Savage Love: Showing Up

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Q: I’m a 28-year-old bi-curious female, and I ended a three-year straight LTR a month ago. It’s been tough — my ex is a great guy, and causing him pain has been a loss on top of my own loss, but I know I did the right thing. Among other things, our sex life was bland and we had infrequent sex at best. Now I want to experiment, explore non-monogamy, and have crazy and fulfilling sex with whoever tickles my fancy. I met a new guy two weeks ago, and the sex is incredible. We also immediately clicked and became friends. The problem? I suspect he wants a romantic relationship. He says he’s open to my terms — open/fuck-buddy situation — but things have quickly become relationship-ish. I like him, but I can’t realistically picture us being a good LTR match. I’m hoping we can figure out something in between — something like a sexual friendship where we enjoy and support each other and experiment together without tying ourselves down — but I have found very little evidence of such undefined relationships working without someone getting hurt. I am sick of hurting people! Any advice?
– Hoping Open Peaceful Experiences Feel Unlike Loss

If “someone might get hurt” is the standard you’re going to apply to all future relationships — if it’s a deal breaker — then you shouldn’t date or fuck anyone else ever again, HOPEFUL, because there’s always a chance someone is going to get hurt. The fact that hurt is always a possibility is no excuse for hurting others needlessly or maliciously; we should be thoughtful and conscientious about other people’s feelings. We should also remember that no one is clairvoyant and that someone can hurt us without intending to. But there’s no intimate human connection, sexual or otherwise, that doesn’t leave us open to hurting or being hurt.

So fuck this guy, HOPEFUL, on your own terms — but don’t be too quick to dismiss the possibility of an LTR. Great sex and a good friendship make up a solid foundation. You’re aware that nonmonogamous relationships are an option — and couples can explore nonmonogamy together. If you can have this guy and have your sexual adventures, too — this could be the start of something big.


Q: I’m wondering about the application of the term “bear” to a straight man, such as myself. I’m a bigger guy with a lot of body hair and a beard. I love that in the gay community there is a cute term for guys like me reflecting body positivity. For us straight dudes, however, being big and hairy means getting thought of as an ape — big, dumb, smelly oafs. While I can be dumb, smelly, and oafish at times (like anyone), I’d also like to have a way to describe myself that is masculine yet attractive. Bear is a great term, but I’m concerned about being insensitive in appropriating it. I haven’t asked my gay/bear friends about it (though they’ve referred to me as a bear on occasion) because I’m afraid I won’t get a straight answer (no pun intended). Would it be okay for me to refer to myself as a bear or, as a highly privileged straight cis male, do I need to accept the fact that I can’t have everything and maybe leave something alone for fucking once?
– Hetero Ape Inquiring Respectfully, Yup

“If you want to be a bear, BE A BEAR!” said Brendan Mack, an organizing member of XL Bears (xlbears.org), a social group for bears and their admirers. “DO YOU! There isn’t anything appropriative about a straight guy using the term ‘bear’ to describe himself — it’s a body type, it’s a lifestyle, and it’s celebrating yourself. Gay, straight, hairy, smooth, fat, muscled — bear is a state of mind. It’s body acceptance. It’s acceptance of who you are. So if you want to be a bear, WELCOME TO THE WOODS!”

Matt Bee, the promoter behind Bearracuda Worldwide (bearracuda.com), seconded Mack. “The term ‘bear,’ like any other animal descriptor, is a pretty playful one to begin with. Please, by all means, use it and any other well-meaning word to describe yourself!”