Savage Love, August 13, 2009: George Sodini Got Advice From the Wrong Guy 

Plus: Cheating on a spouse who's cheating you of a sex life

Q Do you think post-op transgender people have any obligation to tell their lovers they were once the other sex? —On the Fence

A Yes.


Q I'm in my 40s and straight. My wife of nine years is no longer interested in sex. Period. She relents every few weeks, but it's never enjoyable for either of us. As a result, I haven't had a blow job in about eight years, I can't touch her beautiful tits, kissing is without tongue, and our rare sex is missionary and in the dark. I'm miserable.

I believe she's depressed. She refuses to get help, saying that if only I would do this or that, she'd be more willing. But I do this and that, and she's still not interested. After a lot of talking, she suggested that I find a girlfriend. However, she set conditions that were unrealistic: she wanted to meet and approve of her before I slept with her; and I could only see this other person late at night, with the wife's permission, which would only be granted after all other family obligations were satisfied (kids in bed, bills paid, trash taken out, etc). I preferred a "don't ask, don't tell" approach. She then withdrew the idea entirely. I proceeded to meet and sleep with several different women anyway, and I'm now seeing one regularly. Sex is enjoyable again.

My question: I know that people would say I am cheating on my wife, but am I wrong to feel just as cheated by her? —Need Some Answers

A No.


Q You are a terrible person who shouldn't be allowed to give advice to anyone about anything. Whose idea was it to give an asshole faggot like you an advice column, anyway? You're a stupid piece of shit who doesn't know anything about sex or the human heart, and you will regret everything you've ever done and every word you've ever written once you die and have to stand before your creator. —God Hates You

A Maybe so.


Q A couple months ago I sent you an e-mail thanking you for doing what you do. Today the power of your voice hit home. As you know, an angry, sexually frustrated gunman went on a killing spree at a fitness center in Pittsburgh. Reading the killer's blog, I was struck by the similarity of his situation to that of the lonely, sexually frustrated men you counseled in your column the week before the shooting. Of course the similarity between the shooter and your correspondents ends there: George Sodini didn't reach out; the men who wrote you did.

click to enlarge George Sodini
  • George Sodini

The reason this strikes so close to home is that my situation for years was very similar to Sodini's and to the lonely men who you helped in that column. Although I wasn't a virgin, I was "clogged up" and unable to get close to people physically and emotionally. I overcame my fears and hang-ups, and life is good now. But it wasn't easy. I was never as angry as the man who shot up the fitness center, but I was absolutely as lonely and isolated as he was and every bit as lonely as the men whose letters you answered. Maybe if I'd been alone another 14 years—I found my life partner at 34—I might have become that angry. —Middle-Aged Family Guy

A Thank you for the note, MAFG, and thanks—I think—for pointing me to George Sodini's blog. The blog has been pulled down, but it's been extensively quoted in news reports, and it makes for depressing reading. It's never pretty when chronic sexual deprivation and a lifetime of romantic rejection slam into a narcissistic personality with sociopathic tendencies in a country awash in guns:

"I actually look good. I dress good, am clean-shaven, bathe, touch of cologne—yet 30 million women rejected me, over an 18- or 25-year period. That is how I see it. Thirty million is my rough guesstimate of how many desirable single women there are."

So hey, why not go shoot up an aerobics class full of women?

A woman I knew at college—an antiviolence activist, righteous and right-on—used to say, "Testosterone is gasoline, porn the match." I disagree. Testosterone is gasoline—which isn't necessarily a bad thing (gas makes things go)—but sexual frustration is the match.

I'm not suggesting that this tragedy could've been averted if only some selfless woman had "taken one for the team" and dated or even married Sodini. The women who rejected him obviously saw him for what he was and were right to run in the other direction. But if someone had told Sodini—who wrote that he hadn't had sex since 1990—to see sex workers, something I advised the guys in my column two weeks ago to consider or continue, it might have taken the edge off his anger and kept it from curdling into homicidal rage.

Don't get me wrong: I wouldn't wish a client as sick as Sodini on any of my sex-worker pals. But maybe if Sodini had started seeing sex workers back in 1991 and not, say, two weeks ago last Monday; maybe if we, as a society, valued sex workers and sex work; maybe if we legalized and regulated it and viewed "paying for it" as a legitimate option for guys who would otherwise go without for decades; perhaps this tragedy could have been averted.

Sodini wasn't taking advice from me, however. He was getting it from R. Don Steele, author of How to Date Young Women: For Men Over 35. The book was sitting on Sodini's coffee table in a video he posted to the Web. Steele apparently traffics in—and profits from—instilling false hope in losers like Sodini. ("Immediately improve your success with women!" Steele says on his Web site, steelballs.com. "Everything is 100% guaranteed money back.")

Sodini felt he was entitled not just to sex and a romantic relationship but to sex and a romantic relationship with a much younger woman. And he was following the advice of a love-and-romance guru who encouraged him to cling to that belief. Not normally a problem, I suppose. But Sodini wasn't just another socially maladapted schlub furious with the world—and with women—for denying him the twentysomething ass he felt he had coming. Sodini was a nut. And he couldn't understand why, if he was doing everything right, he wasn't finding the success that Steele "guaranteed" him.

Someone needed to sit Sodini down and explain that settling down requires settling for, that young women are usually interested in young men, that we can't always have what we want, and that there might be women out there who would date him—perhaps women closer to his own age, women in his own league in the looks and social-skills departments (and Sodini wasn't bad looking)—but that no woman was going to date him until after he got his shit together. And someone needed to tell him that he wasn't going to impress the ladies by leaving How to Date Young Women: For Men Over 35 out on his coffee table.

And someone needed to tell him that some men—and some women—are alone all their lives and, yeah, that sucks and it's not fair and it hurts.

Instead, Sodini had R. Don "Steel Balls" Steele telling him that if he just bought a matching sofa set—really—and the right suit, happiness was just around the corner.

Send questions to mail@savagelove.net. Download the Savage Lovecast every Tuesday at thestranger.com.

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