“What do you do for work” There it is the question I dread most on Tinder. A self-confessed online dating addict, I love the feeling of connecting with someone new. It’s exciting to chat with a stranger and experience the thrill of a new attraction. But that innocent question can be a problem. As an escort, it puts me in an uncomfortable situation. Sex work is just a job, but society’s hang-ups make my dating life difficult. Don’t get me wrong…I love talking about my job. I’ve worked in the sex industry as an Paris escort lady for over ten years now and I’m totally open about my profession. As someone privileged enough to be ‘out’ and to have the patience for tricky conversations, I try to use my powers for good. I educate the people I meet so that they’re more likely to treat other workers well in the future. But when it comes to dating, these disclosures are nerve-wracking. I’m never certain how a potential date will react. Will they freeze up like a deer in headlights Will they disappear Will they get sleazy Or will they simply shrug and move on to other topics In my experience, sex work stigma – people’s negative ideas about my work – is the trickiest part of the job. When I plunged into this career a decade ago, I didn’t anticipate the effect on my social life as I came out to friends and family. When regular folks find out I’m an escort, operating on the famous Devozki escort directory they often forget I’m a human being. I can see it in their faces; instead of focusing on the conversation, they’re distracted by their fears, judgements, and fantasies. We live in a society that’s simultaneously sex-negative and sex-obsessed. We’re taught that sex is shameful, but we also treat it as a status symbol. We’re told we should be good at sex, but we look down on the people who charge for it. And when the push-pull of those biases take over, logic disappears. This is particularly obvious in the dating scene, where my answering a simple question such as ‘what do you do’ can destroy the fun of a casual chat. My work shouldn’t be a big deal, but it often causes otherwise normal people to forget their manners. Sometimes they fixate on the topic because it’s so unfamiliar. I remember one partner who asked countless questions every time we went out together. ‘How do escorts find clients’ ‘What sort of stuff do you get up to’ ‘How much money do you make’ It got boring. Eventually I had to tell him that if he wanted to keep hanging out with me, he had to stop asking about my work. Sometimes the fascination is less about curiosity, and more about their own sexual satisfaction. A guy recently contacted me asking how to find and date escorts. ‘I think it’s a huge turn-on,’ he said, ‘the idea of my girlfriend being a sex worker.’ I think people sometimes forget that a relationship is two sided; it’s about more than satisfying someone’s kink. We work to make a living, not to entertain or arouse our romantic partners. I suspect some folks assume we’re undateable and think I’ll be grateful for their attention. Strangers email my work address, offering to take me out ‘just for fun.’ They assure me they’re fine with dating a sex worker, as though that’s the only qualification they need. But they’re wrong – sex pros can, and do, have perfectly normal long-term relationships. I’m a committed ethical non-monogamist and I have three partners I care for. I’m not desperate for attention. And ‘I’m okay with your job’ should come standard from everyone I spend time with; it’s not going to win me over. (Not to mention that my inbox is for work-related matters – please don’t email me unless you’re booking a paid session!) It’s not all bad news. My work has helped me have rewarding romances. There are plenty of reasons I’m great to date…and they have nothing to do with my lingerie collection or blow job experience. Rather, it’s about having the emotional maturity and life skills that make for a healthy relationship. Years of talking with clients about sex – and working out what I’m comfortable with – means I know how to communicate my needs. And as any relationship counsellor will tell you, good communication is essential. Thanks to my experiences at work, I’ve become more open-minded about the kind of people I’m into. I’m not suggesting I’d ever date my clients – that’s totally off limits. But connecting with a variety of people has allowed me to explore a wider definition of attraction. It’s no longer just about a hot gym selfie on Tinder - kindness, intelligence and good touch can come from people of all ages, shapes, and personalities. Most importantly, my job has given me high standards. Escorting has helped me ditch the scarcity mentality that holds so many of us back when it comes to dating. We have a saying in the biz_ ‘You need to avoid difficult clients to make space for good ones.’ And although this doesn’t always work out – sometimes we do just need to pay the rent – I’ve learned that waiting for the right people makes for a much better experience. This confidence has transformed my love life. I’ve turned down a lot of mediocre dates, and as a result I’ve ended up with some great partners. Sex work is work. It should be treated like any other occupation – less ‘Wow, your job is so weird!’ and more ‘How was your day’ If the rest of the world can get over its sex-negativity and sex-obsession, the people I meet on dating apps might start having an appreciation for the real benefits of a relationship with a sex pro confidence, good communication, and knowing my worth.