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I’m a 24-year-old girl who feels that if cheating is inevitable, and most men have paid for sex, then there’s no way that I can ever be in a healthy relationship.  While I support sex workers and want them to work safely, I refuse to marry a man who has paid for sex; I would rather be alone than do this.  How can I pursue a healthy, honest relationship if I can’t trust men?

If you define “healthy” as “unrealistically perfect”, then you’re correct that you’ll never be in a “healthy” relationship.  Human beings are not perfect, and men are not women; if you expect perfection, and furthermore define that perfection as men behaving like women, then you are indeed doomed to disappointment.  Healthy relationships aren’t those in which both partners meet and never fall below some unrealistic standard of behavior; they’re those in which each partner recognizes that the other is a flawed human being who will inevitably do upsetting, disappointing, hurtful or infuriating things, and that he or she is really no better no matter how much he or she might like to think so.  “I refuse to marry a man who has paid for sex; I would rather be alone than do this” is just as unrealistic (and, frankly, as immature) as “I refuse to marry a woman who is not a virgin; I would rather be alone than do this.”  If you insist on controlling your partner’s past, you obviously mean to control his future, and any self-respecting man in his right mind should run screaming from such a danger sign (just as any self-respecting woman in her right mind should run screaming from the counterpart).

Note that I’m not telling you that all men will cheat, because that wouldn’t be true; what I’m saying is that many will, and that it’s foolish to throw out a man you profess to love merely because he has a fairly-typical flaw.  I might point out that many a client comes to sex workers precisely because he is wise enough not to discard a woman he loves merely because she has the correspondingly-typical female flaw, namely losing interest in sex after a few years of marriage.  Everyone agrees that good relationships need to be based on more than sex, so why is it that so many people believe that a sexual disagreement is sufficient grounds for ending an otherwise-good relationship?  Even if a man cheats on you, applying some mechanistic “zero tolerance” rule like a guillotine to sever a connection you find beneficial in every other way is cheating both yourself and him.

(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 started to fall in love with an escort I first saw as a client; there was a tremendous spark between us from the first, and she always gave me extra time and soon started refusing payment entirely.  We had great dom/sub sexual chemistry, but it wasn’t just that and we soon started to get very serious.  However, she did not want to give up her financial independence and I’m not wealthy.  Also, I was worried that I only believed I was in love with her; I couldn’t trust that there wasn’t a pimp or pimp-surrogate somewhere, or that she was somehow scamming me.  I also didn’t want to be a rescuer figure, and didn’t want a relationship I could never really be honest to my family about.  I didn’t disapprove of what she did, but the whole thing made me uncomfortable regardless and I worried something terrible could happen.  So it eventually got messy and complex and I cut it off terribly and hurt her.  The whole thing feels unresolved; I don’t know if it’s over, or if I’m over her.  Should I just stay away because of what it is?

As I’ve explained in many previous essays, sex workers’ relationships actually aren’t dramatically different from others’ relationships unless their partners try to make them different.  When a reader asked my husband,  “How do you know that she won’t fall for someone else the same way that she fell for you?”, this was his reply:

Like any other marriage.  She’s not more likely to fall in love with someone else than any other woman would be.  You might as well worry about your wife falling in love with some guy she sees in the produce aisle at the supermarket.  There has to be trust.  I have to trust her just like any other man has to trust his wife; if you don’t have trust your relationship won’t work whether she’s an escort or a secretary.

Unfortunately, you could not give the lady your trust.  This is not a recrimination; you said it yourself, and people can’t help their feelings.  You mentioned “pimps”, but as I have explained before that is nothing more than a pejorative term for any non-client male in a whore’s life; managers, drivers, bodyguards, boyfriends, landlords and even male relatives and friends are tarred with the epithet “pimp” even if their behavior is no different from that of a man in the equivalent relationship with an amateur.  I might point out, in fact, that had your girlfriend been arrested while the two of you were together, the police might very well have accused you of being her “pimp”.  So you’re right in that there really was a pimp somewhere…and it was you.  Again, that’s not a recrimination, just a wake-up call about how cops and prohibitionists would have labeled your relationship (especially since it was a dom-sub one; just imagine what a reporter would’ve made of that!)  Not wanting to play the part of a white knight, and not wanting to be dishonest with your family, are certainly valid concerns…however, I must point out that her not wanting to give up her independent income makes her a far less likely candidate for “rescue” than many a husband-hunting amateur.  And since I sincerely doubt you are planning to discuss the intimate details of any future dom-sub relationship with your family, I do think the thing about honesty is a bit of a cop-out.

As I said, nobody can help the way we feel; we practically absorb cultural prejudices and fears with our mothers’ milk, and it’s nearly impossible to root all of them out no matter how hard we try.  I wish I could give you some magical means of erasing your concerns, but I don’t have that power; had the relationship gone on you would probably both been hurt a lot worse.  So I think it’s for the best that y’all both move on:  you to a woman who won’t trigger the biases you never asked to be burdened with, and her to a man who somehow managed to avoid or shed 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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Constructive Criticism

I have a great relationship with my girlfriend, but her fellatio has never been satisfying to me.  Is there a loving, respectful way to discuss sexual performance with a partner so that it becomes more satisfying?  She’s wonderful and deliciously devoid of hang ups, but I have to become more skilled at guiding her to what will satisfy me.

WRONG WRONG WRONG!People need feedback in order to improve their techniques at anything, and sex is not an exception.  However, since most people tend to be shy (to one degree or another) about sexual talk, it’s entirely possible for a person to make it well into adulthood without ever having received any kind of helpful feedback about sexual technique.  This is bad for two reasons:  first, the person may continue in some bad habit that could easily have been corrected if discovered in the teens or early twenties; and second, the person may well assume that because his or her technique has never been criticized, the one who finally does so is simply hard to please or being insulting.  Also, while men nearly always think of sex as a performance, a lot of women never do; they’ve been told (especially by neofeminists and other anti-sex types) that men just want passive collections of orifices, and are surprised and unsure of how to react when a man tells them otherwise (from what you’ve told me your partner is not like that, but it still bears mentioning as part of the bigger picture).

The best way to criticize anyone, especially a person with whom one has a personal relationship, is to emphasize the positive rather than dwelling on the negative:  “I really like it when you do such-and-such” tends to be accepted much more readily than “I don’t like it when you do this other thing.”  Since she isn’t hung up she will almost certainly do more of whatever you praised, and over time you can gently guide her to doing it exactly the way you like it without hurting her feelings.  If you’re lucky, even mentioning it in the first place may open a dialog; she may ask “what else do I do that you really like?” or even “is there anything I do that you don’t like?”  If the latter question comes up, answer honestly but don’t insult or harp; not “Oh, God, I really hate when you use your teeth!” but rather, “Well, sometimes it hurts when you use your teeth.”  And remember, criticism tends to be more palatable when sandwiched between thick slices of praise.

(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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It seems to me that since sex doesn’t invariably lead to procreation any more, we have a lot of mumbo jumbo about “emotional commitment” and such.  Why is sex supposed to be for fun when you are young and single, but then when you get married it is supposed to take on some sacred, personal significance such that you don’t do it with anyone else?

Reed warbler and cuckoo chickFor most of recorded history, female marital fidelity was more important than male for the simple reason that we always know who a baby’s mother is, but until recently had no way of being sure of the identity of the father.  Since most men were repulsed by the idea of spending their resources on (and even leaving their property to) a cuckoo in the nest, a woman’s “purity” and “chastity” became the ancient world’s version of a credit rating; just as the latter helps to convince lenders that a modern person will pay back credit which has been extended him, so the “purity rating” helped to convince men with resources to invest them in a woman and her children.  Originally, women without such a rating weren’t shunned or stigmatized; they simply weren’t considered good marital prospects.  But as the centuries wore on such “purity” went from being a bonus to being a necessity, and the lack of it became a mark against a woman’s character (much as poor credit is becoming in our modern society).  By the Victorian Era, the emphasis on chastity had spawned the notion that proper women were totally asexual, and female sexuality thus became a sign of either bad breeding or psychological/spiritual damage.

For all this time, male fidelity was never important to society as a whole because children’s maternity was never in question; it wasn’t until the appearance of that peculiar blend of pseudoscience, authoritarianism and Christian moralism we call “progressivism” that anyone other than Christian clergy and wronged women really gave a damn about male sexual behavior.  Progressive thought held that if only “experts” educated in “scientific” methods of social engineering (including eugenics and control of the foods and other substances people ingested) could gain control of society, the human race could be “perfected” and we’d all live in a Utopia.  First-wave feminists embraced this excuse to mind everyone else’s business, and one of the main goals of the resulting “social purity” movement was inflicting the societal expectation of female asexuality on men as well (because sex is dirty and nasty and a “superior” man wouldn’t want it).  An avalanche of busybody laws followed, including the first widespread criminalization of sex work and alcohol, and if it weren’t for the Nazis giving eugenics a bad name it would no doubt still be just as popular as prohibitions against certain substances and sex acts (which are its ideological siblings).

Some rather ignorant people believe that these Victorian growths are things of the past, but nothing could be farther from the truth.  Oh, they were tweaked somewhat in the middle decades of the 20th century, but the basic notion that members of the ruling class have the right to inflict violence upon everyone else “for their own good” is so useful a tool of control they’ll never let it go until it’s ripped from their cold, dead, severed hands.  Alcohol prohibition was scaled back somewhat, but violent pogroms against users of other intoxicants were piled on top of it; the insistence that “official” sexual relations be licensed was replaced by sanction of unlicensed but noncommercial relations coupled with violent repression of commercial ones and the expectation that “immature” non-monogamous relations would eventually give way to serial monogamy based on romantic “love”.  Furthermore, the party of the first part (hereinafter referred to as “the individual”) agrees that the party of the second part (hereinafter referred to as “society”) has the right to discourage “immature” pleasure-based relations by propaganda, shaming, pseudoscience about “sex addiction” and “negative secondary effects”, criminal prosecutions of sexual encounters that for one reason or another violate the expectations of one or more of the participants or uninvolved bystanders, or any other method society cares to introduce at a later time in perpetuam; the individual further agrees to internalize society’s discouragement of such “immature” relationstoilet plunger by a date not to exceed that of the individual’s thirtieth birthday or date of his or her first legally-contracted marriage, whichever comes first.

I think you get the picture.  Society hasn’t actually changed its old, repressive ways; in fact, it has actually expanded them and repackaged them in a different-shaped box with a colorful, “modern” wrapper in the hopes that you won’t notice that the same old oppression is still being rammed down your throat with a toilet plunger.

(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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Unfaithful Husbands pulp coverI’m a retired escort who, like you, married her favorite client.  From the beginning I made it clear that sleeping with other women was okay, but secrecy, lies, and emotional engagements were not; I also requested that any sex outside of our relationship be with professionals rather than  amateurs.  We have a very active sex life, and every few months I’ve reminded him that he could see escorts if he wished as long as he told me about it (just the fact that he did, not the details).  He’s always said that he hasn’t, but recently I accidentally  stumbled across evidence that he’s had many appointments since we’ve been together; I also found email exchanges with his ex including plans to get together.  I feel terrible for bringing this all on, but I also feel betrayed, hurt, and upset that he would lie to me.  Am I wrong for feeling this way when I gave him permission to see escorts? Is it worth talking to him about?  Am I being naive or silly? 

First of all, feelings are never “wrong” or “silly”.  Humans are emotional creatures, and can’t help what we feel; we can only control how we act upon those feelings.  Nor do I think you were being naive; in fact, quite the opposite.  As a sex worker yourself you know how men are, and you did everything you could to circumvent the possibility that he would hurt you by deception; not only did you give him permission to see others, you were even careful to re-iterate that permission a number of times.  The fact that he completely ignored your very simple and reasonable requirement – that he let you know whenever he did see another lady – is, I think, more than adequate reason to feel betrayed and hurt.  You gave him an outlet to be physical with other women, but instead he chose to act in a way that feels to you like emotional infidelity; I’m sure I would feel just as betrayed and hurt if I were in your situation.

There are several reasons why a man might cheat on his wife, and as I discussed in “Preventative Measures” only some of them can be prevented by things the wife might do (such as taking care of him at home and allowing him “strange” in controlled circumstances).  I suspect this passage applies to your husband: “if it’s the illicit nature of trysts with hookers which turns him on, that’s going to present a problem; if he craves sneaking around behind his wife’s back, he’s not likely to be satisfied with activities she attends, arranges or even simply condones.”  Think back to when he was your client; did it seem that “sneaking around” to see you turned him on?  Because that’s what his behavior seems to point to.  Only he can say whether he has emotional feelings for anyone he’s seen (like his ex), but secrecy?  Check.  Lies?  Check.  Amateurs?  Check.  It’s as though he was purposefully breaking as many of the rules you set as possible; perhaps that in itself gives him a thrill.

Two Faced ManI definitely think you need to talk to him about this; try to remain as calm and reasonable as you can manage, and explain to him how you found out and why you’re hurt.  Don’t let him derail you by accusing you of spying on him; you were acting in good faith and even if it what you did were wrong, his sins are far greater.  Also, don’t let him pretend he really believed his behavior was OK; unless he’s remarkably stupid I think it’s pretty clear that he knew he was breaking the rules.  Unfortunately, I can’t give you any advice about what happens next; there’s no way to know how he will react, what he will say, and how you will feel about his reactions.  I also can’t tell you whether it would be “right” to stay with a man who behaved like this, or whether you “should” leave him.  But I will say this:  I can virtually guarantee that this will happen again, probably repeatedly, no matter what he tells you.  So your decision about the future of the relationship needs to take that into account.

(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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Because my wife has let me know in no uncertain terms that no more sex will be forthcoming, ever, I followed your advice and now see escorts, mostly when I travel but sometimes closer to home.  I’ve found that a few hours with a lovely, intelligent woman 2-4 times a month makes a huge difference in my life; I’m happier, my mind is sharper, my sleep is less troubled, and I’m much more focused and productive.  I no longer find myself deteriorating into extreme and disturbing sexual dreams and fantasies.  But what shall I do when I get caught?  I say “when” rather than “if” because doing something long enough means the probability approaches 100%, no matter how careful I am.  While my marriage is sexless it is not without value to me, and I dread the thought of divorce (which wouldn’t help either of us).

Monkeys typing ShakespeareIt’s true that the Law of Very Big Numbers guarantees that virtually anything, no matter how small the chance, is bound to happen if the number of chances for it to happen is large enough.  But actually, the number of chances isn’t that large in this case; if you’re about 50 and see an escort roughly 36 times a year for the next 10 years, then drop to 20 times a year for the 10 after that, we’re only talking 560 chances of a screwup by the time you’re 70.  And provided you are very careful as I advised you to be, that’s probably not even enough to get over a 10% lifetime probability of exposure; remember, about 20% of men see sex workers occasionally (and 6% see them frequently as you do), yet we don’t see anything like 20% of men exposed as clients.  The fact that ignorant people believe the nonsensical claim that fewer than 15% of men have ever paid for sex tends to point toward the lifetime exposure rate as being even lower than that, though of course it’s really hard to be sure.

You also seem to be presuming that your wife doesn’t already know, and that she would have a cow if she found out.  But in fact, neither of these is certain; some wives know (or at least suspect) that their husbands are seeing escorts and simply don’t say anything about it, especially if they’ve lost interest in sex.  Remember, women tend to be a lot more pragmatic than men give us credit for; a wife who truly doesn’t want sex any more usually views her husband ceasing to pester her for it as a good thing, and she might not be inclined to look too hard at why he isn’t doing so anymore for fear of messing it up.  Remember, your marriage is probably as valuable to your wife as it is to you; just as her frigidity isn’t enough to induce you to end it because you get other things out of it, so your infidelity may not be enough to induce her to end it for the same reason, especially if you don’t rub her nose in it.

Given that last sentence, the most important advice I can give you is this:  even if you think she’s found out, don’t say anything until she directly accuses you.  Stop seeing escorts for a while just in case, but it might just be guilt or paranoia on your part so you don’t want to open your trap and ruin everything.  If she accuses you directly, you might still deny it unless she presents evidence, but if she has that you might as well just admit the truth…but make it the whole truth, including when and why you started.  Yes, she may decide she wants a divorce, but she may not.  And though it doesn’t hurt to consider this question, dwelling on it is borrowing trouble.  Just be careful, don’t take any unnecessary risks, and it’s unlikely that the problem will ever materialize.

(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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Young Woman with Magnifying GlassI haven’t been an escort very long, and though I’ve screened clients by email before I just did my first phone screening.  There were several awkward pauses from the gent, like he was waiting for me to ask him something else (or maybe wanted to ask me something but couldn’t find the words).  I was friendly, but have been warned not to talk about details about sex…still, shouldn’t I go into do’s and dont’s, like I don’t do anal or BBBJ?  Or is that a no-no?  Also, is it OK to ask if they’ve seen escorts before if they don’t have references, but pass screening in every other way?

Some men are just nervous and awkward on the phone.  That’s actually a good sign; if you feel he’s sincerely nervous, he probably isn’t a cop because they won’t be (they do, however, often claim to be newbies so they don’t have to provide references).  If I were you, I’d stay away from any kind of sexual talk on the phone, even veiled references; just be friendly and cover things like when, how long a session, etc.  Most good clients won’t push you for sexual details; since both parties know what they’re there for, what’s to discuss?  Yes, it would be good if we could both be specific about what he wants and what we will or won’t do, but unfortunately that’s much too dangerous in the current legal climate.

In the long run you’ll have to decide for yourself whether references are important to you, but I suggest you start out by asking for them; other girls can often warn you away from a bad or iffy client, tell you what to expect from a marginal one, etc.  While it’s certainly true that many newbies may be excellent clients, the only way to discover that is to see them for yourself…and as I pointed out above, that carries a heightened risk of his being a lying cop.  They’re hunting us very aggressively these days, so please be careful and don’t be afraid to ask other, more experienced girls for screening advice.  Here are some basic screening suggestions, but until you get a routine you’re comfortable with it doesn’t hurt to listen to what others have to say on the issue.

(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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