Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend Lied About Going to a Strip Club”

I am a divorced mother of three. My ex was abusive and cheated on me many times. I have been dating “John” for three years now. He is a single father of one. His marriage broke up because his ex wife ran off with one of his best friends. We’ve recently moved in together.

We live in Canada in an area where lap dances are all-touch with few exceptions. There are many strip clubs that offer other “services” at the right price, too. A few months ago John went out with the boys. Before he left, he was very loving and affectionate, saying things like he couldn’t wait to get home later so we could have some time together. However, after he got home he was weird: very chatty and avoiding eye contact. After his shower he came into bed and turned his back to me. He never does that. Something was wrong and I knew he was hiding something. I cried myself to sleep because this was familiar. When my ex had been with someone else, this is how he acted when he got home. I was so hurt.

John’s friends are known to go to strip clubs and they are not shy there… for example, they purchased a blowjob for John at his bachelor party.

As far as he knows, I am ok with strip clubs as long as it’s look-only — no private rooms and no lap dances (again, here in Canada lap dances are full-touch in most places except no penetration). However, he lied to me about going to the strip club the other night, and the way he was acting leads me to believe there was more than just looking that took place.

I haven’t confronted him yet as I’m afraid I will end up saying things I will regret. But I’m hurt that he lied. I am also not ok if his outings with friends are going to be to strip clubs. He has told his friends he doesn’t want to go anymore (I’ve overheard this), but they keep insisting and he ends up there anyway. This is a deal-breaker for me, but it will sound like an ultimatum — like I’m saying “me or them.”

The relationship is amazing in all other aspects. But this is a deal-breaker. We’ve discussed marriage, but if his bachelor party were to end up with another blowjob or anything that crosses the line, I’d call it off. How should I bring this up without sounding prudish or unfair? — Doesn’t Want to Sound Prudish

I don’t understand how you’ve been with John three years, you live with him, you presumably moved your three children in with him, you were cheated on multiple times in your past relationship, you have issues with strip clubs, you live in an area where there “touching” is allowed at strip clubs, you know that your boyfriend whom you moved in with even participated in “extra services” in strip clubs in the past, and yet, AND YET, he doesn’t know that you are not ok with him going to strip clubs?!?! You haven’t expressed this to him DESPITE the strip clubs being a deal-breaker for you?! You think/know he lied to you about going to a strip club recently, you suspect that he crossed the line there (and the time before, a few months ago) and engaged in “special services” and yet, AND YET, you are afraid of talking to him about it for fear of sounding “prudish” (prudish! for suggesting you don’t want your boyfriend to get a blowjob from a hooker!) and saying something you’ll regret, even though this is a deal-breaker for you?!

If this is a deal-breaker, what on earth would you/could you actually say that you’d regret? Certainly, “we’re done” wouldn’t be regrettable if you know that strip clubs and cheating are deal-breakers. If he engaged in those things, you SHOULD be breaking up with him. If his friends are the kinds of guys who frequent strip clubs and you know that in the past they paid a woman to perform oral sex on John, how are you JUST NOW feeling iffy about his hanging out with them? How did you move yourself and three children in with a guy who exhibited pretty clear red flags around cheating?

Of course, his potentially cheating on you is a problem. His going to strip clubs when that’s a deal-breaker for you is a problem. But the REAL problem here is your total lack of communication and making the line in the sand super clear. The real problem is your passivity, moving along with this relationship, letting it progress to such a serious point, when you aren’t sure you share common values and when you haven’t clearly expressed your boundaries. It’s as if you’ve been on a boat that looks like it might have a hole in it and, rather than confirm it’s a hole and take measures to either repair the hole or get off the boat, you’ve simply been gliding along as the boat fills with water, hoping it all works out. It doesn’t work out without your putting in a modicum of effort.

I honestly don’t know if the hole is repairable now. Of course, you can try. That will take your actually speaking up, voicing your concerns and your suspicions over the last few months (Months! You’ve been sitting on this for months and haven’t said anything!!), drawing the line in the sand about strip clubs and John’s friends, and making the ultimatum. But even then — even if he chooses you, can you trust him? Can you trust the guy who got a paid blowjob from a hooker right before his wedding and who has lied to you about going to a strip club as recently as a few days ago?

The good news is, you can get off the boat. It’s not too late to save yourself from drowning.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy​(AT)​dearwendy.com.

22 comments… add one
  • avatar

    MissDre October 26, 2017, 8:22 am

    I am just wondering where you are in Canada that lap dances are “full-touch” including blow jobs…. cuz that doesn’t sound right at all… I mean, I know that shit happens but, it definitely doesn’t sound like the accepted norm. Am I just incredibly naive?

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    • avatar

      MissDre October 26, 2017, 8:36 am

      Ok, I’m not crazy. I just asked my friend, who has been to many strip clubs, and although this does happen sometimes, it’s not legal. So basically, this girl’s BF and his friends are paying a prostitute. I’d dump him.

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    • avatar

      MissDre October 26, 2017, 8:44 am

      And everything else… What Wendy Said

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    • avatar

      Ale October 26, 2017, 9:32 am

      I dont think it´s a strip club then. He’s going to a brothel.

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      • avatar

        Kate October 26, 2017, 9:53 am

        I’ve been to strip clubs in Montreal and this didn’t seem to be happening, but maybe it was behind closed doors? I saw nothing different from MA.

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      • avatar

        MissDre October 26, 2017, 9:56 am

        I think there are just some shady clubs operating like this, but it’s not the norm and it’s not legal.

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  • avatar

    Anonymous October 26, 2017, 8:33 am

    You didn’t tell him anything? You cried yourself to sleep and he didn’t notice, you didn’t make it clear? Anyway, you can very well exclude the strip club as a deal-breaker: any woman would do that. This is not choosing between his friends and you. This is choosing between strip-clubs and you. The choice should be simple. He can still see his friends in a bar, on the sport pitch or whatever.
    Don’t let it go. Make a huge scandal about it. He complies or you go. You can also walk now. Assert yourself.

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  • Cleopatra Jones

    Cleopatra Jones October 26, 2017, 9:15 am

    I consider myself to have a very liberal sexual attitude about porn and strip clubs but even I wouldn’t be OK with a BJ from a prostitute. This is so past the line, I would have ended the relationship.
    .
    Also, just because his friend ‘paid’ for a BJ doesn’t mean he should have accepted it. I’m not saying John did more but I would be incredibly suspicious of his story. I’d think he actually did more (like have sex with a prostitute) but is just telling me that he got a ‘harmless’ BJ.
    .
    IME, a person’s friends are a reflection of who they are! If all of his friends are scummy cheaters then he’s probably one too. Birds of a feather…

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  • PippaTee

    PeeTee October 26, 2017, 9:52 am

    You are allowing more abuse in this relationship too and you (and your children) deserve so much better. Get yourself into counselling and learn how to create effective boundaries. Good luck.

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  • avatar

    for_cutie October 26, 2017, 10:05 am

    The real problem is the LW, Wendy gets to this towards the end of her response. Why is the LW unable to communicate with her partner? If something bothers her, it is on her to say that. It shouldn’t matter if it is leaving dirty dishes in the sink or accepting BJs. Her BF cannot know how she feels about this unless she talks to him. I agree that his behavior is wrong, but if she is ignoring it he probably thinks everything is fine. In which case, he will keep on doing whatever it is he is doing. Which for the record, the LW does not even know for sure because she hasn’t confronted him about it. This relationship is doomed (and future ones too) unless the LW can learn to speak up and advocate for herself and what she needs/expects out of a partner.

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  • avatar

    Miss MJ October 26, 2017, 10:24 am

    Wait, what? Your BF got a blowjob from a “stripper” at his bachelor party before his previous marriage? Does he not consider getting a blowjob from a stripper right before his wedding cheating? Cause that may well inform his behavior now.

    Anyway, look. You guys have very different views of where “the line” is and, frankly, given how willing your BF is to join in on the strip clubbing (and blow jobbing), “protests” or not (seriously, he doesn’t just “end up there”, he actively chooses to go inside and partakes of … whatever… instead of going home), I think it’s clear that he has no intention of stopping this behavior. Talk to him, because you should and apparently haven’t, but, if your hard line is “no strip clubs” (and based on his past behavior while in a relationship, I think I can agree with that***) be prepared to MOA to someone with whom you share views on what is acceptable.

    ***To be fair, I don’t actually have a problem with committed men going to strip clubs, nor do I believe in holding someone’s past mistakes in a previous relationship against them, necessarily. I do have a problem with committed men going to strip clubs and getting blow jobs from strippers, though, and the BF seems totally fine with continuing to frequent places where this happens while in a relationship with the LW. What’s more, given that this apparently isn’t the norm, it sounds like these places must be really, really seedy, if not outright brothels. And that’s a whole other story.

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  • avatar

    Ruby Thursday October 26, 2017, 10:54 am

    I realize I am on the liberal end too, but there’s such a huge difference between my partner getting a lap dance at a strip club and my partner engaging in sexual acts with a stripper. If you can’t be vocal about this legitimate huge red flag, what else will you keep to yourself when his actions hurt you or your family?

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  • avatar

    LisforLeslie October 26, 2017, 11:06 am

    So if I understand the situation – you’d rather weep silently and avoid the problem instead of getting the problem out in the open and dealing with it?

    Why aren’t you screaming your needs and expectations at the top of your lungs? Seriously – you’ve been in this position before! Why didn’t you learn to state your needs and expectations so there is no guessing, no questions about what is important to you and what you expect from a relationship?

    You have three options:
    1. Play the martyr, say nothing and weep silently
    2. Say “All signs point to you fucking up. Tell me the truth so we can deal with it.” and then go to counseling or have it out and agree that these are boundaries that can never be crossed again
    3. Say “All signs point to you fucking up. Tell me the truth, don’t tell me the truth, I don’t care because I’m out of here.”

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  • avatar

    dinoceros October 26, 2017, 11:14 am

    You talked about not wanting to give an ultimatum. I’m wondering if you have expressed to him your dealbreakers before. Because if you have, it wouldn’t be an ultimatum so much as saying, “Hey, you did the thing I told you wasn’t OK. We need to talk about what this means for us.” But yes, if it were me, I would have said, “You’re acting weird. What’s going on?”

    But I think if your dealbreaker is him doing this kind of stuff at a club, then he already broke it at his bachelor party, and presumably again, so I don’t think there’s much hope for him respecting your feelings.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy October 26, 2017, 11:28 am

      They haven’t talked about it or else he would know that strip clubs are not ok. She says “As far as he knows, I am ok with strip clubs as long as it’s look-only,” and that’s because she apparently has never said, “Hey, I’m no comfortable with you going to strip clubs. You got a BJ from a hired prostitute at your bachelor party, and I’m not comfortable with you being near that temptation again with the same group of guys who bought it for you. The whole scene is a deal-breaker for me.” That conversation should have happened three years ago. It definitely should have happened before she moved in with him. And it sure as SHIT should have happened when he came home the other night with his tail between his legs. Instead of crying herself to sleep she should have found her spine and said, “Why are you acting like you did something wrong?”

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  • avatar

    Essie October 26, 2017, 11:20 am

    I’m on the very liberal end, and if my boyfriend participated in a sexual act with anyone else, we’d be done. But then, we talk openly about what’s OK and what’s not OK in our relationship. We did that early on, and it’s not that hard. We even revisit the topic occasionally, if one of us wants to do something that we’re afraid might cause upset or worry for the other.

    I get the impulse to keep your mouth shut, because you’re afraid he’ll leave and you’ll be alone if you ever say no to anything. That’s a bad, bad way to think, and it’s probably a result of being in an abusive relationship. Your ex trained you to walk on eggshells, and you’re still doing it.

    There is NOTHING WRONG with telling him what makes you uncomfortable. If he reacts badly to a calm, honest statement about how you feel, then you’re heading down the same road you did with your ex, and it’s time to break up.

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  • avatar

    LeslieJoan October 26, 2017, 11:48 am

    The problem seems to be that his friends carry his balls in a sack – he can’t and won’t stand up to his friends. So, he tells them that he doesn’t want to go anymore, and they insist, and he goes anyway – and then does sketchy things and acts evasive and shuts you out afterwards. How does he manage to walk upright with no spine?

    He lied about the strip club, and he knows you’re upset about it, which is why he turned his back on you, and you already feel like shit. He knows. And he will do it again, because his friends are his friends, and he has no spine. But you don’t need to give an ultimatum – you really just need to make your arrangements to separate from him. That’s what a dealbreaker is. Everything else is just noise. You don’t need to confront him. You already know that he chooses his friends over you, and this is what they feel comfortable doing. So, as nice as he is when he’s not being led around by the dick by his friends, that’s not going to be enough for you, and that’s okay. If he or anybody else thinks you’re being prudish or unfair, they can bite me. A dealbreaker for you is a choice you make for yourself. And you know what you have to do, but you are hesitating – don’t doubt yourself.

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  • avatar

    wobster109 October 26, 2017, 3:16 pm

    It looks like I’m in the minority here. I would actually be totally ok with bf getting a blowjob (legally and safely). So I wouldn’t hold the previous bachelor party against him. Perhaps his ex was ok with it too.

    Anyway. You can talk to him about things without having it be a big blowout fight. I’m guessing you didn’t grow up with parents who discussed issues calmly, and instead they bottled resentments until it blew up in a volcano of tears and yelling. So here are some examples of how to start a conversation calmly.

    – When he acts weird: “Hey, you’re facing away from me [or whatever he’s doing, stick with a factual observation]. You don’t usually do that. Is something wrong?”
    – When you think (but aren’t sure) he’s gotten a full-contact lap dance: “Did you get a lap dance when you went out with friends?”
    – If he did get a lap dance, or even if he denies it: “I’m not ok with you touching the strip club workers. This is a dealbreaker for me. I should have told you sooner. I’m ok with you going if you look only. In the future please don’t have any physical contact with them. Thank you for understanding.”
    If he lies: “I’m sad and hurt that you lied about going to a strip club.”

    Not: [yelling] “How could you go to a strip club?” This will lead to him getting defensive and saying “it’s ok because technically. . . .” Don’t let this turn into a conversation about what’s technically cheating according to the dictionary. Stick with your boundaries and how it makes you feel.

    He’s not a mind reader. In your letter you say “as far as he knows”, which sounds like you’ve never told him outright what your boundaries are. The only way for him to know is for you to tell him.

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    • avatar

      Northern Star October 27, 2017, 12:49 pm

      As a person who is OK with her boyfriend being sucked off by a prostitute, you are definitely in the minority. Men do not have to be “mind readers” to realize that this type of behavior would not be OK for most women.

      I don’t understand why this LW didn’t have a definite discussion about what she (and most people) considers cheating when his bachelor party behavior came up the first time.

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      • avatar

        Northern Star October 27, 2017, 12:51 pm

        I mean, receiving oral sex from someone else isn’t a “Oh God, you want a Sweetest Day flower bouquet?!” kind of understandable mistake due to poor communication. Geez.

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  • Monkeysmommy

    Monkeysmommy October 27, 2017, 10:01 am

    She isn’t confronting him because that would mean she has to take action if he is guilty, and I don’t think she wants to. The man isn’t an idiot either, he has to know that no woman would be cool with him getting head or screwing a stripper.

    Look, if you are too scared to lose him or speak up, then yeah, he is gonna keep doing what he is doing. Stop dragging your kids around with men you can’t even talk to.

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  • avatar

    Anonymous December 20, 2017, 5:33 pm

    I agree with everyone who says this woman needs to start communicating with her boyfriend, tell him how she feels and ask him what he actually did. I also agree that this guy needs to not be so easily led by his friends, particularly since they don’t seem to have any concern about his best interests.

    However, I would like to defend him (surprise) in respect of some of the things assumed here. First of all, I think there was only one incident while he’s been with her, not two as Wendy concluded. When the LW talks about “the other day” I think she means the incident of a few months ago. If she meant a new incident surely she would have made that more clear (“He did it again!”).

    Second, while the “BJ incident” is definitely not cool, it happened a whole marriage before her. I think we ought to only be held responsible by our partners for things we do after we meet them. If we are held responsible for every bad thing we have ever done in a relationship in our lives then, surely, except for the few saints out there, we would all deserve to be dumped. I also wonder how intoxicated he was when this took place. It is a common thing for the groom’s friends to make sure the groom gets ridiculously, blindly, incontinently drunk at a bachelor party, and this guy’s friends seem like just the type to do that. Of course, simply being intoxicated is not an excuse for bad behaviour, but if he was so drunk that he could not consent, then he is not responsible for it, just like a woman is not responsible for any “consent” she may give when incapacitated by alcohol.

    Also, since she hasn’t talked to him about the recent incident, she doesn’t really know what happened and it is a bit much to assume that he had sex with a prostitute. Obviously, he felt guilty about something. (Which is at least a good sign, isn’t it? Would you rather he went to a strip club and behaved like it was nothing afterward?) However, I think it far more likely that he just had a lap dance or two. It is also possible that all that happened is that he went to the club and just looked. Even though she hasn’t expressly forbidden this, he probably knows her well enough to guess that she wouldn’t like it. He also has been telling his friends that he doesn’t want to go to strip clubs anymore, presumably because of her, and if he caved in to his friends by going to one, he might well feel guilty about it even if he didn’t do anything more.

    My advice, LW, is talk to him about it and try not to be too accusing or blaming when you do. Are good guys so common that you can afford to throw away one who made one mistake (and possibly not a very serious one – we just don’t know) and clearly feels badly about it?

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