My boyfriend of two years has always disparaged gentlemen's clubs. I truly believed him until he visited his family and I searched Google Maps on his computer for something in his hometown. The text box listed "strip clubs" there. I confronted him, and looking to prove me wrong, he showed me his "places" history. Various searches for strip clubs showed up. (I don't think he understood that Google keeps track of that stuff.) He claimed he didn't do these searches and suggested that his brother or someone who borrowed his computer did.
We have sex regularly, and he is loving and treats me very well, so I put aside his lying and gave him another chance. I should say that I understand men's interest in these clubs; I just don't feel it's right for guys in relationships to go because of the possibility of cheating happening. Disturbingly, I just found some Hooters coupons with his stuff. I think that the fact that he may go to these places doesn't bother me as much as the fact that he's lying about it. — Worried
A woman wants to believe a man when he claims he hates those nasty "gentlemen's clubs." Yeah, the last thing any man wants to see is a totally hot 21-year-old with enormous breasts doing upside-down splits on a pole.
There's that line from politics: "It isn't the crime; it's the cover-up." Not only did your boyfriend pre-lie, laying out the above bed of lies like lettuce on a cottage cheese plate, but he followed up with the obvious honker that it had to be somebody else searching for nudie bars on his computer. Yes, it was probably Granny, who, like many women her age, loves to go to strip clubs and make it rain Social Security checks.
As for why he lied, consider that there's a notion that men are pigs — simply for being men. Men evolved to be highly visual and variety-driven in their sexual desire, while women evolved to be more emotion- and commitment-driven. Male sexuality isn't wrong; it's just different. But men are so used to being under attack for what turns them on that many default to denying it. They keep mum to avoid conflict in their relationships, in part because they think they could never explain male desire in a way that wouldn't make a woman's head fly off and chase them around the room.
The truth is, we all lie, all day long, and often think nothing of it. If you cram your muffin-top into Spanx or put goop on your eyebags, you're lying about what you really look like. And frankly, if people could read our thoughts, most of us wouldn't make it to lunchtime without a co-worker's bludgeoning us with a stapler. But because we alone know what we're thinking, a person can say sweet, relationship-enhancing things to his partner — "You're the only woman for me!" — while entertaining less palatable fantasies: "If only I could have you, your sister, the Swedish women's bobsled team, and that girl from The Weather Channel in a swimming pool of butterscotch pudding!"
Still, fantasizing and cheating are two different things. Sure, some guys who go to strip clubs are looking to get some on the side, but a guy can do that at the office or the corner bar without breaking out a wad of Benjamins. And Hooters? Naughty in concept, but in reality, a place to eat heavily battered chicken strips while having platonic conversations with a married waitress in gym clothes and 1980s pantyhose. As for those coupons your boyfriend had, nothing helps a guy seduce a waitress like whipping out a voucher for 10 percent off. ("Hey, big spender!")
Another woman may turn your man's head (or make it swivel like a turbo lazy Susan), but that doesn't mean she turns his ethics, too. If you have reason to believe your boyfriend is a good guy, driven by ethical standards instead of what he can get away with, chances are he's just looking at strippers from time to time instead of looking to get some strange. Relationships are built on trust, but they're also built on white lies about who we really are and having the wisdom to look the other way at stuff that doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things.
You and your boyfriend have heat in the bedroom, and he is loving and treats you well. Sounds like he's happy. That's probably the single best motivator for a guy to make visiting strip clubs nothing more than an occasional form of sightseeing — as much a threat to your relationship as a visit to the Grand Tetons (on one of those days they're decked out in flaming nipple tassels and 5-inch Lucite heels).
Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or email firstname.lastname@example.org (advicegoddess.com). Alkon is the author of I See Rude People: One Woman's Battle to Beat Some Manners Into Impolite Society.