Dear Alice,

I have a normal, loving relationship with my boyfriend of three years, and he chose to go to a strip club with his friends for the first time. At first, it didn't bother me, but now it does. Is this normal or am I supposed to accept this from guys? It makes me feel like I'm not good enough. Thank you.

Dear Reader,

It sounds like you're upset about your boyfriend's visit to a strip club, which certainly merits conversation with him. It's difficult to say what's "normal," or what you should accept, but if something in your relationship makes you feel bad, it's definitely worth discussing with your partner. You deserve to feel valued and appreciated by your partner and to have your feelings heard and respected.

Attitudes about strip clubs vary widely. Some people feel they're degrading to women or exploitative and that it's inappropriate for a man to interact sexually with people other than his partner. Others feel that strip clubs are a healthy expression of sexuality and a good source of income for women who work in them. Why do you think it bothers you that your boyfriend went to a strip club? What caused your feelings to change?

Open, honest, non-accusatory communication may help you understand one another better and solidify your connection. Have you talked with your boyfriend about his visit? What made him want to go? What did he think of the experience? Does he know how it made you feel? It's possible for people to be very happy and satisfied in their relationships and still enjoy going to strip clubs. Why do you think your boyfriend's visit makes you feel like you're not good enough? Visiting a strip club may be an enjoyable source of inspiration or fantasy but not a replacement for the loving, supportive, or sexually fulfilling relationship you may provide.

If you talk with your boyfriend about how you feel, maybe he can assuage your fears. If you still object to his visits, your feelings are what they are. It's his choice whether he visits strip clubs, and you're also entitled to your feelings about it. Hopefully, the strength of your relationship will enable you to reach a mutually agreeable decision about whether he continues to go to strip clubs.


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