My boyfriend went to a strip club

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,

Every relationship has its hurdles, and 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 is or isn't acceptable as every relationship is different. 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. It may be helpful to reflect on where your feelings of unease are coming from — why do you think it bothers you that your boyfriend went to a strip club? What caused your feelings to change? That may help you get a better sense of where to start your conversation. 

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? Does he know how it made you feel? Why do you think your boyfriend's visit makes you feel like you're not good enough? It may be helpful have a conversation with him to hear about what made him want to go and what he thought of the experience and to give you the opportunity to express your feelings. It's possible for people to be very happy and satisfied in their relationships and still enjoy going to strip clubs. 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. He also may have had motives for going that you may not have thought of or that may not bother you at all. For example, in some cities, strip clubs are known for particular kinds of food. Learning more about why he decided to go and his experience while there may help you reflect more on your own feelings and how you'd like to move forward. 

If you talk with your boyfriend about how you feel, maybe he can assuage your fears. If after talking about it you still object to him going to strip clubs, that’s okay! Your feelings are valid. 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 that you both feel good about.  

Last updated Jun 10, 2022
Originally published Oct 06, 2006

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