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Friday, February 8, 2013

SL Letter of the Day: Today's DTMFA

Posted by on Fri, Feb 8, 2013 at 4:43 PM

I've been seeing a girl for several months now and we make it a point to be completely open and honest about anything we ask or that comes up. She has asked me about my sexual history and I've been honest about how many partners I've had (regarding vaginal sex and other, hookups, bdsm play, etc). The issue is thus: I make it a point to stay on good terms with girls with whom I get intimate and, as a result, a fair number of my friends (most of whom are female) I have a sexual history with. She has told me that she is extremely uncomfortable with this fact and my attitude toward "casual sex" for lack of a better term.

Not to sound like the kind of guy who thinks that not being a CPOS earns you brownie points, I have been 100% happily faithful to her ever since we started dating. But she says that she is uncomfortable with my outlook on sex, sexual history, and the fact that I'm in contact with exes or play partners (in a manner that is both platonic and respectful of my relationship) and goes as far as to insinuate that I should feel ashamed about my past and choices. I've made peace with my choices (both good and bad) and learned what I can from them, and I'm doing all I can to respect her feelings on the issue, but I feel like her attitude towards this is poisoning the relationship.

Am I missing the point completely or forgetting something that can appease the issue? I'm afraid that this is going to build into something that breaks us up when it doesn't have to.

Feeling All Insecure Loving Intense New Girlfriend

My response after the jump...


I'm going to assume, FAILING, that you're not prattling on endlessly to your new girlfriend about all the amazing, crazy sexual experiences you had before she came along. I'm going to assume that you offer info about your sexual history only when your girlfriend asks and that you present that info in a neutral and straightforward manner. No waxing poetic, no waxing pornographic. Honestly, FAILING, I have my doubts. In my experience straight guys who say things like, "the issue is thus," and, "girls with whom I get intimate," tend to be TMI types, i.e. oversharers who believe they're being "completely open and honest" when what they're actually being is "completely clueless and insensitive." The advice that follows doesn't apply if you're telling your girlfriend more than she wants to hear, FAILING, in which case you may be mistaking legitimate discomfort (and annoyance) for illegitimate value judgments.

Okay, FAILING, if everything is as you say, if your new girlfriend is judging you and making you feel ashamed, here's what you're gonna do:


When a girl you've known for "several months" asks you to choose between her and friends you made years before she came along—even if you made some of those friends with your dick—you shouldn't hesitate to choose your old friends over your controlling and insecure new girlfriend. That goes double when the new person in your life is an SSPOS ("slut-shaming piece of shit"). If the genders were reversed—if you were a girl and your new boyfriend was giving you grief about your past sexual experiences and he wasn't happy about "his" girlfriend being on friendly terms with her exes—you would've recognized her behavior for the slut-shaming, boner-killing, relationship-terminating nonsense that it is.

No appeasement, FAILING. If she's uncomfortable with your outlook on sex, your sexual history, and the fact that you're in contact with your exes, then you two aren't sexual or emotionally compatible and this relationship is doomed. End it. There are plenty of guys out there whose exes won't speak to them—usually because they're assholes—and your ex-girlfriend will either be happier with one of those guys or she'll quickly realize what a catch you were, see the error of her ways, and decide to change her outlook on sex.


Comments (67) RSS

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On the topic of revealing everything to a new partner:

One of my friends was closeted, even to himself, and had a random hookup at a party where he got sucked off by a dude. When he told me about it, he lamented that he'd now have to tell all future girlfriends about it, and that he'd be permanently bi. In that case, I didn't see how that history was at all relevant if it was a one-time thing and he had no interest in repeating it; having a same-sex encounter isn't a virus you're stuck with and should be obligated to disclose at all times.

@65: While I agree that a new SO shouldn't automatically take priority over existing friendships, it should also be acknowledged and respected by the hub and friends that the new person will, even in the best of circumstances, know that they're an interloper and be nervous about making waves. So it would be respectful for friends (and definitely exes) to give some respectful space as the new relationship feels things out to reduce some of the pressure to get along with everyone immediately.
Posted by MemeGene on February 12, 2013 at 10:05 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 66
@65: Perhaps I'm coming off harsh. I'd support the LW in a dry reading of the situation and I'm not suggesting anyone interfere with SO's other friendships/relationships.

Why wouldn't I want to share my history? Because I don't need to describe or account for every single encounter, really. If it was significant, I've already told them.

"sorry, your p.o.v. just sounds really shallow."

I can understand being chuffed about the perceived interference in the former part o f your post, but not feeling like I have to or need to "confess" my entire sexual history isn't grounds for this. Some people leave a mark for good and ill, some people are just a temporary part of what makes you who you are.
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 12, 2013 at 9:48 AM · Report this
@50, @56.... wow, really? in the world i live in, (even in mainstream/vanilla circles) if a new partner / lover tries to interfere in their s.o.'s other friendships / relationships... that person is clearly in the wrong. no question. length of time/depth of connection gives priority, not whether you've been fucking them [most]recently.
also, why wouldn't you want to share your history with a partner? and if that is the case, why are you even there?!? and don't they have some ...right? need?... to know which of your friends you have and haven't had sex with/ lived with/ mutual ex's with, etc.... otherwise things just get too complicated.
sorry, your p.o.v. just sounds really shallow.

@57 - yes, all that. thank gods for old friends. and... now you know who really are your friends. :-)
Posted by sappho on February 11, 2013 at 7:29 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 64
Oops, I mean @62, 3rd point.
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 11, 2013 at 8:31 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 63
@3: "i only sleep with someone I'm in a relationship with" seems to have a strong correlation with "serial monogamist" doesn't it?
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 11, 2013 at 8:29 AM · Report this
Tim Horton 62
Four observations:

1. Knowing the parties' ages would be helpful. If he is 28 and she is 23, she would have a lot more of my sympathy than if they were both 45.

2. Where did this LW get the idea that it was a good idea to be open and honest about everything that comes up in a relationship? If I take him at his word, I can see why his girlfriend would be uncomfortable knowing intimate details of his past sexual conquests. Truth isn't more important than making your partner feel inadequate.

3. The debate between IPJ and nocute at 39 & 40 is intersting. I think its admirable to maintain a cordial or even a friendly relationship with exes. But monogamous couples often require some of their own space too. I have been invited to some of my exes weddings, but if our relationship was once serious, I don't go out of respect for the new couple.

4. They are incompatible.
Posted by Tim Horton on February 11, 2013 at 6:23 AM · Report this
It's not necessary for the stable of exes to be vile to the current girlfriend. They could just be being excessively familiar with Boyfriend. If that were happening I wouldn't blame her for feeling uncomfortable with their behavior (or Letter Writer's easygoing acceptance of it).

I'm not claiming that's going on here. Letter Writer actively disclaims it (I assume he is smart enough to know that "respectful of my relationship" would tend to disallow his exes casually draping themselves on him, either physically or conversationally). I'm just saying that it isn't always categorically out of bounds for a new partner to be radically uncomfortable with exes who maintain an active, friendly relationship with one's partner.
Posted by avast2006 on February 10, 2013 at 10:17 PM · Report this
shurenka 60
Also, I agree with 54 re: the different views of sex. Some people view sex as something which is intrinsically somehow "more" than just fun (even if not reserved for marriage), and for others, sex can sometimes be just sex. And yes, for people who strongly hold those views, they don't seem to be compatible, usually b/c the person who thinks sex should somehow be reserved for expressions of love/intimacy/etc feels threatened by a partner having a more cavalier attitude towards sex. But that's just in my anecdotal experience.
Posted by shurenka on February 10, 2013 at 9:09 PM · Report this
shurenka 59
I don't think it's really appropriate to say "it's none of your business" (since gee, that really demonstrates trust and caring) but, it's fine to give a vague answer and if they press, to ask the partner why they would even want to know specific details.

I can also understand the GF feeling insecure if she has had less experience, or has never been with someone who had a lot of friendly exes in the wings. But ultimately, it means she isn't mature enough to be in this relationship.

A much better conversation is: what are your views on (casual) sex, cheating, and remaining friends with exes.
Posted by shurenka on February 10, 2013 at 9:00 PM · Report this
yucca flower 58
The girlfriend is uncomfortable with casual sex. She sounds like she thinks FAILING should have saved himself until marriage. The FAILING boyfriend seems to have been raised to believe that any safe, sane, consensual sex between adults is okay. Those two philosophies can't be reconciled. DTMFA indeed.
Posted by yucca flower on February 10, 2013 at 6:43 PM · Report this
Lissa 57
I've been in the letter writer's shoes. My ex husband was completely flummoxed that I would be friends with my exes. And he made it clear that while he found my past unsavory, he was also jealous that he had never had the opportunity to rack up the same numbers and experiences that I had. In the end, to appease him I cut them all out of my life, and later agreed to open up our marriage to afford him the chance of broadening his sexual horizons. Because, as I told our girlfriend at the time to whom he is now married, I am nothing if not accommodating. They no longer speak to me at all, but, thank god, my old friends were more forgiving and have taken me back into the fold.
From my perspective, if they are hung up on your past and threatened by your friends, you can twist your self into any number of inventive pretzel shapes and it won't ever be enough. Because it isn't about you, and things you obviously can't undo. It's about them, and a basic incompatibility of world views.

Posted by Lissa on February 10, 2013 at 1:39 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 56
@54: "I don't know why so many comments say that you shouldn't tell your significant other your number "because it's none of their business." "

It's not really. As long as they only want you and knowing their status of health, knowing specifically how many partners your partner has had before you is unnecessary. Knowing that they've had at least one, more than a few is helpful to figure out what waits in store, but enumerating them all? Ridiculous.

"In addition, I think people who see sex as fundamentally a personal experience and those who see it as a fun activity to do with others are usually incompatible."

I don't understand how one could ever isolate the two with an airgap, they are not mutually exclusive. I'd think more negatively about someone who would only think in such a binary than specifically which side they found themselves on.
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 10, 2013 at 11:56 AM · Report this
nocutename 55
@39: First of all, I wouldn't characterize this as case of DTMFN, because I don't think that, as written, the woman is a MF. I think this couple probably is too incompatible to last, and may well break up, and that such a break up is almost inevitable.
I also don't agree that there is a pattern that all disgruntled letter writers use. I can see two possible reasons for FAILING's writing to Dan:
1) He genuinely wants advice on how to make things better.
2) He wants permission to break up with the girlfriend and he also wants affirmation that he's a ggg, sex-positive, evolved kind of guy.
Posted by nocutename on February 10, 2013 at 11:11 AM · Report this
I don't know why so many comments say that you shouldn't tell your significant other your number "because it's none of their business." The phrase "it's none of their business" in connection with stuff you might tell your partner seems like a weird thing. When I don't tell my partner something, it's pretty much for one of two reasons: it's not interesting, or I think it would do more harm than good. For example, I wouldn't tell my partner that I'd find them hotter if they lost weight or worked out more if they're already hot enough for me because that would cause insecurity for no good reason. But the number of people I've had sex with? It's not like they have a "right" to know or something, but don't you WANT to know if you're dating a slut-shaming douche?

In addition, I think people who see sex as fundamentally a personal experience and those who see it as a fun activity to do with others are usually incompatible.
Posted by alguna_rubia on February 10, 2013 at 11:05 AM · Report this
Using "thus" and "with whom" makes a straight guy an over-sharer?

Dan, remember that study that showed that queers who are out have lower levels of stress hormones than straight guys? Remember your hypothesis about that? That straight guys have to continue to police their own behavior all their lives, lest someone think a behavior is "faggy" or "girly"?

Your experience is your experience, of course, but you are implying that either he's an over-sharer or he's not straight.

Mildly vexed,
--A linguistically punctilious straight guy
Posted by A linguistically punctilious straight guy on February 10, 2013 at 10:22 AM · Report this
Alanmt 52

I didn't mean to imply that slut shaming is a lesser offense if done by a woman to a man. In my mind, the sex of the offender and the victim is irrelevant.
Posted by Alanmt on February 10, 2013 at 9:10 AM · Report this
Mr Alan - I can see that, among opposite-sexers, F>M S-shaming is a lesser offence than M>F.

Normally I'd maintain that anyone who merits the MF deserves the D in either DTMFA or TMFDM. It's a potentially interesting concept that one could be an MF without deserving the particular D in question. It feels rather religious, as if, essentially, all humans are MFs and avoid the big D not through our own merits but in the mercy of the non-dumper.

Assuming that this all stems from her asking and not his oversharing, I can more or less get this one into the area of being a non-unringable bell. On my three-tiered (so far) system of dumping, breaking up and ending relationships, my estimate before cross-examination is that this would fit into the breakup category, although she may not be ready yet for the INYIM that would be the classic breakup line. I'd probably have a better opinion of her were she to break up with him than if she were to continue to try to move the relationship forward while simultaneously insinuating (exactly how, one wonders) that he should feel ashamed of his past. There are worse kinks than wanting a partner walking around in permanent penitence, but it's not a nice thing into which to push a partner who doesn't embrace it with full enthusiastic consent.

Just to clarify, I'm not driven to be particular about dumping implying cause out of a desire to punish the guilty, but rather from wanting to safeguard the innocent. With DTMFA catching on so, it seems a worthy cause to try to prevent anyone being saddled with a scarlet MF label as a result of being the object of an inaccurately perceived D.
Posted by vennominon on February 10, 2013 at 8:40 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 50
@48: It's more than impolite, the point to doing so is that the two parties can talk shit about the other without her finding out.

@49: "Don't work so hard to keep up your relationships with your exes. etc"

Yeah, even aside from the "jealousy", it's an issue of prioritization. Do you really need so many besties when you have a partner?
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 10, 2013 at 8:31 AM · Report this
Boundaries are going to vary in each relationship, and often beyond 'exclusive' aren't clearly set at the beginning because both partners are (1) so into each other they don't worry about it, (2) assume that their partner is on the same page, (3) never expected to deal with the situation they find themselves in.

A lot of the time the tone I get in these letters or the comments/responses is that any sign of jealousy makes the jealous person an insecure jerk. But I think sometimes it's just someone figuring out those boundaries and finally trying to communicate them to someone they may both love and fear losing. So while one person may say "It's all good as long as there's no vaginal/anal/oral/masturbation", another might say "No going out on 'platonic' dates". Neither of those things seem unreasonable to me, but I think it's important to get on the same page for those things pretty early on. I know I wouldn't want to go out with someone who would go on and on about the fun time they just had with their ex-sex partner, even if they are now just friends. Does that make me insecure? Sure but consider this befoer calling me a jerk: If you are into monogamy then there is something your partner could do to push your insecure button. Flirt in front of you. Make comments in front of you to their friend about how hot your neighbor is. Disappear into the coat check area with said neighbor. Be in bed with someone who is not you when you get home. It's a sliding scale, and you're not a jerk if it's not just the last item that could make you concerned.

And if you really want to be in an exclusive relationship, then you should expect to modify your behavior a bit from free agent mode. Stop flirting. Don't work so hard to keep up your relationships with your exes. etc.
Posted by TheBigRagu on February 9, 2013 at 10:23 PM · Report this
Registered European 48
@45 Having a conversation by text message with someone sitting at the same table comes across as completely ridiculous to me. And impolite to others. I must be getting old.
Posted by Registered European on February 9, 2013 at 7:12 PM · Report this
What jumped out at me here was the opening about how they're so completely open and honest with each other. I'm projecting here, but it immediately brought to mind one of the worst failed relationships I had with a woman. (I'm a a bisexual woman.) Honesty for this woman wasn't something earned over time; it was something she demanded as a means of control, to the point where she authorized herself not just to judge my past but to evaluate my present psychological health. I was all twisted in knots by her, even having panic attacks. We battled constantly because her I found her "read" of me a caricature, and a cruel one at that, and by the end I was just exhausted from having to argue with a person that I was not the damaged pile of slop she insisted I was and, no, I wasn't going to endure another harangue about my past relationships or a dissection of my childhood so that I could beome a person worthy of her.

I lost track of how often we had the argument where I tried to make clear to her that she couldn't demand trust of anyone as a precondition for the beginning of a relationship. Her reply was that I was defensive because I had something to hide, just like all of the other people we knew in common. The endless refrain was, "[X] is a dishonest person." It got to the point where I was like, "People are dishonest with you because of YOU."

When I finally ended it, I felt so free, so much that I had a glimpse into why some men descend into misogynistic rants about harping and manipulative women. And I learned a valuable lesson about spotting emotional abusive behavior when dating women.

Again, projecting... but I'm with the guy on this one.

If he isn't a self-congratulatory asshat.
Posted by maddy811 on February 9, 2013 at 6:50 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 46
@45: Thankfully in this case he was willing to prioritize your relationship over his "friendship" with unhealthy exes. Nice to hear it worked out ok!
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 9, 2013 at 6:19 PM · Report this
@33, to his credit, the situation got better. These problems were in the first two months of the relationship. The texts about me stopped once he dropped hints that he really liked me and expected me to be around for a while. Then she began monopolizing his time in subtle ways. For example, if they were sitting far away from each other, she would send him so many long, involved text messages that it would be hard to have a conversation with him. Once we had dated longer, and I showed that I had no problem with him spending time hanging out with his ex-girlfriend, he realized that I wasn't the jealous type. I also made it clearer that it was the way they interacted that bothered me, not the fact that I didn’t trust him. After we had been dating for a while, the girl realized that I wasn’t going anywhere and stopped hanging out with him as much. We’re still together actually.
Posted by pavloviandoggy on February 9, 2013 at 5:11 PM · Report this
Alanmt 44
I don't think the woman should be reviled; she may deserve a mild tsk-tsking for slut-shaming, which isn't cool. But really, taking the letter at face value, this is a simple matter of incompatability. The DTMFA is not so much a punishment for bad behavior, but a recognition of that incompatability - that she will never be comfortable with his past or his friendship with the women in his life who represent it. It actually seems a relatively minor problem, but it's one of those irritants that will just keep getting worse until the relationship is unsustainable, and it is better to end it now rather than later. Unfortunately, I don't think this guy will be staying friends with this woman after he breaks up with her.
Posted by Alanmt on February 9, 2013 at 3:45 PM · Report this
lolorhone 43
Unless there is a child or a (persistent or untreatable) STI involved, your partner's sexual history is none of your fucking concern. That is all.
Posted by lolorhone on February 9, 2013 at 3:29 PM · Report this
I'm kind of with 26 on this. To be fair, I just DTMFA'd someone who'd write a letter VERY similar to this. Unfortunately, her version of "being open about her history" was bringing it up whenever an even remotely related topic came up so that she could brag about how experienced and edgy she was and all the people she'd hooked up with. So I wouldn't be surprised at all if the problem is not FAILING's past, but how he's rolling it out.
Posted by Gabbeh on February 9, 2013 at 3:07 PM · Report this
@40: you make good points here. But the trigger for me is the "DTMFA" verdict; that indicates a clear-cut hopeless case that needs to be cut off ASAP to avoid further damage. The lack of detail and openness to interpretation that results make me leery of agreeing with that here. We've had a lot of letters from people who did their best to be GGG, and they'd detail their escalation of efforts that still met with hostility or failure. They'd often quote what their problem-partner said as evidence too.

There's none of that here - just a lot of vagueness. There is definitely a problem, and if the specifics do in fact line up with the report, then yes, it would be a DTMFA. But it's fair for us to put up our antennae and go, "Hmmm, we'd like to hear more because it's fuzzy." We wouldn't be speculating so much if there were more clear data points.
Posted by MemeGene on February 9, 2013 at 2:49 PM · Report this
nocutename 40
@39 (IPJ):
You are all reading things into the letter; I am analyzing the letter as written to support my interpretation. Now, I analyze literature for a living, and I understand the importance of what's not said. I know how to read elision. But the basic role of interpretation is that you need to be able to support it and that support is found within the text itself.

I'm not even saying that you aren't correct in your assessment (though I am not convinced, it is easily possible). I'm just saying that lots of people on this thread seem to be projecting their own experiences or attitudes onto this letter, and straying pretty far from what he's actually saying. In your letter, you suggest that he's being deceitful: "in all the years of amassing and maintaining this large number of friendly former lovers of varying levels of kinkiness, never once has he encountered a woman who had a problem with the o? Really?"
To which I answer that I can easily believe this. If he is the kind of guy that typically has a lot of casual sex and hooks up with women not as drunken one-night stands, but as short-term or ongoing fwb, it is likely that he is friends with the kind of women who also have lots of casual sex and short-term or ongoing fwb relationships. In this case, the current gf is an anomaly for him. You also assume that the lw has a large number of such female friends, and it may be more like a handful of women.

I have a friend who sleeps with a lot of women, frequently and concurrently. He doesn't keep a harem; he genuinely likes the company of women, whether in a sexual or platonic way (he also likes the company of men in a platonic way; the guy has lots of friends). When I hang out with him and there are any other women also present, it is a safe assumption that he has boinked each of us. He has a girlfriend, and she knows full well whom he has slept with. No one seems to have any problem with that, but then again, we're a self-selecting kind of group.

But that is different from what this SLLOTD writer is describing. He says that he is no longer having sex with these women, either because the relationship has turned into something else, or because he's practicing monogamy with his gf. This makes me think of a different friendship of mine:

I have an ex bf who doesn't have casual sex. He only sleeps with women he's dating seriously, and he is a serial monogamist. He also stays platonic friends with his exes once the romance is over. He lost his father a few years ago, and I came to his mother's house to pay a condolence call on the family. At one point the living room had 5 different women whom I know for a fact he had slept with. I know that most of them, on hearing the names of the others, were likewise aware that all of us had had sex with him. One was his then-girlfriend. She seemed to have no issue with us. I think she felt pretty secure in herself and her relationship with him, and knew we were no threat to it.

So yes, your question, which you use to suggest that he's not being truthful either with his girlfriend or with Dan's readership, isn't proof in itself that this is a false representation. There are plenty of people, for plenty of reasons, who wouldn't be upset at the
"number/kinkiness/ongoing presence of former lovers." In my case, were I to be dating a man who had the ability to maintain friendships with women he once slept with, I would take that ability as proof that his interest in them had gone beyond the merely sexual, and it would speak well to his character that however "casual" the sex seemed to be to some, it wasn't anonymous, random, or driven by misogyny. It would speak well of him that he could salvage a friendship because he valued something about them. It would show him to be mature and secure, not jealous or vindictive or petulant. Of course, for me, were I to be seriously dating a man who had this ability, the key word in your sentence would be "former."
Posted by nocutename on February 9, 2013 at 1:59 PM · Report this
@36 nocute:
Looking pack at the letter he's a veritable paragon of reasonableness and this is a simple open-shut incompatible/unreasonable so dump now. So simple that I'm surprised he had to write to an advice columnist: in all the years of amassing and maintaining this large number of friendly former lovers of varying levels of kinkiness, never once has he encountered a woman who had a problem with the number/kinkiness/ongoing presence of former lovers? Really?

Which makes me think that all is not as pleasant and mutually respectful all around as he presents, or the conclusion "she has a problem with my past and I can't change it; she has a problem with my present and I won't change it; ergo time to break up" is so simple you don't need Dan.

One thing that stood out to me on reread is that usually the obvious DTMFA letters include a list of things the writer has tried to do to address the problem, and they aren't working. The underlying message being "I really want this to work and I'm trying but I don't think I can do what (s)he wants here." He just claims she should be accepting of whatever he's doing, no need for him to do anything differently. (Which I think is where Dan's first paragraph of things he should perhaps be doing differently comes from.)

It's plausible this is 100% on her. It's just that the obviousness of that, as presented, makes me curious about what's missing.
Posted by IPJ on February 9, 2013 at 12:36 PM · Report this
@6 (re: "my relationship" vs. "our relationship"):

No, I'd say that "my" was used here just to be clear about whose relationship he's talking about. If he's interacting with exes and friends in a way that's respectful of their relationship ("our" relationship), that means he's respecting the relationship he has with his friends and exes. For him to use "my" made it clear that it's his current relationship he's respecting. It was just a grammar thing, not a Freudian thing.
Posted by Drusilla on February 9, 2013 at 11:28 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 37
@36: Besides, he can just date another friend! Win/win.
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 9, 2013 at 10:29 AM · Report this
nocutename 36
When I look back at the letter it doesn't sound as though FAILING is trying to establish a harem or surrounding his gf with mean-girl, former-FWBs or gfs who are being rude to her and trying to get back together with him. He says that he and the current gf are both being completely open and honest; that his disclosures have come at her request; that she intimates he should be ashamed of both his past activities and the fact that he is still on good terms with his exes.

It sounds as though she is very uncomfortable with the degree of casual sex or just the sheer number of partners he has had in the past. The fact that he is still friends with these former partners doesn't allow either of them to forget his past, and she feels threatened. She also seems to have a much more judgmental and conservative attitude about what kind of sex is appropriate, how many partners one should have, and the idea that one can not be current friends with former lovers. He says she "insinuate[s] that I should feel ashamed about my past and choices."

They are incompatible: she is always going to resent his more freewheeling attitude towards sex and try to control both his current and his past sexual life and history.

It's possible, of course, that the lw is misrepresenting his own participation in these conversations, that he is indeed either boasting, or trying to amass a harem, or that the now-friends are being vile to the new gf. But when someone writes in, we always only have one side of a conflict, and there's really not that much in this letter as it's written to conclude any of those points. Even if they are true, they are enough reason for this couple to stop seeing each other: they have completely different attitudes about sex and sexual pasts.
Posted by nocutename on February 9, 2013 at 9:53 AM · Report this
Mr Meme - I actually took the trouble of looking at some of your former posts, and it was a toss-up. Mr Meme just reminded me too much of the Pokemon called Mr Mime. Please rest assured that it was not a mere case of automatically equation recognition of viewpoint with shared gender.
Posted by vennominon on February 9, 2013 at 9:24 AM · Report this
Well, at least we can take it as a positive sign that, given the commonality among same-sexer men of the practice of befriending one's boinkees (or even, eventually, marrying them - in one noteworthy case, at least), nobody has chosen to take the LW's sharing a habit of some significance with same-sexers as a basis on which to question his orientation.
Posted by vennominon on February 9, 2013 at 9:18 AM · Report this
@31, If that kind of nonsense is going on, he'd be doing her a favor in dumping her and hopefully she'll have good friends to point out that she wanted nothing to do with that jerk and his bitch-friends.
Posted by EclecticEel on February 9, 2013 at 9:17 AM · Report this
@ vennominon: Nope, not a "Ms.", but I see that you are very polite, so I won't lament the loss of my dude card for recognizing the gf's POV. I just include some gender studies in my current work, so I try to take other perspectives for the sake of argument. Too bad there aren't mainstreamed neutral titles of address...

@ pavloviandoggy: That sucks. But it also points to a difference of gender expectations - that girls are kind of expected to "get along" or co-exist in the same space, but there is less of that expectation on guys who have good reason to feel awkward.
Posted by MemeGene on February 9, 2013 at 9:17 AM · Report this
The phrase “girls I have been intimate with” is very telling. A lot of people have assumed that this just means exes. There’s a big difference between being friends with an ex-girlfriend who you have developed a friendship but has moved on and being friends with a casual acquaintance that you hooked up with. I agree with 24; from the girlfriend’s perspective, it sounds like the boy is collecting a harem of girls that he can hook up with once they’ve broken up. And if the boyfriend was perfectly honest with himself, he probably would feel a little uncomfortable if the situations were reversed. Would he be cool with it if most of his girlfriend’s friends were guys that had gotten into her pants (and may still get into her pants?)
I’m also curious as to how the female friends are treating the girlfriend. Yeah, he may have only platonic feelings for these girls now…but what if the girls had feelings for him? What if these girls hoped that they’d go from casual sex partner to real girlfriend, and now they resent that that possibility has gone away? If that’s the case, then yes, the girlfriend is justified in feeling uncomfortable with these exes. I recently had this experience. It made doing anything with my boyfriend’s friends miserable. The girl he’d hookup had this nasty habit of sending unflattering text messages about me WHILE I WAS SITTING ACROSS FROM HER AT THE SAME TABLE and monopolizing his attention whenever I was in the room. Whenever I brought up that this girl made me uncomfortable, he insinuated that I was biased “because of his past history with her.”
Posted by pavloviandoggy on February 9, 2013 at 8:53 AM · Report this
God. If lesbians weren't allowed to stay friends with our exes, none of us would have any friends. What does it matter? If there was something there, they wouldn't be exes. Some people really need to get over themselves.
Posted by Karina on February 9, 2013 at 8:51 AM · Report this
He said she is "extremely uncomfortable" with his attitude toward casual sex. This about says it all. Dan pegged it right -- she is slut-shaming him. I wish he would grow a pair and tell her her exactly where to get off, specifically mentioning that HE doesn't have to live in accordance with HER hangups.
Posted by Sparta9876 on February 9, 2013 at 7:30 AM · Report this
Ms(?) Meme - Actually, if the phrase felt like, "my [being in a] relationship," then "my" would seem preferable to "our". (I am vacillating on this one and don't care enough to force myself to decide one way or the other.) While "our" does have a general advantage, here it's an irritating call, as the sentence is about GF's points of displeasure while the phrase is about his contact with his formerly beneficial friends. "Our" could be the sign of the oversharer or nose-rubber.

What struck me as the best point against her was the list's beginning with her objection to his outlook on sex.

What struck me as the best point against him was, "100% happily," which I am inclined to put on the short list for a Gertrude Award. It highlighted admirably the way in which the letter completely doesn't describe the sort of transforming relationship that would lead someone who has boinked a large portion of a majority of his friends and who has befriended his partners in intimacy rather than the other way around into perfect bliss with a Quizmaster of the punitive variety. In fact, this letter also makes the short list for a Sherlock Award of the Non-Barking Dog variety.

Anyone so inclined could have a merry riff on whether intimacy should wait on intimacy or the other way around.

I'm not sure why Mr Savage is so concerned to get his overview right on this one. One might agree or disagree on whether this rises to dumpworthy levels (whatever one's conclusion, appeasement coming into play at this stage sounds rather depressing), but, even if LW does not have a justified DTMFA, then the completely innocent GF that Mr Savage (who does, after all, have mailbags supporting his case) envisages will have a justified TMFDM.

I am tempted to close with a reminder of Giulia Farnese's comment, "It will be a match made in... wherever such matches are made," as it does seem as if the just outcome is to get these two into a Covenant Marriage in some deep red state, but there's a chance that that could be the sleep deprivation of my cold working.
Posted by vennominon on February 9, 2013 at 7:19 AM · Report this
It is a difference between telling a new partner with how many people one has had sex, and to tell the new partner that one is still friends with exes.

The former isn't necessary or even sensible, the latter is necessary and sensible.
Posted by migrationist on February 9, 2013 at 6:57 AM · Report this
I found Dan's first paragraph interesting. And like 24, the thing where many (most? all?) of his friends are his former lovers stuck out as a little odd. A guy who just doesn't get along with other men but has a close collection of adoring former exes is... a little odd. A guy who is in friendly regular contact with a few exes (and an equal or greater number of non-exes) and polite more distant contact with most of them is different.

If her problem is the past that's her problem. If her problem is how he acts in the present, that might well be on him. (Example: The friendly respectful contact consists of what she considers way-too-strong flirting. Or a lot of "ooh baby do you remember when we--giggle giggle giggle.") Even though his letter is the very exemplar of "I'm totally reasonable and correct in all details, and my ex is completely unreasonable, and everyone will validate me and slam her, right?"

Posted by IPJ on February 9, 2013 at 6:40 AM · Report this
Past experience is a predictor of future performance. The GF has evidence that (1) the LW has been respectful and decent enough during the past relationships and during the past breakups(!) to remain friends with them and (2) the LW prefers to be with her now. And yet, her insecurities prevent her from seeing the upside of a well-vetted BF and from "taking yes for an answer".

Could he have been a braggart? Yeah, although that's not consistent with having many long-term female friends. Could she be so insecure that merely answering her own Qs or stating, informationally, "I'm having lunch with Mary." would set her off? Yes, I've seen that happen.

So while he could insist the past is the past and that she needs to stop being an ISBOS ( insecure bag of slop ), does an ISBOS ever stop because they're told to? No. So DTMFA.
Posted by DAVIDinKENAI on February 9, 2013 at 5:15 AM · Report this
@23: Assuming for a second that the gf is reasonably sane and emotionally balanced, it's not LW's past she has a problem with, but how he deals with his past in the present.

Beyond worrying about cheating with exes, there could also be a concern that it looks like the guy is keeping a harem and she is the latest addition to it. Maybe she's felt pressured to become BFFs with all the exes, which would definitely be awkward. Not saying that is the vibe here, but with the lack of information on the actual feel, it's another possibility.
Posted by MemeGene on February 9, 2013 at 4:36 AM · Report this
I dont get it- your girlfriend is not happy with your past, what can you do? You cant
change the past. If you act flirtatious with
your ex-lovers and playmates then your an arrogant jerk who dosnt deserve your
girlfriend. Sounds like you would both be
better off finding more suitable partners.
Your from 2 opposing planets. Maybe she's
more traditional than you. Also, "gentlemen don't tell" is still a valid point. Nobody, especially your girlfriend,
want to hear about your personal sexcapades.
Posted by handelfire on February 9, 2013 at 2:06 AM · Report this
MythicFox 22
@21 -- Because they know they could theoretically ask enough people and eventually get the answer they want and forget the rest.
Posted by MythicFox on February 9, 2013 at 1:31 AM · Report this
Ballard Pimp 21
Why do people ask questions when they don't want to know the answers?
Posted by Ballard Pimp on February 9, 2013 at 12:47 AM · Report this
This is going to be me, if/when I get ready to "settle down". My number is several times higher than the 'average' American female, and probably more than all my friends from home added together (save one). I sincerely hope that my partner will be okay with my past, because I've had a great time and I'm very happy with my choices, and I'm sure he will happily benefit from my past. I am friends with most of my exes. Why shouldn't I? I picked cool people who are my friends. I hope that I will like his friends and that he will like mine. I will be sad if he feels that my being friends with these guys is disrespectful to our relationship. I'm also bad at keeping secrets, plus I love sex talk which includes outside experiences, so discretion is not gonna work too well for me.

Thank you gus @2 for articulating your thoughts.
avast @8, well said to anonymous commenter.
milkshake @15, um. I have a roster. with code names for all of them. I'm terrified at the thought of forgetting someone one day. My crazy thought is that I'm less of a slut if I still know everyone's names! :)
Posted by dccc on February 8, 2013 at 11:45 PM · Report this
Gotta be honest given my own past and what's happened to me I am REAL uncomfortable when an SO is hanging out with exes.
Posted by Reader01 on February 8, 2013 at 10:34 PM · Report this
seandr 18
I was her 17th. Somewhere in the back of my closet is a jersey with that number on it.
Posted by seandr on February 8, 2013 at 10:07 PM · Report this
wingedkat 17
@16 when does anyone have an equal past?

Sounds boring.
Posted by wingedkat on February 8, 2013 at 9:02 PM · Report this
very bad homo 16
She sounds like someone who is never going to fully trust him because he's had a more exciting past than she has.
Posted by very bad homo on February 8, 2013 at 8:51 PM · Report this
I kind of wish I had kept a list, because the number 15 is stuck in my head as my number of partners, and now that I'm 40, married 12 years, I can only remember 12. Who were those other people? Lost to history...
Posted by milkshake on February 8, 2013 at 8:24 PM · Report this
Gah, they both sound like douches. Depending on which one's right.
@7 &@9: yep!
Posted by Snarky on February 8, 2013 at 8:17 PM · Report this
I couldn't give a number if I tried - lost count many years ago. I would tell a new partner, if asked, that the number is pretty high, though - why not?
Posted by agony on February 8, 2013 at 7:44 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 12
Yeah @6, the phrasing is either unfortunate or a sign that he's minimizing something to make him look more innocent than he really is. Was "Not to sound like the kind of guy who thinks that not being a CPOS earns you brownie points" even necessary?

Either way, they're on different wavelengths and the reality isn't as important as them not being right together.
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 8, 2013 at 7:28 PM · Report this
wingedkat 11
Jealousy is normal. Maybe she can work through it.

Ask her, "would you rather they hated me?" Then regardless of her initial answer, give her a few days to think through it. If she still answers "yes" DTMFA.

If she says "no" promise to never again mention which of your friends you've known intimently unless she asks.
Posted by wingedkat on February 8, 2013 at 7:24 PM · Report this
eclexia 10
I think the real question is, should he dump her immediately and run away before she has a chance to make a copy of the key? Or should he stick around for a few more fucks, and then dump her the next time she tells him not to contact a friend/former playmate?

My guess is that it doesn't matter. She had already made a copy of the key before she started the slut-shaming thing. This probably calls for the "fuck-fuck-dump-move" strategy.
Posted by eclexia on February 8, 2013 at 7:05 PM · Report this
eclexia 9
"I was fucking them. Not counting them".
Posted by eclexia on February 8, 2013 at 7:02 PM · Report this
Sometime during the last year I read this next bit of advice here in the comments. I wish I remembered who said it, but it stuck with me as wise, reasonably gentle, and yet firm. It applies to a lot of things in addition to sexual history, and it goes like this:

My past is immutable. I don't own a time machine; there is absolutely nothing I can do to change it. You either have to be 100% at peace with it, or we are incompatible. I am not going to subject either of us to a constant undercurrent of disapproval over something that by definition can't be fixed.
Posted by avast2006 on February 8, 2013 at 7:01 PM · Report this
The honest answer to "How many partners have you had in the past?" is "None of your goddamned business."
Posted by avast2006 on February 8, 2013 at 6:50 PM · Report this
Nitpicky, but word choice can sometimes betray psychological insights:

"the fact that I'm in contact with exes or play partners (in a manner that is both platonic and respectful of my relationship)"

I usually would say "our", but that rolls into the "I...I...I" I see here. And how did he determine that this was in fact platonic and respectful? Would love more clarification. Aye yay yay...
Posted by MemeGene on February 8, 2013 at 6:48 PM · Report this
wingedkat 5
Oh god yes.
Posted by wingedkat on February 8, 2013 at 6:29 PM · Report this
I'd be interested in hearing the girlfriend's perspective on this.
Posted by MemeGene on February 8, 2013 at 6:04 PM · Report this
past sexual history, keep it simple stupid....if asked, honestly say more than 2. If asked during an orgy modify the number of people and add one. the first is whoever was first and the other one is who your with....the honesty part is the more than statement. simple, true, and just a gosh darn good way to answer that question. ..if people think it's a stupid answer then they shouldn't ask the question...:)
Posted by davejohn on February 8, 2013 at 5:57 PM · Report this
Beautifully put. My sister is the paragon of staying warmly and respectfully in touch with all her ex-everythings, and her current hubby fully appreciates what keeping that rich history alive has made her capable of doing for him today.

FAILING is a gem, and should be with someone who respects that.
Posted by gloomy gus on February 8, 2013 at 5:28 PM · Report this
aureolaborealis 1
What he said.
Posted by aureolaborealis on February 8, 2013 at 4:49 PM · Report this

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