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For Love

I’m in love with a sex worker, and we’ve decided we are going to live together and she is going to retire and pursue a “normal” career.  Despite having a degree and being intelligent and capable, she’s concerned about getting work; I’ve told her I don’t have a problem with her seeing her more trustworthy regulars from time to time until she feels financially comfortable.  I’d be willing to support her completely, but financial independence is very important to her and she has said she doesn’t want to rely on me for support.  She reads your website avidly, so I wonder if you have any advice for us?

My biggest concern about the situation as described is that it’s nearly always a bad idea for a sex worker to stop working for love.  I did it, and it set the stage for two separate financial debacles in 2004 and 2008; we still haven’t yet recovered from the second one.  I’ve also seen others do it, with results ranging from OK to disastrous.  If your lady wants to quit sex work for other reasons that have nothing to do with you, well and fine; but if the sole reason she’s quitting to pursue a relatively low-paying “normal” job (in a bad economy, yet) is because of your relationship, she is making a mistake (potentially a very serious one).  The stress, drudgery and inadequate compensation of a “straight” job are likely to lead to resentment against you even if she makes the choice of her own free will, and if y’all get into dire financial straits because of the lesser income that resentment will be quadrupled.  Obviously, the choice should be hers and hers alone; neither you nor I nor her non-sex worker friends have any right to push her in either direction.  But she needs to deeply consider the potential consequences to her, to you, to your finances and to your relationship if she leaves a well-paid job for which she’s temperamentally suited in favor of a less-remunerative one for which she isn’t.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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The Missing Piece

Before my divorce I was at a very bad stage in my life.  While going through that, I became emotionally involved with one of my business contacts; after we had sex he became kind of distant and doesn’t talk to me as much.  I love him so very much, and he made me feel like a worthwhile person at a time I was so low I didn’t want to go on any longer.  I don’t want to steal him from his family because I wouldn’t wish that kind of pain on anyone; I just want to be his mistress.  Is there any way to keep him interested?

puzzle with missing pieceThe reason I advise married men to only cheat on their wives with professionals is that other women fall in love much too easily, as you have done.  There is no magic formula for winning a man’s heart; women have been looking for this since the beginning of time and it simply doesn’t exist.  A married man may have an affair with you, but the chances of him leaving his wife and family for you is essentially nil; I know you love this man, but it seems pretty obvious to me that he lost interest in you as soon as he got the sex he wanted.  I can also predict with confidence that the more you demonstrate your love, the further he’ll distance himself because he doesn’t want a divorce.  I know you don’t want to hear this, but you need to leave off pursuing him; if you continue it will surely result in pain for everyone involved.  I also know that you feel very lonely right now, but you must learn to live with yourself before getting into a new relationship; after my first husband left me, I was alone for six years before becoming involved again.  Oh, I had commercial sex with men and casual sex with women (and a very few men), but I kept everyone at arms’ length because I knew I was not yet ready for a relationship.  We like to imagine that a romantic partner can “complete” us, can fill up gaps in our own personalities like jigsaw puzzle pieces fitting together, but the fact of the matter is that two broken people nearly always create a broken relationship.  I’m not telling you that both parties have to be in perfect mental health; if that were true, I could probably fit every healthy couple in the whole world in this room.  But what I am telling you is that you can’t use another person to “patch” whatever’s wrong with you; he can help you with problems, but the hard work of psychic self-repair is still your own responsibility.  It won’t be easy to be by yourself, but I think it’s imperative for the time being.  Seek professional help (and/or the help of friends you aren’t having sex with) in dealing with whatever caused that “bad stage”, and once you’ve begun to heal then you can open your heart up again to the possibility of a new relationship with someone who isn’t already taken.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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Drinking on the Job

I’ve been seeing a well-reviewed independent for the past three months, but on our sixth visit she was very chatty and started drinking.  Six hours into our three-hour appointment she offered an overnight at no extra charge, but wanted to eat at a nearby bar; there she drank even more and ended up very drunk.  When we returned to her incall she tried to go through the motions, but she was so far gone I decided it was better not to do anything with her.  Over the next couple of hours she texted her boyfriend “I love you…” in my sight, played music on her phone, repeatedly fell out of bed and did other crazy things while still trying to engage me in activity.  Finally she fell asleep, and I left; I later sent her an email detailing all the drunken behavior and assuring her I hadn’t done anything inappropriate.  She responded that nothing like this had ever happened before; she’s embarrassed and won’t see me again.  I knew describing all the drunken behavior could upset her, but felt I should tell her because I was the only witness and for an escort, getting drunk with a client is unwise and dangerous.  I think she’s had other substance abuse problems in the past, because though her body looks young for her age her face looks much older.  Do you think I acted correctly?Storyville prostitute drinking Raleigh Rye, photographed by E. J. Bellocq circa 1912

I think you acted in the best way possible given the circumstances.  Life might be easier if everyone closely minded his or her role in a relationship and never stepped outside of its bounds, but because we’re human such professionalism is rare and can tend to feel a bit odd and off-putting.  And that’s only considering “ordinary” Western-style business relationships; in Asian cultures, for example, one is expected to socialize with one’s co-workers, and even in the West some business relationships seem to invite line-blurring by their resemblance to intimate ones (doctor-patient, teacher-student and sex worker-client are a few examples).  Usually it’s the client who gets confused about the boundaries of his relationship with a sex worker; since he’s paying for an illusion it isn’t too surprising that he sometimes loses himself in that illusion and mistakes the performance for sincere romance, sexual attraction or friendship.  It’s very important for whores to maintain boundaries, so we usually get quite good at it; there are some circumstances, however, in which that ability is eroded, and biochemical impairment is probably the most dangerous one.  I am firmly of the opinion that a professional should absolutely never indulge in alcohol or any other drug while on the job, but I’m a bit square in that respect; most escorts can handle a glass of wine or two without impairing their judgment.  Your lady, however, is clearly not among them; anyone who can’t understand that it’s inappropriate to get drunk while at work (compare a doctor drinking at the hospital, a teacher drinking at school or a driver drinking in his truck) definitely has a drinking problem.

In short, she acted in a way that was stupid, unprofessional and (as you pointed out) dangerous, and that isn’t your fault.  Could you have recognized that something was wrong after her she had her third (or fourth, or seventh) drink and let three hours lapse into six?  Sure.  Should your alarm bells have sounded when she offered an overnight freebie?  Absolutely.  But as I said above, keeping control of the situation isn’t actually your job, it’s hers; it is, in fact, part of what you’re paying her for.  You shouldn’t have to check up on the side effects of a medicine your doctor prescribes, or make sure that your lawyer stays awake in court;sleeping lawyer it is their responsibility to exercise due diligence, and that is no less true of a paid companion.  I think you were wise not to have sex with her; after all, if your cab driver were drunk you’d be wise to ask him to pull over so you could get out.  Furthermore, telling her what she did was the right thing to do; I think it’s safe to say she’s in denial and that this isn’t actually the first time something like this has happened (which is why she won’t see you again).  There’s nothing else you can do; she’s an adult and has the right to mess up her own business and life if she chooses.  It doesn’t mean you have to like it, or that you shouldn’t feel sorry for her, but in telling her what she did and ensuring that no harm came to her while you were present, you have done all that is required of you as a moral person and all that you can do as a stranger.  If she asked you for help the situation might be different, but she hasn’t so it isn’t.  And if she contacts you later and offers to make up for the session you didn’t get, I think it would be best for you to politely decline.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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I’m a 23-year-old professional who wants to pursue a Masters degree in a related field, but my current job alone just won’t pay for tuition on top of my rent, bills and current student loan payments.  I already tend to attract successful men and I’m a skilled and empathetic listener, so I feel I could make it as a courtesan with a select few clients.  However, I’ve never been an escort so I have no existing clientele to draw from.  Also, I’ve read that real courtesans don’t discuss payment openly with a client…I don’t understand how that works.

Given your circumstances, you might want to consider advertising on one of the sugar baby sites.  A 23-year-old graduate student is exactly the kind of lady many potential sugar daddies are looking for; the hours tend to be pretty brief, the pay is good (you can probably get about $3000-$4000 per month), and best of all it isn’t illegal yet so in the present climate of hysteria, it would be much safer for you.  Furthermore, you need to be very discreet in your advertising because even legal sex work could potentially come back to bite you.  As for “real” courtesans not discussing it…you should always be wary when people make statements like that.  Some of the courtesans of old charged set rates, some used a sliding scale and some preferred to let their patrons give them money and gifts, then complain if they weren’t generous enough.  It’s absolutely true that women who let their patrons set the fees and benefits generally do better in the long run, but it can take a lot of time investment to reach that point and you have to be good at sizing up a man’s income and generosity level right from the get-go so as not to waste too much time with a skinflint.

I am a mature and educated paid companion who has traveled the world and speaks several languages; men tend to find me fascinating and I live in a resort area.  I have three kinds of clients:  those who live here, those who come in for a few days a month or so and one-time vacationers.  I’m working on transitioning some of my regulars in the first two groups to longer-term arrangements; I think I could have client types 1 & 2 pay a monthly “allowance” plus a fee for dates, and just charge a regular flat fee to vacationers.  Do you have any suggestions on how to set my prices?

If you’re going to have regular “sugar daddy” type clients (the 1s and 2s), you may want to consider just charging them the flat fee and leaving it at that, especially if they only see you once a month to once a week at most.  Obviously you have to be sure it’s enough to justify whatever time you spend with them, but you may find that they tend to give you other presents and tips beside the fee anyhow.  Setting a rate in your situation is tricky; I expect most things in your area are more expensive than in a city, and that the clients tend to be wealthy?  That, and the fact that you can provide a more “upscale” experience, would tend to drive your price up.  You may want to do some research to see what other escorts in similar resort areas charge, and ditto what sugar babies in such areas tend to ask for…and then go just a smidgen higher.  Given your circumstances you can probably get it, and the higher price reinforces the image you’re trying to project.  As time goes on you will be able to tell if you can raise your prices, but it’s usually best to allow those who are already seeing you to continue at their current rates.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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I see you so often rail about the imaginary “trafficking” issue.  I realize that very few adult sex workers are coerced, and that anti-prostitution laws have nothing to do with protection, but is there any actual evidence that there are real girls under 16 (particularly from Asia) who are really being forced to work as prostitutes? 

distorting mirrorIn a world of over six billion people, it is a near-certainty that any situation anyone can conceive of (which doesn’t violate the laws of physics) has already happened at some point and continues to happen from time to time.  So yes, I am sure that there are some Asian girls under 16 who are actually compelled (by some means almost anyone would agree were coercive) to work as prostitutes.  I have no way of guessing what that number might be, and neither does anyone else despite pretensions to the contrary:  all the cases which make the news involve women older than that; and/or the compulsion is of a type that would not be viewed as a problem if she were a maid or nanny; and/or she chose the situation as the best of a number of alternatives, many or all of them bad; and/or there is some cultural difference which causes her to see her situation differently from her “rescuers”; and/or the “trafficker” is actually an intimate partner rather than a cartoon pimp or racist caricature of a crime cartel.  Moreover, though prohibitionists paint sex workers’ clients as sadistic perverts who ignore bruises and evidence of bondage and prefer prepubescent girls to adult women, nothing could be further from the truth; sex workers who seem to dislike their work tend to get bad reviews because most men don’t actually like having sex with unwilling partners, and the idea that a business model based on the overt enslavement of traumatized tweens could ever be a thriving concern is highly dubious to say the least.  In fact, the popularity of this narrative reveals the sick, twisted psychology and sexuality of those who promote it; their view of sex work is like something seen in a warped mirror, not only reversed but magnified and distorted into unrecognizability.  The three most important forms of distortion are:

  • a rare, extreme situation is presented as though it were not only the norm, but a norm from which there is little if any variance (thus making it unique in human experience);
  • complex, nuanced human interactions are reduced to absurd black hat-white hat melodrama complete with mustache-twirling “pimp” villains, passive damsels in distress, and heroes with pure motives who ride in on white chargers to save the day; and
  • the carceral “solutions” which the fetishists inevitably favor not only fail to help women in the complex real-life situations whose existence they deny, but also to help even the women in situations which actually resemble their fantasy somewhat.  In fact, these supposed “solutions” make things worse in almost every conceivable case, as I explained at length in “Straining at Gnats” and “Enabling Oppression”.  Criminalizing sex work does not discourage a black market in which coercion can thrive; on the contrary, it creates such a market.

The one-sentence answer to your question, then, is this:  A small number of such girls probably does exist, but their situations are a lot more complex than the “sex trafficking” profiteers want you to believe, and the laws they favor actually hurt such girls by enabling those who exploit them.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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I’m a 50-year-old, happily married man who values his marriage and would not change that for anything; however, I’ve fallen love with one of my co-workers.  At first I thought it was just sexual attraction, and because she’s a lesbian I thought I was “protected” from developing any stronger feelings; that, however, was not the case, and once I really got to know her I was smitten.  I’d appreciate any insight you can give.

Kirk and CharliePeople who believe that the human psyche and human culture are both the products of Divine ordination have either never fallen in love, or else they think God is a sadist.  Alas, one of the sad by-products of human evolution is that people often develop very powerful sexual and romantic feelings for others that human culture says they absolutely shouldn’t be having those feelings for, and there is very little that can be done about it without causing a major scandal.  The feelings themselves aren’t wrong; as Captain Kirk said to Charlie Evans, “There’s nothing wrong with you that hasn’t gone wrong with every other human male since the model first came out.”  But though romantic literature has celebrated the pangs of unrequited love as a wonderful experience for over 600 years now, the truth is that it’s awful.  And though both men and women can suffer from it, in men it’s mixed up with sexual frustration and the protective instinct and duty, honor and all that other glorious masculine craziness.

In a way, you’re very lucky that she’s a lesbian because it presents another barrier to your pursuing the tremendously bad idea of trying to make this go someplace it really can’t go (if you’re to remain happily married and gainfully employed).  Dealing with the feelings, however, is another matter; the world is full of art, music, literature and other beautiful things created by men in situations not dissimilar to yours for the love of women they can never have.  Even if you’re not the creative type, you can still borrow from their playbook by immersing yourself in your work whenever thoughts of your inamorata get to be too much to bear.  For you, work itself presents a problem because that’s where you see her, but if you’re like most people the work you do for money isn’t the same as that you do for love; it’s the latter I’m suggesting you pursue more diligently.  I made a Star Trek reference above, and that was not merely to lighten the mood:  On those occasions when Captain Kirk actually did fall in love with some woman he couldn’t have, the Enterprise was always his antidote, because his love for his work was strong enough to eventually pull him away from his love for any woman.  You need to find your Enterprise (or your music, or your novel, or your Sistine Chapel), the thing you care about deeply enough to pour your heart and soul into.  It doesn’t make the pain of unrequited love (or any of the other slings and arrows of outrageous fortune) go away entirely, but it’s the best coping mechanism anyone has discovered yet.  And in this world of pain and woe, I’m afraid it’s the best solace I can offer you.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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Desperately Seeking

I’m 22 and I’ve never done anything sexual with a woman in my life.  No holding hands, no kissing, no making out, no cuddling; I think I’m too shy and lack confidence.  I’ve been out on a few dates, but nothing ever really seems to happen.  I’ve read some of your other posts about being a virgin or being a sensitive guy going to see an escort, but I’m not sure it would really help because I want more than just sex.  Are escorts OK with cuddling and kissing?  Besides that, I could only afford a couple hours at best.  Sometimes I wish there were sex therapists who have sex with patients; that might help me.  But what can I do to make myself more confident and less shy around women?  And is there a certain kind of woman who would be better for an inexperienced guy?sitting on the dock of the bay

Escorts who specialize in providing a girlfriend-like encounter are referred to as “GFE” escorts, but of course you’d have to find a reliable one because there is no quality control on that term and anyone can call herself “GFE” even if she’s not remotely girlfriendly.  So even with research it might take you time and money to find an escort who’d be able to give you the kind of experience you’re looking for.  But I don’t honestly think it’s what you need, though it might help you to relax a little so you wouldn’t feel the loneliness so acutely.  There is a kind of sex therapist who has sex with patients; they’re called “sex surrogates”, but they see patients by referral from psychologists and IMHO you’d end up spending more than you would for an escort without (in your specific case) any real increase in benefits.

I have some good news for you, though.  Twenty-two is actually quite young, though I know it doesn’t seem so to you because that’s your whole lifespan.  There are a lot of people who have never had relationships by your age, but far fewer who haven’t by thirty; you’re moving into a time in your life when the likelihood of intimacy nearly always increases.  I’ve written before to a gentleman whose situation was not-dissimilar to yours; he was a bit older, but the advice still applies to you.  The most important thing is patience; relationships simply cannot be rushed, and if you feel a sharp need to be in one (as you clearly do) it makes the waiting seem much longer and harder than it actually is.  Also, if you’re desperate you may let yourself be caught up in a bad, toxic relationship, which (believe me!) is much worse than none.

Finally, you ask if there’s a specific kind of woman who might be better in helping you get experience, and who wouldn’t judge you for being a virgin; the answer is yes.  Some older women enjoy initiating young men into sexual life, and I have met many men whose first experience was with a woman 10 or 20 years his senior; such women often consider the lack of experience a plus.  The only drawback to such a relationship from your point of view is that they are often short-lived; whether the woman is just looking for a younger playmate rather than a life-partner, or if she loses interest once the young man gains confidence, or she’s in denial about aging and seeking a succession of younger partners as validation of her sex appeal, or if she truly believes her young lover needs to move on to partners of his own generation, the end result is the same.  So if you do get into such a relationship, keep in mind that it may only be a brief stop on your greater journey; if it turns into a long-term relationship, well and good.  But if it doesn’t, you will still have gained confidence that will help you with other women, and experience that can guide your future course as long as you learn from it.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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