Coming out of the slut closet is a delicate operation—whether you’re coming out as a cam girl, or as poly, or as someone who sells their discharge to strangers online or whatever. Here’s three things to remember when telling your partner about your inner ho. By Karley Sciortino.
I’ve been dating this new guy for about a month now, and I’m really into him. The issue is that I moonlight as a cam girl, and I don’t know how to tell him—or if I should even tell him at all. In the past, when I’ve told guys I’ve dated about my work in the sex industry, they’ve bailed. But this new guy seems progressive in general, so I think he might be able to handle it? I just want to tell him in the least triggering way possible. Help! Desp Donna
Dear Desp Donna,
Speaking as someone who has worked as a dominatrix, let me just say, I feel you. The “p.s. I’m a whore” conversation is generally a non-lol convo to have. But actually, not having it—and therefore dealing with the anxiety of hiding that part of yourself—is probably ultimately worse than being up front about it. So it’s time to cum clean, so to speak. Luckily for you, not only do I have experience in this department, but I also have a bunch of pro-whore friends who have been in your same predicament many times over, and so I’ve gleaned a lot of wisdom over the years about the best way to go about this. In my opinion, there are three main points you should remember when coming out of the slut closet to your partner (and these rules can likely be applied to other slutty coming-outs, like coming out as poly, or as an escort, or as someone who regularly get gang-banged at sex parties on the weekends, etc.). They are as follows:
1) Tell them sooner rather than later
Now, this doesn’t mean that you should rock up to a first date like, “Hey my name is Donna, I’m from Dallas and I make strangers cum for a living.” That might be a bit full on. Of course, being a sex worker is a delicate subject to broach, and you don’t owe every random person you fuck that information. But it’s probably also not a good idea to wait until you’re months in and in love with the guy before you share this vital piece of information.
In my experience, people generally prefer to be faced with the truth—even when the truth isn’t “easy”—over being lied to, or kept in the dark. So, if you’re entering into a new relationship, totally omitting your sex work from the conversation might be perceived as deception if/when it finally comes out. Take my escort friend, Madeline, for example. She once kept her sex work a secret from her boyfriend for 4 months, only for him to eventually find out when he saw a client’s emails popping up on her phone. In the end, he was OK with her escorting, and they kept dating. However, all the lies she had told him at the beginning of their relationship, in order to keep her secret—so like, inventing fake friends that she was “hanging out with” when she was actually with clients, or faking a trip to visit her parents when she was actually away with a John—made it difficult for him to ever fully trust her. In the end, it was the deception that was their relationship’s demise.
Another added bonus of dropping the slut bomb on your potential partners early is that it acts as a filter—and only the enlightened may pass. Like, why waste your time, feelings and orgasms on someone who ultimately isn’t down to date the real, full-on, naked-on-the-internet you, ya know? And also, just because someone doesn’t want to date a sex worker doesn’t mean they’re an evil slut-shaming monster. Someone can support sex workers, and still not want to date one, because they’re a manically jealous uber-monogamist or whatever. That doesn’t make them a bad person, but it does made them a bad partner for you.
2) Tell him with confidence
I.e. this is not a conversation to have during one of your blacked-out meltdowns. The way you choose to share information is integral to how someone interprets it. So maybe try saying something like: “Hey, I jerk-off on webcam to subsidize my income: this is why I chose to do it, this is what I like about it, and I’m open to answering any questions you have about it, in order to make you feel comfortable.” That’s a confident, clear way of communicating what you do, which demands an adult response. However, if you get all apologetic and say something like, “Uh so yeah I kinda cam sometimes. Do you hate me? I feel like you hate me,” then your shame around it is going to be contagious. How can you expect your partner to be positive and accepting of your sex work unless you too are positive and accepting of it?
Obviously, a lot of people have default negative perceptions about sex workers—but that’s usually because no one has ever taught them otherwise, and so they’ve just never questioned it. But it might just take meeting one smart, sweet, empowered sex worker in order to change their perception forever. But that’s only going to work if you’re confident about the choices you’ve made.
3) Before you tell them, understand whether you’re willing to give it up—even if only temporarily—for the sake of the relationship
Before you come out, you have to ask yourself: Is camming something that I’m willing to give up—or at least put on pause—for the sake of this relationship? Of course, there’s no right answer to this question. Like, you might currently be in a position where you’re thinking, “I fucking love camming; I can’t believe I’ve worked out this weird life hack where I get paid to jerk-off; There’s no way I would give up my ho income for a dude.” Or, you might be in a place where you’re growing sort of bored with cam work, and you’re more interested in exploring your connection with this guy, and you know you can make enough money to get by without it. And that doesn’t make you a weak push-over non-feminist, btw.
I don’t think we have to walk into each new relationship thinking, “Accept me as is, or else.” Every relationship is a negotiation. And while there are definitely a lot of people out there who wouldn’t date a sex worker, there’s also plenty of people who would love to date someone like you. But if your dude isn’t one of them, well, it’s probably better to find that out sooner rather than later :)