Are lap dances a cheat?

Meredith, 

I've been dating a wonderful man for the past year. Great chemistry both in and out of the bedroom, lots of love and potential. We're both in our 50s, divorced, and have talked about all the long-term stuff of relationships. He travels often for work, and on a recent business trip he and his associates went to a strip bar. I can understand a group of business guys going out to have fun and the business/networking aspects of this, but he also shared that he paid for a few lap dances. I told him the fact that he had another woman (probably his daughter's age) rubbing up against him with all of her equipment made me very uncomfortable. He claims that most men go to strip clubs, and that the lap dances were harmless fun – no touching on his part, no emotional element. 

He likes that he can be honest with me (and I like this too!), but I'm struggling with this. He says he loves me, missed me when he was away, and that the lap dances mean nothing - that they got him even more excited about coming home. I see it more as cheating; he's not single, he's getting more than plenty with me, so why did he pay for a stranger to do this to him? Am I overreacting? How do I deal with this? I don't want to lose the good that we have, but I'm not sure I can stay with him and accept this behavior. How do I set boundaries without seeming to be a nagging mom, which is not a role I want with any love relationship at my age. I appreciate your and your readers' feedback. 

– Ugh! in Boston


I don’t think getting a lap dance means that you’ve cheated on your partner. But that’s me, right? We all have different deal-breakers and boundaries. Yours seems to come into play when there’s touching of “equipment.” We’ve had other letter writers say that strip clubs are off-limits, no matter what.

Every couple has its own rules, but I can tell you that it tends to work best when partners come up with boundaries together. That’s why my advice is to make this a bigger discussion. Ask him about his deal-breakers. Find out what he’d expect of you if you were in a similar environment. Remember that every person is different, and that the rules you applied to a previous partner might not make any sense for him.

I do think it would help to consider that this might be not be about cheating. If you’re upset because you don’t like the idea of lap dances, in general – no matter your relationship status – that’s another discussion. 

– Meredith

Readers? Was this a cheat? What are the rules?