Savage Love Readers Talk About The Campsite Rule

As some of you no doubt know, I’m a huge fan of Savage Love, the world’s coolest sex, love, and relationships advice column. A few weeks ago, author Dan Savage revisited his “campsite rule,” which can be summarised thusly:

If you’re in a sexual relationship with somebody significantly younger or less-experienced than you, the rule that applies at campsites shall be applicable to you: you must leave them in at least as good a state (physically and emotionally) as you found them in. That means no STDs, no unwanted pregnancy, not overburdening them with your emotional or sexual baggage, and so on. Younger partners and particularly virgins will often take everything given to them by an older, more experienced partner as being “written in stone,” and will carry around everything they learn from them for the rest of their life: so treat them right!

The single biggest complaint about the campsite rule could be said to be that, by omission, it seems to imply that it’s okay to be a dick to your older or similarly-experienced partner, but that’s not the intention, I feel – it’s just less of a concern because the campsite rule is specifically about protecting the vulnerable.

In any case: after it last got mentioned, the column received a spectacular number of letters from readers, talking about their experience with (or without) the campsite rule, and it’s just spectacular. It’s a long read, but you’ll see some beautiful, some inspiring, and some heart-wrenching stories from people about their young relationships (or their relationships with the young). Go read it.