Meeting the Parents

Meeting the Parents

Q: I’m a 28 year old guy and I’ve been dating my girlfriend for nine-months. We have a great relationship. It’s the first time I’ve dated a girl that I can imagine possibly staying with long term. I am really close with my parents and they have been dying for them to meet her. They met her briefly one time when we ran into them at the store and they seemed to hit it off. Problem is my girlfriend is currently ‘dancing’ to put herself through college, and I’m not sure how to tell them or even if I want to. I don’t personally have a problem with her ‘dancing;’ I respect that she is motivated to do whatever she needs to do to get through college without a huge amount of debt. And although my parents are pretty liberal, I’m not at all sure they will see this the same way I do. I can’t figure out if I should tell them or not? I really don’t feel psyched about lying to them, but I’m so afraid of their response!

He: First of all, let’s call it what it is: Stripping. Your use of quotations around the word dancing is somewhat telling of the struggle you are having. Don’t tip- toe around the word stripping- it explains what is going on, and why it is so popular among the gentlemen who frequent such establishments. You don’t see the same gentlemen throwing dollar bills on stage at the Metropolitan Ballet’s rendition of Swan Lake because they are so moved by the flawlessly executed pirouette. The “dancing” isn’t the main attraction at a strip club.

That being said, here’s my advice to you regarding your parents: this falls under the broad category of things that you lie to them about in order to make life a little easier for everyone. To justify the reasons why lying about this makes sense, it may help to explore why there are negative perceptions about stripping: your mother, like most women, may have a judgment that is based on the ingrained notion that any sort of sexual or nudity based activity should not be for sale. The same woman who may send nude selfies to her boyfriend on regular basis might judge a woman who poses for Penthouse magazine. A woman with a rigorous sexual appetite and active sex-life might look down upon a woman who works as a porn star. When you have an asset that half the population clamors for, and show the restraint to not exploit it for cash, it seemingly allows you to judge those who choose not to. I think the bad tramp-stamp tattoo and the garish acrylic high heels might also factor into the judgment as well. Your dad, or the average male, likely does not have a fundamental issue with it. I think that he, like many males, may have an unexplored notion that it would be fun to date a stripper. Why not? They are typically very attractive, not uptight about their bodies, and have just enough “daddy issues” to make them eager to please. Most males weigh the benefits with the cost of being judged by the rest of society, and soon settle into a stripperless life. Regardless, any issues your dad may have are likely an extension of those expressed by your mother, or society as a whole.

These perceptions may slowly change, as nudity is becoming much more common in popular culture and “leaked” sex tapes and nude pictures tend to launch careers instead of end them. But at this point, I would say it is in your best interest to lie. You may break up in six months and the whole uncomfortably awkward conversation with your parents would have been painfully unnecessary. Even if you stay together, four years of college will fly by and she will be moving on toward her career goals. If she continues to strip after that point, you may have other issues to deal with.

She: It is great that you have been able to find someone with whom you are happy and compatible. It also says a lot about your relationship that you are able to feel secure, considering the nature of her work. So, to address your question, how does she feel about telling your parents? And what is the importance of them knowing what she does for a living? This feels like a decision that needs to be made with her, or even, by her. It is important in relationships that there is a sense of safety and, even privacy. Healthy relationships shield themselves from negative outside influences. They protect themselves from forces that may rupture their strength and surround themselves with people who support and nurture the relationship.

If you are feeling an overwhelming need to be honest with your parents because of your close relationship, I would say that it is time to grow up. As a man, you are supposed to move your primary commitment from your parents to your adult love relationship. You are not a child, and you are not going to get in trouble for not telling the truth. This is your girlfriend’s personal information and it is ultimately her choice if she is ready to share this with your parents.

That being said, I can’t imagine that your relationship is going to be able to last very long under these conditions. You have to remember that you are in the first stage of a relationship, where everything your partner does is magical. Once you move into the second stage of your relationship, I suspect that you will have to think about your true feelings about her current career, and the strain that this may place on your relationship.


Dr. Jen Semmes and Andy Wilson have been (mostly) happily married for nine years (currently happily). They are the owners of Coastal Counseling therapy center in Carlsbad, California. Jen holds a license in clinical social work and a doctorate in psychology, and is a therapist at Coastal Counseling. Andy just tries to hold it together.

If you, or anyone you know, has a question for ‘He said, She said’ please send a private message to Coastal Counseling on Facebook or email the question to Check out our website at


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