• Mon, Mar 31 - 4:50 pm ET

Harlotry: Why I’m Choosing Sex Work Over Dating

Sex work over dating

Cate is something of a renaissance sex worker and has held numerous interesting jobs in the adult industry. Each week, she shares her stories in Harlotry.

About a month ago, my boyfriend and I broke up. Breakups are never fun, but I guess it was as chill as any breakup ever can be. I spent a few days being super bummed about the whole situation, and then decided to throw myself into my work, the very work that I’m sure was a contributing factor in the gradual crumbling of my relationship with Daniel. Now that I was single, I had an official pass to return to escorting without worrying about telling lies or feeling guilty feelings. It was a breath of fresh air, I could now do whatever the hell I wanted without any annoying restrictions!

I’ve written about relationships and sex work a couple of times, and I do firmly believe that it’s totally possible for all sex workers, even full service sex workers, to have beautiful, healthy relationships. There are plenty of whores out there who are in committed, loving relationships and whose partners know exactly what they do. There are plenty of women who ended up marrying clients and still continuing to work during the early stages of the relationship. That’s awesome, I’m happy for all those people, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it just isn’t for me.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been burned by the fact that my first serious relationship as a sex worker, and actually my first serious relationship in general, was deeply abusive and chock full of not-even-latent whorephobia, but even if that’s a contributing factor I don’t think it’s everything.

I haven’t talked a lot about my dating habits here, mostly because it was only recently that I realized how relevant they are to my work. My profession informs my dating habits far more than I’d really like to admit. Like many sex workers, I’m some kind of queer, though my queerness changes in extremity from day to day and even hour to hour. I’m a firm believer in the sexuality as a spectrum idea because the whole neat system of gay/bi/straight boxes really, really does not apply to me or most of the people I know. That said, I primarily date cisgendered men partly because it’s easier, partly because dick is amazing, and partly because a lot of lady-loving ladies aren’t too into ladies who love dick as much as I do (thanks bisexuality erasure, you’re great) or dress quite as high femme as I do. I just don’t seem to appear “gay enough” to attract most women.

For better or worse, though, my romantic partners and my clients tend to be from the same group, if not the same subgroup. Therefore, my profession and my dating/sexing habits intersect in the sense that being a sex worker for so long has ingrained in me the idea that men, even men I am attracted to, should pay to have sex with me. If they aren’t paying outright, then certainly they should have the decency to buy me dinner or drinks, or something. That is how the dialogue goes.

There are rare cases where the sex is good enough that I don’t have a problem with an encounter that isn’t as overtly transactional, but for the most part I don’t really see the use of non-transactional sexual interactions with men. This leads me to generally pursue somewhat more old-fashioned men, since they are usually far more comfortable with the idea of earning the privilege of having sex with me through money.

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  • Lindsey Conklin

    I’m sorry about your breakup :(

    • http://toyboxkiller.tumblr.com/ Cate

      Aw, you’re sweet. Really though, it was for the best and we’re still friendly, so it could have been way worse.

  • MRMR

    I understand this completely. I’ve unfortunately opted for the ‘let’s just not talk about it/omitting parts of what I do in session’ road. To me, it’s just work though. I come home to one guy, I’m real with him and only him, but it’s hard for him to understand that to me, full service is WORK, it’s not anywhere near the same thing as what we do as a couple. *sigh*

    • http://toyboxkiller.tumblr.com/ Cate

      I’ve been there, and man, it sucks so much. I felt bad for having to keep what he would see as a huge betrayal from him, and I resented him for not being able to understand that I was just working like a normal person. It’s so frustrating how our cultural whorephobia worms its way into the hearts and minds of even the most thoughtful people.

    • lemuel852

      My Uncle Aaron just got an awesome 12 month
      old Audi A5 Convertible only from working part time off a home computer… find
      out here C­a­s­h­F­i­g­.­ℂ­o­m

  • MRMR

    I’m sorry about your relationship though. I hate that you can’t ‘have it all’, when surely you deserve it all. Why should a happy, healthy, fulfilling relationship be out of the question for you? It shouldn’t, but people just tend to balk at the subject of sex, let alone sex for money. Wishing you and all my other Ladies the best of luck in their relationship endeavors, if and when they choose to pursue them.

    • http://toyboxkiller.tumblr.com/ Cate

      I’m sure there will come a time when I find somebody who doesn’t require me to lie or give up working, but right now I actually don’t care. I have awesome friends, a career I love, and it’s nice to just be able to live my life without having to worry about how it will make another person feel.

  • http://SommelierinSneakers.blogspot.com/ SomminSneakers

    Excellently written, darling.

  • Becky

    How would the author feel about dating a sex worker, I wonder?

    • http://toyboxkiller.tumblr.com/ Cate

      I’d be down! So far though, the sex workers I’ve met (and I’ve met TONS) have, with one exception, not been people I’d be interested in dating.

  • Samantha Escobar

    As you know (ah, the joys of being coworkers!), I’m dealing with a similar issue with regard to the breakup thang. But honestly, I am so glad I have work–if I didn’t, I would drive myself nuts. I would be so unhappy and I would wallow in a really, really awful way. Working through your shit helps a lot, and I’m glad you have your job to do that through.

    • http://toyboxkiller.tumblr.com/ Cate

      So many frownie faces over your breakup.

      I’m really glad you have a job that lets you work through all those feelings too, though. Without an outlet it just builds up and gets so bad. <3

  • Daisy St. Patience

    I’m sorry to hear about your breakup. You’ve noted many times you want sex workers to be seen as people like anybody else and insist on respect from your partner. But if you don’t really see the use of non-transactional sexual interactions with men, how is that respectful of them? I think you should look for a more egalitarian dynamic in your relationships where sex isn’t a bargaining chip.

  • Guest

    My take on this article is definitely not going to be a popular one. I have lurked here for some time and read the Harlotry column with interest. I respect the authors frankness and introspection, it takes some guts to write honestly about a socially taboo subject which is seen as both morally and legally transgressive.
    That was the carrot.
    And here is the stick.
    This column appears whiny and self-serving to my mind.
    One passage struck me in particular :
    “Therefore, my profession and my dating/sexing habits intersect in the
    sense that being a sex worker for so long has ingrained in me the idea
    that men, even men I am attracted to, should pay to have sex with me. If
    they aren’t paying outright, then certainly they should have the
    decency to buy me dinner or drinks, or something.”

    I have gotten the sense before today that the author sees ALL sexual interactions as transactional in nature inherently, including those with men who aren’t paying her directly for her time. I don’t know that there is something wrong with such an attitude, i.e. that is is unhealthy or damaging in and of itself. I do very much doubt that too many people who wish to be in a romantic relationship with another person want to feel like they are being used by their partner for money, status, or the trappings of power. (Or whatever “valuable” thing they give for access to their partners company and sexual attention.)
    I am finding the idea that anyone should consent to what amounts to an open relationship AND be expected to “pony-up” for sexual affection pretty tough to swallow. My personal view of dating is about enjoying the pleasure of the company of someone you connect with-not how much you can get out of them. To my mind it is self defeating to try to pursue relationships within traditional dating communities with that list of expectations.
    It is however, not my decision to make for another person- I wish the author good fortune if/when she decides to look for another partner in the future.My apologies if I have misunderstood the personal ideals behind the Harlotry column. I am sorry that the relationship did not work out, and hope it ended amicably.