I'm not good enough?
August 6, 2007 9:53 AM   Subscribe

Strip clubs and relationships. I've never been one to visit those types of establishments very often - heck only three times in my 35 years. I've asked my girlfriend of five years a few times to go with me for a fun couple's night out but she's turned me down for few reasons and I've tried not to pressure her because it's not that big of a deal to me. However....

She's recently told me that a female coworker has talked her into going to one. They're celebrating a large milestone from work. Also going will be a few of the girls from work.

My immediate reaction was to be a little hurt - she won't go with me but she'll go with other people. Ouch.

I think I'm over that because I'm pretty open and sex-positive (heck, I work at a sex toy manufacturer)... but after I found out that a guy was going and I'm specifically not invited I'm not sure what to think.

I want her to go and have fun if she's comfortable with going - but she's comfortable with going in this group and not with me. Should I be concerned or just get over it?
posted by melt away to Human Relations (37 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
She probably is just not sure she wants to see the side of you that a strip club could bring out. Or she doesn't want you to see that side of her.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:57 AM on August 6, 2007

To clarify on her reasons for not wanting to go in the past they were all involving her perceived sleaziness of those places, a little jealousy and that she didn't find other women attractive at all.
posted by melt away at 9:57 AM on August 6, 2007

That could be the case, but hiding aspects of ourselves from each other is a deal-breaker in our relationship as far as I'm concerned, especially where sex (or titillation as it where) is in the mix.
posted by melt away at 9:59 AM on August 6, 2007

I say get over it. Who knows what she's worried about, but maybe this is her way of warming up to it before she is comfortable enough to visit a strip joint with you! Let her go out and have fun. I really think you're worrying about nothing. Lots of people are more comfortable in new situations with friends around rather than the people they're most intimate with.
posted by mjao at 9:59 AM on August 6, 2007

Sounds like she doesn't particularly mind you being sexually aroused by other women, she just doesn't want to watch you being sexually aroused by other women.

Doesn't seem utterly unreasonable to me. I vote "get over it."
posted by Riki tiki at 10:00 AM on August 6, 2007 [4 favorites]

Are the work girls going to a male or female strip club?

Even if its a female club, if jealousy is one of her motives for not going with you, you not being there takes away the jealousy factor. That she doesn't want to go somewhere specifically to watch you look at other women doesn't seem like a bad thing.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:03 AM on August 6, 2007

Just to clarify:

- You have asked her to accompany you to strip clubs featuring female performers. She has turned you down.

- Her female coworkers and she are going to a strip club featuring male performers. You would like to go with her.

Are these correct assumptions?
posted by googly at 10:03 AM on August 6, 2007

Get over it. Also: stop pressuring her. I know you think you're not pressuring her, but if you ask your girlfriend: "Hey, go to a strip club with me! It will be a fun couples' night out!" and she says no, and you ask her again, you're pressuring her and making her feel weird about the whole situation, and making her have dark, paranoid thoughts about "Is THAT what he likes? Fake boobs, hooker shoes, tanned-to-dark-walnut 22-year-olds with depressing personal histories and cocaine habits?"
posted by thehmsbeagle at 10:05 AM on August 6, 2007

Sorry for not being clear, but they are going to a club with female performers. There isn't a male-perofrming club in town that I'm aware of.
posted by melt away at 10:05 AM on August 6, 2007

Strip clubs are all about fantasy, and it's common knowledge that many (perhaps most) of our fantasies don't involve our significant other. It can be uncomfortable for people to explore and react to these situations in the presence of a loved one-- just as others would perhaps be MORE comfortable. If you are sex-positive, I'd say that you should be encouraging and non-miffed, and consider that her taking this step may just be part of the process that leads her toward being more comfortable doing such things together. Hard not to feel jealous, I know, but since there is so little at risk here, try giving her the benefit of the doubt. When she gets back from the club, have her tell you about it. Then, if possible, have sex.

Can you share with us the reasons she gave for not wanting to go with you initially?
posted by hermitosis at 10:05 AM on August 6, 2007

I think that going out with her co-workers probably feels like a combo of a dare and some self-conscious comedy. It's a laugh with some people at work, and if any of her co-workers seems really impressed with the dancers, it's no skin off her teeth. Going there with you may take a little more confidence, especially if she thinks that you may be very attracted to the dancers and will compare her unfavourably with them.

I think that when you say that "hiding aspects of ourselves from each other is a deal-breaker", you're being a little harsh. Let her go out with her friends, see that the dancers are reasonably attractive, but OMG, some of them have cellulite, too, and see how she feels about any possible future trips with you. Maybe this will be her one and only trip to a strip club. I would be concerned only if she repeatedly goes with other people and not you, and that would be a time for a good talk between you two.

I went to a strip club once with an old boyfriend many years ago. However, it was a male strip club, and he only wanted to go there to check out the new boyfriend of his former girlfriend. Yes, he was still hung up on her (and, I found out later on, still sleeping with her). It was pretty damn awkward to be there with my straight boyfriend staring fiercely at the stage, eating a donut and sipping coffee, as dancer after dancer came out wearing nothing but a single sock.
posted by maudlin at 10:08 AM on August 6, 2007 [2 favorites]

I posted her reasons above: "her perceived sleaziness of those places, a little jealousy and that she didn't find other women attractive at all". I also respect those reasons and don't have a problem with it at all.

The whole idea of going to one together was dropped a long time ago as it's a really minor thing to me. It was just a big surprise when she changed her mind for other people and it led me to thinking that maybe I "should" be jealous.
posted by melt away at 10:12 AM on August 6, 2007

Her coworkers aren't going to tell her how to feel about it; she can go and pretend she thinks it's just hilarious or that she's too cool to care or whatever, while her actual feelings about it can be kept private. You're wanting her to walk into the unknown (a fairly loaded unknown at that) and feel teh sexy about it the way you do, and you're going to judge her if she doesn't.

Let her go with her neutral group. She may have a grand time and still never want to go with you, because you are you and you looking at the merchandise is very different than Bob from Accounting looking at it, but let her decide that for herself.

hiding aspects of ourselves from each other is a deal-breaker in our relationship as far as I'm concerned

This sounds either pretentious or creepy; I hope that independent thinking is less of a dealbreaker.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:12 AM on August 6, 2007 [9 favorites]

Maybe she doesn't want to go with her co-workers either, but doesn't feel like she can say no. She's very close to you, so she feels like she can be honest with you that this is something that she doesn't want to do.

Or maybe she feels like with her co-workers it would be something fun and platonic, but with you it would be much more charged.

Either way, it's the reaction you should expect from a healthy relationship! Definitely let it go!
posted by caek at 10:14 AM on August 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Just to be even more clear - I wouldn't have a problem going to a club with male performers with her at all.

Looks like there's some good advice here and I think I should just look forward to her telling me about the experience.
posted by melt away at 10:14 AM on August 6, 2007

Going to a club with her co-workers is not really about sex, it's about hanging out with friends and being silly.

The way you've presented your case for her going with you, it's all about sex.

She doesn't feel comfortable bringing strip clubs into her sex life. She *does* feel comfortable bringing strip clubs into her friendships, where there's no sexual element at all. That sounds like a perfectly reasonable distinction to me.
posted by occhiblu at 10:16 AM on August 6, 2007 [4 favorites]

Clearly they're not all there to get turned on as a group; instead, there's a kitsch factor, and a bit of laughing at themselves and the whole idea of it "Hee! We're at a strip club!"

It's much easier for her to do it with her coworkers because it's a very superficial enjoyment. The group dynamic gives her something to do instead of look at strippers, and she's not obligated to get turned on or discuss the sexual aspects of it afterward. With a group, she can be on the fringes of it; she can watch a little, but still hide behind the whole "We went to a strip club because it was an odd thing to do, not because I wanted to get turned on". She certainly can't claim that (even to herself) if she goes with you.

The upside of this is that if she goes with the group, she'll have had some exposure to it, and may be more willing to go with you once she's seen the inside of a club and found out that it's hopefully not as creepy as she'd originally thought.

Put yourself in her shoes. Would you find that going to the strip club with her as a couple's night out would be different than going with a group from work? Remember that the group makes it "safer" and less sexual; let her check it out under those terms, then see where it goes from there.
posted by stefanie at 10:18 AM on August 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Lyn, sorry if it seems creepy but I value openness and honesty above all else in a relationship. Different people want different things out of a relationship and that's all I really want.
posted by melt away at 10:18 AM on August 6, 2007

When you go to a strip club with your friends that's just a joke and an adventure. Especially a bunch of straight women going to a strip club with female dancers. But going with your boyfriend turns it into a sexual situation. It could be that she's comfortable going there to laugh at the place, but not if it's going to be at all sexual.

Also, you said she was talked into going. Peer pressure can be huge, especially with a group of female friends at work.

I'd let it go. Her reasons for going with her friends and not going with you are two totally different things.
posted by christinetheslp at 10:20 AM on August 6, 2007

Going to a strip club with other women and going to a strip club with a man--especially one's boyfriend--have very different connotations than can affect a woman's comfort level. When you're going with other men (or even one man), unless you are a very tomboyish/unfeminine type it is very easy to feel like you're part of the show instead of watching it. "Hey, check out that chick watching hot chicks strip! That's hot! Woo!" She's automatically become a part of the sex act and doesn't have a choice in the matter beyond going or not going to the club. Even if you don't intend to give off that vibe, even if that's not what you were thinking at all, those are the societal and cultural implications of that pairing at a strip club.

However, when a whole bunch of women go out by themselves to a strip club they're free to feel silly and comic and wild (and not necessarily sexually wild) without feeling like their male compatriots are imagining them up on the pole. Being in a group is a defense against unwanted male incursion, whether physical or mental (i.e. the feeling some dude is imagining you with your clothes off). It's the same principle of women dancing in a circle facing one another at a dance club. You get to feel fun and crazy for going to a strip club, but you get to maintain your role as "watcher" instead of turning into one of the "watched".

Let me emphasize that this is not a fault of yours or your personality. It is simply a function of being a dude that you will incur these kind of societal/cultural roles in her brain that may make her feel weird about going with just you.
posted by schroedinger at 10:21 AM on August 6, 2007 [3 favorites]

christinetheslp, it's not a matter of letting her go - I can't make that call for her.

I think all these answers have given me some perspective, thanks everyone.
posted by melt away at 10:24 AM on August 6, 2007

There are reasons to accompany coworkers on a social outing — reasons which have nothing whatsoever to do with the nature or destination of that outing — that don't apply to a "fun couple's night out."

If her coworkers are "celebrating a large milestone from work," then she ought to tag along regardless of where they go. I would, in her shoes; and if I were you, I'd consider not focusing on the fact that it's a strip club, because that may be irrelevant. Call it networking, being sociable, whatever. It's just good sense.
posted by cribcage at 10:28 AM on August 6, 2007

Where has she been dishonest or secretive? Nowhere that I can see. She just changed her mind. People have that prerogative, particuarly when the context is different, as many have pointed out, like occhiblu and stefanie. Just because she might not want to do this particular activity with you, right now, doesn't mean she's hiding anything.

Is the guy who is going also a co-worker? If so, then yeah, it's a co-worker thing and I think you should just let it go. If not, well, then I can see why you'd be hurt, because that becomes 'hey, this guy who isn't a co-worker is going with them, why can't I?' -- though the context remains stay the same.
posted by canine epigram at 10:44 AM on August 6, 2007

It's been said above, but should be reiterated: going to a strip club with a boyfriend who has a sex positive attitude, makes sex toys, and has gone to a strip club on occasion before is completely different from going to a strip club with a group of co-workers as a joke. You want to have an intimate evening, get a little titillated, explore sexual experiences, feel excited by presences around you, excite one another... the co-workers want to laugh at kitschy entertainment, have a beer, do something a little risque, let their guard down a bit, and shake their heads that folks can take this shit seriously ! (even if they themselves can take it seriously in a different context - that's not the context they're in now)

Just because it's the same physical place does not mean she's really going to the same place.
posted by mdn at 10:55 AM on August 6, 2007

Look at it this way......

First of all, she's your girlfriend, not your wife, so there is a certain amount of independence here; she is still a free agent, the way I see it anyways, and it's up to her to choose to go where she wants. If you were in a legally committed relationship, I think a little more justifcation/discussion might be warranted. (FYI, I'm an old guy married 23 years later this month, and probably have a more "old-fashioned" view on this sort of thing, so go easy if my view totally misses the reality.)

Having said that, don't worry about it; let her go, encourage her even. It's a little different scenario, but my wife is rather hesitant to try new cuisine at a restaurant she is not familiar with (for instance, say, Vietnamese), yet she will readily go out to such a place with her coworkers. Once she's made up her mind that Vietnamese is okay, then she might go to a Vietnamese restaurant with me at a later date. But if I urge too much, she tends to back away (like thehmsbeagle says, "stop pressuring her").

Whether or not she's ever comfortable going to such a place with you, isn't necessarily a deal-breaker. I can tell you there are places my wife and I just don't go with each other; having your own space apart from each other can be very healthy in a relationship (although we don't do other partners or anything like that).

If she's comfortable doing this for a friend and not for you, it may be because she knows her group of friends will not have any expectations going forward, whereas if she goes with you, she's concerned you might want certain acts or you might ask questions she would rather not have you ask of her.

Here's my prediction of how it will go: She will come home with her pump primed, but she will still never want to go with you. Really, I don't see it as any big deal. Take it for what it is and enjoy it.
posted by Doohickie at 11:16 AM on August 6, 2007

I bet she will go with her work pals in order to fraternally bond with them, and views going with you as a non-beneficial to the kind of bond she seeks with you.

Is her possible arousal from women something she wants to keep from you?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:28 AM on August 6, 2007

Just to set thing straight after all these great answers, I'm totally fine with her going and am 'over it' at this point. I won't even ask her how much fun she had or didn't have, I'll just let her do that on her own if she feels like it.

I've also always encouraged her to go to the after-work bonding things that her co-workers do but she's been hesitant about that on her own. She also looked down on co-workers that went to these clubs in groups. Those are some of the reasons for my initial shock at the whole thing which led to me questioning whether or not there's something I should be concerned about.

I see now, though, that I was just getting my underwear in a knot over not being there when she first goes to one and instead she's breaking that ground with others. All in all, it's not that terribly big of a deal and I would never think of telling her "no" or encroaching on her independence - it was more of a feeling of being left out.
posted by melt away at 11:38 AM on August 6, 2007

Ambrosia. I would hope she wouldn't want to keep that from me. She knows me very well and should know I don't have a problem with that - and not in a Budweiser-oh-yeah-my-girl-is-turned-on-by-other-girls kind of way either. I want her to be comfortable in her own sexuality (and yes, I'm now aware the group outing isn't that sexual).

One thing I forgot to mention initially, maybe I should have, is that I met up with her and said co-workers bar hopping on Friday night. There was a lot of groping (same and opposit sex ) among those with absent significant others. This included a female co-worker groping her rear and commenting repeatedly on how cute her butt looked - this happened before I was there. I'm pretty sure that led to some of my initial doubts about the whole thing.

But any way, guess it will be a learning experience for me on how to just let things be.
posted by melt away at 11:44 AM on August 6, 2007

I think you have grounds to be miffed peeved jealous what-have-you. I would discuss it with her. But it isn't a relationship-breaker as such, I would have thought. Unless you sense it may be the tip of an iceberg. btw I think suggesting to your girlfriend on multiple occasions that you go to a strip club is a bad idea, if you want her to want to go. much better feign innocence and lack of interest until such time as she suggests it. And then say, like, "I don't know, if you really want to darling, I'd much rather just look at you" etc.
posted by londongeezer at 11:56 AM on August 6, 2007

Consider this -- taking the SO to a strip club is a bit personal to be sharing with an already over-sharing crowd from work, no?

If the crowd is as silly and grope-prone as you say, I imagine she'd have to endure months of "hey, which stripper went home with you and your BF?" comments.
posted by desuetude at 12:08 PM on August 6, 2007

One thing I forgot to mention initially, maybe I should have, is that I met up with her and said co-workers bar hopping on Friday night. There was a lot of groping (same and opposit sex ) among those with absent significant others. This included a female co-worker groping her rear and commenting repeatedly on how cute her butt looked

Up 'til now, I was in the "it's all good fun and hijinks when you go to a strip club with co-workers," but this pawing of co-workers makes me think twice about it. I don't know where your girlfriend works, but I've never worked at a place where I'd be comfortable with a co-worker (of either sex) groping and commenting on my posterior. No matter how drunk we were after hours. In those situations where office party canoodling got serious, the participants kept it very discreet; I've never been in a situation with blatant group groping. Maybe I'm a prude, but this just raises all sorts of red flags.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:16 PM on August 6, 2007

You've essentially asked:

"I asked my girlfriend to try X, and she said no. Now she's trying X with other people. Should I be upset?"

As you've probably noticed, when X="strip clubs", you get a whole bunch of subtle (and some not-so-subtle) judgments about the acceptability of strip clubs that you wouldn't get about other topics, so keep that in mind.

As others have mentioned, visiting a strip club with co-workers or friends is a different dynamic than visiting with a boyfriend, so she's probably got some fears about that. She might go to the club with co-workers and have a good time, and realize it wasn't anything to be threatened by.

However, you seem game, open, and sensitive to her feelings. She should be the same to you. You have every right (afterwards) to ask her why it's ok for her to do something with co-workers that she wouldn't do with you.
posted by Gamblor at 12:40 PM on August 6, 2007

I won't even ask her how much fun she had or didn't have...

I don't think it's necessary for you to hold that back. If you're curious how it went, ask her... the same way you'd ask if it had been a bowling trip. If you're conspicuously avoiding bringing it up, it's only going to make the topic that much more uncomfortable.

That said, in the off chance that you're still harboring any insecurity about your exclusion, you may accidentally convey that with your tone.

Oriole Adams makes a good point about the handsy fraternization (sororitization?) being unusual, but from the sounds of it that's part of a bigger question about her work environment. I don't get the sense that it's the reason for her double standard vis à vis strip club companions.
posted by Riki tiki at 1:13 PM on August 6, 2007

I have nothing to add except that if these ladies' idea of a great night out is going to a strip club, you probably don't want to be there. Have you seen a gaggle of drunk women having a raunchy, adult-themed night out? The one fellow who is going with them, unless he knows them well and is 100% on the same wave-length, is probably going to be alternately teased and goaded mercilessly and may well regret having gone. You would probably get it even worse. This may be a reason or THE reason she doesn't want you there.

Or that's what I'd think. I'm no prude but I don't enjoy strip clubs. If my SO wanted to go, I'd rather stay home. I could possibly loosen up enough to slightly enjoy going to one with people from work, laugh at them and the whole situation, maybe even enjoy some stripping. But I certainly wouldn't want my SO to go because of the way my co-workers might behave towards them and I'd be a little embarrassed to be seen by my SO in the company of fully-grown adults acting like liquored-up 13-year-olds.
posted by Martin E. at 1:29 PM on August 6, 2007

If it were me, I'd be a little annoyed. Then I'd tell my girlfriend why I was feeling annoyed, why I was potentially wary, and then ultimately that I trusted her.

But you're not dating my girlfriend and I'm not dating yours. Precise advice is hard to give from the distance of the internet.
posted by klangklangston at 2:03 PM on August 6, 2007

You're trying to compare totally different things. Going to a strip club or looking at porn with one's SO is nothing like doing so with a bunch of buddies. The one guy there -- that's meaningless. He's going as "one of the girls."

So no, persuade yourself not to be concerned.
posted by wryly at 3:29 PM on August 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

I've been in pretty much exactly this same situation, but from the girlfriend's POV. I didn't want to go with my bf because:

1. I didn't want to be compared to the girls onstage, something my coworkers wouldn't think to do.
2. I might well be completely turned off by the show, and I didn't want him to be all worked up when I'm no longer in the mood.
3. My emotional investment in my relationship with my boyfriend was (obviously) far greater than my investment in my working relationships, and thus I was far more cautious about doing anything that might sully it.
posted by desjardins at 6:24 PM on August 6, 2007

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