Dear Tits and Sass: My Boyfriend’s Back

by suzyhooker on July 1, 2014 · 4 comments

in Dear Tits and Sass

Nobody liked Logan.

Nobody liked Logan.

Dear Tits and Sass,

I was with my boyfriend for two years and we decided to take a break at the beginning of this year, shortly after which I began stripping. We recently got back together and I still can’t pluck up the courage to tell him about my new job, which I love. Problem is, his ex-wife was a stripper and he harbors a lot of negative attitude towards strippers and the sex industry in general, and has said some things that make me uncomfortable telling him (“I couldn’t date another stripper”) as well as the fact I’m scared he would tell my parents out of concern. The longer I keep it from him the worse it will look, and besides I think he suspects it already. Help, please!

Thank you,
Secret Stripper

Josephine: Wait—who says you have to tell him anything? I worked with a woman who was an attorney in Windsor. At night, she would cross the river and strip in Detroit. Her husband somehow had no idea. And I currently work with women who strip in the closet. Some boyfriends just can’t handle the truth, I guess. I think we all can relate to this quandary: How, when, and should we tell a new relationship that we do sex work?

This is a complicated problem that has a complicated solution. You know that you should tell him. But how? Sugarcoat your confession with a list of all of the positive things your new job has allowed you. “Hey babe, maybe you’ve noticed I’ve been pretty cash-rich and have had more spare time lately…” Remind him that only a narrow-minded plebe would make sweeping generalizations about anyone (like strippers, for example) and that part of the reason you like him is because he’s “sooooo open-minded and full of love for everyone, honey-buns.” He needs to know that his baggage and sex industry hang-ups are not your problem. Tell him adamantly that informing your parents will not be helpful and will make him seem like a weird, controlling jerk. The tone of your letter suggests you’re experiencing a lot of anxiety about your confession; it would advisable to tell him in a public place and please, please tell a trusted confidante of your plans.

But, let’s stop deluding ourselves. Did you e-mail us this question because you didn’t like the advice your friends gave you? Did their advice sound something like…DUMP HIM? Tell your parents your ex-boyfriend might tell them some weird stuff about you and to just ignore him because he’s not a nice person.  Then you need to start ignoring him yourself because he’s not a nice person. You said he has said some things that have “made you uncomfortable.” That’s because he’s not a nice person.  Take a deep breath and get out of that relationship NOW and FOREVER.

Caty: I gotta say I agree with my esteemed co-editrix here.  This letter reminds me why I myself tend to only date other current or former sex workers. I mean, look at how you’re still making excuses for someone who sounds like an emotionally abusive civilian boyfriend—you’re afraid he’s going to out you to your parents without your consent, but you think he’d be doing it out of concern? Your privacy as a sex worker is sacred, and you and only you should be in charge of deciding if and when to allow your loved ones behind the curtain. If you’re dating someone who’d have difficulty understanding that, how can you trust him to respect your boundaries and your personhood in general? 

Still, having been in a few awful relationships myself, I understand that no matter what we say, you’re probably not going to just dump him. I think all of us have been in that place, in which a Greek chorus of our friends is chanting “KICK THEM TO THE CURB,” and yet we just can’t listen until the worst happens. And it sounds like you’re too agitated about the consequences of him finding out about your job from some other source to delay disclosing to him yourself much longer. So you need to think about doing damage control throughout the coming out conversation. As Josephine suggests, make sure to address the issue in a public place and have a friend know where you are when you have the discussion. Too many sex workers have been hurt or killed by a furious partner when the truth comes out for us to neglect to give you that piece of advice. Emphasize that you’re not his ex-wife, and just like people in any profession differ, no two strippers are the same. I mean, you’d still love him if he were a lawyer, right?

All joking aside, maybe do a bit of Sex Work 101 with him, and explain that what you do with customers is labor, whereas your interactions with him are sincerely felt and meant, part of another, more personal part of your life.  Whatever mindgames his ex-wife may have played with him, you have no intention of making him jealous, and you want him to be comfortable with your job.  Focus on how happy dancing has made you, and how it benefits your life. Cue the correct response for him by saying, “I know you want me to be happy, so I’m sure you’ll share my excitement about how much this new job has helped me.”

If he threatens you in any way as a result of this conversation, then it’s time to drop the romantic illusions. Run, don’t walk, away from the relationship, and ask your friends if they know any cute, single, male strippers.

Bubbles: What Caty and Josephine didn’t mention was that in a follow-up email, you told us even more damning information about this guy. Girl, no. Dump him. While I agree with Josie that you’ll probably wait this out, I’m not gifted with her patience. He’s garbage! OK? My recommendation is to work on your outside relationships and friendships so you have support when he eventually does something even shittier, forcing you to DUMP HIM.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica Barry July 1, 2014 at 12:36 pm

I agree. Been there, done that. It always ends badly. I never understood that whole “i’ll never date a stripper again” thing, as if we’re all the same. I mean, I once dated a guy who was an engineer and he ended up cheating on me, but I’m not like “I’m never dating an engineer again” cause that would be really stupid. This guy obviously has a real lack of critical thinking skills.

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John Punter July 2, 2014 at 12:37 am

I apologize if I’m off base, but I’m guessing the first thing is to get your own head in the right place. A woman selling sexual services is morally no different than her being a doctor, a ditch digger, just raising her kids, or whatever. The idea that women do not own their sexuality, to do with as they please, is the last vestige of female slavery. Your BF’s and your parent’s denigration of strippers is no better than denigrating Black people, women in general, etc. I’m not saying they are terrible people. But it’s a huge moral failing on their part. The fact that they share that failing with many others doesn’t make it OK. It would be a moral failing on your part to let yourself be guided or overly influenced by them. If they don’t love you if you want to be yourself, they simply don’t love you. If they don’t love you, you have to work through the inevitable grief at that, and then move on.

If you are happy with things as they are, it’s fine to let sleeping dogs lie for now. But if your BF is saying it’s time for him to find a lifetime partner, I think it would be very selfish not to tell him. Yes you will probably lose him, but doing the right thing is generally not easy.

When things are as they should be, parents are an important part of a person’s support system. Unfortunately many parents want to control rather than support their adult children. You don’t need to push your parents out of your life. But you can’t let them control you (at all), and that may mean they pull out of your life, partly or completely. You need to focus energy on people who love the real you, because sooner or later we all need people who have our back.

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Domina Elle July 3, 2014 at 5:53 am

Of course I understand from experience how we are marginalized, stigmatized, discriminated against and far worse….I also understand there are indeed times when telling someone you are a sex worker serves no good purpose, there are times when discretion is the best choice, but….

Be true to thyself by lying?
Compartmentalize your life and lace it with lies?
Doesn’t sound very healthy to me.

Nothing is more liberating than living the truth. If people cannot deal with me as I am, they don’t deserve to know me. I’d rather be alone and not in a relationship than to compromise myself. I am not ashamed of who I am and what I do for a living and I refuse to lie about it. I’d much rather forge relationships on solid ground.

Honesty is an expression of love. I owe it to myself and anyone I claim to love to not be a lying sack of shit. I absolutely expect the same hardcore honesty in return. A relationship built on lies will not thrive. Bottom line. It may hurt, it may be difficult, but nothing worthwhile comes easy that’s a fact.

I like what john punter stated: “first thing is to get your head in the right place”. What do I personally perceive ‘the right place’ to be? For starters, having a solid foundation in regard to your sense of self, an understanding of who you are and what you are doing to create your life outside of any relationship or vocation (external sources of validation). Self awareness, empowerment.

If a person is not stable in this regard, if a person doesn’t have enough footing on solid ground in order to be able to demand honesty as well as give it in such a situation, I’d say that person isn’t equipped or ready for the responsibilities which a healthy relationship requires. Such a person may want to avoid being in a relationship until they are (fat chance lol). A person developed enough to possess emotional integrity and emotional intelligence will likely have developed an unwillingness to compromise oneself. Otherwise- enjoy the mess.

You’ll eventually figure this out for yourself otherwise will be repeating your lessons until you do.

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Nolongersecret May 3, 2015 at 10:36 am

I have been an escort for seven years and got so tired of lying to my husband, that I got sloppy and left some phone messages and websites open, and he didn’t take it so well at first.

He had a weekend of seeing escorts himself, getting ripped off, hanging in bad places, and when he got home realized that these escorts were just as human as everyone else.

Now he is a male escort, and I finally have someone to do doubles with, someone to complain about hagglers with, and even someone to get my genitals waxed with! Lol.

The moral of my experiences is yes, it’s only a job, and it can eat your soul if you’re ashamed of hiding it. I should have told him up front, and my life would have been much less complicated.

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