“I may have fallen in love with a sex worker I am paying. Could it be real?”

I have been seeing a sex worker for a year now, very regularly, like more than once a week. We go beyond sex and also have dinner dates and outside encounters. I am now extremely attached to her; I may have even fallen in love with her.

She was hired to provide me with a “girlfriend experience” and apparently she is really good at her job because she treats me so well that I sometimes ask myself if she has any feelings towards me. But I also understand that it may be just because she is an excellent professional; after all, she is just delivering what I asked her to deliver.

My dilemma is: should I accept that this is just a professional relationship that is bound to end one day or should I try to make it more permanent, possibly risking the end of the professional relationship that I enjoy so much?

Eleanor says: There’s a whole debate in studies of rationality about how we should react to what are called “debunking” problems. A debunking problem is when you believe something but there’s reason to think you’d have believed it whether it was true or not. So even though it really feels true, that isn’t necessarily a sign that it is true. Here’s one we all face: it really seems true that your kid is a phenomenally talented artist, or that your cat is in the 99th percentile of cuteness – but of course, your love for them would make you think that, so despite how strongly it feels true, you have to admit it might not be.

You know you’re in a debunking problem here. You pay her to make you feel adored, and when you do feel adored, it really feels true. But you also know you’ve asked her to trigger that feeling, so its intensity isn’t a guide to the truth.  

Does she have feelings for you? It’s not impossible. It’s not probable, either. But it’s not impossible. Still, I think the thing in the circumstances is to resolve that if she has feelings for you, she’ll tell you. That’s the only sign that you could take to be a true indication that she has feelings for you . And I think it is important not to stoke the hope that one day she will say that. Not “I’m waiting to see” – more like “I’m committed to thinking she doesn’t have feelings for me, unless she actively says otherwise”.

But – and this matters – that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the connection that you have with her. She provides this intimacy in exchange for money, it’s true. But you’re still allowed to experience it as intimacy. It’s so deeply important for us to be able to feel connected to others if want to be; seen and held if we want to be. Sometimes we get experiences that meet that need by purchasing them. People who want touch can buy massages, people who want sexual intimacy can buy it, people can even buy time to talk uninterrupted and just be listened to. These are all deeply valuable experiences and there’s nothing wrong with taking genuine succour and restoration and rejuvenation from them even though they’ve been bought. Professional relationships are just that – professional – but that doesn’t stop them from being genuine sources of care. She provides intimacy in exchange for money; you’re allowed to feel that intimacy.

You might also be pleasantly surprised by what this relationship could provide in the long term, even if she has no feelings for you at all. Sometimes experiencing the thing we need in a professional setting can make it easier to find and maintain it outside that setting. You don’t need to be thinking about endings or transience, either; sometimes relationships like this can last for years.

There’s nothing wrong with savouring the feelings you get from this relationship – as long as you recognise it as just that: a feeling, and not a guide to the truth.

This is an article by Eleanor Gordon-Smith copied and pasted here for your convenience. Click here to read it on The Guardian’s website (opens in a new window).

I am an elegant, affectionate, sensual hedonist and elite, discreet dating companion... a blonde, ultrafeminine and authentically kinky English rose. I like to laugh, smile, flirt and play, whether for a moment’s welcome escape, a wild afternoon or an opulent evening for two… If you would like to comment on this post or arrange a date, please email MissLillyWatson@Protonmail.com.

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