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Savage Love

The line between buzzed enough to go for it and too drunk to consent can be fuzzy and subjective.


I'm a 21-year-old straight male. I'm mildly autistic and have difficulty picking up on social cues. I've learned to manage my disability in most areas, but I've become concerned about how it pertains to hooking up. My approach to hooking up is how I imagine most other people's must be: find someone I can have a conversation with, attempt to flirt, and then awkwardly make a move. But a few weeks ago at a party, I was flirting with a girl when I realized that she was wasted. I had suspected that she was tipsy like myself, but I didn't understand how far gone she was until she invited me outside and was unable to keep her balance while walking. I struggled to leave, she kept insisting that she wasn't drunk, and kept pressing against me. By the time I got away, she was angry, people were staring, and I had history's most shameful erection. Prior to that night, I thought I could tell when someone was too drunk. Now I have doubts. Taking advantage of someone that impaired is the same as rape in my mind. Am I a rapist? Was it wrong to participate in hookup culture as I struggle to read social signals?

Moral Blue Screen Of Death

If your description of events is accurate, that erection of yours — which was nowhere close to being history's most shameful erection (that distinction belongs to the Catholic priest who raped the most kids) — was an innocent, unconscious, physiological response to unwelcome bodily contact. Again, if your recap is accurate: You were struggling to leave, and this drunk wouldn't stop pressing her body against yours? You were the victim, not the perp.

As for other women you've hooked up with ...

The line between buzzed enough to go for it and too drunk to consent can be fuzzy and subjective. Some people argue that one drink renders a person incapable of consent. By that standard, nearly all of us are guilty of raping people. But sensible people recognize that alcohol functions as an effective way to overcome social or sexual inhibitions, and that it's possible to have consensual sex after a drink or two or even three.

You're worried you may have misread a previous hookup's ability to consent. I'm sorry to say that it's possible you hooked up with a girl who was completely shitfaced but, unlike that girl at the party, was not giving off cues that you could pick up on. Since you can't unfuck the buzzed/tipsy/drunk girls with whom you've hooked up, you can only be more cautious going forward.

If drunkenness is a cue that you have a hard time reading, ask a friend for his or her read on the girl you met. Better still, stick to dance-floor make-out sessions at parties and reserve getting naked for sober/soberer second or third dates. And when you decide to go for it, err on the side of making active, ongoing, explicit requests for consent. You're not going to "make moves"; you're going to ask questions ("I'd like to kiss you — OK?") and keep asking questions ("OK, I got the condoms out — you still wanna fuck?").

My best friend is in a relationship with a great guy who is a loving father to their kids. There are no issues in their relationship other than this: zero sex in 10-plus years. She is DESPERATE. She is in contact with a former lover and wants to hook up with her ex. Is she required to disclose? If so, what do you recommend she say? Or does 10-plus years of sexlessness constitute a free pass?

Her Best Friend

Ten years without sex frees your friend from an obligation to disclose, but for her peace of mind — and for butt-cover should the affair be discovered — she should sit her husband down and say something like this: "I love you and I want to stay married to you forever. We both know that sex has never been an important part of our connection. If you should ever seize an opportunity to get it elsewhere, I trust you'll be considerate and discreet and leave me in the dark. I promise to do the same."

I'm a gay male who was diagnosed with ADHD. The prescription I've been taking has turned my life around, from the evaporation of my paralyzing academic anxiety to the willpower to practice better hygiene. A side effect of this medication is a drastically increased libido. While I've always had kinky tastes in porn, it is only while on Dexedrine that I look for men to tie me up and dominate me. Part of me feels like I should be wary of my kinky self, because "sober" me wouldn't make these choices. The other part wants to embrace my kinks, because the same high that makes me kinky also made it possible for me to graduate from college and practice good hygiene. Are my concerns valid?

Aroused Distractible Dominated

You were looking at kinky porn before you got on meds, so your meds didn't make you kinky. Instead, your meds have had the same impact on your sex life that they had on your college career and your personal hygiene. Sober You couldn't get your ass to class or into a hot top's dungeon. Medicated You gets shit done.

The question you should be asking isn't "Is my meds-enhanced ability to make my kinky fantasies a reality a bad thing?" but "Am I being reckless about how I realize my kinky fantasies?"

If you're not taking unreasonable risks, and if you're employing best online hookup practices — you meet in public first; you know their real names and phone numbers; before heading to someone's place to get tied up, you tell a trusted friend where you're going, who you're with, and when they can expect to hear from you again — this isn't a problem.

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