Wednesday 10 April 2013

How To Date A Sex Worker

The following text was originally published as a zine.  I had the pleasure of speaking to the writer of these words on The Vixen Hour. There are scant resources for the partners of sex workers so I am very grateful that someone has made this effort and shared his story. It's with his permission that I am able to share these words with you.  

My girlfriend is a sex worker, and I love her deeply.

This article is intended to be a resource for people in or considering a relationship with a sex worker, with advice on the more common difficulties that come up. (Stuff I would have liked to have been told back when I started dating my girlfriend, basically, and couldn't find any advice on the subject.) Most of what's written here translates into relationships of other genders and orientations, but because I'm writing from my own experience, the advice contained here will be primarily directed towards heterosexual cisgender men. 

I hope it helps someone get the love they deserve.

1. Talk about it.

This is crucial. A lot of guys, when put in the situation of their partner/crush informing them that they do sex work, will instinctively reach towards some agreement like, “Well … okay ... you can do that, just never mention it to me.” This way lies madness. You'll build the sex work up in your head into something far worse than what it is – which is a job – and give your jealousy a virtually infinite amount of tawdry ammunition to work with. Talking about it will probably be awkward at first, but talk about it anyway. When you're able to discuss her day at work openly, it loses its power over your ego. The unspoken always hurts us more than what's said aloud.

(Note: lots of sex workers might not be immediately keen to volunteer information about their work. Based on prior experience, they may assume that you won't be able to handle it, and frankly, most of the time they'll be right. It will probably be up to you to ask.)

2. If you feel insecure, don't hide it – work through it.

If you've never been in a situation where your partner having sex with someone else isn't cause for IMMEDIATE BETRAYAL-PANIC, feeling jealous (or at least a bit unnerved) is to be expected. Sex is an intimate thing, and there's a panicked little voice in the back of all of our minds that worries that if your partner has sex with other men, even in the most detached way, she'll never be 'fully with you'. That panicked little voice is an idiot. A sex worker can be a fully committed part of a deeply loving relationship – you just need to make sure that your insecurities allow her to be.

Sex workers who've tried to have relationships often have stories about guys who swore that they were fine with her job, only to have it surface later in much uglier ways (i.e. endlessly putting off having her meet their family, or suddenly calling her a “whore” during an argument). Don't be that guy. Don't lie to her, and don't lie to yourself. Jealousy is natural, but it's also conquerable. The most important thing is that you don't pretend that you're okay with it when you're not.

This is the hard part. The internal part. Our culture tells us so much damaging bullshit about sex workers, but do everything you can to block it out. Instead, try and focus on these four basic, golden, obvious truths:

  1. What other men have to pay tons of money for, she shares with you for free.

  2. Not even having sex with those other men – some of whom can be pretty unpleasant – puts her off wanting to be with you.

  3. Work-sex is a performance. With you, she gets to be herself – animated and vulnerable in a way that she would simply never be at work.

  4. She didn't choose to be with those guys. She chose you.

Keep those four things in mind, and the prospect of dating a sex worker becomes the exact opposite of emasculating. Even though there are all these men who pay to have just a brief experience of (heavily mediated) intimacy with her, it's you that she wants to share something real with. It's you that she chose. 

Don't make her regret it.

3. You shouldn't need her job to suck.

A lot of sex workers love their jobs, and will  have some really great, enjoyable sexual experiences there.

This is not a threat to you.

If a client turns out to have been a really amazing lover, you should just be glad that she had a good day at work – the same as you would if she were a teacher, waitress or CEO. If you require her to hide whenever she's had a great time at work, purely to satisfy your insecurity, it's going to drive a wedge between you. When she feels like she can speak openly about her experiences at work (the good stuff and the bad), it will bond you closer.

4. Respect her boundaries.

Crucial advice for any relationship! But particularly so with a sex worker. The 'playing a role' aspect of sex work can be disassociating, and as her partner, part of your role is to know how to make her feel like herself again. Sometimes this might mean giving her time as she adjusts from one sexual environment to another; sometimes this might mean backseating your desires. The idea that sex workers do not have the right to refuse sex is one of the most damaging aspects of the cultural bigotry surrounding them. Everyone has the right to refuse sex. Respecting boundaries doesn't end there, but it's a necessary first step, before any others may be taken.

5. Don't tell other people she's a sex worker without permission.

A minority of sex workers are completely 'out' to everyone they meet, but most are somewhere on a spectrum between 'my friends know' and 'you're the first person in my real life I've told'. It is not up to you to decide who else gets to know. In certain circles, telling people that you're dating a sex worker might get you appreciative gasps of shock, a smattering of activist/feminist cred – whatever, it doesn't matter. It's her choice who she lets know what she does. 

(And none of that “telling someone but making them swear they won't tell anyone else” bullshit. What was true in primary school is true now: when you do that, it gives implicit permission for the person you told to do the exact same thing you just did – that is: tell one other person – and before you know it, everyone knows and you no longer have a girlfriend.)

The ideal thing would be if our whole society grew the fuck up and let sex work be seen as a regular, respectable profession, but we're a long way from that. Pressuring her to be more 'out' than she's comfortable with is exactly as bad as pressuring her to hide her profession more than she wants to. These are her decisions, and you need to respect them.

6. Don't tell her to stop.

When she's had a bad day at work – the clients were annoying, one guy's dick was uncomfortably big, she forgot her lip balm, et cetera – the correct response is not “You should quit.” Everyone has bad days at work sometimes, and it's wrong to use those days as evidence that she should stop working, when bad days are accepted as inevitable in other professions.

There's a tendency in some guys to try and 'save' women from sex work, which is a devastatingly condescending attitude when the work is freely chosen. If the respect you have for a person doesn't include room for their autonomy, that isn't real respect. (This is why “I respect you too much to let you do this kind of work” is a bullshit, paradoxical position. “Let”?) As with #5, the important thing is to respect her capacity to make decisions about her own life.

7. Be on her team.

If you're anything like me, after you start dating a sex worker you'll start to notice disparaging comments made about them everywhere. All of the fashion advice that's based on not looking like a streetwalker; all of the jokes that treat 'dead hooker in the trunk' as an amusingly incidental consequence of a wild night out. Small signals that you don't accept the ignorant and destructive premise of shit like this – even if it's just squeezing her hand when someone in a movie says something stupid – can make her feel a little less attacked by them. It's a way of showing that you're on her team: of affirming her humanity in the face of a culture that frequently seems intent on taking it away. This is a small, important thing.

8. Listen to what she tells you.

There are lots of different kinds of sex work, and a variety of perspectives and needs held by those that do it. This article was written from my own experience, and it's limited by that. If a sex worker tells you that she's uncomfortable with something because of an experience she had at work, listen to her. If she tells you she loves her job anyway, listen to her. If she tells you to never call her by her work-name (even playfully, because it's a really important way she demarcates between her work and the rest of her life), listen to her. If she tells you that a particular piece of the advice I've given here doesn't apply for her, for fuck's sake listen to her.

There's a lot to unlearn around this stuff, and it hides in the language we use. Sex workers don't 'sell their bodies'; they sell an experience to lonely guys that need it. Their bodies remain their own. We have this received notion that because a sex worker has sex with their clients, they're somehow 'spent' – unavailable to a boyfriend in some crucial and irredeemable way. It's not true, any more than it's true that kindergarten teachers ignore their own children.

The truth is harder to face. The truth is that what most often blocks relationships between men and sex workers is men – our insecurities, jealousies, and need to own the people we love. If you work on yourself and are honest about your needs, there's no reason that your partner doing sex work needs to be an issue. (Honestly, the only times it's still weird that my girlfriend's a sex worker are when we're forced to conceal it in front of people who'd judge her.) The problem isn't that sex workers are incapable of devoted love, but that our masculinity is too scared and anxious to accept that love. The problem isn't sex workers, but the culture that degrades and dehumanises them.

Changing that culture begins with changing ourselves. Go for it.

by anonymous, because #5


  1. what happened to the zine tho?

  2. This article is actually very help for anyone who is also friends with a sex worker as well. I am constantly trying to remind my friends my boundaries about sex work and if they happen to say something that is whorephobic. Any relationship can be challenging and this is a good reminder of how to keep that relationship growing and even strong

    Shelly Ann Black

  3. Oh a married sex worker i cheered at every word, this is wonderful and thank you for writing it!

  4. This is so brilliant...resonates with what has been m journey, thankyou! (I cried reading this...:) x

  5. This is very nice blog for those who are intersted in dating with sex worker.People can easily find swingers for dating and sex.So for more entertainment and find your partner for having sex just click here

  6. God do I hear all of this.....and God is it tough sometimes. The natural feelings of total panic you feel as the partner of a sex worker are totally overwhelming and devastating. I'm 45 years old and have found myself crying like a little boy in the dark while my partner is with a client. The words I've read here mean so much. I love her completely and constantly surge between being the perfect partner in support and love and the agony of visions of her work. This is my battle with myself and the natural emotions being the partner of a sex worker fires. Hundreds of thousands of years have burnt those emotional defences into our DNA. Only the strongest men on earth can fight them successfully. I hope your words help me win my battle.

  7. By the way, I cried reading this too....

  8. I'm curious what the advice would be for the sex worker to make a relationship work. I've come across a number of pieces about what the partner can do for the sex worker, and yet it seems like the partner of the sex worker is in the more difficult position. I wonder what advice anyone might have for the sex worker on how to approach a relationship and what they can do for their partner to help deal with what they do.

    1. Well, I think it starts with being honest about everything. Answer whatever questions your partner has, and be honest about stuff. At first it might be really scary, but being able to trust them to deal with their feelings as they need to is key for you as well.

  9. This was published shortly after I decided to try to date for the first time since becoming an escort, and I link to it right in my online dating profile.

    THANK YOU. Short enough for even a vaguely interested potential date to read, and thorough enough to make the worthy contenders follow through on said dates.

    My compliments to the author.

  10. I dated a woman for a while who did sensuous massage. She always told me that she had a different persona at work and one day invited me to go for a session. There were no hints of the woman that I knew - it was obvious that it was all an act and that she gave nothing of her real self at work. Not even to me, with whom she had good reason to feel comfortable. Any insecurity that I harbored before was long gone after that hour.

  11. Thank you for this very loving, compassionate, and insightful article.
    I am a sex worker, and often feel like I am living two separate lives and want more people in my life who know what I do. Integrating those parts of me has been a challenge because of the concern and judgement of myself and others. I would really appreciate a boyfriend in my life who is on my team, as you put it.

  12. Bravo! Very astute and thoughtful. Thank you.

  13. Thanks for sharing this :)

  14. This is beautiful. Thank you <3

  15. Bold and courageous. Someone had to say it and this was well said.

  16. I'm doing some scholarly work on the history of women in western society and its relationship to the image of women as commodities in the 21st century. I love reading experiences like this, and other personal stories, successful or not, about men and women in the business. It makes people realise, whether they approve or not, that men and women aren't the sum of their work. Thank you so much for this article.

  17. Thanks for this. I met my partner through her work and I thank the lord daily that I did. She is a wonderful, beautiful, exuberant and loving woman who is more important to me than I can adequately put into words. She gave up being a sex worker when we started dating properly but, with money being tight as it is, she is considering going back to it. My feelings are twofold if I am honest. I love her more than life itself and I will stand by her no matter what but I am so anxious at what the future might hold. I am sure that I will be jealous and wracked with doubts, certainly at the beginning, and I am sure that I will cry at times. But I have promised to stand by her and I will keep that promise because she is my world and she has my heart. Points 1 and 2 really spoke to me and I comfort myself that I am mature enough to realise that what she does with other men is purely for money and has absolutely no emotional attachment as she does with me ... though I have to be honest and say that I would rather not know if she really enjoyed a particular client! LOL

    The one thing she worries about is that she will grow numb to sex and that she will be put off a sexual relationship with me and that concerns we as well. I guess that we will just have to cross that bridge when we get to it but any advice would be gratefully received! We have already agreed that we will ensure we take occasional but frequent days and weekends for ourselves and just spend quality time together, laughing, kissing and holding each other.

    I am convinced that we can get through it and we will be together for a very, very long time ... but I think that it will be hard work especially in the beginning. I will re-read this article when the going gets tough!! Thanks again!

    1. Well, I can only tell you that my libido increased quite a bit when I started this work. It's almost like the more I have the more easily it is to be ready for more. It's much more likely that I'm the one wanting it when he is not rather than the other way around. Partly it's the connection we have. Even when I have a great client who I absolutely adore, there still is not the same connection as there is with my own, chosen partner. There is no substitute for that.

  18. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  19. Carl B, I just had to weigh in and offer you some support and my perspective. I am an escort and I have a regular lover. Sex with him is something I appreciate as much, if more, than I would have before entering the business. Loving, connected sex with someone I care for deeply keeps me anchored and helps remind me that my body is, indeed, my own. It is different for everyone, but I think it's very possible that your girlfriend would feel the same about her intimate connection with you. I wish you both all the best.

  20. Wonder full comment field needs a little work - wakeboarding app.

  21. I found this article hitting close to home and extradoridanily helpful. My girlfriend is an escort and I am a former client. We mutually decided that we wanted a relationship with each other beyond those boundaries.. We have had a loving a caring relationship and I understand enough about the industry to know it's a job, one that can be enjoyed. That being said, my partner wants out, looking for "normal" as she puts it. I want to emphasize that this is not at my insistance but of her own desire. The issue is that while she is in the process of transition she seems detached from me, not just physically but also emotionally. We talk daily (multiple times) and talk about everything (clients, appointment times, weird requests, losers looking to discount rates, etc.) and our feelings towards each other. But when we're together physically there seems to be a wall. It's not money, she is meticulous about paying her share when we go out. She has never once asked for to pay for anything. and i know such offers would be rejected out of hand. My feeling is that she she doesn't yet believe that I love her for who she is, not what she does. I would move the earth to make her understand this, other than Arcemiedes lever, which I don't have access to, (patience and love is all I got) I'm not sure how to proceed. Any relevant advice would be most appreciated. And again, thanls Cristian for poosting thos, you/re right too few resouccres!

  22. This is great. I wish when I was married and working it had been available to show my husband. We managed to negotiate through his jealousy and insecurity but it would have been easier with a piece like this to rsfer to.

    I also found the most difficult part was when we had to hide what I fid. It was rare since I was fully out but was very jarring.

  23. madamejade ... thanks for your kind words and your support. My partner and I are still together and still love each other very much. She has returned to escorting and, though I am getting better, I find it hard at times to accept. However, I am recently taken to going to the hotel where she is working and sending the day with her. I pop to the bar when she has a booking and this has really helped. Let me explain why. When she first went back to work, I would imagine the worse ... nonstop bookings with dozens of men. She would tell me that most of her "clients" only booked for 30 minutes and they often only lasted 15 of those minutes. She would tell me that 95% of her longer bookings never lasted the pace; but of course, being an insecure idiot, I didn't believe her. Until I spent time with her!! I was amazed to be honest. For starters the huge majority of the calls on her work phone (and she gets lots of calls and texts!!) were timewasters or men she refused to see. Of those she did see, none of them stayed for the entire time they had paid for! Except one guy who booked for an hour and wanted to be humiliated and whipped ... he stayed the whole hour! LOL.

    Anyway spending time with her has helped but I'm still not 100% happy with it and I never will be. We are having a few problems with out sexual relationship and that troubles me but I think we can work it out. The important thing is that we love each other very much. On one of my visits, she was speaking to one of her cousins back home. She told her cousin that she was with me, her cousin said something and my baby looked at me and said "I love him very much, he is everything to me". I nearly started crying!! And for an ex-marine, that is something hard to admit! :-)

  24. Great, it is a nice article. Quite helpful video marketing.

  25. GREAT write up! You’ve hit all of the key points and your advice is true-to-form no matter if your partner is a sex worker or not. Very valuable relationship tips. I was reading a similar article about how to date a sex worker successfully and like you they made very valid, loving and helpful suggestions. They even delve into the Twitterverse and share direct quotes from sex workers about their personal relationships. Good positive stuff!

  26. Thank you for this! We are capable of having a loving healthy relationship outside of being an escort. I'm living proof! This hits very close to home...

  27. I love the advice, thanks for sharing. A lot of Melbourne escorts are having similar problems.

  28. I actually found this blog and that is amazing thing I enjoy reading this easy to understand stuff. Keep it up. Bryophyter Articles

  29. My current girlfriend is an escort or maybe a former escort, I'm not sure which. She has been battling a long illness and I have been helping her financially. Now she wants to go back to work and I'm not sure I want her to. Talk about hitting the nail on the head this article says a lot about how I am feeling. I don't want to lose her but I'm not sure that I'm mature enough to handle her going back to work. One this is right on and that is the importance of communication. We talk about everything and that helps me cope. The future will tell. She is still not well enough to go back to work so I have some time to deal with my emotions.