Savage Love

I am a 26-year-old lesbian in a relationship with a 21-year-old. We've been together for five years. She is a brilliant student with a bright future. I love her but I want to be on my own for a while.

I am worried about how she would get along financially without me. While I don't totally support her, she couldn't pay rent and bills on her own without being fiscally miserable. She doesn't have friends she could move in with. She could just get a regular job like most college students, but then she'd have to give up many of the opportunities that she's earned by being a hard-working student. Would it be wrong to want to help support her if I were to move out?

Good Friend, Bad Girlfriend?

If she's really that brilliant, then your girlfriend can figure out how to take care of herself. A little fiscal misery, like a little barely legal lesbian action, is a cherished part of the college experience — and putting your own ass through college can be every bit as educational as those other opportunities she's earned through her hard work.

So split, GFBG — unless …

You know, something about your letter sticks in my craw. What 21-year-old college student doesn't "have friends she could move in with"? If she has college-age friends, then she surely has friends or friends-of-friends looking for roommates. I'm concerned that she may have no friends at all other than you. If that's the case, then you have been a very, very bad girlfriend.

As the older and wiser woman in this relationship, it was your responsibility to encourage your teenage-when-you-met lover to have a well-rounded social life — in other words, friends in addition to a girlfriend. If you consciously or subconsciously attempted to isolate your young girlfriend, if you discouraged her from making friends she could rely on, then you are in large part responsible for her predicament. If that's the case, then you're morally obligated to offer her short-term financial support once you split. Enough money to cover rent for six months would give her the time to find a job, make some friends and get on her feet.

My girlfriend and I have been living together for two years. Like all relationships, ours wasn't perfect. But what really bothered me was my girlfriend's relationship with her brother. They were touchy-feely in a way that felt inappropriate. Two weeks ago I came home and found my girlfriend in her brother's arms on the couch. They freaked at my sudden arrival and jumped up, providing me with a clear view of the outline of the boner in his pants. Guilt was on their faces. After he left I demanded to know what was going on. At first my girlfriend insisted that I had a dirty mind. I told her that I recognized a boner when I saw one, and she confessed that they had been having incestuous relations since they were teenagers — and didn't think it was a big deal! I told her it was a huge deal to me because 1) she's cheating on me, 2) she's cheating on me with her brother and 3) EWWW.

I asked her to move out, which she took very badly. Of course everyone — family, friends, neighbors — is asking what happened. I'm also seriously missing the woman I thought would be my wife. Am I forcing my morality on her, as she insists? Or is ditching her a no-brainer? I can't even think clearly anymore. Is this a case of DTBFA — dump the brotherfucker already?

Serious Incest Since Teens Appalled Him

What is with the incest letters lately? Was the incest taboo rescinded, and only SISTAH and I failed to get the memo? Motherfuckers, brotherfuckers, fatherfuckers — just reading the subject lines on my e-mails is giving me screaming nightmares. Eesh.

Listen, SISTAH: Dumping the brotherfucker was the right thing to do. Would you want the future mother of your children to regard incest as anything other than the taboo-to-the-10th-power that it is and, if I have anything to say about it, always will be?

As for your family, friends and neighbors, refrain from telling them the whole truth — your ex has enough problems without everyone knowing she's a brotherfucker. But when you're asked why the two of you broke up, you have every right to say that she was cheating on you with another man.

I'm a straight woman in my mid-40s. I've been married more than two decades. Ten years ago, my husband's already low sex drive disappeared altogether. He won't talk about it. I know he's not having an affair.

Realizing I couldn't live without sex any longer, I told my husband (nicely — it is hard to say things like this to someone you love) that I didn't think he cared what I did, and he didn't disagree. Now I've met a gentleman who is sweet and kind and attentive. He is married and in the same situation I am. Discretion is absolute, and we play safe. When we make love, I can't believe I waited so long. Is there anything wrong with me that I am not feeling guilty?

Frustrated No More

You have nothing to feel guilty about.

Your infidelity, your discretion and your compassion are saving not one but two marriages. While your actions fall short of the romantic ideal of marriage, your marriage also falls short of that ideal — and so does your lover's marriage. You've both accepted your imperfect spouses for who they are, and your imperfect marriages for what they are, and you've made the kind of imperfect accommodation that allows many passionless but otherwise valuable marriages to survive. In a case like yours, infidelity can be the loving, responsible, marriage-salvaging choice. Stop feeling guilty. Enjoy.

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