want to change that situation, you need to credibly commit to not writing about your personal life in your column in the future. The easy way to achieve that would be to stop writing your column, but assuming you don't want to do that, your best bet is probably to publicly apologize in your column and say that you'll refrain from discussing your personal life in your column in the future — and then stick to that.
"This will of course be embarrassing and won't totally convince people (though the reason it's convincing is that it's so embarrassing), but it ought to convince enough people to let you get the occasional date."Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org