Often the focus on sex workers dating outside of work has had a spotlight shining on the very real ways whorephobia impacts our capacity to date, maintain safety, and find love. While these are important to acknowledge and talk about I wanted to share more about something I have run into now that I am trying to 'civvie date' once again. What I am going to share may easily be confused with burnout and so I'd like to start by naming that I feel anything but burnt out. I feel restored, powerful, divine. I simply refuse to do the labor of creating an illusion or fantasy for my civvie dates if only due to the fact that I want to unapologetically show up as my full self. If you're interested in reading about burnout there was a time I experienced that and you can read about it here
If reading about intersectionality or sex workers having love (and sex) lives outside of our jobs ruins the fantasy of us, I strongly suggest you leave. But... before you go, how did you get here? Authenticity is my entire brand!
This is going to be another one of my more intersectional pieces as I am going to draw parallels between race, sex work, sexual orientation, gender, neurodivergence, and objectification within the parameters of society. If you’re not interested in intersectionality or critical theory, I'll likely come off as this guy in a few sections:
Being Latina, queer, neurodivergent, polyamorous, and a sex worker makes dating a little (ok a lot) complex. Some of the complexities are the usual (facing whorephobia, when to out yourself, if you shouldn’t out yourself, fetishization of varying identities, etc), but I’m noticing more nuanced complexities I hadn’t noticed when I was younger nor as I was in my last long term relationship of multiple years (which was monogamous for a big portion of it). Many of my new wisdoms revolve around my dislike for being placed in a fantasy without my consent. While my last blog post was about my capacity to relish in the fantasy, outside of work I won’t tolerate being anyone’s fantasy without being asked (even being hired as Adriana involves asking to hire me so I can still opt in to be a fantasy). This is perhaps the biggest shift I’ve noticed since I started dating again. You need my permission and I am no longer a mirror solely for the purpose of satiating another’s ego, curiosity, loneliness – etc. Too often women, and let's be honest - girls, are taught to be mirrors and fantasies in order to garner love, affection, attention.
All of my jobs involve me embodying or accepting the position of a fantasy - and I love it. I’m good at it, it comes naturally to me, most of all I love playing something (or someone) to fill a desire the other across from me is starving and hungry for. It’s in the moment the person across from me looks away and down, gazes directly in my eyes, smirks and bites the inside of their lip, shifts their body toward me…without verbally saying much at all I’m hearing the other’s desire loud and clear. I find it incredibly powerful, erotic, and fulfilling to be able to harness and deliver that. Outside of my jobs I am absolutely exhausted by the expectation that I will embody the fantasy of what is projected onto me while the reality of the wholeness of my humanity and full life that I come with in my entirety are cast aside. I believe this is something I commonly come across in part because some folks haven’t done their internal work to differentiate their desires, needs, wants and where they come from (you all know I’m a big supporter of therapy, figuring this out is just one of the many things therapy can help with). Or they haven’t worked out the nuances of just how deeply rooted the objectification of marginalized folks can lay within our psyches. Historically women, especially women of color have been expected to fulfill fantasies that ask them to become one dimensional caricatures of themselves in order to advance in life, gain access to care/love, or safety. While I’ve experienced this with folks across the spectrum its more commonly happened with white folks, male bodied/masc of center folks, and folks in hierarchical polyamory. We can thank the kyriarchy for this.
White supremacy centers whiteness as the norm and anything outside of it as 'other' 'exotic' 'different' - less than human, patriarchy deems women and femmes as props/objects who may not expand or take up space, and I bring up hierarchical polyamory not because I have any issue with it (I personally do not practice it, but have seen a handful of couples and polycules healthily navigate this), but because several of the recent experiences I have had involve my being dehumanized due to the primary couples own desires/needs/fantasies without the consideration of my own and as such it feels relevant to include. Additionally, I am newer to the practice of decolonizing the concept of what it means to love and be in love, meaning exploring what love looks like without it becoming territorial: I'm uncomfortable/jealous sharing you, I love you, thus you're mine and only mine. To me that sure seems like some unconscious remnants living within us due to being colonized. I don't want to practice possessiveness or ownership of another human being out of love (or anything else). The only forms of love and care I seek in my current life chapter are so safe, vulnerable, with assumed positive intent from all parties involved that it naturally includes surrender. A surrender that is only truly possible with safety. I want more than anything to move away from controlling/being controlled (excluding kink dynamics here). The type of surrender and safety I crave can't exist under circumstances where I am not given agency. Not to mention the fact that mononormativity was pushed on some Indigenous and Black communities during periods of colonization in order to support the movement of hypercapitalism - get married make babies, get on the hamster wheel and make us money!
I told y'all I'd start to sound like this guy!:
All this being said if monogamy and hierarchical polyamory work in your relationship in healthy ways then that is wonderful. I'm literally a hooker y'all. I'm not here to judge anyones lifestyle or the things that make them happy. I write this more to implore us all to reflect on the aspects of our life that we have been taught are the only/normal way to go about finding happiness.
The allure of the fantasy in human interaction is of course natural in some ways; we meet someone new and we begin to build fantasies around who they are or who they could be - what could be. I have no issue with that aspect and find it incredibly erotic to be in this phase of getting to know another. Like I said, I relish in the spaces of fantasy and within them I am at home. That eroticism and emotional excitement begin to dwindle the moments I realize they want to keep me as the fantasy they’ve built up. And for me to step out of the fantasy means the connection is severed even more quickly than it was formed. In short; be my fantasy, or you have no value to me and I have no reason to maintain relationship with you. Ouch right? Sounds a lot like the service sex workers offer to me. This is just one of the many ways sex work has empowered me to know where my boundaries are and to set them when I am not being viewed and considered in my entirety.
Being viewed as a fantasy looses its appeal when I don’t have a say. As I’ve tried getting back into dating there’s a moment I have experienced multiple times in realizing I’m being held as a fantasy that I did not consent to. It happens in a split second. It feels like an internal fracture of sorts. My heart beats faster, the pit in my stomach collapses unto itself, and my throat closes up to keep me from screaming (have you seen that scene from Requiem for a Dream where Marion has a fantasy of screaming and stabbing her fork into the hand of the man across from her? Yeah, that’s the feeling. Don’t worry, I don’t actually do that). Externally it’s likely I’ll just smile, bat my lashes and listen to the other person in order to see how much of a fantasy I’ve become to the person speaking to me. This split second may look like the moment I become someone with actual needs and boundaries and I’m told they're ‘too much’, a desire to deeply emotionally connect when I’m met with a phrase or physical signal that this person is emotionally unavailable (or the classic ghosting), the ask to see someone again and be told they actually only date with their partner and our one on one date was to see if I was worth inviting to a couples date, an expectation of being held with care in a way that doesn't match up with a primary couple’s ideal. I could go on and on. The moment I step outside of the box they placed me in I am no longer rewarded with connection. There’s something particularly gut wrenching and emotionally violating to be used as a fantasy without giving my permission, then to be discarded when I want the fullness of myself to be welcomed.
Don’t get me wrong folks are absolutely allowed to have preferences, likes/dislikes, boundaries. We all do! I actually consider it a red flag if folks don't know their preferences and boundaries. My issue has been when these limitations, boundaries, and expectations are not communicated directly and I spend weeks forming the start of connections with folks where at least some of my intentions and desires are clear (fundamentally speaking - depth, care, poly, similar politics, and I identify as demisexual so an emotional connection is entirely a prerequisite). If our needs aren’t expressed on a first date or prior (should there be lots of communication and vulnerability prior) then I’m not given the opportunity to opt in or out of the position they’ve placed me in. I, without even knowing it, lost my agency and am divulging information without knowing what kind of connection is (or isn’t) allowed to form. As I get older, more grounded, and empowered in my feminine and dominant energies I realize I won't lower my bar - for anybody. I'm a fucking catch in my entirety - dare I say, the whole of me is even better than the fantasy.
Late February, I decided to try dating for 2-3 months to see how it would feel.
My involvement in sex work has surprisingly been a non-issue with every single person I’ve gone out with. I’ve met a handful of folks as I have limited energy and like to assess for compatibility before meeting. And my process seems to work relatively well (if any SWers read this feel free to DM me on twitter and I will share some of my filtering tips).
Here are some of the more memorable moments of sex work being a non issue - and the expectation to embody a fantasy being front and center:
I've gone out on a few dates with someone whom I honestly did not expect to entirely hit it off with as we come from very different worlds and navigate life differently, but there was an energy to him that reminded me of myself the ability to hustle and be a chameleon, a fantasy - shift into what is necessary depending on your environment. When I came out as a sex worker to this potential lover he asked to photograph me to support my marketing which I found very sweet and supportive, he’s never fetishized me and holds me with respect and care and overall this has been a wonderful experience. I know I exist in a fantasy for him because he asked me to be and because I see him as a fantasy as well, it feels reciprocal and respectful. This is a dynamic I’m happy to explore and play around with.
I went out with a woman who was beyond beautiful, whip smart, badass. I was nervous to tell her about my involvement in this industry. When I disclosed it she leaned in and put her hand on my forearm while smiling and said ‘I’m so glad you told me, the work you do is really important! I have several friends and lovers who are sex workers’! It was a breath of fresh air, a few dates later it came up that there was an expectation that I would date her and her husband (whom I had never met or talked to). I asked why she hadn't told me this sooner to which she replied 'it seems to scare people off if I share that too soon'. Talk about bad form and toxic iterations of unicorn hunting. This one left an incredibly bad taste in my mouth as I had invested quite a lot of time into this dynamic and while I knew she was married I had no idea our dates were for an eventual lead up for me to also date someone I never met.
I spent months connecting with someone wonderful - texts, phone calls, video dates. Our lives and schedules didn’t align for quite some time, but we maintained contact and got to know one another. When I came out to him as a sex worker he lit up and shared that his only current partner was also in the industry and that he had hired sex workers in the past. Sex workers were an important part of his journey in feeling comfortable with his sexual desires. When we were finally able to meet in person we had a lovely first date. He was a complete gentleman the song ‘when you were young’ by the killers came to mind when I drove home after. He asked me out on a second date and I was thrilled. A couple days later he followed with a message around him not having been forthcoming about the place he and his partner were in (for months I had been told they were both solopoly), they were now considering monogamy and had been for weeks. He hoped I’d be willing to continue dating him while they figured it out. Basically, continue to be my fantasy while I focus my energy on my primary. Not to mention how annoyed I felt that he knew this before our in person date and met me with me being under the impression that he was solo poly and emotionally available (do y'all know how much prep goes into getting ready for a date!?). Needless to say there was no second date.
While these folks had the opportunity to indulge in a fantasy of me for a couple weeks or months; my vulnerability, photographs, videos, joy, anxieties, shared moments and glances. I had been under the false impression we were existing in a space of reality, all while vital information was withheld from me. To be clear, I don't assume malicious intent with most of these folks so much as them not having done the necessary work to navigate nuances of casual and/or poly dating while respecting everybody's autonomy and humanity. Navigating these things is confusing and things are constantly changing, but disclosing partner status/availability/ expectation is really dating 101, regardless of relational orientation. Mistakes are going to happen, but when someone is being held as a fantasy, an object, there's no reason to consider their feelings ahead of time nor repair after a mistake - because there was no actual relationship.
I don’t want to be anyone’s fantasy unless I elect to be. And it’s likely due to the fact that it feels like work. The thought ‘you need to pay me for this’ comes up frequently in these scenarios. I feel jaded in saying that, but it is the reality. It sounds transactional because it is. I have a skillset I've learned through life and my job and because of this I can mold to a plethora of fantasies! When its reciprocal it can absolutely be exhilarating and fun to play with. When it isn’t, I’m simply doing labor that I do at work and offering someone else the reprieve they need while I get nothing in return at best and at it's worst, I am harmed. I thought coming out as a sex worker all over again to dates would be the hardest part of getting back into dating, but it’s been noticing how often I’m not held in my personhood. Who would have thought?
That being said I've yet to so much as kiss any of my dates. Accessing me is a privilege and not one I take lightly, this is also greatly tied to my demisexuality. I'm starting to feel like I'm living in an edgy iteration of Drew Barrymore's 'Never Been Kissed' and frankly I'm too hot to go untouched...simultaneously much too hot to be touched by just anyone! The solution is clear here: y'all need to continue hiring me so I can get laid in a consensual fantasy because real life folks can't seem to meet my bar.