More than a thousand people showed up for a recent Savage Love Live event at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It goes without saying that the students at UW submitted more questions than I could answer in 90 minutes. As promised, Madison, here are some bonus answers to questions that I didn't get to during our time together...
Can an open relationship work if it's this type: dating two people, separately, both serious, neither relationship is the "primary" one?
Most people define "work" — in the context of a relationship — as "a loving, lasting, long-term relationship that ends only with the death of one or both parties." But I define "work" as "a loving relationship that makes the people in it happy, whether that relationship lasts for the rest of their lives or whether both parties — or all parties, if we're talking about a poly or open scenario — decide at some point to end the relationship amicably." So, yes, I do think the relationship you've described can work. Whether you'll be in this relationship — or these relationships — for the rest of your life remains to be seen. You may wind up getting more serious about one person, or you may move on from both and find someone else — or a couple of someone elses — but if you're happy right now, and if they're happy right now, then your relationship is working.
I know you lived in Madison for a while. Got any great Mad Town stories?
Savage Love got its start in Madison: I wrote my first columns on a computer in the back office of Four Star Fiction and Video, where I worked as a night manager/VHS-tape-slingin' clerk. I did other things — after-hours things—in the storeroom of Four Star. Those things are known only to me, an insanely sexy guy named Roger, and one of the bartenders at the Plaza who one night overheard us talking about the things we'd just done to each other in that storeroom.
What would you say to Ann Coulter, who said that if her son told her he was gay, she'd "tell him he was adopted"?
Parental rejection of a gay child (which doubles a gay kid's already quadrupled risk for suicide), the implication that adopted parents are less emotionally invested in their children and that adopted children are loved conditionally — only Ann Coulter could pack so much hatred, malice, and emotional violence into a single "quip." I'm not sure what I would say to Coulter — I've never had the pleasure of meeting her — but I can't imagine that any child of Coulter's, gay or straight, would be on speaking terms with her anyway, so I'd probably tell her that her feelings about her hypothetical children are irrelevant.
I have been treated badly in several past relationships. I am now in a great one, but I have a hard time believing/trusting that nothing bad will happen. How can I get over this dread?
Something bad is going to happen — believe it. Sooner or later, your new squeeze will do something bad and you'll get hurt. Hopefully the bad that happens won't be as bad as the bad you experienced in the past relationships — no physical or emotional violence, no unforgivable betrayals, nothing that requires you to end this relationship — but your new partner will behave badly toward you at some point. And you will behave badly toward your new partner. There's some bad even in the best relationships. You'll experience less dread if you can accept that.
Can a successful long-term relationship form if the other person can never admit that they're wrong?
Anyone who's ever been in a successful long-term relationship knows that both parties have to be able to admit that they're wrong — sometimes you have to admit you're wrong even when you know you're not. So the answer is "no."
How and when is it good/best to use whipped cream?
We've covered this before: Whipped cream is NOT A SEX TOY. Two minutes after you put it on your nipples — or two minutes after you fill your belly button or ass crack or armpits with it — you begin to smell like baby puke. It's not sexy. And it's not like you're not getting enough dairy in your diets, Wisconsinites. Save the whipped cream for your ice cream, and if you want to lick something off your partner, work up a sweat and lick that off 'em.