An anonymous female escort and a male escort client hold hands while holding heart-shaped balloons.
Having a healthy provider/client relationship is all about emotional maturity.

As a client, managing the ‘feels’ is a big job…but I’ve made it work for me.

Will Anon
Will Anon

Clients of sex workers are continuously advised not to develop feelings for the workers they visit because it will inevitably end in tears. As a long-time client of escorts, I’ve found a way to manage ‘the feels’ that works for me.

There have been endless numbers of podcasts, blogs, and social media posts from workers and sex work advocates about clients developing ‘the feels’ – those emotional attachments that are traditionally associated with regular romantic relationships. While always discouraging, most of the advice is thoughtful and kind…but I recall reading some that have been quite blunt, even a bit cruel. Is this ‘tough love’ approach intentional? I can understand why workers might want to snap a client back into reality, or perhaps even make a particular client withdraw and begin to second-guess their feelings.

Sex work clients are told that we’re adults and that we should be able to control our emotions. But that’s often easier said than done. People who aren’t equipped with the right emotional skills (and who is, really?) might find themselves in situations they struggle to manage gracefully.

I understand that sex work is work. It’s conducted within a professional construct and with clearly defined (and, hopefully, well-understood) boundaries. Sex workers see multiple clients and understand that the nature of their work means having many professional relationships at the same time. In my experience, clients often have less experience holding such sexual connections lightly. Many of us don’t see multiple workers concurrently, unless perhaps we’re starting out and establishing our preferences. And because we’re choosing to see providers to fulfil various needs – some of which, such as intimacy and connection, are very significant – we sometimes find ourselves feeling quite emotionally vulnerable.

I’d like to share a little of my story around why I chose to see sex workers. I was in a bad place, mental-health wise, when I first started looking for an escort in 2019. I lacked intimacy in my life and felt this absence keenly. Accordingly, I didn’t just want a shag! I desired a companion for a few hours, someone with whom I shared some common interests. I wanted laughs and good conversation…and, hopefully, a bit of physical compatibility.

I won’t lie – looks are a factor! But judging by the escorts I’ve seen to date, I certainly don’t have a particular ‘type’, nor a checklist I’m looking to tick off. In fact, I find that the more I connect with a worker – or any person in fact – the more attractive they become. And once I find someone I like and with whom I feel I have a connection, I rarely look elsewhere.

Now, it’s confession time. So far, I’ve met two sex workers that I have developed feelings for: one who I adored, and one who I can honestly say I  care for a great deal. But that doesn’t mean I’m planning to abandon my life - and beg them to abandon theirs - so we can run away together. It’s just not realistic! I have a home, a wife whom I love despite our difficulties, parents who need my support, successful adult kids, and a job. And, obviously, the workers I see also have the same kinds of things going on in their private lives – families, day jobs, and other commitments that occupy their time and concerns.

I have sufficient insight and self-awareness to know that the person I have met – no matter how many times we meet and how much they share with me – is only a small portion of the real them. And I respect that. But the very nature of the client-worker relationship – especially when, like me, the client has emotional needs that are being met by their worker – means feelings will often, perhaps even inevitably, come into play.

The provider I adore was great fun to spend time with. We’d talk and laugh together for hours. We were physically compatible. And she taught me so much about how to be a better lover! But all of our bookings took place in the bedroom, and I doubt we have had many common interests in real life. After sending me a lovely, heartfelt farewell note, she retired in late 2021 and we haven’t had contact since.

My current worker is someone I deeply care for too. Thanks to the COVID lockdowns, we spoke online for almost a year before we met. We would occasionally chat on DMs or email – she would offer support when we chatted online, and I made some financial contributions to help her weather the lockdowns. Since we finally met in person last year, we’ve spent more time in restaurants or pubs, or just walking and chatting, than we have in the bedroom. Don’t get me wrong, the bedroom stuff has been amazing! But our bookings have felt like proper dates, rather than just sexual romps.

The feelings I have for her don’t transcend all logic and reason. I understand that we’ll never date in real life. But I do enjoy a deep appreciation for how I feel when I’m around her, for how open and trusting she is with me and for how open I can be with her, for how enthusiastic she appears to be when we’re organising a booking, for how physically in-tune we are together, for our common interests of food, wine, art, and politics, and for how just a few hours in her company can emotionally and intimately nourish me for weeks.

To date, I’ve seen her seven times, for a total of about 40 hours. Apart from the inevitable nervous anticipation, I can’t recall a single awkward or uncomfortable moment. All of our interactions have remained inside the professional boundaries she has established - boundaries that I understand, respect, and honour. I have never told her I love her, but I have told her how much I adore her and how she makes me feel. And whenever I worry that I may have sent too many emails or messages, I compensate her for her time with a tip or a gift.

No doubt some clients reading this might be thinking, ‘But what if she told you she loves you and asked you to be with her for real?’ It’s fun to fantasise about, but it’s just not a realistic proposition.  Our arrangement – us enjoying each other’s company for a few hours every few weeks, with appropriate compensation – wouldn’t translate into a full-time relationship. While she sees the real me, it's the best version of me. Not 'first thing in the morning' me, or 'stupid drunk' me, or 'sick' me, or 'everyday' me. I do a week of hard exercise, increase my personal grooming, and take extra care with my appearance before a booking, too. I always try to be my absolute best self when I am with her and choose fun things to do. We’re both showing our ‘best versions of ourselves’ to each other.

So, for now, I’ll continue to spoil her as much as I am able, enjoy her company as often as reasonably possible, and occasionally have that feeling of missing her between bookings. If my feelings for her grow to the point where they begin to impact my life in ways that aren’t helpful, then I’m fully prepared to take a step back to keep those boundaries intact. Doing so would be as much for her benefit as mine. In the meantime, I think I think I’ve got ‘the feels’ handled in a way that works.

Will is an escort client from Melbourne, Australia.