The Strip Club DJ Who’s ‘Terrible With Women’

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Call Your Boyfriend

Ryan O’Connell is a New York-based writer. He likes shoegaze, the Olsen Twins, and figuring out why people do the things they do. Oh, and he tweets. Check back each Thursday for his latest Call Your Boyfriend column. (You KNOW you have a question. Send it to Ryan.)

Hi Ryan,

I’m a DJ in a strip club, I’ve been doing this for damn near 20 years, so none of it phases me.  One thing that few people know about this business is that the entertainers/dancers/strippers (whatever you want to call them) “tip” a percentage of what they make in a given shift. Typically I receive 10% as the DJ but they can tip more if they like me or if I did something special for them that day. That being said, as a “Tipped Employee,” part of my job is flirting with the girls, which, after 20 years, I am quite adept at (in the club that is — in everyday life I’m extremely shy but that’s a totally different question.)  Now, I know I’m not the best looking guy in the world and I know my limits, but I’m also good at reading the flirting as to whether its genuine or all a part of the game we play.

One of the girls here recently quit to pursue her real career (yes, that actually happens) and we have maintained a friendship over social media and via text where, naturally, the flirting continues but now I’m having trouble reading it.  I’m not sure if it’s because it’s over the Internet and text only, or that I am so terrible with women outside of the club.

‘How Recently there has been talk of hanging out at her place or meeting up for drinks, which I have been avoiding due to my insecurities.  Normally, with these girls, I adopt the philosophy “Fortune Favors The Bold” and just go after what I want, but this one is different. This one scares me.

I guess my question, is how can I tell if she genuinely likes me? Is there a test of some kind? Am I going to have to face her?


If this ex-stripper is still texting you after your professional relationship has been severed, I’d wager a guess that there is some romantic interest on her end. Think about it. She’s under no obligation to see you again, but clearly there’s something she likes about you. Why else would she bother asking you to get a drink? It seems like the issue here has less to do with “DOES SHE LIKE ME?” than it does with you liking yourself.

I can relate all too well with running away from romantic possibility. Self-sabotage is, in a way, my specialty. I complain about being alone, but when the opportunity actually presents itself, I sprint away screaming. At least, I used to be like that. Now I’m at a point where I can no longer do those things to myself because it hurts too bad and being single isn’t cute or funny anymore. Sex and intimacy are two things that are required for us to live full and happy lives. Without it, it can feel like you’re missing a limb. Do you ever just, like, feel the urge to hug someone? To touch them? I’m talking here about people you don’t really know but are attracted to for some reason or another. It sounds weird but it’s like your body’s way of telling you to connect to someone ASAP. When you’ve been single for a long time, it’s like you’re starving an essential part of yourself—the part that needs love and affection—and sometimes you can just feed it with a long hug.

It seems like the issue here has less to do with “DOES SHE LIKE ME?” than it does with you liking yourself.

I remember giving one of the last people I hooked up with a long, meandering hug. We were in bed making out, doing stuff, and at one point I just pulled him close to me and embraced him. It wasn’t even a hug. It was a definite embrace. That might make me sound like a freak but trust me when I say it wasn’t. He understood, it wasn’t awkward, and I realized then that sometimes you just need to fucking hold on to someone.

Oh, sorry, wait, where am I? Strippers, DJs, dates…oh right! My advice for you is to stop being so scared and just meet up with her for a drink. Feed that part of yourself that is currently starving. It sounds like she’s opened the door for you already. Now you just have to walk in.

So I’ve been dating this guy who started off as a total rebound for me, but now that we’ve known each other for about 6 months I am officially over my ex and am starting to think about him as more than a rebound, but I don’t know how to change the status or pace of our very casual relationship.  Help!

Some background: When we met we had both just gotten out of serious relationships (his was 8 years long), so I am pretty sure we were both on the same page with the whole “I like you because we get along so well, and you’re hot and fun plus you’re not looking for anything serious” rebound thing.

At first we would text about every other day and there was a while we were seeing each other 1-2 times per week, but after about 3 months I started to get annoyed that he wasn’t perusing me harder or trying to advance the relationship at all. I decided that even though we have so much fun together that I should stop seeing him/wasting my time and focus on meeting guys who cared more about trying to impress me. So I basically made up excuses to not see him for a month and dated a few other guys, but they all turned out to be losers, which made me miss rebound guy. So when rebound guy reached out after a full week of us not talking and offered to take me to an awesome concert, I decided to give it another shot. That night we had a great time and he was surprisingly acting very boyfriend-y, and I really liked it. I started to think that maybe he actually does like me more than I thought, which means I pulled a total bitch move for giving him the cold shoulder for so long. I started to think that maybe there is a remote possibility of us actually dating in the future after all, and that I should start to show him that I want to start spend more time with him. Over the last few weeks I’ve been making a little more effort by suggesting we hang out instead of waiting for him to do so. And I thought me being more forward was working, but now he’s back to being kind of wishy washy. 

I was fine with the whole super-casual relationship thing before (and side note: trusted him enough to not use protection) but now that I’ve actually started to like him I’m not okay with the situation anymore. No matter what, I would at least like to be friends, but ideally we would be exclusive-hookups.  Do I tell him how I feel and risk rejection? Tell him the truth that I thought of him as a rebound but now I don’t? Cut it off completely? What do I do?


I want (just a little) more

Hey sweets,

Before I even begin to delve into how to transition someone from Rebound to You’re Mine Forever, I am going to reach inside of my computer and give you a big fat virtual smack on the head for not using protection. WTF? Honey, this is not 1969! These days, you can look at someone cross-eyed and get HPV or herpes. Always use a conDUMB, especially if you two aren’t exclusive.

Just looking out for ya, hon! Now, moving on. What first got my attention in this question was the fact that this dude you’re into just got out of an eight-year relationship. Oh my God. Eight years. Most people sob for days over the demise of a six-month relationship, so I can only imagine how hesitant this guy is to get into another serious relationship. If he’s feeling distant, maybe that’s because he’s just learning how to live his life again as a solo star. And when he starts to feel like someone expects something from him romantically, he recoils because he’s not in any kind of position to be there for anyone but himself. I’m only hypothesizing since I don’t actually know him (or you) but seriously think about that possibility. This might not be a case of “He’s Just Not That Into You” so much as it is “He’s Just Not That Into Anyone Who’s Not His Ex.”

Another reason why he might be acting standoffish towards you is because you gave him the cold shoulder for so long. Now I know that was a reaction to him not giving you enough attention but still, playing games doesn’t get you anywhere. Like, I get why you were like, “I’m gonna go hang out with guys who WILL text me back and that’ll really show you!” but then you can’t expect things to be all fine and dandy when you come back to him after having given the silent treatment.

This might not be a case of “He’s Just Not That Into You” so much as it is “He’s Just Not That Into Anyone Who’s Not His Ex.”

Like my solution to most dating problems, I would advise you to come clean about your true intentions. Hell, even confess that the reason you went AWOL for awhile was because you felt like he wasn’t moving the “relationship” along. Maybe that would help clear up some of his own confusion about your guys’ situation. Be honest about your desire to move out of the rebound neighborhood and into a chic relationship mansion. You should be prepared for an answer you won’t like, though. From what I’ve deduced from your dilemma, it really does sound like he’s not in a place to have a serious relationship right now. So you know how people say, “It’s not you, it’s me!” and 99.9% of the time it’s bullshit. This could be the other .1 percent. Don’t take it personal. He’s just not ready for your jelly.


I haven’t had sex in three years and physical contact in almost a year and a half. I’m worried that I’ll never find someone because I’ve had so many failed experiences, and guys ALWAYS put me in the Best Best Friend Forever zone. I don’t know what to do!

Hi, hello,

I’ve written before about the dangers of celibacy. Just go out with your friends, get drunk, and make out with someone. Seriously, don’t think too hard, just do it. Do WHATEVER you have to do to get back on that horse. Otherwise, you run the risk of shit getting real weird in your life/brain/body. Good luck!