Love & Sex


The minefield of dating as a sex worker

Just as I was summoning my inner Carrie Bradshaw to sit down and start writing this piece, a Hinge notification popped up on my phone.

I thought it was odd as I hadn’t touched the dating app in months, but it was from someone I’d gone out with nearly a year and a half before and who, at the time, had been a perfect gentleman. We bonded over our love of travel. He showed me different van builds he’d completed and places where he’d camped in those vans. We spent an idyllic night on a blanket on the beach under the stars. At the time, I hadn’t moved to Florida from New Mexico yet; there was no pressure for a second date and we left things amicably. Seeing his name pop up put a little smile on my face as the thought of another night on the beach flashed in my head.

Then I read the message:

“I think we should fuck,” he wrote.

He then proceeded to ask if I knew anyone who would “be down” for a threesome.

That’s it. No, “How are you? or “How do you like Florida?”

It might as well have read, “I know I haven’t made any effort since we last saw each other, but I still assume that not only can I get in your pants, but you’d have an equally desperate friend who’d want to join.”

This was very much on the tame side of things I see on my phone on a daily basis, but it perfectly summed up what it’s like to date as a sex worker.

There are so many ways to get into the adult industry these days. I started by selling pictures online in 2017. I phased to an OnlyFans page shortly before the pandemic blow-up of 2020. Six months after that, I was on my first professional set.

I grew up in a household where nudity and sex were never things to be ashamed of, and I’ve struggled more with being shy about reading my (few) lines than taking off my clothes. The industry has been perfect for me. It fits my lifestyle. The only downside being how people outside of porn always seem to treat you differently once they find out what you do for a living. And I’m not even talking about the folks who see sex workers as less than human, because, ew, those people shouldn’t be in anyone’s dating pool. I’m talking about the people who assume what we’re all about, both as sex workers and as human beings.

In reality, we’re mostly normal folks, many of whom get off-set and go home to our families or to our other jobs. I am an entire complex person with a sense of humor, friends, family, goals, hopes and dreams. I’ve spent my free time doing volunteer work, and I continue to work alongside charities in Florida. But once I mention that I do porn, I become a one-dimensional being. And it often becomes the main conversational topic thereafter, including with friends.

But I’m not only that, nor are most people in porn. Most of my industry friends, myself included, for example, rarely participate in casual sex or hookups. In fact, I find sex without an emotional connection to not be worth the risk to my mental or physical health—and, if we’re being honest, most people aren’t good enough in bed for it to be worth it even if you’re not worried about sexual health. Yet people assume so much about me and my sex life.

They shouldn’t, and the same goes for my colleagues. I recently attended one of the largest expos and award shows in the industry—the AVN Awards held annually by Adult Video News in Las Vegas, Nevada—and I heard performers say they couldn’t remember the last time they had sex off-camera more times than I could count.

Nevertheless, in dating, no matter how much we express our needs and concerns to potential partners, they assume we’re easier to sleep with; that we’re more likely to have multiple partners; that we won’t have feelings. Some people seem all in one day only to turn up with someone else the next. Some have hit on me and my best friends in the same breath, and when confronted about it, they almost always provide some variation of, “I didn’t think you’d care because you do porn.”

I’m fine with finding different types of non-exclusive dating because of how my job works, but I still expect the same level of communication and respect that any other human deserves. I can separate my personal life from my work life. Others can’t.

I’ve had moments when I’ve become frustrated by how I’m perceived, when I feel like I might need to step back from porn if I ever want to find a life partner or be taken seriously. Those thoughts tend to be fleeting, though, as I see so many of my friends in the industry get married and/or have families—and porn couple goals.

But maybe it’s not just about the porn. Before I got into the industry, traveled solo often. I attended more music festivals and concerts than I could keep track of—I visited Sturgis; saw Niagara Falls; camped in Moab; and wrestled alligators. I’ve lived a whole lotta life, and I found a lot of the same issues in dating before sex work. It has felt like a lot of men don’t want someone who has had more life experiences than them.

I’ve amassed a bit of an internet presence, and that has seemingly led to people building fantasy versions of me in their minds before getting to know me. But I want deeper connections, and I’m OK with waiting. I have a massive support system of family and friends and more love than I can fathom, so while I would love to have a partner to share all my adventures (or just my seven to 11 sugar cookies and a couch), I ultimately don’t feel like I’m missing out. I would much rather wait for my twin flame than bend for some possible mate. Doing porn significantly reduces the dating pool, but I guess I’ve stopped seeing that as an objectively bad thing. Still, if you have long hair, big hands and like heavy metal and country, bang my line.

Thick Lizzy is a former bartender turned porn star. She’s from New Mexico but today calls Florida home.

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