DEAR SUGAR, The Rumpus Advice Column #40: Be a Warrior for Love


A lot of people have taken to sending direct messages to Sugar on her Twitter feed. Instead of the regular question and answer column this week, Sugar answers multiple questions she’s received via DM:

Is Sugar one person or a few different people who adopt the same “voice”?

Sugar is one person: Me.

In your answers you often write about your own life experiences. Are these true or is Sugar a fictional character?

Sugar is a persona of the real me. She’s like my slightly sassier twin sister—which is to say, me after one and a half glasses of wine. The stories I tell and the details I share about my life in the column are all true.

I’m sorry.

For what?

For the sad shit that’s happened to you.

Thank you, sweet pea. Beautiful shit has happened to me too.

Are you a woman or are you a man disguising yourself as a woman?

I’m a woman.

Have you ever slept with a woman?


Have you ever messed around with a gay man?

Actually, yes, now that you mention it. Or kind of. He was a friend of mine. We didn’t exactly mess around. He wanted to touch my boobs. He was—I seem to recall—curious about boobs. So I let him touch my boobs. I was 26 and so was he. We were drunk. He spent about three minutes on them. It wasn’t an enthralling experience for either of us.

If you had to give one piece of advice to people in their twenties, what would it be?

To go to a bookstore and buy ten books of poetry and read them each five times.


Because the truth is inside.

Anything else?

To be about ten times more magnanimous than you believe yourself capable of being. Your life will be a hundred times better for it. This is good advice for anyone at any age, but particularly for those in their twenties.


Because in your twenties you’re becoming who you’re going to be and so you might as well not be an asshole. Also, because it’s harder to be magnanimous when you’re in your twenties, I think, and so that’s why I’d like to remind you of it. You’re generally less humble in that decade than you’ll ever be and this lack of humility is oddly mixed with insecurity and uncertainty and fear. You will learn a lot from yourself if you stretch in the direction of goodness, of bigness, of kindness, of forgiveness, of emotional bravery. Be a warrior for love.

Do you live in San Francisco?


Do you hang out with all the hip Rumpus people all the time?


Do you hang out with all the hip McSweeney’s/Believer people all the time?

No. But Eli Horowitz did sleep in my basement one night. In the morning I fed him strawberries that grew in my back yard.

Who the hell is Eli Horowitz?

A longtime editor at McSweeney’s.

Are those your hands holding the snowball in the shot that runs with your column?


Do you like it up the ass?


What should an idiot like me do?

Stop lying to yourself.

Do you write things other than the Sugar column?


Have you ever written an advice column before?


Are you a published author?


How many people know who Sugar is?

It’s a secret, but an open secret because I’m horrible at keeping my own secrets. About twenty-five people know Sugar’s real name. By the time you read this, two more people will know. I can’t help myself.

Do you know who you are?


How long did it take you to truly figure out who you are?

Approximately thirty-three years.

Will you ever tell us who you are?

I think so.

Are you a poet?


Are you Stephen Elliott?


Are you fucking Stephen Elliott?

Not yet.

Are you kidding?

About what?

Not fucking Stephen Elliott “yet”?

Well, I haven’t fucked him yet, but I don’t plan to, if that’s what you mean. I was joking. It’s true that I’m a hussy, but—compelling as I find Mr. Elliott—there is a “No Vacancy” sign staked outside the Sugar Shack. So long as Isaac Fitzgerald doesn’t knock.

Who the hell is Isaac Fitzgerald?

The managing editor of The Rumpus. He’s a nice young man. I’ve never met him, actually, but he’s my main connection. I send him my column each week and he sends me emails that say sweet things. I was only kidding about possibly fucking him.

Did you grow up in Ohio?


Are you a feminist?


But don’t feminists hate men?

Feminists hate men who ask if feminists hate men.

Do you answer only questions about sex and relationships?

No, but most of the questions I get are about sex and relationships.

Do you like to suck cock?


Would you like to suck my cock?

Are you Isaac Fitzgerald?



You seem so emotionally healthy, but from your column I can tell you’ve had your own struggles in the past. Do you ever struggle anymore?

Of course.

Are you a psychotherapist in your actual life?


Have you gone through extensive psychotherapy?

No, but I’ve had a couple of brief, but powerful experiences with psychotherapists who helped me tremendously during times of great sorrow and transition in my life.

When a straight couple has sex do you think the man should make the woman come first?

Not necessarily every single time, but as a general rule: yes, I do think it works out best that way.

Do you edit the questions people send you?

Very minimally, if at all—only for clarity and concision. I also correct grammar and punctuation errors when I see them.

Have you ever made up any of the questions?


Have you ever asked your friends to send in a question of your creation?


Do you answer all the questions you get?


If you haven’t answered my question yet, even though I sent it in a long time ago, does it mean that you won’t ever be answering my question?


Do you wish you had more questions?

Yes. I have a lot of readers, but relatively few questions. Please ask me something.

What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

I talk to my partner and my friends. I make lists. I attempt to analyze the situation from the perspective of my “best self”—the one that’s generous and reasonable and forgiving and loving and big-hearted and grateful. I think really hard about what I’ll wish I did a year from now. I map out the consequences of the various actions I could take. I ask what my motivations are, what my desires are, what my fears are, what I have to lose, and what I have to gain. I move toward the light, even if it’s a hard direction in which to move. I trust myself. I keep the faith. I mess up sometimes.

Do you believe in God?

I do not believe in God as most people conceive of God. I believe there is a divine spirit in each of us. I believe there is something bigger than our individual selves that we can touch when we live our lives with integrity and compassion and love.

Is your pussy wet?

Not at the moment.

Would you wear a pretty dress for me?


Would you like to ride my wooden pony?