Weighing up whether to tell your friends and family about your sex work career is a significant decision. Unfortunately, there’s no correct answer that suits everyone. What works for one sex worker might not fit your situation best, so the best way to find your answer is by carefully considering the pros and cons.
Before you do anything, it’s critical to remember that sex work is real and valid work. No matter how others react, you deserve to be respected at all times, and your job shouldn’t sway someone’s opinion of you.
This article looks at what sex workers should consider before telling loved ones about their jobs. Use this information to inform your decision, and remember, there’s no shame in keeping your job a secret to protect yourself.
Safety and mental security always come first! Let’s dive in.
What to consider before telling family and friends
If you’re considering telling your family and friends about your sex work career, you must first consider their reactions after you disclose the information.
Will the information potentially change your relationship with them? It’s possible that your relationship could become more transparent, and they could offer more support. However, some people may react negatively and limit contact until the relationship becomes one-sided.
You might have non-judgmental family and friends, but their attitude might differ if they find out a loved one is practising sex work. Yes, this is hypocritical and unpleasant, but it’s best to consider what you’ll do if it happens.
Why do you want to tell others about your sex work career?
You might feel ready to tell others about your career. But do you know why?
For some, it’s more of a gut feeling. For others, it’s the need for more support and the desire to be transparent with the people around them.
Perhaps you’re feeling isolated and low and want to vent to others. In this scenario, it may be better to talk with a professional or like-minded sex worker than your mother or childhood best friend. Though this seems harsh, when you’re in a vulnerable state of mind, it’s best not to add extra stress to your plate by revealing your career to others.
Are you ready? Being prepared for all scenarios
After considering possible reactions, it’s time to reflect on whether you’re ready to tell people. No one wants to imagine their loved ones rejecting their career path, but you need to be able to navigate this possibility – even if it’s a very slim one.
The best way to face this situation is with your own external support system. For example, connect with anyone who knows about your sex work career (i.e. other friends or sex workers) and let them know you might need some support.
You can also work with a counsellor or mental health professional. A sex-positive therapist can help you work through the emotions of the situation using science-backed coping mechanisms.
What to do if you’re unsure
If part of you wants to tell your family and friends about your career, but another part of your brain is saying no, you might need to give the situation some extra time.
In a perfect world, disclosing your career shouldn’t affect your relationships or support system. However, even if there’s the slightest chance that you could lose your friends and family, it might be best for your mental health to hold off for a while.
Do you heavily rely on your loved ones? Can you picture your life without seeing them as often? And how crucial is it that they know what you do for a living? For some, the potential negatives of telling others far outweigh the benefits.
How to tell a romantic partner you’re doing sex work
Telling your partner that you’re starting sex work or have a career in it is a tough decision.
Before you decide, remember that your partner has no right to ask you to stop doing sex work. Make sure you’re clear on that before you tell them. It’s your life and career, not theirs.
There are lots of strategies to tell a partner about sex work. Some people like to create hypothetical concepts or ask about other sex workers to gauge their partner’s reaction. Others quickly drop it into conversation like it’s nothing. Some sit their partner down for a serious chat to ensure they have all the information. Do whatever feels comfortable for you.
Sex work doesn’t cause problems in healthy relationships, but it can highlight incompatibility and differences in beliefs. If your partner disagrees with sex work, then they’re probably not the right person for you. After all, sex work is work!
You deserve respect and shouldn’t settle for less
Whether to share your career path with loved ones is a heavy subject, and pondering the potential adverse outcomes can be very gloomy – even if they are unlikely.
However, don’t forget that your sex work career isn’t an excuse for anyone to treat you without respect. You should never be treated poorly due to your profession, and if anyone ever gets upset about your work, you must remember that you’re not responsible for their feelings.
You deserve to be accepted 100%; if you’re not, breaking away from the relationships might do your mental health some good.
Prioritise self-care and well-being
Going through the motions of deciding to reveal your career to loved ones is stressful. Ensure you look after your mental and physical health by indulging in self-care activities.
Popular ways to unwind to keep yourself sane and safe include:
- Taking time away from tech. No social media or phone, only relaxation
- Allowing yourself to be “unsexy” and binge-watch TV or chill in bed
- Exercise and increase your heart rate to unlock endorphins and other feel-good hormones
- Practise mindfulness or meditation
- Get enough sleep and pack your diet with nutritious foods
Self-care is essential all throughout life. Learn more about self-care for sex workers here.
Telling your friends and family that you’re a sex worker is a big deal and is not suitable for everyone. It’s okay if you don’t tell them. No rulebook says you have to be 100% transparent about your career. However, if you decide to tell them, prioritise your safety and mental health. If possible, have a strong support network by your side that you can rely on if needed.
Learn more about sex work and living as a sex worker here.