My 14-year-old stepson has been stealing, wearing, soiling and hiding his toddler sister's pull-ups. I've found them after he hides them in his closet, which also serves as a general storage area. After discussions with him, I'm certain that wearing them is a pleasure thing. (He says "curiosity," but this has been going on so long that he knows what it feels like.) He has even stolen some of the neighbor girl's doll diapers to wear and soil. We've told him he has to stop stealing diapers — because stealing is wrong, and these things are expensive. We are grossed out by it, despite being open-minded. I believe we have a fetish growing here, and I don't think a parent needs to be involved, but he's stinking up the joint.
Parent Is Seriously Stumped
Is your stepson a diaper perv? Maybe he is, maybe he isn't.
"This may only be a case of ‘curiosity,' just as his stepson says," said Jesse Bering, Ph.D., a research psychologist who regularly contributes to Slate, Scientific American and other publications. "Young teenagers can't express their overwhelming urges easily. We provide no ‘socially appropriate' sexual outlets for 14-year-olds, masturbation aside — which, let's face it, can get monotonous. So his stepson may simply be exploring the available materials that he, ahem, comes across."
Bering, who just finished his second book about human sexuality, remembers doing some freaky stuff himself at age 14. "I recall some exciting moments involving peeing in the bathroom sink," said Bering. "The idea of pissing in the sink with an erection while looking at myself naked in the mirror isn't particularly arousing to me these days."
Since it's share time: I remember stealing panty hose when I was 14 — I've never told anyone about this — and I enjoyed some exciting moments looking in a mirror while wearing them. I didn't grow up to be a panty-hose-in-the-mirror fetishist. That said ...
"Even if his stepson is really into diapers, it's a pretty harmless fetish," said Bering. "As with any paraphilia, it would be next to impossible to ‘cure,' even at his young age. It's just something he'll need to learn how to handle responsibly. You may be grossed out and, yes, a festering pile of discarded diapers would be a sanitary problem, but never underestimate the power of a frank conversation grounded in truly unconditional love."
Start that conversation by reassuring your stepson that you love him. Tell him most humans are a little perverted — that's what Bering's new book is about — but our kinks are private, and you're only talking to him about his thing for diapers because he hasn't been keeping it private. Then cut him a deal: If he makes an effort to discreetly dispose of diapers he soils, you won't go looking for them and you'll keep your mouth shut if you find one or two in the trash bin.
"On the theft problem," said Bering, "a 14-year-old diaper fetishist can't just buy erotic supplies out of his own paycheck. So let him earn enough money to buy a few pairs of pull-ups by doing chores. And while the stealing is definitely worrisome, it does provide a convenient, less awkward way to address the fetishism issue. Stealing from the neighbors is the main reason, you can tell your stepson, that you've decided to bring him to a therapist. A good psychologist can explore the reasons for his kleptomania and lend a sympathetic and nonparental ear for him to talk about any taboo feelings."
Bering's new book, Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us, will be released Oct. 8, but it can (and should!) be preordered now. Follow him on Twitter — @jessebering — to read his highly entertaining #DailyDeviant posts.
I'm a 19-year-old male. I lost two-and-a-half fingers on my right hand in an accident when I was 13. I am otherwise good-looking and in shape — but what does that matter? A counselor once told me, "A lady of class will love you for who you are." Bullshit. I'm disfigured, not stupid. Children fear me! And what sort of woman would look at me when whole men can be found everywhere? Don't tell me to go to counseling. I go to counseling. Do not give me the link to some useless "support" group's website. What is there to do?
Don't Insult My Intelligence
Here's something you can do: Get the fuck over yourself.
I know that's harsh, but I'm thinking harsh is what you came to me for. If it isn't, you might wanna skip the rest of my response.
There are people with missing limbs, who were badly burned in fires, with disfiguring birth defects. One day volunteering in a burn ward might put your hand in perspective. And burn victims and people with missing limbs or birth defects? Lots of them are getting laid and finding partners despite the cruel looks they sometimes get from thoughtless children.
Some women will be turned off by your hand, and that sucks. But some won't care. There might be women who'll find you more attractive as a result of your accident — I've never received a letter from a woman with a fetish for missing fingers, but I'll doubtless hear from at least one after your letter runs. I can tell you this, though: No one is attracted to self-pity. Each of us moves through life covered with scars, some more visible than others. All we can do is make the best of what we have, or what we have left.
So get over yourself, get out of the house, and go meet women. If you're worried your hand is the first thing a woman notices, get a prosthesis or wear a glove. And remember that very few people your age — people with 10 intact fingers — have met with much romantic success.
I'm sorry about your accident, I really am. Good luck.
On this week's Savage Lovecast: Dan chats with OKCupid cofounder Christian Rudder about strategies in online dating, at savagelovecast.com.