The other night, my boyfriend went home with a stripper, and I was totally cool with it. I’ve known about my boyfriend’s strip club patronage since we first started dating. Visiting a club in every city (he travels for work) is his equivalent of collecting state quarters. When he began a career as a heavy metal journalist, he became involved with one particular club, Pumps. They had an edgier rock n’ roll vibe and he began reviewing their burlesque shows. The club loved the positive attention and treated him like a bit of a local celebrity. He became friendly with many of the bartenders and dancers, who appreciated the presence of someone who tipped well, was respectful, and showed interest in their artistic endeavors.
One of the dancers he’d become friendly with was being harassed by a customer, a regular who’d become drunkenly aggressive. She came on her night off to support the other dancers and asked my boyfriend to accompany her home to listen to metal for a bit and make sure the drunk customer didn’t follow her. He agreed, and I think it was the right thing to do. When he called me and told me he went home with her (no funny business), I had no problem with it at all. I was glad he felt there was enough trust between us that he wasn’t afraid to share something like that, and I was glad he was the kind of guy who would travel out of his way to look out for someone’s safety.
When I repeated this story to friends, I received a variety of polarized responses. Some of the feedback I got shocked me, particularly from other women. More than a couple of my friends implied that I was a pushover and if my boyfriend ends up cheating, I am basically asking for it.
I find so much wrong with the assertion that if I have no problem with him accompanying an exotic dancer home, or even going to strip clubs at all, it’s because I’m simply giving him whatever he wants. To that I argue: I am comfortable with nudity. I just don’t think it’s a big deal. I’ve posed nude and once appeared in a film in a thong. I’d feel like a huge hypocrite if I did those things but kept my boyfriend from seeing other women do the same things. More importantly, my boyfriend has done everything he can to make me comfortable with his hobby. He tells me in detail about every strip club visit. He has even taken me to Pumps many times and introduced me to everyone as his girlfriend. We have gone as a couple and with a larger group of friends. This open attitude has kept his frequent strip club visits from feeling like a dirty secret. The girls at Pumps have been wonderful and welcoming to me. They always ask my guy to bring me along and even gave me a stripper outfit as a gift. Nothing about the experience feels shady to me. I actually have a good time socializing with and watching the dancers. Some of them are quite talented and have elaborate, creative routines that I consider an art form.
While most of my boyfriend’s strip club trips have been harmless, there was one time, at an out-of-state club, that he was aggressively propositioned for prostitution. He told me about the incident immediately, expressing how uncomfortable and upset it made him. I wasn’t angry at my boyfriend, I was angry at the woman who didn’t want to take “no” for an answer, telling my guy that his girlfriend “didn’t have to know” if he took her up on her offer. I’m sure other situations such as this will come up from time to time, but that shouldn’t leave me condemning the whole industry. At the end of the day, I trust my boyfriend to do the right thing, no matter what situation he is presented with. In turn, he is never suspicious of who I’m seeing or what I’m doing. I would not be comfortable placing restrictions on my guy that I would not tolerate myself.
I’m obviously not a terribly possessive person, and that’s because I don’t feel that restricting my partner would make me feel more secure. I don’t want to be with someone who is just faithful to me because he has been kept away from all other women or potentially compromising positions. I know that some people may consider strip clubs, and even porn to be cheating, and I think everyone has their own comfort levels. Those are things you have to work out in your own relationship — to come up with an arrangement that works for both parties. But if my personal boundaries are different than yours, it’s not fair to assume that it’s because I’m simply giving in to pressure from my boyfriend or deluding myself that he isn’t up to something. Based on past behavior, I make the decision every day to trust my partner. Cheating can happen in any number of situations, not just at strip clubs. We have a very satisfying sexual relationship and friendship, and I never get the feeling he is going to these places to fulfill needs that I am not taking care of. He simply enjoys humanizing the seedy spectacle of it all, an impulse I understand.
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