As a stripper for the last eight years, I've seen it all.
One of the beautiful, ironic parallels of stripping and dating is that in each case, a woman is looking to find a man who will invest in spending time with her and still respect her sexual boundaries.
And believe me, I’ve kissed a few frogs.
I've also learned to quickly discern between those who are dateable and those who are definitely... not. In about the length of a lap dance and cocktail, I can pretty well tell who I'm dealing with. And while none of the following behaviors are inherently male-specific, I am writing from the perspective of someone with thousands of lap-dances' worth of experience interacting with (mostly) men.
Here are some signs that person you've been seeing is definitely NOT relationship material.
He doesn't listen when you talk
I can always tell when a client is emotionally attached to me: he listens to my words, and remembers details of a conversation or story that we shared. If I tell a story, and the next time the guy's in the club he references it, points to him. He was actively listening.
If you tell a story, and he changes the subject or responds by talking about himself in an unrelated manner, he has no interest in you other than sexually. I'm certainly guilty of the same behavior when I'm just trying to get in someone's pants.
He's uncomfortable with bodily functions
Gawd bless the kind strangers in the club who have been understanding of a wayward tampon string.
Grooming and hygiene are important. But sometimes you’re going to have a booger or bad eyebrows. People are not wax statues, even if you’re a model, stripper, or have had a ton of plastic surgery. People who appear perfect are still managing bodies that pass food and waste.
It is not asking too much that a romantic partner eventually be able to buy you tampons in a pinch, or laugh with you if you accidentally (or purposely) fart.
He's only attracted to you when you're looking your best
Sometimes I’ll bump into strip club clients out in the “real world” while picking out furniture at IKEA, standing in line at the grocery store, or depositing cash at my credit union. I’m typically with my kid or boyfriend, and donning a flannel, jeans, and shoes that in no way resemble stripper heels. Yes, we all exist in the daytime! It’s so disappointing when a customer gets pissed off about that reality.
If I’m being paid to act sexy and take my clothes off, that’s transactional. But if you’re dreaming of sticking your girl into that wife-life, you had better love her in her floppy Ugg boots and messy updo.
When I wake up in the morning, I’m not a cute as when I'm spinning around on a pole. None of us is. So if any person expects your skin tone and eyelashes to be on at all times, they had better be paying you to be beautiful. Otherwise, it is no woman’s job to be picture-perfect 24/7.
He doesn't address his mistakes
Strip club rules can be confusing, and it’s OK to make a mistake. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know I couldn’t take a photo” or “I didn’t mean to nut in my pants” or “I didn’t mean to fart in the private room.”
Owning up to our wrongs is a big sign of maturity. None of us is infallible! We’ve all made choices that are regrettable. But someone who's unwilling to discuss shortcomings and bad decisions, it’s because they're still dealing with the guilt -- or too insecure to address the issues.
He says all his exes (or other women) are crazy
It is always a red flag when a client starts bad-mouthing my peeler peers. And you should be worried if a prospective lover only has bad things to say about current or former ladies in his life. If other women are to blame, get ready to be added to the list.
"How one discusses their ex is how they will discuss you as well," says Dr. Chris Donaghue, Loveline co-host and author of Sex Outside The Lines. "It's a sign of their relational health."
You know the best way to predict someone's behavior? Look at how they've acted in the past. "They could be attracted to people who always turn out to be 'crazy,'" says Dr. Michael Aaron, a sex therapist based in New York City and author of Modern Sexuality. "But if it happens all the time… you have to wonder what the odds are of you having a successful relationship with this person.”
It's way too soon when he says he loves you
If I'm 20 minutes into a lap dance and the client says “I think I love you,” I know this man is no catch.
There isn't a required timeline for humans for fall in love; but co-dependent and emotionally unstable adults sure have a knack for moving too quickly. Ask a lot of questions about a person’s prior relationships. Did they always move in after a month or two? How many times has he been married? I’ve been married and divorced twice before the age of 30, and I unabashedly have been working through my codependency issues, thanks to my therapist!
He doesn't live within his means
A guy who maxes out his ATM card within the first hour he's at the club clearly doesn't have his finances on point.
Once in awhile, it’s OK to ask someone to cover your ass if you didn’t bring enough cash to the strip club or coffee shop. But it’s 2016, and the cost of living is way higher than the average millennial income. The guy who drives an old car that’s paid off, has a simple and clean wardrobe, rarely eats out but tips well when he does, is much better mate material than a tricked-out trendster with a spending problem.
It’s more endearing for a client to tell me, “I’m sorry, I can only afford one lap dance”, rather than “I make a lot of money, I’ll show you sometime.”
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Elle Stanger is a mother, stripper, feminist, activist, and author who entertains the masses in Portland, OR. She holds two university degrees, neither of which she utilizes in a conventional fashion. She prefers organic food, dark beer, and self-actualized individuals. Don’t ask her about her tattoos; she’s run out of clever retorts. Find her online at EroticMusePDX.com.
By Elle Stanger