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I urged him to try harder with his wife, but, if he had to, seek a casual arrangement with a willing party on the Internet.
The contrarian responses were fast and furious: If he's looking for sex without the emotions, the e-mails and online comments and phone calls argued, a professional, monetary transaction is the way to go. Everyone has a talent! I had not a clue this would cause an uproar.
I thought most people were on the same page — I mean, we're talking about reducing someone's daughter to a paid means for sexual enjoyment. So I felt it important to clarify, to dig deeper into these pro-prostitution beliefs that had rattled me for days. This debate isn't about the criminality of sex work, a heavy and complex subject filled with grey areas — that's a matter for the Supreme Court of Canada, which is currently battling all sides of the debate.
At issue is what values embody worthwhile sex, and my philosophy is this: Whether it happens during a one-night stand, a summer fling, a friends-with-benefit arrangement or a life-long marriage, there must be a base human connection — two willing, interested humans agreeing to a good time — and a special, intimate experience.
Stephen de Wit, a sexologist I talked to last week about what makes good sex and with a PhD in human sexuality, he knows a thing or two about good sex. Even a casual, Internet-brokered one-night stand would be good for my reader in need, de Wit says. So putting a monetary value to this encounter, like getting your carpets cleaned or your nails done, removes all the fun.
She's not there because she finds you attractive, charming or seductive, so what's the point? The reader may not be looking for love — but he is looking for good, mind-blowing sex. I've never been into a strip club, for related reasons: I'd likely end up talking the ladies into attending night school, or walking my dog for a nominal fee.
Yes, I write this from my middle-class pedestal. I've never fallen on life-threatening hard times, but I know this: Women, every single one of them, are worth more than their bodies. In an ideal world, everyone would see that. But clearly, I'm a newbie in this world.
In the interest of exploring all sides of the debate, I tracked down a friend-of-a-Facebook-friend who agreed to talk to me about his experience with prostitutes — or "prosties" as he called them — and why he frequents a Toronto brothel. Tim, a divorced year-old from Mississauga who hasn't had free sex in over six months, met me at a pub. I was shocked at how easy it was to find someone with personal experience and didn't know exactly what to ask.
Thankfully, he wanted to share. He admits that "regular sex" would be a better option, but says it's difficult to meet people in his circles. Still, "doing it with someone I see a lot … that'd be better I guess. He tells me about his lost love, his ex-wife.
His eyes light up when he talks about their honeymoon heat — but they darken again when the conversation turns. He starts ranting about one lady in particular at the "house" he frequents. His emotional attachment to her is clear "she's pretty and really sweet, you'd like her, I swear" and he genuinely thinks she cares about him.
What about your safety? Tim's response is quick, and blunt: He uses protection, but admits, "when I get to that point and I'm there, I'm not worried about safety.
When Tim and I part ways, I walk home, confident in my original advice, but saddened for those who can't avoid prostitution. I had friends who'd indulged in one-night stands and was probably guilty of judging them a little, of slut-shaming. I saw the negatives — that merry-go-round of hook-ups and guys never calling again.
Then, in February , my partner dumped me. We'd only been together eight months but I was serious, deeply in love, and seven months of celibacy followed. By summer, I needed something to take the pain away. Big loves don't come every day. Instead of "boyfriend hunting", searching for an exact copy of my ex, why not get out there, enjoy dating, have a good laugh — and, if I felt a connection, some good sex too?
I could be married in five years and I'd never experimented before. This was my chance to see what all the fuss was about. There's a hierarchy of seriousness on the dating sites. At the top is something like Guardian Soulmates or Match — the ones you pay for.
You put in your pictures and add some information if you can be bothered. I started with one line "Single Canadian girl in London". It's superficial, based purely on physical attraction, but that's what I was looking for.
You go through what's there, if you see someone you like, you swipe right. If he swipes you too, it lights up like a game, then asks if you want to keep playing.
My first Tinder date was with someone I'd seen before on OKCupid — the same faces crop up on all these sites. He knew all the cool restaurants, the best places and, as he was only in London occasionally, things moved faster than they should have.
After just a few dates, he booked us a night in a fancy Kensington hotel. I met him at a pub first — liquid courage — and knew the second I saw him that my heart wasn't in it.
The connection wasn't there for me. Not a great start. But Tinder is addictive. You find yourself browsing and swiping and playing on. The possibilities pile up. I'm ashamed to say it but I sometimes went on three or four dates a week. It could be to a bar around the corner, or somewhere fabulous — Berner's Tavern, the Chiltern Firehouse. Most of the guys I met were looking for sex, rarely were they after a relationship. With Tinder, I discovered what it could be to have sex then walk away without a backward glance.
Sex didn't have to be wrapped up with commitment, and "will he? It could just be fun. Sometimes I had nothing in common with the guy but there was a sexual spark.
In "real life", he was the ultimate knob. He didn't fit with my politics, my views, I'd never have introduced him to my friends. In bed, though, he was passionate, eager, energetic. For a while, we'd hook up every six weeks. But there were a lot of negatives. It could feel … seedy. Where do you go for sex?
I didn't feel comfortable taking someone back to my place, as he'd then know where I lived, and I live alone. If we went back to his, I'd have no idea what to expect. With "Aldgate East", we had to walk through a pub to get to the bedroom and I swear there was a train going through the lounge.
You're trusting people you barely know. After a few dates with "Manchester", I agreed to visit his hotel room next time he was in London. I'd always been diligent about practising safe sex, but he had trouble getting in the mood with the condoms and went against my wishes at the last moment. The next morning I wrote him an angry text. I've never felt so violated. Most often, though, I didn't have sex at all. I generally left home open to the possibility but found, when my date showed up, that I didn't want to see him again, let alone see him naked.