Dan Savage on the Solo Movement

SOLO | Dan Savage| Solo Movement


Peter McGraw recently appeared on Savage Love. In this episode, Peter continues the conversation with writer, journalist, and activist Dan Savage for a bold, unfiltered discussion of the Solo Movement. Dan, known for his direct approach to discussing sexuality and relationships, provides valuable insights that have been essential to the Solo project. Join us for a thought-provoking discussion that goes beyond the pod’s usual “PG-16” rating.

Listen to Episode #210 here


Dan Savage on the Solo Movement

I appeared on the Savage Love Podcast and had a delightful conversation with Dan Savage about no-way singles. Dan is a writer, journalist, and activist who specializes in exploring and addressing issues related to sexuality, relationships, and LGBTQ+ advocacy. His work has been essential to the solo project, as it has led me into the world of unconventional relationships, societal and cultural implications of the rise of singles, and of course sex. He kindly agreed to continue our conversation here. As you know, I tend to keep the language in the show PG-16, as I like to say, but anyone who knows, Dan knows that his voice is bold and unfiltered, and that is no different. In this episode, I decided to keep it that way, not cutting out or beeping the various F-bombs he employs. Consider yourself warned. In any case, I hope you enjoy the episode. Let’s get started.


Welcome, Dan.

Thank you for having me. It’s great to be back with you.

The Solo Movement

I’m thrilled to be chatting with you. Your work’s been an inspiration. It has been incredibly useful. You show up a couple of times in the book, given that you’ve been thinking about unconventional relationships, about sex, you see the world differently than the average person and are thankfully very vocal about it and have shared your wisdom broadly. I want to ask you to share your wisdom with me and give me your thoughts about this Solo Movement.

It’s the Solo Movement is identifying a large social trend that was already in existence and was unacknowledged as a positive social trend. You have very kind things to say about me and my work in the book. So much of my work has identified being alone as the problem to solve. The advice I give, and a lot of the counsel I give people is how to fix being solo, not solo as a positive identity, but solo as a problem to be solved, but for many people, it feels like a wound or a cosmic rejection, not for all people.

There’s a little parallel here between how monogamy and non-monogamy are perceived by people who are monogamous because couples are presumed to be monogamous unless they speak up and say that they’re not monogamous. There are a lot of couples that people know who aren’t monogamous, who they believe to be monogamous. Our sample is skewed. There are a lot of people out there in open relationships who are not open about being in an open relationship, and when people hear about an open relationship or a three-way, it’s usually because it led to the collapse of a relationship. When non-monogamy contributes to the failure of a relationship, we hear about it when non-monogamy stabilizes a relationship or saves a relationship, we don’t hear about it because many couples who are not monogamous are invested in being socially monogamous.

It’s almost slightly similar in that a lot of people believe that to be alone is to have failed somehow, and it’s not something that you can feel or should feel positive about. I’ve identified over the years a lot of people who had a false consciousness about what they wanted. When you looked at how they behaved, acted, and moved through the world, they seemed to want to be alone, but they felt, they must say they wished to be partnered. They would say that to people that they wanted to maybe casually date or hang out with or have some connection to. They psych themselves up into believing it, because good people want to have partners, good partners and, “I want to be a good person.”

It’s the same false consciousness that plagues a lot of people around non-monogamy. Monogamous is what good people are, “I want to be a good person, therefore, I’m going to struggle to be monogamous.” Years ago, I would write to people and say, look at how the choices you’re making seem to add up to what you want is to be alone, yet you almost feel obligated to be miserable about being alone. That idea that hypocrisy is the debt that vice pays virtue that you owe it to partnered people if you’re single to at least pretend to be unhappy.

What I see the Solo Movement doing is identifying it as a positive, like flipping the script. This is an active conscious choice that more and more people are making and its own path to happiness and fulfillment, but flipping the photo negative, redefining it as a good and a valid choice as opposed to a default setting or a consolation prize.

Thank you for saying that in recognizing the opportunities that come from being single, because there are costs to coupling throbbing up. You used the term the price of admission. Sometimes the price of admission is steep.

Sometimes along the way, there’ll be a new price that you didn’t factor into the calculus you did at the beginning of the relationship. There are always contingencies that have to be made and patches that have to be reapplied. You sacrifice a great deal of autonomy obviously, when you are in a functional relationship, there are people who demand complete subservience from their partner and give nothing in return those are very dysfunctional and unhealthy relationships. For a relationship to be healthy, it’s almost as if you both have to concede things to each other, that if you were single or solo, you wouldn’t have to concede to another person. You could make choices that were only about what you wanted and what worked for you as opposed to having to defer it being in a long-term relationship is deferring all the time.

When I started the Solo Project, it felt very much like that negative, as you’re saying. It was, “Let’s look at the good parts of this. Let’s look at the opportunities. Let’s look at this as a different phase in life.” It may be one that’s long-term or permanent, or it may be short-term and subject to change. At some point, and it wasn’t early, I had this insight, I think that is relevant to your work, which is that there’s this class of single people who want sex and/or romance, but don’t want the traditional form of it. They find themselves struggling because most of the people they’re meeting on the apps and dating want this one style of relationship. They want to ride the escalator, high status, monogamous and merged.

They think that’s what they want because that’s what they’ve been told, how that want for romance or connection is supposed to express itself or manifest. Often people only realize once they’re on that escalator or they’ve adopted that one-size-fits-all style of what a relationship is supposed to be, that it doesn’t fit them. I was in a monogamous relationship for five years, and I kept cheating and then feeling like, “I’m failing monogamy.” It took me a long time to get to the point where I was like, “Monogamy is failing me,” and I’m not failing yet.

That in-between space, which is you’re single and I use this term, “You’re single by choice. You’re single by chance, or you’re single by mismatch.” The mismatch is I keep going out with people. I can’t satisfy them because I won’t move in. I won’t be monogamous. I won’t drop my friends and focus on you.

That’s creepy when people demand not just sexual exclusivity or romantic exclusivity, but all interpersonal exclusivity, “Veto can be no important person in your life, but me and I have veto power over the other relationships in your life.” That’s to totalitarianism.

You had this with regard to monogamy. I had this with regard to, for example, merging. I thought there was something wrong with me because I would have this wonderful girlfriend who wanted to move in, and that seemed abhorrent to me. Our relationship would end. I would not just feel sad, I would feel guilty because I failed. It was my fault.

This person I cared about had to need I couldn’t meet. I’m deficient somehow. There are women out there or other people out there who wish to have connections in ongoing romantic-ish or sexual relationships without merging.

I’m starting to find them. They’re not as easy to find. They’re not as plentiful. One way to start to find them is to be completely honest that that’s what you want and communicate that early so that people can decide whether that’s something they want. This new way single is very exciting.

People are afraid of that honesty because we’re always worried about rejection. If I’m completely honest about who I am and what I want, you might reject me. Rejection is something you have to run toward because if somebody doesn’t want what you want, if you aren’t right for each other, and there are no perfect fits. If people want to couple up or quadruple up, like my husband and I have, there are no perfect fits. Your wants aren’t going to be 100% in alignment. It’s not like you snap into place and you’re like, “This is perfect. “We don’t have to talk about anything. There are some things that you can give on, but like big things, wants and needs, people are afraid to disclose those because they fear rejection. If it’s a big want, big need, and that person can’t handle that want, can’t meet that need, you should hurry to rejection so that you can go find somebody if you want one somebody or a couple of somebody who can meet those needs.

I talked about this on the show, something as a young man that I did, that I am deeply regretful of and embarrassed by, frankly, but I think it’s important for people to know, it has to do with this idea of running towards rejection is I wouldn’t do that. I’d meet a woman that I was attracted to. I thought was sexy, but there was something there that didn’t make her good “girlfriend material.” I would pursue her and I would never lie. I never would say, “I want you to be the one for me,” and so on, but I also did not say, “I’m only interested in a casual relationship with you.”

Reasonable Assumptions

You allowed her to make reasonable assumptions about your intent based on averages that weren’t true. People do this a lot in relationships. People are like, “Do I have to disclose this? Do I have to disclose that?” If a reasonable person might reasonably assume that the opposite would most likely be true, you have to disclose it. It’s like people who are in open relationships who get on Tinder, somebody sees you on Tinder, they’re going to assume you’re single and available and looking, not married.

Available once in a while and looking.

People do weaponize other people’s reasonable assumptions to get what they want. It’s a deceit. It’s a passive deceit like, “I never lied to you. I never told you a lie, but I let you assume things. I let you make reasonable assumptions about me that I knew were not true, and that you were likely to make unless I spoke up and I didn’t speak.”

These acts of omission. I’m embarrassed that I did it. I don’t do it anymore I try to coach people to not, especially because those assumptions are based on a script, which is we are both trying this out to the degree that we continue to see each other, we are headed in some direction. At some point, we’re going to have the DTR, that Define The Relationship conversation. It shouldn’t be a shock when that person says, “Where is this going?” and you go, “I’m interested in something casual,” because reasonable assumptions would’ve suggested that’s not true.

That early part of a relationship for most people it’s an audition. It’s about whether you’re going to get cast in the show. The show is a long-term, open-ended commitment. If you don’t want to be in the show, you can still enjoy the casting process, but you got to let the casting director know that you are not available to do the show.

This conversation is illustrative for those folks who don’t want to follow all the rules of the escalator. They want to bend or break some of them. They need to behave differently than everyone else I think the thing is this, both you and I came to the same conclusion about different things is it may not be you, it may be the relationship that’s the problem. The moment you get to say, “It’s the problem with the relationship,” then it allows you to adjust the relationship versus trying harder and grinding it out in a relationship where the rules don’t quite fit.

You can make your own rules. That’s the big lesson for gay people over the last many years is straight people have gotten to know that there were gay people in their lives. My husband and I are married. Even if a gay couple marries, they’re much more likely to have written their own script, not to have gone with a bunch of default settings that came hardwired into marriage. Also, hardwired a lot of gendered expectations that of course don’t apply to a same-sex couple necessarily. I do think that there’s been this amazing cross-pollination between gay people and straight people over the last many years of the marriage equality movement where straight people saw there was nothing gay about the gay lifestyle.

They weren’t necessarily barred from it and gay people proved there was nothing straight about the straight lifestyle. We weren’t allowed to marry and have that stability and form families. It’s not that we couldn’t, and that some of us didn’t want to, but we all didn’t want to. Straight people felt like we all have to want the same thing because we are straight people and this is what straight people are supposed to want and supposed to do.

Now you see many straight people out there acting like gay people. You see a lot of incidents of gay culture, gay sex cultures,and gay relationship subcultures that straight people took and gave a new name to a more user-friendly name. We had fuck buddies and friends with benefits. We tricked you hook up. You’re old enough to remember this, the literary tradition of the midlife crisis movies about the midlife crisis, John Updike novels about the midlife crisis. You don’t hear much about the midlife crisis anymore because now straight people have a life before they get married. Where it used to be my parents’ generation, they married at 21, and then at 45 they were like, “Fuck.”

Now straight people who do marry, are marrying later in life. They’re getting laid a lot. They’re living in an urban area. They move to the middle of a city. They have a lot of short-term relationships, a lot of sex with a lot of different people then eventually maybe at 35 marry then go see an IVF Doctor to solve a fertility problem that they’ve created for themselves by delaying marriage. There are upsides and downsides to this. The upside is people who do marry later tend to stay married in part because they’re not having a fucking midlife crisis because they lived a little. They had a life.

They probably are making better choices. They know who they are, what they like and they have financial stability. There’s a whole bunch of things that make it a bit easier.

Financial stability is one of the things contributing to the Solo Movement and a consciousness around solo is a positive identity or choice because it used to be that women did not have financial security or independence and had to find a man who could provide them with that financial security. A woman couldn’t get a credit card 50 years ago.

No mortgages.

No more who couldn’t sign a lease. That has changed. I see nowadays a lot of women that I know personally, who probably many years ago would’ve been looking for any man like dating and romance was a consequential game of musical chairs for women where if you didn’t have a chair to sit on or a man to sit on at the end of it, it was social and financial and political oblivion for you. That’s not sell anymore.

I like to point that out. When people try to make the argument that the decline of marriage is a symptom of a declining society. One of the main reasons for the decline in marriage is that women are doing better than ever. That’s a paradox.

What does that tell us about what marriage was before? A lot of women were marrying under financial, cultural and religious duress. You see what the right is suggesting we do now that we bring back duress. You literally have far right-wingers out there arguing that women shouldn’t have the right to vote and that amending the constitution to extend the franchise to women was a mistake. It’s one of the incidents in the 20th century they’d like to undo to literally re-enslave with him.

It’s a wild idea.

That’ll revive marriage as an institution. More people will be fucking miserable and married.

Relationship Design

I want to ask you this question. You were saying how straight people have learned from gay people about having conversations about their relationships, agreeing on the big and small rules and so on. One of the things that I put forth in the book is this notion of relationship design. I have a very popular episode about it it’s a revision and rebrand of relationship anarchy, in part because relationship anarchy is, in my opinion, a terrible name.

Terrible branding. I feel every time relationship anarchy gets tossed out there, I’m like, “I wished I’d been in the workshop. I wish it’d been at that meeting to knock that down.”

It’s a brilliant idea and it’s an incredibly important concept. Andie Nordgren wrote such an important essay about it. It’s found its way out into the world and is incredibly useful. This was my attempt to try to make it a little more user-friendly. Relationship design is the process by which two or more people intentionally engage in co-creating a customized relationship in which all parties agree on the rules and regularly revisit the agreement revising as necessary. It’s very wonky and design-oriented.

Solo as a movement, you talking about relationship design in the way you do, I think it recognizes facts on the ground as they exist because I always argued during the marriage equality debate that the gays were accused of wanting to redefine marriage. My point was always, “No, you already redefined marriage. Marriage is whatever, two people of the opposite sex say that it is.” It can be religious or not children, or not for life or not. The wife can submit to the husband like Southern Baptist marriage. It can be an FLR or Female-Led Relationship with a male submission. Marriage is whatever, two opposite sex people say that it is. Everything else is a choice. Everything else is a design some people take the design that was made for them.

What gay people did was opt-in. We choose from what’s on the shelf about marriage and what we want to do about marriage and improvise our own commitments and what they’re going to look like. I think have modeled that for a lot of straight people. In relationship design, there’s a relationship default that a lot of people fall into, then realize that didn’t work for them they would begin trying to retroactively renegotiate the terms of their marriage with a very angry partner who is comfortable with all of the default settings. That didn’t work. What relationship design or opting in does, is you make active informed choices as opposed to tumbling into default settings. The default settings are what’s deadly. This is me favoring relationships because I keep talking about all of this in terms of negotiating a relationship of a certain kind.

This could be friendships. It can be work-related. Relationship design is not limited to just sex and romance, although it’s best used, I think most importantly used there in a way. Anytime you have a connection to someone, you can use these principles.

What do we want our marriage to be? What do we want our relationship to be? What do we want it to look like? What are the rules? If at the beginning you get to define the rules, implicit in that is down the road you can redefine or renegotiate those rules. If the rules weren’t handed to you on the tablets brought down from the mountain. If you wrote up the rules, you can rewrite the rules. Over the course of a long relationship, you’ll definitely need to over the course of a long relationship. The rules that work, that make the relationship feel safe and secure and possible early, become less important over time and new rules might become more important over time or the letting go of rules over time, which I think is very common.

I want to ask your advice. As someone who’s been advocating this, you already made one mention of running towards rejection. If someone’s reading this and they’ve heard the relationship design episode, or they’ve read about it in the book and they’re thinking about starting to use it, which that can be a very scary proposition because you often you have to educate your partner about what it is your inexperience doing this because you’ve been, using I like this term relationship default, the default settings. What advice do you have for someone who’s a novice to relationship design?

Start with sex.

I call this intimacy design.

If you say to somebody, “We get to write our own rules. We get to create our own relationship that works for both of us. What would that look like for you? What would make you happy? Not what were you told you should want? What do you want? How much experience do you have with what you thought you wanted that didn’t work? What lessons possibly could you learn from that about what it is that you want as opposed to the script that’s been written for you?” It’s a hard conversation to have. Even people who’ve had terrible experiences over and over again and chaffed against those default settings, go onto their next relationship with optimism about, “This can work for me in the next relationship. These default settings have made me miserable in every other relationship. I’m going to blame it on the person I was in the relationship with, but never on the infrastructure of relationships that we’re told is a requirement.”

You can be talking to somebody about default settings, relationship, design, intention, intentionality, and they can react, become very threatened, and be very insecure and be made to feel as if what you’re telling them is, “I can’t love you because we’ve been told this is what love is supposed to be and how it’s supposed to look, the contours and edges of it, and how they’re supposed to feel are cut.” You got to risk having that conversation. Gay people have always been good at that conversation.

For me, it goes back to sex with gay people. Nothing makes you better at sex than good communication. Straight people can communicate about sex, but they don’t have to. It’s hard communicating about sex. A lot of straight people don’t. Straight people get to consent. They get to yes they stop talking because straight sex is PIV. There’s nothing left to discuss after we’ve established consent. We’re going to roll around maybe a little oral, but we’re going to end with PIV.

Two men go to bed for the first time they get to yes. It is the beginning of the conversation. I call it the four magic words I think that straight people should steal from gay people. We stole marriage from you. You get this from us, “What are you into?” Anytime a man goes to bed with a man for the first time, one will look at the other and say, “What are you into?” I’ve had the experience of both of us blurting it out at the exact same moment.

At that moment, you could rule anything and anything out. It’s incredibly empowering, especially as a person who sleeps with men. It’s incredibly empowering to be able to say to somebody, “This, not this or that.” Women often are never in a position where they’ve been invited to rule anything in anything out. Once you get into this habit of mind, where what are you into, it flows then out of the purely sexual realm of sexual negotiation into negotiating what the relationship is going to look like. What are you into sexually? “I’m into this, I’m into that. I don’t get fucked. I only fuck da da da da.” You get to say, then if you continue to hang out with that person, date that person, what are you into becoming, “Are you into monogamy? Are you not into monogamy? Are you into cohabitating? Are you not into cohabitating? How do you define monogamy?”

Relationships And Negotiations

Some gay couples define monogamy as, “We only have sex with each other and other people.” If it’s a three-way and we’re both there, it was monogamous. Having that, what mindset when it comes to relationships and negotiations because it’s a negotiation? A relationship is a negotiation. That first sexual experience is a negotiation. It’s straight people can avoid a lot of the negotiation and gay people cannot.

That’s wonderful advice because it’s often what’s happening early on, and it’s something that people stand to benefit from designing a lot. My own personal experience is the women that I date are over the moon with these conversations. They are like, “Who are you?” They immediately lean into it because it’s refreshing. The other thing about it as a man who wants to make sure his partner feels safe, comfortable, happy, wants them to be pleased, is that once I know what they’re into, it has that element of pre-consent like, “I can now operate much more comfortably,” rather than what is often the case of like, “Let me try this and pay close attention to how it’s being perceived.” That’s not good sex.

It’s incredibly problematic sex potentially when it’s men and women having sex together because men aren’t socialized to prioritize a man’s feeling and comfort in the moment over her own. Women often negotiate sex from a position of not unreasonable fear of male sexual violence. If you’re not using your words if you’re not asking questions if you’re not giving a woman permission to say no, you might not get a no or even perceptible discomfort. If you’re like, “If I keep going in this direction and she seems receptive,” you may wind up in a situation where what for you felt like pretty good consensual getting to know each other’s sex for her felt like sex under duress or consent granted under duress that she may not feel very positive about in a week.

That makes the case for intimacy design alone on its own e versus even this idea that it is a gateway to relationship design more generally. I think the other thing about it is that it has this debriefing element to it where you say, “How did that go? What did you like? Is there something you didn’t do?”

I called it the After-Action Report.

The AAR and you get to, “I liked that. That was fun.” That kind of thing and say, “Would you want to do that more in the future?” You get to then revise and make some mental notes about what went well, how to do more of it and do it better.

It’s like you’re defining the boundaries of the game park and eventually, you know where the fences are, and you can play in roughhouse within them without feeling constrained by the borders of them. You’ve got to figure out where those lines are, and that requires conversation. It drives me crazy when people are like, “Sex has to be spontaneous. If we’re asking for permission or talking about it, it’s clinical and signing forms and it’s not sexy.” The first guy who ever kissed me didn’t just lunge at me. We were like hanging out in his apartment after his girlfriend, who was my best friend, went home. It wasn’t a positive experience in some ways we were hanging out and he said, “What would you do if I kissed you?”

I would probably come or shatter. I don’t remember what I said. I think I said, “I’ll kiss you back,” and then he kissed me. That moment between the question being asked and him kissing me, Casanova said, “The ultimate moment is climbing the stairs.” We were climbing the stairs. It was better than the kiss, the negotiation of the kiss uhhuh. That space when your consent has been granted and you’re falling into it and it hasn’t yet begun yet, that’s fucking intoxicated.

I call it pre-foreplay. It’s sitting on the couch and talking about this stuff. It goes against people’s intuition, but it builds excitement. It doesn’t ruin the excitement.

It doesn’t go against your intuition if you’re gay, because it doesn’t happen naturally. Thank God. I’m glad that my sex is completely unnatural because it has to be discussed and negotiated. Somebody’s got to get the lube, somebody’s got to get the condoms. Somebody’s got to volunteer to be the one getting fucked. You have to have this conversation and you get good at having that conversation if you’re gay and you want to have gay sex. It gives you a felicity with the convos that are coming later about dating commitment, the relationship, and what it’s going to look like. What are you into? It’s not just about a sexual encounter, it’s also about an emotional connection or a relationship.

Intimacy Design

I like that idea of intimacy design as a gateway to develop these skills and in many ways, one of the most important forums to do so. We’re talking about sex right now, and one of the things that I like about your work is that you give things names. There’s a class of relationships and activities that from a traditional sense aren’t supposed to exist. They’re not given names. You’re good at giving names, acronyms or whatnot. One of them that I want to bring up is good for the community here for those who are sexually active is GGG. On the Savage Lovecast, I was responding to one of your listener’s questions. She was lamenting that she was always GGG and her partners weren’t that was a source of frustration for her. What is this thing and why should people aspire to have it give it manifested?

GGG stands for Good, Give and Game. Good in bed, you’ve got to work on those skills a little bit. You have to be thoughtful about technique. Giving, I’m against the orgasm gab. Men need to step up in first sexual encounters, but sometimes in an established relationship, you give pleasure without an expectation of immediate reciprocity and without an immediate return. Sometimes you do for your partner and your partner does for you. It shakes out to a rough equality of giving. Game is for anything sexual adventures and kinks within reason. The game’s the only one that’s qualified. Good, giving and game for anything within reason with what’s reasonable being very subjective.

One person’s fun sexual adventure is another person’s trauma-inducing nightmare. There are things I think that should be within reason for everyone. I got letters from people who were dating some guy, totally into the guy is one of them was from a woman who was putting herself through college waiting tables she would come home and her boyfriend would massage her tired feet for an hour. Six months in, he told her he had a foot fetish and she broke up with him because that wasn’t a selfless act of service when he massaged her feet. He was a pervert and she wanted a normal guy.

Good luck finding another dude who wants to do that.

I warned her. I said, “Break up with the honest foot fetishist. You will marry the dishonest necrophiliac. It’s not just that good luck finding a guy who massaged your feet for an hour. It’s like the next guy may not be completely honest with you about who he is sexually. This guy was like his big reveal, his big secret confession of who he was sexually was he’s into your feet. Stick your foot in his mouth. How hard is that? Let him massage your feet.” To me, that seems like a perfectly reasonable thing that a person could be game for like, “You’re into feet. I’m not. I can go for you.”

GGG is what you should be for your partners, but it’s also what you have a right to expect from your partners. They should be GGG for you too. It’s a two-way street. It’s about meeting each other’s reasonable sexual needs, which is I think, crucial in a sexually exclusive relationship. If someone can only come to you for sexual fulfillment and to be who they are sexually, two people are going to be a perfect fit no one gets everything they want sexually, even somebody who is in an open relationship, you’re not going to get everything you want sexually from all of your partners. There are some things you’re never going to experience or get, but you want to be able to meet as many of each other’s reasonable sexual needs even occasionally they’re crazy or sexual needs as possible because then you will be content with each other.

Sometimes people tell me GGG is problematic because women will end up doing things that they don’t want to do. I don’t think people should do things that they don’t want to do, but we have to be on guard against sex negativity where we think, “Anything that isn’t something I proactively wanted to do is by definition something I didn’t want to do.” I do things for my husband that are his idea, that are his want, not my want, but I want to meet his needs. I want to make him happy. There is a want of mine that meets that more specific want of his, and to me, that seems like the recipe for success, especially in sexually exclusive relationships. GGG, Good, Give and Game. That’s what you want from someone. That’s what you want to be for someone.

I have a friend who says, “How do you know if you don’t try?” He regularly says that. He’s like, “How do you know? Are you sure?” With some things, but there’s this thing where you’re like and you’re like, “Well.” You can try as long as there’s no harm. There’s a consent and you can decide, “That doesn’t work. That’s not quite right.”

Sometimes you’ll be surprised by something that isn’t an activity that you are like, “I don’t quite get it then you do it,” and it clicks into some broader erotic theme that already exists in your erotic subconscious or erotic imagination. I call those successful graft. You never of your own volition would’ve done X. Your partner wanted to do X, you did X suddenly X was something you liked too, because it clicked with some other part of your erotic imagination. It was already there. There was a Lego that snapped into place.

Do you have an example of this?

My husband is very into leather, and very public about it. I always say, “When you go to events like international Mr. Leather, or you go to these big gay fetish events, you meet two kinds of guys. You meet the guys who were tying themselves up when they were twelve years old and masturbating. You meet the guys who fell in love with those guys and are now with those guys,” and maybe took up an interest in kink, S&M or bondage as well, got into it if they hadn’t met that particular guy who was always into it, they never would’ve gotten into it. That I think is a relevant example for my own life. I see it a lot because we go to these big fetish events. I meet couples who are at the kink event one’s tied up and the other’s got the guy in a leash I’m like, “Which one of you was tying yourself up when you were twelve?” It’s never both of them. It’s always one of them in the other film.

The other version of this is there’s this growing recognition of Chiavari of getting tied up with ropes. I can imagine you have a partner who likes that and you’re like, “I’ve never thought to do this, but let’s go to a class and see if it clicks.”

As with almost all kinks, the overwhelming majority of people who have that kink have it from the subside. Most people who are interested in bondage want to get tied up. Often, I’ve found in the people I know in the Chiavari scene that the most skilled rigors as they’re called, are the people that weren’t their kink until they met their partner who loves to be tied up. They learned it to please their partner. They got that macrame bug and went for it and developed this skill and are in demand as bondage.

I have this experience personally, when I say, “What are you into?” I feel very comfortable because one of the things that I’m into is making sure my partner is happy and pleased. I often will say, “I don’t need to do these things. I don’t need that to get off, but I’d like to do it if you’d like it.” That opens up lots of possibilities in terms of having new experiences and finding what works for a partner and so on.

It is good to be clear about the things you absolutely need to get off.

That’s true, but I’m saying, because there’s a whole class of things where I’m like, “That’s fun. It’s fine but I’m not asking for it, but I’m also not going to say no to it.”

That’s the gourmand of the great banquet of sex and you want to sample, but then there are, “What are your staples? What are the things you got to have or you’ll die?”

It’s important to know what those are and then be comfortable communicating them. This notion of GGG is a useful model for the person who is GGG and developing it and working on it and trying to get better in bed, being focused on giving. It doesn’t have to be strict reciprocity. One of the things that changed my sex life is I regularly say this to my partners, “I don’t have to have an orgasm. For this to be a good experience, I do not need to have an orgasm. It’d be nice, but it doesn’t have to happen.” I find it freeing for both of us in a sense, and allows a change of pace, order and lots of changes that can happen as a result of it then this idea of being game and being open-minded about what your partner would like.  For the person who needs to read this, how should they learn about it? If I have a partner who doesn’t know about GGG, what’s the best way?

Read about it. Read my books, my column and listen to my podcast. It’s a posture, mindset and decision. Good is subjective. You can work on your skills. You’re not going to please all people or be able to please all people. You have to find the people who your particular sexual skillset, gifts or vibe turns them on it works for them. It’s not going to work for everybody. it’s not like if you’re with somebody, if the sex ain’t good for them, you failed at being GG. They might not be the person who responds to what you’re good at and the skills that you may have. It’s lean posture. GGG was originally something I said to my husband about many years ago when we met. I was 30 and he was 23.

We were monogamous for the first four years we were together at his insistence. I was like, “We have to be horrors for each other. We can’t be monogamous at your insistence and drop balls or not come through and come in each other in big ways. You got to be giving, receptive and game for the things that I want to do that maybe never occurred to you and the things you want to do that never occurred to me. It’s in that cross-pollinization.”

It is interesting you say this as I’m reflecting on it. In some ways, the monogamous folks need to be especially GGG.

If you’re with somebody and they’re into feet and you absolutely will not, an accommodation has to be made.

They need a hall pass for your feet.

They need a hall pass for foot parties or something. There were a couple of kinks that my husband and I disagreed about when we first got together. My attitude was like, “I want to do these things with you.” He’s like, “I don’t want to do these things.” I was like, “I have to do them with somebody, but I just can’t not do them.” He was like, “If you loved me, you would not do them.”

That’s very common.

My response was, “If you loved me, you wouldn’t try to shut me down like this. I can tell you what you want to hear. I won’t do these things. For you, I will not.” What that means is in two years I’m going to cheat on you because the desire for this is going to grow to be great that sex is powerful.

Suppression is a terrible way to deal with, to try to resist.

What’s the release? You can’t damn something up. You can’t damn up a sexual orientation. Those are the guys who get messy, get rent boys, get caught and ruined. You can’t damn up a kink or a fetish either that kink fetish that goes deep. It is primal and it is not something that a person is consciously in control of or that they chose, but it is something a person needs to experience or find a way, have an outlet, have a permission structure that allows them to enjoy this if you aren’t the person they can enjoy that with who is or how is. I’ve heard from like straight married couples where the wife after twenty years finally told the husband, “Go see a professional dominatrix,” based on advice I gave them.

It instantly undid a source of conflict in their relationship that had existed for twenty years. He was less resentful. She was relieved of the burden of having to pretend to be into this. She was relieved of the burden of having to police it or deny it to actively deny it to somebody. That seems to me reasonable. We tell people when they’re kids that they’re going to grow up and have sex the reality is we grow up and sex has us. We are the Japanese on the aircraft carrier in Tokyo Bay, negotiating the terms of our surrender. We are not dictating to sex. Sex dictates to us. How do you surrender to sex in a way that is not going to destroy your life and blow up your relationships?

Sex Is A Chaos Agent

You’re not going to have a lot of STIs, unplanned pregnancies or chaos because sex is a chaos agent. It’s part of what sex and desire bring into our lives. That is a positive thing. They scramble our lives. They blow our lives up. They throw everything into the air. Sex does at times. We need that puckish chaos that sex and desire create for us where, where it undoes us and turns us upside down and inside out. As humans, it’s the same thing that is why we get on rollercoasters. We go to insane action movies. Sex plays that role in our lives in a way that goes deeper than the rollercoaster and the action movie how do you put it in harness to serve a relationship if you’re going to have a relationship but you can’t dam it up because then it’s going to, the dam is going to burst and it’s going to wash the relationship and everything away.

That’s incredibly well said. I appreciate you saying that. For many people, it’s the most exciting thing they do. When you do it well, when you are good and you’re giving and you have game, it takes it to the next level, it becomes sublime.

There’s a sex researcher in Canada, Amy Muse, who didn’t call GGG, but she put GGG in the headline for the paper that she wrote where she examined the satisfaction in the relationship of the partner who does the indulging, the partner who steps outside their own comfort zone to meet a sexual need of someone they’re in a relationship with. Intimate communal strength is what she called it. What she found is something that people are sometimes surprised to learn the person who’s being indulged, the foot fetishist whose wife or girlfriend is like, “Go to town. Here are my feet. Go to that foot fetish party with all the models in the hotel room where you get to massage your feet. Have fun.” What she found was it’s not just the person who was indulged, who feels more connected about the relationship.

It’s also the person who did the indulging. The person who moved, stepped outside their comfort zone, met their partner’s need met their partner where they are sexually, a need they could meet because it was a reasonable need and not something that if you have insane kinks, that’s what the internet is for. You can find people to date or have sex with or have relationships with on the internet. People who were game for anything and meta partner’s needs also felt a higher degree of satisfaction in the relationship and connectedness with their partner, not the one being indulged or having their needs met.

I wasn’t aware of that. That’s wonderful. That’s exciting. I have a big question for you coming up and then we’re going to do some audience questions. I have one that I want to ask you you were talking about these kinks and how they often start very young. First of all, will you do something for my audience, will you talk about the difference between a fetish and a kink and what is your model by which to think about how these develop? I think some people are they don’t get it. Some people have like a major fetish and they don’t know why.

They create a backstory often to explain it to themselves.

What’s the difference between the two and what’s the way you think about how they develop and how they arrive?


I like the term paraphilia, which means a non-normative sexual desire. Studies of paraphilias have shown that a majority of people have at least one. Paraphilia, non-normative sexual desire. It’s normative to have. It’s normal. Technically, people use kink and fetish interchangeably a lot. Technically, a fetish is some inanimate object that a person, it’s usually described as requires to be there during sex or to interact with during sex like latex, leather, certain shoes, rubber swim caps or something. An object or material or a substance that usually isn’t eroticized by most people, but it’s fetishized by this particular person. A kink is often a dynamic. People who are into Chiavari into bondage don’t have a fetish for hemp rope.

They have a kink for the actual physical sensation of bondage or the emotional meaning and drama of being bound and the sensuality of it. One of the things, if you’ve ever watched Chiavari being practiced, nobody’s rushed into Chiavari. It’s a long drawn out sensuous slow process that requires surrendering. It is impossible to force someone into bondage, especially Chiavari. You need their cooperation. The consent is flowing at the beginning. Once you’re all tied up, you’re not in charge of when you get out, you can’t get out. That’s when it get interesting. All that said, people do tend to use kink and fetish interchangeably and language evolves. Where does it all come from? You don’t see squirrels in the park wearing fishnets and using riding crops when they have sex or pigeons. I’m an urban person, the only animals I’ve ever seen having sex are squirrels and pigeons occasionally, two dogs.

You also don’t see squirrels going to 40 different kinds of restaurants or you look at human appetites and they’re very complicated and they’re filtered through culture and our capacity for random, abstract thought and association. There’s something about our big brains and our capacity for abstract thought and association and the way we make meaning that allows through erotic imaginations. The studies, the science found that most kinks, most fetishes seem to be rooted in an exposure to certain stimuli, pre pubes, you’re talking about like 5, 6, 7, 8-year-old kids where everybody went to the swim class and the teacher’s wearing the rubber swim cap. One kid left that swim class obsessed with rubber swim caps. It’s not like showing a rubber swim cap to twenty kids in a swim class and they all suddenly have rubber swim cap fetishes when they grow up.

One kid, something in his imagination seized on that thing. Now for the rest of his life, he’s going to be collecting and masturbating into and asking his sex partners to wear these rubber swim caps. It is random because kings can cause people problems in their romantic lives and their sexual lives because negotiating non-normative desires with a partner who may be vanilla or think they’re vanilla creates a lot of stress and tension. People want to construct exonerating narratives or find neat and tidy explanations for why they’re into whatever they’re into.

Spanking is a common kink. Ask one spanko why they’re into spanking, and they’ll say, “I was spanked as a child. At some point, it started to turn me on in a weird way,” then you’ll ask the next Spanko over like, “Why are you into spanking?” “I wasn’t spanked as a child, and I found it morbidly fascinating to hear about kids who were or hear from kids who were, and I was jealous.” How are both of these explanations true? They’re not. It’s random.

No Kink-Free Society

People want to look back over their life and find an explanation that gives it meaning because the idea that these things that are powerful and loom large in our erotic imaginations are random. They weren’t imposed and there’s no way of controlling for it. There’s no kink-free human culture or society because we’re a naturally meaning-making perversion-seeking species. I think a lot of it has to do with status insecurity and power. There’s that famous Oscar Wild quote that he may or may not have said, “Everything in life is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.”

I always compare it to evolution. We talk about tracing anything back and you find a common ancestor. We didn’t evolve from apes. We have shared a common ancestor with apes. It seems when you begin to follow every kink back to its common ancestor, it is eroticized fear. That is the common ancestor of almost all kinks, is, “What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen to me? I’m going to obsess about that. I’m going to think about that.” At some point, for many of us, the way we process it or handle that fear is to eroticize it because it gives us control over it and release from it. When we climax, we’re released from our desires and our fears. If we’ve eroticized our fears, it’s very powerful.

It’s super fascinating. It is something I don’t know much about my lay experience with some of these things tend to be highly arousing. Sex is this thing that’s already arousing, but you get to turn it up to 11 some oftentimes, by way of this kink or fetish the naughtiness and power dynamic.

It’s cops and robbers for grownups with your pants off. One of the things we know about mental health for many adults is that play improves mental health and there’s not enough play in our lives as adults. I think of what’s wonderful about in one of the places I live. There’s a park and people randomly go there to play Catch, Frisbee and these weird sports games, even Quidditch. They’re all adults. They’re all college students, but they’re still playing. It’s been wonderful to see board game nights take off between friends again and adults bringing play back into their lives. We have to accept that for many of us, play is at its most intensely felt when it’s incorporated into sex.

Let’s get to this big question for you, which is you made this observation to me when we were chatting prior to taping your podcast. You said that you are never single. You’ve never been single in some ways you’re the anti-Peter McGraw. I’ve spent most of my life single and finding a way to do it better and better, which has also made me better and better at relationships. It seems to be the case that you lock into relationships and you’ve been getting better and better and better at relationships.

I hope so. we’d have to have a vote of what the people having in relationships right now and see what they have to say about it.

I would put money that that vote’s a positive vote. Let’s investigate that a little bit, what is it about Dan Savage that makes him?

I can’t function solo? I don’t know. I’ve never balanced a checkbook. I don’t know how to turn the TV on. I need my husband every time I do need the TV turned on. He has to come into the room and turn it on.

You’re too much of an artist. Is that what it is? There’s a phenomenon where an artist and a manager pair up because together they’re better than they are separate.

I love love. What I do in Savage Love in my column often is try to help people figure out how you make this relationship work? Not how do you bend this relationship to fit the model that you’ve been told the relationship has to fit, but how do you make the relationship a better fit for you and for them? Those kinds of negotiations and tinkering under the hood I always did that in my own private life. We’re in a relationship.

We’re dating and along comes this problem. I have friends who have said to me, “How come I’ve never been able to make a relationship last and you’re still with Terry after all these years, and now with a boyfriend after all these years?” I’ve looked at some of them and said, “The trivial shit you’ve broken up with guys over. The things I’ve forgiven Terry for he’s forgiven me for, the betrayals that we’ve gotten past because we wanted the relationship to work more than we wanted dignity, or to settle scores.”

Righteousness or whatever the right word is.

I grew up in a house with my mom, dad, my three siblings, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Home was always like a lot of people and chaos. That felt like home. There were a couple of times where I very briefly was single for two months, and it didn’t feel like home. I didn’t feel comfortable. I was with a guy for a year and broke up and literally, we had to live together still after we broke up. He sucked a million dicks and slept with a million guys. I didn’t leave the house for two and a half months. We all grieve in our own way. I’m not questioning his process. We grieve in our own way. The first night I went out, I met Terry and wound up in another relationship.

There’s no accusation here that a lot of life is a bell curve. You’re on one tail and I’m probably out on the other tail and most people are somewhere in between us.

You’ve had relationships ongoing relationships, on your own terms, which a lot of people who think there’s one model that a relationship has to take for it to have meaning or importance would then do because you did it on your own terms, in your own way, regard that as somehow not a relationship or not what a relationship is supposed to be or supposed to look like. It was still a relationship. My relationship has always been on my terms, negotiated with the person I’m in a relationship with by mutual consent.

We hold these romantic relationships up as being important, no one ever is curious about my longstanding friendships or the vast breadth of my friendships, that I have dozens and dozens of people whom I’m highly connected and committed and have love in my heart for and that go back decades. No one’s ever curious about that. They’re never like, “Tell me about your most important friendship. How long was it?”

All of my closest friends are guys I’ve fucked.

Mine are not, but I do have a class of friends who I met on a dating app and we went out a couple of times and there wasn’t the right spark, but a wonderful person is now a friend. I don’t care how people get friends, I want them to have friends. If they have to have sex with them first, fine. It’s okay.

It’s the gay superpower.

I of course though would say, you may not be single, but you may be solo. I suspect that Dan Savage is solo.

In what way?

Three Elements Of Soloness

I have these three characteristics. What I say is that soloists is about identity. We live in a world where people are very keen on understanding your relationship status because they want to know how to treat you, but to me, I want to transcend relationship status because I think a person’s relationship status doesn’t tell you that much about them. It doesn’t tell you if they’re happy or not. It doesn’t tell you what their hobbies are. It doesn’t tell you where they live.

What’s often very interesting about people is who they are, what their values are and what their interests are rather than whether they’re partnered or, or unpartnered. I like this idea that you can as a solo move in and out of relationships, I like to say that not all singles are solo, but not all solos are single. Solo has three elements. I already know you have two of the three, but we’re going to go through them anyway. The first one is that a solo is wholehearted. That is, they don’t see themselves as half of a whole as an incomplete person.

I would encourage everyone partnered or not to see themselves as a whole person.

It opens up possibilities for interdependence rather than codependence.

You talked about this in the book where partnered people, there’s no guarantee you’ll be partnered always. if you invest in the belief that to be single is to be incomplete, you’re condemning yourself to being incomplete, to feeling incomplete, to feeling halved at some point because rare is the couple that’s together forever and defined forever. Rarer still is the couple that dropped dead at the exact same moment on the exact same day. You want a life for yourself that feels rewarding and satisfying where you feel complete and whole, whether you’re partnered or not. I say that I feel almost hypocritically as someone who between the ages of 18 and 59 was maybe single for 9 months.

How long have you been wholehearted would you say?

I don’t know. I always felt like I was wholly and fully myself and the people that I wound up dating, marrying or becoming long-term boyfriends with complimented each other and that they were whole people. We were planets coming into each other’s orbit. That’s how I always described it. We weren’t two halves of an orb coming together. We orbited around each other and it created a stability and structure like Terry and I always describe the guys we dated or saw together as coming into our orbit being a part of our solar system, not collapsing into some muck.

The second characteristic and this is the one I’m not sure about, is that solos tend to have an autonomous streak. They have this sense of self-reliance. They seek to solve their own problems. As I say, they’re a good parent to themself. I would’ve thought you had this, but you don’t know how to turn on your TV so I’m not sure.

I don’t know how to turn on my TV.

You can clothe, feed and soothe yourself.

I can feed myself as long as Terry keeps the refrigerator from food. I don’t know how to drive. I’m an ideas person and a writer. I’m not very organized on the life skill side. Terry makes sure that our health-insured bills are paid and taxes are done and they have to be done quarterly because I’m self-employed. Terry is on top of the business of Dan and Terry Incorporated. That frees me up to be Dan. I’m our primary income stream that to me seems equitable. I  work myself to death and pay the mortgage, keep the roof over our heads, food in the house and vacations on the calendar. I can go to Terry and say, “Are the taxes done?” They always are. I would fall apart if Terry dropped dead. I’ve warned my boyfriend if we ever get married because Terry dies, a whole world of hurt is going to fall down on him I hope he is ready for that. I’m not a functioning adult.

You’re highly self-aware and it sounds like you’re good parents to each other.

Good parents to our son.

That’s most important. The last one and I already know the answer is affirmative, is solos tend to be unconventional thinkers. They think differently about relationships and about life more generally this is basically your entire career. You are the person to go to if you want to think differently about your relationship.

We get to create our own relationships and we get to even create them within structures that we were told our definition of a relationship would never fit inside. Marriage was ours to adapt. People sometimes accuse gay men who’ve married some people in the queer left of having assimilated into marriage. It’s like, “We assimilated marriage into us. We remade it for us. We didn’t succumb to it or concede anything to marriage.” My model for that was straight people. Marriage is whatever two straight people say.

That’s fascinating. I’ve never thought of it that way because I’ve always thought it as very narrow, but you’re suggesting that it’s not as narrow as people assume.

That’s why there during the marriage quality movement, the right could make no sustainable argument to prevent gay people from marrying because if straight people were going to continue to marry the way straight people had been marrying for many years, you had to allow gay people to marry too.

I think it’s such a great way to think about it. If you’re going to start to relax and remove the rules, it’s very easy to say, “We’ve been relaxing and removing the rules for years now. Let’s keep doing it until we have a bespoke marriage.” I have some audience questions. Let’s do them a little Rapid-fire. One audience wrote, “What are the most common mistakes that poly ENM partners make?”

Monogamous people feel like a failure if their relationship ends. Polypeople often feel like a failure if any relationship ends. One of the most common mistakes I see poly people making is not knowing when to call it a monogamous couple. One person wants to start sleeping with somebody else and the other person isn’t down. They have to end that relationship before they can start a new relationship. A lot of poly people, you don’t have to end a relationship to start a new one they don’t. I see poly Qs where there are too many people with too many hooks and too many other people it’s too complicated a web and relationships that need to end because they don’t have to end for a new relationship to start are never ended and never called. They were put out of their misery.

All relationships are hierarchical. I think a certain hierarchical polyamory is unavoidable. It’s a lie. When poly people say they pr they’re practicing non-hierarchical polyamory, I think what that does is it disguise or obscure the hierarchies like, “Don’t look at the man behind the curtain. Don’t look at the actual power structures that exist in this web of relationships or in this relationship. Let’s pretend that there’s no jockeying for position or no one is being prioritized over anyone else.” I think that that can be that the pretense of a non-hierarchical polyamorous relationship is itself a gaslighting. It is better to acknowledge the power structures and differences that might exist than to lie to yourself or your other partners about them.

Another audience wrote, “What’s STI disclosure etiquette at sex parties? We’re going there. I have HSV one, parentheses G, yet participating in a sex party is still on my bucket list.”

Anybody at a sex party has signed up for herpes and HPV, you are volunteering for exposure, which does not necessarily mean contracting. Both of those are very easily contracted and most people experience minor and not at all life-threatening or even inconveniencing sexually transmitted infections. If you’ve had sex with more than ten people in your life, you’ve been exposed to herpes and HPV. If you’re going to have sex with ten people tonight, you can’t go to pieces. Nobody is obligated to disclose, I think under those conditions, herpes or HPV. That makes me a bit of an outlier. I think it’s better for people to disclose.

It helps diminish the stigma. Pro consent and the more informed the consent is, the better, but also don’t be an idiot. If you’re having sex with 20, 25 or 30 people at a sex club, you’re having sex with people who have sexually transmitted infections. You’re exposing yourself by the choice that you made to herpes in that environment potentially or HPV. Get on doxy pep, on prep and use condoms. You can mitigate your risk of exposure or contracting an STI. It is irrational to expect if you’re going to have that sex life that people are going to tell you whether they have herpes. They have herpes. You have herpes.

Two comments about that. I have an episode about STIs and you’ll be very happy. I had a nurse who treats this stuff a lot and then I had a gay man on. He was like, “You straight people need to learn to talk about STIs. It was very helpful to have him. I wouldn’t say he was nonchalant, but he was comfortable with these topics and had rules and perspectives and so on. That’s my first comment. The second one is, to your point about herpes in particular, for a long time I would go to Planned Parenthood for my STI checks and planned at least the Planned Parenthood I went to. I don’t know if it’s a national policy. It probably is unless you have symptoms and are concerned that you have herpes, they do not test for it. I asked why. The nurse said, “The stigma of knowing you have herpes is worse than having herpes.”

Most people who have herpes don’t know they have herpes. Maybe they had one minor outbreak and they didn’t even realize it or notice that it wasn’t particularly painful or they got sore and they didn’t do anything about it went away and they forgot about it. Some people have outlier experiences with herpes where they have very painful frequent outbreaks and health complications. That is not the experience of most people, but that is the fear that most people carry is the worst-case scenario version of herpes. There’s valacyclovir. There are other medications that can suppress herpes outbreaks and make somebody less infectious. People who have herpes who know it should be on those drugs. Many people who are worried that they’re going to get exposed to herpes already have it. If you’re at a sex club and/or party and you’re going to have sex with 10, 12, 20 people who’ve all had sex with 10, 12, 20 people and maybe not the same 12 or 20 people, come on, somebody should get up on a chair at one of those parties and say, “Ee all have herpes and now let us begin.”

Let’s take a break from the sex. You were on Dan Harris’s podcast according to one of my audience. He likes to ask all his guests if they have anything that he should have asked them but didn’t. You paused and started talking about urbanism and housing. You said, because this is according to the audience, “We need to end single-family zoning.” The audience calls it single-unit housing and she writes, “I’d love to hear his thoughts on how housing policy can support different types of households. This includes buying a home with someone else, like a friend or a sibling or living alone?”

The more supply there is, the more possible it’s yes for people, individuals, couples, poly triads and friends who want to co-own or co-share a co-living environment, the more is possible for them. Single-family zoning was created in the ‘50s  and ’60s to bring back redlining that wasn’t explicitly racist to price poorer people out of neighborhoods. Poor people tended to be people of color Black people. That’s why some people are trying to rename it exclusionary zoning. That’s what single-family zoning is. I live in a single-family neighborhood. I live in a house that I would tear down tomorrow if I could build, or a developer could build four apartments stacked on each other and we could have the top floor. I would do that in a heartbeat.

We need more supply. People complain about the unaffordability. When you look at housing prices and it’s about scarcity. There’s little of it that it got more and more expensive and now people can’t afford to live in the places where the jobs in the public transit are which is insane. Different kinds of people living together. I grew up in Chicago. Chicago is one of the success stories because Chicago built a lot of housing in the teens, ‘20s, ‘30s, ‘40s, ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, built a lot of giant apartment buildings everywhere. These massive apartment buildings in Chicago, many of which are very beautiful. Anybody ever seen a picture of the Chicago line. It’s lovely.

I’ve done the architectural boat tour of Chicago. It makes you want to move to Chicago.

Chicago is the best city in  North America. These giant lovely apartment buildings, have studio apartments, 1-bedroom apartments and 3-bedroom apartments that make it possible for families to live there, for people who raise their family in a 3-bedroom apartment then that couples kids grow up and move out, get their own places. I know people whose parents moved from the 3-bedroom in that apartment building to one of the studios or one of the 1-bedroom. They were able to downsize, but also age in place and stay in their neighborhood and stay in this building and still have the web of support and services that made it possible for them to live independently because they weren’t isolated out in the suburbs somewhere. Let’s plow under the suburbs. People who want single-family detached housing and car dependency will still have hundreds of millions of units of housing to choose from.

There’s plenty of that.

The center of cities should look like Chicago and should look like the best parts of New York.

Like Shanghai or Singapore because that’s where it’s being done right nowadays.

We have is housing policy that restricts what can be built in the center of the city because if you build too much housing too tall in the center of the city, it makes the people in the suburbs nervous, which is ridiculous. It makes the people in the suburbs feel like eventually, they’re going to be forced to live in an apartment. It’s like, “No one’s going to force you to live in an apartment.” What might be good is if your kids, when they move out of your single-family detached house in the suburbs, have the option of getting an apartment that they can afford close to you so they can be there for you. We somehow can’t do it. We have lost the ability to build cities where we build cities. We can’t build a city in the city where we live.

It’s deeply disturbing, I agree. We’re going to bring it to a close here, but I’m going to tape a little bonus material with you where I’m going to ask, you’re at the leading edge of this work. I want to ask you what I should be doing moving forward. My book launch has come to a close in terms of supporting the Solo Movement and building the solo project. For people who want to know that bonus material, they can sign up for the Solo Community at PeterMcGraw.org/Solo. I’ll be honest, I love talking to you and appreciate your insights in taking the time to get to know the solo audience and Solo Movement.

I enjoyed our conversation. I’m happy to drop by anytime.



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About Dan Savage

SOLO | Dan Savage | Solo MovementDan Savage is an American author, media pundit, journalist, and LGBTQ+ activist. He is best known for his syndicated sex advice column, “Savage Love,” which has been running since 1991. Savage is also the creator of the It Gets Better Project, a viral video campaign aimed at preventing suicide among LGBTQ+ youth. He has written several books, including “The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family” and “American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics.” Savage is known for his frank, humorous, and often controversial advice on sex, relationships, and politics. He has been a vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and has contributed to numerous publications, including The New York Times, GQ, and Salon.