How to Tell Your Lover You Also Have Sex For Money
You met someone cute! And funny! And super open minded! But before you let yourself get attached you know you have to tell them that sometimes you have sex with other people, for money.
Or maybe you don’t. Sex workers have been keeping these kinds of secrets for eons. It was easier before social media, and the constant intrusion of technology, but it’s not impossible. Most people don’t see what they don’t want to. Most people think they know what a prostitute looks like, and it isn’t their sweetheart.
Maybe you can’t tell anyone. The risks might be too high. You might be hit, or arrested, or outed in a horrible way. You might lose your apartment, your straight job, your support network. Your whole world could fall apart.
But maybe it won’t.
Maybe you’ve taken the position that everyone you have sex with has to know beforehand, because the last time you told someone you were already in love with, he hit you. Maybe you’re coming out, as a political statement, trying to erode the delusion that someone doesn’t know “any girls like that” by being one of those girls.
Maybe you have to tell your lover because you keep having cold sweat anxiety dreams about it. Maybe living the nightmare won’t be as scary as having the same one every night.
Maybe you’ve been in a relationship for awhile, and you think you can trust them. Or maybe you know you can’t, but you just can’t stand them saying one more dumb thing about “whores” without knowing. Or maybe you’re scared, and you want your partner’s support. So you decide to tell them.
No matter what kind of sex work you did, or do, there is a stigma. And no matter how open minded or smart your partner is, they might have some dumb ideas you’ll have to patiently unteach.
It’s important that you come to this conversation feeling safe enough to have empathy for whatever happens next. Being defenseless can be disarming. Just like with a client, you’re the expert and part of your job is to stay calm.
First, accept that making yourself feel bad won’t make your lover feel better. You are the expert of your own experience, it doesn’t matter how many articles your BFF has read about human trafficking, they don’t get to tell you how to feel.
You don’t have to pretend you hate your job or that you were duped by an evil villain. You also don’t have to pretend that you love every second of your fantasy life. You don’t have to be a hero or a victim. Fitting your story into a neat narrative may feel easier in the moment, but don’t. If you’re going to tell your story, dare, to tell the truth.
It helps to remind people that doing something you would otherwise not do, for money, is pretty much the definition of work. You’re allowed to be a multifaceted three-dimensional human being with complaints.
Second, be prepared to enforce your boundaries and respect your partners. You don’t owe anyone more details than you’re comfortable sharing. And you shouldn’t force unnecessary information onto an unwilling listener. You can wait for them to ask. But even if they ask, you don’t have to titillate your partner with any sexy sordid details.
Last but not least, have an exit. You have to be emotionally and physically prepared to leave if things go wrong. Remember that this is a hard thing to do. So have compassion for yourself and your partner.
If you have to leave, remember, just because someone can’t love you through this, doesn’t mean that you’re unlovable.
For resources or to support sex workers domestically, check out Sex Workers Project