Ask Lola: Dating a Cammer

Dear Lola,

About four months ago, I met a woman online, and we’ve been dating IRL. She told me right up front that she’s been a cammer for two years, and she’s content with her career.

I’ve fallen pretty hard for her. We talk every day even when we don’t see each other. I’ve told her again and again that I don’t mind her work, I respect her choices and her freedom, but it’s also clear that she wants to keep me at a distance. I’m fairly certain that if I told her I loved her, she’d run away for good.

I want to take this relationship to the next level, but how do I get her to open up more without scaring her off?

– Wanting More in Wichita

Dear Wanting More,

I don’t usually address this column to civilians, but thank you for your question. It’s a good one. Without a doubt, dating sex workers, including cammers, presents certain challenges. Reasons range from societal stigma and more opportunities for emotions like jealousy and insecurity and possessiveness to the fact that sex is sticky topic for most of us — even sexy professionals.

The dynamic you’ve described in your relationship is a familiar one. Although I can’t know for certain what your partner’s motivations truly are, I can make some educated guesses. Before I do, however, a few disclaimers. Nothing I say here can be universally applied to all sex workers. Every person is different with their own history, along with their own specific needs and desires for intimacy, romance, companionship and connection.

Also, for many of us, attitudes about sex and dating are shaped by society’s attitudes on gender (even though gender is a construct). The fact that you identify as a man and she as a woman may mean you experience internal or external pressure for this relationship to look a certain way in order to feel successful and satisfying to you. If either of you identified differently, those pressures might look very different.

And finally, no matter what advice I offer here, nothing beats going straight to the source and asking her directly how she wants this relationship to work. All that being said, there are specific challenges for romantic/sexual relationships that many sex workers face that I can address in broad terms.

Wanting To Date A Sex Worker BECAUSE They Are A Sex Worker

Let’s start with a fun fact that’s common knowledge throughout the adult industry, but most civilians don’t seem aware of: sex workers, as a rule, don’t lack for dating opportunities. Why? Because they tend to be attractive and have sexy skills by definition and for a living. To be clear, this attention is often unwanted — folks essentially trying to access for free what sex workers charge for. Constantly getting hit on is a fundamental aspect of the job.

So, with all due respect, when you say you don’t mind that she cams, that doesn’t make you cool or special. It makes you common. Furthermore, the way you’ve worded your question, that you “don’t mind” her work, may hold the key to why she’s not in a hurry to get closer to you.

Wanting To Date A Sex Worker DESPITE Sex Work

Many sex workers find it difficult to trust in romantic partnerships due to the fear that, as okay as someone might seem with their job initially, sooner or later, at some point, sex work will be used against them to make them feel guilty, dirty, untrustworthy, slutty or otherwise shameful. For this reason, if your sweetie picks up on the tiniest whiff that you think you’re giving her permission to cam or tolerating it or otherwise attempting to emotionally control her, she most likely going to reject you with lightning speed.

Dating a sex worker means walking a very fine line: not fetishizing the job and not expecting the other person to be constantly available sex machine. At the same time, it means accepting this person does not belong to you and that they have a sexual life outside the one you share. Not everyone can sit comfortably with that complexity.

Here’s my advice: Pick a time and place where you can both talk freely without interruption. Tell her you want to be in a relationship with her genuine self and that camming is her business, not yours. Moving forward, you will not bring it up or ask any questions about it. However, she is, of course, free to share whatever she wishes with you as she sees fit. Then stick to it.

As Ritu Ghatourey writes, “Love is always bestowed as a gift freely, willingly and without expectation. We don’t love to be loved; we love to love.” If you care about this person, leave the fact that she cams out of it.

I wish you the best.

Lola D.

Lola Davina is a longtime veteran of the sex industry and author of Thriving in Sex Work: Sex Work and Money, her followup to the formative Thriving in Sex Work: Heartfelt Advice for Staying Sane in the Sex Industry. You can get the audio version of Sex Work and Money via Awesound here. Contact Davina at Lola.Davina@ynotcam.com and visit her on Twitter at @Lola_Davina.

Image of Lola Davina courtesy Pat Mazzera.