America's premier sex advice columnist takes on edgier-than-ever sex-positive topics with his signature candor in his first illustrated collection of adults-only essays, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the Savage Love column.
Dan Savage has been talking frankly about sex and relationships for 30 years, and has built an international following thanks to his sex-positive Savage Love column and podcast. To celebrate this milestone comes Savage Love from A to Z, an illustrated collection of 26 never-before-published essays that provides a thoughtful, frank dive into Savage's trademark phrases and philosophies. This hardcover book is for anyone who's had sex, is currently having sex, or hopes to have sex!
Essays cover a variety of topics:
• B Is for Boredom
• F Is for Fuck First
• G Is for GGG (Good Giving Game)
• M Is for Monogamish
Whether he's talking about issues like compatibility or specific sex acts, you can be sure he's giving it to you straight. Short excerpts from his classic columns kick off each essay and cheeky illustrations by his longtime collaborator Joe Newton complement the topic at hand. Savage has moved the needle toward a more open discourse around sex, relationships, and intimacy, and this book will both inspire and inform his legions of fans. An ideal stocking stuffer!
"Thirty years later, the [Savage Love] column is still going strong, running in newspapers all over the world — plus [Savage] hosts a podcast and has written several books. [He] has become a cultural force in the world of LGBT rights, sex, love and relationships. He has coined new words and ideas for how to be intimate and adventurous, and how to redefine commitment as relationships evolve."
—The Washington Post
"The book is a victory lap for a writer who has personally made a huge swath of Americans better people and better lovers—less judgmental, more communicative, more generous."
Dan Savage is an author, media pundit, journalist, and LGBT community activist. He writes Savage Love, an internationally syndicated relationship and sex advice column, and hosts the popular Savage Lovecast. He is the author of several books including The Kid, It Gets Better, The Commitment, Skipping Toward Gomorrah, American Savage, and Savage Love. In 2010, Savage and his husband, Terry Miller, began the It Gets Better Project to help prevent suicide among LGBT youth. He founded the HUMP! annual film festival in 2005, which showcases home-movie erotica, amateur sex cinema, and locally produced pornography.
Joe Newton is an artist, graphic designer, and art director. His illustrations have appeared in publications like the New York Times, Vibe and Nickelodeon magazine, and for clients like Sony Music and Publicis. His work has been honored by American Illustration, Communications Arts, and Print magazine.
B is for Boredom
Two people who commit to being sexually exclusive for the rest of their lives and at the same time wanna maintain a satisfying sex life—and, open or closed, couples with satisfying sex lives are likelier to stay together—need to recognize boredom as their mortal enemy. —July 30, 2019
Remember how hot the sex used to be?
When you first met your boyfriend or girlfriend . . . when you first met your partner or spouse . . . the sex was great. And you didn’t have to think about it, much less work at it. The sex was so great you couldn’t keep your hands off each other and your tongues out of each other. You found someone! No more masturbating alone in your apartment!
But things have changed. Oh, you’re still in love. You feel closer than ever to your partner. But you’re writing to me because the sex has become boring. The sex is so boring you find yourself carving out a little alone time to masturbate. And you’re pretty sure your partner is doing the same. And as much as you love your partner, as much as you value your relationship, you miss great sex, and it’s becoming a bigger and bigger problem as time goes on. You don’t want to cheat, you don’t want to open the relationship, but you can’t live without hot sex for the rest of your life.
You think something is wrong—with you or with your relationship—because you don’t desire your partner the way you used to. To desire is to want, as therapist and author Esther Perel says. “[But] can we want what we already have?” she asks. “That’s the million-dollar question.”
Figuring out how to reconcile what Perel describes as our need “for security, for predictability, for safety, for dependability, for reliability, for permanence” with our equally strong need “for adventure, for novelty, for mystery, for risk, for danger, for the unknown” in a world where we’re expected to find all of these things in one person is a challenge.
People in nonmonogamous relationships—ethically nonmonogamous (both parties agree) or not-so-ethically nonmonogamous (one or both parties are cheating)—have an easier time meeting this challenge. They have predictability and security with one person and adventure and novelty with others. People in sexually exclusive relationships who want predictability and adventure, dependability and risk, safety and danger—and want all those things from one person—can have a harder time finding a satisfying answer to Perel’s million-dollar question.
So when you don’t want to open your relationship, when you don’t want to cheat or be cheated on, but you don’t want to settle for passionless sex for the rest of your life . . . what do you do?
It helps to remember not just that the sex was hot at the start, but why the sex was hot.
Maybe you had sex for the first time after one date or maybe it was after three dates. And while you had a good feeling about this person—this near-total stranger—you had no way of knowing whether your hunch about them was correct. For all you knew this hot person who seemed nice . . . this person you were making out with in your car or on the subway . . . they could be an ax murderer. Or an Instagram influencer. But you took a chance—you went home with them—and the sex was hot, you thought, despite the risk. You kept seeing them and the sex kept getting hotter and pretty soon you were introducing them to your friends and then someone said “I love you” and someone said “I love you too” and ten years later you’re still in love. But you’re bored.
Or maybe you matched on a hookup app and fifteen minutes later this person—this complete stranger—was outside your door and five minutes after that they were inside you. You took a chance and the sex was hot, you thought, despite the risk. You invited them over again the next time you spotted them on the hookup app and then again and then someone suggested grabbing something to eat after another hot fuck session and pretty soon you were introducing them to your friends and lying to your family about how you met and then someone said “I love you” and the other person said “I love you too” and ten years later you’re still in love. But you’re bored.
Why were those first risky fuck sessions so hot? I would argue that they weren’t hot despite the risk, but because of the risk. You risked letting a stranger—someone who, again, could’ve been an Instagram influencer—into your apartment, into your bed, and into your body. The sex was effortlessly exciting, it was effortlessly adventurous, because they were the adventure you were on. And it was effortlessly exciting for them because you were the adventure they were on. The adrenaline was pumping because you both were taking a risk. You made yourself vulnerable, you put your body on the line, you opened yourself up to rejection and regret. You risked everything.
And now, after ten years together, they’re no longer the adventure you’re on, you’re no longer the adventure they’re on. They’re predictable and reliable, you’re safe and dependable. Security and certainty have replaced risk and danger and that’s not a bad tradeoff. But if you believed the lies you were told about love—that the sex gets better as you get closer—you may be wondering what you did wrong. You may even doubt that you’re still in love with your partner at all. (“If I really loved her as much as I think I do, why am I considering having an affair with my coworker?” “If I loved him as much as I think I do, why do I have to think about fucking his best friend to get off?”). You assume something went wrong or you’ve been doing something wrong.
In reality all you did was grow closer—you just were never warned that feeling safe and secure in a relationship can exact a steep erotic price. Some individuals don’t mind paying that price. So long as neither partner misses the hot sex, its absence isn’t a problem. And some relationships were never about the hot sex in the first place. But if yours was and if you miss it and if you’ve contemplated doing something that might destroy everything you have with your partner to have hot sex again, it’s a problem for you.
What do you do?
Well, you have to admit to your partner that you’re bored. That’s the first step. And you have to make it clear you don’t blame your partner and that it’s not a sign you don’t love them. And you have to give your partner permission to admit that they’re bored too. And if you’re on the same page—if you’re both bored but still in love, if you’re both slinking away to masturbate alone but wish you weren’t, if you’ve both contemplated but so far resisted doing something that would amount to a betrayal—then you can work on battling boredom by bringing risk and adventure back into your lives.
Since you’re no longer and can never again be each other’s adventure, you’re going to go on adventures together. To have great, risky, adventurous sex in the context of a long-term monogamous relationship, you have to make it happen. You have to make a plan. The risk and adventure that was built in when you were practically strangers? Now you have to engineer that shit. You have to take risks as a couple.
So what does that look like?
When people tell me sex with their longtime partners has become boring, I ask the obvious (at least to me) follow-up questions: Where and when do you have sex? Almost invariably the couple is having sex at the same time and in the same place. I order them to get out of their beds, get out of their houses, and get out of their comfort zones. Have sex twice in the next week, but not at home and one person should take responsibility for initiating the sex in an unexpected place and at an unexpected time.
Imagine that you and your partner have agreed to that: you’re going to have sex twice this week—using the most expansive definition of sex (handjobs and oral and toys all count)—and your partner, having won the coin toss, is going to be the initiator. Two days later you’re at work and your partner, who never drops by the office, walks in. Okay! You’re about to get fucked! At work! Your long-established partner suddenly becomes partner in crime as you skulk around your office, playing it cool, looking for a spot to have some quick and risky and adventurous sex. That means doing it in an empty stairwell or an empty conference room or an empty single-seater toilet with a lock. And you’re going to risk getting caught. You’re going to risk getting in trouble. And don’t tell me that’s an unreasonable risk. Remember when you let that complete stranger into your apartment the first time? You risked getting killed for hot sex back then. Don’t tell me you can’t risk getting reprimanded for hot sex now.
And here’s the thing about that quick handjob or blowjob or fuckjob you had at work: when you get home, when you’re back in the same place you usually have sex, you’ll start talking about the crazy thing you did today—you’ll start talking about how close you came to getting caught—and you’ll have sex in your usual place, in your house, in your bed, but it will be hotter than it was before.
A caveat: This advice presumes both partners in a sexually exclusive relationship are still in love and still attracted to each other and that boredom—and not, say, contempt—caused the couple to lose the sexual thread. Switching up locales or times of day or adding toys isn’t going to make someone wanna fuck a person they don’t wanna fuck anymore or never wanted to fuck at all.