What Sex Work Has Taught Me About Online Dating

online dating

By Gabrielle Jay

As a sex worker who primarily acquires clients through online platforms — much to my father’s chagrin — I have learned a thing or two about meeting strangers from the internet. My business has given me ample opportunity to learn how to weed out the self-absorbed and the time-wasters as well as given me the skills to assess who I will get along with, who I will make money from, and who will serve both purposes.

Time-wasters love inexperienced sex workers. They know that the experienced ones will be able to tell within a minute that they won’t be getting diddly-squat from them and end the communication as soon as it started. However, the newer workers who have less experience are willing to put up with more.

The same goes with online dating. Newbies may dip their toes in and engage in lengthy online conversations before meeting, and for a lot of time-wasters, this is all they want. If that’s what you want, then you don’t need to keep reading. But if you want to know how to deal with the time-wasters, here are some things I have learned from spending too much time weeding through people online.

1. Be upfront, but don’t over-share.

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There is nothing I like more than hearing about people’s mommy and daddy issues, especially if I am getting paid (or have established a relationship with someone and I can hold it against them in the bedroom). But a stranger messaging me for the first time and asking me for a SERVICE and my TIME with blatant disregard for what I may be looking for is a CLIENT. Bill them.

It is important to be upfront about your desires and what you want out of a relationship, but a lot of this can be resolved by actually reading someone’s profile or going out for drinks and getting to know someone.

2. No one word messages.

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Time is my most valuable resource, I will not squander it with menial banter. The one or two word, impersonal message on online dating sites is on par with street harassment. I don’t owe you anything. Your message should convince me to respond. Show me that you read my profile. Pique my interest. Small talk is awkward enough in person, I don’t have time for that shit online.

3. Don’t try to flatter me with copy/paste.

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Personalize your ask. Read my fucking profile. The same goes with clients. If I receive a message that makes no reference to my profile or my professional website, I assume it is copy and pasted and delete it immediately. Believe it or not, there are people who cast a wide net and don’t personalize messages. No good has ever come from giving time to someone who places no value on who you are as an individual.

4. There is such a thing as “too honest.”

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I suppose it doesn’t hurt to ask for what you want, but in some cases maybe just don’t. For everyone’s benefit. If what you are looking for is a service, seek out a service provider. If your sexual predilections are so “singular” that you must bring it up in a first message, look for people with similar interests, make a dating profile on a website for people with similar interests, but don’t bombard people who haven’t articulated similar interests.

5. Meet up ASAP.

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This one may be different for different folks, but if I haven’t started making plans for meeting in person after a few messages, I assume it isn’t going to happen and lose interest. I learned this one quick enough after a few months of sourcing clients from online. If money, a time and place hasn’t come up within one or two messages, I know that they are just wasting my time. The same goes for online dating.

I spent enough time talking to strangers I had no intention of ever meeting online when I was fifteen. What I am looking for is something in person, so I would like the conversation to head in that direction sooner rather than NEVER.


Images: courtesy of the author; Crysco Photography/Flickr

Gabrielle is the Care Coordinator of Persist Health Project, a pro-Domme, and a new-media artist living in NYC. She also enjoys gardening and making men cry.

1 Comment

  • Reply June 3, 2015

    Matthew Alexander

    Number three is poor reasoning. Women on dating sites get tons of messages, while men hardly get any at all. Given that, some men might honestly feel like a quick copy and paste to a hundred profiles gives them better odds than taking a lot of time to personalize a single message. From my experience, both tactics work equally well (poorly).

    A man spamming to a lot of women is not necessarily showing he does not care about her. He’s simply trying to get a conversation going with someone.

    Women could solve this problem pretty quickly by taking some initiative and actually reaching out to make first contact. Until then, expect the spam strategy to continue.

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