What It’s Really Like to Date When You’ve Done Sex Work

BY MELISSA PETRO

August 23, 2017
Image may contain Clothing Apparel Footwear Shoe High Heel Human Person and Wristwatch
Young Woman Wearing High Heeled ShoesGetty Images
Last summer when I got married I wore a white lace dress, donned a flower crown, and held a bouquet. I was the picture of a traditional bride — but for my half-sleeve tattoo, and my provocative history. Before my husband and I met, I worked on and off as a stripper through college, and then as a call girl on Craigslist for a brief stint when I was in grad school. In 2007, I quit sex work for good to become an elementary school teacher. Then, in 2010, I lost my teaching career after the New York Post put me on blast for writing and sharing stories about my sex work past.

In other words, like many potential partners you’ll meet — whether online, in a bookstore, or at a bar — I’ve got some baggage.

Aside from losing my career in dramatic fashion, dating was one of the toughest parts of being someone with sex work experience. Whether you’re a dancer or an escort, a porn star or a cam girl, the same questions arise: how and when to tell the person you’re dating, and then, how to manage their reaction (they always have one). “Do prostitutes really date and marry?” is an actual question some men ask. And some men think the answer ought to be no. Whether our experiences in the industry are positive, negative, or — as they very frequently are — neutral, many people paint all sex workers with the same broad brush. They’re morally corrupt, or else so emotionally and even physically damaged by their experiences as to be undatable.

Image may contain Tie Accessories Accessory Clothing Apparel Coat Suit Overcoat Human Person Plant and Flower
The author and her husband at their wedding.Cinder and Co
WATCH

Dispelling Beauty Myths: Gender Norms
MORE ALLURE VIDEOS

Most Popular
hailey bieber smizing at camera in a garden of plants
MAKEUP
Hailey Bieber Gave Us Her Eye Makeup Secrets

BY LEAH PRINZIVALLI

baby lion on starry background
WELLNESS
What September’s Leo Horoscope Predictions Mean for You

BY SOPHIE SAINT THOMAS

jellyfish, koi, and goat on twinkling starry background
WELLNESS
Your September Horoscope Predictions Are Here

BY SOPHIE SAINT THOMAS

ADVERTISEMENT

Regardless of occupation, not everybody wants a committed, monogamous relationship. But I always did. Even before high school, when I met and started dating a man I nearly married, I knew I wanted the kind of “normal” family I’d never had growing up. My father, never very emotionally present to begin with, left our family just as soon as I turned 18 (I haven’t seen him since). When it came to a relationship, I was looking for the opposite of what my parents had: commitment, stability, and love.

In some ways, I found that with my first boyfriend: The first time Dave* and I went out, he brought me carnations from the supermarket where he worked as a bag boy, and we actually went out— not just to the woods to make out but to Burger King, where he paid for my meal. After our first date, he kissed me politely on my doorstep and I had the strange sensation of being filmed, as if I were an actress and we were both following the script of a very pleasant movie. Dave was, I thought, what I’d always been looking for: a guy who could look my mother in the eye.

Then, a year later, I started working as a stripper to pay for college. With this somewhat impulsive decision, my dream of normalcy felt forever compromised. To protect myself from stigma, I kept my job a secret from nearly everyone, including Dave. I eventually told him, years later, and after begging for his mercy, he forgave me for lying. More years went by and we got engaged; still, the situation lay silently between us. I knew that, deep down, he was still angry, we were both confused, and I was ashamed. Eventually, I called the engagement off.

For the next five or so years, I avoided intimacy. I met men professionally, and that was more or less it. As a call girl on Craigslist, I sold GFE, or “the girlfriend experience.” For the right price, I played the part of a partner, minus the commitment and responsibility. Similarly, besides getting paid, I got many of the benefits of a boyfriend— compliments, sex, someone to talk to — minus the emotional risk.

Most Popular
hailey bieber smizing at camera in a garden of plants
MAKEUP
Hailey Bieber Gave Us Her Eye Makeup Secrets

BY LEAH PRINZIVALLI

baby lion on starry background
WELLNESS
What September’s Leo Horoscope Predictions Mean for You

BY SOPHIE SAINT THOMAS

jellyfish, koi, and goat on twinkling starry background
WELLNESS
Your September Horoscope Predictions Are Here

BY SOPHIE SAINT THOMAS

ADVERTISEMENT

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here