Is it possible for me to establish a relationship with a sex worker that's part customer, part friend/lover?

I do my best to be a SWer ally. I know and love several SWer friends, regularly holding space. I often volunteer at ________. I'm also very lonely and very horny. I love women. I'm lucky if I make love twice a year, and I only lost my virginity at ___ a couple years ago. I've never been good at talking to people but I've gotten much better in the last few years.

Hiring a SWer for me seems like the only way out...but I feel like I'm betraying the trust of those SWer friends at ____which I do not want to do. They all talk about how much they detest most of their customers. What is wrong with me? Can I be an ally and a customer? Can I be more? Is there some point between customer and friend/lover?*

*Some information above has been redacted in order to protect the identity of the author.

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I hate to tell you, reader, but if you’re inserting yourself in a community predominantly for selfish intentions - such as hoping to land a partner within that community - then you cannot rightfully call yourself an ally.

This is a situation that sex workers offering direct-client services face all too often: Bad boundaries and unrealistic expectations. A lonely client may be initially attracted to a provider’s advertisement based on looks and/or offered services, but although the relationship begins with both parties consenting to the transactional nature of it, it soon becomes clear that the client is looking for something “more”. This is often exhibited by increased communication breaking the sex worker’s previously-stated protocols (blowing up the worker via texts, emails, social media friend requests, phone calls, etc), and can unfortunately escalate severely. I know sex workers who have been stalked, outed/doxxed, threatened, etc. by clients after turning down their romantic advances.

Why do men do this? Ego fragility, for one thing. But also because they know, deep down, that society doesn’t hold sex workers in the same regard as it does non-sex workers. That we’re frequently seen as shameful and disposable. They know that they’re unlikely to face any threat of law enforcement, and that empowers them.

This is all to say: Do us a favor, and if you hire us, please ensure that you have a firm grasp on reality and already see your sex worker as a business professional, not as a date. We sell fantasies, and we’re damn good at it. But never allow yourself to forget that fantasies can be - and often are - substantially different from reality. Do you think your sex worker is REALLY flirting with you? Was it that wink she gave, that seemingly-authentic moan that escaped her lips, or how nice it was of her to offer to help you pick out sex toys? Mark my words: That’s. Her. Job.

To address your second concern - that if you hire a sex worker, your sex worker friends and comrades at the organization you volunteer at won’t like or respect you anymore, and/or you have a fear that because of all of the dirt your friends dish about THEIR clients, that means YOUR sex worker will be “faking" her behavior towards you - well, it’s a little more complicated.

I’m going to say something potentially controversial here: I don’t have much respect for sex workers who shit all over their clients (figuratively, that is!), UNLESS they’re “survival” sex workers.

What makes a survival sex worker? That’s typically a person who feels pressured into the work they do to some extent, usually because they don’t feel like they have any other options. Survival sex workers are disproportionately PoC and transgender because our society still stigmatizes them and puts challenges and barriers in front of them to ensure that they don’t obtain “lawful employment”. They’re usually street workers, folks who can’t afford beautiful online advertisements or luxurious incall spacious. If these workers need to talk smack on their clients as catharsis - something to ensure they can make it through each day - I’m all for it.

However, I get hella pissy when I hear non-survival sex workers shitting on a client who hasn’t actually done anything wrong to them (i.e. stiffing them money, no-showing, pushing boundaries, assaulting them, etc).

To steal Donald Glover’s character’s words in Magic Mike XXL (oh yeah, I went there): “...These girls have to deal with men in their lives everyday who...they don’t listen to them, they don’t ask them what they want. They don’t even ask them what they want. All we have to do is ask them what they want. And when they tell you, it’s a beautiful thing, man. It’s like...we’re like healers or something.”

Dishing about clients with other sex workers can feel cathartic to any of us, especially if we don’t have non-SWer friends/family/partners that we can disclose work information and experiences to. However, there’s a difference between “dishing” and ripping them apart. I’ve heard sex workers complain about how “fat” or “ugly” their clients were, how “disgusting” their fetishes are, how “pathetic” they come off as. I’ve watched sex workers imitate their clients in buffoonish ways, or disclose - gleefully - how they manipulated a lovely client out of more money than they could afford. I do consider myself a healer, I love my work, and I feel protective of my clients. I can’t empathize with workers who don’t. But sadly, not everyone is like me, and it’s impossible to know “who” your hired fantasy really is in their off-the-clock hours. But trust me - I know WAY more SWers who feel as I do about the work, and way LESS who feel negatively. Hire us. Please hire us! We’re generally really fucking awesome, and no matter what society tells you, there’s no shame in hiring a sex worker. If you want to email me privately with details of what you’re looking for, I may even be able to play matchmaker!

So. Can you be an ally and a customer? Abso-fucking-lutely. Those are the best kind of clients! Many of my clients routinely read my writing, follow my educational endeavors, and champion my activism, and I love them for it.

Can you be “more”? i.e. Something “in between” a customer and lover? Absolutely not. And I recommend that until you’ve fully accepted that fact, you not only abstain from hiring a sex worker, but abstain from volunteering at that organization. Trust me - sex workers can sniff out ulterior motives a mile away, and it might be the only act you can take to preserve some of the friendships you’ve made there.