I have seen some posts on Twitter of sex workers having difficulty finding a partner who accepts their job. I know that many sex workers identify as bisexual/pansexual. Is there any reason more sex workers are not in relationships with each other?
One of the reasons social media is so useful when it comes to sex work is that it gives us the chance to hear everyone’s diverse experiences. Whether it’s our accounts of stigma and discrimination with the law or financial institutions, or our conflicts on a more personal level, understanding these struggles is important if we want to be able to make life better for everyone.
But social media can also be a bit limiting, in that you might end up basing your knowledge of what this work is like on a random selection of people that you happen to follow. The truth is, there’s always more to the story. I think this especially applies to dating as a sex worker.
I can only share my own experiences, so I’m not keen to generalise in this article either! Let’s look at a few key ideas that might help put your question in context.
Do sex workers have trouble finding partners who accept their work? Well, it varies. Sex work stigma can certainly be a problem, especially for those who are making their way in more conservative cultures or social circles. I’ve met people (of all genders) on dating apps who struggled with the idea that sex work is just a job, and I’ve also dated people who turned out to be a lot less comfortable with the idea of escorting than they seemed at first. It’s frustrating and demoralising. It can sometimes make us feel as though we’re the problem…when really, it’s society’s hang-ups around sexual behaviour and monogamy that are the real issue.
But it’s not all bad news. I've gone on dates with plenty of folks who were A-okay with my choice of work. I also have friends who are partnered or married. Some social circles, such as those with a large number of queer, polyamorous, or kinky folk, can be a lot more welcoming than you might realise. In short, many of us do have options. It’s not a case of ‘only a sex worker would date a sex worker’.
Just speaking for myself: I’m not that interested in dating other workers. I enjoy spending time with people with whom I share more than one interest - so having the same job just isn’t enough! And when you have a hectic, unpredictable schedule, it can be nice to come home to someone who keeps more regular hours. Other relationship characteristics matter too - sexual compatibility, shared values, a similar sense of humour…everyone has a range of requirements when it comes to their romantic partners.
Keeping the above in mind is important if you’ve ever been tempted to try and date one of your providers. I sometimes receive emails from random guys I’ve never met, selling themselves on the fact that they're okay with being in a relationship with an escort. I think they assume that I'm so desperate, due to persistent rejection on Tinder, that I’ll jump at the chance to hang out with them for free, even though I’ve never met them before. But being ‘okay’ with sex workers isn’t enough a qualification to make you an appealing partner. And a cold call or email to someone you've never even met before isn't an approach I’d recommend. The same applies to your regular workers...just because you get along well during paid dates doesn't mean they want to date you romantically! And making overtures in that direction is rarely well received.
Of course, some sex workers do date or marry within the industry, and that’s awesome too. I love a good SW power couple! But it’s important to note that just because two sex workers are dating doesn’t mean their relationship will be stress-free. Disagreements around boundaries, jealousy, and insecurity can still be a problem, the same way they sometimes are for any regular partnership.
In a nutshell: you can’t generalise when it comes to our experiences. Everyone is different. Don’t take the stuff you see on social media as applying to all workers! Although it’s important to acknowledge the harm of stigma, and the ways it can interfere with our personal lives, many sex workers do have very fulfilling romantic relationships.
If anything, I’ve found that my work has given me a much better idea of the things I appreciate in people, and I have very high standards when it comes to who I choose to spend my time with - both at work and at home.