Hi Doc, hope you’re doing great.
As the title says, I went to an escort a few weeks ago. Some backstory: I’m 28, never kissed a girl, never had a girlfriend and I’ve always been rejected. I always feel very lonely and sad about this, thinking that I’ll probably never have a girlfriend and I’ll die as a lonely and bitter old man. I thought many times about doing this, to finally see and experience something foreign and unreachable for me, and one night I took courage and did it. I contacted someone I thought was cute, the same age as me and provided GFE (girlfriend experience), booked an hour and went to her apartment. She noticed I was a bag of nerves and I told her it was my first time, so she tried to calm me down.
She was very nice and kind and it wasn’t awkward or weird. I had so many feelings like I was being shaken and for that hour my mind went blank and I forgot about everything. I felt alive. The thing is, and please please believe me, we didn’t have sex. We kissed for a while (it was great) and when I hugged her I just didn’t want to let her go. We spend the rest of our time cuddling and talking about our lives, what we liked and just chillin’. We had a long hug before I left and she kissed me on the cheek.
Everything was fine until I got out of there. On the ride home, I felt like if everyone on the bus knew just what I did. I thought about my parents. They would be very disappointed and angry. I thought I just had my first kiss with someone I didn’t love and vice versa and after all it was meaningless. I felt empty and guilty. I thought about that poor girl who had to tolerate being kissed and touched by me. I feel like I’m a bad person for purchasing a kiss and someone’s time like if it was a sandwich. And what its worst, I’m thinking about doing it again. Not tomorrow, not next week, but probably one or twice a month in the future.
I know it’s far of being the best coping mechanism and it’s a fake experience, but for someone like me, this is the closest I’ll ever be to intimacy. At least is something, right? I have so many mixed feelings and I don’t know what to do. I feel sorry and hate myself for doing it. Yet I was happy for the experience. I have no one to talk about this (since it’s pretty embarrassing and sad) any advice?
So I feel for you, AN. I get what it’s like to feel like there’s this experience that other people will have that you’ll never get to know. But as with a lot of folks who write in — folks who are in similar situations as you — the problem you’re experiencing isn’t the problem you think you’re having.
I get a lot of letters from late-bloomers and older virgins, even folks going through months or years long dry spells, who talk about how badly they want to get laid why can’t they find someone to hook up with who’d relieve them of this burden. But the thing is, the issue they’re having isn’t the lack of sex. If that’s all it were, there would be any number of ways to get that particular itch scratched. This can be anything from finding someone who may not be your usual type but is down for something casual, hitting up Tinder or, yes, going to a sex worker. If a person worried about the legality of the matter, then saving up money for a trip to Reno or Amsterdam is always an option, especially if you want it badly enough.
However, the issue isn’t sex, it’s the desire for validation. The incel community is a prime example of this. Even when you filter out the folks using the label as an excuse for the hate, misogyny and untreated body dysmorphia, you barely have to scratch the surface before you get down to the fact that what they want is to feel validated. It’s the sense that someone chose you and that this means that you’re special or somehow better than the folks that weren’t. Hence, approaches like visiting a sex worker are seen as “cheating”. To quote a classic case of “missing the point”:
You cheated not only the game, but yourself.
You didn’t grow.
You didn’t improve.
You took a shortcut and gained nothing.
You experienced a hollow victory.
Nothing was risked and nothing was gained.
And hey, cool story bro, but this approach misses the point so thoroughly that it launched itself into low-earth orbit instead. As I’ve said many times before, women ain’t Mjolnir; nobody has “Whomsoever shall part these thighs, if they be worthy, shall have the power of SCORE” embroidered on their panties.
(And if they do, someone owes me royalties.)
Women have sex with folks for a multitude of reasons, reasons that often have NOTHING to do with the person they’re sleeping with, just as men do. Women sleep with people because they’re bored, they want validation, to send a message to someone, as a form of self-harm, to try to get over someone else… all things that don’t mean that the person they’re having sex with was the top of the heap, the best of the best. Sometimes it means that they were the nearest and most convenient or even the least objectionable.
Visiting an escort and paying for a girlfriend experience isn’t cheating the system any more than going to a restaurant and having someone else cook you dinner is cheating. It’s an exchange of money for a service. It’s not the mark of someone “who couldn’t get laid any other way” — look at how many married people, even celebrities have visited escorts — and it’s not the mark of a loser. What you take away from it and what it means is entirely up to you.
So with that in mind, let’s talk about your case specifically, AN. You have a few issues here. The first is that you’re treating this as something shameful — that you “cheated” the system somehow by having this moment with somebody that you paid. So let me ask you this: would you feel differently if you had this same experience with someone you met at a bar, but who’s motivation was “I just want to get off, and I don’t care with who?” Or a person at a party who decided that she was going to make out with someone because she was angry at her ex and you happened to be there? Would you be feeling the same if your first kiss was literally just someone else using you to get back at someone else?
Instead you went to a professional, paid her for her time, and she provided you with an experience that was specifically for you. Your first kiss was with somebody who knew that it was your first and was focused entirely on your enjoyment and comfort. To be perfectly frank: you probably had a better first kiss than a lot of folks who stumbled into theirs. Your partner was someone who was entirely focused on you, your needs and the moment. That’s going to be a lot more enjoyable than a drunken hook-up or a random make-out at a bar or a party.
The thing that you have to understand is that the “meaning” of anything is literally just what you decide it means. A first kiss, a first sexual experience, hell, the first cheeseburger of the year, all have the same meaning: nothing. And everything. It all comes down to what you have decided it means. The idea that a first kiss should be with someone you love is a completely artificial construct, and one that’s more tied to sexual shame than objective reality. Plenty of folks had their first kiss with people they don’t love. Even more had their first sexual experience with people they didn’t love, or even like, in some cases. We don’t shame them for that, and the folks who do are just assholes.
The things you’re feeling — the idea that the folks on the bus could tell, the idea that your parents would be upset — that’s shame fucking with you. That’s the idea that you “cheated the system” trying to convince you that you did something wrong. You didn’t, because there is no system to cheat. There is just your life, your experiences and your path. This isn’t a “fake” experience; a fake experience would be if it were all a dream or virtual reality. It’s just an experience… one that you’ve decided was fake. That’s a different thing entirely.
The second issue you’re having is that you’re treating this as your somehow “inflicting” yourself on the escort you visited… except you did nothing of the sort. I realize that folks think that paying an sex-worker means that you’ve basically coerced someone into doing your bidding — a time-limited sex-slave, if you will — but the reality is that being with an escort is still a matter of consent. The idea of “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” still exists, even if you’re an escort, a stripper, a cam girl or someone providing happy endings with a massage. If the escort you visited didn’t want to do anything with you, she could very easily have told you to get the fuck out. Similarly, if she had such a horrible time that she couldn’t possibly contemplate the idea of ever seeing you again, then she could very easily refuse to let you book another appointment with her.
And while the experience may have been transactional, that doesn’t automatically mean that it’s bad, a bad experience for the escort or a sign that she doesn’t like you. Plenty of sex workers have very fond relationships with their regulars, just as folks in the service industry have fond relationships with some of their customers. Every bartender, barista, store clerk, waiter, etc. has their favorite regulars, the folks they enjoy seeing on the regular. The fact that those people are customers doesn’t change the fact that they like seeing them or talking with them or they aren’t happy to see them come in.
In fact, if you want to see what sex workers actually think about their clients… well, all you have to do is open Twitter. Sex workers of all stripes talk about their experiences, their customers and clients, their jobs, etc. with great candor. Getting to know them as people who do a job may well help change your mind about everything.
Honestly, the shame and social stigma you’re feeling is what’s fucking with you, not that you did anything inherently bad or wrong. If you really want to adjust your perspective, you should do some research about sexual surrogates — sex workers who work with folks who have any number of medical or psychological issues surrounding sex. In many cases, sexual surrogates are the only form of sexual intimacy some folks may be able to achieve — especially when physical or emotional handicaps are involved.
(The movie The Sessions with John Hawkes and Helen Hunt may be a great place for you to start. I also recommend reading “On Seeing A Sex Surrogate”, the article that the movie was based on.)
But your third issue is assuming that this is the only sort of intimacy you may ever encounter. While I understand that you’re feeling despair right now, that’s simply not true. It’s only how things feel right now, and as much as I hate how assholes use this phrase, it’s apt: feels aren’t reals. Things feel awful and unchanging because things are dark, chaotic and stressful right now. You’ve got all of these feelings of shame and self-recrimination rocketing through your head right now and all of them are bullshit. You’re allowed to have enjoyed your time with an escort, and to look forward to booking another session, and to want to connect with folks and have a relationship that isn’t primarily commercial. You can, in fact, have both. The fact that you’ve had these experiences with an escort doesn’t cut you off from the possibility of love, sex and relationships in the future. In fact, these experiences could well be part of what help push you to work on yourself. Not in the sense of “well, I need to get better so I never do this again,” but in the sense of “Wow, this opened up my eyes to what’s out there and I would love to see more of it.”
Because, straight talk, my dude: losing your virginity isn’t going to transform you or change you, no matter how you do it. Going to an escort may guarantee you a more focused and giving experience than you might find otherwise, but it’s not going to handicap you or cut you off from society. The people who think that you’re somehow shady, shameful or wrong for having done so — assuming you decide you share this with them, which you don’t have to — are just folks who are self-selecting out of your pool of friends and lovers and good-goddamn-riddance.
By that same token, losing your virginity in the context of a casual hook-up — or even a commited, romantic relationship — doesn’t mean that you’re going to have some transformation sequence where you suddenly become the person you believe you’re “supposed” to be. Your first time is going to be an experience that you’ve had… that’s it. Everything that comes afterwards, whether positive or negative, is going to be about what you decide comes from it. You may feel like it was a magical experience. You may finish and think “wait, that was it?” But it will only be a step on your journey, not the start, nor the end. That’s all going to depend on you and what you decide to do next.
But for right now? Fuck the shame and fuck the folks who’d shame you for it including yourself. You are allowed to feel pleasure, to have enjoyed your time and to want more, even if you paid a professional for it. Everybody was consenting, everyone got what they wanted from this and everyone came away happy. That’s the important part. And if you want to book another session with her — once the quarantine is lifted, obviously — and you can afford it, then go for it, king. And if you want to work on your personal development so that you don’t feel like sex work is your only outlet? You can do that too; there are a ton of resources available on this site to help you with precisely that.
But seriously: you didn’t do anything wrong, or anything to feel ashamed of or guilty about.
Anyone who is going to insist that you shouldn’t or that you should feel guilty about it isn’t concerned with you or the escort you visited; they just want you to follow their ideas about how to live your life. That’s on them. Your life is your own. Do what’s best for you.
I’m turning 30 soon, and my husband and I have been happily married for four years. We have no children by choice, but we do have some pets. We both work to pay the bills, though he makes a bit more than I do.
My husband and I are best friends. We play games together, go to the movies and out to eat, joke and laugh, tease each other, etc. We’ve even had people think we are friends but not realize we are actually married. Basically, despite being good in every other way, our relationship has no ounce of romance.
My husband’s normal routine is to come home from work, make himself some dinner (we follow separate diets so it’s easier for each of us to make our own food), play video games for a few hours, and then go to bed. Sometimes I will play games with him or get him to watch a movie with me, but that’s the only variation. Same thing on the weekends, just without going to work. We are intimate a couple of times a month when he feels “in the mood” (which isn’t very often because he has a rather low libido. I have a higher one, but I’ve learned to ignore it because it’s embarrassing to be turned down by him if he’s not in the mood).
Generally, I’m happy. But sometimes I go on social media or have a conversation with a friend, and she tells me how her husband brought her flowers for no reason, or how he planned a nice weekend getaway for just the two of them. And I find myself wishing I had a husband who did things like that (I know, I’ve probably just seen one too many rom-coms). And I get a little sad. My husband and I truly are best friends. But sometimes I want us to be more than friends. Does that make sense?
I have brought this up with my husband, but he just doesn’t get it. I told him I wanted to feel his love a bit more. He said he shows his love by paying the rent. I told him I felt less like his wife and more like his roommate. He asked me if that was a bad thing. He also frequently says he is happy and he doesn’t understand what I have a problem with.
I don’t get it. I have something that most women would covet. My husband is a kind, good man, and I never have to worry about him mistreating me or cheating on me. We have a great time together. And yet, sometimes I can’t stop crying. I guess I feel like I could be best friends with anyone, but I can’t be married to anyone. I want our relationship to feel more special, more like a marriage.
I’m not sure what I’m asking for here. God knows I’ve failed to make my husband understand thus far, so maybe I’m just talking nonsense. Am I crazy? Am I asking too much?
Too Needy For My Own Good
No, TNFMOG, you’re not crazy. You’re not talking nonsense, and you’re not asking for too much. What you’re asking for is for your husband to show you that he loves you, cares for you and respects you. Those are all things that should come standard in a relationship, and any model that doesn’t should be returned to the lot immediately.
You have two basic issues here that need to be resolved.
The first is one of miscommunication. You may have heard the phrase “love languages” tossed around here and other spaces. Without getting deep into the details, the idea of “love languages” are different ways people express and receive love or affection from the people in their lives. Some people, for example, express love and affection through physical touch — wanting to hug and be hugged, to cuddle and so forth. Others will express love through “acts of service” — doing things for the people they care about is part of how they show that they care. Other examples include “quality time”, “gifts” and a multitude of others.
The problem that often arises is that sometimes we don’t necessarily recognize the language our partner speaks, and they don’t recognize the language that we speak. So for someone who expresses love through touch and physical contact, somebody who is physically stand-offish may seem cold and distant. But the way they express love is by providing for their loved-ones — whether that’s through paying for their essentials, making sure their physical and emotional needs are met or simply doing things for them… and they may feel that someone who expresses love through touch to be clingy. Hence the dilemma; everyone’s saying the same thing, but they’re saying it in languages the other person doesn’t understand. As a result: everyone is upset and tense because they feel like they’re not being heard and that their partner doesn’t love them.
To bridge this particular gap, you and your husband need to have an Awkward Conversation, where you lay out exactly what it is you need from him and why. The “why” part is important, because he may not realize that his way of expressing affection for you is leaving you cold and upset. I realize that in an ideal world, he’d just do these things and asking him to do them makes it feel artificial. However, if he doesn’t know that this is something that you need, then he can’t provide it for you. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with telling someone “hey, here’re the things that I need from you”, and their having to consciously decide to provide them. Over time, it’ll become muscle memory and he’ll be better able give you what you need in an organic fashion.
And when you have this conversation, don’t forget to let him share his side of things — what are the ways he gives affection and the ways he receives them. That’s important too; your way may be more “traditional”, but that doesn’t necessarily equate as being something he needs or satisfies him.
Now, in an ideal world, this would solve everything. But this isn’t an ideal world, and we need to talk about the other issue… in your relationship. One that’s more foundational and more complicated.
This relationship sounds like it’s very one-sided, with everything tilted towards your husband. It sounds like he sets the tone, pace and agenda for the entire relationship and you follow it. In fact, you’ve been following it to the point that you seem to feel like you’re not allowed to advocate for your own needs and desires. Every relationship is going to be a balance of give and take… and it seems like you’re doing all the giving and your husband is doing all the taking.
Take the imbalance between your respective sex-drives. You — like a lot of couples with differing libidos — default to the pace of the person of the lower sex drive. While this is fairly common, it’s not actually fair; in a lot of ways, it ends up pathologizing the person with the higher sex drive. It sets them up as the one who’s just too demanding and if they could just get over this whole “needing sex” thing, everyone would be happier. And honestly, that ain’t cool. While nobody is saying that people should have sex they don’t want to have, making a point to please your partner and do things even if you’re not necessarily in the mood because you love them and want them to be happy is important. That doesn’t necessarily mean penetration, but providing an assist for your partner (without complaint or begrudging it) is important for everyone feeling like they’re a part of the relationship. Feeling like your needs are understood and respected is an important part of satisfaction in a relationship.
But this is just one example in a series of behaviors that make it seem as though your husband gets his way by default. The fact that your time together is always on his terms and the activities he wants… well, that ain’t good. I don’t think he’s being malicious, but it does sound to me like he’s being self-involved to the point that it doesn’t occur to him that you’re not happy. It sounds like it simply hasn’t occurred to him that maybe you’d like to do things together — and more than just the things that he wants to do. I suspect it may come from a similar place as the miscommunication in love languages. He may see this as “hey, we both do the things we want instead of forcing the other to take part, everyone’s happy!”, not realizing that for you, this represents a lack of intimacy and togetherness.
And while folding this into the Awkward Conversation may be a start, I think that it’s the sort of issue that needs to be discussed with a sex-positive relationship counselor. The American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists have a referral directory on their site that can help you find a relationship counselor in your area. If you want to make this relationship work, then I think you should make visiting a counselor together a priority. And if he doesn’t want to go, then go by yourself, at least at first. Sometimes these issues are best handled by having a trained third party who can help both facilitate communicating your needs with your partner and finding a solution.