Husband getting texts from another woman
March 20, 2012 6:23 PM   Subscribe

I just found a text from another woman on my husbands phone. Not sure what to do.

My husband works an unconventional schedule and spent his day off today hanging out and drinking with a co-worker. When I got home from work at 6:30pm he was home but drunk.

I found his phone sitting there and I checked it. Whats weird is that in the 6 years weve been together i rarely check his phone but I did today. Obviously that means I suspected something but I cant really point to why because he goes out with his friends regilarly and I dont automatically check his phone. But today i did and found a new text from a woman's name saying hi.

So i confronted him. First he said it was nothing. Then I freaked out and started yelling and he admitted he was at a strip club and met this stripper who took his number and programmed hers into his phone. I told him I dont really beleive that a stripper would bother being nice to him after he left the bar. He swore that he didnt do anything with her. I told him he had to get out. Now im sitting here worried sick that hes been dating or seeing a hooker. Or that he would have.

And i refused to give him his phone back. Since he left I texted the girl back to see if she would give up any info. The exchange went:

Some girl: Hey
Me: Hey
SG: Whats up
Me: Not much. Home.
SG: Im sorry Im gettin back so late.
Me: No problem.

That's it. No response since an hour ago.

I'm freaking out and I don't know what to do. And to complicate things I'm 7 months pregnant with our first child. I want to murder him but leaving him is not an option for me because I really cant have this baby on my own. I don't even really know what happened or would have happened.

Has anyone dealt with this before who can offer any advice?
posted by my_thai to Human Relations (62 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Wow. That's tough. I'm not really sure what you should do about the relationship, to be honest. What resources do you have in the community (friends, family, doctors, therapists) who you could talk to?

Also, you need to get an STD test right away from the OB-GYN who is handling your pregnancy. There are some STDs that could seriously harm your baby during delivery.

I'm so sorry you're dealing with this right now.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:29 PM on March 20, 2012 [6 favorites]

Please clarify... is *all* that was on his phone a "hi"? Because you're jumping to all kinds of conclusions here. It's not like he had a text that said "hey, I had a really good time last night." Don't you think if he'd been dating a stripper (or anyone) that he would have a whole bunch of texts with this person?

Now as for what he "admitted"... my first reaction is that he just said something because he was drunk and you freaked out on him. Seriously look at my rewording of what you said: Husband is drunk. Somegirl texts "hi." He doesn't respond. Wife comes in, grabs phone, asks who "somegirl" is. Husband says noone. Wife freaks-the-fuck-out and starts yelling. Husband says "somegirl is Xgirl." Wife kicks him out and keeps the phone.

Now, it is entirely possible that something is, in fact, going on. But you don't have evidence! You just have suspicion and a text from someone (and not even an incriminating text at that).

You need to talk to your husband rationally and calmly. And stop jumping to conclusions.
posted by DoubleLune at 6:31 PM on March 20, 2012 [52 favorites]

I am so, so sorry this happened, whatever it turns out to be. Nobody wants this.

When this (very, very similar thing) happened to me, I begged my (then-) husband to tell me everything, please, at once and with every detail and answering all my questions, so that I could know everything and "hit bottom". Whether it was a flirtation or something more, he needed to tell me the truth, and I wanted to trust that he would. I wanted to know, to feel, to have everything at once so that I could get it over with, and make my decisions and move forward - and eventually go back up. Pouring salt in open ones, opening old wounds, and then to pick at scabs - I wanted none of that. As I've mentioned before, beyond that point, you need a Fidelity Plan. Whole truth; decision process; plan going forward.
posted by peagood at 6:34 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

And stop jumping to conclusions.

You're husband is lying to you. I'm sorry but the OP does not need more "evidence" than when your husband fesses up to being drunk at a strip club when you're at home seven months pregnant. And is getting texts from strippers. Which is probably not even fully true. There's probably a battle carrier behind that bullshit story.

I am so sorry you decided to check your husband's texts and decided to engage with someone you thought he is dating on the side. For your own health, I highly recommend not going any further down that road of investigation and just take care of yourself and your baby. Knowing more details is just not going to help you. As a man I've never been in your situation but I feel a lot of sympathy for you, and I hope you have family and friends that you can confide in. And I hope you don't let a person who is leading a drunken double-life destroy your home any more than he has by asking for compromises and understanding.
posted by phaedon at 6:53 PM on March 20, 2012 [15 favorites]

His co-worker could have coaxed him into going to a club he knew? Is he known for previously having gone to such places? I'm a guy and the only time I ever went to a club like that was when other people invited me. There are way too many variables here.
posted by whorl at 6:58 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'll throw in my own two cents worth:

Make no decisions tonight, or tomorrow, or probably the next day... get some sleep, gain your composure, and gather information.

Before you decide anything, at least attempt to have some serious conversation with him, preferably with a solid third party (a therapist/counselor type). There is much you don't know or understand at this point. You're about to make some serious decisions, do so with knowledge, insight, and understanding.

We have little information about your history, but you do. If this has been, up to this point, a positive, healthy relationship, don't jump at throwing it away due to this event.

posted by HuronBob at 6:58 PM on March 20, 2012 [14 favorites]

I don't know if your husband is lying to you or not, but let me just confirm that yes, strippers sometimes text later. One texted a friend on Easter afternoon last year several days after they met at the strip club. They didn't have a particularly strong connection and my friend did not pay for any extras or anything. It can happen.
posted by valeries at 6:59 PM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

It is highly possible that a stripper would ask for his phone number and communicate with him once he left the bar. They try to build up a clientele of regulars, who will show up regardless of which club a girl is working at that night. If a girl is having a slow night, she'll start contacting regulars and ask them to come see her. So she may have been sending a test message, just to make sure the phone number was correct, and would then contact him at a later date if business was slow. Note: this does not in any way mean she wants to date him. Strippers are masters at making men believe they care about each and every one of them. Each customer is their "favorite". It's all about the money.
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:59 PM on March 20, 2012 [36 favorites]

I also feel certain that a stripper would not get a phone number and text someone they performed for. That is a fantasy sort of thing and from everything I know, which is short of being a stripper but not nothing, it's highly unlikely. Strippers choose that line of work in part because they are usually not interested in further relationships with their audiences outside of work.

I find it so weird that his excuse would be "a strip club." There are a lot of people for whom that would be plenty bad enough to make this a serious discussion. The fact that he's using "strip club" to hide something worse makes me really wonder what the hell the "worse" is.

So where we are is that we know something is up - not because of the text itself - which, for those who insist that we be generous, could be innocuous in some universes - but because your husband chose not to be honest at a time when he most needs to step up.

In your shoes I would be interested in doing a reverse lookup of her phone number to see where the phone is registered and perhaps get a name. Beyond that I wouldn't advise looking for more trouble - and I'm not sure what happens next, so please, activate your support system right now. No matter what, he has a lot of explaining to do and you need and deserve to know the full truth before you even consider staying with this guy. You may be afraid to raise a baby on your own but you don't yet know what you have to count on from others. And being with a jerk would not make raising a baby easier. You did not overreact. Start calling some friends and family.
posted by Miko at 7:02 PM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

OK, maybe I do know nothing about strippers texting. Still doesn't change the lying issue, and I think the discussion of going to a strip club without your knowledge or agreement would still be a pretty huge issue even if the story he eventually choked out is accurate.
posted by Miko at 7:03 PM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

I have been in a similar situation, except that my child was a few months old. Unfortunately the idea to check his phone came from somewhere, right? Some people do this out of insecurity, some have legitimate reasons.

One piece of advice is to not confront him or discuss this any further if he has been drinking. Also, it is possible that you are jumping to conclusions; it is possible that you are not. It is too early to really know anything, and you need to focus on you, your baby and your health. That might mean finding somewhere safe, supportive and comfortable to stay. Find people who know you and love you and can be there for you regardless of the outcome.

Depending on what unfolds in the coming days, you might be looking for a couples counselor, a place to live, or a way to be around him without wanting to attack him. Whatever happens, know that you will be fine, maybe not immediately, but you will. You have to take care of yourself and your baby, and if it turns out that he is engaging in things that you consider to be "deal-breakers," it is best that you know now.

I'm so sorry this is happening. I know how it can turn your life upside-down in a matter of moments. It feels out of control and you feel like your life is being ruined. I promise you, it is not. Put yourself and your baby first with every decision you make.
posted by retrofitted at 7:05 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

The stripper is a red herring. (Sorry, I've always wanted to use MetaSlang!) The issue is your husband texting another woman, and worse, one with whom you are not acquainted. Whatever she does professionally is second to who the hell she IS. If my boyfriend is texting a girl, it better be someone I know (or someone from work or SOMETHING). If the answer was, "Oh nobody baby, just some stripper" I think the baby would be ejected from my body from the sheer force of my anger (if I were you, I mean. I am not pregnant.).

I mean the fact that he even gave someone (maybe a stripper) his number is a pretty big red flag (so much red!) and it doesn't look like the texts were about business or anything. I would be pissed, and I would probably make him look for somewhere else to sleep.

I am really sorry. Do you have a friend or family member who can come take your mind off of this? I'd need a distraction, big time!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 7:13 PM on March 20, 2012 [8 favorites]

You have no proof of anything, other than a strange message and his admission that he went to a strip club. File this under, "where's there's smoke, there's fire..." and keep a discrete, watchful eye on this. It could be nothing, and that's pretty much all you have. To throw him out over this would be tragic if, in fact, this really is nothing. First baby... bad economy... maybe he just needed to blow off steam and ended up in a stupid place. Not making excuses for him, and this is not to say you shouldn't be pissed or worried.
posted by brownrd at 7:15 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sounds like he needs to Take A Vacation and stay somewhere else until he figures out what his priorities really are.
posted by hermitosis at 7:18 PM on March 20, 2012 [5 favorites]

you went from a text that says "hi" to freaking out, yelling, kicking him out, wanting to murder him, and realizing you can't raise this baby alone? you've escalated to a disturbing level. also, did you have your drunk husband drive somewhere when you told him to leave his own home?
posted by radiosilents at 7:24 PM on March 20, 2012 [45 favorites]

It's common practice for strippers to ask for your number and text you a 'hi' from their phone (so that you can have their number). Happened pretty regularly when I worked at a place that tolerated going to strip clubs for lunch.

(the 'hi' texts weren't so bad, you could just ignore them. It's the ones with pictures in it that were bad, because you were all like: who tf is this person? And then you'd remember and go, 'oh yeah - she's probably bored and is texting everyone in her phone.")
posted by Arthur Dent at 7:25 PM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

Jesus Christ. It's a text from a woman. If that was grounds for this level of rage then I'd be a dead man, considering I get texts from women my partner has never met and never will. From what you describe, you discovered your husband communicates with women who aren't you, then cornered him into a fight, then kicked him out. All over literally next to nothing.

What you should do is calm down, apologize and ask him what the real deal is. So far you have done everything wrong; try to figure out if there is anything to be worked up about before you crucify your husband for receiving a text that says hi from a woman.
posted by Sternmeyer at 7:30 PM on March 20, 2012 [50 favorites]

Interesting.... Sternmeyer makes a legitimate point. I'm sitting here discussing the ins and outs of emotionally charged relationships with people (and, I'm assuming, some of them are women) while my wife is in bed (and, she has no clue I'm having this particular conversation), and all you've got is a "what's up?".

Not trying to be snarky here, really, but I think Sternmeyer puts it in perspective a bit... as I said before.. take a deep breath and talk to him about it tomorrow.
posted by HuronBob at 7:38 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

If I were you I'd text this woman a bit more and see if you can pry more information out of her. I think for your own sanity you need to know the truth and cheating husbands rarely tell it. Uncertainty will probably cause you more anxiety in the end.

To me her "I'm sorry I'm getting back so late" is the most suspicious thing as it seems to suggest some sort of relationship. I could be wrong, but I would dig deeper.
posted by timsneezed at 7:39 PM on March 20, 2012 [5 favorites]

Well, that escalated quickly from a "Hi" to "I am texting with a stripper" to GTFO.

All over a hi. Honestly, his explanation is so farfetched to be believable. Who the hell goes to "I'm texting with a stripper" to cover his ass against your accusation of infidelity.

Sit down when you're not as angry and talk to him about it....though I suspect it will be tough to call him until you give him back his go ahead and give back what's his.

The rest of this should be done the old fashioned talking to him like an adult.
posted by inturnaround at 7:40 PM on March 20, 2012 [5 favorites]

Oh, these explanations about the stripper trying to build up a clientele actually make sense.

I didn't understand the line: Im sorry Im gettin back so late.

But it makes sense in this context. Imagine the stripper saying "let me have your number." Your husband, "uh, okay." Stripper: "I'll text you."

Then several hours pass and she finally does. That's the apology. (Maybe this was obvious to all of you, but it wasn't to me.)

I really do not think this is a relationship ending crisis. Every man knows strippers are just fantasy makers. He may have showed poor judgment, but if this scenario is true, I think you should not consider this a true act of infidelity. No decent man really takes flirtation with a skanky stripper seriously.
posted by jayder at 7:50 PM on March 20, 2012

Im sorry Im gettin back so late.

But it makes sense in this context. Imagine the stripper saying "let me have your number." Your husband, "uh, okay." Stripper: "I'll text you."

Then several hours pass and she finally does. That's the apology. (Maybe this was obvious to all of you, but it wasn't to me.)

I thought about this but would the stripper who has never texted this guy before really apologize for his having to wait a few hours? I guess it's plausible but I can understand the OP's feeling uncertainty.
posted by timsneezed at 8:02 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

If a man really doesn't take flirtation with a skanky stripper seriously, then he shouldn't be exchanging contact info with her. My vote is that a decent man wouldn't pull this shit on his wife.

I also respectfully disagree with Sternmeyer, because I think he's judging your relationship against the standard he and his partner have.

The OP has more than a "what's up," she has a really suspicious explanation from her husband, plus the suspicions that led her to check the phone in the first place.

he admitted he was at a strip club and met this stripper who took his number and programmed hers into his phone.

This doesn't pass the smell test. The stripper just TOOK his number? Like he just left it laying around and she grabbed it?

His explanation tells you a few things:

(1) He won't tell you if he's going to strip clubs.

(2) He won't tell a stripper who asks for his number, "No." Or even, "No, I'm married, and my wife is 7 months pregnant, so this isn't a good idea." Or even, "No, thank you." Or even, "That would be a gross betrayal of my wife's trust."

(3) He won't tell you when he and a stripper exchange contact info.

(4) He's willing to hide things from you which he either knows, or should know, would make you upset if you found out.


I would see if you can go online or go through paper cell phone bills and see when he started contacting this person. You should be able to get dates, times, and durations matched up to the cell phone number. Maybe you can match this timeline up against your own recollections and get a better look at the picture.

Do this without telling him, and then ask him for more information and see if it agrees with what you're able to establish independently.

The next step if you still have doubts? Maybe a private investigator, since it involves a marriage and an unborn child.
posted by alphanerd at 8:07 PM on March 20, 2012 [19 favorites]

Whatever strippers do to manipulate husbands is irrelevant if I expect my husband not to be hanging out at strip clubs while I am seven months pregnant. It is perfectly reasonable, rational and fine to expect one's husband not to be handing out his phone number to women whose job it is to separate our shared resources from him and put them in their pockets. Porn? Fine. Masturbation? Go for it. Hanging out with strippers, giving them your phone number, participating in that world while I'm home with my swollen feet up? Without my knowledge? Sorry, no. I do not accept that a woman who sets such a standard with her husband is cruelly and unfairly robbing him of some divine right to swill $20 well drinks while watching topless strangers gyrate. Particularly if that woman is pregnant and her husband knows damn well she would not appreciate such a thing.

You don't trust your husband at the moment and that is a terrifying thing when you're preparing to have a baby in 10 or so weeks. What is equally disturbing to hear is that you were not able to give him the benefit of the doubt at all and that you immediately went ballistic. I'm sure you're scared about that, too, particularly because you're pregnant. Clearly, you guys need to have a very, very serious talk. But not tonight; sleep on it and see where your head is at in the morning.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 8:10 PM on March 20, 2012 [48 favorites]

I think it really does make sense that she would apologize. It's part of the hustle, part of the flirting, the trying-to-flatter-him.
posted by jayder at 8:14 PM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

Seconding DoubleLune's comment and most of the comments that suggest that you have no real information and need to have a sober conversation.
posted by jander03 at 8:15 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh, and I totally agree it is very poor form to be hanging out in a strip club while your wife is pregnant. It's comes across very poorly.
posted by jayder at 8:16 PM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

There seems to be a lot of assumption in this thread that going to strip clubs is verboten, that strippers are unsuitable friends, that they are by definition home wrecking man eaters, and that they are "skanky" people. I don't think that is at all helpful, nor do I think that's a helpful frame of reference for the OP. It really depends on where the boundaries are drawn in this relationship. That wasn't stated in the original post - clearly they were breeched but it's unclear at which juncture.

Otherwise, I'm broadly with TryTheTilapia and MoonOrb.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:23 PM on March 20, 2012 [17 favorites]

my_thai, I strongly suggest that you ignore everyone above who is trying to perform textual analysis on a handful of text messages from a maybe-stripper. That way lies madness.

First, you need to get yourself straight. Do you have a safe place you can go for a couple days -- your parents', sister's or best friend's place? You need to decompress and process this situation. Talk it out with someone who is not a stranger on the internet. Just saying your feelings out loud to a friend will make you feel 1000% better.

After that, worry about talking to your husband.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 8:23 PM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

I think it really does make sense that she would apologize. It's part of the hustle, part of the flirting, the trying-to-flatter-him.

Could be but it could also mean something more, which is why I think the OP should do more investigation before she confronts her husband again.

I've read a lot about infidelity and cheating spouses almost never own up to the whole truth upfront.
posted by timsneezed at 8:33 PM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

His story is almost surely a lie, but on the off-chance that he's telling the truth:

As a person with more than my share of friends who were strippers, I can assure you that the only reason a stripper would text a man is to date and sleep with him or else to make money off of him. There's also a tiny off-chance the stipper just wants to hang out (because he has, say, a cool boat or a home in the Hamptons where her son can play), but, frankly, a man with a pregnant wife is not in a position to waste his time and resources meeting new female "friends", especially ones encountered in a sexually charged situation, who may or may not just see him as a dollar sign.

Even if his story is true, and the stripper grabbed his phone against his will, if he wasn't into it he wouldn't have responded at all and deleted her info.

If I were the OP I would draw up a contract that basically says for the foreseeable future her husband goes straight from work to home, spends zero time alone with women, including lunch at work unless it's strictly necessary, and spends every moment of his resources and time taking care of his responsibilities as a husband and father. The I would shake hands, forgive and forget, but tell him if it ever happens again things are not going to be pretty.
posted by devymetal at 9:17 PM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

Mod note: Folks, the metacommentary basically needs to stop. Answer the question, or go to MetaTalk. Those are your options. Everything else needs to go to email to Not This Thread.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:32 PM on March 20, 2012

I've never seen a dude betraying the trust of a woman who is pregnant with his child end well, period. And I've seen it more than a few times. Heck, I've lived it. If she's determined not to leave, then I really hope this guy comes home sober, explains himself thoroughly and honestly, and (depending on what actually happened, which is mostly speculation at this point) makes every step necessary to buck up and fix it. Otherwise, I forsee a long and drawn-out death to this relationship. Even if he's not cheating, he is obviously not respecting his wife or honoring his relationship in the way she needs and/or expects, and that does not bode well for a happy future in any case.

OP, you have some very good advice telling you to take a deep breath, get some sleep, and clear your head for the moment. I know it's much easier said then done, but you do need to take care of yourself and your baby first and make sure you are approaching this in the most rational way possible. And by rational I don't whatsoever mean "shelters your feelings and be a martyr." I mean be able to assess your feelings clearly and decide what you need to do based on the full picture.

If you don't seem to be able to GET the full picture, or if you find yourself confronting more little lies and cover-ups and changing stories, please reconsider the impossibility of leaving this man. Again, I know it's so so much easier said than done, but I wish I had done it when I was in (similar to) your shoes. I'm so sorry you're going through this.
posted by celtalitha at 9:42 PM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

"supress" not "shelters." Grrr iPhone.
posted by celtalitha at 9:46 PM on March 20, 2012

I would like to temper my earlier answer in which I took the position that it was probably a harmless flirtation. I still believe it was probably not MEANT as infidelity on his part if the stripper-drumming-up-clients theory is true. And to that extent it is forgivable. But less forgivable is the poor judgment in bringing someone into his life, and thus his wife's life, who may be bent on exploiting him. (I've seen too many situations where unstable strippers with thug boyfriends prey on the chumps who come to their clubs, setting up meetings to rob them or burglarizing their houses.)

So, OP -- I think you should definitely lay down the law. This stripper nonsense has to stop. I think he deserves for you to listen to him, but it needs to be clear that this kind of thing stops now, because he is endangering you, him, and your young family by cavorting with strippers. He just is. It can't be tolerated. And make him understand that there will be no more chances after this.
posted by jayder at 9:51 PM on March 20, 2012 [5 favorites]

OP - I was pregnant last year. Your hormones are very much at play here. THIS MEANS YOUR AWARENESS IS HEIGHTENED. It also means your reactions effect any situation. This text message was interpreted as a major threat to your family, and it may be a threat. BUT IT MAY BE NOTHING. Here's what I would have done in your shoes....

The only thing I would be doing right now is a forensic accounting of everything in that phone, and then matching suspicious calls & texts with phone records and then popping over to my good friend, to search names, email addresses, and phone numbers. I would also be checking the browser history on the phone (if it is a smartphone) and all computers in the home. Ditto email on the phone and on home computers.

He's gone and you have the run of the house. Use it to your advantage.

Either you find out this is all NOTHING, or, more incriminating stuff will turn up. (I hope not!)



This is an important rule of thumb for any investigator - professional or otherwise. Just follow the threads as they unravel. Make notes.


Let's say your research is inconclusive. I HIGHLY agree that spouses who are practiced cheaters NEVER admit the truth, or just shades of the truth. But, here is your problem: IF YOUR HUSBAND IS HONEST AND NOT CHEATING, THERE IS NOTHING TO ADMIT!


If your research is inconclusive, why not hire a private investigator? Don't just hire anyone, look for someone reliable. These guys can be shady, so choose wisely. You're not trying to waste money or create drama, you are seeking assurance.


If all browser histories, text messages, and emails (check the "trash" files) are all routinely deleted by your spouse, I would hire an investigator asap. If all that stuff is not deleted and not suspicious, I would seek counseling and get on with planning a happy family life.

Best to you.

PS - Check credit card and bank statements, too. Way way back that's how I caught a live-in boyfriend cheating on me with his ex while on a business trip. Good luck.

Stay calm. You'll get through this. The only way through is to do your own research and solve the mystery. Stay calm.
posted by jbenben at 9:54 PM on March 20, 2012 [8 favorites]

Oops! In my experience, strippers absolutely try to cultivate regulars. So that part might be true.

Your feelings about what happens in strip clubs, and what might happen outside, plus if your husband has decent boundaries of his own.. this is all yours to decide upon.
posted by jbenben at 10:00 PM on March 20, 2012

I'm very close friends with two (former, I think) strippers. They happen to have been receptionists at the company where I work. :) They both kept in touch with their favorite clients, and they both cultivated... um... extracurricular relationships. In fact, one of them was so prolific that I nicknamed her "Discount," which was our code word for whenever she exchanged sex for favors.

Discount (and her mother) and I have been close friends for several years now, and I even did Thanksgiving with them once. She has definitely called and texted me before even though I'm in a committed monogamous long-term relationship. Plenty of other women have as well, and I've never done anything sexual with them. My girlfriend knows all of my closest lady friends, but she definitely doesn't know every single female acquaintance who has ever texted me.

I saw this post earlier this evening and asked my friend Discount what she thought. Her comment was (to paraphrase): "It could be nothing. I tried to get the number of anyone who tipped really well. I was always fishing for clients. But yeah, it could be a red flag too. Big tippers were usually either first timers or interested in something extra."

You may have additional information that's cause for concern, but at this point I would say: Take a deep breath and calmly confront your husband when he isn't drunk or hung over.

The strip club thing itself may be an issue if you've established that kind of behavior as out of bounds, but I wouldn't automatically assume anything more happened. As far as I understand, your husband never even texted her, right? (And I'm also going to take a leap and assume that you looked through the rest of his text history and didn't see anything overtly concerning...)
posted by GnomeChompsky at 10:38 PM on March 20, 2012 [11 favorites]

GnomeChompsky has an excellent screen name! He also has your back on this. I super agree!! It matches my (limited but focused) experience of how strippers do their thing.

If your guy is actually stepping out with someone who is not a stripper, this next info doesn't necessarily apply, but patterns of transactions that aren't transparent or explainable are still patterns ...)

I wanted to add earlier that strip clubs (and massage parlors or similar) often have cash machines that have innocuous names on financial statements like, "Apple Catering," or whatever. So If I were you, I would look at today's bank and credit card statements to see what transactions occurred. I would then check past histories of transactions to see if there is any pattern.


The more I visit this thread, the more I feel (hope?) this is a one-off situation. I feel like the credit card, bank card, and phone histories will tell you everything. I'm hoping you won't find much, if anything.

I'm telling you to what to look for, because that is helpful. I'm telling you not to jump to conclusions about patterns you may discover, because they may or may not turn out to be incriminating.

That is all.
posted by jbenben at 10:57 PM on March 20, 2012

Best relationship advice ever from my tough-as-nails uncle to me, his tender-hearted niece: trust, but verify. If your husband truly is on the up-and-up and behaving in a way that puts the best interests of you and your bebito/bebita first, he shouldn't mind if you verify the facts, considering the worry he has caused through his actions (namely, giving a stripper his personal phone number while you were sitting at home, pregnant with his child). He should want to set your mind at ease. Right?
posted by anonnymoose at 12:28 AM on March 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

It is possible your husband was considering cheating on you, but I don't think he's done it and I don't think he would have gone through with it even if you didn't find the text. It sounds like the stripper was leading him on and the message "I'm sorry I got home so late" to me indicates that they may have said they would see each other on his day off but she never texted him. He sat and got drunk all day instead. He may have been drinking partly to try to alleviate his guilt at what was going on, and partly because, at least sub-consciously, he knew that if he was drunk there was no way he was going to "perform" or even leave the house to go see this stripper. And she almost certainly had no intention of meeting up with him - she was "playing" him, stringing him along so he would spend money on her in the club.

The fact that he confessed to a stripper as soon as you saw the innocuous text message on his phone probably means that he was consumed with guilt about what was going on in his mind. And he almost certainly has gone to a strip club and dropped a fair bit of cash on this stripper. They only string along their good customers.

So what does all this mean? It probably means your husband is freaking out about the prospect of being a dad and his mind is a little messed up right now. THIS IS INCREDIBLY COMMON and happens to a lot of men. I know on mefi everyone is just about perfect and men never do this kind of thing but in the real world it happens A LOT. Unfortunately, we have to live in the real world.

I would say when your husband gets home to just let him know that you're hurt but that you're not angry, and that you want to talk things through tomorrow. Then when everyone is well-rested talk about his feelings about becoming a dad, tell him you know this is a stressful time for both of you but that you love him and that you need him to be faithful to you. And really listen to his feelings and validate them as best he can. It's incredibly difficult for a woman to be 7 months pregnant but everyone forgets that it's also difficult for the man in this situation. He might be feeling left out, neglected, scared of his new responsibilities, scared he's not going to come first anymore, etc. Talk this stuff through. Wishing you both luck.
posted by hazyjane at 12:39 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

This sounds to me like a one-off, a lapse in judgement by a decent guy who is probably as freaked out as you are right now. But what the hell do I know, I am some stranger on the internet.

You on the other hand My-Thai have his phone. Check it out, dig through the contacts and history. Are there other, earlier texts from this woman? Other odd messages? Suspicious numbers in his contacts? Can you get into his email? Bank and credit card statements are worth checking out as well.

If you find nothing, it is time to forgive. Tell him that he hurt you, that you expect better, and that this must never happen again. No relationship can survive the span of years without forgiveness, sometimes over much more serious lapses than this.
posted by LarryC at 12:41 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

This thread really bugs me and I keep coming back trying to figure out what to say... I'm hoping irreperable damage hasn't been done to your relationship.

Right now you have nothing, a string of texts without even enough words to make more than one complete sentence. The reply "Sorry I'm late getting back" could mean absolutely anything. I had no idea strippers collected phone numbers, but it doesn't really surprise me and enough people on here have confirmed it that I think you should take that for what it is.

I would suggest you start by giving him the benefit of the doubt, this man has been your husband for what, 6 years did you say? Unless there's a history of infidelity I don't think you should immediately jump to the worst case scenario. Besides, if he was drunk his excuse would've been something a little less outrageous if he was truly trying to hide.

Picture this scenario: Co-worker and Hubby chat at work, Hubby complains that 7 months into pregnancy he's terrified of responsibility, tired of fetching pickles and ice-cream at midnight and wishes he could have sex. Coworker calls hubby on day off - "Hey, let's go to the strippers for lunch and tie one on, blow off some steam and get your mind off your worries". They go out, get drunk and drop too much money on a stripper who manages to get his cell phone number from him because what living breathing inebriated man doesn't like to feel desired by a pretty young woman. The rest is where you came in.

I'm not saying this is an acceptable or effective way for him to have dealt with his feelings, but this is what us men do. Dumb shit, plain and simple and this is, in my mind at least, the most likely explanation for how his day went. IF this is what happened and you lost your shit on him and accused him of having an affair without ANY proof of ANYTHING other than two letters "H" and "I", than things will be really bad and will require a LOT of calm discussion. If I were in his shoes I would be at my buddies house pounding whiskies and getting angry that the woman I had treated so well for so long could have that little faith in me. If I was innocent, I would come back tomorrow and I would be mentally prepared (and spoiling) for a fight, and I would not let it go without an apology at the very least.

I sincerely hope you have not spent the night tearing the house apart looking for "evidence". You will either find something that is nothing but in your current frame of mind you WILL jump to the conclusion that it is the "proof" you were looking for; OR, you will find nothing at all and drive yourself insane trying to think of where he could have hid the evidence.

Again, I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't be irritated that he went to a strip club and I'm definitely not suggesting that giving his number to a stripper was a bright move on his part that is worthy of your understanding. But you and 80% of the people responding to this thread are ready to cut this guys nuts off and all he did was receive a text. It's not like you found a strange piece of underwear in the back of his car. Accusations of infidelity against innocent people are absolutely as poisonous as actually having an affair and they are VERY difficult to retract.
posted by Beacon Inbound at 1:21 AM on March 21, 2012 [7 favorites]

There are no facts here. Get more info, from bank accounts, phone records and from him.

Don't contact the other person either. You don't even know if they're actually a stripper.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:34 AM on March 21, 2012

To my mind the hardest thing about such situations is just how difficult it is to have any certainty either way. Your man might be a decent guy who ended up committing a severe lapse in judgment as LarryC and others suggest, you might have a serial cheater on your hands who regularly blows money on sex with professionals, or anything in between (for what it’s worth, my intuition, based entirely upon what you have written in your post, strongly suggests the “lapse in judgment” end of the spectrum).

This is why I think that the people advising you to 1. regain some equanimity, get some rest and distance and concentrate on yourself and your baby and 2. Look a bit deeper into the matter (jbenben and others seem to know what they are talking about re. low-grade sleuthing) have a good point. Other, potentially helpful things to consider:

1. What is your husband’s relationship with alcohol? Is he a very occasional drinker who is rarely drunk, if ever? Is he an oblivious drunk? Have you ever seen him very drunk before and, if so, how does he usually react?

This story will explain why I think this could play a role: A few years ago, I went with some friends to a club. One of them, a guy who really couldn’t carry his drink ended up really, really drunk and in a lengthy conversation with a girl who was a stripper and escort (conversation is an exaggeration, really – he basically gave her a rambling lecture on Wordsworth and 18th/19th century travel literature). He had spent most of the night getting steadily drunk and drunker, whilst we (including the girl and her friends) were dancing and chatting. Even though it was clear from her demeanor that she was not that interested, she knew how to keep him going – you could tell that she was a very good and practiced listener. Before we left, she offered to give him her phone number (she had done this throughout the night with quite a few other people), and he accepted with a benevolent “Sure, sure” – clearly he had no idea what was going on. We witnessed the whole interaction from A to Z – it was our end of night entertainment. The next evening, we’re all together again, and he gets two texts in quick succession from Candy Rose (not her real name – her stage name). He had no idea who Candy Rose was, no idea that he had gone on and on at her, no idea that he tried to jump from the bridge into the river on our way home etc. We couldn’t believe it – and tried to jog his memory. Sure enough, reminding him of certain details (such as “the girl wearing pink who sat down at our table”) brought back fragments of memory – enough to convince him we were probably not making up stuff. He was mortified, truly, and pretty much renounced alcohol for a couple of years (there was another incident before that, but not relevant).

So maybe your husband reacts badly to alcohol? Getting drunk might impact his ability to make useful judgments – maybe even “hey, this is a strip-club and I’ve no business/desire to be here”, if the drinking started before they ended up there.

2. Where are the boundaries re. such issues drawn in your relationship, and how clear are they? Does he know that you would find a strip-club visit really upsetting? If you’ve never actually discussed this, and strip-club visits are a deal-breaker, are you sure that he knows this (as opposed to him guessing that you probably wouldn’t be chuffed, but on the other hand, maybe you wouldn’t care too much)? Maybe these issues were never explicitly discussed – but is the general tenor of your relationship such that it should be clear that all sexually ambiguous interactions with the opposite sex are not to be tolerated, hence you feel there was no need to make an itemized list of what is permissible and what not? Anyway, bottom line – did he know before going that this would be hugely upsetting to you?

I’m asking because a lot of women are OK with visits to strip-clubs, and they don’t consider them as being on the betrayal-cheating continuum, unlike, say, flirtating. If your husband didn’t explicitly know that this not OK, but rather sort of knew/guessed that you might not be happy with him going, maybe he kind of ended up in the strip-club, hoping vaguely that you would be OK with it, but feeling bad enough about it that he didn’t come home saying “Honey, guess what – I’ve been to a strip-club today!”

3. What is most upsetting to you about this? The fact that he was in a strip-club? That he went there without previously discussing it with you? That he didn’t tell you he went there after coming home? Got drunk? Or that you cannot trust him to be telling you the truth, and you are not sure that this is all that happened? That he is throwing all of this at you when you are pregnant?

4. If you don’t trust him to tell you the truth – how deep are these trust problems between you? In an earlier AskMe you described another situation in which trust was an issue. Was that problem ever resolved? Does he still think that you regard him as weak? If yes, would he fear that you will despise him for going to a strip-club? Would you singular/plural regard strip-club visits as a sign of weakness? In this context, might it be fear that he will appear weak which prevented him from “confessing” right away, rather than a desire to cheat?

5. Very important – how does he behave now? Does he accept that, whether or not he is innocent of ulterior motives such as intention to cheat/cheating, he has upset you? Does he acknowledge that what happened is upsetting and would be regarded as such by anyone who shares your (both of you) spoken and unspoken understanding of what constitute boundaries in a relationship? If there is no prior agreement re. this issue, does he see why this is not OK, given the general tone of your relationship? Is he remorseful? Does he validate your feelings? Can you reach an explicit agreement on this and other related topics for the future?

If there is no further evidence of him having improper contact with other people, and if he somewhat haplessly ended up in this situation (either too drunk, or a misunderstanding re. where your boundaries are etc), if he does not diminish the importance of your feelings of betrayal and shows his regret at having upset you (and this he can show even if he is “innocent” – even if he didn’t know that strip-clubs were out of bounds, he can still feel regret that his action left you feeling raw and distressed), if you can reach together a new understanding re. what is acceptable, it will probably be much easier to go forward from this point.

I wish you all the best.
posted by miorita at 3:55 AM on March 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

It should be noted that the OP wrote about coming home from work, so she's not laid up in bed, while he's out partying. She doesn't even explicitly say that she's bothered by him going to a strip club.

I'm freaking out and I don't know what to do.

Well don't yell at your husband, then proceed to throw him out of the house and keep his phone. Because if he was thinking about cheating or seeing a stripper, throwing him out of the house isn't exactly going to bring you two closer together.

It's impossible to say what's going on with your husband and that text, but if you trusted him enough to be with him for six years and have a kid together, you should probably trust him enough to have a decent conversation with him. Something like this: "Babe, come on. I'm feeling fat and ugly and I'm tired and full of hormones, so forgive me if I'm making a big deal outta something, but I need some the truth right now. Not reassurance, but the truth. I can't promise I won't be angry or upset, but I can promise that I'll listen. So what's the deal here, who is she and why is she texting you?"

As for you going through his phone, it's worth considering an earlier question of yours, where you seemed to agree with the idea that your then boyfriend had no business reading anything that didn't belong to him. Yes, you're married now and pregnant, so the situation is different, but it is, in my opinion, worthwhile to treat him as adult and not child because you're in vulnerable state. You two are or should be unit. Based on what you've written, there's zero reason to be treating him like you did and you might (MIGHT) have made things worst.

So calm down a bit and approach him a bit more reasonably. I'm not saying you're completely wrong or don't have a cause to be worried, but based on what you've written, you did fly off the handle. If there's been something else going on in the relationship that's been bothering you or hurting the relationship, let us know, otherwise just down and talk with him.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:53 AM on March 21, 2012 [5 favorites]

You found one text message, and it didn't even say anything incriminating about a situation, you just made an assumption. He obviously isn't telling the whole truth, but in every "lie" is a grain of the truth, so I wouldn't overreact, because you could push your marriage to a point where it can't recover, and neither of you, or that kid, need that.

Talk to him and get the story straight before you do anything rash. Just be calm. Anytime you feel yourself start to go off the mental deep end with him just breath and be an adult. Don't yell, don't scream, that just makes the situation worse, just talk.

Good luck.
posted by zombieApoc at 6:01 AM on March 21, 2012

Nthing everyone who has called for calm.

Husband - drunk, out with a co-worker. (Is the coworker a single male? even better)

That equation equals = man does stupid things, like give strippers his phone number.

Could it be something else? Sure. But you're not going to find out anything by texting the girl on his phone, or by kicking him out of the house. And if it is nothing, you're just creating a charged, untrusting relationship situation.

I never understood why women are always so suspicious of their husbands. My wife just evil-eyes me whenever I'm talking on the phone with a woman or a woman leaves me a message. "who's that?!" she asks, and I have to give a long explanation, even when it's someone she knows I work with. Hello - lots of coworkers in the workplace nowadays. Hell, my bosses are all women. My friend gets the same thing from his wife.

Your situation is slightly different, yes, but trying to get anything from him while he's drunk and you are jumping to conclusions has disaster written all over it. Start when he's sober and you aren't assuming more than you really have reason to assume.
posted by rich at 6:06 AM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

To get his number is easy if you use a friend of mine’s technique for getting girls' numbers.

Stripper – Hey, you’ve got a nice phone, can I have a look?
Him – What? Er yeah, if you want…
Stripper – (Dials her number, lets it connect and then hangs up) Cool phone. (Her phone now has one missed call from his number.)
Stripper text – « hi »
posted by guy72277 at 6:31 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would say when your husband gets home to just let him know that you're hurt but that you're not angry

It's definitely OK to be hurt and angry.

I'm not comfortable with the "oh, men get freaked out and do stupid things" response. Yes, we all sometimes get freaked out and do stupid things. But creating a special category in which men get to act secretly in ways that let down their families because of their haplessness is, to me, a little too forgiving. Regardless of whether you're inclined to be dismissive of strippers, there is a real issue here somewhere: it may be about another woman, about seeking sex work, about lying, about disappearing without giving any indication of where you were (not awesome during a pregnancy, particularly late on), about drinking problematically, about suppressing feelings and dealing with them poorly, or about being a participating and supportive member of the family.

I agree with those who say that next steps are entirely dependent on what the agreements are in the relationship. This, for me, would be an extremely serious problem because my partner knows that it would never be OK with me for him to go to a strip club without my knowledge. Maybe there has been an unclearness on how OK this is or isn't, but I don't think that means that anger isn't warranted or that nothing needs to change.
posted by Miko at 6:34 AM on March 21, 2012 [16 favorites]

Her number was programmed into his phone, right, which is a little different.
posted by angrycat at 6:35 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

By the way, the effective way to snoop in this particular situation is "sorry, had to get a new phone and lost my contacts--who is this?"

It is a big lie, obviously, and I don't recommend it in all situations, but if you're going to snoop you might as well get some information out of it.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:44 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh and if it's not plausible for the phone to be lost it's "my phone is messed up/fucked, sorry, who is this?'

And no, men don't get secretly handed a pile of $1s and a map to all the local strip clubs at the 20 week ultrasound and they're not entitled to do whatever just because they're "confused".
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:46 AM on March 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

What "radiosilents" said.

I know from personal experience that finding a cheeting spouce is tough and I feel for you. But, you need to cool off a bit and find out more info.

Having said that, here are red flags in my mind:
1. Stripper story sounds shady. What kind of stipper gives their phone number out? However, It might just be a stripper who wants a regular.
2. What does "SG: Im sorry Im gettin back so late." mean?

Try to be calm. Take care of yourself. Get more information from the source (your husband) and not by texting unknown people.

I hope that everything works out for the best.
posted by WestChester22 at 7:51 AM on March 21, 2012

I think you have trouble ahead of you. This is only one thing that he hasn't told you, yet. Get help, level your head, take stock of where you are and be prepared.
posted by pakora1 at 9:58 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Folks, reframe your answers without the eye-rolling or fight starting comments. Assume good faith on the part of the other commenters and answer dispassionately or just keep on walking. Thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:47 AM on March 21, 2012

People are being so incredibly hard on you here. I'm really sorry. I probably would have had much the same reaction as you, and I would have especially started freaking out at the "Im sorry Im gettin back so late" line - it sounds way too familiar and involved to be from some random stripper trying to cultivate a good tipper. It strongly suggests prior history in my mind, like she feels some responsibility to check in with him. Now that things have calmed down a bit, I hope that you can talk to him and that this all turns out to be a terrible misunderstanding.

Honestly, though, if this were me, I would be spending a lot of time thinking about how I could leave this man if it became necessary. Not because I know he was cheating or anything like that, but because you shouldn't have to feel trapped in your marriage like this. No matter what the situation, you should have at least one or two options you could fall back on if everything fell apart. For me - and your mileage may vary - it would really help me cope with the high anxiety of this situation to think about an escape plan, just so that I knew it was there if I needed it. Do you have a close friend you could stay with for a few weeks, or nearby family members? Do you have a credit card you could lean on if things got messy (especially assuming all of your funds are held jointly)? Just knowing I had a plan in my back pocket would help me to deal with this more calmly and to feel less trapped or backed into a corner. I make terrible decisions when I feel like I'm backed into a corner.

I know you say you don't want to raise your baby alone, but please reconsider holding this as completely non-negotiable no matter the cirumstances - I know that my mom did that with my family, and my dad was mostly absent anyway, and when he was around he was actively destructive to the family. I really, really wish she had reconsidered. You haven't provided us much history here, so we don't know if this is the first time there have been real problems in your communication and relationship - but if this is part of an ongoing pattern, or if it turns out he really is cheating on you and you can't find a way to forgive him, you are well within your rights to decide that this is a dealbreaker for you and leave him.

Otherwise, if it turns out he did cheat but you decide that it's something you can get over and that he agrees to work on, some couples counseling and some serious conversations about boundaries, strip clubs, your expectations for disclosure of women who he gives his number to, honesty, etc. will go a long way. You will need to work very hard at forgiving him, and he will need to work very hard at regaining your trust. It has been done before, and as long as he's willing to work hard, and you're truly willing to forgive him and not hold it over his head forever and ever, you can definitely get past this ugly incident. Anyway, I really hope that he comes home soon and this all turns out to be a horrible misunderstanding! Best wishes to you, OP.
posted by dialetheia at 11:23 AM on March 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

I agree with dialetheia. Thinking through all your options is not paranoid or overreacting--it's smart, reasonable, and responsible to both yourself and your baby. Disregard anyone who would make you feel otherwise.

The over-familiarity of the "check in" text struck me as weird, too. Just take care of yourself! I think it's important to remember that different things make different people uncomfortable, and if it makes you feel validated, I would be pretty freaked out, too (and strip clubs don't even bother me--it's the weird, shifty texting and Things I May Not Know About A Trusted Person element). You are smart to put your antennae up.
posted by anonnymoose at 1:09 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Upon reflection, I think it's also important to point out that you have a lot of hormones going on right now, and it is quite possible that you're not being rational-and also doing a lot of potential damage to your marriage.

I do not think that it is likely that he was necessarily making any plans to actually cheat on you. I do think that he may have been willing to engage in a flirtation.

If your only concern is whether he actually cheated on you, then relax. Huzzah! Enough people here have explained why a stripper might have her number in his phone that you can move on to the next point.

If it has broken your relationship boundaries, then you should certainly consider whether they were clearly expressed.

But hanging onto his phone after having kicked him out seems like it might be problematic. I would reconsider that position at least.
posted by corb at 1:36 PM on March 21, 2012

If I were in your situation, I would not be able to rest easy until I found out who that phone number belongs to. Stripper? Hmmmmm! Sounds like a convenient response. If he were kicked out right away, he may have instantly contacted the other woman giving her a heads up which was why she didn't respond after a few lines of text. I'm all for playing detective. Things just don't add up! I wish you luck!!
posted by sybarite09 at 1:36 PM on March 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: So, he came home and I gave him his phone back. We talked and he swore that he just made a stupid drunk decision. I still think it sounds bizarre but I've decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Prior to this i was actually ok with him going to strip clubs occasionally with his friends. But a line was crossed when he exchanged numbers with a stripper so he agreed that they're off limits now.

I definitely see how my reaction was pretty severe but at 28 weeks my emotions are pretty close to the surface and it's hard to always keep them in check.
posted by my_thai at 12:25 PM on March 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Now, or soon, might be a good time to talk to him about your hopes and expectations for the rest of the pregnancy and for the months following. Your emotions and sensitivity may continue to be sharper for some time and if you want to set some clearer boundaries, you may both feel better about the near future.

That's not wrong or abnormal. Also, it doesn't mean they're fake. Emotions can fluctuate a lot in intensity with help from hormones, but that doesn't mean they aren't real and don't warrant attention.
posted by Miko at 4:28 PM on March 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

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