“My Boyfriend Won’t Let Me Take Pole Dancing Classes”

I am a student in my third year of university with a desire to take pole dancing classes. I was introduced to the idea a few years ago as part of a friend’s birthday celebration. At the time, I was too busy with my studies to pursue this new interest, but I managed to go once or twice. Now I’m in my third year of college and finishing up a very hectic semester where I’ve had zero exercise time, and since next semester will be far less intense, I had planned to finally join the the pole dancing facility as a treat to myself. The problem arises with my boyfriend and his views of my being a “stripper” because of the nature of this fitness class. We have been together for seven months now and I love him, I really do. We talk about a future together and I can’t see myself with anyone else.

In his past, he has frequented strip clubs with friends and even received many lap dances; so, because of this strippers are “gross” to him and he does not want to be with one. I have tried to explain that it is a fun way to exercise while tapping into my female sexuality for my own self-confidence, but he will have none of it. I asked him to look into the facility and ask the owner any questions he feels the need to ask, but he will not bother. It is a full out “no” with no budging even though I have expressed how badly I want to do this and my reasons for this type of fitness class in particular. He is unable to distinguish an actual stripper at a pole at a strip club from his girlfriend exercising on a pole in a fitness facility.

Now I’m at a loss on what to do. He knows my self-confidence is low and that I don’t have many friends I hang out with because of my studies. Every time I have gone to pole dancing class I left feeling good about myself, almost like I tapped into a part of me I didn’t know I had. I do not plan to become a stripper at all! The classes are simply something I want to do for myself, and it feels like he is trying to deny me of my finding own sexuality, having a social life, knowing my own strength, and gaining self-confidence.

He has offered to find alternative ways for me to exercise and has enrolled me at his gym. While I appreciate his looking into other options and offering to pay for the gym membership, I have this gnawing sense of sadness that I can’t get rid of. It’s like I let a part of myself go somewhere in this whole process, almost like I will never get to feel feminine or in touch with my sensual side.

Thoughts? — Pole Dancer at Heart

Yeah, that gnawing sense of sadness you’re feeling comes from the fact that your boyfriend is a total dickwad. He’s had a bunch of lap dances and therefore strippers are “gross”? How does that make any sense? HE is the one paying them to dance on his lap. If they’re gross, what does that make him? A total dickwad, that’s what. He’s a controlling, disgusting douche canoe and you would be a million times better off without him. Seriously, just dump the jerk already. He’s “forbidden” you to take a class that you’ve expressed brings you a lot of joy? He enrolled you at his gym?! Who the hell does he think he is? He isn’t your father and you aren’t eight years old. He doesn’t have any say in what class you take or where you work out. And the fact that you haven’t dumped his controlling, misogynistic ass already clearly illustrates how much you would benefit from a class that empowers you. Dickwad knows this and that’s why he doesn’t want you anywhere near it. He wants to keep you malleable and meek, more ready to bend to his will because he doesn’t know how else to relate to women.

He’s exactly the kind of guy who goes to strip clubs and gets lots of lap dances and then calls the strippers “gross.” He gets off on the power imbalance. He thinks he’s better than they are because, while they are engaging in the same act, HE is the one paying for it. HE is the one with the power (so he thinks). And this is how he will likely always engage in interpersonal relationships with women. It’s certainly how he’s engaging with you. He has the power and you don’t. He calls the shots. He says where you can exercise and where you can’t. Where you can exercise and where you can’t! Why haven’t you left this douchebag yet? Ugh, gross. Come on. Aim higher. This guy is a scab on modern men and you can do a lot better.

I started dating a gal three months ago after a five-year period of being apart. We get along amazingly and we spend a ton of time together without ever tiring of being around each other. She has broached the subject of marriage multiple times already, considering how well we get along and our past history. Sounds great, eh? Well here’s the issue: She has two kids, 13 and 15, and while I understand kids come first (I have three of my own), she takes it to the extreme. She has on numerous occasions canceled plans with me at the last moment because “the kids want me to bring them to the store” or something along those lines.

Since reuniting, I have had the opportunity to be alone with her one-on-one only twice, and both times her kids called and interrupted our alone time and, of course, she hurried back home to them (for something along the lines of “the boys want ice cream and we are out”). In the entire time we’ve been back together we have only been intimate once and have only “made out” once and even then it was rushed because her “boys needed her home” for some BS reason. I think the back-breaker for me is that, the few times we have gotten a few moments of privacy and her son has barged in and interrupted, she has never “corrected” him, like telling him they can talk later about whatever mundane issue he may have. I really like her and her kids, but this abject lack of ANY personal time and intimacy is driving me away.

Any suggestions? I hope the above all makes sense. — Reunited and It (doesn’t) Feel so Good

You’ve had almost zero time alone with the woman in five years and she’s mentioned marriage numerous times?! That’s…. really fishy. She had these kids five years ago when you were in each other’s lives. What was your relationship like then? Were you even romantically involved or just friends? Is the kids’ father in the picture at all? What has her life been like the past five years? That she is moving so quickly with you in one sense — talking marriage after three months together — while basically avoiding intimacy with you, suggests to me that she’s using you. Would marrying you provide financial stability she doesn’t already have? Would it give her some security as she raises these teenage boys and gears up to potentially send them to college in a few years?

You need to have some serious conversations with her about how uncomfortable you are with the incongruity of these mentions of marriage while all while having zero private time with her. Tell her that you cannot even begin to entertain the thought of marriage until you are able to take your relationship to the level that only private time alone will allow. Tell her that while you love her kids and spending time with them, until there are some boundaries set and she quits rushing to their side every time they need ice cream, you have serious reservations about the future of your relationship. If she doesn’t react to this with an eager commitment to meet you where you need to be met and to carve some alone time for the two of you, I’d run for the hills, my friend.

My ex-husband has remarried since our divorce in January of 2017. Since then, I’ve also met someone and recently become engaged. Per our divorce papers, I can’t live with my fiancé until my ex meets him. So I have told my ex I want the two of them to meet and I have tried to arrange a meeting, but he refuses to meet. He knows that, the more he pushes it off, the longer my fiancé can’t live with me. We do have a four-year-old son who primarily lives with me.

What do I do? — Ready to Marry

Wait… you got divorced less than eleven months ago and your ex is already remarried and you’re already engaged?! Woah. You two didn’t waste any time, did you? You don’t think you need a little more time to make sure your fiancé and your son are well-integrated? I think about your 4-year-old son and how much he’s had to absorb this year — the dissolution of his family, his father moving out, his father remarrying, his mom moving on with another man. It would be a lot for someone twenty years older to process. I’m not saying you aren’t deserving of a happy relationship or another marriage. But would it be so terrible if you slowed down and took your time here and made extra sure everything was right? Just because your ex-husband didn’t do that doesn’t mean you have to follow suit.

But, regardless how fast or slow you move, you need to speak to a family attorney. If your divorce papers state that your ex must meet anyone you plan to live with and your ex is refusing to meet your fiancé, it’s time to consult with someone who can help navigate the law. But, again, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t advise you to slow down and make sure your son’s needs are being prioritized and that he’s comfortable with all the changes that have happened in his life this year.


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


  1. LW 1: Why do you seek his permission? Just do it.

  2. LW3: The aim of this divorce clause is probably to protect the kid. So I think it is right (and careful of you) to wait a bit. Date and see in two years if you really want to marry your new partner – for your kid’s and your own sake.

    1. LisforLeslie says:

      But the ex is likely using it as a tool to keep the LW from moving in with someone which is a dick move since he’s already married someone. You can’t have it both ways, you can’t insist that you have to meet someone before they move in and then refuse to meet.

      Call the lawyer. Hash it out.

    2. Avatar photo Cleopatra Jones says:

      And why is he allowed to move in and marry someone without her permission, but she can’t do the same? That right there is all kinds of effed up.

    3. Snarkastic says:

      But…is this even a common thing? I can’t imagine ever agreeing to that. Is there perhaps an element we are missing, like a particular religious background? Sounds similar to needing a “gett” from your ex-husband in order to remarry (Judaism).

  3. I didn’t think any response would properly denounce this tool, but you did it Wendy. LW1, please listen to Wendy and please please keep us posted.

    1. LisforLeslie says:

      Seriously this guy is a dickwad. I can’t think of a better term. He’s forbidding you from doing something you really enjoy because he probably has some kind of madonna/whore thing.

      Move on. Aim Higher. Like way higher. Like so much higher.

  4. wobster109 says:

    LW1: Would you ever dream of forbidding him from taking a class? No? Then you’re being controlled, and you need to get out. If you’re with someone, and they treat you a way you wouldn’t dream of treating them, that’s a huge red flag. You wouldn’t even forbid him from getting a lap dance. He would totally forbid you from getting one. You aren’t being treated equally here.

    LW3: Is it possible that the LW and ex have been divorced for years, and ex remarried in Jan 2017? Either way, I agree LW should talk to a lawyer. This sort of thing is exactly what makes law so fascinating. You draw up an agreement such as “the new partner has to meet the other parent”, and then one person wields the agreement like a bludgeon in a surprising and unanticipated way. In hindsight they should have said “the new partner has to meet the other parent, and the other parent must present 3 possible dates and times, at least an hour long each, on 3 different days of the week with at least one weekend option, each between the hours of 8 AM and 5 PM, and these dates must be offered within a week of receiving notice that the parent wishes to move in with a new partner, and the dates must be between a month and two months in advance so the new partner has reasonable time to make arrangements, and the new partner must choose at least one of these times to meet the other parent, so that no party can engage in undue delays”. Incidentally, this is also the sort of thing that makes legal documents long, boring, and impossible for a normal human to navigate.

  5. LW1: Why would you be with somebody you had to seek permission from to do anything , let alone take an exercise class. Does your boyfriend ask permission every time he goes to the strip club to get lap dances from those “gross” women?

    LW3: Seems like a good clause in the divorce settlement, and seems to be working. He’s probably not using it for the right reasons, but it’s still working.

    LW2: Sounds like a fun relationship, I see why you rekindled it…

  6. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    LW1 Your boyfriend is as gross as the women who give lap dances. He is half of the pair when it comes to the lap dance. He is the one who initiates it and pays for it. If he considers the women gross he has to be just as gross if not more so. He has a double standard. Men like him want a “good” woman at home but then they want something more exciting than the “good” woman and they go out cheating on her. If getting a lap dance from her is good for him but gross for her you should run. He will excuse anything he does as boys will be boys.

    1. This is basically the reason I won’t go to a strip club. I wouldn’t want someone I cared about stripping* , so there’s no way I’m going to be a voluntary participant in the process.** Going to a strip club while being grossed out by your girlfriend doing anything associated with stripping is basically saying that there are giant classes of people whose interests carry no moral weight to you. They are lesser people whose degradation you are fully willing to pursue for your own gratification.

      *taking a pole dancing class is obviously different than stripping.
      ** People obviously are free to do what they want and come to their own conclusions about what they do with their bodies but I think that there is something dehumanizing about grinding naked against dozens of strangers.

      1. Avatar photo Cleopatra Jones says:

        I think that there is something dehumanizing about grinding naked against dozens of strangers.

        There is but most woman who are strippers don’t have a whole plethora of options. I don’t know many little girls who want to grow up to be a stripper but shit…when you gotta keep a roof over your head or food on the table, grinding against strangers become a means to an end.

  7. Ele4phant says:

    LW1 just sign up for the class. You do not need his permission. You are an adult – your money your body.

    Frankly he sounds controlling and has fucked up ideas about women’s sexuality. I don’t think he’s worth dating at all.

  8. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    LW2 Your gal is using the boys as an excuse to not be alone with you. That tells you everything you need to know about your relationship. The only reason she would want to be married to you but never alone with you is that she wants to use you in some way. Move on.

    1. LisforLeslie says:

      I was thinking the same thing. Not only that but she’s pressing for marriage but she can’t actually be a partner – she’s got to be a mother ALL. THE. TIME.

      Also, this nonsense with her kids won’t end when they turn 18 or go to college. She’ll be doing their laundry and cleaning up their messes long into their 20’s, 30’s 40’s and beyond. She’ll have issues with any partner her kid brings home because they don’t spoil her boys the way she does. You are looking at a future in which it’s highly likely that
      1. You’re living with and fully supporting adults who don’t pick up after themselves, don’t pay rent, eat your food and use your stuff.
      2. If one or both of them marries, it will be an endless struggle between your wife who won’t let go and their partner who will fight for independence from their mother in law (your girlfriend).
      3. If the partners “win” your girlfriend will be cut out of their lives entirely or otherwise pushed into a secondary position which will make her insane, miserable and you’ll have to deal with the fall out.

      GET. OUT. NOW.

  9. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    LW3 You’ve known your fiance for less than a year. You need to slow down. If your relationship will last a lifetime it will last another couple of years while you give it the time it takes to see if it is right for you long term. Give yourself and your son and your fiance the gift of time. Wait several years and then if the two of you are still together and still happy go ahead and plan a wedding. Most relationships don’t last a full two years. Give yours enough time to see if it is better than most. Give it enough time to cut your odds of another divorce.

  10. Anonymous says:

    LW1 your boyfriend is a cave man. I can only imagine if he is so closed on this topic, how is he regarding other topics? What does he think about feminism, equal pay?

  11. I think that the advice for LW2 to try and salvage the relationship is way way off base. This is not a salvageable relationship. Her baseline for how she treats you and how she prioritizes the relationship are so far from normal that you couldn’t trust any agreement or plans to stick. Given that you have put up with this crap for three months, I would not trust yourself to be able to enforce any boundaries with her.

    Someone who you marry should be anxious to spend time with you and want for her own sake to be physically intimate with you more than once every three months. Run away and don’t look back.

  12. “My ex-husband has remarried since our divorce in January of 2017”

    I wonder if she meant to say that he remarried in January 2017 rather than the divorce being in 2017.

  13. LW1, what the hell…? Dump him, dump him now, run far away. You don’t need his “permission” to TAKE A FUCKING EXERCISE CLASS. Why are you even asking him? Take the class. If he doesn’t like it, he can fuck right off. What a douche. Wendy knocked that response right out of the park. If you don’t get out now, he’ll start telling you which friends you have “permission” to hang out with and which foods you have “permission” to eat and what clothes he’s giving you “permission” to wear.

  14. dinoceros says:

    LW1: You are not a child, and your boyfriend is not your parent. I understand that you’re young, so you may not have learned this yet, but in relationships (healthy, mature relationships) one partner does not have the right to not allow the other to do something. This is partially on him (in that he thinks he has the right to forbid you from doing things) and on you (that you think you have to ask for permission to do things in your free time). I’d recommend getting out of this relationship because he is the kind of person who apparently has a control issue. A good boyfriend would most likely not care about this (I mean, what a hypocrite — he doesn’t think that HE is disgusting for going to strip clubs too?), but even if he did, he would know that it’s none of his business and you’re an adult. Don’t be the kind of person who lets her boyfriend treat her like his property.

    LW2: Way too soon to be talking marriage. Sounds like she just wants someone to support her family. Your relationship doesn’t really sound like anything more than a friendship. You also are finding that the way she parents makes your relationship sort of miserable. Move on rather than getting more entangled than you already are.

    LW3: I agree with Wendy about how fast you are rushing things. But aside from that, did you not have a lawyer representing you in your divorce? Because if you didn’t put in a deadline in for him to meet the fiance, then he could refuse to meet your significant other indefinitely.

  15. Artsygirl says:

    LW1 – Universal agreement that your BF is a controlling asshole hypocrite. Part of me wonders if he wants you to join his gym so he can keep an eye on you – his attitude and behavior are all warning signs of an abuser.

    LW2 – You and your lady have different priorities and they are not compatible. She wants to be at the beck and call of her teenage sons – you want to have an adult relationship. Neither of you is a bad guy, but there is likely no way around this. Normally I would suggest you enjoy casual dating, but honestly you are not even doing that if she constantly cancels plans or leaves abruptly.

    LW3 – Sounds like a double standard and undoubtedly you could contest this in court. I had been reading your letter like the majority of people, but if Frydor’s interpretation is right, then I would speak with your lawyer and see if you can get the agreement amended.

  16. Northern Star says:

    LW 2, you are out of your mind if you marry this woman. You’ve only really spent time alone together TWICE?! And both times you were interrupted, and she bailed for flimsy reasons?

    Dude. She’s using you (are you rich, or is she desperate?). Her kids are a convenient excuse to get out of being alone with you. Run!

  17. “And the fact that you haven’t dumped his controlling, misogynistic ass already clearly illustrates how much you would benefit from a class that empowers you. Dickwad knows this and that’s why he doesn’t want you anywhere near it. He wants to keep you malleable and meek, more ready to bend to his will because he doesn’t know how else to relate to women.”
    THIS! LW1, please read these sentences over and over again until you understand, you are property to this guy as is any woman.

    1. Juliecatharine says:

      Yesssss. Wendy nailed it but that line really does bear repeating. LW, please dump this tool box, he is a huge hypocrite and a total dickhead. Seriously, where does he get the balls to forbid you anything?! It really worries me that you didn’t laugh in his face, please let this be a turning point in your life.

      1. LisforLeslie says:

        Seriously. I want you to take a Roller derby class and learn how powerful you really are.

  18. Take the pole class!! I love pole, I’ve been going for more than a year and my body has changed completely as has my confidence. I’ve met amazing friends too. None of it has to do with catering to a man. It is so different than stripping. That said, a few girls I practice with do strip and have their own opinions about it, but there’s no judgment.
    My boyfriend loves that I dance because he knows it makes me feel free and happy, and I bring some sexy moves home to him. Find you a man like that, not a man who wants to control you.

  19. Avatar photo SavannahAnna says:

    LW1, please listen to what everyone is telling you, and sign up for your pole-dancing exercise class and have a wonderful time! Drop this misogynistic, controlling creep like a hot potato.

    One thing to think about, if you’re still thinking about this nobody at all: if lap dances are so “gross” to him, he would either have tried it once (not realizing what he “thought”), or else he would never have tried it at all. But a bunch of times?! Nah, no way. They can’t both be true.

    That has nothing to do with you taking an exercise class, of course. It’s just a sidelight on what a clumsy, creepy, would-be manipulator he is.

  20. LW1, your BF doesn’t want you to take pole dancing classes for the exact reason you’re mentioning: because it taps into a sensuality thing that *just* for you. That threatens him. He knows what it will do to you: it will boost your confidence.

    I had a BF once (when I was 18-20) who was threatened by me watching Sex & The City. It made him very insecure, I think (in my words, not his) because he wasn’t used to women talking about sex and guys so frankly and taking control. He made some comments (“I don’t know why you would want to watch this!”). I laughed and explained why I most certainly wanted to watch this. Jesus Like he never watched porn (not even the same thing! But he did!). I let him know he was allowed to his opinion, sure, but I wasn’t going to not-watch something just because it made him feel a bit awkward. It was okay after that. We stayed together for 2,5 years. He was (and is) a good guy, but he needed to learn (in more ways than the SATC incident) that he needed to drop the fucking double standards.

    In contrary to your BF, my then-BF was just whining. He did not not forbid me to do anything. Your BF sounds like a controlling jerk. This is what you’re in for for the rest of your life. Run.

  21. PS Listen to LisforLesie and take additional RollerDerby classes! Oh man your life is going to be awesome without this douche

  22. LW1, it’s a fitness class. If you are interested sign up for it. Your boyfriend has no say in what fitness classes you want to take. Stop letting his opinion influence you. He doesn’t get that power over you. YOUR OPINION is what matters here. He can get over it. Sign up for the class. Enjoy it. If he complains roll your eyes at him and say GET OVER IT. He’s being ridiculous. Stop catering to his ridiculousness.

  23. L.W. 1 –what everybody else said. Enjoy your pole dancing. I also highly recommend aerial classes if you get the chance, if you enjoy pole you will probably love silks, trapeze, etc. Sorry your boyfriend is such a wally but better find out now than later on.

  24. Purplestar says:

    LW1 – Your words:
    We have been together for seven months
    He knows my self-confidence is low and that I don’t have many friends
    Every time I have gone to pole dancing class I left feeling good about myself
    …something I want to do for myself
    …he is trying to deny me of my finding own sexuality, having a social life, knowing my own strength, and gaining self-confidence.
    It is a full out “no”

    Of course he is trying to put a stop to your feeling good about yourself and increasing your self awareness and self esteem. Because if you gain those things you will see that he is controlling and enjoys demeaning you. This is how he gets feelings of power. This is wrong.

    You are in 3rd year of university. You obviously work hard and are dedicated to your studies. You have goals and drive. Why would let this man, that you have known for only seven months, take that away from you.

    You say you love him and ” can’t see myself with anyone else.” – 7 months is a blink in your life. You do not get to know anyone well enough in 7 months to determine if this person is a good choice for the rest of your life. Honestly, no one should tell you what you can or can not do – whether that relationship is 7 months, 7 years, or 70 years.

    Please take the class – it makes you feel good about yourself!!!!

    Please rethink being with this man(boy). He is trying to drag you down and control you. Having you join his gym is not a gift, but a huge red flag – it is a way to isolate you. You will not meet people of like interests and you will not have a chance to expand your friend base.

    Say your words over and over to yourself…
    He is trying to deny me of my finding own sexuality, having a social life, knowing my own strength, and gaining self-confidence.
    Every time I have gone to pole dancing class I left feeling good about myself


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