Client guilt, the dark-side of seeing escorts.
Get over it! Guilt is the most useless emotion. Guilt is anger directed at ourselves. Guilt is to the spirit, what pain is to the body. Forgive yourself, guilt helps nobody. I’m sure you, like me, have heard similar quotes on the subject of guilt.
Every client wants to rid themselves of guilt and embrace the pleasure and enjoyment they seek when buying the services of an escort. However guilt is a sneaky and invasive feeling, shaking it isn’t always that easy to do. So why do I feel guilt and what should I do about it?
So where is my guilt coming from?
Well that is a very long list, summed up by the cheeky T-shirt above. (one of my all time favorite photos – can you imagine how great it was, a regular of mine agreeing to wear this for a photo – OK, getting distracted). Here are a few of the obvious sources: I’m deceptive and breaking trust in a monogamous relationship. I have daughters who wouldn’t understand my secret life or sex-work in general. I’m buying intimacy from someone who would most likely not even notice me in the ‘normal’ world. I’m older, I’m spoilt, I’m selfish, I’m entitled, I’m wasting money that could do something far more meaningful in society. I’m a creepy client of sex-workers and other better men than me don’t need to buy this service. I’m needy, flawed, and insecure. That is just the start of the ‘hate-list’ I use against myself.
Worse than that, I may be self-destructive, seeking solace and comfort from an escort that can’t give the same to me in return (without being self-destructive in their own right). Clients often want to ‘suck up compassion’ and the poor empathetic escorts that give ‘too much’ of this support away, can do significant damage to their own psyche. The fact that I know this unhealthy dynamic exists, and yet I still desire real intimacy with many of the escorts that I meet, just makes me feel even more guilty for having these feelings and hopes. It is almost a vicious spiral, adding to all of the other causes of guilt. So as the T-shirt says, ‘I am a cunt’ (in the unfairly negative use of this word)!
Of course I didn’t even add that society hates us both – escort and client alike – if only they knew the level of guilt, shame and insecurity that can hit us. It’s not that we are ashamed of ‘buying sex’, or anything about sex-work – we are just generally ashamed of other aspects of ourselves. The mythical sexual freedom and indulgent debauchery that society may often imagine when picturing sex-work, probably isn’t anything like the world that they expect it is. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going back (it is amazing), but there is always a price to pay, and sometimes one of those prices is unfortunately guilt. Most of us have issues to deal with, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t on to a much better, free, and more contemporary reality.
So why do I continue to see escorts?
At TedX Sydney in 2016, Elise Payzan-Le Nestour (behavioural economist) said, “we are all greedy and lack self-control”. The smoker, gambler, drinker and even extreme athletes, vegans and religious zealots all know that their activity of choice has consequences both positive and negative – joy and despair. My initial decision was to seek joy in parts of my life that I felt I had lost, youth, intimacy, wild sex and even the adrenaline of secrecy and ‘seeing behind the curtain’ of social taboos.
Some of these reasons remain, but over time the reasons that I continuing to remain a ‘client of escorts’ have changed. There are now other reasons as well. Things like loving more than one person intimately, maintaining important connections, learning new things (both the salacious and the mundane) and having joyful, compressed and intense moments to look forward to in the future and then to savor secretly when looking back at my hidden past. I added an article specifically on ‘Staying in the Moment’ to look more specifically at this unique dynamic that exists in the escort-client world.
I actually feel quite sorry for people who do not have this amazing level of sexual and intimate experience in their lives. So those who give in to guilt and choose a different moral path, may not have to deal with the negative consequences, but they may be robbing their life of areas of fulfillment that they may regret. I believe that I would look back and regret aspects of my life, if I gave up on these amazing experiences.
I know I need the highs and lows to feel alive. My personal discovery in seeing escorts, is that a mundane, predictable and vanilla path is death, a zombie-like existence, that fails to see there is more joy to be had. This has led me to do many, many other new things, however seeing escorts is still my favorite part of a more vigorous, spontaneous and vibrant life.
How do escorts manifest and deal with guilt?
This will probably be material for a longer article in the future (if an escort or two would like to help me with the appropriate material). For now, it still needs to be placed within this discussion. Like clients, escorts are on their own journey of dealing with guilt. The sources, the resulting emotions, and the level of personal resolution changes from escort to escort and even from moment to moment with the same individual (clients as well). I have had moments when I felt I had ‘resolved the guilt’ and then it comes back and ‘bites-me-in-the-ass’ in unexpected ways.
I have been watching this play out with some escorts. In many social media conversations there is pressure to agree that guilt is bad, society has it all wrong and escorts are like the ‘mutant X-Men’ and the future of a liberated and sexually enlightened society. Wouldn’t it be nice to think that were true, and in some ways, I think that it is.
Some of the same voices however will then say that when they “retire, they wouldn’t see a man that has visited escorts”, often missing the guilt-laden irony in this statement. Some particularly smart escorts also experience guilt from their astute awareness that as advocates for feminism, their earning potential is still largely the result of residual patriarchal structures and ‘women as object’ thinking. This also causes guilt for me – as I support feminism but take advantage of the contradictions that allow me to book escorts.
Of course most of the guilt comes from us having difficulty escaping our upbringing, the standards of our families and friends, and the malicious attacks that come from an ignorant society with a mistaken view of sex-work. The social errors don’t really matter, as wrong or right, the sheer volume and persistence is a weight on client and escort alike. It scratches away at our insecure selves in those weak moments, and creates self-doubt, sadness and this most useless of all emotions – guilt.
What does it all mean?
So I don’t know what to do. Sometimes in the ten-seconds it takes to get a condom on, the guilt-laden doubts enter my head, and my penis goes into retreat. I win the battle more than the doubts do, and most times joyfulness ensues for a brief few hours, more than worthy of the financial cost, and an amazing memory is created. Of course later the guilt can return in what I guess we might call ‘post-booking melancholy’ (a topic I added after this original article was written).
As for the industry, we shouldn’t pretend that guilt doesn’t exist. Please don’t shame those who feel it more acutely than you, those who can’t be ‘out’ with their family and friends, and perhaps most of all: those of us compassionate clients should remember that in our own guilt, we need to be reinforcing to our wonderful supporting escorts that their choices are more than worthy too! Any guilt that they may feel should give way to the youthful, vigorous, spontaneous and vibrant life that they are providing to their clients, and hopefully they are fully able to enjoy this more vibrant and enriched life as well.
Guilt really is the most useless of emotions.
Xx SP 17 March 2017 (Happy St Patrick’s Day) (article updated 9 May 2017 and again on 7 May 2018)