• What’s It Like To Date A Sex Worker?

    What's it like to date a sex worker? Is jealousy an issue? Justin Perlman speaks to one couple to find out more.

    Stripper On Pole

    What’s It Like To Date A Sex Worker?

    Finding the right partner and balancing your respective lives can be a struggle, but what happens when one person in the relationship is a sex worker?

    “Oh, the scandal!” some might gasp as they clutch their pearls.

    Is it really, though? In modern society, views on sex work have changed. It is, at the end of the day, a job. Still, that doesn’t mean there is no lingering stigma or hidden challenges to finding love when your body is your business.

    One couple we interviewed shows that dating a sex worker doesn’t necessarily stop anyone from having a happy and healthy relationship. 

    First Things First, How Are We Defining “Sex Work”?

    While many think solely of prostitution, sex work covers a wide range of professions. Stripping, camming, acting in adult films, or even selling toe nail clippings counts.

     If your prime directive is to please your customers sexually, then that is sex work. 

    To quickly address concerns and views that all sex work is exploitative and should be outright banned: those worries are valid and can be discussed at another time. The focus here is when one part of a couple is a consenting adult who makes a living doing sex work. 

    If someone just doesn’t want to date a sex worker, that is fine. It is also depressingly common.

    Barriers to Entry

    “Don’t ‘yuck’ somebody’s ‘yum’” may be the new “Judge not, lest ye be judged” but that attitude tends to stop at sex workers. The social stigma surrounding sex work (yay, alliteration!) can get in the way of dating and relationships. 

    The Reddit board r/askreddit is where users can ask a question for anyone and everyone to weigh in on. A quick search for “sex worker” will find multiple posts asking if people are willing to date a sex worker. The most popular one was aimed at men, with just over 15 thousand comments. Most of them were a hard pass. 

    While there were more than a few douchey responses and comments removed by the mods, there were also plenty of thoughtful and honest answers. Some were… more honest than others.

    “Comment removed by moderator with -243 likes and 113 replies”

    Marvel Studios / Disney

    One surprisingly sweet and practical answer came from user u/michael_likes_it “I would not because the hours tend to be much different than my 8-5 office job, and that leaves me with no one to cuddle early nights going to bed.”

    $20 says u/michael_likes it is an excellent big spoon. 

    Other answers tended to ignore morality and focused on men’s own insecurities.

    reddit screenshot
    Reddit.com

    Many male users had a healthy sense of personal boundaries. U/madman636 said “No, I wouldn’t be interested bc that means we value sex differently. That’s something that’s irreconcilable.”

    As mentioned before, it is totally valid not to want to date someone for whatever reason. You do you, just don’t be a dick about it. 

    As u/Subaru10101 says “The thing about a lot of these comments that say “No” is that personal preferences/boundaries are totally fine! … but when you follow it up with phrases like, “selling her body” or “having to resort to that type of work”, it shows that your opinions are more rooted in judgment than just personal preference. Not wanting to date a sex worker of any kind is fine but do not shame, stereotype, or stigmatize them for their work.”

    Couldn’t have put it better myself.

    J & B – The Power Couple

    I sat down with one couple who was the perfect example of combining romance and sex work. “J” is an up-and-coming skater and his girlfriend “B” is a dancer at one of Atlanta’s hottest clubs. 

    It was so hard not to make an Avril Lavigne joke.

    The pair have been together for two years, having connected through Instagram in the early days of Covid-19. B had already been dancing for four years when they had their first date. B immediately told J about her job, which she did with any new potential partner.

    “I was never scared or ashamed to tell someone [I strip], but you never knew what you were going to get from that person. I’ve had some men act in very insecure ways. Like saying ‘I don’t want you to do that if we’re together.’” said B. Telling guys right away worked to spot red flags early on. 

    “I thought it was great. Like, that’s awesome.” said J with a smile. While some people say they wouldn’t date a sex worker, others seem a little too enthusiastic and turn their partner into a fetish object. Thankfully, J was psyched for different reasons. 

    “I just thought it was a good sign of freedom.” he explained. “Obviously, this person is pretty comfortable with themselves and free. If she can just come right out and tell me [she strips], then there isn’t going to be any barriers.” 

    Honesty is paramount to a healthy relationship, but more than B’s honesty impressed J.

    “[He] liked that I respect myself and my work.” said B.

    “It’s kind of an independence thing,” J added. “I have three sisters and my mom, so I’ve always liked strong women. [Stripping] takes a lot, so if you can do something like that, you got to have some kind of balls on you. A nice set of balls.”

    While J may love B’s metaphorical balls, he has never seen her perform. One reason is his part-time job doesn’t pay enough to make it rain. The other is B’s place of work has a “no partners allowed” policy.  

    “They’ve had people in the past have boyfriends come in and start fights with guys.” B explained. Even though the club’s bouncers quickly intervene, it is best to stop an issue before it starts. 

    strip club podium
    Some exotic clubs have “no partners allowed” policies.

    That protective-yet-toxic instinct to go full-alpha is prevalent. Jealousy and possessiveness can be an issue in any relationship, but those problems are intensified when one partner gets down to get paid. 

    Even someone as enlightened as J is not immune to chest-pounding anger.

    “If it’s something really crazy, if she was really disrespected… like, I don’t come at her about it. I tell her ‘I’m really sorry that happened,’ but it still pisses me off. I want to go blow one straight through his head for doing that to her.” J admitted. 

    He knows it is toxic, but the impulse is unavoidable. 

    Thankfully, B works at a club where abusive customers are rare. Giant bouncers help keep the dregs in line, but it is also part of Atlanta culture. Strip clubs are a staple of the city, and the culture around them tends to be respectful. 

    Respect is, sadly, in short supply when it comes to customer service. When all the bells, whistles, and clothes are stripped away, sex work is a customer service job. With J working at a local deli and B working the pole, they have plenty to commiserate over.

    J comes home during his lunch break to vent before heading back in and stays up for B to come home at night when it’s her turn. B doesn’t hide things from him, treating it like any ordinary gossip session. 

    “[When I get home] he just becomes my bestie. We sit, and I’m like ‘biiiiiiitch, guess what?’” B laughs while J nods in agreement. 

    “When it gets to two o’clock in the morning, and she comes home, I’m ready. Like, I’ll grab a drink and make her something, then grab the popcorn and listen.” J says. 

    The two sit and trade stories of rude customers, office politics, and plans for new adventures while growing together. They support each other’s work and goals with love and trust as equal partners. 

    Sitting across from J and B, it is palpable how much they care for each other. How the two of them smile and jokingly chide each other radiates love and support.

    Everyone should be so lucky. 

    Making it Work

    With J and B as a shining example, how can the rest of us manage relationships when sex work is involved?

    The first point is honesty and communication. That doesn’t just mean the onus is on the sex worker to be upfront about their job, but also for the other party to be honest with themselves. 

    Anyone can be guilty of overestimating their comfort levels. There is no shame in admitting someone else’s lifestyle is too intense to handle. Just be respectful of the other person and don’t place blame on them.

    Beyond discomfort around sex, the realities of making a living camming, dancing, or escorting can be daunting.

    Redditor u/sassyredbitch77 says “…a good partner won’t have an issue with your work as long as you establish boundaries and communicate what each other needs.

    Lots of guys view it as ‘sexy’ or ‘hot’ but fail to realize it also means they give up a fair bit of time with you to work, especially if your earnings coincide with your partner’s downtime.

    I think if you start out right by feeling you need to hide or lie, it’s not a great sign. they’ll find out eventually and be pissy for you being dishonest and not trusting them.”

    If someone is comfortable with dating a sex worker, then boundaries are the next big hurdle. User u/letmehooutrq points out the problem with someone being too enthusiastic.

    “I think it’s a matter of perspective [to be honest]. Some guys fetishize dating a camgirl/sw, which I think can make some entitled in a relationship.”

    Don’t assume because your partner is professionally horny that it will translate to life at home. That doesn’t exclude having a fantastic sex life, but don’t assume your partner is your personal escort.

    Ask anyone seeing a chef what gets cooked after a long shift. It ain’t foie gras and micro-greens every night. 

    When things get rough at the office for your love, be supportive and non-judgmental. Just because they chose this line of work doesn’t make them any less deserving of dignity and respect. Be a partner that makes them feel safe sharing their day with you.

    Support their work, their dreams, and their choices. Relationships come with challenges, but that doesn’t make them not worth having even if those challenges include late nights and keeping an armory of sex toys organized.

    Happily Ever After?…

    Dating a sex worker can be challenging, but so can any relationship. As long as everyone involved is open, honest, caring, and respectful, there is no reason it can’t work.

    Finding the right person may take time and be frustrating, but it will be worth it in the end. There are thousands of couples, even marriages, where one of the two love birds is or was a sex worker. 

    Have fun together, give each other big, dopey smiles, and have each other’s backs.  Honestly, just treat dating a sex worker like any normal relationship because that’s exactly what it is. 

    FROM THE AUTHOR: Sex On TV – The Emerging Role Of “Intimacy Coordinator” In Film Crews

      • Justin Perlman (he/him) is a comedian and writer based in Atlanta. He has two cats named Dr. Whoopsy-Daisy & Superintendent Chalmers and cries at the ending of Robocop.

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