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Fadeaway

I’ve never been very confident with women, so at the age of 28 I lost my virginity to a sex worker.  I continued to see other professionals since then as time and money allows.  Then two years ago I met a sex worker who was exactly my type; she soon gave me her personal phone number, and we texted a lot about upcoming meetings and about other things.  The last time we met in person she trusted me enough to let me take pictures of her (she advertised without showing her face), and invited me to karaoke with her.  A few weeks later I texted again, and her sister replied to me, saying she was in hospital and wouldn’t be working.  I wrote to her booker (who knew she liked me) and asked if she knew more, and she led me to believe that the problem was mental health related.  Not knowing what else to do, I’d send a little “get well soon” text to her every few weeks.  Eventually she responded, saying she was out of the hospital but unlikely to ever work again.  She seemed to appreciate my messages, and we continued to text for most of last year.  Eventually, I offered to take her out to a platonic dinner in August.  She said yes, and I made arrangements.  A couple of days before, she pulled out and begged forgiveness, saying she still didn’t feel physically up to anything.  I took this well, and continued to text her every other week as I had been before, but she soon stopped replying.  She’s been out of hospital for a year now, and I haven’t heard from her since summer.  I’m wondering if there’s anything else I can do.  I just don’t know how to deal with silence.  If she told me to “please stop” I’d absolutely respect that, but I’m worried she may have had a relapse or something like that too.Ghost Woman on Train Track by epica3

Human beings are complicated creatures; not only is it possible for us to feel multiple conflicting emotions at the same time, but we do it with astonishing frequency.   What this means in your case is that, though the lady does seem to have been genuinely interested in you, it’s also pretty clear that she doesn’t want you in her life any more.  Why?  There’s no way to know for sure, but I suspect it isn’t coincidental.  If the reason she ended up in hospital was indeed mental health-related as you suspect, it could be tied in with burnout or with ambivalent feelings about her work, and if that’s the case it’s no surprise that she no longer wants to communicate with a client, even a cherished one…especially a cherished one, really.  My guess is that she wants to break entirely with her old life, and that includes you.  But since she really does like you, she doesn’t want to hurt you and is instead pulling a classic feminine move called the fadeaway.  In a way, this breakup method is even more cruel because there’s no closure for the one rejected; however, it feels less cruel to the one doing the fadeaway, and in her mind that’s what counts.  You don’t have much choice but to move on; at this point all you’re accomplishing is hurting both of you.  Enjoy your memories of her, send her prayers or good wishes, and then close that chapter in your heart so you can be ready to love someone else.  Because she did give you one priceless gift: your first love.  And you may find that, painful as the experience was, it has prepared you for other intimate relationships, paid or otherwise.

(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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Contract

I am curious whether you or any of your friends has ever signed or formally negotiated any kind of employment contract with the man involved?  My husband and I are considering taking me out of the workplace to keep the house and raise the children, but he’s expressed doubt about my ability to do a good job as a housekeeper because I haven’t in the past while working full-time.  I told him I like the idea of a formal contract, so that we have expectations on both sides absolutely laid out, but he sort of rolled his eyes and said it wouldn’t have “legal weight.”

Willy Wonka contractWhether such a contract would have any legal weight depends a great deal on where you are.  Prenuptial agreements are very enforceable in some jurisdictions, while in others they’re very easy to break; in Louisiana a court once declared them null and void on the grounds that only the legislature can define the conditions of legal marriage (I do not know if this decision was later reversed).  And in New York, unusual and even extreme conditions are relatively common in the prenuptial agreements of the wealthy.  If I were you I would consult a local marriage & family law expert to find out what the legal landscape for such agreements is like where you live.

It’s interesting that you asked me this question, because sex workers’ situation is if anything exactly the opposite; our contracts with our clients are understood rather than spelled out, and spoken rather than written.  Even if a whore made such a contract, it wouldn’t be enforceable anywhere in the US due to criminalization.  Where our work is legal sex workers can usually expect the police and courts to give our agreements a similar level of respect as they would give other informal contracts, and where it is decriminalized we have the same legal recourse for a broken contract as anyone else.  This is but one of the reasons decriminalization is so vital to the rights and safety of sex workers, but I’m sure you’ll agree it’s an important one; the enforcement of contracts is one of the few legitimate functions of government, and denying it to sex workers makes our work far more precarious and dangerous.

(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 have friend who dated an escort, and he said she liked to pay for things; she always grabbed the check at dinner, and also bought him gifts.  Later I read a Reddit post which described the same thing, and a Google search then found other, similar results.  Is there a reason for this?  One commenter said that it was because she wanted the relationship to feel different from work.

woman getting moneyI’ve never had that impulse myself; in fact, quite the opposite (and I know a lot of girls who feel as I do).  I’ve only had the one non-commercial relationship with a man since I started full-time sex work, but even in the dilettante days of my youth I felt the same way:  I’m already bringing something of economic value to the table, and it’s up to him to match it with financial support.  I’m only talking about the economic dimension of the relationship; I see the emotional and social dimensions as totally reciprocal by necessity.  But frankly speaking, if I were to pay a man’s way I’d feel as though I were paying for his love rather than for sex, and though that may be perfectly OK in some women’s minds it certainly isn’t in mine.  Now, it’s completely different in my lesbian relationships; with another woman I feel as though we’re both bringing sex and love to the table, and the question of “Who pays?” has less to do with the mating dance and more to do with the pragmatic question of who can afford it.

That’s not to say, however, that my way of looking at it (in either heterosexual or homosexual contexts) is “correct” or even typical; everyone has to do what works for her, even if it’s unconventional or would be seen by many others as “wrong”.  And if being the paying partner works for some of my sisters, who am I to judge them?  Perhaps they like the novelty (“she wanted the relationship to feel different from work”) and/or perhaps they get a sense of independence or even control by paying.  Or perhaps they simply view it pragmatically, as I do when I’m dating a woman.  And be sure to watch the comment thread below, because if any of my sex worker readers have other reasons she may tell them there.  If it were me, I’d worry that a guy I was paying for all the time might only be there because I was doing that, or that he was developing a sense of entitlement to it, or that he secretly resented it or felt emasculated.  However, I’m the Princess of Paranoia and often overthink such things; none of them might be true, and even if one were it might not matter to the lady in question as much as it would to me.  The most important thing is that both partners feel comfortable with an arrangement, whether it’s “normal” or not; it’s only when one or both of them isn’t (or allows outsiders to convince him or her that he or she isn’t) that problems arise.

(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 am 27 years old and still a virgin; I don’t think I know much about sex, except in theory.  I have a crush on a former Facebook friend’s boyfriend; he flirts with me sometimes, calling me “darling” and saying I’m “sexy” and “pretty”.  We have not met in person yet, because he’s Canadian and I’m a Hindustani living in South Africa, but he recently sent me a picture of his penis and told me he’s about 19 cm long, and that scares me.  Is sex painful the first time?  I kind of dread ever having to have it in real life; I’d much rather just fantasize about it.  However, I really love this boy; I dream about him all the time, and I wish he would bring me to Canada, marry me and give me a baby so we can live happily ever after.  He’s younger than me (only 21) but very mature for his age; he really is my dream man!  But I don’t know where I really stand with him; it seems like he only talks to me when he’s bored, and he punishes me by ignoring me when I make him upset.  I’d really like to know what you think about online relationships; I value your opinion very much since you’re so sexually experienced.

I wish I could tell you that sex isn’t painful the first time, but it very often is and every factor you’ve mentioned – his size, his (much too young) age, your (advanced for a virgin) age, your inexperience and your fear – will tend to exacerbate that.  So will the fact that he is NOT, despite what you think, mature for his age; punishing love-interests by ignoring them or just using them to alleviate boredom are NOT the marks of a mature or caring man, and frankly neither is sending out dick pics to women he isn’t actually involved with.  I know that you won’t believe me when I tell you that you aren’t in love with him; you’re infatuated  with him, which is a horse of a different color.  You aren’t especially drawn to this man for his personality or self, but because he pays attention to you, and for a woman who hasn’t had that kind of attention often enough, it can be extremely intoxicating and judgment-eroding.  I’m not saying relationships that start on the internet can’t work because I know some that have, but I am  saying that such relationships involve many difficulties that you, inexperienced as you are, are unlikely to handle well.  My suggestion is that you open yourself to meeting men locally in whatever way is acceptable in your culture; you still might fall in love too quickly and end up with a man who treats you badly, but if that happens you’ll at least be close to friends and family rather than stranded on another continent with a man you’re completely dependent upon.  Ironically, you’re afraid of the part – the physical sex act – that is really no big deal, yet ready to rush pell-mell into the part – marriage and childbirth – which can really get you badly hurt or even killed.  Sure, first-time sex can hurt; in fact, ten-thousandth time sex can hurt, and since my vagina is quite small I experience pain nearly every time I have sex with an unusually large or rough partner.  Sometimes it’s even a lot of pain.  But physical pain is transitory and, unless severe and chronic, doesn’t really have much effect on one’s life.  Emotional pain, by contrast, can be both devastating and have long-lasting and far-reaching effects.  I suggest you re-examine your priorities, try not to dwell on fear or simple physical pain, and instead think long and hard about the real and profound danger of severe emotional and spiritual (and sometimes physical) pain that accompanies a bad, hastily-made marriage to a poorly-chosen man.

(This question originally appeared in the form of a comment on a very old post, “All Shapes and Sizes”; some of you may find it interesting to compare the original with the edited version, and understand that this is typical of the way in which I prepare questions for publication.  One difference: I usually leave out location, but since this lady already shared it in the comments it seemed pointless to leave it out here.)

(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 recently started dating an escort that I’ve been seeing professionally for a while, but I found out that all of her escort friends are warning her away from me.  Why are they so skeptical about my feelings toward her?

Relationships with escorts are fraught with complications for a number reasons, including but not limited to:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  • Clients trying to get free sex by promising “love”, just as men have done to amateur women for millennia;
  • Clients who are turned on by whores qua whores, and not really attracted to the women as individuals;
  • Guys who really think they love a whore, but are not  prepared for the social stigma or the burden of having to keep her secret from employers, family, friends, etc;
  • Men who really are in love with whores, but let jealousy destroy the relationships;
  • Men who fancy themselves pimps and try to manage their girlfriends’ work, even to the point of abusive and controlling behavior;
  • Boyfriends or husbands who demand that the sex worker give up her work and either become economically dependent (“barefoot and pregnant”) or go to work in a shitty non-sex “straight” job that will wear her down;
  • Clients who think they’re in love with a woman, but are actually just infatuated with her business persona;
  • Guys who imagine that sex workers’ sex drives are higher than those of amateur women, or that they’re always more open-minded about preferences and kinks that they’re not being paid to indulge.

Those last two are probably the most insidious, because they may be hard for either party to tell apart from real affection and only reveal themselves once the couple is cohabiting and he discovers that he doesn’t like her relaxed, yoga-pants-wearing, housework-hating, menstruating, bad-hair-day-having, moody, personal-problem-suffering, family-drama-experiencing, opinion-expressing, not-always-in-the-mood, idiosyncratic self.  And this is just a start; if I sat here for a while I could probably think of half a dozen more, and I invite sex workers to include others in the comments.  I’m not saying a relationship with a sex worker is impossible; most of us do indeed have intimate partners, most of whom are male and some fraction of whom were formerly clients.  But there are special difficulties inherent in such relationships that require patience, wisdom and love to overcome or circumvent, and because several of those only apply to partners who started as clients, many sex workers are of the opinion that it’s better to minimize problems by eliminating those potential avenues of difficulty through the strategy of never, ever becoming emotionally involved with clients in the first place.

(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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My boyfriend and I make each other happy and I want to continue thus, but our socioeconomic roles are blurry.  Both of us bring money to the table and I’m thinking about becoming an escort, which he has assured me he’s OK with because he understands it’s just a job.  Because of his fear that he would chase me away by being too aggressive, I at first had to initiate most intimate contact (though now he initiates it plenty).  He’s discussed getting married once our financial situations improve, and thanks to your advice and that of some friends, I’ve held my tongue on proposing.  Could a long-term relationship work between the two of us when both of us bring money and sex to the table?

The single most important factor in a long-term relationship, outweighing all others, is compatibility.  It’s totally possible for a marriage which flies in the face of many of the “rules” to succeed, as long as everyone involved is really OK with that.  Now, the trick is that they really have to be OK with it; they can’t just say they are in order to make their partners (or themselves) comfortable.  It’s possible to believe one is OK with an unusual condition – say, a husband who doesn’t bring money in – only to find later that it was not actually so, deep down.  Most of us will mentally downplay potential trouble-factors because we’ve been told such concerns are “shallow” in comparison with “true love”.  But the truth is that erotic feelings arise from a mysterious and subtle alchemy that is very hard to predict, and even small factors might over time change that alchemy so one no longer feels “in love” with a partner.  Many a relationship – some of mine included – has ended to the awful sound of the words, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you any more.”  And conventional people find that absurd statement to be reason enough for breaking up, mostly because they think that being “in love” was enough to base a relationship on in the first place.

What this boils down to is this:  you need to figure out what it is that attracts you to your boyfriend, and ask yourself whether it would change if you felt that you were supporting him (which could very well happen if you’re good at escorting and he’s not making a good bit more than you are right now).  Then ask yourself if you could continue a relationship with a man that you loved, but weren’t especially attracted to any more.  And finally, you need to ask if the two of you could part amicably if things do eventually go wrong; despite the fairy tale formula, not everybody lives “happily ever after” with the first person he or she tries to live with, and paradoxically a relationship has a better chance of success if neither person tries to keep the other one locked in a cage…unless you’re both into that, of course.

(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 extremely curious about Asian massage parlors; the media portrays these businesses as pure human trafficking operations, in the sense that the girls are essentially indentured servants who are brought to this country in debt and pressed to work off the debt without any hope of actually doing so.  What is the truth of the situation? 

Asian massage parlorThere are several different ways that Asian women come to the US to work; the most common is via family connections, as is the case with restaurants, nail parlors and other Asian-owned businesses.  Some women do indeed borrow heavily to migrate, but the “indentured servitude” aspect is exaggerated and mischaracterized.  First of all, few of them are trapped in the slave-like conditions of police and media wanking fantasies; it’s just that they have debts to pay and want to pay them as soon as possible rather than letting them drag out for years and years as many Americans are wont to do.  Far from being passive “victims” who are “brought” to the US like cargo, these are young women who took stock of their situations at home and decided that moving to the US was worth the debt and hardship.

Next, there is no moral difference between a sex worker taking out a loan to emigrate to a wealthier country and a student taking out tens of thousands of dollars in loans  – except that the former has a guaranteed job and the latter doesn’t.  Here’s another comparison: poor people who take out high-interest “payday loans” because they can’t get better deals from somewhat-less exploitative finance companies or regular banks.  It’s absolutely true that sometimes migrants are tricked into worse deals than they expected, but as anyone with poor credit can tell you the exact same thing is true of American financing deals, which can sometimes result in paying back many times the sum that was borrowed and carry a bewildering load of unfair and excessive fines and penalties.

Lastly, the reason these girls go into debt is that immigration into Western countries is incredibly expensive now, and the reason for that is the “authorities” have erected so many barriers to it; many thousands in fees, bribes, permits, paperwork and other squeeze is required to get into the US, and that money has to come from somewhere.  If US authorities really wanted to “combat human trafficking”, they would remove all artificial barriers to immigration…but that would stop the flow of lovely money to the politicians and corporations who profit from the restriction of international travel for work.  Forget all the nonsense about gangster “traffickers”; these crony capitalists – and the police departments who receive huge “sex trafficking” grants to harass them and rob their businesses – are the real “pimps” who profit from the labor of migrant sex workers.

(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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