Savage Love

By Dan Savage
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 2 | Posted Dec. 29, 2010

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Q: My mother left her email logged in on my computer, and I decided to be an asshole and snoop out of boredom. I honestly wasn’t expecting anything, but I found a few intimate emails between her and a strange man that pretty much confirmed that she was cheating on my dad.

My parents have been married for three decades, and it’s kind of an understatement to say he’s an antisocial psycho. He restricted her from so many things during their marriage—partly for religious/cultural reasons. He’s been a physical wreck for most of their marriage and has no personality to compensate. My mother, on the other hand, is one of the nicest and most caring people you could ever meet. She’s also “hot”—a lot of my friends have pointed that out. The only reason she didn’t leave him was to keep the family together.

It’s hard knowing my mom is a CPOS. It’s killing my older brother, who feels betrayed, because for years he’s defended her against my father when he accuses her of cheating. How the hell do I confront her about this?

Mother Obliterated Monogamy

A: Here’s what you say to your mother: “Good for you, Mom.”

But you’re going to say it under your breath, MOM, audible but not quite loud enough for your mother to hear.

Because you’re not going to confront her about this affair or any other affair that you might uncover between now and your father’s death and you’re not going to tell your mom you snooped and you and your brother are going to go right on defending your mother to your father and you’re going to show a little respect—a little retroactive respect—for your mother’s privacy by pretending that you don’t know what you do know.

Is that clear?

Your mom sounds like a lovely woman, MOM, and you and your brother should be happy that she managed to find a little solace, a little love and tenderness, in the arms of a man who isn’t a raving asshole. She deserves that, doesn’t she? As for the CPOS label, that gets slapped only on people who cheat without cause, MOM, and it sure sounds like your mom had cause. Which means she’s not a cheating piece of shit. She’s cheating on a piece of shit.

Yes, yes: Maybe your mom should’ve divorced your father, or had him murdered, but for reasons that will only ever be known to her, MOM, she decided that keeping her family intact—maybe for cultural reasons, maybe for her boys—was more important than remaining faithful to an antisocial psycho. It’s easy to say that cheating is always wrong and to call everyone who cheats a POS, but sometimes an affair is the least worst option.

As for your brother’s feelings of betrayal: Maybe your dad was right and your mom was cheating on him throughout their marriage and his tirades were justified and your brother was a fool to defend your mother. Or maybe your mom decided, after being accused of cheating again and again, and after being called a whore again and again, that if she was going to be accused, indicted and tried for that particular crime, she might as well have the pleasure of committing it. Encourage your brother to give your mother the benefit of the doubt. It sounds like she deserves it.

Q: I’m a 28-year-old gay man. My only sibling is getting married next year, and I’m invited. My family doesn’t support my gayness. My mom has met my boyfriend only once and refused to be in his presence for more than two minutes. Should I bring my boyfriend to my sister’s wedding?

Brother Of The Bride

A: You say: “Hey, Sis. Looking forward to the wedding. I’ve been seeing a great guy for two years now, as you know, and I’m planning on bringing him to the wedding.”

If she says, “Don’t bring him. It’ll just piss off Mom,” then you say, “I’m coming with my boyfriend or I’m not coming at all—and remember, Sis, one day Mom will be dead and it’s just going to be you and me. So in the long run, you should be more concerned about pissing me off than pissing Mom off.”

And if she says, “Don’t bring him. I don’t want your gay boyfriend at my wedding,” then you say, “If you don’t want gays at your wedding, Sis, then you shouldn’t have invited me. I want to be there—but if I come, I’m bringing my boyfriend.”

Have the confrontation now, BOTB, so that you can’t be accused of trying to make trouble/drama right before your sister’s wedding. But you need to seize this opportunity to dictate terms to your family: They can have their homophobia or they can have you in their lives—but they can’t have both.

 Q: Last year, around this time, you promised to share your mom’s Christmas cookie recipe. I would love to try it out if you’re OK with sharing the recipe.


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1. King said... on Dec 29, 2010 at 12:52PM

“Your response to Mother Obliterated Monogamy was the worst piece of advice I have ever seen in my life; retarded on so many levels. For starters maybe dad's craziness is rooted in the fact his wife is boning some other dude and he senses it. Why did you use his personality as an excuse ofr her cheating? As a man that has cheated on his wife I went through counseling and explained I was motivated by my wife's overall bitchyness and her unwillingness to give head.... didnt work, its still all my fault. MOM is dead wrong. Her boys are adults if shes not happy, time to roll out and move on. The key part of this email dealt with the fact that dad is handicapped. Dad is an asshole for lashing out at everyone else because of his condition, but again doesnt give MOM the right to step out. Such a double standard. A woman cheats because her husband drives her to it, but a man cheats cause hes a douche. BULLSHYTE.”

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2. Anonymous said... on Dec 29, 2010 at 10:43PM

“Sorry your therapist didn't you give a free pass on your cheating, but I'm sure you have your reasons too. Oh but you still sound like a douche.”


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