Sex Workin' Sweetheart- or, yes, we have relationships

“So what do you do?” is a question I get asked a lot at the pub in London. Generally I size the person up and decide how far up the exposure scale I want to go (if you’re curious, from least to most intimate- blogger, sex blogger, sex therapist, dominatrix/escort, kinky interactive sex therapist). Usually I’ll go all the way, and say that I do hands on sex therapy with an emphasis on kink and exploring sexual arousal, offering a GFE, and they’ll look at me blankly, so I’ll laugh and say “I’m a dominatrix-slash-hooker with a psychology degree”. Then I’ll get the “o” of surprise, often closely followed by them sobbing into their pint and telling me their girlfriend never orgasms anymore. They’re a tightly wound bunch, the Brits. Thankfully I rarely get the "oh, that's terrible you have to do that!" or the rescuer type scenario.

Anyway, it’s not long til I drop the ultimate bombshell- that I have a boyfriend. That’s when things really pick up, almost always starting with the question “and he lets you do this kind of work?” After patiently explaining that, as a woman in 2010, no one “lets” me do anything, I also generally mention that we have an open relationship. “Ah,” the questioner says, half satisfied and half wistful. “That explains it then. So he gets his and you get yours, right?”

Well, no, not exactly. It’s not easy being a sex worker with a lover at home. If you have a really demanding client, you might want to just go home and play on the computer alone, or you might want to snuggle. Sometimes sex seems really trite. It can change from day to day. Sometimes I come back from a client and I’m really horny, sometimes I don’t want to be touched, or forget how to be touched. I want my partner to respect that my needs are variable and unpredictable- I do my best to communicate them, but I want him to do his best to honour them. The last thing you want is to go home, have your lover reach for you, and feel like you’re seeing another client- it takes a lot of work and communication to keep that from happening. Personally, I find that having special play that just happens between us helps a lot.

Add to that the fact I have an uneasy relationship to focusing on my own sexual needs as it is. For example- I really struggle to orgasm. 45 minutes and a hitachi will generally do it, after my wrist has gone numb. I joke that something’s wrong when the thing you yell when you cum is “FINALLY FOR FUCK’S SAKE!” I don’t really get wet for cunnilingus- it’s nice, but it won’t make me shiver. Penetrative sex is wonderful, and sometimes does it for me, but usually that orgasm is evasive. I squirt when teased by the right fingers, but... it’s still not the same delightful tingling feeling. The only thing that really makes me soaking wet is hurting the living hell out of my boy- one of the reasons my blog has the tag “sadist or serial killer”. So I’m pretty unlikely to go have incredible sex with some random person I pick up for a date, as much as I enjoy the novelty of it.

My boyfriend definitely separates work sex from fun sex, which is good. I don’t have to explain the difference. And he encourages me to go out and seek the fun sex I want. But, of course, I’m going out doing often emotionally intense sexual play to release and heal other people’s broken sexualities every day, so I don’t tend to want to go on a bunch of dates to meet someone to join our little poly clan. I occasionally sleep with friends- very occasionally, and that’s nice, and fun, and works, but I don’t know if I could emotionally support another relationship. So far, I haven’t really tried. It’s too exhausting, finding a lover who is queer, gets the work you do, and doesn’t care that you have a cismale partner.

I’ve had a hard time with maintaining relationships while being a sex worker. I’ve had a lover who was a client who then couldn’t handle that we met “at work”- he wouldn’t introduce me to his friends and generally acted ashamed of me and broke my heart. Or I’ve had lovers who felt that sex work was all well and good until it affected our sex life- if I wasn’t willing to perform they were out. My current boyfriend has been excellent at maintaining the balance, and not pushing. But now we get to the hard part.

Because of my work, I’ve always been in open relationships but rarely been a primary relationship. Potential dates had other lovers, partners, or work that kept the main focus away from me. This is the first time I’ve had a primary who also considered me their primary. And it’s really hard, because I haven’t explored a lot of poly pitfalls, like jealousy. I get terribly jealous, because I’m scared. What if he goes on a date with someone and decides he, too, can’t handle my work? And I get angry- as he doesn’t work, and I do, I have felt like his dating other people punishes me for being busy, or for not having the energy to go out with other people. And yet at the same I think “how can I possibly tell him he can’t sleep with other people when I do that for my job?” It’s a conundrum. When you have sex with strangers to pay rent, how do you make sure your partner/s feel special? Some workers avoid this by just not telling their partner about their work... I’m too worried about disease transmission to entertain that thought. So, we stick it through with the open relationship thing- currently we’ve decided to play as a couple and see how that goes, if that works as a compromise. I’ll let you know.

I don’t know if I have advice for anyone in this situation. I’m still figuring it out myself. But I’ll say this- if you are the partner of a sex worker, be compassionate and be present. We do complicated, emotionally draining work that involves a lot of physical touch and figuring out what people *really* want vs what they tell you. It’s stressful, and we react to that stress depending on how we’re doing with it. We might respond by being overly demanding about our needs. Be flexible with us. And if you are a sex worker- keep communicating, save money so you can take time off when you need to to prevent burnout, and take care of yourself. It’s totally possible to be a sex worker with a sweetie, contrary to what the media tells you- but it’s hard work. But then, aren’t relationships anyway?

(photo by Benjy Feen)

Be the first to comment

Post a comment