I have been dating a beautiful, intelligent sex worker for few months. By sex worker I mean a woman who does Pro Domme sessions and gives handjobs sometimes. She’s also been a stripper for years. She mentioned that she had wanted to land an internship or job within her field but recently decided that she wanted the time flexibility of sex work while she’s in school. She’s been paid for other kinds of sex and scenarios with men in the past—sometimes as her main job. She’s pretty forthcoming about what she does with her clients.
Sex work seems to not be a big deal for her. She complains about work like anybody else does.
I am pretty ok with it but she is planning to intensify some of the work she’s doing. I want to be supportive but there’s a part of me that knows I will pull back from her when she intensifies things. As we get closer, it’s tapping into some issues for me. Even though, it impacts me indirectly, I still worry about things like: How will her work affect our sex life? If we become more serious, how do I tell people what she does? Is there a reflection on me that I date a sex worker? I wonder about the energy she gives others and if that means less for me.
I also wonder about exactly what happens for her in sessions, even though she seems fine after sessions. It’s also scary to me that a few months ago, she said she didn’t want to have sex for money and now she’s changing her mind. I’ve heard it’s hard to stop doing sex work. I wonder if it’ll be tough for her to pursue the work she wants to do in her field. That she’ll lose sight of what she’s working towards—and if she’ll ever want to have a normal job.
The other day she mentioned she was getting more money than usual from a client and I assumed that meant in exchange for something. Since then, I’ve been lingering on her hands, mouth, ass, cunt and wondering a little what happens. I don’t ask too many questions but told her I was open to hearing more and would understand if she didn’t want to fuck after a session. I don’t feel jealous or anything, its just on my mind more. I also wonder during sex if it’s real or if she’s performing? Does she do the same thing for men? Could any guy with enough money fuck her? How do I feel about that?
She told me she’s in love with me and I think she’s hoping for a long-term relationship. I haven’t said it back even though I really like her and I feel great with her. I know I’m trying to protect myself and I also worry that once I am attached, I’m afraid she’s going to tell me that she wants to have a fling with someone else. I feel emotionally guarded with her. I think that has less to do with sex work and more because I’m afraid of getting hurt. I haven’t really let myself be open to anyone since my last breakup. I feel like I’m falling in love too but there’s a part of me that that just won’t let myself surrender to it. I’m writing you to get some advice. Do I move forward or stop before we both get hurt?
Thanks, Proceeding with Caution in Austin
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers
within yourself that you have built against it.” -Rumi
While reading your letter, I was happy that I identified with both of you very strongly. Like your love interest, I have done the same work had periods where I considered doing more or less in order to conserve time to pursue my chosen career with mixed results. Newsflash: Sex work is very time-consuming and draining—like any nine-five. There are also countless unpaid hours used to advertise and screen clients, prepare and recover from sessions. Although the skill set used is terribly useful in any career (a book could be written here on the skills required to do sex work) it can’t be listed on a resume or CV so when I dove into the workforce, I started at ground zero in a limping economy and with protracted gaps in my resume. No one is impressed with the letters after my name or my fancy undergrad experience. In case your girl reads this, I recommend getting a kick ass volunteer job and an internship while she still has the gusto to do both sex work and school. Those look good on a resume.
Like you, I have guarded myself against being hurt in tricky little ways and big obvious ways. In relationships, I removed myself piece by piece until my feelings cooled off and finally, my lover left because I froze. I’ve been frightened too. Internally, I constructed a maximum-security blockade to prevent love from penetrating. My own sadness only made my barriers fiercer. I’ve turned away many good men. Scared off others. Only now am I beginning to melt. Check it out: everyone has been hurt. We are all naked and melting because in each other’s presence, we want to feel.
Like your girl, I was super okay after jobs. I even asked people close to me if I acted weird or cold. I wanted to know if the work made me numb or anxious. The report was that I seemed perfectly normal. Sex work just wasn’t that big of a deal. Or it didn’t appear to be on the surface. It was an easy numb place to hide and make money for a long time.
Falling in love is a big deal, especially for women who have a lot of access to free floating desire at all times. Falling in love is the difference between performing a role with a client and being emotionally present with a lover. It’s terribly inconvenient when you discover your heart is a tender pink fish when you thought it was a stone. I’m not suggesting you feel flattered. I’m saying this is fucking major.The rope of love is being thrown to you. Grab it and swing.
Be brave and hold each other with tenderness. Don’t take on the shame and stigma from her job. Be a stand for her. Trust that she’s making a sound decision for her life unless she says otherwise. Give her the dignity of her own experience. Don’t participate in the shame. You don’t have to. Tell people the truth. This is the truth: “What does your GF do?”
“She’s in the adult entertainment industry.” I recently read an essay (The Sun: “Faithful over a Few Things” by Tarn Wilson) about a woman who visits a ninety-two year old woman every week. But the essay was really about how women have cared for each other over time forever. It inspired me to think about the ways women care for one another and how we can be more courageous and less self-serving.
Look, I’m getting all touchy-feely. Did I mention I am melting? What I want to ask you is this: Who cut out your tongue?
You say your girl is forthcoming. Ask her things. Ask her about what she’s doing in sessions and ask for what you need or want to feel safe and good? Get tested together (Women’s Center in your area:http://www.austinwomenshealth.com/). Ask about the acts she’s doing and what they mean to you. Think about why some acts bother you and others don’t. She sounds game, smart, fun, honest and into you. Why not ask her what her experience is with clients and if she feels like she’s performing with you? Give yourself the dignity of your own experience. Be sad. Be turned on. Be scared. Be inquisitive. Be supportive.
Don’t walk on eggshells. Powerful sexy women loathe that. Your questions, concerns and fears are all valid. Sex work also provides great fodder for fantasies that could be explored with her.
Bring all of this to her. Bring yourself to her. Talk to the woman.
Grab the rope.