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Sex Workers & Civvie Dating

Updated: Oct 31, 2023


If you’re like me, you might have gotten your first swath of dating advice from Sex and the City, watching Carrie and the gang work through the trials and tribulations of the New York City scene in the early 2000’s. And if you’re like me, hopefully you outgrew the show for anything other than nostalgia and realized the relationships they modeled were hopelessly archaic and normative. Dating as a sex worker can be difficult—developing intentional and meaningful relationships is hard no matter who you are, but working in the sex industry definitely adds another layer of complication. Despite our best efforts, I feel as if sex work is one of those things you can only truly understand if you have experience in it. And that’s okay! Our partners don’t have to understand every single part of us as long as they’re supportive, compassionate, and committed to growing with us. So how do we navigate personal/recreational intimacy when we’re active in the industry? I have some thoughts.

My first piece of advice you might disagree with at first—but hear me out. I firmly believe that it’s better to tell a prospective partner about being a sex worker as soon as you can. You might say—well I don’t feel safe telling someone I’m a sex worker! And I understand. But if you don’t feel safe enough to discuss your profession with someone, feeling safe enough to be vulnerable and date them feels out of the question, right? Building a relationship requires a lot of trust and vulnerability on both sides, and that is hard to build when a huge piece of your life is hidden from someone. Not only are you introducing dishonesty in a lot of logistical ways (for example, telling your partner where you are or how you spend your days) but sometimes we have emotional needs and boundaries that are shaped by sex work that are impossible to fully communicate without talking about our work. And if our partners don’t really know why we have certain needs, how can they show up for us in a way that makes us feel seen? If you’re casually dating or looking for purely physical relationships, I fully support and understand keeping sensitive information to yourself, especially if you’re face-out. But if you’re searching for a partner, it can be difficult to get to a place of deeper trust and vulnerability when we start out with a pretty big concealment.

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