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Friday, March 21, 2008

Savage Love Letter of the Day

posted by on March 21 at 13:30 PM

The letter below was written in response to a letter that appears in this week’s Savage Love, which you can read here.

As a breast cancer survivor who did the breast reconstruction and now wishes she didn’t, I have to speak up for for the wife of IMHB. Implants are painful to get (the expansion process is hell) and need to be replaced every 10 years or less, are uncomfortable, expensive, and don’t even look so great naked (at least mine don’t). Aside from all that, there is no sexual sensation in the implants for the woman. What is gone is gone and for IMHB to resent his wife (and yes I think he does, a tiny bit) for not going through a painful and surgical (and therefor potentially dangerous process) for his visual sexual stimulation is, well, rude. I think you nailed it, Dan, when you wrote, “how would I feel if [my boyfriend’s] body changed as he aged and after a few decades together he wasn’t the exact same 23-year-old club kid I picked up in that gay bar?”

IMHB needs to be GGG and either close his eyes, turn her over, or duh, realize that he loves this woman and get over his homophobic fears that no boobs = boy. If he doesn’t there is always the possibility that his wife will find someone who recognizes her for the strong, courageous woman that she is, finds that a tremendous turn on, and rocks her world.

With Implants But Regrets It

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I was hoping you would get a letter like this. :)

Posted by DanFan | March 21, 2008 1:55 PM

Hetero here, as you know, and nope, not buying it. I can't say help but wonder how supporting and loving she would be if, through no fault of his own, her guy (if she's ever had a guy - sounds like classic carpet-muncher propaganda to me) had to have his tallywhacker chopped off. My guess is not very.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | March 21, 2008 1:58 PM
What is gone is gone and for IMHB to resent his wife (and yes I think he does, a tiny bit) for not going through a painful and surgical (and therefor potentially dangerous process) for his visual sexual stimulation is, well, rude.

Oh, come on - where does she get the notion that he resented his wife from? He just said he couldn't get used to how she looks - and if anything, he acknowledged this was his own problem and was deeply uncomfortable about it. I'm sure it's nice to think that looks just completely cease to matter and our partners will all have no problem finding us equally physically attractive no matter what happens to us, and vice versa, but it's not that simple.

Posted by tsm | March 21, 2008 1:59 PM


What if he went bald? Do you think she would just walk away then?

Losing breasts does not equal losing a sexual organ.

Posted by keshmeshi | March 21, 2008 2:06 PM

@2...if the guy got his cock chopped off they wouldn't be able to have sex. she still has a vag ipso facto they can fuck. this is more comparable to a guy getting his balls cut off and i would be willing to bet she would still want to do him.

thanks for posting this letter dan, it was awesome.

Posted by k-la | March 21, 2008 2:07 PM

I don't know, I have some sympathy for the guy, just as I would have some sympathy for someone whose partner was in an accident and lost a leg. One might be slightly creeped out and a little less attracted to one's partner because of it. Plus, her homophobic comment was a little out of the blue for me -- I don't think it's homophobic to be more attracted to a women with breasts than without.

But, I completely agree that there should be no question that she shouldn't feel compelled to go through the surgery if it's something she doesn't wanted to do. It's her choice, period.

Posted by Julie | March 21, 2008 2:19 PM

Had slightly comparable experience when going through sleep apnea testing. I tested very positive (not breathing 30 to 40 times an hour while sleeping), and so my wife dropped me off one evening for a sleep session to get fitted for a CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) thingee that I have now used for years.

The sleep tech said to me after my wife left, you're lucky. I said, why? He said, some women can't deal with the mask (it's a bit like an oxygen mask; the machine itself is silent), and they convince their husbands not to use it.

Huh. That can shave 10 to 30 years off your life, and you can wind up with debilitating conditions until then, like early heart attack.

That's how some people think.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman | March 21, 2008 2:36 PM

Girls are yucky. Thank God I'm gay.

Posted by Providence | March 21, 2008 2:51 PM

Do we really have that much control over what arouses us? With Implants sounds too focused on her own history to notice that he appears to love her and wants to do the right thing. But if breasts are important to his sexual response, maybe he can't just switch that off and decide to get aroused by her courage instead. If he could, he wouldn't have written for advice.

Posted by pox | March 21, 2008 2:54 PM

This is why getting sick, with anything, is so fucking hellish for the one dealing directly with the illness and the loved ones around that person. Everyone is impacted on some level and there is no clear cut solution for happiness as the starting point is not one of happiness. Everyone will have to make sacrifices and suffer; cutting off boobs to stay alive, big sacrifice, not having boobs to play with while being horny for boobs, big sacrifice. Adjusting to changes, big sacrifice.

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | March 21, 2008 2:57 PM

I have been involved with Breast Buddies for quite a while and I can say without hesitation that IMHB's reaction is very much the normal one. It is something that takes time to deal with fully. This letter implies that breast implants are dangerous and painful in all cases. This simply isn't so. As one of the most common medical procedures, implanting breasts can be done fairly easily and with minimal discomfort for the vast majority of women. Depending on the complexity and extent of the cancer & surgury the reconstruction can be quite extensive... of course. There are always exceptions.
All that being said, I saw no hint of homophobia on the part of the letter writer and I believe Dan's advice was (as usual) very solid.

Posted by DrJim | March 21, 2008 3:03 PM

i feel for the guy. hit is from the back is the best i can come up with, too.

Posted by max solomon | March 21, 2008 3:04 PM

I think what IMHB was mainly skeeved out about was the massive scar his wife wore with pride. I think the flat-chested he could probably get over, but some people are squeamish about scars and blood.

Posted by yucca flower | March 21, 2008 3:14 PM

I'm sorry, I know you don't want to hear it, but I agree with Dan's straight advisor ... that's what doggy style is for.

Look, it allows him to mentally still be turned on by her, and over time he'll associate being turned on by what she "was" and who she is now ... sometimes it helps ease the transition.

But he still has to cuddle afterwards. A lot.

And go down on her - or it won't work.

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 21, 2008 3:30 PM

He's a homophobe because he likes boobs??

Posted by Sirkowski | March 21, 2008 3:52 PM

women really have no idea how erections work. "recognizing strength & courage" does not do it.

recognizing a strong & courageous badonkadonk, tho...

Posted by max solomon | March 21, 2008 4:33 PM

I think people just arn't getting the fact that implants on someone that's had a mastectomy are at the very most superficial. They think: "lost of people get implants, what's the big deal?"

Do they understand that you have to TATTOO the nipples back on, because they were surgically removed?

All you get are scar covered orbs with silicone underneath. Yum. Good luck with your sex life getting a jump start.

Posted by Colton | March 21, 2008 4:55 PM

I do sympathize with the husband. But, if I was the wife, I wouldn't get the implants either, knowing that you can't feel them and that they look so fake. It would really, really creep me out to have some guy playing with my breasts if I couldn't feel them and they looked like alien breasts. I want to puke just thinking about it.

This is one of those lose/lose situations in life, I guess.

Posted by miss_m | March 21, 2008 5:11 PM

Maybe the guy could get the implants?

Posted by Kris | March 21, 2008 5:13 PM

I wonder if they have tried "strap-ons". Yeah, I know Dan assumed they had, but the writer didn't mention it. I've seen falsies at the lingerie shop that would look pretty realistic if you slipped them into a good bra.

Getting surgery to get fake boobs with no sensation that remind you of the boobs that tried to kill you is a big deal, and I wouldn't do it, either. And I agree with #18 about how gross it would be to have my husband play with alien breasts in my chest. Wearing a bra to look sexy for your husband is not a big deal. It would hide the scar, too.

Posted by puzzlegal | March 21, 2008 5:41 PM

Am I the only person who remembers Bill Murray handling this in an early SNL skit called "And then, he cries" ?

Posted by Ivan Cockrum | March 21, 2008 6:46 PM

I'm not sure why she can't wear an A-cup bra with padding and a sweet little cami or nightie over it. Surely if he couches it in, "Darling, I'm proud of you and what you've overcome, but the scar makes me squeamish during sex," she'd understand the difference between pride/shame and sexy/yucky.

Posted by Christin | March 21, 2008 8:08 PM

fake tits are gross.

Posted by some dude | March 21, 2008 8:14 PM

Gay men dump their boyfriends all the time for not looking the same after a decade- or less. And for a hundred other really fucking dumb, trivial reasons.

Posted by Waldo | March 21, 2008 8:54 PM

@#7: That is a shame about the CPAP machines. My mom just got one and I think she looks really cute with it on...kind of like a fighter pilot who is sleeping on the job or a little puppy who has just gone through surgery! I just hope it helps her to sleep better, and I think I'm going to look into getting one for myself, because I know I have sleep apnea too...only I couldn't stand sleeping with that thing on...I think they have improved the machine a lot in the last 10 years! Now it doesn't even make noise, so hopefully my cat won't be afraid of me.

Posted by Kristin | March 22, 2008 1:14 AM

First of all--that was one of the best columns you've ever written, it was great.

Providence @8: don't think just 'cause you're gay that you're gonna get absolved of the "difficult-shit-that-there's-no-easy-answer-to" problems of life. Whether the question is breasts or asses or hairlines, our bodies take on history and show it.

A lot of gay male couples have sex lives apart from one another, that whole nonsexual-life partner thing, and maybe that's the only answer for this guy and his wife. They survived this horrible trauma, they obviously love each other, they know they can always rely on one another--great, that's what everybody who wants a relationship wants, lucky them. They should grieve what's been lost, see how lucky they are to have what's left, and do what they have to do, and just keep moving.

Posted by Boomer in NYC | March 22, 2008 6:59 AM

If sexual preference has biological roots then what this man is repelled by and attracted to are not a matter of 'changing attitudes.' He can change his behavior but not what he wants. Advice to adapt to change is good. Advice to not want what he wants is no more or less foul than advising gay men to go straight.

Posted by anonymous | March 22, 2008 12:24 PM


secondary sex characteristic:gender::apples:oranges

Posted by Kiru Banzai | March 22, 2008 5:01 PM

Once the wife realizes she is being flipped over because her husband finds her breast cancer scar disgusting, how do you think she will feel?

If I were her I would immediately DTMFA.

That guy needs to man up and initiate an honest conversation with his wife about what turns him on, and what of that she is willing to accomodate.

And then, or maybe even first, he needs to check with her to see if and how her experience of sex has changed since cancer. Is her breast area still an erogenous zone? Is he even still touching her chest? He should communicate with her to see what sexual response she may miss in her own body, to find out what she would like, and to see what of that he is willing to accomodate.

Posted by Diana | March 22, 2008 11:36 PM

Is there no sexy type behaviour that might cause this guy to associate his wife's new chest with pleasure? Creative chest strap-on pegging during oral sex? Chest-to-balls frotage? Maybe a hot chest tat around/over the scar?
If not, then divorce might be the only option. The marriage is bound not to last long once someone stops putting out. As fake titties seem unlikely and unreasonable under the circumstances the only options are to make it do or do without.

Posted by Carpenter | March 24, 2008 12:55 AM

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