Q: I am a 22-year-old college grad who has been living at home for the last year. My parents are divorced, so I’ve gone back and forth from one place to the other. The other day, I was using my father’s computer, and the history came up on the search engine. It turns out that while I am in the house, my father views pornography that involves incest fantasies. I felt quite disturbed by what I saw—it made me physically sick—and I’m wondering if I should continue to have a relationship with my father.
In a week, I start a new job in another country—so I can get away from him for a while and think about my options. What should I do? Should I tell him that I know about it and I’m not interested in having a relationship with him anymore? Do I tell my friends or family? Should I trust what my gut is telling me and pack up, jump in a cab and never talk to him again?
Disturbed And Distressed
A: There are people who are turned on by incest scenarios—hypothetical dads seducing hypothetical daughters, fictional moms seducing fictional sons—who are nevertheless revolted by the idea of actual incest, i.e., nonhypothetical fuck sessions with their own nonfictional family members. Many of these incest fetishists have sent me letters over the years, DAD, wondering what’s wrong with them. Or wondering what’s right with what’s wrong with them, I should say, as they’re turned on by incest fantasies but not, as they’re invariably relieved to add, by incest realities. So what gives?
It’s the thrill of violating a taboo, not a child; it’s the power dynamics that have been eroticized, not the parental dynamics—but that’s for another column. You wrote, DAD, because you don’t know what to do about your dad.
Unless your father has given you reason to suspect that he actually wants to fuck you—unless finding your dad’s porn helped you to identify a pattern of inappropriate behaviors on your father’s part with but one possible interpretation (he actually wants to fuck you)—let’s give your father the benefit of the doubt, shall we? Let’s assume that one of the many letters I’ve received from incest fetishists was written by your dad.
I’m operating under an assumption: again, that your father has never done anything that made you feel unsafe. If your discovery had led you to connect a bunch of deeply creepy dots, DAD, that’s surely something you would’ve mentioned in your letter. Which is why I’m not just urging you to give your father the benefit of the doubt, however revolting his taste in porn might be, but also to take what you found out about him and stuff it down the memory hole.
Don’t say anything to your father, DAD, or to anyone else. You no longer have to live with your father—or use his computer—and I see no need to terminate your relationship with him, or to go nuclear on his reputation, over a deeply creepy kink that your father neither asked for nor has ever attempted to act on.
Q: 1. Thirty-year-old gay man here. I was briefly dating someone until he was a huge asshole to me. I have since not had any contact with him. However, I have been Facebook stalking him and obsessing over pictures of the guys I assume he’s dating now. Why am I having such a hard time getting over him? Our relationship was so brief! He’s a major asshole!
2. It may help you to know that I lost my virginity by being raped when I was 19. I started dating only last year, because I thought sex was scary and never wanted to feel like that again and/or make anyone else feel like that. (The guy who raped me went on to become a born-again Christian!) This guy is only the second person I’ve ever dated. Do you think that’s relevant?
3. I used to have stretched-out earlobes. When I took my plugs out, I did get “earlabia,” but only for a few days, and then they closed up and no one really noticed.
Normal Earlobes Now
A: 1. I can’t know for sure! But it sounds like you might still have feelings for this guy! Just a hunch!
2. I’m sorry that your very first sexual experience was so traumatic, NEN, and indeed it strikes me as relevant. You were violated and powerless during your very first sexual experience and now, 10 years later, your relationship ended in a way that left you feeling violated and powerless. Stalking your ex on Facebook gives you a feeling of power over him, NEN, but that power is bogus, stalking him is making you miserable, and it’s pushing back the date that you’re finally over this guy. Knock it off.
3. You’ve given me hope for all the otherwise cute boys I see wandering around with stretched-out earlabia.
Savage Love: Sondheim is solace