Sex Workers Got Brutally Honest About The Struggles They Face While Trying To Date, And It's An Eye-Opening Perspective

    "After a long day of work, you don't always want to have sex when you get home."

    As defined by the Sex Worker Outreach Project-USA, sex work is any type of labor where the explicit goal is to produce a sexual or erotic response in the client. Sex work includes prostitution, as well as erotic dancing, pro-dom/pro-sub work, webcam work, sensual massages, adult films, phone sex, being a sugar baby, etc. There are many genres of sex work.

    We asked sex workers of the BuzzFeed Community to share how their jobs can impact their romantic relationships. Here's what they had to say:

    1. "I got into a relationship soon after I started webcamming with a civilian (non-industry person) and it caused a lot of problems, especially when I started shooting more videos. There was a lot of arguing, insecurity, mean comments, and comparison. The industry is very unique and not as it seems. Most people don’t realize that everything is very professional. There’s a whole crew on set, we’re given scripts, and we have to perform. It’s not just two people hooking up how they want. It’s legitimate work that can sometimes take 12+ hours to do.

    My partner would also get upset whenever my high tipper would text me (it was never sexting). Dating in the industry has its own problems too, though. The industry really isn’t that big and everyone knows each other, especially the guys. Knowing the people your partner is going to hook up with that day can lead to insecurities. Never go on their social media because they have to promote their work and it can be heartbreaking to look at.

    couple arguing in the hallway

    Also, the popular, in-demand guys can shoot six to seven days a week. After a long day of work, sometimes shooting with three girls, they don't always want to have more sex when they get home. Plus, there’s injuries, health problems, and stress. It’s a 24/7 job. I've been single a long time now and it has been easier, but trying to find someone to date when you work from home (webcam/OnlyFans) is difficult.

    Dating apps seem like they’d be useful, but a lot of people thought my account was fake. The one guy I did like turned out to be a total liar, and when he found out months later I was in videos, he was rude and accusatory. A lot of guys still aren’t okay with women in the adult industry. The ones that are can be creepy. I have a college degree, run my own business, and have completely supported myself since I was a teenager, yet a lot of people still look at us as 'dumb sluts' who will hook up with anyone. Most of us are actually very picky. Dating is difficult in the adult industry for sure."

    sad woman sitting with her phone in her hand and her head down

    2. "Dating as an exotic dancer/OnlyFans girl has definitely affected all my relationships since starting on this path. I’ve been met with judgement, lack of respect, and insecurity, and I've attracted people with the wrong intentions. A lot of people don't want to take me seriously and I've often settled for people who only want to keep things casual because of my deep-rooted issues and fear of commitment.

    My current relationship has taught me that it is possible to keep doing what I’m doing and find the right person that supports the grind. At first, my man felt insecure and judgmental, and that led to a lot of fights and tension over me being a dancer. After a short while, he opened up his mind and realized that he cared about me enough to stop being judgmental, and he became more supportive.

    person's feet in platform heels by a pole

    He’s helped me make lots of money as well by driving me to clubs out of town, helping me with OnlyFans, and guiding me. He made me realize it’s possible to be a dancer and an OnlyFans girl and have a healthy relationship. It hasn’t been easy or perfect, and at times it's complicated and messy, but I imagine it's even more difficult for full-service sex workers. With stripping and doing online stuff, nothing directly sexual is actually done to paying client. It’s all purely based on fantasy. Also, we’re not just shaking our asses for attention; we are trying to build an empire! It’s a means to an end. We're building capital and getting fast money."


    3. "So, I’ve never admitted this in a public forum like this, but I’ve been in over 100 adult films. I’m a minor 'celebrity' in a certain porn genre. Like any other relationship, but especially in this case, full and honest disclosure is key. My boyfriend had some insecurities about it, understandably. On one hand, he actually enjoys watching my videos. But, there was also some jealousy (again, understandably).

    The main concerns weren’t about what happened on camera, but what happened when the cameras weren’t rolling. For example, when someone hit on me afterwards, or even tried to give me a BJ off-camera, I politely said I was taken. I've always told him about everything. I don’t think he’d ever be okay with things if I wasn't completely, 100% transparent. If he ever thought I was hiding something, I’m sure he would've bailed, and I wouldn’t have blamed him."

    a couple joyfully embracing outside in a park

    4. "In 19 years, I've been in two different relationships. Both understood coming into it that I provide a service to gay and straight men. Most times, no sex is involved. It's more about the B&D and S&M. I have no romantic or mental attraction to my clients. There's a clear line between what I do for money versus what I do in a relationship. I have never seen a client outside of our allotted time, and luckily, my partners have trusted me."

    wad of cash rolled up

    5. "My fiancé is a webcammer and has been for years. I support what he does and see it as an extension of masturbation. I believe my body belongs to me and his body belongs to him, so he has every right to cam as much as he wants. We do have some ground rules, though. In the past, some of his audience members/fans have bled into his real life — drinks, dates, sex, socializing, etc. When we started dating and became exclusive, I told him that just like dating anyone else, blurring those lines would be seen as disloyalty.

    So, now the audience stays on the other side of the screen. We don't share our numbers or real names, and there's no socializing with fans. I will admit, when I come home from work and he's camming, I do get a little pang of jealousy or hurt, especially when I hear him say people's names. But, I'm an adult; I know that's not rational. I take a breath and move past it."

    6. "For the most part, being a sex worker doesn’t majorly influence my dating life. 'Work sex' and 'dating sex' are just so different, I don’t really think about them the same way. Maybe it's because I'm a queer woman and my clients are mostly male, while my dating partners are mostly female. My only rule is I get tested after sexy time with clients before having sexy time with partners.

    However, it does make it difficult when I start dating someone new, only because I have to make sure that they’re okay with me doing sex work. I have to gauge whether they’ll be understanding and at what point I should tell them, because I believe the people I’m dating/am intimate with should know about the other people I’m sleeping with.

    STD testing supplies

    One time, I went on a date with someone and told her on the first date that I did sex work and she was like, 'Oh, am I supposed to pay for this? Are you going to charge me? I hope you don’t take less than XYZ amount.' If you don’t do sex work, don’t tell a sex worker how much they should charge. She turned out to be extremely Christian and definitely had a tough time with it, even though she kept saying things like, 'I don’t judge you for anything about your life, but if I DID judge you, it would be because you're a sex worker, BUT I SWEAR I DON'T JUDGE YOU!' So, yeah, we didn’t last. My current girlfriend knows all about it and if I have a particularly lucrative month, I take her out for a nice dinner!"


    7. "Lots of people think that I’m easy or that everything I do is sexual. Like, I’m just buying normal veggies for a normal salad. When I’m not getting paid to be sexy, I should be treated with basic human decency."

    silhouette of an upset woman

    8. "My current partner LOVES my work because he thinks I give the best massages and always wants one, but it can be an awkward discussion with potential partners. Luckily, all of the people I have dated have been very cool with it. I usually start out telling them I work in reception in the industry and judge their reactions on the industry first before I tell them the whole story. I'm not going to date someone who isn't cool with me or what I do, so it's a good, telltale sign. You do occasionally get the kind of guy that just wants to put a notch in his belt and brag that he was able to bag a sex worker without paying, but those dudes are pretty easy to see coming."

    person giving another person a massage

    9. And: "I’ve been a sex worker for 22 years — my entire adult life — in various parts of the industry. I’ve had some incredible experiences (and some really scarring ones) with very kind people, but the longer I do it, the more I crave a relationship with someone who invests their time in me, who wants to know my entire self, and who doesn’t compartmentalize me. Domesticity, stability, monoamory, and commitment are all huge turn-ons for me the way I think novelty, variety, and casual dating are for non-sex workers.

    As I get older, it’s also starting to mess with my mind. I make around $150-180k a year. People fly me out to see them, fly out to see me, pay $5k for sleepovers, etc. But, I can’t find a steady boyfriend. Part of what I hear from guys my age is that I’m too old/not pretty enough/my body isn’t good enough.

    crying woman with a hand over half her face

    I know the difference is that the people paying me have less options and have other things to consider, like discretion and reliability. It sucks to not be good enough for someone to want me for free if the 'cost' is commitment. Also, I’ve never had anyone get jealous of my clients. I have had several guys get jealous of *me* and grumble about how they want money and gifts too, and how easy it must be. Running your own business and making people feel comfortable, safe, and turned on within minutes of meeting is anything but easy!"


    Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.