A female reader writes:
"I got married to a guy 4 months back. He had his bachelor party in May. I came to know a month back that they had gone to a strip bar and he had a lap dance.
"When I asked him a day after his bachelors party, he said they just did bar hopping, didn't go to a strip bar.... but when his friend said that they went to strip bar, he confessed that they did, and that he got a lap dance.
"He did apologize to me that he lied, and did say sorry hundred times. On my insistence, he took me to a strip bar to see what it looks like. This issue was discussed before we started dating that he would never go to a strip bar.
"I raised this point, and he said that it was just a bachelor party thing and would never do it again.
"But the issue is: My trust in him is broken...I keep visualizing what that stripper might have done with him. I cant stop thinking. What am I suppose to do? Am I wrong anywhere?"
First off, we're delighted by your use of the term "strip bar," and we hope that this construction gains popularity. We'll start the campaign now.
For you--and any woman in this scenario--5 things you should know about a guy who got a lap dance in a strip bar:
1) Lap dances are (almost always) harmless.
For most guys, lap dances are a frustrating-as-hell experience. It's a tease, nothing more. With your industry-standard lap dance, even if you're single, there's zero chance of kissing the stripper, fooling around with the stripper, or sleeping with the stripper. ZERO. Yes, guys whoop and holler and fist-bump and act like asses, but the actual experience, more often that not, fails to satisfy. (To clarify: is it possible that some strippers will do much, much more for gobs of extra cash? Sure. But this goes well outside the scope of a traditional lap dance, and this is the extreme minority.) In my course as an, ah, "researcher" of these matters, I've received 50+ lap dances in my life. Number of lap dances where I kissed a stripper? Zero. Number of lap dances where I hooked up with the stripper? Zero. There's nothing--nothing--beyond a make-believe quickie dance.
2) Strippers care about his wad of cash, not his wad.
We can't blame you. When you close your eyes and visualize this nightmare scenario, you're imagining this sultry vixen staring at your man, hungrily, lustily, desiring him and arousing him. Nope. It's an act. The stripper has one mission: get paid. (And who can fault her?) So when she twirls on the pole, she scans the room for the best marks. She didn't find your husband hot. She didn't want him. She wasn't trying to seduce him or give you competition. If she saw him in the parking lot, she wouldn't even make eye contact. For her, this was business--the lap dance is the stripper's TPS report.
3) Fact: Right or wrong, for the bulk of mainstream bachelor parties, a lap dance is par for the course.
Regardless of the merits of the argument, this is most Dude Logic: at the movies, you buy popcorn; at football games, you get beers; at a bachelor party, you get a lap dance. It just is. In his mind, therefore, he wasn't breaking any sacred trust--he was following the mainstream. Now, granted, you had an understanding that you didn't like strip bars, but you said this issue was discussed "before [you] started dating," and could plausibly exclude bachelor parties. He was wrong. No question. But in terms of "degrees of wrongness," this is much, much, much more understandable than if he actually cheated on you. Which, by any conventional standard, he didn't.
4) It was wrong for him to lie. Hold him accountable.
Like most political scandals, the cover-up is worse than the crime. The lap dance itself, while ugly and unfortunate, is not, in our book, a federal offense. Lying about it? Tougher to defend. And the fact that he lied about it, frankly, undercuts his argument that "everybody's doing it!" Let's face it: if he really, reeeeaaaly thought you were cool with it, he would have told you. Fail. And it's a fair question to ask him... if he would lie about this, what else would he lie about? That said...
5) Put the lie--and the dance--in perspective.
The lie he told was the kind of lie an 8-year-old tells his parents about whether he finished his homework. He knows he should have finished his vocabulary quiz, but he doesn't think it's that big a deal, and he doesn't want to face the consequences. It's childish. But it's not criminal.
So. Let's summarize. He thought it wasn't that big a deal, but he still knew you'd be pissed, so he told what (in his mind) was a white lie. You have every reason to be irritated. You have the moral high ground. Here's the catch... you start to cede the moral high ground if you have a disproportionate reaction, if you explode, if you never ever let this go. He screwed up, sure. But he didn't do something SO UNBELIEVABLY AWFUL that warrants months and months of wrath. Given his "hundreds" of apologies, he sounds appropriately contrite.
Talk to him about the importance of trust. Tell him that he let you down, that in the future, if anything like this ever happens again, you'd want to know the truth, and you'd want to hear it from him, not his drunken buddy.
And after that? Move on. Put this behind you. Exercise clemency. And enjoy your marriage.
Addendum: you went to a strip bar to "see what it was like," hoping that would make you feel better? Hmmmm... That's a pretty good plan... if you also think that when you have indigestion, it makes sense to scarf down three helpings of refried beans, hoping to "see what it's like" and maybe that would make you feel better.
For more on this issue: Bachelor Party Ethics: How Far is Too Far?