Men and strip clubs

Buy your tickets to Friday's screening of "Cruel Intentions." Film critic Wesley Morris and I will be there to answer questions about this film and why it's so darn sexy. You can also enter this contest to have a free dinner with us.

Also, the woman who wrote this letter did not say "ice cream cones," but I'm keeping it PG. Please keep it PG.

And let's try to keep that off-topic stuff in the message boards (the champagne rooms) -- or save it for late in the day. I don't mind conversation, but these letters deserve some undivided attention.

My fiancé of 3+ years is planning a vacation with his buddies/co-workers to Atlantic City. I asked if I could come along, since we had been talking about planning a similar trip. When he said it was an all-guys trip, I brushed it off until he mentioned that a woman, who happens to be a lesbian, is also attending. This raised a flag to me because I instinctively know what this means: strip clubs. When I asked why she was allowed to go, his response was, "Well, she's not gonna mind if I have [ice cream cones] in my face."

Keep in mind that his friends either have been married for a while or are single. Now I know that it is in every man's DNA to want to see a naked woman, but I can't help but be bothered by this. I am not sure if it's because we were trying to plan a trip like this for the two of us and now he's decided to go with his male friends, or if I'm just bothered that his sole purpose for going is for a strip club.

Regardless, I am bothered by the fact that his whole weekend will be spent blowing money at strip clubs -- money that we're trying desperately to save for a house and a wedding. I never thought of myself as a jealous person, but now that I am faced with this issue, I am beginning to think that's exactly what I am.

It's not that I think he's going to cheat, but cheating for a male means different things than for a female. If I knew that he was [looking at ice cream cones] and was very [close to sampling ice cream cones], I would be extremely upset. The counter-argument I brought up was, "If you found out I had my hands or face in some guy's [ice cream cones], you would be upset too."

Knowing that men go to strip clubs to see beautifully-sculpted naked women (and pay them to be their eye candy) makes me resentful that he isn't satisfied with what he has at home. I will give myself credit and say that I am a stunning young woman, who could stand to lose a few pounds, but nevertheless I am very good-looking and like to make my man happy.

Is this irrational? Am I crazy to get so upset by this, and do I just have to let it go? Or do I have a right to voice my concerns without seeming like a nagging girlfriend who can't let her man go to a strip club for a weekend. I know that telling/asking him not to go will only make him resentful and want to do it even more in the long run, but I won't be able to sleep the whole weekend he's gone, and I probably won't be able to get bad thoughts out of my head. I also probably wouldn't be able to look at or touch him knowing where he's been.

I just need some guidance from some rational men and women, in healthy, long-term relationships who have faced similar situations. Why do men feel the need to touch and look at other women, when they have their own beautiful women at home?! Who they don't have to pay...

– ConfusedAboutMen, Medford

I get a lot of letters from people who want to know how I feel about strip clubs, and, well, my answer is too complicated to stick into a simple Q&A.
But I can tell you that the people who write in about strip club issues often have other big problems in their relationships. If your guy was doing a good job of saving money for the wedding, would you be as upset about this trip? If he gave a more respectful, loving answer to your question about the vacation, would you be so focused on the strip club? Are you really jealous about what he'll do with these women -- or is this about your fiancé's priorities?
It seems to me that after a 3.5-year engagement, you're feeling a bit forgotten. I mean, even if the "ice cream cones in my face" thing was a joke, you were obviously upset. He could have comforted you and made you feel safe. He could have discussed boundaries for the trip.
My advice is to take the strip club thing off the table so that you can clear your head. Think (and talk) about the stuff that bothers you on a daily basis. Those are the issues that are worth your attention. And feel free to tell him how you define cheating. He should be open to (and expect) that kind of conversation before this trip.
Readers? Thoughts on strip clubs and cheating? Is this really about the strip club? Am I wrong to say that she'd be more comfortable with the trip if he were better on a day-to-day basis? Discuss.

– Meredith