"Ask Dr. Tracy"

7/16/2000 Advice Column

Tempted by a Lap Dance
Putting the First-Date-Sex Genie back in the Bottle
Pictures of His Ex

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am 27 years old, and have just started a long-distance relationship with a girl I am really happy with, possibly for the first time in my life. She may even be the girl I would want to spend the rest of my life with.

This weekend, however, my roommate is away, and it had been my occasional custom when I was single to go to a certain strip club for lap dances, mostly for the exhilaration of driving into the place, walking in the door, and then choosing a girl for a dance. The dance itself was often kind of an afterthought. Today I drove to visit some friends, and my route took me past the club on the way there, and thus on the way back. That entire day I debated whether I would be betraying my new girlfriend by getting a lap dance, wavering between both camps. After all, it wasn't cheating, and I was lonely this weekend. But it was also not my girlfriend.

Finally, I resolved that it wouldn't hurt, and that only I would know. As I expected, I felt that exhiliration I talked about above. As I drove away, however, I felt nearly on the verge of tears, knowing for sure that I had betrayed the girl I am falling in love with, even mouthing apologies to her as if she could hear them. Should I ever tell her of this? Should I ever tell any of my friends, who have all been so happy for me and want to meet her? Am I the lowest of the low, too weak to let love overcome my libido?

Why have I allowed myself to give in to an urge of the moment and betray the girl I wish I could be holding in my arms right now? Does this make me a bad person?

Dear Tempted,

Going to strip clubs for lap dances can be a habit, an addiction that is hard to stop. Because you went while you were single, you find it hard to stop going now, perhaps because you're not entirely convinced that you are committed to this new relationship.

You are addicted to the cheap thrill of the lap dance experience, and of dabbling in the quasi-underworld of sex clubs. Now that you have a girlfriend, there's even an additional thrill - that of sneaking off to some place where you know you're not really supposed to be. I'm afraid that the more you go, the more you'll get off on it and the more addicted you will become.

Because of your new girlfriend, you're now feeling guilty for your lap dance addiction. However, the worst thing you could do would be to tell her about it. Why should you dump your guilt on her and make her suffer for your indiscretion? By telling her, you'll also risk ruining what you say is the best relationship you've ever had. So instead of confessing your "sins" to your girlfriend to make yourself feel better (and her worse), break the addiction. Don't confess to your friends either. They could tell her one day and ruin everything.

You are not the lowest of the low, so stop beating yourself up over this. You'll only make yourself feel really bad and then want to go to the dance club to cheer yourself up again. You went because you wanted the thrill, and now you're suffering. But if you're not careful, you'll go through the indulge-and-suffer cycle over and over again.

So stop tempting yourself. If you were on a diet, you wouldn't spend time in the ice cream parlor. If you were trying to give up drinking you wouldn't hang out in a bar. Don't drive by the club, no matter where you have to go. Surely there are other routes you can take. Substitute thinking about the club with a healthy hobby like golf or tennis or working out.

The next time you start to think about the thrill of driving into the club, etc., etc., remind yourself of how bad you'll feel afterwards and how little the dance really satisfies you. Master this addiction one day at a time, just as you would alcoholism or overeating or drugs or smoking.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I usually only go out with guys who I find to be really good looking. But for some reason I decided to go out with a guy who was just average. I ended up having a really good time but didn't think I'd want more than friendship from him. Anyway, as the night went on I just didn't want it to end and we watched TV until the wee hours of the morning. And he asked if I wanted to stay the night, since it was so late. I told him then that we would not have sex and he agreed so I stayed. However, during the night it became a game, he tried several times and I kept turning him down. Finally, the next morning....he wore me down and we had sex.

Now my problem. (To my own surprise) I keep thinking about him. It felt so good to be with him. He seemed genuinely interested in me and who I am. I want to explore the possiblity of a relationship with him, but am now afraid that all he wants is sex from me. Did I make a huge mistake? Is it too late to go back and develope a friendship then restart a sexual realtionship when the time is right? Which is how I really would like for the relationship to progress. How can I approach him with this? Another consideration is that he has a lot of money. And I'm afraid that now that I've "crossed that line" he'll chalk me up to just another "sex partner". I hate casual sex and to tell you the truth I have no idea why I gave in!!

Dear Sexy First Date,

First of all, there's nothing wrong with going out with a guy whose looks are "just average." Actually, "just average"-looking guys often make the best lovers. They're not as spoiled as the really great looking guys who think they don't have to try because they're so cute. "Just average" guys are apt to try harder to be good lovers and to think more about their partners than themselves.

About having sex on the first date - it's usually unwise, but there's nothing "wrong" with it. Actually, you should consider yourself lucky that it felt so good with him - most 1st date sex isn't that great because people don't know and trust each other that much. Of course, you were being totally unrealistic to expect to stay overnight at a man's house and not have sex with him.

So now that you've had first-date sex, is it possible to pretend it didn't happen and go back and start over and develop a friendship? Hardly! Once men have had sex, especially if it was good, they certainly don't want to go back to no sex. Forget approaching him with your "no sex until we know each other better" idea. Instead, point out to him that he's the only man you've ever had first-date sex with, that you don't really believe in casual sex, and that you think he's terrific -- which is why you gave in to him in the first place. And work on developing a deeper friendship by planning dates that include other activities as well as sex.

You're probably afraid of that old wives' tale about men not respecting, being serious about, or marrying women who have sex with them on the first date. But take it from one who knows, that's just not true.

What is true is that when the sex is good, men almost always come back for more. And men do fall in love with and marry women who have sex on the first date. When to have sex is a personal decision that's different for every man and woman depending on who they are and the circumstances they're in.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I'm twenty years old and I've been with my boyfriend for eight months. I've never met his parents and it really bothers me. Am I rushing it? He's met my parents, but I guess he had no choice because I live at home with my parents.

My major issue is that he has a child with his ex, whom I've never met also. I hate that he has her pictures up at his house. Why do I have to see her picture, when she probably doesn't even know I exist? I don't think it's fair. He says that they are over and that what's in the past is in the past and will stay there. Am I just being paranoid or am I right to feel this way. I am slightly jealous , but not excessively. Please help. Every time I give this deep thought, my stomach turns.

Helpless in MD

Dear Helpless,

You and your boyfriend have only been going out for eight months, which may seem like a long time, but it's not really. Right now, your relationship is developing, and there are certain things that should happen naturally, like meeting his parents. If you haven't met them yet, that's not necessarily a red flag - remember, he has an ex and a child, and he may have promised himself to move more slowly the "next time," so as not to make another mistake.

But if he doesn't offer pretty soon, there's no reason you shouldn't bring it up. However, don't be negative or defensive. Don't say something like, "You haven't introduced me to your parents. Is there something wrong?" Instead, say, "I'd like to meet your parents sometime soon. Why don't we plan to visit them weekend after next?" That way, you'll get some feedback from him about his feelings without accusing him of not wanting to introduce you.

Tell him you'd like to meet his little girl or boy and suggest planning an outing together, such as, "Let's take (insert name) to the (insert circus, fair or zoo)." Then you'll find out whether he's involved in his child's life and whether he wants to involve you or not.

As for the pictures of his ex, I'm afraid that most men have a pretty low consciousness level about pictures of ex's. Of course you don't want to see her picture all the time, but you do have to learn to communicate and use your smarts to get what you want. Take some pictures of the two of you and ask him to replace his ex's picture with one of the two of you.

Stop seething and letting your stomach churn. Stop being helpless, and begin asking for what you want. If you ask smart, who knows? You may get it.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

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(Featured art from cover of Letting Go, by Zev Wanderer and Tracy Cabot, published by "Bitan" Publishers, Tel-Aviv, Israel)
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