Being a sex worker, like being poly, having an STD, having a kid, being still married (even if you're separated), is one of those pretty huge possible-dealbreakers that you should ideally disclose before date 1, but definitely by date 3. If I was dating you, the fact that you kept it from me alone would be a breakup-level offense. To lawyer it, you're actively concealing something because you know that if you disclosed it, the other party would probably withdraw consent. That counts as lying by lawyer-rules, and if even lawyers count it as lying, it definitely counts as lying in a relationship.

Sorry, but if you want to get company pens in your inkwell, you have to be ok with the notion that your private life may become company knowledge. You don't get to date someone and lie to them while justifying it with "well there's too much risk that it could get out at work." If you're worried about that, don't fuck your coworkers. There's a lot of wanting to have your cake and eat it too here.


I would say to the LW, the end of Med School is the beginning not the end of your medical training. There is PGY-1, (Aka Post Grad Year one aka your internship) your fellowhship, post residency, studying and passing your medical boards for your speciality..

My advice, no matter if the guy flees after your "talk" with him or not, is to talk to him. It is not about your sex work, it is about Trust. You are hiding something, no matter it is sex work or massive financial problems. If you want to be with this guy, tell him what you do to pay the bills. The guy, I am guessing is well educated, discipline and is probably pretty pragmatic. You are not the first nor the last person to use sex work to pay for medical school. If you want something more serious with this guy, you need share more than bodily fluids with the guy. You have to share your vulnerabilities. If he flees, it is his lost, and he wasn't worth your time. If he is understanding, or trying to work out some deal with you, then it is good to have this talk now. How you pay your medical school loans, is most likely an open secret. It is better that you tell him, if you want something more serious, than have others tell him. Especially if you have a rival for his affections. Talk to him, sooner than later.. Don't put it off.


Sometimes LW's give you a bad vibe and this is one of them. I severely doubt she's prostituting herself to stay in rent and food - she's a tourist on a thrill ride.

How about option #3: Do what the rest of your colleagues are doing: Spend the next 8 months living on ramen. It's not hard, something like 100,000,000 Americans are doing so right this very second. Maybe spend at least some of your adult life not depending on men you have sex with?

Also - your boyfriend WILL find out. If the relationship has any hope of surviving that revelation, it's now. And oddly, you'd almost need to commit to not moving in. If someone I was dating revealed she was sex worker but didn't need the money now that I was in her life... that sounds like the world's oldest scam.


I, too, believe sex work should be de-criminalized, but de-criminalization is not in and of itself a panacea. Amsterdam has significant problems with human trafficking, despite all the laws, despite all the transparency. I don’t know how you prevent that.


@1: I disagree. Being 100% poly or having a kid who is in your life are essential aspects of your identity that WILL affect your partner for the whole relationship and should be disclosed early on. There's a big difference between "I'm poly and our relationship will have to be poly or I'm outta here" and "I have been in poly relationships in the past/am in one now, but monogamy with you is an option I'd consider." One is a basic compatibility/dealbreaker issue, the second is a commitment question best left until a couple decides they're serious, much like this--she's already considering giving up sex work to be with this dude.

These two haven't discussed or agreed to exclusivity, so this situation really isn't any different than WDYT still having a FWB or dating other guys until they decide whether they want to make a serious commitment--which is a very common reality of dating in the Tinder era.


Just throwing this out there: It doesn't matter if she dates someone in the medical profession or not; any jilted ex-lover, regardless of profession, could out her. So, don't necessarily rule out this hot doctor in the future if that's the only thing keeping you from pursuing it.


WDYT, if you lie to this dude your relationship has no future. If you get serious, he will find out about this open secret. If you don't want a monogamous relationship (i.e., if you want to continue sex work), then don't commit to one. However, if you really want to see if a relationship might work with this guy, there is a third option--stop kicking the can and take a break from sex work for a bit, if you can manage it without entirely uprooting your life. That will give you some time to work out whether this dude is worth it/whether you can trust him, and when (if) you do decide to tell him (before he gets to know your friends/family would be best) you can honestly say "It's something I've done in the past", which might be a little less shocking to some than "You are currently dating a sex worker."

If he's the guy for you he'll accept this like your friends and family. But is the slim chance this relationship works out long-term worth the potential career repercussions of telling him now?


@4 Apparently somebody told you that decriminalizing prostitution would automatically reduce trafficking. The two aren't related that way. Decriminalizing means resources now used to prosecute consenting adults could be redirected towards prosecuting traffickers, and it means sex workers would be able to assist authorities in their efforts to find and prosecute traffickers. This /could/ result in a decrease in trafficking and/or an increase in prosecution of traffickers. But it's dependent on authorities spending just as much on finding traffickers as they now spend on prosecuting prostitutes - and on authorities knowing /how/ to find traffickers, when the job before decriminalization is so much easier than it is after.

But the actual point of decriminalizing sex work is to stop treating sex workers as if they were victimizing others, and to stop victimizing /them/ by prosecuting them for their labor when they try to report crimes committed by others. It's to enable them to have the same workplace protections as nearly everybody else, and to enable them to have the same civic engagement as nearly everybody else. It isn't a panacea - obviously! Nothing is. But laws that victimize prostitutes do /nothing/ to reduce trafficking because they make no distinction between victims, abusers, and harmless bystanders. And they get in the way of focusing on the real problem, by diverting resources, avoiding training, and silencing potential informants.

Amsterdam still has traffickers. Newsflash: they still have thieves, murderers, and rapists, too. Because they are a big city, not because they have legalized prostitution. What they /don't/ have is cops wasting their time arresting sex workers, or sex workers who can't tip off authorities to trafficking for fear of prosecution.


The last full para is really weirding me out upon rereading:

"should I lie to him for another year about the one booking I accept a week or should I stop doing full service and do massage or something else instead and get tested regularly and always use condoms with him and every client?"

There's kind of an implication that she isn't presently getting tested regularly or using condoms all the time. Like, that's not a question a responsible sex worker should be asking after they've been in the biz for three years. I wouldn't want a doctor who asked about using latex gloves during surgery...

Also, it implies the relationship has been going on about a year (there are other contextual clues - she's considered moving in, it's been long enough that she's kicked the can down the road a few times, etc).

@7 She's not dating a SLOGer. 99% of Americans operate under a "presumed monogamy" relationship model. It's one thing to keep doing sex work a month or two into a new relationship... but if it's been a year, "not discussing monogamy" is a very strong dodge.


I’m a female physician here to tell you that there is no way you’ll be awarded a MD if this gets out. I like Dan’s suggestion. I have found very few of my colleagues male or female to be sex-positive, nonjudgmental or socially progressive. Do not reveal this to anyone else until after graduation, ideally after completion of residency and after you’ve gotten out of the life. You have no right to expose this man or anyone else to sexually transmitted infection so safe sex including using a condom with him at all times, and with your clients if you value your safety and theirs, would be mandatory anyway and I would also recommend PrEP.


Background info: After 4 years of medical school (during which you are paying lots of money in tuition and living expenses), there's 3 years of residency (during which a resident works long hours but gets a stipend that is enough to live on), and possibly a 1-2-3-4 year fellowship after that for specialists (oncologists, cardiologists, etc). Only then is one out on their own, earning a big physician's salary. If she's got a very-low-time, very-high-paying job now, she could potentially be paying her way through medical school (i.e. no student loans). And, once her residency starts, no need for outside income because of those stipends. So her timeline adds up.

But something missing from her narrative: After medical school, you apply to different residency programs around the country. Maybe she's a really stellar candidate and expects to get into her first-choice residency program in the same area. But LOTS of med students become residents somewhere else because (1) the program suited their goals better, (2) they never wanted to live where their medical school is, or (3) they didn't get their first choice. She'll find out on March 15, 2019 where she'll spend the next 3 years of her life. Point being: She might leave Mr. Doctor BF behind when she leaves for residency in June of 2019.

And another point, did she meet the BF in the cafeteria? Like when she was on a pulmonary rotation but he's a surgeon? Or did/does he supervise her clinical work? If so, there are workplace rules, especially for him, but not dating those under your supervision.


@3 (she's doing this for thrills not to pay the rent): That's a possibility, but sex-work is one of the only ways one could conceivably earn $45,000-$70,000 and get out of medical school debt free. She may plan to go into primary care in a big city which doesn't pay very well but housing costs would be high. She may aspire to work overseas or some under-served population and not make big bucks. She could have gotten some never-borrow-money ethic from her family (I got "don't waste food, ever" and "always find the best deal" from my depression-era parents and have meet full-blown adults who abhorred borrowing money for any purpose at all.

@11: Was there a moral turpitude criteria at your medical school? Maybe at some Catholic Medical (Loyola, Saint Louis University, etc) or the University of Southern Mississippi Athletic, Bible & Medical School (sarcasm), but at UCSF, I can't imagine doing sex work preventing one's graduation.


LW, you have already made decisions in your life that make this relationship untenable. Time to acknowledge that fact. This relationship is a huge risk to your chosen future professional path.Them's the breaks.


Also, LW, the fact that you seem very willing to lie and manipulate your way through this relationship to get what you want doesn't speak highly of your character.


Okay, here goes:
1. The criminal--or not criminal--nature of sex work is not the issue. I doubt that the potential bf's objection to his perhaps-girlfriend's doing sex work is based on legal grounds.

Finishing your 3 years of med school doesn't mean you're done.

3.There is nothing in this letter to suggest that the lw is getting a special thill out of doing sex work. Medical school is hella expensive and the cost of living is high, and I understand completely doing what what one can to help with the expense.

I trust the lw to know her would-be boyfriend well enough to gauge what his reaction to the notion of his girlfriend's doing sex work would likely be.
I have no idea how small the world of doctors/nurses/healthcare providers is and how fast gossip spreads.
We live in a patriarchy where women are constantly judged regarding their sexual life (see Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, for starters).
I don't know how much the lw likes this doctor-maybe-boyfriend.

LW, if you really, really like this guy and you know that he would never understand or would always judge you, AND you plan to stay wherever he is throughout your internship and all residencies and fellowships, then you have some hard decisions in front of you. Personally, I am of the dual opinions that sex work should be de-stigmatized (but the reality is that it isn't), and that true human connection is rare (YMMV; if you're young and hot you have more choices, but that doesn't mean that it's any easier to find someone who you could happily round up to being "the one). I also think that there is little chance you'll be able to keep this to yourself; the more that people know and the longer you do it, the greater the risk that people will find out. It isn't fair, and it totally sucks, but that's the way things are now. You don't know what will keep you from getting a job, but gossip gets listened to--even though it shouldn't. You don't know when someone years from now will find out something that gives him or her the opportunity to derail your career, an opportunity that for all you know, they've been waiting for.

In short, I think there are too many risks, both personal and professional, associated with doing sex work for you to continue. It may not be right and it may not be fair, but that is what it is.
I would stop. NOW. And don't confess. Keep this to yourself. If it comes out, 15 years and 2 kids from now, you can deal with it then.

Meanwhile, take out another loan, eat more ramen, move someplace cheaper, and focus
(a) on your studies and career
(b) on your relationship.

I wish you the best of luck.


Obligatory preface: I, too, think we should decriminalize sex work as long as it's fully consensual. Regardless, the world is what it is, to wit, hostile to sex work. That being the case, and LW having been so open about her sex work, puts her in a very difficult place where she has a big secret to keep from anyone in medicine, and something any disgruntled person in her life could potentially use against her.

If she's only working once a week, she's a high-priced prostitute. Part of the cost is finding a woman willing to physically exchange sex for money, but part is a woman willing to risk/put up with/suffer from social scorn for her choices. I question whether LW fully thought that part through. It's not just 'lots of money for little hours worked.' It's also the potential for very real and unpleasant consequences.


Honestly, dating someone who works where you work or plan to work is already a bit of a risk (from 'this could be uncomfortable' to 'nope, Nope, NOPE'). I know, because my life partner is an MD, that doctors often end up with other doctors, and that cities often don't have so many hospitals that it often means a lot of people swimming in the same small pool all the time.

Furthermore, sexism is alive and well in medicine. You will have enough trouble finding the same wage and professional respect without a spectre hanging over your head. And you are totally right in keeping this from your superiors and coworkers at the hospital.

Further, you also have at least a year of residency before you get your liscence. That (first) year will be extremely stressful, and having a new relationship with someone you sort of work with will be extra stress, especially if that person may be interacting with you as your superior in the workplace.

It may be unfair and stupid, but also, you are already in a tenious situation and planning on putting yourself in another one. On the other hand, given that you are a soon to be doctor (smart with high earning potential) and successful sex worker (attractive enough to pull this off) your future prospects for dating seem very good once you have time and energy to actually look. There are other fish, as they say, in the sea, and you don't need to risk your livelyhood or reputation on this one. Or, if in two years your love is still mutually unrequited, then maybe you can start things up again.


@5- For many, perhaps most, people, there is a huge difference between someone you are dating having a FWB and them being a prostitute (among others, many people would suspect that some emotional baggage comes with prostitution and not from casual sex and they may not want to deal with that). My guess from what you say is that it doesn't matter to you, but it would be a huge deal for a lot of people. Not telling her kinda BF about this is setting up for a huge problem later. Readers of this column (and Dan also) have been pretty harsh on people for not disclosing less. She has no right to expect that this guy is just going to say "Oh. You're turning tricks. Awesome." If nothing else, he is going to run into people along the way (peers, superiors who make decisions affecting his career) for whom his dating/marrying a hooker is going to be an issue and he has the right to make his own choice about whether he's willing to run that risk. Also, @11 is correct that outing this may jeopardize her own chances of becoming a licensed physician. I am sure that it would be a huge issue if she were trying to take the bar exam (don't know what the character and fitness requirements for a Dr. are - maybe someone here does).


Having said all that, a hooker/escort wife doesn't seem to always be an impediment to career advancement. Say, to President.


Life is risk vs benefit analysis. I’m hoping someone who is bright enough to be in medical school on the way to holding people’s lives in her hand is also smart enough to follow the old “don’t shit where you eat” rule. Especially when it can possibly destroy the rest of her life. If not, then she deserves whatever crap falls on her head. But then, 50% of all medical school graduates are in the bottom half of their class.


@10 I had the same reaction re: getting tested regularly and using condoms- why is she not doing this already?!

The "another year", though, I think just refers to her last year of medical school.


Where does the LW expect to do her residency? If she's dating Dr. Doctor then, and that becomes an LDR, maintaining that while a resident (which is way more workload than med school) seems tough. Not that "it'll be tough" ever dissuaded anybody with stars in their eyes.

LW you want your job (for another year), this guy, and a medical career. How do you prioritize them? You can't have all three.


@7: Don't confuse "what you are obligated to disclose" with "what will get you summarily dumped by an angry, hurt ex-in-the-making for not disclosing."


Add my vote to the people who are more than a little alarmed at the implication that she isn't already using condoms assiduously with EVERYONE. Boyfriend included. Condoms are not perfect protection, so she's potentially going back and forth between imperfect protection with the clients and NO protection for the boyfriend. All all the people she's fucking, she's putting him at the greatest risk of transmission. What a way to treat the guy you think you're falling in love with.


I have a skewed moral compass, but if you dig the guy, keep dating him, keep doing your bookings, and don't tell him. What he doesn't know won't hurt him. If I was this guy and I was dating you, I couldn't be hurt if you didn't tell me and I didn't find out. People do all kind of things their partners don't know. The moral police have decided that having sex with someone else is a major violation, but all kind of other junk is just fine. What he doesn't know won't hurt him.


WDYT, break it off with your doctor lover. Make sure you’re taking every health precaution while doing sex work. Finish your MD degree, and see where you end up for your residency. Use a likely move to another state to make a break from sex work, assuming that is what you want to do, and begin your medical career. Given the number of people who know about your sex work, tell serious partners three or four months in to your relationship about your past. Think about having your own practice so that you are your own boss, and aren’t worried about a future employer finding out about your sex work from an ex-friend or partner.

Based on what I spent for graduate school, I suspect that WDYT would need to earn at least $225K over four years from sex work. If she is only accepting one booking per week, she would need to charge close to $1,100 per session, or she is seeing two or three clients per week. That may not matter, but I did wonder if she is eliding the number of clients she is seeing, especially since I also got the sense she was not already using condoms with clients. Would that be common for sex workers charging high rates? Moreover, newly minted doctors have residencies and aren’t necessarily raking in huge money, and certain practices aren’t highly lucrative. Is WDYT, really going to give up $52K in income for 75 hours of work per year so easily, perhaps.

In any event, what kind of medical professional would engage in sex work and not take basic health safety measures. In not doing so, she is also putting as risk her doctor lover and possibly his patients. At the start of a relationship we might not believe we are monogamous, but who would think their partner was a sex worker with the attendant health risk? I also question why she told her family and friends. WDYT had to understand the risks of informing a wide circle of people, including the inability to keep her sex work experience secret if need be. This is just another example of WDYT making a judgement call, but making one that is questionable. So it’s no surprise that she is considering lying by omission to her doctor lover.

While I think many people will reasonably conclude that sex work should be decriminalized, that belief doesn’t coincide with an interested in dating a current or former sex worker. I don’t see that as a character flaw or as incompatible with a belief that sex workers should be able work openly and with protections.


I think she's already using condoms and the comment was just basic bargaining and also justifying of something she knows other people (and possible herself) will deem morally wrong. As in "I know I'd be lying but hey, at least I'd be doing SOMETHING right, could that be enough?". Otherwise it just makes no sense. "Hey honey, I know we haven't been using condoms before but now that we're exclusive and monogamous, could we start using them?" And there is just no way a sex worker in medical school is not using condoms.

But regarding the actual question at hand, I think she needs to let him go. If she doesn't trust him enough to tell him the truth, there really isn't any basis for a long term relationship anyway. And LW, wouldn't you like to have a boyfriend who knows exactly who you are and where you come from and accepts you and loves you anyway? Even if you were to stop doing sex work right now, that kind of a secret is way too big to hold in. It gets to the core of who you are and what you believe in and if you feel like your partner can't handle that, then there is no future there. Especially, since it will eventually all come out, but also because a secret like that will eat away at you. Not a good foundation to build on and not a place you want to end up in.


She shouldn't have told her family and friends about the sex work. Now it's a sword of Damocles hanging above her head, even if she stops doing it now she propably won't be able to keep it a secret for future "significant others".


I'd just like to say how impressed I am with all the commenters here regarding the politeness and understanding of the responses to someone who sounds so morally suspect. Had she been male, Dan would not have been polite, and neither would any of you. Where's the "you're a CPOS and he should DTMFA"?
I love that she's a doctor practicing unsafe sex. (Yes, I also concur with the reading between those lines.) Way to go! Letting friends know about her (unfairly) illegal work that can, no question, affect the rest of her career. How is she intelligent enough to pass medical school?


I’m a full service sex worker in a legal location who used to be full disclosure to partners. What I have found so frequently, in my own experience and with coworkers, is that people (esp male partners) will say okay or not okay at the start. What inevitably happens with almost all those you continue with is that down the line, whether months or years, all the hidden whorephobia comes out. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had friends come crying (and cried myself) that until a big fight, or a problem at work, or whatever else, your apparently always accepting partner suddenly calls you a whore or asks when you’ll get a real job or says who else would date you because of this, or a million other cutting heartbreaking things.*

Due to this I have both mostly phased out of sex work and dating, and turned to not disclosing to any new partners. I’ll start disclosing again when people start being truly honest about whether they can not only accept dating a worker, but truly do the radical inner and social change that is required to be a true partner and ally.

would it surprise you how many of these guys have the gall to do this while mainly or entirely living on your earnings....? And who watch porn/see workers/are otherwise clients?


(* would it...)


(And words is the least of it - this isn’t getting into being outed, physical violence, theft of money, stalking esp going to workplaces, and weaponising in custody battles)


Dadddy @7: You have it backwards. The rules of law are far more lenient than the rules of basic decency towards people you're supposed to care about. there are a ton of things that qualify as "incredibly shitty, but legal." If your baseline for treating others is "hey man, it's not illegal," you're going to be a very alone and disliked person.

Queen_of_Hurts @ 30: Nah, the answers would be the same. "You're not technically cheating yet, but you're reeaaaally pushing it and you've definitely crossed the dishonesty line - as well as made some unwise life choice re: shitting where you eat. You need to start fixing that."

AdaLove@31: The fact that you apparently dated a bunch of shiftless losers that you supported with your sex work money while they resented your job, well, that must suck. However, you still don't get to lie to new partners because you feel lying's the best way to get what you want out of a relationship. Not cool.


I just got home. Read Dan's advice here. Have not yet read the comments (see you tomorrow) but have to add the tldr version of Dan's advice for you guys:

LW, you do not get to lie to this guy and maintain that lie into a relationship and become a doctor and have a career in which no one knows the truth. Sucks because life is unfair. Sucks big time because you've been doing two hard jobs and you should be allowed to transition between them. But the reality is, you will not be able to do this.

So you have to pick. You could tell the doctor boyfriend and hope he keeps the secret regardless of whether or not he chooses to stay with you. Or you could dump the doctor boyfriend with some harmless excuse and not date seriously until you are finished with sex work. That's all I see as options, and yes it super duper sucks.


And no, regardless of the sex work, it's totally unethical to fuck others if your partner (or one of them) believes you to be monogamous. STD concerns is only one of these reasons. You don't get to lie about it just because your job involve sex.


For several reasons I question the veracity of the letter. Anyone who aspires to become a doctor, meaning a licensed professional, knows that completing medical school does not make them a doctor, not even close. To DS, the stress of medical school is nothing compared to the stress and pressure of being in a residency program (think of it as an apprenticeship program with real life consequences for the patients she is treating) especially during the first year of the program. Unless she has applied to and been accepted into the residency program at the "hospital" or at hospital in the city where the "hospital" is located, there is no point even considering a committed relationship, much less a long term one, since it becomes moot if she has to move elsewhere for her residency. There is no guaranty that she will be accepted into the residency programs of any of the hospitals associated with her medical school. The amount of free time available to her in the first year of a residency program will be severely limited making a long distance LTR impractical. Any doctor or would be doctor knows this and would not contemplate being in any kind of committed relationship (she can't afford the drama and distraction of a serious relationship). Even after she completes her residency program, there is no guaranty that she will be offered employment at the "hospital", a medical partnership or at any hospital near the "hospital". There may be strong rules to prevent relationships between doctors and residents at the "hospital" for the same reasons that there rules against relationships between students and faculty.


Regarding the issue of her time as a sex worker having a negative impact on her medical career. To minimize the possibility of a negative impact she would be well advised to consider applying for a residency program and beginning a career as far away as possible. Even then, there will always be some risk of discovery resulting in a negative on her career.


LW: keep your trap shut, and graduate with honors.


@34 I haven’t worked while dating anyone since I decided not to disclose. Hence phasing out of both work and dating. I do not disclose that I have worked in the past and am open to in future. The people I referred to were not all “shiftless losers”, and I resent the implication that it’s our terrible choices in men that led to our poor treatment (victim blaming much?). And yes it does suck to have to lie to get what I want out of a relationship, ie basic respect, but that’s the reality for a lot of us and until you have faced the discrimination we face you simply do not understand.


The point I was trying to make is that many people say they are okay with it when what they mean is “i want to be okay with it” or “I will try to be okay with it” and those are two very different things, and the long term effects of that lack of truth at the beginning are devastating. I am simply trying to illuminate an area of this life that those who don’t work likely have not experienced and do not understand, and that I understand the trepidation to disclose, and that it’s not as simple as a lot of non sex workers seem to believe it is


Also just to clarify because it maybe looks like I’ve inadvertently fed into the lazy-stripper-boyfriend trope (which to be sure does happen): when I say a partner lived on the earnings, that is a normal and regular thing to happen between partners. Sex work is just unusual in that women workers partnered with men may more often out earn them. The higher earning partner supporting the lesser earning partner is a super normal and often healthy part of relationships. The problem is when that support is hypocritically thrown back in our faces, and then civilians support that view by somehow having a different category for sex workers supporting partners than any other higher earning person supporting a partner. Yet again othering us


Everyone should read @11 the physician.

I am not a physician but have worked within healthcare as a licensed health-adjacent professional, and all licensed health professions make it very difficult to get / renew licenses with a criminal record, and all employers do a background check which make it difficult to get a job with a criminal record, and, in many states, Google searches are permitted just to find out what sh*t is on social media.

Even if she lived in place where sex work is legal, prudence would dictate this remain a secret, in jurisdictions where illegal, doh, of course don't tell.

Even the courageous Dr. Anonymous, who came out as a gay psychiatrist at a psychiatric convention when being gay was considered a mental illness and having gay sex was in many places a criminal act, wore a mask and was, well, Anonymous. LW, you are not independently wealthy, your career and lifetime-future financial security has to come first. In future you should date only progressive sex+ people, screen to ensure they are very progressive - not a guarantee, but they are less likely to use this against you when they find out from your friend circle (and it's when not if!).


This letter is quite concerning, as I’m worried that the LW’s youthful hubris and lack of common sense is going to wreck the future that she has worked so hard to build. My parents are both doctors, and my sister is in her intern (1st) year of residency, so I’m familiar with the arena, and I am a bit shocked at the risks this young woman is taking. Right now LW is submitting applications and starting interviewing for residencies (i.e. pretty much her whole future is getting determined). If I was her, I would sit tight, say NOTHING, pray that nobody else does, and stop the sex work. I agree with all of the previous commenters... sex work should be legalized/people should generally be more sex-positive. But: if anybody outs her, if she is arrested for sex work, etc., her residency applications could be pulled and she could not “match” anywhere. This means that she would have a very expensive piece of paper that does not give her license to practice anything anywhere in the USA. This is certainly a worst case scenario, but it is not so far-fetched. She is engaging in an illicit - and for much of this country, sadly, a morally damning - activity (I’m sorry — I feel like I sound like my mother here, but the whole USA is not full of SLOGers!). Stop the sex work. See Dr. mcDreamy/don’t see Dr. McDreamy — it’s probably not going to last with residency looming. Don’t tell him about the sex work, and don’t let your clients, friends, family accidentally/vindictively out you either.


@34, queen of hurts is correct, a male world get a significantly harsher response from both Dan and the comments. You can look through the past month or so of Savage Loves and see it's fairly explicit and unambiguous. Ultimately this is a person dating one person and secretly fucking a new person on a weekly basis. It's explicit cheating.

Anywho, yes I think she's thrill seeking. Based on the timeline, she was in medical school before sex working, so this is almost certainly "supplemental/lifestyle income". It seems truly insane that someone would enroll in med school supporting themselves solely by part time sex week. Then again, I wouldn't consider this a truly reliable narrator, she may have dabbled her entire adult-ish life. At the very least, she was trading sex with unwitting client/boyfriends

@37 one of my besties got married during her fourth year, then mixed cross country for her internship. I dated two current women in their residency years. People like to fuck all over the globe.

I did wonder if, perhaps, the letter was written by the doctor-boyfriend. The Coda is so bizarre... Almost like it was written by a different person, different voice, etc.


Adalove @31-33 + @40-41: thank you so much for sharing your experience. I wish you all the best.


I like Dan's reply.

I did wonder if she really will want to quit sex work after graduation ...but I guess I shouldn't because she'll be a doctor, and that word I guess ought to seem glorified to me juxtaposed with her current profession?

Until reading comments about medical licensing yada yada, I wasn't sure why being a FORMER (and let's say criminal record-free) sex worker should be a problem for a doctor. (But should aside, of course it quite possibly WOULD.)

Lastly I'll just quibble (because that's my thing) with WDYT's assertion that being "monogamously boyfriend and girlfriend" without "cheating" means no sex work. Because of course were the BF informed or her work, it wouldn't be cheating and their relationship could still be a monogamous one irrespective of her work.


Great commentary. As I see it, we have one partner who isn’t disclosing lots of sex outside the relationship, and another partner who is a physician dating a med student at the same hospital. Covenant Marriage Yesterday, to quote Vennominon.

Also, I figured she was either 1) a med student in Australia or somewhere else without the American residency match or 2) in podiatry school.


I'm a practicing women's health physician. @11 is correct and I won't add to the discussion of disclosure ethics as it has been pretty thorough. I spent seven years of my career as faculty at a well known east coast university hospital and an still adjunct professor. The risks to career and livelihood to a doctor if anything like a history of sex work made public are huge. Residency (the apprentice years after graduation where you really learn your specialty) contracts are year to year and totally not guaranteed. There are "conduct unbecoming" clauses. You have to have a license to practice, obviously. Many insurance companies will not contract physicians with even restricted licenses. Hospitals will not offer or continue admitting privileges. My state requires formal disclosure of any legal issues other than traffic violations. A felony conviction or a misdemeanor conviction of "an act of moral turpitude" can be the end, and these days states check with other states.
Medical education is ridiculously expensive, I know. A year of tuition only, not counting anything else, is about $44,000 at university academic center. This field is still small and fairly insular. I'm in favor of legalizing sex work but that is not going to be happening any time seen. The LW should proceed with caution. I'm in favor of Dan's advice to stop now.


For those who are wondering if the letter is fake because she doesn't sound like a would-be doctor (possibility of risky sexual practices, apparently not realizing that her diploma is not a license, etc.)...

Maybe she actually isn't a would-be doctor. Maybe she's a would-be something else and decided to change those details so she wouldn't be recognized. Maybe Dan changed them because they were too revealing.

However truthful or not the details of her story are does not actually change the moral dilemma she faces, though.


I'm with @37, nice try, this is fiction


@41/Adalove: “many people say they are okay with it when what they mean is “i want to be okay with it” or “I will try to be okay with it” and those are two very different things, and the long term effects of that lack of truth at the beginning are devastating.”

You characterize this as a lack of truth, but are they being dishonest with you or even to themselves, or it is that actually understanding one’s feelings of having a romantic relationship with a sex worker can’t be felt until you have experienced it? As I wrote above, I don’t see an inability to date a sex worker as a character flaw, but throwing that fact back in your partner’s face would be.

It’s also not clear under what circumstances you’re not disclosed sex work to current partners. But I have to agree with @36/EmmaLiz, it’s not ethical to withhold the fact of current occupational sex from a partner. This is what WDYT is doing, and commentors are right to call WDYT out for putting her lover at risk by omitting a fact he should know.


i have no likable answers for once lol. here's the only problem i see w dans recommendation. delaying the relations, IF they'd even resume (unliklely dr's have really REALLY short attention span) it doesnt address him finding out down the road. not the hugest problem in and if itself, BUT that doesn't mean work isnt going to find out anyway. him or not him. i say keep it casual and keep your mouth shut OR move along! neither which is likley to happen. neither answer i like. just what i said above.


"Its legality," not "it's legality." Not all possessives have apostrophes.


@52 it’s both, but people don’t say that. People just say (well meaning I believe) “yes I can do this.” They often don’t bring their struggles with it to you until it’s too late and it plays out in a hurtful and irretrievable way. Again, I’m just trying to bring some lived experience to this thread which sure is full of opinions from people that don’t seem to have ever worked. This is not just my experience, it happens with so many of us. It is especially common between female and male partners but plays out between all genders.

To clarify, I have not had a monogamous relationship while working since the last time this happened. Basically I’ve decided that being an out worker and dating men in a fun and healthy way is not possible, as I once naively believed. I’ve kinda given up on both and am putting effort into career transition (which again you cannot understand the complexities of if you haven’t done this work). But I will not disclose that I have worked to any new partners, and I will not judge any worker that doesn’t disclose. And again, I will put the onus back on everyone else to help us create a safer world where we don’t legitimately fear disclosing, rather than blaming us for fraught choices made in circumstances you have never experienced. This thread does not show the greatest example of empathy for us (but thank you @46).


Adalove - another voice thanking you for your thoughtful contributions.

I don't see a special responsibility for sex workers to disclose their work, beyond letting one's partner know one isn't monogamous.

Generally speaking, I think it's a bad idea to date people you know through work, so I would focus my advice to WDYT there, as well as encouraging WDYT to think about some kind of back-up career in case someone reveals her past to the wrong person.


Yup to clairfy, agree with Erica which is why I said "regardless of the sex work" up above. You don't have to disclose your job. You do have to disclose that you are having sex with other people. Though I think the same rule would apply about disclosing personal aspects of your life before settling into a long term relationship- just like you'd disclose other things, financial, medical, family, kinks, etc.


@47: That's not what monogamy means. The fact that she is doing it for money does not alter the fact that she's fucking other people who aren't her significant other. It would not be "cheating," but she cannot possibly be "monogamous" with her partner while fucking other people for cash, any more than he could be "monogamous" with her while fucking other people for the fun of it.


@58 avast2006
I'm not so sure. We've heard couples characterize their relationships as monogamous when one is a sex worker.
"The practice or state of having a sexual relationship with only one partner."

So I imagine those couples are saying that while theirs is a "relationship", the paid sex isn't to them a comparable relationship, because it is fundamentally work.

I know that one can find it defined as "the practice or state of having only one sexual partner at a time", but...

My usage was intended to be more supportive of the right of sex workers who (including the LW should she wish to) call their relationships monogamous, and thus more progressive, than your usage.

Though I do agree that your usage might indeed be more traditional.


"My usage was intended to be more supportive of the right of sex workers who (including the LW should she wish to) call their relationships monogamous, and thus more progressive, than your usage."
Low truthiness quotient. Toxic liberality. Fake views!


/newtownxx ~ Geez, if you’re going to spam us, at least sound like you’ve got half a brain. You “literally” accessed her phone, tell him you “refereed” me? Yep. THIS is someone I want to give money to! Right after that poor Nigerian prince.


Sporty @3: "Sometimes LW's give you a bad vibe and this is one of them. I severely doubt she's prostituting herself to stay in rent and food - she's a tourist on a thrill ride."

This sounds suspiciously like "It's OK for women to do sex work, so long as they don't enjoy it." That gives ME a bad vibe. I was one of those Americans who worked full time through university, eating ramen for part of that time, and it was misery. She's found a way to have enough time for intensive studies by working one night a week. Good on her, but if she doesn't hate every minute, she's a Bad Person who doesn't deserve love. Hmm. Of course the fact that your attitude is common is the reason she's reluctant to tell her new beau in the first place. I agree, if she dates him she has to tell him, and if he's the right guy for her, he won't share this slut-shaming attitude.


Re: workers dating someone and being monogamous... this is another thing that I think is hard to understand if you haven't done sex work. For me anyway, 'sex' at work isn't really sex. It is a performance, like not only being an actor in a sex scene but being the director, writer, and actor in a scene while ad libbing a lot and then also being admin and clean up crew. I have been in a relationship where the person knew I worked but we considered it monogamous. I did not date or have what I would call actual sex with anyone but him, and at work I facilitated people to have sexual and emotional release.

It isn't merely semantics - it's not something I understood, felt, or even expected until I worked. In fact one of the reasons I started working was to get over sexual hang ups and gain confidence... I realised it helped me with sexual hang ups and confidence while at work. In my personal life I had to do that work separately.

I think the difference in experience between performing paid sex and having sex in your personal life is one of the biggest understanding gaps between workers and non workers, and is also one of the hardest things to bridge when dating if you're not both workers. It is super rare to find someone who really gets that sex at work, I dare say for most of us, isn't really sex for us. Sometimes I wish everyone could have an experience of sex work just to understand the experiential difference, because I'm not sure I even would have pre work life.


Yeah Fan, but what if he isn’t. How could a medical student be so clueless about the moral codes which operate in hospitals. Not fair or just of course, just how it is.
Hard one. I wouldn’t tell him though, men can be right royal bitches, some of them, if you cross them or set them off.
Depending on how much you enjoy this man, you gotta choose. Some vegetables are cheap. Beetroot, red cabbage.. stay off the ramen. They put a camera down someone and those fuckers didn’t dissolve. For a long time.


I think you’re being a bit hard on Sportlandia, Fan. The LW is contemplating taking on a monogamous relationship when it wouldn’t be one. Lying at the start of something serious is not a good look.


"should I ... get tested regularly and always use condoms with him and every client?" jumped out at me too. Hopefully it is just phrased poorly. Maybe she means "if we start having sex," which I would advise against, even with condoms, unless and until she tells him that she's in a much higher risk category than the general population, which he deserves to know.

And as far as the logistics of "I'm finishing medical school" not meaning her medical training is done, wouldn't the residency she moves on to be paid, thereby putting her in a position where she has another income source besides the sex work? Perhaps that is why she intends to quit this work in a year.


Lava @66: That's exactly what I said: "I agree, if she dates him she has to tell him." Your pet Sporty described this woman as a "tourist on a thrill ride." Who's being hard on whom?

I also agree entirely that "monogamy" means sexual exclusivity. They could choose to negotiate an agreement whereby they have romantic/recreational sex only with each other, which is separate from her work, but he would need to be informed to make that negotiation.


I’m saying don’t tell him at all. If she wants to date him, she’s got to give up being a sex worker. Too risky in that world. Unless she wants to make a stand. Then tell him and keep being a sex worker, and be ready for any fallout.
Don’t be a smartarse. She has as one of her options to lie to him, for a whole yr. Sportlandia not feeling ok about her vibe seems consistent to me with how she is presenting herself. Er no, you don’t lie you don’t cheat. Now, what are the other options.


Lava @69 (congrats!): I think she should tell him, whether she continues with the sex work or not. The only issue is whether she tells him she IS a sex worker or she USED TO be a sex worker. Not just so that he can fully know whom he's dating, but also, as someone else mentioned, it's likely that with all these friends and family members in the know, someone is going to inadvertently spill the beans at some point. That is exactly her question: she doesn't want to lie and she doesn't want to cheat, but what are her other options. Why would you get a bad vibe off her for asking the question?


Adalove@64 ~ "...'sex' at work isn't really sex. It is a performance..."
I get that rationalization, but for me (and I'm guessing almost all of the population) it's a hard thing to wrap your head around. I know that sucks for sex workers who have trouble finding accepting partners, but when you make a choice you live with the consequences. You KNOW the vast majority of people will have an issue with it ( be that right or wrong) that's just the way it is, and that's not going to change, at least not in our lifetime. Personally, I wouldn't have as much trouble with the having sex part as the risk part. I used to say I was the master of the calculated risk. Jumping off a 70-foot high cliff into a river? I'd accept that risk as long as I knew for sure the river was deep enough (and you can be sure I went in feet first!) But sex work crosses the risk line (for me personally). Even if you had the enormous amount of trust in your partner to use condoms religiously, they might break or leak (and some stuff condoms can't prevent even if you do use them) or who knows with possible life-altering consequences (there's that word again). And the other perhaps more emotional risk is the risk of violence to someone you love ) 'cause let's face it, that comes with the territory no matter how careful you are). You would have to be one astoundingly amazing person for me to cross the line, and let's face it, most of us aren't. But, even if you were that one amazing woman out of a thousand, if you lied to me and kept it covered up past the initial getting-to-know-you phase it would be instant disqualification, just for the seriousness of the lie. "Honey, you know how for the last year we've been monogamous and things are going great and you've been seriously thinking about our future? Well, turns out I fucked fifty other guys and got paid for it and never told you but its OK, 'cause it was just sex."


...and congrats Lavagirl on having 69 (repeatedly) lucky you!


@60 Queen_of_Hurts
I don't get what the big deal is about respecting the right of sex workers to use (as some [though not our LW] do) the word monogamy about their relationships (when, as I said @47, the partner is "informed"). (As @64 Adalove elaborates upon, this usage is quite reasonable.)

Why is that a problem/what does it take away from anyone? THEIR usage doesn't take anything away from the wider society, including the wider society's right to continue to use the word's obvious traditional definition for their own relationships.

Oh, and QoH, I think this response was quite a bit more thoughtful than your comment called for.


@63 sounds like your personal problem. My point was that she likely had alternatives and giving up sex work was a reasonable accommodation. It's not like she's a 19 year old girl with no education, money, and parents she can't go home to.

What is willing with you that you're perceive the problem is that she enjoyed it..fuck off with that bullshit.


@73 yes, it's a "right" to call having sex with dozens and dozens of people monogamy. And Weinstein had the right to call what he did "romance"... Like c'mon, words have meaning. Get your tongue out of your ass on this one


@75 Sportlandia
First, Weinstein is a poor analogy, his behavior was evil.

Second, who are you, the word police? These people aren't hurting anyone; who are you to say they need to make up another word instead of using this word about themselves in a new way that is reasonable for them. (That's the way language works.)


Adalove, while it's up to individuals to define what they consider monogamy and while the point of view that sex work is not the same as sex makes sense to me personally, this doesn't change the fact that sex during sex work carries with it all the risks to the OTHER PERSON that sex for personal pleasure does. If your partner believes you are not having sex with other people and you are having sex with other people for whatever reason, then you are lying to them and violating their bodily autonomy. The point here isn't the sex work- I could see how in the early stages of a relationship (before beginning to make longer term committments that unite people's lives/finances/families/future decisions) then it could be fine to withhold the fact that you are a sex worker. And if you are not having sex with that person, then it is none of their business who you have sex with. But it's never OK to lie to a person you are having sex with about whether or not you are having sex with others. Never. That's a violation of what they are consenting to. This doesn't mean you have to disclose the details - you just have to tell them that you are not in a sexually exclusive relationship. Yes it's complicated and yes it sucks but you don't get to violate someone else's bodily autonomy because of that.

Also yes I agree with BDF about Sporty. We can condemn the LW's suggestion that she lie about sexual exclusivity without likewise shaming her work choice (and so what if it is a choice and there are a million other things she can do). And Sporty said "prostituting herself" which is loaded and meant to be insulting.


Also regardless of the risk, you don't get to make other people's risk assessments for them. That's patronizing. You also don't get to restrict the information that other people use to make their own risk assessments because of the existence of biases and dangers in your own life and in society that make exposing that information difficult and even dangerous. You have to make your own risk assessments- and revealing or not revealing is a part of that. But if you choose to not reveal that you are not sexually exclusive, that doesn't mean you get to just lie about it and dump the difficulties on another person by violating THEM and taking away THEIR ability to make their own choices. If you choose to not reveal that you are not sexually exclusive, then you either have to quit your job, end the sexual relationship, or you are a lying cheating piece of shit- no matter that sex work is not personal or always pleasant. You don't have to reveal that you are a sex worker, but you absolutely must reveal that you are not sexually exclusive.


As to the question if someone is required to reveal past sex work (if they are not currently doing that work), then I'd say it's none of anyone's damn business. I'd think that from the point of view of the former sex worker, she'd want to make sure the other person knows about it before getting into any life long financial or family situations that could make disentanglement possible because you'd not want to be dealing with decades of covering up a lie that might blow up both of your lifes, but just dating in the beginning- keep your secrets. It's no one's business what work you did in the past, and you could reveal that later if it appears that a real life-entangling commitment is becoming a possibility.


@77&78 EmmaLiz
I agree 100%, and appreciate that (unlike me) EmmaLiz took the time to make this point.


Thanks guys. Just lucky I guess Donny..
The bad vibe comes from seeing it as an option, to lie, when he’s heading towards monogamy. This is a complex quest, and it sortof scares me because of the hospital/ medical profession and the subtle rules that may operate there. And if sex work is illegal where this woman is, makes it more dicey.
I don’t see being a sex worker in the past is info that needs sharing up front. Perhaps later when they sharing deeper things, after she knows she can trust him.


To me the question of whether to disclose past sex work depends on how far in the past the sex work was. If this woman gives up sex work to date this guy, that's really different from someone who did sex work 20 years ago. And I dunno, I just think that someone who is willing to do sex work and someone who would shame a person for doing sex work are fundamentally incompatible, and the whole point of disclosure is to identify these fundamental incompatibilities before you get involved and one or both of you get hurt. (If the former sex worker in question gets the sense that the New Partner would shame them, it might be better to just break up rather than tell them. That way they could keep their dignity.)

Lava, I still think you're reading the "should I lie" as something she's willing to do, whereas I read it as something she knows is an option, but an unethical one, hence her looking for others. If she wasn't opposed to lying to the guy she'd just lie to the guy, not write to Dan, yes?


Lava's points are good too, as has been mentioned earlier in the thread also- it's not just a matter of her responsibility to disclose that they are not sexually exclusive because of his right to know what risks (however small) he's exposed to. It's also a matter of this woman jeopardizing her whole future. If her argument is that it's dangerous to disclose because this man might dump her because of it, then my response is that they are probably not compatible in the first place. But if her argument is that she's worried there might be more serious dangers to disclosure (that he could be violent, that he could smear her professionally, that she could be exposed to legal action) then she might want to rethink dating someone in her future profession in the first place at this time. She might want to just hold off getting into a serious relationship at all until her future career is secure and she leaves sex work.

As to the veracity of the story, she's in her last years of school- we don't know where she's at exactly. Residency usually comes after classes, though we don't know what sort of medicine she's studying, and residents are doctors- since she talks about work at the hospital she might already be in her first year which is usually an internship and a part of the school or she might be in her last years of residency and she's be a fully qualified doctor looking for a job. Residency does pay a little too most of the time so she could mean that she's just doing the sex work until the residency starts. I agree that it really doesn't matter to the general advice.


Not agreeing to monogamy and not disclosing her sex work would be fine if she saw this as a casual affair. She doesn’t, she wants something serious with this man. Hence thinking to lie to him to hang onto him.


She has three choices as I see it. Walk away from this man and keep focused on her work, issue solved.
Tell him her truth and see how it goes.
Stop doing sex work and continue in the relationship.
Much as we all don’t want sex work to have stigma, it does. The LW knows this, we all know this. And these hypocrites who make laws keep wanting to make sex work more dangerous and stigmatised.


@55/Adalove: “People just say (well meaning I believe) “yes I can do this.” They often don’t bring their struggles with it to you until it’s too late and it plays out in a hurtful and irretrievable way.”

This seems to be such an important as aspect of a relationship with a sex worker, and one that is obvious in hindsight, but not recognized in the moment, or until it’s too late.

But I still sense that for many men who date sex workers it is just a psychological barrier that can’t be broken, and that wouldn’t change if sex work was lawful and socially acceptable. It is an inability to see the sex of sex work as work.

Adalove, I’m sorry that you didn’t find us here to be particularly understanding. But you’ve also made clear that we cannot understand you experiences, so given that, I think we’re doing the best we can.


@76 I know you aren't so bright. The Weinstein analogy is meant to show you gently how brain dead your analogy is. I assume by evil you meant "suggested behavior that I support", right? I mean given that you think monogamy is fixing multiple people, why have words at all?

@Emma what other verb would you use for "offering oneself up for sex in exchange for money"? Whoring oneself? Slutting out? I'll wait.

Meanwhile your buddy over here is defining monogamy as having sex with others and arguing that words don't matter. Make up your mind please. Unless of course that neither are true and y'all just want to be contrarian, if so then admit that.


@11 Kittoon to me makes the most 'heads-up!', useful comment.

I would think the LW's absolutely primary concern is not to imperil her future as an MD. There's good reason, then, for her to prioritize not allowing the story of how she's paying for med school to get out. Is her prospective bf likely to let the cat out the bag? Well, she knows better than we do ... but she has to ask; doesn't that imply there's a fair chance of his doing that? He could feel hurt and misled through her not having been monogamous with him, or for her having been a sex worker; he could simply have had no exposure to sex workers or to a range of clients, and react immoderately in shock or lack the necessary discretion.... Before the LW even asks herself about what she wants her doctor-lover to know, she has to consider the possible repercussions of her telling him on her career.

As to what she should say in the context of her nascent relationship ... maybe that should be a secondary consideration, but I would perhaps urge a 'baby-steps' approach. Like she could talk about a hypothetical friend who paid for college through sex work and assess his reaction. But we need more context here about their whole way of relating. How often do they see each other? How does he treat her? What do they share? How does their evident disparity in power--him an MD, she a final year financially pinched med-school student--affect their relationship? What's his attraction for her? Is it to do with his representing a security or possibly a degree of professional sophistication and success towards which she's been striving?


Don't be daft, Sporty. What you are describing is simply "choosing to do sex work". The rest of it is your own projection (offering up, prostituting oneself, whoring etc) and yes it's because you wish to be insulting.


@89 A quote from my favorite movie: "Only a fool looks at a finger that points at the sky"; you're a great example. Both "prostituting" and "choosing to do sex work" have identical meanings. I don't know what your issue is. If i wanted to insult her for being a sex worker or slut shame her, I wouldn't lightly dash it in one little sentence in the mountains of words I've written here, on this post any number of others involving sex workers, which isn't exactly a rare topic for SLLOTD. If you think "prostitute" is a bad word, that's your own negativity, not mine.

If you want to stroke your tone-police boner in public over my posts, I can't stop you; but I'd prefer you didn't.


@43. Delta. Excellent, balanced response.

@45. Sportlandia. We don't know at what stage the LW's relationship is with the doctor. Have they had any discussion about exclusivity? Presumably not. About feelings? I'm not sure. If he comes out and says e.g. 'I know I've been fitting you around my schedule, and I've got a bit of a rep for fooling around with younger women since my marriage broke up ... but I really like you and sense you like me. Where do we stand?', then, in these circumstances--with his having made that overture--she has to disclose--has at least, morally, to make a partial disclosure that she has been sleeping with others. But I didn’t get the sense from her letter that they were there yet. I also considered that she might be keener on him than he was on her ... or possibly just that he knew well enough that he had more options.

Incidentally, it wouldn't be my reading that she's having sex without condoms with her clients. One possibility she's considering is stopping tgr srx-work, then (presumably because she may have unprotected sex with the doctor) getting tested regularly to make sure there's nothing late in showing up.


@59. curious. I agree about what 'monogamy' means. It seems that the time is approaching when the LW will be non-ethically nonmonogamous in not saying something .

Adalove's perspective on nonsexworkers' hypocrisy in dating current and former sex workers are salutary. I agree that they are under no obligation to expose themselves to special stigma by being truthful au pied de la lettre. But the LW is right to intuit that the moment of truth is nearing.


All her friends and family know about the work. I don't see how it's possible to keep it secret from a boyfriend, unless she keeps her boyfriend separated from her friends and family forever. He'll find out about it eventually, even if she quits now and doesn't tell him. If she doesn't quit, it will be a question of what happens first: 1) he starts to wonder where her money comes from when she doesn't have a job, or 2) friend/family mentions it.


Luckily Sporty, I don't give a shit about your preferences. But also I'm certain that you know the difference between saying someone chooses to be a sex worker and someone is out prostituting herself while she could be eating ramen- that's why you chose those words. It's the "aw shucks" bullshit - as if you just stumbled upon the wrong words innocently what you getting so worked up about- that's daft.


Ms Fan @63 - As "[rhymes-with-shut]-shaming" is a bit of a Humpty Dumpty word, it would be helpful if you'd provide an example of the least supportive response you'd accept as being non-s*-shaming. I don't rank you with those who find anything short of YGG to be s*-shaming, but it would be nice to have a precise reference point.


Two last points which didn’t seem to get much attention. First, why did WDYT tell her family and friends? While there may have been a need to tell someone, telling a wide circle of people just seems like poor judgement given her inability to control this information in the future. Anyone of them can out her anytime, and starting over away from her old friends may be the only way to close her self off from her sex work in the future.

Second, while we expect we may not be monogamous with new partners, a significant percentage of people will be by default, and most everyone else interested in a monogamous relationship will not have multiple other sex partners. Given, those reasonable assumptions, I think some doing sex work would need to make a disclosure about the number of sex partners they have earlier in a sexual relationship.

Relatedly, her lover is a physician in a hospital setting. To the extent he considers his sexual practices in the context of treating patients, WDYT’s failing to correct his reasonable assumptions about her sexual activity could be problematic.


EmmaLiz is right @78 that WDYT would be depriving her potential bf of his right to make an informed choice about her future were she to continue passing on saying something about her work. But it's still a 'tough love' thing to say to her. This is because she falls under an asymmetrical obligation to expose on account of the health risks of her work, and because of the (frequently unprincipled and irrational) aversion in which sex work is held.

'Monogamy': does this mean 'sexual exclusivity' or 'exclusivity-of-nonprofessional-emotionally-committed-sex'? I don't see why it can't mean the latter. Otherwise we are denying sex workers the word--like denying e.g. 'boyfriend' to asexuals or the promiscuous. And maybe it isn't sex that makes for exclusivity? Maybe it's holding hands walking down the road?


Sportlandia @90: 'Both "prostituting" and "choosing to do sex work" have identical meanings'
Except that one is insulting and one is not, and you know that. Just like "virtue signalling" is not a neutral term. Here you are throwing sexist epithets around and then claiming "they're just words." Language is loaded with value judgments. Tell me why you used the phrase "tourist along for a thrill ride" rather than "someone who does sex work out of choice rather than necessity"? The first shows nothing but contempt, while the second is an objective statement of the facts of her situation. If multiple people are calling foul about your word choice, perhaps it's the user of the words and not the readers who have the issue?

Harriet @91: That's a good interpretation of that strange phrase about condoms: "should I accept that we can't have a fluid-bonded relationship while I'm doing any form of sex work." Thank you.

Venn @95: I'm not sure how anyone can be a regular reader of this column and too squeamish to type the word "slut." But what I suggest as an example of a minimally non-slut-shaming attitude is an acceptance of the fact that sex work is driven by demand; is perhaps not something most of us would choose to do but is a valid option that serves a societal need; and that people who do this work are still people who deserve the same basic respect as every other human.
Non-slut-shaming does not impute an obligation to date someone who is a sex worker, just to refrain from using words like "prostituting herself" and "tourist along for a thrill ride" when discussing their situation.


@94 I am telling you what I meant. You don't get to decide what's in my head. You don't get to tell me I'm "lying to myself". Look at yourself in the mirror, good grief. You're not an idiot, you can read. Don't choose to ignore context now so you can get fantasy internet points.

Unless this is who you are.


@98 "prostitute" is the valueless word. It's as value loaded as saying "penis" hangar of cock or dick or using vagina instead of pussy. Whore/slut are the value loaded words. I'm not playing this "I get to define words and what you meant and you don't" game.

By the by, don't call me a pet.


Well, kudos to the LW for starring in her own 80's movie. Not many of us get that chance.


@Sportlandia: I had a negative reaction to "prostituting herself" and I wasn't sure exactly why until you suggested "offer herself up for sex..." which I also found demeaning. I think it's because there is an implicit value judgement (which you may not have intended) in the idea that by performing sex work one is selling him/herself rather than just performing a service. We would never say that the accountant offered herself up for some bookkeeping.

Additionally, whore and sex worker may mean the same thing, but so do "colored" and "negro" and "black" but only one of them is used anymore in common language.

I think it's unfortunate that sex work is so disrespected. It is certainly a more valuable service in society than hedge fund development and mortgage-backed securities. I know I for one would never date a former executive from Lehman Brothers.

    Please wait...

    Comments are closed.

    Commenting on this item is available only to members of the site. You can sign in here or create an account here.

    Add a comment

    By posting this comment, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use.