Just after we hit the one-year mark, Matt accepted a new job.
This job was in the next state over. It was a dream position and it was in a city where his wife agreed to live. This meant he could be back with his kids more than 8 days a month.
In the three months between his accepting the position and actually leaving, his stress level skyrocketed. I found myself resenting his wife as my needs were ignored and his needs became the focus of our relationship.
I wondered why she got to go on trips, taken out to nice dinners, and be his spouse while I was the one dealing with his insomnia and panic attacks. I should have spent more time wondering why I stayed to do those things at all.
It seemed like every other conversation we had during that time was about what the future held for us. Matt said he thought the move would fix a lot of their marital problems, but also that he didn’t know if he could even be married anymore. He was selling his house in our city and moving into a rental in their new town so he could sort things out.
I started hearing variations…
“No one would understand, she’s not a bad person.”
“We’re being nicer to each other, we have the same interests.”
“She’s my best friend, but it isn’t like it is with you.”
At one point he said he thought about marrying me if he was able to get divorced. I clung to every “I don’t know” and “Maybe”, using them as fuel not to snap, not to leave. I wanted to prove that I could be a supportive partner.
He moved first, with his wife and kids to follow a few months later. He was lonely, of course, and asked me to visit but the chance of getting caught in his new city, where they had friends and family, was too high. I also didn’t want to see any piece of his new life.
I researched escorts in his area and sent him links to a few who seemed kind and professional. I’d much rather he sleep with a provider than with a civilian girl or his wife. His response was that he didn’t have any desire to be with someone other than me, but if that changed he’d let me know. It had been at least ten years since anyone had felt that way about me. It felt too good to be true. As much as we tried to keep things going without seeing each other, it was starting to feel like an uphill battle.
A month after his wife moved in, I snapped and stopped returning his emails or texts.
Eventually I wrote him a letter explaining that I was tired of constantly comparing myself to her and coming up short. I told him that I wanted a life where I wasn’t a secret, with someone who was willing to fight for me and who didn’t want to be without me. That I didn’t want to be temporary. I asked that he not contact me unless it was to show me a copy of a divorce petition.
Not wanting to be temporary wasn’t a new feeling for me. I’ve been a sex worker for a long time, and I’ve done well. I’m not drop dead gorgeous and I’m not a porn star in bed, but I am very good at occupying the kind of middle ground that’s required to do well in this industry. I’m pleasant enough that the clients keep coming back, but not exceptional enough for them to become attached. We are paid to be disposable, to be interchangeable vessels for fantasy and companionship. That is the job description.
It is ok and appropriate that my clients don’t have attachments to me; in fact it is largely preferred. But as I’ve gotten older and I listen to my clients go on and on about how much they love their wives, how they would die if she ever left him, it leads me to wonder how one gets to that place. How do you become the kind of woman that someone wants to hold on to? It sounded like something that would be impossible for me to achieve.
My fear of being replaceable, disposable, of only being worth what’s between my legs would come up again and again, but my work and how we met didn’t have a significant impact on our relationship. It helped that Matt had been on the other side, so my work wasn’t a novelty to him as it had been with other men. That made it easy for there to be space for my other passions and interests.
Jealousy did occasionally rear its head. After we’d been together for a while, Matt confessed that he felt very jealous at times, not of the physicality of my work but of the dinners, social time and affection he knew were a big part of what I do. He struggled with feeling that way because he knew it was his fault that he didn’t get to do more of that with me. It was hard to balance acknowledging his feelings – telling someone not to feel a certain way because it’s illogical doesn’t help – and feeling like they were totally unjustified.
I started intentionally censoring what I said. It felt unfair but necessary. I’d been talking about wanting to retire since we’d met, and I think he took a bit of comfort in that.
I was asked frequently if I thought he’d cheat on me, too, if we were to really be together since I met him as a client. I didn’t think so, mainly because he knew I did not expect him to be monogamous. Despite what I do for a living, I love monogamy for myself. I far prefer being committed to one person. But I knew that Matt would not be able to look at one body for the next 40 years, so I told him that I would be fine with him seeing escorts alone or with me, which I thought would be a really fun thing to do together, if he wanted to.
We talked many times about why he started cheating and how it made him feel. He said over and over again that it had been exciting at first, but that the thrill of having a secret turned into a burden. He seemed almost relieved when he saw that he didn’t crave anyone else when we were together.
Knowing what I know now, I don’t believe that he doesn’t enjoy having a secret life. I think he truly wants to be the kind of man who doesn’t enjoy lying to his spouse and having various sex workers and online flirtations in his pocket, but he just isn’t.
I remained silent.
To be continued…