Opinion
4 min

Romancing the whore (Part 1)

Sex work and dating disclosure

Perhaps the most difficult thing associated with doing sex work is the process of trying to start a romantic relationship. Credit: Pekic/iStock/Thinkstock

Like every profession, sex work comes with an inherent set of challenges. There are the particularly problematic kinds of clients: the sloppy drunks, the abusive assholes, the confused near-virgins unable to ask for what they want. There are the realities of dealing with people’s bodies: disgusting breath, cheesy dicks, dirty assholes. There are the guys who stand you up, the ones who back out the moment they step in the door, and the kind who wait until you’ve turned up to tell you they want to shit on you.

Operating in the world as a hooker also comes with a unique set of questions about the relationship between your chosen profession and your everyday life. There’s the decision about whom you should come out to. Will it just be close friends? What about your family? If you have another job, what about your co-workers? And then when you disclose to people, there’s the inevitable stream of stupid questions you have to answer over and over. Yes, I really have sex with them. Yes, I’m being safe. No, I’m not afraid of getting murdered.

Beyond all that, perhaps the most difficult thing associated with doing sex work is the process of trying to start a romantic relationship. The idea that someone who fucks for a living would also expect to have a stable partnership might seem ridiculous to some people. But it shouldn’t. Just because you sell love by the hour, doesn’t mean you don’t also want to experience it yourself.

Yet when it comes to the dating world, doing sex work carries a substantial stigma. Some guys will flatly declare it’s immoral, dangerous, or a sign of questionable character, feeling no need to acquaint themselves with the actual reality of life in the business before they render their judgements. Others might be able to live with it, if it’s something that’s confined to your past. But if you’re currently seeing clients, they’ll bolt.

There’s also the kind who want to be okay with it, who want to see themselves as a paragon of progressiveness, who maybe even think it gives them some left-wing cred to be dating a “marginalized” person. However, the spell usually breaks when reality kicks in — you admit you’re late for a date because your client took forever to cum, or you have to take a pass on sex because you’ve got tooth marks all over your dick from an inexperienced yet enthusiastic oral bottom.

That’s not to say a relationship can’t happen. There are plenty of people in the business who are also in long-term partnerships. If you really want that kind of commitment, however, it can’t be based on dishonesty. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to talk about it. But getting past that first step is nerve-wracking. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve taken that deep breath and uttered the words “I’m a sex worker” to a prospective partner. You never really know how he’s going to respond.

Trying to figure out exactly when to do this is complicated to say the least. Is it a first date discussion? Do you wait until you’ve already gone out a few times and decided that it’s worth sharing because you want a larger commitment? Do you try to set it up, as in the dreaded “I have something I need to tell you?” Or do you just drop it casually into another conversation and see if he flinches? Do you start out by musing on the joys of open-relationships, and then if he screams and runs out, you know the second piece of information isn’t going to be well received?

I’m not thinking about any of this the first moment I lay eyes on Piotr. I’m in the airport in Warsaw staring at the train ticket machine, trying to figure out which one I’m supposed to buy to get to the city’s central station. After scrolling through the menus, I finally feel confident in my selection and I’m about to insert my credit card, when I hear a soft voice in heavily accented English from behind me.

“Excuse me, sir. I think you’re buying the wrong ticket.”

I turn to see a young, lanky guy in a rumpled black suit, with a trim beard, thick black-framed glasses and perfectly quaffed hair.

“Oh. Okay. Which one am I supposed to buy?”

After he’s advised me on the correct series of options and I’ve made my purchase, I follow him to the appropriate platform. We sit next to each other on the ride, our thighs touching ever so slightly. I’m well renowned for having some of the world’s worst gaydar. I never know when someone is queer and I’m completely oblivious to people flirting with me. But there’s something in the comfort of his leg next to mine, the fact he doesn’t adjust himself to put an extra millimetre of distance between us, that makes me wonder, is there something going on here?

The ride is mostly silent, though he points out the occasional landmark as we make our way into the city. Once we disembark at our destination, I’m ready to shake his hand and say our goodbyes, but he insists on walking me to my hotel. It’s a somewhat unnecessary gesture. Unlike a lot of European cities with their winding roads and unpredictable intersections, Warsaw is made up almost entirely of straight streets with square corners, making navigation easy for newcomers. But he’s insistent on helping me find my way.

After a 20-minute walk, we arrive at the door. He offers to shake my hand goodbye, but I smile and give him a hug.

“After all that, you have to let me take you for a drink,” I say.

“Oh, that’s okay,” he says. “I’ll let you have your evening.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” I reply. “You’ve probably saved me at least an hour of confusion. I owe you a beer at least.”

I check in with speedy efficiency, dropping my bag in my room, and skipping the post-flight shower in lieu of just changing my t-shirt and brushing my teeth. I half expect him to be gone when I return, but when I walk out he’s waiting there for me, staring at his phone.

“Where do you want to go?” he asks.

“That’s up to you,” I say. “I’m ready for anything . . . ”