I’m writing to you not for advice, but to open up a discussion. For five years I had a famous partner and eventually lost him to groupies. I was aware that he might one day be tempted to explore this side effect of his career, to get it out of his system (for good I hope), so I wasn’t too surprised when he finally made the decision to “go there.” However, I am left with some unsettling thoughts, apart from the heartache.
To him, this is a harmless and fun chapter in his life, but I see a darker side. I find it hard to come to terms with seeing the man I loved and who respected me as an equal engaging in sexual relations with girls who, by looking up to him, place themselves beneath him. His relationships now feature a misbalance of power. I feel a healthy adult seeks sex with equals. To me, groupies act like unpaid prostitutes, and my ex has decided it’s OK to use girls who adore him without giving much in return. I can’t see how this can be of benefit to either the girls or to him. He’s learning that it’s OK to receive without having to give, and they learn that it’s okay to be used. I worry that these experiences help form permanent negative patterns. Harmless fun? I don’t think so. Any thoughts? —Worried Ex
Just one, WE: How is this any of your business?
Yes, groupies are like unpaid prostitutes—but they are compensated, WE, with refracted fame, the dubious perks of being “with the band,” and the human papapapineapple virus (or whatever it’s called). So I hardly see these assignations as necessarily one-way exchanges. The use is mutual. Your ex may be permanently damaged by this kind of attention or he may tire of cheap, meaningless sex and come crawling back to you one day. Or, hell, he may one day star in a squalid and depressing reality show in which he deludes himself into believing that the women who surround him desire his paunchy old body and his surgeon-battered face and not a shot at reality-show fame, such as it is.
But, again, what business is it of yours? He’s your ex and the women he’s sleeping with are, ostensibly, consenting adults. We can tut-tut and conclude that your ex is using these women and that these women are no better than hookers… and so what? You’ll still be his ex, he’ll still be banging groupies, and groupies will go on chasing rock stars long after your ex is playing the casino circuit.
In your last column, you said Bi Bi Bridie’s fiancé issued an “irrational ultimatum” because he didn’t want his partner to sleep with another female. He made it clear before they were together that that was his preference. She agreed to those terms.
Yet in a column three weeks ago, you told Confused In Canada, a guy in a long-distance relationship whose woman wanted an open relationship, that his reluctance to open up their relationship didn’t mean he was jealous, just monogamous.
Maybe I’m missing something, but it sounds like both of these guys know what they want and stated their intentions clearly. Why is the first guy irrational for stating his intentions and the second guy “just monogamous”? —A Bit Confused
Because I said so, ABC. Because, unlike CIC’s girlfriend, BBB is bi and, yes, that detail makes a difference. And, most importantly, because I said so.
BBB shouldn’t make a commitment that she’s already proven herself to be incapable of honoring; that’s just setting her marriage up for failure. But BBB’s fiancé shouldn’t extract a commitment from his girlfriend that he knows she will either be incapable of honoring or will quickly come to resent him greatly for having to honor. He can say, “You can have me or you can have this very important part of your sexuality,” to his fiancé, but by doing so he’s setting his marriage up for failure. That makes his ultimatum irrational.
More letters about last week’s column at thestranger.com/savage/bbb.