Good advice is all alike, focused as it must be on health, compromise, and consent. People who need advice, however, all need advice in their own interesting ways. Welcome back to Other People’s Problems, in which we collect and rank the greatest dilemmas of the week, as seen in newspaper and magazine advice columns. This week’s letter writers grapple with the secrets they’ve kept from their spouses. We’re suprised they got this far.
The Secret Bisexual Who’d Like to Keep It That Way, Dear Abby
Not down for a threesome.
My husband and I have been married for six years. Before I met him, I was with a woman. I don’t want my husband to find out about it because I’m afraid it will turn him on and he’ll want to have threesomes. (He enjoys looking at lesbian porn.)
The Secret Porn Star Who’s Ashamed of Her Past, Dear Abby
What, you thought she was a virgin?
My wife and I have been married for five years. I recently discovered that she made between 10 and 20 porn videos when she was 19. We got married when she was 27. We have four kids from two previous marriages. I am devastated. When I confronted her about it, she cried harder than I had ever seen. She said she was lost, and it’s the biggest regret of her entire life. I understand how hard it can be to tell someone you have done something like this. I haven’t led a perfect life either, and I have my own skeletons and things that I would never mention. But still, I can’t get over this.
The Secret Racist Who Married an Asian Woman, Dear Prudence
Doesn’t want to have kids who look like her.
My wife, who is infertile, and I have recently decided to have children—we’d like eventually to have three—using an egg donor…We have just settled on this option but it has thrown open a whole new dilemma for me. I am white and my wife is East Asian. Her race isn’t a problem for me and I would have had no difficulty raising mixed race children, but frankly, now that I have the choice, I’d prefer my kids to be white. We live in a fairly homogeneously white area and at the end of the day I want my kids to look like me, their cousins, and the kids they’ll go to school with. I don’t think my wife has ever experienced racism, but I think she might understand my point of view.
Healthiest Breakup, Savage Love
So over his ex he might keep her sex toys around.
What’s the etiquette around (nonpenetrative) sex toys after a breakup? I bought restraints, a blindfold, etc. for my ex, and she left them behind. It seems a waste to throw them away. Is it a bit squicky for a guy to bust out an arsenal of old toys when a new gal comes along?
The Angriest Virgin, Dear Abby
You can’t lose your v-card until you lose your hideous entitlement!
I am a 25-year-old male who is still a virgin. It bugs me knowing that uglier, disgusting, less intelligent guys are having sex, while I – compassionate, smart, educated and good-looking – am not…This has been bothering me lately because I have lost a lot of weight and feel better about myself, but it still isn’t happening. I used to be extremely shy, but the confidence I gained from the weight loss has helped me in talking to strangers. I don’t get it. I feel like life is playing a cruel joke on me.
Most Awkward Parenting Moment, Dear Prudence
He’s not just watching it in porn.
Our 16-year-old son came out to us a year ago. It was not unexpected, and we accepted this well. Last week, my wife noticed he had some serious bruising on his torso. We were afraid that he was being bullied….I checked out his computer (yes, I know this is not right, but I feel that trust is a two-way street and he violated it first) and found photos showing his new boyfriend is a big BDSM fan. I know a lot about this subject from a former relationship, and what my son and he are doing is amateurish and dangerous. However, I feel like I can’t tell my wife this because of the breach of trust on my part, not only to my son, but to her for not telling her fully about my past (it was a former girlfriend’s interest and not mine). And what am I going to do with him, show him “reputable” bondage materials for future reference? I’m afraid for my son’s health and our future relationship, too.
Most Liberated Small-Town Girl, Since You Asked
Hard not to just be happy for her.
I am almost 24 years old. A year ago I moved to a new city to be with a young man I’d been dating for four years. We lived together all last year and broke up three months ago. Newly single, I have made many new friends and am finally starting to feel like a part of a community in a city that still feels new. Only now, it’s begun to feel small. I plunged into dating gleefully, enjoying the attention and novelty. Because this city is small, my appearance on the scene has not gone unnoticed. I have been warned by well-meaning, and slightly older, friends that I should be discreet in my affairs…. This advice angered me. I get huffy thinking about it. (How dare they tell me how to behave!?) There are very few outside structures dictating my behavior. For the first time in my life, no school, no parents, no church, no old cold god, no committed relationship … I am free to find out how to live, what suits me. I am giddy. I swear it’s raining men. I couldn’t be happier. Or I could. I don’t know. And now that I’ve been advised to be discreet in whom I see and where I’m seen with them I realize people are talking about me. And part of me thinks, fuck ‘em. Doesn’t matter what they think. But part of me worries there will be unpleasant repercussions in the not-too-distant future. I don’t want to look foolish, to take it too seriously. But I also want to be a grown-up woman who can casually date and sleep with men.
The Senior Citizen With Feelings of Sexual Inadequacy, Dear Margo
Will it never stop?
I don’t want to be a crybaby, but I am very upset with my husband of 11 months. Prior to our marriage, he was very loving and sexual. We are seniors, and this relationship was everything I wanted. But since we got married, he hasn’t touched me. I am a little overweight, and I’m very self-conscious about it. When I try to get close to him and maybe have some togetherness, he says I am a sex maniac. Recently, he got some Viagra, but when he took it, he expected it would do everything. I explained that we have to do our share to stimulate the sexual feelings. He hasn’t taken any of it since then. After 10 months, we still haven’t had sex, and I am at my wits’ end. In the meantime, I am beginning to hate my body and feel that no one can love me. I have never felt that way before.