Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Is My Love of Submission Promoting Misogyny?”

It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in three sentences or less, because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great, being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go. Today we discuss a feminists’ worry that her love of submission may be promoting misogyny, whether or not to register for wedding gifts if you’re eloping, and when it’s too late to call off a wedding (hint: it’s never too late until the license has been signed and sealed).

I recently did something I’ve never done before: I met a guy off of Craigslist, talked to him for a few hours and invited him over for sex. I really liked his post, as it talked a lot about what I am into, and I was looking to push my own sexual boundaries. He’s into is domination and I’m into submission — not BDSM, per se, but being dominated (tied down), humiliated (called names), and controlled (“forced” to do what he wants) really turns me on, and vice versa for him. But I worry, especially with the new Newsweek study about prostitution that recently came out, that his sexual tendencies mean that he is a woman-hater or that he has violent tendencies towards women OUT of the bedroom. He has never been anything but sweet and respectful to me when we’re not having sex, but is it really possible for a man to get so turned on by subjugating a woman and not hate them? I hope not, because I’m having a lot of fun, but I also don’t want to promote violence towards women outside the bedroom, by enabling it in the bedroom just because I get off on it. — Concerned Submissive Feminist

 
Sexual fantasies are just that — fantasies; they rarely bleed into reality. Men who fantasize or get off on dominating women are about as likely to hate them as you are to hate yourself for enjoying submission. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful — inviting strange men from the internet into your bedroom, regardless of what roles you play behind closed doors, is an invitation for danger, so please, please use common sense and all the safety precautions you can think of.

My fiancé and I decided to go to Vegas and get married. We just got engaged and don’t want the typical wedding for many reasons. We also aren’t telling anyone (except my mom) to avoid having any issues with anyone as people tend to have a lot to say when it isn’t even their wedding. I was curious about whether we should still make a registry just in case? I read your answer to a question somewhat similar to mine but the circumstances were a little different, so what would be the correct thing to do in this situation? — Elope or Bust

 
Yes, make a registry, but don’t go broadcasting it (tacky). When you send out wedding announcements or host a small after-party (if you have any plans to do that), you can appoint your mother as the person to spread the word to family about the registry. Or, if people are interested, they’ll just come out and ask if you’re registered and you can give them the info then.

I am due to be married in two weeks and am having serious doubts about marrying my fiancé of two years. I have a long-term male friend whom I have known for nine years and with whom I was in a relationship four years ago. He understands me, was with me when I suffered two deaths in my family and he has no family of his own. For these reasons I have stayed in contact with him though I have not kept in contact with other exes.

My fiancé is obsessed with this friend and is unreasonably jealous of him, to the point that he hates him. On top of this, my fiancé confides in his ex about personal matters to such an extent that I feel it is an invasion of our privacy. Even though I am friends with an ex, I don’t involve him in personal details about my relationship. I told my fiancé I wasn’t happy about this and he insinuated he couldn’t talk to me and blamed me and my friendship with my friend. I was upset and angry so I asked him to leave. He threw some wedding gifts and supplies in the garbage and then threatened to kill my friend as he drove off in a rage. I finally found him some hours later in his car listening to music and trying to sleep.

This is not the first time he has behaved like this. His father has cancer and I think this is having a big affect on him though he doesn’t talk to me about this and seems to have difficulty talking to me about anything personal nowadays. And because of all this, I just don’t think I can marry him, but we have paid for the whole wedding and have 60 guests attending, mostly on my side, so I just feel really, really low and confused about what to do. I hope you can help! — Second Thoughts

 
Cancelling a wedding is a LOT cheaper than getting a divorce. Do NOT marry this guy if you aren’t 100% sure you’re making the right decision — and obviously you aren’t (and for many good reasons!). This isn’t a decision that’s as easily reversible as returning a pair of ill-fitting shoes to the store…

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

88 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Kate July 29, 2011, 10:05 am

    LW 3: Don’t marry this guy. He is showing you what he is like, and you don’t like it (I don’t blame you). Like Wendy said, cancelling a wedding is cheaper than a divorce.

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    • avatar

      NaturalBlue July 29, 2011, 3:01 pm

      Exactly! My dad used to tell me that when someone shows you who they really are, listen the first time. LW, this behavior, at the very least, merits a VERY long and serious discussion about your future and would probably benefit from some pre-marriage counseling as well.

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    Jena July 29, 2011, 10:27 am

    LW3: RUN. He is threatening your friends, sharing details of your relationship with an ex, and telling you he cannot talk to you. BAD IDEA to marry him.

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    va-in-ny July 29, 2011, 10:28 am

    LW3,

    Being someone who cancelled a wedding, I know what you are feeling. Doubts about committing to the marriage, but pressure from the wedding itself (and the people attending) to just go through with it. Not getting married was very embarrassing and a lot of people dont’ understand why that emotion comes up. Along with the embarrassment came a lot of guilt. I put a lot of my emotions into what other people might be feeling, how it would affect them, and what people would say.

    If you do decide not to go through with the wedding, you really need to talk to your fiance about it. For his sake, be honest. No one wants to spend 2 years trying to figure out why you backed out at the last minute. Also be sure you have friends or family available for your emotional needs.

    But, please know that if you have doubts before getting married, it will not get easier. No one wants to be that person that wakes up the day after the wedding saying “Oh, what have I done?”

    It will be difficult, emotionally. But, it’s surprisingly easy to cancel a wedding. I thought it was going to be a huge, drawn-out process, but no, it was un-done in about 20 minutes.

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    • avatar

      Kate July 29, 2011, 10:32 am

      I cancelled one, too. It was one of the best decisions of my life. I lost some money, and was asked a million questions, but it was well worth that rather than making a huge mistake.

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      • avatar

        Greebo July 29, 2011, 10:58 am

        VA-in-NY and Kate, I just wanted to congratulate you both on having the strength and courage to make that choice. Of the divorcees I know, maybe half said they knew going into the marriage that it was a mistake, but they “didn’t want to disappoint people”, “felt too guilty to cancel” or “thought it would get better”. Kudos to you both!

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        Kate July 29, 2011, 11:02 am

        It was a big decision, but all I could think about was the rest of my life unhappy. I just couldn’t do it.

        I have 2 friends who got married around 24-25, and both got divorced within the past 3 years (so they were married between 5-7 yrs). Both of them said they felt they married the wrong person, but didn’t want to be alone and didn’t want to disappoint people.

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      • avatar

        BGD July 29, 2011, 11:03 am

        I admire both of you for cancelling. I was one of those people that woke up the next day asking myself why I went through with it when I knew the morning of the wedding I didn’t want to. I hope LW3 cancels the wedding. They need to work on their issues before jumping into a marriage. Marriage will make it harder to deal with, not easier. Nothing magically fixes itself when you get married. I know that I would have been more respected for cancelling the wedding then the divorce I went through 2 years later.

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      • avatar

        va-in-ny July 29, 2011, 11:58 am

        That’s kind of you to say and I am very sorry for what you have gone through. In my case, my fiance was the one who first expressed doubts. And, in a very erratic fashion, expressed that he didn’t want to get married. A few hours later, he came back and said that he did want to get married and he just got spooked.

        Deep down, I knew that I deserved better. I deserved someone who knew with absolute certainty that they wanted to marry me. And hopefully, I’m on my way to that now. As it turned out, he had a second fiance that he married a few months after we didn’t. Dodged a huge bullet with that one!

        Now, my views on marriage are slightly different. For me, I got caught up in the wedding preparations and excitement to see what was really happening in my relationship. Having gone through that, I know now that only the two people in the relationship really matter in a wedding celebration. It’s not about the flowers, it’s not about cake, and it is certainly not about the guests!

        To the letter writer, you have already expressed that you don’t want to marry him and you’re feeling very low about the decision that affects a lot of people. But rest assured, people don’t really care about the wedding itself. They were coming for you. Some of them may still come, and that’s okay!

        I had family members that had non-refundable plane tickets and they came anyway. So instead of wallowing in my self-pity on my ‘wedding day’, I had my family members in town supporting me. People will understand. I promise.

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      • avatar

        Kate July 29, 2011, 12:34 pm

        I cancelled as I sat down to address the invites and I found myself staring at them. I had writer’s block. Not a good sign!

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    • avatar

      tinywormhole July 29, 2011, 11:04 am

      My boyfriend of 3+ years almost got married about a year before we started dating. His then-fiance called it off about a week before the wedding, and they certainly went through the process of having to explain it to everyone, lost money from deposits, etc. Although it was certainly difficult at the time, he also expressed what a huge relief it was to no longer be in a situation he felt trapped in. So keep in mind that it’s possible that even if you are the one calling it off, he has had or is having similar doubts, even if his irrational behavior suggests otherwise (my boyfriend told me stories of punching holes in the wall toward the end of his last relationship – which in all our time together I have never seen him behave anything remotely close to that). Breaking free could be the best thing you ever do. Enlist a couple of trusted people to be on call in case his reaction is over the top.

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    • avatar

      zombeyonce July 29, 2011, 12:26 pm

      I also canceled a wedding a few years back and making the decision to do it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. And while it was incredibly painful to do, as soon as I told my ex my decision, I immediately felt hugely relieved and so much happier than I had for a very long time.

      I lost some money on it and had to figure out how to sell the dress and rings (too late for returns), but I would pay that money back 10 times over to get me to the happy place I’m at right now. If you have doubts, you really need to examine them closely, and it’s certainly not too late to change your mind about marrying him. Money and a little embarrassment are completely insignificant compared to your happiness.

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    • avatar

      Painted_lady July 29, 2011, 1:05 pm

      My college roommate canceled her wedding a couple of weeks before it happened. I don’t know what most people’s reactions were, but mostly I was just sad for her because I knew her well enough to know how terribly painful it was for her. Honestly, I think most people (not all) care about the bride and groom enough to feel similarly, they just don’t have the tact to realize barraging the person who canceled with overly intrusive questions is completely inappropriate at that moment. I don’t think people think about what level of effort goes into canceling a wedding, nor do they have the forethought to realize, hey, stupid, everyone and their dog wants to know what happened, and it’s really no one’s business.

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  • avatar

    SGMcG July 29, 2011, 10:38 am

    LW#1: My husband is a bit of a dom, while I’m more of a switch. Although he likes to take charge while getting busy, the reason he married me is because I am a strong woman and he can have an equal partnership with me. Exercising domniation in sexual relations doesn’t always equate into domestic violence.

    LW#2: After you have your fabulous Vegas wedding, if a person wants to get you a gift, and you want to provide them with ideas of what you’d like, by all means make a registry. If you do have an after-elopment party, be sure to take tons of pictures of your wedding ceremony. That way, even if they weren’t at the wedding, they could see your happiness together as you exchange vows.

    LW#3: If the idea of marrying the guy makes you depressed, then don’t marry him! Who cares about all the planning put into your wedding? This is a commitment for the rest of your life – don’t take it if you don’t want it!

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  • avatar

    El July 29, 2011, 10:51 am

    LW2:

    I’m not sure that I agree about a registry in this particular circumstance. Most of your relatives and friends will view this as you essentially saying, “you’re not important enough to come to my wedding, or even be TOLD about it prior, but I want you to buy me some expensive shit anyway.”

    Give your mother a short list of household items you’d like so she can make suggestions to relatives who ask. But DO NOT build a formal registry unless you plan on opening up the Vegas invite to friends and family. The majority of people will view this as a shameless gift-grab.

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    • avatar

      Princess Bananahammock July 29, 2011, 12:53 pm

      But how would people even know about the registry unless they asked? If someone doesn’t want to buy them a gift, then they won’t. If someone does want to buy them a gift, then they’ll ask if there is a registry. As long as it isn’t all big-ticket items, I don’t see the problem with that.

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      • Budj

        Budjer July 29, 2011, 12:58 pm

        Agreed. People that are gift giving types won’t care about the registry and will be happy it’s there…people that aren’t gift givers won’t even ask and if you don’t bring it up they won’t know about…however…given the polarization on the topic of gift giving in regards to weddings I wouldn’t be surprised if somehow extended family members get the wrong impression about a registry because of through the grape vine conversations about it.

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      • avatar

        El July 29, 2011, 1:40 pm

        That’s why I suggested keeping a short list of household items, so the couple (or mom) can make suggestions to those who ask about gifts. What she should not do, however, is show up at William Sonoma and scan all the Le Creuset as part of a formal registry.

        The fact still remains that a formal registry will leave some people with a bad taste in their mouths, as many (especially older people) can be very traditional about these things. If you’ve ever read Dear Prudence, she’s been known to RAIL couples for registering even for destination weddings.

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  • avatar

    Painted_lady July 29, 2011, 10:52 am

    LW3 – It’s easier to call off a wedding than to call off a marriage. Don’t marry this guy. He’s crazy. Also, if he’s spending this much time with his ex and implying that you’re doing something inappropriate in being friends with your ex, this looks to me like a massive case of projection. He’s suspecting you, in other words, because in his mind men and women can’t just be friends because he is incapable of being just friends with a woman. Also, there are plenty of people who have gone through a loved one having cancer who manage to avoid threatening to kill a close friend of their SO’s. And there are going to be more tragedies and traumas in your life together if you marry him. Even IF this is the reason he’s treating you this way – which I’m thinking is probably not the case – by marrying him, you are signing on for and endorsing this behavior every single time he goes through a significant stressful period. This sort of thing doesn’t get better with time; it gets worse. Don’t marry him.

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    • avatar

      MissD July 29, 2011, 12:49 pm

      I completely agree. My then-fiance was exhibiting (non-violent) behavior that made me concerned about the success of our marriage. The year before, we’d both been through a lot, and I just assumed he was still having trouble adjusting and coming to terms with everything. We almost broke it off, but decided to go ahead anyway, thinking it would indeed get better. I chalked up my doubts to normal pre-wedding jitters-but looking back, I wish I’d listened to myself more. I wasn’t sure if our marriage would be a success, and it wasn’t. It ended spectacularly badly, and I’m grateful to finally be done. It is expensive and heartbreaking to go through a miserable divorce. By all means, cancel now. Chalk up the money lost to a lesson learned, and be relieved you didn’t actually go through with it. You should be happily anticipating your married life together, not worrying it might get worse, on the day of your wedding.

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      • avatar

        Painted_lady July 29, 2011, 1:12 pm

        I have a good friend who told me something similar about divorce – she said every divorce is hell, and her divorce was even amicable. And yeah, if you think you’re going to lose money on a canceled wedding, it’s going to be worse in a divorce. Same friend said it would have been the difference between living in a crappy apartment and eating Ramen every night and living in her car, which she did after the divorce.

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    • theattack

      theattack July 29, 2011, 4:44 pm

      I think this is the best comment about LW3 so far, Painted Lady. I’m a firm believer in not excusing someone for bad behavior just because of difficult circumstances. The circumstances don’t excuse outbursts and a lack of self-control; it just means you have to work harder for that control. Relationships last and remain healthy when the people in them continue respecting each other and working through the hard stuff _together_, not taking it out on each other. Slip ups are understandable if the person’s making an effort, but it really doesn’t seem like this guy is.

      I would also point out that the guy THREW away her wedding gifts! Property that’s half hers. That’s disrespectful to her, and it’s irrational behavior. I would imagine some things to follow might be smashing lamps and punching walls. Not okay. Control thyself.

      And do we really even have to address the threatening to kill the friend? The guy is disrespectful of the LW AND has threatened violence to someone she cares about. When she pisses him off down the road, guess who he’s going to start threatening then?

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      • avatar

        Painted_lady July 29, 2011, 9:58 pm

        Thanks, theattack! You make an excellent point about the present-destroying and the hostility eventually being directed at her. I think destroying and throwing things carries an implicit threat of violence even when no personal harm occurs. It implicitly states, “Next time this could be *you.*” Even if no violence ever occurs, the perpetrator holds the power because, hey, who knows when he’ll snap? And then of course, because he doesn’t hit her that creates this Stockholm syndrome effect, and…ugh. It’s just NOT a good situation.

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  • avatar

    Greebo July 29, 2011, 10:54 am

    LW#2–Obviously people disagree and I don’t say the advice was wrong, but I personally think if you’re eloping, you don’t register for gifts. If you want to have a reception after the elopement (which defeats the stated purpose of not wanting associated drama), I personally would suggest letting guests know their presence is their present.

    LW#3–Oh, please, please leave this man! He doesn’t respect boundaries, has a pretty amazing double standard, verbally threatened someone you know and ran away in a fit of temper because he couldn’t behave well enough to talk to you. You never once said he makes you happy or brings out the best in you or anything good at all. This behavior AT BEST will not improve. At worst, it will escalate. I sympathize with your choice, but a relative of mine went through something similar and ultimately called off the wedding 4 weeks before the date. We were SO relieved for her, feelings underscored by his horrible and tacky behavior after the wedding was called off. Believe me, people who care for you will much prefer you make this choice now, rather than endure a wedding and marriage for which you have no appetite.

    BTW, just a thought, but maybe don’t jump into anything with the ex. At least not for a while. Be alone for a while, give yourself time to get over your fiancé and to remember why the ex is an ex. He may be great for you, but he may just look hood next to your fiancé. Be well!

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    • avatar

      Nadine July 30, 2011, 7:41 am

      I assume its a typo – but I love that he may just look “hood” next your fiance. reminds me of that Destiny’s Child song “Soldier”……

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  • avatar

    Amber July 29, 2011, 11:08 am

    LW#3, if you don’t totally call off the wedding I would at least postpone it. You need some time to at least think things through. Is this how your fiance is going to react every time you have a disagreement?

    LW#2, yes make one but like Wendy said don’t broadcast it. Letting your Mom or a close friend in on it will definitely help in case people do quesiton them. You will have some people who outright ask you and you can let them know. But, don’t expect a ton of people to do this. I eloped with just family and found myself getting more congrats cards than anything (not that I expected a gift) but just so you have an idea of what to expect.

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  • avatar

    Lindsay July 29, 2011, 11:17 am

    LW2: I’d agree that you shouldn’t advertise a registry; tell only those who ask. Not that you asked, but a party (like Wendy mentioned) would be nice. I know that I’d be disappointed if a close friend or family member eloped and then had no desire to celebrate with their loved ones.

    LW3: Having spent money and invited people to a wedding is no reason to commit yourself to someone you don’t want to marry.

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  • avatar

    parrt July 29, 2011, 11:29 am

    everyone is dumping on LW3’s boyfriend after hearing only one side of the story.

    very nice.

    Of course her fiance is obsessed with this friend, LW 3 wants to dump her fiance for this man. I read the letter and it was clear to me that this woman wanted a wedding, not a marriage, and somewhere deep down she still wants to be with the man she has knows for 9 years.

    its pretty wonderful how women paint such a vivid picture of a horrible, crazed “killer” from what some woman claims in her letter. i guess most women admit to their flaws in an anonymous letter to an internet advice columnist, right? everything they say is 100% fact, and nothing more needs to be said.

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    • avatar

      Rei July 29, 2011, 11:36 am

      You HAVE to be trollin’…right?

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    • avatar

      Kate July 29, 2011, 11:39 am

      Wait a minute, not everyone “dumped” on the boyfriend. I certainly didn’t. The LW said she didn’t like his double standard behavior, and we said: then don’t marry him!

      And I like how you can deduce that this woman wants a wedding, not a marriage from the letter, but we cannot make any assumptions about the boyfriend from the same letter?

      Uh, ok.

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    • avatar

      bluesunday July 29, 2011, 11:40 am

      “My fiancee has a long- term male friend that she’s known for 9 years and was in a relationship with 4 years ago. He is the only ex she has kept in contact with. She told me she wasn’t happy with me confiding personal details of our relationship in my own ex, but that’s totally different because I can’t trust her because she still talks to her ex. I threw our wedding stuff in the garbage, threatened to kill her ex, and drove off, but my father has cancer and I’m having a really hard time talking to her nowadays.”

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    • avatar

      sweetleaf July 29, 2011, 11:59 am

      I think Wendy should bite you.

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      • avatar

        sweetleaf July 29, 2011, 12:00 pm

        Doh! that was meant for parrt..

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    • avatar

      va-in-ny July 29, 2011, 12:02 pm

      I also don’t think that everyone has ‘dumped’ on the boyfriend. But in her last point, she says “I just don’t think I can marry him.”

      That sentence alone is enough for people to tell her to not get married.

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    • avatar

      Greebo July 29, 2011, 12:44 pm

      We only ever get 1 side of the story here, and usually only a fraction of that. Human relations and interpersonal dynamics are complicated, and not amenable to a 3 paragraph description.

      Looking at it from the best possible perspective from the fiancé’s view, he threatened her friend and ran away to sleep in his car rather than discuss anything. He’s threatened (justifiably or not) by her friendship with an ex (while maintaining such a friendship of his own). Assuming for argument’s sake that he is utterly overwhelmed right now (incidentally, I’ve known too many people who have lost loved ones to cancer or other terrible illnesses, and not one of them has behaved this way), he still has better options than this behavior. Counseling, for instance.

      Regardless, it doesn’t sound from this letter (and since we don’t have his perspective, we’ll rely on hers) that either of them really wants this marriage.

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      • avatar

        va-in-ny July 29, 2011, 2:12 pm

        That’s true – but even still, if just one side isn’t fully in it, it should not be entered by the other side either.

        Marriage should be mutual. Regardless of what the fiance has done, she doesn’t have her heart in it anymore. Carrying on with the wedding would be a disservice to the fiance as well.

        I don’t think anyone is at ‘fault’ here. It is just something that needs to be taken care of.

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        Greebo July 29, 2011, 2:33 pm

        Exactly my point. LW might have omitted her own poor behavior or exaggerated his, but when you get down to it, this relationship doesn’t sound healthy. If she’s being 100% accurate, honest and forthcoming…well, I’d be afraid for someone I loved who was in that relationship.

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  • avatar

    Allissa July 29, 2011, 11:39 am

    LW 3, Lets see — your fiance hates your best friend, refuses to talk to you about personal issues, confides in his ex about your relationship and blames you. Says he can’t talk to you, gets in a rage, threatens to kill to best friend. I truly think calling off a wedding will be much easier than living as his wife. Call it off & save your sanity.

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  • avatar

    Natasia Rose July 29, 2011, 10:43 am

    Am I the only one who isn’t really down with LW 2? Not only does she not want to invite friends & family to her wedding…she doesn’t even want to TELL them about it. Then, she wants them to send her gifts? I’m sorry, but either you want people to share in your happiness or you don’t. It sounds like she doesn’t. I don’t think she will have to worry about too many people getting her gifts.

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    • avatar

      lemongrass July 29, 2011, 10:54 am

      I have no problems with a secret elopement, but I do have a problem with expecting gifts for one. People may want to give them a gift, and thats great, but it shouldn’t be expected. It shouldn’t be expected for a wedding that you go to! The rule of thumb for weddings is to give a gift that covers your dinner, but if you weren’t given dinner…

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      • avatar

        Francine July 29, 2011, 11:25 am

        There’s no rule regarding wedding guests reimbursing the cost of their dinner in the form of gifts. To begin with, the gift recipients aren’t necessarily the ones paying for the dinner. And is it also a “rule of thumb” that if the dinner being served costs the host more than you can afford to pay for a meal, you should decline the invitation? Those hosting a wedding should plan an affair that they can afford with no thoughts at all of recouping any of their costs from their invited guests. Those attending a wedding should go to celebrate the occasion, bringing a gift that is determined by either their own budget, their relationship with the newlyweds, what they know the newlyweds would like, etc but certainly not determined by the cost of the food the hosts have chosen to serve.

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      • avatar

        Kate July 29, 2011, 11:43 am

        This excellent. I feel there is a lot of pressure to “pay” for your invite at a wedding (not necessarily from the hosts, just in general). There was discussion of this yesterday, someone stated you should cover your cost. So, if a friend (or their parents) choose to spend $300 a plate, people should be expected to cover that? I don’t think so.

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      • avatar

        TMSC July 29, 2011, 2:25 pm

        I am getting married in a couple of months, and while my fiance and I were picking out his tux, another engaged couple came in.They were talking about how they needed to save money and they wanted to cut out the special “dessert treats” hour. Then they discussed the $187 plates of food, and how they didn’t see it being a big deal for couples attending the wedding to give them a gift of $300 to cover that. My fiance and I almost fell over.

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      • avatar

        Kate July 29, 2011, 2:29 pm

        This is EXACTLY what I am talking about. Tacky.

        Hey, maybe their friends are all wealthy and that’s normal for them. But I don’t think it is for most people.

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      • avatar

        Bekah July 30, 2011, 2:40 am

        Well to be honest it depends on what culture you are talking about! In many Asian cultures, it is customary to give a red envelope with a lucky amount of money in lieu of a gift. It should at least cover the dinner costs or more depending on your relationship to the married couple. I went to a co-workers wedding and had to ask my friends what the appropriate amount would be (I would have given too much!) and it amounted to about $60 for two people. Prices are much cheaper outside the US, so it probably would have been closer to $200 if it had been in America. It may seem “tacky” in some circles in America, but honestly I think there are some wedding traditions people ascribe too that aren’t very meaningful/tacky (i.e. the money dance?). If the couple were Asian, that could explain their perspective!

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      Amber July 29, 2011, 11:01 am

      Actually I had a small elopement ceremony with just family and that is the first question more than one friend/extended family member asked me after I told them. If she was asking if she should put it on her announcement I would said definitely NO, but just making a registry is different. You really would be surprised how many people still want to get you something. And if you don’t have a registry people get you some weird crap.

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        Princess Bananahammock July 29, 2011, 12:51 pm

        Yeah, I didn’t get the impression that she was grubbing for gifts. If anything, it seemed that she was worried that it would come of as tacky even though she suspected there were people who would want to buy her a gift. Hell, if a good friend of mine or one of my cousins eloped, I would definitely want to buy them a gift and a registry would be helpful for that.

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      darden July 29, 2011, 11:02 am

      I got that vibe too. Its one thing to have a small or even very small wedding, but to not even tell anyone about it borders borders on rude. But hell if someone doesn’t want to get them a gift they don’t have to, as pointed out extensively in a recent letter.

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      TheGirl July 29, 2011, 11:05 am

      If she doesn’t advertise her registry, there’s no harm in making one. A lot of people want to buy gifts, even if the couple elopes. Those people will call either her or her mother and ask if she is registered somewhere. Then they can tell her. I don’t see how this is in any way an expectation of gifts.

      Oh, and gifts are not supposed to cover for your dinner. That would be truly tacky. Gifts are an expression of love and well wishes.

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        bluesunday July 29, 2011, 11:30 am

        express your love equal to the value of your dinner :p

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      • Budj

        Budjer July 29, 2011, 12:08 pm

        Often times the couples are the ones paying for the wedding. I know my brother and his wife did. They didn’t spend an extraordinary amount of money for their wedding, but an $8000 – $12000 bill is tough for any young starting “family” to foot on their own.

        So yea…I guess I do think it’s tacky to not try and pay your share of celebrating the start of their life together. I don’t view it as covering “my cost”…I view at as making sure I’m not setting them back while partying on their dime since the point is to celebrate and show your support and love for the couple.

        If I was married and had 6 kids I’d be bringing 8 people at probably $25-50 a plate on average…thats a potential $300 wedding cost right there and I show up with a card? I’m not saying they need to spend $300 if they are in dire straits, but showing up empty handed without so much as a crafted gift the newly weds could use in their home is pretty crappy. That’s not to say I would take action over it because that is pretty tactless too…but there is such a thing as being a gracious guest.

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        Kate July 29, 2011, 12:19 pm

        I guess I view it as: if someone chooses to spend whatever amount they spend, and it’s going to “set them back”, that’s THEIR choice. I guess I learned as a kid, when you throw a party (such as a wedding, not a kegger), you don’t expect your guests to contribute, since you invited them.

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        Amber July 29, 2011, 12:27 pm

        Why would you spend more money than you could afford on a wedding? How much you spend is your decision, not your guests. They should never when picking out a gift say hmm I wonder if this will pay for my chicken and mashed potatoes. Oh and I heard they have an open bar I guess I should get an even better gift in case I decide to have more than one glass of wine? That is not what wedding gifts are about. They are about helping a couple start life together in a new home and celerbating their love for one another.

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      • Budj

        Budjer July 29, 2011, 12:37 pm

        If you break it down that far yea I guess it sounds ridiculous? My point was I don’t view a wedding as purely a celebration…you are giving gifts partially to “express love” and partially to help them get started…how is not covering your chair at the banquet helping them? You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but I completely disagree with you.

        This may also be an issue of age…yea I’d view this different if a couple of established 30 year olds were getting married, but most of the weddings I go to are broke ass college graduates in their early 20s. Chalk this up to different strokes.

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        ape_escape July 29, 2011, 11:45 pm

        “This may also be an issue of age…yea I’d view this different if a couple of established 30 year olds were getting married, but most of the weddings I go to are broke ass college graduates in their early 20s.”

        in which case, nobody should be bringing their family of 8 to a wedding that you know is being paid for by broke ass college graduates. Right?

        I also don’t think anybody said people should show up “empty handed” to a nice wedding you have been invited to…but being expected, for whatever reason, to “cover one’s cost” is indeed tacky.

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        Francine July 29, 2011, 12:37 pm

        My husband and I paid for our own wedding also. We made sure on our own that we weren’t planning a celebration that would set us back.

        The people at our wedding were not partying on our dime. They were invited guests celebrating the occasion. What would have been tacky is if they were thinking about the cost of the event rather than the reason for it.

        Being a gracious guest does not involve money or gifts. I had guests who showed up to our wedding genuinely happy for us, some with presents, some with money or checks, some with cards and some with simply good wishes and I don’t consider a single one of them to be ungracious. I’m tyhrilled that each of them came to share that special day with us.

        On a side note, I would not have have spent $25-$50 a plate for a family of 8 if it would have been tough for us to foot on our own. There is absolutely no way I would want our guests to feel any obligation to ease our financial burden so we just didn’t burden ourselves. Whether we served a $50 dinner or nothing more than $10 hors d’oeuvres was up to us. We made a list of everyone we wanted to have at our wedding, figured out how much we could afford to pay for a reception and simple math told us how much we could spend per guest.

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        lemongrass July 29, 2011, 12:39 pm

        Its true about being a gracious guest. I just got married, only spent what my husband and I could afford without help from our parents (they pitched in what they could afford/wanted to). I didn’t view our gifts as a way to recoup costs at all. There were some that just showed up with a card and we were happy to have them celebrate with us. The only people that I was a little ticked at were the one or two of them that haven’t sent us a card. Its like, really? We fed you, gave you wine and a free ride home and you can’t even scribble “congrats” on a card?

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        Francine July 29, 2011, 1:05 pm

        Yea, but when it comes down to it, do you really care if they expressed their sentiments in writing? I don’t think the people who didn’t give us cards at our wedding didn’t because they just didn’t want to bother. To give an example, we have a relative who is most likely just clueless that a card might be a thoughtful gesture. But he was so sweet all evening making sure I had water if I needed it, offering to take in our mail while we honeymooned and said some truly lovely things on the video that was taken at the reception. We could definitely feel the love! 🙂

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        lemongrass July 29, 2011, 1:20 pm

        Thats true. In my mind, I’m thinking of one particular guest, and I’m mad at him not really about the card but at his beyond obnoxious behaviour.

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        El July 29, 2011, 12:41 pm

        No. What’s tacky is expecting your guests to fund your wedding. I will purchase a gift based on what my budget allows. No guest should have to suffer financially just because some bratty couple just HAD to have the filet at their platinum wedding.

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      • Budj

        Budjer July 29, 2011, 12:48 pm

        I’m not saying I expect that…I’m not married and am a ways off from it…and quite frankly would be fine with no celebration at all when the time comes (I hate getting gifts), but from my viewpoint I want to support the couple and that approximation of dinner value is what some people base their gift amount on…typically my standard amount more than covers the cost of dinner anyways so its kind of a moot point.

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        El July 29, 2011, 1:12 pm

        Yeah, you really have to plan one to understand. Per plate costs can be outrageous these days. We’re in Chicago, and we’re looking at having to spend between $150-$250 per plate for our guests. Its pretty much impossible to find a caterer in the city that will charge less than that. But do I expect any of our guests to spend that on a gift? Hell no. To be frank, we don’t even have the space in our condo for that many big ticket items.

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      • Budj

        Budjer July 29, 2011, 2:16 pm

        Yea, I’ve been reading up on it actually (procrastinating at work) and even on other sites it is a pretty big split on people who think not bringing a gift is horribly tacky….and the general consesus is $300 on average for a monetary gift!!

        That said I want to say that, in retrospect, I over spoke on the “tacky” aspect of my original comment. I’m absolutely not an expert on wedding etiquette and I should have expressed it from an angle of my personal preference of gift amount assessing. I want to add that if I was hosting a wedding I would have your attitude of no gift expectations.

        Some food for thought (pun-intended)…my sister-in-law from NJ really wanted to have a lavish wedding….her parents spent $65,000 on that wedding…money that in my opinion would have been much better spent investing in a house. The point of bringing that up is that I think social pressures are also very different across the country and may contribute to everyone’s differing values on the various wedding customs / expectations we navigate.

        Also, I absolutely agree with the comment related to not planning weddings that they need guests to fund.

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        Kate July 29, 2011, 2:20 pm

        I agree there are regional differences.

        I do think gifts are standard. It’s just the expectation that’s not right.

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        Kate July 29, 2011, 2:21 pm

        A good friend of mine had 9 weddings to go to this year – all of which she had to travel out of state to get to. That would put her at 2700 just in presents. Crazy!

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      • Budj

        Budjer July 29, 2011, 2:29 pm

        Yea…I’m lucky to only have one to go to next year…the only issue is they want a destination combined bachelor /bachelorette party in New Orleans…and then 4 months later I get to fly out across the US again to either Texas or Colorado for their wedding ceremony. I’m $2700 in travel expenses for 1 wedding next year! Fortunately, these are the last of my college friends that live far away that I anticipate going to a wedding for….and I have several months to put some cash aside….damn weddings.

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        Francine July 29, 2011, 2:29 pm

        I agree that expecting gifts isn’t right, even if it is the norm to bring a gift when you attend a wedding. But I’m more amused by the notion that the cost of the affair should figure into the price of the gift.

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      • Budj

        Budjer July 29, 2011, 2:40 pm

        Typically doesn’t for me – it was just something I’ve heard a lot growing up when you aren’t terribly familiar with the couple . Not very many weddings have per head costs that exceed my general gift amount..and the ones that have were typically family weddings which I contribute more based on the relationship rather than the meal cost. When I attended my first wedding sans parental units I realized per head costs in most cases (where I’m from) were lower than I was anticipating on giving anyways so I stopped worrying about it. If you google it you’ll find some pretty polarized blog discussions on the topic…some of which are kind of humorous…lots of shaming on both sides of the argument.

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        VioletLover July 30, 2011, 11:17 pm

        It’s not really a gift if you consider it to be “paying your share”. Gifts are given to express love, affection, support, happiness, and so on, not to cover costs. Paying your share sounds more like chipping in $10 for pizza at a casual party.

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      Bethany July 29, 2011, 11:55 am

      Nowhere in her letter does she say that she wants people to send her gifts! Upon hearing the news of her marriage, I’m sure a bunch of people will WANT to buy her a gift, and I think it would be a good idea to have a registry if that should happen. You would hate for someone who really wanted to get you a gift to end up getting you something you already have or will never use. Just because a registry is in place does not mean that she’s expecting anyone to buy her a gift.

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        moonflowers July 29, 2011, 7:46 pm

        A registry can also be a big help for people who want to get you something but don’t know the exact contents of your kitchen cupboards – it takes a lot of the guesswork out of trying to find a useful and wanted gift.

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    TheGirl July 29, 2011, 11:44 am

    With LW 3, I doubt we know the full story here. Maybe he is a horrible person, but maybe he is having trouble dealing with the fact that his father has cancer. Considering very few people are coming from his side of the family, he could be losing one of the few family members he has left. Couple that with planning a wedding, which is always stressful, and a fiance who is probably so busy with wedding planning that he feels like a burden, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. If the wedding’s close, postpone it and try some couple’s counseling. Getting married when both of you are unsure and insecure isn’t going to help, its just going to magnify your problems. If you truly think he is a jerk, or if he just isn’t going to give you the level of communication you need from a relationship, then consider yourself lucky to have figured it out before the wedding and get on out of there.

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    MissD July 29, 2011, 1:08 pm

    I agree that it is a stressful time, but that’s no excuse to threaten violence and maintain a weird double standard. I actually experienced something similar-my ex had PTSD, which he refused to acknowledge/treat with the exception of a brief stint in therapy (a couple months, after which he quit). He blamed all his bad behavior on that (and for the record, I am fully aware of the magnitude of problems post-combat PTSD sufferers experience, which is why I stayed with him and tried to help him). He always had a serious problem with two male friends of mine, both of whom I’d previously dated (many years before). However, he ended up having an affair with a close female friend of his, and treated me very poorly during the divorce process. So while I agree that being under an inordinate amount of stress can cause a person to act in a way that is not indicative of their character, I would be cautious about making the assumption that the behaviors are abnormal and would never present themselves again. In fact, it seems likely that this is simply indicative of how the person will handle extreme stress. The problem with this is that everyone experiences hardship in life, and should be prepared to work through difficult times as best they can. It would be unfortunate at the very least to have a spouse whose behavior was inappropriate, reactionary, and verbally violent every time a stressful situation makes them feel unable to cope.

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      Painted_lady July 29, 2011, 1:23 pm

      Yes!!!! It’s one thing – and a completely understandable one at that – to have emotional issues during or due to stressful periods, but you don’t stop at that. Something like PTSD or a parent with a life-threatening illness is the jumping-off point for working through problems, NOT the excuse that makes the behavior acceptable. That would be like, to use an extreme example, if I dropped my pen on the floor during a lecture and then tried to tell the professor that I can’t be held responsible for what’s on the test because my pen was on the floor. The pen falls, you pick it up. Your actions hurt those around you, you stop them or get help to stop them.

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  • avatar

    AKchic July 29, 2011, 1:16 pm

    LW1: Please be careful. In general. Let someone know that you have a guy coming over, just in case you don’t show up to work the next day. I know, I know, it seems like fear-mongering – but in this day and age, you have invited someone you met off the internet over and you are being tied up during sex. While he may be sweet when you aren’t having sex (and you like the kind of sex you’re having), he could be lulling you into a false sense of security. Be careful when you have your fun.

    LW2: Have a great wedding!

    LW3: Please sit your fiancee down NOW and tell him you are having second thoughts. Be calm, and do not let him drag you into an irrational argument. Explain your reasons. The unfair social divide of how he can tell personal, intimate details of your relationship with an ex after you asked him not to, yet you aren’t allowed to speak to an ex at all (who has no family to speak of!), how he threatened to kill your friend (which is an absolute deal-breaker in my opinion), and his pettiness. Tell him that if he cannot handle the fact that you have a friend and that if he can’t handle buttoning his lip and allowing only two people in the relationship (that means keeping the ex out of the personal business) then you will leave the relationship.
    His answers will tell you what you need to know. Any minimization on his part or attempting to pass the blame to you and your friend is all you need. Walk away, call off the wedding and be grateful that it was a less costly lesson this way than a divorce.

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    AndreaMarie July 29, 2011, 1:21 pm

    LW1: There are thousands of people with all sorts of fetishes ranging from getting spanked with a leather strap, sucking toes, and dressed up like babies. And I think it’s pretty safe to assume that the vast majority of these people are successfully functioning citizens of society. There is nothing wrong with enjoying that kind of sex. However, like Wendy said, be very very careful with meeting people online!!

    LW2: If you are planning to have a party for family/friends when you get back from your elopement to celebrate your marriage then I think get a registry.

    LW3: You should cancel the wedding. Doesn’t mean you fiancee will not still turn out to be your husband, I just don’t think he’s ready now. Yes, we don’t know all sides of the story but from what we do have it’s obvious that the two of you are having serious communication problems! As someone who is going to be his wife, he should be coming to you with his stress of the wedding or sadness of his father’s illnes, not seeking support from someone outside the marriage. A successful marriage is built on a strong friendship and solid mutual support system. I think it’s important for the two of you to get down to the reasons you are not communicating well. When you two are able to sit down and discuss your feelings, not run off in the car, then it’s time to get married.

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    Blitzen July 29, 2011, 2:42 pm

    L#3: Hmm. I get the impression that the LW’s fiance is so insecure about her friendship with her ex that he is trying to even the score by confiding details of their relationship with _his_ ex. Childish behavior at best, pathological insecurity at worst. He is really, really not ok with her ex being in her life. Sounds like he wants her to choose. Him.
    That being said, I’m getting a very biased vibe from this letter. Maybe it’s just me… I wonder if there IS any reason for the fiance’s jealousy..? (*runs from the approaching battalion of purple thumbs*)

    LW, definitely do not marry him if you are doing it out of obligation to the wedding guests. My advise would be to talk to him and find out if this relationship can be salvaged, if you want to salvage it.

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    • katie

      katie July 29, 2011, 8:13 pm

      as i was reading that last letter, i was totally expecting it to be a “i cant marry my fiance because i’m in love with my best friend” letter. i definitely got that impression…

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    Painted_lady July 29, 2011, 2:43 pm

    OH! Almost forgot: as far as LW2 goes, honey, think about it like Dan Savage. S&M is like cops & robbers for grownups with no pants. Everyone wanted to play the robber sometime, but that doesn’t mean that we all grew up to rob banks. It’s fun to act a little bad without having to actually BE bad. But seriously, girl, be careful. Two words: Craigslist Killer. As fun as it is to be spontaneous, I think perhaps ending up dismembered in a dumpster might outweigh how fun it is. So you need a nonsexual date first, where a friend knows you’re there, knows the guy’s real name (which precludes that you know it), and he knows that the friend expects to hear from you. Provided he passes that test, THEN you may take your pants off, but still make sure a friend knows where you are.

    LW2: What Wendy says. There are going to be people who will find you tacky for registering (if they find out, which is less likely if you aren’t advertising it), and there are people who will *want* to give you a gift and will be hurt about not having the opportunity to get you something you really like. If it were me, I’d be more concerned about the feelings of the generous people.

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    Marie July 29, 2011, 4:12 pm

    LW 1: Sexual fantasies rarely play out outside the bedroom.So you don’t need to worry that you’re promoting misogyny because you like to be submissive during sex and he is the dominant one.Just PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE be careful with guys you meet from Craigslist (or any other online site).

    LW 3:If you aren’t sure right now that you don’t want to marry your fiance then cancel the wedding.Maybe you two can get married in the future but in order to reach that decision,you need to get your thoughts together and sort through your feelings about your fiance and your friend.

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  • theattack

    theattack July 29, 2011, 4:52 pm

    LW3, Please just step back for a minute. Breathe deeply and get calm. Now reread your letter and imagine your sister or best friend wrote it. What would you say?

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  • avatar

    Lindsey July 29, 2011, 5:45 pm

    Hey!

    LW#1: Just wanted to say that the Newsweek article is complete crap. The idea that every guy who looks at porn or visits an escort is a deviant is ridiculous and blatantly untrue. The mantra of good BDSM play is “Safe, Sane and Consensual”. It involves communication between two partners and is never, ever about violence. Always have a safe word! If it’s turning you on and you are having fun, go for it.

    Besides, think about it this way. Does that mean that every dominant woman wants to do harm to men?

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      Anna July 31, 2011, 1:48 pm

      Exactly. Innocent bedroom play is just that…innocent. She said the guy has never acted that way outside the bedroom, and that’s how it should be. It’s not at all promoting misogyny…if anything it supports feminism because there was a time when women weren’t even allowed to admit they enjoy sex, much less ask a man to do certain things that please them. Sex used to be all about the man’s pleasure, and now they want to pleasure us as well.

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  • katie

    katie July 29, 2011, 8:11 pm

    Lw2: i’ve told this story before, but it might help you to: i did a wedding cake for a bride who went and got married in vegas, and then came back home and about a month later had a small reception to celebrate with her family and friends. the way she did it was sent out invites to the reception, saying something along the lines of “so and so will be married at a private ceremony in las vegas on X date. please join us when we return as husband and wife on X date.” i thought it was a great way to do it- you still get to tell you family about it, but still no stress about planning a whole wedding (they did a total simple buffet at a local restaurant with a friend’s band), and you can still register and do all that stuff. personally, i think it will be much much more detremental and tacky to get married and not tell anyone then to alope and get a registry.. i know i would not be very happy, or keen to buy any gifts for, a family member who didnt so much even tell me that they were getting married… just an idea for you.

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    Skybird July 30, 2011, 6:15 pm

    LW3 – Thank your lucky stars this guy of yours showed who he really is before it’s too late. Granted, I haven’t read ALL the comments here, but I’ve got serious red flags going off here with the way he’s treating you. It starts with verbal and emotional abuse, and can move to physical abuse. GET OUT NOW. Run as far and as fast as you can! Be safe, and consider the money well spent as to a life-lesson learned! Take care of yourself.

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  • avatar

    LTC039 July 30, 2011, 7:40 pm

    LW3: This is why so many marriages fail. I was talking to a co-worker of mine (he is way older than me, in his 50s) he JUST recently finalized a divorce that was in the process for several years. He admitted to me he cheated on his wife at some points in their marriage, but he also told me “when I proposed to her, it was more because I felt I had to, I didn’t really want to get married.” He said she had “stuck by him” through engineering school & his job at the time, which was very demanding, so he felt he owed her that because she kept on pressing the marriage issue. After they married, he was only 26 at the time & had just gotten a new job, at a major co., where he had to travel a lot. Well there is when he realized he made a mistake, but he decided to stick it out because his wife was pregnant. & just as his daughter was old enough to understand, he was going to divorce his wife, but turns out she got pregnant again (which turns out later on it was on purpose)
    I told him “do you think it would’ve been easier to be honest with her in the beginning instead of going through years of misery?” He said “oh yeah, I was just naive & dumb at the time & I felt bad telling her I didn’t want to get married after years of her being with me”. All in all, I’m pretty sure both of them would’ve been way happier if they’d stuck out the small moment of sadness back when they were dating.
    Another side, my aunt’s fiancee called off the wedding a few days before the actual ceremony. She had known for some time he wasn’t into it, but was in denial. He called it off because he had met someone else & couldn’t go through with the wedding. She actually thanked him (& he ended up crying more than she did!) for being honest & not going through with it just bc. They are both much happier now.

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  • avatar

    Mary July 31, 2011, 12:07 pm

    LW2, as I’m sure you know VERY WELL by now, as soon as people find out you’re engaged they want to hear your plans for the wedding. How are you responding to these questions? Why don’t you feel you can tell people the truth – that you wish to have a private ceremony in Vegas? I’m not saying it’s automatically bad that you’re keeping this a secret, but you must admit it’s highly unusual. Are you keeping the engagement secret, too?

    Back to your original question. My husband and I had a pretty small wedding. We only invited close members of our family and 2 very dear friends who are basically family to us. There were only 20 people there including the two of us and the minister. We did this because, unlike myself, my husband is very shy. He saw our exchange of vows as a very intimate expression of love. He felt if there were too many guests, he’d feel overwhelmed and nervous and unable to fully focus on us and enjoy the ceremony. He liked having family members there because our wedding joined us AND our families together. However, he did not want an “audience”. I quickly grew to love the idea of having an intimate ceremony and happily agreed to his suggestion.

    I felt terrible about leaving out so many old friends, close coworkers, and members of my family’s church who’d watched me grow up. But you know what? Those people surprised me by supporting us 100%. They TOTALLY understood – especially the people who’d been married before. They fully supported our choice to be married in whatever way felt best to the two of us. It was wonderful. Nevertheless, I still felt it would probably be rude to register for gifts. I did not want to give anyone the impression that they should buy us stuff even though they were not invited to our wedding! But you know what? People wanted to give us presents anyway. Eventually we were practically forced to register because the ladies at my family’s church insisted on throwing me a bridal shower. And my best friend insisted on hosting a hen night for me, even though NONE of the 12 ladies who came were actually invited to our intimate ceremony. Note that I did not broadcast that we had registered (basically, we did exactly as Wendy suggested). People who wanted to give us a gift, gave us a gift. People who didn’t, didn’t. Simple.

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  • avatar

    Rachel August 3, 2011, 11:24 pm

    LW1:

    I don’t want to beat a dead horse so I’ll just say that I agree with what the others have said about craigslist and the internet…just be safe!

    On the other side I am in a committed long term relationship with the sweetest guy. He is an all around likable guy and treats me better than any guy before him has. He makes me incredibly happy and we have amazing sex. I’m pretty sure what you mentioned liking is considered bdsm (yes I know it’s scary to admit!). I am a strong, independent women but I enjoy beng a sub too! My boyfriend greatly enjoys domination so it just works out. We are both fulfilled inside and out of the bedroom :).

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