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Safe hook-ups 

George Weber's murder should not cloud the reality that every day hundreds of thousands of people find partners on the web. Still, Dan says, follow these few tips to stay safe.

Q:I hope you address the recent rough-play-gone-bad death of New York City radio newsman George Weber. According to reports, it appears Weber met a guy on Craigslist for "violent sex," and the guy stabbed Weber to death.

If you have these kinds of fantasies---Weber wanted to be bound and abused---you're better off doing it with someone you trust and not some random trick off the internet. No one should die trying to fulfill a desire. Safety Conscious

A:First, I extend my sincerest condolences to George Weber's family and friends.

Second, reading about Weber's death reminded me of a joke that Jon Stewart told on The Daily Show during the darkest days (er, years) of the insurgency in Iraq. Conservatives were complaining that biased media weren't reporting any good news in Iraq---nothing about all those freshly painted schoolrooms or, um, all those other freshly painted schoolrooms; the news out of Iraq then was all bloodletting, beheadings and car bombs.

"Yeah," Stewart deadpanned. "We never hear about the cars that don't explode."

What happened to Weber was horrifying---what John Katehis allegedly did to Weber was horrifying---and, again, my heart goes out to his friends and family. And, yes, there are lessons in this horrific crime for anyone seeking sex and/or love online. But looking for sex online is not, as some have insisted in the wake of Weber's murder, so inherently risky a pursuit that only a lunatic would contemplate it. Unlike cars in Iraq that haven't exploded (yet), it's actually relevant that most people hooking up online aren't brutally murdered.

Every day tens of thousands of people---hundreds of thousands---find partners online. While lots of folks online are seeking relationships at sites like Match.com or Christiansingles.com, there are more people online at any given moment seeking NSA sex at sites like AdultFriendFinder.com or Recon.com. (People seeking relationships can find love the old-fashioned way, at work or by going out, and many do. And the ones who go online stop lurking online after they've met someone and appeared in an eHarmony commercial. NSAers, on the other hand, have better odds finding other NSAers online, and they're always coming back for more.) If random internet hookups were even half as dangerous as crimes like this make them seem---if they were even one-one-hundredth as dangerous---there would be a dozen online-hookup murders in New York City every day, and scores more in Toronto and San Francisco and Miami and Vancouver and Chicago.

No one should be cavalier about safety when it comes to internet hookups, of course; people seeking NSA or fantasy-fulfillment sex online need to use common sense and take all reasonable precautions. Insist on a verifiable exchange of real names and real phone numbers before meeting; meet in person first, in a public place, preferably at a time when you can't mess around immediately after your first meeting. And people seeking the services of a pro should go to one of the dozen or more established websites out there that host ads from pros along with client reviews.

And it's always a bad idea to post an offer for $60 for sex to the crowd of fakes and freaks who have overrun Craigslist, as Weber is reported to have done. Meeting via Craigslist ups your odds of hooking up with, say, a mentally unstable teenage "satanist" with a MySpace page packed with pictures of him with knives and swords.

Now perhaps Weber, working as a freelancer, couldn't afford the services of $200-an-hour professional dominant; maybe he had lowballed it on Craigslist a dozen times before and always had good experiences. Most people who ignore my advice about safety, or hook up with cheap CL hookers, do live to tell the tale. But when it comes to realizing a fantasy that involves violence or helplessness, someone safe, sane and expensive is more than worth the investment.

Finally, people take calculated risks all the time for pleasures less essential than sex. You're assuming a certain degree of risk---of injury, of death---every time you get in a car, go skiing or order chicken. We do what we can to minimize those risks (buckle the fuck up, wear a helmet, don't order your chicken rare), but we don't hold up deaths on highways, slopes or at the dinner table as evidence that people who even think of driving, skiing, or chickening have to be out of their minds.

The sad fact is that some of us will die at the hands of our intimate partners. Yes, George Weber took the wrong guy home. So did Laci Peterson.

Q:My fiance is bisexual. I fulfill his "man-love" fantasies by strapping it on and giving it to him, but he has started talking about wanting to have sex with men. I feel like a jerk for freaking out about this, but I'm not willing to entertain the emotional and physical risks of opening our relationship to another person. Am I totally off base here, Dan?

What The Fuck Is Wrong With Men These Days

A: Do not marry this man.

Lots of bisexual guys are capable of monogamy, as are lots of bisexual girls. (That's what angry bisexuals are always telling me, at any rate, in their angry e-mails.) But this bisexual guy is not, and he's made that clear. He gets points for being honest---and I mean that sincerely. He gets points for telling you now, before the wedding, that being pegged, while wonderful in its own right, isn't enough and that he's going to need a little man-love reality now and then. You might be able to extract a promise from him under duress, WTFIWWMTD, and get him to agree to sexual exclusivity as a condition of going ahead with the marriage. But that will just result in you facing the emotional and physical risks of an open relationship without the honesty and accountability that can mitigate those risks.

And to the angry bisexuals: You know I don't think monosexuals are any good at monogamy either, right?

Q: My partner and I have been together for four years. Last year we sought to experiment with another couple via an adult website. We eventually found a sexy pair who we met up with, but the experience left me feeling unsure about how comfortable I am with the idea of the "swinging" lifestyle. I know my partner loves me and is loyal, and he's messed around a bit with others since we've been together and that's OK (so have I---also OK), but getting together with another couple was a lot more personally challenging than I thought. How can I get more comfortable and open-minded about this? Swinger Wannabe

A: The problem might have been the other couple, SW, and not the swinging lifestyle. You could give it another shot, with another couple, and see if you feel differently. If you do and you don't, well, then you may have to accept---or, more to the point, the boyfriend will have to accept---that synchronized infidelity just isn't for you.

Download Dan's Savage Lovecast (his weekly podcast) Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage. Email Dan at mail@savagelove.net.

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