When I was a freshman in college, I made a really bad decision that has been on my conscience ever since. I was attending an expensive private school and I didn't make enough at my part-time job to support the kind of lifestyle I wanted and that most of my wealthy peers lived. So for three weeks, I took on the pseudonym "Scarlet" and worked the pole at a local strip club. I was constantly worried that one of my parents or someone at my school would find out. Eventually, I was so overcome with guilt and shame that I quit. My friends have always been very supportive and accepted me despite the social stigma associated with exotic dancers. I graduated Magna Cum Laude and am now working towards my Ph.D. However, I can't help but feel that I am tarnished when it comes to seeking a romantic relationship. I'm afraid that my love interest with judge me and consider me easy or corrupt. But I do think that whomever I end up dating has the right to know. Do you agree? If so, should I downplay the severity of the situation (i.e., it was only three weeks and it was not a full nude club)? How should I go about overcoming this major insecurity? Or, is that the consequence of taking my clothes off for money?
— Reformed Bad Girl
First of all, no, the person you date doesn't necessarily have a "right" to know every little thing about your past, including a three-week stint as a pole dancer at a strip club. Furthermore, there's no need to be sharing something like that about yourself with every guy you go out with. If, however, it's something you want to reveal about yourself to someone you've grown to care about and trust and have begun to build a strong foundation for a committed relationship with, think about your motivations for spilling the beans. If it's because you consider it a scar on your personal history and you feel someone should know the "whole ugly truth" about you before making a full commitment, it's time for you to examine that part of your personal history through a different lens. The Frisky: Why Shutting Down Craigslist "Adult Services" Won't Actually Make A Difference
Instead of thinking about yourself as "tarnished" because of this job you did for three weeks when you were all of 18 or 19, think of how it helped you evolve. Yes, evolve. Surely, something good came of the experience. Maybe it made you a more compassionate person as you were able to see how people who perhaps didn't have the privilege of wealth and a great education supported themselves and their kids. Maybe you learned something about the human condition — about desire and greed — and that knowledge made you a more well-rounded, informed person in the long run. I bet you learned how to move your body in a beautiful way. Maybe you gained confidence in yourself and your ability to turn on a partner. Maybe you simply learned a lot about your personal boundaries and priorities, lessons it can take people years to learn.