09/04/2001DEAR ABBY: The letter from the man who can't stay out of strip clubs reminded me of my husband. He goes two, three, sometimes four times a week. For a long time he tried to hide it. Now he goes openly. He says he won't change, and if I don't like it -- too bad.
Well, I don't like it. He says it's harmless -- that all his friends are there, and none of the other wives mind. (I doubt that.) I have long suspected he had a problem. After reading that letter, I know he has one.
I can understand going to a strip club once in a while as a lark, but why should a man almost 50 years old need to go several times a week to watch topless dancers young enough to be his daughters? I'm not straitlaced, but frankly, I am sick over this. He claims not to have a problem. Why do men do this? -- HURT AND HEARTSICK IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR HURT AND HEARTSICK: The strip clubs of the new millennium are not your grandfather's (or my grandfather's!) strip clubs. They have added a new wrinkle -- audience interaction in the form of "lap dances" and sometimes more. Men who visit strip clubs "two, three and four times a week" DO have a problem. They're hooked.
Why do they do it? Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Please urge "Hooked in Portland" to RUN to those Sexaholics Anonymous meetings before it's too late.
For 17 years, my husband has frequented strip clubs (including the lap dances), massage parlors, porn sites, and has been having phone sex with prostitutes in other countries. He has cashed in all his stocks and wasted more than $70,000. He told me he was going out of town on "business" and took a hooker to Asia for an exotic vacation at a five-star hotel. He buys expensive jewelry for these women, and on one trip to a strip club, withdrew more than $1,800 from the ATM.
When I protested, he told me I was a lesbian (which was news to me) and that it was all my fault, because I "made him" do all his illicit acts.
I think men go to strip clubs to watch women degrade themselves. Deep down, they really hate women. Their addiction is more important than the fact they can get herpes and AIDS. I'll never understand why these men cannot control themselves. -- SEEN ONE, SEEN 'EM ALL
DEAR SEEN ONE: There is no "one reason" why men -- and women -- become caught up in sexual addiction. However, the next letter may offer some insight:
DEAR ABBY: You advised "Hooked in Portland" to contact Sexaholics Anonymous. It's a fine organization, but he'll still have to lie to his wife if he doesn't want to admit he's attending their weekly meetings.
I, too, was addicted to strip clubs and porn videos, and I have the following advice for "Hooked": Find a psychologist who is experienced in the treatment of addictions, anxiety and depression. He can tell his wife that he's stressed out and wants to see a professional before his work, home life, etc., begin to suffer.
With counseling I realized I was "tranquilizing" myself with pornography to escape anxiety and depression (insomnia, irritability, etc.) but not before severely damaging my marriage. Thank God I have an amazing wife who stood by me. Our marriage is now stronger than ever.
I applaud "Hooked" for seeking help. If he eventually decides to tell his wife the whole story, I suspect she'll be impressed by his efforts, too. -- BETTER THAN EVER IN TENNESSEE
DEAR BETTER THAN EVER: Congratulations on your recovery, for recognizing you had a problem and dealing with it. I hope others who are caught in sexual addiction will recognize themselves in your letter and know they are not alone and that help is available.
Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.
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