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#543: I can’t sleep because my first prospect for a “real” relationship might secretly be a furry.

Hi Captain,

I’m afraid I’ve ruined something. I don’t feel comfortable talking with my support team about this yet for reasons that will soon be apparent.

Backstory: I am a woman in my later twenties whose longest relationship ever lasted 6 months (and honestly it’s stretching it to call it a relationship). This is not the issue, as I’m totally cool with it. I’d rather be single than in a bad relationship. I have dated, and it’s all been a big pile of meh that ended after 2 months.

Recently, I met someone. We’ve gone out a couple of times, and I can’t believe things are going this well. He’s been a complete gentleman, smart and funny and sweet, no red flags, and the dates have lasted pretty long. He isn’t someone I’d normally pick out as my type, but when we’re close there’s something indescribably hot about him (though we’re taking it slow). I’ve been gushing to my friends and family about it because I was excited to finally have someone around that I liked! And maybe I could get my feet wet with having a longterm relationship?

But I did something stupid. I accidentally found a treasure trove of old information. Pressed “search all contacts” on a social media app, and he showed up, with all of his public info. I wasn’t looking for him when I searched, but I checked it out when I saw it.

At first glance, some things made me groan, though nothing horrible. But I had to play internet detective. And it took me all of 5 minutes to realize his ex is a furry. With a full body suit. Their relationship only ended in the last year or so, and it seems unlikely he didn’t know about that. If he’s one, that would be a deal breaker for me.

Even though this is all out in the public, I feel embarrassed for finding it. I don’t know what to do. Do I ask him about it? There’s something about wanting him to explain his ex’s lifestyle that doesn’t sit well with me, especially since we haven’t had any serious relationship talks on our own. It’d even be different if he brought it up himself. But I’m more afraid of ignoring it and becoming a ghost at the table that he’ll get bored, and I’ll lose something I enjoyed because I internalized a problem.

I can’t tell my Team Me about this because I don’t want to air dirty laundry when I don’t have the full story. He’d be hanging out with them at some point, and I don’t think he could come back from that.

Honestly, I’d like to keep seeing this guy. I wish I had never looked so things could have stayed light and fun. But I don’t know what to do now. How can I pretend this didn’t happen until it comes up on its own?

Please help?

Sincerely,

Can’t sleep  because of this

Dear Can’t Sleep:

Sex with other people is a collaboration, and you make it up each time, with each new partner. We all have a collection of fantasies and preferences and history that we carry with us and that make up our identity. But one should never assume that because X partner enjoyed Y sex act, it will obviously be on the menu for everyone!

I think this is a source of a lot of people’s sexual insecurities, especially around exes. “But I am not as  experienced as X!” “But X did That Thing and I don’t like That Thing, so you will leave me for someone who does That Thing!” “But you used to do and enjoy That Thing at one time, so obviously you need That Thing in order to be happy!”

Let me use my Slutty Years to do some good in the world:

  • Exes are exes for a reason. 
  • Someone who is constantly thinking about their ex and comparing you to their ex during sex is a bad sex partner and a bad fit for you.
  • To take that a step further, “My ex was into ______ sex act you don’t like, if you really loved me you’d do it, too” is a nasty sexual pressuring tactic and should be given short shrift however you fill in that blank, because that’s how bad, coercive partners behave.
  • There is no ultimate & progressive Menu of Sex Acts, where sex with a new person must encompass everything you have ever done in your life to date + everything they have ever done in their life to date in order to be enjoyable, legitimate, hot, etc.
  • Some people have very complex sex lives that require extensive production design and stage management (A costume budget! Perhaps membership in a club! The cultivation of a discreet and efficient dry cleaner!) Due to sheer logistics, safety concerns, and (fortunately!) a culture of explicit prior negotiation and consent, dedicated kinksters are unlikely to make assumptions about your desires or spring theirs upon you unawares. In order to get their needs met, they HAVE to bring them up directly and negotiate them explicitly. 
  • Most people are very capable of mixing, er, genres. There are some people who like only Cerebral Foreign Movies With Female Leads or Darkly Suspenseful British Crime Dramas but most of us can interrupt our marathon of the original Prime Suspect reruns with the occasional Buddy Cop Comedy With Impressive Torsos and Unrealistic Acts of Kicking Things.
  • Speaking of genres, knowing what kind of wank-material someone reads or watches tells you little or nothing about what they actually enjoy doing, so please put aside the worry that your sweethearts all *really* want to be kidnapped by gay hobbit pirates who are really brothers and also wizards and who all speak in the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch.

Which means, whoa, back up a little bit with the assumptions and the worry!

  • You can’t assume that Curiously Hot Dude is a furry just because his ex was into that!
  • Say he had a lot of furry-sex (furred? fursuited?) with his ex. Maybe he loved it! Maybe he was totally meh on it and was only doing it to make her happy. You don’t know! Either way, you can’t assume that any of that applies to you. 
  • Say he is a furry and maybe wants to do that with you. He has a lot to risk by telling you (see: the reason you wrote to me vs. telling your friends), so he will probably not even bring it up without sussing out how you feel about it first. Watch for casual mentions of other kinky stuff where he gauges your reaction to it. And hey, he will be doing the exact same “Can I trust this person? What are my dealbreakers?” mental calculus that you are.
  • Say he is a furry and it’s a necessary, core part of his sexuality. It’s pretty likely he’d be looking for partners on a site devoted to kinksters and not wherever it is you met, but even so, it’s not going to be something you’ll exactly have to pry out of him.

I think the main issues here are pretty routine “new relationship” anxieties. As in:

  • You’ve only been on a few dates and you don’t really know him that well. You don’t know him well enough to know if you should trust him, if you could bring up uncomfortable topics with him, etc. Solution: Go slow, spend some more time together before making any big decisions or pronouncements. 
  • Despite not knowing him that well, you’ve oversold him a bit to your friends and family. It’s awesome to be excited about someone and feel like “This could be A Thing!” By all means gush about his sexiness and fine qualities to your people! But it needs more time, more trust, more knowledge before you really know whether it’s A Thing. I think some of your anxiety is coming from “But I just told everyone he’s great, what if we break up because: secret furry,” like, you would be letting them down in some way, or caught in a lie if the relationship didn’t work out. That’s too much pressure! Solution: Go slow, spend some more time together before making any big decisions or pronouncements.
  • You brought up your lack of “real” relationship experience as a prelude. This dude is just a person. You may want to date him. You may decide you don’t want to date him. I know that basically every piece of cultural information everywhere tells us that a relationship of a certain kind and length is an achievement we unlock on the way to adulthood, and jousting against the metanarrative is hard work. But the decision here isn’t whether you get a “real” relationship at the end of this, the decision is does this Curiously Hot Guy delight you? Does spending time with him make you feel happy? Does he feel safe and comfortable and trustworthy? Does he call when he says he’ll call and show up reliably in your life? If you decide to have sex, is that sex making you happy? Solution: Go slow, spend more time with him before making any big decisions or pronouncements.
  • You have something to lose, so you’re looking for ways to pick it apart before it falls apart. “Things are going really well! I know, I’ll look for the hidden flaw that must be present!” It pays to be wary and do some due diligence before giving your heart away to someone new, but if you try to prevent yourself from ever being hurt or trusting someone you also close yourself off to the possibility of connection. Solution: Go slow and spend more time together before making any big decisions or pronouncements.

You asked whether you should ask him about the information you found, and I think the answer is: Treat lightly, here. We should be able to talk openly about sex with people we’re contemplating having sex with, and yet? I think you are right to be uncomfortable with the idea of making him answer in some way for his ex’s sexuality. It’s not a photo of him, it’s not a photo he put on the internet, it’s not something he’s brought up with you or tried to make public in any way (or something he particularly tried to hide), so I think this one might be his to tell, not yours to discover.

Questions that affect sexual health are 100% within bounds: Testing, history, safer-sex practices, violence, coercion, a history of risky behavior, etc. A new sex partner who is casual about condom use with you is probably not careful on the balance. Someone who tests your stated boundaries, describes all exes as “prudes” and “bitches,” shows contempt for consent, uses guilt and manipulation = run away!

But it’s a voluntary reporting system. People can lie, of course, or keep secrets. Getting close to someone means making ourselves vulnerable, but risk doesn’t mean that we get to shine a light into all the corners of our partner’s sexual history and weigh and judge what we find there. It doesn’t mean we are owed an explanation for everything that happened in someone’s sexual past.

And hey, the heart (and the groin) don’t have to be fair. If the information you Googled for is all telling you “Nope!”, if it’s all too much to contemplate, then bail. However, if you’re looking for reasons to keep seeing him, I don’t think you learned anything all that damning in your searches. If he is that kind of bad, pressuring boyfriend who would try to get you to do stuff you’re not into, that would be a way bigger issue than “dated someone who has a kink that’s an easy target for ridicule,” in my opinion.

 

I think, if you like this guy and want to spend more time with him, that you should do so. Stop Googling, resist the urge to merge with him on every social media platform, stop selling yourself and your friends on the future, and pay attention to how he treats you now. Maybe, as you get closer, he will tell you of his time among the furries, and you can tell him “Actually, I Googled you back when we first met, and found a photo. I wanted to ask you about it, but I didn’t want to pry” which is a much better conversation than Please Explain This Thing I Just Found, Guy I’ve Been Out With Twice.

I wish you a good night’s sleep and at least a few more dates with Curiously Hot Guy before you make any big decisions.

 

 

104 comments
  1. Zillah said:

    I agree with everything the captain said.

    I can totally understand it if him being a furry is a dealbreaker. Only you get to decide what your dealbreakers are. At the same time, though, I think it’s good to recognize that what a significant other did in the past is not the same thing as what they want to do right now. What someone did in the past isn’t the same thing as what they do now, and while there are some things that may be dealbreakers anyway, I think it’s worth restructuring it like that, you know?

    • JenniferP said:

      Also, worth repeating: The picture isn’t of him.

      • Zillah said:

        Yep, and I don’t know a lot of people who would love current romantic interests making judgments about them based on an ex’s sexual habits/proclivities.

        • Rowan said:

          Oh god, I’ve just thought about how people might judge me based on my ex’s various… er… interests. GAH!!

        • H. Regalis said:

          Seconding this and the Captain’s advice. If I were in LW’s potential S.O.’s place, “I found a picture of one of your exes doing [insert fetish here]. Are you into that? Because that is a dealbreaker for me” would feel like getting called up before Relationship HUAC.

  2. I think this comic is relevant: http://xkcd.com/471/

    Which isn’t to say that fur can’t be a dealbreaker for you, LW. It totally can. “Okay for him to do his thing” ≠ “you have to let him do his thing WITH YOU or you’re a bigot.”

    But Internet culture has kind of built furriness up as this incredibly shameful and terrible thing, instead of a kink/hobby you don’t happen to share. Try and frame this in your mind as “we might be sexually incompatible” (or interest-incompatible; it’s not always a sex thing), not as “he might have A Terrible Secret.”

    Any new relationship can be stopped short by incompatibilities, and this isn’t really a special case. You aren’t about to be “someone who dated A FURRY”; just potentially “someone who dated a guy and it didn’t work out.”

    • RP said:

      “But Internet culture has kind of built furriness up as this incredibly shameful and terrible thing”

      The comic makes a very good point about the Internet being otherwise OK with nearly every other possible fetish and it made me wonder why and how being a furry got singled out. I think it’s because it’s actually pretty ‘safe’ to admit you’ve heard of it or seen it. It’s hard to make fun of something if the second you admit you’ve seen it, people are asking what you were doing to even find that.

      I’m not sure if that will be useful to the LW but if they are upset more over how other people will react than how they feel about it personally, maybe it will help.

      • RP said:

        I’m not sure any of that made sense and I can’t edit it.

      • Jota said:

        I think the whole anti-furry is exclusively originated in 4-chan. Just like people who posted in Gaia forums, or people who liked Twilight, or bronies, furries were the “thing-to-troll of the week”.
        But that one spilled over the mainstream, because furry is intersectional to many “hates”.

        • Emmers said:

          If it’s not too derailing, can I ask how it’s intersectional? I know some furries who aren’t straight, but that’s only one intersection, and I don’t even know if gay people are overrepresented in the furry population vs. the population as a whole.

          • Jake said:

            I think it’s about how many people have lots of hates about sex (queer, kink, casual, pre/extra-marital, non-procreative, etc). And also many people kind of hate nerds and other folks who get really into their fandoms.

      • Cyberwulf said:

        The furry community is extremely tolerant of nearly every sexual fetish, as long as you stick on some ears and a tail. To outsiders, at first glance it looks like “omg, these people want to have sex with animals”, mixed with “omg that’s sick” depending on the person and the kink. It doesn’t help that the community is inclined to tolerate people who actually do practice bestiality.

        • anon-for-this said:

          [TW for coercive rape including of minors by adults]

          *nod*

          Not a furry but am part of the SCA. Have found similar dynamic exists in parts of the SCA where a lot of things are/were tolerated, even that never should have been (i.e., drunk teenagers sleeping with the over-21s who provided the alcohol), because hey, if we’re recreating the past as it “should have been” why not do that for relationship styles? This did not end well and when there was a situation blatant enough that someone got himself put in charge of children’s activities and used that post for predatory child-molesting purposes, the SCA came close to getting itself sued out of existence.

          There was also near the group I started with a lot of crossover between the local SCA and the local kink groups. There was also this nasty manifestation of the Geek Social Fallacies that seemed to morph into “any wild BS story that my friend comes up with must be treated as if it is Absolutely True at all times, no matter what, or I am a bad friend.” (I’m talking things like…well, I can’t remember how many reincarnations of Merlin I supposedly encountered, and my Darth Vader ex was one of them. Yeah, I know, I KNOW.) In that context, believing people’s wild stories often included being coerced into sexual activity because somehow that was mandatory as part of the story.

          I think it’s that whole thing where once you’ve got a non-mainstream interest or several, and people are side-eyeing you for that, suddenly The Rules Don’t Apply – and predatory people are really, REALLY good at using that to their advantage.

        • Jake said:

          Is that actually true though? I mean, I’m not a furry, nor do I know any (who are out to me), but it seems to me that dressing up in fursuits and doing whatever is a bit of harmless fun, but if the community really is “inclined to tolerate people who actually do practice bestiality” that’s a Very Bad Thing.

          • Utter East said:

            The vast majority of furries are just people who enjoy depictions of anthropomorphic animals– kink, sexual fursuits, bestiality, etc. are not a prerequisite for joining the furry community. However, as a community of nerds, the furry community is shot through with Geek Social Fallacy #1 (http://www.plausiblydeniable.com/opinion/gsf.html). They’re incredibly reluctant to oust zoophiles, pedophiles, rapists, and other offenders from their midst because it feels like “drama”. One of the larger furry art sites, FurAffinity, recently experienced a huge exodus of artists to a rival site, Weasyl, because FA had given a technical position to a known rapist.

          • Jake said:

            Ah, I see. That makes sense (although I still think it’s definitely a Very Bad Thing, it’s a common Very Bad Thing that I’ve seen elsewhere (although maybe not with bestiality)). So what you’re saying is furries are just people, like all other people? Who’da thunk it.

          • laughingdove said:

            This kind of seems like a community based thing. A lot of furry communities are sadly very toxic places, not because of people being furry, but because of toxic practices becoming commonplace. There are also some very sweet communities hidden away in little corners away from the dickbutts. Having been involved in a number of internet cultures I can tell you that literally every subculture is vulnerable to this kind of thing. I see people being very worried about furries drawing art and having consensual sex in fursuits and at the same time taking photographs of real people (actors in popular shows) and photoshopping and tracing them to include lewd or even violent sexual acts. I’ve also seen a huge amount of tolerance of coercive behaviour, manipulation, lies and rape in more mainstream cultures. Even the knitting circles have their dirty little secrets.

            On a side note, largely the furry community sees itself as a kind of ‘fandom’ above all based on a few tropes of anthropomorphising animals, with sexual subsections. I have no idea what the numbers are on how much of it is made up of each. I will say that the number of people who have sex in fursuits is absolutely tiny and most people treat their suits as mascots and have a culture of entering an identity that is open and approachable, without social anxiety or pressure, and sometimes to take on an identity they like (one of the biggest taboos is taking off a fursuit head in public, i.e. ruining the magic). It’s mostly a form of cosplaying, in other words. So, even if hot guy is a furry, it doesn’t mean that he’s necessarily a sexual deviant. Maybe he just thinks Disney’s Robin Hood was a cute movie.

  3. *cough* If I may, as someone who sells a lot of art to furries while not being one myself–some of them are totally into the kink, 100%! All the way! The more fur, the better!

    Aaaaand some of them think talking animals are neat. Full stop. No, really.

    It’s really, truly like any other fandom. There really are degrees. I am not saying that the OP’s prospective boyfriend here may not be furry to the bone and have a suit with oddly placed zippers in the closet, but he could also just have a collection of wolf T-shirts and fond memories of Disney’s Robin Hood. There is a spectrum between fandom and kink, and it’s totally possible to be on one side or the other. You can totally love dragons without…um…LOVING dragons. As it were.

    It is totally cool if any hint of furriness is a complete and total deal-breaker! Everybody gets deal-breakers! But, y’know, if you’re really into this guy otherwise, it might be worth testing the waters to see if it’s fandom or kink.

    • Pixel Prism said:

      This! This is exactly what I wanted to say. Not all folks who are furry are into furry sex. In fact a lot of folks aren’t. Just because someone has a fursuit doesn’t mean they want to bump uglies in it. (And anyways, those things are *expensive* and I can’t imagine the dry cleaning bill being much better.)

    • Moss said:

      Yes! I read a great tumblr by someone who fursuits in an entirely non-sexual way, and they do educational entertainment about animals for children and suit up at cons but that’s it. The fact that they don’t fill their tumblr with constant ‘I’m not a sexual fursuiter!’ disclaimers suggests that this isn’t uncommon at all.

    • thathat said:

      This. I used to do a lot of (PG) furry art, so I was in the community without really being into the fursuit or the sex or any of that. I’ve met furries at conventions to, though I haven’t gone to a full-out furry convention. And most of them are just very nice people, doing something dorky that makes them happy, which, well, that’s what I do too. And like everything else, even kink itself, there are different levels of involvement for all those different people.

      Yes, if this is a dealbreaker for you, then that’s completely understandable.

      But the internet of the past ten or so years has really fostered this pearl-clutching mockery of furries on principle (and suddenly I’m wondering how much of that is because the furry community, that I saw anyway, also had a pretty large gay scene. I was just a kid at the time, didn’t really know much about sociology or any of that, but anyone else think that maybe it was part of that whole “gays are weird/promiscuous/obsessed with sex–especially weird sex” mindset that was more prevalent around the dawn of the internet? Also, IIRC, a good chunk of it was teenagers basically exploring their sexuality for the first time in a mental setting that made them feel powerful).

      So if you think it’s weird, hey, it’s a bit strange. If he is into it and you think it’s too weird for you, that is a completely viable thing to decide in a relationship–you have to be comfortable. But if it’s just because “furry” is a buzzword for “weird, sexually deviant creep”…well…*shrug*

      Ultimately it’s what you’re comfortable with. But they’re not all creeps, is what I wanted to say.

    • Brynndragon said:

      Yea, I’m always kinda confused that the first thing people think of when they hear/see furry is “kink” rather than “cosplay”. Because the vast majority of people who enjoy wearing fursuits do so because they enjoy pretending to be an anthropomorphic animal, not because it gets them off. Of course there can be overlap, because we’re sexual beings, but again, that’s not actually different from any other form of cosplay.

  4. It’s fine to have dealbreakers, but looking to identify them all as quickly as possible is just a way to make yourself unhappy. Sometimes we mis-identify them – like maybe you are now? – or we find out they’re not dealbreakers at all, or that our understanding of the situation is imprecise. Or maybe they are dealbreakers for the long term but in the short term we gain a lot from the relationship. Let things play out at their own pace. Some things deserve keeping a careful eye out for, for our own safety, but other people’s harmless kinks (even if we don’t ever want to share them) don’t qualify.

    • delurked said:

      “Sometimes we mis-identify them – like maybe you are now? – or we find out they’re not dealbreakers at all, or that our understanding of the situation is imprecise.”

      I completely agree with this sentence, when I was in my early twenties I furries “squicked” me out. To the point I was kind of mean about it, which I really regret. I thought because I caught wiffs of the most odd and notable furries they kinda spoke for the whole fandom or scene, turns out they were the most talked about and the most notable becuase they were outliers. It’s only been a couple years and I’m in my later twenties but I met a wonderful guy who is a self-professed and open furry and I met a lot of his furry friends. Turns out they were squicked out by a lot of the same kind of people for the same reason I was. Also there is a whole array of people who just got really into Disney’s robin hood as kids, (or duck tails, or the jungle book) and thought talking animals were cool.

      Now don’t get me wrong you’re entitled to have deal breakers and if this is too much of a differing interest (if he even is a furry or just friends with one) that’s understandable. But like the captain said why not get to know a person better and find out his investment or interest in the fur. The furries that are sweet and vanilla and just like being craft and making suits or drawing, then there are the really heavily kinky furries. Even the kinky ones run the whole gamet of “respectful of boundaries” to “red alert darth is inbound”. So feel free to see what kind of guy this guy really is, weather or not he is a furry.

      In my own experience I had to lay my assumptions at the door and think “okay how does he treat me? how does he make me feel?” And this guy makes me feel really really good, I got to say I love him. Nothing about his fandom or interest affects me negatively. Some of his friends are even super nice and draw me cute pictures of my favorite animals. But that’s just my own experiences, let your own feelings, comfort level and judgements guide you; just not someone else’s judgements. There are guys who would be turned off by my complete lack of interest in football and people who would turn me off by the complete lack of interest in human behavior. But as an example I was a non-furry who got wooed by a furry and am happy as hell. My story isn’t your’s though, I got my own wierdness I’m down with. Just don’t let pre-relationship jitters, or assumptions about a picture, or what furry may mean stop you from exploring or cutting things off preemptively.

  5. staranise said:

    Some people have very complex sex lives that require extensive production design and stage management (A costume budget! Perhaps membership in a club! The cultivation of a discreet and efficient dry cleaner!)

    I heart this, so much. It makes being a kinkster sound like being Sherlock Holmes.

  6. Also, not all furries (even the ones that wear fursuits) are into the sexual aspect. (I mean, maybe the context of the photo made it clear that it was a sexy thing, idk.) What part of “being a furry” is a dealbreaker for you? Like, obviously you’re not into sexy fursuit time, but maybe he just likes drawing himself as a sloth or going to cons. Furry fandom (like a lot of fandoms) has a lot of overlap between “I enjoy this thing and want to hang out with other people who enjoy it” and “unff sexy yes please”.

    • JenniferP said:

      The LW doesn’t have to answer this or even know why to have it be a dealbreaker, so I would counsel against a “Be more open-minded!” train of advice.

      First of all, the photo isn’t of him.

      Second, you get to just not like stuff, without investigating it further. Dudes-with-ponytails were a dealbreaker for me last time I was online dating. As in, I would not answer messages from dudes with ponytails, even if they were spelled right and respectful and everything seemed cool. We don’t have to justify ourselves on that primal “Do I find this sexy?” level. To anyone.

      • Oh, yeah, for sure! Bad phrasing on my part. I just meant it as a “it’s not necessarily a sexual thing” (which a lot of other people got to while I was typing, ack) which the LW might not have realized. So if it’s *just* the sexual aspect is the concern, then even if he is a furry (and like you said, the photo’s not of him!) it still might not be a problem. But if it is, that’s fine! I definitely didn’t mean to imply she had to date him otherwise- that’s not gonna be fun for anyone.

      • Not the OP, but just wanted to chime in: This is all absolutely true, but for me I couldn’t tell whether LW dislikes furries because they do, but because society/the internet tells them that they should. LW is absolutely entitled to think and react in whichever way is right for them, but, speaking as someone who used to have a few ‘deal breakers’ which came from much the same place of ‘should’, only to find that, actually, they weren’t a real problem for me at all, I would counsel LW to think a little bit about where the reaction is coming from before acting on it, given how much they otherwise like the guy. Not to justify it in any way, but just to think about whether it truly is, or whether they just think it ought to be.

        As you said, no one is required to justify what they do and don’t find sexy, but sometimes socially conditioned ‘Nope’ reactions and primal ones feel very similar in the first instance. In cases like this, where there is no harm being done but it may hurt the LW to act on it, surely there is no harm in suggesting a little introspection before making the decision?

  7. Ezzy said:

    Hi LW! As always, the captain gives great advice. It’s always a little unsettling (or a lot) to discover your date’s history, and on one presentation, it may appear vastly embarrassing/utterly unlike the person you think you’re experiencing now. But (again with the usual caveats – if it’s violence, contempt for consent, abusive, RUN AWAY), that’s usually ok. People explore different parts of themselves in past relationships – some stuff sticks, but much can be chalked up to the context at the time. I would hate to go over my past relationships and justify every decision in the context of who I am now – that’s why I was experimenting, and I only kept what I wanted to keep. If you want to keep seeing him, it doesn’t sound like you have any reason not to, and the captain is spot on – slow down, take it easy and see what happens. Best of luck, and I hope you’re sleeping again!

    • “I would hate to go over my past relationships and justify every decision in the context of who I am now – that’s why I was experimenting, and I only kept what I wanted to keep.”

      This is such a nice way to frame it. Thank you.

  8. Baytree said:

    I know you get to pick anything you like as being a dealbreaker. BUT. I also would like to point out that being a furry is not necessarily a sexual thing! At all! Even folks who like to wear full body costumes often do it because… dressing up in costumes is fun. And they think tigers or whatever look really cool. For other people it’s an expression of their personality, or because they like feeling of anonymity sometimes, or any number of other reasons.

    That’s not to say it ISN’T a kink for your ex. Some people get off on it and that’s fine for them. But unless you’ve got specific reason to believe it’s sexual for him, maybe assume that it isn’t?

  9. A said:

    The cap’n has good points… But I want to add something else. Not all furrirs are into furry sex/fursuits/any given part of that community. Point in fact, from what I’ve heard from folks I know who are into that community? Most aren’t into having seed in fur suits. And that includes a lot of people who wear the suits braise they really like the suits. The majority just like cartoon animals a lot. So there’s a good chance you’re worrying about nothing.

    That said, of this something that’s a deal breaker for you, it’s a deal breaker for you and that’s okay. Is up to you to decide if and/or for how long you want to keep things going. I mostly just wanted to point out that the stereotype you (and the cap’n, frankly) seem to be going off of has a very good chance of not being the case.

  10. I feel like there’s a pretty wide range of how people who would self-identify as furries incorporate that identity into their sexuality, from “this is an integral part of my sexual self” to “sometimes it’s fun” to “this is a completely nonsexual part of my life,” with wide range of in-between states as well.
    I mean, that can be a dealbreaker for you and that’s fine, everyone has them, but maybe “I only have sex in a fursuit” is a dealbreaker but “hot damn it would be awesome to be a dog sometimes” or “I think anthro animals are cute” isn’t?

    If this guy is a furry AND there’s a sexual component to it, you’ll probably find out soon enough, and you can figure out how you respond then. But I think pre-emptively shutting things down, or confronting him about a picture of his ex, isn’t your best choice.

    Also, I think various nerdy or weird things that people incorporate into their sex lives can seem really odd when you’re explaining them but are less of a big deal in the moment. I had an ex who was super into the guy playing Tom Riddle in the second Harry Potter movie and sent me an email with a “snotty Slytherin Quidditch player goes through hazing ritual” description and a sexy picture of him partially clothed in house colors. Maybe that sounds like a huge nerdy dealbreaker to y’all but at the time I thought “huh, this isn’t my thing, but now I have a sexy picture.” He was a shitty boyfriend for sure, but not because he had sexy Harry Potter thoughts.

  11. tawg said:

    So. I’ve had some weird sex in my life. And sometimes kinks come and go. In my last relationship there was some interesting, frisky stuff we got into and that was fun and all, but tbh that relationship ended really badly, and it’s a bit over a year since I left my ex and I still have really strong feelings that I never want to do any of that stuff ever again. Maybe when I’m further in the healing process I’ll want to play with those kinks again. Maybe I’ll find other things that will be an even better experience for me and the ex-associated kinks can stay in the past. Sex is circumstantial, I guess is what I’m getting at.

    And there are lots of different ways to perform/be involved with a kink. Not every furry is going to be a furry in the exact same way. Not everyone will be using the same handbook, and doing the same things with their fur suits on. So, since it seems like you’re pretty anxious about what your partner possibly being a furry, or possibly being involved with a furry might mean, maybe step away from that line of thought. Try not to dwell on it because you won’t know what he’s into until you know, and it’s possible that he might be into things that aren’t dealbreakers for you after all.

    • anon said:

      Along the lines of “sex is circumstantial,” I’m a pretty kinky person, and sometimes new partners are not as kinky for one reason or another. I don’t ask everyone I meet to drink my blood or whatever, and it doesn’t make that sex unsatisfying or unimportant. It isn’t /worse/ just because it doesn’t incorporate kinks I like. Sex is for both parties involved. You do what you both like, and that’s what makes it good.

      So even assuming all the guns you (the LW) has jumped turn up to be legitimate facts and he /is/ a kinky furry, it may never come up and it will never happen with you. Again, if even the knowledge of it is a dealbreaker that’s totally fine, but if it’s from a place of “oh god I could never do that,” well, you don’t have to, and since you’re obviously not comfortable with that kink, he may be able to pick up on that and may never even ask.

  12. Anonymous said:

    I’ve been in a (somewhat) similar place. Back when I met hubby (so hey – happy ending!) we had a great first couple of dates. I had a vibe though, that there was something not 100% Hetero about him so I engaged the google-fu. I found some old blog posts where he self identified as bi but tending towards wanting a monogamous relationship with a woman.

    Like the OP I wondered whether to bring this up. But as The Captain suggested I held off. For exactly the reasons she suggests: I really liked him. We had fun on our dates. It was very early days. And, ultimately, I decided that it would be important to see what he had to say on the subject when he was ready. I mean, my only real ex is a tractor loving country boy (and that’s great) but that wasn’t my only type.

    So I waited and we continued to have fun and suss out answers to other questions (good kisser? Taste in movies?). Soon enough, he actually brought it up. I think he was more nervous than I was. He was and is proud of who he is and his past, as am I, but he knew it might be a deal breaker for some. To be honest, I had no idea if it would be until we talked.

    We chatted. I mentioned the blog post, again like Cap says with an “I was wondering about that”. I asked questions, he answered. Now we’re married with kids.

    Now, that obviously isn’t how it will play out with everybody, but it also wasn’t my expectation either. At the time it was more like “hmmm….anything here that gives me the nopes?” (As the sexual history convo would in ANY situation). “No, all good, still digging him, mmmkay proceed with operation date as normal.”

    Good luck to you OP!

  13. Furry isn’t my kink, but I am kinky, and a lot of this advice did not sit well with me.

    Instead of “So what if he’s a furry?” the answer is, “Oh don’t worry, it’s so unlikely that he’d be ONE OF THEM.”

    This in particular is not correct: “Say he is a furry and it’s a necessary, core part of his sexuality. It’s pretty likely he’d be looking for partners on a site devoted to kinksters and not wherever it is you met, but even so, it’s not going to be something you’ll exactly have to pry out of him.”

    What now? Are kinky people somehow not allowed to meet people in a vanilla context or venue or dating site? We do meet people that way, every day. And when we do, some of us absolutely do take it slow. A rejection is unpleasant and a rejection for sex-related reasons is usually awful. Some people just spit it out on the first date to get it over with, but other try to see what happens next, first. Maybe you don’t want their friends to know what you are into, and a rejection means it will get blabbed. Maybe you sense that, like this person, they will freaking lose sleep over it! That’s what’s *nice* about meeting on kinkster sites, having to avoid all that, but that doesn’t mean we don’t take the risk on vanilla sites or on people we met and like in vanilla contexts.

    • Dante said:

      Instead of “So what if he’s a furry?” the answer is, “Oh don’t worry, it’s so unlikely that he’d be ONE OF THEM.”

      I may not be understanding completely, but are you saying that the “correct” advice should be “so what if he’s a furry”? More or less that the LW ought to be non-judgmental about that?

      Because I don’t think that is correct at all. The LW is allowed to think that someone being a furry is a Big Deal and a dealbreaker. The LW is allowed to think that someone who was furry in the past (but maybe isn’t now) is not an attractive partner, or that someone who, in the past, had sex with a furry is not an attractive partner.

      We all need to be open-minded and accepting of people who have harmless quirks in social settings, but that does not extend to romantic/sexual relationships. You can’t force a person to be turned on by someone with a trait that is extremely off-putting.

      • staranise said:

        Yeah, the problem with “trivial” dealbreakers is, we never know what caused them. to pull an example out of my elbow, maybe the LW has a childhood trauma that involved a sports mascot and now has awful flashbacks when even vaguely reminded of it. It’s not that furries are inherently awful, just that the LW isn’t comfortable with them, which is a division people on both sides of the equation can lose sight of.

    • Lucia said:

      Just corroborating this briefly; I am kinky as fuck and I avoid the shit out of kinky networking sites because the culture there is fucking gross and I get nothing but dick pics and offers to suck my toes and all kinds of other nasty crap I never, ever, ever asked for. Now, that’s like 99% less likely to happen to *dudes*, but I know guys who avoid those sites, too, because they hate the way other folks get treated there.

      Specialty sites have their own cultures, and sometimes they are antithetical to one’s mental well-being, is what I’m saying.

      • Wren said:

        So much this! I am extremely kinky and I despise online kink communities for the reasons you mentioned. /solidarity

        • JenniferP said:

          Inappropriate, pushy, presumptive happens on every online dating site, though I imagine the kink-specific ones can get extremely specific.

          • Maggie said:

            I am a member or veteran of many sites, both kink and vanilla dating. Kink is all the bad stuff about online dating turned up to 11. I think, anyway. It has good stuff, and I’ve met people I care about there, but…I find it hard to deal with as a feminist.

    • charmed.omega said:

      Also, the LW has already answered “So what if he’s a furry?”. Her answer is *it’s a dealbreaker*. For her. Because it’s her dating life.

    • Anisoptera said:

      I think the tricky thing here is that this is all happening in the context of a culture that seems to have arbitrarily decided that a harmless kink involving an interest in anthropomorphic animals is the most shameful, terrible thing ever, and that anyone into it is somehow the lowest of the low. It’s not my thing personally but I have massive side eye for the way it’s viewed in geek society.

      So I understand the desire to see that here, or ask if it’s a factor here. But I don’t think people are saying “he may not be one of THOSE furries” – they’re saying that even if he is a furry that can mean loads of different things and not all of those things may be deal breakers. So more information is definitely required before the LW makes a decision. She still gets to decide that furry is a deal breaker. Just, maybe find out if he actually is, or ever was, and what that actually means before deciding.

    • twomoogles said:

      I didn’t so much take it as “he might not be an icky furry” but “don’t assume anything based on one picture that’s not even of him.” Which is pretty sound advice regardless of what the dealbreaker in question is!

  14. boutet said:

    I think the point of “not him in the picture” is a really good point. There’s a picture online of one of my ex’s wearing cat ears and a bow tie with no shirt. This does not indicate anything at all about me, my sexual experience or preference. Hell, it doesn’t indicate anything about ex, or ex’s sexual experience or preferences. It just means that once someone took a picture of him in a costume and then he put it online. The end.

  15. Experimental said:

    (Regular commenter anon here for partner’s privacy)

    My awesome boyfriend is connected to the furry community. He used to edit a furry magazine and I found this out via an internet search I maybe shouldn’t have done. Several of his friends are open about being furries, so I shouldn’t have been surprised or bothered, but I was a bit.

    When we talked about it, I found that furry was all about the artwork for him, and not a sexual thing. He’s fun and creative in all areas of life, including in bed, and open to trying interesting kinks (and we do experiment with all sorts of things), but as it happens he hasn’t done any sexual furry stuff and isn’t bothered about trying it. I certainly wouldn’t make any assumptions about his sexual tastes or experiences based on a photo of an ex.

  16. OK, so you get to choose your dealbreakers, sure. You also get to choose what counts as early-relationship conversation. YMMV, but I’ve had really good results with “Hey, I wasn’t intentionally spying on you, but I accidentally found this thing. I’m not freaking out, and I know that I don’t know anything about the situation and it’s not my business. But if it kinda is my business, I’m ready to listen whenever you’re ready to talk.”

    • Tabitha said:

      I agree with you that that is a good way to open up the conversation if you want to but I’m not sure it’s a good idea unless you’re 100% sure you can keep any judgements out of it.

      It sounds like the OP is really sure that this is a dealbreaker for them. That’s fine and they get to decide that for themselves but even if this guy isn’t a furry himself, if he knew about, and didn’t mind, his ex’s preference, the OP is probably going to put him on the defensive if they bring it up. If they aren’t sure they can keep their own feelings separate then they probably shouldn’t ask until the two of them know each other much better.

    • tinyorc said:

      I have never seen good results come from a conversation that starts with the phrase, “So I wasn’t intentionally spying on you…” Even when the people involved are very close, even when the thing was maybe kinda their business.

      If you genuinely believe something is none of your business, then you know that you have no business bringing it up, so starting the conversation with a bunch of qualifiers about how it’s definitely none of your business sounds kind of disingenuous. I cannot imagine this dude reacting to it as anything other than an accusation or a demand for an explanation, no matter how gently it’s phrased. And he does not owe LW any explanations at this point in time.

      • neverjaunty said:

        I agree with this completely. For one thing, in this situation, it would be a lie. Even if the LW’s initial poking around on social media was accidental, LW is very clear that after that, she decided to “play internet detective”, in her words. So even if Boyfriend is very mellow about the whole thing, it’s going to become clear, very quickly, that there is a lot more to how LW found out than, oh, I was walking by your computer and just looked at the screen for a second.

        Also, tinyorc is right that the isn’t my business thing is disingenuous. I wouldn’t even know how to react to somebody saying that to me. If it isn’t their business, then why the hell are they even bringing it up? If they’re worried it is their business, why not just say so?

  17. Gine said:

    I don’t really have anything to add to the Captain’s advice, but LW, I just wanted to offer you a virtual fist-bump of solidarity in regard to the “haven’t dated much, fine with that, but can get a little worked up about the positive AND potentially negative stuff in a budding relationship as a result.” My romantic history is…bleak, to put it mildly, but I’m of the same mind as you–being alone is SO much better than being in relationship that doesn’t feel right. I so rarely meet people I feel drawn too, though, that it’s hard not to get a little overexcited when it happens, and I start to feel “OMG HE’S THE ONE” and “Okay, let’s predict what’s going to eventually go terribly wrong because obviously something will” concurrently, and I end up stressing myself out (I am definitely not one of those “in love with love” people. The uncertainty at the beginning of relationships is excruciating for me).

    So, I get it. But if you really like this guy, I think you owe it to yourself to try to get to know him better and take things as they come. If you do eventually decide that the two of you aren’t compatible, that’s fine, but, if I may use a truly terrible metaphor, don’t nip something that could turn into a lovely flower in the bud just because you’re afraid you might be allergic.

    • OMG Gine I am totally with you on the beginning-of-a-relationship anxiety. So many people / advice-rs are like, “the first part is easy! smooth sailing! if it’s too much work then then imagine how much more blah blah!” but I think for anxiety-havers who freak out about uncertainty, or have “bleak” romantic pasts, the beginning can be WAY scary/hard.

      • Gine said:

        So much. If I could, I’d magically skip to a few weeks or even months into the relationship where you’re comfortable with each other and know, for the most part, where you both stand. Even though that’s when the real issues start popping up and needing to be worked through, I’m waaaay more comfortable with concrete problems than uncertainty.

  18. Bittybird said:

    Hey. Not all furries are the same and furry means different things to different people. Not all people engage in their fandom as a lifestyle. Not all people experience it as a sexuality. For many people, furry means that you like “funny animal” art. That’s it. :) Now, if you hate Bugs Bunny and can’t stand the thought of being with a guy who has cartoon animal pictures on his wall, that’s okay! That can be a dealbreaker for you. But, if you’re upset because you’re under the (popularized by the media) impression that furry=dirty, dirty kink and you’re up all night having nightmare-fantasies of him having sex in a husky suit (which doesn’t bother me, but again gets to be a big ol dealbreaker for you)…you’re worrying yourself over kinks that there’s no evidence he has. You don’t even know if his ex was a kinky furry, or if she just always dreamed of wearing the mascot suit for her high schools football team and now indulges that lifelong dream in a convention of mascot-loving peers. And even if she is…plenty of furries have happy love lives with non-furries; her tastes are not transitively his tastes.I date a hardcore tabletop gamer, but I, myself, am not a hardcore tabletop gamer and evidence of his gamer-ness is not evidence of my own gamer-ness. Nerd cultures can happily cross.

    Breathe. You don’t know what he’s into because you don’t really know him yet. There’s nothing to be scared of.

  19. So I discovered kink and went through a period where I was strongly identifying as kinky and attending public play parties and munches etc. My experiences were at the time rewarding to me in a way that “vanilla” just hadn’t been, so I figured that just must be the way I am now – it felt a little like realising that I was bi and just presuming that it was now an intrinsic part of my identity. So when I online-met a guy whose first message to me was “so what’s a munch?” I very nearly didn’t bother following up. I was KINKY now, yannow? And maybe I didn’t even really wanna bother with someone who didn’t know what a munch was?

    Then we exchanged a bunch of messages and I found out he was extremely versatile, open-minded, smart, playful, sweet and sexy. And then we met in person and had explosive chemistry and an ecstatic 8-month long relationship. Even aside from the rapid falling-in-love and comfortableness and conversations and warmth, the sex just happened to be the best in my young life. Which would not have happened if I’d been married to or focused on definitions around kink / vanilla, rather than that there cute person in front of me.

    YMMV and I think, definitely go for what you want, and if you don’t want to take some time to be open and to get to know him with the possibility of his kinkiness in the back of your mind, by all means let it go! I just think it can be valuable to remember that taking time with someone you initially like to see if there IS something there can be worth it in unexpected ways.

  20. Lucia said:

    I think the advice to keep it on an even keel and just see where things go is good advice, I really do.

    I do take a kind of exception to a pattern I’m seeing in comments, which is to say that “not all furries are into the sex thing” or to imply that it’d be okay if he’s not one of “THOSE furries.”

    And . . . I have ZERO problem with the LW drawing a line wherever they want re: kinks, social activities, whatever. That’s not a problem.

    My problem is that a lot of what I’m seeing is subtly or not so subtly shame-y, and while I am not a furry, I have other kinks, and some of my kinks have kinks, and those have baby grandkinks, landing me in a few subsets of kink that are considered “not okay” even though they are literally completely harmless, and I am harmless. So I know what it’s like to be singled out as “one of THOSE people”, one of the Xs in the “at least they aren’t an X” disclaimers, and it’s really, really, really not a good feeling, folks. And yeah, you get pretty damn scared to bring it up with people, because they react really badly, even if you never would expect them to participate.

    So all these people saying “Maybe potential boyfriend isn’t one of THOOOOSE people!”, while factually true and probably-maybe necessary information for the LW to hear, really does come across as kinda judgy when it’s being done in nearly every comment, and that makes me a sad panda.

    LW, if the furry thing is a dealbreaker to you, it’s 100% okay to feel that way, and being aware of your boundaries is super-important. In that case, I do think it’d be good for you to find out if/how deeply this person is involved, but I think that maybe spending more time around them first and getting to know them as a person, not just an assemblage of potential freaky-to-you kinks and a past that raises awkward questions, is probably a good idea, too. I mean, they sound pretty neat, and I’d hate to think of you breaking it off with someone over something that might turn out to be a non issue entirely.

    I wish you luck!

    (Mods, I am super-sorry if any of my comments show up like three times, because something severely squirrelly is going on with my browser and WP and gravatar and IDK what.)

    • Bittybird said:

      Yeah, I actually struggled with this in my comment and wanted to sound more furry!kink positive without seeming like I was pushing everyone to love the furs, but i was spending too long on it and decided to just address the specific issues of the LW, which (at least to me) gave off the vibe that she’s super not okay with the kink and is terrified that he is. To be honest, the original letter kind of offended me a bit, with the way being furry was referred to as “dirty laundry” that mustn’t be aired. I’m halfway a furry, I go to furry cons, I have plenty of furry friends. I don’t do furry kink myself because my boyfriend isn’t into it, but I’d be A-ok with it if he was. It’s as normal as any other kink to me, and it gets my gander up that it’s treated like THE WORST POSSIBLE ONE.

      But…I felt if I started getting into Defender of Furry!Kink mode, I was going to derail the conversation hard. While personally I would like the LW to not feel so negatively about furries–you can be totally uninterested in not dating people of a certain type without thinking what they do is *shameful*–I decided in the end that that’s not what the letter was about, it was about anxiety and being uncomfortable with something strongly and about how to handle the issue of “I don’t know if my new guy has a dealbreaker issue, what do I do?” and tried to take that on as compassionately as I could.

    • boutet said:

      I saw that too, and I hope my comment didn’t seem to add to it. I was trying to make the point that random picture=random picture and doesn’t mean anything at all other than that a random picture exists. More in the nature of “don’t read too deeply into random picture” rather than “don’t worry! he might not be -that- way!”
      My apologies if I did seem to be adding to that comment trend.

    • Meerkat said:

      “while I am not a furry, I have other kinks, ”

      That’s the problem people are addressing by saying he might not be one of “those people”

      I don’t want to shame people for whom furry is a kink but the op captain and many commenters seem to believe that all furries are kinky in that way and because of the stigma of kink we other furries get ridiculed for something completely nonkinky. That is not to say stigmatizing kink is okay or that anyone here is doing so. It’s just inaccurate and we get crap for it elsewhere.

      sometimes you should be able to talk about hobbies in places you wouldn’t want to talk about sex. So making a hobby that for some people involves sex 100% sex is really irritating for people who are into the nonsex parts. Plenty of hobbies could be used for kink but people don’t assume you are kinky in that way for liking them. Sorry I can’t punctuate on this phone.

      • Meerkat said:

        I also don’t want to imply that non sexual furry ness can’t be a deal breaker. It can and maybe it is or maybe it isn’t for the op.

      • Baytree said:

        Yes. In fact this is something I’ve had problems with frequently, being an artist who draws (nonsexual) furry pictures for a living. I literally can’t talk about my job in a lot of situations because people will assume it’s something I’m into sexually… that’s uncomfortable at best and socially/professionally damaging at worst.

        The closest equivalent I can think of is acting like everyone who plays contact sports is into BDSM. There’s nothing wrong with BDSM, but it’s not what soccer is about. Get the two mixed up and you’ll make everybody on the soccer team really upset.

    • Pterinochilus murinus said:

      I saw this in comments, and was also side-eyeing it in the original letter – not because she doesn’t want to date a furry, but because she sounded sort of like “well, of COURSE this is a deal-breaker, it would be for any non-furry!”

      It’s fine if furries, Sagittariuses, and people who dislike Brussell sprouts are all deal-breakers for her, but none of those are terrible, shameful things that would be a deal-breaker for everyone.

    • Duck said:

      So all these people saying “Maybe potential boyfriend isn’t one of THOOOOSE people!”, while factually true and probably-maybe necessary information for the LW to hear, really does come across as kinda judgy when it’s being done in nearly every comment, and that makes me a sad panda.

      This.

  21. Bean said:

    Even if the ex is a furry (maybe not a given, but only you know what you saw that led you to that conclusion), isn’t it at least possible that (A) ex never told him; (B) ex became interested in furriness in the time after they split; (C) they broke up because of some incompatibility around that? So it’s possible that this is Not Even a Thing?

  22. espritdecorps said:

    I had two fabulous slutty phases.
    The first was about figuring out myself and what I liked. I tried lots of different kinks with various combinations of people.

    The second was about figuring out who I could love and what I needed from a relationship, though I don’t know that at the time. I dated (though didn’t always sleep with) lots of very different types of people.

    There are public and semi public pictures of past partners doing things I wouldn’t want to be I involved in. Most shamefully, an anti-abortion rally.

    What’s important about his past partners is how he treated them.

    When he tells you about them are they always bad people?
    While irritating to hear in the first rush of infatuation, positive stories about shared experiences with exes tell you he can have a good relationship with someone.
    If every ex was a psycho, he’s lying, or he needs that kind of energy around him. Either way, red flag!

    When he talks about problems with exes how were they resolved?
    Deciding together that ex should take fabulous opportunity across the country, and that he loved his life here. Sad, but good.
    Custody battle over the dog they adopted. Red flag

    If it gets to the point where you start sharing these kinds of things with each other, and the way he treated an ex makes you think “I hope he never does that to me” or “Wow! She must have been a real jerk to deserve that!” Red flag

    Trust yourself. If you like this guy, let yourself like him. It’s okay to get excited about someone.
    No one is going to revoke your grown-up license because you have a crush.

  23. Resolute said:

    Speaking as a guy who doesn’t self-identify* as furry, but has friends and possibly future business in that community:

    It’s good to be informed what ‘furry’ entails, because as many of the other comments have touched on, there’s quite a range of interests to the point the fandom itself isn’t in agreement on a particular definition. That said, LW, if you’ve done your research and feel that it’s simply not a Thing That Works For You? Then it’s not your thing.

    Digging to the deeper problem: the maybe-furry conflict is hope vs. disaster. You really like this guy, everything seems to click, warm fuzzies may or may not have you randomly grinning throughout the day, and this has you gushing with hope to the people close to you…

    Then this problem rears its head. It could very well torpedo this budding relationship, the one that really seems to *work* for once despite the previous failures. You say you’d rather be single than end up in a bad relationship, but the question here is: would you rather be single, or would you stay in a relationship that has everything great except for one glaring thing that makes you fundamentally uncomfortable? Are you losing sleep because you’re afraid to ask, or because you’re afraid you’ll get an answer you don’t like?

    Without knowing more, all I can say is make the best decisions possible *for you*. The good Captain has plenty of advice here and elsewhere on that subject. I wish you the best of luck sorting out everything!

    * Despite this, I’ve been reliably informed I’m so far in the furry-closet I’ve either burrowed through the outside wall or ended up in Narnia. Either way, it’s cold, there’s snow everywhere, but dammit I will identify however I want to identify. Grr.

  24. Gotta say one thing first and foremost: FURRIES ARE NOT ALWAYS INTO ANIMAL PORN. A lot of furries are just fans of cartoon animals (I myself have drawn furry artwork, none of it pornographic or even lewd) and some get into the costuming not for sexual reasons at all, but as mascots, to show off their character or even skill, because a hell of a lot of work and money goes into those costumes. I don’t know of ANYONE with pockets deep enough to afford trying to have sex in one of those things, which would be very difficult, awkward, and make a mess on something you really can’t afford to make a mess on unless you can spend hundreds on dry cleaning or thousands (sometimes tens of thousands, yes I’m serious) on a new suit. There is the ‘yiff’ demographic, true, but that’s a very small chunk of the fandom, and you’ll find weirdos like that in ANY fandom, not just furries.

    That said.

    It sounds like him being a furry, if he is one and not just into costuming, is a dealbreaker for you. He’s already an ex…why is this a conundrum for you at all? Just don’t date him anymore if him being a furry is going to be so uncomfortable for you. If you want to know more about it, you can always say you stumbled onto a furry thing online and you don’t know what it’s all about – see how he explains it, and if his view of it is something you’d be okay with. If not…you’re already broken up. Just don’t pursue him romantically again. If there is something about him you just can’t resist, then you can talk to him about it more and see if it’s something you can deal with. If not, you can always ask him how important it is to him, and see if you not being able to deal with it would be a dealbreaker for him. It’s a two-way street, after all. I wouldn’t tell anyone else about it, though, or bring it up with any of your or his friends. This is a private matter. If he’s not told anyone about it before, it’s probably a very private part of his life that he doesn’t want others to know of, and that is his right. You have no right to out him to anyone, no matter how uncomfortable this is for you. Just take some time to think about it…why did you break up in the first place? Is it something you can reconcile and get back together with him in spite of? How much does the furry thing bother you? Would it be a dealbreaker as well? Is the relationship worth rekindling at all?

    • He’s not an ex. The picture is of this guys ex.

    • Emma said:

      I think you might have misread the letter a bit, frostedshadow. The LW is newly dating a guy, and it’s that guy’s ex who appears to be a furry.

      • Ah, I did misunderstand that! In any case, the first thing to do would be to talk to them about it – privately. Don’t out them to anyone, just ask them about it quietly and see if they are in fact a furry at all. If it was his ex…well, my ex was a furry too, and I’m not. So there’s always the possibility he’s not into it at all, and this is a moot point.

        Communication is key in any relationship! Use your words.

    • Hey just wanted to say calling anyone a weirdo because you don’t share their sexual preferences or kinks is off but I get that you don’t want assumptions made about yours based on a wider fandom. Also to clarify it seems the LW saw a picture of the person they are dating’s ex.

      LW I hope this works out for you both either way in that what you have for when you have it is good for you both. I also found the begins of relationships super nerve racking and dwell on things that could be problems before they are problems. To be honest that last part has followed me into my happy soonish to be married long term relationship and it is only the experience of discussing these things and finding out if they are ok or not that has made it any easier not to drive myself mad worrying. Still learning to use my words as opposed to the 24-hour scenario running worry machine that is my head. The worry is real though because you never know if the answer is going to be a deal breaker and it is worse when what you have good.

  25. azurelunatic said:

    I am not, myself, a member of the furry fandom. I can name off the top of my head at least four people in my social circles who are, and three of them are very visibly so. One of those social circles is also shared with someone who reacts to the word “furry” approximately like someone said “giant non-pet cockroach hissing at you from your pizza”. And yet somehow those two guys have each other added on practically every form of social media they’re both a part of.

    This example is to illustrate the diversity of fandoms, hobbies, and attitudes towards those that can co-exist mostly civilly in one social circle. I would not take the presence of one very visible furry in this guy’s social circle as a strong indication that he is highly likely to be in the furry fandom himself, not even because the visible one is his ex. Sure, he might be; it’s reasonably common to date someone in the same fandom, especially as tight-knit a fandom as furry. Which brings up the other half of my thought, which is that it’s been my experience that people in furry fandom tend to know a lot of other people in furry fandom. I mean, a LOT.

    If this guy does not have a substantial chunk of social contacts who are visibly furry/feathery/scaly/otherwise anthropomorphic, I would put odds against him being furry himself. He could still be — some people’s social circles are pretty stealth about their fandom affiliations, he could be new and not integrated well into the social circles yet, he could have detached ties, he could just not mingle particularly much — but if his ex is the only visible furry in his social sphere, you may not have to worry about dealbreakers just yet.

  26. festinalente8 said:

    Thanks Capn’, as always.
    This advice is great, LW – Please try to sleep! It will be ok if you Go slow, spend more time with him before making any big decisions or pronouncements :).

    I know this because I had a very similar experience but thing I found online was that the dude I was dating was BIG into tabletop roleplaying games.

    Ok so maybe to most ppl that frequent CA that is no big deal, but I was not that kind of nerd. I’ll admit – there was some nerd stigma around. I was kept awake stressing because he was so great! And we had so much fun! and this could be A Thing! BUT I was freaked out by the kind of people who are into RPGs. I was all ARRRGGHHHH he will definitely somehow morph into a hideous misogynist mansplaining jerk (because RPGS and jerk -ness are related!?) and maybe he will try to make me join in and I REALLY dont want to join in. Of course I was wrong. I had fallen victim to a stereotype and read a whole heap of things into a google search that were, frankly, ridiculous. Luckily I had sense talked into me by a friend who dabbled in RPGs who is an excellent man and so it was NBD. It might work out, it might not, but if you take it slow at least you can manage expectations. And sleep! Sleep is good.

  27. 30ish said:

    “At first glance, some things made me groan, though nothing horrible.”

    So there were also other things on HIS profile that made you groan at first glance. I think this might be more important than the fact that his ex is a furry. It could be useful to investigate if maybe there was something unattractive about his profile in general and the furry pics of the ex were just the icing on the cake. I really wouldn’t focus on the ex because you don’t know if this was something he knew about her, shared with her, what it meant etc. You just don’t know.
    But I think often when we’re thrown off by information about someone, but can’t really put our finger on it, we tend to select the one thing that seems like a clear deal breaker and focus on that.

    • esis0020 said:

      I missed that on my first read through that is a really good point!

      I think it plays into this idea we have that you need Reasons to break up with people. And if some things LW saw just put her off, like Captain always says, that’s enough of a reason.
      But if LW is only put off by the vague possibility of furry-ness. Then Captain’s advice is spot on. Take a deep breath and see what happens. Reassess feeling as you go.

      I know that I did battle with needing Reasons to end a relationship. If you wait that long it makes it harder. You just need to find your balance point between” I’m not sure I’m happy with this relationship/person but maybe” and “holy buckets I should have left awhile ago, but I was too busy rationalizing.”

      • 30ish said:

        Maybe I should have clarified that I don’t disagree with the advice that the Captain gave at all. I just thought that maybe she’s pinning too much of her uncomfortable feeling on the furry aspect when there was also stuff on his social media profile that she didn’t like either. Of course there’s a question about how much stock you should put into information you see on a social media profile. Maybe it doesn’t represent who he currently is anymore etc. But still it often does tell you something about a person, and if you groan at looking at a relationship prospect’s profile, that’s not too promising.

        And I totally agree with you on the needing Reasons to break up issue. I experienced some problems with that, too, so I be extra sensitive to it.

  28. The thought of being judged by what my exes do, let alone what they do on the Internet, is a source of terror. They are exes for a reason, remember! I agree with the advice to slow down and avoid pronouncements, (I have stayed in relationships just to back up such pronouncements/to avoid ‘letting people down’ and it’s a mess. It just results in exes.) And while you don’t know what Curiously Hot Guy’s history was with his ex think of it this way; it’s possible that he did indeed go along with it to please her, in which case you’ve just found someone pretty open minded to making his partner happy.

    (Not that ‘open minded’ = having no dealbreakers or that dealbreakers are bad, but if someone accommodates a kink that they don’t mind rather than mocking it because said kink is looked down on in general then that’s pretty cool.)

    • Oh god yes. If you judged me by my ex’s page, I’d be a born-again anti-choicer conspiracy theorist who thinks Obama is the antichrist and loves Apple products. I am, in fact, the complete opposite. One of the multitude of reasons he is my ex.

  29. Avoid pronouncements = good advice. You set yourself up for a fail because even if the relationship tapers off and you feel fine about it, telling friends is now bound to be met with, ‘But I thought it was going so well?’ rather than, ‘That sucks.’ Also avoid thinking of, ‘real’, relationships if you can. That kind of thinking can lead you to stay in relationships that aren’t working in order to get that tick in the adult life box, (if I sound patronising please excuse me – I know how awful it is to feel like people judge you for failing at this adult thing), when some relationships fall apart and make way and experience for better ones. It’s part of a process! And as for the furry thing, Curiously Hot Guy may well have indulged. And if he did, but is not a furry himself, you just found a guy open minded to making his partner happy rather than judging them for something even Internet society looks down on. Good luck LW, I wish you the best :)

  30. misspiggy said:

    Even taking the excellent advice of the Captain and many others here, I can see that not having the question of ‘am I in a relationship that could be worthwhile?’ resolved is immensely stressful for the LW. I do NOT sit comfortably with uncertainty, despite knowing from experience that trying to pin down the future is usually a terrible idea.

    Perhaps it would help to see this process as something that does have a defined end date (although the end point is not yet known), and will be useful in one of two ways. 1) the LW does what the Captain suggests, and decides she wants to be with the guy; 2) the LW does what the Captain suggests, decides she doesn’t want to be with the guy, and applies learning from the whole thing so that next time she meets someone, she gets to a clear decision point more quickly and easily. Either way, it’s not wasted time.

  31. RP said:

    How can I pretend this didn’t happen until it comes up on its own?

    You don’t have to pretend it didn’t happen, you just don’t have to mention it. Not talking about it is not pretending it didn’t happen. This isn’t a lie by omission. This is like not telling him about a video you found on YouTube: you don’t actually have to tell him about this.

    Remember: the information you found wasn’t about him. The photo wasn’t of him. You aren’t even certain he knows this about his ex. You don’t know that this has anything to do with him.

    I get why it made you wonder if he is also a furry but he may also have other fetishes too. Go ahead and reset things back to “I don’t know anything about him sexually” because you don’t.

  32. monologue said:

    I must’ve totally missed the whole giant swath of the internet that apparently tells me I should hate furries. I totally didn’t know that was a thing. Furries and that kink where people like watching people in stilettos crush bugs kinda make me giggle, I must admit, but I’ve never felt compelled to hate on people that are into this stuff.

    Anyway, this post made me laugh like 3 times. Especially the fanfiction related bit.

  33. Jolie said:

    The letter doesn’t make it clear whether social acceptance is a top concern for the LW, so my comment may not be relevant to her specifically. But in any case I think it’s important for the LW to distinguish between a trait in a potential partner that is a dealbreaker for her and a trait that her friends might ridicule.

    If “has a trait my friends might ridicule” is *in itself* a dealbreaker regardless of what the trait is, then I would advise LW to seriously reconsider that policy – NOT because she owes it to this guy or any other potential partner, but because she owes it to herself to remain open to people she’s romantically interested in, regardless of her friends’ prejudices. Fear of your friends’ ridicule isn’t a good reason to reject someone you’re genuinely attracted to, and you will miss out on a lot of great relationships, friendship, and experiences if you allow yourself to be ruled by that fear.

    This set off my alarm bells: “I can’t tell my Team Me about this because I don’t want to air dirty laundry when I don’t have the full story. He’d be hanging out with them at some point, and I don’t think he could come back from that.”

    First off, no one is obligated to tell their friends about their kinky sex life or their partner’s geeky/kinky history, but I hope that if you choose to disclose it, your friends are cool enough to be respectful and nonjudgmental. If you’re scared your friends would be assholes to an awesome new boyfriend (it may not be this guy but some future person whose quirks you love) over a harmless kink or interest that doesn’t even affect them, maybe get new friends.

  34. Shibara said:

    I am in the community as a freelance artist, and I have worked with many people who simply enjoy stories or artwork of anthropomorphic characters, and that’s about it for them. I have also illustrated some extremely graphic images for those who DO in fact fantasize about their characters having sex with other people’s.
    There are people who are extremely sensitive and non-intrusive with their furry kinks, and people who are perfectly vanilla and still manage to come out as hideously gross creepers.

    That being said, the first time I mentioned I drew animal characters for a living and was connected to a furry community to one of my brothers in law, his answer was “Ooooh, those gross dudes that have sex while dressed as giant stuffed animals.”

    That is the impression that most people have on what being a furry is, regardless of the fact that, for some, there might not be any sexual aspect to it, or that when there is, it does not equate to being a disgusting person.

    I think a good tangential question, if OP’s boyfriend is indeed a furry, is if what he is matches what OP thinks a furry is.

    Because this takes me back to that day when my mom read 50 Shades of Jerk and I had to explain the difference between what she now saw as BDSM and what BDSM actually is.

  35. Thomas said:

    Why is the answer about sex while the only thing LW knows for sure about the ex is that she likes to dress up? Must we assume that every cos-player also has sex in their costume? Furries are not all & not exclusively about having sex in fursuits. For all I know they’re just cool people who like to dress up. Do you think Renaissance Fair people have sex in their costumes? So what if they actually do?

    Have you ever thought about the amount of work that goes in making a costume of one’s fursona? Have you ever considered how many skilled & talented artists are among them? That these might be people you’d admire for a lot of reasons? That even if your current beau turns out to be a furry, that only makes him an awesome guy who’s also a furry? That these things are not mutually exclusive?

    – “You might be a furry” : http://myrainbowark.com/fhp01.html
    – Some insight into the creation of a fursuit : http://henriekeg.blogspot.nl/2010/10/vrijdag-15-oktober-2010.html

    • JenniferP said:

      Thomas, you’re right – the LW’s fears were about furry-as-kink, so I took the answer there without thinking about the wider community & fandom. Thank you.

  36. Nikkina said:

    As usual, the captain’s advice is amazing. LW, do those things!

    Also, for what it’s worth:
    I find sometimes that even when I understand /what/ I’m upset about and /why/ I’m upset about it, I still have a hard time sleeping. What helps me most is to just acknowledge and repeat:

    “I’m feeling anxious because of _____.”
    “I’m feeling anxious because of _____.”
    and on and on.

    I guess it helps my brain connect the emotion to its source and then kinda… move on?
    My sister says it’s a pretty common trick for anxiety.

    I wish you many happy restful nights. :)

  37. I once dated a guy who dated a furry.... said:

    Hey LW! I’m a woman who dated a guy whose ex was a furry – the relationship lasted for 3 years, and I can confirm that he was not at all interested in furry-related things. He humoured his partner because that is what you do sometimes but that is all.

  38. Ladyface said:

    This might seem like a weird question, but is the fursuit even for sex? A lot of people just.. have them. Because they want to be their fursonas. I’m not a furry, but I do a lot of art for them because they pay a lot of money, so I know a lot about the fandom.
    To be honest, maybe I don’t get the question.
    “He’s a furry” could mean “He’s sexually attracted to furries” or “He likes to live vicariously through a brightly coloured anthropomorphic wolf because he has low self esteem.”
    Not only that, but lots of couples in the furry community don’t even both talk about the whole thing. I didn’t even show my art to two of my four long-term boyfriends because of the stigma attached to them, not unlike the one in this letter, and I’m not even a furry.
    (Not that it’s not totally possible that he’s one of the very-strange-ones who you TOTALLY MUST ACCEPT AND ITS WHO I AM AND THERE’S A WOLF SPIRIT INSIDE ME, but I’m pretty certain that if he were, you’d know by now.)

    • regular reader currently anon said:

      Wow that seems unnecessarily shame-y, yo.

      • Xan said:

        Seconded– I’m one of the “very-strange-ones” and was feeling okay up until this comment.

        • Ladyface said:

          Sorry, I didn’t mean it to be.
          I probably should have worded that part better, but I honestly didn’t know how to go about doing that for people who aren’t really deep in the fandom.
          As a disclaimer, I don’t mind Therianism or anything, I just tend to assume that the CSI stereotype what people are talking about and respond in kind.

  39. neverjaunty said:

    LW, there’s a lot of (very good) discussion about the furry stuff, but isn’t that really almost beside the point? It’s an easy thing to focus on (is he or isnt he?), except that’s a problem when that distracts you from the much bigger issue – which, as CA says, is your anxiety about this relationship. Definite high fives to you for having a history of ending bad relationships before they turn into long-term awful! But your letter has a really strong undertone of, things are going great with this guy and it might be a long-term relationship, so there must be something wrong, and I will find out what it is.

  40. duaecat said:

    First of all, I am a furry. Which is a bit like saying “I’m a baseball fan” So lets go with that.

    LW, you saw his Ex in a Red Sox t-shirt and you’re understandably worried. He might be one of Those People. The biggest thing is that it’s hard to help you when we don’t know what stereotype you’ve pulled about Those People. Does he ramble on about statistics until people are comatose? Does he put on silly costumes and join other people to scream and holler? Does he demand control of the remote when a game is on? Will he want to fill your house with signed memorabilia? Does he want you to wear a t-shirt with the opposing team and him wear his Red Sox shirt and you ‘wrestle for dominance’ in bed before each game or it’s bad luck? Or it’s possible he has no interest in baseball at all and his ex was a fan!

    I think the biggest thing here is that baseball fan is a huge world. There are thousands of things that fall under the umbrella term, and every single one on an individual basis could be a dealbreaker for someone, and that’s 100% cool. But when you just vaguely go “Well, he might be one of THOSE baseball fans” It comes off as judgmental and confusing.

    Honestly the biggest thing that gets me, you talk about dating but no long term relationships, and then you get someone kinda-maybe and you immediately play “internet detective”. Which I understand the urge to make sure he’s not Bluebeard, but it sounds like you may have been looking for something? An ex he broke up with a “year or so” ago, that he very well may possibly have known about being a furry and probably didn’t throw stones at or shun her and that’s a red flag?

    If it’s a huge deal, find an appropriate time to bring up “Wow, I caught an old episode of Looney Tunes on TV the other day, and Bugs sure liked dressing up in sexy lady outfits. Do you remember those?” and see what happens. Or mention the CSI episode. Just don’t lead with “Eww, so furries are gross, right?” if you want a clear answer. Heck, it’s entirely possible his ex is now out of the closet and proud because said sexy guy thought furries were gross and she’s thumbing her nose at him. There’s a lot of “It’s entirely possibles” out there, and the only things you know for sure is your own personal interactions with him.

  41. neverjaunty said:

    Not sure if my other comment got eaten by the spam filter, but: LW, while you’ve gotten some excellent advice here, there’s a lot of focus on the one thing – is he/isn’t he into furry kink – and I worry it may eclipse CA’s excellent advice about, well, everything else. The problem is that you’re anxious (so much that you can’t sleep?) and you’ve spun yourself up on both ends – telling everyone you know about this guy, and then searching everything about him online until you finally find something that might be terrible. That seems to be a bigger problem then whether he has a kink that bothers you. You’ve been through many relationships where you (wisely!) broke things off quickly rather than be stuck in a bad place; could you possibly be trying to find that “bad place” right now because you’re anxious that you’ll miss it and only find out things are awful way down the road?

  42. Angel said:

    Note to self – do not google “what’s a furry” at work *lol*

    • Jumping on your comment here, because I think this here is the reason that so many people have been quick to jump on the “But not all furries are like the sex part of the fandom!” so hard. On one hand, obviously the kinkier, darker, more-lifestyle and more-spiritual parts of the fandom shouldn’t be anything to be ashamed of, either. There are plenty of mainstream fandoms and sex acts that people get REALLY into that don’t interfere in people’s social lives, why should this fandom/set of sex acts/spirituality?

      But the plain fact is, for a lot of people, furry (especially the parts of fur fandom that cross over into sex of any kind, kink, or spirituality/mysticism) is weird. It’s “weird” to be into kids’ stuff as adults and most mainstream anthropomorphic animals are in kids’ cartoons. It’s “weird” to be interested in “nonhuman” sex in any way. It’s “weird” to have spiritualities that aren’t mainstream, where mainstream usually means Christianity or Judaism. So when you combine all of those things, the initial “weird” reaction is pretty strong. And in furry fandom, a lot of that stuff is right out in the open, and the odder and less-mainstream stuff gets celebrated alongside the SFW stuff. On one hand that’s great and inclusive, on the other hand… it makes it hard to google safely.

      I’d love to say that being a furry is no worse socially than being into BDSM, but unfortunately in this comparison when people say “BDSM” the first thing the uninitiated usually thinks is “whips chains and black leather”, which is at least kind of badass and cool, rather than for example “diaper play”, which may be hella fun for lots of people but is rather by design not badass or cool. With furry, the initial reaction is almost always going to assume the worst and least cool. That sucks. That social reaction’s going to stick around and suck for a while, too. And maybe it’s going to suck enough that that’s a dealbreaker. Or maybe your SO is into something that’s a dealbreaker, furry or not.

      But having a partner who had an ex who may have been a furry is much much further down the causality chain. Even having an ex who was a furry is a different story. (Having an ex who was a furry myself, I can say that nobody has ever judged me when I say “I have an ex who was a furry,” and much less “I have an ex who has an ex who is a furry.”) If you have the kinks conversation, you can talk about what your SO likes and work out how much they want your friends to know about whatever fandoms or lifestyles they’re into. But for now, having google-able information about an ex isn’t a social bombshell. You will be able to deal with the new information as it comes.

      • Angel said:

        I’m not judging anyone, my point was I wasn’t aware of what it was and when I googled it some of the results weren’t safe for work. Especially the pictures that google showed in the main results screen (Shocked my poor co-worker who technically could have reported me but didn’t – the look on his face though *classic*). Luckily I know who I can butter up to remove my search results from the company cache before it’s checked.

        I have friends who are into all different lifestyles and I learned a long time ago not to judge anyone. I’m one of those people that others confide in so have heard a fair bit about poly, BDSM, role play, orgies, voyerism etc. I’d just not heard of furries.

        My philosophy is whatever floats your boat as long as everyone involved is a consenting adult do whatever you want. None of my business.

        • Heh, didn’t mean to overwhelm you; I was just sort of using your “Woah, THAT’S what happens when you plug that term into google!” reaction as a jumping off point. Furry fandom! It’s super-welcoming to everyone and kind of hard to google safely!

          I’m sorry that I singled out your reaction, I just thought it was a perfect example of why it’s hard to just say “Oh, furries are just like everyone else and perfectly normal, why would you ever worry about dating a furry or someone who dated furries?” Because… yeah. Google image search.

  43. azurelunatic said:

    Another possibility which I didn’t see explored all that much — so perhaps this guy is not a furry, but his ex is. Perhaps he doesn’t find the fact of someone being a furry particularly dirty laundry territory, just another niche interest.

    Assuming this, any reaction to his ex’s hobby that crosses the line from “that’s not something that I’m into, and I’m not prepared to have a partner into that either” into “that’s so weird, and not in a good way” could put him in the position of defending his ex and/or any other friends he may happen to have who are furries, and that sort of confrontational situation doesn’t seem like it would end particularly well.

    Good luck, LW, and I hope things go OK.

  44. Storm said:

    I’m pretty dissapointed with the assumption of the furry=fetish but I like captains general idea over someone who does have an odd fetish. What I really don’t like is the ex was a furry so this guy must be one too. If he is, he’ll bring it up when he trusts you, but don’t automatically think it’s a sex thing. It could and could not; It’s different from person to person. But even so, if you can’t accept him for his past(just for dating the girl) or if he turns out to be a fur, you’re doing him a favor breaking it off.

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