Family & Relationships

FAMILY AND RELATIONSHIPS

Dancers are not just dancers – we are daughters, sisters, mothers, girlfriends, and wives. But sometimes our work gets in the way of our personal relationships. And our personal relationships can get in the way of feeling positive about our income and work.

Dancing can be hard to explain to those we love. Maybe your boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t respect and appreciate what you do. Maybe you feel guilty about lying to your parents or kids about what you do. You are not alone—all dancers deal with these issues at some point.

If you’re looking for community or support, join our email list or find us on Facebook and come to a meeting, or check out SWANK, a monthly support group for sex workers, including dancers. You can also check out our Resources section for a list of free or affordable non-judgmental counselors.

Parents
Many parents have a specific idea of what they want their daughters to do with their lives—whether it’s going to college, getting married, having kids, or getting a specific kind of job. Working as a dancer may not fit into your parents’ idea of what’s “normal” or “respectable.” Even if your parents don’t judge you for being a dancer, they may be concerned for your safety if you are working late at night in an unsafe environment. For these reasons, many of us struggle with whether to tell our parents about our jobs.

My parents think I’m a cocktail waitress. They live in Germany and are only here like once a year, so they don’t have to know. But they would die, I mean, actually die, if they knew what I do! They are already uncomfortable with thinking I work at a bar. We’re a conservative family. They don’t have to know. – Veronica

 

At first my mom said she was cool with it, then she started to be funny about it. She would bring it up in conversations whenever we had a fight, like it was a way to bring me down. Then she ended up telling my dad, which I was really unhappy about. He didn’t need to know.- Sindy

 

I told my parents I was a dog walker, but eventually they guessed the truth, because dog walkers don’t make as much money as I was making! – Monique

If you’re worried that it might cause a family rift if your parents knew you were dancing, maybe it’s better to keep them in the dark. Maybe you’re not close with them anyway and you don’t think they need to know. Or maybe you hate lying and think your parents should be able to handle the truth. In the end, you know what’s best for your personal situation.

Kids
“My son is 8, and this is the one job that gives me the flexibility to take time off if he needs me, or be there when he leaves for school in the morning. I tried office jobs before but I can’t really handle the bullshit as a single mom.” – Jennifer

Dancing can be a great job for moms, especially single parents with busy lives. Dancers have flexible schedules and we work fewer hours, so we have more time to spend with our kids. Also, dancing pays better than a lot of jobs, so we can provide a better standard of living for our kids, and might make it possible to be a better mom. But society tells our kids that it’s bad to have a mom who’s a stripper. This can be hurtful and hard for us to deal with.

It’s hard enough to talk to kids about sexuality—talking about what we do for money just makes it harder. Some of us choose not to tell our kids about our jobs. Maybe we don’t want them to be confused or hurt by what we do. Maybe we don’t want them to get teased at school because other kids found out their mom is a stripper. Others may decide to be totally honest and tell our kids everything. Others may choose a midway point.

“I told my daughter about my job, but she doesn’t know the details. She thinks it’s just dancing on a stage. I wouldn’t tell her about lap dances or about the customers. It would be confusing for her.” – Christina

Only you know what’s best for your kids. You dance because you care about them, so don’t let anyone make you feel guilty.

Partners
I’ve been married for eight years and my husband still thinks I’m a waitress. There’s no way he’d be OK with knowing what I actually do. He never tries to contact me at work, so I figure it’s best that there are some things I just don’t tell him.- Jessica

Does your girlfriend make you feel guilty about your job? Does your boyfriend think dancing is easy money? Does your husband stay home playing computer games while you hustle to pay the bills?

We’ve all seen it, and many of us have been there. So why do so many dancers end up dating guys or girls who treat us badly?

Lots of people are OK with dating a stripper to begin with. Maybe they think it’s hot. Maybe they even come to the club and tip you. But once the relationship gets serious, that’s when a lot of partners start to get jealous. They may start to say that working as a dancer is like cheating. At the same time, they are probably still happy to spend your money.

Some dancers put up with this because society tells us it’s bad to do this kind of work, so we feel like we deserve to be treated badly. Others just don’t tell their partners where they work. Others feel like they have to quit the industry to get a good man or woman. But we shouldn’t have to hide or quit our jobs to make our relationships work. Our partners are the ones who need to change their attitudes.

Dancing is hard work and we deserve respect. If our partners had to do what we have to do to pay the bills, they would stop trying to tell us it’s easy money.

My boyfriend knows where I work and respects it. When we met, I was stripping, and he wouldn’t try to change who I am just because I’m with him now. He knows we all gotta do what we gotta do. – Honey
Domestic Violence

We know that violence doesn’t just happen in the clubs. We all know dancers who have had abusive partners or who have had trouble with boyfriends and other members of the family. Remember, no one has the right to beat or abuse you anywhere, anytime. If you find yourself in such a situation, check out the Resources section for where to get support.